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Apr 9, 2018

Gov’t Appeals to Maturity and Good Sense of Belizeans in Awareness Campaign

Wilfred Elrington

Eight million dollars is to be budgeted supplementary for the upcoming I.C.J. awareness campaign, nearly all from international sources. But on the ground, Foreign Minister Elrington says it has been low-key ever since the launch in 2010 due to lack of continuing resources. Nonetheless, he says the key groups are being reached, and their feedback is one of listening instead of reacting too quickly. He counts on the maturity and good sense of Belizeans to help resolve the dispute peacefully.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Certainly more can be done. We have used social media, we use one-to-one, we have dealt with the group situation. But the bottom line for everything we do is finance and we can only act to the extent that the finances which we have and the other resources, human resources, will allow us. There are limitations on those resources. And it was thought that it may not have been prudent, earlier on, to expend too much money and to get into too much of a full-blown campaign too early, before the referendum takes place. The intention is to start off slowly, a low-intensity campaign, then build up closer we come to the referendum. So that is the game plan and that’s what we have been advised.”

 

Marleni Cuellar, Host

“The challenge though, that you face in that situation, I would say, is when there is a lack of information, when there is a void, people make their own assumptions. And we’ve seen quite a bit of uprising on issues with Guatemala and going to the I.C.J., spearheaded by some of the very people Isani mentioned; we’ve seen the issue with the Belize Territorial Volunteers and the issues in the Chiquibul. So where the case has not been laid forward to the public and we see these issues taking place, for many Belizeans, they have already made up their minds.”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“Actually, those very incidences have caused people to say, look, let us try to solve it peacefully, because we don’t want these types of incidences occurring, and the only way we can in fact get some kind of assurance they will cease is if we have the dispute resolved. So it has not had a negative effect. As a matter of fact I like the maxim that there is seemingly nothing negative that does not have its positive aspects to it. And every time there is one of these incidents – every time people go to the Sarstoon, every time people call in and talk about it, there are others who are listening. And if there is one thing I can say about the Belizean people, the Belizean people in large measure are very, very intelligent. They do not react in a knee-jerk fashion; they think carefully about what they do, and then they act. There will always be those who act in an knee-jerk fashion, but the majority of the Belizean people – as a matter of fact, the safety and security of our country to this point in time, has been largely due to the maturity and good sense of the Belizean people, who when we were really under pressure, came through in flying colors by making the right decision. And that was so in 1798; that was so in 1981; and I’m sure that is going to be the case when we go to the referendum.”

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