Meeting to be held Friday in San Pedro to discuss Belize/Guatemala proposal

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 37            September 26, 2002

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On Tuesday, September 17th, Belizeans listened as Assistant Secretary General Luigi Enoudi of the Organization of American States (OAS), and Belize Facilitator Sir Shridath Ramphal presented a brief synopsis of the proposals aimed at resolving the territorial differendum between Belize and Guatemala. The proposal, a product of two years of effort and negotiation by the Facilitators of the OAS and representatives of the governments of Belize and Guatemala, was since released to the rest of the world.

    This Friday, September 27th a public meeting will be held in the Central Park. Minister of Foreign Affairs Assad Shoman and Ambassador Fred Martinez will conduct a one-hour presentation on the Belize-Guatemala proposal beginning at 8:00 p.m. This will be followed by a question and answer period.

    In an effort to better inform and educate the general public on the information contained in the proposal, The San Pedro Sun has printed this document in its entirety in this week's paper.

17 September, 2002 - Belmopan - Government Press Office

BELIZE-GUATEMALA TERRITORIAL DIFFERENDUMPROPOSALS

FROM THE FACILITATORS

THE PROPOSALS

A:.Land Issues

The Land Boundary

1.The land Boundary between Belize and Guatemala should be as follows: Beginning at the mouth of the River Sarstoon and proceeding up the mid-channel thereof to the point at 15 degs 53 mins 47.237 secs north latitude and 89 degs 13 mins 39.306 secs west longitude, with any islands which may be found within the said River Sarstoon belonging to the Party on whose side of the main navigable channel they are situated; then, continuing on a line drawn directly from the said point to the point at 17 degs 03 mins 31.071 secs north latitude and 89 degs 09 mins 00.283 secs west longitude and continuing further from the said point at due north to the point where it meets the line of 17 degs 49 mins north latitude.

2.All the territory to the east and north of the boundary line described in paragraph 1 above should belong to Belize, and all the territory to the west and south of the said line should belong to Guatemala.

3.The Treaties of Settlement should provide that the boundary between Belize and Guatemala is as described in the preceding paragraphs of this Section.

4.Within twelve (12) months of the coming into force of the Treaties of Settlement between the Parties, the boundary defined in this Section should be surveyed and permanently marked by the Parties acting together with the assistance of the Facilitators or persons designated by them. To this end, the Parties shall establish a Technical Commission for the demarcation and densification of the said boundary line and for its maintenance thereafter.

The Community of Santa Rosa

5.The Report of the OAS Ad Hoc Mission, submitted to us and to the Parties on 9 July 2002, having identified a settlement of 19 families, comprising 134 citizens of Guatemala, as residents of the village of Santa Rosa east of the Boundary Line described in paragraph 1 of Section A of ourProposals, said persons shall be the subject of the following special measures:

i.The 134 persons (as more specifically identified pursuant to The Resultsof the Precensus Exercise at the Population Centres of the Adjacency Zone Belize-Guatemala as presented by the International Organization for Migration on May 9, 2002) shall be entitled to continue residing in Santa Rosa for the rest of their natural lives, if they so choose.

ii.Said persons shall be entitled to maintain the structures and institutions appropriate for their secure residence, welfare, education and other reasonable community needs consistent with their rights and obligations under Belizean law.

iii. A special Human Settlement shall be established in Guatemala in a location to be determined by the Government of Guatemala, financed by the Development Trust Fund described in Section C of these proposals. When the special Human Settlement is established, the Guatemalans resident in Santa Rosa shall have a preferential right of occupancy, which may be exercised if they voluntarily relinquish their right to continue residing in Santa Rosa.

iv. The Government of Belize shall offer said persons, at no cost to them, land for settlement within Belize, which they may accept if they voluntarily relinquish their right to continue to reside in Santa Rosa.

v.Any of the said persons, or their offspring, who are born in Belize shall have the right to Belizean citizenship and all rights attendant thereof, including rights of residence.

vi.As residents of Belize, said persons shall enjoy the protections of Belizean law, and all Inter-American and International Conventions, to which Belize is a party, for the protection of human rights.

