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A National Assembly united will pass revised Maritime Areas Act on Monday and Tuesday

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2019. 12:52 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The People’s United Party (PUP) has indicated that, following a parliamentary caucus meeting on Friday, it will lend its support to the planned amendment to the Maritime Areas Act, to be introduced in a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives on Monday and the Senate on Tuesday.

Leader John Briceño noted that such an amendment was one of the demands issued in the “People’s Declaration” advocating for a No vote in the May 8 referendum and before that had proposed amendments in the Senate by Senator Eamon Courtenay – though that effort failed.

“It is the right thing that, it’s not the PUP or the UDP that is going to the ICJ, it is Belize and I think that all of us – political parties, NGO’s, citizens, we have a responsibility to be able to work together on this issue. It’s not about scoring political points but it is about ensuring that we put our best face front that we could put the best case possible to ensure that we protect every single square centimeter of what rightfully belongs to Belize,” Briceño said, echoing the Prime Minister’s words after the referendum.

Briceño noted that the language of the Bill is similar to the Courtenay-introduced Bill.

Attorney General Senator Michael Peyrefitte made note that the 1992 Act was crafted to assist in a potential settlement of the claim after Guatemala’s president Jorge Serrano Elias officially recognized Belize the previous year. As we first reported in February, the Act proposed to set aside territorial waters from Ranguana Caye to the Sarstoon River in negotiation over limits and boundaries between the countries. In Guatemala in 1993, a coup brought in more hard-line elements that reversed the earlier position. The U.D.P. came together with Goldson’s National Alliance for Belizean Rights, which had opposed the Act, and won the 1993 general election, as then-Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel pledged that the Act would be repealed, but it never was.

Now that there is no further negotiation taking place, the Act should be amended to take that sticking point off the table, as both sides agree.

“For years now we’ve realized that there would be no settlement because they would not give an inch and we would not give an inch. With the people voting to go to the I.C.J. in the referendum, it is an appropriate time now for Belize to state clearly what we know to be our boundary and what we want the I.C.J. to enforce,” Peyrefitte told reporters this week.


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