Press Release     
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Illegal Guatemalan Settlements Verified to be outside Adjacency Zone

Belmopan - 13 February, 2001.

Illegal Guatemalan Settlements Verified to be outside Adjacency Zone                         Belmopan - 13 February, 2001 Three Guatemalan settlements, located at Rio Blanco, Machaquila and Valentin Camp are indeed outside the Adjacency Zone, on the eastern side.

This was verified by measurements taken by the Pan American Institute of

Geography and History which were presented to delegations from Belize                               and Guatemala on February 7th at the Organization of American States                                          headquarters in Washington DC during a planning meeting for the upcoming examination of Guatemala’s territorial claim to Belize.

The facilitators of the negotiations, Sir Shridath Ramphal and Paul Reichler, agreed to examine the survey data and make a determination after the head of    the Belizean delegation Ambassador Assad Shoman told them it would be                                          difficult for Belize to proceed on with the meeting’s previously scheduled                                          agenda without addressing this outstanding issue.

The discovery of the settlement at Machaquila in January lead to increased tensions between Belize and Guatemala, since both parties had agreed in November to “confidence building measures” which included the designation of an adjacency line between the two countries and banning new settlements within the surrounding adjacency zone.

The zone extends one kilometre to the east and one kilometre to the west of                                          the line.

The November agreement also includes protocols for removing any settlers who venture into the zone after October 1, 2001.

At an emergency meeting in mid-January, Belize and Guatemala agreed to assist the Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH, an OAS affiliate of which Belize is a member, to determine the coordinates of the reference markers at Gracias a Dios, Garbutt’s Falls and Aguas Turbias, and to identify the Adjacency Line and Adjacency Zone along those points.

The parties also agreed to accept the Institute’s findings and the facilitators’ decision on the settlements in question.

As it turns out, Belize was correct in its belief, based on Global Positioning                                          System (GPS) readings taken by members of the BDF, that the three                                          settlements were outside the zone.

In fact only one dwelling, located in Valentin Camp was determined by the                                          PAIGH to be inside the zone.

The next step is for a joint commission --three members from Belize and three from Guatemala--to take a census of the people in question and to advise them that they must move to new locations west of the adjacency line.

This must be carried out within seven days of the signing of the agreement in   Washington.

The Guatemalan government will compensate all settlers who comply for their crops and buildings. The Belizean government will move those who do not.

The exercise will be carried out using the protocols established in the November agreement and both Belize and

Guatemala have agreed to work together to ensure a smooth and peaceful movement of the people.

Both also agree the removal of the settlements is essential to the progress of the negotiating process and does not constitute or imply any waiver of the sovereign rights or claims to the territory in question.

To try and avoid any future incidents, Guatemala has agreed to actively seek to discourage its people from settling to the east of the Adjacency Line and to publicize the data collected by the PAIGH to ensure such incidents do not occur again.

The Belize Defense force will continue to patrol outside the zone to discourage illegal settlements.

A time frame and procedure for Guatemala to present its territorial claim, for Belize to respond, and for the merits of the arguments of each side to be examined was established by the end of the three days.  The first written submission will be made by Guatemala by March 31, 2001.

The Belizean delegation was headed by Ambassador Assad Shoman and includes Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs David Gibson Ambassadors Lisa Shoman, Eamon Courtenay, Moises Cal, Salvador Figueroa, Fred Martinez and Stuart Leslie.


13 Feb 2001: BDF Prevents New Settlement and Discovers another Illegal Settlement at Edwards Central.

15 Feb 2001: Religious Community unites on Guatemalan issue.  Signs Declaration.

21 Feb 2001: New BDF recruits train in Pine Ridge.

5 March 2001: 3 Illegal Guatemalan Settlements Totally Cleared.

8 March 2001: Canadian High Commissioner to Belize visits National Security Ministry.

13 Mar 2001: Declaration by the European Union on the Belize-Guatemala dispute issued.  New British High Commissioner to Belize appointed.

16 March 2001: BDF recruits become soldiers.

27 Mar 2001: Action due soon on illegal settlement located at Edwards Central. Belize Defence Force receives military equipment from British Government.  Belize gains unequivocal support from ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

2 Apr 2001: Taiwanese Navy makes goodwill visit.

17 Apr 2001: BDF Personnel participates in Exercise Tradewinds in Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.


Guatemala submitted the required statement on its territorial claim to OAS as scheduled.  Belize’s due the  end of April 2001.

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