This week the Belize Progressive Party shook up the political establishment by advocating that Belize should renounce the Compris Agreement signed in Washigton on December 8, 2008 .
The agreement was signed between Belize and Guatemala under the patronage of the Orgaizationof America States. Its whole purpose is to help the two countries in the dispute find a diplomatic solution to the centuries- old dispute.
The BPP is a relatively new political party, small in size but mature in addressing the problems facing Belize. Its latest advocacy in favour abandoning the Compromis Agreement deserves to be examined with an open mind to see if it has merit.
The resentment that Belizeans feel towards
Guatemalan heavy-handedness in the area of the Sarstoon is well understood at home, and there may well be a secret hankering to get back at the Guatemalans.
The Compromis Agreement may appear to be a suitable target to begin with. .
But before we go there, let us look at
the Compromis Agreement to see what it is
The Compromis came about because Belize was unhappy and alarmed at the wave of Guatemalan peasants moving from Guatemala across our western border into Belize. The Guatemalans would come in, carve out an area of forest for their farms, build houses and settle down — things they cannot do in their own country.
As more and more of them came in, Belize realized it did not have the manpower or the resources to stop them, so it appealed to the international community for help. Belize approached the Organization of American States, which is the authorized body for mediating disputes in the Americas. The OAS is highly respected and has the support of the international community.
After years of negotiations the OAS came up with a plan. This plan required that both Guatemala and Belize withdraw from the demarcated border for one mile on either side to create an area known as the Adjacancy Zone. All buildings and settlements in this zoned area would have to be removed to make it a no-man’s land. .
Under the plan both countries would pledge to respect this Adjancy Zone and work to establish confidence-building measures which would promote friendly relations to replace growing hos-
The confidence-building measures require both countries to work towards a peaceful settlement of the dispute, using diplomacy and avoiding confrontation. The clear objective was to get both countries to propose on a legal approach that could bring about a permanent settlement.
For years Guatemala had steadfastly refused to take her claim to any international court, because of the fear that she would lose. Britain, on the other hand, had pressed for such a solution.
The Government of Belize, in the hands of the PUP at the time, and the opposition UDP both agreed that this was a good plan, and eventually Guatemala was persuaded to accept the plan as the only practical way to settle the problem.