Last week Thursday, the Belize Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Wilfred Elrington and the Guatemala Foreign Minister Fernando Carrera met in the old capital to dialogue on confident building measures and an amicable way forward for a simultaneous referendum on the ICJ to once and for all put an end to the territorial dispute.
The meeting, says GOB, was a productive and successful one. Both Foreign Ministers exited the meet in good-nature, but all is not well on the ground. Many Belizeans still hold the position that the ICJ would not be a smart move for Belize.
Last week, Minister Elrington told the media that the Government is prepared to sell the idea of an ICJ judgment to the people, and it seems that they have their work cut out.
In light of Government’s reinforced discussion with neighboring Guatemala, today, the People’s National Party issued a fiery press release, asking that the Barrow Administration cease and desist. We spoke with PNP Leader, Wil Maheia via telephone.
“We believe that it is premature for the government to begin dialogue with the Guatemalan and going back with the ICJ, whe there are some promises that this government has made, for example, in the Prime Minister’s September speech, he promised that there would be rangers prenuring the station going up in the Chiquibul along the Belize-Guatemala border; that has not been done. So, they have done nothing to stop the incursions. You see Guatemalans continue to come into our country: we continue to see that there is no respect for our border and we continue to see that our Belize government neglecting our border. So, we believe that we need to start thinking about these issues before thinking of going to the ICJ. We continue of going to the ICJ, especially now after it was agreed that last year was going to be the year and the Guatemalans backed out. Why is this that every time, the Guatemalans speak, we seem to say, how? Hi! It is time for Belize and Belizeans to stand up and defend our country and our borders”.
Then there’s the matter of demarcation. In this regard, the PNP says “We want to be good neighbors with our brothers and sisters in Guatemala”. But there’s an old saying, “Good fences make good neighbors. And good borders make good neighbors too.”
The PNP continues to state that despite promises from the government, no border posts have been built along the border, making it an invitation for incursion into Belize, theft of the country’s natural resources, and banditry and lawlessness along the border.
Mr. Wil Maheia: “I was in the border this morning at the Sarstoon area, and Guatemalans continue to invade our country. We would like to ask the government to begin to put its resources along the borderline and let us as Belizeans have a clear and defined border before even thinking of going to the ICJ.
The party has categorically expressed in its release that talks with Guatemala on the ICJ at this point, is premature. But is going to the international judiciary an altogether poor decision? The PNP says it is.
Mr. Wil Maheia: “We are saying categorically NO. Belize has nothing to gain going to the ICJ. The only country that has anything by going to the ICJ is Guatemala. We would like to continue to build our relationship as it we issued the press release, Guatemala should be a good neighbour. So, we work at building that relationship, but there is no reason for us to define where our border is. We know where our borderline is “.
Maheia, in his written statement affirms: “We have no confidence that Guatemala will respect any decision made by the ICJ. The government of Guatemala doesn’t respect the current borders now, so why should it respect them when the ICJ declares in our favor.” Meanwhile, Minister Elrington has gone on record to say that GOB intends to take all viewpoints into consideration.