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WE HAVE MADE OUR BED.!!!

WE HAVE MADE OUR BED.!!!
May 10
15:02 2019

By Major Llyod Jones (Ret’d)

On the back of a 66.8% turnout on referendum day, 53,388 Belizeans made their ICJ bed. All it took was 38 years and $8 million to detach the Belizean people from their land. Guatemala’s strategic patience has paid off and now we must hope and pray that Mr. Barrow’s ironclad case is as he says it is.

The Barrow administration ran a successful Yes campaign that was built on fear and buttress by money! The very political culture that taught us to put Party above country has been used against us. The UDP said Yes and the PUP said NO but the PUP could not effectively counter the message of fear nor was it able to match the UDP’s/Friends of Belize’s war chest; or perhaps it was unwilling to do so.

When Mr. Barrow signed the Compromis he may have promised that he would take Guatemala’s unfounded claim to the ICJ and so he schemed and he plotted and he delivered. Mr Barrow’s superior political acumen has delivered Belize to the ICJ and it is the Belizean people who have underwritten his ICJ gamble.

Mr Barrow’s ability to deliver upon his ICJ promise demonstrates that he still has tremendous political capital; the Belizean people still believes in him despite all that has gone wrong with his government. This has to trouble Mr. Briceno’s PUP who hopes to return to Belmopan when next elections are called.

The results of the referendum have done two things; firstly it has demonstrated how firm a grip Mr. Barrow has on the UDP and secondly it has demonstrated how much influence money has on the outcome of polls.

Throughout the entire “education campaign” not a single UDP of prominence publicly declared a No position. In a political party with such a large membership it is hard to believe that there would be no dissenting view. In fact all of Cabinet were unanimous in their public endorsement of the ICJ option. Mr. Barrow is King within the UDP and his magnificent delivery of the Yes vote proves it. No matter what you think of Mr. Barrow and however you feel about the ICJ you have to credit Mr. Barrow for this historic achievement.

The results of the Referendum paint an interesting picture: the three border constituencies voted NO [Toledo, Cayo North and Cayo West]. It was the rest of the country that made the ICJ bed and with the exception of Stann Creek they do not have to lie in it.

The shocking Yes results of the Referendum tells me that a great many Belizeans will have no difficulty if Belize emerges from the ICJ with less than 8,867 square miles as long as it means that the claim will end. As unfathomable as this is it is understandable.

The Yes camp had millions of dollars in its war chest and it is money that motivates people on Election Day. But before May 8th millions were spent on getting the Yes message to the people. According to the Alexis Rosado they made more than 600 presentations across the country promoting the Yes vote. The Belize Peace Movement [the adhoc No advocate] could not in any way match that kind of campaign.

Belizeans must be mindful that when Belize came to independence in 1981 the British set in motion a long term plan to settle Guatemala’s unfounded claim on the backs of the Belizean people. It took them 27 years to get us to sign the Compromis; less than a generation! If one thing the British are, is patient. You don’t get to run an “empire” for centuries by thinking short term. So they, along with Guatemala, adopted a policy of strategic patience that was undergirded by fear.

It was the fear factor that delivered the Yes vote. It was either the ICJ or war they said, and to be sure that the people believed them they orchestrated Guatemala’s aggression along the Sarstoon. It worked and it worked perfectly. Belizeans fear war and so they yielded on May 8th but he who yields in the name of peace will soon have nothing to yield. What exactly we will ultimately have to yield will be known in about 5 -7 years.

Despite murdering more than 100 people a year the Belizean people fears war. We have no issue with visiting violence against each other but in the face of Guatemala we tremble. The British never taught us to be a warlike people and so to this day we fear war with Guatemala so much so that we have now decided to gamble our territory before a court.

Over the 38 years since our independence we did nothing to build our own defence, this is not by chance. Neither the British nor the Americans have given us any real weapons of war and we have not learnt to build any for ourselves. We are as we were in 1981: completely defenceless.

Perhaps given our inability to defend ourselves, the Belizean people were wise on May 8th. Time will either vindicate or condemn such a position but whether we were right or wrong one thing is certain: the will of the people is sovereign.

We have made our bed now we must lie in it!

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