By Marion Ali, Staff Reporter
Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, Nestor Mendez is likely to be elected as the next Assistant Secretary General to the Organization of American States (OAS) in a contest between himself and Guyana’s Ambassador to that organization, Bayney Karran.
Ambassador Mendez’ bid for the high office comes with support from Belize’s government and a number of his peers at the OAS, whose members will vote on Wednesday.
In sharp contrast, Guatemala’s former President and representative at the OAS, Eduardo Stein, had submitted his name to run for the post of Secretary General. The Reporter has learned however, that Stein’s counterpart in the bid, Uruguayan Foreign Minister, Luis Almagro, will assume the position by acclamation after Stein’s submission was withdrawn.
Meanwhile, when the Guatemalan President, Otto Pérez Molina visited Belize last December, he expressed an interest in having our two countries do all that is possible to have a referendum in our countries before the end of this year. Guatemala would look into the possibility of holding the referendum on the same day of their presidential elections, which is September 13.
Belize’s Prime Minister, Dean Barrow agreed to look at it and our two countries remain committed to holding the exercise to give our populations the opportunity to decide whether we should take our age-old dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The Belize/Guatemala dispute has been an active one for more than 150 years and throughout the process Belize and Guatemala have tried everything, first under the British and then with the British from 1962 to Independence and since our Independence. We have gone to arbitration, mediation, direct negotiations, and a facilitation process under the auspices of the OAS. All attempts to settle the dispute failed and so in 2007 Belize and Guatemala, on the advice of the OAS Secretary General, decided to submit Guatemala’s Claim to Belizean Territory to the International Court of Justice, strictly under the principle of International Law, but only after the people of Belize and Guatemala agree to submitting the case to the ICJ through referenda.