By Benjamin Flowers
Prime Minister Dean Barrow, this week, acknowledged that Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales, misrepresented the clauses of the Special Agreement to Belizeans.
Barrow affirmed that there was no clause in the agreements prohibiting Belize from constructing military bases along the border line, and that Morales erred in statement.
“I completely accept that he misspoke and I think he does too. The records are there and it is a fact that there is not that kind of language”, Barrow said.
During a one-week diplomatic mission to Belize at the end of July, Morales said that Guatemala’s contention with the Government of Belize, building a Coast Guard forward operating base on an island in the Sarstoon River, is because it violated the Special Agreement.
“We agree to the confidence-building measures, the first one was in 2000 and the second was in 2005. We took the decision to not increase the military bases in the vicinity of both countries”, Morales said.
The statement raised the ire of the Belizean public, as well as several groups, including Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), the Vision Inspired by the People political third party, and several members of the People’s United Party.
The members of the PUP, who were all a part of the Belize/Guatemala negotiations during 1998-2008 issued a release categorically denouncing Morales’ statement.
The statement was released jointly by Former Prime Minister of Belize, Said Musa, along with Godfrey Smith, Senator Lisa Shoman, and Eamon Courtenay.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington, who collaborated Morales’ statement at the time, said that GOB will build the base, but at a time convenient to do so.