Yesterday morning, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize, Hon. Wilfred Sedi Elrington took center stage at the 68th Annual General Assembly of the United Nations held in New York City. With over 190 nations forming part of the UN, Elrington used the platform to address a number of issues affecting Belize. The Millennium Development Goals were among the topics spoken on by Elrington asserting that despite very few countries showing improvement in poverty, the majority of the countries are still far off from alleviating poverty.
One of the major points of interest that Elrington spoke of was that of the Belize/Guatemala Territorial Dispute which has basically taken a step to the back burner. Five days from now, October 6, Belize and Guatemala were to have held the simultaneous referendum in efforts of gathering the say of the people of both countries in whether the territorial dispute should be taken to the International Court of Justice, the ICJ.
In his address, Elrington brought forth Belize’s disappointment to Guatemala’s change of heart to the referendum.
Hon. Wilfred Sedi Elrington - Minister of Foreign Affairs
“Mr. President when I addressed this assembly last September, I had been pleased to support that our two states had agreed to submit to the citizens of our respective countries in simultaneous referendum on the sixth day of October 2013, six days from today, the question of whether it was the will of our respective constituencies that the Guatemalan claim be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final resolution. Regretfully however, last April, Guatemala gave official notice to both Belize and the Organization of American States that the Guatemalan government had decided not to proceed with the referendum on the sixth of October 2013 and was proposing that the same be postponed. Not unexpectedly that decision was not well received in Belize. The Guatemalan claim is a constant source of anxiety to our citizens as well as investors in our country. Furthermore, both our territorial and our maritime border regions have been suffering from depredation and environmental degradation in consequences of the wanton and sustained illegal activities of Guatemalan campecinos, fishermen and other criminal elements engaged in narco-trafficking, human-trafficking, smuggling, illegal panning for gold, the extraction of xate and other exotic plants and animals, the illegal felling of timber and the pillaging of our ancient Mayan ruins. The felling of timber in our rain forests are contributing to the denuding of our mountains, which results in violent flooding in the rainy season and the transmission of topsoil, sand and silt into the sea. These soils are then ultimately deposited into our pristine barrier reef; choking and destroying the fragile ecosystems therein and compromising the health of the entire reef and the marine ecological system thriving therein. Additionally, the increasing trespassing by the Guatemalans into our country has given rise to more frequent violent encounters between Guatemalans and members of our Belize Defense Force resulting in fatalities in some instances. These incidents put a heavy strain on the relations between our country and Guatemala and the peace of our region as a whole.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs for Belize Wilfred Elrington spoke for about twenty-four minutes. Forming part of the Belize delegation to the UN was CEL in the Foreign Affairs Ministry Alexis Rosado and Permanent Representative for Belize to the UN H.E. Louis Young. The 68th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly was scheduled for completion today, October 1st.
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