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Mar 18, 2013

Guatemala a ‘No Show’ at OAS meeting with Belize

William Neal

A high-level Foreign Ministry delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred “Sedi’’ Elrington travelled to OAS headquarters in Washington DC on Saturday to meet Guatemalan counterparts and OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. While officials balked at referring to the encounter as an emergency gathering, it was held on a Sunday coming at a critical juncture on the road to the October sixth referendum. Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina last week issued an official bulletin asking for a stay in the referendum process until 2014, and expressed Guatemala’s dissatisfaction with Belize’s Referendum Act. The Foreign Minister, Fernando Carrera had also conveyed that message to Elrington during his recent visit to Belize. So the stage was set for a very high-powered meeting of minds and wills. But that setting fizzled with the news that Carrera was a no-show because of a family emergency, despite reports that he was headed to Rome for the consecration of Pope Francis. The meeting proceeded at the Vice-Ministerial level. News Five dispatched a team to Washington to cover the Sunday meeting. William Neal and Mike Rudon collaborated on that story.

 

William Neal

“The latest meeting to discuss developments between Belize and Guatemala as brokered by the Organization of American States was scheduled for three o’clock at the main building of the Organization of American States in Washington D.C, but due to the festivities for St. Patrick’s Day, it had to be moved to the general secretariat building. Hopefully for both teams as they sat down to meet, it would mean that Irish eyes were smiling and the result would be positive for both sides.”

 

Mike Rudon Reporting

And as the Guatemalan and Belizean delegations entered the building and were greeted by OAS President Jose Miguel Insulza, it appeared that Irish eyes were not smiling, since one of the most important members of the scheduled discussion was absent. Considering the critical nature of the meeting and that fact that its purpose was ostensibly to field Guatemala’s concerns and proposals, Fernando Carrera’s no-show has to be taken as a slight, a sign that Guatemala is less than enthused by Belize’s insistence, at least in the media, of staying the course.

 

Alexis Rosado

Alexis Rosado, C.E.O., Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“We had a meeting of ministers that was arranged but the, we were informed in my meeting that Foreign Minister Carrera had some emergency with some family member and he wasn’t able to come. So we met at a Vice-Ministerial level and each party had their delegation and what we wanted to seek is some type of clarity in regards to the Guatemalan position. You’ve heard some reports that have come out in the press. And basically what they did was try to explain some of the difficulties they are having on their side and some suggestions on a way forward. What we needed was something in writing that would explain their concrete proposals and concerns. In the meeting we didn’t get it, but they committed to passing that on to us and in the course of this evening they were writing something so that then we could take on board and take back to our principals so that they could review it and determine a way forward. What was clear is that as of now the agreement that we have had so far holds and in terms of the special agreement, they are committed to preserving it and up to the sixth of October, referendum day…until such time that there is a joint agreement otherwise, that too still holds.”

 

Rosado says that the meeting, which he insists did not result from or herald an emergency, was professional and cordial. While that may be so, it is hard to measure the success of the discussions, since not only was Guatemala’s top foreign policymaker and authority absent, but the delegation only received verbal concerns and proposals.

 

Alexis Rosado

“Well I don’t know where that idea that this was an emergency meeting came out. It wasn’t really an emergency meeting as such. It was a meeting which we had discussed before-hand and which we were looking to hold for some time now, the idea being that if they had any concerns we would discuss them at the OAS level. So it wasn’t an emergency meeting. That was not the case. But we came here to seek some clarity. They explained some, but like I said the clarity itself will be defined when we see it in writing and they were working on it when we left. I know that they were going to send it by email, but in any case it is something that we will have to take home.”

 

And while there is nothing in black and white to bring home just yet, it is clear that Guatemala does have concerns not only about their ability to get a YES majority in the referendum, but also about Belize’s ability to do so. And that seems to be the bottom line, at least as far as Guatemala is concerned – they want to go to the referendum, but only if they are assured a YES vote, and that is far from a certainty.

 

Alexis Rosado

“The fact that they have their own concerns internally brings to light the importance of keeping the matter on the agenda because at the end of the day the decision we took jointly was to submit the matter to the ICJ subject to the people in both countries agreeing to go to the ICJ. Now if they are having problems internally getting to that then it’s something we have to look at and consider. They also got the impression that the Channel 5 poll was something of a scientific nature and they thought that we were having problems internally, but we keep and have kept explaining to them that we have a whole public awareness campaign that is rolling out, has rolled out that was launched successfully in January and that we are keeping that process forward and we feel very confident about its eventual success. Now so whereas they have raised that as a concern on their side they have been very careful to make clear that they do not want and do not wish to interfere in our internal affairs and that is something entirely for us. But in the same way that we would want them to get a YES, they too seem to be saying – look we are concerned that you might not get a YES.”

 

And so, at least from the standpoint of Rosado, the way forward to Referendum Day is still relatively clear, even as the nation awaits an email with a list of Guatemala’s concerns and proposals for consideration. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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12 Responses for “Guatemala a ‘No Show’ at OAS meeting with Belize”

  1. Lucas says:

    Guatemala knows their claim is doomed if it gets to the ICJ. They want out and want Belize to be their ESCAPE-GOAT. I hope Barrow and Sedi are wide awake. By the way, Belize doing it’s referendum without Guatemala doing theirs at the same time, is not a good idea. If Belize proceeds without Guatemala and gets a NO vote, Guatemala can use that excuse to back out putting the blame squarely on Belize.

  2. 22bmpguy says:

    Look the minster need to step up not step down. ” your making your country look weak” ” your making your people look weak” guate.. Cant get Belize.
    The guats are underminding our INDEPENDENCE!!!! This need to end. Our people are living in fair. We The people want this to be over do u damn job mien

  3. Rod says:

    This prime minister has a big mouth when it comes to the pup but when it comes to Guatemala he is mute just like all the murders he is also mute judas barrow needs to go plain and simple he is impotent on Guatemala and impotent on crime .guatemala sees judas barrow as impotent period.

  4. vicky says:

    Barrow has a big mouth only to insult the Belizean people no one else!

  5. Storm says:

    In every way Guatemala’s government policy is to insult Belize and try to intimidate GOB. Send their ambassador home!

    Guatemala is a BAD neighbor!

  6. blackberry says:

    Guatemala is not truly interests in the ICJ and a settlement. They will continue to stall the process while carrying on a silent invasion. The only way to stir an interest in Guatemala is to issue oil exploration for the areas covered under the Maritime Areas Act.

  7. Alexjr says:

    another waste of of our tax dollars. could have contributed that amount the “team” spend on something else more constructive…… like putting it towards the raise of salary for teachers.

  8. I know now says:

    all the way we have heard from Molina defending his people and views WHERE IS OUR PM TO DEFEND US? i get it…he is still on vacation and does not care one hell where we are landed. He can escape to Miami for all he cares ..

  9. Marcus Martinez says:

    The Government of Belize should hold firm, and keep its commitment
    to the date already set for the Referendum.

    Marcus Martinez

  10. Eye in the Sky says:

    Why do they not have the meeting via Skype and save a lot of money.

    Oh yeah . . . forgot that the government blocks Skype in Belize.

    Well if the Guats are no show they should lose the argument. Just like in court.

  11. Big Ben says:

    Looks like our mouthy PM can only belittle the opposition in our country. We are waiting to hear from you on this very critical issue with guatemala. Seems like you afraid of them. Send the boys them from george street along with Finnegan to help maintain the border. Only real men and women are standing up for Belize.

  12. Marcus says:

    Let’s look out for the debut of the new reality show, “Belize is Busted,” on Comedy Central. LOL!

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