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OAS Sec. Gen. urges Belize and Guatemala to expedite referendum process

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro visited Belize and Guatemala last week to urge our countries to expedite the process to hold national referenda about going to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The urgency in that message has to do with the fact that funds which are provided to finance the OAS, and its office at the Adjacency Zone at the Western Border are quickly dissipating. The European countries that have been been sponsoring the office have indicated that their tax payers are now reluctant to continue to fund the project that has gone on for 11 years without any tangible solution.

Almagro urged the officials to proceed with the referendum, since the ICJ seems to be the only answer to our dispute.

“We agreed that we will continue to work diligently towards finding a peaceful permanent solution to the territorial dispute. Some of them (the talks) were related about implementing mechanisms of consultation to avoid – to make better management of incidents; the need to go on ahead with the referendum as early as possible, and that will allow us to take the case to the International Court of Justice,” Almagro said.

But the Government of Belize has already indicated that it will take $7 million which the goverment doesn’t yet have at its disposal. It is an allocation that Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington says will have to be made, in light of the urgency of the matter.

Guatemala, meanwhile, has already disclosed that it has sourced the $49 million it will cost her to conduct the exercise in that country.

In terms of the OAS’ work and role, Belize’s Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington informed that already the assistance to operate the OAS office at the Adjacency Zone has been slow in coming, and that “we don’t have the luxury of time.”

“The monies that are presently being utilized there are monies that we have sought jointly from the government of Taiwan. That is not going to last much longer, and the Europeans still have not provided the funding, although they gave us every assurance, and have been doing so for a year now that it’s going to come imminently,” Elrington said.

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