Referendum stalled Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 May 2013 00:00

Prime Minister, Dean BarrowPrime Minister Hon.Dean Barrow officially announced on Monday, April 29th that the Referendum that was scheduled for October 6th to decide on whether or not the country would take it’s territorial claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been called off.

The Prime Minister explained that there were bilateral meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred Elrington and CEO in the Ministry, Alexis Rosado with Guatemala’s foreign minister Fernando Carrera.  During those meetings, a particular nagging issue was discussed. That issue being where it was announced in the Guatemalan media that a new passport would be issued to take into consideration the Guatemalan claim over Belize. The Guatemalans gave their assurances that the reports are not true and that the new passports to be issued will be identical to the existing one.

That passport, however, shows a dotted line where the Belize Guatemala border should be and the Prime Minister clarified that that has been in existence since 2006. According to the Prime Minister, the Guatemalans claim that the use of the dotted line was agreed upon by Belize and Guatemala during a SICA meeting in 2005. That claim, however, has been denied by Belizeans who attended those meetings. During the bilateral meetings, the Guatemalan officials also denied any report that the Guatemalan Ministry of Education has been instructed to use a map which includes Belize as part of its territory as a teaching tool in schools.

As for the referendum, the Prime Minister noted that it should be formally communicated to the OAS, which has not yet been done but based on Guatemala’s pronouncements that is not too far from being done. With that, it will now call into question the entire Special Agreement signed in December 2008. The Prime Minister said that because the agreement upon a date came after the Special Agreement was signed, it is his opinion that the Special Agreement can still stand and another date for a referendum can be looked at.

It is not in the best interest of Belize to repudiate the Special Agreement, he noted, since we hold a diplomatic high ground for not being the country to have backed down on the referendum. More so, it is important to keep the Special Agreement as it would allow for the international community to continue to offer support to keep the OAS office at the western border open. He stated that it is our continuing intent to have the OAS play its role as an honest broker as it relates to the Confidence Building Measures along the Belize/Guatemala border and the Guatemalans are of the same view.