Features — 21 September 2018 — by Lucilo Teck
Belizeans, open your eyes

I ask this question – Do Belizeans want to be the second Palestine in the middle west of the world, who have lost their homeland?

Now is the time for Belizeans to open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts and stand united as one people in defense of our national sovereignty and the sanctity of our borders.

In relation to the convention between Her Majesty and the Republic of Guatemala, relative to the boundaries of British Honduras, signed on the 30th of April 1859, I consider this great historical event so important for the permanent national security of our independent nation of Belize that I feel obliged to reproduce in writing the exact contents of this great achievement as a guarantee for our national existence with our secured national boundaries in perpetuity.

I will begin with Appendix 1 and finish off with article 1.

Appendix 1:

The Convention between Her Majesty and the Republic of Guatemala relative to the boundaries of British Honduras, signed on the 30th April, 1859.

Whereas the boundary between Her Britannic Majesty’s settlement and possessions in the Bay of Honduras, and the territories of the Republic of Guatemala, has not yet been ascertained and marked out; Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Republic of Guatemala, being desirous, with a view to improve the perpetuate the friendly relations which happily subsist between the two countries, to define the boundary aforesaid, have resolved to conclude a convention for that purpose and have named as their plenipotentiaries, that is to say:

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Charles Lennox Wyke, Esquire, Her Britannic Majesty’s Chargé d’ Affaires to the Republic of Guatemala; and His Excellency the President of the Republic of Guatemala, Don Pedro de Aycinena, councilor of State, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Who, after having communicated to each other their respective full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed upon and concluded the following articles:

Article 1.

It is agreed between Her Britannic Majesty and the Republic of Guatemala that the Boundary between the Republic and the British Settlement and Possessions in the Bay of Honduras, as they existed previous to and on the 1st day of January, 1850, and have continued to exist up to the present time, was, and is as follows:

Beginning at the mouth of the River Sarstoon in the Bay of Honduras, and proceeding up the mid-channel thereof to Gracias a Dios falls; then turning to the right and containing by a line drawn direct from Gracias a Dios Falls to Garbutt’s Falls on the River Belize, and from Garbutt’s Falls due north until it strikes to the Mexican Frontier.

It is agreed and declared between the High Contracting Parties that all the territory to the north and east of the line of boundary above described belongs to Her Britannic Majesty, and that all the territory to the south and west of the same belongs to the Republic of Guatemala.

As I see and understand the wording of Article 1, the Republic of Guatemala, in a courteous manner without any British pressure, recognized the prescribed existing boundary since the 1850 to then 1859 convention or treaty.

Nowhere in Article 1 was there any objection from Guatemala to the existing above-mentioned boundary and there is no suggestion nor any demand that the British Settlement and possession in the Bay of Honduras of this land and insular territories and all maritime areas were an integral part of Guatemala’s territories seized by force by the British Military and be returned peacefully to Guatemala.

For lack of any demand by the Republic of Guatemala registered in the 1859 treaty to her Britannic Majesty, Guatemala’s claims remains an unfounded claim in perpetuity due to the clarity of the 1859 convention.

I can never vote yes in the upcoming 10th April 2019 Compromis referendum against the partition of my beloved Belize.

I wish to further inform Belizeans of a different forced land cession by Cuba to the USA. Cuba was the last Spanish colony to fight for her independence from Spain in the late 1890’s. At that time, an American battleship, Maine, anchored at the Havana port, mysteriously exploded and sank to the bottom of the port. Uninvited, the Americans, through this explosion, intervened in the War of Independence, assisting Cuba to defeat Spain. Cuba then became a US protectorate for the next 35 years.

Cuban pride was trampled when Cubans were forced to accept the provision of the Platt Amendment in exchange for nominal independence. The amendment stipulated among other things that Cuba could not enter into substantial foreign agreements without approval by the United States.  It ceded to the United States the right to intervene to maintain a “stable government” and the right to acquire and hold the title to land for naval station.  Cuba was forced to incorporate the amendment into its constitution before the United States would agree to remove occupying troops.

