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Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty] #529924
04/17/18 05:31 AM
04/17/18 05:31 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,072
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Guate Votes Resounding “Yes” to ICJ Referendum

Guatemala has voted yes to go to the ICJ with the Belize - Guatemala territorial dispute. The referendum, or - as they call it - "Consulta Popular" was held yesterday, and it was a decisive outcome: 96% of the 1.9 million voters said "yes", while only 75,000, or 4% said "no" to the ICJ.

And while 1.9 million votes may sound like a whole lot, voter turnout was low at 26% of the electorate - and throughout the day, there were many stories in the Guatemalan media about how slow it was at the polling stations.

Our Daniel Ortiz and Codie Norales were in Guatemala City for the vote, and they have this story:...

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Here in Guatemala City, like the rest of the country, Guatemalans joined the lines on a Sunday to say yes or no to taking their territorial claim to Belize to the ICJ.

The referendum became reality almost a decade after the Special Agreement was signed. That's where both countries committed to go to the ICJ - after getting approval from dual referendums.

But, for about half that time, Guatemala's leaders were indecisive, giving one reason one reason or the other to postpone.

Finally, after five years of flip flopping, they took the plunge, marking a decisive turn in the 200+ year-old dispute.

H. E. Alexis Rosado - Ambassador to Guatemala
"It's a historic day. I should say that I am pleased that you could make it, the Belize media houses. I understand that there are other media houses coming. It's important for the Belizean people to follow the process. It's historic."

But, while the dispute is rich in history, we wondered just how much Guatemalans know about the core issues, and why they were voting today. Around the City, we found people who were very knowledgeable:

Edgar Dionicio - Guatemalan
"I think that we should vote yes. I think that we all have this right to decide whether to have this set boundaries, so we can all get the benefit out of it. I feel like we need to have that piece of mind that we know what belongs to who."

Carlos - Guatemalan
"I vote yes."

"Why yes?"

Carlos - Guatemalan
"Because we have an opportunity to resolve the problem, long time ago. We recognizes that Belize is another country, but we have common frontiers borders."

"Personally, would you support the government if they should push for Belize to return back to Guatemala's ownership?"

Carlos - Guatemalan

"Why not?"

Carlos - Guatemalan
"Because the people of Belize has sovereignty to territory."

"Do you think that they are many Guatemalans who think like you?"

Carlos - Guatemalan
"I think so."

Francisco - Guatemalan
"Belize and Guatemala needs to have their correct border and they don't have a border. And if we don't have a border, it's the problem right now. We need to define the border. It's not that Belize will be part of Guatemala, no. Belize is a country and Guatemala is a country, but we have to define what is the border."

"What do you think of Belize and Guatemala? Do you think that Belize is part of Guatemala?"

Danika Martinez - Guatemalan
"Belize was part of Guatemala, but not anymore. I know that we are fighting for a piece of place, but Belize is not part of Guatemala anymore."

"Would you want it to remain a separate country or would you personally want it to be part of Guatemala?"

Danika Martinez - Guatemalan
"They are a country and we are a country and I think that we have to wait for results in Belize."

Michael - Guatemalan
"At the starting of the year, they started with this consulta popular and they started like showing all the information the reason why this was happening and some people decided not to pay attention I think. I was talking to some people here and they are thinking like part of Belize is for us and that's kind of a funny thing, because it's not really what is happening."

Even in a city steeped with history, some people didn't appear to understand the importance of this referendum.

"Will you vote for the referendum or have you voted?"

Interviewee 1
"I will vote, right now I'm going to vote."

"How will you vote? Yes Or No?"

Interviewee 1
"I will vote yes so we can get back Belize. Yes."

"What do you know of the issue of the dispute between Belize and Guatemala?"

Interviewee 1
"The only thing I know is that it belongs to us, that territory, yes."

"What do you know of Belize?"

Interviewee 1
"I wouldn't be able to tell you."

"You don't know anything about Belize, but you do think that Belize belongs to Guatemala?"

Interviewee 1
"Yes I think a portion belongs to us, yes."

"Why did you vote yes?"

Interviewee 2
"Because, I don't know why they sold Belize, Belize is ours."

"Will you vote for Yes or for No?"

Interviewee 3
"Ah it has to be for Yes?"


Interviewee 3
"To see if what they propose get better."

"Do you know any details of Belize as a Country?"

Interviewee 3

"What do you know?"

Interviewee 3
"Well they say they sold it but I don't believe it is so."

"Will you vote yes or No?"

Interviewee 4
"Yes. To recover part of the Guatemalan properties which were lost due to corruption among the past presidents more than anything else."

So, since some of our interviewees missed the point of the referendum completely, we tried to get an idea as to why many Guatemalans didn't understand why they were voting. Who better to turn to than members of the Guatemalan press, who have been following the Guatemalan Government's education campaign closely. Alexis Ponce, a journalist from Albavision, and Mercedes Zucena, a journalist from the Canal Antigua TV were willing to explain.

Alexis Ponce - Journalist, Albavision

"There are persons who have no idea, mainly the younger people who are not aware. They have had minimal information relating to this dispute. But, there are older persons who are above 50 years who have greater understanding of the situation, like we're seeing in today's voting. They are the ones who are going to the different polling stations to cast their votes."

Mercedes Zucena - Journalist, Canalantigua TV
"There have been many controversies on this topic in respect to this topic because they were misinforming - there was certainly misinformation. The public is not well informed with respect to the implications of this referendum."

