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Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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YES was humbling, but very low risk

To my mind, the Belizeans who voted No to the ICJ did so because of the indignity of handing over our property title to the court, not so much because they were of the belief that the court would hand over Belizean territory to Guatemala. Of course it is not a done deal. Under the sun a lot of things are possible. Some things are absolutely incredible. Who would have believed, who would have believed¯help me, I’m drawing a blank here. Okay, got one¯who would have believed that the world would embrace two men jumping down church steps under a shower of rice?

We know there have been crooked judges. We know there have been crazy judges. Neither is a common breed. Using the modern process of selecting judges in the democratic world, you cannot find 15 judges who fit those caps. We might have issues with the politics of some judges, but we can’t find 15 judges who are cuckoo or crooked.

To my mind, all that kitchen-sink load of pots, pans, skillets, pot spoons, forks, knives and Brillo that was thrown at the trip to the ICJ, emanated from the disgust that we would entertain the compromis solution. I have difficulty believing anyone is really serious about Belize losing this case.

I see where Brother Clinton Canul Luna is discussing 1802 and other dates before 1859 (this Tuesday’s Amandala), but he’s reading too much in Guatemala’s clutch at straws. These dates and treaties he mentions are important for an understanding of Spain’s behavior in these parts, but the paper treaties don’t speak to what was happening on the ground. If you swear by the weight of paper alone, all that got trumped when the moving finger wrote in 1859.

Brother Clinton says that, “For the best interest of the Belizean people, the corresponding department (local experts) should speak to the true history of how Belize came to be and stop confusing the minds of the youths of this country who will be put to shame when serious questions on the matter (our rights) are asked and they won’t have any basis on which to respond.”

Brother Clinton, the most important story pre-1859 is that Guatemala did not occupy this land. If we want to stick with paper, there was a man who did change the decision of the Spanish Crown that established the border between Yucatan and Guatemala. All roads in this case lead to Rafael Carrera, the president of Guatemala in 1859. He made a decision which he believed was in the best interests of his people. Leaders do that.

Carrera wasn’t white, and we are certain the whites in Guatemala didn’t like him. They, the ones who hated Carrera, wanted to cut a deal with the Americans. Carrera decided to ride with Britannia. Check the facts. Riding with the British helped lead to true independence in Guatemala. Riding with the Americans was all for filibusters.

Pre-referendum there was all this talk about the mighty Americans and all their bombs influencing the judges at the ICJ, but if their bomb and bombs had any clout there, the ICJ would never have told them they were wrong, wrong, wrong to mine Nicaragua’s harbor and that they had “violated international law by supporting the Contras in their rebellion against the Nicaraguan government.” (Wikipedia)

More Wikipedia ¯ “The United States refused to participate in the proceedings after the Court rejected its argument that the ICJ lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. The U.S. also blocked enforcement of the judgment by the United Nations Security Council and thereby prevented Nicaragua from obtaining any compensation. Nicaragua, under the later, post-FSLN government of Violeta Chamorro, withdrew the complaint from the court in September 1992 following a repeal of the law which had required the country to seek compensation.”

We are just human beings under the sun and we don’t know 100% about anything. All things are possible under the sun. We can’t say that Guatemala won’t say ‘we just wanted you to get the sense about our power, wanted to force you to take that giant leap, and now that you have we have decided to drop the case’. We cannot say that. Hmm, there is as much likelihood of Guatemala completely dropping the case as there is of them winning land at the ICJ.

Brother Eamon Courtenay has opined that it is possible that the ICJ will consider correcting a possible error in the drawing of the borderline. Brother Hallett Moody, a local lands expert, explained why that won’t happen in his story, “Hallett Moody, Jr. responds to Lindsay Belisle” (www.guardian.bz).

