Belize City, May 25, 2016
Nothing of substance was accomplished by Belize in its “ten cents” meeting with Guatemala in Istanbul, Turkey, over the weekend.
Guatemala had refused to hold a direct meeting with Belize as it relates to the Sarstoon River. For months Belize was chasing after Guatemala to please allow them to sit down and talk about the serious issue of the Sarstoon River. At a summit in Turkey, attended by many countries, including Guatemala and Belize; the Guatemalans decided to meet for a few minutes over this past weekend. What was discussed? Several matters which had been discussed already. But not the serious issue of Sarstoon River which has caused such grave concerns in Belize.
These are what were discussed. Belize and Guatemala Foreign Ministers said they wanted peace and good faith. That is nothing new.
They said that the territorial, insular and maritime disputes should be resolved at the I.C.J once it passed the referendum in both countries. This is nothing new.
They said that while this I.C.J process is going on and even after it is concluded it will still be necessary to develop good neighbourliness which helps with peace and stability and will promote economic development. That is nothing new and is the same thing Hitler said before he invaded Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Both Foreign Ministers said there is a need to avoid incidents between the two countries that affect confidence building as agreed in 2000, 2003 and 2005. This is nothing new but was put in by Guatemala to highlight that Belize is the country shooting Guatemalans.
The Guatemalans also got “Sedi” to sign that Belize will work with Guatemala in developing confidence building between the BDF and Guatemalan Army and the possibility of having joint training of troops patrolling the Adjacency Zone. Remember Guatemala had offered to train our BDF which they told the world is an “unprofessional army” which they were willing to train. Sedi agreed. This is new.
Belize and Guatemala agreed to seek monies for the OAS office at Benque Viejo. That is nothing new.
What is also new, is that Sedi agreed to congratulate Guatemala’s Foreign Minister who in turn congratulated Sedi “for the agreement reached and expressed their commitments towards dialogue and the creation of positive bilateral agenda, in line with the advancement of the process mentioned in the Special Agreement to submit the territorial, insular and maritime differendum to the ICJ signed in December 2008.” Nowhere in Diplomatic releases and communiques do Foreign Ministers congratulate themselves. Somebody is taking somebody for a fool.
What utter nonsense this press release represents. Isn’t working towards dialogue and a positive agenda what the Foreign Ministries of both countries have been doing or supposed to be doing since signing in 2008. And isn’t it a fact that Guatemala backed out of the referendum in October 2013 and again in 2015 and also asked Belize to change the Special Agreement so they could hold their referendum on their own. And further, is it not Guatemala which said they won’t hold a referendum because Belize must first change its own Referendum Act from 60 percent down to 50 percent.
But here is the worst part. The only reference to Sarstoon River comes in this paragraph: “Both Ministers recognized
the urgent need
for and committed to working on the design
and development of a mechanism
for the cooperation
in the Sarstoon River….” Please read it again.
Read it one more time.
The real issue it that since 28 May 2015
, Guatemala took over the Belize portion of the Sarstoon River. This includes the large island called the Sarstoon Island. Guatemala has since enforced its maritime, military and immigration laws in the Belize territorial river.
This invasion and occupation became so aggressive and blatant that even the Belize government passed a law forbidding any Belizeans from going onto what should be Belize River.
Guatemala has insisted that Belize must follow a so-called protocol if they wish to go on Sarstoon River. What Sedi and the Barrow government have signed on to is to work out such a protocol which Guatemala has been insisting on only since taking over our portion of the Sarstoon River almost ONE year ago.
Instead of the Belize government INSISTING that Guatemala must move its naval gun boats out of our river and stop aggressing Belizeans; Sedi has agreed “to work on the design and development of a mechanism for cooperation in the Sarstoon River”. Sounds like pure bull, right?
The Belize government has once again failed the nation by not even mentioning the take-over of our river to the international community. Neither has there been any call for Guatemala to move itself out of our river and return to their line as stated in the 1859 Treaty.
Sedi, the Prime Minister and the government has sold out Belizeans in this very serious matter. Now they want Belize to work out a “protocol” to use our own river.