Media Center

Press Release


  September 22, 2006

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert Ramdin , today urged the member countries to continue supporting efforts to resolve the longstanding territorial differendum between Belize and Guatemala.

Ramdin returned to OAS headquarters today after a three-day visit to Belize, where he met with Prime Minister Said Musa and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Eamon Courtenay, among others. The Assistant Secretary General said Belizean officials had expressed their concern about the pace of the process underway to resolve the differendum.

Belize and Guatemala will hold their next ministerial-level meeting at the OAS in Washington on September 26. “We look forward to the continuation of this process and hope that the upcoming meeting will include a fruitful discussion about the progress made thus far and future steps that can be taken to bring about a lasting solution,” Ramdin said.

Last September, Belize and Guatemala signed a framework agreement establishing negotiation and confidence-building measures designed to maintain friendly bilateral relations until the territorial differendum is permanently resolved. In February of this year, they agreed to a proposal by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to begin a process of negotiation on the maritime aspects of the differendum.

During his trip this week, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin also visited the OAS General Secretariat’s office in the so-called Adjacency Zone between the two countries. The office was established three years ago in a neutral area between Belizean and Guatemalan immigration checkpoints. Its purpose is to monitor implementation of the confidence-building measures agreed to by both countries and to verify any reported violations, as well as to promote greater communication between communities on both sides. “This mission has played a critical role in verification and fostering better relations, and it deserves the continued support of the member states,” Ramdin said.

Among other matters discussed in their meetings with the Assistant Secretary General, Belizean officials raised the issue of the OAS scholarship program, which has been on hold in recent months, and expressed their hope that it would be in operation again soon. Ramdin agreed that this is an important initiative, particularly for small member states, and pledged to try to move the process forward.

In Belize, the Assistant Secretary General also attended official ceremonies marking the country’s 25th anniversary of independence.

Reference: E-196/06