Misinformed or not, the Guatemalans were being asked to make this major decision

Maria Eugenia Mijangos Martinez - President, Tribunal Supremo Electoral

"We are ready. The day has come for the referendum."

In the past 2 referendums, Guatemala had very low voter turn out - less than 20%, especially when compared to the robust Presidential Elections.

So, for the first few hours, when the Guatemalans were only trickling in, and it did give cause for concern that nobody was truly interested to be heard on whether or not to take the case to the ICJ

Edgar Dionicio - Guatemalan National/Referendum Official
"It's been less than what we expected to see. I think that expected to see a little more people giving their thought about the situation. But we do appreciate the fact that people has been coming by."

But, by the end of the day, 26% of Guatemala's approximately 7.5 million eligible voters came out and voted overwhelmingly to take the claim to the ICJ.

Maria Eugenia Mijangos Martinez - President, Tribunal Supremo Electoral

"At the end of this long civic day, we have a lot to be grateful for. We have carried forward this commission progress, whereby the people of Guatemala have responded beyond our expectations."

Indeed, the turnout was beyond expectation; the 26% was the highest turnout ever recorded for a referendum in that country. The previous highest turnout for a referendum was 18% in 1999. The 96% yes vote is also the most decisive outcome from any referendum in that country's history. And, yes, even though only a quarter of the electorate voted, it is a valid and binding outcome under Guatemalan law.

And, so, today, it was a feast of congratulations for Guatemala, from Belmopan to the British Embassy in Guatemala City.

First, the Belize Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent out a release congratulating the Guatemalans, and adding, quote, "The Government acknowledges the results as a step further toward permanently settling the age-old dispute…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." End quote.

The British Embassy in Guatemala sent out a release saying it welcomes the outcome of the referendum, quote, "to bring the territorial, maritime and insular dispute with Guatemala before the ICJ," end quote.

And, today in the UK, Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington met with MP Allan Duncan at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Duncan tweeted, quote, I've just met Foreign Minister Elrington of Belize…fully support his ambition to hold their own referendum as soon as possible."

Former Guate F.M. Ecstatic About “Yes” Vote

While our news team was in Guatemala City, we ran into former Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales.

While he's no longer a member of Government, he still had a leading role in the public education campaign. We asked the Morales to discuss the outcome of the referendum, and, not surprisingly, he was very pleased that Guatemalans want to take their claim to the ICJ. Here's what he had to say:

Carlos Raul Morales- Former Guatemalan Foreign Minister
"It is a clear message of the Guatemalan people that we want peace. This is for me the most important message. Guatemalan people are people that love peace. And a lot of the Guatemalan people are not aware of the issue with Belize. They only know about Belize when someone dies in the adjacency zone and there are sentiments, very special feelings when someone dies. Our message to Belize is that we are going to be neighbors forever, we have a problem, we have an issue, we need to solve that issue. But the message that the 96% of people said 'yes' is to give a solution to a problem we have in the International Court of Justice in a peaceful way; there is no other way. The message we want to send to Belize is that we need to go to the ICJ to establish a border. I know for Belize there is a border but it is not marked in the land, it is not marked in the area, in the field and it is important to determine. It is important to chop the nature of this line and to build some monuments that show where exactly the border is between Guatemala and Belize. Sadly we have this issue. It was not my decision to have this issue. It was not your decision to have this issue. We are hurting for the decision of our grandfathers, from our fathers and now our generation has the opportunity to give a solution to this issue. For me, this message of the Guatemalan people is very clear; we want to live in peace with Belize. Please, Belizean people, don't take the result of this referendum to mean that we want to take Belize. I think there is a misunderstanding and people don't understand what is the meaning of the claim. Guatemala and Belize have rights; well, let's go to the ICJ, let's define those rights. The worst thing that could happen is that the treaty of 1859 will be valid."

As you saw in our story, there were Guatemalans who voted in the Referendum without a having a clue as to what a "yes" vote actually meant. Our colleagues from other Belizean news in Guatemala reported encountering Guatemalans who were similarly confused about the meaning of the referendum.

So, we challenged the Former Guatemalan Foreign Minister on that and here's what he had to say:

Daniel Ortiz - Reporter
"We've walked around Guatemala City as best as we can, it is a huge city, and we've encountered quite a bit of people who believe that a yes vote is to go reclaim Belize. It is an unfortunate situation. Did the Guatemalan government, for which you were once a part of, fail to properly educate all its citizens?"

Carlos Raul Morales
"I got involved in the education process and, you can review my interviews, I never said we are going to take Belize back. What I said is that we believe we have rights, which is different, it is very different. And the only institution that can solve those rights is the ICJ. I am not part of the government anymore, this is clear, but if you review my education process- because I took some leadership in this process- I said very clearly: we need to solve this claim with Belize for the peace. I am not part of the government anymore, I cannot give an explanation as to what the president said but what I can assure you is that most of the people I know, and most of the Guatemalan people, what they want is to solve this situation with Belize. Definitely, there are some sectors that believe that Belize is part of Guatemala but I cannot do anything about that. And most of those people vote 'no' because the people that vote 'no' believe that Belize is part of Guatemala and they don't want a solution with the ICJ."

