AMID A STACKED OAS DECK, BELIZE NEEDS PROACTIVE SUPPORT! 3


Recently, an editorial appeared in the Jamaican periodical “The Gleaner”, which spoke of the current status involving Guatemala’s intransigence on the matter of Belize’s territorial integrity. I must express sincere thanks, for the voice of support that has finally begun to emanate from the region!

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Paco Smith staunchly advocates the emergence of civil society to serve as a proactive force toward positive change within the policy development arena. Among his many involvements, he is a co-founder of the group Belizean Patriots against the ICJ.

For approximately five years, I have monitored and expressed my view in terms of:

(1) the signing of the Compromis… its folly, and trappings;

(2) the need for caution on taking Guatemala on their word, due to their insistence on moving the proverbial goalpost;

(3) the double-standard and lack of impartiality demonstrated by the OAS on this matter;

(4) the gullibility of Belizean officials to believe that Guatemala would actually adhere to any agreement and subsequent developments that holds the potential for them not to prevail, especially given that the organiser (the OAS) has repeatedly allowed Guatemala virtually unchecked leeway by which to manipulate the agreement;

(5) the Belizean government’s well-documented incompetence and ineptitude in dealing with this issue of national security; and

(6) the need for Belizeans to seek support from CARICOM and other international and regional groupings, since we are an already independent and sovereign nation that is recognised, with our territory intact, by all who matter.

With that said, let me also mention that beyond the unabashed and brazen move by Guatemala to use maps that do not depict an clear distinction between theirs and Belizean territory, their government recently Next-door Peten included in target area, purportedly for use in the monitoring and protection of the region referred to as the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

Yet, given Guatemala’s unyielding, provocative stance concerning its issues with Belizean sovereignty and territorial integrity, Belizeans are left with just reason for concern over such a move by the Guatemalan government.

Although I steadfastly believe that the signing of Compromis was a complete and utter misstep by the Belizean officials, and my discernment has since proven justified, for Guatemala has consistently exploited the fact that Belize acknowledged an “adjacency zone”, within the two countries, as opposed to maintaining the reality of our border, I agree with the author that at this juncture we (meaning Belize, CARICOM and all who hold true the belief that a signed agreement is binding) must hold Guatemala to the letter of the agreement.

But even beyond that, it is imperative that the secretary general of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, also be held accountable to ensure that the aforementioned hemispheric organisation does not shirk its responsibility and allow Guatemala the opportunity to avoid living up to the agreement. This entire OAS-driven effort has been mottled ominously with: inconsistency, bias and double-standards, as demonstrated by the OAS… in favour of Guatemala.

We need not look any further than Guatemala’s recent purchase of the attack planes, which (to my knowledge) was met with no word of concern, from the OAS. Yet another example of such bias occurred when Guatemala first used a map that did not depict a clear distinction between the two countries during a meeting at the OAS. The Belizean ambassador lodged a complaint and on the floor of the meeting, it was met with no support from the OAS!

With matters as they stand, that being, Guatemala putting forth demands that Belize change its Referendum Act, to mirror that of Guatemala’s, the OAS is preparing to accommodate Guatemala by way of hosting a meeting to discuss the matter.

Let us be real. There is nothing to discuss, for Belize’s Referendum Act stood, at the time of the signing of the much-vaunted Compromis, precisely as it currently exists. Let alone any changes that were made to our Referendum Act were undertaken well in advance of the signing of the Compromis and Guatemala is well aware of this. Nonetheless, the Guatemalans are making untenable and unreasonable demands that, in effect, violate the parameters of the Compromis and. despite this fact, the OAS has not officially stated that the Guatemalan demands are not only in violation of the spirit of the agreement, but basically the agreement, itself!

Implicit in this entire quagmire is Belize’s incompetent representation on this matter. The “powers that be” in Belize, who are vested with the responsibility of ensuring Belize’s best interest is obtained, have time and again, blundered… for example, the minister in charge of this effort not only stated publicly, that Belize’s border is “artificial”, he also went on to reiterate that view by way of explaining such reasoning.

If your nation were potentially going to court, based on the outcome of an impending simultaneous referendum scheduled for 6th October 2013, on your neighbour’s unfounded claim to your nation’s territorial integrity, do you actually believe it would bode well to have the top ranking official utter such things? The list goes on and on, in terms of the poor representation of Belize, on this all-important issue.

To give yet another example, a short while back, a Guatemalan usurper… one who was illegally extracting Belize’s natural resources, attacked Belizean security forces and was unfortunately/subsequently fatally injured. Can you believe the government of Belize (G0B), saw it fit to compensate the family of the deceased, despite the fact that he was illegally in Belizean territory, was conducting illegal operations and no less attacked our security forces?

In any event, from a common-sense perspective, it demonstrates that the GOB is keener toward valuing the life of a foreign national, who was in violation of our laws as opposed to demonstrating such “compassion” to our own people. I say this because there are two, documented occasions in which Belizeans were either critically injured (Mr Steven Buckley) and/or lost their life (Mr Atanacio Gutierrez), due to an engagement (and in one instance, apparently unprovoked by the victim) with security forces.

Yet, their families have been left to linger, with no compensation! As I mentioned, the list goes on and on concerning the dearth of competent counsel and leadership in this very significant regard.

In sum, for those who are monitoring all developments concerning Guatemala’s aggression toward Belize, coupled with the OAS’s failure to act as an impartial entity, the impeding result of Guatemala’s latest “bad faith” moves should prove instructive. I have no confidence whatsoever in the OAS to do the appropriate thing by telling Guatemala the facts, which are (1) Belize’s Referendum Act was and remains the same, as before the Compromis was signed and (2) there shall be no stepping away from the signed agreement.

In essence, the OAS must inform Guatemala in no uncertain terms that, in keeping with the letter, as well as the spirit of the agreement, they must comply. This will inevitably be a definitive sign as to whether the OAS is willing to fulfill its role as an impartial party and execute its responsibilities, accordingly. Belizeans and our Caribbean brethren and sistren, stay attuned for we shall see whether the dog is actually wagging the tail or whether it is the other way around.

No matter what, I call on CARICOM to step-up and play its role as the pre-eminent regional body and proactively advocate what is right. Simply put, both parties to the Compromis must be held to what they have agreed to, by virtue of signing the agreement. Since the OAS, thus far, appears not to be up to the task of upholding its own stipulations, I trust that CARICOM will be the voice of reason and provide that body a definitive reminder of what is right in terms of impartially handling this matter.

Belize, Sovereign and Free – NO ICJ!
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Belize, Sovereign and Free – NO ICJ!

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