August 26, 2015
Victor A. Cucul
September is around the corner again for us Belizeans to appreciate our country, this time 34 years of Independence since 1981. The colorful red, white and blue decorations will be going on display, carnival fever will be hitting the streets like wild fire, and the radio air waves will be flooded with patriotic songs. Then finally on Independence Day, families, friends and distinguished guests will be sitting under the tent waiting patiently for the usual persuasive speeches by our local political leaders reminding us that we are an independent nation. However, are we indeed “independent” in that political aspect of the English word?
As a former British colony, we as a people have made basic decisions and drastic changes that have positively contributed to the standard of living and the way we are presently governed. In addition, we have a Belizean Constitution that defines us as a sovereign nation under the supremacy of God. We are also taught that our country is made up of 8,867 square miles and is bordered by Mexico in the North, the Caribbean Sea in the East, and Guatemala in the West and South. Moreover, we have reputable leaders claiming to govern and manage our resources in the best interest of us, the Belizean people. I could certainly go on; however, the unending issues between Belize and Guatemala give me reason(s) to believe that something is wrong somewhere.
In other words, when Guatemala claims that the proposed construction of a Forward Operating Base (FOB) by Belize at the Sarstoon River area is within their territory, then something is terribly wrong. In addition, when the Guatemalan Foreign Minister maintains that it was an agreement between both countries that no new military base was to be constructed in the immediate area, then something is also wrong. Furthermore, the term “confidence-building measure” has somehow been adapted as an amicable process with the intention of finding practical solutions. In my opinion, however, this ingenious attempt has consistently proven to be a complete failure for both countries, particularly Belize. Nonetheless, it would be very interesting to know the full details of various agreements made at these so-called confidence-building measure meetings.
For this reason, the month of September should be a reminder that we as Belizeans have a role in safeguarding the future of our Jewel regardless of belief, color, ethnicity, occupation and so forth. This is NOT a case for the ICJ to decide either, or any other organization for that matter. I believe we are independent and we are responsible enough to deal with our internal/external affairs, including this unfounded claim by Guatemala. Therefore, as an independent nation in Central America, we need to start making responsible decisions in order to protect what is rightfully ours. For instance, let us proceed with the construction of the forward operating base at the Sarstoon River area and along other parts of our side of the border. This will definitely increase our military presence in these areas and avoid further damage to our natural resources.
Hence, let us be mindful that we do have a role in safeguarding the future of our Jewel –BELIZE. Let us remember the powerful words of the late Philip S. W. Goldson -”The time to save our nation is before we lose it.”
I also believe that the Guatemalan government needs to be more responsible in assisting their citizens, thus, discouraging them from doing illegal activities on our side of the border.
Let me also commend the courage of the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) on their recent visit to the controversial Sarstoon River area. I personally believe that they (BTV) continue to make a legal standpoint in demonstrating exactly what we stand for as an independent nation.
Let me also congratulate our Prime Minister on what he described as an –”extremely strong protest note” to Guatemala. This, of course, is what we need, a government that is prepared to defend its people, especially when their sovereignty is obviously violated.
Fellow Belizeans, let us not allow any political ideology from any foreign country to deter us from defending this beautiful Jewel of ours BELIZE. We stood up bravely for our country in 1964, 1981, and now 2015. Of course, there will be persons and organizations trying to encourage that the matter be put to the International Court of Justice. However, we should NOT be influenced or even distracted by their unreasonable attempts. Furthermore, I hereby advise our Government of Belize to deal with this situation before the matter drifts into deeper waters. Belizeans, let us freely wave our flags and proudly sing our National Anthem this September.
Power to Belizeans!
Victor A. Cucul
Contact No: 662-4981