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Aug 16, 2017

Can New Guatemala Road Help Belize? Foreign Minister Looks at the Bright Side

The Guatemalan press reported that Taiwan is to grant that country six hundred fifty million U.S. dollars in assistance to construct the CA-Nine Highway to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. But the Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize has responded that his country is not in a position to accommodate the multi-million dollar request.  According to Foreign Minister Elrington, the proposed highway does not affect the territorial dispute between both countries. Instead, Elrington says that Belize should capitalize on how the improved infrastructure can benefit our country.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Foreign Affairs Minister

“Whatever helps enhance their road infrastructure has a very important implication of their economic development and because we are so near to each other, there can always be spill off effects. So if you have a nice four-way highway in Guatemala going all the way to the sea, you might well find very soon you have many more people coming through to Belize, going up to Mexico from Guatemala. So it brings more traffic to Belize; that of course brings both benefits and burdens so it is something that we need to be apprise of and see how we can benefit from it. I think the benefits outweigh the negatives and I think we need to position ourselves to benefit from it when it happens.”

 

Reporter

“Do you think this is part of their strategy in relation to the entire Belize/Guatemala dispute. If the matter goes to the I.C.J., they will be able to say well we now are building our own road, the very road on which the territorial dispute is hinged on, to use that to their benefit?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“That’s a continuous mistake. I am always deeply saddened and distressed by the absence of knowledge on the part of the Belizean public in relation to the Belize/Guatemalan issue. We have to go to the I.C.J. because we have to define our borders. The maritime borders were never defined, never demarcated, never agreed upon and the western border, we have conflict on that. That is why we have to go to the I.C.J.; it has nothing to do with the building of the road. As a matter of fact the whole issue of the building of a road clause seven under the 1859 treaty was regarded by the British as a non-issue; that’s a non-issue. So whether they build it or not, it is not of any moment; it is not going to affect in any way the litigation that we have. It is a non-issue. It has no real bearing on the issue. Why we have to go to the I.C.J. is that we do not have borders that are internationally recognized.”

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