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Nov 15, 2012

Questions asked in Belize/Guatemala referenda were stated in compromis

Fred Martinez

After resisting the courts for years, in 2007, Guatemala, under the leadership of President Alvaro Cocom, finally agreed to start negotiating a special agreement to go to the ICJ. That agreement, known as a compromis, contains the question that will be asked in the simultaneous referenda as well as the question being taken to the ICJ. It’s an aspect of the matter that has not been thoroughly discussed, but today Martinez laid out both questions.


Fred Martinez

“The question that will be asked in the referendum is the same question that will be asked in Guatemala because it has to be the same. It’s “Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize—and that’s a very important word: legal claim—relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime territories pertaining to these territories, should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determine finally, the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the parties?” That is the question. There’s a question also that we take to the court, which is very important and that question; that was the one that took the hardest time to negotiate but is very important and every word in there was crafted: “The parties request the court to determine in accordance with the applicable rules of international law—that is where that came in—as specified in article 38(1) of the statute of the court any and all legal claims of Guatemala against Belize”. And that’s very important because during the facilitation process at the OAS when Guatemala presented its case and tried to argue its case, it argue from the Sibun down and very weak arguments. Our oral presentations took two hours, theirs lasted forty minutes. It was incredible and when the facilitators asked them and what about from the Sibun up since you’re talking about the whole territory of Belize, they said oh we will come back to that on another time. They said there is only one claim, you can’t be talking about two claims, therefore, it was important for us to put in there “any and all legal claims of Guatemala against Belize to land and insular territories—because we’re trying to make sure that the islands are involved—and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories to declare the rights there in of both parties and to determine the boundaries between their respective territories.”

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1 Response for “Questions asked in Belize/Guatemala referenda were stated in compromis”

  1. Bear says:

    The fact that the Guats only offer a “legal” basis for the claim to Belize below Sibun, but still maintain a claim to ALL of Belize is proof that their claim is entirely one of conquest, not law. This problem will never go away until Guatemala undergoes fundamental change, a revolution that brings real democracy there. Democracies tend to be a lot less imperialistic than military tyrannies.

    Of course, with transnational cartels operating everywhere, they might erase a lot of national borders.

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