The Belize's Drama
© Evelyn Richardson Escobar-Vega de Tirado

“Guatemala has always worked with good faith.
The world cannot sanction with its silence the mocking of its rights.
We hope so, at least when humanity that encourages the justice spirit among the nations is found.”

-Alberto Herrarte G.-
Ph.D. International Rights
Fore Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala

(1933 to 1981)

In 1933, England demanded Guatemala to limit and landmark the border with Belize, seventy-two years after they removed their commissioned Enrique Wrayen, 1861, who had begun with the commissioned by Guatemala, Manuel Cano Madrazo, the landmark pursuant the establishment of a covenant of 1859, which was unconcluded. The Government of Guatemala responded they would accept the limits and landmarks of the border to Belize, only if England fulfills with the covenant – the construction of a road – is found in the Article 7 of the Aycinena-Wyke covenant subscribed in 1859. Since England denied to fulfill the covenant, as well as the English continue entering to Peten to take out wood and sack archeological pieces, the Guatemalan government focused its attention in searching reasonable and fair ways in order to replace the Article 7 or compensatory clause of the covenant of 1859 to conclude another chapter of the country’s history with dignity.

In 1934, the Guatemalan government issued the Statutory Act for the Government and Police Departments of the Republic Harbors and fixed a distance of 12 nautical miles for the Maritime Territory.

As the agreement of 1859 was still in force due the English default, in 1936, the Guatemalan government proposes to England the devolution of the Belize territory and offers the amount of 400 thousand sterling pounds through a simple sale contract. If the English did not want to sale, then, Guatemala would buy the territory for the same amount; however, in this case a piece of land was being out – at the south of the territory – as well as the Zapotillo keys; Guatemalans should approve the landmark and limits of the east border to Belize.  Other proposal was given by Guatemala to England was paying the amount of 50 thousand sterling pounds, plus interests of 4% by year since April 30, 1859 (signature of the agreement). All the proposals were rejected by England.

Guatemala changed its tactical when realized the negotiations of the different governments were not working out, and 1937 proposes to England an international arbitration to solve the Belize situation.  The proposed arbitrator was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States of America.  English accepted the arbitration but not the arbitrator since though Hague Court, in Netherlands, was best to decide into this case and due the divergences were strictly juridical and must be solved this way. Guatemala also thought that some other and very important aspects should be considered and that the case should be resolved with grounds on the equity principle (ex-aequo et bono). Since there was no agreement between these countries, in 1938, England stated that did not have any pending liability to Guatemala and that was considering as border of Belize, the limits previously established by England, with its own and very special ways to measure, cleaning their hands of all the responsibility from the incidents could come in the future.

Guatemala responded that if the Article 7 was not valid any more for the English, then, the Article 1 were also out of force. This was granting the assignment and was losing its validity for the Guatemalans. They were then in their right to demand the devolution of the total territory of Belize from the river Hondo until the river Sarstun.  This same year, United States offered to measure the difference and Guatemala accepted a transaction: if England returned the south area between rivers Sibun and Sarstun, they would waive any claim over the territory were between the rivers Sibun and Hondo.  England rejected the offer and Guatemala restarted the claim over the Belize territory.

In order to state out to the world the actual states of the differences between Guatemala and England in regard the Belize territory, the government of the General Jorge Ubico published the White Book. It is a well-documented compendium of the Belize problem that exhibits the juridical occupation of Belize after 1859.  The copies of the White Book were sent from Guatemala to almost all the governments rendered fruits. At the Second Consultation between the Foreign Affairs Ministries of the Americas held in 1940 in La Habana, Cuba, the Resolution XIX was issued. Here was expressed the desire and good will of the countries of America in order to get a fair, peaceful and soon arrangement over Belize, between the countries of Guatemala and Great Britain.  The office of Belize, a department of the Foreign Affairs Secretary, was established in 1941 in order to compile and increase all the documents related to Belize. The validity of the Guatemalan rights over Belize wanted by General Ubico was prevented by the Second World War. He could even take this situation to take the territory in a military way which was having custody of a small screw. However, this belligerent action never could be taken by the Guatemalan government, especially because a gentlemen covenant between United States and Guatemala was previously signed. The President Roosevelt had offered his cooperation to the General Ubico in regard to Belize, stating he was going to help when the war was over; unfortunately, Roosevelt passed away some months before the war was finished.

The democratic government of Dr. Juan Jose Arevalo (1945-1951) gave promotion to the Guatemalan claims to recover the territory of Belize and by the first time, in 1945 within the Constitution was enacted, it was established that Belize was part of its Territory. The Article 1 of the transitory provisions of the Constitution states:

“Guatemala is declaring that Belize is part of its territory and deems of national interest the negotiations are being done in order to achieve the effective reincorporation to the Republic.”

England protested against the inclusion of such article in the Constitution of the Republic, stating that the Belize territory was “English territory”; such complaint was rejected by the Government of Guatemala due was considered as groundless and offensive to the Guatemalan rights.

On May 1945, Guatemala accepted becoming a founding member of the United Nations (UN) and reserving its sovereignty over the Belize territory; therefore, was excluded of the free determination principle and for the same reason, was opposed about Belize be under the “international regime of fiduciary administration,” making the corresponding reserve.  The Letter of the United Nations was approved by Decree 174 of the Congress of the Republic on October 11, 1945.

Guatemala started once again the claims against the English. These were related to Belize and were filed on early 1946.  England responded to the Guatemalan government that pursuant the Article 36 of the Letter to the United Nations, the controversy over Belize was submitted to the International Court of Justice.  Guatemala accepted in the sense Belize’s case was set out under the Equity modal; however, England did not accept.  In my personal opinion, England did not want the International Court would dissolve the Equity proceeding over Belize’s case since such proceeding should analyze all the historical and human aspects, as well as the juridical situation, and these could result into a favorable legal resolution on behalf Guatemala.

The government of Arevalo thought the agreement of 1958 was expired due default of Article 7 by England, then, requested to the Congress of the Republic to decree the expiration.  The Expiration Affidavit for the Agreement of 1859 was approved by Decree 224 of the Congress of the Republic on April, 1946, which reads as follows:

“Sole Article. The expiration affidavit is approved and reaffirmed over the Convention of territorial assignment upon compensatory provision called limits, subscribed by Guatemala and Great Britain on April 30, 1859, affidavit done by the Government of the Republic through the Minister of Foreign Affairs by diplomatic instruments and other official documents.”

From such date, Guatemala demanded to England ALL the territory of Belize: the heritage area of Guatemala was awarded by Spain, between rivers Hondo and Sibun; as well as the area between

the rivers Sibun and Sarstun that was seized also, a territorial extension of around 14300 square miles, additionally to the islands, islets, keys, maritime territory with its underlying richness and the aerial territory.  In 1947, during one of the several diplomatic exchanges, the Guatemalan government stated to England that since the Agreement of 1859 was expired, they did not have any right to be in Belize and should give it back to Guatemala, giving a compensation for all the damages and harms were caused for more than hundred years.

The relationship was almost broke in 1948 when England sent the cruisers Sparrow, Sheffield and Devonshire in order to show their strength, close to the sea of Guatemala stating that “irresponsible disturbs stimulated by Guatemalan” were trying to alter the Belize’s peace and were ready to invade the territory.  The government of Arevalo protested firmly to England for such provocation and denounced it to the United Nations. ¿Kayaks against cruisers? In order to soothe the angriness, England stated that all of this was a terrible mistake.  After this, the government of Guatemala proposed to England to submit the problem about Belize, to the intervention of the United States, but neither in this time they accepted the proposal.

In 1948, Guatemala accepted become a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and as it was did, ratified the Letter to the OAS that was accepted by the subscribed countries, and which reads as follows:

“None of the provisions in this Letter of the Organization of American States shall be considered as an impediment to Guatemala could valid its rights over the territory of Belize through any way deems convenient.”

The President Arevalo was a tireless disputer against the colony in the American continent and at the IX American International Conference held in Colombia on 1948, Guatemala presented an address to avoid the colonies in America.  This was accepted by many representatives and it was resolved to create an American Commission of Dependent Territories to examine the problem of occupied territories and find a solution in order to seek peaceful procedures to avoid the colonies and the occupation of foreign countries in American territories.

In March 1949 was held the meeting of the American Commission of Dependent Territories in la Habana, Cuba, where Guatemala presented documents of its rights over Belize and filed an additional report on this regard.  Jorge Garcia Granados, who was the leader of the Guatemalan delegation said in his speech:

“Guatemala has exhausted all the remedies to make the United Kingdom to fulfill its honorable words spoken in international conventions, and has used civilized and peaceful means are appointed by International Law to solve the problems among countries, and as a result we have gotten the negative results are domain public now. Great Britain accuses Guatemala of denying the presentation of the case to the International Court of Justice. Distinguished delegates, it is not true. Guatemala is willing to appeal the Court judgment; however, the English pretension is against it to keep it in the exclusive way of controversy juridical phase, which receives the consideration of all the judges, excluding the rest of important and essential lawsuit aspects: historical, financial, and moral…

The Belize’s case, more than a legal technique is a justice case and justice must be total. Guatemala accepts the judgment of the court on this claim, but demands having no restriction of its faculties.  Great Britain is against it and holds the restrictive lawsuit where expects to escape from justice through elaborated excuses are seemed to those were used to empower over the Belize’s territory and obtain a domain title whose compensation was denied to fulfill after time.”

In such same meeting, Mexico also exposed its position in regard to the Belize’s territory, the Mexican delegated said:

“In virtue you have been talking about Belize, I see the need to reproduce the statement was done by my Government in other opportunities, especially during the conference of Rio de Janeiro in

1947, reiterating therefore, that if there is a chance to change the Belize’s status, the rights of Mexico could not be avoided over a part of its territory, according to the historical and juridical background.” It means, if England gave back Belize to Guatemala, Mexico would claim the rights were supposed they have over part of the territory.