Marisol Amaya - Reporter
"There were some people who said they would have voted 'yes' but there understanding of the question was that it is simply to deepen or strengthen trade between Belize and Guatemala, so a lot of people were misinformed. Do you think that that makes the process flawed that the education campaign did not reach a large sector of the population?"

Carlos Raul Morales
"No, it is not a large section of the population. There are misunderstandings but I can assure you that most of the people, most of the 96% are people that want peace. I can assure you that. There are some people definitely yes that believe differently, particularly people that voted no. But I can assure you that most of the 90% of the people want peace with Belize, I can assure you that."

As you heard, Morales claims that the outcome of the referendum sends a strong message that "Guatemalans want peace". So, is the converse true as well? If Belize votes no, will it be interpreted that we don't peace? The dispute can only go to the ICJ for settlement IF both countries vote "YES".

If Belizeans vote yes, then it all goes according to plan and the territorial claim will be heard by the ICJ.

But, if Belizeans vote no, then the ICJ push ends abruptly, and then it's back to the drawing board. But in the process, Belize may be maligned as rejecting a peaceful resolution to the claim.

We asked Morales about the possibility that Belize may vote "no":

Carlos Raul Morales- Former Guatemalan Foreign Minister
"It is coming from 1821, from almost 200 years ago. And my law doesn't allow me to recognize Belize's borders. If I do that I will go to jail in Guatemala. It is a matter of law. It is the same in Belize. You cannot give us back Toledo for example. Then, if your law doesn't allow us to give a solution to this problem and my law doesn't allow us to give a solution, what we need to do is to build a solution at the ICJ."

Marisol Amaya- Reporter
"A referendum is a democratic process. What happens if Belizeans vote no?"

Carlos Raul Morales
"Well, if Belize votes no, you need to look for the legal mechanisms to go to the ICJ. The problem now is that, and I am asking you, is the solution to live with the problem forever? I ask you."

Ambassador Alexis: “Is the Pressure now on Belize?”

So, what happens next? Well, now that the Guatemalan electorate has said "YES", it wants to resolve the dispute at the ICJ - they must wait and see what the Belize electorate says.

So, now, the pressure and scrutiny is squarely upon Belize, since the Guatemalans have given their emphatic yes vote.

We asked Belize's Ambassador in Guatemala, Alexis Rosado if Belize is under pressure to produce a "yes" vote in Belize. Here's what he had to say:

H. E. Alexis Rosado - Ambassador of Belize to Guatemala
"Well, it is a historic occasion. It is a big step in the direction we had already agreed upon in 2008 when we signed the special agreement. It will now required for Belize to prepare and conduct its own and we will see how that goes."

Daniel Ortiz- Reporter
"Now, sir, the former Guatemalan Foreign Minister has suggested that this is a clear indication that Guatemalan's want peace. Should Belizeans vote 'no', the suggestion or the clear implication there is that Belizeans, if they vote 'no', don't want peace."

H. E. Alexis Rosado
"Well, I haven't heard what whoever said. So, I wouldn't want to comment on that but we all know that as Belizeans we are a peace-loving people, that is our vocation. So, we have relied on the international system for our own security as an independent state, with sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have always depended on the international system to support our cause. We have always maintained that our title to our territory is based on the international legal system that now prevails in the international system."

Daniel Ortiz - Reporter
"Do you feel especially pressured to try to convince the Belizean people to vote yes, since there is a clear interpretation and a spin on it, should Belizeans decide to vote 'no'?"

H. E. Alexis Rosado
"Well, I don't know about pressure. At the end of the day, we are pressured either way. We are pressured into not resolving a dispute that has been really behind our backs for a long time that has disturbed the peace on many occasions. So, looking at it from that point of view, we've always known that this day would come when Belizeans would be asked to decide. The important thing now is that Belizeans are well informed."

Daniel Ortiz
"Do you think the international community will look unfavorably on Belize should we vote 'no' when Guatemala has so clearly said 'yes'?"

H. E. Alexis Rosado
"I think that will be a tough call when and if that time comes but I wouldn't want to speculate on what the international community will be thinking."

Channel 7

Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty] #529925
04/17/18 05:36 AM
04/17/18 05:36 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,072
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

In Belize, Will Political Parties Work Together?

In the absence of Prime Minister Barrow and Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, we sought a reaction to Sunday’s outcome from Opposition Leader John Briceño.  The head of the People’s United Party, like the Government of Belize, congratulates Guatemala on the successful results of its referendum, despite a poor voter turnout.  On the home front, Briceño says that government has been mishandling the Belize/Guatemala differendum, citing as well, the lack of a bipartisan dialogue on the matter.

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“First of all, I think I need to start off by congratulating the citizens of Guatemala, for those that participated.  On the referendum, Guatemala has for their part, they have had their referendum.  Well then we have to take it from there, what is going to be the next step.”

Isani Cayetano

“So there’s been a low voter turnout in Guatemala, in terms of persons who actually participated in the referendum, and there’s a possibility that perhaps the same can happen here, given the fact that it’s not necessarily an election.  The various parties may not be mobilizing persons to come out the way they should.  Does your party plan when that time comes, to try to get things going in terms of bringing out persons?  Where does the P.U.P. stand?”

