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Belize and Guatemala – can we work it out?

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2019. 3:46 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize has already indicated plans to address the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on provisional measures to halt the Guatemalan advance in the Sarstoon River, the shared southern boundary.

But Prime Minister Dean Barrow indicated that if it is at all possible, he would like to talk it out with the Guats before taking the last step.

“It is my hope that the Guatemalan’s, recognizing that we are now both committed to go to the ICJ and knowing as well as we do that that opens the door to Belize’s ability to apply for provisional measures to deal with the situation at the Sarstoon, which continues to be unacceptable to us, that for that reason the Guatemalan’s might think it best to come to some reasonable understanding so as to obviate the need for us to start the contentious confrontational leading proceedings right at the beginning,” Barrow commented to reporters after Monday’s House meeting.

But is it wishful thinking?   

Belize’s appointed agent at the Court, Ambassador Assad Shoman, has registered his disagreement. While he made note that “in politics anything is possible,” Belize has to watch its back regarding Guatemala, and he said he personally has little hope that Guatemala will “come to its senses.”

The Prime Minister “respectfully disagrees,” and said it was a matter for his Government to decide on and that it has not given up hope of obtaining such an agreement.

 Such an agreement, he said, would be monitored for implementation by the Organization of American States (OAS), similarly to the adjacency zone implemented at the western border, and scrutinized by the U.S. armed forces’ Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in the interest of “holding the balance” as the “big boys on the block.”

 

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