Last week the main opposition party, People’s United Party had made the announcement to the local media that they would not be attending the signing of the amendments to the 2008 Special Agreement that took place in Guatemala on Monday, May 25. The political party had cited the reason behind this decision as being the fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had not updated them on the final amendments that were decided upon. It is indeed a concern that cannot be argued with since the matter transcends party politics and does impact every citizen regardless of political affiliations … but while the reason to not be a part of the signing is validated, there is the question on whether the two parties are indeed treating the matter as a bi-partisan one. The Foreign Affairs Ministry does fall under the Barrow administration and they faltered in not keeping the opposition abreast of the amendments …. But as they say two wrongs don’t make a right and if the PUPs indeed view the Belize/Guatemala matter as transcending the red and blue, then perhaps the decision to boycott the signing was not the way to go. But, it is all water under the bridge as the signing did take place in the absence of the People’s United Party despite an invitation letter sent out to them. Looking at the way forward now, Ambassador Stuart Leslie, says that he is still hopeful that all political units would come on board to address this very crucial issue.
“I am a firm believer that both major parties believe that it is in the national interest that we settle the dispute with Guatemala. I am comforted by the fact that both political parties have said that they support a referendum because that is what is stated in our law that any settlement of the dispute must go before the Belizean public. Those are very comforting words; I believe that every Belizean sees this is a very important issue and in terms of what we have to do in the awareness campaign we have to make sure that any opposition whether it be the UDP or PUP or any opposition is kept informed and on the side where we find a solution to the problem together. I believe very strongly that both political parties, that every Belizean sees this issue as so integral and important to us that we want to work together and so I see that part of my job is to make sure that in the awareness campaign we present all aspects of this case. We have to be able to answer for the Belizeans why we feel that the only option is to go to the ICJ. Yes we’ve had this problem for 200 years and Renee, I don’t want to burden your children for having to deal with this problem and I don’t believe any of us who have been involved in this process including you as a journalist would want to burden the next generation and so, I believe that we have to together find a way that we can get this matter before the court.”
Another contention that was cited by the People’s United Party was the lack of confidence in the current Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington.