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#529409 - 03/17/18 06:11 AM Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum  
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On last night's news, we showed you part one of our exclusive interview with the new Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize, Gorges De La Roche.

He was discussing different aspects of Belize/Guatemala relations and the topic of their ICJ public campaign came up.

On April 15, Guatemalans will go to the polls and vote on whether they want to take their country's territorial claim to Belize to the International Court of Justice.

For months now, the Guatemalan Government has been hosting their public education campaign on the ICJ referendum, and we wondered what kind of feedback they've been getting on this claim to Belize that's almost 200 years old.

We asked the Ambassador about those sentiments from the Guatemalans:

H.E. Georges de la Roche Du Ronzet - Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize
"The fact is that our demographic is very young. We are a young country in Guatemala and most of our population, because they are young, because that's just the nature of our demographic, are unaware with issues. That's why we have being aware of that we launched last year this high gear information campaign to remind people on what the issue is."

"We have of course focused our efforts on certain populations and that's paid off, because there is in certain parts of Guatemala, I won't say complete ignorance, but there is a certain level of ignorance as to what the case is, what the historic case is. Now keep in mind that this wasn't between Guatemala and Belize. This wasn't even our issue. We've inherited this issue. So the campaign we have done has been positive. All our embassies abroad have been also not only sharing the information on the voting procedures what the issues with the officials of other countries, but with Guatemalan populations abroad also so that the word spreads."

"I think it's been a very successful information campaign."

Daniel Ortiz, reporter
"Have you encountered that particular sentiment on the other side? Is it like abroad spectrum where you have Guatemalans who would be more forward thinking and progressive? Is there that sentiment that 'you know what, Belize is ours' - what is the spectrum of sentiments you've encountered?"

H.E. Georges de la Roche Du Ronzet - Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize
"The sentiment, the issue has evolved, has changed a lot in the past 40-50 years. I think that those not so rational people that feel more passionately about the issue on the Guatemalan side are few. There are some people that even make up things that are not fact. But I really think it's a small percentage, very small percentage."

Would Guatemala Try To Slip Out of ICJ Judgement?

Now, for the territorial dispute to actually go to the ICJ, the populations of both Belize and Guatemala have to vote yes in their respective referendums.

But, as you may be aware, there are those strong-minded Belizeans who refuse to entertain the idea of an ICJ resolution. And that's because there is suspicion that if Guatemala loses the case, they will simply ignore the ruling and carry on as though nothing has changed.

We asked the Ambassador point-blank about that concern:

Daniel Ortiz, reporter
"We know that in the past, your country was claiming half of Belize. Is that still the position?"

H.E. Georges de la Roche Du Ronzet - Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize
"When you ask that, I will remind you that we are tiptoeing around a legal case, a court case or hopefully a court case. So I won't even dare to answer that. Once we are at the Hague there will be a memorial presented by us in the stages of their procedures in the Hague. So that's the answer I can give you."

"By coincidence I was sent to the Hague 19 years ago to open our embassy there, waiting for this case to get there, so there has been much preparation for it."

Daniel Ortiz, reporter
"There is a guess this worry that if both populations take this matter to the ICJ and Belizeans believe that Belize is for Belizeans, should the court rule in that particular manner, will this be a situation the chapter will be closed? Should Belizeans worry that a future government administration or future generation of Guatemalans will say look no, we reject that particular ruling."

H.E. Georges de la Roche Du Ronzet - Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize
"Let me answer in 3 parts, the first part let me be very emphatic and clear and a simple answer. Yes. Allow me to elaborate. We recognized the Hague as the judicial arm of the United Nations. We are very much part of the United Nations system. If this goes to the Hague and we are hoping it does, like I believe you're hoping it does - absolutely yes. What we want and I answered the first question, we want closure on this. We understand and all the accords and all the agreement we have signed to that effect - that's always mentioned that the resolution is final and definite. We understand that and we are more than willing to abide by that."

As we told you, there was a lengthy negotiation between the Ambassador's office and our news room, before we finally arrived at yesterday's sit-down interview. We had a long list of questions to ask him about his Government's reaction to the fatal Chiquibul shooting of the 13 year-old Guatemalan boy.

