Guatemala Asks Belizean Army to be ‘Less Aggressive’

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Updated: May 18, 2016

In an online article published today, the headlines read, “Guatemala Asks Belizean army to be less aggressive’.  It is a headline that would immediately draw one’s attention considering that the aggression has been coming from the Guatemalan Armed Forces; a situation that has led Belizeans complaining about the passive and submissive reactions from Belize.  The article goes on to state, quote, “The armed forces of neighboring Belize should be “less aggressive,” Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales said on Monday, while adding that both countries must work to ease tensions over their long-standing territorial dispute.  “The army of Belize has to be less aggressive and use force to a lesser degree, use it proportionally depending on each case,” the foreign minister said.  Morales said Guatemala also has a responsibility to prioritize the development of the communities along the contested border to reduce economic pressure on residents to cross into Belize in search of work.  The boundary is the object of a quarrel that goes back to 1820, when Guatemala became independent from Spain and Belize was a British colony.  Tensions have risen following an April 19 incident on the border that ended with the fatal shooting of a Guatemalan teenager by Belizean security forces.  Last Friday, members of a Belizean security patrol wounded one man in the course of arresting three Guatemalans engaged in illegal mining on territory administered by Belize.  Belize said the wounded young man was shot in self-defense as he toward a member of the security patrol “aggressively with a machete.”  Morales traveled last weekend to the area of the April 19 confrontation, accompanied by representatives of the Organization of American States.”  End of quote.  The article went on to cite that Guatemala has been the reason why there has been a delay in the referendum surrounding the ICJ matter.  It reads, quote, “In 2008, the two countries agreed to submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but the accord was never implemented because it proved impossible to satisfy the requirement that the respective populations endorse the pact in simultaneous referendums.  Seven years later, the parties signed an additional protocol allowing non-simultaneous plebiscites. Guatemala’s congress, however, has yet to ratify the revision.”  End of quote.