At early 50’s, the population of Belize was starting to show a larger uniformity with their own identity. Some workers, struggling to perform as politicians, established an encounter with Guatemala.  The Government of England did not want a relationship between Belizeans and Guatemalans and in 1951 condemned these Belizeans of “betraying the Crown” due assumed contacts with the government of Guatemala.  Around that time, England was trying to make a Federation with its colonies in the Caribbean and Belize; the anti-colonial winds were starting to blow strongly and England was starting to design a strategy in order to establish a British Commonwealth of countries, which actually was a new type of colony.  Belize started an anti-colony movement and the union leader, George Price, with other leaders, founded the People’s United Party (PUP) in 1954. It was a nationalist and politician party with the purpose to be the only politician party of Belize former of a “new state”.

During the government of the Colonel Castillo Armas (1954-1957) on August 1955, in the First Meeting of ministries of the Foreign Affairs Ministries of Central America, which was held in Antigua Guatemala, was established the Organization of Central American States (ODECA). Here was signed the “Principles Declaration of Central American Coexistence”, where the Article 7 reads as follows:

“The territory of Belize completes Guatemala; therefore, Central America, and the negotiations are done to claim it back, are interest of all the signing States.”

England reacted before the declaration of Antigua saying that:

“The Government of Your Majesty desires to remind to the Government of Guatemala that Belize is and will be part of the colonies are under protection, overseas territories and under fiduciary administration of the United Kingdom of the Great Britain and North Ireland; and that the Government of Your Majesty is responsible of the Foreign Affairs of the Government of Belize.”

The claim of England was expected, but Mexico, always behind in the shadows, reconfirmed its ridiculous position:

“The statement that has formulated Mexico several times, declaring that if the Belize’s status changes, shall be needed to take in mind the rights of Mexico over a part of such territory pursuant the historical and juridical backgrounds.”

On December 30, 1955 the Decree No. 511 was considering Belize is part of the Guatemalan territory, although it is still in hands of a power out of this continent, and considering the negotiations were made to make valid the rights of Guatemala during more than hundred years, were not having any result, furthermore, considering that the situation of Belize was having a historical, juridical and political background, as well as problems are affecting specific areas of the national territories, and generally, to the finances of all the country. Also, was having under consideration the claim of Belize which a top interest problem and object of the biggest concern of Guatemala, therefore, was needed to have the consultancy of suitable citizen were able to contribute to the solution of this problem.  The Constitutional problem, Colonel Castillo Armas, within the Ministries Board agreed the creation of the National Council of Belize. This was going to be an organization of research, planning and consult in all the issues related to the claim of Belize and the solution of the respective problems. In the same agreement were defined the attributions of the Council and was supposed the Department of Belize of the International Organism Direction of the Foreign Affairs Minister would hold the Secretary of the National Council of Belize.

In Belize was established by first time a Consulate and on February 1956 and was decreed the new Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala which was holding the same principle on Belize as was promulgated in 1945.

In 1956, England created the “West Indian Federation” formed by Trinidad, Jamaica, Windward and Leeward Islands (Antigua, Barbuda, Redonda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat, Grenada, San Vicente, Grenadines, Santa Lucia and Dominica) and Barbados. All the islands are located in the Caribbean. The capital of the federation was in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. England wanted Belize part of de federation, but George Price denied being part of it because its party PUP (People’s United Party) had begun the anti-colonial movement among the people of Belize.  Around that time, Belize was facing a serious financial situation due its total dependency of the import of basic food products, plus other social problems related to having lands.  Five of the larger English companies were owners of most of the territory, thus, it was a monopoly domain from the metropolis (England) that did not allow the development of farming to produce the current living needs of the local population. George Price, leader of the People’s United Party (PUP), in order to attract the Belizean population to the national movement he was promoting, implemented a series of financial programs with a group of German Mennonites in the area of Spanish Lookout and San Ignacio in the district of The Key to 15 miles away to the border of Peten. The Mennonite is a protestant sect was established as a commonwealth mainly dedicated to agriculture. They were granted with a large extension of land in ownership and a strong amount was invested in the corresponding infrastructure.

In 1957 the government of Guatemala started again the conversations with England related to Belize. On March of the same year, in a meeting at London, England proposed to Guatemala, upon the consent of Belize’s government, the following discussion issues:

1.    Necessity of Guatemala of having a free port
2.    The continuity of the road from Punta Gorda until the Guatemalan border
3.    The improvement of the road to Belize through The Key until the Guatemalan border
4.    Transit requirements of developing industries in British Honduras and Guatemala
5.    Custom regime in both sides of the border
6.    Rank upgrade of the corresponding missions in Guatemala City and London
7.    Guatemalan claims on illegal activities in Guatemala on citizens of British Honduras
8.    Claims of British Honduras citizens related to the restrictions of their commercial activities in Guatemala

After negotiating such conversations with England, it was very frustrating that England was around the branches although they agreed the discussion of any type of relationship between Guatemala and Belize in order to resolve in a total way the dispute. The issues they wanted to discuss were not relevant and totally out of the main purpose, which was the territorial claim.

At middle of 1957 Guatemala sent as Ambassador before England to Jorge Garcia Granados to propose them a plan for the creation of an independent status for Belize narrowly with Guatemala. This formula had been recommended by the National Council of Belize. The plan was a project of agreement to be held between Guatemala and England, with the purpose to establish the Free State of Belize in association to Guatemala. Belize would have full freedom and would have its own Constitution under the republican, democratic and representative system, being able to adopt the executive or parliamentary government with the requirement or being organized under the three Government powers: Legislative, Executive and Judicial. Belize could have in the National Congress of Guatemala the congressmen that correspond for the quantity of population pursuant the constitution of the Republic and also, could have their own legislation.  Guatemala had kept direct contact with the Belizean head of government, George Price, to study and define in a perfect way, the bases of the plan and achieve the required coordination when the project of the Free State of Belize, in association to Guatemala, was presented to England.

Garcia Granados presented his credential letters and requested a hearing with the English government to present in a formal way the project of Free Status of Belize.  England was perfectly aware of the Guatemala’s plan; and of course, they did not want to “open them the door”. They took advantage of a brunch given on November, 1957 by the Guatemalan Embassy to the Belizean delegation, guided by George Price, leader of the PUP to “shut the door” in a simple hit and stated a non grata person to the ambassador Garcia Granados. George Price was warned that if he continued joining to Guatemalans, they could stop the financial support and the negotiations over the constitution of Belize.

During the government of the General Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes (1958 - March, 1963) the efforts to fulfill with the constitutional power to claim the territory of Belize were stronger.  The Ph.D. in International Law, Carlos Garcia Bauer, Minister of Foreign Affairs, with support of the president Ydigoras, created the General Direction of Belize Affairs.  The main object of such institution was achieve a better rapprochement to the Belizeans and Guatemalans, having a better understanding each other, because England, due their fear of this closer relationship, was misinforming the Belizeans in regard the real aspects and human characteristics of Guatemala. The General Direction of Belize Affairs established scholarship programs of cultural and commercial exchange to Belizean students. There was a better scope with the Belizean leaders, especially George Price, and a better support to Belize.

The Conference of the United Nations upon the Maritime Law was held in Geneva, Switzerland on April, 1958.  Guatemala participated and signed the Conventions upon Maritime Territory, Contiguous Zone, High Sea, fish and Conservation of the Living Resources in the High Sea and the Continental Shelf.  There was not an agreement over the size of the maritime territory and the fishing zones.

In the XIV period of regular meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nationals on September 1959, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Jesus Unda Murillo, when speaking about Belize, said:

“…Guatemala, by itself, has suffered the colony effects for a long time in its History, getting limitation of the legal domain of an important land of its territory known with the name of Belize which was wrongly called as British Honduras, damaging the development of Peten, important and rich province of the north of the country…”

The President Ydigoras Fuentes, in his message of New Year’s Eve of 1960, said:

“We could not conclude without saying to our siblings of Belize, to recall them and telling them not to forget, that the people of Guatemala is with them in their dispute against the colony system. My government will continue supporting your efforts to be released from the English oppression.

Guatemala does not pretend to replace an imperialism by another, does not want to see Belize with divisions in its territory. We want to see Belize as a voluntary member of the Republic of Central America and meanwhile we achieve the reconstruction of the large country, we are willing to enter into an agreement with Belize to become into a free state in association to Guatemala, having the main joy of its freedom and the guarantee of keeping the current institutions, it means, its justice courts, the administrative and educational organisms, the language,, traditional freedom in religion and politics. Simply: a free own government.”

In the XV period of meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the resolution 1514 was issued (December 1960).  “Statement over the Concession on the Independence of countries and cities under colony”, which reads in the paragraphs 2, 3, 4, and 6:

2. All the countries have the free determination right; in virtue of this right, they freely determine their political condition and freely seek its financial, social and cultural development.

3. Default of preparation in the political, financial, social, or educational order, never shall be used as excuse to delay the independence.

4. In order the dependant countries could perform its right to a total independence in a pacific and free way shall cease any armed action or any repressive measure is addressed to them, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.
6. Any made attempt to break totally or partially the national unit and the territorial integrity of a country is not compatible with the purposes and principles of the Letter of the United Nations.

Guatemala supported its intentions to defend its position over Belize upon the paragraph 6 of the Statement 1514 (XV).

The British Commonwealth of Nations was the new colonial proceeding was designed and done by England to make of its colonies with desires of independence, into valuable partners of such community.  England implemented the system in 1956 with Sudan in Africa having a very positive result. Thanks to this success, in 1960 they granted the independence to most of its colonies in Equatorial Africa. Each of these new countries entered as members of the United Nations, which strengthen England and expanded its influence because all of them were part of its commonwealth.

