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Oct 7, 2013

Foreign Minister Elrington gave an update on Guatemala’s 9-point letter of protest

Wilfred Elrington

Last week, the government of Guatemala wrote to the Secretary General of the O.A.S., to protest the language used by Foreign Minister Ellington at the United Nations in the context of the territorial dispute. Elrington told the UN General Assembly that Guatemala had backed out of an October sixth referendum and that not seeking a solution to the dispute was hurting Belizeans and investors. The Foreign Minister also said that the dispute is a threat to Belize and that there is degradation of Belize’s territory by Guatemalans who encroach within our borders. In a nine point missive, Guatemala replied in kind to Elrington’s statement. It rejected “any suggestion of the intent to enforce their rights to the territory administered by Belize, through violent or military action.” And claimed that “while Guatemala’s armed forces have not caused a single incident in the adjacency zone or nearby, the Belize Defense Forces have consistently violated the human rights of Guatemalans and so far have caused several deaths of fellow citizens and several injured, in addition to having made several incursions into Guatemalan territory, which have been verified by the Office of the OAS in the Adjacency Zone.” The Guatemalan government also added that it is unacceptable for Guatemalans to be killed for trespassing because the area is under dispute and there only exists an adjacency zone between both countries. On Saturday following the U.D.P. executive meeting on the passport scandal involving Elvin Penner who did not attend, Foreign Minister Elrington gave an update on Guatemala’s nine point letter of protest.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Foreign Affairs Minister

“Well what I said was that the Guatemalans are requesting that the matter be adjourned without wanting to stipulate any new date for it. They are the ones that have been reluctant in arriving at anew date. We have been prepared to do it next year 2014 if that would be more convenient for them, but they are not prepared to set a date.”

 

Reporter

“Does this represent a shift in the approach to this issue by the government of Belize?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“No the government of Belize is very firm on our position and we think that it should be resolved as quickly as possible and we think that the best way to have it resolved is by going to the ICJ.”

 

Reporter

“By which I mean; are you being a bit more aggressive in terms of presenting our case to the international market?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“We have to be a bit more aggressive in terms of trying to get the Guatemalans to move forward because it affects us every day. It is not affecting them, but it certainly affects us and we can’t just sit back and do nothing and just wait until they decide to do. We have got to try to repel the process forward because it is affecting us every single day.”

 

Despite the protest by Guatemala, we note that there was a high level meeting on Sunday involving the C.E.O. of the Foreign Ministry, Alexis Rosado and his Guatemala counterpart, Carlos Raul Morales. Although Foreign Ministry matters came up, the primary objective of the meeting held under the auspices of the O.A.S. was for the exchange of information and experiences in electoral management as well as the conduct of referenda in both countries. The meeting took place within the framework of the new confidence-building measures that both countries adopted last May. The event is billed as a symbolic one since October sixth was the date set for the simultaneous referendum on whether or not to take the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice.

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