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Sunday, December 8, 2019
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Prove it

Some people have said the compromis is the problem. Well, you can compromis for days, weeks, months, and you will end up at any and all legal claims. And that will lead you to 1859 and a treaty between two sovereign nations. The story is as it was, has been, Article Seven.

Briefly, the backdrop. There was a faction in Guatemala that was being backed up, egged on by the Americans, and this faction did not agree with their government signing the 1859 treaty. You will never get everyone to agree on anything.

Article Seven clearly, as stated, is a business agreement to further the interests of England and Guatemala, BOTH. The essential part of the treaty was the boundary agreement; the details of the business agreement had to be worked out. There were discussions afterwards. During these discussions the Guatemalan faction was busy pushing the argument that the 1859 treaty was one of cession, that it was a cart road (Article Seven) for the Sibun to the Sarstoon.

We’ve all gone over these points before, so let’s just say there was a lot of to and fro, tug and pull. There was too much talk from Guatemala. And this started to rankle the British. Anyway, the parties believed they had arrived at the way to execute Article Seven. Guatemala, for reasons they have to explain, did not sign what they had agreed on. They have argued that they didn’t sign because they were at war, bullying one of their neighbors. But we do not forget the internal to and fro, and words being hib at the British.

The big issue for the British was that the Guatemalans kept insisting that 1859 was a treaty of cession. And after they had kept at that for far too long, the British got fed up and said: PROVE IT.

It is recorded that the British tried to mend fences, be neighborly. But cession came up, and scuttled things.

Yes, some people say it is the compromis, not the 1859 treaty. No, all roads lead to 1859. Guatemala has to prove that it was a treaty of cession, and if they can do that, then they have to prove that the British were not justified to withdraw because of their tardiness. If they prove that, then they have to prove, among other things, that they effectively occupied/controlled Belize between the Hondo and the Sarstoon.

Guatemala has charged that the British bullied them into the 1859 treaty. We know that it isn’t so. For various other reasons, the Carrera government wanted the treaty. And anyway, even if it was true that the British bullied them, they, Guatemala, existed because Spain bullied the Maya and took control of their lands.

If we go to the ICJ, the court will, I believe, tell Guatemala the same thing it told Bolivia (in their case against Chile). There are 49 landlocked countries in the world, but only two of those are in the Americas: Bolivia and Paraguay in South America. Bolivia wasn’t always landlocked. When it gained its independence from Spain in 1825, it had about 250 miles of coastline on the Pacific Ocean. There was a war around 1880, with Chile against Bolivia and Peru. Chile won the war and Bolivia has been landlocked since, though it, Bolivia, is allowed duty free access to a port in Chile.

The two countries have been negotiating for many years, until their case ended up at the ICJ. Bolivia wanted full sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. Effectively, the court told them that it is good for two neighbors to negotiate, but Chile is not obliged to negotiate with Bolivia because Bolivia has no rights.

That case ended up 12 for Chile and 3 for Bolivia. The three judges who ruled for Bolivia were Patrick Robinson, Jamaica; Nawaf Salam, Lebanon; and Yves Daudet, an ad hoc judge for Bolivia.

I suspect that Patrick Robinson couldn’t countenance a country with NO sea coast, and Nawaf Salam, coming from a war-torn region, felt that Chile was being too hard on Bolivia, and with his vote he wanted to ensure that Chile got his message. Robinson and Salam became sympathy votes, when they realized that their ruling could not affect the final verdict. Judge Daudet voted for Bolivia because he was there to push their cause.

Billboard conversation between Bach and BAH

Belizean abroad come home (Bach), and Belizeans at Home (BAH)

BAH: You really seen the world, Braa, an I envy you for all those stories, those experiences you had. You can’t vote in the referendum, but you’ve got cruise ships, merchant ships, flying planes, living in America, the whole route.

Bach: For all that, there’s nothing like home sweet home. There’s a lot of spectacular things here at home too. Most of all I can’t wait to jump in the delightful Roaring Creek Falls behind Guanacaste Park.

