BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 3, 2016–The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) is planning to stage “a peaceful and energetic picketing” at next Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives against the manner in which “our Belizean government has downplayed” what the BTV describes as “aggression and unlawful entry by the Guatemalan military” on February 27, 2015, when 37 Belizeans were unlawfully detained by Guatemalan military in Belizean waters, and on February 27, 2016, when Belizeans on an excursion to mark that first incident were blocked by armed Guatemalan military from venturing to the Belize side of the Sarstoon River.
BTV member Patrick Rogers, Leader of the Belize Progressive Party (BPP), said that they filed for a permit today to hold the protest, and they are also working on a strategy to help mobilize protestors next Tuesday.
The last picketing on the Belize-Guatemala issue took place when the newly elected Guatemalan president, Jimmy Morales, visited Prime Minister Dean Barrow at his Coney Drive office in Belize City last November. Morales had said, in pre-election campaign remarks, that the loss of Belize would be the most deplorable event in his country’s history. Rogers and BTV founder, Wil Maheia, were among the five persons who picketed after having received very short notice of Morales’s visit.
The BTV expects to draw a much bigger crowd for next week’s protest. Rogers said that the Northern Territorial Volunteers (NTV), led by Philip de la Fuente, is in solidarity with BTV’s picketing, and he told us, that the BTV would also be reaching out to the unions and everyone else who would support the cause.
BTV decided yesterday to organize the picketing of Parliament, which is meeting next week for the presentation of the 2016-2017, national budget.
President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), Marvin Mora, told Amandala that some union members are asking if the unions will participate, so union leaders would be invited to a meeting this weekend to discuss whether they will join Tuesday’s protest. Mora said that the NTUCB’s stance on the issue has not changed. He said that they are “against Guatemala interfering with our people in our land, we have always said that and we maintain that.” Mora said that Guatemala does not have any right to come in and stop Belizeans from moving in our territorial waters and our land.
He added that “…our leaders need to realize that the Belizean people are not taking it lightly; it is not to be taken lightly! There were warships in our territorial waters,” he said, speaking of last Saturday’s incursion at the Sarstoon.
Amandala tried to find out if the Opposition People’s United Party will participate in the protest, but we were advised by Eamon Courtenay, SC, the liaison between the PUP and the Government on Belize-Guatemala matters, that he had not been informed about the protest. A decision could be days away since Opposition Leader Johnny Briceño is reportedly out of the country.