Yesterday, we reported that the Guatemalan Congress approved for its government to hold a referendum in which its citizens will decide whether or not to take the Belize Guatemala territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice. Here in Belize, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have long since embarked on an education campaign countrywide educating voters about the topic. One man who is against the idea is WIl Maheia of the Belize Territorial Volunteers. Maheia has been very vocal as to why the dispute should not be taken to the ICJ. Today we got Maheia’s reaction to this latest development across the border.
“The ICJ is the only way when even within our own government, our own little Belize right here we are talking about discussions and negotiations and mediations before you go to court so we know that we have not exhausted all of the possible negotiations that could happen to settle the dispute even before going to court. We should concentrate on that instead of trying to ram it down the throats of Belizean people to go to court because that is what they are doing right now. The confidence that the Guatemalans are putting in front of their people and saying yes they are going to court and all the other so called friends of Belize this seems like their minds have already been made up that this thing is going to court when we have not exhausted all the other opportunities that exist to settle this Guatemala dispute before going to court. This dispute is over a hundred years old and this crowd in government right now is just saying let’s go to court.”
Maheia also commented on the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Taiwanese Government loaned to the Guatemalan Government for the construction of a road that the British Government did not build back in the 1800s.
“It’s even more important that our borders are clearly clean and there because this highway will definitely increase the traffic flow between areas like Puerto Barrios and Livingston and Halacte and San Vicente and the traffic will definitely increase. It will generate a lot of business on both sides so I believe that there are benefits that will be coming but at the same time we as a nation must be clear that our borders are clean and clear and defined and maintained without ceding any part of it to Guatemala. As you know recently we took a trip up the Sarstoon and while the Guatemalans did not stop us they clearly came into our waters on the Sarstoon and let us know that they run that river, we need to stop that.”
Belize’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host a press conference tomorrow to provide an update on the Belize-Guatemala Referendum.