As we shared previously, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today held a briefing where it presented the 11 points of the draft proposal for a protocol in the Sarstoon area. The agreement should set down the operational guidelines for peace to be maintained between Belize and Guatemala until the territorial dispute is definitively resolved. The opposition’s representative in the Belize Guatemala talks, Ambassador Assad Shoman said that there are some encouraging signs for the acceptance of those protocols based on the bilateral meeting held in Benque last Friday:
Ambassador Assad Shoman
“Something that we learnt from the side for example were quite encouraging if true, because as you we can’t really trust anybody in this situation we are hoping that people will keep their word and so on we are hoping that truth prevails but we always have to be in our guards but the Foreign Minister of Guatemala did tell us that he has met with the 22 members of the Foreign Affairs committee of congress and that they have expressed support for sending the Protocol to amend the Special Agreement because as we know right now we are kind of a limbo, w signed a Special Agreement and that was ratified but then there is this Protocol which changes the Special Agreement in certain ways which has not yet been ratified so where are we, so we need to have that done and we’ve been asking the International community to speak to Guatemala and they have been doing that and the latest that the Foreign Minister told us is that that he has the support of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Congress and hopefully that when it goes to congress it will meet with approval.”
But how did the Guatemalan delegation react to the proposals?
While Belize’s representatives arrived at Friday’s meeting with the draft proposals in hand, the same cannot be said for the Guatemalan representatives who basically arrived empty handed. When asked as to why Guatemala did not present its own proposal for a draft protocol at Friday’s meeting, Minister Elrington explained that both ambassadors were tasked with coming up with proposals. However, they required input from different agencies and they were unable to choreograph that joint venture.
For his part Ambassador Shoman today took the opportunity to remind Belizeans about the 1859 treaty which speaks to free passage in the Sarstoon River.
Ambassador Assad Shoman
“The 1859 Treaty, a Treaty that you all know the Guatemalan government has declared void but with International Law is not void at all it is very much alive and biding on both countries and we often hear talk about Article 7, the famous article 7 of that Treaty which talks about the road that was to be built and presumably because that wasn’t built it was an obligation of both countries not of one then they said the Treaty was void but I invite you to look at article 6 which speaks about the right of free navigation for both countries along the Sarstoon river.”
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