By Wellington C. Ramos
The president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, had the nerve to come before the United Nations and tell the UN representatives of the world that we Belizeans do not want to make peace with them. However, the nations of the world will not believe him because of Spain and Guatemala’s aggression against Belize since it became a colony in 1638 and Guatemala’s human rights policy in killing their native Maya Indians since it also became a colony of Spain in the 17th century.
Guatemala and Belize were originally colonies of Spain after Christopher Columbus landed in this part of the world in 1492. This led to a treaty signed between Spain and Portugal titled the Treaty of Tordesillas on June 7, 1494. In that treaty, negotiated by the then Catholic Pope Alexander V1, Spain was given all the territories in the Americas except for the country we know as Brazil. This region includes North America, Central America, the Caribbean and most of South America.
Spain wasted no time in slaughtering the native peoples of these regions and setting up various viceroyalties with their appointed governors. Great Britain, France, the Dutch and other European nations were against this treaty and began to challenge Spain’s rights to these territories. The British were granted permission by Spain to cut logwood and mahogany in the territory we now know as Belize. As time progressed, wars broke out between the British and the Spanish over Belize.
This led to the Battle of Saint Georges Caye on September 10, 1798, which was the last one between the two nations. Guatemala and most of the Latin American countries declared their independence from Spain in 1823. After they became independent a series of border disputes erupted among most of these former Spanish colonies. Failure to settle these disputes caused wars to break out among themselves. Border disputes still exist among most of the former Spanish colonies in the Americas up to this day.
Guatemala and Mexico, through the Spanish jurisdictional arrangements, were given permission to administer Belize. With Mexico, their governance extended from the province of Quintana Roo all the way to the Sibun River, and the Guatemalans with their governance from the Department of Peten to the same point.
After they attained their independence from Spain, both countries felt that Belize belonged to them and they started to assert their claims to the territory. In 1859 Guatemala signed a treaty with Great Britain accepting the borders and boundaries with Belize. Mexico later signed a treaty with Great Britain on July 8, 1893, acknowledging Belizeans’ right to their territory and has left the Belizean people to live in peace since. However, unlike the Mexicans, Guatemala reneged on their signing of the treaty and has been claiming Belize since the 1930s.
Guatemala threatened to use force on several occasions to take back Belize. The worst experience was when their President Kjell Laugerud Garcia stationed thousands of troops along the Belize-Guatemalan border in 1977. The British responded by reinforcing their garrison troops, along with some Harrier jump jets. The United States and other Latin American countries, appealed for calm between the two nations and the OAS intervened to broker peace among them.
Recently, under this current president Jimmy Morales he did the same thing by amassing his troops on Belizean soil in the Sarstoon area. Prior to becoming president he also stated that he will do whatever is necessary if elected as president to retake Belize. For him now to say that they have made peaceful gestures towards the country of Belize is far from the truth because the facts speak for themselves.
I now call on the Prime minister and the foreign minister of Belize, to strongly go before the United Nations General Assembly and rebut what the president of Guatemala Jimmy Morales said. In addition, to send out a press release from the office of the foreign ministry to all the foreign embassies worldwide to let them know the truth.
Guatemala’s record of aggressive tactics towards our beloved country of Belize must end once and for all. Also, allowing their citizens to cross the border daily and come into our country and deplete our natural resources as if Belize belongs to them. Their continued killing of the native Maya Indians and violating their human rights has led to a huge migration of their citizens to Belize and Mexico regularly up to this day.