Belize Guatemalan Dispute

Posted By: Marty

Belize Guatemalan Dispute - 09/26/13 10:59 AM

Belize Guatemalan Dispute

The podcast highlights the escalating crisis about the Belize Guatemalan Dispute and how a 2008 signed Compromis between the Belize and Guatemalan government in Washington sparked tension between the Belizean people and the Belizean government. The Belizean Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrignton, who referred to Belize's border with Guatemala as artificial has been criticized by Belizeans at home and abroad for misrepresenting the Belizean people in negotiations with the Guatemalan government. As the crisis escalates, the diaspora based organization BREDAA aired a radio program on the issue, and its spokesman, Nuri Akbar Estrada articulated a resistance position against taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Giving Up Territorial Seas For Peace: A Garifuna Fisherman Speaks

In 1991, the government of Belize who should have claimed a 11 miles territorial sea in international law, only claimed three miles of sea territory as an olive branch to the Guatemalan government to gain access to the high seas. In return the Guatemalan government would have recognized Belize's independence and sovereignty. The move which was presented in a bill was agreed upon by both the Belize government at the time, the Peoples United Party, and its opposition the United Democratic Party, but was not presented to the Belizean people in a referendum. The feature highlights how the Martime Areas Act marginalized the Garifuna fishermen in the southern district of Belize, Toledo, and how it affected life for the Garinagu who depended on fishing and farming as their chief source of subsistence. Today the Guatemalan government which claimed Belizean territory since 1948, continues to press its claim to almost half of Belize and is demanding more access to Belizean territorial seas now known as the Exclusive Economic Zone. In 2008, the Organization of American States pressed for both countries to go to the International Court of Justice to settle the claim by which both countries will present the issue in a referendum to their people. The crisis has continued to place the people of Punta Gorda in the Toledo district under considerable pressure, as that part of the country Belize shares a border with Guatemala that has seen widespread incursions by Guatemalans across the Belizean side of the border. However, it is the high seas of the Atlantic that the dispute will be arbitrated by the ICJ if the dispute is to go to a referendum.

Concessions & Deceptions: Gregorio Aleman Exposes 1991 MAA Act

The piece features an informative interview with Gregorio Aleman in 1991-- the outspoken advocate against the Maritime Areas Act, and former United Democratic Party Senator who lives in the southern town of Punta Gorda in the Belizean district of Toledo. He highlights the drastic mistake that the Belizean government made when they signed the bill that made the Maritime Areas Act law, giving the Guatemalan government access to precious Belizean sea territory for fishing, and robbed the Belizean people of once prized fishing grounds.

Voices From The South

The feature echoes the voice of a Belizean national in the city of Punta Gorda in the southern district of Toledo who underscored the general feeling of the people of that area against the unfounded Guatemalan Claim of Belize and how the 1991 Maritime Areas Act signed between Belize and Guatemala giving the Guatemalan government access to the high seas go way beyond 10 miles in terms of what is determined by international law.

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