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Article VI

Article VI
March 22
09:36 2019

By Major, Lloyd Jones, Ret.

“This Special Agreement shall enter into force upon the exchange of instruments of ratification, and remain in force unless and until terminated by agreement of the Parties.”

Article 6, Special Agreement between Belize and Guatemala to Submit Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime Claim to The International Court of Justice, 8th December 2008

Amidst all the ICJ discussions that have been going on there is a very important point that has not been properly ventilated. The Compromis signed by the Barrow administration, by virtue of Article 6, lives on ad infinitum, unless Guatemala offers its consent for it to be terminated.

If you listen to the supporters of the YES vote you will hear that the Compromis is historic because for the first time the Guatemalans have agreed to go to the ICJ. What you will not hear is that the Guatemalans have bound us to the ICJ as the ONLY pathway to settle their unfounded claim.

The Compromis has transmuted the Anglo-Guatemala dispute to a “legal claim” by Guatemala against Belize. It is incomprehensible how our political leaders could have allowed this to happen in light of the fact that the UN General Assembly as far back as 1975 [Resolution 3432 (XXX), paragraph 5] made clear that the dispute was between Great Britain and Guatemala.

The said UN General Assembly Resolution further declared that whatever the outcome of the negotiations between the disputing parties (Guatemala and Great Britain), the proposed solutions could not (1) undermine Belize’s right to self determination and (2) disturb the “inviolability and territorial integrity of Belize.”

It is this Resolution that stood in the way of Great Britain and Guatemala such that they could not dismember Belize. Enter Said Musa and Dean Barrow!

It is Said Musa and Dean Barrow who are most responsible for the precarious position in which Belize finds itself in 2019. It is they who have held sway over the foreign affairs of this nation for almost 92% of the time since our independence. For thirty four of the thirty-seven years since our independence, these two men have either been Foreign Ministers or Prime Minister.

No doubt with the connivance of the British, Said Musa gave us the 1992 Joint Declaration and the ill-fated Adjacency Line. Not to be outdone, Dean Barrow sealed the deal with the Compromis. To repeat, Guatemala and Britain could never have come to a solution to their dispute that diminished our 8,867. The only way to truncate Belize therefore was to make us complicit in our own demise!

The false narrative being offered to us that says that Guatemala wants to go to the ICJ to lose, so that they can finally amend their constitution on the order of the ICJ, is at once bogus and treacherous. It is a cleverly devised plan to get us before the ICJ where neither the British nor those in Belmopan can take blame. There is not a politician in Belize who would dare negotiate away our territory but if the ICJ so declares, they would have saved their hides. After all they did ask us if we wanted to go before the Court: never mind the pitfalls of the Compromis. They get to seek glory but we get to take all the risks!

When asked at his January 9, 2019 press conference what happens if the Belizean people vote NO, the Prime Minister said that “life goes on” and that we would have to “go back to negotiations.” In retrospect this appears to have been a half truth as the Compromis would not have died on April 10th and in fact, in accordance with Article 6, would remain in force. But remain in force for what?

In a television interview last year with the Belizean media, former Guatemalan Foreign Minister [Carlos Raul Morales] was adamant that we are going to the ICJ. His confidence that this matter would end up before the ICJ appeared a pipe dream, and some felt that his musings would ignite even more ICJ resistance in Belize. But as it turns out Morales understood the true purpose of Article 6. Whether by commission or omission, Mr. Barrow has all but paved Belize’s path to the ICJ.

The significance of Article 6 is that the Guatemalans can use Article 6 to pressure the Government of Belize to call a next referendum if the people vote NO on April 10th. They can keep doing this until the people of Belize vote YES. This does not reconcile with the foolishness being fed to us that Guatemala wants to lose at the ICJ.

The Guatemalan strategy of strategic patience and coercive diplomacy has served them well. They have us on the ICJ hook and by the looks of Article 6 they are not letting go. In case you have doubts; the Guatemalans have our leaders and prominent YES advocates pronouncing that we have tried every other diplomatic means to solve this unfounded claim: mediation, facilitation and negotiation. They tell us that all others have failed and so it is time for the ICJ.

Having convinced them of this, the Guatemalans then got them to commit to “any and all claims” before the ICJ ad infinitum. By signing that Compromis the Guatemalans with the concurrence of Mr. Barrow are attempting to fetter the hands of future generations of Belizeans. This has got to be unconstitutional and it has to border on treason!

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