Topic: Boycott Guatemala Now! (Speech)
For: Media Outlets
Date: October 8, 2014
Good Morning! Thank you all for joining us here today. We the Belize People’s Front called this conference with the Belize Media in order to address the grave situation along our border to the west with Guatemala.
For years Guatemalans have enjoyed unrestricted, illegal access to our territory in search of natural resources belonging to Belize for exploitation. This exploitation mainly of our timber and Xate leaves but also includes the panning of gold and other activities such as farming of illegal crop such as marijuana, has gone on for years and Belize has and continues to lose millions of dollars-worth of natural resources annually. It is said the Xate leaves alone contributes over a million dollars a year to the Guatemalan Economy, where 30 million fronds are harvested along the border for Palm Sunday alone.
Belize is reported to lose 9.5 million US Dollars through illegal logging of our forest.
The Guatemalans have become so brazen that they have killed a lawman at Caracol, Mr. Daniel Conorquie. They have also crossed the border illegally and recently to threaten our Belize Defense Force (BDF) Soldiers who were at their respective post of duty, about a mile inside our borders. How much more will we take?
This killing, which was foreseen by many, as Guatemalans continued to have absolute access to our forest’s valuable biological diversity was ignored by our own Government!
The Belize People’s Front (BPF) immediately began to organize a protest at the Melchor Border last week to send a message loud and clear to the Guatemalans that upon taking office, we intend to get tougher when dealing with them.
While we were protesting, our Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs was playing state man at the United Nations, where he forgot to mention that Mr. Conorquie (A Belizean Lawman) was recently executed by Guatemalans. He did foretell though, that next year Belize is to suffer from the worst drought we have ever experienced. Maybe, just maybe, it would have helped his position to remember that our watershed (the one that supplies not only Belize, but half of Peten, Guatemala with its water) will be at a very high risk, if these illegal destruction of our forest in that very area continues… Adding that, the watershed is now endangered by Guatemalans, to this Mr. Minister, and your speech would have been meaningful to the world and especially to us in Belize.
Upon analyzing the problem of our porous borders, we found several issues. Mainly, the irresponsible assertion indoctrinated into Guatemalans from birth that “Belice es Nuestro”! Armed with this fallacy the Guatemalan Government indoctrinates their citizens with, they cross indignantly into Belize’s Territory confident of what their Government has told them from the time they entered the school system in Guatemala. Guatemala has also ignored the management of their biological diversity so that their forests have been depleted of their natural resources without being replenished. Now they seek to do the same to our land and they have already made much progress to the destruction of our forest!
Belize for her part through our Government has consistently employed “turn the other cheek” diplomacy! When the Guatemalans enter illegally, we “turn the other cheek” and apologize to the Guatemalans. When they destroy our forest and poach our timber and Xate leaves we “turn the other cheek” and handle them with kid gloves not charging them with any crime and handing them back to their government. When they threaten our BDF Soldiers with lethal force and that lethal force is successfully returned, what do we do? We turn the other cheek and apologize to the families and government for killing those poor illegal encroachers who fired at our BDF Personnel. We then go one step further and we actually make compensation payments to the families of those illegal encroachers who were killed after they used lethal force against our soldiers! They nearly killed our BDF Soldiers and our government pays them for this? Wrong approach! Belize must do everything in its power to protect the rich biological diversity of our forest. It is the base of industries which provides jobs for many, including Mr. Conorquie, who was killed in the line of duty! More importantly, we must protect our border, and our sovereignty, since our very existence depends on it.
The Belize People’s Front will no longer stand for these unabated illegal incursions by Guatemalans and as a plan of action, we have certain demands we now make of the Government of Belize.