John Briceño

“But that is the problem, that we don’t have an idea as to what are the plans from government.  We believe that the government has been handling this badly.  I don’t think there has been enough discussion, especially between the two major political parties that if we want a referendum to succeed one way or the other, yes or no, both major political parties would have to get involved to make sure that the voters can come out.  We’ve been saying it for some time, when I was just elected as leader I met with the prime minister and we were very excited in participating in the whole process when it comes to Belize/Guatemala.  As we’ve always said that this is a non-political matter [or] issue.  When it comes to the sovereignty of this country that we in the P.U.P. are prepared to work with any and everybody who’s prepared to stick by what we say, not a single square inch should be given to Guatemala, that we’re going to protect and preserve all of our territory.”

Referendum in Belize in May? No Way!

Guatemalan Vice President Jafeth Cabrera recently met with Belize’s Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington in Lima, Peru while attending the Eighth Summit of the Americas.  Cabrera reportedly told the Guatemalan media, following the gathering of heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere, that he had been informed by Foreign Minister Elrington of a similar referendum to be held in Belize in May.  Clearly, Cabrera may have misunderstood what was said to him, as Foreign Minister Elrington has gone on record on previous occasions to state that a re-registration exercise will precede a referendum locally.  Nonetheless, Opposition Leader John Briceño is seeking clarity on the matter.

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“We hear now that according to the vice president of Guatemala, he is claiming that the foreign minister, our foreign minister has stated that we will have a referendum in May of this year.  Again, I think that the government needs to correct that very quickly because that is not what has been agreed to.  We have made it abundantly clear that the People’s United Party will support a referendum only after we have had a re-registration exercise.  Supposedly, that should take place starting July of this year.  So it would be virtually impossible to have a referendum, well, virtually next month.  Maybe the foreign minister misspoke or the vice president did not really understand what was said to them, but that is an issue between them.  Our position is this, that we must have re-registration.  But also, when it comes to going to have a referendum there are a number of issues that we need to address.  For over a year and a half we have been clamoring that there must be a protocol for the Sarstoon River.  We know that the Guatemalan Armed Forces they are trying to strong arm the Sarstoon River.  They harass the B.D.F., they harass citizens whenever they want to go up the Sarstoon River and we have been pressing both the government and whenever we have the opportunity with Guatemala for us to have a protocol as to how we are going to be navigating that river, and it is very clear that half of that river belongs to Belize.”

Channel 5

Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty] #529947
04/18/18 06:30 AM
04/18/18 06:30 AM
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Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Faber Says If Belize’s Vote Is “No” To The ICJ, Then “No” It is

Two days have passed since the ICJ referendum in Guatemala and we've gotten very little from the government of Belize - other than congratulations for our neighbors who - lest we forget - are claiming half the country.

Depending on who you talk to, Belize is at a crossroads of either peril or promise - and no one from Government has laid out in concrete terms the implications of Guatemala's "yes" vote are for Belize.

Today, the Deputy Prime Minister told us that due to the PM's absence Cabinet has not met to come up with a position yet - but he did comment on Guatemala's quite striking position that if Belize votes "no", then the government would have to find another way to still take the case to the ICJ. Faber says he's not so sure about that!:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister
"We did not meet today, today is Tuesday so we haven't gotten together as the cabinet to assess what has happened. While there are some who are looking at the results and saying this is not what could have been in terms of the turnout for Guatemala, what is clear is that they now have a very clear, according to their legal position as it relates to the referendum. They have a clear mandate now that yes they have agreed to go forward to the ICJ. What is left now is to see if Belizeans will also make that same determination and for us to look actively to name a date and move toward getting the Belizean people to participate in such an activity."

"So the Guatemalan foreign minister was asked what if Belize votes no. He said Belize as a country have to find a legal mechanism to go to the ICJ. Is that a possibility?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister
"If Belizean people would say no, according to the legal mechanism that is set up for us when a referendum is run, there is no other push that we ought to be making. The Belizean people would have spoken emphatically and clear. No matter what, the percentage turn out in that referendum would be. as far as I'm concern we ought not take it any further than that. I don't know if we have had any discussions in that direction, but my vote would certainly be to not go against what the Belizean people would have said loud and clear in a referendum."

"How do you think Belize moves forward? If we say no, it looks like we're turning down a peaceful way to settle this and if we say yes, then we're still scrutinized for that. Our faith is in the hands of a tribunal basically."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister
"Absolutely, that is the dilemma that we are in. When we are asked the question and Belize says 'no we don't want to go to the ICJ,' then we are in the same predicament that we've been in for all these years because it would have meant as far as my understanding, an end or failure so to speak to the process that is the most valuable or possible solution that we have seen so far. I really would want to see it go positively."

"Wouldn't it be a feather in the cap of this present administration, were it to successfully pull off the referendum, go to the ICJ and emerge victorious in terms of keeping Belize's sovereignty intact?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister
"That can be said but to me that is secondary. I think a victory in that manner is one that would see a result form the ICJ that is in our favor, is a victory for all Belizeans. It's not a victory for Dean Barrow, not a victory for the UDP, not for the government, it is a victory for this nation that has been plagued by this issue for decades. It is a victory for our children who are going to come up without this cloud hanging over their heads. That is something that we don't even want to talk about in terms of claiming who is responsible and whose victory it is. It is a victory for all of us Belizean people."

Channel 7

Belize's Borders were clearly defined in the 1859 Anglo Guatemalan Treaty between Her Majesty the Queen of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Republic of Guatemala.

Commissioners of both governments were appointed to inspect the border marker at the southern part of British Honduras at Gracias A Dios on 16th January, 1929

Commissioners of both governments then inspected the border marker at the western part of British Honduras at Garbutts Falls on 22nd January, 1929.