But, ultimately, we were told that he was not able to take our questions on that topic at this time.

Channel 7

#529451 - 03/19/18 05:33 AM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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Guatemala teaches its citizens what they hope to gain after the dust settles.

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#529780 - 04/10/18 05:31 AM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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The Guatemalan National Referendum on the I.C.J. takes place on Sunday, April 15th, 2018.

on Open Your Eyes

#529788 - 04/10/18 06:18 AM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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Jimmy Morales Wants More than Half of the Jewel…

Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales has hit the road in the last lap of his country’s campaign for the I.C.J. before the April fifteenth referendum. On Sunday, he was in Petén, one of two Guatemalan provinces that directly border Belize. Morales had a message for Belizeans: in one breath, he said that Belize has a neighbor who loves them and respects them, and wants to improve the overall relationship between both countries. But in the other breath, the president says they are fighting for what they believe is theirs.  In his statement on Sunday, Morales told his audience that they want to reclaim twelve square kilometers of Belize, which is more than half of the country. Here is how he explained it to an official event in Santa Elena, Peten, courtesy the Facebook page of the Government of Guatemala.

Jimmy Morales, President of Guatemala [Translated]

“I will be clear: we do not have any problems with Belize. We have excellent relations with our neighbor, Belize. You have heard the Foreign Minister say that currently we have thirteen treaties. We have excellent relations. We are not fighting with Belize. What we have is a claim for a territorial differendum. There are no borders between Belize and Guatemala, like the way we have with El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. What we have is an adjacency zone without any definite limits. We need to consult [on] all of this at the International Court of Justice. And on April fifteenth, we need Guatemala to take that step forward.”

Channel 5

April 15th Referendum Will Go On

The P.U.P. has reacted to a statement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington to this station on April fourth. Elrington said that he had been advised that according to Guatemala’s constitution, it must take any result of a case at the International Court of Justice to another referendum. Today, the P.U.P. said it is “extremely concerned” as it was not aware of any such provision in the Guatemalan Constitution and if it is so, it would violate article five of the Special Agreement of 2008. That article binds both parties to accept an I.C.J. decision as final and binding and implement it fully and in good faith. The P.U.P. wants Elrington to withdraw the statement to avoid confusion.  This morning, Elrington said he believed the referendum will go ahead, and even if Guatemalans vote no, there is always another opportunity.

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The information we are getting is that it really – there is no indication that it’s going to get any real traction – that’s the information we are getting at this point in time. I don’t think the court has given any indication of if it will hear it or when it will hear it. The referendum is next week Sunday. A tremendous amount of money has been spent in it, and I personally don’t think that it’s going to be derailed at this late moment by these claims – but I really don’t know. I’m just telling you information we are getting.”

Marleni Cuellar, Host

“But from a legal perspective, using your experience, even if it is heard before the courts, that wouldn’t necessarily stop the referendum from taking place?”

Wilfred Elrington

“That’s the indication that I’m getting – the indication that I’m getting is that it’s not likely to derail the process. That’s the impression that I’m getting. So long as they vote yes, that is the voice of the people; no matter what turnout, that is the decision of the country of Guatemala.”

Marleni Cuellar

“So legally, it doesn’t matter how much of their voting population turns out, the majority of five will be able to make this decision?”

Wilfred Elrington

“You are correct on that, so long as it’s the majority.”

Marleni Cuellar

“Now what happens if the Guatemalans vote no?”

Wilfred Elrington

“If the Guatemalans vote no, we are exactly in the position we are now today. Where everything is up in the air; we don’t know what is going to happen in terms of the future resolution of the dispute; the matter is up and open in the air. So that is the consequence of that decision.”

Isani Cayetano, Co-Host

“And that remains a very real possibility, correct?”

Wilfred Elrington

“Yeah; that’s always a possibility.”

Marleni Cuellar

“Is there any indication – because obviously this is a relationship that is established as Foreign Ministers to discuss this issue – as to whether or not there’s a no vote taking place, that there would be a subsequent referendum?”

