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May 7, 2019

A Message from the PM on Referendum Eve

On the eve of the I.C.J. Referendum, Belizeans across the country, as well as families and friends who have been sidelined in the Diaspora, are on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the outcome of Wednesday’s historic vote.  The national poll to determine whether Belize should go to the International Court of Justice, along with Guatemala, to resolve an unfounded claim over its sovereign territory has been long in the making. Despite what turned out to be a false start with an initial date set for April tenth, the government has fixed Wednesday May eighth as the date for Belizeans to cast their ballots on the controversial decision.  We will show you the pulse of the people ahead of the long-awaited exercise, but first there are two important messages from the country’s political leaders on the significance of the democratic process.  We begin with the Prime Minister’s message which once again reiterates that Belize has nothing to lose by taking the matter to the world court for adjudication.  Here is an excerpt from that message.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The point is that the ICJ Referendum is a national issue which should never divide us along party lines.  At a time like this, we must keep our eyes on the prize, a Belize free from Guatemala’s claim.  Regardless of our political differences, the fact remains that on eight May, we are being called upon to vote yes or no and our nation calls on us to vote not by party but for country.  All four prime ministers of Belize, including Father of the Nation, George Price, have supported going to the ICJ to end Guatemala’s claim.  All international lawyers who have advised both Belize and also Guatemala a great deal that Belize has good title to all its territory.  They confirm that Guatemala’s claim is without merit and that it would be regarded as such by the ICJ.  In addition, we are assured by former President of the ICJ Judge Schwoebel that once the matter is before the court the prospects are high for Belize to successfully obtain binding provisional measures to direct Guatemala to cease and desist from its actions on the Sarstoon, to respect the terms of the 1859 Treat.  This means getting the UN Security Council to make Guatemala leave Belize alone.  Those who say no to the ICJ offer no viable alternative.  They say Belize stands to lose territory, but cannot offer any credible evidence to support this.  Some resort to emotionalism and fear mongering.  They offer no fix, no alternative, nothing but to sit still and hope for the best.  That will not do.  I believe it is irresponsible and I believe it is disrespectful, especially to the great men and women who strive everyday to protect our country.  Further, the indisputable fact is that ICJ cases, all the courts of jurisprudence relating to territorial and boundary disputes confirm that Belize’s title to this country and its right self-determination with full territorial integrity is compelling.  We thus have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

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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