Posted: Sunday, September 9, 2018. 7:57 am CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Richard Harrison:
BELIZE CITIZENS COMMITTEE
Sep 1, 2018
I. WHY SAY NO TO ICJ AT THIS TIME?
1. Agreeing to go to court is giving legitimacy to a false claim. Belize should never be litigated, gambled, negotiated, sold nor gifted. Belize became independent in 1981 through the new world order after the second world war, vested in the United Nations Charter principle of SELF-DETERMINATION and its mandate for de-colonialization of states.
2. There is nothing to win and too much to lose for Belize, while Guatemala has nothing to lose and any small gain is another step towards their claim of entire Belize. If you pay one cent towards a million dollar claim, it is acknowledgement of entire claim.
3. The people feel generally unprepared in information, knowledge of risk/benefits, economy and governmental lack of integrity (trust) for such a major decision, the results of which are binding and no appeal is allowed. If we press pause now it does not stop us from going at a later date when the people feel better prepared. The people of Belize has seen so many “iron-clad, water-tight” cases lost in international courts by our government, losing many millions of dollars that has us on the brink of bankruptsy. When in doubt, say NO.
4. Guatemala and Belize committed to peaceful resolution of the dispute at the UN and OAS…and there is precedence of them requesting and getting modifications of timeframe and terms…so Belize can do the same with no threat of invasion or such violent actions and reactions.
5. If Guatemala wants us to join them at ICJ as equally interest goodwill parties…then they should not be occupying any part of Belize, including Sarstoon Island and the Belize side of Sarstoon River….nor promoting maps and other concepts that prejudice the judgment of the court.
6. No part of Belize should be put at risk of loss by a generation that grew tired, frustrated, apathetic, cynical, lazy, greedy, selfish, overly-ambitious, etc…which is why modification of our Constitution requires a minimum threshold of 75%…therefore the current zero threshold of the referendum is not consistent with the spirit of our Constitution, and the original 60% as per the original Special Agreement of 2008 is reasonable.
7. Belizeans are asking what is the significance and responsibility of the Head of State, and what exactly is state of UK-Belize relations? And why? Also what is the state of Belize relations with the Commonwealth? And do those relations have any security arrangements? And we want to see in black and white where Belize has kept the UK and HOS, and Commonwealth updated on related developments, as well as written request and responses for help, especially where Belize’s borders have been breached by unwanted foreign military.
8. Belize (and Guatemala) has much more pressing issues to deal with currently…like growing poverty, crime, drugs/gangs, corruption, etc, and we can engage each other in tackling those in a way that grows the respect and trust among our people, which is what ultimately will deliver lasting peace and prosperity.
9. Thanks to the international community for assisting, but such an important decision should be paid for in most part by Belize, from start to finish. We currently have commitments of financial support leading up to the referendum, but the most costly leg is after that to the time of ruling…for which we know not the cost…and for which we have no firm commitments of assistance to get the best home-run lawyers to bat for us.
10. The geo-political situation is not favorable to us. UK, Mexico, Israel, USA and Guatemala relations need lots of work. We must fix ourselves to mend those relations.
11. The ICJ is the final step of a process…that has seen our borders turn to adjacency line, adjacency zone, to giving up 9 miles of sea, to imaginary borders, to Sarstoon invasion to Guatemala policing our borders….progressive, step wise process of giving up sovereignty.
12. There is no such thing as an “iron-clad, water-tight” court case. Loss based on small technicalities are too often real, as Belize has experienced over past 10 years at CCJ, LCIA, US Courts.
13. The ICJ question is too broad, making the risk of loss too high…need revision to be more specific about claim…any and all of Belize is totally unacceptable.
14. To be sovereign, every piece must be as important as the other…one cannot be more important and decide for the other that it is expendable. We cannot cut off our nose to spite our face.
