'TWO TREATY PACKAGE'
In 1969, Great Britain, Guatemala and Belize made renewed attempts at negotiations after the rejection of the Webster report. This time the main emphasis was placed on possible arrangements for economic co-operation between an independent Belize and Guatemala. The approach was considered new and offered a fresh formula that could possibly have put an end once and for all to the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute in an ‘honourable' manner. This manifested itself in a "Two-Treaty Package": Treaty of Recognition and a Treaty of Economic Co-operation, in the fields of commerce, agriculture, defence, and foreign affairs. The Treaty of Recognition would have ensured Guatemalan recognition of the new state and acknowledgment that the dispute was terminated.
This initiative was put forward by Great Britain after the Government of Belize agreed to make ‘one last attempt' at the settlement of the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute before arranging an independence conference. It was then clearly understood that the talks proposed would not be protracted and would not operate to delay Belizean Independence. It was also understood that a settlement of this Dispute would not eliminate the need for an "Independence Guarantee", from the U.K. This was a prerequisite especially because the settlement would result in a reduction of the scope British military presence in Belize.
The first draft was a multilateral Treaty of Recognition by which as many nations as possible would recognize the new State of Belize, including particularly, the United Kingdom, Guatemala and Mexico. In this way, the claims of both Guatemala and Mexico would officially come to an end. The second treaty in the package, was described as a Treaty of Economic Co-operation to be executed by the United Kingdom, Guatemala and Belize. This, Guatemala and Belize would agree to co-operate in all matters of mutual interest and terms of friendship would be arranged between Guatemala and an independent Belize in order to preserve the peace between the two countries. This latter treaty also included articles on External Affairs and Defence.
During the preliminary talks, the Guatemalan representative expressed Guatemala's readiness to enter into negotiations with complete good faith. Rather than being dogmatic, he believed it would be far better adopting a pragmatic and realistic attitude in the hope of finding a solution. In regards to the treaty of economic co-operation, the Guatemalan representative assured the delegation that Guatemala had much experience of economic co-operation in Central America and despite problems that had surfaced within the organization, the Central American Common Market (CACM) still had great economic strength. He also agreed with the British representative that it was essential that the right atmosphere should be created at the negotiating tables. Further, all parties accepted that it was necessary to maintain a large degree of discretion concerning the negotiations. Therefore the meetings were held privately in Belmopan, Washington D.C. and the Bahamas, among other places. It was taken into account that local political issues were bound to have some bearing on the event. The following material on this issue has been compiled from private government records.
To this end, a point was made which is fundamentally linked to the whole theme of this paper. It was stated that while political problems were of great importance, ultimately the parties were primarily concerned with the welfare of their peoples, and this is why, economic development, as an area of wide co-operation was stressed. Hence, it was agreed that political stability was vital but was not possible without economic and trading circumstances in which people could live happily. The British pointed out that economic co-operation would lead to political co-operation but did not imply any diminution of sovereignty. These talks were the beginnings of a period of negotiations that lasted two years where there were countless private meetings and talks between the representatives.
Basically, the British put the two papers forward, the draft Treaty of Cooperation and a draft Treaty of Recognition, as a basis to begin the negotiations. The draft Treaties did not go into detail since they thought that the treaties stood a greater chance of general acceptance if they were confined to the necessary broad provisions with any details that might need to be included in dealt with in separate annexes. They realized that the Treaty of Recognition was a matter to which the Belizean government attached great importance, for the reason that the main provisions dealt with recognition of and respect for territorial integrity. Four signatories had been specified which they felt were the essential ones.
These drafts were the base of what was used at the negotiating tables. They were continuously subject to counter-proposals and amendments by the contracting parties. There were naturally opposing views expressed by the parties on the different issues and this was reflected in the series of private meetings between them.
The Guatemalan delegation had their own views on the draft Treaty on Economic Co-operation. As regards the Treaty of Recognition, the delegation maintained the view that Guatemala's consideration of this would depend largely on the extent of the co-operation envisaged in the treaty of Cooperation. It was made clear from the start that the arrangements for cooperation with Belize needed to be worked out within a Central American framework and Guatemala wanted to act as advocate of Belize.
