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The eastward drift by Guatemala

LettersThe eastward drift by Guatemala

Major Lloyd Jones writes Hon. Wilfred Elrington on Guatemala: He advises “containment,” not “appeasement”

Major Lloyd Jones (Ret’d)

PO Box 1132
Belize City

Open letter: The eastward drift by Guatemala

October 24, 2012
Hon. Wilfred Peter Elrington
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Attorney General’s Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2nd Floor NEMO Building
Dear Hon. Minister,

I write to express my concern (as a citizen of Belize) regarding what appears to be a relentless eastward drift by Guatemala into Belizean territory.

The recent shooting of Francisco Quinn Yat, though regrettable, is a reminder of the abject failure of Guatemala to dissuade its citizens from encroaching into our territory. I bring to your kind attention Clause 9 (f) of the Confidence Building Measures, which places an explicit obligation on Guatemala to do its part to ensure that its citizens do not establish settlements in our territory.

Though one may be inclined to argue that there are no Guatemalan settlements in our territory, it is impossible to establish settlements without illegal incursions. The current situation, in my view, if left unchecked, will lead to such illegal settlements and therefore we must be proactive.

It is my humble view that Guatemala has employed a policy of coercive diplomacy in relation to Belize, and that policy is bolstered by a strategy that actively supports the silent invasion of Belize through incursions and naturalization. If this strategy is not countered effectively, Belize runs the risk of harm from within.

I therefore take this opportunity to respectfully offer the following suggestions:

Belize should request that Guatemala submit a plan as to how it intends to dissuade its citizens from illegally entering our territory.

Belize should initiate a claim at the ICJ against Guatemala for reparations relating to the loss of our natural resources that have occurred as a result of their failure to effectively prevent these incursions.

Belize must redouble its diplomatic efforts in order to bring pressure on Guatemala to do more to prevent incursion into our territory, even if this means a rethink of our strategic alliances.

The Government must execute a policy shift from appeasement to one of containment. This must be accompanied by a clear immigration policy, especially as it relates to the naturalization of Guatemalans.

The BDF must be refocused on its primary duty (defence of Belize) and a phased withdrawal from “police duties” should commence January 2013 and be completed within twelve months.

A conscientious effort must be made to grow the defense budget sufficiently to see it doubled over the next 10 years.

I am sure that you will agree that the primary duty of the Government of Belize is to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, in the current circumstances Belize cannot boast of having preserved her territorial integrity and, in the high stakes game of statehood, any loss of territorial integrity is a loss of sovereignty.

Major Lloyd Jones (R)

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