15. The argument that our generation must resolve the 150+ year-old dispute is flawed in many ways…not when the country is the weakest it has ever been…most corrupt, most broke, most unemployment, most insecurity, most against the super-powers, etc…this is certainly not the best time to take on this challenge.
16. If the Guatemalans were looking for an honorable way out, by losing through an international court, as is suggested in Assad Shoman’s book, they would not be so aggressive and pressing on all fronts, including seeking corporate support from such like Google and Al Jazeera….they would not be getting the best lawyers money can buy.
17. If there is a way, the referendum should be aborted if proven to be illegal and unconstitutional.
II. HOW TO SAY NO TO ICJ?
How we say something is as important as what we say.
Both our major political parties have been asking our allies for years, to assist Belize with taking the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute, turned Belize-Guatemala differendum, to the ICJ.
They made this decision among a few of the politico-economic elites…and did not consult widely with the people, nor sought their approval. Indeed, until recently when things became heated, most Belizeans were uninformed of the details of the process leading up to this ICJ referendum…and the vast majority are confused…on top of the apathy, cynicism and skepticism they have developed for all things political…and it is showing in the rather slow re-registration of voters…so the people of Belize have not given approval to any political leader to have signed any agreement that put at risk the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize, and which is a basic requirement of the Belize Constitution, with a 75% majority.
Thus, Belize cannot go quietly to the referendum on April 10, 2019 and vote NO to ICJ…that could be interpreted by the international community…and especially our allies…that we gave them the middle finger…after them responding to our political leaders requests all these years.
Therefore, only the people in large numbers can say “No to ICJ, not at this time”….in the most respectable and honorable of ways…and this is why the recommendation for UNITY of 15,000 Belizean patriots in our nations capital Belmopan, on Independence Day, Sep 21 from 9am – 1pm…celebrating our self-determination, independence and sovereignty in grand style…instructing any and all political leaders that they must do nothing that cannot guarantee our sovereignty over all our territory…and to humbly request the international community and our allies…especially UK, Mexico, Israel, USA and Guatemala…to bear patience with us as we struggle to get past our very tender 37th year of Independence…committing, with respect and trust, to making the economic, judicial and political reforms necessary to accelerate our growth into an honorable and respectable member of the world community.
This celebration must show the best face of Belize…it must be humble yet vibrant…it must be beautiful yet substantive….it must be energetic yet orderly…it must be youthful yet wise…it must be simple yet creative…it must capture our unique diversity in unity.
Self-determination starts in the hearts and minds of the people…and it is more difficult for those who have the next meals and medicines to worry about…it is easier for those blessed with a little better economic situation…which is why we are asking for only 4% of our population…the ones that can afford to bring themselves, their families, workers and friends…those that can bring floats…from the most humble to the most elaborate….of all cultures…representing all industries and services of the private sector…culture, sports, education, civil society, government departments…unions, associations and institutions…bicycles, motorbikes, classic cars, horses…students, scouts, guides, environmental clubs, and everything about our youth….agricultural machinery and products display….architecture, engineering and construction machinery and products floats…food and beverage sales…entertainment and artists…the best of Belize!
III. WHAT TO DO AFTER WE SAY “NO TO ICJ AT THIS TIME”?
1. As a nation, the people and Government of Belize must re-affirm our commitment to uphold the Constitution of Belize. The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition must emphasize this point in their speeches on Independence Day 2018…and the people must make and carry signs expressing this commitment.
2. A no to ICJ vote would be a vote of non-confidence in current leadership and both the leader of the ruling party and opposition should resign, and fresh elections should be called for Nov 4, 2019.
3. The aspirants for leadership then have 7 months to consult the people and present them with their best manifestos for national development…including economic, judicial and political reforms…forming these into a contract with the people…where all aspirants police each other to obey the electoral laws of Belize…with the law amended to increase significantly the penalties for breach of the electoral laws…with jail time for bribery.
