Reaction to Statement Issued by the Guatemalan President

Announcement Date: April 21, 2016

Belmopan. April 21st, 2016. The Office of the Prime Minister rejects the version of
events in the statement by President Jimmy Morales made to the Guatemalan public on
21st April, 2016 regarding the incident in Belize’s Cebada area of the Chiquibul
National Park.
Belize has a long history and tradition as a peace loving country, respectful of
international law, human rights, and with a strong democratic culture where the rule of
law has always prevailed. The Government and people of Belize always abide by these
strong and unshakeable traditions. Accordingly Belizean Security Forces and law
enforcement officials would never perpetrate an armed attack on civilians especially
minors except in exercise of the right to self defence.
The Government of Belize reiterates that the mandate and authority given to Belize law
enforcement and security agencies to enforce Belizean laws and protect Belize’s natural
resources and territorial integrity is at all times implemented on the basis of recourse to
the use of force only as a last and justified resort. But respect for life and rights must
always include respect for the life and rights of Belizean law enforcement officials and
security forces. In this case the BDF reports of the incident indicate that our patrol in
Belizean national territory came under attack to which they responded in justifiable selfdefence.
It is to be pointed out that the patrol included civilian personnel from the NGO
group, FCD, and those personnel confirm the fact that our patrol simply responded after
they were fired upon and were in fear for their lives.
This latest shooting attack on Belizean officials is part of a continued pattern of
aggression by Guatemalan civilians engaged in illegal activities on Belize’s side of the
Adjacency Zone. In this regard, the Office of the Prime Minister recollects the earlier
attacks which resulted in the murder of Special Constable Danny Conorquie and the
shooting of Sgt. Richard Lambey.
Belize wishes to remind the Government of Guatemala that both countries are
committed to the Confidence Building Measures signed in 2005 which obliges both
Governments to act responsibly in word and indeed when dealing with any incident that
may occur along the border.
In this regard, we find the statements made and position taken by President Morales to
be unhelpful and inflammatory. The current amassing of Guatemalan troops in the
border areas, including the Sarstoon River, only adds volatility to the tensions already
created by illicit activities in these areas.
For its part, the Government of Belize will continue to abide strictly by the Confidence
Building Measures and we urge the Government of Guatemala to do the same.