170. Telegram 153478 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Guatemala1

153478. Subject: FonMin Arenales and HMG Rep. Amery Discuss Belize.

Summary: HMG reported to CEN on secret talks held July 28 in New York between GOG FonMin Arenales and HMG Reps Amery and Hankey re future of Belize. According to reporter talks went well, providing basis from mild optimism that some progress may be made. Arenales said the GOG has a fully worked-out plan which is to be put into operation between Guatemalan elections in March and accession of new government. He stated GOG unwilling to enter into negotiation before elections, and that he could not reveal plan prior to elections. He later indicated the possibility of further secret talks in Spain about Easter time. HMG warned Arenales that Price intended to raise Belize matter in UN, probably through help of Jamaica, and that they hoped some progress could be made before UNGA meeting in November so that they could forestall—or at least mute—any move by Price.

1. Jeffrey Ling, HMG Embassy Washington, requested appointment with Lazar, CEN on Aug 2. Following is report he delivered in confidence during that meeting.

2. GOG FonMin Arenales met secretly with Sir Julian Amery and Sir Henry Hanke in New York on July 28 to discuss situation vis-à-vis Belize. Arenales stressed the point that the GOG would be under increasing pressure to take action on the Belize matter as the elections approached. He stated that the Guatemalan press will attack inaction on the part of the government. Nevertheless, Arenales assured Amery and Hanke that GOG will do nothing before the elections because it would [Page 485] hurt their election possibilities and because it would be counter-productive to future efforts.

3. Amery passed on to Arenales the information that Premier George Price intends to have the matter of Belize raised in the forthcoming UN General Assembly meeting, probably through the good offices of Jamaica. He added that he hoped any such move by Price could be kept very low key.

4. Arenales said GOG hoped to open talks on Belizean question again right after the elections, but would hope for at least a small reduction in the British garrison (which he later defined as between 5 and 15 percent) prior to that time.

5. Amery commented that there was little in the Arenales message that would appeal to Price, whom he characterized to Arenales as frustrated by delays. Amery told Arenales that Price was hoping to join the Caribbean community in May 1974. He added that it would be hard to deter Price from his intention of having the Belize matter raised in the UN in Nov. He also stated that Belizean Minister of Home Affairs Rogers had recently been in New York and speculated that his purpose had been to test the water for the proposed UN initiative. Amery assured Arenales that HMG is trying to get Price to downplay the UN initiative—(in fact Hanke went to Belize from New York to talk to Price)—but asserted that some progress before November was imperative if they were to have any hope of succeeding.

6. Arenales then told Amery he had discussed with President Arana a plan to make progress on this issue which the GOG would be prepared to discuss in March, after the elections. He stated he could not disclose the plan now, because that might be deemed to constitute quote negotiation unquote which he was not authorized to do. Arenales went on to say that prior efforts to attack this problem had failed because they had been too slow and drawn out. He said that the GOG was prepared and determined to reach agreement with HMG between the elections in March and the inauguration of the new government in July, provided that the Belizean Government accepted whatever was agreed to between the two parties.

7. Amery stated that the proviso was not acceptable, that the Belizeans had to concur in the final agreement and also had to be brought into the negotiations at some point. He said the Belizeans would have to be told at least the guidelines for the proposed negotiations and that any final agreement would have to provide for the aspirations of the Belizeans even though the realization of such aspirations might have to be qualified by some sort of interdependence with its neighbors.

8. Arenales assured Amery that the requirements of both the Belizeans and HMG had been taken into account by the GOG in drawing up the plans, which Arenales characterized as quote better than ever [Page 486] unquote. (Comment: Ling delivered this line with a perfectly straight face.) However, according to Ling’s report, Amery came away feeling that Arenales accepted, albeit reluctantly, the inevitability of Belizean involvement in the negotiations. Arenales suggested that another secret meeting might be possible in Spain about Easter to unfold the GOG plans, and said that hopefully, after that meeting, the plan could be made public. However, he said that prior to public revelation of the plan, the GOG hoped for a 5–15 percent reduction in the British forces in Belize.

9. Amery asked about any contemplated link between Belize and the CACM. Arenales replied that if the CACM were restructured the door would be left open to Belize and Panama to join.

10. Upon being probed again by Amery on the possibility of earlier progress—i.e., prior to November—Arenales quote hinted unquote (Amery’s word as reported by Ling) that there might be hope for some earlier progress through quote normal channels unquote—meaning, HMG assumes, Weymes and Sanchez. This would have to await Arenales report to Arana.

11. Just to be sure that we didn’t miss the point, Ling added his own quote personal comment unquote that a little progress in this matter before November would be quote most useful unquote in helping head off or at least mute Price’s UN play. He asked that we make this point in conversations with the GOG and also pass on whatever we may learn about the GOG plan. We told Ling we would continue to cooperate as usual although this would be difficult since we couldn’t raise the matter of the plan with the GOG pursuant to Ling’s request that we hold as confidential the fact that HMG has advised us of the meeting.

12. Overall Ling reported mild optimism on the part of Amery, Hankey and HMG Embassy here and a hope that at long last things might be starting to move.

  1. Summary: During a meeting with members of the Office of Central American Affairs, British officials reported that a July 28 meeting with the Guatemalan Foreign Minister had gone well. Although Arenales demurred on negotiating prior to elections, the British indicated their hope that progress would occur prior to the United Nations General Assembly in November, noting that movement on the issue might forestall efforts by Premier Price to raise the issue at the UN.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to Belize City. Drafted and approved by Lazar; cleared by Floyd in EUR. In telegram 3220 to Guatemala City, September 15, the U.S. Mission to the UN reported that the British believed a UN resolution supporting self-determination for Belize would fail, and “would only provide sterile confrontation in UN between Guatemalans and themselves.” (Ibid., ARA/CEN Files: Lot 76D139, POL 3 United Nations B–1973) In telegram 525 from Belize City, September 15, Wollam reported that on September 14 Posnett had encouraged Price to raise Belizean independence in the UN, and concluded that Posnett’s action appeared “to be part of British effort to extricate themselves from Belize.” (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])