Headline — 15 February 2013 — by Miriam Longsworth
Guatemala wants the referendums postponed

Guatemalan president says their required percentage for sparking referendum is “around 25,” while Belize’s is 60 percent. He wants Belize law changed.

Guatemala president Otto Perez Molina is advising Belize to amend its Referendum Act because he believes it serves as a disadvantage for Guatemala in the referendums in Belize and Guatemala, on whether the countries should take Guatemala’s claim on Belize to the International Court of Justice, which are scheduled to take place in October.

Guatemala’s law does not require a minimum percentage of their voting population to participate in a referendum, contrary to Belize’s Referendum Act, which was amended in 2008, that requires that for any referendum to be recognized in Belize, 60 percent of the registered voters must participate.

Guatemalan online newspaper Prensa Libre reported on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, that President Perez Molina said in an interview with The Associated Press in Madrid that Guatemala is not going to spend money on a referendum that they find unreasonable. The president added that Guatemala is asking Belize “to reconsider changes to its law with actual levels of participation.”

President Molina said that the average number of Guatemalan voters in a referendum is around 25 percent of the population.

A group of Guatemalan parliamentarians who call themselves “Bloque de Todos” (Block All) has asked the executive in Guatemala to postpone the October 6 referendum until Belize amends its referendum law.

Prensa Libre reported that the Block All made a statement that “It is necessary that the Government conduct new negotiations because the Belize Act provides that the query will be valid only if you use 60 percent of the population, and previous consultations have only gone from 30 to 35 percent.”

Our reports are that Belize Ambassador to Guatemala, Fred Martinez, was not aware of any of the issues reported. Amandala spoke to CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexis Rosado, who said that he was also unaware of the reports.

Rosado said that he is aware that the Guatemalan president has instructed his people to proceed with the referendum.

“At the end of the day, we mind our business, and they mind theirs,” he said. “People will always try to disrupt the process. We need to remember that the media does not speak for the people. When we hear from the government directly, then we will have something to consider, but until then, we have no reason to discontinue the process,” said Rosado.

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