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Despite Apathy, Guatemala Says YES to Resolve the Dispute with Belice

beliceguateThe green light dominated widely in the popular referendum held on Sunday in Guatemala to decide whether a territorial, maritime and insular dispute with Belize will be brought before the International Court of Justice, according to the official results announced today here.

The positive trend of the yes reached 95.89 percent of support after scrutinizing 92.80 percent of the votes nationwide, according to data offered at a press conference by Gustavo Castillo, IT director of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE).

The No only met 4.11 percent of the vote, although the data is preliminary until its official publication on April 20, as determined by law.

The day passed without incidents of violence and managed to call 24.4 percent of the registered population, a little over 7.5 million, confirmed Maria Eugenia Mijangos, president of the TSE in press conference four hours after the close of the schools.

Apathy dominated again the suffrages as it happened in 1994 (15.58 percent) and 1999 (18.55 percent), a fact that Mijangos attributed to the insufficient culture of participation of the population in this type of events.

However, he thanked the Guatemalans who exercised their right to vote and showed the world that ‘we are a people of peace and we understand and can be interested in important issues for our country.’

When questioned for alleged deficiencies in the information campaign, Mijangos said she was satisfied with the work of everyone, especially the young people and the polling stations, together with eight thousand volunteers.

The maximum representative of the TSE said that once validated the final data will be transferred to the Congress and the Executive.

The Guatemalan government insisted on the information campaigns prior to the vote on the need to put an end to the borderline lack of definition, today a line of adjacency that generates frequent tensions and civilian victims on both sides.

The Central American country arrived at the referendum on April 15 after an agreement with Belmopan signed in 2015 so that each nation, in turn, would take the issue to the approval of its population.

Guatemala took the first step despite criticism of the high spending of the suffrage, some 300 million quetzales (about 41 million dollars).

This is not counting the amount that would have to be paid later to the lawyers who will carry out the case in the ICJ, which could take five to eight years to give their verdict.

Analysts predict that the favorable outcome will demonstrate the will of the nation to comply with international decisions in peace, although a similar attitude by Belize will have to be expected.

The Embassy of Belmopan confirmed the day before that they are currently updating their electoral register and an information campaign to call a consultation by the end of this year or the beginning of the other.

(Prensa Latina)

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