Features — 12 June 2015 — by Adele Ramos
PUP breaks silence on Guat’s Sarstoon incursion

BELIZE CITY, Tues. June 9, 2015–Twelve days after Guatemala’s naval patrol made an incursion into Belize, at Sarstoon Island, demanding that a detachment of the Belize Coast Guard vacate Belizean territory, the Opposition People’s United Party has broken its silence on the issue.

In a strongly worded press release, the Opposition calls out Prime Minister Dean Barrow, head of the National Security Council, “to immediately explain to the Belizean people why he ordered the withdrawal of the Belize Coast Guard from Belizean territory in the face of such overt acts of aggression by Guatemala; immediately cause a temporary observation post to be established on the Sarstoon Island to be manned by both the Belize Coast Guard and the Belize Defence Force until such time that a permanent Forward Operating Base for the Belize Coast Guard can be established; and urgently make the necessary strategic investments in Belize’s national security apparatus to ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Belize.”

The Opposition says that it “condemns the feeble response by the Barrow Administration to the armed incursion into Belizean territory by the Guatemalan Armed Forces on Thursday May 28, 2015.”

As previously reported, it was Prime Minister Barrow who issued orders for the Coast Guard to cut short its 10-day mission to locate a suitable site for the construction of a forward operation base, which the mission should have also proceeded to build before returning to base.

The PUP says, “The declared mission, which was to conduct an overt reconnaissance patrol, does not in the normal course require Prime Ministerial approval to come to an end.”

It, furthermore, “rejects the account given by the Belize Coast Guard that the mission had been completed and that that was what prompted their ‘extraction.’”

While the Opposition is demanding that the Coast Guard build the post on the island, proper, we have been advised by official sources, as well as a civilian who knows the area, that Sarstoon Island is not the best place for the surveillance operation to be established, because the line of sight from the island is restricted. We have been advised that the surveillance station would instead be established at the mouth of the Sarstoon; however, an outpost would also be set up on the island.

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