In 1969, there had been a General Election in Belize, at which the P.U.P. Government had been returned once again for a period of five years. They were, therefore, now in a position of considerable political strength with greater room to maneuver. But they had come away from those elections with an even greater determination to achieve independence. Just as the Treaty of Co-operation was of special importance to Guatemala, the Treaty of Recognition was the sin qua non for the Belizeans. While Belize was willing to reach accord with Guatemala on the economic side, the Treaty of Recognition was the only possible way of allaying Belize's fears for their future. In order to satisfy the two sides then, it was essential that progress be made on both treaties.
The Guatemalan delegation were the first to outline their eleven suggestions regarding possible measures of economic co-operation which they proposed should be considered and therefore they were put down as a working paper submitted as Annex C:
The core of the Guatemalan delegation's economic proposal rested on a regional development corporation which would prepare development plans entailing identification and preparation of projects of mutual benefit to Guatemala and Belize, both for the private and public sectors.
The Belize delegation raised some points for clarification: Must projects be of mutual benefit to qualify? How is the fund maintained? Is repayment for projects envisaged? What of the management of enterprises? profits? Would the control of the corporation's activities have equal representation? veto? staff and employees? How would the relationship be with governments? etc.
The Guatemalan idea was further discussed amongst the parties. The Belizean representative felt that for starters, it was essential that such a corporation should make recommendations which would be ad-referendum to Belizean and Guatemalan Ministers. However, the Guatemalan representative believed that this would tend to limit the effectiveness of the corporation. They felt that It would be preferable if the Board of Governors or Board of Directors of the corporation were to be included or consist entirely of Ministers and thus reflect political opinion in both countries. In other words, there would in this way, be in-built political control. Another point raised by the Belizean delegation was that they did not wish to see the setting up of any supra-national organization which would have executive authority independently of the governments concerned and it would be necessary to take account, at every stage of the planning and implementation of any project, of the views of both governments.
The Guatemalan representative tried to clarify this point by saying that he envisaged the regional development corporation not as a supra-national body but as a mechanism of co-operation. It was precisely in order to ensure full governmental support that they thought it convenient to have built-in representative, political authority.
The British delegation made a commitment to make sizeable contributions in the form of grants and loans from the U.K. and other countries with an interest in having a political settlement to the dispute. They also went on record that they would do their best to continue to provide aid and assistance to Belize after its independence and offered to take the initiative in serving as a broker for Belize in approaching other governments to participate in the treaties and to financially contribute to the development corporation. The importance of measures to promote physical integration in CACM was emphasized.
Although the ECLA study was not encouraging in terms of its prognosis of integration for Belize with Central America, the Guatemalan representative pointed out that the ECLA report looked at the situation as it was then but this situation was not immutable. The special proposals for co-operation which they were now putting forward would themselves alter the situation and make Belizean participation potentially fruitful. They were ready to support the idea of a special relationship between Belize and CARIFTA because they recognized the potential benefit for Belize to have a foot in each market. But it was estimated that a period of 10 years would provide for the adjustment of the Belizean economy to the new conditions. Guatemala saw the participation of Belize in both CACM and CARIFTA as the beginning of a wider relationship between Central America and the Caribbean which would open up possibilities of more rapid economic development and would aid political stability. They also envisioned that the possibility of such a relationship would lead to the development of a fruitful link with the U.K. with possibility of expanded trade. In other words it was hoped that Belize and Guatemala could be a bridge between Britain and the Caribbean and Latin America.
As time progressed, Guatemala and Belize continued to raise issues and points and drafts based on the original British drafts. The Belize delegation for example, were concerned that the British draft on Recognition failed to include the word "sovereignty" which should have been a part of Article I of the Treaty of Recognition. The British argued however, that the intention was that both the proposed Treaties should come into force after Belize had become independent. Then it would be a sovereign state entering into a treaty relationship with other sovereign states. Therefore, the mention of , "sovereignty" was not considered necessary especially as the introduction of this word would certainly create presentational difficulties for the Guatemalans, thereby making Guatemalan agreement to the whole package more difficult to secure. Therefore, the British side pointed out that by subscribing to the preamble and Articles of the British draft Treaties the signatories would implicitly recognize Belize as an entity which was distinct from the Republic of Guatemala.
However, if the intention to have Belize gain its sovereignty was an inevitable and obvious reality, then would it have made such a difference whether it was stated in the Treaty itself or simply implied as the British were suggesting? It appears that the British were being extremely cautious and sensitive to Guatemala's reactions and interpretations.
