Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Foreign Affairs » Proposed land swap holds up settlement
May 29, 2002

Proposed land swap holds up settlement

It was originally planned for April, tentatively rescheduled for May and now the only date mentioned is “soon”. What we’re referring to is the presentation by the facilitators on their recommendations for a final settlement of the Guatemalan claim to Belize. The originally stated reason for the delay was scheduling difficulties attributed to O.A.S. Secretary General Cesar Gaviria. And while the Belize government has stuck to scheduling as the official excuse, it is an open secret in Belmopan and Guatemala City that the process is in deep trouble. The reason–once merely a rumour, but now acknowledged by government sources on both side of the border–is the insistence by Guatemala on a land swap. This proposal, which would cede Belizean land in the vicinity of Santa Rosa Village to Guatemala in exchange for an equal size tract in another border area, has thrown a spanner into the settlement process and has Belizean officials sharply divided. In a telephone conversation with News 5 today, Foreign Minister Assad Shoman downplayed any difficulties and stated that Belize was still waiting for the facilitators to set a date for the presentation. Regarding any proposal for a land swap Shoman said that there could be no such proposal because there are no negotiations, only ideas that facilitators Sir Shridath Ramphal and Paul Reichler are always free to discuss. With regard to any ideas that concern a land swap, reliable reports to News 5 indicate that Cabinet is sharply divided on the concept as well as the way forward. The consensus in Belmopan is that the Guatemalan proposal is a smokescreen to sabotage any eventual settlement; the problem is how to deal with it in a way that preserves momentum toward a settlement and at the same time allows Belize to maintain the moral high ground in the event the process fails. As for when the long awaited proposals will be presented in Washington, Shoman would only say: “We are hoping that he facilitators don’t take too long, but we’re not concerned…at least not yet.”

In related news, earlier this month members of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry travelled to Guatemala City to meet with their Guatemalan counterparts. A reciprocal visit is to be arranged shortly.

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

Leave a Reply