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EDITORIAL – March 22nd. 2019

EDITORIAL – March 22nd. 2019
March 22
12:59 2019

Referendum Day, Wednesday April 10, is only three weeks away.

On that day the voters of Belize will make a decision concerning the future safety of Belize. Voters will be consulted on whether Belize should take her case for ownership of the whole land to the International Court of Justice. This is the Court constituted by the United Nations with the power and authority to deal with disputes such as this.

We are doing this because Guatemala, our bigger neighbour to the West, has already taken her claim to the ICJ. We need to be present at the ICJ, just as we needed to be present at the United Nations in the late 1970s, to make sure that our voice is heard.

What are we going to do at the ICJ? We are going to defend Belize by showing that we have a right to all of it, all the islands and all the sea defined in our Constitution, and that Guatemala’s claim against Belize has no merit in law.

But there have been voices – strong voices – which insist that Belize should not defend herself before the ICJ. They say it is too risky, too expensive, and that there is no need for Belize to take such a risk.

To these people we say that Belize took her biggest risk when we accepted our independence without a defense guarantee from Britain. The people of Belize wanted their independence. They were prepared to fight for it. They kept up the political pressure by going to the United Nations.

As a result the United Nations General Assembly every year for four years passed resolutions declaring that Belize is entitled to have her independence with all of her territory intact.

In the end Britain relented, and in the formal style of Letters Patent bearing the Royal Seal, Parliament granted Belize her independence on September 21, 1981.

Belizeans have always known that sooner or later there would be a showdown with Guatemala over her claim. Every candidate who has run for presidential office in the last 50 years has pledged to do his best to reclaim “the lost territory” of Belize. Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales took the claim to a new level of urgency when he organized a referendum in April last year which gave him the authority to take the claim to the ICJ to be settled according to law.

This has been a heaven-sent opportunity for Belize to strike down the spurious Guatemalan claim, and to do so in a way that the whole world, not only Guatemala, will have to accept and respect.

The new generation of Belizean voters understand that from time to time they will be called upon to defend Belize, our Homeland. They understand that our right to independence also carries with it a duty to defend Belize.

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