B.Maritime Issues

1.Recognizing that the agreement of the Government of Honduras will be a necessary element of this part of the Proposal, the Facilitators acknowledge with deep gratitude the support that the Government of Honduras has given to this Facilitation Process and, in particular, to the proposals for thedelimitation of maritime areas (including the Guatemala Maritime Area) and the Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park, addressed below.

2.The Territorial Seas, Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras shall be as provided for in their respective national laws and in accordance with international law, taking into account the requirements of the 1982 UN Convention for the Law of the Sea that areas over which States have sovereign rights should be delimited"by agreement on the basis of international law- in order to achieve an equitable solution".

3.Since it is not possible at this time to make reference in these proposals to precise geographic coordinates, we have made reference to indicative maps. The task of giving effect to the proposals set forth in this part - in the form of precise geographic coordinates - is a technical matter to be carried out byBelize, Guatemala and Honduras (with the assistance of the Secretary General of the OAS as appropriate).

Territorial Seas

4. The territorial seas of Belize and Guatemala should be delimited in the Treaties of Settlement according to the following principles:

a.The maritime boundary between the territorial seas of Belize and Guatemala is the Equidistance Line;

b.Belize accepts the Bay Closing Line for the bay of Amatique between Cabo Tres Puntas and the South Bank of the River Sarstoon;

c.Guatemala and Honduras accept Belize's published Straight Baseline System;

d.Guatemala and Belize accept Honduras' published Straight Baseline system.

5.From the Territorial Sea Tripoint between Belize, Guatemala and Honduras in the Gulf of Honduras and extending north-eastward to the 12 nautical mile intersection of the territorial sea limits of Belize and Honduras there shall be granted to Guatemala an access corridor of unrestricted navigational rights extending for two miles on either side of the Belize-Honduras territorial sea equidistance line boundary.

6.Within six (6) months of the coming into force of the Treaties of Settlement, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras will give effect to any requirements pursuant to the provisions of Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, with respect to charts and lists of geographical coordinates reflecting the principles in the preceding paragraph.

Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves

7.The proposal which follows is intended to provide for a final delimitation to be agreed between the Parties and Honduras of the exclusive economic zones and continental shelves of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras in the Gulf of Honduras.It provides for a Guatemalan maritime area which is reasonable and which is agreed upon by the relevant Parties on the basis of international law in order to achieve an equitable solution.To that end, and having regard to the rights and interests of the Parties and of Honduras, and taking into account these proposals as a whole, the Parties shall agree in accordance with international law and in order to achieve an equitable solution that the delimitation of theExclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves of Belize,Honduras and Guatemala shall, subject to the conditions set forth in paragraph 9 below, be as follows:

(i) the Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves of Belize and Honduras in the Gulf of Honduras shall be as set forth in indicative Map [1].

(ii) The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf of Guatemala in the Gulf of Honduras (the Guatemala Maritime Area) shall be an area of 2000 square nautical miles as set forth in the indicative Map [2].

8. There shall be established a Tripartite Regional Fisheries Management Commission for the Gulf of Honduras ("the Tripartite Commission") under the rotating chairmanship of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The Tripartite Commission shall, subject to international law, have vested in it authority for the management, long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks located in the Exclusive Economic Zones of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras (over the area identified at indicative map 3). In its activities the Tripartite Commission shall be guided by the principles set forth in the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. In accordance with the 1995 Agreement the Tripartite Commission shall inter alia agree on allocations of allowable catches. The decisions of the Commission shall be by consensus.

