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Belize Territorial Volunteers demarcate border lines

March 28, 2013

by George and Candy Gonzalez

Belize has had a land dispute with Guatemala over where the Belize border is. Guatemala has traditionally claimed Belize as part of Guatemala. Now it is proposed that the matter be settled at the International Court of Justice. Guatemala and Belize are holding referendums in both countries in October to decide whether or not the matter should go to the ICJ.

Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers
Wil Maheia and the Belize Territorial Volunteers
Many different positions are being proffered. On a recent weekend, a group of people, the Belize Territorial Volunteers, proposed going and clearing a line along the Belize side of the border. Belize Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington, who is also the attorney general, said that was a bad idea and would cause conflict with Guatemala. The president of Guatemala also objected to this action.

“Those areas are covered in thick jungles. We can’t go cut that with machetes; that’s thick jungle,” said Elrington on Channel 7 News. “I do appreciate that some people believe – genuinely believe – that it is an act of nationalism. I could understand people being nationalistic, but I think it’s a dangerous way of showing their nationalism – dangerous for yourself, for the nation – and to that extent we advise against it.”

Nevertheless, this group of concerned Belizeans, who live mostly on the south along the border, went to the border and did do some clearing. They are concerned about incursions into Belize; Guatemalans come across the border into Belize and cut timber and plants, pan for gold and conduct other illegal activities. So making a clear line is not such an absurd idea. Their campaign is called “Clear Our Borderline.”

Hugs exchanged on Belize-Guatamala border

On March 2, the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), spearheaded by Wil Maheia of PG TV and the People’s National Party (PNP) – a legendary Belizean social activist – met at Belize’s border with Guatemala to carry out a cleanup campaign to clear vegetation on Belize’s side of the border. The group, consisting of 150 volunteers, began the work at Container Hill from sunrise to late afternoon.

Their campaign is called “Clear Our Borderline.”

The contingent had representation from various social groups, including Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), the University of Belize, the Belize Coalition for Justice, BelizeCan, a non-partisan, non-governmental organization established as a “watchdog group” to strengthen the Democratic principles and social justice in the nation of Belize, Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association, various media representatives, along with Belizean men, women and children.

Wilfred Elrington
Wilfred Elrington
According to Maheia, the day was a successful one with approximately 20 meters being cleared along Belize’s side of the border. “The day went without a hitch. During our preliminary work, we discussed the border and pointed out exactly where it is at.

“As we walked along the road, we met up with Guatemalans who had with them the presence of a representative from the Organization of American States (OAS), who confirmed, after verifying his GPS coordinates, that the Guatemalans were indeed on Belizean soil.”

After a conversation with the Guatemalan neighbors, Maheia stated, “Rather than being arrested at the border as Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington had indicated, there were hugs instead.”

The Belize Territorial Volunteers plan to continue clearing Belize’s side of the border. Cayo and Orange Walk volunteers are now set to plan their individual campaigns and clear border lines along their districts. “We just want to clean up our country. To clean the overgrown vegetation on our side of the border,” stated Maheia.

After a conversation with the Guatemalan neighbors, Maheia stated, “Rather than being arrested at the border as Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington had indicated, there were hugs instead.”

“This is not the first time such an initiative is being carried out. The same exercise has been conducted many times peacefully before without incident or conflict. We simply now will carry out the job that has been neglected for so long.”

Former San Franciscans George and Candy Gonzalez live in Belize, where they are leaders in movements for human rights and environmental justice and many of the other worthy causes they championed in the U.S. They can be reached at geocanbz@gmail.com. The Bay View salutes and thanks them for their long and very strong support over the years. To contact Wil Maheia and the Belize Territorial Volunteers, email pgwil@pnpbelize.org.

 

One thought on “Belize Territorial Volunteers demarcate border lines

  1. Barry Eisenberg

    Yes, it’s a long-running but low-key territorial dispute between these two tiny and poor countries. In the past, drug trafficking has played a role in the region and Mexico is also a part of the geopolitics there. It can best be solved by amicable mediation with involvement by such a group as the International Court of Justice. It is hopeful that the neighbors exchanged hugs and not violence.Individuals of good will often have more common sense than governments with their nationalistic ideas and actions. I’ve traveled in the area and hope things can be worked out down there.

    Reply

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