General

Guatemala loves Belize, says President Jimmy Morales

By Marion Ali

Assistant Editor

Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales was quoted this week as saying that Guatemala loves Belize, despite the fact that his country is claiming from our Sibun to the Sarstoon rivers.  Morales’ comments came on the heels of at least one Belizean boating expedition to the Sarstoon River being stopped and ordered to turn back by Guatemalan armed forced just a couple days earlier.

Morales made his comment while touring some areas in the eastern portion of his country as they prepare to hold a referendum this coming Sunday on whether or not Belize and Guatemala should seek a solution to our border dispute at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In encouraging his country people to vote “yes”, Morales, according to the Prensa Libra newspaper of Guatemala, told Guatemalans: “The message I send to Belize is that they have a neighbor who loves them and respects them.  We are not fighting with Belize, we are claiming a historic right, we have the right to claim what belongs to us…the territory”.

Morales reportedly added during his speech that Guatemala and Belize share a good friendship.  He explained to his people the details of the diplomatic agreements between our two countries, suggesting that if the dispute is settled at the ICJ, Belize and Guatemala could have more agreements and treaties for better cooperation.

As part of the same campaign to get his people to vote in Sunday’s referendum, Morales appeared on Guatemala’s TV Azteca for an interview on the same topic, and became visibly annoyed with the host, Ana Lucia Masariegos.  He left after giving a brief statement to his native Guatemalans.

Morales started off by saying that Guatemala accepted Belize’s independence in 1981, but when he was redirected to the issue at hand, which is the territorial claim and how he will convince his people to vote yes on Sunday, he responded: “…if you know the answer, why don’t you tell it to them. You keep interrupting me…This is my message to the people of Guatemala…people of Guatemala, thank you for being attentive to the referendum that will take place on April 15. …In 1773, discussions began concerning this issue. In 2018, this generation has the opportunity to not pass on this problem to our children. The decision will be yours. It is your right; it is your civic duty. Thank you and may God bless you. Good night.”

Belize has still not set a date for our referendum, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the awareness campaign for the exercise is ongoing.

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