In the Ninth Meeting of the Financial Commission for Latin America, held in Santiago, Chile on May 1961, the Resolution 195 (IX) was approved. Such resolution was requesting to the Central American countries their cooperation for Belize to enter as part of the Committee of the Financial Cooperation of Central America and thus, Belize would participle in the financial development of the region.  Sponsored by Guatemala, Belize entered in 1961 as associated member.

In 1961 was held the meeting in London. It was to deal the issue of Belize and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Jesus Unda Murillo stated to the English Minister that would be suitable to see a free Belize in association to Guatemala within Central America and that United States or England could be the guarantors.  England stated that its only purpose was taking Belize into independence and from that the Belizean should participate in the negotiations between Guatemala and England.  They also stated that the future of Belize should be decided between England and Belize, without the participation of a third country, meaning Guatemala.

At the end of 1961, England had not set a date to restart the agreed negotiations. The multiple evasions promoted a hard relationship with England. The President Ydigoras, during his message of New Year’s Eve of that year said: “seeing that England has established and kept inside a wall of lack of understanding, Guatemala must, by its own regret, to suspend diplomatic and commercial relationship for a short time.” The reaction of England for such declaration was immediate. At early January of 1962, they said that the new negotiations could start by April or May. The government of Guatemala issued a press release where was informing the reconsideration on the breaking of diplomatic relationship with England since they were willing to continue with the negotiations on Belize.

Such famous meeting was held on April 1962 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here was participating the Guatemalan delegation, heading by Ernesto Viteri Bertrand. The English delegation was headed by Lord Dundee, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. The Belizean delegation was headed by the Prime Minister, George Price.  The English Minister stated that the policies of England about Belize were: a) granting a partial self-government, which was already given; b) then giving them an own self-government, and c) giving them Independence. He added: “it is possible to have a constitutional conference over Belize in 1963, hoping the granting of a full self-government on such territory and then, independence will come as soon as possible.”

Georgia Price stated that the purpose of its political party (PUP) were upon the full self-government and after the independence within the British Commonwealth of Nations. He also said that wanted to become to the Organization of American States (OAS) and since they were in Central America, they also wanted to belong to the Central American Common Market. Price also added that Belize had chosen its own way and it was not the incorporation to Guatemala. By their position, Guatemalans exposed that Guatemala could not think in the Belize’s independence meanwhile they were within the British Commonwealth because the area of Peten in Guatemala and Belize were called to have a future joined development as they had it in the past.

One of the results of such meeting was the creation of a Combine Commission in order to promote the mutual social and economical development between Guatemala and Belize. Such commission never had a meeting.

Guatemala stated that regretted the inflexible position of England because in all prior proposals were done, the two regions were considered – Peten and Belize – because were being part of a sole geographical unity which was continuous and indivisible, which history was dating from the time of our ancient Mayan Empire.

The conventions about High sea and Continental Shelf that were established in Genève in 1958, were approved by Guatemala through decree of the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala 1493 (17/10/62) and were ratified on November 3, 1962.

Guatemala requested to the General Secretary of the United Nations, U. Thant, being the mediator between England and Guatemala over the controversy of Belize.  U. Thant accepted it; however, England rejected his mediation.

Since England was forcing the independence of Belize within the British Commonwealth, the government of Guatemala should adopt a more aggressive policy in order to accomplish the support – concrete and well-defined – of United States.  With that purpose, Guatemala took the decision to request the friendly intervention of the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, in this dispute of Belize.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jesus Unda Murillo, delivered personally the memorandum to the brother of the President, to Mr. Robert R. Kennedy, who was the Prosecutor of the United States. He received it and offered to deliver it to his brother. He also delivered a copy to the Secretary of State who did not comment anything about it. The memorandum was exposing the steps to achieve an effective change in the Belize status and it also said that having the friendly intervention of the United States, this problem could be solved.  It also said that the suggested way by Guatemala, would get the incorporation of Belize to Guatemala, and eventually, to Central America.  In my own opinion, the initiative was accurate, having a flexible position and having the consideration of Belize, with duly offensive of pressure.

On March 18, 1963, in San Jose, Costa Rica was being held the meeting of Central American presidents, with the presence of the President Kennedy to deal the plan for the Alliance for Progress. The President Ydigoras took the opportunity to deliver the President Kennedy another copy of such memorandum and he promised him to study with duly attention.  In the opening speech of the meeting, Ydigoras Fuentes exposed issue by issue, the plans England was having to grand the independence of Belize in a unilateral way and without respecting the rights of Guatemala over such territory.  England did not like these true statements said by Ydigoras, thus they sent him a document that reads:

“The Government of Your Majesty has pitiful noticed the recent public declarations made by Guatemalan leaders, including the opening speech of the President Ydigoras Fuentes in the meeting of San Jose on March 18, about the Guatemalan claim on British Honduras. The government of Your Majesty desires to appoint that does not have any doubt in regard its sovereignty over British Honduras, as has been declared prior times.  Furthermore, the future of the territory must be arranged pursuant the people of British Honduras, whose representative have cleared their position several times, including the meeting with the three countries, which was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 1962. Foreign Office, London, march 27, 1963.”

On March 30, the Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia, assumed the government as Head of state and appointed to Alberto Herrarte G. as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The new Minister considered that the issue of urgency was the determination the attitude of Guatemala if England – as George Price had promised – would carry ou the constitutional conference where Belize was being granted with its independency.  On July 1 was sent a note to the Business Director of England, which reads:

“Dear Business Director: it is public that at the middle of this month will start in London the negotiations called “constitutional” between members of British Government and Belize, in order to give a larger independence to the territory of Belize, as has been announced.  My government desires to reiterate to Great Britain, due this reason and in order to evidence once more its inalienable right over Belize which has been hold by Great Britain, that after having recognized in Puerto Rico that Belize, the disputed territory, is not able to pretend resolving the controversy through unilateral concession of a supposed and presumed independence… in virtue whereof, if Great Britain insists in its pretension to create a new State on Guatemalan territory making a definitive separation, Guatemala could not less to consider a succession of its own territory and would be totally free to take – also in an unilateral way – the most convenient ways for its interests…
(s) Alberto Herrarte G. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala”

Seeing that England as ready to give Belize a self government with larger autonomy putting aside to Guatemala and introducing new elements to be fought, the National Council of Belize recommended to the government to request the intervention of the government of United States to solve the controversy over the territory.  On July 1, the government of Guatemala requested to the government of United States such intervention.  On July 10, Dr. Carlos Garcia Bauer presented his Credential Letters as Special Ambassador and Plenipotentiary to the President John F. Kennedy. He had an interview with him and widely spoke about Belize. It interested Kenny who took notes and urgently requested information on this regard. One month after the interview, the government of United States informed to Guatemala that they could not accept the intervention, but were willing to give his “good services” to resume the conversations between Guatemala and England.

England held constitutional conversations with Belize and granted the self government to Belize from January 1, 1964.  On July 24, 1963 a proclaim to the citizens was made by the Colonel Peralta Azurdia that reads:

“Guatemala has been victim of the colonial politics of England. For long years England has oppressed our rights.  The sole title they have for it is their power.  As consequence, and before the seriousness of the recent actions and measures taken by England, my Government, having heard the National Council of Belize, and in Board meeting, decided to break diplomatic relationships with a Government that constantly attempts and violates the inalienable rights and sovereignty of our country. Mi Government is sure that in these transcendental moments where is being affected the national dignity and interests of the country, Guatemala’s population will face with courage and decision to any other measure is obliged to take, if throughout the actions, Great Britain persists in an unfair attitude against the principle of International law. Guatemala, July 24, 1963.”

Guatemala left one sole consulate in Belize, under charge of the Colonel Mauricio Dubois as General Consul.

Thanks to the good actions of the government of the United States, on December 1963 was held in Washington, D.C., Department of State, the conference of Plenipotentiaries of England and Guatemala.  It was the first time was celebrating a meeting of such size to solve the controversy over Belize.  Guatemala said to England that the sole purpose of the conference was achieve a definitive political solution to the problem of Belize, without the waiving of Guatemala to its legal rights over the territory, nor the total claim over the same. They also proposed a solution to the problem: a federation between Belize and Guatemala with a juridical arbitration.

On January 1, 1964 was in force the new governmental structure of Belize. They took a Ministerial Government – except by the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense – replacing the Executive Council.  It means, the Executive Power continued appointed to the Queen of England, but its performing was corresponding to a Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister (the Governor of the Colony could not be a member of the Cabinet) and the Ministries were the responsible before the Legislative Assembly and could have Legal initiative. The Legislative power became into a Representative Chamber with 18 elected members by the population. The Senate was compound by 8 elected members: 5 by the Prime minister, 2 by the Head of Opposition to the Government,
and 1 elected by the Governor.  The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense were headed and integrated by the English Governor of the Colony. The Constitution of Belize was decreed by the Assembly on December 1963 and was in force on January 1964.

On January 31, 1964 England responded to Guatemala saying that a federation establishment between Belize and Guatemala was one the possibilities could be considered, but with an “essential condition”, to apply the principle of self-determination. England also insisted the formal participation of Belize – like a mix or third parties commission. Guatemala kept the position saying that the conversations were only between Guatemala and England, parties of the dispute. In regard the application of the self-determination principle, it was not applicable to Belize due it was from a colonial enclave. George Price did not accept the proposal of a federation and proclaimed that the next step of Belize was the total independence within the British Commonwealth of Nations with its intact territorial integrity and having no political link to Guatemala.

Mexicans were the confusion in the negotiations order that were being made. On March, Mexico claimed to the government of the United States they were giving their services without Mexican participation, when they were having historical and juridical rights over a part of Belize. Guatemala rejected the intromission of Mexico due they were not part of the dispute.

