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Apr 12, 2016

Ambassador Assad Shoman Says Nothing is Etched in Stone as Yet

Assad Shoman

Seasoned negotiator and expert in the field of Guatemala dispute, Ambassador Shoman, explained that nothing at this point is set in stone despite first perception. Still, he asserts that the goal is to push Guatemala into treating the Sarstoon situation as a matter of extreme urgency and that means setting very tight deadlines for a response.

 

Assad Shoman, Opposition Representative

“We asked them to reply within a week, because we want to keep the pressure up; we want to make sure that they know that this is a matter of urgency for us and for the Belizean people. We don’t know; we can’t force them, but we are hoping that they will reply and that the reply will be positive and helpful for us as we seek to maintain our people’s security and ability to use the land that we won and the land that has been defined in the 1859 Treaty—a treaty, which as you know, the Guatemalan government has declared void, but which in international law is not void at all, but is binding on both countries. And we often here the talk about article seven; the famous article seven of that treaty which talks about the cart road that was supposed to be built and presumably because that wasn’t built—which was an obligation of both countries and not of one—then they said that the treaty is void. But I invite you to look at article six of that treaty, which speaks about the right of free navigation for both countries along the Sarstoon River. The media has it and our people should know about it. So, as I said, the minister has really told you all the details that went down. Some things that we learnt on the side that are quite encouraging, if true…because as you know, we can’t really trust anybody in this situation. We are hoping that people will keep their word and so on; we are hoping that truth prevails, but we always have to be on our guard. But the Foreign Minister of Guatemala did tell us that he has met with the twenty-two members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Congress and that they have expressed support for sending that protocol to amend the special agreement because as we know right now we are in a kind of limbo. We signed a special agreement and that was ratified, but then there is this protocol which changes the special agreement in certain ways, which has not yet been ratified so that where are we.  So we need to have that done and we’ve been asking the international community to speak to Guatemala. They have been doing that and the latest that the Foreign Minister told us is that; that he has the support of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Congress and hopefully when it goes to Congress it will meet with approval.”

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