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BNTU leaves teachers to vote their conscience for ICJ Referendum

The Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU, will not be putting forward a national position on whether or not to take Guatemala’s dispute to be resolved by the International Court of Justice, ICJ. Belize will hold its referendum on April 10, 2019. President, Senator Elena Smith says that teachers will be left to vote with their conscious and understanding of the matter.

Elena Smith, BNTU President: We made it clear to our teachers that we will not be putting forth a position because we feel that this is a matter that all of us as Belizeans need to make a determination on individually. However we would be sharing with them, or we will be providing the spaces for them to be able to get information on both sides whether it’s for those saying yes or those who are saying no- that we will provide them the opportunity to educate themselves on the matter so that they can then make informed decision. That position has not changed, whether it will change between now and then I’m not sure but we have to continue to look at what else can we do as a union, what else are we able to do to assist our teachers in better being able to understand the implications of a yes or a no vote. Well because when we look at this matter of this Guatemala issue you would tend to find that persons who are in the area most affected or the area that would be most affected based on the map that Guatemala is saying that is the half of the country that they want, those are the persons who are more vocal and who are more active as it relates to this matter. Persons in areas who do not feel that they would be affected they might not be as vocal or as interested as those persons that maybe live in the City. So while we have groups of people countrywide who are concerned we do have that pocket that takes that hands off kind of approach ‘well it’s not going to affect me.’. That is not- I mean that is the general public we find that people in general take that hands off approach ‘because it won’t affect me.’ So it has to be where we have to be educating persons no matter where they come from because at the end of the day it’s going to affect all of us whether it’s an inch that is taken from us whether it’s half of us.”

It is expected that the referendum campaign in Belize will be ramped up soon.