Sunday, March 26, 2017, 21:33
The People’s United Party has taken the firm position that it will not support going to the International Court of Justice at this point in time. That is not to say that the PUP does not want a definitive answer where the unfounded and lately increasingly aggressive claim to a significant portion of Belize is concerned. But there is no way that Belizeans in general should support the ICJ move when a man like Wilfred Elrington is steering the diplomatic and territorial ship. Sedi Elrington has shown himself to be a very dangerous man where our nation’s interest is concerned. At times it seems that he is looking out for the interests of Guatemala over ours. That is an unacceptable thing. There is just too much at stake, too much that can be irretrievably lost.
The fact of the matter is that any Court case can be lost if the attorney is incompetent and uncertain of the validity of his client’s claim. And Sedi is apparently far from certain about the sanctity and integrity of our nation’s borders.
In fact, according to Elrington, "our maritime borders have never even been agreed upon. That has to be agreed upon. We don't have any maritime borders agreed upon in the sea. Boundaries have to be agreed upon by countries that are neighbouring countries. But we never did have with Guatemala any agreement with respect to the maritime boundaries, neither with Guatemala nor with Honduras, which is very close to us. These are the things that have to be done. We have to do it. It's just like you are on piece of land all your life but you are a squatter. You can't do anything with that land."
Imagine that the man who will be charged with defending our territory is now referring to Belizeans as squatters. How ludicrous is that? According to Sedi, our insular border is artificial, and now according to Sedi, our maritime border does not even exist.
It is important to note where we are today as regards that unfounded claim by Guatemala. Just a year or two ago half of the majestic Sarstoon River belonged to Belize, without question. Sarstoon Island belonged to Belize, without question. Now, suddenly, the Guatemalan military controls the Sarstoon and Sarstoon Island. Belizean civilians are no longer allowed to traverse the river. On at least two separate occasions SATIIM rangers have been turned back aggressively. On at least two separate occasion our military has been aggressively approached by the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF). On multiple occasions the media has been turned back and told to respect the protocol, though none of our officials including Sedi will admit the existence of any such protocol.
Incredibly, after what seemed like an altogether too cozy relationship between Sedi Elrington and his counterpart Carlos Raul Morales, Belizeans are now being told that the Guatemalans have outrightly refused to hold any discussions about a protocol governing the use of the Sarstoon. Apparently Carlos Raul is not even taking calls from Sedi. How is it that we got to the point where Guatemala controls that river which we sing about in our National Anthem? How is it that we got to the point where our military must now occupy a small base on the mainland and Guatemala can boast that it is only at their whim.
Very soon Belizeans will be asked to participate in a referendum which will be the deciding factor where the ICJ is concerned. Every right thinking Belizean would want the matter settled once and for all. Every right thinking Belizean should want Guatemala to back the hell away. The encroachments must stop. The raping of our natural resources must stop. The aggression at the Sarstoon must stop and our people must be allowed to live in peace within our 8867 square miles.
But it is a scary and untenable proposition to go to the ICJ under a Foreign Minister who believes that Belizeans are squatters in our land and believes that we can’t do anything with this land because we have no rights to it.
Meeting with OAS Secretary-General, H.E. Luis Almagro this week, PUP leader John Briceño quite correctly stated that “we had to address our concern with the antagonistic behaviour of Guatemala, that Guatemala has not been a good neighbour, that Guatemalan citizens continue to plunder our resources…we have all of these issues that need to be addressed, and we need to address them as soon as possible. We find it very difficult for us to move the process forward until Guatemala is prepared to address these issues head-on."
The PUP will maintain its position where the ICJ is concerned, and will continue to push for the re-registration which is so critical to the holding of a proper referendum. It is way past time for Sedi Elrington and the Barrow administration to get the sense and to do right by Belizeans.
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