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Belize Independence

I. Belize Independence

A treaty dating back to the 1800s between Britain and Guatemala resulted in a dispute of Belize’s sovereignty. At the heart of the dispute was a Spanish treaty ceding independence to Guatemala and a subsequent treaty whereby Britain, already in possession of Belize for over one hundred years, and Guatemala agreed to resolve a land boundary dispute. Britain’s view was that they already possessed the land and were just staking out their claim in a treaty. Guatemala held the viewpoint that Belize, originally part of a larger Spanish claim, had been there’s to cede to Britain under conditions within the treaty. One of these conditions included a road from Guatemala to the Coast. When this road never materialized, Guatemala in essence claimed a breach and subsequently threatened to invade several times as late as 1977.[11]

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While other British colonies received independence in the 1960s, the British government periodically had to increase the presence of troops in the area to thwart Guatemalan threats and hostilities. Throughout most of the 60’s and half of the 70’s secret negotiations between Guatemala and Great Britain took place. The U.S. sometimes acted as mediator, since Guatemala was calling on the U.S. to come to their aid due to U.S. obligations resulting from the Cuban Missile Crisis. The negotiations broke down when independence was offered at the expense of land. Belize took their case to the UN, the Caribbean nations and the world. They lobbied for support and eventually garnished it after a six year effort. Finally, the country was recognized by the United Nations, but Belize next had to establish that it was capable of securing its borders from the likes of Guatemala maybe others.[12]

Although Belize became a country on September 21, 1981, they failed to come to a successful negotiated conclusion with Guatemala. This was finally resolved in 1991.[14]

See also


[11] A History of Belize, Belize on the World Stage, Cubola & Naturallight Productions, available at http://www.belizenet.com/history/chap14.html (last visited on Oct. 1, 2002).
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] For a historical timeline of Belize from “A History of Belize: Nation in the Making” please click on preceding hyperlink.