ICJ - Public Opinion Divided
So, the Guatemalans said "yes" to the ICJ on April 15th, and next year on April 10th - Belizeans will get to have their say.
Nationally, it's an existential decision that requires lots of reflection. But today on Albert Street, we found quite a few who already knew what they wanted. Sahar Vasquez has more:...
Sahar Vasquez reporting
Wednesday, April 10, 2019, is the day you will get to vote on this question. The vote will either be yes or no and today we found out that quite a few Belizeans actually want to go the ICJ court in Hague, Netherlands to settle this centuries-old dispute.
"I can understand that Belize has its fact already. We have our treaty since 1859 so I know that Belize has its obligation in England and we finalized this a long time."
"I would vote yes because we don't have anything to hide. We don't anticipate in any situation we hide and we don't go against. Why we have time to do that then."
"Hell yes let's carry them to the referendum and carry them to court. They already stole one of our islands and we can't go to Sarstoon Caye at all. Even if we do step foot there they want to chase us away."
"I figure that is the only way to solve this problem. That is all."
Sahar Vasquez, reporter
"So your vote would be yes?"
"Well, I will vote yes."
"Would you vote yes let's go to the ICJ and deal with this thing or No we don't have to?"
"Because I feel we need to make this situation end."
"I don't mind us going to the ICJ because it will be better for Belize. Once we go there and see what is going on. I don't really have anything against it."
But for others, the answer is a harsh and firm "no!"
"I think if we vote to go to the ICJ then we are legitimizing the claim that Guatemala has so if we vote don't vote it is just like it does not exist. We just have to find another way to deal with it. If we do go to the ICJ I have strong hope in Belize but at the end of the day, we have the most to lose."
"From when my mother used to take me to political meetings it was no Guatemala, no Guatemala with Phillip Goldson and I am gonna vote no Guatemala at the ICJ. For the ICJ none at all. We are not going there."
"No definitely no."
"Why not? Don't you think we could settle this dispute once and for all?"
"Yes but Guatemala does not have anything to lose. They are the ones claiming something from us only Belize could lose in that."
"Next year we will have our referendum. What would you vote yes let's take Belize to the ICJ and settle this thing or no?"
"Why not though?"
"They can't take Belize."
"I would say no because we are already an established country and we have the flag at the United Nations. It is the same between Israel and Palestine. If anybody should go to the ICJ it should be Israel and Palestine. Belize is in the same situation but why not take I Israel to the ICJ. If you gonna take Belize why not do the same."
"I would vote no because in every situation you have something to gain and you have something to lose and I really don't want to lose my country."
"So no going to ICJ."
"What for like I said they never owned any land. We know the real history of all of Central America from here to Panama."
"No we don't need to go anywhere Belize is for Belize. Guatemala does not have any proof about Belize. Belize is a Belizean territory."
"If we take Guatemala to the ICJ it is like we are giving them. What they and the court says we can't do anything to fight them back so I say no to it."
With Guatemala presently provoking and pressuring on the Sarstoon - we will see what kind of effect this pressure has at the poll by next year, but, right now, on a Mayday in Belize City, it seems the yes's are not too far behind the no's and the no's are not too far ahead of the yes's.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it will step up its public awareness campaign under the theme - "ICJ, Be Informed."