My thoughts on International Women’s Day.
March 8, 2019
Belize celebrates International Women’s Day
March 8, 2019

Our Territory; Not The People

Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019. 8:39 am CST.

Posted: Friday,March 8,2019. 8:21 a.m. CST.

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

By: Dr. Gerald Zuniga, Political Science Studies, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala,  Universidad Mariano Galvez, Guatemala City

The essence of Guatemala’s claim or interest over Belize is more than clear. At least that is what the Constituents made clear. It is in their Constitution. It is in the third paragraph of Art. 19 Transitory and I quote “Para los efectos de nacionalidad, los beliceños de origen quedan sujetos al regimen que esta Constitution establece para los originarios de los paises centroamericanos.” Now I translate it into English, it states that for the purposes of nationality, Belizeans by birth are subjected to the regime that this Constitution establish in regards to those born in the Central American countries.

It is clear that the Guatemalan Constitution does not consider Belizeans as Guatemalan rather as Central  Americans and that is also the way it is in practice because we enter their country with a permit or passport. When your 90 days is up, you can request an extension or eventually apply for a tourist visa or student visa. At San Carlos University, you as a Central American will pay far higher than what a native Guatemalan pays.  La Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala is the only state or public university in Guatemala to date. The rest are private . This happened in 1992 after Expresident Jorge Serrano Ellias recognized the independent status of Belize. Before Belizeans used to pay like the Guatemalans. There weren’t many Belizeans studying in Guatemala anyway. One of the biggest influx was the group of 1987 and 1988. However, Guatemala continues to be an option for tertiary education for  Belizeans and the Spanish language should not scare you ratger the interest to learn it and learn it fast. I remembered my time at  Med School. In our first week of classes , we had  exams with 60 questions in 60 minutes. Every thing was in Spanish; classes and exams. We had exam every Friday during the first three years. Guatemalan universities and the people welcome Belizeans. Giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Their education system is not based on degrees per se rather on a profession or career from your first day at university. They don’t have bachelors in mathematics and major in this, type of nonsense. You want to become an engineer. You get engineering from day one and for 5 years whether you study morning, afternoon, or night. You want to become a medical doctor. You get clinical science from day one and for 6 long years plus the seventh year to prepare and present your dissertation if you want to graduate fast. And I said long years because from day one you enter university at 7:30/8:00a.m. and leave after 4p.m. for the first 3 years and from 7:00a.m. to 5p.m.with 24hrs shift every 3-4days from your 4th year to the 6th year. So every 3-4days depending on which hospital you are training at which you start in your 4th year, when you leave home to enter hospital at 7:00a.m. you left hospital until the following day around 4-5p.m. This is the routine for the next 3 years of your life but you get the necessary academic and clinical exposure. This is with real life situation not with models or dummies. Dummies could and will never substitute a human being. Each human being is different just one of the many aspects of our differences. So you go directly into the matter. No bachelors in biology with major in this, type of nonsense. Kudos to my almamater the more than three hundred years old San Carlos University of Guatemala. Kudos also to my almamater Mariano Galvez University. I mentioned this because there are many here in Belize especially with this ICJ issue that they say Guatemalan this or Guatemala that but they haven’t even lived among Guatemalans neither visited less lived in Guatemala. Just the usage of words because they have no grounds for their appraisal of Guatemala nor the Guatemalans neither subjective less objectively.

