What does Guatemala really want? - Assad Shoman Answers Print E-mail
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Friday, 18 January 2019 00:00

With the referendum on the ICJ coming up slowly but surely, time is of the essence to gather all pertinent information on the claim. Quite possibly one of the most important things to know is what exactly is Guatemala claiming. The unfounded claim, says Assad Shoman, former foreign minister, is not as clear cut as one would think. At the signing of the Declaration by Former Foreign Ministers of Belize in Favor of going to the I.C.J., Shoman addressed just that.

Shoman describes the Guatemalan position as a difficult one and went on to describe why. Historically, Guatemala has claimed the entire country of Belize on a basis of inheritance from Spain. Shoman quickly and succinctly made note of a flaw in that position: Guatemala’s independence and sovereignty was not observed by Spain until 1863, years after the 1859 Treaty. How could they inherit anything from a country that did not even recognize them? When Belize’s independence received international recognition, Guatemala recognized its independence. It is absurd, then, for Guatemala to claim Belize and to say that Belize has no territory.

Shoman then addressed their claim which changed in 1999. This time instead of claiming rights to the entire country, they claimed from the Hondo to Sarstoon Rivers which, according to Guatemala, was stolen by Britain. They supposedly excused our use of the area between the Hondo and Sibun based on treaties made between Britain and Spain regarding the areas where logwood could be harvested.

In 2008, when a Guatemalan negotiator was asked what his country is claiming, he was unable to answer because 1. It would be ludicrous to claim Belize in its entirety and 2. He could not go against what it is his country was saying.


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