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Editorial – February 8th.

Editorial – February 8th.
February 08
21:19 2019

By Mr. Henry Lawrence,

Belizeans respond generously to calls for help in times of trouble. We responded generously after reports showed that the Guatemalan volcano el Fuego had erupted and killed hundreds and left thousands homeless last year.

But Belizeans are strangely unresponsive to their own country’s call for help to defeat the Guatemalan threat, aimed at destroying Belize borders at the Sarstoon and on the western frontier.

It is an astonishing development, and it is taking place because Belizeans see the ICJ referendum as something political, something optional, something of little impor- tance. Guatemala’s manipulation of the Sarstoon draws an angry and vociferous response, because perhaps it is something physical. But her efforts to deny Belize her legitimate and long-established borders, and her efforts to get ICJ endorsement for this draws merely a shrug.

If the PUP were in power today, the ICJ,which has spawned such sustained and angry opposition, would not be a problem. Opposition Leader, John Briceño would embrace it as a golden opportunity to get rid of the Guatemalan claim. He would have no need to consult the voters of Belize who are themselves looking to him for leadership and guidance.

But the PUP are not in power today, and therein lies the difference. The trouble is that the PUP do not want UDP to claim credit for ending this most troublesome of problems. This explains why there are calls for postpon- ing the referendum, which has already been postponed once before.

Belizenas have known for at least four years that there would be a referendum. The original plan was for both countries to hold a referendum on the same day.

When Guatemala postponed her referendum, Belize postponed hers as well. When Guatemala was eventually ready to hold her referendum in April last year,

Belize was caught unprepared, and did not make the effort needed to comply.

There may be some truth to the PUP argument that the Barrow Government has deliberately manipulated the referendum date. It is certain that both the Guatemalan Government and the Belize Government deviated from the original plan to hold simultaneous referendums.

But belated as the Belize referendum has been, it is still a golden opportunity for Belize to end the claim decisively, forever, and on our terms.

If we decline to take it while we have the support of the international community behind us, we do so at our own cost.

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