By Wellington C Ramos
Caribbean News Now contributor
BELMOPAN, Belize — The People’s United Party (PUP) challenged the legality of how the International Court of Justice (ICJ) referendum will be processed before the Belize Supreme Court April 3, 2019, with Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin granting an injunction concerning the forthcoming plebiscite.
Belize prime minister, Dean Barrow, on Monday, April 8, held a news conference and was questioned concerning the international community’s reaction to the postponement, and funding over many years to both the People’s United Party (PUP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP) governments, toward the organization of Americans States (OAS) confidence-building process, which paves the path to the ICJ.
Barrow in his reply said, “The group of friends which funds that office always made clear that this is not a blank cheque; ‘we are doing this to get you to the point of the referendum.’ Delays in that regard, I think, can have a far more deleterious effect in terms of if they were to become impatient and to say that they withdraw their funding, I think that would be a disaster.”
A joint statement on the ICJ referendum in Belize, from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, dated April 11, 2019, declared:
“The European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have taken note of the postponement of the referendum on whether to take the Guatemalan-Belizean territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) originally planned to be held April 10.
“The European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America maintain their support in favour of the referendum and hope that it can take place as soon as possible.
“A referendum puts the decision in the hands of the people of Belize who would participate in a free and democratic process on a decision that has implications not only for today’s population but for generations to come. It should also be recalled that the referendum process is the route toward a peaceful dispute resolution agreed upon jointly by Belize and Guatemala.
“Thus, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America hope that the legal obstacles preventing the referendum from being help can be resolved in accordance with Belize’s legal procedures.”
Concerned citizens of Belize have proposed that if the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America want a settlement for Belize with Guatemala, why can’t these three countries sign a ‘defense pact’ with Belize to protect against Guatemala, which has been threatening to invade the country on several occasions?
Meanwhile, the opposition PUP has requested a few months to get it right, the so-called “Friends of Belize” seem to be getting a little impatient, said the citizens of Belize group.
ICJ referendum has gathered international recognition, said one blogger, “Seems to me everyone in the world knows Belize’s borders except Guatemala. What is really going on that we aren’t being told?” adding, “Talk about “foreign pressure.”