BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 4, 2019– There is usually more than one side to any story. In the matter of the Guatemalan claim to Belize, there is a lot of history to digest before one could truly appreciate the complexities of what is at stake in taking the claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a final, binding solution under the terms of the Special Agreement.
Last Tuesday, February 26, the Belize Council of Churches issued a press release in support of a yes vote in the April 10 ICJ referendum.
The press release opens saying: “This statement is issued by the Belize Council of Churches in relation to the ongoing border dispute between Guatemala and Belize, and whether the matter should be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for resolution. The Council of Churches provides its view on the issue as a matter of social justice in fostering a peaceful resolution to the territorial dispute at hand.”
The release goes on to explain that the church has respect for all human life and the flourishing need for peace.
“Peace is not just the absence of war, rather it is a ‘tranquility of order’ or state of wellbeing that comes from respect for the dignity of the rights of individual people, whole communities and nations. It requires justice, but is also made possible by love. Christ is our peace and it is Christ’s love for us that makes peace possible,” the release added.
The release continues: “In the interest of both justice and respect for the human need for peace, the Belize Council of Churches has reviewed the evidence, both pro and con, in submitting the Guatemalan/Belize territorial dispute for resolution. After careful examination, the Belize Council of Churches believes that a favorable vote on April 10th, 2019 to submit the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice is in the best interest of our beloved nation and its people…”
We have been attempting to find out exactly just how the Belize Council of Churches came to the conclusion to support a yes vote in the ICJ referendum.
In that regard, we have learned about the approach taken by St. John’s Church, which had two sessions with Ambassador Alexis Rosado, who heads the government ICJ International Border Unit. The two sessions were presented to the church’s synod. There was no presentation from the proponents for the no-to-the ICJ position.
If what we have learned about this process is the entire truth of how it transpired, leading the Belize Council of Churches to unequivocally support a yes to the ICJ vote, then the method and approach appear to be one-sided at best.
The press release also encourages Belizeans to register to vote; be informed and finally to vote on April 10, referendum day.
The release ends saying that the month of March has been designated as a month of prayer for Belize and there will be two ecumenical services — “the first on April 3rd at Wesley Methodist Church in Belize City; the second on April 6th at St. Ann’s Anglican Church in Belmopan.”