Will Guatemala meet December 8 deadline to file ICJ case?

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Posted: Saturday, December 5, 2020. 5:05 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: As noted in this week’s edition of the Amandala newspaper, next Tuesday, December 8, is the deadline for Guatemala to file its case against Belize at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

A check of the ICJ website indicates that the last public statement on the matter was the announcement in April of the extension of the deadline for Guatemala to file. Belize must now respond by June 8, 2022. 

Guatemala had requested an extension of a year from June 8, 2020, claiming setbacks in their preparation due to the COVID-19 pandemic; Belize objected, saying it should get two months at the most.  

Guatemalans voted on April 15, 2018, in favor of presenting its case to the ICJ by a supermajority of 95 percent, though only about 25 percent of voters turned out. Almost 13 months later on May 8, 2019, a majority of Belizean voters (55 percent) turned out to vote in favor as well, setting us on our current path. 

Then-Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel Polanco, who succeeded Carlos Raul Morales, told local news stations publicly at the time of the Guatemalan referendum that she would not state how much of Belize Guatemala claims; her boss, Jimmy Morales, said on the other hand about a year earlier to a Guatemalan talk show that it wants “more than half” of the Jewel, i.e. from the Sarstoon to the Belize River, and possibly all of it if possible. Neither’s successors, President Alejandro Giammattei and Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo, have said anything publicly since taking office in January. 

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