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Jun 6, 2011

Open Your Eyes attends 41st OAS General Assembly in El Salvador

Haroldo Rhodas

The forty-first General Assembly of the Organization of American States is underway in El Salvador and is being held under the theme “Citizen Security in the Americas”. Organized transnational crime is a burning issue that is plaguing Belize, like the rest of the region. The assembly brings together the foreign ministers of the thirty-five member states. Our own Marleni Cuellar is in San Salvador, providing extensive coverage for our newscasts as well as for Open Your Eyes. At a press conference this afternoon, she asked Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Haroldo Rhodas for an update on the Belize/Guatemala territorial dispute. Rhodas also spoke on the status of the simultaneous referendum that will be required to elevate the claim to the International Court of Justice.

Haroldo Rhodas, Foreign Minister, Guatemala (Translated)

“Our approach is three pronged. Firstly, it’s the bi-lateral way, which depends on the political will of the prime minister of Belize and the president of Guatemala and a good partnership with the people of Belize. We do have a good relationship; there’s open communication, we have good tourism flows and a partial scope agreement. That is something that is going well. In respect of the territorial dispute, we have agreed to take the matter to the International Court of Justice. That entails that the referendum has to be had by the people of Belize and the people of Guatemala. The Guatemalan congress has ratified the referendum, and we’re now in discussions with Belize to convene the poll at an appropriate date. Should the people of both countries agree to the referendum, then we should proceed to the ICJ and wait for the results. Secondly, there’s also the issue of the adjacency zone and we are asking the OAS to participate to promote confidence between the people and governments of Belize and Guatemala. In that area, the developments have been positive and minor problems have been worked out appropriately.

The third issue involves SICA; we both rely on the integration system. We appreciate that Belize is both a member of SICA and of CARICOM. That also allows us a good window to CARICOM and it’s something that is an example for the international community that even though we have a dispute, we have respect, appreciation and we advance towards integration and on the issues that are common to us such as narco-trafficking and organized crime. Belize is working along with Guatemala to advance on these issues. Climate change is also an area that is affecting us and we have to see it on a regional basis and there is a proposal that summit can be held with SICA. So I’m very satisfied on the way things are progressing with the people and government of Belize.”

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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