On September, England sent to Guatemala his representative, Sir Douglas Busk, to deal with the government the reception of a Belizean delegation, headed by George Price.  Guatemala rejected to receive the Belizeans until England give a concrete response of the two proposals to solve the controversy (federation and arbitration) and also gave a third proposal: Guatemala and England, together, request the mediation of the Government of the United States to solve the dispute.

The Governor of the colony of Belize proclaimed the dissolution of the Legislative assembly on January 30, 1965 and on February, carried out the summon to elections of the Representatives Chamber fulfilling the agreement with England to rand a self-government to Belize. The elections were made on March. The PUP (People’s United Party) and its leader, George Price, won and he was sworn by the English governor as Prime Minister.

On May of same year, the bilateral meeting between Guatemala and England was held in Miami.  Belize attended as observers. England rejected the proposals of federation and arbitration but accepted, at the beginning, the proposal of mediation because Belize agreed with this formula.  The conversations were resumed in London on June and all together agreed to request to the government of United States, to perform as mediator between England and Guatemala.  Both countries formally requested on July of this year.

On September 15, 1965 was issued the Constitution of the Republic decreed by the Constituent National Assembly and in the transitory and final provisions reads:

Article 1. It is declared that Belize is part of the territory of Guatemala. The Executive shall carry out all the proceedings that assist to solve the situation pursuant the national interests, and meanwhile, they will rule the following regulations:

a)    In order to recognize as natural Guatemalans to the native people of Belize, they shall file their express option to the request the Guatemalan citizenship. The Executive could protest in granting the recognition; and

b)    The constitutional and legal provisions will be applied, in regard to the territory, related to the borders of the Republic, as well as the custom and immigration orders, with exception to those are agreed by the Executive.

Guatemala, after so many intents, achieved on September 29, 1965 the mediation by the Government of the United States between Guatemala and England over the controversy of Belize’s territory.  They appointed as mediator to Bethuel M. Webster. Guatemala clearly appointed the functions and objectives of the mediator, stating that the issue of Belize was a territorial problem for Guatemala and we could not assign before the self-determination principle as England wanted. The objective of the mediation was the definitive solution of the dispute performed by the government o

Guatemala en England, having in mind the rights and position of Guatemala in regard of Belize.  It was agreed with the mediator that all the process would be considered as confidential and none document filed by England or Guatemala would be publicly known without the consent of the government that had filed. Moreover, the conclusions of the mediation would not be published without the consent of the mediator, Guatemala, and England, meanwhile they were in process of the mediation.

The sub-secretary of Foreign Affairs of England, Lord Walston, during his visit in Central America on January, 1966, declared they soon were going to grant the independence of Belize. Such declaration was not too late in being true. When the mediator, Webster, arrived to have an interview with Price, there was a popular movement promoted by Philip Goldson, leader of the opposition.

On January 28, 1966, the mediator of the government of United States filed a previous project of agreement (Authority of Mutual Affairs) that did not mention anything about the territorial claim. It was only designed for the development of contiguous areas of Belize and Peten. The government of Guatemala filed a counter proposal called “Basis for a possible solution on the dispute over Belize.” These Basis were clearly stating the following parameters:

1)    That the government of England cease of having interference in the internal affairs of Belize;

2)    That the constitutional process for the independence of Belize keep in suspense and the powers over such territory England is having, will be under the Administrative Authority immediately (point II of the Basis); and

3)    Although Guatemala is having rights over the total territory of Belize, will not make valid such rights meanwhile the Administrative Authority is functioning and the planned results are not produced (point III of the Basis.)

The contemplated objectives of the Basis were:

1)    To resolve the dispute in the way the sovereignty rights of Guatemala be reconciled over the right of Belize with the interests of population, and

2)    To resolve the political link of Belize with Guatemala, as well as with Central America, in order to be promoted in its development and at the same time, the security of its population be secured.

Over these bases, Guatemala and England will subscribe a General Agreement. Within the basis was being contemplated the foreign defense of Belize under charge of Guatemala and the international relations would correspond to the Administrative Authority in coordination to Guatemala.  The Administrative Authority would be formed by 7 members, 3 by Guatemala, 3 by Belize and the seventh should be appointed by the six members or by the Organization of Central American States (ODECA).

On June 1966, Guatemala protested for the disclosure written in the publication “Belize Billboard” (reproduced by the “Daily Mirror” of Trinidad) about the proposal of the mediator Webster.  The Prime Minister of Belize, George Price, had to declare before the Representatives Chamber his denying of such information. He was explaining that the mediation had not finished yet and that only was being suggested a way of joint development in the areas of Belize and Peten.  She appointed that England was promising not filing any solution were not accepted by Belize and that only was missing a step to grant the independence of Belize.

Phillip Goldson, with the group CIVIC (Citizens Integration to Validate the Interests of the Country) and the opposite party NIP (National Independence Party) organized demonstrations of protest with one purpose: No Guatemala! No Central America as Guatemala satellite! Such demonstrations were on June 26, 27, and 28 1966 and promoted violent disturbs that caused considerable damages in the Consulate of Guatemala, Radio Belize and several houses of high officers, including the Prime Minister’s, George Price.

On June 29, 1966, the Guatemalan government issued a press release that reads:

“Seeing the recent attacks made by irresponsible groups in Belize, causing damages in the building of the General Consulate of Guatemala, the Government of Guatemala presented yesterday, through the corresponding diplomatic changes, its energetic protest against the British Government due the lack of protection to the Guatemalan Consular Mission and its omission in proper measures to suppress such outrages, and is demanding full securities in order those actions are not repeated again and avoid to take unilateral measures by the government of Guatemala.”

The Constitutional President, Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro (July 1, 1966 – 1970), took possession of his position and appointed to Emilio Arenales Catalan as Minister of Foreign Affairs.  The new government decided to continue with the process of mediation.  On July the delegations of Guatemala and England met in New York with the Mediator Webster to discuss the last text of his project.  Guatemala took the opportunity to state about disturbs that happened in Belize, they stated that could be provoked by the same English with the purpose to hold up the mediation.  No agreement was reached about the foreign relations, defense and security; therefore, the meeting was suspended and the conversations were scheduled for next September.

The English newspaper published on the front page they were being sold to Belize. On August 1966, at the House of Commons the position of George Price was discussed in a very upset environment. His sympathies for Guatemala and the revelations made by the NIP (opposition party) of the secret proposal on Belize were presented in the mediation.  Also, some members of the House treated very hard to Guatemala, they said that the government of Guatemala and the dominant class were indecent. They said that was a continuous threat of invading Belize by the army.  On September 15 of the same year, the colonial governor of Belize, Paul, pressed the Belizean politicians to avoid their participation in the mediation and that was going to blame Guatemala for such braking.  At the end of September (21 and 22), 1966, was a meeting among Guatemala, England, Belize and the Mediator Webster without any result of agreement.  Two months later, they met again (November 22 and 23) with the same result but with an evident change, the position of the mediator was now on behalf England in the sense Guatemala should accept the independence of Belize within a British Commonwealth.  The Government of Guatemala did not have other remedy to avoid the mediation braking, but temporary suspend all the proceeding.

On December a note was sent to the Mediator Webster, starting that the Constitutional President of Guatemala was requesting not presenting any new document in the mediation until the government of Guatemala study the filed documents by England in the last meeting.

The meetings with the mediator continued on January 1967 with negative results. England continued in the position of Belize’s independence inside the Commonwealth, and persisted it was not their decision but the Belizean’s population.

At the Third Special Inter American Conference held on February 27, 1967 was subscribed the Protocol of Reforms to the letter of the Organization of the American States (OAS), “Protocol of Buenos Aires” which reads in the Article 8:

“The Permanent Council will not formulate any recommendation, nor the General Assembly will take any decision over the request of admission filed by a political entity whose territory is totally or partially held, and previously, on December 18, 1965 was fixed by the First Special Inter american Conference, under suit or claim between an extra continental country and one or more State Members of the Organization, meanwhile there is no end to the controversy, through a peaceful proceeding.”

One year and a half after starting the Mediation proceeding, Guatemala had not been informed about the negotiations were being carried out. It was previously agreed with Guatemala and England; everything should keep as confidential, meanwhile was achieved a definitive agreement. 

As soon as the problem find a solution, Guatemala should report it to sanction Belize due the supreme will of the Guatemalan population.

On July 1967 was held a meeting in London in a ministerial level. The Minister o Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Emilio Arenales Catalan, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of England, Mr. Brown, agreed at a beginning a project of covenant of 18 literals. Practically they were going to recognize the independence of Belize. The only good thing for Guatemala was the customs union, the usage of free ports and giving access to the sea through Peten, using some routes were approved by England.  Guatemala was going to help Belize in the carrying out of its international relationships, submitted to previous arrangements between Guatemala and Belize. About the foreign defense of Belize, it should be also submitted to a special coordination. The government of Guatemala issued a press release that stated:

“Since the terms of reference of the Mediation impose the confidentiality over its content, nor Guatemala or United Kingdom are able to inform about the result of the negotiations in London. Such result will be transmitted by both governments to the Mediator for its consideration and to formulate new acceptance sensible recommendations by the parties. Guatemala, by its side, will present its arguments to the mediation. Although the confidentiality of the mediation, Guatemala has as purpose all the issues about Belize would be submitted under public discussion in duly opportunity and before it would be definitive by a mandatory covenant between the parties.

It seems convenient to recall to the public opinion that the problem of Belize has become very complicated, freezing some new difficulty aspects which has forced to the different governments of Guatemala to a slow evolution of the political focus of the problem. However, the government of the Republic keeps its concern to find a fair and equal solution according with the welfare and the progress of the population of Belize. It is also sensible to be sanctioned by supreme will of the Guatemalan population. Guatemala, August 5, 1967.”

