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Guatemala’s Congress Gives Green Light for Referendum

In yesterday’s session of the Guatemalan Congress, Decree number forty seven of 2016 was approved which seeks to take their territorial, insular and maritime claim over Belize to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with the condition that the country’s internal mechanisms are followed before submitting the claim which translates to the referendum.  Guatemala’s approval to the Protocol to the Special Agreement that was signed onto with Belize came with requirements from the Congress including that the Guatemalan citizenry be kept abreast of the developments between both countries whilst being educated on the differences that both countries have regarding Guatemala’s claim and that much emphasis be placed on bringing an end to the dispute.  The Guatemalan Congress also ratified the amendment that was made to the Special Agreement in 2015 in Placencia Village where it was stated that the referendum in both countries can either be done simultaneously or independent of each other and that each country must notify the Secretary of the ICJ on its outcome.  In his address, the President of the Congress, Mario Taracena Diaz-Sol noted that due to the financial burden the referendum will place on Guatemala, they are reaching out to the United States and the United Kingdom for assistance.  As we mentioned yesterday, both Belize and Guatemala have reached out for financial aid in the name of the Belize/Guatemala issue.  Belize had requested four point four million dollars for its education campaign whilst Guatemala had requested aid back in 2012 from twelve countries to a tune of forty six million dollars to hold the referendum which never took place.  In past interviews with the Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington and Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the ratification from the Guatemalan Congress was what they were waiting for in order to move ahead with plans for a referendum on whether to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice.