To Educate Attorneys Print E-mail
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Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Dear Editor:
On Friday, February 19, 2016 Jacqueline Marshalleck, President of the Bar Association of Belize told Channel 7 News:

"The conference is essentially to educate attorneys on the issue of the  Belize/Guatemala dispute. I think there is an assumption because we are attorneys we are all comfortable and knowledgeable on international laws and the details of this dispute. There is an expectation I do believe by the public, since the dispute touches on legal affairs, that we will be able to advocate and explain and I think that that is a fair expectation of us as an association and as advocates. But in order to do that properly we need to have that information and we need to be properly educated ourselves, so that when we go out to assist perhaps in explaining or educating things to the general public, to our family, to our friends - that we make sure we don't provide wrong information or we miscommunicate something. Because we are picking it up from sources or places that may not necessarily be proper. So the idea is to put our attorneys in a position where they have access to persons who know about this topic in detail and in depth and hopefully they will learn from this experience and then be able to assist others."

On that same day News Five reports that Eamon Courtenay (son of V.H. Courtenay, who was a member of the Heads of Agreement Negotiating Team): “…doesn’t see…Belize losing anything.”

Assad Shoman (who was a member of the Heads of Agreement Negotiating Team) said: “I understand very well when the Foreign Ministry says we have to be careful about these volunteers going along the border, crossing the border, etc. because they could be in danger.  I understand that because it’s government’s duty to protect people and it doesn’t want to put people in danger.”

It is timely, fitting, proper and of supreme national (as opposed to political-partisan) importance that each and every Belizean strive to become knowledgeable about Belizean History in general and the Unfounded Guatemalan Claim in particular.  Even when British Honduras attained Full Internal Self Government in 1964, the British were extremely careful to keep responsibilities for Finance, Foreign Affairs and Defense firmly in their own hands.  The Foreign and Overseas Office did not share its mature and highly refined expertise…we therefore have to do our own homework.

I salute Jacqueline Marshalleck and the Bar Association of Belize for taking that first right step and I offer to them and to all Belizeans, the information that I have uncovered.  I highly recommend the accompanying references; please enjoy the educational journey:

160,000 years ago – early Homo sapiens occupied the Middle Awash Area of the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia; Africa.  From Ethiopia humans slowly migrated over the earth (National Geographic, July 2010 “4 Million Year Old Woman”)

14,000 years ago the ancestors of modern day Ameridians crossed from Asia to America over the Bering Strait, these Paleo-Indian big game hunters quickly spread southward into a land teeming with game as a warming climate opened gaps in the ice sheets covering northern Canada. Within 1000 years of the first evidence of human habitation in Alaska, the same Paleo-Indian assemblages of tools appeared in all habitable parts of North and South America, from the Canadian plains to the tip of present day Chile. It has been estimated that if a group of a few hundred humans entered the Americas and moved at a rate of only eight miles per years, their natural increase, as the first inhabitants of a rich land, would have led to a population explosion (for hunter gatherers) and spread throughout all of the habitable portions Western Hemisphere in about a thousand years. This is exactly what seems to have happened (The Siberian Origins of Native Americans by Edward J. Vajda).

Columbus led his three ships - the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria (Columbus's flagship) - out of the Spanish port of Palos on August 3, 1492.  His objective was to sail west until he reached Asia (the Indies) where the riches of gold, pearls and spice awaited. On Friday October 12 they arrived at a small island of the Lucayos, called, in the language of the Indians, Guanahani. Presently they saw naked people. The Admiral went on shore in the armed boat, and Martin Alonso Pinzon, and Vicente Yanez, his brother, who was captain of the Niña ("Christopher Columbus Discovers America, 1492," EyeWitness to History, (2004).

1533 - 1603 - It was the very wise and outspoken Queen Elizabeth 1 who said that the Pope had NO RIGHT to make grants of land on the American Continent1

1638 – Founding of The Settlement of British Honduras.

