Former Foreign Minister Lisa Shoman has written an open letter to Prime Minister Dean Barrow asking him to reject statements made by Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington. Last night when questioned on the Belize Guatemala issue and going to the International Court of Justice, Elrington had this to say.
Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
“I am always very deeply saddened and distressed by the absence of knowledge on the part of the Belizean public in relation to the Belize Guatemala issue. We have to go to the ICJ because we have to define our border, that is our biggest problem. The Maritime borders were never defined and never demarcated, never agreed upon and the western border we have conflict on that that is why we have to go to the ICJ it has nothing to do with the building of a road as a matter of fact the whole issue of the building of the road clause 7 under the 1859 Treaty was regarded by the British as a non-issue, that is a non-issue so whether they build it or not is not of any moment it’s not going to affect in any way the litigation which we have that is a non-issue it has no real bearing on the issue. Why we have to go to the ICJ is that we don’t have borders that are internationally recognized and that can put us in trouble because if we have people for example who come into our territorial waters for fish or anything like that and we want to apprehend them we are not certain that we can properly do it because they can take the challenge that we are not in Belize’s water and how do you determine if you are in Belize’s water you have to have defined borders to be able to prove that see the problem? So almost anybody can come in now and fish in our waters and we can’t stop them why because we don’t have agreed maritime borders and more and more the fishing resources are becoming more important so those are things of great great importance.”
In her letter, Shoman said for the Foreign Minister of Belize to make that statement is nothing short of ridiculous and it is utterly wrong. The letter goes on to say Prime Minister, as you well know, Belize does in fact, have borders that are internationally recognized. It is Guatemala that refuses to now recognize portions of those borders. They must – and do – recognize our border at Benque Viejo Del Carmen. It is an international border crossing. It is actually that a public official of the highest caliber, such as Foreign Minister Elrington who makes this kind of statement that can put us in trouble. This statement by FM Elrington must therefore be rejected in its entirety by you on behalf of the People and Government of Belize. Shoman ends her letter by stating that although she has publicly stated her support for going to the ICJ, or voting yes to any referendum she can no longer do so unless quote “we have a viable Sarstoon Protocol, a neighbor who respects our borders, and given his current stance, a Foreign Minister who is not the current office holder. “ end quote