#16067 - 09/20/02 12:06 PM
Belize-Guatemala Border Agreement
For Immediate Release
September 19, 2002
Statement by Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Belize-Guatemala Border Agreement
The United States welcomes the announcement by the Organization of America
States (OAS) of a draft resolution to the long-standing border disagreement
between Guatemala and Belize. We congratulate the persistence of the
negotiators and facilitators in working through complex issues. We also
commend the OAS for providing the good offices and mechanisms that proved
essential to a successful outcome from these talks.
In particular, we recognize the bold leadership of Prime Minister Musa of
Belize and President Portillo of Guatemala, and their wisdom in insisting
that their negotiators seek imaginative proposals to transform contentious
issues into creative opportunities for mutual benefit. We believe a
comprehensive resolution could lead Guatemala and Belize to new economic and
political cooperation and prosperity and development to both countries.
Border disputes have too long been a contentious and unnecessary barrier to
economic and social development in the region. They regularly frustrate
international cooperation on trade, environment protection, security, and
law enforcement, and are a drain on budgets and resources. In this light,
resolution of this dispute between Belize and Guatemala, with the support
and participation of Honduras, represents a model for Central America and
the hemisphere and demonstrates that countries can, with creative and
determined leadership, resolve stubborn problems.
The final acceptance of this agreement now rests in the hands of voters who
must confirm the settlement through nation-wide referenda. We urge the
citizens of both countries to exercise responsibly their role by informing
themselves fully and weighing seriously the opportunities that this
settlement may provide to establish definitive national boundaries, to
protect a uniquely valuable ecological zone, to promote a vibrant economic
exchange, and to foster sustainable development in a region that has long
suffered from endemic poverty. Ratification of a settlement by the peoples
of Guatemala and Belize will put their countries in the forefront of
regional and international efforts to embrace courageously new opportunities
for cooperation and mutual growth.
Gerry W. Fuller
Belize/Guatemala Desk, WHA/CEN
Courtesy copy by:
Embassy of Belize
per: VERNON, Counselor
*-USDOS= United States Department of State
#16068 - 09/20/02 12:51 PM
Re: Belize-Guatemala Border Agreement
Belizeans to Vote on Border Dispute
By KARLA HEUSNER, The Associated Press
BELIZE CITY, Belize (AP) - Residents of Belize
and Guatemala are being asked
to vote on a proposed resolution to a
centuries-old territorial dispute.
The settlement, presented earlier this week in
Washington by mediators from
the Organization of American States, aims to
resolve Guatemala's claim to
more than half of Belize's territory.
But instead of granting Guatemala land, the
proposal would create an
international shipping lane, give Guatemala
exclusive rights over some
offshore areas, and guarantee development
projects and aid packages.
The conflict dates back to the late 1800s, when
Guatemala claimed Belize in
its entirety. Reviving the issue in 1999,
Guatemala pushed for a little more
than half of Belize's 8,880 square miles and
all of its coastal islands
The two countries agreed to submit the conflict
to the OAS, whose mediators
presented their proposal in Washington on
Monday. The foreign secretaries of
Belize and Guatemala announced the proposed
settlement in their countries on
The offer prompted grumbling in both countries.
``What they are proposing are mere crumbs (for
Guatemala),'' said Roberto
Villeda, director of the Center for the Defense
of the Constitution in
Guatemala. ``We should stay firm in our
In Belize, some politicians claimed the country
would not benefit as much as
Guatemala would from the development fund.
``I think there is a certain degree of anxiety
and confusion,'' said Dean
Barrow, leader of the opposition United
Democratic Party in Belize.
The two nations now have 75 days to hold a
referendum on the proposal. If it
fails in one or both countries, the issue
either will go back to the OAS or
to an international court.
The proposed settlement retains the border
between the two countries
established in a 1959 treaty - which Guatemala
has rejected - and suggests a
series of measures aimed at sharing resources.
Under the proposed agreement, the Belizean and
Honduran governments each
would provide 1,100 miles of Caribbean Sea
territory for the creation of an
international shipping lane.
A Guatemalan Maritime Area also would be
created, giving the country an
exclusive economic zone farther off the coast.
Honduras and Belize would retain retaining
fishing rights in their coastal
waters and Guatemala, Honduras and Belize would
jointly manage additional
portions of the Gulf of Honduras, monitoring
fishing and marine activities.
To help implement the proposals and adequately
clear the dense jungle that
has made it difficult for people on the border
to know which country they are
living in, the settlement proposes establishing
a Development Trust Fund that
would be administered by the Inter-American
The fund would support poverty alleviation
projects in the Guatemalan border
area and assist with the creation of a Free
Trade Agreement between Belize
Money for the fund has been pledged by the
United States, Mexico and Canada,
as well as Britain and Spain - the two former
colonial powers who controlled
Belize and Guatemala, respectively.
Belizean Foreign Minister Assad Shoman, who led
his country's negotiating
team during 30 months of talks leading up to
the settlement, said officials
would do their best to explain the proposed
package to the public.
``But we have to resolve this thing,'' he said.
``We cannot have it hanging
over our heads any longer.''
