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Jul 5, 2018

What Are the Risks of Not Going to the I.C.J.?

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

The referendum date is set for April tenth next year, and while there have been presentations here and there, the public awareness and preparedness campaign on taking Guatemala’s claim to Belize to the International Court of Justice was officially launched today at the Laing building in Belize City. Now, it is well known that the Government is pushing a yes vote.  This afternoon, Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington was blunt and said it is the right thing to do because there is widespread support from every nation and multilateral agencies including the Commonwealth, CARICOM, SICA and the Group of Seventy-Seven. Elrington points to other nations where conflicts have led to violence.  But what is the litigation risk? He says that it is insignificant compared to not voting yes. Elrington likened the situation with Guatemala to a domestic dispute between neighbors that ends in bloodshed.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Foreign Affairs Minister

“Compared to the risk for not going minimal, insignificant. What we don’t appreciate and it is because we have been so fortunate, the United States spends billions if not hundreds of billions of dollars on armaments and defense to protect their country; same the United Kingdom, same other countries. We really don’t have any money to spend so we can’t spend that kind of money, but we have managed to live pretty secure lives. We have not had any 9/11; we have not had any terrorist attack, we have not had the Guatemalans coming and occupying our country or taking any part of it. So we have had a pretty charmed existence up to this point in time.  Why would anybody want to offer an anti-I.C.J. campaign when in truth and in fact, we are in such a tenuous position? We have no resources, we have no military, we have no allies and we are being claimed by a huge neighbor with proven military experience and might. So that it is inevitable that anybody in their right mind would want to advocate for a yes vote. I don’t think I am not in my right mind. If you say no, what will happen? My response is I can’t tell you cause I can’t see the future, But I can tell you what has happened in the past. Conflict, border dispute; look at what happen with Palestine, Israel. Look what’s happening with China, Taiwan; Pakistan, India; Nicaragua, Costa Rica. You always have violence leading in death, hardship, loss of territory—that has been the history. So that we see what happens when there is a prolongation of border disputes, like anything else. And closer to home, when we have domestic dispute, it is becoming more the norm than the exception for people to kill the neighbor to get rid of the dispute. So that is the reality that we are faced with.”

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