HEADS OF AGREEMENTj
The People of Belize
-their rights are fully protected.
THE GUATEMALAN CLAIM
In 1859 a boundary treaty was signed
between Britain and Guatemala by which
Guatemala recognized our present main-
land frontiers. But Guatemala has argued
for years that because a clause in that treaty
was not fulfilled, the territory of Belize
belongs to Guatemala.
Both the British and Belizean govern-
ments have condemned this claim as un-
founded. Distinguished international law-
yers have proved the claim to be false.
But the claim exists, and we cannot wish
it away. We have to deal with it, especial-
ly since it is backed up by military threats
against our nation and our people.
That is why our government has partici-
pated in Anglo-Guatemalan negotiations
for twenty years-Not because we recog-
nise any rights whatsoever of Guatemala
in or over Belize or its future, but only
because, faced with Guatemala's military
threat, we have tried to get Guatemala to
drop its unfounded claim without sacrific-
ing our sovereignty or territorial integrity.
We have always maintained that at these
talks we do Not negotiate our independ-
ence, but rather discuss proposals which
will result in the Guatemalan government
dropping its false claim to Belize. Our
independence is not for negotiation. The
independence of Belize is achieved by the
people's struggle for freedom assisted by
international solidarity. The settlement
of the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute, a totally
different matter is achieved in negotiations.
Over the past six years, our position at
the negotiations has been greatly streng-
hened by the international support we
have gained for our cause. The crucial
step forward came with the resolutions
passed in November 1980 by the United
Nations and the Organization of American
Those resolutions said that Belize must
become independent before the end of 1981,
and made it clear that this did not depend
on the progress of any negotiations with
As the deadline approached, therefore,
Guatemala came under heavy pressure to
find a way to drop its claim. It would be
an embarrassment for Guatemala if Belize
were to become independent despite
In February 1981, Guatemala made
serious efforts to reach agreement by drop-
ping its demand for cession of land which
it had maintained for many years. Agree-
ment could still not be reached because
Belize refused to agree to anything that
would in any way compromise our full
sovereignty or our territorial integrity.
Attempts to reach agreement in London
in March also failed; and then Guatemala,
realising that Belize would go on to in-
dependence anyhow, decided to step down
and say that it would drop its threats if
we set out a list of agreed subjects for future
The document is called "Heads of
Agreement" because it only describes the
headings for discussions. There is no
final agreement, not even specific pro-
posals, but only topics for negotiations
that will try to produce proposals.
What any final proposals will look like
will depend on the negotiations and on
what we are able to agree.
Whether any such proposals will be
accepted or not will depend on the people
of Belize, who will be consulted in a re-
ferendum before the signing of any final
In other words, the signing of the Heads
of Agreement document does NOT mean
that the problem is solved-only that a
formula for arriving at proposals for a
solution has been agreed. The Guate-
malan government maintains its unfounded
claim and we fight to preserve our rights,
our heritage, or culture, our territory, our
sovereignty....at the negotiating table, not
on a battlefield. Our weapon is the pro-
cess of negotiation. Our goal is to get the
government of Guatemala to drop its
Let us look at the Heads of Agreement
document in detail. Many have tried to
distort and confuse the issues for their
own ends; but it is in the interest of all
Belizeans to learn the truth.
Just remember all along that these are
only topics for future negotiations, that
nothing has been finalized, and that what
we are dealing with, finally, is the end of
Guatemala's claim to our territory and the
existence of our nation without threats and
and without fear.
THE HEADS OF AGREEMENT
WHAT THEY MEAN
THE UNITED KINGDOM AND
GUATEMALA IN ORDER TO
SETTLE THE CONTROVERSY
BETWEEN THEM OVER THE
TERRITORY OF BELIZE, HAVE
REACHED AGREEMENT ON THE
This statement recognizes that
Guatemala's claim to Belize originates
from an interpretation of the effect of the
1859 Treaty over which Britain and
Guatemala have different opinions. It
shows that the two parties to the document
are the United Kingdom and Guatemala.
