These old PUPeez who are saying nay to the ICJ, really ought to check their history. They, the PUP, led us into independence, and they agreed to take over and address Guatemala’s claim. The UDP, minus their NIP faction, came on board for a joint effort somewhere around 1990, and they’ve been on board since.
There are other ideas out there about resolving matters with Guatemala, but after signing the compromise these might be too late.
Ah, I remember well the last days before independence. I was a very young man then, and I was a supporter of Hero Philip Goldson. If I understood it correctly, he was insistent that the British get Guatemala off our backs, before we became independent. He was also for Belize to prepare to defend herself, if it came to that.
I remember one of my mentors in Belmopan, asking me how I felt about independence at the time. I’m pretty sure I told him I was NIP. I’m pretty sure he told me that Father of the Nation was making the right decision. George Price wanted independence really bad.
It didn’t take me long to realize that it was a great decision to become independent. But it hasn’t played out that well on the ground because our leaders are too much about grabbing.
Sedi playing hero
You have to wonder if Foreign Minister Elrington’s chest beating, that he was born fu this, devoted his life, to this, and he entered politics, fu this, is calculated to antagonize the PUP. Everyone knows that it is the PUP that has been in the forefront of the negotiations with Guatemala. Heck, the former PUP boy, Assad Shoman, just wrote a 400-page book on the effort.
It is not impossible that deep inside the UDP there is shame for resisting independence in 1981, and they intend to put as much stamp as is possible on the ICJ move, with the hope that they can say, yes, the PUP led us into independence, but it is the UDP that secured it. Are they so sure of a yes vote that they can scatter the PUP? Is it political games with our territory, intended to secure more victories at the polls for the UDP?
I don’t have the answer to those questions, but as per not being gung ho on independence, there is no shame. Our (NIP) leader (Philip Goldson) had a different path to glory. The NIP Leader was the most trusted man about Guatemala matters in those days. Today, the most trusted leader on Guatemala matters is Assad Shoman. But I get my mentoring from David Gibson, a former ambassador, and from the books of James S. Murphy, another former ambassador.
I really don’t know what is wrong with the UDP. Assad offered to join the ICJ team and they snubbed him. Incredibly, there is no lawyer in the UDP who has the confidence of the Belizean people. It is just impossible, this case that Mr. Elrington defended at the CCJ, and got blown out. When it comes to lawyers and Guatemala, Assad is number one and Eamon is next.
It is not impossible that Assad divorced himself from the political fray, so he would be better able to lead the “team” that must defend Belize. We know he is still very close to former PUP Leader, Said Musa, because when the NTUCB and Mr. Frazer had Musa’s back against the wall, Assad rode in to save him. You can’t blame a man for standing up for his friend.
This ICJ move, this is Assad’s baby. Sedi is just scattering the force when he is up front. He just might be the biggest ticket for Belizeans who say NO to the ICJ. This man wins elections but he doesn’t understand the people. That’s why his government hasn’t substantially improved Belize. On the matter of Guatemala, scare tactics rile up Belizeans, not cower them.
Guatemalan fears of Mexico
In a CIA file dated 13 April 1964, the American agent wrote, responsible members of the government (Guatemala) feel that the territory (Belize) is essential for the development of the Peten, and they also fear that Mexico might absorb Belize, thereby encircling the Peten and possibly precluding its development and even possibly absorbing Peten itself.
It’s kind of hard to see Guat fears of Mexico in 1964, but they had cause for alarm for some years before. This internet story, at /apps.cndls.georgetown.edu/projects/borders/exhibits/show/mexico-guatemala-border, gives some background to Guat paranoia. In 1821, Mexico gained independence from Spain and proclaimed itself an independent empire. Due to Iturbide’s authoritative leadership, the colonists of Guatemala offered to merge the region with the Mexican empire — who administered most of Central America, including Guatemala. In 1823, the First Mexican Empire collapsed with the fall of Iturbide and Guatemala declared its independence and joined the United Provinces of Central America. However, the Chiapas region (which was Guatemala at the time), also asserted its independence from Central America and joined Mexico as a state. In 1838, the union dissolved and Guatemala became an independent nation. [I’m not sure the dates in this piece are precise]
A number of historians have noted that Guatemala had real fears that the British were expanding into the Peten, thus their glee to have the 1859 Treaty signed. Also, we cannot forget their fear of American filibusters.
Guatemala and Honduras go to arbitration in 1930
The following interesting bit is taken from a document at http://legal.un.org/riaa/cases/vol_II/1307-1366
On July 16, 1930, Guatemala and Honduras signed a special agreement to settle a difference they had with their borders. The matter was arbitrated by one representative from Guatemala, one representative from Honduras, and one representative from the USA. The matter was settled in Washington D.C. on January 23, 1933.
The preamble says, THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE REPUBLICS OF GUATEMALA and HONDURAS, being desirous of closing the territorial frontier question unhappily existing between the two Republics, have agreed to submit the said question to arbitration through the conclusion of the present Treaty and to that end have appointed as their Plenipotentiaries…
The first issue to be settled was the territory between the Motagua River and British Honduras.
It says, The Tribunal may first consider the claim of Honduras to the territory between the Motagua River and British Honduras. This claim is stated as follows: “From the confluence of the Motagua and Managua rivers, according to the claim of Honduras, an approximately straight line should be drawn twenty kilometers to the south-west point of Lake Izabal or Golfo Dulce; thence following along the western bank of said lake, and from its north-western shore a straight line should be drawn to coincide with the boundary between Guatemala and Belize which forms an angle with the Sarstoon River.”
The claim of Honduras thus embraces the Golfo Dulce and the so-called Amatique coast region and excludes Guatemala from the northern coast on the Atlantic Ocean.
Oil barons told to stand back
Many Belizeans are proud, rightly so, that the world has recognized our excellent custodianship of our beloved reef. We have done right by the world. I am just blown away by a giant poster I saw on the George Price Highway, which informed us that we “borrow” the world from generations to come. When we think of it like that, we see the world in a different, better way.
The Barrier Reef is a treasure for the world. We, who were blessed to be born here, have the duty to protect and manage it. We also have first rights to it.
My, it was so interesting to hear our Guat neighbors, laying “claim”. They know what they would have done to it if they had the rights. You only have to go to the Western border to see how they threaten that vital watershed.
Some Belizeans didn’t understand. They fought very hard to unlock the oil and ruin the reef. I salute the efforts of Audrey Matura, Janelle Chanona, and the Oceana and all the others who stood firm.
Hmm, you know I am zero on the cynicism. But I was being misled by Godwin Hulse. He, that flaming capitalist, pointed out that there is no hue and cry when these big oil tankers come to port, and he also pointed out that our neighbors to the north and to the south, could drill, and the reef would be as endangered as if we had drilled ourselves.
Seriously, for me, I didn’t say absolutely NO, but I was totally against the methods of the government. If any oil is going to be drilled for on our reef, it must be with the absolute best technology, and all, ALL the spoils must be for the people of Belize. Our reef is not a toy for special interests and their greed.
I get into some serious arguments with my brother, Charles, and my aunt, Grace Grant. They were absolute NO. My aunt was 87 at the time of the vote, and she had stumped her toe, so she couldn’t wear shoes. I told her, well, you insist, NO, but you have to protect your toe so you can’t go out and vote. Some people won’t play with that reef. She put on her cha-cha-cha and went to vote, to make sure her NO was counted.
Ha, ha, Guatemala praised our efforts! We salute our environmentalists.