Since May 8th, when Belizeans voted "yes" to go to the ICJ, this country entered another phase of relations with our Guatemalan neighbors. We still have a territorial dispute, but we're no longer hoping for a breakthrough in negotiations, or praying that the Guatemalans will magically drop the claim: we're taking it to court for the judges to decide definitively in the next 3 - 5 years.

Today, the first meeting of this new era was held on Belizean Territory at the Las Adjacency Zone office - which is at the Benque Viejo border. The media wasn't invited, but Jules Vasquez has put together a story with information and video from the Government press office:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel pulled up at the Adjacency Office - which is in Belizean territory - at about 10:30 this morning. She was first greeted by David Benavides, the Director for the OAS Adjacency Zone Office.

From there she shared a warm and cordial embrace with Belize's foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington and Belize's Ambassador to Guatemala and the CO-agent to the ICJ, Alexis Rosado :

Diplomatic niceties aside, all sides seemed more relaxed after successful referendums in both countries.

And inside they were joined by Belize's Agent at the ICJ, Assad Shoman.

The delegations of five on each side sat down in the Adjacency Zone office where, according to a press release,

"Minister Elrington updated Minister Jovel on Belize's referendum held on May 8, 2019Minister Jovel congratulated Belize on the successful referendum which now paves the way for the case to be heard at the Court.

The two Ministers agreed to jointly brief the members of the OAS next month in Washington, D.C. They also agreed to make arrangements to apprise the Group of Friends of the Belize-Guatemala process including the next steps to bring the claim before the ICJ.

And, for most of us this is the most important part:

Minister Elrington reiterated the need for confidence-building measures for the Sarstoon River in order to minimize tension and avoid conflict. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to working together to strengthen bilateral relations."

Doesn't sound quite like a yes to the protocol, but they ended smiling with a handshake - which the OAS representative made sure was extra hearty.

On the Guatemalan side, accompanying Jovel were: Her Vice Minister, Ambassador Luis Fernando Carranza, Guatemala's Ambassador to Belize, Georges De la Roche, the First Secretary, at the Embassy of Guatemala, David Vargas, and Ambassador Marco Tulio Chicas, Executive Secretary of the Sovereignty and Domain Unit, Guatemala.

Joining Minister Elrington on Belize's contingent were Ambassador and ICJ Co-Agent Alexis Rosado, agent Assad Shoman, Ayesha Borland, the Director of International Affairs, and Ambassador Patrick Andrews, the CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Channel 7

Belize & Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Meet At OAS Border Office