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Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2018. 8:51 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Yesterday, Belizean journalists met with Gerardo Ortiz, Public Relations Director at the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (Elections and Boundaries)in Guatemala City.

Ortiz shared the process used by the Guatemalan Government and the Elections Department leading up to their national referendum that was held on April 15, 2018.

Ortiz told us that their government did not engage in a sustained‘Yes’ or ‘No’ campaign but rather encouraged Guatemalans to participate,“Members of the society did host their campaign in favor of a ‘Yes’ vote. In this case, the Government informed about the topic and invited the residents to participate in the referendum.”

He also informed that in Guatemala, there wasn’t an organized campaign within members of the society for a ‘No’ vote.

According to Ortiz, their offices organized mobile booths around Guatemala to facilitate the registration of voters and encouraged them to register so that they could participate in the referendum.

Ortiz said that the referendum on Guatemala’s claim to Belize has been the one of most importance to Guatemalans, compared to the other 2previous referendums because it had the most participation of Guatemalans which is 26% of their electorate. Guatemala’s two previous referendums were held in1994 and 1999 respectively and both asked questions relating to changes in Guatemala’s legislative body and constitution. Until April 2018, their record voter turnout for their referendums was 18%.

Researchers from the Investigation and Social Studies association(ASIES) in Guatemala explained to us that they were only expecting a 15%turnout for the referendum, therefore, the 26% surpassed their expectations signaling that Guatemalans want to resolve the territorial dispute with Belize in a peaceful and juridical way.

The ASIES association was one of the main drivers of the ‘YES’ campaign in Guatemala encouraging Guatemalans to vote in favor of finding a final solution to the claim.

 

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