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Belizean flags back in the country—Minister Courtenay

GeneralBelizean flags back in the country—Minister Courtenay

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 3, 2022

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has revealed that the two Belizean flags taken from Sarstoon Island during the Guatemalan Armed Forces’ illegal incursion into Belize two weeks ago have since been returned to the country. This most recent illegal incursion of the Guatemala military into Belize has highlighted the need for a Sarstoon Protocol to be drafted and agreed upon between the two countries, Minister Courtenay said. This was highlighted by the Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceño, in his speech at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and in the side meetings at that gathering, Hon. Courtenay and Hon. Briceno had conversations with OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro.

While the flags are now in the country, said Minister Courtenay, he is not sure if they have been returned to Wil Maheia, leader of the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), who, along with a group of BTV members (who traveled in five boats to Sarstoon Island) planted the flags on the island as a part of their yearly Independence Day trip to the Sarstoon. This year, the GAF brought 5 boats and shadowed the group, attempting to block their entrance into the Sarstoon River first, and then making attempts to prevent them from docking on the island.

Notably, the presence of children on the BTV trip did not deter the GAF in their acts of military aggression.

“I had protested to the ambassador here verbally, and then we followed it up with a written protest,” Hon. Courtenay has said. “We are insistent that there be a Sarstoon protocol. So far we have not been able to convince Guatemala. Prime Minister Briceño and I had a meeting with the Secretary General of the OAS earlier this week when we were in Washington and stressed the need for a Sarstoon protocol,” Hon. Courtenay further indicated.

According to Hon. Courtenay, during the OAS General Assembly next week in Peru, he will be meeting his counterpart from Guatemala, the Foreign Minister of Guatemala.

“He knows that we will be putting on the agenda a Sarstoon Protocol. We need to avoid these incidents. Whether we succeed, we will see,” Hon. Courtenay said. He further explained that the Belize government did not make mention of that specific incident during the Prime Minister’s speech at the 77th UNGA since many other issues would have to be addressed.

“We took that into consideration and decided that that was not the place. The Prime Minister made a forceful presentation to the OAS Secretary General, which I won’t go into the details, but they have produced some results already,” Hon. Courtenay said.

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