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A LETTER ABOUT ‘THE BELIZE – GUATEMALA DILEMMA’ by, Major: Jones (re-published)

A LETTER ABOUT  ‘THE BELIZE – GUATEMALA  DILEMMA’ by,  Major: Jones (re-published)
August 17
11:56 2018

Between 1981 and 2008, with the connivance of the British and the machinations of the Yanks, the unfounded Guatemalan claim morphed into the “legal claim of Guatemala against Belize.” With that the center of gravity of the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute was changed forever.

When Belizewas “encouraged” to signon to the Compromis on December 8th, 2008 (just a single generation post-independence) the British successfully extricated themselves as a party to the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute. On December 8th, 2008 theGuatemalans agreed that their beef was no longer with the British and that in fact their problem is with Belize and so the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute disappeared with the stroke of a pen. Britain then turned around and became instead a member of the “Group ofFriends” – some friend indeed.

With the signing of the Compromis, the unfounded claim landed squarely on the backs of the Belizean people. An astonishing feat! In fact even the learned opinion given to Belize by its own legal experts in 2000made it clear that this was an Anglo-Guatemalan issue. Belize’s legal advisors made the point that “without prejudice to any possible claims of Guatemala against Britain arising before that Exchange of Notes, the Exchange of Notes extinguished any possible claim by Guatemala that the alleged breach rendered the Convention void.

Nothing that has occurred since the Exchange of Notes serves to eliminate that effect or to transmute possible Guatemalan claims against Britain into possible Guatemalan claims against Belize”[emphasis added]. Amazingly,Belize has disregarded the legal advice of its own experts by agreeing that Guatemala DOES have a legal claim against Belize and that we should ask the ICJ to sort it out. What Belize should have done was suggest instead that the British and the Guatemalans (the Parties to the 1859 Treaty) go to the ICJ to determine the validity of the Treaty as that is the real foundation of the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute—the purported breach of Article 7.But then the British already tried that didn’t they?

Between 1946 and 1956, the British submitted to the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ in an attempt to settle the dispute with Guatemala. The Guatemalans however, quite cleverly, did not accept the offer of the British; they chose instead to adopt a policy of strategic patience. The Belizean people must ask themselves why? Why would the Guatemalans refuse to take their claim before the ICJ with Britain on the other side in 1946/56, but so quickly and willingly accept to take the very same claim to the ICJ in 2008 but with Belize on the other side? Guatemala knew back then, as it does now, that in 1946/56 Britain would have ignored any ruling of the ICJ that was not in its favour. And who at the UN would have compelled her to comply when Britain had emerged from World War II as one of the victors and as a permanent member of the Security Council?

A great deal has changed since 1956 for the parties involved here: Belize, Britain and Guatemala. Belize became independent in 1981 with all her territory intact, butafter 37 years it has failed to consolidate its independence. Due primarily to poor political leadership, Belize has not been able to strengthen any of its elements of national power in relation to Guatemala and so it has been led to believe, and falsely so, that the ICJ is the final solution: a serious misstep. In 1981 Belize had real borders but today it has an adjacency line. Belize’s failure to consolidate its independence and strengthen its elements of national power has, among other things, caused Guatemalato repeatedly violateits territorial integrity with impunity.

The British, since 1956, have seen a slow, steady decline in terms of theironce formidable empire. They granted political independence to former colonies but they have, quite astutely, remained firmly entrenched in terms of theireconomies. This economic stranglehold is bolstered by way of various preferential regimes and grant aid programs that serve to deepen the economic dependence of said former colonies.

The economic dependence of Belize has allowed Britain to influence its domestic as well as foreign policy especially as it relates to Guatemala. Britain’s refusal to grant Belize a defence guarantee coupled with its declining military support (arms and training) must now be seen for what it is: a strategy to leave Belize vulnerable to the military might of Guatemala and thus more susceptible to accepting the ICJ pill.Unlike Belizeans the British have long term vision; you don’t run an empire for centuries without the ability to see decades down the road.

My thesis is that the British decided in 1981 that they were going to get the Guatemalan monkey off their backs and that they were going to lead Belize to the ICJ. The fact that they were able to successful achieve this in just one generation is remarkable. Whereas Britain’s diplomatic prowess dwarfs that of both Belize and Guatemala, for sure she could not have dumped the Guatemalan monkey on the backs of the Belizean people without Washington’s blessings.

The Guatemalans are perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of the passage of time in relation to the 1859 Treaty. Their stock has risen over the intervening period since 1946/56. Notwithstanding the civil war and the atrocities experienced during that time, Guatemala has been able to clean up its image and strengthen its geo-politicalranking. Such has been Guatemala’s diplomatic upswingthat she has been able tocontinue to claim an entire country; violate the territorial integrity of her neighbourrepeatedly and still yetmanage to successfully assume a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Now, in 2018, with their successful Yes to the ICJ referendum the international community hails Guatemala as a “lover of peace.” So if a Yes to the ICJ means that you are a lover of peace then what does a NO to the ICJ mean? The ICJ pill is nothing more than a well camouflaged trap which was baited with money and the promise of legacy. Some in our political class crave eternal life; the kind that would come with a permanent solution to the unfounded claim.

There will never be another George Price or Philip Goldson but there can be a new hero were the ICJ to rule in favour of Belize. This is what has some salivating; the thought that they can be that hero. And if legacy was not sufficient to lure our political leaders to the ICJ the “Group of Friends” baited the ICJ trap with that age ole poison—MONEY, and lots of it: $8 million is the figure being thrown around.

The “Group of Friends” tell us that the ICJ is how mature and peace loving nations solve their problems. But the British and the Argentines have a dispute in the south Atlantic over the Falklands/Las Malvinas Islands which are claimed by both countries. These islands are about half the size of Belize andthey are sparsely populated with less than 4,000 islanders, but these islanders are of AngloSaxon origin unlike the almost four hundred thousand Belizeans who are people of color. When Argentina invaded the Islands Britain sent an armada more than8,000 miles to retake them, losing 258 soldiers in the ensuing armed combat. The British are yet to submit the Falklands/Las Malvinas issue to the ICJ but they have been quick to paveour way there.

Belizeans must by now realize that the Brits and the Yanks have prescribed for us a medicine which they themselves would never take. This is the classic behavior of one who suffers from a superiority complex!

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