The Belize Premier, George Price, who led the Belize delegations on a few occasions, was particularly concerned about this issue and having the British Government give Belize a defense guarantee which he believed would provide a much simpler way of solving the country's problems. The Hon. Premier, in a correspondence to the British, stressed his position that Belize entered into the discussion at Britain's invitation. He hoped that a possible solution to the Belizean demand for an independence guarantee would be found. Hence, he stated,
"Without this assurance, negotiations of a Treaty of Co-operation is a luxury which circumstances do not permit us to enjoy... we can only go to the conference table again if you can, as our "honest broker" unequivocally secure this assurance".
He also pointed out that the Treaty of recognition would not be "worth the paper it was written on unless it included an obligation in case of breach of the Treaty not only to consult but to act ‘: This was the crucial point of the negotiation and unless the treaty of Recognition provided for more than consultation, his government could not give any further consideration to it. It contained a big flaw in that it did not obligate the signatories to act on behalf of Belize in the case of any breach of the Treaty.
On economic co-operation, the Belize side suggested that it need not take the form of a joint body with administrative and executive powers. It was suggested that economic co-operation be achieved in two steps:
The Belize delegation decided to put forward some alternative suggestions for achieving economic co-operation. Their fear was that if the Guatemalans, by signing a Treaty of Recognition gave up their hope of achieving political domination over Belize, they might nonetheless seek to achieve just as real domination through economic means. Also, Belize's membership of the OAS and the RIO Treaty could be negotiated in advance of independence and take place at independence simultaneously with signature of the Two Treaty Package. By this, the security of Belize would be assured within the Rio Treaty framework immediately on the achievement of independence.
Hence, through consensus, the Belizean delegation rejected the economic proposals put forth by the Guatemalans and presented their own proposal on economic co-operation (Submitted as Annex B): As follows:
A PATTERN OF REGIONAL ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION BETWEEN EL PETEN AND BELIZE
The Belize delegation reiterated that their concept of economic cooperation was that no supranational body should be created and that executive decisions as to which projects ought to be undertaken should be matters for the two governments, no doubt in consultation, to take. The method would be that the proposed Regional Boards, to consist primarily of technicians and officials, would undertake examination and selection of projects at the technical level, thereafter examinations by the two Governments would then decide which projects were to be taken further. And they would then jointly sponsor applications to the proposed Regional Development Bank of Finance. It would then be for the Bank to take decisions on whether or not, and if so how, the projects should be financed. It would be open to the Bank to finance private projects subject, however, to these having been approved by the two Governments.
Hence, based on the difficulties that the Belize and Guatemalan delegation had with the first drafts put forward by the British, a second draft Treaty of Co-operation was put forward. The points raised in past meetings by the parties were taken into consideration. e.g. The Belizean wishes that reference be made to the setting up of the Development Bank and the draft Guatemalan Statute for a Development Corporation. It was pointed out that the objectives in Article I closely followed those of the Caribbean Development Bank:
Article I: The Government of Belize and the Government of Guatemala hereby establish for the purposes of planning, promoting and financing of the joint regional development of Belize and Guatemala, a Regional Board (hereinafter referred to as "the Regional Board") and a Belize/Guatemala Development Bank (hereinafter referred to as "the Bank"). These organs shall, in accordance with the provisions of this Annex, have the following objectives:
Some of the points raised by the Guatemalans were also considered e.g., that the Regional Board give attention to projects such as infrastructure and trade. However there was a failure to consider a great deal more of their points which were vital to the Guatemalan proposal:
The progressive integration of Belize into the Central American Common Market. Free transit of goods from third countries, free movement of capital, special co-operation in the monetary field, free movement of persons between the two territories. The meetings moved on and each party had to address what the other had failed to consider. Besides having the Regional Board as a central issue on the Guatemalan agenda, it was decided that for a Treaty of Collaboration to be "saleable" in Guatemala, it must present Belize as becoming the sixth Central American state, in a close relationship to Guatemala. The Guatemalans pointed out that they had come a long way from saying "Belize is ours", but they believed that there still needed to be some link between the two countries before any progress could happen. The Belize representative agreed that Belize certainly had a Central American destiny, but argued that the two sides might see the destiny in different terms. For Belize, if Guatemala were prepared to recognize Belize, then many things, including economic collaboration, or integration would be possible.
Integration was occurring at all levels of economic life in Central America. There were, for example, regional associations in the private sector-Chambers of Commerce, industrialists, bankers, telecommunications etc. In the public sector there was exchange of information and consultation between Ministers of Health, Agriculture and Public Works.