Belize signed the document not as a party
but more as a witness agreeing that the
subjects set out shall form the basis for
It means that Guatemala cannot raise
other points for discussion in those ne-
gotiations. For example, in the past
Guatemala raised the subject of land ces-
sion; it cannot discuss that idea in the
It means that if agreement is reached on
the subjects set out, Guatemala will com-
pletely drop its claim to Belize it will
amend its Constitution which says Belize
is part of Guatemala, change its official
maps to confirm with this, and do every-
thing necessary to show that it no longer
The United Kingdom and Guatemala
shall recognize the independent State
of Belize as an integral part of Central
America, and respect its sovereignty and
territorial integrity in accordance with
its existing and traditional frontiers
subject, in the case of Guatemala, to the
completion of the treaty or treaties
necessary to give effect to these
Heads of Agreement.
Guatemala promises to recognize and
respect our existing and traditional front-
iers-Belize with its territory intact. No
land cession: It will do so if and after
treaties are completed with regard to the
various subjects outlined in the document.
This does NOT mean that Belize can-
not become independent until any such
treaties are completed. We continue to
maintain that our right to independence
is absolute and unrestricted and does not
depend on any settlement of Guatemala's
claim. So, if we go on to independence
before any treaties are finalized, Guatemala
may not recognize us, but it will not
threaten us, since we have agreed on an
agenda for negotiations.
These negotiations can go on after in-
dependence, just as there are many in-
dependent countries who have border dis-
putes or other differences and they ne-
gotiate with each other to find solutions.
The important thing is that we will be
talking, not fighting, and our right to in-
dependence will not be held to ransom as
a bargaining card.
Some people have tried to suggest that
the phrase "as an integral part of Central
America" has some sinister meaning.
That is false. It is merely a geographical
description of an inescapable reality. Look
at a map. Belize is an integral part of
Central America, just as the Caribbean
nation of Guyana is an integral part of
South America. It does not have any
other meaning, whether racial or otherwise.
And it gives no rights to Guatemala or any
other Central American country, nor does
it impose on us any obligations whatso-
ever towards any Central American
country. Our brothers in the Caribbean
Community accept this geographical real-
ity. Their Foreign Ministers declared "our
satisfaction with Guatemala's recognition
of the right of Belize to become in-
dependent as an integral part of Central
Guatemala shall be accorded such
territorial seas as shall ensure permanent
and unimpeded access to the high seas,
together with rights over the seabed
At the moment, Guatemala can get out
to the high seas from its Caribbean coast
without having to pass through seas claimed
by anybody else. That is because Belize,
being a British colony, can only claim the
territorial sea limit that Britain claims,
which is three miles.
But if, after independence, we put up a
claim for twelve miles of territorial sea,
the effect would be to lock in Guatemala
between our territorial sea and Honduras'
territorial sea. In order to get out to the
high seas, Guatemalan vessels would have
to pass through either our sea or Honduras'
We would therefore be saying to
Guatemala: you can go to the high seas
now without passing through our sea, but
after independence we will extend our sea
frontiers so that you cannot get out without
passing through our sea. Would that be
a reasonable thing to do, or would it be
regarded as an act of hostility?
Let us look at the problem from another
angle. We have defined and agreed
boundaries with Guatemala on the main
land (the western line and the Sarstoon
River), but not on the sea. At some time
we have to agree a sea boundary, since
we must know which part of the sea is Beli-
zean territory and which part is Guate-
In the same way, once we extend our
claim to 12 miles, we will also have a sea
boundary with Honduras, and will like-
wise need to reach agreement with
Honduras on that boundary.
Now what Head 2 is saying is that, when
we come to draw the sea boundaries be-
tween Belize, Guatemala and Honduras,
we will draw them in such a way that we
will not lock in Guatemala, mat Guatemala
will have its own territorial sea to ensure
it permanent and unimpeded access to
the high seas.
In order for Guatemala to be sure that
this access is permanent and unrestricted
and that no future Belize government could
take this away, it must have ownership of
that access route, not merely permission
to pass. That is why the sea boundary
would have to be agreed, so that every-
thing on one side of the line is Belizean, and
everything on the other side is Guatemalan
In a country's territorial sea, it exercises
sovereignty and ownership. It owns
everything in and under that sea; that is
why Head 2 says "together with rights
over the seabed thereunder", to show that
what is meant is the definition of a bound-
ary between their sea and our sea.
