General

 No compensation from OAS for family of Guatemalan farmer, Sec. Gen says.

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, has categorically said that the OAS will NOT compensate the family of Guatemalan farmer, Francisco Quinn Yat, who was killed during a confrontation with elements of the Belize Defense Force last month on the Belizean side of the border.

The revelation came on Tuesday afternoon in the VIP Lounge at the PSW Goldson International Airport before Insulza departed for Washington, D.C.  He had been in meetings with Belizean and Guatemalan delegates in Guatemala to finalize the discussions to take the age-old claim to the International Court of Justice.

Insulza, who was responding to a question from reporters, said that “We have never paid compensation for Belize, Guatemala, or any country. I don’t know where you got that idea. We have a Peace Fund, but it’s not for that. If some government is trying to compensate that’s a matter for that government, but the OAS does not do that…we don’t have a budget for any kind of compensations. Where do you get these things? I am certainly saying this is not true, definitely not true.”

This position by the OAS is in sharp contrast to public comments made only last week Thursday by Belize’s Foreign Affairs CEO, Alexis Rosado, who said that “…the OAS is offering to do something that is tangible that can assist the family and other countries are willing to assist in the contribution to the peace fund. It’s not a case that Belize is going to [offer] the family of this person. We are contributing to the OAS and the OAS will do as it sees fit to determine how they will help the family.”

Where the compensation will come from is yet undetermined, but at least the OAS funds have been ruled out for that.  In the meantime, Belize and Guatemala have agreed to hold the referendum in our respective countries on October 6, 2013, to allow our people to vote on whether we want the land dispute to be resolved in the International Court of Justice.  Before that can happen, however, both countries must conduct an educational or public awareness campaign on the matter, which along with the ICJ hearing, is estimated to cost well over $100 M for both countries. That hefty sum is another matter being discussed because the International Group of Friends, which are countries that support the settlement of the dispute, is expected to “chip in” and help foot the bill. It is a commitment that a few of those countries have made, but there is still no definitive figure on that amount.

Insulza, meanwhile will call another meeting for the two parties in Washington, D.C., over the coming months.  It was Insulza who, back in 2007, suggested to Belize and Guatemala to have the claim settled at the ICJ. The following year the two countries signed a special agreement and it is now a process in the making.

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