Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2019. 7:52 pm 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
Belize is travelling through some uncharted waters in its legal and political history. Yesterday, was again an important moment in our politicolegal history and in our history as a naton in general. Again the unfortunate declaration of our Prime Minister, yesterday, is very dangerous for the state of affairs because the government is trying to push its agenda against all odds and is frankly commiting intromission into the Judiciary. However, the resolution from the Court of Appeal yesterday is this time a message from the Court of Appeal telling the government that the due process must always be observed. Kudos to the Court of Appeal!
This is the fundamental principle on certainty in law. You decrease the chance for legal challenges when you do the due process. The Prime Minister with his ego and temper tantrum can create his own political apocalypse and add more negativity to his actual retrograde political legacy. They knowing that a temporary injunction was granted was sufficient reason to use other strategies. The most prudent political measure should have been to inform the nation and the Election and Boundaries Commission that the referendum was postponed until a better, feasible and cleared date. How could a government host one of the most important referendums in Belize’s history under a climate of uncertainty? Even saying the cynicism of having the referendum and announcing the results on a later date as practiced in some African countries. Some of us have African decscent but we don’t live in any African country so such practice is alienated from us. Now, part of the logistics must be to consider the rainy and hurricane season but that is price for not heeding free advice at the right. Does this government have assessors? If they would have postponed the referendum after the injunction filing was accepted at least, since they didn’t want to do before, would have been a political gain. We all need to know the following: WE ARE NOT GOING TO THE ICJ FOR A SACK OF DIAMONDS NEITHER WILL A RESOLUTION FROM THE ICJ END THIS CLAIM. TAKE THAT OUT OF YOUR MINDS. IT WILL ONLY COMPLICATE THE SITUATION. Art. 19 Transitory in Guatemala’s Constitution will be the source for future challenges at their Constitutional Court. Which I have referred to over and over again. This is not fear mongering. I have no conflict of interest nor other reasons to fear monger anyone. Ideally, we would need to form a new team with connoisseurs of political science, politics, constitutional and international public laws, history, international relations, Guatemalan Affairs, economics, international trade, and ethnosociology and renegotiate with Guatemala as an independent nation with the safety and integrity of our future generations at heart. There is a saying in Spanish and I quote “Errar es de humanos y de rectificar es de sabios” To err is human but to rectify is of the wise. There is no sign that this government would listen. Since, January we had been asking the Prime Minister for a moratorium to get the things right. His answer, instead, was only a natural disaster would have stopped the referendum. It wasn’t a natural disaster, rather, the rule of law, the due process or the observance of the legal procedure. In politics, only despots are not humble because they lead a militaristic or militarized state.
Ever since, 1992 the agreements with Guatemala have been unconstitutional. Also, embassies are between States and a State must have borders, so any State who have an embassy here without any defined borders as they pretend with the Adjacency Zone would be Defacto embassies; Guatemala’s inclusive. So if Guatemala doesn’t recognize our borders, their ambassador here won’t be an ambassador rather a business representative or any other fancy word less an ambassador. From what I know, Guatemala calls it la Embajada de Guatemala en Belice and it is referred to here as the Embassy of Guatemala. So how could the international community be tolerant of taking our boundary to the ICJ when they themselves as part of the United Nations established our borders, delimiting our State and making us an integrated nation?
This government have had many instances of challenging legal dispositions and have failed and at a cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars. The one yesterday is the most recent example. How can you appeal an injunction resolution, even though temporarry, when you know you have to wait at least 21 days after the resolution to do so? They thought it is Judgement Day. APRIL 10th IS NOT JUDGEMENT DAY RATHER IT COULD BE THE BEGINNING OF A POLITICAL APOCALYPSE. The IQ of these guys can’t be that low and their arrogance that high!