The adoption of the free trade regime and the common tariff had given rise to a remarkable growth in the volume of intra-area trade. Between 1961 and 1966, this trade increased from 37 to 176 million dollars with the share of intra-area imports in total imports rising from 7.4 to 18.8 per cent. According to the ECLA study, all the participating countries benefited from this expansion in trade. In proportionate terms, the greatest increase was registered by Costa Rica, whose exports to the area rose from 2 million dollars in 1961 to 26 million in 1966. At the other end of the scale was Honduras, where exports expanded from 8.3 to 21.5 million dollars. The ECLA paper did a closer study of the commodity structure of this trade and it revealed there was a marked tendency for exchanges to take place in the same categories of goods. Nonetheless, they detected from the trade figures for 1965, certain patterns of specialization among the individual countries. As a broad generalization, they deduced that, for example, Guatemala tended to specialize in items like processed foods, manufactures of rubber and paper, paints, and electrical appliances, while El Salvador specialized in cotton fabrics, textiles, yarn and materials. The ECLA study concluded that the process of integration had already begun to permit each country to find lines of specialization within the context of a competitive market.
The ECLA study observed that trade between Belize and Central America had been very minimal, with exports to, and imports from Central America accounting for no more than 1 per cent of the total exports and imports of British Honduras. However, in absolute terms, the country's total exports to Central America nearly doubled between 1960 and 1965, rising from 102,000 to 200,000 U.S. dollars. During the same period, imports from the same source expanded more than six-fold, climbing from some 59,000 to 382,000 dollars. The study further showed that the country's trade with the individual Central American countries showed Guatemala as being the most important individual market in that region. Exports to Guatemala accounted in 1965 for nearly 57 per cent of the country's total exports to Central America. Nonetheless, the study showed that the increase in exports that took place between 1960 and 1965 was principally concentrated in Honduras, and to a lesser extent in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Imports from Central America also tended to originate from Guatemala, although Honduras was becoming an almost equally important source. The figures showed imports from Guatemala as rising from U.S. 37,000 dollars in 1960 to U.S. 199,000 in 1965, while from Honduras it rose from U.S. 7,000 to U.S. 165,000 dollars.
The study attributed the low level and narrow structure of trade to the fact that historical patterns of development in both Belize and Central America gave emphasis to trade with metropolitan centres, as opposed to exchanges with neighbouring countries. Therefore, the study said that it was not surprising to find, in the absence of special measures to promote stronger economic ties, Belize was virtually isolated from its neighbours.
The ECLA study concluded that, free access to the Central American Common Market was not likely to give rise in the near future, to a significant expansion of British Honduran exports to the countries of the area and of domestic industries oriented to this market. The study said that such obstacles to such trade were British Honduras' geographical situation, long distances away from the main consumption centres of the region, the lack of adequate transport facilities and the supply constraints imposed by the country's incipient industrial development. Such short-run possibilities of increasing trade as did exist, although worthy of further investigation, were not likely to provide sufficient gains as to justify the immediate accession of British Honduras, as a full member, to the Central American Common Market. The study furthermore concluded that this would imply the renunciation of her present special trading arrangements within the Commonwealth. It would give rise to a considerable increase in internal prices and costs, as a result of adopting the much higher Central American common tariffs.
As a result of the ECLA study, Belize, had its legitimate concerns regarding this huge endeavour, which to a great extent still hold true today. Belize was the least advanced of the six countries and had not participated in the progress made so far. Therefore the steps towards integration would be limited and phased. But the Belizean representatives were concerned that balanced growth be an important principle of the integration and special arrangements made to ensure that the less developed member countries shared in the benefits of integration. An example of this at the time was the decision of the Economic Council to allow Panama's integration to be a progressive process which would imply some form of limited or associate membership. Another issue important to Belize was that she not only hoped to participate in co-operation matters with the Caribbean Basin while maintaining her status in Central America, but as was previously mentioned, she hoped to play an integral role in bridging the Caribbean with Central America.
This is testimony that the idea of Belize serving as a bridge between Central America and the Caribbean is not a phenomenon of today since the idea was being explored with more than twenty years ago during these meetings.
The ECLA study had also pointed out that most trade was overland and the network of highways constructed-of which some $200 million had been spent since 1960 had contributed greatly to the expansion of trade, and great progress had also been made with the development of regional telecommunications and electrification.
