The more the country of Guatemala continues with its map, its rhetoric and its aggressive attitude towards Belize, the lesser the chances are that Belizeans will support the government with a “yes” vote to take the Belize-Guatemala dispute to the International Court of Justice for final resolution.
I agree with Maurice that our country has failed miserably in educating our people about this conflict. In the beginning, I was very supportive of the ICJ proposal to take this matter to the ICJ; but now I am giving it a second thought. I am not convinced that Belizeans can trust the UN, the OAS, Guatemala or any other organization to guarantee Belize’s security and territorial integrity, because many court rulings have been made in the past and countries still act in their best interest and ignore them.
Plus there are many Belizeans who have mixed feelings about this dispute, because some of them have relatives in Guatemala and others are doubtful about Belizeans’ legitimate claim to Belize. Due to the failure of our governments to educate our people about this dispute.
Many Belizeans have told me that their counytry does belong to Guatemala and it hurts to hear a Guatemalan saying, “Belice is Nuestros.”
I am Belizean 100 percent and I’m more than willing to do anything to defend my country. This, despite the fact that my grandmother is Guatemalan by birth, from Livingston “Labuga.” My reason for taking this position is because as a Garifuna person, my people have moved from Saint Vincent to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and then Belize. where I have family up to this day. Out of all these countries, Belize provides the best hope for the future my children and grandchildren.
Even though I live in the United States, there is a certain feeling towards the place where a person was born and grew up as a child. It brings back memories that I cannot forget and will remain with me until I die. When Guatemala needs soldiers, they just go around and pick up anybody and forcefully take them to training camp. They do not care whether you are Garifuna, Creole, Mestizo or Maya. Who are the people that the Guatemalan army have a history of slaughtering over the years? The native indigenous Maya people, who they continue to abuse up to this day. The Garifuna people are not given their full autonomy in Guatemala and have had their own experiences with the military in Honduras and Nicaragua. The United States is the home for a significant number of Black Belizeans who would prefer to be in Belize if they could afford it.
What do you think they will do with the Blacks in Belize, Garifuna and Creoles? They would kill us without having a second thought. Guatemala’s Human Rights record against the native Maya Indians is the issue that we must continue to examine before we make any deals with them. Trust is the key issue in any agreement with another country and Guatemala cannot be trusted. As the month of October draws nearer, Belizeans will have to think about their vote on this I. C. J. referendum, but the way it is going now, the Guatemalans have a hammer in their hand and they are driving many nails into this coffin.
The author is adjunct professor of history and politics at Boricua College.