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Guatemala changes date of its referendum…again

The Guatemalan Government has changed the date of its referendum for the second time in the past few weeks. We are told that the new date is April 15 as opposed to March 11, 2018. The reason it was first changed was because of their ‘busy activities during Lent’ however the reason for the second change has not been reported. The spokesman of the electoral body, Luis Gerardo Ramírez had previously mentioned that the changes were not because of pressures or requests from third parties. Belize has yet to set a date for the referendum process here. The Guatemalan Government will hire lawyers from America and Europe to take the case to court and they expect it to last six years. This alone will cost Guatemala up to twenty-two million Belize dollars in legal fees. Guatemala’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the lawyers will be officially hired in the second half of 2018. For the moment, the proposals are from experts from Spain, France, England, Canada and some from Latin America. Guatemala has budgeted some eighty million Belize dollars for its entire referendum process while Belize has yet to do the same. It is expected that seven million registered voters will participate.  Belize is expecting to hold its referendum by either late 2018 or early 2019. If both countries agree to take the territorial dispute to the ICJ, then the ICJ will be notified after which Guatemala will be given one year to present its case. Belize will then be given a year to respond.