Former PUP Foreign Minister, Assad Shoman was assigned by the Opposition to be a part of the team that attended the meeting in Washington to discuss matters related to the Belize-Guatemala Territorial dispute. Therefore, Shoman accompanied Minister Elrington at the head table during the press briefing that was held yesterday to discuss the outcome of the meeting. However, he disagrees that the Belize Territorial Volunteers are the cause of tension at the Sarstoon. First though, we hear Minister Elrington reading from a communication sent by the Guatemalan government blaming the BTV for their behavior.

Screen_Shot_2016-03-18_at_7.52.59_PMHonorable Wilfred Elrington – Minister of Foreign Affairs

This is Guatemalan position it is worthy to note that if the positions maintained by both governments are different the good level of understanding reached by both military authorities have prevented incidents from the areas from occurring, the inconveniences that have recently taking places due to the irresponsible stand taking by Belizeans civilians who purport to resolve the territorial and maritime referendum through provocation and let me expand on that  because as soon as I landed in Washington I like to read the China Times or the China newspaper and they were talking in relation to the problems they have in the South China Sea and the whole issue of provocation. They perceive the activities of the Americans going in there as provocation. They gave an example of what could constitute provocation giving rise to problems between people. They say if a man comes every morning at eight and stands in front of your house and starts to look into your main doorway…every day he comes there…after a few days you’ll get tired of him. He’s causing you provocation. He’s free to do that you know. It’s a free country. But which one of us wants a man to come in front of their house every day and stare into their house. So provocation is caused to different people in different ways but I think what we must emphasize is not the negative good Christian people don’t advertise the negative they seek to get the positive that is the Christ like attitude you know you dispel love not hate.”

Assad Shoman – Former People United Party Foreign Minister

“I personally would not say bearing in mind that I am not living physically here for some time but from what I have gathered I would not say that it is because of the acts of the Territorial Volunteers that Guatemala has been taking that position on the Sarstoon for many years Guatemala has taken that position as the minister rightly said and we all know their claim of the entire country has been longstanding our position has also been longstanding we have ben sure for our sovereignty over all of our territory, in respect to the Sarstoon we have not doubt that the line agreed by the British and the Guatemalans runs under the island in the Sarstoon along the mid channel and we have never wavered from that position.”

Most importantly, Shoman who helped internationalize the cause for Belize’s independence also said that there is a marked difference in Guatemala’s rhetoric over the territorial dispute now as opposed to back then.

Assad Shoman – Former People United Party Foreign Minister

Guatemala’s position that the river belongs to them is new…that is relatively new. I’ve looked at negotiations that were taking place long before I became part of them and yes they’ve always discussed the Sarstoon – what does mid-channel mean because in Spanish they say something else and so one…the Spanish version and the English version, but never have I heard them say that he whole river is ours…which is what they’re saying now. So that is a difference and it is one that we have to take very seriously, I think the government is taking it very seriously and the government is saying this is where our border lies, the way the treaty has defined it, and the way several mas published by the British for example since the 70’s and the 80’s which to my knowledge has never been protested by the Guatemalan government so we are on very strong grounds on that, ok so you have these incidents taking place and I blame the Guatemalan arm forces for that and however what you are going to do about it, what is being sought to be done now, the minister went there and made it clear that the objective of Belize is to extend the Confidence Building Measures to the Sarstoon Area as well, whatever you call it lets us have some kind of agreement similar to the one we have, what is it we have along the western border that they agree that is the border but to agree that is the line that they cannot cross and we want that same agreement in the sarstoon we are going to resolve the case if it goes to the ICJ and the ICJ will definitely rule in our favor there is no question about it legally and they don’t stand a change.”

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