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DECLARATION BY FORMER FOREIGN MINISTERS OF BELIZE Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00

“We, former Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize from 1984 to 2008, after careful consideration of whether Belize should submit the Guatemalan territorial claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), this 9th day of January 2019, DECLARE the following:

[1] After more than 50 years of arduous negotiations, it has become clear that no Guatemalan Government will ever agree to voluntarily accept Belize’s territorial integrity based on the 1859 Treaty.

[2] Although Belize’s borders are recognized and supported by the international community, the Guatemalan government has responded to that moral mandate with intransigent reaffirmations of its anachronistic claim to Belize’s territory. The only certain way to get the Guatemalan government to recognize our legitimate border is through a binding ICJ order.

[3] Under the Special Agreement, which was negotiated by Belize with the advice of a team of international legal experts, Guatemala for the first time finally abandoned its position held since 1936 that it would only go to the ICJ if the case were tried on the basis of equity or fairness. The Special Agreement makes clear that the ICJ will only be able to consider the matter on strictly legal grounds and principles, and that Guatemala will not be allowed to make any further claims.

[4] If the claim is not adjudicated at the ICJ, the Guatemalan government will continue to maintain that there are no borders between our countries. It will continue its attempts to impose its claims by the show of force. It will fail to prevent its citizens from illegally entering our territory, stealing our resources and severely damaging our environment and water supplies. This will cause irreparable damage, and burden our children with the consequences of our inaction.

[5] Seeking an Advisory Opinion from the same ICJ judges would not solve the problem, since that would have no more weight than the countless diplomatic declarations that we have already gotten from almost every international organization. In addition, the result of Advisory Opinions sought by other nations whose entire territories were likewise under attacks, such as Western Sahara and Palestine, is not something that Belizeans could possibly entertain.

[6] Since the ICJ judges will be obliged to look only at the evidence and to apply only the law and established legal principles under Article 38 (1) of the ICJ Statute, as required by the Special Agreement, we are entirely certain that there is no likelihood of Belize losing any territory, whether terrestrial or maritime. In addition, all international lawyers who have fully examined all the evidence on both sides, including several who advised Guatemala, have concluded that Guatemala has no arguable case against Belize.

[7] This is the first time in the long history of attempts to resolve the claim that Belize is not being asked to make any compromise, give up anything or give in to any pressure. Going to the ICJ will permit us to obtain a legally enforceable vindication of our rights.

It is for these reasons that we strongly urge a ‘yes’ vote. It secures for Belize an irreversible and binding decision enshrining forever our right to live in peace within borders that could never again be challenged by anyone.”

Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2019 10:38
 
The University of Belize creating enterprising students Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00

University of Belize students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science level course in History of Agriculture Enterprise Development (BAGR 3362),  which ended last month, have been successful in developing practical knowledge and skill in the development of some bio-resources available in Belize. The five-month course used historical information on Agriculture Enterprise Development (AED) in Belize to identify factors which have contributed to both the successes and failures in domestic and export-oriented enterprises in the country.

Professor Frantz Smith was the adjunct lecturer and the course was straightforward to execute, because over 90% of the material was from his book, A History of Enterprise in Belize. His agenda for the course was that, “…you don’t study the History of Agriculture in Belize to learn dates and lifeless information – you learn the history of Agriculture to gain knowledge to assist you to make your own industrial history.”

As part of the course, Smith required that students become very familiar with the bio-resources of the industries. This included analyzing the opportunities to diversify the current industries.

Students were challenged to create new outputs from the bio-resources and they responded positively by piloting experimentation with products such as hot pepper oil, vinegar from banana, liquid fertilizer from sargassum, and paper from banana plants.

In the coming weeks, Smith will again share some of the successes with the nation that these students have made.

An existing outcome of his course was that two teams were able to produce 100% banana fiber paper. Jenilee Donis and Levi Shol created the specialty paper for use as gift bags, gift wrapping or invitations.

“Their product could be worked into new types of handicraft to sell to the 1.2 million tourists who visit Belize annually,” explains Smith.

The other team comprising of Rubicely Balan and Kenny Balan produced paper that was used to create paper drinking straws. It is know that currently there is a critical lack in the supply of paper straws on the international market. According to Professor Smith, these students should be encouraged to conduct further experimentation to see if they can produce the straws from the plantain plant, which would allow them to produce an organic drinking straw.

“Imagine the potential if Belize could source a machine that can transform its plantain plant waste into organic straws. These young ladies could be quite successful,” he writes.

