Following a road map set out by the two countries in January, Belize and Guatemala are negotiating a set of 15 bilateral agreements that are expected to be signed in December. One of the agreements includes a proposal for travel between Belize and Guatemala to become easier.
Fostering tourism between the two countries could be beneficial for both sides. In 2012, Belize received close to 1 million visitors, and Guatemala received close to 2 million visitors. However, currently, travel between Belize and Guatemala is hindered by the lack of an agreement on the movement of visitors between the two countries. Guatemala’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Raul Morales Moscoso called the situation “completely backwards,” according to a report from Siglo21.
Historically, relations between the two countries have been tense. Guatemala has claimed Belize as part of Guatemala in part or in whole since 1940. This claim is based on Guatemala’s interpretation of a treaty from 1859 with Britain, which used to control the territory that is now Belize, as well as claims that date back to 15th century Spanish conquests.
Negotiations between Guatemala and Belize have been off and on since the 1960s; however, it took Guatemala 10 years to officially recognize Belize after Belize gained independence in 1981.
More recent talks between the countries have been positive. The 15 bilateral agreements expected to be signed in December are to include a wide range of issues such as energy, education, culture, environment, security, labor movement, justice, immigration rules, criminal matters, customs facilitation, hydrocarbons, and archaeology, according to Moscoso.
According to Channel 7 News in Belize, earlier this month, the two countries’ militaries reached an agreement to conduct joint patrols along their shared border, separate from similar practices already taking place. They also agreed to cooperate more on law enforcement and intelligence sharing in regard to crimes committed in the border region.