Will Belizeans vote ‘yes’ to take Guatemala’s claim to the International Court of Justice? We won’t have a definitive answer until a referendum is held and that will not happen this year. It is expected to be held after the re-registration exercise is fully completed. The general sentiment is that Belizeans do not want to take the matter to the ICJ. Love News conducted an online poll to get a more in-depth view of what Belizeans think about taking the claim to the ICJ. Nine point eight thousand persons participated in the poll. Of that number, eight point nine thousand or ninety one percent voted against taking the matter to the ICJ. Eight hundred and thirty five persons voted in favor of taking the matter to the ICJ. While we do acknowledge that anyone with a Facebook account could have participated in the poll, a review of the voters indicate that they are Belizeans who have made up their minds. However, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, says he has no doubt in his mind that a ‘yes’ vote must be secured.
Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “That is going to be ongoing because the effort is not going to be concluded with the referendum. It is our hope that we are going to get a yes vote and we will go on to the ICJ and for that we’ll also need funding so I think the quest is to secure funding is going to be an ongoing one. Polls in general are very speculative and I’m not sure and I hope I’m not going to be offending anybody by saying this but I just don’t know the competence and capacity of the persons or organizations or the institutions that carried it out but polls tend to be notoriously unreliable so I don’t spend time on things like that. I like to spend time doing very positive things and so at this very early stage I don’t really think it is helpful to even speculate on polls. I don’t think that it is helpful. There had been no doubt in my mind at any stage that we have to get a yes vote, that is really to my mind, I wouldn’t even want to think otherwise of that. I really wouldn’t want to engage in that kind of discussion at all at all. When you look at the horrendous occurrences worldwide where there are border disputes that carnage that takes place, the hardship, the terrible consequences that flow from border disputes is not something I want to get into at all and I hope that Belize will never in fact at any stage of its history find itself where it has problems with its neighbors over borders, that’s something which I don’t even want to contemplate so I’ve always been of the view that we should go to the ICJ. I’ve held that view since I was ten years old and I have always been of the view that the Belizean people are sufficiently intelligent, smart to understand that given the options we face the ICJ is the safest place for us to rest our head.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love News reporter: Are you of the view as well that if Belizeans vote no come the referendum here in Belize that that would signal to the international community that the Belizean voters are against the peaceful resolution at the ICJ?
Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “What I do know for a fact and I do not know whether this will be answering the question but I do know for a fact that we are being told repeatedly by the international community that they are not prepared to stay around indefinitely to finance the OAS office and to give us the kind of diplomatic support that we’ve been getting from them in this very tangible way with this Belize Guatemala issue- they want us to get rid of it and they seem to thing the impression I get from them is that they agree with my view that in fact the ICJ is perhaps the best option for us at this point in time, the absolutely best option. So I can tell you the fear is that if we don’t get a yes vote we may be parting company with the people in the international community that have been supporting us so far.”
In 2013, a government-sanctioned poll was conducted which indicated that the voters were pro ICJ.