Last week, we showed you our interview with Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington in which he revealed months later that the Guatemalans are resisting
attempts by the Belizean National Security Ministry to build a Forward Operating Base on Sarstoon Island, the southern-most point in the country’s
Well, independent political party, the VIP has come out against his position. The VIP, like the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, say that the
Belize Government should exercise the rights of a sovereign state to conduct whatever operations are in its best interest. They are demanding that the
Government assert the Independence of the country of Belize and carry out these plans and policies in the absence of Guatemalan influence in the
decision making process.
They held a press conference today to underscore this point:
Patrick Rogers - Member, VIP
"The actions of our government, it's actually building confidence for a Guatemalan case if it ever reached to the ICJ. In effect we've seen where the
Guatemalans are protecting what they believe to be theirs by sending their navy to go and instruct our coast guard to get off that island. That's an
act of exercising sovereignty over that territory. They followed that by instructing our government that, no, you cannot build on that Sarstoon island
until the ICJ has made a ruling as to who's territory it is. So again, that is asserting sovereignty that they don't exercise possessions of the land
but they are acting as though, yeah we truly believe this was take away from we."
Paco Smith - Member, VIP
"The VIP has launched a petition that is going to be sent to the prime minister, Dean Oliver Barrow, and basically the petition involves that he must
commence building of the Belize coast guard forward operating base on Sarstoon island. That is the hot budding topic and we believe that it's a front
to our territorial integrity and our sovereignty that our security forces have been ordered to stop what ever business they have to do in the country
of Belize, based on a complaint from Guatemala."
"I'll just very quickly read the petition to you and it states: Among the foremost of responsibilities of the government of Belize is to ensure that
the sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, safety and well being of the nation of Belize is maintained. The nation of Guatemala remains
steadfastly abstinent in it's unfounded claim to virtually half of Belize's sovereign territory. The gob via it's policy of appeasement, acquiescence,
accommodation and adherence has bowed to the bullying tactics of Guatemala involving enumerable related matters. Sarstoon island, which lays in the
Sarstoon river that divides Belizean territory from that of Guatemala was recognised by the 1859 Anglo-Guatemalan treaty."
"The Guatemalan government advised the gob to cease and desist all works being undertaken on Sarstoon island which is clearly within Belizean territory
- pending the determination of the complaint lodged by that government to the organisation of American states. The Barrow administration remaining true
to form with it's spineless foreign policy has again opted to appease the Guatemalans in their demands and has discontinued the intended construction
works. The vision inspired by the people movement recognises the out right dereliction of responsibility by the gob. In this regard and therefore call
on Belizeans and true friends of Belize - both at home and abroad to sign this petition. It demands the prime minister, Dean Oliver Barrow to uphold
the integrity of Belize by not allowing Guatemala to dictate, that which our security forces can and cannot do within our sovereign territory.”
Hubert Enriquez - Chairman, VIP
"To be now agree that we should wait for the ICJ to discuss this matter before we decided to build on the Sarstoon island. And of course, that answer
has to be now."
Patrick Rogers - Member,VIP
"I want to applaud the coast guard for showing the fortitude and the backbone that's lacking in the cabinet and this government. And they're ready to
go put a forward operating base there and steer down a bigger army everyday to show that they ready to protect and establish sovereignty over territory
that is Belize. If we get that forward operating base there Belize, we could help protect - not just the oil that this thing is all about but the
marine resources that our people live off man.”
The VIP says that this petition will be posted online.