There has been no official notification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belize, but thanks to a release from Guatemala and one from the OAS, tonight we can tell you that the member states of the OAS, meeting in the Dominican Republic, have endorsed a draft declaration on the resolution of the territorial, insular and maritime dispute at the International Court of Justice.
According to the OAS release, both countries reiterated their commitment to take the dispute before the ICJ and have received unanimous support in that regard.
And again, according to that release, Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington has committed to the referendum process starting this year, which is news to us. That would mean that GOB would have to act relatively quickly to amend the Referendum Act, a request directly from Guatemala even though the protocols for the Sarstoon have not even been discussed. Currently, the Act requires a sixty percent threshold for passage, whereas the proposed amendment would state that a majority of one would be enough to approve going to the ICJ. That’s big news which we actually could not find in Elrington’s comments to the General Assembly either Tuesday or today, but as we said it is being reported by the OAS and Guatemala.
– Channel 5 headline news, 6:30 pm, Wednesday, June 15, 2016
In October 1962, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev would take their nations to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, a war of unimaginable destruction. The crisis was provoked by a band of bearded guerrillas, mostly in their twenties and early thirties. Two and a half years earlier, these guerrillas had improbably assumed control of a modestly sized island, previously notable in the American consciousness for cocktails, casinos, and pretty girls. They had allowed the Soviet Union to place nuclear warheads within striking distance of Washington, D.C. Never in its history had the United States been so threatened. Never had the world come closer to nuclear war.
For thirteen days, the possibility that the world might end veered terrifyingly close.
– pgs. 2, 3, RED HEAT, by Alex Von Tunzelmann, Henry Holt and Company, 2011
That legacy, Clara Bingham argues in her excellent oral history of the tumultuous events of 1969 and 1970, WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION, has overwhelmed the memory of how near the country came to something like open revolt. This, after all, was a period when demonstrations grew so enormous that the Nixon administration took to surrounding the White House with a defensive ring of parked buses. “If you didn’t experience it back then,” a Nixon aide named Stephen Bull says, “you have no idea how close we were, as a country, to a revolution.”
– from a review by Bryan Burrough in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL of Saturday/Sunday, June 11-12, 2016, of WITNESS TO THE REVOLUTION, by Clara Bingham, Random House, 2016
When planet earth came close to nuclear war in October of 1962, the first thing we will note in this essay is that in Belize we were blissfully ignorant of the absolute danger. The second thing we will note is that the world came close to nuclear Armageddon because Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban people, was willing to risk Armageddon in order to preserve his island’s sovereignty and independence from the United States of America, the world superpower just ninety miles north of Cuba.
A sober man may be tempted to consider Fidel a crazy man, but there was a history between the United States and Cuba going back into the nineteenth century which provides explanations for the anger of the Cuban people against the American government.
There is no such history between the American government and the people of Belize, and this explains why there has never been any animosity towards Washington felt by the Belizean people. Until the Seventeen Proposals in 1968, and even afterwards, the Belizean people have, first and foremost, viewed America as a land of magnificent economic opportunity.
The news coming out of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday this week with respect to pressure from the Organization of American States (OAS) for Belize to go to the International Court of Justice will not be greeted by Belizeans with any anger directed towards Washington. That is because Belizeans are uninformed. It is generally accepted regionally that the United States controls the Organization of American States, which is the reason that Cuba, although their Raul Castro government has opened up various relations with the United States after fifty five years of open hostility and outright enmity, has refused to return to the OAS, which expelled the island in 1962 in order to please the United States.
Despite what some Belizeans may think, the United States of America is not the Kingdom of God. The United States is controlled by what Dwight D. Eisenhower described as their “military-industrial complex.” It is their military-industrial complex which is in cahoots with the Guatemalan upper classes and has made all the decisions pertaining to Belize since Bethuel Webster’s Seventeen Proposals in 1968. The masses of the American people know nothing about American foreign policy, the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute, and Guatemala’s ridiculous, racist claim to half the territory of independent, sovereign Belize.
The OAS decision on Wednesday to pressure Belize into going to the ICJ comes from the military-industrial complex of the United States, speaking through their politicians and diplomats. Wednesday’s OAS resolution may be almost as frightening to some of us as Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’ threats and military mobilization on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, 2016.
The Untied Democratic Party (UDP) Government of Belize has been remarkably complacent, arguably compliant, when it has come to increased Guatemalan aggression in the Chiquibul and on the Sarstoon. The special target of Belizean displeasure with the government’s Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement rhetoric and behavior has been Foreign Minister Elrington, who is a particularly prominent target because of his bombast and loquacity. But Belizean displeasure with Hon. Elrington has been unfair, constitutionally speaking, because he has spoken and is speaking for the UDP Cabinet, led by the Belize Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow.
Even as we Belizeans had no idea in October of 1962 that our world was close to ending suddenly, in June of 2016 we have no idea what it is that is so valuable in Toledo and at the Sarstoon which has provoked the possibility of Belize’s dismemberment. Check that “no idea”: we have good reason to believe there are a lot of mineral resources in the southern part of Belize.
At this newspaper we frequently have said to you that we understand our opinions to be, generally speaking, minority ones. Belizean majority opinions on the issues of the day are expressed in the statements and policies of the ruling UDP Cabinet. In Belize, we have a constitution which has enshrined a parliamentary democracy. We elect governments in free, fair, and violence-free general elections every few years. The UDP administration which is in power has been elected in three consecutive general elections since February of 2008. On a whole, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet speak for the people of Belize. In matters of foreign policy, the Foreign Minister, Hon. Sedi Elrington, speaks for the people of Belize. A growing minority number of Belizeans have, nevertheless, been reaching the opinion that the Foreign Minister and this UDP government are not speaking for them. We would include this newspaper’s editorial section in the number of that “growing minority number of Belizeans.”
What this will mean down the road is difficult to say. In Belize’s modern past, we have seen instances where “growing minority numbers of Belizeans” have created extraordinary conditions which have caused government administrations to adjust their stated policies. If we are to believe what the headline news on Channel 5’s evening news of Wednesday, June 15, 2016, is saying, then this newspaper must declare that we Belizeans have been sold out. That would be, to the best of our knowledge, a minority opinion. If that minority opinion should become a majority opinion before Belizeans vote whether or not to go to the ICJ, there will be implications for the Government of Belize in the streets of Belize. There will be no implications for the American military-industrial complex, the politicians, and diplomats in Washington, D.C.
It appears to us that the Government of Belize has decided to follow the instructions coming from Washington. This may be an eminently sensible decision, but the Government of Belize is yet to reveal to the people of Belize that Belize is following instructions where the Guatemalan claim and Guatemalan aggression are concerned. It may be that the people of Belize will not consider such a Government of Belize decision, when it is revealed, to be one which they endorse. At such a point, there would be a disconnect between the people and the government. Such a disconnect would be dangerous for the peace.
Power to the people.