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Minister Patrick Faber reacts to Guatemala’s ICJ referendum decision

On Sunday, one point eight million Guatemalans voted in favor of taking their country’s claim on Belize to the International Court of Justice, ICJ. Less than seventy-five thousand people voted no. Belize is expected to hold its referendum on the matter after the re-registration exercise is completed. While the government of Belize has officially congratulated the Guatemalan Government and its people on a successful referendum, today we got the first reaction of a cabinet minister. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Patrick Faber, says that cabinet has not met to speak on the matter but he shared his personal view. It is expected that the Belizean people and government will come under tremendous pressure for a ‘yes’ vote. But what if the Belizean people vote no? Will the Government maneuver around the people’s decision and still take the matter to the ICJ? This is what Love News asked Minister Faber.

Reporter: When the former Guatemalan Foreign Minister was asked what would happen if Belize voted no he said that Belize as a country would have to find a legal mechanism to go to the ICJ, is that a possibility ? To find a legal mechanism or change the constitution of some sort to still go to the ICJ if Belize choses no?

Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister: Well I will say this, that while the government’s position has got to be and I really would wish the opposition would cease in terms of playing politics with this issue. It was under the People’s United Party administrator, the Said Musa administration that Belize first signed on to the compromi and we agreed that we would take the question to both countries in the form of a referendum. So the government’s position that we should take this matter to the International Court of Justice. Now I want to make it clear that as far as it relates to me, and I believe I am able to speak for my other colleagues as well, if the Belizean people would say no according to the legal mechanism that is set up for us when a referendum is run there is no other push that we ought to be making. The Belizean people will have spoken emphatically and clearly no matter what the percentage turnout in that referendum would be. Very much the same way that the Guatemalan people have said that they want to go despite the fact that the turnout is far below half of the voting population in Guatemala. So as far as I’m concerned we ought not take it any further than that. I don’t know that we have had any discussions in that direction but my vote would certainly be to not go against what the Belizean people would have said and hopefully would have said loud and clear in a referendum.”

According to Faber, if Belize votes ‘no’ it will be a failure of the process.

Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister: “Then we are in the same predicament that we’ve been for all of these years because it would have meant as far as I’m understanding an end, a failure so to speak to the process that is probably the most valuable, the most possible solution that we’ve seen so far so I really would want to see it go positively and we certainly want to see a close to this whole issue and for us right now that is the way to go. But it’s not to say that if the Belizean people say they don’t want something that this government is taking that position to push something down their throats. This is a very important issue, it is an issue that runs very deep in the veins of our Belizeans especially those who are patriotic in view and it is not a matter to be taken lightly. Everybody’s position should be respected. What we have difficulty digesting is when political parties and in particular the People’s United Party after fully engaging to go to the ICJ because it may be politically expedient now because the vibes coming from a good many people and a good many activist groups are saying to say no to the ICJ they want to use this for political mileage and I say shame on that. Our goal, our work as leaders in this country make it sometimes unpopular work but we ought to do what is right for our Belizean population and country a many times, as often as we can.”

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