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Jan 9, 2014

Belize and Guatemala Foreign Ministers meet; still no date for referendum

Fernando Carrera

There was a time not so long ago when the Belize/Guatemala referendum on the age-old territorial dispute was a part of daily conversation. All that changed when Guatemala backed out and talks stuttered at the eleventh hour. But the effort continues, or so it appears. Today, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Fernando Carrera flew into Belize to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington and those who have been part of the protracted referendum talks. On the agenda today was the referendum, or rather confidence building measures and dialogue which could possibly make a referendum succeed. As to a timeframe for that happening…well, it’s likely not going to happen in 2014.


Fernando Carrera, Guatemalan Foreign Minister

“We are not very sure so far, but definitely what we are going to have are stronger and better measures of confidence. I think that is what is important today, that we have started to talk about measures of confidence from the beginning of the year, and that is going to open the space for that.”


Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belize

“Both of us are very much agreed that having a judicial determination without a people buy-in, political will and political confidence would not be the ideal situation we both want and aspire to, so that what we are working toward is enhancing the goodwill and good relationship so that when we both get the judicial determination there’s a buy-in by everybody and we can move forward as good neighbors and friends.”


Fernando Carrera

Wilfred Elrington

“I think it comes from historical issues and decisions that were taken a long time ago by different governments in our territories and that we now, the task of our generation is to find peace…to create a peaceful relationship and to have a social economic development as I have said before. I think that is the only way forward.”


Wilfred Elrington

“We want to have much more meetings between parliamentarians because the Guatemalan parliamentarians have got to agree to this process so that they can sell it to their people. Just like in the same manner in which our opposition people have agreed to the process, so we have to get the politicians on board. We have to have meetings of the parliamentarians. So we will be having more meetings of the Guatemalan parliamentarians with our parliamentarians. As a matter of fact, one of them is here now, the deputado has come along with the delegation. We will have more meetings with the people in the business sector, Chamber of Commerce and the like. We want to have more meetings with the people in the schools, the churches, academia and of course the commercial sector so that people can feel comfortable about this. People can take ownership of this process, this decision to take this matter to the ICJ.”

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