This past week I was invited to the Toucan B Room of the Best Western Plus/ Biltmore Plaza in Belize City along with other press to witness a historic event: the Government of Belize signed a milestone Memorandum of Understanding (or M.O.U) preserving Memorandums of Understanding.
This was a watershed moment for Belize exercising her sovereignty.
But let me back up a bit…
Though it has taken a back seat to the April 10th IJC referendum on Guatemala’s territorial claim on Belize, another potential international dispute has been brewing for Belize, this time with our neighbor to the north, the United States.
“I don’t like MOUs because they don’t mean anything. To me they don’t mean anything. I think you’re better off just going into a document. I was never…a fan of an MOU,” Trump said.
This very declaration – the prospect of the US not embracing or recognizing MOUs immediately sent shock waves throughout Belize.
Though a young country, Belize already has a proud history of MOU’s (brought to the signing table by BOTH political parties I should add). These MOU’s construct the unshakable foundation on which Belize, and certainly tourism, is built.
Here are a few examples:
September of 2017 saw a momentous MOU signed for the soon to be constructed Port of Magical Belize.com cruise ship docking facility south of the Sibun River. Any day now 300+ 5-star hotel rooms and 120,000 sq ft of retail space are scheduled to welcome visitors from far corners of the globe.
Later the same year, in Dec of 2017, a MOU was signed between the GOB and International Airport Alliance Belize Ltd garnering much excitement for the development of the Efrain Guerrero International Airport on North Ambergris Caye. This project should begin in early 2019.
When completed, EGIA stands to be one of the busiest points of entry for international arrivals, surpassed only by Philip Goldson International in Ladyville, the Placencia International Airport and the frontage roads of Blue Creek in the Orange Walk District.
And certainly Belize has seen immediate results from a MOU signed between the GOB and US based Microsoft to minimize corruption within Belize.
Clearly MOUs are not something Belize would willingly abandon. And the signing of an MOU stating just that, interestingly between the GOB and itself, cemented this steadfast view.
Present at the signing, a top minister voiced “unenforceable agreements and guidelines left up to Ministerial discretion form the very bedrock on which our future is built.”
Illuminating the significance of the signing, Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia added “An MOU is not simply the signing of a document with a fancy gold pen. There is more to it. There are photos, music and often cake.”
A spokesperson from Oceana Belize summarized things eloquently, “Belize is blessed with a bounty… we have our reef, we have the jungle, we have our MOUs. Our patrimony is NOT negotiable, it is not for sale.”
We will keep a close eye on this situation going forward but we applaud this proactive development.