By: Wellington C. Ramos
The Guatemalan claim to Belize like all the claims that exist among the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has their roots in the Treaty of Tordesillas that was signed between Spain and Portugal in 1493 and approved by the then Catholic Pope Alexander the VI of Spain. Neither Spain, Portugal or the Catholic Pope, had the right to come all the way to this part of the world to take away the land of the indigenous people of this planet. Such action is deemed as genocide committed by all those who were involved in this inhumane act. All territories taken by these individuals, must be returned back to those who were there at the time they came to use force to wage and unjustified war against these people’s nation state. In addition all titles to land obtained by these Europeans must be voided and the lands must be handed back to the true owners the indigenous people who live in these countries today.
Just look at the way Spain treated the Mayas in Guatemala from the time Alvarado conquered that nation state in the 1500’s. It is the same way that the Guatemalan people and government has been treating the Maya people since Guatemala became independent in the 1820’s. Guatemala has compulsory service so even the same Mayas who join their military are involved in removing their own people from their villages and slaughtering them. This has caused thousands of Guatemalan Mayas to flee into Belize and Mexico to seek refuge. Belize and Mexico does not have to accept them. They can send them right back across the border or setup Refugee Camps by the border until the United Nations get involved to determine their status. I would prefer that Belize ask the United Nations to setup the refugee camps than to just accept them into Belize and then grant them Belizean citizenship. Why? because if Belize continue to grant them Belizean citizenship, we will reach a point where there will be more Guatemalans in Belize than Belizeans and that will be what could be described as a; population invasion. We are slowly heading in that direction now.
Guatemalans who become citizens of Belize or any other country cannot renounce their Guatemalan citizenship under their constitution. The political parties in Belize both the UDP and PUP have been allowing these people to come into Belize and be given Belizean citizenship because they need their votes and are afraid that if they reject them they will lose the Maya vote in the southern districts of Toledo and Stann Creek. In fact, the Maya vote has become a political football where both political parties has used it to their advantage. Now, the Maya people have increased significantly in numbers and are using their strength to exert pressure on the Belize government for their indigenous rights. They cannot go to Guatemala, Mexico or any of the other republic where they were born to do that because they would be killed by the Guatemalan, Mexican or the countries’ military.
I believe that we should set up the Refugee Camps rather than just let them come into Belize and setup villages because then that will expose Guatemala to the world for what they are the biggest violators of human rights in Central America. Then the Government of Belize will go to the United Nations General Assembly and state a case against Guatemala on behalf of the Maya Refugees. We will tell all the countries of the world, that we cannot negotiate with Guatemala under the current circumstances and as such we want some UN troops to be stationed in Belize to end the flow of refugees into our country. Once the members of the United Nations send troops into Belize to supervise our border, the Security Council of the United Nations, will place pressure on Guatemala to end their territorial claim to Belize and sign a treaty with us acknowledging our rights to our territory. Belize have a large percentage of Maya people as well.
My Belizean brothers and sisters the root of the Guatemalan claim lies in this unlawful treaty that I mentioned earlier and nothing else. The 1859 Treaty should be voided because it is a follow up to the treaty of Tordesillas. When our country became independent on September the 21st 1981, we submitted a map of Belize with boundaries included in the map. The nations of the world accepted Belize as it is now and that cannot change unless the people and government of Belize decides to cede our territory to Guatemala or another country. Mexico has said that they ceded some of their land in the southern part of their country to the British in a Treaty to make Belize what it is today.
That land does not Belong to Mexico as well, it belongs to the native Mayas who were there before the Spanish conqueror Hernando Cortez came and took it in 1519. All these Europeans who came to this part of the world were thieves and murderers who came to this region and committed genocide against our people. My people the Garifuna are victims of their genocide and this is how we ended up in the countries of; Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize and later the United States of America. After we were removed by the British on March the 14th, 1797 from our motherland; “YURUMEIN” now known as; Saint Vincent & The Grenadines. We cannot and should not expel the citizens of these countries who were born and became citizens of these countries.
After the Europeans colonized these territories, they brought them as slaves and indentured servants to occupy them. I am opposed to any human rights violation that is committed against any human being and I hope and pray that all human beings especially those who claim to be Christians take this same position. Many of us are racist and we complain about racism when people are racist against us. If you are a racist person, you should not complain when somebody is racist against you because you are all in the same organization. Racism, is responsible for most of the genocide that has and is occurring on this planet earth. Because people tend to treat other human beings the way they see and portray them.
The United Nations have passed several resolutions but the one that they need to pass is for all the nations of the world to do everything in their capacity to end racism. Until this is done, there will never be peace on this planet earth and we will continue to kill human beings like ourselves as if the world belong to us and us alone. This planet was created for all of us. There is enough room for all human beings to coexist with each other. There are some of us who have this fantasy belief that it is only for their; family, friends and cronies but we will all leave it here because they cannot fit in our caskets. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), is only one option to resolve our territorial dispute with Guatemala. I would like to see other options be explored like this one that I am proposing now. We need Belizean people in our Foreign Affairs Department, who are great political thinkers because we do not have the monopoly on all ideas. Every great idea or ideas should be put into consideration by a team of thinkers and then strategies should be devised to deal with this unending saga.
This claim to me is a nuisance and is on the minds of most Belizean people. I may never live to see the end of it. Even though I want it to see it end as soon as possible. Guatemala does not need Belize’s land because they have so much land without the resources to develop it. They just want to be a stumbling block in Belize’s progress. Belize need politicians who will stand up to them and tell them; death rather than surrender. One of these days Belize will get a Prime Minister who have served in the military and this talking will all end. They do not want to invade Belize because that will end their claim once the United Nations and the other countries in the world steps in and that could lead to a Treaty forced upon them by the humane nations of the world. They are only using this claim to hustle money for themselves which they are doing quite well.
I like many other Belizeans who are descendants through Guatemalan parenthood, qualify for Guatemalan citizenship through descent because my grandmother; Indelecia Petillo was born in Labuga, Guatemala. In addition Guatemala has claimed that Belize belongs to them and all the people who were born in Belize, are eligible for Guatemalan citizenship. Guatemala, you can keep your citizenship that has restrictions on freedoms on it. When I look at the way your government has been slaughtering the indigenous Maya people for centuries now it scares me to death. I can imagine what you would do with this Black Garifuna male person.
No, Belize have some problems yes but they are not as severe as yours. Belizeans we need to start to love each other and commit ourselves to servicing our country in some way or form. With the small population that we possess, we will need all Belizeans to fight for our country. A majority of our people live in the United States and many of them like myself have served in the US Armed Services. This is why we need to pass Article-7 Amendment to grant natural born Belizeans with dual citizens all the rights they deserve. This will give them the motivation to still feel attached to their place of birth. We will never be able to defend our country against any foreign aggression without the support and commitment of our citizens who are living abroad. I hereby extend my deepest appreciation and gratitude for all the men and women who have served and is currently serving in the Belize Defense Force, Coast Guard, Police Force and all branches of the uniformed services. We in the United States and abroad who served in the armed services at home and abroad, are behind you all and will be ready when called upon. The defense of our homeland is a lifetime commitment. A man or woman without a country has nothing to brag about.