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May 3, 2016

Bilateral Meeting between Belize and Guatemala in Washington

Wilfred Elrington

Last Friday, the Government of Belize passed a most controversial law to prevent the Belize Territorial Volunteers from entering the Sarstoon, over which the Guatemalans are now in full control. We will have that story later, but today, the Prime Minister spoke for the first time of that law and other developments in the Sarstoon. Now, there is an acceleration of efforts to garner support from key regional and international entities, where Belize’s sovereignty and a recent public relations onslaught from Guatemala are concerned. Since the shooting which occurred in the Chiquibul two weeks ago, G.O.B. has managed to obtain a resolution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) in support of Belize’s territorial integrity, as well as an undertaking from the Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland. In addition, as recently as last Friday, there have been expressions of support from CARICOM and the United Kingdom. But perhaps the most sensitive undertaking, happening currently, is a bilateral meeting between Belize and Guatemala, which happened in Washington earlier today. PM Barrow broke the news of the current talks at a press briefing in Belmopan this afternoon.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Belizeans should note that these results so far make clear that our position, our cause, is understood and accepted by the international community. In other words, they know that our security personnel came under attack yet again, this time under cover of darkness, from Guatemalan civilians squarely in our territory; they know that these civilians were engaged in their continuing illegal activity which, in the Chiquibul alone, has cost this country tens of millions of dollars in plundered resources and environmental degradation; they know that the B.D.F., small in number, strapped for resources and facing almost impossible odds, continues to wage a heroic struggle to protect and preserve Belizean patrimony. The international community knows, to sum it all simply up, that Belize has the right in this matter.  Still, our work proceeds and there will be no let up. Thus it is that our Foreign Minister has been dispatched directly from the Bahamas to Washington, where we have succeeded, with the help of the Americans, in arranging a number of meetings. These are with the O.A.S., with the State Department—and that meeting with the State Department took place at eleven Washington time this morning. It was with the Under Secretary of State, Ambassador Shannon, who I believe is the number two to Kerry. So there was that meeting this morning at eleven and another meeting takes place just about now, perhaps started maybe an hour or so ago. That was scheduled for four, Washington time, a bilateral meeting between Belize and Guatemala.”

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