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Editorial – Sunday November 17th. 2019

Editorial – Sunday November 17th. 2019
November 15
11:53 2019

This business of trans-border squatting has been with us for a long time. But it has been occurring with greater frequency these days, and we are glad to see that the government is doing something about it.

This week a Belizean family which owns land in Benque Viejo sounded the alarm about Guatemalans who have taken up residence on privately owned land on our side of the border and who have been resisting efforts to dislodge them.

With all this idle land in Belize, it is easy to see why land-hungry squatters would be tempted to come in and set down roots. But there are urgent security and economic and political reasons why Belize cannot allow this practice of trans-border squatting to take root.

We recall that what came to be known as the “Soccer War” between Honduras and El Salvador was triggered by tensions over land occupied by Salvadorans living in Honduras.

In 1969 there were some 300,000 Salvadorans living in Honduras and many were occupying land which landless Hondurans coveted.

The war began on July 14, 1969 and involved aerial and infantry attacks from El Salvador, which said it intended to protect Salvadorans living in Honduras. It ended with a cease-fire brokered by the Organization of American States on July 20, six days later.

El Salvador was obliged to withdraw her forces from Honduras, but tensions between the two neighbours rancored for decades afterwards and affected trade and neighborly relations.

We are encouraged to see that the Ministry of National Security has taken active steps to dislodge the squatters and has even called on the good offices of the OAS in the Adjacency Zone in order to de-politicize the situation.

Belize needs to be firm about this, keeping in mind the lessons of history, by clipping every attempt at trans-border squatting in the bud.

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