The Guatemalan Claim Pt. 7

Belize – Toward Independence!

11th November, 1980  UN resolution 35/20  declares that Belize should advance to a secure independence with all its territory before the conclusion of the next General Assembly and urges the British and Guatemalan governments to continue searching for a solution to the dispute

11th March, 1981  Belize, Guatemala and United Kingdom sign 16 point agreement that establishes the headings for future negotiations that would result in the peaceful termination of the territorial dispute

There is a violent reaction by the citizens of Belize to these ‘Heads of Agreement’ with particular objection to a clause which gives Guatemala use and enjoyment to Southern cages and rights in maritime area adjacent thereto

2nd April, 1981  State of emergency with night time curfew declared by the Government of Belize

6th July, 1981  Belize rejects Guatemalan demands at New York meeting. There is broad disagreement over interpretation of “Heads”. Negotiation fail

14th July, 1981  Prime Minister Price announces that the British Government would advance Belize to independence with a security guarantee

21st September, 1981  Belize attains independence with a defence guarantee from the United Kingdom Government ‘for an appropriate period of time’

25th September, 1981  Belize becomes the 156th member country of the United Nations

24th january, 1983  In first post-independence meeting between Belize, Guatemala and the United Kingdom in attendance as an observer, Guatemala asserts claim to the Toledo District

Toledo  www.jornada.unam.mxToledo District, Belize.  Credit:

9th May, 1984  Guatemala asserts claim to all territories of Belize

6th July, 1984  No progress made in discussions as Guatemala continues to demand land cession

14th December, 1984  United Democratic Party defeats People’s United Party and forms new government under the Honourable Manuel Esquivel

manuel Esquivel


Right Honorable, Dr. Mauel Esquivel, former Prime Minister of Belize.  Credit:

UDP Flag  en.wikipedia.orgThe United Democratic Party Flag.  Credit:

8th December, 1985  Vinicio Cerezo becomes  first civilian President of Guatemala after 30 years of military rule. He is inaugurated on 6th January, 1986

Vinicio Cerezo   www.jornada.unam.mxFormer President of Guatemala, Vinicio Cerezo.  Credit:

December 1985  Guatemala adopts new Constitution. Clause in 1945 Constitution claiming Belize as Guatemalan territory is removed. New clause empowers the Executive to make efforts to resolve the situation with respect to the rights of Guatemala with respect to Belize

27th June, 1986  Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel announces formation of a Special Select Committee  to provide for consultation and exchange in search of a solution to the dispute. A National Advisory Commission with broad societal representation is appointed

29th April, 1987  Guatemala demands that Belize cedes the Toledo District, the Ranguana and Sapodilla Cayes, with the United Nations paying compensation of 100 million pounds as the price of settlement

Trilateral talks in  state of impasse as Guatemala demands are rejected

1988 – 1990  Permanent Joint Commission between Belize and Guatemala formed with United Kingdom as observer

Reaches consensus on draft treaty in which

  • Guatemala would accept Belize’s traditional land borders
  • Belize would limit its southern territorial sea to enable Guatemala access to the Caribbean Sea through its own territorial waters
  • The United Kingdom would finance joint offshore development projects

The People’s United Party wins the General Elections in September 1989

pup_flag  www.lovetv.comThe People’s United Party Flag.  Credit:

Points of concurrence agreed between Belize and Guatemala in December 1989 at Roatan, Honduras, on land and sea boundaries and joint projects

It is agreed that separate draft treaties would be prepared and exchanged, and the Permanent Joint Commission would be convened and formulate an agreed single draft text

6th January, 1991  President-elect Elias Serrano inaugurated as President of Guatemala

Guatemala's former president Jorge Serrano Elias launches his bookFormer President of Guatemala, Elias Serrano.  Credit:

8th January, 1991  Belize admitted as a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS)

14th August, 1991  Guatemala recognises Belize’s right to self determination

15th August, 1991  Belize introduces Maritime Areas Bill into the National Assembly

5th September, 1991  Guatemala recognises Belize’s Independence

6th September, 1991  United Kingdom announces initial contribution of 22 million pounds to renew and extend road links between Belize and Guatemala

11th September, 1991  Belize and Guatemala announce establishment of diplomatic relations

January 1992  Maritime Areas Act passed into law

Act establishes Belize’s 12 mile territorial sea with a 3 mile limit temporarily in the South so that negotiations with Guatemala can be conducted in accordance  with the United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS 1982), final agreement subject to National Referendum in Belize

Act also establishes Belize 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in accordance with the provision of the UNCLOS

13th February, 1992  Guatemalan Foreign Minister Gonzalo Menendez Park formally assures the Government of Belize with respect to an advertisement in the Oil and Gas Journal by Guatemala’s Ministry of Mines, for offshore oil drilling in Belizean territorial water that’…this error has been inadvertent

A formal acknowledgement of Belize’s territorial sea rights in the area of the Bay of Amatique

July 1992  Belize and Guatemala agree that any reference in any agreement to their respective territories would be made based on the existing reference monuments

1992  Guatemalan Constitutional Court rules that President Serrano’s actions are not in breach of the Constitution

April 1993  Belize and Guatemala refrain from the threat of use of force against each other

13th May, 1993  United Kingdom announces end of its post independence defence arrangement with the Belize Defence Force to assume responsibility for the defence of Belize on 1st January 1994

1st june, 1993  Guatemalan President Elias Serrano deposed

6th June, 1993  Guatemalan Congress appoints Ramiro del Leon Carpio as President of Guatemala

ramiro_carpio   www.corbisimages.comFormer President of Guatemala, Ramiro de Leon Carpio. Credit:

28th June, 1993  New Guatemalan Government affirms Serrano’s decisions with respect to Belize

30th June, 1993  United Democratic Party wins General Elections and Honourable Manuel Esquivel becomes Prime Minister

1994 – 1999  By letter addressed to the UN Secretary General dated 4th March 1994, Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Maritza Ruiz de Vielman declares that the 13th February 1992 letter from her predecessor to the Government of Belize should in no way be construed as a surrender of Guatemala’s rights in the Caribbean Sea

That ending a final settlement of the dispute, Guatemala did not recognise any Belizean territorial sea or EEZ. This move by Guatemala is seen to be consequential to the standing down of the British Defence role


The second part of  “1994 – 1999” will be in the next blog posting. Obviously, a lot was happening then. Where were you at this time on your life’s journey?

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