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#499291 - 12/23/14 12:08 PM What's in those agreements with Guatemala?
Marty Offline
On Friday, the Government of Belize released signed electronic copies of the 13 bilateral agreements penned in Placencia by Belize and Guatemala on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, on the occasion of a high-level meeting of Central American leaders in Belize.

Those agreements, according to the documents, were formulated within the context of a set of confidence-building measures Belize and Guatemala signed back in September 2005, and a Road Map which the parties signed in January 2014 – both under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The 13 agreements were signed by the Foreign Ministers of both countries, Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington in the case of Belize, and Carlos Raul Morales Moscoso for Guatemala, and the signing was witnessed by Secretary-General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza.

The agreements were signed amid a renewal of calls for the parties to allow the International Court of Justice to adjudicate the matter of Guatemala’s unfounded claim over Belizean territory.

The agreements note, though, that they “…shall not constitute a total or partial waver of sovereignty over any territory (land, insular or maritime) claimed by either party; nor shall any rights of any party to such territory be prejudiced; nor shall any precedent be established for the strengthening or weakening of either party’s claims to any such territory. Each party expressly reserves its right with respect to its claims of sovereignty over any territory (land, insular or maritime).”

The agreements will come into force when parties confirm that respective legal requirements have been met.

The agreement on Expedited Deportation is for persons with “irregular migration status,” who can face immediate deportation if they are first-time offenders who are only guilty of illegal entry. However, the automatic deportation provision would not apply to persons who are repeat offenders or who have committed offenses other than illegal entry. The deporting country would pay the expenses in such cases.

A related agreement covers the Serving of Penal Sentences. The 9-page agreement says that the sentences of persons convicted in the neighboring country can be served in the home country of the person sentenced, allowing that person to achieve social rehabilitation in a more meaningful way and to ensure general welfare.

The agreement specifies that a sentence imposed on a Belizean national in Guatemala may be served in Belize.

The only case of which we know, of a Belizean sentenced for a criminal offence in Guatemala, is that of Joseph Budna, who is serving two sentences in Guatemala, one for 25 years and another for 30 years for kidnapping and extortion convictions.

The agreements inked by Belize and Guatemala indicate that the transfer must be made by one of the two countries, and the receiving state (in Budna’s case – Belize) can decide whether it will accept or deny the request. The legal representative of the prisoner must also give consent for the transfer on the inmate’s behalf.

Also, any pending extradition orders by a third party (such as the United States) would have to be taken into account. The expenses for the transfer would be borne by the sentencing state.

The greatest cross-border tensions between Belize and Guatemala are fueled by illegal incursions through the western border, primarily for illegal logging and gold panning, as well as the looting of Belizean artifacts.

Towards this end, the parties also signed an agreement for the Protection of the Environment and Sustainable Use of Resources.

The agreement states that the parties will design a framework for cooperation and strategic collaboration with the aim of improving the protection and conservation of the environment and of protected areas through joint efforts. It calls for the establishment of a joint coordinating mechanism, which would then form working groups with members drawn also from civil society, who would meet not less than semi-annually.

The joint coordinating mechanism will formulate a plan of action which should, among other things, identify critical areas, threats and impacts, as well as the strategies to reduce them with funding from the state parties and alternate sources.

Belize and Guatemala also inked an agreement on the Protection, Conservation, Recovery and Return of Items of Cultural and Natural Patrimony Which Have Been Stolen, Pilfered, Looted, Exported, Imported or Trafficked Unlawfully.

The agreement stipulates that cooperation constitutes an effective manner of protecting and recognizing the right of each country as the original owner of the said assets; in the context of the agreement, these are archaeological, artistic, historic, religious and cultural patrimony.

It notes that both state parties are signatories to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World, Cultural and Natural Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Three of the agreements address education. There is one agreement to Facilitate the Issuance of Student Visas, under which the governments will grant an exemption to students registered in local institutions, but their entry must be in accordance with respective national laws and the students must enter through legal entry points.

A second agreement covers the Movement of Students Through Terrestrial Ports of Entry, and aims to facilitate swift and safe passage of preschool, primary and secondary-level students who move daily from one country to another for academic studies and who daily return to their country of origin.

