By now, most Belizeans are well aware of the results of Guatemala’s referendum held on April 15th. But, has the ‘yes’ vote of the Guatemalan people placed pressure on Belize to also vote ‘yes’ ? Foreign Minister Elrington told the media that Belize has to get a ‘yes’ vote in order to avoid the possibility of an intensified conflict with Guatemala.
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs: With respect to the first question I can tell you that there had been no doubt in my mind at any stage that we have to get a yes vote. That is really to my mind, I can’t, I wouldn’t even want to think otherwise on that. I really wouldn’t want to engage on that discussion at all when you look at the horrendous occurrences worldwide where there are border disputes, the carnage that takes place, the hardship, the terrible consequences that flow from border disputes, not something I want to get into at all, and I hope that Belize will never in fact… I think this stage in history finds jtself where it has problem with its neighbor over borders, that is something that I don’t even want to contemplate so I’ve always been of the view that we had go to ICJ. I held that view from I was 10 years old and I have always been of the view that the Belizean people are smart, and given the options that we are faced, the ICJ is the safest place.
While, there is no certain way to tell what Belizeans will decide on the day of the referendum, a recent poll done by Love FM on whether or not the dispute should be taken to the ICJ resulted in 91% of Belizeans voting ‘no’. Elrington echoed the sentiments of Ambassador Alexis Rosado’s response to a possible ‘no’ vote by Belizeans. The Minister indicated that Belize could well lose international support if the referendum results in a ‘no’ vote.
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs: That we are being told repeatedly by the international community that they are not prepared to stay around indefinitely to finance the OS office and to give us the kind of diplomatic support that we have been getting from them in this very tangible way with this Belize Guatemala issue they want us to rid of it and they want us to think that ,well the impression I get from them is that they agree with my view that perhaps the ICJ is the best option for us at this point in time absolutely best option so I can tell you that the fear is that if we don’t get a yes vote we might be parting company with the people of the national community supporting us so far in this struggle
You might recall that not long after Guatemala’s referendum, the Vice President of Guatemala told the people of Guatemala that Belize will hold its referendum in May of 2018. This information came as a shock to Belizeans because GOB has indicated that a referendum will not be held until the re-registration process is complete. Here is what Elrington told the media.
Reporter: Minister what was said to the residence of Guatemala while you were out for them to return to Guatemala and say that our referendum would be held in May ?
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs: I can’t tell you what whilougby said to him don’t know how they got that information we have been saying persistently that as far as we know we would not be in a position to hold a referendum before the first quarter of next year.