Belize City and San Benito, Guatemala establish a Sister City Relationship
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
On Friday March 1st, the Belize City Council hosted Mayor Sonia Rivera of San Benito, Petén Guatemala as part of an adjoining visit made by Mayor Darrell Bradley of Belize City. Mayor Rivera, along with her councilor members and members of the Guatemalan congress travelled to Belize to sign the agreement of Sister City Relationship between the two municipalities. Mayor Bradley had visited San Benito in January of this year as part of an invitation made by Mayor Rivera to establish the relationship. “We have already been talking about various housing projects and exchanges in culture and our intention is that we should have regular exchanges with the city of San Benito. So I want to extend on behalf of the people of Belize City, our hand of friendship to Alcaldesa Sonia Rivera to the members of the Guatemalan congress, to the councilors of the council of San Benito, to the people of San Benito and to the people of Guatemala,” said Mayor Bradley.
Although the current relationship between Guatemala and Belize is not at its best due to the impending debate on whether Belize should take the matter of Guatemala claiming Belizean land to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), there is still a long lasting connection between Guatemalans and Belizeans. Both mayors expressed the importance of fostering a diplomatic relationship between the two countries. Mayor Rivera lived in Belize for seventeen years, and currently has her daughter studying in a Belizean institution. Many Belizeans have family connections in Guatemala, including with elected officials. Amidst all the conflict, the formal declaration of friendship that has taken place seems to be a silver lining. Mayor Rivera stated “My brothers and sisters of Belize, we are going forward; we will find the peace one day, but remember God is first.”The purpose of signing the Sister City Relationship agreement is for the two municipalities to be able to exchange ideas, knowledge, culture and history in the hopes for a better society for the people of both cities.
The San Benito delegation travelled to various towns throughout the country during their three day stay in Belize. Amongst the places visited was San Pedro Town. On an invitation from Mayor Daniel Guerrero, Mayor Rivera and her party travelled to Ambergris Caye. They enjoyed the San Pedro experience and the best that San Pedro has to offer. Mayor Rivera was treated to snorkelling trips to both Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley Marine Reserve, amongst many other activities while on the island. Mayor Rivera in turn invited the San Pedro Town Council on a visit to San Benito to share similar hospitalities to Mayor Guerrero. When interviewed by The San Pedro Sun, Mayor Guerrero said, “The Mayor and her delegation had much fun. They visited the shops and toured the island, and even went diving… they said they really enjoyed their visit.”
Mayor Rivera and her delegation were scheduled to leave for Guatemala on Sunday March 3rd.