BDF deployed to stop illegal land clearing at border Print E-mail
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Thursday, 31 May 2018 00:00

The Ministry of National Security has tasked the Belize Defence Force to the southernmost parts of the Toledo District to investigate reports that they have been getting that there have been illegal incursions in Belizean territory. Residents of Toledo are reporting that Guatemalan farmers have been clearing land in Belize, near the border, in an attempt to set up agricultural plots.

The first report of this occurrence to the Belizean authorities was last week. It was made by Santiago Peck, the Alcalde of the Mayan Village of Otoxha, which is close to Toledo’s border with Guatemalan territory.  The villagers reported that they have come across several areas on Belize’s side of the border which were cleared, most likely by farmers on the other side.

The BDF is in the area, monitoring the situation, and the intention is that they will work with the Alcaldes and villagers living near to the area to gather as much information as they possibly can.

Villagers from Otoxha have spoken to the press describing that when they travelled through the Temash River, they encountered a hut, which was erected as a sort of farming camp for the Guatemalans trying to set up their operations in the area that has been cleared.

Before the BDF were deployed, the Belizean residents of these border villages were afraid to go on the record making reports because they were concerned that the Guatemalans engaging in these activities would harass and bully them for reporting the illegal activities. The BDF intends to offer security where needed while they are in the area.

A press release from the Ministry of National Security says, “The Ministry… has received information of illegal farming in various areas in western and southern Belize. The Belize Defence Force continuously deploy patrols in these areas to prevent and deter illegal activities.

Where these activities are discovered within the adjacency zone, the Ministry, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, works with the OAS… to conduct verification and subsequently destroy any illegal farming that is discovered.

Where these discoveries are east of the border and not within the adjacency zone they are destroyed immediately. The Ministry of National Security encourages any person that comes across any illegal activity conducted in these areas to report it to the authorities so that an assessment can be made and the appropriate actions are taken.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 May 2018 11:51