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Apr 16, 2019

Maritime Areas Act Still Not Amended

The Maritime Areas Act was a controversial issue in the early nineties when it saw the fracturing of the then opposition United Democratic Party.  On August sixth, 1991, government, after consultation with the U.D.P., introduced a bill in the National Assembly for an act to provide for the territorial sea, internal waters and exclusive economic zone of Belize.  The proposed legislation would allow Guatemala access to the high seas through its own territorial waters, and at the time, it was said that it should be considered as “as a sign of good faith on the part of Belize to pursue negotiations with the Republic of Guatemala in search of a settlement of the outstanding dispute.” In 2008, the U.D.P. took office and promised on more than one occasion to amend the Maritime Areas Act, but that has not happened.  In the Senate on Monday, P.U.P. lead Senator Eamon Courtenay raised the issue once again and spoke of Honduras’ interest in the territorial dispute should Belize go to the I.C.J.


Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“Mr. Barrow is advising that if the referendum says yes, as soon as possible thereafter, there should be an amendment to the constitution.  We on this side say that that amendment should predate the referendum, but doesn’t matter.  Both sides agree that as soon as possible, an amendment to the constitution must take place in order to do that in the interest of the Belizean people.  We can only achieve that if we have a two-thirds vote which means both sides need to be on the same page on that issue Mr. President and I say, now is the time for us to come together and address these issues, and I say the same thing about the Maritime Areas Act.  It is agreed on both sides that the Maritime Areas Act should be amended.  Then pray God, tell me why the Belizean people are being asked to vote in a referendum and then they will show them how they will amend the Maritime Areas Act.  Why not tell us now what that amendment is going to be?  Why not pass that into law before so that we can make an informed decision on the Maritime Areas Act?  And Mr. President, I keep repeating it, this is a serious matter.  During the facilitation process in late 1999 and into 2000, the Republic of Honduras was engaged in that process.  Why?  Because Honduras has in the past claimed, actually claimed in its constitution, one of our cayes.”

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