Earlier this week, the prolific writer and former ambassador for Belize Assad Shoman was at the University of Belize’s Belmopan Campus to talk to students about the Guatemalan Claim and the way forward. On Thursday he was in Belize City with his new book – a sort of guide for Belizeans to the most frequently asked issues surrounding both the Guatemalan claim and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The book is called “How You Can End the Guatemalan Claim,” and Mr Shoman’s “you” refers to the Belizean people.
Assad Shoman – Author:
When we learned that the Referendum was due to be held on 6th of October this year, I actually removed myself from one of the jobs I had living in Cuba, to give myself time to work on a book, because I felt that it was absolutely essential to the Belizean people to know what was at stake and what, in my opinion, who has been working on this issue from a decade before Independence and since, felt about and talked about the question of going to the ICJ, in a reasoned and calm and deliberate manner. That is why I wrote that book with the clear intention of convincing the Belizean people that that is the best and, in my opinion, the only way for us to end the Guatemalan claim.
Assad Shoman is a staunch advocate of an ICJ solution despite writing that sometimes those decisions are not followed. Assad Shoman also questions the Government’s commitment to include the Opposition in a negotiated settlement with Guatemala even while deploring the PUP’s attitude toward the claim.
Assad Shoman – Author:
I would think that not supporting going to the court clearly and unambiguously now on behalf of the PUP leaders is a betrayal of what the PUP has been doing all its existence, which was to achieve Independence with territorial integrity, and to maintain and defend it. On the other hand, I do understand that in order to have a partnership, you need two parties. What I am told by PUP leaders is that the Prime Minister has not been seeking out and has not been trying to build a real partnership with the leadership of the Peoples’ United Party on this issue.
Mr Shoman went on to note that the UDP in opposition were given every opportunity to participate in the process. PUP leader Francis Fonseca says they will continue to be very deliberate in proceeding.
Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader:
We respect what he has to say but I had made it very clear on many occasions that the People’s United Party will proceed on this matter at its own pace. He is right, the People’s United Party started this process and we have an obligation to respect the process and we are treating it with the seriousness that it requires and demands, but we will not be pushed in the wrong direction. This is not Assad Shoman’s People’s United Party. This is not the PUP of 1950. This is not the PUP of 1981. This is not the PUP of 1998. This is not even the PUP of 2008. Political parties are not static bodies. They change, they evolve and the new people come into those organizations with new ideas and we have to respect that and we have to grow from that.
How You Can End the Guatemalan Claim can be downloaded free of charge at the Government’s referendum website.