Taiwan gives Guatemala big money for freeway!

By Marion Ali
Assistant Editor

The Taiwanese government has given Guatemala a whopping US $650 million to construct a freeway that some media houses say is the same road that Britain had promised to build for Guatemala, but failed to do, and which has led to the territorial dispute that now hovers our Belize.

CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Pat Andrews told the Reporter on Thursday, however, that it is not the same road that leads from Jalacte into Guatemala, but a road leading from Guatemala City to Puerto Barrios, a community where many Belizeans go in Guatemala for medical and entertainment purposes.

Andrews said that whatever Guatemala has secured from Taiwan, like any other country, is based solely on the merits of their negotiations with Taiwan.

The amount which Guatemala has secured from Taiwan has caused some concern over which country Taiwan supports over Belize’s territorial dispute with Guatemala; but Andrews affirmed that the gesture was one carved out of diplomatic ties, and not favouritism towards Guatemala over Belize.

Guatemala’s arrangement was finalized in mid-July, when her Foreign Minister, Carlos Raul Morales visited Taiwan and secured the money in the form of grants and loans, to construct the road.

The “Jacobo Arbenz” four-lane freeway, should be finished in October 2019. It is a project that Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales has described as “one of the most longed for projects…for its historical and strategic importance in increasing the country’s competitiveness.”
Some sections of the Guatemalan press also refer to the freeway as the project which Britain never fulfilled as part of the 1859 Treaty.

The Reporter tried to get a comment from Taiwanese Ambassador Charles Liu, but he was unavailable until next week. His country stands in a similar territorial conflict with China as Belize does with Guatemala.
Belize also landed a significant amount when Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Dr. David Lee, visited our country last week, but that the US $60 Million Taiwan will provide to us in grants and loans over the next four years is a fraction of the amount Guatemala received.

Both Belize and Guatemala share diplomatic relations with Taiwan and both support Taiwan at the United Nations Security Council in its bid against China’s territorial claim over her.

Meanwhile, the Guatemalan Congress this week approved a notion to hold their referendum to take the age-old territorial dispute with Belize to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Guatemalan press has reported that their Congress has voted to ask Guatemalans if they want their government to take the matter to the ICJ.

Belize will not hold any referendum until after Guatemala’s. The government has also been carrying out education campaigns on the issue, but Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said that a referendum will not be held until after municipal elections next year.

Comments are closed.