OAS Secretary General says Belize and Guatemala need to continue working together
Wednesday, August 24th, 2022
The territorial claim on Belize by Guatemala is far from over as it waits for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settlement. Along the border dividing both countries, the Organization of American States (OAS) has an office where they monitor activities in the area. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro arrived in the country on Sunday, August 21st, for a two-day visit. Almagro urged Belize and Guatemala to continue working together and cooperate through the Confidence Building Measures agreed between both countries.
The Secretary General met with Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño and other Belizean government officials. The official visit included going to the OAS office by the border, or Adjacency Zone as it is referred to. Almagro said that even after the ICJ makes a decision, the relationship between both countries needs to continue moving on the positive path. “We need to create better confidence, better relationships between the neighboring countries, and we have to facilitate conditions to have better cooperation in the Adjacency Zone,” Almagro said.
The need to keep working around the Confidence Building Measures (CBM) agreed on ten years ago by both countries was highlighted. According to Almagro, the CBMs are relevant today and in the future because that is part of being good neighbors. The CBMs agreed to by Belize and Guatemala were signed in 2005 at an event in Placencia, southern Belize. A crucial detail in that agreement demands that both countries respect the Adjacency Zone. However, over the years, Guatemala appears to have not honored this part of the agreement.
Prime Minister Briceño and his team reported during the meeting with Almagro on the deforestation of Belize’s national parks and protected areas by Guatemalans. The report denounces these actions for illegal agriculture and grazing land for cattle rearing. Additionally, it highlighted issues dealing with illegal logging, gold panning, and poaching of endangered species within Belize. Almagro committed to
strengthening the coordination between the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone and the Belizean authorities to curb these concerning problems.
The visit of the OAS Secretary General is the first one in the country since Prime Minister Briceño took office in 2020.
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