This is how the US holds on to the Guantanamo Bay naval stations.  If, whenever Cuba decides to make its claim to the ICJ, I believe that it will be a legal claim against the US for the restitution of those Cuban lands.

The right of the United States to intervene militarily since the late 1950’s has been abandoned in Cuban internal affairs but has been substituted with a financial and commercial endless US embargo against Cuba.

I have not seen in any colonial history that British military forces have ever invaded or occupied the Republic of Guatemala and demanded land title before the removal of its troops. Therefore the Republic of Guatemala has no legal right to demand one centimeter of Belize land and sea. The Republic of Guatemala has never lived the Cuban experience of forced land cession to the United States.

It is also important for Belizeans to know that during the American War of Independence from Great Britain, the United States lacked war materials and finance to keep on the war. The United States made a treaty with France to secure its necessities and promised in its treaty of alliance to conclude no peace without France. Indeed for a time it had appeared that the United States’ diplomatic future lay not in the hands of its own delegates, but in those of the French Foreign Minister Vergennes.

Because of Vergennes’ instruction to his representative in Philadelphia, La Luzerne, to pressure Congress to instruct its delegates to maintain close touch with the French Government to tell it everything and to follow its advice, the United States thus could not negotiate peace without Vergennes’ guidance and approval.

In most advanced democracies, the results in any national referendum are validated as if it was the results of any general election, but in deformed democracies, any results are simply ignored when allowed. In this second issue, again I wish to draw the attention of the public on how struggling colonies fighting for their independence, and after their independence, how they are subdued by the will of great powers.

Many Belizeans may remember the infamous Seventeen (17) Proposals that suggested Guatemala’s enjoyment over the Ranguana and Sapodilla Cayes. The enjoyment of 50% over any mineral found on the sea bed and subsoil; the duty-free use of Belize port for the imports of any goods . . . and the list continues. Well, Belizeans stood firm and rejected these proposals. We are not better now when this government and its team agreed on signing the Compromis that Guatemala’s unfounded claim is now “all legal claims” against Belize.

This government and team has given Guatemala everything that Guatemala failed to get in all past negotiations and mediations and limited enjoyments. Under this Special Agreement, Belize is offering full ownership of Belize land and sea and full enjoyment over the 23rd Nuevo Departamento de Belice de Guatemala if we allow this to happen in the upcoming Compromis referendum.

Now I ask the question: Isn’t there a similar secret signed agreement with Guatemala or with any other power by the Government of Belize that obliges the Government to refrain from continuing to call Guatemala’s claim “unfounded” and has now agreed that all claims against Belize land insular territories and maritime areas in Belize territories are now all legal claims as agreed in Article 2 of this Special Agreement which authorizes the ICJ to determine the final verdict against Belize?

The question in Article 2 of the Compromis, which requests every Belizean, “Do you agree that any and all legal claims against the nation of Belize are now all legal claims?” – I cannot agree to vote yes. If the question on the upcoming referendum would be, “Belizeans, do you agree that the way forward to settle this unfounded claim is to request the ICJ or the UN Security Council to determine the validity of the 1859 treaty signed between the Republic of Guatemala and Great Britain which awarded Britain sovereignty in perpetuity over British Honduras, now Belize?” – Certainly I would vote yes.

I assume that voters that will vote no to the ICJ may agree with my personal position. If these voters agree, then we must support my proposed homemade referendum as a response to all concerned that Guatemala has no legal claim over the nation of Belize, that Guatemala’s unfounded claim must be put to rest forever. How on planet earth can this Guatemalan unfounded claim now become all legal claims against us? Can any brilliant and legal minded individual publicly clarify it for us “poor narrow-minded citizens”?

Or is it that our distinguished Foreign Minister and his delegates were outmatched by their astute  Guatemalan counterparts trained in the arts of diplomacy by a superior and experienced Guatemalan Foreign Minister and allies?

I renew my call once again to all Belizeans that love Belize to support our local homemade referendum as a response against the Compromis referendum, for a free Belize and for our love to Belize.

Contact: 665-2037

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