Mr. Moody wrote: “… Mr. Belisle said that ‘the Latitude and Longitude coordinates as observed at Gracias a Dios Falls and Garbutt’s Falls — would place them both west into Guatemala territory’…the short reply is that (he was) using 20th century technology expecting 19th century results! The facts are that the joint commissioners first agreed as to where the markers should go, then they jointly determined the coordinates, and placed the markers jointly on the earth…most important was the acceptance of the map by the two parties then, despite any errors that may be found now!

“This conclusion is supported by the United Nations -International Arbitral Awards-case concerning boundary markers in Taba between Egypt and Israel 1986. The conclusion of that case says: ‘If a boundary line is once demarcated jointly by the parties concerned, the demarcation is considered as an authentic interpretation of the boundary agreement even if deviations may have occurred or if there are some inconsistencies with the maps.’”

“In conclusion, in my view, the 1859 Treaty between Guatemala and Belize is a boundary treaty, and adequately defines the boundary between the two countries. The said Treaty made provisions for the boundary to be demarcated. Also, the 1861 Treaty Map evidently supports the boundary line between the two countries,” Moody further said.

Brother Eamon is at the top of the table, but on this matter I give the nod to Hallett.

Another concern is about rights that the court might give to Guatemala. We are familiar with the Webster’s Proposals, the Heads of Agreement, and the Ramphal/Reichler Proposals, all of which either proposed giving certain rights to Guatemala, or proposed discussions on certain rights that we could give Guatemala. When we signed the Maritime Areas Act there were also certain “rights” that were being discussed.

A number of these “rights” were offensive to Belizeans, not because we were giving away anything, but because they were being negotiated as part of a boundary treaty. Trade agreements are made between neighbors every day.

Belize, kit and caboodle, is ours. What we should be about now is shoring up our dignity, salvaging what we can there, and fixing the systems of governance that are failing us.

What Rafa’s uncle told him about respect

Rafael “Rafa” Nadal, one of the all-time tennis greats, has a few quirks, but one thing he isn’t known for is losing it when things are not going great for him on the court. Some of the credit for Rafa’s comportment goes to his uncle, Toni Nadal, who was his coach for much of his career. Uncle Toni insisted that Rafa didn’t behave ugly.

Alessandro Tommasi, a longtime tennis player who recently became a tennis instructor, responded to the question, “Has Nadal ever smashed a racket before?” (www.quora.com).

“Nadal’s autobiography [of which I didn’t even know the existence, but I am reporting what’s found on the topic in a reddit post verbatim] apparently says he never did:

“Toni Nadal: ‘Nadal has never broken a racquet. It would be showing a lack of respect to people who actually have to buy the equipment to play the sport.’

“As per Richard Evans: Toni Nadal, essentially told a 6-year-old Nadal, ‘You throw one racket and I’m no longer your coach. There are millions of kids in the world who would love a racket and don’t have one.’”

There are some guys on big motorbikes who don’t understand that it is tremendous disrespect to speed through villages, areas where people live. Our government, which apparently forgot about people who walk or ride bicycles when they were redesigning the George Price Highway between Roaring Creek and Santa Elena (Cayo), has forced us to use the same road you speed on. In our village we had a pathway, which we expected would be improved and expanded, not obliterated when the redesigned highway was constructed.

Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, said some weeks ago that they would be stepping up their interest in motorcyclists because we were having far too many accidents on the highways. I don’t like to make enemies, but we have to accept that we human beings are imperfect; we need others to point out our faults. I have been on the lookout for arrests of speed-crazy demon motorcyclists, and motorcyclists who have liquor on their breath or are showing symptoms of intoxication. It is impossible that the Police/Traffic departments haven’t noticed motorcyclists passing on the wrong side of the street in Belize City.

We need some arrests, Mr. Commissioner, not because we want to harass motorcyclists but because we need to do it. The roads through villages are not superhighways, no matter what the government that forgot us thinks. You have to impound some motorbikes, Mr. Commissioner. It is for the general good, and for the good of reckless or disrespectful motorcyclists too.

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