Guatemala’s “bad intentions” exposed!
The following diplomatic notes–the first from the Belize Government to the Government of Guatemala, and the second, a response from the Guatemalan Government to the Belize Government–came to Amandala today, courtesy Senator Lisa Shoman, former Foreign Minister 2007-2008, permanent representative to the OAS and Ambassador to the United States during the PUP administration of Prime Minister Said Musa.
We have her permission to publish the diplomatic notes for the edification of the Belizean public, whom have been denied access to the notes by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington on the excuse that the observance of “diplomatic protocol” prevented them from doing so.
We need to point out that the Hon. Philip Goldson, in April 1968, returned with the infamous Webster’s 17 Proposals that was handed to Belizean officials in the form of a draft treaty at the UK Embassy in Washington, DC. Goldson did not waste any time in informing the Belizean people of the horrible plot against Belize by the British government.
We shudder to imagine what would have happened to Belize if the Hon. Goldson had been afraid of contravening “diplomatic protocol” and had not revealed the contents of the proposed agreement to a public ignorant of the British government’s duplicity, cynicism and betrayal.
We need to ask the question: which is more important – the observance of “diplomatic protocol,” or the education of Belizeans about the true nature of Guatemala’s hostility and naked aggression against Belize in pursuit of their unfounded claim to our country?
The Belize Government’s “extremely strong” protest note to the Guatemalan Government following the August 16, 2015 incursion of Guatemalan Navy boats into Belizean waters, and the hostile, aggressive actions of the Guatemalan soldiers towards an excursion to Sarstoon Island by the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), led by Wil Maheia, and the Northern Territorial Volunteers (NTV), led by Orlando De La Fuente, was not made available to the public, despite many appeals to do so.
Below is Belize’s diplomatic note to Guatemala, and following that, Guatemala’s response to Belize’s note.
Belize’s “extremely strong” protest note to Guatemala
Our Reference: FA/SORG/BM/01/15(17)
NOTE No. 551
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guatemala and has the honour to refer to the incidents of Sunday 16th August 2015 during the visit of a few unarmed Belize civilians in the Sarstoon River by the Sarstoon Island.
As is well known, the Government of Belize is on record as not supporting the activities of the individuals and groups that visited the Sarstoon River last 16th August. Indeed, the Government of Belize actively tried to dissuade the Belize civilians from engaging in their planned activity. It was, therefore out of prudence and restraint and for the abundance of caution to avoid any possible confrontation or mishap with Guatemalan civilians or authorities that the Government of Belize withheld its armed forces from being in the immediate vicinity of the planned activity.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, having now seen pictures and videos from the event last 16th August in the Sarstoon, is very concerned by the behavior of the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) who accosted the Belize civilian vessels and tried to impede their free navigation on the Sarstoon River; and by the fact that GAF elements led by a Vice Admiral further attempted to intimidate and harass unarmed Belizean civilians on the Belize side of the river.
As the Government of Guatemala was fully aware, the Government of Belize was committed to exercise every precaution to prevent any confrontations between the two countries. It is regrettable to note, however, that the Guatemala Armed Forces apparently did not receive the relevant instructions to exercise such restraint. The Government of Belize therefore protests the uninvited incursion of the Guatemalan armed forces into Belizean waters in the Sarstoon and for GAF behavior against unarmed Belize civilians and their vessels. Putting Belize civilian vessels and their passengers in danger by ramming Guatemala military vessels against them, obstructing free navigation and entering illegally into Belize waters for such purposes cannot be construed as neighbourly conduct on the part of the GAF.
The Government of Belize reaffirms its often repeated and long established position that in accordance with the 1859 Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty, the mid-channel of the Sarstoon River is the line constituting the boundary between Belize and Guatemala; that the river shall be equally free and open to vessels and boats of both countries, and that any islands found therein shall belong to that party on whose side of the main navigable channel they are situated. Nothing in law and practice has changed to this day, except that law and practice has consolidated this position.
Until such time as the Guatemalan claim to Belize is finally and permanently resolved, the Government of Belize reiterates it commitment to abide fully by the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between Belize and the Republic of Guatemala. Whereas these CBMs do not establish a specific regime for the Sarstoon, the Government of Belize recalls fundamental principles of behavior that govern the agreement on CBMs and that both Parties have an obligation to fulfill; namely, that as stated in Section D. paragraph 4 “Neither Party shall use force, or the threat of force, to pursue their positions with respect to the Territorial Differendum”; and at Section D. paragraph 18 that “Parties shall cooperate to avoid incidents on the ground conducive to tension between them”, as well as Section D. paragraph 24 that “The Parties agree to exercise caution and restraint in the treatment of all issues related to the Territorial Differendum”, among others.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize remains committed to finding an early and definite resolution of any and all Guatemalan claims as agreed in the Special Agreement to Submit Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime claims to the International Court of Justice, subject to approval by the will of the people in a referendum in both countries. In the meantime, the Government of Belize invites the Government of Guatemala, along with the Organization of American States, to engage in efforts to establish clear mechanisms of confidence building along the Sarstoon River to avoid further incidents and to improve on our neighbourly relations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guatemala the assurances of its highest consideration.
BELMOPAN, BELIZE 19th AUGUST, 2015