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Nov 30, 2016

Courtenay Blasts “Salami Sausage Diplomacy”; Confident A.G. States the Facts

Eamon Courtenay

Senator Courtenay went on to attack what he called “salami sausage diplomacy” – the piecemeal offerings by the Government on the Guatemala issue, starting with the ratification of the Special Agreement and Protocol and moving on to the Referendum Act. Courtenay also bruited the possibility of Constitutional amendments and amendments to the Maritime Areas Act, making the case for a joint national commission to look at the issue in its entirety. Meanwhile, Attorney General Senator Vanessa Retreage countered that no choice has been taken away from the Belizean people as it relates to Guatemala, and that Belize has nothing to fear – at least not legally.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“The first slice we get dah the Special Agreement – you nuh get the whole sausage, you just get wah slice. The next slice we get dah the protocol – approve that. But these documents require a referendum, and we hear that there is going to be an amendment to the Referendum Act. We haven’t seen it. Approve this first, that is going to have a referendum; we are not going to show you the amendment to the Referendum Act – that wah be the third slice you wah get; sometime later, next month, they will bring us back here and say, ‘Unu dun seh we gwein da referendum; now here is the law under which we will go to referendum.’ The fourth slice, Mister President – over and over we have been advised, the Maritime Areas Act needs to be amended. We are talking about resolving this dispute with a law that is inimical to our interests. When are we going to get that slice? We have said that the Constitution of Belize needs to be amended to legally carry this process forward – wah next slice. It is piece by piece, slice by slice; that approach, we do not support. It is the view of the People’s United Party, Mister President, that we need to have a comprehensive and holistic approach to Belize-Guatemala relations; including the resolution of the Belize-Guatemala dispute; including the holding of the referendum; including the education exercise that has to be undertaken. And that is why we have repeatedly called for the creation of a national team that looks at this matter, not slice by slice, piece by piece, issue by issue, but in a holistic way, so that we can plan a strategy.”

 

Vanessa Retreage

Vanessa Retreage, U.D.P. Senator

“Why not now? It has been – I think Senator Courtenay has highlighted the fact that it has been eight years since the Special Agreement was signed; it has been fifteen months since the Protocol was signed; why wait longer for someone else to decide how we deal with this issue? Some of the objections to the Agreement have been focused on the precise nature of the Guatemalan claim. To this I say: it matters not what they claim, because any good attorney will tell you, what matters it what can be proved. It will be an indisputable fact before any tribunal that both Britain, as the colonizer, and Belize, as the independent nation, have physically occupied and exerted full control over the entire territory of Belize for over two hundred years. It will be an indisputable fact that Guatemala signed the 1859 Treaty, recognizing the boundaries of then-British Honduras. It will be an indisputable fact, that in 1931, Guatemala recognized the location of the western and southern extremities of Belize. These are the facts, which Guatemala will not be able to dispute.”

 

Courtenay and fellow Opposition Senator Paul Thompson also raised concern about the voters’ lists being “contaminated” by Guatemalans who have assumed Belizean citizenship, and the fact that the House of Representatives, directly elected, did not see the Special Agreement and protocol before the Senate did.

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