The law which establishes the 3-mile limit is the Maritime Areas Act, passed in 1992 by Prime Minister George Price’s administration. Aikman, however, claims it was the previous UDP government that intially orchestrated the move. Aikman recalled that the first time he had heard about the bill was at a meeting held by former UDP Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel. According to Aikman, Esquivel asked elected members of the opposition to support the bill when tabled by the PUP, knowing Belize would be ceding territory to Guatemala.
Aikman claims he was the first to reject the idea and voice his discontent with the bill. Sam Rhaburn, Hubert Elrington and Philip Goldson also rejected the bill, according to Aikman. Still, the bill was passed and according to Aikman, Esquivel and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Dean Barrow joined forces with Price and Said Musa to “sell” the bill to the public. In fact, Aikman claims, it was Barrow who traveled to Honduras to meet with the Guatemalans and present what would later become the Maritime Areas Bill. Aikman further alleged that Barrow was influenced by Musa to make the concession as they both sat on a bi-partisan commission together.
Aikman also said he fears that based on some of the public comments made by current Foreign Minister Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, that something similar may have happened or is about to happen under the current administration. Aikman also noted his opposition to taking the claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and said these actions may have hurt any chance Belize may have had of presenting a winning case.
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