In any case, we would not want to force
Guatemala into a position of having to
pass through our territorial sea to get to
the high seas. It would create a point of
conflict, especially since Guatemala does
not have to do so now.
You will understand this head better Py
looking at the maps in the middle pages.
Guatemala shall have the use and
enjoyment of the Ranguana and Sapodilla
cayes, and rights in those areas of the sea
adjacent to the cayes, as may be agreed.
Everything here depends on the words
"as may be agreed". Belize has not com-
mitted itself to agree to any particular "use
and enjoyment", so that this matter is
completely up to what can be agreed to.
You can be sure that, in negotiating this
and the other heads, the Belizean repre-
sentatives will fully protect our territorial
integrity, our full sovereignty, and all the
rights and interests of Belize and the Beli-
Some people are worried that we will
agree to some kind of military use of these
cayes. Rest assured-we will NEVER
agree to such a thing. What is more, we
have yet to agree on how long we will allow
any kind of use at all.
But let us not fail to note a very signific-
ant point about this Head. Whereas the
1859 Treaty described the mainland bound-
aries between Belize and Guatemala, it
says nothing about the cayes, and
Guatemala has always claimed that, quite
apart from the 1859 Treaty, those cayes
belong to Guatemala. There has never
been any question in our minds that Beli-
zeans are the rightful owners of all our
offshore cayes. But now, by acknowledg-
ing that they can only use those cayes with
our permission and only to whatever extent
we allow, Guatemala recognizes our owner-
ship of those cayes and our sovereignty over
As for the "rights in those areas of the
sea adjacent to the cays", those also are
restricted only to what we may agree to.
And here we are not thinking beyond things
like access and swimming. We certainly
do NOT intend to accord commercial
Let us recognize, however, that the Gua-
temalan government has its own ideas
about what "use and enjoyment" it wants
to achieve. Indeed, the Guatemalan Fore-
ign Minister has spoken of "possession"
and of "an area of dominion" in referring
to this head. That interpretation is totally
without foundation, and our government
has long ago requested the British govern-
ment to enter a protest over this deliberate
The negotiations on this head will there-
fore be very difficult, but our delegation
will know how to maintain our firm posi-
ton. In the end, because of the very word-
ing of this head, Guatemalans will only
be able to enjoy what we are prepared to
offer and if the people of Belize agree to it
in a referendum. Nothing more.
Guatemala shall be entitled to free port
facilities in Belize City and Punta Gorda.
The facility that will be negotiated is a
"free port" arrangement. This means
that goods going to and coming from
Guatemala may pass through the ports at
Belize City and Punta Gorda without the
payment of import or export duty. The
use of port facilities, e.g. wharfage, labour,
and any administrative charges, will have
to be paid for.
Government will protect the right of our
waterfront workers to service this new
development. This could mean more
steady jobs for our stevedores and long-
shoremen. "Free port" facilities can
boost the economy of Belize by bringing
our ports into more economic use. In
negotiating this Head, Belize will be seeking
to optimise our economic advantage.
A "free port" should not be confused
with a "free trade zone". In a free trade
zone, raw materials and capital equipment
are imported duty free and factories in the
zone manufacture finished products which
are then exported, and the factories do
not pay taxes. That is NOT what this
head contemplates. only a "free per"
arrangement as explained above is meant
by Head 4.
The road from Belize City to the
Guatemalan frontier shall be improved;
a road from Punta Gorda to the
Guatemalan frontier shall be completed.
Guatemala shall have freedom of transit
on these roads.
Both roads will be located within the
territory of Belize. The Western Highway
goes from Belize City to Benque Viejo del
Carmen, and is in need of upgrading after
Camalote. There is a road from Punta
Gorda inland on the Southern Highway
that goes as far as Pueblo Viejo. This will
be continued on to the frontier. Such a
road network will help open up hundreds
of acres of farm lands in the Toledo Dis-
At present, private and goods vehicles
from Mexico, Guatemala and places be-
yond have freedom of transit (they may
pass through) on our roads. They must
respect our international frontiers, and
all who cross are subject to the normal
immigration and customs regulations.
