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Aug 17, 2017

Can Guatemala’s Referendum Be Trusted?

Following a round of fruitless bilateral discussions with Guatemala in Istanbul, Turkey in May 2016, which ultimately failed to produce a Sarstoon Protocol, the former foreign minister’s perspective on the matter has shifted to one of skepticism.  The pending referendum, she says, will find Belize in a catch twenty-two, since the holding of separate voting exercises will lead to further suspicion about Guatemala’s intent for going to the I.C.J.

 

Lisa Shoman, Former Foreign Minister

“One of the things that has me particularly incensed about this is that after Guatemala aggressed Belizeans on the Sarstoon River, in our internal waters, let me remind, we were in our internal waters at all times, not only was a Sarstoon Protocol never negotiated, we went from Istanbul to no bull, to a totally different kind of bull.  Because what happened was, not only did the Guatemalans never negotiate a Sarstoon Protocol but somehow they got our government to agree to de-link any referendum process and therefore they say that they can and they will go ahead.  That remains to be seen.  As far as I am concerned, I have watched too many agreements and accords with Guatemala fall apart for me to have any belief at this point that Guatemala will do what it says and go by referendum by next year.  I can tell you this, that from where I sit the foreign minister of Guatemala looks as though he’s contemplating a presidential career and so maybe this is what that is about.”

 

Lisa Shoman

Isani Cayetano

“To what detriment would this be to Belize should the Guatemalans proceed with their referendum?”

 

Lisa Shoman

“It puts us in a very difficult position.  As you know, deep-dyed in our bones we are very suspicious of whatever path Guatemala decides to take in terms of this.  I mean that there are people who will be suspicious if they vote yes and there are people who will point out, I told you so, if they vote no.  The only hope that we ever had that one process would not infect the other process was to hold them simultaneously.”

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