Part of restoring trust and confidence in the peoples of Belize and Guatemala is to remedy two annoying matters for Belize: the odious map that suggests that Belize is part of Guatemala and the constant incursions into the Belizean forests, particularly the Chiquibul. Foreign Minister Carrera issued a strong denial of Guatemala’s Government supporting any offensive map today.
“What we have discussed today is that these measures of confidence also include measures of promoting social and economic development and I think what is important is that we understand the security progress you are mentioning, how social conditions need to be solved, and definitely, we haven’t created the problems as government of Guatemala. The problems of poverty of Guatemala are structural, but we are doing our best and we are improving now. We are developing new programs of social and economic developments with communities in the Adjacency Zone. So, that will be our also- promote social and economic development as a way of ensuring security in the area”.
As for the second issue, the Guatemalan Minister has pledged that his people will be kept out by means of carrots and not sticks.
H. E. Fernando Carrera: “Actually, what we have already clarified from last year is that Guatemala has any intention to include to Belize to Guatemala; we have an official map that is accepted for Guatemalan purposes; our passports indicate that and we have never done that; we never call the territory of Belize within the territory of Guatemala. That is a usual practice for several years; we have continued to do it, so it was a mal intention for those people to say that we were doing that. Officially, we haven’t done anything like that and officially, there is no map that includes Belize within the Guatemalan territory”.
Reporter: “But I flew recently flew through Flores and right at the Immigration checkpoint, there is the map right there in Guatemala”.
H. E. Fernando Carrera: “Tell the Immigration office that that is not the official map”.
Reporter: “But I intend that you tell them because if I do, I may end up behind bars”.
H. E. Fernando Carrera: “Sure, I can tell them as well”.
And Minister Elrington says efforts to that end have already begun.
Hon. Wilfred Elrington- Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize
“But I will just add, Jules that only yesterday, I saw a video that is being put out by the Guatemalan counterpart to the NGO that is protecting their forest and they have a very beautiful video out now, advising the Guatemalans that they are not supposed to cross into Belizean territory. The Guatemalans have also introduced programs along their borders which is going to generate employment for their people and create the conditions, so they won’t have to come to Belize. So, they have already started taking initiatives to encourage their people not to come across Belize territory and they are stating very clearly that this is Belize territory; you are no to come across this spot. So, they are doing two things: they are doing the public education; I saw it myself- I saw the video and I know for a fact that they are expending resources to provide economic programs for their people, so, the inducement to come to Belize will be less. I can tell you they have already started and that is very encouraging for us”.