Belizeans Celebrate 212 Years of Independence from Spain

Wellington C. Ramos (West Indian News) writes about the importance of September 10th in Belizean history. He writes about the history leading up to the Battle of Saint Georges Cay on September 10, 1798 and its importance in shaping present Belize, which gained independence from England on September the 21, 1981. Basing his information on Nancy Gonzalez’s Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethno-History of the Garifuna and her research confirming that some of the Garifuna people fought alongside the British settlers, Ramos stresses that, had it not been “for this battle, Spain would have remained in control of this territory, and when Mexico, Guatemala, and other countries broke away from Spain in 1821 and declared their independence, Belize would not exist today.” He then focuses on present day boundary disputes between Belize and Guatemala. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

The country that we know as Belize would be governed by Mexico up to the Gales Point Manatee River and from that point by Guatemala as another department of their territory. Guatemala signed a treaty with Great Britain in 1859 accepting Belize’s borders and boundaries as they are today renouncing their claim from Gales Point Manatee onwards with a new border established at the Sarstoon River. In that treaty, the British promised to build a highway to Guatemala City and the road was not built so the Guatemalans want this treaty to be voided.

In order for Guatemala to void this treaty, they would have to bring a case against Great Britain at the International Court of Justice in Hague Switzerland. Since signing the treaty in 1859, Guatemala has failed to bring such case against Great Britain but prefer to engage in international political rhetoric and threats against the people and country of Belize. Until the Guatemalan government bring[s] a case against Britain, the treaty of 1859 still stands. Mexico signed a treaty with Great Britain in 1893 renouncing their claim to Belize and accepting the current borders and boundaries as they are today. Since signing this treaty, Mexico has maintained good relations with the people and government of Belize. However, Mexico has indicated on several occasions, that if Guatemala is given any part of Belize, they would reserve their right to reclaim the portion that they gave up in 1893. Mexico would then have to bring back a case to the International Court of Justice like Guatemala to have the treaty voided.

Last year the newly elected government of Belize under the leadership of their Prime Minister Dean Barrow, agreed and passed a resolution to have the dispute with Guatemala be sent to the International Court of Justice in Hague for a resolution after a referendum is held by the people to approve it. [. . .]

Belize is struggling to identify itself as [a. . .] unique nation in Central America whose primary language is English.

For full article, see http://www.thewestindiannews.com/belizeans-celebrate-212-years-since-their-country-was-liberated-from-spain/

Image of the sloop HMS Merlin used at the Battle of St. Georges Caye, from http://westernbelizehappenings.blogspot.com/2009/03/hms-merlin-of-battle-of-st-georges-caye.html

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