On Friday the Belize Territorial Dispute Referendum Bill, 2019 went through all three stages in the House. There were firestorms of retorts slung back and forth between the United Democratic Party Government and the Opposition, Peoples United Party. Outside on the steps of parliament, several buses of pro ICJ demonstrators were bussed in to demonstrate their support of the UDP and the International Court of Justice. Today, the Senate had their opportunity to discuss the bill which was read in all stages by the leader of Government Business, Senator Godwin Hulse while Senator Mark Lizaragga alleged that the people of the country need more time to decide on the issue.
Godwin Hulse Senator: “I rise to take charge of the Belize Territorial Dispute Referendum Bill of 2019. Mr. President in Accordance with standing order #491, I move that the Bill be taken through all the stages be taken through forthwith.”
President: “Honorable members the question is the bill be taken through all its stages forthwith. All those against are in favor kindly say I.”
Godwin Hulse Senator: “Mr. President I rise to move the second reading of a Bill for an Act to provide for a Referendum to determine whether any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and for the International Court of Justice to determine finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of Belize and Guatemala, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental there to.
Mark Lizarraga Senator for Business: ‘The business community has sought legal input into this matter for us today and I would like with your permission Mr. President to share that opinion with you. It says it is my understanding that the CJ found that there is a serious question to be tried whether to the Writ of Referendum was lawfully issued in this case the Writ could have been issued pursuant to a resolution of the National Assembly under 2A of which there was none and where a law provides for the holding of the Referendum of the specific issue on the 2C. It would appear that this proposed Bill is pursuant to 2C. This is not expressly stated however and so the Bill could equally be independent of the Referendum Act if the courts at the end of this process decides to redefine our boundaries, who is going to bell that cat ? which Parliamentarian in this country would come here to vote to change our constitution to deny us of one square centimeter or one blade of grass, that matter needs to be addressed and it has not in our view. We are absolutely not saying that the people don’t have a right to a Referendum to decide but we have a lot of work to be done we believe and this is an opportunity for us. It is an opportunity for the Prime Minister, to shift gears, wheel and come again as somebody said in Parliament and tackle the issues that need to be addressed whether it be legal or whether it be education.”