By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter
After Guatemalan armed forces confronted Belize Defense Force (BDF) soldiers late Saturday evening, the Government has announced that it will take the issue to the Organization of American States (OAS) on Tuesday.
The report of the incident started surfacing on Saturday night. BDF soldiers were approached by the GAF and told that they should not be at the Sarstoon, and according to reliable sources, could only move about the Sarstoon River with Guatemalan permission. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Guatemalan soldiers behaved in an “extremely hostile and threatening manner.”
Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed the incident and stated how it plans to respond.
After the confrontation, for the first time the government is sounding the alarm, acknowledging that tension with Guatemala over the Sarstoon “is at an all-time high.”
The government insists that the GAF never attempted to come on land and that BDF soldiers stood their ground and the GAF withdrew.
According to the Ministry, between the time the event happened on Saturday night and today, Sunday, Commander, Brigadier General David Jones spoke with “an opposite member” in Guatemala.
MOFA also states that Prime Minister Dean Barrow has sent a message to President Jimmy Morales.
MOFA states that the plan now is to take the issue, of the recent confrontation, to the OAS in Washington.
Key members of the international community, including those from the United States and the United Kingdom have been notified, says MOFA.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington has sent a “strongly-worded protest note.” And the PM has convened a special meeting of the National Security Council one day before they go to the OAS.
Representative of the Opposition Assad Shoman is joining the team of delegates that will head the talks in Washington, D.C. MOFA emphasized that the PM personally briefed the Leader of the Opposition, Johnny Briceno about what happened at the Sarstoon FOB.
Currently, the Belize Special Assignment Group is positioned at the Sarstoon FOB. All operating activities including unloading of shipments around the area have been abruptly suspended.