By Cristal Romo
Caribbean News Now contributor
BELMOPAN, Belize -- On Saturday, a private group known as the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), spearheaded by Wil Maheia of PG TV and the People’s National Party (PNP), met at Belize’s border with Guatemala, to carry out a cleanup campaign to clear vegetation on Belize’s side of the border. The group consisting of 150 volunteers began the work at Container Hill from sunrise to late afternoon.
The contingent had representation from various social groups including Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA); the University of Belize; the Belize Coalition for Justice; BelizeCan, a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization established as a “watchdog group” to strengthen the democratic principles and social justice in the nation of Belize; Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association; and various media representatives, along with Belizean men, women and children.
According to Maheia, the day was a successful one, with approximately 20 meters being cleared along Belize’s side of the border.
“The day went without a hitch. During our preliminary work, we discussed the border and pointed out exactly where it is at... As we walked along the road, we met up with Guatemalans, who had with them the presence of a representative from the Organization of American States (OAS) who confirmed after verifying his GPS coordinates that the Guatemalans were indeed on Belizean soil,” Maheia reported.
After a conversation with the Guatemalan neighbours, Maheia stated, “Rather than being arrested at the border as the Foreign Minister [Hon. Wilfred Elrington] had indicated, there were hugs instead.”
The Belize Territorial Volunteers plan to continue clearing Belize’s side of the border. Cayo and Orange Walk volunteers will now set to plan their individual campaigns and clear border lines along their districts.
“We just want to clean up our country. To clean the overgrown vegetation on our side of the border,” stated Maheia, “This is not the first time such an initiative is being carried out. The same exercise has been conducted many times peacefully before without incident or conflict. We simply now will carry out the job that has been neglected for so long.”
Belize Territorial Volunteers are a group of volunteers, concerned Belizeans who live mostly on the south, along the border, and are concerned about the incursions into Belize.