While they are passing through our na-
tional territory they are subject to the Laws
Freedom of transit means unmolested
travel of private and commercial vehicles
on innocent business. It does NOT in-
clude use by military vehicles or for military
purposes. It does NOT in any way alter
or affect our immigration laws. In ne-
gotiating this Head, Belize's representa-
tives will ensure that our full sovereignty
is respected and that our laws are strictly
At Head 4 above, Guatemala is being
offered the facility of a free port in Belize
City and Punta Gorda. This Head is
closely related to Head 4 in that we are
here allowing them a means to get to these
ports by travelling on our roads.
Belize shall facilitate the construction of
oil pipelines between Guatemala and
Belize City, Dangriga and Punta Gorda.
This Head could only become a possibili-
ty if at some future date Guatemala would
find oil in an area of El Peten from which
it would be most economic to export
through pipelines passing over Belize.
This is not yet the case, and it is extremely
unlikely that such a development would
occur in three places requiring pipelines
to Belize City, Dangriga and Punta Gor-
da- these are put rather as options, as
But even if oil is found in such circumst-
ances, we would yet have to negotiate a
proposal for the pipeline to pass through
Belize. Negotiations would have to deal
with such matters as what rental would be
paid to government; agreements that
would have to be concluded with any pri-
vately owned lands over which the pipeline
might pass, and the observance of special
new laws to protect our environment from
any potential hazards.
And, most important of all, we will firm-
ly insist that the security of any pipeline
will be exclusively the responsibility of the
Belize government. There is no way that
we would ever allow Guatemalan military
personnel or security agents to enter our
territory to guard any pipeline. If the
Guatemalan government is not satisfied
that we can provide sufficient security, it
will not build the pipeline.
In areas to be agreed an agreement shall
be concluded between Belize and
Guatemala for purposes concerned with
the control of pollution, navigation and
It is normal practice for neighboring
states to negotiate and sign treaties cover-
ing areas of mutual interest. Belize and
Guatemala will be sharing land and sea
boundaries as two sovereign independent
nations. This head lists three areas-
pollution, navigation and fishing-which
are on the agenda for negotiation.
Since the two countries share sea bound-
aries, it is important for both sides to agree
on guidelines to deal with matters relating
to the sea. In the Bay of Amatique, for
example, Guatemala has a non-self-clean-
ing body of water. Any industrial activity
that might be a cause for pollution of our
southern waters could seriously affect the
Guatemalan shoreline in this area. Some
years ago, there was an oil spill in the Bay
of Amatique which is said to still affect
Guatemala's Caribbean coastline.
Similarly, activities by Guatemalan in-
terests might have a polluting effect on
Belizean waters. It is better for an agreed
course of action in these circumstances to
be negotiated BEFORE the situation
This head also suggests the negotiation
of agreements applying normal interna-
tional navigational rules for shipping routes
in waters of Belize and Guatemala.
In this head, we will also be negotiating
agreements to protect our fishermen's
interests with a view to getting more rights
for them-not to diminish their rights in
any way. At this moment, there is a pro-
blem of illegal fishing in Belizean waters
by Guatemalan and Honduran and other
fishermen. One of the results of negotia-
tion of this head will be to stop this illegal
fishing and to get more protection for our
All these items are matters for negotia-
tion, clarification and final proposals.
There shall be areas of the seabed and the
continental shelf to be agreed for the joint
exploration and exploitation of minerals
Under traditional international law, a
coastal state has exclusive rights to the
seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas
adjacent to its coast but outside the area of
the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 meters
or beyond that to where the depth of water
admits of the exploitation of the resources
of the seabed and subsoil. That area is
known as the "continental shelf".
But the modern law of the sea is redefin-
ing the concept of a state's exclusive rights
to seabed areas and is developing the idea
of what is known as an "economic zone".
The common approach now is for a coastal
state's economic zone to extend for 200
The Caribbean is so covered with dif-
ferent countries and islands, however, that
no country can claim a full 200 miles of
economic zone, since the different claims
would overlap. Median lines between
these claims are therefore drawn to give
an idea of how much economic zone each
In the case of Belize, our economic zone
would also not be able to extend for 200
miles, since it would overlap with those of
Mexico, Honduras and Swan Island. But
there will still be a large area of sea which
we will claim after independence as our
economic zone and we will have exclusive
rights to the resources of the seabed and
subsoil in that area.
