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Jan 16, 2013

Referendum Unit meets with media on ICJ awareness campaign

As the ICJ question looms larger with the announcement of a set date for the referendum on October sixth, people all over the nation are starting to sit up and take real notice. And to ensure that they not only take notice but are presented with all the facts, the Referendum Unit formed to educate all Belizeans on the pros, cons and risks of going to the ICJ is set to launch its official awareness campaign. Today, as a precursor to the official launch, the Unit organized a media mixer to inform the Fourth Estate. Here is our report.


Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“As far as I know there is an official government position and that is that the government supports the proposal that we vote yes at the referendum.”


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

With that on the table right off the bat, the Referendum Unit today embarked on a first significant step – bringing the media gathered at the mixer on board as it kicks off a nine month intensive campaign. The information handed out was comprehensive and the addresses clear and concise and it was immediately clear that those at the head table were convinced that Belize has nothing to fear from going to the ICJ.


Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“Anybody who has any knowledge of law and how it works knows that before you got to court, you know the case of both sides. In other words, we know all the information that the Guatemalans are likely to come up with. And likewise, they have all the information that we are likely to come up with. and the consensus really is that our case is really exceedingly solid on all points.”


According to Elrington the strongest of those points is that International Law states that if a boundary is agreed to in a treaty, even if the treaty is later found to be defective, the boundary remains valid and enforced. In addition, there is the argument of continued occupation, since Guatemala has at no point occupied the territory in question. Elrington says Guatemala also realizes all this, but at this point probably just wants to get it over with. But with all that said, could something still go wrong?


Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“My understanding is that because it is a legal forum, the decision must be specifically legal and it doesn’t give the court much latitude to go outside of the four corners of the law. That’s how I understand it. But is there a possibility that they can come up with a decision that is going to give to Guatemala something? That is always a possibility; you can’t say no.”


And what happens if Belizeans say no, and there is no ICJ? Will Guatemala be a threat to Belize?


Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“I can readily say to you in my honest opinion that I feel no fear of any threat from the Guatemalan government if we say no. my big worry is that Guatemalan will continue to come across the border, they will come in contact with our defense force people, our defense force people may well cause harm to them; that can cause people in Guatemala to become very upset, pressure the government to do something and then they may take some action which could be harmful to us. That has happened in other countries. As a matter of fact, presently you have this kind of problem right now in Pakistan and India where people are getting hurt because of this movement and the whole problem with the border, you see. So it has the possibility of creating problems in that regard. I think that is the greatest threat we have.”


The official launch of the Awareness Campaign leading up to the referendum on October sixth will take place on Wednesday, January twenty-third.

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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1 Response for “Referendum Unit meets with media on ICJ awareness campaign”

  1. Storm says:

    Why risk anything with the ICJ? We are Belize, we have our land, WE CAN ONLY RISK LOSS BY A JUDGMENT. We have nothing to gain, but our national existence to lose. Why gamble it?

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