Headline — 14 August 2015 — by Rowland A. Parks

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 13, 2015–Former PUP Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Lisa Shoman, who is a senator in the National Assembly and a member of the Negotiating Team on the Bipartisan Committee on the unfounded Guatemalan claim to Belize, has written to Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington and the Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Manuel Roldan Barillas, informing them that she will be accompanying The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) on their expedition to Sarstoon Island on Sunday, August 16.

In her letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Senator Shoman said that her visit to Sarstoon Island is…”in my capacity as a Senator and Member of the National Assembly of Belize, as well as the Representative of the Leader of the Opposition on the Ministry team dealing with the unfounded Guatemalan claim to Belize, and as a Belizean.”

The letter added, “I am concerned that the Minister of National Security, as well as others, your ministerial colleagues, do not seem to understand that Belizeans must be safeguarded against acts of aggression, internal or external, on every portion of Belizean national sovereign territory, including our maritime areas.”

Senator Shoman ended her letter saying, “I therefore request that you notify the Minister of National Security as well as your counterparts in Guatemala of my presence on the excursion, and that the necessary measures be taken to assure the safety of all those in attendance on the visit, especially of course, the ‘women and children’ that [National Security] Minister [John] Saldivar claims to be most concerned about.”

Apart from the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Shoman copied her letter to all of the relevant heads of departments of the Belize national security apparatus, and the OAS representatives in Belize.

In her letter to the Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Manuel Roldan Barillas, Senator Shoman said, “I am certain that you will communicate the same to the relevant authorities in your country. I wish to make it clear that I am notifying you so that you are made aware that our visit to Sarstoon Island, is in no way an act of aggression and that neither do we seek confrontation.

“I am sure that you will convey the same to your capital along with our warmest wishes for peace and fraternity between ourselves as good neighbors.”

The letter to the Guatemalan Ambassador was copied to H.E. Alexis Rosado, Ambassador of Belize to Guatemala; Sergio Benitez, OAS Adjacency Zone Office; and Starett Greene, OAS Permanent Representative to Belize.

In response to Senator Shoman’s letter, the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow issued a press release expressing “great consternation” that Senator Shoman has joined the excursion “considering she has a particular role as the Opposition’s representative on the Bipartisan Committee dealing with the Guatemalan territorial claim.”

According to GOB, Shoman “is not going on this visit to the Sarstoon [Island] in her capacity as a senator, but instead, as a private citizen …officially, Shoman has no authorization from the Senate.”

“Similarly,” the release further stated, “she is not visiting the Sarstoon Island as a representative of the Bipartisan Committee. The Government views this as irresponsible of Senator Shoman and concludes that her actions are totally political.”

In keeping with its often-expressed position, GOB said that “it is imprudent and potentially dangerous for the organizers of this type of excursion to expose innocent Belizeans to the risk of inadvertently entering into Guatemala territory.”

The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) are going to Sarstoon Island on Sunday, August 16, to reinforce and establish Sarstoon Island as a part of Belizean sovereign territory, in the face of Guatemalan aggression and bullying, actions to which the Government of Belize has apparently adopted a spineless attitude.

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