Under the supervision of the commissioners of both governments permanent Border Monuments were erected.

The Commissioners of both governments then signed a document at the Sarstoon River accepting the borders on the 29th May, 1929.

On 26th August, 1931, a letter was sent out by Guatemala's Foreign Minister, A Skinner Klee, stating that the government of Guatemala agrees to accept the monuments which inherently means they accepted the demarcation of the borders of British Honduras which later became Belize's borders.

So why now is Guatemala laying claim on Belize when they had already agreed to accept the borders?

We know our borders are defined, so why risk going to the ICJ?

British Honduras is now the Independent Nation of Belize recognized by the United Nations and accepted by the World Community.

by Will Moreno

Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty] #529981
04/20/18 06:04 AM
04/20/18 06:04 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,072
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Will Opposition Vote “Yes” or “No” on ICJ Referendum

On Sunday, 25% of Guatemala’s voting population gave an emphatic yes to the ICJ.  The government of Belize congratulated them, while the Cabinet has yet to come up with a position.  So what about the opposition?  The PUP - as the party which put Belize on the path to the ICJ when it was in government in 2007 - is in a ticklish position.  At the time, the party leader Said Musa was confident, he said Belize had an “iron-clad” case - but now, with public sentiment in Belize seemingly against the ICJ - what does its present leader John Briceno have to say.  

The press asked him today:

Hon. John Briceño - Leader of the Opposition
"We need to start off by congratulating the people and government of Guatemala for a successful referendum that they had on Sunday. Whilst in our mines 26 percent is low but as I've been told one of the highest turnout for a referendum they had in a very long time in Guatemala. So we need to congratulate them and it only adds to us now in Belize that we also have to get ready for our referendum - when it’s going to happen its up for the government for them to decide."

Daniel Ortiz
"Okay now sir, do you accept that your party was instrumental in getting us to this referendum track? And so one would take the view that your party is obliged to try to encourage the Belizeans to go for a yes vote?"

Hon. John Briceño
"We all recognize that most of the successful work that has been done in the negotiating - in trying to find a solution to the unfounded claim by Guatemala on Belizean territory has been led by the PUP. I also believe though that Guatemala lately has not been a good neighbor. They are trying to use strong arm tactics to see if they can try to strengthen their claim which I think is not going to work. There is a problem that is very difficult to separate myself as a citizen and as the leader of the party and that is why I try not to make definitive pronouncements because I do have a personal view and my personal view is that sooner or later we will have to get to the ICJ. Maybe not now or next year or 5 years but sooner or later we will because there is no other alternative. I explain it in basic simple terms, if you have your piece of land and your neighbor is trying to build a wall or a fence on your land, what do you do? You go to him and you say you're trespassing. He does not want to move, you show him your land paper and he still doesn't want to move, you either shoot him or you could go to court, so you will go to court. With Belize, the Guatemalans are trying to go into our land, we're telling them they are in our land, we have shown them our documents, our land papers which is the treaty of 1859. We can't shoot them, we can't invade Guatemala they are much bigger than us; so there’s not many options left for the Belizean people."

Channel 7

Re: Guatemala Gets Ready For ICJ Referendum [Re: Marty] #530066
04/25/18 06:23 AM
04/25/18 06:23 AM
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Posts: 60,072
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Marty Offline OP

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Morazán, Carrera, Walker, and the 1859 Treaty

Francisco Morazán (1792-1842) was president of the Federal Republic of Central America from 1830 to 1839. Before he was president of Central America, he was the head of the state of Honduras. He rose to prominence in the Battle of La Trinidad on November 11, 1827. Morazán then dominated the political and military scene of Central America until his execution in 1842.

In the political arena, Francisco Morazán was recognized as a visionary and great thinker, as he attempted to transform Central America into one large and progressive nation. He enacted liberal reforms in the new Federal Republic of Central America, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Morazán also limited church power by making marriage secular and abolishing government-aided tithing.

These reforms made him some powerful enemies, and his period of rule was marked by bitter infighting between liberals and conservatives. But through his military skills, Morazán was able to keep a firm grasp on power until 1837, when the Federal Republic became irrevocably fractured. This was exploited by the conservative leaders, who rallied around the leadership of Rafael Carrera, and in order to protect their own interests, ended up dividing Central America into five nations.

William Walker (1824-1860) was an American physician, lawyer, journalist and mercenary who organized several military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as “filibustering.”

Walker usurped the presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

In 1849, Walker had moved to San Francisco, where he was a journalist and fought three duels; he was wounded in two of these. Walker then conceived the idea of conquering vast regions of Latin America and creating new slave states to join those already part of the United States. These campaigns were known as filibustering or freebooting. – WIKIPEDIA

A somewhat cynical person once said, speaking of individual human beings, that life is a struggle, and then you die. We may say that, in many respects, life is not a tea party. When we examine the relations between and among communities, between and among societies, and between and among nation-states, we can see that these relations have been marked historically by many, many disputes, conflicts, and confrontations. That is why the Bible speaks of “wars and rumors of wars” as being characteristic of the human condition.

