Critical Acclaim for Guatemala’s Claim to Belize – The Definitive History

“Many historians have been grappling with the Guatemalan claim to Belize. Assad Shoman has now, in a most comprehensive and revealing way, shared information not otherwise available, covering everything readers need to know about the claim and how best to end it.”

                                                                                                       – Lawrence Vernon, Principal Librarian

“Impressively researched with granularity and precision, this timely and important book traces with seismic fidelity the twists, turns and turnarounds of two centuries of negotiation. Shoman frames the territorial dispute within the broad arcs of imperial ambition and colonial manipulation, and his tactile sense of the state of play in the critical era from the 1970’s to the present lends the work a singular intimacy and authority. This is essential reading, a book for our times and for posterity, one which bestows the reader with a profound understanding of the complex historical, cultural and geopolitical dynamics that have formed and framed this 200-year-old dispute. It is an essential volume for all students of the dispute, and required reading for all Belizeans contemplating their vote on the ICJ.” 

                                                                                                            – Jules Vasquez, Channel 7 News

“This is the only book worth reading on ALL we need to know about Guatemala’s dangerous claim to half of our country. This is the story as only this towering intellectual, historian, prolific writer, and hero of our generation can tell it. For he was there. He made it happen. This is the history we have been longing to read. Read it and emancipate yourselves from lack of knowledge.”

                                                                         – Richard “Dickie” Bradley, lawyer and political commentator

“Read this book if you want to understand why the historical divisions between Belize and Guatemala remain among the unresolved legacies of power politics from colonial days and the Cold War. It provides deep insight into various attempts made by these countries to resolve their dispute arising from Guatemala’s claim on Belizean territory. It offers an insider’s account of how a stage of democratic expectation is now set for their seemingly intractable differences to be finally resolved peacefully in accordance with international law, using the multilateral system underpinned by the United Nations. This book is the product of decades of first-hand experience and is infused with scholarly research, perceptive analysis and readability. It is bound to become the definitive treatise on the subject for learned scholars and laymen alike.”

                                                                                           – Alexis Rosado, Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala

“If you really want to know why Guatemala believes it has a claim on Belize, why this claim is so comprehensively refutable, and why the ICJ is where Belize must prove this, read this book! Share this book! Meticulously researched from multiple sources and passionately argued, this book makes a most timely contribution at a critical period on the road to finally deleting this archaic blight on Belize’s existence. Shoman, who has been at the center of almost every twist and turn in the attempts to resolve ‘the claim’ since the mid-1970s, not only augments his seminal historical writings on the pre-independence period with new information and fresh insights, but also provides the most systematic and riveting account of post-independence events of ‘the claim’ to date. Our understanding of Guatemala’s claim will be permanently shaped by this compelling and brutally honest work!”

                                                                                – Dr. Dylan Vernon, Belize’s Ambassador to the European Union

“This comprehensively-researched, reader-friendly, eye-opening, must-read book will help Belizeans make their analytical, unemotional ICJ decision. It covers early settlers, two Treaties but unfounded Claim, backroom British-US-Guatemalan land cession double-talk on independence and sovereignty, the legal position and what to expect at the ICJ.”

                         – Dr. Gilda Lewis, retired UB Associate Professor, Para-Legal Cert. (Hons.), NABR founding member

“Should Belize agree to take the Guatemalan claim to the ICJ? I can’t imagine who better to have a conversation with about this question, than Assad Shoman who on the question of resolving this claim, has essentially seen it all This book offers a compelling argument for going to the ICJ, but more importantly it offers a comprehensive and critical historical account of the claim and efforts to resolve it thus far, knowledge of which is essential to making an informed decision.”

                                                                                      – Dr. Filiberto Penados, Academic Director, CELA-Belize

“Very thoroughly researched, well written and easy to read. Assad Shoman provides a riveting account of the history of this centuries-old claim. An excellent resource that is much needed as Belize ponders to go or not to go to ICJ. This should be required reading in the country’s high schools.”
                                                                                                            – Senator Valerie Woods

“I was most impressed with the ironclad nature of Belize’s case, as described in such detail. I regard myself as a fairly well-informed Belizean, but I hadn’t received such an easy to understand explanation as Assad so carefully portrays.”

                                                                                                                  – Dr. Joseph Palacio, writer and educator

“In this book Assad Shoman provides the most comprehensive account of Guatemala’s “unfounded and unjust” claim to Belize now available. This invaluable work is a product of his long engagement as a diplomat, advisor and lead negotiator, extensive research across the globe, clear and engaging writing and, above all, no holes-barred analyses. How Belize achieved its independence with its territory intact, the successes and failures of the negotiations over the years with emphasis on the contribution of a host of countries and the impact of developments in Belize and Guatemala, an appraisal of Guatemala’s claim under international law, and the conviction that at adjudication Belize would be granted all of its land territory (in line with the 1859 Treaty) and maritime entitlements under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea are systematically illumined with the insights of a key player. All those seeking to understand Guatemala’s claim and make an informed choice on whether to refer it to the International Court of Justice should give All about Guatemala’s claim to Belize a careful reading.”

                                                                                          – Dr. Herman Byrd, Belize Archives and Records Service

“Shoman’s history of Guatemala’s claim to Belize, which is thoroughly researched and clearly written, is suitable for a wide readership, general as well as academic. His analysis pays due attention to the global context of great power rivalries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and especially to the crucial period of the Cold War. The author, a protagonist who was involved for decades in the negotiations he analyzes, is scrupulously fair and his insights are unique. Indeed, nobody else could have written this book. I recommend it to everyone interested in this particular case and also to those who want to know how a small country can negotiate its way to its independence against formidable odds. This will remain the definitive study and it should be widely read in Belize and elsewhere.”

                                    – Dr. O. Nigel Bolland, Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology, Colgate University, New York

“In this timely book, Assad Shoman applies his forensic skills to explain the Guatemalan claim to Belize in extraordinary detail. Uncovering material long-forgotten or previously unknown, Shoman helps us understand the origins of the claim and why it has proven so difficult to resolve through negotiation. It is essential reading for anyone interested in this dispute and it will figure prominently in all discussions on this issue.”

                                                       – Dr. Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Professor Emeritus of London University,                                                                                   former Director of Royal Institute of International Affairs – Chatham House