BAH: Wait till yu sih the roundabout at the junction. We’ll be there in a few minutes. Everybody eena Belize excited by the roundabout.

Bach: You’re late. I saw it when I went to Dangriga on the weekend.

BAH: Oh, you si it at night! Spectacular, tru? It cost millions but it’s worth every penny. My, that waterfall! No, spout. Little fingers of water shooting up into the air. No, stratosphere. And at night, those little fingers have the colors of the rainbow. You remember the Satchmo song…the colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky…A real imaginative little scheme. At first I mi think it was colored water, but then I realize da colored lights. But it must be ordinary stuff to a worldly guy like you.

Bach: It’s, nice.

BAH: Bah, I guess we are all boring to you. All our little improvements must look like nothing to a man like you.

Bach: Not so. I see a lot of changes. So many things have changed in Belize since I left my beloved home. I see lots of changes in infrastructure, lots of good stuff. Lots of changes in culture too. I’m worried about those.

BAH: Really?

Bach: Take the Reporter, for example. When I was in Belize you’d never see a slek word like bukut in that newspaper, definitely not on the front page. How did that come about?

BAH: That one shock all a wi. It all has to do with Breda Finnegan. He’s a kind of Joe Erales, God rest the dead. You remember when Joe said that the queen pull up ih you-know-what jos like any other woman? Well thank gudnis he never get to take that to the House. Somehow, Finnegan mek it, and when hihn get deh ih introduce his slang in the House, like wahn euphemism.

Bach: Some bloody coarse euphemism. I guess everybody wants to be like Trump.

BAH: Oh, this start long before Trump. Everybody in the House is using it now. All you hear is this one giving the bukut, and that one getting the bukut.

Bach:  Bah, as stinkin toe you go to your corner and eat it. As euphemism you keep it in your yard. And now it’s got into the Reporter.

BAH: I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Out there, I hear unu seh¯shaft. Somebody get di shaft.

Bach: Ah, but they always apologize, say excuse me. Voila, there’s your spectacular roundabout. But we won’t stop there. Can’t stop at Guanacaste today either. Got to get to Belize City so I can catch a boat to Cay Caulker and San Pedro.

BAH: You’ll get there in time.

Bach: Wa, that billboard over there, isn’t that¯Rene?

BAH: Yap.

Bach: What’s he advertising?


Bach: Hmm, interesting. Man, but was he blessed with the golden voice, like Nat King Cole. I remember every September celebration when he recited George Price poem, how we got cold seed. This billboard thing in Belize is crazy. I saw one with Goldson and one with Price. They’ve got those old heroes stuck up there like some kind of El Cid. You remember El Cid, when they strapped him on a horse and put him at the front and headed out to battle.

BAH: I remember Sophia Loren.

Bach: Everybody remembers Sophia Loren.  Oh wow, is that what I see up ahead what I see up ahead? Wow!

BAH: Said and Barrow. We call it: saving the best fu last. The things dehn bali done call wananadda. It’s mostly been one way, mostly Barrow, but Said get een sohn cruel B-lik tu.

Bach: It might be all for nation. But it might also be all about the mortality three score and ten. There is a time when people start fretting about their much sullied little souls.

BAH: Esquivel wahn have to see this. You remember when hihn sing like Tina Turner, What’s love got to do with, do with it?

Bach: I remember. I say, if we follow this sign, love’s definitely got everything to do with it. The lion and the lamb won’t ever lie down because the lion would starve, but Capulets and Montagues can make out, and Hatfields and McCoys can make out, and PUP and UDP can make out too, for the ICJ.

BAH: It is sacrilege, those bohgaz making friendship like the police commissioner and Bogart in Casablanca, right by the Hector Silva Airstrip.

Bach: Keeping things on the up and up, I heard that old man goes apoplectic just at the mention of ICJ. It’s damn criminal. They shouldn’t have put up that one right by his airstrip. It isn’t nice.

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