In the case of the Settlement of Belize, which became the colony of British Honduras in 1862, then a British Crown Colony in 1871, our population, compared to the populations in the republics north, west, and south of us, was relatively protected. And that was because we were “British subjects.” The havoc that Napoleon Bonaparte wreaked on Europe after he became the ruler of revolutionary France in 1796 did not extend to England. In fact, it was England which eventually led the push to stop Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. But, before that happened, Napoleon had humiliated Spain to the point where the Spanish Empire in the New World began to fall apart. Thus, Mexico and Central America became independent from Spain in 1821.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, the republics immediately around Belize, experienced a lot of revolutions, civil wars, and overall violent lawlessness, while Belize/British Honduras suffered poverty, disease, racism, ignorance, and so on, but, compared to the republics around us, Belize enjoyed social stability and law-and-order.

This was the case, that is to say, Belize/British Honduras was peaceful compared to the republics around us, because the British Empire was in charge here. It is because some Belizean families were grateful for peace and law-and-order, besides some education, that they became Anglophiles: they admired the British and everything that was British, some to the point of adoration.

When Guatemala signed the 1859 Treaty with the United Kingdom which demarcated the borders of British Honduras with that republic, which is to our west and south, Guatemala was in a weak and pathetic condition compared to the British. Patriotic Guatemalans have been arguing, ever since 1859, that the Treaty was a treaty of land cession to the British, on Guatemala’s part, and not a treaty of boundary demarcation. Moving forward from that argument, the Guatemalans claim that British refusal to fulfill Article VII of the 1859 Treaty renders that treaty null and void. This will probably be the crux of the matter if the Guatemalan claim to Belize reaches the International Court of Justice (ICJ). (The Guatemalans also claim that Great Britain did not want the 1859 Treaty to smack of land cession because the British did not want the United States of America to accuse them of violating the terms of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850.)

The irony of Guatemalan insistence on how weak and vulnerable they were in 1859 is the fact that the roughneck half-Indigenous Guatemalan, Rafael Carrera, was still President of Guatemala in 1859. He did not die until 1865. And it was through force of arms on the battlefield that the illiterate Carrera had become President of Guatemala after defeating Francisco Morazán in 1840. Carrera was a symbol of Guatemalan military manhood.

Central America was in such a condition of turmoil in the years before 1859, however, partly because of American filibusters like William Walker, who violently seized control of Nicaragua between 1856 and 1857, that Carrera’s government in 1859 felt the need to enjoy the friendship of the United Kingdom as a protection against bandits, raiders, and filibusters. Again, the doves who were in the Guatemalan government, against the protests of the hawks in their legislature, felt that the demarcation of borders between Guatemala and Great Britain, in a treaty sanctioned by the United States of America, would prevent the continued expansion of British Honduran territory.

There is no doubt that the British treated the Guatemalans as weak inferiors in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Guatemalans themselves lament this: they condemn their own Pedro de Aycinena, who negotiated the 1859 Treaty, as being an Anglophile and a tool of the British. Pedro de Aycinena was responding, Aycinena believed intelligently, to some stark geopolitical realities, and he was acting in the name of a warrior Guatemalan President – Rafael Carrera.

Had Morazán defeated Carrera in 1840, the history of Central America would likely have been much different. Central America would have been one republic, a progressive republic, comprised of five nations – Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Salvador and Costa Rica, and would have been in a much stronger position to fight off filibusters like William Walker.

Carrera represented conservative (Church) interests in Guatemala and Central America who were viciously hostile to Morazán’s liberalizing, democratic instincts. As a result of Carrera’s victory and destruction of the Central American federation, the histories of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador and Nicaragua became the same for the rest of the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth. These four republics became elitist oligarchies mixed in with military dictatorships. (We believe that sometime in the twentieth century, Costa Rica embarked on a different course from the aforementioned four republics.)

But, Carrera’s victory over Morazán isolated Guatemala and contributed to Guatemala’s humiliation by Great Britain in the 1859 Treaty. This is real. The relations between nation-states are marked by intimidation, treachery, dishonesty, aggression, greed and violence, and, overall, many actions which would not be approved of by Jesus Christ. Yet, in our region all our governments and peoples profess their Christianity and pray to the one God. Guatemala in 2018 approaches the nation-state of Belize with the same arrogant, aggressive attitude with which Albion dealt with that republic in 1859.

Over the years we have said to you in this newspaper that the narrative of the Battle of St. George’s Caye is not all that relevant to Belize’s post-colonial reality. There are many Belizeans who embraced the Centenary narrative because this was the official story that the British and their administrators and collaborators concocted for our ancestors in 1898. The British kept our African and Indigenous ancestors in the ignorant dark about all their racist and imperialist doings in Nicaragua, the Bay Islands, and even in Guatemala itself. The British never told us a word in school about the Caste War. The British had the right, in the world of international relations, to keep us “British subjects” in the dark because they, the British, were the rulers, and they protected us from all the violence and lawlessness north, west and south of us. And so, to repeat, some of our Belizean people had become lovers of the British.

When it was time for us Belizeans, after World War II, to move on to self-rule, to become a sovereign, independent nation, to throw off the shackles of racism, colonialism, and imperialism, we Belizeans, especially our Anglophiles, were relatively blind to the intrigues, the selfishness, and the treachery of the British. The British bullied and bamboozled the Guatemalans, and they left us Belizeans in this hole.

