44th SICA summit held in Placencia

The 44th Summit of the SICA heads of State got underway on Wednesday December 17 in the village of Placencia.

Foreign ministers of various Central American countries met to discuss a wide range of issues from national security to climate change, to human trafficking, among others, at the meeting of the council of ministers of foreign affairs which was held on Tuesday.

The summit was chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington as pro tem chair of the Central American Regional Integration System.

vlcsnap-2014-12-18-05h02m48s250vlcsnap-2014-12-18-05h02m25s244However, on Wednesday,  the President of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, arrived in Belize at the Belize Ocean Club in Placencia, where Belize handed over the pro-tem presidency of SICA to Guatemala.

13 Bilateral Agreements with Guatemala were signed on Wednesday, in the presence of the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza. The Agreements are on Prisoner Exchange and the Serving of Penal Sentence; Operating Hours At Legal Terrestrial Entry Points; Program on Seasonal Workers; The Protection, Recovery and Return of Items of Cultural And Natural Patrimony; Visa Waiver for Students; Deportation;Electric Power Trade, Transmission Interconnection and Grid Connectivity; Mutual Recognition of Driver’s Licenses; Movement of Students via land entry points; Protection Of the Environmentand the Sustainable Use of Resources; Degree Equivalence and Recognition of Education documents; Sustainable Tourism; and Stolen Vehicles.

On Wednesday, the People’s United Party issued a statement saying, “The Representative of the Leader of the Opposition  participated in the bilateral discussion andnegotiation of these Agreements in early November of 2014, on the clear basis that any Agreement signed by Belize with Guatemala  first needed to be consulted with the people of Belize, prior toany such Agreement being signed. The People’s United Party takes the position that because of the unjust and unfounded claim ofGuatemala to Belizean territory, any bilateral Agreement between Belize and Guatemala should have been made known to Belizeans and discussed prior being finalized and signed.”

The PUP says it calls on Government to ensure that the remaining Agreements on Joint Exploitation of Hydrocarbons; and an Air Transport Agreement; and any other bilateral Agreement made by the Government ofBelize with the Government of Guatemala, be fully made known to Belizeans, and consulted before the same is finalized or made.

In attendance at the SICA Summit were the presidents of Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Panama along with heads of delegations for Costa Rica and El Salvador.

Up to our news time, Government has not issued a press release on the signing of the bi-lateral agreements.

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