1747, 1751, 1754, 1779, and 1798 – Spanish attacks on the Belize Settlers (Assad Shoman 13 Chapters pgs. 28 -31).

September 10, 1798 – After several small engagements, nine of the larger Spanish ships, engaged by a British vessel-of-war and a few smaller vessels in an action off St. George’s Key, withdrew in confusion, and on the 16th the whole fleet retired (R. A. Humphreys pg 8).

“…the Spanish forces were ill prepared for the attack.  The ships they used were not suitable for these waters, they were poorly led, and they were disunited.  The commanders of the only two Spanish ships which could have confronted the Merlin abandoned the armada before the attack, as did the overall military commander of the Spanish forces….On top of all this, a yellow fever epidemic…(or… dysentery) struck the Spanish forces at Caye Chapel, where hundreds of graves were found after they left (Assad Shoman 13 Chapters pg 31).

Thereafter the settlements in the Bay continued to flourish, and the periodical visits of the commissioners being entirely discontinued, a sort of tacit concession on the part of the Spaniards seemed to sanction the idea partially entertained, and since often pleaded by the British settlers, that they now held these territories by right of conquest (Frederick Crowe, The Gospel in Central America (London 1850), pg 198).

13 January 1750 - The territorial rivalry between Spain and Portugal reached a tentative adjustment with the signing in Madrid of a Treaty abandoning the imaginary line of Pope Alexander VI2
1797 - Jamaican Governor sends reinforcements to Superintendent and Commander-in-Chief Lieut. Colonel Thomas Barrow with instructions: “…remain on the defensive, nor take any step that may tend to irritate the Spaniards if you can avoid it.”3

1822 - An official report on the independence of Guatemala was delivered to the settlement.  No Guatemalan claim was made at the time.4

July 1825 - Superintendent Codd sent to the Foreign Office a map representing the territory over which the Settlement had spread since 1798 and which was considered by the Settlers as having been acquired by right of conquest; this map represents the Sarstoon and Hondo rivers as the southern and northern de facto limits.5

1832 * First formal Guatemalan protest against the settlers in the Bay of Honduras; 1832 – 1638 = 194 years after the founding of the Settlement.  The Superintendent replied to the protest by dismissing any Guatemalan claim to the 1786 status quo, pointing out that the Treaties of 1783 and 1786 with Spain, fixed the border at the River Sibun but the British had for many years claimed and occupied the country for nearly 100 miles southward.6   2015 - 1832 = 183 years; the problem from Guatemala is one hundred and eighty three years old; this is an indolent problem, rather than an immediate emergency.

