Features — 19 October 2012 — by Adele Ramos

Despite flared border tensions between the parties, high-ranking officials from Belize and Guatemala are due to meet next week to launch a major fundraising effort to amass the millions of dollars programmed to finance public education campaigns to precede the October 2013 simultaneous referenda on whether the territorial differendum between Belize and Guatemala should be adjudicated at the International Court of Justice.

Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington is expected to head the Belize delegation.

Chief Executive Officer in the Belize Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexis Rosado told Amandala Tuesday that the Government of Belize has been expecting a courtesy call from President Molina ever since he took office earlier this year, but it has not materialized due to scheduling conflicts. The last confirmed date was October 5, incidentally, one day after the controversial shooting that claimed the life of an illegal Guatemalan laborer found several miles inside Belize, but Belize was advised again that due to scheduling conflicts, President Molina could not come to Belize.

Meanwhile, said Rosado, a prearranged meeting between the parties, to be held in Guatemala City next week, is still on, and the main item on the agenda is kick-starting the ICJ public education campaign. Rosado said the Guatemala meeting had been planned since September.

Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, Alfredo Martinez, told our newspaper that the October 22 meeting will also engage “the Group of Friends” (GOFs) of the Organization of American States (OAS) process.

According to Martinez, “the meeting of the GOFs should have been held in New York on the margins of the General Assembly of the UN, but due to scheduling difficulties of most delegations arising from the already packed agenda, it proved difficult to convene at the appropriate level of representation that was desired.”

This is why, the ambassador said, the decision was taken to convene the meeting in Guatemala City, where most countries of the GOFs have diplomatic missions.

Belize and Guatemala are due to present to the countries of the GOFs, plus other potential donors, the need for international financial support for the budgets of both Belize and of Guatemala for the public education campaigns to be launched by both countries early next year, Ambassador Martinez informed.

“Hence both Belize and Guatemala will be presenting their respective plans and accompanying budgets and launching the ‘fundraising.’ That is the only item on the agenda,” the Ambassador said.

He added that the Secretary-General of the OAS José Miguel Insulza has committed himself to be present to highlight the importance of the exercise.

Meanwhile, Guatemalan media reports have indicated that the recent border flare-up should be high on the agenda.

As far as we are aware, the Guatemalans have not affirmed the obvious remedy for the confrontations—that Guatemalans refrain from illegal activities in what is clearly Belizean territory and from attacking Belizean security forces, or suffer the consequences.

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