The proposal that the Government of Belize should build a forward operating base on Sarstoon Island is a proposal without merit.
It is impractical to build such a base there. It is also provocative and dangerous!
Belizeans have better ways of showing their patriotism than to invite hostility and danger by posturing.
Sarstoon Island is one of several hundred delta islands around the world. It is an island of mangrove, much of which lies below sea level. It will probably grow and expand with downstream silt and sand from the Sarstoon, but with predicted global warming and rising sea levels, this island will remain a swamp for a very long time.
Building anything substantial on this island will be a logistical nightmare, even if there is no harrassment from Guatemala. Guatemala has a strategic interest in the Sarstoon and claims Sarstoon Island as its own. Guatemala is sure to see any activity on Sarstoon Island as a provocation, and there are many countries in the world community who would agree.
Even though Belize has a legitimate claim to Sarstoon Island, going there to physically take control would be regarded as an act of aggression in many countries, certainly in Guatemala. At the United Nations there is no chance that the Security Council would approve of such unilateral action which is likely to endanger the peace.
Almost certainly the Organization of American States, which has been urging restraint on both sides, would see it as an unnecessary provocation. .
Finally, in the 2005 Confidence-building Measures Agreement Belize pledged that she would “exercise caution and restraint in the treatment of all issues related to the territorial differendum.” . .
The idea which Prime Minister Barrow has proposed, to build a forward operating base on the mainland, near the Sarstoon, is a much better idea. .
This way no one can accuse Belize of provocation, and the project becomes immediately more manageable and practical. .
There are still formidable challenges to this undertaking since there are no roads in the area, and much, if not all construction material may have to be brought in by sea. But the work is achievable and can be accomplished without escalating any tension between Belize and Guatemala. .
The decision to build the forward operating base on the mainland has already been taken, and for this reason some may see this editorial as flogging a dead horse!
But it is important for us to examine the quality of ideas bubbling up at this election time and to point out that bad ideas always lead to bad consequences. .
Good ideas, on the other hand bring about good results – results which lead to harmony, cooperation and eventually to peace and prosperity for our people. .
General Elections have been set for November 4th, and we expect there will be a surge of comments from writers who have something to say.
Our newspaper welcomes these comments from both sides, but will insist on a few commonsense guidelines. .
1. Articles must be kept short – not more than 400 words. .
2. Submissions must be signed. .
3. Articles which are inflammatory or unnecessarily personal will not be published. .