This "head" refers to the future economic
zone area of Belize, and states that, in
parts of that zone yet to be agreed on, joint
projects for the exploration and exploita-
tion of minerals and hydrocarbons (oil)
shall be entered into.
These proposed joint projects would be
commercial ventures: that is, an agree-
ment would be hammered out between
Belize and Guatemala whereby a particular
joint project relating to a particular area
would be negotiated. It does NOT mein
or imply any sort of joint ownership or
control over our economic zone. We will
retain total ownership and control of this
area; but we are prepared to consider aiy
commercial joint project which is advanta-
geous to us.
This sort of arrangement would certainly
not be unique, and indeed even if thete
were no Guatemalan claim we may have
wished to consider such a possibility, as
we may still do so with regard to, say,
Mexico or Trinidad or any other country.
Since we do not have the resources or the
technology to do it ourselves, we need to
get others to do it, and a joint project
situation is the one most economically
advantageous to Belize.
It is generally accepted that one priority
area of cooperation between developing
countries is "participation in joint projects
relating to the creation of production and
processing capacities, and organization of
joint research in development in priority
areas such as new and renewable sources
of energy............ "
Their are many examples of this kind of
cooperation in our region, e.g. Mexico and
Jamaica have engaged in negotiations for
a joint aluminum smelter project.
Belize and Guatemala shall agree upon
certain developmental projects of mutual
It is our hope to have Guatemala as a
friendly and cooperative neighbour, not
a belligerent and hostile one. This head
gives us an opportunity to agree on
economic and developmental projects that
will benefit both Belize and Guatemala.
The independent Belize can enter into
various kinds of bilateral developmental
projects with different countries. These
projects will be decided on a basis of our
priorities and their economic feasibility.
There is no obligation to enter into any
particular development project; it is up
to us to agree to any which will be benefi-
cial to us.
Belize shall be entitled to any free port
facilities in Guatemala to match similar
facilities provided to Guatemala in
This head is closely linked with head 4.
It is a reciprocal act on Guatemala's part.
Trade patterns change. Guatemala has a
large Pacific coastline and Belize has none.
In the event that Belize's trading is ex-
panded into areas that will make use of
Guatemala's Pacific ports necessary, the
mechanism exists for us to negotiate such
use. Guatemala also has ports on the
Caribbean coastline which will be made
available to Belize on a reciprocal basis
if the direction of our trade makes such
use necessary at some future date.
Belize and Guatemala shall sign a treaty
of cooperation in matters of security of
mutual concern, and neither shall permit
its territory to be used to support subversion
against the other.
To understand this head we must'repeat
and bear in mind that this document has a
specific and clearly expressed purpose-
"to settle the controversy.....over the terri-
tory of Belize". The document does NOT
have anything to do with the independence
of Belize; it does NOT in any way define
our nationality or personality; and it does
NOT have anything to do with the security
of Belize. All these are different matters
which are taken care of in other ways.
The security arrangement for Belize is
being worked out with the British govern-
ment. This security arrangement is quite
separate from the heads of agreement,
and will be in effect whatever happens in
the negotiations. It is NOT true that just
because we have a document setting out
the agenda for negotiations, then we will
not have a security arrangement with the
British. We will have that in any case.
In his statement opening the Constitu-
tional Conference in London on 6 April,
British Minister Nicholas Ridley said:
"I wish to refer to one issue which has I
know been uppermost in many Belizean
minds-the future security of an indepen-
dent Belize............I want to make clear now
that for its part Her Majesty's Government
intends to make arrangements for the
future security of Belize which will be
appropriate to the circumstances, what-
ever they may be."
So if this "head" is not about Belize's
security, what is it about?
It is basically what is known interna-
tionally as a non-aggression pact. They will
not allow their territory to be used to
attack Belize, and we will not allow our
territory .to be used to attack Guatemala.
This is in keeping with the sacred interna-
tional principle of non-intervention in the
internal affairs of states, and is necessary
for the maintenance of peace.
