Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2019. 12:04 pm CST.
By Delroy Cuthkelvin:Uncertainty is the mood across the nation as Belizeans endure what is (or was to be) our last weekend before taking to the polls to answer that crucial question, whether or not to go to the ICJ to settle the age old Guatemalan Claim.
It’s no easy question, and the journey towards arriving at a decision has been anything but simple; nothing remotely close to the Red and Blue choice that traditionally dominates our political landscape and our elections.
By nature, when faced with difficult and complicated decisions, people and communities generally look to their leaders for guidance. But such guidance has not been entirely forthcoming in this instance; understandably so, as this is one of those uniquely sacred matters on which each and every citizen is called upon to make a personal decision about the very existence of one’s beloved country and homeland.
Some leaders have struggled to maintain that delicate balance between advancing their own informed position and allowing subordinates and supporters to follow their conscience. Others have vacillated between declaring their personal conviction and capitulating to the instinctive fears of vocal elements within their organization.
Two of the most influential personalities who have been constant in their YES positions are Prime Minister Dean Barrow and former Prime Minister Said Musa. These two are also, arguably, the most prominent political rivals of our time; and their concordance on this critical national issue has evoked some skepticism because, admittedly, it appears inconsistent with the political culture we have grown accustomed to.
For his part, Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno is currently advancing a position of NO. And, that would be entirely understandable within the confines of Belizean politics as we know it. Except that earlier he had clearly and repeatedly expressed a personal conviction in the affirmative (yes), an encouraging sign that, in the context of such an important national issue, the required rise above partisan politics would prevail.
The historic signing of that declaration by former foreign ministers of various political persuasions was, as we described it, an auspicious start to a year that promised to be our most divisive since Independence. But the absence of one former foreign minister, Eamon Courtenay, had cast a troubling spell over what was an otherwise perfect event; an omen, it would turn out, of not so favorable things to come.
Lo and behold, that self-same former foreign minister who, just as the Leader of the Opposition that he legally advises, was on record unequivocally advocating a settlement at the ICJ, has now become the tip of the litigation spear in the battle against that very ICJ proposition, even the holding of a referendum to decide whether to proceed to the world court.
While we await a ruling from the local courts on that matter, we will not undertake to sit in judgement of the Leader of Opposition or his eminent legal adviser. The Holy Book cautions us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1). Thankfully, it is that same book of all books that wisely instructs us, “Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12). We rest our case.
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