September 22, 2020

Historic 13 Agreements signed between Belize And Guatemala

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otto-perez-molina-dean-barro-belize-sicaFrom Belizean

Otto Fernando Pérez Molina and Dean Barrow SICA Belize

Guatemala President Otto Fernando Pérez Molina, left, is greeted by Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, right, on arrival in Belize for SICA summit. Image Credit: G.O.B.

Thirteen agreements between historic arch-enemies Belize and Guatemala were the highlight of the 44th General Assembly of SICA (Central American Integration System) summit that concluded today in Placencia, Belize. The SICA countries were represented by the presidents of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Panama, and heads of delegation from Costa Rica and El Salvador.

Held under the auspices of the Organization of American States, OAS, the SICA summit discussed a range of issues aimed at furthering its mission of seeking closer economic, trade, security, social and cultural integration of the countries that make up the Central American isthmus. Belize has held the pro-tem presidency over the past year, and today’s event concluded with Belize passing over the presidency to Guatemala. But for Belize and Guatemala, embroiled in a centuries-old territorial dispute, the big news was a previously unannounced event that overshadowed the summit and where the foreign ministers of the two neighboring countries signed 13 agreements aimed at enhancing security and economic cooperation.

“Today you will help to bear witness to the singing of 13 agreements which cover a range of cooperation issues that will benefit the peoples of our two countries and by extension the region as a whole,” stated Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow at the close of the three-day SICA summit. “First, we got here because both of us desire to live in peace, side by side, in friendly neighborly relations. Second, because after decades of unsuccessful negotiations the time had come for us to enhance our cooperation and build confidence between our governments and peoples. This a giant step for our two countries,” concluded Mr. Barrow in a live televised broadcast in Belize.

For his part, Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina, in a televised interview broadcast in Belize stated that “Guatemala does not now, and will not at any time in the future present an existential threat to Belize. We wish to leave the matter of our territorial dispute in the hands of the International Court of Justice, and move ahead with promoting good and friendly relations between our two countries.”

“It is important to mention that these agreements were negotiated over the past ten months on the basis the agreement of the O.A.S. confidence building measures negotiated between Belize and Guatemala on the seventh of December 2006. It has become possible by virtue of both countries taking the decision of finding common ground on the main issues, that is to move forward on the issues of maritime and territorial matters and to take those to the ICJ. To resolve this dispute, Guatemala and Belize need to be friends and neighbors; we want to live in peace and we want to be partners in the development of our nations,” concluded Mr. Perez Molina.

Mr. Perez Molina said he expected that the group International Friends of Belize, that includes the European Union, Latin America and the U.S., would step forward to assist Belize and Guatemala deal with issues of security and conservation on the adjacency zone between the two countries.

The details of the 13 agreements signed today between Belize and Guatemala have not been revealed but include Visa Waivers for Students, Prisoner Exchange and Serving of Penal Sentences, Sustainable Tourism, Electricity Power Trade and Transmission, Mutual Recognition of Drivers’ Licenses, Degree Equivalence and Recognition of Education Documents, the Recovery and Return of Items of Cultural and National Patrimony, Stolen Vehicles, Deportation, a Program for Seasonal Workers, Operating Hours At Legal Terrestrial Border Crossing Points, and the Protection of the Environment and Sustainable Use of the Environment.

For more on this story go to: http://belizean.com/historic-13-agreements-signed-between-belize-and-guatemala-1890/

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