It is imperative to emphasize that Judicial resolutions in democractic countries are to be obeyed. It is the essence of a check and balance system. In despotic and fascist states, the judiciary functions as a total coercer and to the interest of government and the state. But in democracies, no. Judicial dispositions are obeyed or complied with are the basic principles that lawyers and political scientist learn in law classes at the university. There is a saying in law classes in Spanish that says “FALLOS JUDICIALES NO SE DSCUTEN. SE ACATAN.” You may not agree with the resolution but you have to respect it, obey it, and comply with it. This is especially so for politicians in office in virtue that they should show the examples, that they take the Oath of Allegiance, and that they have the innate quality to abuse their powers. It cuts their wings because some tend to fly high because of that innate quality to abuse power or to usurpate of functions. Hence, I always say you don’t give any government more than 2 terms. During the second term, they get the perception that your are their animals on their farm with all that entails.
If one doesn’t agree with the resolution, there are appeals. However, the due process must be followed. When politicians don’t comply with or obey judicial resolutions they could be declared in disobedience to the law or contempt of court and could be asked to vacate their post and more so when the law violated is of constitutional nature. In such a case, for example, the Governor General as Head of State, in representation of Her Majesty the Queen, would have no other option but to revoke the appointment in this case of the Prime Minister and would dissolve the National Assembly and call for GENERAL ELECTIONS.
So the Prime Minister’s caprichosness and/or temper tantrum could cause him even his seat and his investiture or appointment and in that case his shot would have backfired. I wrote about this in my article “Party Leadership and Prime Ministership” right here on BBN. According to our Constitutio in Art. 37 paragraphs (1 & 2) and I quote ”
(1) There shall be a Prime Minister who shall be appointed by the Governor General.
(2) Whenever the Governor-General has occasion to appoint a Prime Minister he shall appoint a member of the House of Representatives who is the leader of the political party which commands the support of the majority of the members of that House; and if no political party has an overall majority, he shall appoint a member of that House who appears to him likely to command the support of the majority of the members of that House.
I would recommend that both paragraphs of this article be ammended as soon as possible, but most likely by the next government. An amendment that will give us as voters our full sovereignty and make our choices be constitutional. Right now, the way our Constitution is, the tortilla can be turned over in the House and it would be constitutional because our practice in this respective, that is the election of our Prime Minister, is customary and not necessarily constitutional.
So if the Governor General appoints the Prime Minister, he can also revoke his appointment or mandate. and be stripped of his investiture. The Prime Minister can argue that he was elected but he was not necessarily elected to become Prime Minister of Belize because according to our Constitution being the Party Leader doesn’t automatically transpose to prime ministership. He was elected as a Representative of his constituency and became Prime Minister as of appointment while in the House. Let me break this down, we have had this customary practice that political parties elect their party leader and base on tradition that person automatically becomes the Prime Minister of Belize. But Art. 37 (1 & 2) of our Constitution says “da no so this thing go”. Such practice has been unconstitutional but never challenged. According to our Constitution, it is the Governor General to appoint the Prime minister. But it has never been that way since Independence. So we have had the practice and in our minds that whichever party leader wins he automatically becomes P.M. and I say he because only males have had that post but female party leaders are springing up so we will soon say he or she. We should start to obey our Constitution. Ironically, not even the Governor General carries our his investiture as stipulated by our Constitution. Every Belizean should have a copy of our Constitution whether electronic or physical. A Constitution in its wording and use isn’t exclusive for lawyers, politicians, nor political scientists. It is written for and for the use of every citizen. If both Belizeans and Guatemalans would have respected their respective Constitutions. There would be no attempt to have a referendum in Belize and Guatemala’s referendum wouldn’t have been with different questions considering that it is their Constitution that talks about a referendum to solve their claim not our Constitution. If our government doesn’t change his mind on a referendum but we should force them to, there is a change for a referendum in the next months but the government has to be careful otherwise it could be a call for General Elections, instead.
Don’t let us try to be heroes, the yesers, thinking that the ICJ resolution would be binding. Under the present curcumstances, it could be never be binding because the case that we would put in front of them wouldn’t be of Human Rights nature rather a territorial dispute and with Guatemala’s actual Constitution with Art. 19 Transitory, an ICJ resolution would surely be challenged at their Constitutional Court whatever it may be. That is the idiosyncrasy of their lawyers and legal institutions. As a matter of fact, their Referendum Act was also challenged at their Constitutional Court but the court ruled in favor of the government which many of their lawyers said was unconstitutional but that their court could have been pressured by their government, other sectors of interest or the international community. Here in Belize, let us do this the right way.
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