9.In the Guatemala Maritime Area, the following conditions shall apply:

a.Belize will have a right to a reasonable proportion of the allowable catch as determined by the Tripartite Commission in the area marked as [X] on indicative Map [3], which is preferential vis-ż-vis third States.

b.Honduras will have a right to a reasonable proportion of the allowable catch as determined by the Tripartite Commission in the area marked as [Y] on indicative Map [3], which is preferential vis-ż-vis third States.

c.The exploration and exploitation of any natural resources on the seabed or in the subsoil shall be carried out jointly by Belize and Guatemala in the area marked [X] on indicative Map [3], and jointly by Honduras and Guatemala in the area marked [Y] on indicative Map [3].

10. In the Exclusive Economic Zone of Honduras the nationals of Guatemala should be granted, in accordance with the law of Honduras, appropriate access to fisheries rights.

11. The Parties shall agree that any dispute concerning this part of the Proposals shall be treated as if it were a dispute arising under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and shall be subject to the dispute settlement provisions set forth in Part XV of that Convention.

The Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park

1.Without prejudice to the immediately preceding paragraphs of this Section, there shall be established an Ecological Park in respect of three areas comprising the coastal, insular and maritime areas of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras as delineated with reference to this paragraph on the attached map marked [4].Honduras' internal waters in that sector should also be included in the Ecological Park.

2.The Park shall constitute a single area and be subject to a special regime to be adopted by the three Governments without prejudice to their sovereignty and/or sovereign rights in the prescribed area at the time of the coming into force of the Treaties of Settlement. The essential character of the regime for the Ecological Park shall be for the conservation of the resources of the area, including in particular the marine resources, and the development of sustainable eco-tourism.

3.The Gulf of Honduras is an ecologically diverse transboundary area shared by Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The economic dependence of the three countries in the area calls for appropriate measures to sustain the viability of this dependence.A multiple use tri-national Ecological Park involving a concerted and harmonized approach to the management of these shared resources is the way agreed.

4.Agreement on the establishment of the Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park (hereinafter referred to as ėthe Ecological Park') will be in the form of an Agreement binding under international law between Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

5.It will be a particular feature of the regime that while the three areas shall remain under the administrative control exercised by the respective countries at the time of the coming into force of the Treaties of Settlement, rights of access to and use of those areas by citizens of the three countries will be assured, with due regard to the conservationist nature of the Ecological Park and in keeping with the general laws of the respective countries and any decisions taken by the Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park Commission.

6.The agreement of the Government of Honduras will be a necessary element of this proposal.A framework for such an Agreement between the three countries establishing the Ecological Park is attached to these Proposals marked Attachment A.

C. The Development Trust Fund

1.A major component of our Proposals is the establishment of a Development Trust Fund to be devoted to development purposes in both countries and, specifically, for the alleviation of extreme poverty and landlessness in the border provinces of Guatemala, the establishment of a special Human Settlement in Guatemala; the establishment, development and protection of the Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park; and the implementation of these Proposals and the Treaties of Settlement.

2.The Fund shall be subscribed by members of the international community and international financial institutions in the context of the settlement of the Belize-Guatemala differendum. It is our contemplation that the Fund should be at least US$200 million.It is critical to the successful implementation of these Proposals that such a Fund can be realized.

3.It is our proposal that the Fund should be administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) whose agreement to such a role will be sought within the framework of these Proposals and of the draft Terms of Reference of the Belize-Guatemala Development Trust Fund attached hereto marked Attachment B.

D. Trade, Investment and Functional Cooperation

    The long term strengthening of relations between the two countries can be furthered by an environment of practical cooperation on a day to day basis. We recommend therefore that a start be made immediately in this regard and make two specific proposals for such supplementary action, namely:

1.Belize and Guatemala should use their best endeavors to commence negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), at the earliest practicable date, with a view to their entering into force as soon as possible after the commencement of the Treaties of Settlement. The objective of the FTA and the BIT would be to increase trade and investment between the two countries, including the promotion of economic development of the border regions and the communities on both sides of the border. We are mindful of the contribution such agreements will make to the wider Central American involvement in the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

2.With a view to enhancing cooperation between the Parties and promoting economic development in both countries, Belize and Guatemala shall, as part of the Treaties of Settlement, and in the context of the Free Trade Agreement, establish procedures for according preferential treatment to each other's nationals engaged in trade or commerce, with regard to access to and use of ground, river and air transport, and maritime port facilities in Belize and Guatemala.