1853 – Guatemala offered to settle the boundary by a secret treaty with the UK.7
1859 * The Convention between Her Majesty and the Republic of Guatemala relative to the boundaries of British Honduras!
1863 - Britain and Guatemala agreed to a Supplementary Convention whereby Britain undertook to ask Parliament for the sum of 50,000 pounds to fulfil its obligation…ratifications would be exchanged “in six months or sooner if possible.”  Guatemala, then at war with El Salvador, and in dire financial straits, failed to ratify within that period.8
25 July 1865 - Guatemala ratified, but Britain refused to accept this late ratification, arguing that the Convention had lapsed by the delay of the Guatemalan government.9
1884 - Guatemala declared that unless Article 7 was complied with, Guatemala would not consider itself bound by Article 1, which sets the boundaries of the territory.
8 July 1893 - Boundary Treaty between Great Britain and Mexico.
1929 - Commissioners from both countries inspected the boundary markers placed in 1860 – 1861 at Garbutt’s Falls and Gracias a Dios and replaced them with concrete markers.
1931 * Exchange of Notes between Great Britain & Northern Ireland and Guatemala: “The Government of Guatemala agrees to recognize the concrete monuments erected at Garbutt’s Falls and at Gracias a Dios Rapids…”12
1934 - Guatemala refused to take further part in the boundary delimitation unless Britain was prepared to discuss the question of Article 711
17 August 1937 - Dr. Jose Matos of Guatemala made a suggestion to Great Britain that the Belize matter be arbitrated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Lord Halifax accepted Guatemala’s proposal of arbitration, he stated that His Majesty’s Government were unable to agree that the arbitrator should be the President of the USA.12   The Hague Court was recommended by His Majesty’s Government.  2015 - 1937 = 78 years of trying to get the unfounded claim in court!
October 1938 - Guatemala White Book published.
21 September 1939 * Britain recently at war with Nazi Germany; Guatemala informs the UK that the 1859 Treaty had lapsed.13   Price ‘rewarded’ Guatemala by choosing 21 September…shocking, but true!
29 January 1940 - British Envoy John Hurleston Leche addressed a letter to Carlos Salazar, Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs indicating that adjudication by the Permanent Court of International Justice would be agreeable.
3 February 1940 - Salazar agreed to arbitration, but refused to accept the issues on which the British indicated arbitration should be confined.14
11 March 1945 - Constitution of Guatemala declared that ‘Belize is part of its territory and it considers it of national interest the initiatives carried out to achieve its effective re-incorporation into the Republic.15
14 January 1946 - J. R. Martin Leake, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs proposed settlement of the dispute by the new International Court of Justice provided for in the Charter of the UN accepting its compulsory jurisdiction of “all legal disputes concerning the interpretation, obligation or validity of any treaty relating to the boundaries of British Honduras.”16
Tuesday, 12 July 1949 - The Legislative Council of British Honduras voted in favor of adjudication at the ICJ.17
1 July 1959 - William J Bianchi concludes: “Guatemala has a legally desperate case.”18
January 2002 - Lauterpacht, Schwebel, Rosenne and Vicuna write: “…the facts and the law of the matter do not support analysis along the lines suggested by the Guatemalan arguments…”19
2004 - The Belize Negotiating Team had begun to press the Guatemalans to submit the matter to judicial settlement.  Said Musa, Assad Shoman, Eamon Courtenay, Godfrey Smith, Lisa Shoman all are on record verbalizing agreement on going to the ICJ.  The Belizean Voters MUST hold their feet to the fire; we must never allow them to flip-flop on such an important issue.
February 2006 - A new round of negotiations began to address the maritime border.   However, given that the rules of international law dictate that the maritime jurisdiction of States derive from the territory belonging to each country and that, in this case, the land territory had not been defined, the parties were unable to resolve – after several meetings – the maritime matter.20   (recall that “land claim house and territory claim sea” therefore, land borders MUST be agreed first before addressing maritime borders.  Belize recognize its borders as per the 1859 Treaty, Guatemala on the other hand REFUSES to recognize and accept that same Treaty to which they are a signatory – the ICJ can legally force Guatemala to ‘stick to the contract’)
8 December 2008 - The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala took the most important step in the history of the dispute by signing the Special Agreement to submit Guatemala’s Territorial, Island and Maritime Claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a definitive judgment.  This was the first time that the path had been paved for an equitable, honorable, and permanent settlement of the dispute.21
Wed, 23 January 2013 - ICJ public education campaign launched, in a televised event, by the Referendum Secretariat.  “It’s the lead-up to simultaneous referendums in Belize and Guatemala…BELIZEANS will decide whether the Guatemalan Claim should be referred to the ICJ for final settlement.”
2 May 2013 - Professor Warwick Gullett, Dean of Law, University of Wallongong, Australia said to Belizeans on Channel 7: “I am really surprised that Guatemala is pressing its claim because it seems very strange to try to seek sovereignty over Belize that has had independence for over 30 years and self-government before that; which completely contradicts the approach of international rights to self-determination.”  I fully agree with the professor and I personally believe that Belize will be successful at the ICJ.
23 August 2015 - Campton Fairweather wrote in the Amandala: “The Guatemalan authorities are aware that there is absolutely no way an ICJ decision would be in their favor.  Their best lawyers have told them so.”  I fully agree with Campton, and I further emphasize that the unfounded claim will FAIL at the ICJ.  I strongly urge Belizeans to do their own research and then vote “YES” to go to the ICJ whenever the promised referendum is called.  The ICJ will tell Guatemala that their claim has NO legal basis and the Court will DISMISS the unfounded claim - only the ICJ can legally dismiss that claim; Guatemala will have to comply with the 1859 Border Treaty; and recognize and respect our borders.  This NATIONAL issue has NO place as a pawn on the partisan political chessboard!  While Guatemala’s leaders ‘refuse’ to respect our borders they send their ‘excess population’ over here.  Guatemalans, Salvadorians and Honduranians have been flooding Belize from the time of Price to the present! 
Lisa Shoman went on the Dickie Bradley Show on 14 September 2015 and was ‘teaching’ Dickie about rivers and borders!  She went to great pains to explain to him that the mouth of the Belize River is at the Belize City Swing Bridge.  Of course she is 100% wrong!   She does not really know the difference between the Haulover Creek and the Belize River; frankly, such ignorance, verbiage and garbage is dangerous for Belize. Actually, The Belize River passes under the Haulover Bridge and the mouth of the Haulover Creek is at the Swing Bridge.
Eamon Courtenay is unfamiliar with the 1859 Treaty!  He was ‘teaching’ Dickie Bradley on 21 May 2015: ”Now the island in the Sarstoon River, a part of it is on the north side of the midline and therefore it is in Belizean territory and another part of it is in Guatemalan territory on the south side.” WRONG!  The Sarstoon Island is NORTH of the mid-channel (border) and is therefore 100% Belizean.
Said Musa’s Facilitation Process brought us the Adjacency Line and Adjacency Zone.  Before that there were The Thirteen Proposals (1966), The Seventeen Proposals (1968), Heads of Agreement (1982), Maritime Areas Act (1992) and Reichler - Ramphal Proposals (2000).

