People are saying that the Sarstoon incidents are just the beginning of the breaking up of Belize as we know it. That the government of Belize pushing for the International Court of Justice is a clear indication of this. People are suspecting a deal between the leaders of Guatemala and Belize.
The argument being circulated is that the ICJ never declares 100% for the winner and will look for a way to appease the loser. Government wants a yes vote but is not stating clearly what is being sought and what is to be expected. Stating that a no vote would mean losing our international support is bull.
Why go to the ICJ? What is being asked of the ICJ? This is what scares most of us. Going to the ICJ is not the problem, but the reason for going could be. If the International court is being asked to state whether Guatemala has a valid claim to Belize or part thereof, then we have a very good chance of winning.
Contrary to what is being said, the claim did not start in 1859. It started in the 1940’s as a consequence of the fear of communism. Ask any Guatemala expert to tell you when and in which of their many constitutions was Belize included first. Certainly, it was not the first when they became independent.
On the other hand, if the ICJ is being asked to clarify our borders, then that is asking for the partition of Belize. Our borders have been clear since before 1859 and were accepted as such by all, including Guatemala.
The 1859 Treaty is a like an agreement between two neighbours when building a fence. The pegs are already there. It only needs to establish who will give the materials and who will supply the labour. In this case, both countries agreed and started the job. So why go to the ICJ? Our borders have been accepted by the United Nations and there is no reason to go to court unless you want to take over more land or you want to give up land.
Think of this as a squatter’s problem. As it is now, the ICJ would be at pains to give something to the Guats, as Belize has a tight case against the claim. So it appears the Belize government is neglecting to exercise its sovereign rights in the south and Guatemala is slowly encroaching and occupying it.
This situation strongly favours Guatemala when going to the ICJ.
As to the maritime situation, regardless of a three-mile or twelve-mile limit, it is something to be discussed and agreed upon by Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
Clearly, a yes vote to go to the International Court of Justice would make us lose both territory and international support for being FOOLS – not crazy.
(Dimas D. Sansorez, a past employee and Councillor/Deputy Mayor of Corozal Town, at present retired.)