To those conscientious Belizeans who want to know if taking Belize to the International Court of Justice will advance the cause of Belize, we have a question. What is your vision of Belize for ten, twenty, fifty years from today?
Will Belize still be a timid third world country struggling with poverty and national security issues, or will she be on her way to becoming a confident, prosperous nation like Taiwan, taking her place as equal among the peoples of the Western Hemisphere and contributing towards a better world for all?
Will Belize still be carrying around the baggage of two-party divisiveness, or will we, like Ireland, be able to hammer out a communal process where economic and human development get priority treatment over political preference and party interests?
If we have as our vision of Belize, a country confident and free, making strides of our own in education and useful knowledge, we will not be overly concerned by the territorial claim of the government of Guatemala to a portion of our land.
We will not be overly concerned because the vision will reveal to us that there is only one way to settle this century-old problem, and there is only one tribunal in the world that can bring about closure and end the feud.
No matter how the dispute is ended, there is one thing that the ICJ cannot do! It cannot deprive Belize of her right to be a self-respecting nation. (Only Belizeans can do that!)
And it cannot, no matter what else it might do, take from Belizeans their faith in the future – faith that we can become a nation of achievers worthy of the early Baymen Settlers who first glimpsed a vision of the future – that they can be prosperous and still be free and independent.
Fear and its twin sister, Doubt are paralyzing enzymes over the human heart. They prevent so many of us from realizing our true potential. They persuade us to cling to our shabby clothes out of fear we may never be able to buy new duds.
Our vision of Belize tells us that we have to solve this problem with our neighbour. Guatemala’s leaders on their own have come to understand this same singular truth. Her willingness to take her claim to the ICJ is the most progressive decision she has made to break the deadlock in more than a hundred years.
As much as Guatemala covets Belize, our broad expanse of sea, our fertile lands and ample forests, our reef and sparkling islands, her political leaders have come to understand that the resources she has put into her claim and those she will need to preserve it can be more effectively spent on détente. Belize is of greater value to Guatemala as a friend than as a foe.
The reverse is also true, but the big breakthrough will come only when both countries see the light of this great truth.
Belize has to see the big picture! We must overcome the doubt in our heart and go out to meet the challenge with our head. There is liberation in courage, and new energy born from challenge.
We know we have a strong case! The UN General Assembly has said so when it approved our independence and gave us a seat among the nations.