At the Placencia signing, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that, “On a daily basis over 800 Guatemalan children cross from Melchor into Benque Viejo Del Carmen to go to school here in Belize. Side by side, these Guatemalans and Belizean children learn and play, never for a moment concerned about boundaries or claims.”

It must be noted that it is to a far lesser extent that Belizean students travel to Guatemala for study, and they usually do so for higher education.

The third agreement looks at the Equivalency of Studies and the Recognition of Educational Documents. It says that, “The promotion of the education integration process will foster higher learning and reciprocal benefits through the equivalency of studies and recognition of educational documents,” and sets a framework for collaboration of the respective Ministries of Education of both countries

Belize and Guatemala signed the Harmonization of Operating Hours at Legal Terrestrial Entry Points, under which both parties agree to maintain 24-hour operations at their legal entry points, such as the Benque del Carmen border.

Another agreement looks at the Mutual Recognition of Driver’s Licenses, which authorities of either receiving country would recognize, in concert with national legislation, as long as the driver’s license is issued by competent authorities in the respective countries.

There is also an agreement on the Recovery and Return of Vehicles Stolen, Confiscated or Impounded Illegally or Inappropriately. Under this agreement, the parties undertake to promptly return vehicles found stolen or taken illegally to the other country. Each party to the agreement will have to have a Search and Recovery Unit. If the vehicle is found with someone who purchased it in good faith, the party in question will notify the other party of the legal position in respect of that case, the agreement says.

One of the 13 agreements calls for the establishment of a programme for seasonal workers, and the establishment of a framework for such a seasonal workers program. That programme would be supported by the OAS.

The parties also addressed sustainable tourism. In the tourism agreement, they undertake to enhance cooperation and collaboration in the tourism sector based on equal rights and mutual benefits. The program would also involve exchange programs for the training of personnel.

Finally, the agreement on the Electric Power Trade and Transmission Interconnection and Grid Connectivity looks at establishing a connection between Belize and Guatemala through which Belize can export or import power. It points to the June 15, 2001 adoption of the Plan Pueblo Panama (PPP), now the Mesoamerica Project, the strategies of which include electricity interconnectivity. It notes that the projects for interconnection across the Central American region and Guatemala and Mexico are completed, and only the Belize-Guatemala portion is pending.

Under this agreement, it said, Belize could be connected to the Regional Electricity Market of the Central American Isthmus and participate in energy exchange via interconnection.


#499312 - 12/24/14 03:52 AM Re: What's in those agreements with Guatemala? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The 13 Explained

Last week, the government signed 13 bilateral agreements with Guatemala at the SICA Summit. The 13 had been in the works since the start of the year - with input from the opposition, but when they were signed last week the Opposition spoke out and said the public should have been consulted first.

The agreements seek to find common ground between both countries in 13 essential areas. On the topic of border management, Belize and Guatemala have agreed to maintain 24-hour, customs, immigrations operations at all legal terrestrial entry points - which is pretty much what happens now.

Next, both governments agree that all efforts will be made prohibit sale of stolen archaeological, historical and cultural artifacts which belong to the other's country. They will take all legal measures to prohibit the entry of such illegal items into the respective countries, and all efforts will be made to recover and return any known, stolen artifact which belongs to the other country.

Both countries will also recognize and accept driver's licenses duly issued by the authorities in the other's state.

In the area of education, the Ministries of Education on both sides will grant equivalency, and recognize certificates, titles, degrees, diplomas and other documents issued by the school institutions of the other's country. This agreement is to foster the continuation of studies of the residents of both countries. To facilitate the process, both governments will exchange laws, regulations, course curricula, and other documents which govern teaching at the levels of pre, primary, and secondary schools.

For the facilitation of movement for students who travel across the border, such as the ones we've shown you at the Benque Border, there is a formal agreement to govern that. Students who have been accepted into the school of the other state must comply with the immigration rules of that country that they're traveling to. The immigration personnel will document each student and issue them with valid identification cards so that they can enter the country legally. The agreement allows for both countries to work on means of transporting the students swiftly and safely to their schools and back to their homes.

Keeping it on education, there is an agreement on the issuance of student visas in both countries. Immigrant students who are able to prove that they have registered at a school the other's country, will be exempted from student visa requirements.

