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Published by CayoBuay
by Albert J. Ysaguire
by Albert J. Ysaguire

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Published by: CayoBuay on Feb 01, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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by Albert J. Ysaguire
On January 27, Premier Price rejected a proposed compromise with Guatemala whereby Belizewould cede 300 square miles of mainland and 600 square miles of seabed in the south of Belizein return for Guatemala's recognition of Belize's Independence. A similar proposal by Britain forBelize to cede between 1000 and 2000 square miles of land and adjacent seabed was earlierrejected.Mr. Price announced on March 10 at a conference that Barbados, Guyana an Jamaica had agreedto take part in multilateral security arrangements that would defend the territorial integrity of anindependent Belize. This agreement did not come into force since at the time Belize'sIndependence date could not be agreed upon.On May 18, the Gutemalan foreign minister, Señor Adolfo Molina Orantes said in a pressinterview that his government maintained its demand for a cession of territory by Belize. Heinsisted that the two governments set up a join military staff, consultations on Belize's externalrelations and economic integration into the Central American system.The British Permanent Representative at the U.N. announced on November 28 that a four-pointproposal had been put to Guatemala to resolve the conflict with Belize. Development aidincluding help with construction of roads to facilitate Guatemala's access to the coast, free port inthe Port of Belize and a revision of the seaward boundaries of the two countries to guaranteepermanent access for Guatemala to the open sea.On December 7 the Guatemalan foreign minister, Señor Castillo Valdez announced that theBritish plan for the settlement of the dispute with Belize was unacceptable and that he wouldnow deal directly with Belize. Belize rejected any bilateral negotiations with Guatemala (1).
In November the People's United Party was reelected to office winning thirteen of the eighteen inthe House of Representatives. The opposition party--UDP--won the remaining five seats. Thiselection victory was seen as a mandate for the government to proceed with the finalization of theindependence status since the People's United Party ran on a platform of moving towardsindependence. The opposition party, UDP, ran on a platform against independence in theimmediate future until the Guatemalan dispute was settled (2).
By November, international support for Belize was virtually unanimous. A.U.N. resolution(A/35/596) called for independence for Belize without conditions, and security, by the end of 1981. This time the United States of America, which had previously abstained on all the Belizeresolutions since 1975, voted in favour, and no country voted against.The Organization of American States, which had traditionally taken Guatemala's side in thecontroversy, endorsed by an overwhelming majority the U.N. resolution calling for anindependent Belize secure and without conditions before the end of 1981. (3)
On January 31 the Belize government issued its White Paper on the Proposed Terms for theIndependence Constitution of Belize. The National Assembly of Belize had earlier appointed abi-partisan Joint Select Committee comprising of members of the House of Representatives andthe Senate to consider the Proposals in the White Paper and to report thereon. The Committeewas instructed to canvass the opinion of the country before making this report.Special invitations were sent out to all organizations throughout the country inviting ideas bothwritten and oral. The committee found a general and overriding acceptance of the monarchicalform of government based on the Westminster parliamentary pattern. Although the oppositionparty refused to serve on the Joint Select Committee, it took steps to appear before theCommittee by a senior official of their political party in each district of the country and made awritten presentation in Belize City. (4)In March Britain and Guatemala signed the Heads of Agreements providing the basis for a fullynegotiated settlement and a termination of Guatemala's claim to Belize. Basically, theseagreements provided for Guatemala's recognition of Belize's Independence and territorialintegrity, economic cooperation and Guatemala's access to the Caribbean Sea from the south of Belize. Subsequent negotiations ended without a formal treaty-both parties were unable to agreeon the conditions of the use of two cayes and the sea corridor to south for Guatemala's access tothe Caribbean. (5)Between April 6-14, the Belize Constitutional Conference was held at Marlborough House,London. The basic conference document was the White Paper on Proposed Terms of theIndependence Constitution prepared by the Belize government. Also considered was Belize'smembership in international institutions and Belize's succession to obligations andresponsibilities which the U.K. had hitherto exercised. (6)On July 28 the Belize Independence Act received the Royal Assent. This Act provides for: thefully responsible status of Belize, the power to make a new constitution for Belize, the operationof existing laws, modification of the British Nationality Act and the retention of citizenship of the U.K. and colonies in certain cases.

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