By: Dr. Gerald Zuniga, Studied Political Scienceat Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala & Universidad Mariano Galvez, Guatemala City
I have been writing some articles with you all in mind and I decided to write this one a few days before an imposed referendum, yet of enormous historic, legal, and sociopolitical importance. We can't sit back and take it lightly.. The Foreign Minister said we are squatters. If you are squatting,brethren, you don’t take chances litigating with your land. You can stay without and if you have papers they can be proven to be false. If the 1859 Boundary Treaty was breeched, then the question brethren is, who gave England the papers for Belize? If the papers were given when they signed the 1859 Treaty and they willfully didn't do their part, then are the papers valid? Could we conclude that they abused the fact that they were Superpower and made it their way? If that is the case, brethren, then will we be risking too much with such papers that they claim we have before the ICJ . They haven’t even presented to us any papers, either.
Brethren, on March 11th, 1981, there was an agreement signed wuth Guatemala called The Heads of Agreement which had in Clause 1 and I quote "The United Kingdom and Guatemala shall recognize the independent state of Belize as an integral part of Central America and respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with its existing and traditional frontier subject in the case of Guatemala, to the completion of the treaties necessary to give effect to these Heads of Agreement This agreement was rejected by the people of Belize. I am not certain if it was an intentional act or just an act of coincidence. Knowing that the Heads of Agreements were rejected, the Constituents, (deh guys who wrote the key laws that were going to govern us), of our Constitution made sure that they defined the State and territory of Belize in total detail and without a shade of a doubt, brethren. So, brethren, even if we have the papers as they said, Guatemala sleep up which is to our advantage; however our Prime Minister and the Governor General are the ones sleeping up now wanting to take us to a referendum because our forefathers who made our Constitution put into the garbage bin Guatemala’s claim at 12:01a.m. on September 21st, 1981. THEY WERE BRILLIANT AND ASTUTE. The reason is that Schedule 1 of our Constitution, unlike many Constitutions around the world, mentions clearly Belize’s borders and because our Constitution is above international law we can’t take to the ICJ any claim on our border from any country whoever it may be including Guatemala even if we want to, because it is illegal. It is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. You might ask What Schedule 1 seh? Paragraph (1), states the following:
The territory of Belize comprises the mainland of Belize and all its associated islands and cays within the area bounded by the frontiers with Guatemala and Mexico and the outer limit of the territorial sea of Belize described as follows:---
- The frontier with Guatemala is the line prescribed by the Treaty between the United Kingdom and Guatemala signed on 30 April, 1859:
- The frontier with Mexico is the line prescribed by the Treaty between the United Kingdom and Mexico signed on 8 July 1893;
- The outer limit of the territorial sea of Belize is the limit provided by law measured from such baselines as may have been prescribed before Independence Day by law or otherwise, or as may be so prescribed thereafter,
And also includes the Turneffe Islands, the Cay of Lighthouse Reef and Glover Reef, together with all associated islets and reef, and their adjacent waters as far as the outer limit of the territorial sea appertaining to them.
So we can take anything else to the ICJ but NOT OUR BORDERS. So, brethren, ALL AGREEMENTS AND ALL LEGAL OPINIONS ON OUR BOUNDARIES AFTER SEPTEMBER 21ST, 1981 ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL. They disregarded, dishonoured, and disrespected our Constitution. So they are illegal because no ordinary law nor Agreement is above our Constitution and more so if the agreement is in violation. It must be in ACCORDANCE WITH.
So, there shouldn’t have been any referendum, brethren, because we don’t have any claim. Guatemala has a claim and their Constitution tells them how to solve their claim and it doesn’t mention the ICj either. The 13 Agreements that Ex-president Otto Perez Molina signed were the the one that we would have demanded that he would have taken to his people for a referendum and as per usual like in 1992 when Ex-president Jorge Serrano Elias recognized our Independence we did nothing. We took the pill of tranquility.
That being said, brethren, this referendum and more so that it jilts the legal process and is against our Constitution is null and void and all those pushing it is committing a serious legal and political offense and could be held accountable any time in their lives because no one is above the law and violation of constitutional law take a while to prescribe and it is so around the world and they could end in serious legal problems after leaving power. Belize hasn’t been so but time changes. Watch the Me Too Movement and its outcome. Who would have imagined that to happen many years ago. There is heaviy scrutinity against impunities. The violation of a Constitution and taking oaths of allegiance to it, making it even worse, is a grave offense. IGNORANTIA JURIS NON EXCUSAT; THE IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE.
