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Lisa Shoman speaks on ‘Duty to the Jewel – ICJ or no ICJ.’

Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2018. 8:34 a.m. CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Lisa Shoman: I was tagged in a post that urged me to share that “I’d like for every red blooded born Belizean to pass it on so that we are all better informed and able to stand with pride knowing that we as a nation have no reason to flinch in the face of Guatemala’s claim. “ I agree. We have no reason to flinch even though our government has set a date for the referendum on the Guatemalan claim to Belize for Wednesday April 10, 2019.

 

This is less than a year from today. GOB has set a date despite the lack of any multipartisan effort, or a Sarstoon Protocol. It has done so despite the lack of any proof that Guatemala will be a good neighbor and cease its multiple aggressions in our southern internal waters. I am disappointed and you should be too. But it seems that we have no choice. Our government has decided.

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize says that it “has already commenced and will step up its public awareness campaign which is being launched under the banner – “ICJ, Be Informed.”

 

They claim that the “nationwide campaign will include various approaches in an effort to reach citizens in every corner of the country. “ MFA claims this, despite having a laughable budget of $40,000.00 in the 2018/19 estimates. I won’t hold my breath that this will be any effort to fairly present all reasonable views, but I’d love to stand corrected. So next April, Belizeans will be called upon to “decide whether or not to take the dispute arising from Guatemala’s claim to Belize’s land and insular territories, and to the maritime areas pertaining to them” to the ICJ.

 

Will we be ready, truly ready? Only time will tell and we will all be called upon to do the homework. Read, listen, question, listen, debate, listen, discuss and decide. That will be your duty. You say in that post that you “LOVE my country and if the day comes when we have to stand and defend this beautiful jewel I will do so with a fire inside that knows no fear for any oppressor.” Yes? Do the homework. Stand and defend the Jewel by educating yourself. You say that “the love for Belize passing through each of our veins there’s no reason for us to ever consider being doubtful in claiming and accepting what is ours without impunity or regret”? Yes? Then if you are a registered voter, you are obliged to vote.

 

Abstention is not an option.

 

Democratic decisions belong to those who show up and vote. No matter your position or decision , show up and vote. One more thing, while I have no problem standing and demanding that “our leaders quit playing politics with what is rightfully ours”, the notion that “we need to make sure that ONLY Belizeans born in Belize will be allowed to vote” is wrong. Belize does not have first and second class citizens or voters. Rightly or wrongly, all Belizean citizens and duly registered voters are equal.

 

Those that were born here, no matter parentage, those who came here like my own grandfather, those like my nieces and nephew (none of whom were born here), those like my wonderful brother in law who had the good fortune to marry a Belizean -are all equal to those who like me were born here.

 

We ARE all Belizeans, and as long as we are registered voters we can and should vote in the upcoming referendum. Birth in Belize confers no special magic or privilege. It gives me no more rights.

 

If we are looking to assert that birth in the soil of Belize confers some particular class of rights, the Maya of Southern Belize would have more rights than any other citizen, and should the referendum only be voted on by them? Clearly the proposition that some Belizean voters, because of the happy instance of place of birth, have more right than others is absurd, and does nothing at all to advance the development of ardent nationalism. It does not extend our love to our fellow citizen.

 

We are better than that. We have to be.

 

Fighting our fellow Belizean is not our right or our purpose. Instead, we are called upon and should ensure that all Belizeans unite with one purpose – to do the best we can, each voter, born or not, to deal with whether we go to the ICJ to deal with the unfounded Guatemalan claim to Belize. THAT is your patriotic duty.

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