These enterprising students have shown that Belize does have the biologically-based products to create new specialty-and commodity-type products and that the young people have the drive to create them.

However, what is needed in Belize is the engineering capacity to assist these students to mass produce their innovations. As explained by Professor Smith in one of his posts, “Yes, the next step would be to get some industrial engineers to mechanize this. But industrial engineers would be very hard to find in Belize. Maybe we need to send a half-dozen young people to get scholarships to do industrial engineering in the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, The USA, Taiwan and Japan.”

Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2019 10:39
 
Youths at FCD being prepared Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00

On the 5th and 6th of January, a reunion was held with representatives of the FCD Youth Environmental Action Group, who has membership from Succotz, Benque and San Ignacio, and executive members of youths from Guatemala. These youths from across the border were from Todos Por Un Mundo Verde comprised of members from Melchor and other rural areas of Peten, Guatemala.

The objective was to finalize and endorse their first Binational Youth Action Plan.  This action plan describes the environmental activities that each youth group will be implementing at the community level in their respective country as well as actions that will be carried out jointly at the bi-national level during 2019. These activities include clean up campaigns, reforestation, adopting a riverside program, public outreach, recycling projects, environmental competitions, international commemorations and Miss Chiquibul pageant.

The message that resonated at the conclusion of the session was this: “As youths of Belize and Guatemala, we share our rivers and, therefore, we must join efforts as it is our collective responsibility to take action and become involved in the protection of our natural resources”.

Additionally, youths were able to develop short informational videos and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that will be used to create awareness on key environmental issues such as garbage pollution, degradation of our rivers and deforestation of the riparian forests.  These materials will be disseminated on the group’s Facebook pages and will be shared with local radio stations in both Belize and Guatemala.

Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) provides oversight and support to both youth groups, made possible through the financial support of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and the British High Commission in Belize. FCD started as a youth group in 1989 with members from San Jose Succotz with the primary aim of promoting love for the land.

 
Applications open for 2019 Taiwan ICDF Scholarships Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00

Taiwan ICDF’s International Higher Education Scholarship Program provides full scholarships to talented young citizens from partnering countries, including Belize, to pursue a higher education in Taiwan. The application period runs from January 1 to March 15, 2019.

The scholarship program allows studies of undergraduate, masters, and doctorate programs, four, two, and four years respectively, in prestigious universities of the Republic of China (Taiwan) commencing in September 2019.

All applicants must be citizens of Belize, must be in good mental and physical health, must be under the age of 50, and those persons working in governmental agencies must submit a letter of approval. Applicants cannot be current recipients of a scholarship or subsidy offered by any government agency or educational institution in Taiwan and cannot have been expelled from or cancelled for a scholarship from a school in Taiwan before.

 
Johnny is Punch Drunk Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00

In boxing there is a term known as punch-drunk. It is used to describe a condition known as dementia pugilistica, which is when a boxer gets hit so many times by an opponent that the boxer becomes disoriented. The term is also used to describe someone who behaves in a bewildered, confused, or in dazed manner from having been physically, mentally or emotionally punched.  Well, on Tuesday evening based on a letter we saw which was written by Johnny Briceno, the Leader of the Opposition, that was exactly the type of behavior we saw.

It has been a well-known fact that Johnny’s leadership has been under pressure for the last six months. The hawks in his party have been pressuring him to do a 180 degree turn on the party’s position of supporting a yes vote for the ICJ Referendum. Readers may recall it was the PUP who initiated the negotiation with Guatemala back in 2000 under the auspices of the OAS. It was those negotiations that lead to the Ramphal/Richler Proposals, which called for both Belize and Guatemala to seek the permission of its people to take their differences to ICJ for a final a settlement.

Back to the letter, it appears that Johnny was so punch drunk that he could not even get the date right on which the letter was written. He dated the letter 8th June 2019. Now we know that is five months in the future and between now and that date the referendum would have already been held on 10th April. Now we don’t know if that particular date has any particular significance to Johnny why he was so confused about it. Perhaps he was told that date would be the day before a leadership convention if he were to support a yes vote in the ICJ Referendum.

Whatever blow the hawks in the PUP threw at Johnny really hit him hard and shook him to the core. Those blows exposed Johnny’s ineptitude as a leader. They made him react in a way we never saw him react before. Johnny is damaged goods. His days of leading the PUP must now surely be coming to an end. The PUP will have to replace him, because he is a liability. In boxing, it would be said that Johnny has a glass chin, and he will be knocked out with the first blow to his chin.

 


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