Wilfred Elrington

“That is the thinking, that sometime later on, when conditions change, it may be appropriate for us to do another referendum. But of course, all these things have legal implications. Certainly that was the thinking of the other earlier Foreign Ministers with whom we discussed. Certainly, on the Guatemalan side, the people in office that I have met in office have been very firm on the idea that the I.C.J. should be the means of resolving this matter.”

Channel 5

#529811 - 04/11/18 06:27 AM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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Guatemala's referendum video showcases the Blue Hole and Placencia:

#529825 - 04/11/18 01:17 PM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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Guat President Jimmy Morales Walks of Talk Show Set After He is Grilled About Issues

President Jimmy Morales from Guatemala has been making the media rounds in respect of the upcoming referendum which takes place this Sunday in Guatemala. Over the weekend, he was in the Peten area and on Monday night, he appeared on TV Azteca in a programme called Hechos with Ana Lucia Masariegos. The president was grilled about a number of issues. He spoke about the invitation he extended to PM Barrow to attend his inauguration and said there was a good relationship between them and while he doesn’t speak to his counterparts every day, the relationship is there. But the interview, about twenty minutes in length, did not go as smoothly for the president who appeared irritated at the line of questioning. When pressed on how his government was prepared to do if Belize did not hold a referendum, he became annoyed; he interrupted the interview, delivered a parting shot and then walked off the set.

Jimmy Morales, Guatemalan President: “Guatemala, in 1981, accepted Belize’s independence…

Ana Lucia Masariegos, Host, Hechos: “…but the issue is the territorial claim. What will you all do to convince them?”

Jimmy Morales: “But if you know the answer, why don’t you tell it to them. You keep interrupting me.”

Ana Lucia Masariegos: “I am not interrupting, president. We are just asking you the questions.”

Jimmy Morales: “Well, this is my message to the people of Guatemala. This being the reason why I’m here and with this I’ll leave: People of Guatemala, thank you for being attentive to the referendum that will take place on April fifteenth. The fifth of April will be a historic moment. In 1773, discussions began concerning this issue. In 2018, this generation has the opportunity to not pass on this problem to our children. The decision will be yours. It is your right; it is your civic duty. Thank you and may God bless you. Good night.”

Ana Lucia Masariegos: “Thank you Mister President. He joined us in our first interview regarding the importance of the referendum, asking all Guatemalans to participate this Sunday, voting for Guatemala and putting an end to this age old problem.”

After the interview, Masariegos took to Twitter saying that citizens have the right and the obligation to question government officials; in particular, if it is done with respect.

#529840 - 04/12/18 05:36 AM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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Views from the Ground on Upcoming Guatemala Referendum: Some Voters Confused, Others in Opposition

Seven point five million Guatemalans are eligible to vote in this Sunday’s historic referendum to be held in Guatemala. On the last leg of the campaign, President Jimmy Morales has been on the ground and on the airwaves campaigning for a yes vote to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice.  Last week, he said Guatemala is claiming more than fifty percent of Belize’s territory. Belize has not yet set a specific date to hold a referendum, but it is expected that an informative campaign will accelerate following the poll in Guatemala. The communities along the western Belize are monitoring, with interest, what is taking place. Today, we get the perspective of Guatemalan nationals who come to Belize everyday either for work or to bring their children to school.  Similarly, News Five Duane Moody speaks to villagers of Arenal, which is shared by both Belize and Guatemala, and gets their views on what the referendum means to them. Here is his report:

Taking the Guatemalan territorial claim of Belize to the International Court of Justice continues to be met with mixed views on either side of the border. While political leaders from both countries have been pushing for a final resolution at the Hague, many question the viability of that route. But whether that process will be taken will be determined by referenda held in Belize and Guatemala; the latter is set for Sunday, April 15th. Guatemala is investing forty million U.S. dollars to carry out its referendum and in a recent visit to Peten, President Jimmy Morales encouraged residents from border communities to exercise their right to vote.

