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Statement by the Office of the General Secretariat of the OAS in the Belize-Guatemala Adjacency Zone

  July 27, 2012

On July 19, 2012, the Office of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States in the Belize-Guatemala Adjacency Zone (OAS/AZ Office) was notified by Belizean authorities that an incident had taken place in Toledo District involving Belize Defense Force (BDF) soldiers and a group of three Guatemalan citizens, which had resulted in the death of one of the Guatemalan citizens and the arrest of the other two who were charged with illegal entry into the country and illegal logging in a protected national park.

The OAS/AZ Office immediately made arrangements to travel to the site where the incident occurred so as to undertake the pertinent verification and interview all parties involved. Currently, a detailed report with the results of the investigation is being prepared and will be submitted shortly to the governments of Belize and Guatemala, although initial findings confirm that the incident took place more than 3 km from the Adjacency Line outside the Adjacency Zone administered by Belize; that the Guatemalan citizens were felling trees in a protected national park; and that the deceased Guatemalan citizen was carrying two firearms at the time that he was confronted by the BDF.

Although the full investigation has yet to be completed, it is important to note that the Government of Belize has given Guatemalan authorities full access to interview the arrested Guatemalan citizens, as well as to the autopsy of the deceased, during which a Guatemalan forensic doctor was present. Members of the Embassy of Guatemala in Belize were also able to visit the site of the incident.

This incident, together with other priority issues on the bilateral agenda, will be discussed at the high level meeting between Belize and Guatemala at the deputy minister level, which will take place next Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC.

The events of the past week emphasize the urgency of finding a permanent and peaceful solution to the centuries-old territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala and thus the importance of submitting the differendum to the International Court of Justice for final settlement.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-269/12