I strayed away from my topic but I considered it impirtant to make those clarifications. Now, what is that the Constituents, that is, those who wrote Guatemala’s Constitution want. Based on what is written in their Constitution, it seems like their interest is territory whether it be maritime, insular, or mainland. I said so,  because the sector, which is mainly the oligarch (a few families) and a hard line faction of the military are the ones pushing on the claim. If you observe, not all of Guatemala’s governments push the claim and this has been so for hundreds of years. Some governments have been hostile to Belize while other have been Belize friendly. Even Carlos and Jimmy Mirales consider Belize a friend, his government has been one of the most hostile to Belize in recent years. It reflects in the Sarstoon River. He is the Commandant General of the Guatemalan military as stated in their Constitution .So the behaviour of the military on the Sarstoon River is his instruction. The military in the Sarstoon obeys orders. Not allowing neither a minister of government to traverse the river freely should be protested vehemently. That is gross agression and violates international public laws, norms, and practicesand good relation between neighbours.  Morales can also remove the military from there if and when he wants. But Morales and his government have been captured  and controlled by a hard line faction of the military  and the economically powerful referred to as  CACIF. The military in Guatemala just don’t want the civilian of Guatemala to govern freely eventhoug they are democratically elected in a free election. This is since 2984 when they established a new state and government and many years of and traditions of coups d’ etat. These groups are the ones pushing and even violating intetnational public law in regards to  boundaries, occupying the Sarstoon River. This is not the Guatemalan people as whole. Proof if it, only 26.65% voted in their referendum. I remembered when some of my classmates used to say in our political science career class that  what the use of claiming Belize when if we would be granted land, that the land would be granted, bought, or possessed by the oligarch who already own, administer, control, etc  the vast majority of their land. This was a contributing factor to their 36 years of civil unrest and I can’t used the word war because their Congress never declared a war in its legal sense. Nevertheless, they the military battled with different factions of guerillas for 36 long years with all kind of atrocities which haven’t been healed to date. Ironically, the native people because I don’t like to use the word indigenous to refer to people because II believe that only plants are indigenous. Neither, I consider it right to use the word Indians because we have a lot compatriots living here in Belize who are Indians with pride to whom using East Indian make no sense. So human beings are nomads by nature. They move from places to places. More so,  when their needs are not met or satisfied in one place. Hence, the natural reason why migration, emigration, and immigration happen and impossible to stop. Only control and yet to some extent. So most of these native people of Guatemala especiay in the Departments of Quiche, Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez, Huehuetenango, and San Marcos were displaced leaving their land and properties. Some left to areas like Oaxaca, Tabasco, and Chiapas in Mexico and most displaced with the country like in cities and towns with all its socioeconomic impacts. Everything they owned changed and in a large extend ended up been by those you already own land. Government then bought back those lands to share to these native people in the repatriation phase of the Peace Agreement with the guerillas signed in December 1996.  Only to make the wealth of those who already have higher. Creating big pressure on land ownership. This, however, has nothing to do with the incursions in the Chiquibul because if land would be the problem Guatemala has thousands of acres of protected land in what is called The Mayan Biosphere where the legal instrument could be created by their Congress to shate or sell part of the land to their people. There are studies done at various universities in Guatemala that show that most of those doing incursions into Belize are not from the neighboring  departments rather from department like Chiquimula, Coban, and Zacapa. and linked  with illicit activities. Could any resolution from the ICJ stop an incursion? It is would be stupid, naive, and idiotic to think so. It is natural in animals and human beings are no exception to ” jump the fence if the grass is greener.” For example, until when the Mexican economy, security and opportunities are at par with the U.S. there will be no wall that can stop incursions. Only control to a certain extend. They see that the grass is greener on the other side. Now, and an invasion would be totally different. Who in Guatemala would like to invade Belize? It wouldn’t be the mainstream  Guatemalan rather if such would happen it would be carried out by the operatives of the oligarch found in the hard line high ranking military who are there to defend and protect their interest. What is their interest in and about Belize?  Nothing more than to possess as property, pleasure, and exploit riches not for the state of Guatemala but for themselves, to increase their wealth. I am not not saying so. Their Constitution says so. Belizeans are treated as Central Americans and I say less than Central American because Central American can file for a Central American Cedula for free movement within Central American  that Belizeans don’t have access unless they have dual citizenship. So say for example, Belize would allow port access to Guatemala. That port won’t be built by the government of Guatemala. Thanks to the economic practice of privatization. The government would concession the building and even the administration of the port to a private entity or create an autonomous body to administer it?  Who do you think will do so? The same oligarch? Do you think they will allow others? You forget it. Those who have always want more. It will benefit the sane oligarch and their government would get 5% like the way they had concessioned the exploitation of gold in the department of San Marcos where the government was only receiving 1% for years and the private sector received 99% expressed in billions of dollars as the years went by but they eventually increased the percentage still without major benefits to their country. Now the question is did the Guatemalan oligarch captured the negotiating team of Belize. Read all the agreements they signed and draw to your own conclusion. What agreement did they signed that benefits the everyday Guatemalans and Belizeans. Can the everday Guatemalan go to the Ranguana and Sapodilla Cayes? Wouldn’t it be different if they would sign an agreement of like this amount of scholarships to Belizeans or an exchange of students and professors between San Carlos University or others and U.B. Wouldn’t that have been great? They did nothing to please the Belizean at heart neither the Guatemalan at heart but the Guatemalan oligarch. Who since the past decade is also taking over the Belize’s aristocracy. That oligarch of Guatemala is owning or influencing important trade sector here.

Does this have important implication for your voting in the ICJ referendum? The Guatemalan at heart expressed themselves at their referendum which was 74%. Listen Oligarch! Listen hard line military faction! Leave Belize alone! Leave Belize to the Belizeans at heart. Through history we have lived together in peace. The Garinagous in Livingston, Izabal and many Garinagous communities in Belize share  genetic, biological, cultural, historical, social, economic, anthropological lineage and this has been so for hundreds of years. This is also shared by some Ketchis, Mayan Mopan, and Mestizos. It is our responsibility to defend such because the oligarch wants land and maritime access not us as a people. Out negotiators are and were not concerned about us. Ironically, they have Palestinian lineage and that should have been sufficient for them not to perpetuate a secenario like the Palentine and Israel.

God illuminate my fellow Belizeans! Let them make the best decision on April 10th if no natural disaster or the court doesn’t resolve otherwise.


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