By Benjamin Flowers
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) this week issued a statement supporting Belize in its continued conflict with Guatemala.
CARICOM called for Guatemala to respect Belize’s sovereignty, after the March 12 confrontation between the Belize Defense Force (BDF) and the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF).
CARICOM, in a statement released last weekend, said the community is gravely concerned about the confrontation, despite a peaceful resolution through high-level diplomatic communication.
“The Community reiterates its strong and unequivocal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize and calls on the government of Guatemala to agree to confidence building measures, in conjunction with the Organization of American States, to ensure peace and stability along the southern border of Belize with the Republic of Guatemala,” CARICOM said.
CARICOM also restated the importance it places on respect for international law and the sanctity of treaties. The community said that it “deeply regrets” any actions by the GAF which violates Belize’s sovereignty, or attempts to change the status quo, prior to the submission of the Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory to the International Court of Justice in accordance with the Special Agreement ratified by both parties.
The community also noted that the mid-channel of the Sarstoon River was the settled and agreed border between the Republic of Guatemala and the United Kingdom, long before Belize’s independence in 1981.
Following the incident, Belize sent a diplomatic note to Guatemala, speaking on the issue. Guatemala, however, refuted GOB’s statement, saying that the events did not unfold the way it was described in the note.
According to the Guatemalan report, the BDF entered Guatemalan internal waters on the Sarstoon River without following the usual security protocol.