2019 Belizean territorial dispute referendum

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Belizean territorial dispute referendum, 2019
8 May 2019

Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement and that it determines finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the parties?
Location Belize
Website"Elections and Boundaries Department - REFERENDUM RESULTS 2019".
Results
Response
Votes %
Yes 53,388 55.37%
No 43,029 44.63%
Valid votes 96,417 99.28%
Invalid or blank votes 702 0.72%
Total votes 97,119 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 148,500 65.4%

A referendum on the territorial dispute with Guatemala was held in Belize on 8 May 2019.[1] Voters were asked whether the territorial dispute with neighbouring Guatemala should be referred to the International Court of Justice.

The vote had originally been scheduled for 10 April but was delayed by a legal challenge.[2][3] When it took place, the proposal was approved by 55% of voters.

Background[edit]

A commitment to take the Belizean–Guatemalan territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice was signed by the countries' governments in December 2008. A referendum was held in Guatemala on the proposal on 15 April 2018. As required by previous agreements, a referendum was required to be held in Belize within six months.[4][5] Guatemalan Vice President Jafeth Cabrera stated that the Belizean vote would be held in May 2018, but the Belizean government released a statement denying the claim and stated that the referendum would be held after a voter re-registration process has occurred to ensure an accurate and fair vote.[6]

Delay[edit]

The referendum was challenged in court by the opposition People's United Party (PUP) on the grounds that it was based on the 2008 Special Agreement between Belize and Guatemala, which might lead to territorial changes that were inconsistent with Belize's constitution. That led to an injunction being issued by the Supreme Court, delaying the referendum.[7] Following the issuing of the injunction, the Belizean government introduced legislation that it believed would address the injunction.[8] However, the PUP claimed that an amendment to the constitution, requiring a two-thirds majority vote, was needed before the referendum could be held.[9]

The Belizean government's new referendum legislation was passed by the House of Representatives on 12 April 2019, and by the Senate on 15 April.[10][11] The PUP objected to the new referendum bill on the grounds that it was based on the 2008 Special Agreement, which was still the subject of the court proceedings under which the injunction delaying the referendum was issued. PUP attorney Kareem Musa stated that the PUP would have supported a referendum based on the pre-existing referendum legislation, which did reference the 2008 Special Agreement.[12]

The European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint declaration, dated 11 April 2019, urging the Belizean government to hold a vote as soon as possible.[13] Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales also urged the government to hold the referendum quickly. Meanwhile, Morales sparked controversy by drawing Belize as part of Guatemala during a visit to a school.[14] On 15 April 2019, Guatemalan gunboats also prevented the Belizean coast guard from patrolling the Sarstoon River on the border between the two countries.[15]

On 15 April 2019, the Belizean government asked for the injunction to be set aside in light of the 10 April deadline for holding the referendum and introducing a new referendum bill had passed. The court refused to set aside the injunction before the substantive hearing,[16] and set the hearing for 29 April.[17]

Results[edit]

The referendum passed by more than 10 percent of the vote nationwide. Yes won 22 of the constituencies, with nine voting no.

Choice Votes %
Yes 53,388 55.37
No 43,029 44.63
Invalid/blank 702
Total 97,119 100
Registered voters/turnout 148,500 65.40
Source: Elections & Boundaries Department Archived 2019-05-09 at the Wayback Machine

By district[edit]