How could we say otherwise without
justifying Guatemalan intervention in
our country? If we were to say that our
territory could be used to attack Guate-
mala, what reaction could we expect from
Guatemala is concerned that Belize
might allow its territory to be used to
attack her. Unfortunately and shamefully,
some opposition leaders have fuelled this
concern by actually accusing our govern-
ment of planning to allow Cuba to use
Belize as a base to attack Guatemala. In
so doing they have been directly aiding
and abetting the Guatemalan government
in their propaganda.
As to the part of this "head" which
deals with a treaty of cooperation in
matters of security of mutual concern, the
operative words are "mutual concern"-
this is, both sides have to say that a parti-
iular matter is of concern. If they say a
matter is of concern to them and we say
it is not of concern to us, that puts an end
to the matter and it cannot form part of
any proposed agreement.
What is envisaged here really is, for
example, exchange of information relating
to troop movements near our borders. If
on a certain date Guatemalan forces will
perform exercises for whatever purpose
near our borders, they will inform us ahead
of time so that we know what is going on
and are on the alert, because if it were to
happen suddenly without notice it might
cause misunderstandings. We feel this is
in our interest, of our concern, and will
contribute to a climate of peace and
This head could also cover arrangements
for the extradition of criminals or prisoners
of either country who cross the border to
escape the application of the law.
What the head does not mean and can
never mean is that, for example, our forces
will be used to help them fight their opposi-
tion or vice versa. We can never and will
never agree to such a thing. On the con-
trary, we will insist on an agreement
whereby their forces will never be allowed
to cross the border into Belize and our
forces will never be allowed to cross the
border into Guatemala.
Basically then, it is a non-agression pact.
The important gain is for us, since they
cannot realistically fear that we will attack
them, but we can so fear that they would
attack us. By the treaty forseen in this
"head", they would be pledging in an
international agreement not to permit
their territory to be used to attack Belize,
Except as foreseen in these Heads of
Agreement, nothing in these provisions
shall prejudice any rights or interests of
Belize or of the Belizean people.
This is here to protect the Belizean
people and to serve as a firm guideline to
the Joint Commission. "Nothing in these
provisions shall prejudice any rights or
interests of Belize or of the Belizean
people". This is the operative part.
The qualification, excepting anything
forseen in the Heads of Agreement, pro-
tects the parties from unforseen situations
like, for example, where a proposal is
agreed (say a sea boundary) and it is
approved in a referendum, but later some
Belizean says that this prejudices his in-
terest because he had a particular plan for
the area of sea involved.
If there were no qualification, it would
mean that anyone could question any
particular provision of a treaty, even after
Belizeans have agreed to it in a referendum.
That would cause unnecessary conflicts,
and so the words "except as forseen in
these Heads of Agreement" appear. Since
what is forseen in the Heads is totally de-
pendent on what is negotiated and accepted
by the Belizean people, the qualification
is more a legal formality than anything else.
The United Kingdom and Guatemala shall
enter into agreements designed to re-
establish full and normal relations between
This head has nothing to do with Belize.
It concerns the return to normalcy between
the United Kingdom and Guatemala.
The claim of Guatemala to Belizean
territory caused a disruption in the rela-
tions between Guatemala and the United
Kingdom in 1963. Both these countries
have had traditional diplomatic and com-
mercial relations which have suffered
because of their controversy over Belize.
When Guatemala drops its claim to Belize
completely, the two countries will be able
to resume full and normal relations.
SII L TENToMAL SCA L
STI mTil A. A L TT I -S- -.
CO A / / / I I
I I /,
i t cm 7/ .
I/ / /
A r H D
---* ---' t
S :, it
T / 0"
SJOLEO 4 A. 7f
/ // s
\s, \ ,,*
i f /
,- ----* ,-,TgRR., ro"'"
_' u ~_._O
SC o d
*\ n C
.O 0 0
< los l
o0 '2 *
The United Kingdom and Guatemala shall
take the necessary action to sponsor the
membership of Belize in the United Nations,
the Organisation of American States,
Central American Organisations and other
Belize does not lack friends in the world
to sponsor her membership in the United
Nations or other' international organiza-
tions. We already are a full member of the
Caribbean Community; we hold special
status in the Non-Aligned Movement; and
on independence we will be welcome in
the Commonwealth of Nations. 139 coun-
tries have already voted for Belize to
become an independent state before the
end of 1981 and become a member of the
What is significant about this head is
that Guatemala would be willing to join
in sponsoring Belize's membership in the
United Nations. Of course, we would not
be sponsored by Guatemala alone-we
expect well over 50 countries from the
Caribbean, from Africa, Asia, Latin
America and Europe to co-sponsor our
membership. Guatemala's co-sponsorship
would be a public renunciation of her age-
old claim to our territory.