On August 9 and 10, in Guatemala was a meeting with delegations of England and Guatemala to discuss the pending issues of the project for the agreed covenant at London one month ago and that should be signed in New York on next September.  On early September the English press, which knew about the project of the covenant, published a series of articles that caused a commotion. They said that according to the covenant, England was going to sell to Belize its entering to the British Commonwealth of Nations and that was going to share the defense and international relations with Guatemala.  They were accusing to the United States of pressing in England to conclude such secret arrangement with Guatemala.  They also said in the publications, that Phillip Godson of the NIP was stating that George price, Prime Minister of Belize, being a secret agent of Guatemala to sell Belize.  Later, other London newspapers published in big letters, that Belize was afraid of its future because England wanted to assign the territory to Guatemala.

At the meetings of November 9 and 10 in New York, the mediator was informed about the ministries meeting was held in London on last July and about the project of covenant was being agreed between Guatemala and England.  Suddenly, the mediator stated he was not agree on the international representation of Belize by Guatemala because it was going to be an independent State.  Guatemala was opposed that the mediator Webster was hurting again the agreement – which was basic for a definitive arrangement – that was agreed by the Ministries Arenales Catalan and Brown. The Guatemalan delegate protested on this and said to the Mediator Webster that he was totally on behalf Belize, and repeated again, that Guatemala was not going to accept the independence of Belize unless it was part of a clear and correct arrangement.

There was another meeting with the mediator on November 21 and 22 to deal the related mechanisms with the defense. England insisted to exclude frm the Covenant everything was on regard the defense and replace it by an Intention Note for the future.  Guatemala insisted that the details, methods and relative proceedings to the defense should be agreed because were part of the covenant. Also said that keeping English troops in Belize and the replacement by the Guatemalan, should be throughout a gradual process.  They explained to the Mediator Webster that the changes he was pretending with England were not contained in the agreement made in London on July of the same year.

The Third Special Inter American Conference held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1967 subscribed the Reforms Protocol to the Letter of the Organization of American States (Protocol of Buenos Aires), where the article 8 reads:

“The permanent Council will not formulate any recommendation, nor the General Assembly will take any decision over the admission request was filed by a political entity which territory is totally or partially submitted before December 18, 1964. It was fixed by the First Special Inter American Conference. Not could be any suit or claim between an extra continental country and one or more States Members of the organization meanwhile is not an end to the controversy, always under peaceful proceeding.”

Guatemala signed and ratified such protocol of reforms to the letter of the Organization of the American States (OAS).

After England granted the self-government to Belize, the Prime Minister, George price (PUP) started an aggressive financial and political policy to diversify the production, which was depending on a 85% of the wood industry and in a lower rank on the gum industry. At Corozal, northern region of the territory, the government of Price sold 6000 hectares to the English company Tate & Line (Belize Sugar industries) to install a farm sugar industry.  Also was sold at the south of Belize to the Switzerland Company Nestle (Belize Food Products) a large extension of land to process citric products.

The banana production was strengthen with the financial support, and also was promoted the fish industry.

On April 18, 1968, the government of the United States delivered to Guatemala and England the Covenant Project proposed by the Mediator Webster and also indicated that their mediation was fulfilled.

They also stated that the mediator would continue under disposition of Guatemala and England if they want to make consultations about the Covenant.  The project had 17 articles:

1.    England was going to concede to Belize its independence no later than December 31, 1970.
2.    The transit rights for the export products between the two states and for the import products through one state to the other were exempt of fees, rights, taxes and others.
3.    Free ports in both countries;}
4.    Liberty of transit and related rights to the persons and properties in both countries
5.    Construction of a way of communication between Guatemala and Belize with funds from England
6.    The Diplomas, Transcripts and Academic Certificates will have same value and will be recognized by both states and educational exchanges will be arranged
7.    Exchange and usage of scientific and technical knowledge, as well as the joint beginning of programs related to the cultural and scientific resources, usage and improvement of the land, handling and protection of basins, protection to the wild flower and fauna, nutrition and healthy
8.    Free circulation of any kind of land, water, and aerial vehicles (except army ones)
9.    Establishment of authority in order to comply the functions of Articles 2 and 3, and the promulgation of a proper legislation and regulation, furthermore, the composition and working of the commission that will be created as an common political authority
10.    Belize will be part of the financial central american commonwealth, and will be added to the institutions and covenant of the region, as condition by England
11.    The documents issued in both states will not require authentication to be issued before courts and competent authorities
12.    Cooperation and consultation in the police services field in issues of internal security
13.    The international relationship of Belize is totally under its arbitration, submitted to an arrangement with Belize after December 31, 1970
14.    The related arrangements to the external defense of Belize will be concluded after December 31, 1970
15.    The used way to resolve the differences between application and interpretation of the covenant
16.    The dispute over Belize between Guatemala and England, solved in an honorable way, has needed the mediation of the Government of the United States and has been concluded
17.    The ratification of the covenant should be done in Washington, D.C. as soon as possible would be in force on the ratification date, always that is accepted by Belize.

The project of the Covenant by the Mediator Webster was based on the independence recognition of Belize and taking out the rights of Guatemala over the territory.  In my opinion, George Price (PUP) had pressured the mediator because he had urgency of independence, which was the goal of its party. However, the opposition party, NIP, headed by Phillip Goldson was opposed because thought Belize was not ready to be independent and was convenient to continue within a British Commonwealth.

The project of the Covenant was rejected by England with the excuse that was accepted by Belize, even before was analyzed by Guatemala.  Then, Guatemala also rejected this and on September 20, 1968, the government of the United States set as finished his function as Mediator.  Guatemala and England agreed to continue with the Mediation and to hold negotiations in a sooner future to try to find a definitive solution on this problem.

On March 5 and 6, 1969 was celebrated a meeting in New York and England offered to the Guatemalans 2 million of sterling pound to build a road, as exchange of solving the dispute in a definitive way. Guatemala rejected the proposal.

On September 16, 1969, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Dr. Alberto Fuentes Mohr opened the XXIV Regular Period of Meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations and in his speech in regard the national problem of the claim of Belize, he said:

“…In virtue whereof, in the international plan (Guatemala) keeps its traditional position of respect to the legal regulations and proposes keeping good relationship with the rest of countries around the world.  It is true the United Kingdom has a controversy over the territory of Belize and we reiterate our position of affirmation of our rights over the same. We keep faithful to our belief of international coexistence. We keep with the willingness to think possible agreements in order to finish such difference and guarantee the welfare and security of the Belize population. As a matter of fact, we consider as essential to find a reciprocity attitude as well as respectful toward our position.”

Around that time, the People’s United Party of George Price received a strong add of members from the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), that was promoting a radical movement between black and unemployed from the town. They wanted to reach certain support between the union trades. Among the leaders of such movement were Said, Musa, Leslie, Shoman, Courtenay and other; economists, and leaders of the University of the West Indian.

On March 12 and 13, 1970, was held a meeting in New York at ministerial level and participation of Belizean delegates.  England presented two projects of covenant.  The first was a Cooperation project and the second one, a Recognizing of Borders of Belize. Guatemala stated that the covenant of cooperation should be more detailed and should be another authority in charge of the planning and performing of development plans.

On July 1, 1970 the President Colonel Carlos Arana Osorio (1970-1974) took possession of the charge and appointed to Roberto Herrera Ibarguen as Minister of Foreign Affairs.  The negotiations continued as follows:

On September 10 and 11, 1970 was a meeting in New Orleans where was discussed the cooperation covenant, England continued finding problems.

On September 26 and 27, the ministries of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala and England met with some delegates of Belize in Washington, D.C. George Price reported that Belize was directly to independence but its desire is to become in the Sixth State of Central America and preferred leave the financial cooperation after its independence.

On October 16 and 17 was a meeting in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Here participated Guatemalans, English and Belizean and they discussed: a) functioning of the Central American Common Market; b) financial problems of Belize; and, c) cooperation covenant.

On November 13 and 14, at Freeport, Jamaica, were meeting Guatemala, England, and Belize. Guatemala presented a project of covenant in reference to the financial cooperation; leaving aside everything is related to the Foreign Affairs and defense.  Belize said that the project of Guatemala was too far away: free trade would be progressive; the customs validity would be the goal in long term, always it could be reconciled with the participation of Belize in Carifta and that the participation of Belize in the Central American system which would be limit to some of the integration systems.

On March 30 and 31, 1971 at San Francisco, California were meeting the delegations of Guatemala, England and Belize. England delivered a project of covenant of cooperation made by Belize.

The Belizean project only contained advantages for them and had lost of sight the main purpose: to solve through financial measures the territorial dispute.

Dr. Roberto Herrera Ibarguen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his speech on September 30, 1971 before the General Assembly of the United Nations in its XXVI Regular Period of Meetings, exposed the status was the controversy of Belize.

“Other resolution only adopted by unanimity, the Central American Parliament declared that the territory of Belize is integral part, historically and geographically, of Guatemala and Central America; therefore, the destinies of such territory are interest of all the Central American Commonwealth. The supreme power of such Parliament gives it the exercise to reiterate the support of all the Central American people in regard to the Guatemalan position on Belize.  The Parliament urges, as last issue, to the Governments to deny the recognition of any change of the juridical and political status of Belize, meanwhile such claim is not solved.”

“Guatemala keeps with United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland, an old dispute over the territory, and has done all of this controversy having in mind the undeniable grounds of its claim, and at the same time, the main interests of the Belizean population is living in Central America.”

“My Government desires to leave an evidence that will continue promoting the proper and fair solution for everybody in this controversy but needs to state that although expressing its decision to support the Belizean people in its dispute to be released from the colonial domain, will be opposed to any change in its juridical and political status if the problem of the Guatemalan rights is not previously solved in a total way.”

On late September 1971, in New York were meeting the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Roberto Herrera Ibarguen and the First Minister of Belize, George Price. Guatemala rejected the Belizean proposal filed during the last meeting in San Francisco, California.  On October 13 and 14 was another meeting with Guatemala and England, in Washington, D.C. The English delegation reaffirmed that the independence of Belize was a “inevitable need” and tried to address the negotiations over those two Covenants (Cooperation and Borders Recognition).  England stated that the affiliation of Belize to the Central American Common Market would be the price that the Belizean should pay for its independence.

