A little over a month ago, we told you that the new Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize, Georges de La Roche, presented his credentials to Governor General Sir Colville Young.
He succeeded Manuel Roldan Barillas - who left amidst strained relations.
De La Roche’s appointment was interpreted as a welcomed return to normal, neighborly relations between Belize and Guatemala, following the tensions of April 2016, when a Belizean Joint Law Enforcement Team killed the 13 year-old Guatemalan boy in the Chiquibul Forest.
For weeks now, we’ve been trying to get a sit-down interview with the new ambassador to discuss relations between the two countries. It took a bit of negotiation, but this morning, he finally agreed to an exclusive with 7News at the Embassy headquarters in Belize City.
De La Roche is a US-trained, career diplomat, and a senior officer with the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs with over 20 years of experience. He served as Ambassador to Canada and India, and most recently, he was the Director General of International Bilateral Affairs, in charge of all the diplomatic relations and issues with all the Guatemalan Embassies abroad and within Guatemala.
In those negotiations for today’s interview, however, we also found out that he also has significant ties to Belize. The ambassador spent some of his childhood vacationing at a family home on St. George’s Caye, and today, he discussed his familiarity with Belize:
H.E. Georges de la Roche Du Ronzet - Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize
"My great grandfather came from Scotland and established here at the beginning of the 20th century the store Hardies and then for a while was involved with Brodies. To that extent my grandmother, my maternal grandmother was born here, went to school here, lived here most of her life and indeed my uncle and mother were also born here. I use to come to Belize as a kid, we use to have a nice house on St. George's Caye and I spent many wonder moments of my childhood in Belize and would go as far as considering Belize almost and I underline almost a second home for me full of the love I have for Belize and it's a culture, it's food, I'm delighted to eat rice and beans everyday if I can and really to feel happy here and I think that makes a difference in the execution that my job has, Guatemala's representative in Belize. Belizean's like most people in the world, I've lived in many countries in the world both as a diplomat, as a student, as citizen, Belizean people are wonderful, they are open, always happy. I love listening to the radio and listening to good morning Belize, the tune just gets me going on the right foot, I still have many friends here in Belize, I still have distant relatives, so I'm happy to react with them and of course Belize is small country population wise so everybody knows everybody and that is a dynamic that is quite different to let's say India where I was Ambassador before for 3 years that's a completely different dynamic with a very big population.”
So, since the ambassador has a deeper understanding of Belizeans, probably more than most of his predecessors, we asked him if he thinks that this experience will be an asset to his diplomatic mission here. He told us that he certainly hopes so:
"Being someone who's been able to interact with both peoples it must be unique to be able to see where the peoples of both countries are coming from in terms of this particular matter."
H.E. Georges de la Roche Du Ronzet
"Indeed. I think the issue itself has changed, has evolved a lot much in the past 40 years and I think we have an opportunity now to have because it's a legal matter and we understand it's a legal matter, you understand it's a legal matter. We have a great opportunity to take this legal matter to the court in the world that can resolve it for us.”