Cancilleres de Belice y Guatemala se reunirán para avanzar en el diferendo territorial y marítimo

Los cancilleres de Guatemala y Belice se reúnen el viernes para avanzar en el diferendo

La canciller guatemalteca Sandra Jovel, y su homólogo beliceño, Wilfred Elrington, se reunirán el próximo viernes 17 de mayo en Belice para realizar “coordinaciones sobre la implementación del acuerdo especial” entre ambos países para someter el diferendo territorial, insular y marítimo a la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ).

Así lo anunció este lunes el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Guatemala después del resultado “positivo” del referéndum celebrado en Belice el pasado 8 de mayo, en el que los votos a favor de la consulta fueron 53.388, mientras que 43.029 personas votaron en contra de que se acuda a la CIJ para resolver el litigio.

El 15 de abril del año pasado, Guatemala celebró su consulta popular para someter el litigio con Belice ante la CIJ y de los más de 7,5 millones de ciudadanos registrados en el padrón electoral, el 26,33 % acudió a las urnas dando como resultado un 95,87 % a favor del “si”.

El Gobierno de Guatemala aseguró que tiene “un Plan Nacional Estratégico, así como la base legislativa y administrativa de respaldo para la implementación del mismo” para hacer frente a este diferendo. En este sentido, anunció que “próximamente” se dará a conocer el nombre del “agente del Estado de Guatemala” y del equipo de abogados internacionales que asesorarán al Gobierno a lo largo del proceso, el cual estará constituido por “profesionales de primer nivel, reconocidos internacionalmente por sus altas capacidades, así como por su desempeño y experiencia” ante la Corte, con sede en La Haya.

El Ministerio indicó, además, que en la cartera hay “equipos profesionales nacionales en diversas disciplinas” vinculadas al caso para “brindar el respaldo técnico necesario”.

El Acuerdo Especial debe ser notificado al secretario de la Corte de manera conjunta o por cualquiera de las partes dentro del mes siguiente a la fecha en que la consulta popular en ambos países haya aprobado la presentación de la disputa a la Corte.

El procedimiento consistirá en dos etapas: una de alegatos escritos de dos rondas y otra de audiencias orales, y posteriormente la Corte pronunciará el fallo correspondiente. En la primera ronda de alegatos escritos, el Gobierno de Guatemala ha anunciado que presentará una Memoria ante la Corte, en el transcurso de los 12 meses siguientes a la fecha en que se haya hecho efectiva la notificación correspondiente, y seguidamente Belice presentará su “contramemoria”.

En el transcurso de los 6 meses siguientes, en el marco de la segunda ronda de alegatos escritos, el Gobierno de Guatemala podrá reafirmar sus argumentos y “desvanecer la contramemoria de Belice” mediante la presentación de una réplica. Una vez presentada esta, Belice contará con un plazo similar para hacer lo propio, a través de la presentación de una “dúplica”.

El último paso de este proceso será que la Corte fije una fecha para las audiencias orales y después de ello hará los análisis para emitir el fallo. Desde 1821, Guatemala ha reclamado más de la mitad de Belice, incluidos varios cayos en el Mar Caribe, aunque en 1991 reconoció la independencia de ese Estado miembro de la Comunidad del Caribe (Caricom).

Aguas Digital


Belize to take the Guatemalan dispute to the ICJ

In the Referendum Election held in Belize, Wednesday May 8, 2019, approximately 65 percent of the registered voters or 148,500 cast their vote.

The results were yes-53,388 and no-43,029, out of 96,417 of the total votes that were cast. This turnout percentage was even higher than the number of Guatemalans that voted on this same issue on April 15, 2018. Only about 26 percent of Guatemala’s 7.5 million registered voters voted.

Before and after Belize’s independence in 1981, the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP), were grappling with the question of taking this claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Eventually, they both decided that this was the best way to resolve this dispute.

Then, last year the PUP leader John Briceno changed his mind from a yes to a no position after members of his party pressured him. As the votes kept coming from the various PUP constituencies that were saying no, it was clear by the yes votes, that the UDP government supported was going to win.

The Referendum Election was based on an agreement signed between Belize and Guatemala on December 8, 2008, to take the Guatemalan claim to Belize to the (ICJ) for a final resolution.

Now that both countries have voted yes to take this dispute to the ICJ, they will start preparing their cases to present to the court.

What is not clear after this election is, the reasons why the Belizean citizens decided to vote yes to go to the ICJ instead of a no vote – given the current circumstances they face after the countries of Great Britain and Belize signed the 1859 Treaty, The Webster Proposals of 1968, The Heads of Agreement 1981,The Maritime Areas Act 1991 and other agreements with Guatemala that will be produced in court.

In all these documents concessions were proposed to Guatemala and the Maritime Areas Act were legislated by the Belize National Assembly into law. Luckily for Belize, the Guatemalan Congress rejected the Maritime Areas Act.

Some reasons point to Belizeans agreeing that this is the best option available to them; they were paid to vote yes; the people who were advocating for the no vote did not provide them with compelling reasons to vote their way; or many Belizean independent-minded voters changed the outcome of the election. Many Belizeans citizens are moving away from the two main political parties to become independents.

This ICJ election was significant for Belize because general elections are going to be held in 2020 but can be called this year if the sitting prime minister decides to call it.

The PUP’s saw the no vote as their trump card to win the next election, but the vote did not turn out their way. Now, they must get prepared to face a general election.

The people of Belize have already voted to go to the ICJ with the Guatemalan dispute.

If the election were conducted in a fair and legal manner, the results would be validated and Belize will go to the ICJ as was agreed upon. In the absence of a ruling by the Court of Appeals to favour the PUP, nothing will be able to stop it. The Belize People’s Front (BPF) and other opposition political parties also took a no position to the ICJ. They are now meeting to see how to move forward after this vote.

The political parties in Belize must not make the mistake of thinking that because Belizeans voted yes to go to the ICJ, they will vote for them when the general elections are called. So far, many of the predictions that have been made about this ICJ election throughout the country surprised many political parties and politicians.

When it comes to the Guatemalan issue, Belizean citizens take it seriously. They have removed sitting governments from office in the past because of this issue and will not hesitate to do it again.

After this election was held, it now appears that many Belizeans believe that taking this issue to the ICJ is the best option available.

Belize gained its independence on September 21st, 1981, with a unanimous vote from the member states of the United Nations. Only Guatemala, out of all the countries in the world opposed Belize’s independence.

Caribbean News Now


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