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Apr 20, 2018

Economist Weighs in on Referendum Result

The popular magazine The Economist has weighed in on the results of Guatemala’s referendum on Sunday. Nearly ninety-six percent of participating voters agreed to filing a case at the International Court of Justice concerning the country’s claim to over half of Belize. It gently mocked Belize’s congratulatory response to the result, which it described as “an outrageous act of provocation.” The government’s press release had said the result “contributes further to the strengthening of democracy, peace and security.” But the Economist column continues by saying that the most likely outcome is that nothing will happen. After providing a brief history of the claim, it notes that Guatemala “long ago dropped its demand from its constitution, and no longer reserves three empty seats in congress marked “Belize” and draped in its national colours.” While noting that some Belizeans support a yes vote, it expects the vote to go the other way with no significant change to bilateral relations, expressed in this colorful prediction: “Now that Guatemala has in effect given Belize a veto over its own dismemberment, if Belize does vote no, passions are likely to wane further.” It closes by noting that Taiwan and not Britain is footing much of the bill for a four-lane, six hundred million dollar highway to the Caribbean coast from Guatemala City, which had been included in the 1859 Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty which Guatemala later repudiated because Britain had not built the road. A date is to be set after Belize holds its re-registration exercise later this year.

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