Belize Foreign Minister emphasizes prudence in border activity

Minister Elrington emphasizes prudence in border management. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially frowned on the Belize Territorial Volunteers’ expedition to cut and clear the border between Belize and Guatemala which the Guatemalans insist may be viewed as possible incursion into their territory. Today Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington pointed out that the British marked the current boundary point in conjunction with Guatemala to avoid problems such as this one and said that the Guats are refusing to work with Belize on marking the border.

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs:
vlcsnap-2013-02-27-19h25m01s105As I say to people, the British were here from 1948 when they brought their troops because of the potential danger they saw coming to Belize from Guatemala. So they stationed troops here from 1948 to 1991 and they were here during all that time and they never once attempted anything like what is being attempted by Mr. Maheia. Bear in mind that up until 1981, the country belonged to the British; it was theirs and the border situation existed just as it exists today. I don’t think there is any thinking Belizean who would not want to have such a demarcation. Everyone would want to have it because it would make life so much easier. The problem is that if you have contiguous countries, you can’t make a demarcation without the concurrence of the other side.

On the overall issue which is due for a referendum in October; the Minister continues to insist that Belize has no other option if it is to maintain peace.

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs:
We have tried almost every other option known to man – mediation, arbitration, discussion. The only thing that is left really is going to the ICJ or perhaps some other kind of measures which none of us would like to contemplate. It is like a person who is suffering from terminal cancer. You try everything to stop it. The last thing you’re going to try now is an operation and chemo-therapy and those other things. That’s the stage we are at. We have a cancer that has been with us for an excess of a hundred years. It is affecting the body politic. It is expanding, they are cutting down the xate and they are now panning for gold. We don’t know what is going to happen next.

The Volunteers’ expedition begins this weekend. Minister Elrington says Belize will do what it can to help if the group runs into trouble, but that’s not much.

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs:
No, certainly not. As a matter of fact, it is because of that that we are so concerned. When Belizeans go across the border, whether it is Mexico or Guatemala and get into trouble, the most we can do is to them assistance through our embassies. Help them to find a lawyer and educate them as to the legal process over that side. That is as much as we can do. We can’t do anything else to get them out. So they could be detained there for an indefinite period of time under circumstances I’m sure they will not find acceptable. Our hands are tied.

Belize keeps up protest over video. Last month Belize protested for the second time about the use of a provocative video that fails to properly mark the border between the two countries, making Belize look like a part of Guatemala. It was used during a presentation at the OAS in Washington. But apart from that Minister Wilfred Elrington says Belize will attend the next OAS meeting to be held in Guatemala City and continue to work with our neighbours.

Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs:
I am sure that we will still attend the meeting.  We make our protest known.  I will  tell you what is happening in China right now.  Right now, as we speak, the Chineese Government is putting in their passport all the countries they claim belong to them, including Taiwan, including Vietnam, including other countries.  When these Chinese people go to places like Vietnam in particular, do you know what the Vietnamese do?  They don’t stamp their passport to acknowledge that in fact China owns Vietnam.  What they do is they stamp a separate piece of paper, and put it in the passport and allow the people to come in. Because, notwithstanding the fact that you have a dispute must you cease to relate with people and to act with them.

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