The thing is, this here Belize is at a point in our history where we need to prove something to the Guatemalans: we need to prove that we can stand on our own two feet. This is a very challenging moment, indeed, because many of us still are mentally committed to British breast milk. At this newspaper, we reject the elitist oligarchy which Belize has become. We demand freedom, justice, and equality for all Belizeans, regardless of ethnicity, race, color, religion, or whatever. In that regard, we seek to walk in the footsteps of Francisco Morazán, Vicente Guerrero, Benito Juárez, Emiliano Zapata, Antonio Soberanis, Philip Goldson, and George Price.

Power to the people.

The claim/conflict in context historical

We have already seen that since 1790, it was feared that a new war would start between Spain and Great Britain, and the latter had ordered Belize to be fortified, and munitions and stores to be sent to that place. Likewise we have remarked that against the good faith of the treaties – as with everything in British Honduras -, Hunter fortified the entrance to the port and St. George’s Cay, and militarized the population. We have also mentioned that the British Government’s appointment of Barrow was not alone that of a Superintendent, but principally that of Commander in Chief.

The danger of a war was imminent and the Belizeans more than anybody feared it: they knew that at the first opportunity, Spain might punish their violations and misdemeanors, and were terrified at the possibility of an armed conflict.

Nevertheless, despite all preparations, those men who were at other times so brave and accustomed to jeopardize their lives in storms and trained in constant battles against nature and man, and who were skillful in the wars of piracy and buccaneering, certainly were not soldiers, and were frightened at the fame of the unconquerable courage of the Spaniards. The Baymen had asked for authorization to transfer their families to places which offered more security, and Lord Balcarres, when breaking the news to Barrow that the “Merlin” was transporting arms and munitions to the inhabitants, added that if they were incapable of defending themselves, they should evacuate their families to the places they wanted.

The Belizeans lived for more than six years in constant fear of the ghost of a war, whereof the danger grew more threatening. Finally, in October 1796 war broke out, though the news did not reach British Honduras until the month of January 1797, when a Spanish prisoner arrived, after Spanish forces had captured some British ships. Barrow immediately declared martial law in the Settlement. During the whole day the Baymen exercised and practiced how to handle weapons, under the direction of a special instructor.

– pgs. 61, 62, BRITAIN AND HER TREATIES ON BELIZE (BRITISH HONDURAS), by Jose Luis Mendoza, November 1942, (Translation from the Spanish by Lilly de Jongh Osborne), publication by the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1959.

Ultimately, President Ydigoras became convinced that his ace in the hole would be the results of his meeting with President John F. Kennedy. According to his son, Ydigoras Laparra, his father thought that he had obtained an “understanding” with the White House that, in exchange for U.S. support for the annexation of Belize, Guatemala would grant American enterprises long-term concessions for the exploitation of minerals, petroleum, lumber, and fishing resources in that country. Ydigoras obviously believed that if he could come back with U.S. support for the annexation of Belize, it would be a great nationalistic triumph that would neutralize the Army and most of his detractors.

– pg. 285, MIUSUNDERSTOOD CAUDILLO: Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes and the Failure of Democracy in Guatemala, by Roland H. Ebel, University Press of America, 1998

– (Ed. NOTE: Ydigoras Fuentes was President of Guatemala from 1958 to 1963, while John F. Kennedy was President of the United States from 1961 to 1963.)

The basic American attitude is that the normal condition of the world is peaceful, so if there’s a problem, someone is causing it. If we defeat that person or country, everything will become harmonious again.

By contrast, the Chinese do not believe in permanent solutions. To Beijing, a solution is simply an admission ticket to another problem. Thus, the Chinese are more interested in trends. They ask, “Where are you going? What do you think the world will look like in 15 years?”

– pg. 56, THE ATLANTIC, December 2016, from an article by Jeffrey Goldberg entitled “The Lessons of Henry Kissinger.”

We think it would be educational, and also interesting, to place the Guatemalan claim to Belize, also referred to as the Guatemala/Belize differendum, in two different historical contexts: that of the region between Guatemala and Cuba in the years between 1954 and 1962, and that of the region from Nicaragua through Belize to Yucatan (Mexico) between 1790 and 1798.

The Roman Catholic kingdom of Spain, with the blessing of the Pope of Rome, ran roughshod in this region from the time of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage in 1492. Spain introduced African slave labor into the so-called New World. Spain raped the New World, in the name of God.

Challenges to Spanish control of the high seas and hegemony in the New World came from English, France, and Dutch pirates, and these attacks on Spanish ports in the Americas and their shipping increased after the Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther’s rebellion against the Roman Church in 1517. Large portions of France and the Netherlands broke away from the Roman Church to become Protestant, while Henry VIII took the whole of England into Protestantism in the early 1530s.

With the conquest of the Aztec empire in Mexico by the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes, in the early 1520s, and the conquest of the Inca empire in Peru by another Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, in the early 1530s, Spanish ships became exponentially more attractive as targets for English, French, and Dutch pirates, whose nations also nursed religious grievances against the Spanish. Spanish ships, especially after Cortes’ and Pizarro’s conquests, were loaded with Aztec and Inca gold, silver, jewels, and other riches being sent back to Spain across the Atlantic Ocean.

In the Caribbean itself, Spanish Cuba had been the base from which Cortes’ attacks on Aztec Mexico had been launched. In 1655, the English privateers took Jamaica from the Spanish, while the French gained control of Haiti, the western half of the island of Hispaniola, in that same seventeenth century.