Jimmy Morales, Guatemalan President [Translated] [File: April 9th, 2018]

“I will be clear: we do not have any problems with Belize. We have excellent relations with our neighbor, Belize. You have heard the Foreign Minister say that currently we have thirteen treaties. We have excellent relations. We are not fighting with Belize. What we have is a claim for a territorial differendum. There are no borders between Belize and Guatemala, like the way we have with El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. What we have is an adjacency zone without any definite limits. We need to consult [on] all of this at the International Court of Justice. And on April fifteenth, we need Guatemala to take that step forward.”

But Guatemalans say they are confused since a recently published article in Prensa Libre and a map circulating on social media indicate that their government is claiming more than half of Belize. This contradicts the concept of seeking a defined border line between both independent countries.

Carlos Enrique Manzanero Lanza, Guatemalan Taxi Operator [Translated]

“We have to decide for the future of both countries to define the territorial border of Belize and Guatemala.”

Duane Moody

“But your president is saying that Guatemala wants more than half of Belize.”

Carlos Enrique Manzanero Lanza [Translated]

“Belize is Belize and it is independent.”

Duane Moody

“And for that reason you will vote yes to take the…”

Carlos Enrique Manzanero Lanza [Translated]

“I cannot say because I haven’t taken a decision as yet. I am confused.”

At the western border, commerce and trade between both countries is clearly visible. Aside from the bus loads of Guatemalan students and laborers entering Belize as well as the traffic to and from the commercial free zone, there are many, including vendors, and tour guides who say that their bread and butter is at risk. Interestingly, their minds are made up – they will not vote in the referendum in an attempt to keep the status quo intact.

Roberto Garrido, Guatemalan Tour Operator

“I’m a tour guide here in Guatemala; that’s what I do. I get tours to Tikal.  I have a belief that I am not going to vote because that’s gonna help me; that’s only gonna help…nothing to do. That’s not gonna help us here.  It doesn’t benefit me for sure because as far as I know it is not only to define the imaginary line, I guess Guatemala wants a piece of water and that’s only going to benefit the big guys in Guatemala. So that isn’t going to be benefit me here in Melchor because I am from Melchor.”

Carlos Enrique Manzanero Lanza [Translated]

“The relationship between both countries is really good that Belize and Guatemala works hand in hand to grow both countries with Melchor De Mencos as a sister country to Belize and Belize to Melchor.”

Duane Moody

“The village of Arenal has the unique property: half of the village is in Belizean territory and the other half is in Guatemala. There are approximately one thousand Guatemantecos living on this side of the border. While they have been consulted on the referendum set for Sunday, they are not sure that they want to take this territorial claim to the I.C.J.”

The village is cut off from the rest of Guatemala by the Mopan River causing the residents to live very humble lives. Access to basic commodities and work from their country is almost non-existent. In fact  they remain undocumented when they unknowingly cross into Belizean territory. Feeling abandoned, Village Committee rep, Atilio Lopez says most residents will not partake in the referendum.

Atilio Lopez, Committee Rep, Arenal Village Guatemala [Translated]

“They are only saying that they are going to go but they are not going to vote.”

Duane Moody

“They are not going to vote. But why?”

Atilio Lopez [Translated]

“Because it is not convenient for them.”

Duane Moody

“Can you explain that?”

Atilio Lopez [Translated]

“It is not convenient for them because right now we benefit from Belize and this affair can only cause problems with the community.”

Essentially, going to the I.C.J. is different for everybody. In the case of Mario Rene Galdamez of Flores, Peten; he recently purchased a house in Belize, his daughter is Belizean and they enjoy the benefits of both countries.

Mario Rene Galdamez, Resident, Flores Peten [Translated]

“I am not in agreement and I will tell you why.” Guatemala at this time does not have the capacity to govern itself; much less will it have the capacity to govern an additional piece of territory. For that reason, no I am not in agreement. I like Belize. My daughter is Belizean and I like the government. Guatemala needs to focus more on the country and leave Belizean territory alone.”

Duane Moody for News Five.

In related news, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala has ruled against constitutional claims challenging the ratification by the Guatemalan Congress of the December 2008 Special Agreement and its amendment in 2015.   The basis for the claims was that the Compromis violates their constitution in that it was not submitted by Congress to a referendum.  With the court’s ruling, that obstacle is out of the way and the referendum proceeds on Sunday.

