Prime Minister John Briceno is urging Belizeans not to frequent the controversial Sarstoon River border fearing further escalation of tensions between Guatemala and Belize.
Briceno made the comments in an interview with local media, following increased tensions on Sarstoon River between Belizean and the Guatemalan Armed Forces.
One of the most recent face-offs was between the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) who’s core responsibility is the protection of Belize’s marine resources and Guatemalan fishermen.
“I urge the territorial volunteers to be careful. While we accept what they are doing and understand that they are in our territory and Belizeans supposed to feel free to move anywhere in the country, including the Sarstoon.
“But because of the tense situation with eh military in that area, I am urging them to be careful,” Briceno told reporters
Guatemala and Belize have a long-standing border dispute dating back to the beginning of the 1990s, in which Guatemala is claiming about 11,000 square km (4,250 square miles) of Belize which amounts to half of its territory.
The Prime Minister expressed concern over the small size of Belize’s Defence force and its apparent inability to match that of their Guatemalan counterparts stating that in as much as the country would have liked to invade Guatemala, they are no match for them.
“They take children out there sometimes and God forbids something is to happen. What are we going to do? We can’t invade Guatemala, as much as we would like to. But, we can’t,” the Prime Minister said.
Opposition leader Shyne Barrow called the Prime Minister’s statements irresponsible saying that there is nothing “more agitating and what escalates things more than you telling a country that you want to invade the country”, adding that “it’s unfortunate that it comes at the cost our national security’.
Source : Caribbean