First Meeting of the Belize-Guatemala Joint Commission

Punta Gorda, Belize February 10 and 11, 2014

Following the suspension of the simultaneous referenda, originally scheduled to take place on October 6, 2013, the governments of Belize and Guatemala agreed to strengthen the bilateral relationship to "create the appropriate conditions to set a new date for the referenda." To this end, in January 2014 the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala adopted a Road Map Agreement and Plan of Action, through which a Joint Binational Commission was established. The purpose of this commission is to promote and develop a series of programs and activities directed at strengthening the bilateral relationship at all levels and among all sectors of society. The Foreign Ministers are scheduled to meet with the OAS Secretary General in December 2014 to evaluate the progress of the commission and determine whether a new date for holding the referenda in 2015 can be established. The first meeting of the Joint Commission took place in Punta Gorda, Belize in February, 2014 at the deputy foreign minister level and was characterized by a strong spirit of cooperation and political will to move the process forward. Four binational agreements were negotiated: 1) to recognize the equivalence of studies in the public education system; 2) to facilitate the return of stolen vehicles; 3) to enforce criminal sentences; and 4) to establish a temporary migrant workers program. In addition, discussions took place regarding an MOU to protect the national parks in the Adjacency Zone. Four more agreements in the areas of security and economic cooperation will be negotiated in the coming months.