Ed U. Kate

1 Miles’ National Register – 14 Feb 1846
2 pg. 92; 3 pg. 10; 4, 5 pg. 14; 6 pg. 15; 8 pg. 44; 9 pg. 45; 10 pg. 51; 11 pg. 54; 14 pg. 61; 15 pg. 65; The British Honduras - Guatemala Dispute by L. M. Bloomfield
7 pg. 203; 13 pg. 209; a history of belize in 13 chapters by assad shoman
12 pg. 95; 16 pg. 97; 18 pg. 137; BELIZE – The Controversy Between Guatemala and Great Britain over the Territory of British Honduras in Central America by William J Bianchi
17 Minutes of the Proceeding The Legislative Council of British Honduras for the year 1949
19 Legal Opinion on Guatemala’s Territorial Claim to Belize by Lauterpacht, Schwebel, Rosenne & Vicuna
20, 21 pg. 55; Democratic Governance by Jose Miguel Insulza
22 Preface pg. ix; George Price A Life Revealed, the Authorized Biography by Godfrey P. Smith
23 pg. 18; Politics for Dummies A Reference for the Rest of US by Ann DeLaney
Suggested Additional Reading:
Belize?Guatemala, Belizean Studies, A Journal of Social Research and Thought; Vol 30, No 2; Dec 2008; St. John’s College; with malice towards none, notes on a political life by Said W. Musa;
The Making of Modern Belize, Politics; Society and British Colonialism in Central America by C. H. Grant;
The Archives of British Honduras by John Alder Burdon;
A History of Belize by Narda Dobson;
The Diplomatic History of British Honduras 1638 – 1901 by R. A. Humphreys;
British Honduras: A Historical and Contemporary Survey by D. A. G. Waddell
Intervention; Border and Maritime Issues in CARICOM edited by Kenneth Hall and Myrtle Chuck-A-Sang