The Government of Belize has written to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, informing him that Belize has rejected Guatemala’s two proposals to delay the October 6 simultaneous referenda.
Following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, GOB stated via press release that Belize is committed to abide by the Special Agreement, signed in December 2008.
Government’s rejection of the Guatemalan proposals comes less than 24 hours after the Opposition People’s United Party issued its own rejection of the proposals that was presented to the OAS last weekend, in Washington.
PUP leader Hon. Francis Fonseca, speaking at an “emergency” press briefing at Independence Hall, said: “The People’s United Party rejects any proposal which violates the spirit and letter of the Special Agreement signed by Belize and Guatemala in December 2008.”
Insulza had invited a delegation from Belize to a bilateral meeting with their Guatemalan counterpart, after the Guatemalans indicated that they wanted a change in the referendum date.
The Guatemalans presented their proposals to the Secretary General, which called for a delay in holding the referenda and a proposal for Belize to amend its domestic Referendum Act to make it similar to Guatemala’s.
In a government press release issued on Tuesday, March 26, the Belize Ministry of Foreign Affairs said:
“The Government of Belize, having had occasion to review the proposals by the Republic of Guatemala as presented in writing on 17th March, 2013 to Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza for the parties to consider postponement of the referenda for an indefinite period of for Belize to proceed on its own to hold a referendum on the agreed date, had decided to reject the Guatemalan proposals in their entirety.”
The release stressed that tremendous efforts over many years by successive Belize Governments have been spent in finding a negotiated settlement to Guatemala’s unfounded claim to Belize, and the failure of those efforts is what led to signing of the Special Agreement between Belize and Guatemala and the OAS, on December 8, 2008.
The release adds: “That Special Agreement provides for referenda to be held in Belize and in Guatemala on October 6, 2013, and had also been jointly agreed upon by the parties for the purpose of consulting the respective publics on whether or not the solution should be found in submitting Guatemala’s claim to the International Court of Justice.
“Any changes in the Special Agreement or the agreed date of the referenda must therefore be jointly agreed upon.”
The PUP’s position resonated with that of GOB. Fonseca made it clear that his party also does not support the idea of holding of any unilateral referendum.
In addition, the opposition also rejected the Guatemalan proposal that asks Belize to reduce the 60 percent threshold that is stipulated in Belize’s Referendum Act.
“We do not support the amendment of our national law to reduce our threshold participation in referenda, simply to accommodate Guatemala,” Fonseca said.