Guatemala’s Christmas gift for Belize arrived on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, four days before Christmas. It was a set of Guatemalan fisheries regulations, complete with a map, giving Guatemalans the right to enter and plunder waters above the Sarstoon River which have been Belize’s territorial waters from the time of the 1859 Treaty between Great Britain and Guatemala.
How the gift was delivered is not clear. Belize’s electronic media broke the news on Wednesday, but two of the most important Belizean officials where Belize-Guatemala relations are concerned, Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington and Brigadier-General David Jones, claim not to be aware of the “new” Guatemalan fisheries regulations. (NOTE: Subsequent to writing this editorial, we have been informed that these regulations supposedly date from 2005.) When informed of the regulations and the map, General Jones, the commanding officer of Belize’s army, expressed immediate, noticeable concern, but Foreign Minister Elrington, as is his wont, was practically blasé.
Anybody who knows Belize knows that Christmas is a time of the year when Belizeans are completely distracted and are not interested in matters of state. Perhaps the Foreign Minister was only expressing the seasonal nonchalance, but what we are looking at here, when we look at the “new” fisheries regulations and map published by Guatemala, is the most disrespectful act of aggression by the Guatemalans in our lifetime. We consider it their most disrespectful act of aggression because it was apparently done with willful, cold-blooded, and deliberate intent. In the streets, it would be the equivalent of someone saying to you, “F—k you!”
There are fifth columnists in Belize. There is no doubt about that. In the 1950s, such Belizeans were paid directly by Guatemalan officials, but it is the case today that the game involved with the Chiquibul and the Sarstoon is being orchestrated from Washington and the so-called “Friends of Belize.” What Washington and the Friends of Belize are pushing is this: Belize, go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Unlike some of our patriotic Belizean friends, this newspaper has never rejected the ICJ option outright. We consider such an option to be a last resort. We do not believe the ICJ is a desirable option for Belize, because we are a sovereign, independent nation-state, so declared on September 21, 1981, with 8,867 square miles of territory, and we are recognized members of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the British Commonwealth of Nations. We believe Belize would have a very strong case at the ICJ, but our historical analysis of Guatemala’s arrogant, racist behavior leads us to believe that their ruling classes will never abide by any ICJ ruling they consider favorable to Belize. The Guatemalan claim to Belize is an anachronistic issue which should be settled between the Guatemalans and Great Britain.
“Should,” however, is not a word which is relevant in international relations. The relevant word in international relations is “real.” The “real” of this Guatemala-Belize situation is that Guatemala is much larger and more militarily powerful than Belize, and the Guatemalans mean that their might must give them right. In this view, they are supported by the State Department of the United States of America in the pursuance of American business and strategic interests.
Following the 1968 rejection by Belizeans of the Seventeen Proposals, which were suggestions by an American mediator/attorney for the settlement of the dispute between Great Britain and Guatemala over British Honduras, the drive toward Belizean independence stalled. The drive toward Belizean independence stalled because the British and the Americans wanted Belize to cede land to Guatemala to settle the claim, and Belizeans refused.
Belize achieved independence in 1981 because the Cubans had proven in Angola in 1976 that they were willing and able to fight racism, colonialism and imperialism in the international arena, and the Cubans were totally in support of Belizean independence, because Guatemala had been disgraced as a genocidal state both regionally and internationally because of their civil war, and because Panama’s General Omar Torrijos destroyed the unanimity in Central American support for the Guatemalans.
Since the end of their civil war in 1996, the Guatemalans have worked hard to clean up their regional and international image, and they have been so successful in doing that that they have renewed their claim to Belize and have been steadily increasing their level of aggression, both civilian and military, over the last decade.
At this newspaper, we see the Guatemalan power structure as American surrogates, and we view acts of Guatemalan aggression against Belize as trial balloons which are permitted by the American State Department. Under the Donald Trump presidency, which begins next month, Guatemala, like Israel, will become an even more favored ally of the United States. This will be bad news for Belize.
Toledo, beloved, is the richest part of Belize. If we lose any of Toledo, we lose our future. That is what the Guatemalans are seeking to take away from us – our future. That is what the Spanish invasion from the Yucatan in 1798 was trying to take away from us – our future.
Because of religious reasons, Belizeans have been refusing to examine what Israel has done to the Palestinian people. Guatemala was Israel’s first and most militant ally at the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. The Guatemalans intend to do to Belizeans what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians. Guatemalan officials have been travelling to Israel to study the blueprint Israel used for their settlements in Palestinian territory.
Belizeans love Christmas. Belizeans love America. Belizeans love Israel. But, the Guatemalans don’t love Belizeans. That is why they sent us this week’s Christmas gift. Those with eyes to see, let them see.
Power to the people.