Thus, possible products which might be developed in Belize for export to CACM, including rice, cotton, textiles, tobacco, foodstuffs, leather goods and soya beans were discussed by the Belizean representatives. Likewise, it was agreed that there was great scope for co-operation between Guatemala and Belize over tourism, and package tours could be arranged where tourists could enjoy the Belizean cayes (pronounced keys), hunting in Guatemala and visiting the Mayan ruins shared by both countries. Another tourism potential which was discussed was the possibility of gambling.
The two sides concluded that CACM was not just an inward-looking organization, since it was looking towards the possibility of some sort of association with CARIFTA and the Andean group, and had been exploring the possibility of establishing trade with Panama and Mexico on an agreed list of items.
The Belizean representatives analyzed the points in relation to the integration scheme. They contended that Belize's participation should be limited and gradual, given the ease with which she could be seamped because of her small population and undeveloped economy. It also recognized that detailed technical studies would be required to identify the range of items. In order to stimulate realistic target dates for the eventual freeing of trade. On an eventual customs union, potential commitments to CARIFTA would be taken into consideration. On the free movement of persons, it would be taken into account, Belize's position and policies which were subject to the normal health and security requirements, the protection of the interest of nationals, particularly, with regard to employment opportunities. To meet the concern of the Guatemalans, it was agreed to recommend: (a). reciprocal abolition of visa requirements with the development of an appropriate identification system for movement of visitors between Belize and CACM. It was intimated that U.K. might be prepared to consider meeting the costs of developing the identification system; (b) reciprocal extradition arrangements under a much simplified judicial system of extradition for criminals other than what existed. On free movement of goods, the goods would be subject to the right to impose reasonable administrative charges but not to the imposition of any duty or taxes. This was in accord with the international agreement on the movement of intransit goods and conformed to GATT's requirements.
The point on monetary arrangements was clear but it was indicated that for a start, something could be worked for Belize with the clearing arrangement for the settlement of intra-regional trade. This Central American Clearing House, which was established in 1961 provided for the settlement of inter-country balances arising from intra-area trade and transactions. Under this arrangement, the Central Bank of each country was obliged to grant up to 500,000 dollars in regular credits to the other four taken together. These regular credits were settled in cash every six months. Once the limit of the regular credit was reached, any excess was subject to weekly settlements in cash, although the creditor country was free to decide whether it wished to enforce this obligation. Credits earned interest at 3 1/2 %. Transactions were denominated in a unit of account called the "Central American peso", which was equivalent to the US dollar.
These and other points were raised and assessed as to their viability to Belize and Guatemala. Joint project possibilities were named including tourism, La Ruta Maya, port development, cotton, veneer, plywood, pulp, paper, road development, power development including flood control and irrigation, fisheries, confined to International Fisheries and Fish Farming, lime and calcium for road building, fertilizers, meat processing using cattle from Central America, tobacco, food processing, coastal shipping and telecommunication including television.
Although there seemed to be co-operation on both sides and some degree of cohesion, in addition to a great deal of will to come to a resolution at this point, the meetings that followed showed the contrary. In spite of this progress, it showed that Belize and Guatemala were far apart in their goals and there appeared to be no flexibility on either side.
In essence, the problem boiled down to the fact that Guatemala sought to satisfy its constitutional obligation to re-incorporate Belize by a Treaty of Economic Co-operation, so involving Belize in the Central American community so that it might be said to have "thereby successfully discharged this obligation." While Belize would attempt to give Guatemala a "face saving device" it could not agree to provide satisfaction of the obligation written into the Guatemalan Constitution. In fact, the Belize delegation stood by their own draft which left little room for negotiation. They felt that to go further would have been very difficult for them. Although the intentions were noble, reality proved otherwise.
