The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), joined by Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), have expanded their demands to the Government of Belize. Already they have asked for the construction of the Forward Operating Base in the Sarstoon area and now they are calling for a moratorium on the issuing of citizenship to Guatemalans until they are satisfied that no attempts are being made to obtain dual citizenship despite supposedly giving up the original status.
Orlando De La Fuente: We believe that the government, both governments, successive governments have used this issue to garner votes and they have not found their procedure. They have broken the constitutional rules as far as granting citizenship to a person from another Country that has a territorial claim over Belize and so the government has been very technical about it because their reason for granting the citizenship and swearing in these Guatemalans is that they say that first they have to renounce their citizenship which they do. The Guatemalans turn in their passports and they renounce their citizenship, but the problem with that is there is no follow up because as soon as they get their Belize Passport and when they go back to Guatemala to visit then they have two citizenship again, they’ll have dual citizenships. So we need to address this matter in a way that makes it work for Belize . We need to stop, we need to moratorium on the issuance of citizenships until we can figure out how to move forward, even if it means amending the constitution.
They also want the Government to verify if a Guatemalan-built road to Jalacte, Toledo District is officially in Belizean territory and if it is, to remove it. Here again is Orlando de la Fuente. According to BTV leader Wil Maheia, supported by de la Fuente, if their demands are not met in a certain period of time they plan a demonstration in Belmopan.
Wil Maheia: Like you say, many demands we have made have not been answered but we will have to take this to Belmopan. And we’re calling on the Belizean people to stand up for Belize. If we go to Belmopan, we need to call on the Belizean people. We will have to go to Belmopan. We’ve gone to all our border monuments, we’ve gone to Sarstoon, now we’re going to Belmopan.
Orlando De La Fuente: The answer is that we need to escalate. We need to raise the stakes. I was at a symposium a few months ago. I know Patrick was there. I was there and I saw at the press conference after the Sarstoon expedition I saw firsthand how the Prime Minister bullied this poor, I think he was.. What’s your reporters name?
Orlando De La Funete: Ortez yeah. And he was trying to paraphrase what the Foreign Minister said. We I was at a symposium. The symposium for peace between Belize and Guatemala and The OAS Peace Fund. And I heard Minister Elrington say that we need to go to the ICJ because we’re a nation without borders and the ICJ needs to decide and tell us where our borders are. He said that, so if the Prime Minister wants to, he could state for the record if that’s that government position, what the foreign minister had said. But we do need to escalate and we do need to take it up.
BTV also discussed statements made by the Jimmy Morales, who is currently leading the race to become Guatemala’s next president. Asked what he considered the “most deplorable” event in Guatemala’s history, Moralez said it was happening right now:
“…we are about to lose Belize. We have not lost it yet. We still have the possibility of going to the International Court of Justice where we can fight [for] that territory or part of that territory…..Like I said it is deplorable anything that is a loss for Guatemala.”
It is yet to be decided if, for the second round of the Guatemalan presidential elections, a referendum to take the Guatemalan claim over Belize before the ICJ will be put to the voters. In May this year, Belize agreed for Guatemala to proceed on its own to hold a referendum on the issue, but the Guatemalan Senate, now dissolved, did not approve the amendment in time. But according to BTV leader Wil Maheia, it means Belizeans must rally against the seeming inevitability of the Hague.
Wil Maheia: I also think that based on what that presidential candidate has to say, that Belizeans need to take note and know that all these foolishness that Belizeans di tell us, Oh we have a winnable case. You think that they foolish? You think they gwen da court thinking that they a lose? This is even more reasons why Belizeans should say no to the ICJ. Absolutely no.