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Guatemala

Volume 124: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1987

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11.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to pay an official visit to Guatemala.

My right hon. and learned Friend has no present plans to visit Guatemala.

If the Minister has no plans to visit Guatemala, will he at least recognise that, because of the position in Belize, we have some leverage over events in that area, which we can use for the good of the peace accord? Will he assure the House that it will be impressed upon the Guatemalan Government on every possible occasion that any failure on their part to comply with the peace accord and the general movement towards peace in the area will have extremely adverse effects on the normalisation of our relations with them over Belize?

We welcome the constructive initiatives that have been taken by the Guatemalan Government in accordance with the Guatemalan accord, which that Government played a major part in initiating and following through. Again, I must state that the Presidents from the five countries concerned will be meeting on 15 January to evaluate the progress that has been made.

Should my hon. Friend or my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State reassess the imminence of a visit to Guatemala, will they make a point of calling in on the drug liaison officers posted in the area in Central and South America and ascertain whether they have sufficient support to continue the extremely good work that they have been doing for some years?

I know very well my hon. Friend's great interest in matters relating to drugs in South and Central America. I assure him that I keep a very close watch on that.

If such a meeting takes place, will the hon. Gentleman urge Guatemala to ease the pressure on Belize, as my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid) suggested, if only because that may help to co-ordinate efforts against the misuse of drugs in both countries?

That is a matter of concern to us. I know that the hon. Gentleman is aware that the Belize Government have made extensive efforts to eradicate marijuana and have expressed concern about the dangers to that country and others of the traditional marijuana routes being used by cocaine smugglers.

With regard to the state of negotiation between Belize and Guatemala, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that both countries have expressed a willingness to talk. But, sadly, the meeting that took place between the relevant Foreign Ministers in April this year was somewhat disappointing. We hope that both sides will meet again to discuss a way towards settlement.