Guatemala claims to have inherited a Spanish claim to Belize based on the legal doctrine of UTI POSSIDETIS — a doctrine that is NOT by any means universally recognized in international law. Consequently, Pope Alexander VI, one of the most controversial Popes, issued on May 4, 1493, a papal bull granting official ownership of the New World to Ferdinand and Isabela of Spain. (By the way, Pope Alexander VI was a Spaniard. He was from Jativa, a town near Valencia, Spain.)
To these monarchs, the Pope declared: “We of our own motion, and not at your solicitation, do give, concede, and assign for ever to you and your successors, all the islands, and main lands, discovered; and which may hereafter, be discovered, towards the west and south; whether they be situated towards India, or towards any other part whatsoever, and give you absolute power in them.” He also included Portugal, giving a portion on a specifically demarcated zone.
However, this papal disposition was never subsequently recognized by any other European power. Yet Guatemala says it inherited these rights from Spain. This is Madness!!!
We do know that in 1717, 1730, 1754, 1779, and finally in the 1798 Battle of St. George’s Caye, a total of five Spanish attacks all came from Yucatan, Mexico, to remove British settlers. A captain general from Guatemala was rebuked by his superiors for mounting a military expedition into the area and was reminded that the area fell under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Campeche, so Guatemala had no jurisdiction in Belize.
Of one thing we are sure: Spain NEVER occupied Belize. According to the great Maya scholar, Eric Thompson, in 1531, Francisco Montejo sent Alonzo Davila to conquer the Maya state of Chetumal, ancient Chetumal or Chactema,l which is the present day Belizean town of Corozal. Nachancan, the Maya chief of ancient Chactemal, had an unusual son-in-law, a renegade Spanish soldier named Gonzalo Guerrero who during a shipwreck had landed at Corozal Bay. Gonzalo Guerrero married Nachancan’s daughter, Zazil Ha, with whom he had three children.
Thompson calls Guerrero the first European to adopt Belize as his home. Guerrero knew the Spanish methods of war; he realized that the Maya could not possibly defeat the Spanish in open battle and advised the Maya to withdraw to the bush, and Davila marched into the Maya city and renamed it Villa Real, the first attempted Spanish settlement on Belizean territory.
Nachancan, Guerrero and the Maya warriors harassed the Spanish troops whenever they came out of Villa Real to look for food. These hit-and-run tactics so weakened the Spanish that soon they were prisoners in the city and the victorious Maya forces had them surrounded.
After 18 months Davila and his few surviving Spanish soldiers decided to flee for their lives. So there was no Spanish settlement in Belize. The Mayas expelled them under the leadership of Nachancan and Gonzalo Guerrero. Gonzalo Guerrero should be a Belizean hero for keeping the Spanish out of Belize, yet few people know about him.
In 1564, the Pachecos, Gaspar, his son Melchor and his nephew Alonzo led a military entrada against the Mayas in southern Yucatan and Belize. This Gaspar was a savage who committed acts of shocking, bloody cruelty, cutting the breasts off women and the hands, noses and ears off men. He tied squashes to the feet of women and threw them to drown in the lagoon merely to amuse himself. He conquered up to Tipu in Belize. However, Mayas from Bacalar up to Belize always resisted, revolted and rebelled against the invaders, not accepting the conquest. In 1638, leaders in the area centered around Tipu forced the evacuation of eight towns in Belize. Lamanai was burned and deserted. That same year Bacalar suffered yet another indignity. An attack by the privateer Diego Lucifer el Mulato led to the robbery and desecration of the church and the town. Bacalar lost all control as a frontier outpost. In 1648 Bacalar was abandoned: Spanish control over Chetumal and Dzuluinocob, which Belize was a part of, was at an end, and the way was open for British occupation of Belize. Spanish occupation was only temporary and then lost because of Maya resistance. Permanent Spanish occupation of Belize has NOT existed at any time in the history of Belize.
The second Vatican Council has stated “only solutions that are fully human” will be able to solve international problems. Any truly human solution to the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute must take into consideration the desires and personality of the present inhabitants of Belize. We are a unique nation, one that can be distinguished by human qualities from all other nations of the Americas and the world. We must be recognized as such. BELIZE IS FOR BELIZEANS. NO GUATEMALA, NO ICJ!!!