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Dec 18, 2014

Border Incursions on Centre Stage at SICA Summit

The ratification of thirteen agreements between Belize and Guatemala, in the words of Prime Minister Barrow, is a single step commencing the journey of a thousand miles.  The long road ahead for both countries to resolve an age-old territorial dispute is perhaps being made smoother by the signing of the cooperative agreements.  But there has been tensions of late concerning encroachment by Guatemalan nationals in the Chiquibul National Park. In September, Tourism Police Officer Danny Conorquie was gunned down while on duty at Caracol Archeological Site. His murder has never been resolved even though it is believed that it was carried out by a group of Guatemalan nationals. Among the questions posed during Wednesday’s Q and A with the prime minister is the prioritization of the thirteen agreements and whether they focus on the persistent incursions.

 

William Neal

“In terms of, you’ve reviewed, obviously, all thirteen [agreements].  In terms of priority because of the limitations of human and financial resources, what would be the ones that you think are extremely important given the fact of challenges obviously within Chiquibul, for example.  Would that be at the top?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“That is certainly at or near the very top and the agreement having to do with tourism that is also something that I consider very important.  But really, I don’t want to, I don’t want to short sell any of the agreements and I think that it must be looked at as a whole, a whole that as I said represents nothing less than a tremendous breakthrough in terms of the relations between Belize and Guatemala. These are agreements for practical, functional cooperation.  I don’t see how there would have been any need for the kind of consultation they seem to be talking about.  In any case, we will take the agreements to the senate and so there can be a full debate in that forum.  But I am at a loss to understand the stance of the opposition given how central their participation was to this entire process.”

 

Reporter

“Are you able to speak about how the agreements work within the practical dimensions of our relationship where they have a constitution which does not recognize us and we have a constitution which requires that we have a referendum before any long term agreement be made?  So there are, there seem to be structural limitations to having this sort of relationship.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There might be legal questions, but I am saying that this does not in any way conflict with the constitutional requirement that any settlement with Guatemala go to a referendum.”

 

P.M. Barrow departed the country earlier today en route to Miami where he will remain on personal leave until Monday.

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