Controversy / Diplomatic Relations / General / Weekend News

Guatemalan president visits Belize amidst small protest

By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter

Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales visited Belize on Saturday as part of his plan to tour Central America. Morales, who had longed expressed his view that Guatemala should pursue its claim to Belize, paid Prime Minister Dean Barrow a courtesy call at his Coney Drive office, amidst a small protest in feont of the building.

The venue was on lock down from early morning by a special detail assigned to ensure Morales’ safety while in Belize.

Representatives from the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) and Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), led by Will Meheia and Geovanni Brackett and Krem TV host and social activist, Ya-Ya Marin Coleman, demonstrated outside the PM’s office. The demonstration eventually led Brackett’s arrest.

Morales did not speak with the press and spent less than an hour meeting with the PM. He left guarded by the security detail.

After the meeting, Barrow invited the press for an interview at a lemonade fundraising drive, conducted by the “Children Helping Children” organization, which his youngest daughter, Salima was a part of.

There, Barrow told the press that he and Morales spoke about Belize’s bilateral relations, within the boundaries of ensuring that both countries want to keep good relations. He stated that the issue of taking the territorial claim to the International Court of Justice was not discussed.

“We spoke about the nature of our bilateral relations. He indicated that he is commited in working the process. I told him that I appreciated that. He must understand that the pencil of God has no eraser; we are going to be geographically contiguous; we are going to be neighbours forever”, Barrow said.

Barrow stated that he believed that the professional relationships between our two countries’ Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Education, our militaries and people to people interaction are good.

When asked about the short notice given to the public concerning Morales’ visit, the PM stated that it was because the meeting was not confirmed until mid-week. He assured that there were not intentions of secrecy behind the meeting.

Barrow emphasized that the meeting was with purpose to ensure that there is element of goodwill in the relationships between two governments. Barrow stated that Morales did not discuss the comments Morales made expressing his hostile approach to the territorial claim.

President of COLA, Geovanni Brackett was detained during a confrontation during Morales’ arrival. He was later discharged without any charges but after a warning. Three lawyers met Brackett at the Queen Street police station in his defense. One of them is Caribbean Shores Area Representative, Kareem Musa.

Brackett stated that his stance was important because, “This is the price an activist has to pay, and I make no apologies about it. We believed that we had to make a statement this morning and to let this gentleman know that he was not welcomed in Belize, at least not by everyone; that there is opposition.”

Brackett believes that if the public would have had more notice – perhaps a 48-hour notice, there would have been a larger turn out to demonstrate Morales’ visit.

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