Even more important is her willingness
to sponsor Belize to membership of the
Organization of American States. Tradi-
tionally Guatemala has used its member-
ship of the OAS as a forum to press its
claim to Belize and to influence the Latin
American members to back her claim.
Indeed, a clause in the OAS Charter ex-
pressly prevents an American state from
becoming a member if a member state has
a claim on the territory of that state. Under
this clause, Guyana, claimed by Venezuela,
is prevented from being a member of the
Organization of American States.
A Joint Commission shall be established
between Belize, Guatemala and the United
Kingdom to work out details to give effect
to the above provisions. It will prepare a
treaty or treaties for signature by the
Signatories to these Heads of Agreement.
The Joint Commission is a mechanism
to work out details of the Heads of Agree-
ment. The Commission will comprise
negotiators from the United Kingdom,
Guatemala and Belize. Their job will be
to try to reach agreement in detail on the
headings set out in this agreement. Nego-
tiators from all three countries will meet
It is important to note here that at all
the negotiations on the Anglo-Guatemalan
dispute up to and including the meetings
in London which produced the Heads
of Agreement, the United Kingdom and
Guatemala appeared as equals and Belize
participated as a part of the British dele-
gation. This put the Belizean represent-
atives on a status of junior partner. Now,
for the first time, Belizean representatives
will be accorded equal status with those
of Britain and Guatemala in the Joint
In deciding on the composition of the
Belize delegation on the Joint Commission,
government will seek to ensure that the
best interests of Belize and its people are
safeguarded. We will enjoy the services
of the best professional and technical ad-
vice from Belize as well as from the
Caribbean and the Commonwealth.
In an attempt to have as broad a political
representation as possible, Government
has invited the United Democratic Party
to name two representatives to the Belizet
delegation on the Joint Commission.
Everything depends on how the negotia-
tions are handled. The sixteen Heads are
meaningless and inoperative except as
subjects for discussion and negotiation
that will provide proposals that must be
finally approved by the people of Belize
in a referendum before they are ratified
by the Government.
The controversy between the United
Kingdom and Guatemala over the territory
of Belize shall therefore be honourably and
This proclaims the entire purpose of
the negotiations-to terminate forever,
finally, Guatemala's false claim to our
The purpose is NOT to pave the way for
independence. That way was and is paved
by the people's struggle for freedom, and
by the international support our just cause
has achieved. The purpose is to enable us
to live in peace and tranquility, without
fear or threat, by having Guatemala drop
its unfounded claim.
Signed at London, the llth day of
March 1981, in the English and the Spanish
languate, both texts being equally
Premier George Price.
Minister Assad Shoman.
Minister V. H. Courtenay.
Government has made a commitment
that any specific proposals that emerge
from the negotiations on the subjects listed
in the Heads of Agreement will be put to
the people of Belize in a referenduiA before
any treaty or final agreement is signed.
This commitment is consistent with the
statement regarding a referendum con-
tained in the "Memorandum of Under-
standing" that was signed in New York
on 2 June 1978 by Dr. David Owen, then
Foreign and Commonwealth Minister of
the United Kingdom, Premier George
Price, and then Leader of the Opposition,
The full text of that paragraph in the
Memorandum of Understanding said:
"Any final agreement that may be reached
between the British and Guatemalan
governments would be put to the people
of Belize in a referendum."
The Government is still sticking exactly
to that commitment; but the Opposition
leaders are playing games with the people-
They are no longer asking for a referendum
on any agreement, but now want a referen-
dum on the heads of agreement, which
merely state the matters which we agree
to talk about'
How can such a turn-around be justified?
