British Honduras Crisis 1963

[ 1963 ]

Guatemala claimed British Honduras on the grounds that it had inherited the territory from Spain. Mexico also claimed the northern part of the territory. In 1859, however, Guatemala signed a treaty with Britain, recognizing British sovereignty and agreeing on the border. A subordinate clause in the treaty provided that both parties would continue "conjointly to use their best efforts" to build a road across the jungles from Guatemala to the Caribbean coast in British Honduras. The road was never built, and on that flimsy basis, Guatemala has since claimed that the 1859 treaty is invalid...

...the Arevalo government... inserted a clause into the 1945 constitution stateing the British Honduras was part of Guatemala...

In the 1960s, as other British colonies in the Caribbean moved towards self-government and independence, Guatemala stepped up its claims to its "23rd department". In 1963, troops were massed along the British Honduras/Guatemala border, and Britain had to send a small army of its own to deter an invasion. British troops have been there ever since...

In 1965, President Johnson offered his services to resolve the dispute. He appointed a mediator, Bethuel M. Webster, who concluded that British Honduras should be handed over to Guatamala. Guatemala was then the loyal ally of the United States, so the wishes of the inhabitants of British Honduras were not considered. Britain rejected the proposal.

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