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Oct 25, 2022

Should There be a Referendum on Honduras’ Sapodilla Cayes Claim?

The Special Sitting of the Senate on October twenty-fourth, unveiled new developments in Belize’s case that is presently before the International Court of Justice. The age-old territorial dispute with Guatemala has been taken to the World Court for resolution, and memorials, as well as counter-memorials, are being filed ahead of the matter being heard. During Monday’s session, it was brought to the attention of the upper house that Honduras would also be included in the matter where ownership of the Sapodilla Cayes is concerned. The marine reserve is located along the southernmost tip of the Belize Barrier Reef, approximately forty-six miles east of Punta Gorda.  It is one of the more far-flung locales in the Belize Barrier Reef System. It is also claimed by Honduras, despite no effort being made to do so legally. So when the issue was debated yesterday by parliamentarians on both sides of the floor, we decided to seek a different legal perspective on the issue of whether it should be taken to referendum.  News Five sat down earlier today with Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith, himself a past foreign minister with knowledge of the subject.  Here’s his point of view on the matter.


Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney-at-law

“The legal perspective, I think, is fairly straightforward.  To the best of my knowledge, based on what I have understood from Belize’s team of highly reputable and experienced international experts on international law, Belize’s claim to sovereignty over the Sapodilla Caye range, whether in relation to Guatemala or Honduras, is very strong and I believe I’m that position so I am not concerned so much about that. I think though that there may be a lot of confusion. I heard certain people remark about picking a fight with Honduras.  Belize is not picking a fight with Honduras. I’m not sure it’s fear or trepidation or concern, rather than just politics as usual. Parties in opposition will often take, and you’ve seen it historically over time, across the political divide where the ones in opposition if they feel that there is some mileage to be gained will adopt a position using the rallying cry, let the people decide. In my view, the people have already decided that they want this resolved. They didn’t vote in relation to Honduras, obviously.  But plainly, if you want the matter resolved, you want it resolved once and for all.  So I should not be mistaken to be holding a position that I am against referendum, but in this case, I don’t think it’s really necessary.  I think it’s key that the people involved, the team involved move tactically, strategically, smartly, to try to bring the two things onto the ICJ’s decision-making table as early as possible.”

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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