Channel 5


#529911 - 04/16/18 05:32 AM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
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Guatemalans vote YES to send Territorial Dispute to the ICJ

In Sunday's referendum over the future of the country's territorial dispute with neighboring Belize, Guatemalans voted overwhelmingly to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in the Hague, to resolve the centuries-old conflict.

With more than 92 percent of the vote counted, some 95 percent had voted in favor of letting the UN's top court have final judicial authority over an area of some 12,270 square kilometers (4,737 square miles) — about half of Belize — and the border between the two neighboring countries.

Guatemala’s Vice President, Jafeth Cabrera announced to his country today that the Government of Belize will carry out our national referendum in May, as part of the commitment to resolve the dispute.

Turnout for the referendum was low, however, with an abstention rate of over 75 percent. Past Guatemalan referendums on constitutional changes have also been marked by high abstention and voter apathy.
Nonetheless, Guatemalan officials pointed out that the turnout was the country's highest-ever for a referendum.

Judge Maria Mijangos, the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which organized the vote, said that, "Today we should feel satisfied and celebrate this civic success that we have undertaken," the Guatemalan news agency AGN reported.

President Jimmy Morales, who had made the "fight to recover Belize" part of his campaign platform, welcomed the Guatemalan peoples' decision to pursue "a peaceful and democratic solution to solve a 200-year-old conflict."

It now all depends on Belize

The territorial dispute dates back to the 18th century when the Spanish Empire, which controlled Guatemala as a colony, granted the British Crown access rights over Belize. The latter became a British colony under the name British Honduras and eventually gained its independence in 1981.

While Guatemala recognized Belize's independence in 1990s, it has never dropped its claims over roughly the entire southern half of the English-speaking country, including island and maritime areas.

The referendum was the result of a 2008 accord signed by both Guatemala and Belize that said the countries' citizens would have the right to decide whether to send the territorial dispute to the ICJ.

Belize has promised to have its own referendum at a yet unspecified date in the future. If the "no" vote subsequently wins, both countries will have to seek an alternative way to resolve the conflict.

[Linked Image]


#529914 - 04/16/18 06:05 AM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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Press Conference of Preliminary results of Guatemala Referendum. The president of the TSE reported that voter turnout was 24%. 96% of those that participated voted YES and 4% voted NO.

#529921 - 04/16/18 12:26 PM Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty]  
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Belize's First Line of Defence | Episode 1: Defining Belize's Borders

Episode one of the documentary series "Belize's First Line of Defence" highlighted what areas define Belize's borders and how they were established. Let's take a look back!

Government of Belize Issues Statement on Belize-Guatemala Referendum

The Government of Belize avails of the opportunity to congratulate the Government and people of the Republic of Guatemala for conducting its referendum on April 15, 2018 on the question of going to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in accordance with the Special Agreement of 2008.

The Government acknowledges the results as a step further toward permanently settling the age-old dispute. This act of civic expression in Guatemala was conducted smoothly and efficiently in a way that contributes further to the strengthening of democracy, peace and security in Guatemala as well as in the region.

At the recommendation of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States in 2007, the Governments of Belize and Guatemala were asked to consider going to the ICJ to settle finally and definitively their dispute arising from Guatemala’s claim on Belize’s continental and insular territories and the maritime areas pertaining to them. Both countries agreed to do this subject to the will of their respective peoples as expressed in national referendum.

In accordance with the Special Agreement, the Government of Belize is committed to conducting its own referendum for the electorate to decide whether we should submit Guatemala’s claim to the ICJ for a final settlement. A date for this will be set after the national re-registration exercise has produced a new and robust electoral roll.

The Government of Belize rejects completely the statement made by Guatemalan Vice President Cabrera who stated that Belize will be holding a referendum in May of 2018

Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, H.E. Alexis Rosado, made appearances on the Guatemalan media, and informed the Guatemalan and international media who are currently in Guatemala that Belize’s referendum will be held after the re-registration process is sufficiently complete, and stated that Belize also proposes to intensify its public awareness campaign starting this and next month.

Guatemala Referendum Coverage

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