REPORTER: Marion Ali, January 20th.-
Settling our border dispute with Guatemala is the only solution to other problems, such as Narco-cattle ranching, Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington told reporters this past week.
Over the past two years, Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) has monitored the level of infiltrations within the Chiquibul and has noted that there were several cattle ranches in the forest reserve.
FCD reported that, based on their aerial and ground assessments, there were 14 pastures, 10 fences, nine dwellings, and at least 10 man-made ponds, dug by bulldozers on Belizean territory.
FCD Executive Director, Rafael Manzanero had indicated that the cattle ranchers in the area were part of a bigger scheme – collaborating with drug pushers, clearing forests by fire to use them for their drug trade, primarily for landing drug planes.
Minister Elrington said that defining our borders is the first step to solving these problems.
“You have to get your border established. Once you get your border established, you will have the people at the OAS to come and verify it and then you find them (the drug traffickers) across here and say you have to get off. But right now they take the view that this is Guatemalan territory, so the most we can do is try to get the matter resolved as quickly as possible at the ICJ. That’s one of the reasons that it’s urgent because there is a problem with land in Guatemala.
Cases that go to the ICJ take no longer than five years to be concluded, Elrington explained. This was corroborated by the ICJ experts that the local media spoke with when we went to the Hague in November.