As Belizeans prepare to walk into an illegal and constitutionally forced Referendum, I cannot help but to worry. I worry because many of our people are blinded by political parties and affiliations; I worry because while may blindly believe in the very people that have them struggling and unable to attain a better quality of life…The rest of us are also at high risk.
What is happening to Belize is not new under the sun. The claim, the corruption, the crime, the stagnant economy…It has all happened around the world and it continues to happen. What is different in our case is the lack of assertive diplomatic efforts. What is different is the magnitude of corruption for such a small population. What is different is our people’s inaction, our reluctance to turn away from corrupt leaders! What is different is our one sided vision of the conflict.
Of all the issues in international relations, disputes over territory are the most noticeable and most likely to lead to armed conflict. Understanding the endurance of such claim is of paramount importance to our People.
Some Countries are willing and able to settle territorial disputes while others are not.
We must understand that in many cases the Countries that refuse to resolve the issues through diplomacy has hidden reasons to not resolve the claim at all; because there maybe a third party interest . It could well be the case of Guatemala; where the leaders are purposely maintaining the dispute over the territory of Belize in order to use the claim as a bargaining leverage in negotiations over other important issues either for them or their allies. This is known in International Relations as “dual strategy of issue linkage and coercive diplomacy” It means that the claiming state, the aggressor deliberately links two or more distinct foreign policy issues together and claims to the international community ( who may also have interest invested ) that one issue can not be resolved without resolving the other. This of course buys the claimant more time to resolve other issues and therefore allows them to benefit from an ongoing claim
If this is so, the claiming Country which is usually the bigger country has very strong incentives to not resolve the claim (although it’s their claim) so they opt for both diplomatic and sometimes militarized threats but never fires a shot. This is usually because they are after something more than territory; and in this case a very powerful third party may be interested to push the resolution just a bit deeper.
Regardless if Guatemala wants to resolve the claim or not there are many options for Belize without the risk of losing territory at a court. Guatemala’s intentions may be dual but if Belize agrees to go to court on it’s own and loses, Then Guatemala would have killed two birds with one shot.
Belize is able to take advantage of the endurance of this territorial dispute and use it as bargaining chip to persuade shifts in the foreign policies of its adversary regarding other issues connected to this claim; that it otherwise would not be able to influence. These issues could well be environmental impacts to the region because of the risk of loosing water sources in the Chiquibul. It could use Guatemalan diaspora in Belize and their resolve to stay in our country. It could use trade impacts within the region.
Understanding the conditions that increase the probability of peaceful resolution out of court could help to prevent conditions that could lead to lost of territory or armed conflict.
Our Leaders are fully aware that going to Court with territorial claims is risky and not at all comfortable for a small country like Belize because in any court, winning entails gaining territory and losing usually means having to let go of territory . The resolution maybe division of territory, which means one party receiving all of the disputed territory or It may be divided.
When a Powerful third interested party is involved, divisible resources such as oil, fishing rights, Gold, minerals, and other natural resources that could provide economic gain for the third party and/or the claiming party is a huge incentive to not resolve the conflict diplomatically.
In these cases, the third party is much more interested in resolving the claims in court in order to have complete access to tangible value of resources such as the opportunity to generate export earnings, trade routes, key ports, geological wealth and industry.
For a Country Like the United States however, the most important goal is the complete control of Latin America and the Caribbean. This control is not just in tangible Resources, but also political control in the form of weak, greedy leaders, to be used as puppets.
Belize is the Heart of the ambitions of this said Third party interest. Our Oil is as important to them as all our natural resources but More important is Our Maya Mountains, where we have allowed them military training; and our Sarstoon River and Island as the key military point of the entire region.
So when we ask ourselves why this claim has not been resolved in over 200 years, why does our Leaders of state put up with all apparent Guatemalan aggression? Why does our “allies” advise us to go to Court fully knowing the risk and why they themselves turn a blind eye to the aggression? This is all to scare Belizeans into a yes Vote, an ambush, that will surely be the demise of our Country.