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Dec 22, 2017

Guatemala Moves to Restore Normal Diplomatic Relations

Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington’s meeting with his Guatemalan counterpart Sandra Jovel Polanco produced a number of updates on critical issues between the two countries. After months of tension due to confrontations at both the western and southern borders, Guatemala appears to be signaling a return to diplomacy. Belize is soon to get back an Ambassador from Guatemala, replacing former Ambassador to Belize Manuel Estuardo Roldan Barillas. He was recalled at the height of the tensions when a young Guatemalan was killed in the Chiquibul in April 2016. He has since been named Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. The countries are to name a bilateral commission to fully implement the thirteen agreements signed in Placencia in 2015, and work together on funding for the O.A.S. office at the adjacency zone. But Elrington says Belize does not support the removal of Magdalena Talamas as the O.A.S. Representative, despite Guatemala’s continued ire at the results of the report vindicating Belizean joint law enforcement team in the death of Julio Alvarado Ruano.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“We talked about the thirteen agreements that we had signed, of course, and we thought that it was very necessary that we have the joint commission reestablished and to see how we could move forward. We did not want the fact that we were going to the I.C.J. to stop us from continuing with this neighborly development of the relationship by implementing these proposals. So we are going to have the joint commission reestablished; [Belize Ambassador to Guatemala] Alexis [Rosado] is going to head it on our side. And a new Guatemalan ambassador is going to be posted in Belize, hopefully by the end of January, and his name is His Excellency [Georges] de la Roche, a very seasoned Guatemalan diplomat, and so he is going to head the commission on the Guatemalan side and we hope they will get to work sooner or later.   They had some problem at the O.A.S. office. They have always, since the incident with the young boy in Guatemala; they’ve expressed some reservations with respect to the O.A.S. representative, Ms. Talamas, overseeing the activities of the OAS. Well, it’s a matter that they wanted to raise with [Secretary General Luis Miguel] Almagro. We couldn’t oppose that, but we made it very clear to them that we had no difficulty with the lady. We have worked well with her. They have difficulty with her, and they wanted to have her removed. So, that was an issue which we would have had to raise with Almagro.”

 

Ambassdor de la Roche’s previous post was in India from 2014 to 2016.

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