E. Transitional Arrangements

1.These Proposals envisage that were they to find favour with the Parties, their implementation should be pursued with a spirit of immediacy and that pending such implementation, the Confidence Building Measures which were agreed and put in place during the Facilitation Process,shall continue until the Treaties of Settlement come into force.Pending the coming into force of the Treaties of Settlement, and in expectation of the continued support of Honduras, the Facilitators shall remain available to the Parties and to Honduras to assist in resolving any difficulties that might arise with regard to the interpretation of the Proposals or their implementation.

2.We are mindful that if our Proposals are acceptable to the Governments of Belize and Guatemala both Parties have an obligation to refer them to the people of their respective countries for approval in national referenda as a pre-condition to their implementation according to law.We believe that such democratic processes can make a material contribution to the full, perfect, and final resolution of the territorial differendum.Since both Parties will wish the referenda to be conducted in a manner which enhances that contribution, we make to them the following procedural recommendations:

That both Parties agree: 

(1)That the referenda be held on the same day in both countries.

(2)That the day agreed for holding the referenda be within a period of seventy-five (75) days from the presentation of our Proposals.

(3)That the Parties give consideration to the following common formulation of the Question to be asked in each referendum:

Q.Do you approve the Proposals made through the Facilitation Process of the Organization of American States for the peaceful, honorable and permanent resolution of the Territorial Differendum between Belize and Guatemala?

3.The Treaties of Settlement will mark in the Hemisphere a major signpost of conflict resolution through negotiation and mediation and we recommend that the Organization of American States, which has played so central a role in the Facilitation Process, should continue in all appropriate ways to watch over the processes of approval of these Proposals by the Parties, including the conduct of referenda in both countries, and the finalization and implementation of the Treaties of Settlement.It shall be a particular responsibility of the Facilitators to assist the Parties in these endeavors.

4.It is our hope that the Governments and International Institutions that have encouraged and supported the Facilitation Process and whom we expect to contribute to theDevelopment Trust Fund will assist and encourage the parties in the adoption and implementation of the proposals and the resulting Treaties of Settlement.We also hope that sub-regional Organisations will identify with this settlement of a longstanding territorial differendum in Central America and the Caribbean and join as Honour Witnesses to its fulfillment. Transmitted by the Facilitators on 30 August 2002 to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala and the representative of the Government of Honduras, on the occasion of the Ministerial Meeting of the Facilitation Process at the Headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington DC.

Shridath Ramphal

Paul S. Reichler

Annex A

BELIZE-GUATEMALA TERRITORIAL DIFFERENDUM PROPOSALS FROM THE FACILITATORS THE BELIZE-GUATEMALA-HONDURAS ECOLOGICAL PARK

BASIC ELEMENTS OF TRIPARTITE AGREEMENT

I.Objectives of the Ecological Park

1.The Park will be designed to simultaneously pursue the following objectives:

-Preserve biological and genetic diversity

-Conserve ecosystems and maintain ecological processes

-Promote sustainable use by protecting commercially viable species

-Replenish stocks depleted by extractive use

-Promote education and research

-Promote recreational and tourism use

-Enhance social and economic benefits

-Consolidate coastal transboundary cooperation between Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

II. Geographic Area of Application

2.The coastal, insular and maritime areas which are to be within the area of the Ecological Park are as set out on the attached diagramand will be more precisely defined in terms of implementation under the Agreement for the establishment of the Ecological Park.Honduras' internal waters in that sector should be included in the Ecological Park.

