Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Education, Foreign Affairs, People & Places, Regional / International » Galen Forum discusses Guatemala’s claim to Belize
Jun 17, 2016

Galen Forum discusses Guatemala’s claim to Belize

Guatemala’s unfounded claim to Belize is nothing new, but what seems to be a consistent policy of aggression is. Currently, as News Five proved again just Thursday, Belizean civilians are unable to enter the Sarstoon River – that prohibition enforced by Guatemalan military force. On one level the situation seems distinctly hostile and uneasy. On another, we hear in international forums that the relationship between both countries is excellent. So there is some confusion on the ground, and today Galen University hosted a forum of tertiary level institutions to provide some clarity. Mike Rudon was there and has the story.


Student, Galen University

“For the past two hundred years, we have been negotiating and mediating and it did not work. So how about we take it one step further and cut off their resources like the education they are getting from us and if you notice going back and using it against us.”


Mike Rudon, Reporting

That question, and many others were fielded during an all-day forum, hosted by Galen University. The session brought together tertiary level students from across the country, many of them getting for the first time critical information on Guatemala’s unfounded claim and the journey to the ICJ – or not. The presenters included Ambassadors Stuart Leslie and Fred Murphy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the FCD’s Rafael Manzanero, Dr. Ludwig Palacio and Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay.


Omar Ortiz

Omar Ortiz, Vice President, Galen University

“We have today almost ten universities or tertiary level institutions, I should say, junior colleges. And we have been able to bring students as far away as Toledo, the cayes, San Pedro, Corozal, orange Walk; from out here in Cayo, Belmopan and Dangriga. So what we have here today is a truly national reflection of the students and the sentiments that they are sharing in there, the interviews the questions that they have been asking; it is obviously national and you are recognizing that everybody seem to think the same way as it relates to the issue and how the issue is affecting them. But at the same time, what we are able to recognize is that there is a need for us to get the information to these people. There is a need for us as educators to make sure that in our classrooms, we not only talk about issues that are affecting the world, but we talk about our national issues, making sure that we get down in the trenches and ensure that the students understand what it is that they are going to be asked to vote on and understand what their vote is going to bring about.”


After each presenting session the students were allowed time to formulate questions on topics including the referendum which will determine if we go to the ICJ, the role of that Court, the economic impact of Guatemala’s interaction with Belize, a legal analysis of Belize’s position and the way forward. Attorney Eamon Courtenay handled that last part.


Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney

“If this were to go to the ICJ between Belize and Guatemala and we would win, it would still mean that Belizeans have to defend the border. Don’t sit here and tell me the government is not defending the border. We have to insist that the institutions of the state take the measures that are required, provide boots to the B.D.F.; provide food to the B.D.F.; provide the right mechanisms for them, the vehicle and equipment for them to move around; provide them with boats; provide them with guns that work; provide the coastguard with a serious forward operating base; provide them with machinery, provide them with boats that can defend Belizean territory; that can confront Guatemala and if we have to fire shots, we fire shots. That is the way in which you defend your nationality; that is the way in which you defend your territory. You do not defend your territory by kissing up and hugging up and saying how nice the enemy of your country is.”


And then the real work which will hopefully yield tremendous dividends – each school asked to formulate an action plan on the way forward – the voice of the next generation and really the voices that matter the most.


Student, Galen University

“Our first suggestion was to educate our peers, our friends, our families; just everybody in our circle. Share what you have in your mind. And the second one is to work hand in hand with the media because sometimes you see the media shaping the way they want to portray a certain issue and that can affect us as a country because you can’t just give us the negative side; you always have to show the positive side as well. Our final one was to change the voting age to sixteen because if sixteen year olds are being held accountable for crimes, they must could vote as well.”


Student, St. John’s College Junior College

“We must demonstrate, we have to take action; we can’t keep talking and talking and talking. Diplomacy is over; we need to have the population behind what is going on, we need to have the students involved. And if we don’t have that, we can kiss our country goodbye. But we need to demonstrate, get in the streets, get into the schools, into the minds of Belizeans to say this is our country. This is a national issue, not an issue of the government, not an issue of the individual but a national issue; a Belizean issue.”


Student, John Paul the Second Junior College

“This is particularly of interest to us because our institution is right in Benque so we are very close to the border. Our resolution would be as an institution to foster confidence building measures among people of both nations. That would include a formal partnership with an institution of Guatemala to open the way for cultural artistic and educational exchange between both Belize and Guatemala.”


The hope of the organizers is that this session will be the catalyst to focused discussions in each of the schools which attended today and, ideally, in the communities in which they live. Mike Rudon for News Five.


The forum today was sponsored by Atlantic Bank, Belize Diesel and Zitro International.  

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

2 Responses for “Galen Forum discusses Guatemala’s claim to Belize”

  1. MNHG says:

    All sounds good and with reasonable hopes of moving forward. But none said what in my opinion needs a little thought, and that is that we must get rid of Erlington and Barrow, they are sure singing a different Guatemalan tune.
    Even though at this moment it seems so very difficult to do anything that will help Belize. Because at every corner we see Guatemalans working in Belize and for sure they have no legal standing in this country.We see tortillas vendors, mechanics, taxis by the dozens, constructors etc. And this UDP GOV don`t give a “f” about that !
    We are doomed because the Guatemalans know that this UDP Gov is in their side 100%, so they come into Belize and take away our jobs and go home with our money and pay no tax.WE ARE SUPPORTING THEM WITH OUR ECONOMY AND THEY ENJOY FREEDOM OF TAX AND THEY LIVE HAPPY AND CHANT “BELICE ES NUESTRO”.

  2. Manuel Pinto says:

    El Río Sarstún de conformidad con el tratado de 1859, es el limite sur únicamente de Belice, porque de Guatemala es parte de su territorio, el tratado de 1859, no le otorga a Belice derecho de navegación como tampoco el tratado de 1859, le otorga soberanía a Belice, sobre ninguna parte del Río Sarstún. La reclamación territorial guatemalteca no es infundada, porque se fundamenta en el artículo 6 del tratado de 1783, en la ampliación del artículo 6 en el tratado de 1786 y en la ampliación de los tratados de 1783 y 1786, en el tratado de 1859. Quien tenga duda que lea esos tratados para salir de la duda y podemos seguir comentando.

Leave a Reply