Editorial — 28 October 2017
The joker in the deck

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Oct. 20, 2017
At a press conference held at the Tikal Futura in Guatemala City this morning, Maria Eugenia Mijangos Martinez, president of Guatemala’s electoral authority, Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE), announced that Sunday, March 18, 2018 is slated for Guatemalans to go to the polls to decide on whether the territorial differendum between that country and Belize should be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague for a final and binding decision.

It is said that the voting exercise to target over 7 million Guatemalans is being financed by Guatemala’s finance ministry to the tune of 300 million quetzals, or the equivalent of about 80 million dollars.
– from an article by Adele Ramos on page 7 of the AMANDALA issue of Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Mexicans asked the U.K. ambassador about the alleged plan, and told him that if the Guatemalans invaded Belize “the Mexicans would also enter … so as to preserve from Guatemala their now dormant rights to the northern part of the territory.”
– pg. 74, BELIZE’S INDEPENDENCE AND DECOLONIZATION IN LATIN AMERICA, by Assad Shoman, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, reproduced on pg. 7 of the October 24, 2017 issue of AMANDALA.

The joker in the Guatemalan claim deck of cards has always been the Mexican position. Mexico’s position, in the aftermath of the 1893 Mariscal-Spenser Treaty which regularized the border between Mexico and British Honduras, has been that they were cool with Belize and its borders unless any change occurred to these borders in favor of Guatemala. If any such change occurred, Mexico reserved its rights, as the attorneys say.

The joker in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) deck of cards has recently been Kremandala, whose position has been that this institution is opposed to ICJ arbitration but would not rule it out entirely. This is not a position which is favorable enough for the Government of Belize and the Friends of Belize with respect to the ICJ initiative, an initiative which is being pushed by the Government of Belize and which is being financed by the Friends of Belize with double-digit millions of dollars. It is our feeling at this newspaper that there has been collusion over the last few years between the Government of Belize and the Friends of Belize with the aim of weakening Kremandala in any way possible, and especially financially.

Mexico is a high ranking member of the so-called Friends of Belize, the group which is pushing the ICJ agenda as the solution to Guatemala’s claim to Belize. The Guatemalan claim to Belize is a racist, imperialist attempt at land grabbing, and it is a claim which has historically been countenanced by the State Department of the United States of America. Mexico is also a joker in the deck where the ICJ initiative is concerned, because if the ICJ makes a ruling on the Guatemalan claim which alters Belize’s borders, what would the Mexican position then be?

There is a very special relationship between Mexico and Belize, especially between the Yucatan/Quintana Roo populations of Mexico, on the one hand, and the Belizean people, on the other. The colonial British governments here and their native collaborators consciously and assiduously worked, beginning in 1898, to define the relationship between the Yucatan and Belize strictly in the context of naval skirmishes between a Spanish invasion force and the settlers of Belize in September of 1798. The said colonial British governments and their native collaborators had previously worked to ensure that the history of the Caste War of Yucatan, which broke out in 1847, was not disseminated amongst the traditional populations of Belize. Father Miguel Hidalgo’s uprising of 1810, Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, and the bloody Caste War of 1847, had changed the socio-politics of the Yucatan considerably in the years after the Battle of St. George’s Caye. One result of those socio-political changes in the Yucatan was the development of the aforementioned very special relationship between the Yucatan/Quintana Roo populations of Mexico and the Belizean people.
There was a time, before 1798, 1810, and 1847, when Mexico was called New Spain, and New Spain was much more significant in this region than the United States of America, thirteen colonies which did not declare their independence from Great Britain until 1776. Even when the United States declared their Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the newly independent Mexico was no pushover for the Americans. The Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty of 1848 drastically changed things between the United States and Mexico. “The treaty added an additional 525,000 square miles to United States territory, including the land that makes up all or parts of present-day Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.” Just a few years before, the U.S. had grabbed the huge land mass of Texas from Mexico. Today, U.S. President Donald Trump wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, and he wants Mexico to pay for it. But, that’s another story.
The fact of the matter is that the United States became bigger and more powerful than Mexico in the first half of the nineteenth century. Even so, the Americans are always concerned, sometimes to the point of anxiety, about the Mexicans, so that one of the reasons the United States is so dedicated to supporting Guatemala in every which way, is because they see Guatemala as assisting them in confining Mexico, so to speak. Remember now, when the Americans used the Cuban exiles, trained in Guatemala, to invade Fidel Castro’s Cuba in 1961, the Mexicans were very hostile for that invasion and expressed strong sentiments in support of Cuban sovereignty.

Today, there are observers who feel that Mexico has gone so neoliberal in its economic philosophy over the last two or three decades that the Mexican government works in the service of United States administrations. Whether this is so or not, our point is, and the Trump wall is evidence of this, that the United States is not completely comfortable with Mexico. Mexico is too big, Mexico is too brave, and Mexico is too Mexican. Washington prefers Guatemala; Washington loves Guatemala.

Well now, this Friends of Belize ICJ initiative has actually reached the point where the Guatemalans will hold their ICJ referendum on March 18 of next year. The Guatemalans will vote “yes” (do you have any doubts about that in your mind, paisano?), and then the ball will be in Belize’s court. Pressure will be on Belize to vote as Guatemala votes. The significance of this for us is that going to the ICJ will be an admission that our September 21, 1981 independence/territorial integrity was conditional. We Belizeans did not view our independence as conditional in 1981. For sure we did not view it as such when Guatemala’s Jorge Serrano Elias recognized our independence in 1991. The upshot of this is as follows: Belize has gone backwards in the matter of sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is the main reason patriotic Belizeans are skeptical about the ICJ: there’s not all that much we have here, and we want to hold on to all of it, Uncle Sam.

When the Americans decided to open their borders to Belizeans after Hurricane Hattie in 1961, the State Department killed at least two birds with one stone. First, they reduced the traditional native population of Belize which was hostile to Guatemala and felt entitled to Belize, and, secondly, they proceeded to use Belizeans as another social buffer against African-Americans. So that, whereas the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States should, ideally, represent an additional joker in the deck with respect to the Guatemalan claim and the ICJ initiative, that is not the case. That is not the fault of African-Americans. It is Belizeans who now need support, and it is Belizean leaders who are on the take from the Friends of Belize. Cold talk.

In Belize, we have never experienced as much pain and suffering as other peoples around us in Central America and the Caribbean have experienced. In a sense, we have been spoiled. We showed indications in 1968 and 1981 that we were willing to fight for Belize, but overall we chose to migrate. The facts are speaking for themselves.

Almighty God quit creating land and sea a long time ago, beloved. Those of you who are interested in going to the moon or to Mars can link up with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston. Those of us Belizeans who are less adventurous, for our part, need to dig in our heels and prepare to fight for The Jewel. You have to put the Bible in the back of your mind. We have tried to show you what Israel did to the Palestinians. That is precisely what Guatemala intends for us Belizeans. Yes, it ain’t that bad to be a refugee in America. But, there is a reason why the brilliant Hon. Elijah Muhammad always wanted his own black nation. Belize for Belizeans.

Power to the people.

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Eden Cruz

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