On January 27, 1972, the press released the news from the Minister of Defense of England. They had sent to Belize the aircraft carrier “Ark Royal” (the most important Army unit of its kind in England) with the destructor “London”. These were protected by two frigates and a battalion of army of the Queen. They said that before February, in the colony of Belize should be around 3000 soldiers.  The explanation England gave was a simple training exercise.  The Congress of the Republic resolved:

First: Strongly to condemn the strength demonstrations are used by England to dissolve the controversy sustained by Guatemala in a peaceful way when is claiming, for more than hundred years, part of its territory was seized by a power of another continent.

Second: To request all the Congresses of Central America to be pronounced against the unqualified violation is made to the dignity and sovereignty of our States.

Third: To urge the Executive Organism to issue the proper and urgent measure in defense of the sovereignty of our country is duly threaten, for what the Congress of the Republic is able to consider the default of the paragraph 6 of Article 170 of the Constitution of the Republic.

In 1972, Mexico reiterated again, before the OAS its rights over Belize. The Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Alfredo Obiols, recalled the Mexican what their President, Luis Echeverria, had said: “More important is the friendship with Guatemala, than a territorial claim and Mexico’s expansion.”

On February 18, 1972 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala and Argentina subscribed a Joint Declaration which declares in the X point as follows:

“X. Considering again the situation of the territories of Falkland Islands and Belize insist in the necessity to approach a definitive arrangement that respects the national and territorial unit of the States, and reaffirm its confidence in the peaceful means to seek a solution of international controversies brought by the United Nations.”

On March 10, 1972, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala and England met in Washington, D.C. Guatemala reported to England that if they did not withdraw the sent troops to Belize, the negotiations could not continue. Guatemala warned that should take army measures if England grants, hidden from Guatemala, the independence to Belize. England insisted to keep the negotiations, thus, Guatemala stated could not continue unless the statu-quo of the army situation was reestablished in Belize. The Minister Herrera Ibarguen requested to the Minister Goldber to withdraw the strong contingent of troops that were sent to Belize, and this was an aggression action against Guatemala, as well as a threatening for the Hemisphere. Since England denied it, the Government of Guatemala decided to suspend the negotiations to solve the problem.

On July 28, 1973, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of England and Guatemala met again. The Minister Herrera Ibarguen stated that believed he had a formula to arrange the problem, but he was not able to discuss it before the presidential elections on March, 1974. Any discussion before that could be dangerous due the reactions of the public opinion in Guatemala.  After the elections they could take formal negotiations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala said before this that Guatemala was not going to do anything on this. If it happens in United Nations, we will close an eye and an ear and meanwhile I will request to our friend their support in this issue although the desires of Guyana and Jamaica. England insisted to have in private the idea and formula of the arrangement was going to be proposed by Guatemala, but nothing was informed to them. England offered to do all was possible to avoid the issue in the United Nations.

On July 1, 1974 General Kjell Eugenio Laugerud Garcia (1974 – 1978) took possession as Constitutional President. The new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Adolfo Molina Orantes formulated again the Guatemalan claim over the territory of Belize and the will of the government of Guatemala to continue with the negotiations with England in order to solve the dispute on 1974 but did not make any negotiation.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) of Belize was established in 1974 to face the People’s United Party, which leader was the Prime Minister George Price, in the election process of that year. It was going to mean the control of the self-government. Such party was arose from the integration of several conservative political parties: National Independence Party (NIP) of Phillip Goldson; People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), and the Party of Liberty (PL). The leadership of UDP was trusted on Dean Lindo, who was defeated in the elections; they only had 18 seats in the Assembly.

In 1974, the Inter American Juridical Committee, which was a consultative body of the Organization of the American States (OAS) and issued a resolution based on “Colonialism Territorial in America”, which reads in the following issues:

“3. Concerned because in american lands we still keep territories occupied by foreign powers although the continuous claims of Latin American states that demand its devolution to establish essential part of its national territories;

4. Convinced that the self-determination principle is popular and proclaimed by United Nations, it is not able to be involved to provoke the assignment of territories which restoration of sovereignty claims some American state; this does not reduce the right of the population of such territories to custody and guarantee their rights and fundamental interests, without any discrimination, as well as its participation in the government and public administration;

5. Specially knowing the claims are held by the Republic of Argentina and the Republic of Guatemala against United Kingdom of the Great Britain and North Ireland because of the sovereignty of the territories of Falkland Islands and Belize, respectively, which are occupied by United Kingdom;

6. Concerned because these situations and other are of colonial character of submission character, of territories to determined foreign powers are able to constitute a threaten to the peace and security of the continent, furthermore, that are true social and financial obstacles for the process of total development in the damaged countries; etc.”

As consequence, the Juridical Inter American Committee:

1)    Decides to continue the research of the situations on the territories are not autonomous and the colonial situation, as well as the neo-colonial in America, and offers its maximum cooperation to the General Assembly of the OAS with the purpose to contribute to the sooner elimination of all these ways of dependency; and

2)    Requests to the General Assembly of the OAS its new consideration for the problem of the occupied territories in the American continent, looking for a sooner solution.”

Based on such purposes, are suggested the following measures:

“a) That the Assembly of OAS appoints a special Commission of reduced arrangement, being informed about the current status of the claims, be in charge of advice the means and solutions with the duly urgency, to address the abolition of the colonialism, neo-colonialism, and seizing of territories by foreign states in the American continent in a short term;

c)    Promoting a solidary action of the American states within the organisms of the United Nations with the purpose to intensify the measures that end the colonialism, neo-colonialism and the existence of occupied territories in the American continent.”

The government of Belize had started an active and aggressive foreign policy that was designed and executed by Musa, Leslie, Courtenay and Shoman – former members of the United Black Association for Development – that were very accurate of the People’s United Party to disarm, in a diplomatic way, the claims of Guatemala, of course, under the consent of England.

The delegates of Belize were met with all, or almost all, the leaders of the new African nations (former French, Belgian, and English colonies) of the Organization United of Africa (OUA) and the small English speaker countries of the Caribbean to request their support.

In 1974 was held the Conference of No-Alienated Countries, Guatemala attended as an invited Latin American country of Peru. The Prime minister of Belize, George Price, was invited and exposed the desire of Belize to be independent from England within the British Commonwealth of Nations, keeping its territorial integrity without any bond to Guatemala. Price asked the solidarity of more than hundred twenty five country members of United Nations on behalf Belize. Guatemala protested the participation of Belize in the debates.

Belize was using as two groups of the Caribbean before the no-alienated countries and before the British Commonwealth: CARIFTA (Caribbean Free Trade Association) and CARICOM (Caribbean Community). Belize used them to press United Nations and England to grant their independence and territorial integrity.

In 1975, the government of Belize established in New York an agency called “Office of the Belizean Representative” to request assistance of all the countries were on behalf Belize.

On February 1975 the negotiations restarted again in New York. Dr. Luis Aycinena Salazar, who was heading the Guatemalan delegation exposed as follows:

“Guatemala is concerned before the conflictive situation, which is potential but imminent in the Gulf of Honduras, especially talking about Amatique Bay, Punta de Manabique, Punta Gorda, Punta Ycacos, Punta Negra, Monkey River and surrounding keys, which are closer of the Guatemalan costs than Belize’s.” He added: “Guatemala will not be able to share this area never, because this will not mean just close Guatemala, but practically block it, also would mean the creation a permanent source of asperities and problems of any kind. It also should bring problems: The Maritime Territory, Submarine Shelf (fishing, navigation and resources exploitation); problems of simple exit to the sea of Guatemala, but essentially, safety problems and territorial defense.” Eventually he said: “The problem was vital and irrevocable to Guatemala, it could not be negotiated because the own integrity of the Nation depends on it in certain moment.”

He stated in a very respectful way that was needed a territorial arrangement with a requirement of “sine que non” as essential base of the rest of the arrangements.

The conversations continued in New York on April 1975. On July and August were in New Orleans.  Several formulas to arrange the controversy were given. All of them were based that any solution should have in mind the interests of Guatemala and Belize.  It was agreed to prepare a covenant project between Guatemala and England, where were included all the agreements made by Guatemala and England in previous negotiations.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Adolfo Molina Orantes, during the general debate of XXX Regular Period of Meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 2, 1975 pronounced a speech, and some of the things he said were:

“… the free demonstration of the people in a cardinal principle of the United Nations, which has been applied to free the subjugated countries of bonds these have with powers of colonization. Such principle never could be applied, especially pursuant the own act of United Nations, on the cases of territories are part of another State and which are object of violent occupation by another State that brings their foreign people and subjugates or replace it, because this would take to the authorization of braking territories are belonging to a nation and that has been seized by others.

These strength situations are strangulating the national territories of the States that only can find a peaceful and permanent solution through the juridical means previously observed by International Law.  This is the way that the population and government of Guatemala desire and expect on the solution of the unanimous claim they have against United Kingdom of the great Britain due Belize.

They are making those based on justice and equity that avoid the resultant frustrations of this people’s indignity before the constant resistance to be recognized with their legal rights over their territorial integrity and their unbreakable sovereignty.”

On October 1975, England sent land, sea, and air army forces to Belize, due supposed threaten by Guatemala, and by fortune there was not any armed incident.

Guatemala had continued with the scholarships plan for Belize, in order to study in the country. It was possible that a certain quantity of students were enrolled in the University of San Carlos and other educational centers.

On November 9, the Electoral Council of Guatemala approved the incorporation of the 24th Election District, Belize, to the current election system in the country.  The corresponding resolution contemplated its inclusion in this new law, because the pre-project was finished.

