Editorial

Editorial

Several media houses covered the Guatemalan referendum while it was in progress, giving Belizeans a better understanding about what Guatemalans want to achieve.

Some 26 percent of the voting population or some 1,985,982 men and women participated in the referendum and voted overwhelmingly in favor of taking the Belize-Guatemala land dispute to the International Court of Justice. It is a binding referendum and it commits Guatemala to accept and respect the decision of the ICJ, whether favorable or unfavorable.

For a country like Guatemala where the Constitution and even the schools have programmed the population to think that ‘Belice es nuestro’ this has been a giant step; a giant step for democracy and mature thinking.

By this action voters in Guatemala have signaled their preference for a peaceful healing of the territorial divide which has separated the two neighbors by having clearly defined borders which both nations will respect.

Belize has made a commitment to hold a similar referendum using the same questions, and now the pressure is on Belize to hold the referendum and to do so without undue delay.
Belizeans should not be afraid to vote “yes” in such a referendum because the prize of having secure borders in the west and south is a prize well worth having.
To live peacefully with Guatemala, as we do with Mexico, is a dream of many generations of Belizeans who love peace and hospitality and who know the benefits that come from having an easy exchange of goods and services including health, education, commerce and recreation.

We cannot achieve any of this without a serious commitment on our part; a commitment to allow our claim to this land to be tested in a court of law.
The United Nations, the Countries of the Commonwealth, the Organization of African States and the Organization of American States have all acknowledged the validity of our claim. All of them want to see us grow and prosper, and all of them are telling us that the Referendum is the only sensible way forward.

They are not telling us how to vote. That is something for us Belizeans to decide!
When the time comes, we believe that Belizeans will vote “yes” just as Guatemalans did. We are convinced that we are putting our country in a safe place, beyond dispute, when we put our faith in the ICJ.

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