Features — 05 March 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie

BELIZE CITY, Tues., Mar. 1, 2016–At a press conference today at the headquarters of the Belize Progressive Party (BPP), Patrick Rogers, Party Leader, said that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) may not be the best means to solve the Belize-Guatemala dispute, for fear that Belize may have to give up land. The United Nations (UN) Security Council would be a better option, Roger said, since any settlement by the UN Security Council would be done with our “territorial integrity” remaining intact.

Rogers spoke at a BPP press conference today which listed the party’s accomplishments since the establishment of the party on October 1, 2015.

Wil Maheia, BPP Deputy Leader said, “We want to make sure that we do not lose a square centimeter or a blade of grass.” Maheia went on, “It is getting worse; it is not getting better.” For example, he said, “There are more Guatemalan fishermen within Belizean waters.” Belizeans are unable to traverse the Sarstoon River and as Belizeans we should be able to move freely in our country, Maheia said.

Mr. Rogers said, “We have been calling for the compromis which was signed in December 2008 to go to the Senate so that people can input and say let’s amend this clause so that we allow the judges of the ICJ the option of ruling monetary compensation in the event Belize loses.” Rogers further stated that the way the treaty stands now, it only allows for the ICJ to compensate Guatemala with land in the event Belize loses.

Rogers spoke of the many atrocities committed by the Guatemalans in our territory, referring particularly to the Sarstoon area. Rogers said that we are being “aggressed” by the Guatemalans while our government stands back and does nothing.

Rogers added, “This is way bigger than party politics…..this is about saving this country before we lose it and we are in the act of losing it as we speak.”

Over 15 years Guatemala has increased its presence in the Sarstoon to the point where even “Belizeans have learned to respect them (Guatemalan military) as the authority since they do not see our (Belize Defence Force) BDF patrolling that area,” Rogers said.

Also at the press conference, the BPP established their headquarters at 63 Vernon Street and signed a ten year lease to the property, which belongs to Patrick Roger’s family
Paco Smith, Chairman of the BPP, said, “The BPP is no ‘fly by night’ entity, we are here to stay…and we remain engaged, in tune and open to liaise with the community.”

To that, Rogers said that they are a national party and are currently putting in place the infrastructure of the party. As such, they will be publishing a monthly newspaper and opening an online radio station.


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