Luck More than Sense Print E-mail
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Written by Jamil Matar   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 00:00

A couple of months ago I had a conversation by the Barracks here in OW with a very cultured gentleman from Guinea Grass who has extensive international experience as an educator, mainly in Central America. He asked my opinion on the question of the Guatemalan claim going to the International Court of Justice, and if I was going to lend support for this process in this column.

I told him that my first instinct was lukewarm at best for pursuing that path, but I was willing to give the educational process an opportunity so that I could listen to all the arguments, pro and con, before making a final determination on October 6. You see, it would be so natural and easy to completely reject any such notion since it is human nature to be wary of a process which one does not fully understand, especially if it involves one’s country!

Anyway, my lone opinion would have been inconsequential in the general spirit of our democracy here in Belize. The entities who would have mattered most were the two major political parties. The UDP, as the government who signed the compromis, instantly put the issue to a Party resolution and the senior leadership of the Party openly supported the ICJ process.

The PUP leadership, on the other hand, even though it was a major participant in the process from its infancy, is very cautious and have never said anything for or against the process, saying that it is still “in consultation” with their supporters. So basically, except for the interminable politician from PG, the self asserting “only true” Espat and his sidekick Tonto, the PUP remained neutral of the entire process.

That was, until Guatemala backed down from the process. In the twinkling of an eye the PUP had a solid position on the ICJ. No consultation necessary this time around; they promptly issued a statement advocating outright rejection of any deviation from the October 6 simultaneous referenda. You know why Fonseca had the gumption to quickly adopt this firm position? It was a simple and comfortable decision, since the very next day Cabinet officially took the same stance; announcing it here at home and to the diplomatic community.

So that leaves us now with the other burning issue, the Guatemalan passport with the map of Belize annexed to their country. Every Belizean is justifiably infuriated with that country’s outright act of hostility and feels that this is really going too far, with the OAS is just looking on as if a spectator instead of mediator.

The PUP, sensing the Belizean mood and fixing on capitalizing on it, again called a press conference and took a bold stance on several issues, the main one being to deny entry into Belize any Guatemalan using the offensive passport. Personally I think it is easy for them to take such a position; as Opposition they can suffer no repercussions -neither local nor international. Think about the hundreds of students studying in Guatemala who will get expelled, the severing of diplomatic relations, and the businessmen who trade at the western border who will be ruined. It is not an easy decision for a sitting government, I tell you.

But as I said, the PUP as Opposition has taken that position, and please, don’t get me wrong, they will get overwhelming local support for a proposal like that, no matter the consequences. The suggestion to block out Guatemantecans has the right resonance of patriotism, combined with a touch of daring that fits quite snugly with the mood Belizeans are in today. In a nutshell, the PUP has gotten a free pass on having to take a defined position on the ICJ, and they can make bold statements with impunity on the whole evolving issue. As the Creole saying goes, “they got more luck than sense”.