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Mar 5, 2019

Exploring the Weakness of Belize’s Argument in Territorial Dispute

Alexis Rosado

Professor Vasciannie’s opinion also focuses on recent developments pertaining to the Sarstoon River and Sarstoon Island, arising from activities of the Guatemalan Armed Forces.  While he says that the GAF is not recognizing the boundaries set out in Article One of the 1859 Treaty, they are in contravention of international law.  Likewise, in speaking on the weaknesses of Belize’s case, Professor Vasciannie opines, “determining the date at which the original British title to the area stretching to the Sarstoon River is not an easy matter.  Another possible point of weakness arises from the colonial context in which this dispute emerged.”

 

Alexis Rosado, Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala

“What he says is that there is uncertainty about Guatemala’s position.  Guatemala argues that they inherited the territory of Belize from Spain and he looks at all the evidence, searched all the writings that he could have searched and found nothing to support that position by Guatemala.  In any case, he was very charitable to them and said well there is not too much certainty that Guatemala gets anything, but even if, for argument’s sake, they would have gotten, the fact is that the British had possession of these territories at the moment Guatemala got its independence.  So he was very clear about that.”

 

Jose Alpuche

Jose Alpuche, Executive, Bar Association

“He says, determining the date at which the original British title to the area stretching to the Sarstoon River is not an easy matter.  So Guatemala’s main claim is that when they got their independence, Belize was a part of this Spanish territory known as Guatemala.  So before 1821, Guatemala was part of the Spanish empire and after they got their independence in 1821, everything that was a part of that colony became theirs and that doctrine is called “uti possidetis juris” and they are saying that that territory included Belize.  What our case would be is that in 1821 when you got your independence the territory of Belize, the title to this territory could not have transferred to you because the British were in occupation of it and the British had title to it.”


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