By Alexis R. Milan, Staff Reporter
The Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) is launching a countrywide educational campaign to inform the public of the VIP’s position against taking the Belize-Guatemala dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and reasons for its stance.
According to VIP Public Relations Officer Robert Lopez, VIP representatives will make the rounds on the local media this week, explaining their position and why they believe that going to the ICJ is not in the best interest of the country.
Lopez said the presentation they have prepared will also be made available for secondary and tertiary level schools, churches and other groups that want to understand the situation and what it means for them. Lopez said they will encourage each citizen to make their own decision.
It’s important that Belizeans become educated about the risks before making a decision in a referendum, he said. He also noted that in the recent amendment of the special agreement between both countries, the option to hold simultaneous referenda has still not been ruled out and the VIP fears that the government may hold a last minute referendum before the issue has been fully ventilated in the public, enough for people to make an informed decision.
Lopez added that the Guatemalan foreign minister has made it clear that if they hold a referendum and the Guatemalan public votes no, they would hold another until they get a yes vote. This is troubling, Lopez said, because they obviously want to go to the ICJ and won’t stop until they get it.
He pointed out that Belize is the only country of the two that stands to lose something tangible. “The VIP is calling for a peaceful resolution to the Guatemalan dispute and that is why we should vote no”, he said.