This is the British response to Guatemala’s referendum vote to go to the ICJ, yes the same British that caused this mess with Guatemala in the first place:
1. “The United Kingdom has welcomed the result of April 15 referendum on taking Guatemala’s territorial, maritime and insular dispute with Belize to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. We also congratulate the people of Guatemala for participating and demonstrating their commitment to democratic values. Through debate, discussion and deliberations, they confirmed that the ICJ route is the best way to resolve any differences. The British Government supports this process as the route agreed upon jointly by Guatemala and Belize”, said UK ambassador to Guatemala Carolyn Davidson.
2. ‘We encourage the government of Belize to hold their referendum soon to maintain the momentum towards a lasting and peaceful solution to this dispute. Legal certainty between the two countries will boost peace, investment and social development,” the ambassador further said. Ambassador Davidson said the UK and Guatemala share a strong partnership based on a commitment to shared democratic ideals, human rights, and economic prosperity, adding that, “The United Kingdom reiterates its support for both countries in their efforts to make progress toward peace and effective implementation of confidence building measures’.
3. For those who always believed that the British had our back, the message cannot be clearer than this. Great Britain will never abandon their Guatemalan support because they have more capital invested in Guatemala than in the entire country of Belize, ten times over. If we continue to lead with the age-old thought that Guatemala is a measly Third World banana republic, we need to start thinking again. Guatemala is a powerhouse internationally and a highly respected authority in Central and Latin America. Guatemala ensured years ago that it did its homework right in addressing this unfounded claim. While our leadership was sleeping at the wheels, Guatemala ensured that it took possession of the Sarstoon both literally, militarily and in the eyes of the international community. Additionally it ensured that it played the victim to a country with a far smaller and less powerful military than its own, by actively encouraging its citizens to the west and south to occupy Belizean territory, whereby increasing the potential for conflict with Belizean security forces. Furthermore, they had no reservations about allowing a healthy portion of their population to illegally migrate to Belize, forming a strong diaspora community with the same country it has a claim over. Trust me when I say that this was strategic and planned. Now the nail in the coffin is the pressure that is placed on Belize to also agree to the ICJ since Guatemala has already done it. In the eyes of the international community Guatemala is the country that has taken the first step to end this conflict peacefully. Talk about playing their hands right.
4. Belizeans should feel no pressure about taking this to the ICJ because when faced with similar territorial claims, the UN Security Council which is comprised of the US, Britain, Russia, China and France did absolutely nothing when placed in the same position. These would be the same countries that would have to enforce any ruling of the ICJ. Did the British opt to go to the ICJ when Argentina invaded the Falklands Islands? No, Margaret Thatcher sent a British armada 8000 miles to retake the islands. In 2014 when tension rose in Crimea, Putin simply sent in troops and annexed it to Russia. There was not a single mention of negotiation or going to any ICJ. China’s territorial dispute with Taiwan will never reach not even the steps of the ICJ, since the Chinese have threatened that should Taiwan ever declare independence, they will simply cross the straits and take over. The US also shares a number of small territorial disputes with its neighbor to the north, Canada. No ICJ here either. France, on the other hand, has 14 outstanding territorial disputes, none of which, I am sure, will ever see the light of day of the ICJ. So tell me why should Belize opt to go down this road? What a lot of us fail to realize is that there is no appealing if we lose and if the diplomatic game is any indication of what will happen at the ICJ, then those in the south better start applying for their Cedulas. Make no mistake, Guatemala will not come out empty-handed from the ICJ because it has invested too much in its plans to get some of Belize.
It’s all about the people!!!!
Neri O. Briceño