General — 23 June 2018 — by Albert J. Ciego
BDF steps up to ward off incursions into Otoxcha and other villages

OTOXCHA, Toledo, Tues. June 19, 2018– Since April, Guatemalan farmers residing along the southern border have been making a series of aggressive incursions into Belize to clear lands in Otoxcha and surrounding villages, to make plantations.

Some Guatemalan farmers have threatened to kill the villagers if they reported their activities to the police.

However, the alcaldes of the affected villages alerted the authorities, and the soldiers of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) have started to conduct frequent patrols in the villages to discourage other Guatemalans from coming to the area.

During a press brief held yesterday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that the incursions have been discussed in the Cabinet and it has been decided that the BDF will be conducting long-range patrols in the villages on a permanent basis.

However, the BDF told us today that there are no immediate plans to build a patrol base in the villages from which patrols can be launched.

Brigadier Stephen Ortega, Commandant of the BDF, said that they saw the clearings but have not seen the Guatemalans who have made them. He said they will be working with the residents of the villages to ensure their safety and to stop the incursions.

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