If you look at a map of the Caribbean, you will see that Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti are all islands which are close to each other as you move from Cuba in the west to Haiti in the east. Belize is on the mainland of Central America, just a few hundred miles southwest of Cuba, and Belize is in between Guatemala on our west and Cuba to our northeast.

In the second half of the sixteenth century in England, with the crowning of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558, the line between English pirates on the high seas and the English monarchy began to become blurred. Elizabeth invested in the raiding voyages of the pirates in the Caribbean Sea and on the Atlantic Ocean, and also in the African slave trade in which some of these same pirates participated. Soon, the British became the Europeans who were most heavily invested in the West African slave trade which kidnapped Africans and transported them across the Atlantic to the New World to work in mines and on plantations in the Americas.

African slaves and their descendants became a large part, at least half, of the population of Cuba, and they became the bulk of the populations of Haiti, Jamaica, and Belize. But African slaves were a very small minority in Guatemala, where the Spanish relied on Indigenous slave labor.

By 1954, when the neo-European oligarchy in Guatemala, assisted by the CIA, overthrew the reformist President, Jacobo Arbenz, the Guatemalan oligarchy was bitterly viewing Belize as a Black country which had been made so, Black that is, by the British. The Guatemalan oligarchy, which openly supported apartheid in South Africa, is, and has always been, notoriously racist. When Fidel Castro’s Revolution came to power in Cuba five years after Arbenz was overthrown in Guatemala, the Guatemalan oligarchy hated the new Cuba, which not only declared itself communist, but also gave very strong indications that Cuba’s large Black/Brown population would be guaranteed rights in post–1959 Cuba.

Under President Ydigoras Fuentes, Guatemala assisted the CIA to train Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba in 1961. Cuba survived that Bay of Pigs invasion when the new U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, refused to involve the United States militarily in the invasion. It is likely that this refusal to go along with right-wing fanatics in the American military and “deep state” cost Kennedy his life in November of 1963. In any case, the Kennedy administration, in return for Guatemala’s support with the Bay of Pigs training, apparently gave Ydigoras Fuentes verbal assurances of U.S. support with the Guatemalan claim to British Honduras. In 1961, remember, the dispute was between Great Britain and Guatemala. British Honduras was still a full-fledged British colony.

Revolutionary Cuba, with a relatively liberated Black/Brown population, became Belize’s most important regional supporter where Belize’s fight for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity was concerned. Racist, white supremacist Guatemala continued to view Belize as a Black problem or aberration in Central America, even though Belize’s population was changing from majority to minority Black by the late 1970s, when Panama became the first Central American nation to support Belize’s independence.

Let us go back now to the late eighteenth century. Between 1790 and 1798, there was no Guatemalan state, as such. The British pirates in the region between Nicaragua and Belize, with the Bay Islands in between, had become woodcutters and settlers, but Spain considered them trespassers and invaders. Military “backative” for the Baymen in Belize and the British settlers in Nicaragua and the Bay Islands came from British Jamaica. In Nicaragua, the British settlers had forged a strong, enduring alliance with the native, anti-Spanish Mosquito Indians of Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast and Bluefields region.

In the latter part of the 1780s, a large amount of British settlers, forced out of Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast by Spanish pressure, came to the Settlement of Belize. This created conflict between themselves and the established Baymen of Belize, and because Belize Superintendent Edward Marcus Despard was sympathetic to the new arrivals from Nicaragua, he was vilified by the Baymen of Belize and has been treated as a villain by Belize’s historians, especially the late Emory King. (Despard’s wife, incidentally, was Black.)

The Battle of St. George’s Caye in 1798, in which critical military support came from British Jamaica, is best understood in the context of the war between Spain and England which had broken out a couple years earlier. In a sense, the Battle of St. George’s Caye featured British Jamaica and Spanish Yucatan as the antagonists. Guatemala was a nonentity in the Caribbean in 1798.

In the late 1950s, there was a press conference held in Belize which included foreign journalists. Historians and other commentators in Belize never refer to this press conference. (Press conferences were very, very rare animals in British Honduras during that era.) Ruling People’s United Party (PUP) Leader, Hon. George Price, made a sensational statement which he must have subsequently regretted. Asked by a foreign journalist what he would do if his projected independence for Belize, failed, Mr. Price’s response was that he would give the northern part of Belize to Mexico and the southern part to Guatemala. As it is in 2018, this is precisely the split of Belize which is envisioned by white supremacist Guatemala.

Mexico has been extraordinarily quiet for years where the Guatemala/Belize differendum is concerned, but the Mexicans are on record for decades as declaring their official position to be that, if there is ever any adjustment made to the border between Belize and Guatemala, Mexico reserves her rights. You and I are left to figure out what that means for our Belizean selves.

And this brings us right back, we submit, to Cuba. Belize is being bullied into accepting International Court of Justice (ICJ) arbitration on the Guatemalan claim. Belizeans are being given the impression, and have been given the impression ever since the Special Agreement of 2008, that the only alternative to the ICJ is war. This is a repeated Elrington line. In other words, Belizeans are being coerced into accepting ICJ arbitration, 37 years after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly for Belize’s sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity. Cuba, under its own pressures, has not been providing the militant support to Belize which their late Fidel Castro did during the 1970s. At this stage, it would appear that the final burden of proof in the Belize/Guatemala matter may end up lying on Mexico. And the irony of that, is that it is from Mexico’s Yucatan that the ships came in September of 1798.

Power to the people.


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