On a more ambitious note, Belize and Guatemala will work be interconnected through the electrical grids of both countries. This means that after the required infrastructure is built, both countries will be able to buy and sell electricity from each other. Of important note is that in June 2001, Mesoamerica Project, previously known as the Puebla Panama Plan, allows for the grid connectivity of the nine southern states of Mexico, with all of Central America, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Belize and Guatemala were the only 2 countries who did not agree to become interconnected to each other for the gains of the system.

Both countries also agree that conservation and protected areas management is important the maintenance of the rich natural resources in the other's country. Belize and Guatemala will establish a joint coordinating mechanism through the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs to create an action plan which will focus on environmental safety.

In the area of deportation, the officials from the two states will work to efficiently send home persons who break the immigration laws of the other country. The cost of deportation will be borne by the state carrying it out.

On the issue of seasonal migrant workers, there is an agreement between both countries to govern that as well. Each worker will be documented by the Immigration Departments of the respective countries, and each worker and his/her employer will agree to the terms and conditions of the employment in the form of a contract. Of course, Guatemala has hundreds if not thousands of migrant workers in Belize, especially in the banana and citrus industries, but Belize is not known to have any migrant workers in Guatemala.

On that lucrative crime of vehicle theft and sale across the border, there is an agreement between both countries on how that will now be handled. Both sides will act as efficiently as possible through the legal and diplomatic channels for the prompt return of vehicles found in their respective territory, which have been stolen or illegally retained. A search and recovery unit for stolen vehicles will be established in both countries which will be the operational arm of the Central Authority. Whenever any law enforcement agency seizes a vehicle stolen from the jurisdiction of the other state, steps will be taken for its immediate security and quick return.

Finally, on agreement number 13, both sides have agreed on improving sustainable tourism in their respective countries. All 13 of the bi-lateral agreements were signed by Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, and his Guatemalan counterpart Carlos Raul Morales.

Today, Prime Minister Dean Barrow was asked why they weren't publicly ventilated before signing and he explained:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"We have bilateral agreements with various countries all the time. We don't go to the public for those."

"Not a normal country."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Well in deed, I won't quarrel with that and that is why to me this is such a signal advance, but no, those agreements were in fact agreements that were being worked on by our team. At some point they had the oversight of the referendum commission. The Opposition was there at all times. In fact I still haven't heard them say they disagree with what's being signed. How could they when they helped to negotiate what's being signed. Their argument is merely that it ought to have been circulated for consultation before the sign. I don't agree and if they maintain that position, then we will forever be at odds. We will take them to the senate, so that again, there can be a chance for more people to weigh in. But Lord man, let us not snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory. I really am satisfy that this represents a huge advance. There is nothing there as I indicated that's reflective of a sort of heads of agreement type scenario. These are innocuous understandings that can help both side in terms of cooperation in the various areas and certainly represent a chance for working together and getting to know each other better and that's the way ultimately that we can achieve the falling a way of the claim if we don't go to the ICJ before then."

"For instance though, taking one of the seasonal workers' program. What would Belizeans expect to go do over in Guatemala in terms of seasonal work?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know that Belizeans go to Guatemala right now to do seasonal work."

"So it means that it's only benefitting Guatemala."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"If you have a matter of fact Guatemalan seasonal workers coming - what's wrong with regularizing that? And who knows, they may be opportunities for Belizeans to engage in seasonal work in Guatemala, I highly doubt it, but all you al doing is regularizing what happens as a matter of fact."

Channel 7

#499662 - 01/07/15 11:05 AM Re: What's in those agreements with Guatemala? [Re: Marty]
Steve BZ Offline
What's in those agreements? Let's make it real simple...Guatemala wants land that we're sitting on & refuses to recognize international court decisions or believe that Great Britain, the U.S., and Canada will actually come to our aid when their citizens are held hostage by the Guats when the talk ends and their army actually rolls accross the border. Simple as can be. Charge the Guats double for beer/ rice & beans, hide your teenage daughters and wait for help!

#499984 - 01/16/15 04:45 AM Re: What's in those agreements with Guatemala? [Re: Steve BZ]
Mike Campbell Offline
cant cure stupid


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