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Oct 30, 2015

Was PM’s Letter to Guatemalan President-Elect Too Soft?

Dean Barrow

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister said that while he would do the courteous thing and offer written congratulations to the new president elect of Guatemala, he would also be stern with Jimmy Morales for his imprudent statements about reviving the territorial claim to Belize.  Calling him a novice, PM Barrow said he would not be bullied by Morales. For context here is what he said.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: October 27th, 2015]

“Congratulations are due to him. There’s a letter that we have prepared that I will send to him offering as a matter of courtesy and with view of the special circumstances that attend the fact of our being neighbors and the fact that we have their unjust territorial claim to deal with, I am sending off a letter in which I am making plain that we remain committed to a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Let me make something clear, Mister Morales is a neophyte, he’s a novice. He’s pulled off a magnificent coup in winning these elections and winning these elections so handily and for that he is to be congratulated. But he will learn that the kind of talk that we heard from him at the start with respect to Belize is absolutely unacceptable. Belize rejects that in its totality and if, as I believe will be the case, those around Mister Morales will make clear to him that to proceed in good neighborliness with Belize, to proceed on the basis of respecting Belize’s territorial integrity is the only way to go. If he realizes that—or let me put it another way—the sooner President-elect Morales recognizes that, the better we will all be. We want to live in peace, we want to continue to live in peace, we want to settle the problems peacefully; we want to do so by diplomatic means. We will not be bullied and Mister Morales needs to learn that right quick. Belize will not be bullied. But we make that absolutely clear.”

 

Reporter

“Need we be worried here in terms of the complex of the Guatemalan landscape changing as a result of their elections?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Well what I said Aaron is I believe and in fact talking to Renee before we started formally, she’s told me of some statements that he’s made that already appeared to be some sort of a retreat. And it is what I said at the start when he first made the intemperate comments that he made, he will come up hard against reality. Obviously in the first flush of enthusiasm when he won the first round and because he is not schooled in the ways of diplomacy and even politics, he said some things that are regrettable. I am convinced that as we go forward, he will recognize and accept that that is not the way to go, that is not the way to talk; that not only does Belize reject that sort of rhetoric, the international community rejects that kind of rhetoric.”

 

Well, the Prime Minister has indeed written to Morales and signed off on it, but the ink had not dried when a version of the document was leaked. True to his word, the PM extends congratulations to Morales, but while there was plenty of bark pre-letter, there was no bite included in the document. The purported letter is crafted with the usual diplo-speak. It states that Belize wishes only to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours and that over the years, both countries have embarked on constructive engagement to build bridges of functional cooperation, even as the path to resolving historical differences at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is pursued if the people so desire. The letter further assures Morales that under the Barrow administration, Belize is committed to continue along that path for which he offers the hand of friendship. We called C.E.O. in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Sylvestre, who told us this evening that all correspondence is handled through diplomatic channels and that he had not seen the letter in circulation on social media.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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6 Responses for “Was PM’s Letter to Guatemalan President-Elect Too Soft?”

  1. concerned says:

    What un tink dean mi fi seh? Look ya, Comedian turn President! Not a blade a grass, my bwoi!

  2. carlos says:

    The P M is like those dogs that bark and don’t bite. Just the opposite how he behaves in the house of rep with his own people and when he should behave to show is frustration he doesn’t . I thinks he suffers from multiple personality.

  3. Marie says:

    This is what Morales needs to understand, just as land is abandoned and squatters take over, so is Belize. Claim was never made to it withinthe limitation time and they never invested in it, so how can you say many m years later say it is your.

  4. UNCLE BENJI says:

    Channel 5 is asking the question “Was PM’s Letter to Guatemalan President-Elect Too Soft?” No. The question is not too soft, considering the letter was never delivered.

    Dean Ali-BABArrow released that letter to appease our angst; but the UDP is too cowardly to have the letter delivered for fear of upsetting the Goats (oops, the Guats).

  5. Money Man says:

    No, I don’t think the PM’s letter to the Guatemalan president was too soft at all. I think we can excuse the PM’s statement to the local media where he said he would be stern in his letter. That was for political gain. However, I think the PM was very considerate, responsible and clever in the way he worded his letter. While most of us would wish that Guatemala would just drop its unfounded claim we can’t have our PM picking a fight with them either. We can stand our ground and demand respect while still being respectful. After all, we are neighbors.

  6. Teacher says:

    Belizeans need a training course on diplomatic processes and procedures, including the person who authorized the post of this news piece.

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