This referendum, as some has said or implied, has absolutely nothing to do with patriotism, rights of voice, rights of choice, rights to votes, or any other rights or to solve this claim once and for all as some said, etc. That is baloney. It is stupid to think that this referendum is to your benefit when it is your own poison. A yes vote to the ICJ even if they fabricate it, and it is smelling in the air, will only alter the peace in Belize and to some extent in Guatemala because any resolution from the ICJ will not be binding, as they say it will be in their propaganda, brethren, because if the ICJ doesn’t give them anything or that sector of Guatemala don’t get want they pretend. They will challenge it and will go back to Art. 19 Transitory saying that it was violated. That is something of their idiosyncrasy or culture. When they say Guatemala won’t get anything, brethren, not even my Granny believe that nonsense. The ICJ will try to give something to Guatemala to simmer them down because that is the way the ICJ operate. They shared the Golf of Fonseca area among Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua because of a dispute. But we could also challenge that hypothetical resolution because our Constitution is above international law and we could also invoke international laws in regards to human rights as Belizeans if we feel that our collective human rights is violated and there yes it is above our Constitution because it would be human rights. So, the document they signed supposedly saying that an ICJ resolution is binding is crop and will surely be challenged because a Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land. Our Constitution as I have stated in most of my articles on this matter is above or superior to all laws, even international law. Venezuela is the perfect example. If it was left to international law alone to govern the world, brethren, the fate of Maduro would be different even though there is the slogan of “no intervention” in the international community. Don't be fooled by the word international. Our Constitution is above International Law. If international law would be above Constitutions, that would be chaos for the world and gross intromission. Then it wouldn’t be United Nations rather One Nation, which some dream of, for their personal interest and agenda, that is the reason that they engineered globalization which has only benefitted a small group of people in the world.
I hear them say, brethren, the Belize/Guatemala Claim. I say to hell with alphabetical order. The name is Guatemala’s Claim over Belize. BELIZE HAS NO CLAIM. OUR CONSTITUTION DOES EVEN RECOGNIZE A GUATEMALAN CLAIM. The Guatemalan Constitution talks about their claim and only in Art. 19 Transitory and it doesn’t say Belice es Nuestro either as they tell us here and it tell them how they can solve their claim by a referendum on the points that they reach in negotiation with us. Not by anything related to going to the ICJ but by a referendum on the points that their government would agree upon with us. If their people wouldn’t agree then we would have to renegotiate. The same will happen if a no vote win here on Referendum Day and it could take another two hundred odd years for them to agree and solve their claim but that is their thing not ours.
Here are some reasons that would have made me vote “yes” on May 8th:
- That Britain would have honoured the 1859 Boundary Treaty. They breeched it; undermining Guatemala and abusing that they were superpower. They breeched many treaties around the world anyway. Neither, Joseph Chatoyer trusted them in 1794. No ICJ can touch our Constitution whether for the good or bad. That is that their duty and we can’t grant them jurisdiction either because we don’t have the authority. Only 2/3 of the House of Representative and ratified by the House of Senate can that happen because it is constitutional matter. IT IS TRUE, BRETHREN, THAT SOVERIEGNTY LIES IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE BUT EVERYBODY CAN’T RULE SO WE DELEGATE THAT MANDATE TO OUR REPRESENTATIVES. They should make decisions in our best interest,
- That our Constitution didn’t demarcate our boundaries in Schedule 1, Paragraph 1.
- That Art. 19 Transitory in Guatemala’s Constitution wouldn’t exist or would have been revoked.
- That the question of the Referendum wouldn’t be about our boundaries .
- That the Referendum Act would have complied with the due legal process.
- That all Belizeans by birth would have been invited and registered to vote.
If we vote “yes” on May 8th, we would be violated our Constitution in masses and would be a technical Coup D’ Etat and we would have destroyed our State added to what the OAS has done by destroying our Western Border by creating an Adjacency Zone. They are among those who have violated our Constitution. We are all obliged to uphold our Constitution as citizens of this country are more so who pledges oaths of allegiance, the Judiciary, the Belize Defense Force, and the Police Force.
We have no option, brethren, but to vote “NO”
We would not be doing anyone a favour; neither to ourselves. Neither would we be against anyone: Only respecting the Constitution. We have not learnt to respect our Constitutiin. Now, is the time. The PUP call for a no vote is precisely that, a call for the respect of our Constitution. It is not capriciousness. Some say that they started the whole negotiation process but it is also a wise act that they recognized that errors were committed in the past and to rectify is a sign of wisdom. That is leadership. To err is human and to rectify is wisdom.
A Nuestros Hermanos Beliceños naturalizados de origen Guatemalteco
Este 8 de Mayo, a los que se registraron para votar en este referéndum, les invitode todo corazóna votar “No” igual que a sus compatriotas votaron el año pasado en Guatemala. Ustedes juramentaron respetar nuestra Constitución y cantaron con regocijo nuestro Himno Nacional.. Belice les acogió. Algunos de ustedes y son muchos estoy seguro, tienen sus terrenos y parcelas acá algo que es un sueño para millones de Guatemaltecos en Guatemala actualmente. Hay muchos saliendo en caravanas hacia Los Estados Unidos para encontrar un mejor calidad de vida. Protejan su calidad de vida y vienen mejores tiempos. Esta ola tiene que pasar.
Nuestra Constitución prohíbe que podamos negociar nuestras fronteras, aunque reconocemos que Guatemala tiene su reclamo. También, nuestra Constitución no toma en cuenta elICJ o la Corte Internacional de la Justicia, porque la misma Naciones Unidas reconocio nuestra Independencia con nuestras fronteras en 1981.Sin embargo, confiamos que podemos llegar a un acuerdo comúncon Guatemalacomo vecinos para solventar ese reclamo y que vivamos y colaboramos en paz para el beneficio de nosotros mismosy nuestras generaciones.
Que viva, Belize!
Long live, Belize!