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Guatemalan social media rhetoric against Belize condescending and racist

By Adele Ramos
Freelance Reporter

The responses of Guatemalans to the article, “Climate change activists should strongly resist Guatemala’s unfounded claim,” which was published in last week’s edition of the Reporter and shared on social media, expose the condescending and racist thinking still held by some of those who live right next to us. It is reminiscent of the kind of message sent by the Guatemalans who recently staged the black-face stage play, “Goodbye Belize,” in which they tell a perverted story about this country and its people.

It should be clearly understood that the rhetoric spewed by certain Guatemalans is not just against Blacks as a race, and Creoles in particular, who they often call “sons of whores” on social media; but against Belize as a nation and our right to self-determination, sovereignty and territorial integrity. These are deep-seated attitudes and notions that underpin irrational dogmas, fueling propaganda that slaves or descendants of slaves have no land rights here, and that Belize should not even be acknowledged as a country because, they contend, it is a department of theirs.

Belizeans are fooling themselves when they claim that all Guatemala wants is the southern half of the country. Do get the sense that if they can have their way, they would take everything – from the Hondo to the Sarstoon. What understanding do you get when they reproduce a map that shows all of Belize annexed to Guatemala and separated only by a broken line instead of the conventional solid line which marks separate territories? This is exactly the image usually propagated when they push their propaganda that “Belice is nuestro.”

Now, I turn to the line of rhetoric coming from the Guatemalans in response to the aforementioned article. Do note that none of the comments said anything about any need to go the court (the International Court of Justice or ICJ) so the dispute can be peacefully resolved. There were no sentiments of love for Belize as a neighboring country or the desire to have this matter finally settled so that as neighbors, the two countries can build their bonds of friendship. Whereas it goes without saying that the views of these Guatemalans are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of all Guatemalans, these are the vocal ones on social media and indicative of what the prevailing view is in some quarters, and the view that possibly drives their pro-ICJ agenda.

Below are some of the comments of which Belizeans should be aware:
Juan Gonzales: Nuestro departamento de Belice Guatemala. BELICE no es país. Es un pueblo de Guatemala. [Claims that Belize is a department of Guatemala, not a country but really Belizeans are Guatemalans.]

Author’s reply: Debe saber su historia y la ley internacional. La organizacion de los Naciones Unidos han pasado resoluciones sobre la cuestion de Belize. Debe leer los y apprender la verdad. Belize es para Belize — un pais libre y acceptado por el ONU. [You need to know history and international law. The United Nations has passed resolutions on the Question of Belize. You need to read those and learn the truth. Belize is for Belize – a free country which has been accepted by the United Nations.]

Juan Gonzales replied saying that the history [as he has been taught] goes back to his childhood days.
Shado Mason, who reproduced a condescending graphic with a map saying that Belize is a “false state” and desecrating our map and flag as a national symbol, commented that we are “exclavos extranjeros” [foreign slaves] in Guatemalan territory.
Obviously, those who still feel that way have not allowed their thinking to evolve with the times! They do not respect the right of Belizeans to self-determination, and sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Breaking News Belize should know that there is a Facebook user under the name “Breaking News Belize, Guatemala.” The recently created page commented: “You never understand Belize is not a country. I don’t understand why you’re [stet] don’t understand Belize still belongs to the republic of Guatemala, because [between] Belize and Guatemala there is no border. [It] is very important Belize and Guatemala goes in the court international of justice [stet] until the court decides which is part territory of Belize and which is part territory of Guatemala.”

That pro-ICJ page (run by the same group which operates the Belice es de Guatemala Facebook page with nearly 30,000 followers as well as an associated website) called on followers on May 5 to report the page of PUP Belize Rural South, after it shared a post saying: “Since we started our educational campaign on the Guatemala border issue a NUMBER of GUATEMALAN FB PAGES and Guatemalans have attempted to insult our people and spread their propaganda on our page. We will not tolerate it.” The PUP page warned that if Guatemalans post on the page with name-calling, insulting anyone and being nasty, their comments would be deleted.

These Guatemalans strategically wage a vicious war on social media against Belizeans who are vocal in support of Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is one of the tactics they use to suppress the position of Belizeans. It is not the first time they have waged such campaigns on the pretext that Belizeans are perpetrating “hate speech,” when it is actually the reverse that is the case. They have also gotten Facebook to remove certain posts on that basis.
Guatemalans still maintaining the nonsensical stance that Belize is not a real country should consult an international map from a respected source. Every official map published shows Belize as a nation state. Even the map shown by their electoral authority during the referendum did not include Belize, as they did not administer that vote in Belize.

Have these Guatemalans been told the truth—that there was a treaty in 1859 accepting that the borders are as defined even BEFORE January 1, 1850 and that their officials had participated in exercises in the early 1900s to proceed to mark out the border on the ground? Have they been told of the markers at Garbutt’s Falls and Gracias a Dios that sit on the western border between the two countries? In this propaganda war, informed Belizeans need to make their voices heard at home and abroad, in reaffirming the rights of Belize as a sovereign nation with established borders. Belizeans should never waver in that position—ICJ or no ICJ.

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