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Jan 19, 2018

Guatemala Gets Its Way: O.A.S.’ Magdalena Talamas Exits

There have been developments in respect of relations with Guatemala. Special Representative of the O.A.S. Secretary General for Belize-Guatemala Affairs, Magdalena Talamas, has been reassigned from her post at the Adjacency Zone, following a protest by the Guatemalan government demanding her removal.  President Jimmy Morales, as well as former Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales, complained bitterly about Talamas to O.A.S. Secretary General Miguel Insulza after she had spoken out in the wake of the shooting death of Guatemalan minor Julio Alvarado Roano in the Chiquibul Forest.  The fourteen-year-old boy was shot and killed in that vast wilderness on April twentieth, 2016, when he, along with several other poachers, came in contact with B.D.F. personnel.  In the wake of the incident, a Special Independent Commission was ordered to investigate what took place that evening.  The findings of the inquiry absolved the B.D.F. from culpability in the death of the teenager.  Nonetheless, the Guatemalans publicly and emphatically rejected the Commission’s report.  Subsequently, Talamas had spoken in affirmation of the Commission’s findings, incensing the Guatemalan government in the process.  Belize’s Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, spoke on Talamas’ removal.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“At our last meeting with the Guatemalan foreign minister, the new Guatemalan foreign minister, she had expressed, we had that meeting with the Secretary General Insulza, and he had expressed the wish of the Guatemalan government that Ms. Talamas be no longer associated with the work of the OAS at the Adjacency Zone.  That seems to have been the culmination of a very bitter complaint which the president had made against her, resulting from pronouncements she had made at the time of the incident involving the death of the young man.  I think they were offended by her position but I think she was simply articulating the findings of the commission, but that caused offense to the Guatemalan president himself.  He was very upset and had been calling for her removal from the time of that incident.  The former Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Carlos Raul Morales, had also called for her removal.  I think the Guatemalans took it so personally that at the last time when the Secretary General visited Guatemala, both he and I, I think the Guatemalan president refused him audience.  So they took it very personally and so they have been insisting that she be no longer associated with the work of the OAS at the Adjacency Zone.  The position really is that the OAS acts as a mediator to try and help both Belize and Guatemala to resolve our issues peacefully.  They have no power or authority to impose any conditions on us really.  We agree upon the terms and conditions of our engagement with them and unless both parties agree to have things done or to have people represent us, they can’t foist anybody on us.”

 

Talamas was instrumental in the O.A.S.’ Peace Fund activities between Belize and Guatemala.

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