Belize-Guatemala dispute a matter of public record Print E-mail
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Thursday, 11 January 2018 00:00

In our last meeting with Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala Alexis Rosado at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel late last year he shared that all data on the issues relating to the Belize-Guatemala dispute are in the public record. Even while Guatemala speeds up its process for the scheduled April 15th date for the International Court of Justice Referendum such data ‘on public record’ grow ever more prominent.

To satisfy any inquiry from those public records, both the National Heritage Library and the Belize Archives & Records Services in Belmopan have teams of personnel on standby ready to share it.

At the National Heritage Library on Monday we were struck by the accounts on the ‘Documents pertaining to the Belize & Guatemala Boundary dispute’. According to this rare document, the territory of Belize comprises of Belize and all its associated islands and cayes with the area bounded by the frontiers with Guatemala and Mexico and the outer limit of territorial seas.

The outer limit of the territorial sea of Belize as described by such a document is the limit provided by law measured from such baselines as may have been prescribed before Independence Day by law or otherwise, or as may be so prescribed thereafter. These include the Turneffe Islands, the Cays of Light House Reef and Glover Reef, together with all associated islets and reef, and their adjacent waters as far as the outer limit of the territorial sea appertaining to them.

The document details that the frontier with Guatemala is the line prescribed by the Treaty between the United Kingdom and Guatemala signed on 30 April 1859. Also, the frontier with Mexico is the line prescribed by the treaty between the United Kingdom and Mexico signed on 8 July 1893.

Of most interest to us was what the ‘Documents pertaining to the Belize & Guatemala Boundary dispute’ states about the Sarstoon River, which was that: “The boundary according to Article 1 and 6 begins at the mouth of the Sarstoon River in the Bay of Honduras and follows the mid channel of the river in a westerly direction for a distance of approximately 25 miles upstream to Gracias a Dios Falls. Free navigation is guaranteed to the vessels and boats of both parties.”

A further document afforded to us by the National Heritage Library continues to be relevant today. The Anglo Guatemalan Advisory Council of 2000 discussed that “Members stressed the importance of putting in place a systemic approach to public dissemination of the information on the development in the Belize Guatemala relationship.

“There was a view expressed that perhaps an apparent lack of demonstration of national resolve in Belize may be the consequence of insufficient information available.”

In our brief meeting with Stuart Leslie in Belmopan on Tuesday he shared that there was not much to share on the Belize-Guatemala issue.