What to Do About Odious, Offensive Guatemalan Map?
One topic the media pressed both Courtenay and Elrington on are the reports out of Guatemala that their government will start printing those offensive maps with Belize being a part of Guatemala.
Supposedly, it's part of their public education campaign on the ICJ referendum which is coming up in March, 2018. Press reports from Guatemala say that the education campaign will feature maps which will illustrate the territory of Belize as being part of Guatemala. There will be one dotted lines to note the borders between the countries and it should say "territory in dispute".
So, how will Belize handle these controversial maps, and how should it be handled? That's what both diplomats were asked, and here's that back and forth:
Hon. Wilfred Elrington - Minister of Foreign Affairs
"The information that I have received is that the Guatemalans, in their campaign, will be using maps of Guatemala that shows Belize included as part of their territory. Well that has always been their position. They have always taken the view that they were claiming the whole of Belize, and I have been at pains to say to the Belizean public that that is the case. Other people have suggested otherwise, but that has l always been their position, so nothing has change. What is now important is that we need to now educate our Belizeans to understand, and I hope we can now come together and agree that the claim relates to the whole country."
Hon. Eamon Courtenay, SC - PUP Senator
"How can the Foreign Minister being presented with that question, not say what he is going to do? 1, why hasn't a diplomatic protest been seen? 2, why haven't we engaged the OAS, who has superintendence over this process, saying that is an act of bad faith. 3. Why haven't the Government of Belize come out immediately with a press statement condemning it to Guatemala, and saying that it is just wrong? Why have we not galvanized our supporters on the international stage and said, 'This is going in the wrong direction?' And I guarantee you, that if Guatemala publishes a map like that, the Belizean people are going to reject any referendum held here, and rightly so."
"All I will say, is we need a foreign minister who is going to aggressively, consistently defend Belize's position and advance what is in our interest, and stop acquiescing and accepting things that Guatemala does."
According to our archives the Guatemalans started pushing out the map with Belize included in a dotted area as far back as 2013 where it has appeared at official forums such as the OAS.