3.The first step in the process of implementation will be the precise definition of the Park.Precise geographic coordinates need to be agreed and a detailed map including depth profiles, coastal topography and indications of human settlements produced. A second map will illustrate in detail the characteristics of the watersheds that drain from all three countries into the Park area.

4.i. A Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) will determine exactly what ecological features and processes will be protected.

ii. A legal social, economic and cultural assessment will quantify the inter-relationship between the Park and its surroundings.

iii. New marketable non-extractive uses of the Park will be identified with a view to contributing to the Park'sfinancial sustainability. The results of these assessments will help to finalisethe various areas of implementation in the zones of the Park in order to accommodate multiple use and develop its management framework.

III.The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Systems Project(MBRS)

5.The MBRS provides a natural platform and an enabling environment for the establishment of the Ecological Park.Otherregional projects, such as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridors (MBCP), may also be able to assist both technically and financially.

IV.Institutions

6. There will be established a Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park Commission, comprising one representative from each of the Parties who shall be suitably qualified in the scientific and technical matters that are addressed by the Commission.The function of the Commission will be to exchange information, consult on matters of common interest pertaining to the Ecological Park, and formulate and adopt measures to give effect to the furtherance of the principles and objectives of the Agreement. The Commission will be assisted, as appropriate, by a Secretariat in a location to be agreed by the Commission. The Commission will take decisions by consensus.

V.Management Framework of the Park

7. The Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park Commission will oversee the Park's establishment and will act as the permanent Steering Committee of the Park. The Commission will be empowered to establish National Advisory Bodies in each of the three countries. Each country will decide on the size and composition of its National Advisory Body.

VI.Financing the Ecological Park

8.The establishment and initial operations of the Park must come from grants, donations, and direct Government investment, but in the long term the survival of the Park will depend on its ability to generate enough income to sustain its management.

VII.Maintaining the Status Quo

9. Nothing contained in the Agreement and no acts or activities taking place while the Agreement is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial or maritime sovereignty in the Area or create any rights of sovereignty in the Area. No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim, to territorial or maritime sovereignty shall be asserted while the Agreement is in force.

VIII. Dispute settlement

10. Any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Agreement will be resolved by negotiation, conciliation or inquiry within the Commission. In the event that the dispute is not resolved the parties may agree to subject the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration's Rules of Procedure for Arbitrating Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment (2001), at the Regional Facility for dispute resolution established by the PCA in Costa Rica or to such other arrangements as the Parties may agree.

Annex B

BELIZE-GUATEMALA TERRITORIAL DIFFERENDUM PROPOSALS FROM THE FACILITATORS TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE BELIZE-GUATEMALA DEVELOPMENT TRUST FUND

I.Establishment of the Trust Fund

1. The Trust Fund is being established by the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (hereinafter referred to as ėthe IDB') at the request of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (hereinafter referred to as ėthe OAS') pursuant to the acceptance in principle by the Governments of Belize and Guatemala (hereinafter referred to as ėthe Parties') of Proposals ėfor a comprehensive, definitive, honourable and permanent resolution of the territorial differendum between Belize and Guatemala' presented to them by the Facilitators appointed by them for that purpose.

II.Purpose of Establishing the Trust Fund

2.The Trust Fund is being established to receive contributions to facilitate the development of Belize and Guatemala in the context of Treaties of Settlement to be concluded by the Parties, and as appropriate by the Government of Honduras, in implementation of the Proposals accepted by them for a peaceful and definitive settlement of the territorial differendum as specified in paragraph 1 above (hereinafter referred to as ėthe Treaties of Settlement').

III.Activities to be Financed from the Trust Fund

3.The Trust Fund shall be used for the purposes described in paragraph 2 above and specifically to finance the following activities:

-the implementation of the Proposals of the Facilitators and the Treaties of Settlement;

- the alleviation of extreme poverty and landlessness in the border provinces of Guatemala;

- the establishment of a special Human Settlement in Guatemala;

- the establishment, development and protection of the Belize-Guatemala-Honduras Ecological Park.

