The referendum that both Belize and Guatemala are to hold in their respective countries have garnered much attention over the last years. For the first time, however, there is the perception of progress in getting the Guatemalans on board and in moving forward in having the process conducted. Up to news time what we can tell you is that both governments are lobbying for the citizens to vote in favour of going to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in order to get a final decision on the territorial claim that Guatemala has had over Belize since the 1800s. We can also tell you that the Guatemalan government has already budgeted for their referendum and has recently gotten the nod from their congress to proceed with it. Public consultations and campaigns are well underway in both countries. Guatemala is looking to have their referendum later this year while Belize is yet to establish a timeline for theirs since they are waiting for the voters’ reregistration process to take place in 2018. Belizean officials are also waiting to see how the Guatemalan citizenry will vote in the matter. Should the Guatemalans vote against going to the ICJ, it would make the entire referendum process moot as both countries would have to agree to it before taking the issue before the ICJ. This was explained and confirmed on Friday when the Foreign Affairs CEO, Pat Andrews and Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, Alexis Rosado, held a press brief at the Laing Building in Belize City.
“It is true that in the special agreement provides that both countries have to say yes for our governments to be authorized to go to the ICJ for a binding decision, binding and final. But should a No arise in any of the two countries, the problem of the Guatemalan claim would remain so we would still have to find a way of resolving it. What would be done then is anybody’s guess. It will be for the government of the time to deal with but there’s no doubt we should never be left with the view that, that ends the claim. It doesn’t end the claim. We would still have to find a way to resolve it.”