Features — 19 April 2013 — by Adele Ramos

“The expedition is definitely on…” says Orlando de la Fuente

“We will raise the Belize flag on the Belize side of the monument. We will plant 3 mahogany trees as a symbol of friendship…”

A group of individuals organized by the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) plan to make a historic visit to the border marker at Aguas Turbias in Orange Walk, northern Belize, to install a metal plaque where they say the name “Belize” has only been penciled in to identify the country.

The group is hoping to make a statement to mark the 154th anniversary of the signing of the 1859 Boundary Treaty by Britain and Guatemala, describing the border between Belize and Guatemala. Among the latest documents making reference to the dividing line between the countries is a set of Confidence Building Measures signed in 2005, in which “the adjacency line,” which Belize knows as the borderline, is described as “a line running generally in a south-to-north direction from the reference marker at Gracias a Dios in the south to the reference marker at Garbutt’s Falls and from there to the reference marker at Aguas Turbias in the north.”

Orlando de la Fuente is organizing this weekend’s expedition.

He had a Belize plaque made for the Aquas Turbias marker, and vowed, “This plaque will be installed on the monument.”

On Monday, Amandala asked Belize Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington to explain why there is no plaque for Belize at Aguas Turbias, while there are plaques for Guatemala (to our west) and Mexico (to our north) on the border marker; and he said that although the marker “…really should correspond with what is physically on the ground, as may be suggested, there may be some discrepancies on the ground. I don’t know.”

Elrington did affirm, however, that the coordinates stipulated in the 1859 Boundary Treaty and reaffirmed in the 1931 Exchange of Notes between Britain and Guatemala are the points that depict where the border between Belize and Guatemala is located.

Elrington also said that Guatemala has complained about the BTV expeditions on the border, and “they will get themselves into trouble.”

“I feel disappointed and discouraged, especially after watching the news [with Elrington] tonight. But the expedition will happen,” de la Fuente commented.

The group departs Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.

“We will raise the Belize flag on the Belize side of the monument. We will plant 3 mahogany trees as a symbol of friendship for the 3 countries represented at the monument,” de la Fuente said.

He informed that the Referendum Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accepted their invitation to make a presentation on Friday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. The presentation, said de la Fuente, will address the benefits and risks of going to the International Court of Justice for adjudication of the territorial differendum and subsequent demarcation of the border.

The Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) will also present information on the issue, particularly on precedent rulings that the Referendum Unit is not including in its presentation.

Phillip de la Fuente, Orlando’s brother, is coordinating the logistics. He can be contacted at 610-2747.

BTV founder Wil Maheia has indicated to Amandala that the volunteers will do a symbolic tree planting on April 30, to mark the exact date of the signing of the 1859 Boundary Treaty. Maheia also plans to join the Aguas Turbias expedition, as well as an expedition to be led by Nancy Marin of the Belize Peoples Front to Garbutt’s Falls in the west.

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