IV.Authority

4. The establishment and management of the Trust Fund will be governed by the regulations and rules of the IDB and other relevant policies and procedures promulgated by the President of the IDB (hereinafter referred to as ėthe President'). Exceptions to such regulations, rules, policies and procedures are not permissible unless specifically authorised by the President in the context of the purposes of the establishment of the Trust Fund.

V.Contributions to the Trust Fund

5. Contributions to the Fund are to be made voluntarily by States, international financial institutions, including the IDB, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations or private institutions and individuals. A pledge may only be accepted by the President of the IDB, the Secretary General of the OAS, or by officials having the authority to do so under the provisions of paragraph 11 below.

6. Contributions to the Fund may be accepted in United States dollars or other fully convertible currencies. Contributions in currencies which are not convertible may be accepted only if the President of the IDB determines that the currency can be fully utilised in the implementation of the related activity. Contributions in kind are given an estimated monetary value by the President at the time the pledges are received. The making of a pledge and its acceptance are to be recorded in an exchange of letters, or if deemed appropriate, in a formal agreement.

7. The IDB will designate the following bank account in which the resources of the Trust Fund shall be deposited and maintained.

8. Contributions will normally be received for general administrative, logistical and management support of the implementation of the activities listed in paragraph 3 above.

9.Contributions made to the Fund may be earmarked and disbursed in accordance with the intention of the respective donor. If they cannot be used as intended, consultations will be held with the donor on the appropriate use of the contribution.

VI.Administration of the Trust Fund

10. The President of the IDB will designate the implementing office of the Fund. That Office will be responsible for coordinating all aspects of the work programme to be financed from the Fund.

11.For the purpose of ensuring proper financial controls, the President of the IDB will designate the Programme Manager of the Trust Fund and the Certifying Officer.

12. The Programme Manager shall be responsible for ensuring that the Trust Fund is utilized for the purpose as described in paragraph 2 above and for the execution of the projects/programmes carried out under the Fund.

13. The Certifying Officer shall ensure that expenditures are incurred in accordance with the existing financial and staff regulations, rules and procedures, for the purpose intended and within the limits allotted, and to draw to the attention of the President any proposed commitment or expenditure which, in his view, is inconsistent herewith.

VII. Preparation of a Cost and Action Plan

14. All the cost plans for the Fund, including those for operational activities, must include provision for programme support costs. The cost plans, together with a schedule of delivery detailing the timing for the proposed distribution of funds, will be submitted to the President for approval.

VIII. Spending Authority

15. No commitments, obligations or disbursements against any funds may be incurred without the written authorisation of the President. Such authorizations take the form of allotments, which will be issued only after sufficient contributions have been received to meet the requirements for initial financial obligations and for any reserves which may be required. Spending authority will be exercised by certifying officers, designated by the President, in accordance with paragraph 11 above.

IX. Assets and Liabilities of the Trust Fund

X. 16.Ownership of equipment, supplies and other property financed from the Fund shall be vested in the IDB. On the termination and expiration of the Fund, the matter of ownership shall be decided on the advice of the Secretary General of the OAS.

X. Reporting and Evaluation

17. The Programme Manager will make available the following reports:

1)an annual financial statement showing contributions to the Fund and expenditures, as of 31 December each year; and

2)an evaluation report and expenditure reports within six months after the date of the expiration and termination of activities. All financial statements and accounts shall be expressed in United States dollars.

XI.Programme Support Costs and Reserves

18. The Fund will be charged a percentage of all expenditures in respect of programme support services for the implementation of the projects, unless otherwise agreed with the President. In addition, the Trust Fund operating reserve will be applied against the expenditures from the Fund to cover any delays in payment and to meet final expenditures of the Fund activities, including liquidating liabilities.

XII. Audit

19. The Trust Fund will be subject to audit under regulations and rules of the IDB.

XIII. Closure of the Trust Fund

20. The Implementing Office will arrange for the President to be informed if in its opinion the purposes for which the Fund was established have been met. The Fund may be terminated after a decision by the President.

