Guatemala says “yes” to going to the ICJ

On Sunday April 15, 2018, Guatemala held its national referendum on whether or not to take the Belize Guatemala territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice. Not surprisingly, the huge majority of those who went to the polls voted “Yes”. However, while it is considered a successful “Go to the ICJ campaign” by the Guatemalan Government due to the results, the voter turnout was extremely poor. Of the 7.5 million registered voters in Guatemala, only 26% turned out to vote. Guatemala does not have a threshold on referendums. While Belize had a 60% threshold for voter turnout for referendums, Guatemala had agitated for Belize to remove the threshold and Belize has since complied. Of the 26% of the Guatemalan voters who went to the referendum polling stations on Sunday, 96% voted “yes” and 4% voted “no”. Following the referendum, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales issued a statement thanking Guatemalans for voting ‘yes’ for an amicable and democratic solution to the territorial claim on Belize. Our colleagues from Krem were in Guatemala for the referendum process and spoke with Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, His Excellency Alexis Rosado for his initial reaction to the referendum results when it became clear that it was a “yes” vote.

H.E Alexis Rosado, Belize Ambassador to Guatemala:


We have to note that this is a historic day; a day that now advances the process that we had agreed to in 2008. We knew this time would come, so we congratulate the government and people of Guatemala for holding a peaceful event. We’re here now, we’re seeing the results. I understand they will soon be announcing the preliminary results, the official one. But clearly you can see what the tendency is, the tendency seems to be for a yes vote. Now it will require for Belize to hold its own vote on the same question.
Reporter: SO do you consider then that todays vote puts pressure on Belizeans to vote yes?

H.E Alexis Rosado, Belize Ambassador to Guatemala:

I don’t know if it puts pressure on Belizeans, the thing is that we had both agreed to go to court subject to the wills of the people, so we knew that this day would come, and I don’t know that it’s a pressure. We have to, someday, ask the Belizean people this same thing. What we have to do now is to make sure that all the Belizean are fully informed with the issue upon which the question is centred upon, whether we should finally and definitely resolve the Guatemalan claim on Belize at the International Court of Justice on the basis of International law.

Krem news also spoke with former Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales. Morales was asked what happens if Belize votes “no” when it is time for its referendum. Here is how he responded.

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales

 If Belize vote no then you need to look out of the legal mechanism to go to the ICJ the problem now is a solution leave the problem forever I ask you

It has happened for a lot of years but I think  200 years

It’s a good fight, it’s a good fight the answer is we cannot continue with this issue because we have created more problems for Belize and for Guatemala and we don’t want it. We need to finish that issue it is important to understand that it is the nature of today and if we want to have peace with Belize we definitely need to be finished with that issue If you go in Guatemala and not in Belize then you’re going the other way and we need to do this according to our law and try to give a solution towards this problem and the best solution is the International Court of Justice.

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