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January 25
08:15 2019 - News Staff - Jan. 25th. - 

The hot button topic over the next few weeks will be whether Belizeans should or should not vote “Yes” to take our border dispute with Guatemala to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). But this week, both the Cabinet and the Opposition made their positions clear, and like their individual party philosophies, their take on the matter is like night and day.

On Wednesday, the People’s United Party (PUP) made its official position known – that based on the pulse of its supporters, it is recommending that Belizeans vote “No.” This came one day after Cabinet unanimously made its position officially “Yes”.

PUP leader John Briceño, who has indicated that he supports going to the ICJ, introduced what he called a “People’s Declaration” and explained that his party recommends a “No” vote with a list of demands:

“That the education campaign be re-designed, managed and implemented by a well-resourced, independent Referendum Commission.

“That the Referendum Act be amended to make the results of all referenda binding.

“That the Maritime Areas Act be amended to claim for Belize the full extent of rights under international law.

“That the Representation of the People Act be amended to allow Belizeans abroad to vote in the Belize/Guatemala ICJ Referendum, and to guarantee the integrity of the voting and counting of ballots in an ICJ Referendum and that the current legal opinion be revised and updated to include the latest information and developments on the territorial and maritime claim and that the updated opinion be widely circulated.”

Notably absent from the table was former PUP Leader, Said Musa, who only two weeks ago, joined three other former PUP Foreign Ministers in supporting the Government’s “Yes” position. Musa did indicate to the media, however, that he respects the consensus that his party has taken.

Briceño, who refused questions, read from a prepared speech: “The People’s United Party…deplores Guatemala’s refusal to accept the integrity of the long-established Belizean borders and its insistence on maintaining its unfounded claim to Belizean territory; respects the sacred right of the Belizean people to decide whether or not we should submit the unfounded claim by Guatemala to Belizean territory to the International Court of Justice; …strongly condemns the mismanagement of Belize/Guatemala relations by the Barrow Administration and the continued incompetence of Foreign Minister Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington.” Elrington, Briceño said, has failed to manage peace along our borders and to negotiate a Sarstoon Protocol, and called for his immediate removal as Belize’s Foreign Minister.

Briceño criticized the government’s Education Campaign on the Referendum for being “disorganized, under-financed and not sufficiently balanced’. He called for the campaign to be revamped and conducted by an independent Referendum Commission; and for the Referendum Act be amended to make the results of all referenda binding.

The PUP Leader also called for the Maritime Areas Act to be amended to claim Belize’s full rights under international law; that the Representation of the People Act also be amended to allow Diasporans to vote in the Referendum, and to guarantee the integrity of the voting and counting of ballots in the Referendum.

Cabinet, not surprisingly, recommended the exact opposite of what the PUP did. A release from the Cabinet states in part that a “Yes’ vote ought to be recommended to the people of Belize without prejudice to individual members of Cabinet reserving their right to disagree.” But Cabinet members unanimously voted “Yes” to going to the ICJ.

The Cabinet’s position is grounded in the decades-long unsuccessful attempts to find a peaceful settlement to this dispute with Guatemala, stating that “Cabinet is convinced that given Belize’s legal certitude of having title to all its territory and confident that Belize can comprehensively prove this at the independent and impartial I.C.J.”

And then, it’s all gone. The respect from others is gone. The self-respect is gone. The trust is gone. For many of us, our jobs are gone. The money is gone. The friends, for the most part, are gone. The kids are gone. The family is gone. All gone, except for the bottle which never seems to go anywhere. Was it worth it? Was that fleeting moment of fake-happiness worth it? Was the momentary illusion of alcohol-induced superhuman powers worth it? Was the stinking rum or beer or whiskey or gin or whatever the hell your poison is…worth it?

I love my children. And I thought I was a decent father. What the hell was I thinking? Listen, let me say this as plainly as I can. Put down the damned bottle. Find help if you need it. You want to talk alcohol addiction with somebody who knows – call me. Reach out to your Church group, or a friend who understands. Talk to somebody, anybody. Stay away from temptation. Find a constructive hobby. Spend every moment you have with your families. Love them. Cherish them. If somebody offers you alcohol, run and scream. Exercise. This is no joke. Trust me on that. Take my word. Don’t find out for yourself.

I’m on the road to recovery. I guess I had to lose just about everything first. I’m on the road to finding myself and getting my life back. I believe that with all my heart. Let’s do this. We can do this.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


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