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Guatemalans enter Belize illegally

By Marion Ali
Assistant Editor

Five days after a team of Guatemalan soldiers and camera crew illegally crossed the border into Benque, Belize’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release with brief details about the incident.

On Wednesday, the Ministry’s press release stated that Benque police had notified them that same day that at around 10:45 last Friday morning, four Guatemalan Military Kaibil personnel entered Belize along with three Guatemalan journalists. The release continued that Belizean police who were stationed at the border approached the soldiers, who were at the “Welcome to Belize” sign. The Belizean police reportedly informed the Guatemalan team that they were on Belizean territory and asked them to leave immediately, which they did without incident.

The release ends by saying that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has brought up the matter with the Guatemalan authorities to prevent a reoccurrence of the incident.
The release came on the same day that Minister of Foreign Affairs and Police, Wilfred Elrington told 7News that no one at the Ministry had been informed by the Guatemalans that they would have been making a visit and that he was waiting for a report from the police on the matter.

“It very well might have been an innocent expedition where they simply wanted to show the journalists what is the situation along the border with Belize,” Elrington said in the interview. “I imagine if they did [enter Belize] it would not necessarily be the proper thing to do without advice and without consulting their own Ministry of Foreign Affairs and getting the green light from them. The courteous thing to do and the proper thing to do really, is get in touch with us and indicate to us that they intended to do that kind of thing,” he added.

Elrington said the government would take “whatever steps deemed necessary” to prevent the incident from happening again.
Comptroller of the Customs and Excise Department, Colin Griffith had said the day before, Tuesday, that he became aware of the unannounced visit through a local media house and that he communicated with his officers in Benque, who told him that the Guatemalans had gone to the area called “Champon” or “No Man’s Land”. Griffith said that was “a normal thing” and did not see it as anything to be alarmed about.

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