4. We must give instructions to GOB to manage a foreign policy that does not make any enemies for Belize in the world…that must be respectable and trustworthy…so that we can be friends of both Israel and Palestine…China and Taiwan…without compromise to the rights and responsibilities of either. We must do all those things that reinforces the respect and trust of all countries…but especially the UK, USA and Mexico.
5. We must continue to engage the Government and people of Guatemala in deep and broad cooperation, collaboration, coordination, cohesion and even collusion…to build trust and respect among our people…in ways that bring tangible benefits to all our people…in education, culture, sports, health, environment, industry, trade, investments, governance, democracy, etc….supported by our allies in the same way as the ICJ process…and even more ambitious.
6. We can agree to hold simultaneous referendum in Belize and Guatemala every 20 years to allow the people to give review of performance of their respective governments in the execution of negotiated people-based contracts…and to give fresh instructions of how to proceed….guiding the peaceful growth of respect and trust between to independent and sovereign neighbours.
7. Belize and Guatemala must amend their citizenship and immigration laws so that the citizens of each country can legally move freely, and once they meet all requirements, choose to be Belizean or Guatemalan. Belize’s policies must protect the unique, peaceful, cosmopolitan co-existence of its people…and the population must be allowed to grow in a balanced way that does not allow any one race or culture to dominate in numbers or power over others.
8. Belize and Guatemala must survey the border again using current technology and clear the border, allocating budgets to maintain it clean, so that the people of both countries can respect it and have no excuse to trespass.
9. Belize must officially and publicly request assistance from the UK, EU, Mexico, USA and Israel with the negotiation of a security guarantee for Belize as part of a compact that Belize must conserve and sustainably develop all the protected areas using internationally accepted standards and best practices…so that Belize can turn all its security and safety material and human resources towards achieving optimal safety and security for the people of Belize…with capacity to lend a helping hand regionally in times of natural disasters.
10. The Guatemalan claim over Belize in their Constitution is a thing only they can decide to change…they will know when is the required timing and circumstances to strike it out. Belize must grow in self-determination…which is the basis upon which Independence was fought for and gained. We must educate from pre-school to university in our history…and develop our identity as ONE Belizean people…we must erase every notion of tribalism or balkanization of Belize…while respecting the rights and responsibilities of our indigenous Mayan people, as guaranteed in our Constitution.
11. Our Government must move immediately to develop a massive countersuit claim, just in case Guatemala decides to go to court with its claim outside of the “equally interested goodwill party” pact of the Special Agreement.
12. Our judicial reform must reaffirm our commitment to the spirit of the preamble of our Constitution…and all the rest of the Constitution, laws, bylaws and statutes must be made to align with the spirit of the preamble.
13. Our economic reforms must be Mixed Economy in philosophy, driven by competitiveness and productivity of the private and public sectors, observant of national food security, operating in standards acceptable in the developed world, with a lowest-rate, broadest-based tax system that allows to government to provide quality services and infrastructure that will permit rapid, sustainable macro-economic growth, with target unemployment below 6%, inflation below 1.5%, average interest rates of 6.25%. We must create the conditions necessary to engage our developed- country allies in debt-for-education and debt-for-nature swaps, as part of our debt rationalization plan to reduce nation debt consistently year-to-year until it is below 50% of GDP within 10- 15 years.
14. Our political reforms must give us separation of powers through an elected Senate, and a purely professional executive Cabinet, and elected representatives as legislators in the House of Representatives. It must tighten the conditions and circumstances under which ministerial discretion can be used, and significantly increase the penalties for breach. We must modernize electoral laws to increase democratic participation of the people, eliminating bribery in the electoral process. Modern campaign finance laws must be enacted. The Public Accounts Committee, the Auditor General offices, and Elections and Boundaries offices must be appropriately resourced, and laws governing their terms of reference, reward and punishment, updated to function efficiently and effectively on behalf of the people.
To ask questions or offer comments/suggestions go to:
1. Belize Independent Sovereign facebook page, LIKE and comment or inbox
2. Send email to [email protected]
3. Call 620 3535
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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