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Belize Territorial Volunteers discover palm oil, cornfields encroaching on border

May 26, 2013

by Belize Territorial Volunteers

Belize Territorial Volunteers on Guatamala-Belize border 040613
The Belize Territorial Volunteers find large agricultural developments encroaching on the Guatamala-Belize border.
On a recent morning, approximately 60 people boarded buses and vehicles in Punta Gorda for the rough road journey to the village of Dolores on the Southern Belize-Guatemala border with a group of the Belize Territorial Volunteers.

After almost three hours of travel to the border, the BTV group began a strenuous hike to the borderline. Just before reaching the border, the group was met by Organization of American States (OAS) representatives, who informed the group that they had reached the borderline and warned them not to proceed further west.

A local Mayan resident in the group of BTV volunteers advised that the group had in fact not yet reached the border, so the group proceeded to push forward to the cement survey marker despite the comment from the OAS representative.

Palm oil plantation on Belize-Guatamala border 040613
The BTV found this new palm oil plantation on the Belize-Guatamala border. Palm oil is a highly saturated, relatively cheap oil that recently came into widespread use in processed foods as a replacement for trans fats, when they became unpopular. The proliferation of palm oil plantations around the world has been criticized for taking up land that could better be used for growing nutritious food.
Upon reaching the official survey marker it became clear to the group why the representative did not want them to proceed further west. The BTV delegation found a large palm oil plantation, with massive areas of land including the borderline already cleared. The BTV group then moved on from that position and hiked to another area north, where again they encountered a cleared border with cornfields that unquestionably crossed into Belize territory. Continuing along the border with the intention of clearing the line, the BTV group found large pasture territory after a long hike through the cornfields.

“As far as we are concerned, all of that area of the borderline is already cleared. We estimate that almost 80% of the border between Belize and Guatemala is likely already cleared. We hope to continue the clearing, finishing before the end of the dry season,” says Wil Maheia, leader of the Belize Territorial Volunteers.

“We are very happy that alcaldes (mayors) from Otoxha and Dolores showed up with some of the patriotic and brave people of their communities, despite being told by the chairman of the Toledo Alcaldes Association, Alfonso Cal, that they should not attend the border clearing because it could be dangerous,” noted Maheia.

For more information on the Belize Territorial Volunteers and upcoming hikes, contact Wil Maheia on Facebook or by email at pgwil@pnpbelize.org. For background on this story, see Belize Territorial Volunteers demarcate border lines.

 

2 thoughts on “Belize Territorial Volunteers discover palm oil, cornfields encroaching on border

  1. Phacetious Plebbe

    The time has come for Belize to be more decisive in its efforts to defend, and establish respect for, its sovereign territory. Guatemala has been able to do this act of political pouting and temper tantrums because the successive Belizean governments have repeatedly engaged in cajoling and catering to their antics.

    Belize should have had conscription or mandatory military involvement from the time of independence. It would have strengthened the people's own resolve in terms of recognising that this land, this jewel of Central America, this country which is the only English-speaking country IN Central America, is theirs, and theirs alone. I urge the present government, and any successive government, to take a more serious look at this position. Belize, although it is an ally of the United States, cannot truly expect to have more than condemnation come from the US, of any Guatemalan aggression. Some might ask why it is that nothing has happened to this day, and suggest that nothing will happen, but the British had always been there, and were there subsequent to independence. The trouble is now that the British are no longer here. All it takes is one leader who is not willing to listen to anything anyone has to say, and invade. What will happen then? The expat community in San Ignacio may cry out, but half of them want little to do with the US government anyway. The locals are not equipped to defend themselves, and the Belize Defence Force don't have the necessary resources to be effective.

    This is why military training for the public is necessary. The Guatemalan military is the largest military force in Central America. They were originally, and it is widely speculated that they are still, trained by the C.I.A. of the U.S., and their Special Forces Unit (called "Kabiles") is actually larger numerically than the entire BDF. The Kabiles' motto is "If I advance, follow me. If I stop, urge me on. If I retreat, kill me." Why would I not want to ensure that my people would be able to protect themselves against someone like that? Instead Belize continues to stagnate its economy and dumb down its people. The people have to be aware that without their own personal advancement and development, people (governments and other entities of authority) will continue to take advantage of them. The problem here is that there is this lingering Guatemalan threat, and although I like a number of Guatemalans, their government always has this sword of Damocles hanging over Belize's head, thus making it a tentative neighbourhood situation.

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