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Feb 10, 2000

PM disputes UDP claim they were left out

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For his part, Prime Minister Musa had a few choice words of his own. Although he spoke to News Five on Wednesday, well before receiving Barrow’s letter, the P.M. made it clear that Guatemala’s present position is identical to that advanced while the UDP was in office…and that the UDP’s five years and three months in government saw nothing but negative progress on the Guatemalan issue.

Said Musa

“When we were in opposition from ’93 to ’98, we were kept totally in the dark by the Esquivel administration on the whole relationship with Guatemala. And it was during their time, and let us note this for the record, that Guatemala decided to revive its claim. You remember the then Foreign Minister Ms. Maria Vielman, went to the United Nations, I think its was 1996, ’95 or ’96, to reassert Guatemala’s claim over Belize. This was the first time they did it since we had established diplomatic relations back in ’91, so it’s under the UDP that the claim was revived. Last year under our administration, when I was sent this letter by the then Foreign Minister Stein of Guatemala, confirming their position about going back and claiming the old traditional thing. I immediately instructed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to present a copy to the Leader of the Opposition. So Mr. Barrow well knew from October last year what was Guatemala’s position. There was not a question of keeping them in the dark. They were kept fully informed and we decided as a matter of strategy, because we knew that Stein was doing this just for election purposes in Guatemala. [We decided] not to play…not to get involved in Guatemalan domestic politics, to stay out of it. And it was only like a week or so before the new government took office, for the record that we then replied to Stein, rejecting completely their claim over Belize. But the point I wish to make is that the Opposition was kept fully informed from October last year. For them to say now that they were kept in the dark is not only untrue, but it’s hypocritical.”

Later in the newscast we’ll air an in-depth interview with the Prime Minister on the subject of Guatemala.

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