21. Any balances remaining at the time the Fund is closed will be disposed of in a manner consistent with the purposes of the Fund and the financial regulations of the IDB.

Editorial

Belize/Guatemala proposal

    This Friday a meeting will be held at Central Park to discuss the proposals presented by the facilitators to end the Belize/Guatemala land dispute. The proposals, presented to the nation on Tuesday, September 17th
have already been discussed in meetings held in Ladyville, Hattieville and Benque Viejo, and meetings are scheduled for Independence and Corozal Town tonight (Thursday). These meetings are intended to inform Belizean citizens about the proposals made by the facilitators, after consultations with their respective governments. Minister of Foreign Affairs Assad Shoman and Ambassador Fred Martinez will then answer any questions or concerns people may have before Belizeans vote to accept or reject the proposals in an upcoming referendum.

    While an end to the land dispute would be in the best interest of Belize, the language and "conditions" put forth in the proposals bear some scrutiny before an informed and educated opinion can be made.

    The following are a few highlights of the proposals along with some of the concerns of this newspaper and residents of Belize regarding the border dispute.

    Land: Guatemala will recognize Belize land boundary based on the 1859 treaty lines.

    If Guatemala finally admits that the land belongs to Belize, why are so many "conditions" attached to the proposal? Why is there nothing in the proposal to make Guatemala legally abandon their claim to Belize and amend their constitution in respect to their claim on Belize? By not doing so, will this allow future Guatemalan governments to view the proposals as un-constitutional and rekindle the border dispute?

    Santa Rosa: According to the proposal the residents of Santa Rosa have three options to choose from - (1) The 134 persons in Santa Rosa shall be entitled to continue residing in Santa Rosa for the rest of their natural lives. (2) A special human settlement shall be established in Guatemala, in a location determined by the Government of Guatemala, financed by the Development Trust Fund. When the special human settlement is established, the Guatemalan residents in Santa Rosa shall have preferential right of occupancy, which may be exercised if they voluntarily relinquish their right to continue to reside in Santa Rosa. (3) The government of Belize shall offer said persons, at no cost to them, land for settlement in Belize, which they may accept if they voluntarily relinquish their right to continue to reside in Santa Rosa.

    A bone of contention with many Belizeans is why an illegal settlement is allowed to remain on Belizean land, land that is illegal for any Belizeans to build or farm on. Another point is, if Guatemala is building a special human settlement using monies from a US $200 million Development Finance Trust, why is the government of Belize offering them free land in Belize and citizenship if they voluntarily move from Santa Rosa? Should they not have to go through the same lawful process for obtaining citizenship as legal residents of Belize? Why are illegal settlers entitled to free land when citizens of Belize are not?

    Maritime: An Economic Zone be established for Guatemala along the Belize/Honduras border, an area approximately 2,000 square nautical miles. Belize and Honduras will retain full fishing rights and 50% of the mineral rights in the seabed.

    As written, Belize will share with Guatemala 1,000 square nautical miles of Belizean waters. Guatemala will have fishing and mineral rights to this area. In the proposal, it does not state whether money has been allocated to Belize from the Development Trust Fund to monitor fishing practices and prevent Guatemala from over-fishing commercially or to feed its large population. There is also serious concern why Belize would offer 50% of her mineral rights to a country that has absolutely no legal claim to them.

    The facilitators have spent two years ironing out these proposals to end the Belize/Guatemala border dispute and have done an admirable job. The above concerns are not meant to criticize. They are meant only to spark interest and thought on these issues. The full text of the proposal has been printed elsewhere in this paper in order to inform all Belizeans of the document's content so that an educated, informed and un-biased opinion can be formed. It is your duty as Belizeans to read and vote on this proposal and to attend the meeting this Friday if you have any questions or comments. It is your country and your decision.



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