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Editorial – May 3rd. 2019

Editorial – May 3rd. 2019
May 04
07:02 2019

Belizeans should not be surprised or upset because Guatemalan armed forces removed the Belizean Flag which was implanted on Sarstoon Island on Tuesday, April 30 by Nancy Marin and representatives of the new Belize People’s Front.

Military personnel have to follow the rules of engagement set out by their superiors. If a party tried to plant a Guatemalan flag on Belizean soil, we would lose no time in taking down the flag, if we have the physical means of doing so.

The antics of the Guatemalan military in the Sarstoon is a cause for annoyance in Belize, but they do nothing to hurt Belize’s case so long as Belize continues to make formal protests and to re-assert our right to Sarstoon Island, and the northern half of the river as far as Gracias a Dios Falls.

The Guatemalans are doing this because they want to be able to say to the ICJ: “We have maintained military and administrative control over all of the Sarstoon” to advance their claim to the whole southern half of Belize, starting at the Sarstoon and moving northwards as far as the Sibun. Professor Stephen Vascianne in his legal opinion commissioned by the Belize Bar Association released earlier this year pays special attention to this Guatemalan tactic, and he tells us what Belize must do to counter it.

He made it clear that the fact that the Guatemalan Armed Forces do not recognize the boundaries set out in the 1859 Treaty is a violation of International Law.

Their motive, presumably, is to set in place the idea that they are in effective control of these areas, as the basis for the title to territory. If Belize protests and repeats its protests frequently and widely, there will be no change in the legal status of the areas in question in favor of Guatemala.

So there we have it. Belize needs to continue to make formal protests to Guatemala through diplomatic notes. But she needs to do more.

Belize needs to make it known far and wide that it is protesting this violation of International Law, so that Belizeans and all of the rest of the world will know that Belize is protesting against border incursions by a bigger, more powerful neighbor.

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