Belize National Teachers Union holds ICJ gathering in Belmopan Print E-mail
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Friday, 15 March 2019 00:00

With the fast approaching April 10th Referendum on the International Court of Justice ICJ, some 3,500 teachers descended to the University of Belize gymnasium in Belmopan on Friday to hear differing views on the issue. The session was four hours long and included panelists Assad Shoman, a foremost authority on the Guatemalan claim, a former surveyor Lindsey Belisle, and attorney Audrey Matura.

In making his presentation, Belisle repeated his claim that the 1859 will not guarantee Belize’s full territory if we go to the ICJ. “The 1859 Treaty does not give Belize title to the 8,867 square miles of mainland territory but rather to some 6,700 square miles or about 75% of our mainland territory.”

While attorney Audrey Matura maintained a no stance to taking the issue to the ICJ.

Assad Shoman told the teachers, “People don’t need MBAs or lawyer degree to understand that because international law states that once a border is established by treaty, it takes on a life of its own and cannot be changed, then Belize cannot lose any territory… If you don’t get it out in time, you’re going to lose a chance to stop this thing once and for all and you don’t know when you will have that chance again. It’s up to you.”

BNTU President Elena Smith told the media on Friday that the event was just one of several that they’ve organized to sensitize their membership.  “Our primary focus was to educate our members, to give them information, so that they can take that back and help them to make their own decision. As you know, we have said before that as union we will not be giving forth any national position as a union, but we will have our members do it. I think the discussions were quite healthy. They got all sides and they were able to ask their questions. All in all it was a good session.”

All three panelists had thirty minute to make their presentation. Teachers were also given ample opportunities to ask questions.