Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019. 9:19 am CST.
By BBN Staff: On March 3, the United Garifuna Association (UGA) that represents the Garifuna community in Saint Vincent, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the United States issued a statement calling out the National Garifuna Council in Belize (NGC) for telling its members to vote their conscience in the upcoming April 10th referendum.
The association lists reasons and risks that the Garifuna people will undertake if they decide to vote ‘Yes’ to take Guatemala’s claim on Belize’s territory to the International Court of Justice for final resolution:
1-Our people were given permission in the southern part of Belize to live by the British in 1801, at a time when Great Britain leased this area from Spain.
2-If a war had broken out between these two colonial powers over this disputed territory, we would have been the people to suffer the consequences of the conflict.
3-Our Garifuna people have been living in this area before all the countries including Guatemala gained their independence from Spain in 1821.
4-Also, prior to Belize becoming a colony in 1862 and an independent nation on September the 21st 1981.
5-We developed all the communities where we reside today in Belize and Central America, without support from Spain, Great Britain, the government of Belize and the Central American countries. As an autonomous nation of people, after we were removed from our homeland “Yurumein” now known as Saint Vincent & The Grenadines in 1796.
7-We have always considered the southern part of Belize where we reside to be our homeland and International Law and Treaties support these rights.
8-Our people cannot afford to take the risk to agree to take the Guatemalan claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to determine what has already been determined by us centuries ago.
“If our people vote YES to take this grave risk to go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with this Guatemalan dispute and the ICJ vote in favor of Guatemala, we can lose all of our lands, properties and our nationality from Belizeans to Guatemalan citizens,” the association asserts.
The association further encourages all Garifuna people in Belize to vote ‘NO’ to taking this dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final resolution.
The association says that it hopes the NGC reconsiders their position and the Garifuna vote ‘No’ to taking the claim to the ICJ.
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