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Feb 6, 2002

Guatemalan President favours self-determination

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Most of the visiting dignitaries have departed, but the effects of the CARICOM-Central American Summit will remain in Belize for some time. Chief among them is the strengthening of Belize’s role as the link between the two sub-regions. On Tuesday, that status received support from an unlikely quarter: Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo. According to Portillo, economic development cannot be separated from the right of people to decide their own destiny.

Alfonso Portillo, Guatemalan President

“I would tell the Belizean and Guatemalan people to have the security that they have two leaders who believe in democracy, who believe in the respect of self-determination, who believe in liberty, who believe in peace, who believe in the free trade and in the strengthening of economies that are socially acceptable, that will solve the problems of poverty and inequality that exist in our societies. And that we have the good will to resolve the differendum that we have. I repeat, it’s a differendum that we inherited, we did not create it. But rest assured, we will solve it, keeping the people in mind, and the future of Central America and the Caribbean.”

Janelle Chanona

“In this spirit of togetherness and moving forward, is Guatemala prepared to enter any kinds of trade relationships with Belize and other CARICOM member states?”

Alfonso Portillo

“All the countries are elected democratically, that is something that we can identify with. But in addition, to live in a region that can feed the world, that can sustain the global community, if we cannot understand that we are lost. And I am very happy that this meeting is taking place in Belize, that the chairmanship of CARICOM is held by Belize. And I think that Belize has gained moral and political authority to begin to discuss the strategy in which we will define the future.”

Janelle Chanona

“It’s been more than fifty years since a Guatemalan president has been in Belize. Is it what you expected and can we expect another visit soon?”

Alfonso Portillo

“Today we are building the future. I feel very happy to be the first President in half a century to be in Belize because that shows that the leaders of today have more responsibility towards the present and future, than towards the past.”

For all those encouraging words, viewers should note that President Portillo is constrained by a constitution that includes the whole of Belize as part of Guatemala, as well as a political environment that shows very little inclination toward permitting a settlement of the claim.

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.

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