What possible sense could there be in
putting to a referendum a list of subjects
to be talked about without anyone being
able to say what the final proposals will
There is no question about Government's
authority and duty, as Government, to
defend the interests of the country. That
is a function of government which it cannot
abdicate. But in our case, the responsibility
is reinforced by the fact that in a specific
election a mandate was given to the govern-
ment to seek a peaceful settlement Until
now, absolutely no restrictions or limita-
tions have been put on such negotiations,
and nobody asked for a referendum to
negotiate, since this would be ridiculous.
In the past, we had to sit and listen at
negotiations to all sorts of abhorrent sug-
gestions, such as demands for land cession.
Of course, we firmly rejected them; but
we could not stop the British or the
Guatemalans from raising the issue. Now,
the Heads of Agreement limit the topics
that can be raised, so that, for example,
the issue of land cession can never again
be brought up. We are therefore in a
stronger position at the negotiating table.
If there was no call for a referendum at
a time when anything could be negotiated,
how can there be any justification for a
call for referendum to negotiate, to talk
about, a list of subjects?
What is important are the proposals
that will emerge from these negotiations.
These proposals will be put to the people
for their acceptance or rejection. Any
proposed agreement will be put to a refe-
rendum before signing. And if the people
vote NO, the Government will NOT
The referendum on any proposal will
use the same procedure as an election. The
same people who are eligible to vote in a
national election will vote in a referendum.
They will be asked to vote YES or NO to
a proposal. There will be a set period, long
enough to campaign for or against, and
both political parties will be allowed equal
radio time to state their views.
This is a much fairer and much more
responsible approach than the emotional
confusion that is now being authored in
Government has a mandate from the
people to do many things. One of these
things is to negotiate with other countries
for the defence of the rights and best in-
terests of the nation. What Government
is saying is that, on this specific issue of
proposals to end Guatemala's claim, those
proposals will be put to the people in a
referendum. Government will then know
the will of the people on those specific
issues, and it will act according to the
people's determination. Such a specific
referendum will not in any way affect the
overall mandate of Government which is
given only in free and democratic elections.
Those are the Heads of Agreement. As you can see, most of
them will require hard and complicated negotiations before any
specific proposals emerge to be put to the people. Some of them
and especially Head 3, will be extremely difficult to reach agree-
ment on, since Belize and Guatemala are obviously very far apart
The important thing is that these are only subjects for negotia-
tions and that any specific proposals that may emerge will be
put to the people in a referendum before any final decision is
Very crucial also is that the Heads of Agreement can only con-
tinue to form a basis for negotiation for all the conditions which
made it right for Belize to sign continue to prevail.
These conditions are:
1. That' the exercise by the Belizean people of their
right to independence is a totally separate issue from that
of negotiations to terminate the Guatemalan claim to
Belize. The independence of Belize is not for negotia-
tion and can in no way be compromised by negotiations.
2. That the independence of Belize must be achieved
before the end of 1981, irrespective of the progress of the
3. That, since we have an agreed list of subjects for
negotiations and an agreed procedure to conduct these
negotiations, the Guatemalan government will not pres-
sure us with the threat or use of force.
4. That the security of Belize is not a subject of the
negotiations but rather one for bilateral arrangement
between Belize and the government of the United
Kingdom, and that the U.K. is committed to the defence
of an independent Belize whether or not any agreement is
reached whereby Guatemala drops its claim to Belize.
5. That the Heads of Agreement refer to matters open
to negotiation, and that Belize will not be forced to agree
to anything which goes against the principles enshrined
in the relevant UN resolution.
As long as all those conditions continue to be met, Belize will
negotiate in accordance with the provisions of the Heads of
Agreement. If either of the other two governments departs from
the conditions which relate to them, Belize will feel obliged to
consider that the basis on which the document was signed is
changed and that we are no longer bound by it.
Our determination is to carry through the process envisaged
in the Heads of Agreement and to negotiate in good faith so that
we can arrive at agreements which will put an end to Guatemala's
claim to Belize and pave the way for us to live in peace with all
All the people of Belize want peace. Here is a chance to
achieve it. Let us all unite to win peace for our land.
Belize can now proceed to independence and
Guatemala will accept and respect the independent
State of Belize within its traditional boundaries
without a quarrel and without a war.
Children of Belize
-Government works to safeguard
FREE BELIZE NOW
Printed by the Government Prnt
A Government Information Service Publication.