On December 8, 1975, through Resolution 3432 (XXX) of the General Assembly of the United nations, the project filed by Trinidad and Tobago, England and other 62 countries was approved.  This was reaffirming the inalienable right of Belize to have free determination and independence and that the integrity of such territory should be protected.

The Resolution was approved as follows:

Supported the motion 110 countries
Abstentions of 16 countries (among them was Mexico)
Against the motion were 9 countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic  and Uruguay)

Through a press release, Guatemala stated that:

“Guatemala is reserving its right to accept or reject any Resolution from the General Assembly of the United Nations.  As we have done in the past, Guatemala should not ever accept any intromission in our country by United Nations within our internal affairs, especially when the problem is due part of our territory which devolution is upon conversations with the power is keeping it.  The government of Guatemala is not willing to accept a unilateral independence of the territory of Belize, granted by Great Britain and North Ireland.”

The President Laugerud Garcia, during its visit to Melchor de Mencos, Peten, reaffirmed the rights over Belize: “The problem of Guatemala is not Belize, but the English seizing because they pretend strip it from part of its territory. We are not going to be as England with Belize, who have been the depredator and have cheated on them with a false independence. Since the beginning we have shown our unity and determination of no fear to England. We have looked for peaceful ways and will keep looking those, but England do not must believe that because we look peaceful ways, they cannot force us to HOLD THE RIFLE AND THE MACHETE because we DO KNOW HOW TO HOLD THEM.”

In 1976 the Congress of the Republic issued the Decree 20-76 which reads:

“Guatemala is reconfirming its sovereignty beyond its territory and internal waters, to an adjacent line to its designed coasts with the name of Maritime Territory which has an extension of twelve maritime miles (bold is the author’s), measures are taken from the base line. Such sovereignty is extended until the aerial space over the Maritime Territory, as well as the laid and subsoil of such sea.”

In the same year, Guatemala also established the Exclusive Economic Zone, giving an area of 200 maritime miles (one maritime mile is equal to 1,853 meters) from the base line where is measured the width of the Maritime Territory.

The negotiations with England restarted, as well as the first meeting of Guatemala and England, which included Belize.  The Guatemalan delegation was headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Adolfo Molina Orantes. The English delegation was headed by the Minister Ted Rowlands, and was accompanied by the Prime Minister of Belize, George Price.

The English delegation was proposing seven concrete points:

1.    Guaranteed access to high sea through maritime territorial of Guatemala.
2.    Limit to the right of Belize to enter into military agreements with third countries that could include aspects that may concern Guatemala in regard foreign safety.
3.    Information exchange on safety matters through a Council of Joint Defense.
4.    Access of Guatemala to the harbors of Belize in terms no less favorable than for the nationals of Belize.
5.    Promise that Belize would participate in the Covenant of Rio (TIAR).
6.    Joint consults and information exchange over mutual interest issues in the field of foreign policy.
7.    Financial cooperation, including the reestablishment of a development fund where the United Kingdom would do a substantial contribution with the purpose to jointly create development projects that would benefit both countries.

The second ministerial round was carried out in Panama on September 1976. England included again Belize in its delegation. They were: Assad Shoman, Rafael Fonseca and Santiago Perdomo. At the beginning were agreed the following issues:

1.    Guatemala and England would recognize the independence of Belize.
2.    The contracting parties will watch out for the territorial integrity of Belize and their armies will be able to penetrate into Belizean territory as per request of Belize.
3.    It is established a Council of Joint Defense compound by three representatives of Guatemala and three of Belize.
4.    Guatemala and Belize will make efforts for the last one, be part of the covenants and institutions of the Central American Commonwealth.
5.    Guatemala and Belize will cooperate in the conclusion of financial and commercial covenants.
6.    Guatemala will have right of a free port in Belize and at the same time, it will have one in Guatemala.
7.    England, Guatemala, and Belize will cooperate to a Development Fund to support the free ports, the conclusion of covenants and joint development.
8.    A free commerce regime will be established, with some limitations.
9.    Guatemala and Belize will cooperate in the monetary field and will establish compensation methods.
10.    Guatemala and Belize will stimulate the capitals investment in the territories of each and another.
11.    Guatemala and Belize will consult one to another about all the issues of foreign politics of mutual interest. Guatemala and Belize will be in charge, as per request of the other, of the diplomatic and consular protection in countries where the petitioner does not have diplomatic missions.
12.    The official documents of Belize will e recognized in Guatemala and vice versa.
13.    The academic degrees, certificates, and diplomas of Guatemala will have full validity in Guatemala and vice versa.
14.    Guatemala will sponsor, as per request of Guatemala, the entering of Belize to the Central American Commonwealth, and jointly to United Kingdom, its entering to the United Nations.

On October 26 and 27, 1976, experts in financial issues from Guatemala and Belize had a meeting in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  The delegation of Guatemala was formed by Dr. Luis Aycinena Salazar, Alfonso A. Lima and Julio Chocano Batres, officers of Foreign Affairs Minister, as well as by Gert Rosenthal and Rafael Castellanos Garcia Prendes of GUATEXPRO. The delegation of Belize was represented by Rafael Fonseca, Allistair McIntyre, General Secretary of CARICOM, as consultant, and the officer Grinaga, Fuller and Cord. Basically, all the financial and commercial issues were discussed and mentioned in the Article 8 for a joint development of: tourism, cattle, industry (especial farm industry), forestry and physical infrastructure.

On December 1, 1976, the Resolution 31/50, Issue of Belize, was approved by the General Assembly of United Kingdom.  Such resolution was reaffirming the inalienable right of Belize to the free determination and independence, as well as the protection to the inviolability and territorial integrity of Belize.  The Resolution was approved by 115 votes on its behalf, 8 against it, and 15 abstentions.

On May 1977, the Government of Guatemala resolved braking diplomatic relationships with panama.  Such breaking was due to the Head of Government of such country, General Omar Torrijos, was helping the Prime Minister of Belize, George Price, in their independence, denying the Panamanian position of “unlimited support” to the cause of Guatemala in regard its rights over such territory.

In a very stressed environment, the third round of negotiations to ministerial level was held in Washington, C.D., on July 6 and 7, 1977.  The delegation of Guatemala was headed by Dr. Adolfo Molina Orantes, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the delegation of England was headed by Ted Rowlands, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.  The delegation of Belize was with the English one, and was formed by the Prime Minister, George Price, and Assad Shoman, Harry Courtenay and Dean Lindo.  The stressed was caused by the purpose of England to grant, unilaterally, the independence to Belize, and such same day, had arrived to the territory new army contingents from England.

Several ideas were proposed in the meeting, all of them of territorial character and England offered a “huge amount of money” to the government of Guatemala, according to them, that was for “important development works” as a compensation to solve the dispute. Guatemala rejected the offer. The Minister Molina Orantes stated “our claim is having a territorial character and not a money one.”

It is important to mention what a former Minister of Foreign Affairs said:

“Guatemalan have the impression that in regard of Belize, Great Britain has a kind of Pavlovian reflex. Every time is seemed the issue is going to be solved, they sent troops, ships, and planes; it means, they make a big fuss of strengths and interrupts the process.
Guatemala has informed constantly to the United Kingdom that does not accept any negotiation under coercive conditions, not under actions of any kind.”

Before this threaten of English troops in the border of Guatemala to Belize, as well as war ships in the Gulf of Honduras, the government of Guatemala was forced to send some military contingents to the border zone.

The Minister of State of Foreign Affairs of England, Ted Rowlands, visited Guatemala on July 26 to have an interview with the President Laugerud Garcia and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Molina Orantes. His visit was concluded with a statement where “reiterated the British will of taking full in mind the vital interests of Guatemala in any solution of the controversy.” Both Guatemalan and English stated their firm intention to continue with the negotiation in order to find a sooner, fair, and honorable solution for the dispute.

On September 1977, Guatemala and England has a meeting in London. They were discussing about the drawing of the border line at the reference of river Moho, following its course and then, taking the rivers Aguacate and Jacalte (or Jacate) and following the line to the Northeast, to be between the Keys of Pompon and Rangoon.  At the beginning, this line was accepted by England as part of Annex I of the covenant project of Panama.  The project of a border line provoked protests due publications made in London.

The final part of the speech given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala in the XXXII period of Meeting before the general Assembly of United Nations, on September 30, 1977, he said:

“… Within this political context, and as consequence of all the fundamental purposes of the United Nations, my government has done negotiations with the Government of United Kingdom that have been intensified throughout recent years in order to seek a conciliatory formula that satisfies the rights and vital interest of Guatemala and Belize at the same time; currently under colonial responsibility of Great Britain.”

“We also hope that these negotiations process which is looking a proper solution would not be disturbed by improper pressures of not involved countries to the dispute and that, instead of cooperating on a solution of the problem, could make it more serious and complicated.”

On November 28, 1977 the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the Resolution 32/32 (XXXII), where as reaffirmed again the inalienable right of Belize to free determination and independence.  This third Resolution over the situation of Belize was approved by 126 votes on behalf, 4 against it and 13 abstentions.

On January 1976, Belize and England were making a covenant where spread that all the agreements made with Guatemala be made upon popular consultation and upon British Commonwealth.

The ministerial meeting on early February, 1978 in Washing D.C., England proposed as limit the river Teams, which was, more or less, the half of are based on river Moho.  Guatemala stated that such proposal was unacceptable for it.  Another meeting was held on June 17 and 18 on Miami, also on ministerial level.  England stated that all the problems caused in London were due the indecision of George Price and therefore, the negotiations were deadlock but they must continue.  Guatemala reiterated the necessity of a border line adjustment and the looking of a commitment solution.

