Today in Belize City Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington hosted his Guatemalan counterpart Fernando Carrera. This time last year the two countries were preparing to launch a campaign leading up to a simultaneous referendum asking citizens whether to take the long-standing territorial dispute between the two to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in October. Because of jitters by Guatemala the deal fell through and now both sides are busy trying to patch it up. Minister Carrera spoke to the press today.
“Sure, I decided and pay a visit to our friend here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the whole Commission of Follow-ups with the relationship between Guatemala and Belize in order to dialogue in this year 2014 on the right, foot, on the right direction in a peaceful manner and this is what the dialogue we are looking for”.
Reporter: “Will we have a bi-national referendum in 2014?”
H. E. Fernando Carrera: “We are not very sure so far, but definitely, we are going to have stronger and better measures of confidence. I think that is what is important today that we have started to talk about measures of confidence from the beginning of the year and I think that is going to open up the space for that“.
Minister Elrington says both countries are trying their best to work together.
“I want to have meetings between parliamentarians because the Guatemalan parliamentarians have got to agree to this process so that they can sell it to their people, in the same manner our people have agreed to the process. So, we got to get the politicians on board, we have got to have more meeting between Guatemalan parliamentarians. As a matter of fact, one is here now the diputado has come along with the delegation. We’ll have more meeting with the people in the business sector; Chamber of Commerce and we would like to have more meetings with the people in the schools, the churches, academia, and of course, the commercial sector so that people feel comfortable about this; people can take ownership of this process, this decision, to take this matter to the ICJ. We have to it’s a senior quo non to a successful referendum. You can’t have a successful referendum unless you sell the idea to the people and you can’t sell it to them successfully unless you feel confident about it. So, that is what we are doing”.
Now, the Minister says, the task is to get everyone on board.
Hon. Wilfred Elrington: “We have always eternal been optimists, both myself and the foreign former foreign minister of Guatemala and the present foreign Minister, but there are realities. There are people in the society who were opposed to it for one reason or the other, but you have got to take everybody’s view into consideration and try to win them over; that is basically what we are trying to do, to win as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, so that we can move forward to the ICJ. One thing that we have reiterated and we have no doubt about is that the ICJ is the only way to go. We are resolved on that and we are moving towards that. Now we want to get people who have difficulty with that to come on board on that view”.