Letters — 12 January 2019
Mariana Verde questions Sidley Leslie

January 8, 2019

Dear Mr. Sidley Leslie,

I refer to your article in the Amandala of January 5, 2019. You say that on four occasions the Belize government has agreed with Guatemala that the present location of our boundaries is not legally valid and is therefore liable to be changed: in the 1992 Joint Statement, in the 2005 CBMs and twice in the Special Agreement. You could actually add two more: the 2000 and 2003 CBMs.

You state selected words of those documents and interpret them to conclude that our governments have agreed with Guatemala that the 1859 boundaries are invalid and that they can be changed to suit Guatemala. That means that you are saying that those who negotiated those documents and those who advised them are either way past stupid or they are traitors. You don’t say which you think they are, but let us look at both possibilities.

Let us leave aside the 1992 document for a moment, because even high school students could tell that your interpretation of the plain words of that document is perverse. Now as to the CBMs and the Special Agreement, those documents were negotiated and agreed to over an eight-year period by a number of Belizeans, including Assad Shoman, Alfredo Martinez, Eamon Courtenay, David Gibson, James Murphy, Alexis Rosado, Lisa Shoman, Nestor Mendez, Godfrey Smith, Alan Usher and Nestor Mendez. They were advised throughout those negotiations by Sir Eli Lauterpacht, Stephen Schwebel a recent president of the ICJ and Francisco Orrego, a top Chilean international jurist—all of whom co-wrote the 2001 Legal Opinion.

All the CBMs and the Special Agreement documents were vetted and approved by Said Musa and Dean Barrow, when they were either Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition.

As you can see, there are several lawyers among the Belizeans, and three top international lawyers advised them. The interpretation of those documents by all these persons is totally different from yours. They totally reject the idea that those documents in any way compromised Belize’s boundaries. So, Sir, are you saying they are all stupid? Are you saying you are smarter than all of them put together and that your interpretation of those legal documents is correct and theirs wrong?

Or are you saying that all those Belizeans are traitors and that the highly esteemed international lawyers decided to risk their reputation by colluding with the Belizeans?

Obviously you believe one or the other thing: they are all stupid or they are all traitors, and you are the only smart and patriotic one of the lot.

But you don’t expect most Belizeans to believe that, do you, Mr. Leslie? £

Mariana Verde

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