In the speech was pronounced by the General Romeo Lucas Garcia (1976-1982) on July 1, 1978, at the moment of assuming the Presidency of the republic, said that the government was going to look for a civilized solution to the problem of Belize, and were going to fulfill the constitutional power that demands the Executive to carry out all the negotiations that will solve the situation of Belize pursuant the national interest. Rafael Castillo Valdes was appointed as Foreign Affairs Minister and declared that straight negotiations with England were going to be taken, with the sole and only purpose to solve the “territorial conflict” in a peaceful way.

On July 5, 1978, the political parties of Belize subscribe a “political memorandum” through they are committed to deal the independence of Belize under the nationalist point of view, instead of a party one.

On September same year, the Minister Castillo Valdes and the Secretary of State of England, David Owen met in new York.  The Minister of England proposed the following:

a)    A project of road to modernize the road to Flores, Peten and the, to Belize;
b)    Facilitations to open a free port in Belize,
c)    Free transit of persons and goods, and
d)    The drawing of a maritime border line to guarantee an exit to Guatemala toward the Caribbean by a passage of maritime territory.

Furthermore, the mutual safety and friendship agreement between Guatemala and Belize, which was not allowing foreign forces in Belize but English or other countries of the British Commonwealth, was being handled.  The proposals were rejected by Guatemala on November 30, 1978.

The Fourth Resolution – 33/36 (XXXIII) – over the situation of Belize was approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 13, 1978.  It was approved by 123 votes on its behalf, 1 against it and 5 abstinences. The inalienable right of Belize to their free determination and independence was reaffirmed again.

On January 31, 1979, the Inter American Juridical Committee in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (consultative body of the Organization of American States) formulated the following declaration:

“Declaration of the Inter American Juridical Committee over the Problem of Belize”


1.    That the territory of Belize, upon the Republic of Guatemala is claiming territorial rights grounded on international agreements from century XVIII exists a colonial situation created by the occupation of the same by Great Britain and North Ireland;
2.    That Great Britain pretends decide by unilateral way, the destiny of such region; therefore, it is incompatible with the sovereignty rights of Guatemala, expressly recognized in prior pronouncements of the regional organism;
3.    That, as consequence, the government of the United Kingdom is not able to decide unilaterally over the destiny of Belize, but only through negotiations with the government of Guatemala, which must be taken in mind for the interests and desires of Belize in accordance to the principle of self-determination of the countries, contained in Resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly of the United nations.
4.    That the negotiations are currently carried out between both countries must be faster in order to find a sooner and fair solution to the problem, with the purpose of avoid any danger to peace and safety within the Continent.”

During 1979, the negotiations with the leaders were deadlock because England and Belize were in election period.

On November 21, 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations, through Resolution 34/38 (XXXIV) approved the issue of Belize by 123 votes on its behalf, 1 against it and 7 in abstinence.  By fifth time: they were reaffirming the inalienable right of Belize to free determination and independence.

In 1980, as a result of preliminary contact, another round of negotiations was carried out in Bermudas, on May 19 and 20. The delegation of Guatemala was headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rafael Castillo Valdes and England’s was by their Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Nicholas Ridley. With the delegation of England also participated some Belizean delegates: Harrison Courtenay, Assad Shoman and Vernon.  Both Governments stated the purpose t conclude a convenient and satisfying arrangements.  The Covenant of 1958 was agreed to be discussed.

As continuation to the meeting of Bermudas, it was a meeting of experts both of Guatemala and England, with some Belizean public, in New York on July 28, 1980.  The Covenant of 1859 was revised and England recognized that the Covenant had several mistakes. They agreed about some points had not been fulfilled, as the content of Article 7 or Compensatory Clause, which, according to them, was equally forcing England and Guatemala.  The maritime borders and drawing of maritime territory were discussed.

On August 22 was an informal meeting in Miami with the Minister Castillo Valdes and the Prime Minister of Belize, George Price, with the presence of English officers. Here was discussed the revision of the Covenant of 1859, the maritime borders and drawing of maritime territory.

On October 13 and 14, 1980 the Minister Castillo Valdes and Minister Ridley were met in New York. England proposed 16 issues to discuss with Guatemala:

1.    Maritime passage
2.    Guatemalan sovereignty in maritime ground of passage
3.    Jointly maritime administration, portion of Belize and portion of Guatemala
4.    Export and exploitation of oil in joint companies
5.    Investment security and promotion of such
6.    Development cooperation of Peten. Joint projects
7.    Scholarships in England
8.    Free port in Belize for Guatemala
9.    Improvement or reconstruction of road from Belize to Guatemala’s border line
10.    Oil pipeline from Dangriga (Stann Creek)
11.    Acceptation of Belize in the Central American Commonwealth
12.    Visas abolition
13.    Embassy in the three countries
14.    Long term lease in one or several keys of south
15.    Permanent commission of negotiation
16.    Safety. Belize should guarantee its territory is not going to be used for the subversion in Guatemala

On October 30 of the same year, the Permanent Mission of Guatemala before United Nations, previously the votes in the Fourth Commission, the Project of Resolution in reference to the issue of Belize, sent a note to the Permanent Missions of the Member States, asking them their support on behalf Guatemala.

On November 11, 1980, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved Resolution 35/20 (XXXV) through 139 votes on behalf, none against it and 7 abstentions (Bolivia, El Salvador, Honduras, Israel, Morocco, Paraguay and Uruguay). Through this was available the independence of Belize for the following year.  Guatemala did not participate in the voting, England announced the summoning to a constitutional conference to prepare the independence of such territory.

At the end of November, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a resolution supporting the agreement by the General Assembly of the United Nations upon which England was going to grant independence to Belize in 1981. In my personal opinion, the resolution was totally against of one of the fundamental principles of the Letter to OAS, which is defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the States (since its foundation, Guatemala is one of the members.)

Another round of negotiations on expertise level in New York on February 5, 6, 11 and 2, 1981 to discuss the proposal was formulated by England on October 1980.  During the meeting in London on March 11, 1981, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Rafael Castillo Valdes, the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs and British Commonwealth, Nicholas Ridley, and the Prime Minister of Belize, George Price, signed the Understanding Bases (16 points) to achieve an negotiated and definitive arrangement in the controversy.  On March 16 the Understanding Bases were made public in Guatemala, England and Belize at the same time. This is the sole document where George Price subscribed his name.

Three days later, on March 19, Honduras protested on the point 3 of the Understanding Bases and its government sent to England a protest note since it was affecting their immemorial rights of sovereignty, specifically at Keys of Zapotillo, Honduras.

“For such reason, pursuant declaration made by President Lucas before the Congress of the Republic on July 1 of the current year, all the rights are corresponding to Guatemala will be kept without modification and the territory of Belize, continues being, as our Constitution declares it, part of the national territory.”

When was public the decision of England, about granting Belize the independence on September 21, the government of Guatemala on September 7, 1981, reported through a press release to the population of Guatemala, that the consular relationship with Great Britain were broken, as well as

the British Consulate had been ordered to close in the country, and the commercial and transit relations with people of Belize were forbidden. It was an order that established absolute closed the lines were custodian by British army forces. None aerial or maritime ship could make scale or coastal shipping in Belize and pas through Guatemala, and vice versa.  The student of Belize were having scholarships by the government of Guatemala must abandon the country up to 14th of such month.

Guatemala reiterated that shall not recognize the independence of Belize, not only for the rights are supporting it, but because the issue was object of territorial controversy that was not solved.  The independence neither was legal internationally because such controversy has been submitted to the process of straight negotiation pursuant Article 33 of the Letter of the United Nations.

The Constitution of Belize was promulgated on September 20, 1981 and establishes in the article 1 (2) “Belize includes the defined territory and sea in the List I of this Constitution, which previously to the independence day, it was established as the colony of Belize.” The List I, says: “I. The territory of Belize includes the firm land of Belize and al the islands and keys within the area between the borders with Guatemala and Mexico and within the limit of the maritime territory of Belize and that are described as follows:
(a)    The border to Guatemala is the prescribed lien by the Covenant between Great Britain and Guatemala, subscribed on April 30, 1859.

On September 21, 1981, England grants in unilateral way, the independence of Belize.

Guatemala, before the Safety Council of the United Nations, made a warning of the proclamation of Belize’s independence was an illegal action, against any right, because the agreements made in the straight negotiations had not been fulfilled by England.

The General Assembly of the United Nations approved Resolution 36/3 on September 25, 1981, which decides to admit to Belize as Member number 156 of the United Nations.  When the application of Belize was processes to enter to the United Nations, Guatemala protested before the Safety Council.  The Council only stated that could not interrupt the process to allow a new State to enter to the organization.  Guatemala formulated extensive expositions in the Safety Council and in the General Assembly of UN, made the express reserve of its rights over Belize and declared that did not recognize the independence and State of Belize which was being constituted in a poor way, when the territorial dispute with England had not been solved yet.

In 1981 a census in Belize was made, which produced the quantity of 160 thousand habitants, as follows:

Mixed race persons
10% Mayans
2% Hindis
3% Chinese, Arabians and other

With a density of 7 habitants per squared kilometers, the distribution was as follows:

Orange Walk
Toledo 12,000
Stann Creek 15,000

Foto Autor This Homepage was made by Luis DALLANEGRA PEDRAZA

PhD in Political Science and International Relations (National University of Rosario , Argentine). Professor and assessor in Degree, Post degree and Doctorate in the country and abroad. Director of the Center of International-Argentinean Studies (CIAS/CEINAR), and of the Argentine Review of International Relations, 1977-1981. International Observer of the International Committee of Support and Verification CIAV-OAS in the guerrilla's "demobilization" "contra" in Nicaragua, 1990. Director of Doctorate in International Relations, National University of Rosario , Rosario , Argentine, 2002-2005. Scientific Researcher of the "National Council of Scientific and Technical Researches" (NCSTR/CONICET), Argentine.

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© Richardson Escobar-Vega de Tirado, This Land is Mine: The Belize's Drama, (Guatemala, Edition of the Author, 1993), Translation: Ana Leticia Santos and  Marta Mena,