Belize And Guatemala Border Dispute: Is This War?

“Kathleen, my husband and I have been considering investing/moving to Belize for some months now. I recently read in the papers that the ‘war’ between Guatemala and Belize is heating up, with both sides making fresh accusations and Guatemala actually sending 3,000 troops to the border.

“This has to be affecting the expats as well as the locals. Can you give us some ideas about what you and your staff think this will play out? I heard that Great Britain still is responsible for Belize’s security, but in your opinion would they really intervene?

“Thanks for your insight!”

–Mia T., United States

In Focus: Belize contributor and full-time Belize expat Con Murphy responds:

It is mostly political posturing that has been going on for decades. Unfortunately, a teenaged Guatemalan boy was shot and killed recently by Belize Defense Force (BDF) troops near the border. The BDF troops claimed they were returning fire in self-defense. However, the incident has fanned the flames of the conflict, and the new Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales had to take a hard line. The OAS is going to investigate.

That’s really the extent of the current situation.

Note that Guatemala maintains about 3,000 troops in the Petén region, so they aren’t mobilizing these troops; they’ve been there.

The rumor the day after the shooting was that the Guatemalans were going to riot and start fires, etc. A friend drove to the border to see what was what for himself. He told me it was all business as usual. Hundreds of kids were crossing from Guatemala into Belize to go to school like they do every school day, trucks were passing back and forth across the border with supplies, the money changers were out with their wads of quetzals and Belize dollars, etc.

Still, the situation has been sensationalized into an event for local politicians and the media.

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