A vital factor which contributed to this hesitancy in the integration scheme was that fact of Belize's cultural reality which was different from Guatemala and had because of history, become a different entity, culturally and politically:
..."history had fashioned a new people, neither British nor Guatemalan, but Belizean. To the indigenous Maya and the Africans and their descendents, successive waves of migration had added Indian, Garifuna, Mestizo, West Indian and other peoples to Belize. They had evolved a multicultural identity out of their environs and experience which was quite different from that which prevailed in Guatemala". (94)
One very significant point which was voiced was the importance of Belize establishing its own identity. This perhaps was the beginning of Belize's struggle to identify as either a Central American country or as a Caribbean nation. The PUP/ George Price philosophy, promoted this integration with Latin America and his supporters, the masses, (blue-collar Belizeans) were the majority. Whilst the NIP, Phillip Goldson faction, (upper-middle class Creoles,) supported the status quo colonial identity. This non-cohesion in philosophy affected the integration process with Central America, a process which today is an inevitable reality. The lip service of fully integrating with the Caribbean was certainly unrealistic in terms of trade. Like Belize these countries were in the same position of importing more and exporting less and so the commercial interaction would have been very limited if any at all. On the other hand, the progress being made with the other Central American countries was substantial and Belize would certainly have gained. But, the Government of Belize felt that Guatemala's domination of the Central American Community was such that Belizean membership would in practical terms amount to direct domination by Guatemala over Belize. Furthermore, it was believed that attempts were made by Guatemala to secure considerable control over the foreign affairs and defence of Belize, although no demand for cession of land was made during these talks.
Both governments knew that whatever plans they made, and before any decision could be made, it had to be put first before the people of Belize and Guatemala. Guatemala was not progressing on the Treaty of Economic Co-operation, which was the compensatory device that was hoped would have been a fair compromise for the relinquishing of the claim over Belize. In essence, the Guatemalans felt that Belize was gaining far more than them. Belize was not as open to the ide of integrating into Central America as they would have wanted, while it would have gained its sovereignty and independence. The former, was to "compensate" the Guatemalans for their recognition and dropping the claim. Nevertheless, it was not enough for the Guatemalan government, who had to answer to the military as well, a force to be reckoned with especially on this issue. It was a pill too hard to swallow and Guatemala, after breaking off the talks, decided to invade Belize .
Parallel to this breakdown in talks, the ECLA study confirmed the economic incompatibility between Belize and CACOM- and Guatemala found a pretext to disengage. The talks broke down in 1972 amidst reports that Guatemala was preparing to invade Belize. Guatemala charged of menacing reinforcements when Britain deployed the aircraft carrier, HMS 'Ark Royal', and the destroyer, HMS 'London', armed with missiles and several frigates and ground troops to Belize. (95)
The issue was further aggravated when Guatemala secured the cooperation of El Salvador for the invasion and occupation of Belize. In return, El Salvador would then have been rewarded with the right to settle half a million peasants in Belize over a ten-year period. (96) Guatemala has always defended this military build-up at the border by claiming that a military patrol was ambushed by the guerillas which forced them to take this action near the border. (97)
While at a ministerial meeting in Washington on the 20th of March 1972, Guatemala protested against Britain's action, pointing out that, Britain had not removed its troops from the border, the negotiations were broken and Guatemala would take military action if Belize became independent. Britain maintained its position that it was responsible for defending Belize making it very difficult to reduce its troops under the circumstances. (98)
Under the circumstances, the OAS became involved in the dispute and at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the OAS in April of 1972, Guatemala tabled a resolution seeking the imposition of sanctions to force the removal of British troops from Belize, alleging that "they were poised to invade Guatemala". (99) A letter from Belize was sent repudiating Guatemala's claim and pointing out that it was Guatemala's aggressive plan that had required the British reinforcement. (100) Britain invited the OAS to send a military observer to investigate the nature of the British military presence; in May, the observer visited Belize and reported that the British presence was of a purely defensive character.
As it turned out, then, the sending of the British military reinforcements to Belize ended whatever invasion plans the Guatemalans had designed. And, of course, the O.A.S. observer's report was a clear vindication of the position taken by Britain and Belize.
A major breakthrough occurred in terms of bilateral co-operation between Belize and Guatemala because for the first time Guatemala entered into an agreement with Belize outside the historical border/recognition agreements. Belize saw the need to expand its telecommunications in Central America and essentially it was agreed by both countries that the object was to improve, and develop telecommunications by both administrations, with Central America and the rest of the world interconnecting the existing system of administrations by direct voice circuits between Punta Gorda, Belize and Las Escobas, Guatemala.
Therefore, on the 16 May, 1975, a meeting was held at the Guatemala Company of Telecommunications in Guatemala City between the Hon. Louis Sylvestre, Minister of Energy and Communications, representing the "Belize Telephone Authority', of Belize, and Colonel Mariano Rayo Ovalle, Manager of the Guatemala Corporation of Telecomunications "Guatel", where the actual signing and ratification occured. (101)
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