By Marion Ali, Staff Reporter
Soon after his election as president of Guatemala last Sunday, Jimmy Morales delivered a speech in which he said Belize belongs to Guatemala and that they should not give up any of it. But while Morales has taken a hardline approach to the age-old dispute, Dean Barrow, still carrying out his role as Belize’s Prime Minister, took a more diplomatic approach to those remarks this week.
In his speech to Guatemalans, Morales said, “How can we forget Belize? Up until a few years ago, the Constitution of Guatemala said that Belize is Guatemalan territory and still we have a differendum and without wanting to fight with our brothers and neighbors.”
But Morales ended his speech on the topic of Belize, expressing his view that Guatemala should aggressively pursue its claim.
“I say that we should not give up even a centimeter of our territory, a centimeter of our sea, a centimeter of that that joins us by history”, Morales remarked.
Barrow, for his part, who wrote to Morales to congratulate him on his victory at the polls, was not as forceful in his letter on the Belize/Guatemala dispute.
“The peaceful developments over the last few months in your country, including the elections, show a level of maturity among the Guatemalan electorate that advances peace and democracy in our region. It is a development that all of us who promote good governance and combat the common ailments that affect our societies must welcome”, Barrow wrote.
“I want to assure you that Belize wishes only to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours”, the Prime Minister continued. “Over the past few years, Belize and Guatemala have engaged in constructive engagement to build bridges of functional cooperation, even as we pursue the path we have already defined to definitively resolve our historic differences at the International Court of Justice should our people so fesire. I wish to assure you that under my government Belize is committed to continue along that path, for which I extend a hand of friendship”, Barrow’s letter stated.