Division District For Against Invalid/
blank
Total
votes
Registered Turnout
(%)
Votes % Votes %
Belize Freetown 1,432 63.00 841 37.00 8 2,281 3,020 75.53
Belize Caribbean Shores 1,337 64.00 752 36.00 13 2,102 2,751 76.41
Belize Pickstock 1,045 55.94 823 44.06 20 1,888 2,550 74.04
Belize Fort George 637 64.28 354 35.72 5 996 1,409 70.69
Belize Albert 1,215 72.32 465 27.68 22 1,702 2,109 80.70
Belize Queen's Square 1,467 81.00 344 19.00 10 1,821 2,170 83.92
Belize Mesopotamia 1,200 77.32 352 22.68 19 1,571 2,212 71.02
Belize Lake Independence 1,079 43.99 1,374 56.013 29 2,482 3,768 65.87
Belize Collet 1,680 70.41 706 29.59 29 2,415 3,392 71.20
Belize Port Loyola 1,689 64.91 913 35.09 25 2,627 4,462 58.87
Belize Belize Rural North 1,688 70.54 705 29.46 9 2,402 3,739 64.24
Belize Belize Rural Central 2,488 66.68 1,243 33.32 28 3,759 5,529 67.99
Belize Belize Rural South 2,373 56.10 1,857 43.90 24 4,254 6,703 63.46
Corozal Corozal Bay 1,220 47.99 1,322 52.006 17 2,559 4,104 62.35
Corozal Corozal North 2,591 58.75 1,819 41.25 24 4,434 6,233 71.14
Corozal Corozal South East 1,760 47.48 1,947 52.522 21 3,728 5,789 64.40
Corozal Corozal South West 1,581 52.63 1,423 47.37 12 3,016 4,917 61.34
Orange Walk Orange Walk Central 1,680 47.03 1,892 52.968 17 3,589 5,015 71.57
Orange Walk Orange Walk North 1,893 46.97 2,137 53.027 28 4,058 6,505 62.38
Orange Walk Orange Walk East 2,227 55.34 1,797 44.66 30 4,054 5,686 71.30
Orange Walk Orange Walk South 1,960 51.46 1,849 48.54 34 3,843 6,054 63.48
Cayo Cayo North 1,901 46.67 2,172 53.327 31 4,104 6,133 66.92
Cayo Cayo Central 2,113 52.08 1,944 47.92 28 4,085 6,691 61.05
Cayo Cayo West 1,584 45.77 1,877 54.233 39 3,500 5,355 65.36
Cayo Cayo South 1,902 53.26 1,669 46.74 38 3,609 6,112 59.05
Cayo Cayo North East 1,491 52.06 1,373 47.94 17 2,881 4,705 61.23
Cayo Belmopan 2,692 56.95 2,035 43.05 21 4,748 7,214 65.82
Stann Creek Dangriga 1,628 60.27 1,073 39.73 15 2,716 4,400 61.73
Stann Creek Stann Creek West 2,520 53.78 2,166 46.22 33 4,719 7,611 62.00
Toledo Toledo East 1,623 47.71 1,779 52.293 31 3,433 5,974 57.47
Toledo Toledo West 1,692 45.51 2,026 54.492 25 3,743 6,188 60.49

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Government announces new referendum date Breaking Belize News, 18 April 2019
  2. ^ "The Impact of the Delayed I.C.J. Referendum". Channel 5 Belize. 10 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Belice define fecha para la consulta popular sobre el diferendo territorial Prensa Libre, 30 April 2018
  4. ^ "Guatemala avalará en las urnas el 15 de abril diferendo con Belice". Prensa-latina.cu. Retrieved 2018-04-15. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Guatemaltecos irán a las urnas en 2018 por el referéndum con Belice | Publinews". Publinews.gt. Retrieved 2018-04-15. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Belize Government rejects referendum date by Guatemala's Vice President". Belize News and Opinion on www.breakingbelizenews.com. 2018-04-16. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  7. ^ Cayetano, Isani (9 April 2019). "PM Barrow Dismisses Idea of a Mutual Decision to Delay I.C.J. Referendum". Retrieved 11 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "P.U.P. Demands Order Papers for Friday's House Meeting". Channel 5 Belize. Retrieved 11 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "New Legislation to be Passed, but No New Referendum Date as Yet". Channel 5 Belize. Retrieved 11 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Ali, Marion (13 April 2019). "Emotions Ran High During Debate Over ICJ Referendum". Reporter. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Sanchez, Jose. "Senate passes Belize Territorial Dispute Referendum Bill, 2019". Love FM. Retrieved 16 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "New Referendum Bill a concern for the PUP". Breaking Belize News. Retrieved 16 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Ramo, Wellington C. "ICJ referendum in Belize: Joint statement from EU, UK and US". Caribbean News Now. Retrieved 16 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "President Morales of Guatemala calls on Belize to conduct ICJ Referendum". Breaking Belize News. Retrieved 16 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Guatemalan navy gunboats block Belize Coast Guard from accessing the Sarstoon river". Retrieved 16 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "ICJ Referendum Injunction Courtroom Drama Continues". Reporter. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Guatemalan navy gunboats block Belize Coast Guard from accessing the Sarstoon river". Retrieved 16 April 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)