The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) was in Belize on Tuesday ,October 23rd. Jose Miguel Insulza met with the Belizean press after having talks with the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred Elrington and Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar. At the press briefing, Insulza explained to the press that the reason for his visit to Belize was to appraise the Prime Minister about talks, which had taken place a day earlier in Guatemala on October 22nd. "It would be proper to come to Belize to report to the Prime Minister and talk to the authorities to ensure that everyone is well informed," stated Insulza.
At the meeting held in Guatemala, Insulza met with Hon. Wilfred Elrington and Harold Caballeros , Ministers of Foreign Affairs for Belize and Guatemala respectively. During the meetings, the men spoke of the upcoming referendum process, which is expected to take place on October 6th, 2013. Key in the talks were the costs that will be associated with the referendum process.
The Guatemalan press is reporting that the education campaign in Guatemala will be in the region of 33 million U.S. dollars or 260 million Quetzales. According to the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexis Rosado, Belize's figure is significantly less at 4.4 million U.S. dollars or 8.9 million Belize dollars. The monies will be used in various aspects of the education campaign including setting up an office, equipment and staffing. The campaign will also be a dynamic one where printed material, documentaries, debates and panels will be held as well as website blogs and other forms of electronic media will be used.
Costs aside, the Guatemalan press is also reporting that discussions held also featured the possibilities that Belize's use non-lethal forms of defense at the border including the use of tazer guns and rubber bullets when confronted by aggressive Guatemalans within Belizean territory. During his meeting with the press, Insulza would not discuss the matter saying only that the use of non-lethal force is always a preferred option in these circumstances.
During his briefing with the press, Insulza also denied reports that the OAS Peace Fund has been used to 'compensate' family members of Francisco Quim Yat, the Guatemalan who was killed by a BDF soldier, on October 4th well within Belizean territory. He went on to say that the fund is not for that purpose, however, governments can decide on what the money can be used for. CEO Rosado also maintained that position stating that what the family of Yat received was a compassionate grant and not compensation.
Another round of talks are expected to be held in Washington, D. C.in the coming days, all in the vain of propelling the education campaign forward.