Today the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala met in Belize under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS). It is the start of a “Belize-Guatemala” week, a planned operation of the OAS to bring greater understanding of the countries’ territorial differendum and the efforts to solve it. And barring a miraculous return to negotiations, that solution is the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherlands. Belizean Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington explained why today.
“I have been a part of all the process, the practical and the theory of it. We decided, quite early, that it will be the decision of the Belizean people to decide whether we go to the ICJ. That is the position up to this present time. We as a government are disposed to going. Every single foreign minister has agreed that is the right thing to do. Every leading intellectual of this country who is into the political sphere as agreed that that is the right course to take. Of course you won’t have unanity in anything in any country. there will always be division but the leading thinkers, the leading politicians in this country, former Prime Minster, foreign ministers all agree that the ICJ is the only place to go. We have exhausted all other.
And while both countries are waiting for the final go-ahead from their people, the Minister says life goes on in both countries, which are working together as never before.
Hon. Wilfred Elrington
“So today now, we sit together with the Guatemalans in every multilateral organization. We work together for the interest and benefit of this region as well as for our individual countries. We need each other. Not only do our people go across every day to buy and sell. Not only do our Minnonites sell most of their products over in Guatemala, but we have our students who are there to go to study, and they have their students who come across here. When people get ill, they go to Guatemala because their medical facilities are so excellent. I met a Belizean living in Guatemala about a month of so, whi has been there for sixty-four years, happily so. You do a canvassing through the entire Belize, you will notice that many Guatemalans are keeping our industries going. Many of them are working in our industries.”
His Guatemalan counterpart, Carlos Raul Morales, who has extensive experience with Belize, made clear that Guatemala believes it can build a friendship with a nation who was never its enemy.
” I am a diplomat of Korea and I have been working on this Issue of Belize for a long time ago. As a matter of fact, I served in Belize as a counsel for four years and I know of the situation very well. The first thing we agreed, with Minister Elrington, is to separate the bilateral agreement with the differendum because if we mix the differendum in every act we do every day, it will result in a very bad formula. We need to advance, we need to try to do things together – Guatemala and Belize. Then, we are going to separate the differendum from the bilateral agenda. In the frame work or the confidence building measures, we began to act. I have to recognize the good will of Minister Elrington, which is a good friend, and as myself, we wanted this for both countries. We want to build the peace of both counrtries.”
The forum to be hosted by the OAS will take place on Tuesday at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts.