By Wellington C. Ramos
The more the country of Guatemala continues with its map, rhetoric and aggressive attitude towards Belize, the lower the chances are that Belizeans will support the government with a yes vote to take the Belize-Guatemala dispute to the International Court of Justice for final resolution.
Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History
I agree with Maurice that our country has failed miserably in educating our people about this conflict. In the beginning of this ICJ proposal, I was very supportive of taking this matter to the court but now I am giving it a second thought. I am not convinced that we can trust the UN, OAS, Guatemala and any other organization to guarantee our security and territorial integrity because many court rulings have been made in the past and countries still act in their best interest ignoring them.
Plus there are many Belizeans who have mixed feelings about this dispute because some of them have relatives in Guatemala and others are doubtful about Belizeans legitimate claim to Belize. Due to the failure of our governments to educate our people about this dispute, I have heard many Belizeans tell me that Belize does belong to Guatemala. It hurts me when I hear a Guatemalan saying "Belice is Nuestros" and worst when a Belizean is saying that our country does belong to Guatemala.
I am a Belizean 100% and I am more than willing to do everything to defend my country. This is despite the fact that my grandmother is a Guatemalan from Livingston "Labuga” by birth. My reason for taking this position is because as a Garifuna person my people have moved from Saint Vincent to Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and then Belize where I have families up to this day. Out of all these countries, Belize provides the best hope for my children and grandchildren for the future.
Even though I live in the United States, there is a different feeling towards the place where a person was born and grew up as a child. It brings back some memories that I cannot forget and will remain with me until I die.
When Guatemala needs soldiers they just go around and pick up anybody, forcefully taking them to training camp. They do not care if you are Garifuna, Creole, Mestizo or Maya. Who are the people that the Guatemalan army has a history of slaughtering over the years? The native indigenous Maya people, who they continue to abuse up to this day. The Garifuna people are not given their full autonomy in Guatemala either and have had their own experiences with the military in Honduras and Nicaragua.
The United States is the home for a significant number of black Belizeans but they would prefer to be in Belize if they could afford it.
What do you think they will do with the blacks in Belize, Garifuna and Creoles? They would kill us without having any second thoughts. Guatemala's human rights record against the native Maya Indians is the issue that we must continue to examine before we make any deals with them. Trust is the key issue in any agreement with another country and Guatemala cannot be trusted.
As the month of October draws nearer, Belizeans will have to think about their vote on this ICJ referendum issue but the way it is going now the Guatemalans have a hammer in their hand and they are driving many nails into this coffin.