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Feb 15, 2013

Guatemala demands, but no changes to Referendum Act

As we reported on Thursday, the president of Guatemala Otto Perez Molina has come out publicly to say that Guatemala is asking Belize for a reversal of the referendum act to where it was in 2008 thereby removing the sixty percent requirement of voter participation to give the poll validity. Guatemala only requires a simple majority so Perez Molina believes it puts Guatemala at a disadvantage.  The press reports quote Perez Molina as saying that Guatemala is not going to spend money on a referendum that they find unreasonable. It is the first time that Guatemala has asked Belize to amend the Referendum Act, but it is an issue that has been in the headlines in the Guatemalan press. In January when the awareness campaign was launched, we asked the Prime Minister whether or not the Referendum Act would be amended.  The prime minister gave an unequivocal undertaking that it would not. Here is that interview.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“They misunderstand the sequence of events. I get the impression that they are under the mistaken view that this is a provision that we put into the law after the referendum was agreed. As you know, this was a provision that’s been there since 2008. I can tell you that it is part of the Referendum Act. It is part of the laws of this country, and there is absolutely no intention to amend the laws of this country in that regard.”



Dean Barrow

“Where does this put the Referendum for Belize?”


Dean Barrow

 “It puts it where it has always been, that it is a process that is conducted in accordance with the laws of this country. And since the Referendum Act of this country says that any Referendum in order to be valid must reach that sixty percent threshold that is the case.”


Daniel Ortiz, Channel 7

“Sir but this isn’t a tangential issue, we’ve received information that the international community doesn’t want to buy in because they feel as though it’s an expensive process that can be all for naught.”


Dean Barrow

“In any case and under any circumstances, it can be all for naught if there is a no vote. The idea is to have these referendums to determine which way people in both countries want to go. It is the sovereign right of the people on both sides of the border to make that determination. If there is a no vote—let’s assume we reach the sixty percent threshold and there is a no vote—can that be an argument against not holding a referendum? Listen, I don’t want to appear to be insensitive to what you are telling me are international concerns, but I want to make clear that the law of our land is the law of our land. And we will proceed in accordance with the law of our land.”



“Do you see the concern raised by the media in Guatemala affecting the process here in Belize and in terms the way Belizeans may take their decision in this referendum?”


Dean Barrow

“I believe that Belizeans will in fact look at the education campaign, read the material, listen to the presentations and make up their minds based on their gut feelings; based on the way they view this fundamental issue from the perspective of a Belizean citizen.”

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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2 Responses for “Guatemala demands, but no changes to Referendum Act”

  1. Lucas says:

    I am of the opinion lately, that Guatemala knew of the change in our referendum law before the referendum date was set. But, the compris was done. They wanted to renegade but realized that going back would hurt them so, they went ahead with the intention of saving face by faulting our referendum law. The govt. of Guatemala does not want to go to the ICJ because they know they will not get half of Belize and they want more if possible but nothing less than half. On the other hand, our noble lords in Belmopan are confident that our land borders will not change and are more than willing to give our southern territorial seas along with the Sapodilla Range and God know how many more cayes. That is why the PUP with Musa as foreign Affair Minister concieved the Maritime Area’s act and that is the reason the UDP did not revoked it as promised and that is the reason the Artificial says that we are vulnerable in our Southern Seas and Insular Area. My fellow Belizeans; our politicians both PUP and UDP are together plotting to surrender our southern territorial seas with all cayes therein in exchange for intact land border and that is exactely how the ICJ will rule. The ICJ will not touch our land borders but will give Guatemala our southern seas and cayes. The ICJ ruling in the case of Guatemala against Belize will be the same as the ruling between Columbia versus Nicaragua. COLUMBIA GOT THE ISLANDS BUT LOST HER CARRIBBEAN WATERS TO NICARAGUA. My fellow Belizeans: THE TIME TO SAVE YOUR COUNTRY IS BEFORE YOU LOSS IT( Mr. Goldson) and HE WHO IS NOT WILLING TO DEFEND HIS COUNTRY SHOULD NOT ENJOY THE BENEFIT THEREIN ( Mr. Paslow). MY FELLOW BELIZEAN BROTHER AND SISTER TO SAVE AND DEFEND YOUR COUNTRY YOU MUST VOTE NO OR NOT VOTE AT ALL SO THAT YOUR CHILDREN AND THE CHILDREN OF YOUR CHILDREN CAN CONTINUE ENJOYING THE BENEFITS OF OUR TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY JUST THE WAY YOU AND YOUR FATHER AND HIS FATHER DID. NO TO ICJ. NOT NOW. NOT EVER

  2. Storm says:

    Bravo, Lucas — Lucas for PM, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Commandant of BDF, all rolled into one!

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