By NAN Contributor
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. May 6, 2016: The Secretary General of the Organization of American States is urging Belize and Guatemala to adopt a “cooperation mechanism” as soon as possible to normalize the situation in the Sarstoon River.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro’s comments come on the heels of new tensions between Belize and Guatemala over the Adjacency Zone and the Sarstoon River border.
Belize is at logger heads again with Guatemala over 12,272 sq. kilometers of land in the Sarstoon River belonging to the CARICOM nation and former British colony’s territory. The latest dispute now surround the April 20th shooting of Guatemalan minor Julio René Alvarado Ruano whose father claims Belizean army soldiers killed him eight days ago. Carlos Alvarado, Julio’s father told Radio Emisoras Unidas, that he is also recovering from a gunshot wound in his leg suffered during the attack. He said he was going down the road when suddenly a fairly large group of Belizean soldiers appeared, but he said the attack against him and two of his sons was perpetrated by only three soldiers at a distance of around five meters.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said the boy was shot eight times, including four times in the back and once in the eye. In response, Guatemala dispatched a further 3,000 troops to its borders with Belize, including its most dangerous shooters — the Kaibiles.
The government of Belize attributes the death to a shootout in which one of its patrols responded to an attack in self-defense. Alvarado has denied that he or his sons attacked the Belizean troops.
The shooting of the Guatemala teen comes just weeks after Belize Defence Force (BDF) Sergeant Richard Lambey was injured in a shooting incident while on border patrol on March 26th.
In 2014, Special Constable Danny Conorquie was assigned to the San Ignacio Station and was shot and killed by a Guatemalan bandit.
SG Almagro, who met this week with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala, urged that both the peoples and governments of Belize and Guatemala refocus on strengthening their good neighborly relations and urged the Parties to avoid future incidents such as those that have recently occurred.
But he said the OAS will conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances which resulted in the death of a Guatemala youth, following an incident with the Belizean security forces in the Adjacency Zone.
The boundary quarrel goes back to 1820, when Guatemala became independent from Spain and Belize was a British colony. Belize won independence in 1981, but Guatemala did not formally recognize its neighbor until 1991 and continues to claim more than half of the former British colony’s territory. Guatemala has recently rejected an 11-point proposal for peacekeeping at the Sarstoon River, in the face of escalating tensions over Belize’s use of the river. Belize’s boundary with Guatemala at that point runs at the mid-channel point but Guatemala has taken a hard-line stance that the entire river belongs to it. That country purports to have repudiated the 1859 Boundary Treaty it had inked with Britain, which shows the boundary line running south of Sarstoon Island.