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May 29, 2015

Was Move to Amend Compromis Supported by Belizeans?

Eamon Courtenay

The Special Agreement between Belize and Guatemala was amended on Monday in Guatemala City sans the participation of the Opposition.  While the changes allow for Guatemala to proceed with individual referendum later this year, erstwhile foreign minister Eamon Courtenay says the amendment does not have the concerns of the Belizean people at heart.  The amendment to the compromis was done without consultation and, in light of the fact that the outcome of the exercise in Guatemala will ultimately affect the way Belizeans vote; Courtenay believes that government’s move was widely unsupported.


Eamon Courtenay, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I think the amendment that has been made is not in the national interest.  I think, first of all, it is a fundamental shift in the approach that the compromis was conceived which was signed in 2008.  What do I mean by that?  We must remember that we have been negotiating for decades and that came to an end and so we decided to the ICJ if the people in Belize and Guatemala approve of that.  The compromis was constructed on the basis that Guatemala couldn’t decide that now is the appropriate time nor could Belize decide that now is an appropriate time for the referendum to be held.  It had to be mutual and therefore both sides, in effect, had a veto and both sides were in control of the process.  Now we have made a radical shift from that and Guatemala can decide that they want to go this year, they want to go next year.  Belize can decide that they want to go ten years from today and therefore the cohesion and the joint approach that was conceived and set out in the compromis has been lost.  Guatemala can now set its own pace and we can now set our own pace.  There is no doubt that if Guatemala goes first it would have an effect on the outcome of the referendum in Belize.  There is no doubt about that and my fear is that if it goes first and it doesn’t pass there is no plan for what happens next.  Remember the consequence, we have said that we can’t negotiate a settlement.  We are then saying let’s try the option of the court and if Guatemala goes and it goes in the context of a government that is extremely unpopular and it loses, the referendum doesn’t pass, it then means that we are in a situation where the judicial approach is exhausted and the negotiations or diplomatic approach is exhausted, how then do we defend the integrity of our borders?  How then do we seek to live as good neighbors and resolve this dispute?  We would have exhausted the two options and I think that it is reckless for the government to have gone down this road without explaining to the Belizean why this is in our interest and how the Belizean interest is advanced and what is the benefit from doing this?  There has been no proper consultation and I think that from my sense most Belizeans are not supportive of what has happened.”

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2 Responses for “Was Move to Amend Compromis Supported by Belizeans?”

  1. sebastian says:

    why isn’t America or Britain helping????????

  2. Henry Dueck says:

    The US and OAS are backing Guatemala and the UK is trying to was its hands of all its former colonies

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