Belize Guatemala Boundary Dispute II


SECRET
PAGE 01 STATE 269577
ORIGIN NODS-00
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 /001 R
DRAFTED BY ARA/CEN:LPFEIFLE:CFC
APPROVED BY P:PCHABIB
ARA/CEN:WMATTHEWS
ARA:SASHELTON
ARA:TATODMAN
ARA/PAN:KGUTHRIE
S/S-O:SGOLDSMITH
------------------055405 102155Z /62
O P 102126Z NOV 77 ZFF6
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE
INFO AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA PRIORITY
AMCONSUL BELIZE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY
S E C R E T STATE 269577
NODIS
FOR THE AMBASSADOR FROM HABIB
E.O. 11652: XGDS-1
TAGS: PBOR, GT, BH, UK
SUBJECT: BELIZE

1. WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE BRITISH AND GUATEMALANS MAY BE NEAR A SETTLEMENT ON THE HUNDRED YEAR-OLD BELIZE DISPUTE. THE SETTLEMENT WOULD INVOLVE A MINOR CESSION OF TERRITORY TO GUATEMALA. THE BRITISH TOLD US THAT PRICE INFORMED THEM THAT ON NOVEMBER 7 TORRIJOS SAID PRICE COULD GET A MORE FAVORABLE SETTLEMENT FROM THE NEXT GUATEMALAN ADMINISTRATION. OUR OWN ASSESSMENT IS DIFFERENT. WE BELIEVE THE CHANCES OF REACHING A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT ARE BEST NOW. GUATEMALAN PRESIDENT LAUGERUD IS A MODERATE AND IS PERSONALLY COMMITTED TO RESOLVING THE BELIZE ISSUE BEFORE HE LEAVES OFFICE JULY

1. TWO-OF THE THREE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, LUCAS AND PERALTA AZURDIA, ARE HARD-LINERS. THE THIRD, PERALTA MENDEZ, IS DISTRUSTED BY THE MILITARY AND, EVEN IF THE ARMY PERMITTED HIM TO ASSUME OFFICE, IT IS UNLIKELY HE WOULD BE ABLE TO CONVINCE THE MILITARY TO GO ALONG WITH A LESS THAN FAVORABLE SETTLEMENT ON BELIZE. IF TORRIJOS COULD BE BROUGHT AROUND TO ACCEPTING THAT ASSESSMENT AND PASSING IT ON TO PRICE IT WOULD BE VERY USEFUL TO THE EFFORTS TO FIND A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT.

2. PLEASE SEE TORRIJOS AT HIS EARLIEST CONVENIENCE AND MAKE THE FOLLOWING POINTS:

  • WE UNDERSTAND THE BRITISH AND GUATEMALANS MAY BE NEAR A SETTLEMENT ON BELIZE THAT INCLUDES A MINOR CESSION OF TERRITORY.
  • WE BELIEVE THAT A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY EXISTS NOW TO RESOLVE THE BELIZE DISPUTE. LAUGERUD IS A MODERATE AND WANTS TO SETTLE THE BELIZE DISPUTE BEFORE LEAVING OFFICE.
  • IN OUR JUDGMENT, NONE OF THE THREE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WOULD BE WILLING OR ABLE TO CONCLUDE A SETTLEMENT AS FAVORABLE TO BELIZE AS LAUGERUD. PERALTA AZURDIA AND LUCAS ARE HARD-LINERS. WE DO NOT THINK THE MILITARY TRUSTS PERALTA MENDEZ ENOUGH TO ALLOW HIM TO NEGOTIATE WHAT THEY SEE AS A LESS-THAN-DESIRABLE SETTLEMENT. ON THE OTHER HAND, LAUGERUD HAS THE SUPPORT OF THE GUATEMALAN MILITARY NEEDED TO CONCLUDE A SETTLEMENT INVOLVING ONLY MINOR TERRITORIAL CHANGES.
  • WE BELIEVE IT WOULD BE TO BELIZE'S ADVANTAGE TO BEGIN ITS INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE WITH GUATEMALA A FRIENDLY NEIGHBOR, NOT A HOSTILE REVANCHIST THREAT.
  • WE BELIEVE A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT WHICH WOULD ENSURE BELIZE'S INDEPENDENCE IS POSSIBLE NOW IF PRICE COULD BE PERSUADED TO ACCEPT A MINOR TERRITORIAL CESSION. WE HOPE YOU WILL USE YOUR CONSIDERABLE INFLUENCE TO PERSUADE PRICE TO ACCEPT A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT NOW.
  • WE WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR KEEPING THIS CONVERSATION IN STRICTEST CONFIDENCE.

3. THE SECRETARY WILL BE SEEING PRICE ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12. IT WOULD BE VERY USEFUL IF WE COULD HAVE TORRIJOS'S RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE IN SUFFICIENT TIME TO BRIEF THE SECRETARY BEFORE HIS MEETING WITH PRICE.

4. FYI: IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT TORRIJOS UNDERSTAND THAT THIS MATTER MUST BE HELD EXTREMELY CLOSELY. EVEN THE FACT OF ONGOING NEGOTIATIONS ARE KNOWN ONLY TO LAUGERUD'S CLOSEST ADVISORS, AND SHOULD TORRIJOS TALK ABOUT THIS IN A MANNER WHICH SURFACED IN GUATEMALA OR ELSEWHERE THAT SOMETHING IS GOING ON, IT COULD END ANY POSSIBILITY OF A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT AT THIS TIME. END FYI.

Source: WikiLeaks


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