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Apr 16, 2018

How Did We Get Here?

We have heard from Belizeans as to what they are thinking now that the results in Guatemala are a reality. But how, really, did we get here? It started ten years ago when the countries signed a special agreement in Washington, but there have been quite a few bumps in the road since. News Five’s Marleni Cuellar has more.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The historic decision completes the first of two referenda that must be held to gain approval to progress the territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala to the International Court of Justice.


The history of the dispute predates Belize’s independence – but this path to the ICJ started almost ten years ago in 2008 with the signing of the Compromis or special agreement between Belize and Guatemala at the O.A.S. in Washington. This agreement was recommended by the O.A.S. after both governments failed to find a resolution through negotiations and mediation.


This special agreement outlined the specific question the Guatemalans responded to on Sunday. That question is: Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determines finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the parties? It is the very same question that Government of Belize has committed to put to Belizeans in our own referendum.


Initially, the 2008 Compromis outlined a joint referenda to be held on the same date in 2013. However, the agreement was amended in 2015 to allow for the separation of the date. This allowed Guatemala to hold their referendum before Belize evens set a date for its own.


Foreign Minister Elrington has suggested that the Belize referendum may be held at the end of the year or early 2019. The date can only be finalized following a re-registration exercise that is set to commence in the upcoming months.

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