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Feb 7, 2018

MLA Charges G.O.B. Getting Personal Information During House-to-House Referendum Campaign in South

Pablo Mis

Is the matter of the age-old territorial dispute with Guatemala and a pending referendum to determine whether the unfounded claim should be taken before the International Court of Justice, being used as a political football?  In the south, there are at least six Mayan communities that think so. They have raised concerns about house-to-house visits being conducted on behalf of government, during which a survey is being carried out in respect of the Guatemalan claim.  According to village leaders, personal data has been obtained from residents while being asked if they support government’s position on taking the claim to the I.C.J.  The Toledo Alcaldes Association, as well as the Maya Leaders Alliance, contacted the Referendum Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inquire about the awareness campaign.  While the unit has made clear that its responsibility is to inform the public about the referendum, it is not charged with the collection of personal information, including social security numbers and the like. MLA Program Coordinator Pablo Mis explains.

 

Pablo Mis, Program Coordinator, MLA

“We are greatly concerned over some activities that have been happening in the communities related to taking the Guatemalan claim to the ICJ.  We want to ask the Belizean population to join the Maya people in rejecting and opposing any attempts to frustrate, intimidate or to coerce the decision of Belizeans with respect to whether this matter should go to the ICJ or not.  Over the past couple of weeks we have been receiving complaints from alcaldes and villagers explaining that there are individuals within their communities who appear to be organized in groups visiting families and collecting the names of family members, asking for their identification cards and social security cards and asking whether they support the Government of Belize’s position to take the matter to the ICJ.  It has been explained to us that in instances where family members would ask questions, there seem to be some insinuation that if you question too much then you are not in support of the government of Belize’s position.  We firmly believe that the education awareness needs to be done with integrity, it needs to be done in a fair manner where Belizeans can have a decision to make that is informed, a position of their own.”

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