Primer on Guatemalan claim

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Monday, August 24, 2015. BMG: The Belize Guatemala territorial dispute has remained unresolved since the 19th century, about a hundred and fifty years, and counting.

It is, arguably, more in the Belizean public domain than ever before. More nongovernmental organizations have spoken out against resolving Guatemala’s unfounded claim at the International Court of Justice, a decision both countries agreed to subject to a referendum in a 2008 special agreement.

A group, the Belize Territorial Volunteers, has been born out of disapproval of Government’s handling of the claim, and seeks to assert Belize’s sovereignty.

Like in Belize, the media and citizens have also followed the territorial claim in Guatemala. Only two years ago, in a 2013 report by Prensa Libre reporters, the news outlet traveled to Belize to obtain images of the territory claimed by Guatemala, which can be found at the end of this report.

Guatemala’s land and maritime claims over Belize date back to colonial history when Guatemala was a Spanish colony and Belize was controlled by the British who formally incorporated it as a crown colony, under the name “British Honduras,” in 1862.

Guatemala’s position is that it inherited imperial Spain’s territorial rights to Belize upon independence in 1821.

Before, the claim was for all of Belize but now Guatemala has restricted its claim to the southern half of the country, including Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo Districts and islands in that area.

Photo courtesy of Ambergris Today.

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