Guatemalans are moving ahead to a referendum on whether the Belize Guatemala territorial dispute should go to the ICJ.

The congress of Guatemala voted overwhelmingly two days ago that their supreme electoral tribunal, should proceed with calling a referendum. Ambassador Rosado says we should expect that to happen within the year:..

H.E. Alexis Rosado, BZ Ambassador to Guatemala
"The supreme electoral tribunal had said before that they needed anywhere between 90 days and 6 months to be able to put the things together, put in place everything necessary to hold the referendum. So, it's a matter now for them to decide when they will call it. I understand that the current administration has been saying that they wish, that, ahm, it could be held this year. We also know that they have budgeted sufficient funds for them to be able to organize such a public consultation."

"And we should expect that anywhere between now and the end of the year, they should be able to hold one."

"What they do not have, or at least they say they do not have funds sufficiently, is for their public awareness campaign, and that I understand and I think that is what you're referring to. That the European Union is helping. I know that they are now as we speak taking certain measures in order to be able to facilitate them with some ready funds since they don't have much time left for them to conduct their own public consultation. So they need ready funding now. And they have been for some time, knocking on doors with the international community and the group of friends."

And while Guatemala looks for funds for its awareness campaign, Andrews and Rosado say Belize's education campaign has been ongoing since 2012.

Will a "No to ICJ" Vote in Guatemala Kill The Effort?

But, since Guatemala will have its referendum first, what happens if their citizens vote "no" to the ICJ? That might seem to be the end of the matter - since the referendum has to pass in both countries. But, Ambassador Rosado says a "no" vote doesn't solve anything:...

H.E. Alexis Rosado, BZ Ambassador to Guatemala
"Should a "no" (vote) arise in any of the two countries, the problem of the Guatemalan claim would remain. So, we would still have to find a way of resolving it. What will be done then is anybody's guess. It will be for the government of the time to deal with it. But, there's no doubt, we should never be left with the view that ends the claim, it doesn't end. We still have to find a way to resolve it."

"So far we have concluded that the ICJ is the only way, subject to the will of our people will of our people."

CEO: Referendum After Re-registration

And - assuming that the referendum were to pass in Guatemala - the "will of the Belizean people" won't be known until after next year's re-registration exercise. The CEO explained:

Pat Andrews, CEO - Foreign Affairs
"I think since we have municipal elections coming up next March, it would be right immediately after that, a couple months after that the re-registration would commence and then the thing would be how to see how fast we could turn it around and complete it. So, that would be left up to the Elections and Boundaries Commission to look into that. We are hoping that it will move swiftly and we are hoping that we would then be ready to proceed to referendum."

Channel 7