On the heels of the Forum on Belize Guatemala, Ambassador Assad Shoman has released a book entitled “How You Can End the Guatemalan Claim” and as he mentioned in last night’s forum, the book speaks of the solution being going to the International Court of Justice. He explained that the book was written at the time when the Belize Guatemala referendum was at the forefront and it served as an encouragement for Belizeans to know why it was important to have a referendum and to go to the ICJ.
“I think that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs feels that, in the first instance, they feel that it is possible that the referendum may be held next year but I don’t think so. I do believe whether Guatemala agrees to have a referendum or not, we have signed an agreement with Guatemala that we will take this matter to the court and I think that Belizeans have to be convinced that that is necessary for our safety and security and our future development; Belizeans must be convinced that that is necessary and we must do it so that we can fight internationally to pressure Guatemala to agree to go to court; therefore this book is still useful, they thought, at least in explaining to Belizeans why it is good and it is necessary and it is the only way to resolve this dispute and to end this dispute by going to the ICJ.”
During the presentation of his book, Shoman explained that to achieve real safety and security it doesn’t only require that we know that Belize is ours, but also to have other countries especially Guatemala to recognize that it is a process which he says should be bi-partisan. He therefore claimed that he is disappointed in the People’s United Party for not seeing the ICJ as the best solution.
“Very, very disappointed and I am hoping, I understand sometimes that politics gets in the way of moving forward, together as a people and as I said last night, I would think that not supporting this going to the court clearly unambiguously, on behalf of the PUP leaders, clearly is a betrayal of what the PUP has been doing all its existence which was to achieve independence with territorial integrity and as a corollary and a necessary corollary to maintain and defend it and it was the PUP that fought to bring us to the point of going to the ICJ to resolve this issue and to now say, ‘ we are considering it and we have been considering for some time and we don’t take a positive stand to it is very disappointing to me.”
However he says he understands that the PUP has not been readily involved by the Government.
“What I am told by PUP leaders is that the Prime Minister has not been welcoming, has not been seeking out and has not been trying to build a real partnership with the leadership of the PUP on this issue. Yes, they pick out people that they say are PUP and would give them a job here or there with something regarding the referendum or they say a PUP representative is present at meetings with Guatemala; that is not the same thing as is required by a true partnership. I recall when I was leading the issue on the facilitation process at the OAS which resulted in the facilitators’ proposals and also when all of the negotiations that led to the final decision to go to court; not to sign the special agreement was done by the PUP but at every stage of the game, I personally would go to Mr. Barrow’s office who was then Leader of the Opposition on Albert Street and brief him and ask him his opinions and if he says that he wasn’t sure he agreed with something, I would take that into account and I did not take any decision or any step without his full and informed approval; that is not happening now at that level.”
Shoman officially presented his book which is accompanied by a Pocket Guide to the Referendum on the ICJ at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City.