Is Belize ready for border dispute referendum?

Alexis Rosado

The date for the territorial dispute referendum has been set for October sixth, 2013. That date was confirmed by Belize’s Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington who along with negotiators met with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros at the Organization of American States office in Washington, D.C. If successful in both countries, the simultaneous referendum about Guatemala’s territorial, insular and maritime claim may be pushed forward to the International Court of Justice. This would mean that the territorial dispute could be on the road to a final solution. According to the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this will only happen if the citizens of both countries agree.

Via Phone: Ambassador Alexis Rosado, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“There is an effort by the parties, Belize and Guatemala working together with the OAS, to formulate an action plan and a budget so that we can prepare the ground for the referendum—that will include public awareness campaign and education campaign that should serve at least in Belize to inform the Belizean public about all the issues related to the subject so that when they go to the polls for the referendum, they will be fully informed in order to be able to make a decision, an educated decision.”

Jose Sanchez

“Going to the International Court of Justice—the referendum process itself—do both countries have to fully agree during the referendum process itself? Can one country say no and the other say yes to continue forward?”

Via Phone: Ambassador Alexis Rosado

“Oh no, no. Both parties, both countries, both peoples have to say yes for it to be able to go through.”

Jose Sanchez

“What then would happen if one of the countries says no? Do we start all over again?”

Via Phone: Ambassador Alexis Rosado

“Well I won’t want to get there now. My interest is to make sure that we put all the—cover all our bases and make sure that the people are fully informed first and foremost. It will be the people’s decision at the end of the day. The Belizean public will exercise their full democratic rights and sovereignty after all when they go to the polls and decide in a referendum. Now, umm, we don’t know what will happen chu? But we don’t want to speculate what may be the situation after that. The government is committed and we hope to engage all the stakeholders, the people of Belize in an honest, frank and open dialogue and discussion about all the issues involved. We hope that the debate, the discussion could be kept at a certain level that will be fair and objective. I know people have very strong views on it, but at the end of the day if we could all listen and learn and respect the different points of view and at the end of the day, it’s the people that will decide.”

Channel 5