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BELMOPAN, Belize – The Belize government says it has taken “several diplomatic steps” towards the “peaceful and expeditious” removal of Guatemalan nationals who have encroached on private property in the Barrio El Juda area, Cayo District.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that members of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) had also conducted a joint operation “to officially inform the settlers that they are illegally inhabiting Belizean territory and to provide a timeline for the voluntary removal of their belongings”.
It said that all illegal construction has ceased since that joint operation and that high-level officials within the Ministry of National Security, the BDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have made multiple visits to the area.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of the OAS/AZ office, has taken several diplomatic steps towards the peaceful and expeditious removal of the settlers,” the statement said, adding that the Ministry of National Security is seeking to “reassure the public that it remains vigilant and steadfast in taking measures to ensure the territorial integrity of Belize”.
The two countries have had a long standing border dispute and countries have voted to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to make a decision on the dispute.
Guatemala recognised the independence of Belize at the beginning of the 1990s, but it never accepted the borders and continues to claim about 11 000 square kilometres, about half the territory of the former British colony. (CMC)