#16069 - 09/20/02 12:53 PM
Re: Belize-Guatemala Border Agreement
Organization of American States
September 17, 2002
BELIZE-GUATEMALA TERRITORIAL DIFFERENDUM:
SECRETARY GENERAL PRESENTS COMPLETED PROPOSALS
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and
Guatemala, H.E. Assad Shoman and H.E. Gabriel
Orellana Rojas, met late yesterday night at OAS
Headquarters with the Secretary General, the
Assistant Secretary General and the
Facilitators, Sir Shridath Ramphal and Mr. Paul
The Secretary General presented the Ministers
of Foreign Affairs the completed proposals
crafted by the Facilitators for achieving a
just, equitable and definitive resolution of
the territorial differendum between Belize and
The Facilitators had completed their
consultations with the Parties two weeks ago,
and deposited their work to date with the
Secretary General on August 30, 2002,
entrusting him to complete certain technical
aspects before presenting the completed
proposals to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
The Secretary General noted that the completed
Proposals are the product of over two years'
worth of patient, deliberate effort, in which
the Facilitators meticulously reviewed the
arguments of both Parties and consulted
extensively, not only with the Governments of
Belize and Guatemala, but with the Secretary
General, with the Inter-American Development
Bank, the United Nations and with governments
friendly to the Facilitation Process, in
particular, the Government of Honduras.
"The completion of the Proposals constitutes a
seminal moment for the secure development of
both Belize and Guatemala and an example of
peaceful resolution of conflict in the region",
said the Secretary General.
The Secretary General expressed his gratitude
to the Facilitators and encouraged the Parties
to accept the comprehensive set of proposals,
which he commended to them as just, equitable
#16071 - 10/01/02 02:05 PM
Re: Belize-Guatemala Border Agreement
Remarks at the Organization of American States
Secretary Colin L. Powell
September 30, 2002
(11:15 a.m. EDT)
SECRETARY POWELL: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. Assistant Secretary
General, Minister Shoman, Minister Orellana, Minister Perez-Cadalso,
Mr. Reichler, (inaudible), Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and
gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here today to express America's
support for the draft proposals that Belize and Guatemala have accepted
to settle their long-standing territorial dispute.
The final resolution of this disagreement, which has persisted for over
a century will be good for the people of Belize and for the people of
Guatemala, good for the people of Central America and good for the
people of our entire hemisphere. The proposals that were presented
this morning are the fruit of dedicated efforts by the governments of
Belize and Guatemala.
I salute the courageous leadership of Guatemala's President Portillo
and Foreign Minister Orellana, and of Belize's Prime Minister Musa and
Foreign Minister Shoman. Their unwavering commitment to the peaceful
resolution of this dispute, once and for all, is the rock upon which
these proposals were founded.
Belize and Guatemala did not labor alone. Presidents Flores and Maduro
of Honduras and their Foreign Ministers were essential partners in the
negotiating process. Their leadership provides a strong and welcome
example of regional cooperation to solve the problems that prevent the
peoples of our hemisphere from achieving their full potential. I would
also like to congratulate our Security General and the Organization of
American States for creating the successful process that Belize and
Guatemala used to negotiate these proposals.
The Assistant Secretary General, his staff, and the two facilitators
were instrumental in making the OAS process work. Indeed, the United
States greatly values the OAS's growing role in helping to resolve
disagreements of many kinds, including internal disputes within member
countries. In this regard, we welcome the OAS's support for efforts by
member-states to promote national reconciliation and dialogue, as in
Venezuela and Haiti.
I would also like to recognize the Pan American Institute of Geography
and History for the essential technical support it provided to the
negotiations between Belize and Guatemala. And I am pleased, as well,
that the United States could provide technical assistance from our
United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency. The results of this
broad, cooperative effort is a comprehensive and creative solution that
seeks not only to answer complex legal questions, but also to address
the human, environmental, geographic, and commercial problems involved
in this dispute.
Ladies and Gentlemen, these proposals are another sign that our
hemisphere has come of age in common commitment to peace, prosperity,
and freedom. With the Inter-American Democratic Charter we approved
just over a year ago, we committed ourselves to democracy as the
guiding principle in our dealings, in our dealings with our people, and
in our dealings with each other.
With the ongoing negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, we
have committed ourselves to breaking down trade barriers and knitting
our hemisphere together into a region-wide zone of economic opportunity
Now, with these proposals and our Hemisphere's support for them, we are
recommitting ourselves to peaceful resolution of territorial and
maritime disputes. Some 16 disputes throughout the region, including
at least five in Central America, alone, have bedeviled our hemisphere
for far too long.
The acceptance of these proposals by the peoples of Belize and
Guatemala will be a milestone, an example, for the region.
A final agreement will remove a chronic obstacle to economic,
environmental and social development in Belize, Guatemala and their
neighbors. It will open the way to more trade, more travel, more
cooperation on everything from fighting drug-trafficking to preserving
the environment. We have already begun the process of identifying
potential US assistance for the Donor Fund to support implementation of
an agreement in the hopes that one will soon be finalized. I urge the
people of Belize and the people of Guatemala to review carefully the
proposals and to vote wisely in the upcoming referendums. A successful
agreement will serve as an inspiration to the entire region to resolve
other outstanding disputes.
Each time the process works, each time a dispute is settled, our
hemisphere will become a little safer, a little freer, and a little
more prosperous. Thank you very much.
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