Guatemala/Belize dispute, a likely second front for the duration of the Falklands conflict?
The Falklands War, a 10-7 days undeclared conflict amongst Argentina and the United Kingdom, broke out in April 1982 in excess of two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic. Nonetheless, it seems, the Argentine menace was not the only a single that Downing Street had to counter at the time.
In influence a Cabinet file cited by the Specific has revealed that at some point back in 1982, the Uk, headed at the time by Margaret Thatcher, was on the brink of fighting two Latin American nations at the same time – Argentina, who was in a war for the Falkland Islands, and Guatemala, who experienced laid claims to former British colony Belize.
With no army of its possess, Belize relied on a garrison of 1,500 British troops, supported by a detachment of six RAF Harrier jump jets, to discourage any Guatemalan aggression.
The garrison was earmarked to be withdrawn in June 1982, sometime after a navy coup in the Latin American country in March that observed General Rios Montt consider electric power.
“The circumstance in Guatemala is however unclear, though the Junta do show up to be in entire command of the country, Overseas Secretary Francis Pym wrote to the PM on 9 April, proceeding to counsel that we need to concur now to defer the withdrawal day [of the British garrison] to 21 September.
What further more extra to Downing Street’s concerns at the time was a report from the British Embassy in the Venezuelan cash Caracas issued on 14 April suggesting that an invasion of Belize was imminent citing Montt’s challenging line stance.
The Venezuelans had gained experiences that the new Guatemala govt, which was well considered by Venezuela, was taking into consideration transferring versus Belize”, the report stated, likely on to alert the British government that should this transpire, “Venezuela would be compelled to help them.”
Two days afterwards, at a conference of the Chiefs of Personnel, Mrs. Thatcher instructed the command to make guaranteed that the military could reinforce the garrison in the celebration of a navy assault there although at the identical time conducting operations versus the Argentine forces in the Falklands.
The latter – undeclared – war concerning the United kingdom and Argentina for independent territories – the Falklands, South Ga, and the South Sandwich Islands, cost some 650 Argentine and 253 British and three Islanders lifeless and did not settle the dispute: the Falklands are nonetheless a stumbling block in the countries’ partnership.
Immediately after the destroyer HMS Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile off the Falklands in May possibly 1982, Thatcher wrote to Belize’s Primary Minister George Cost telling him that the British garrison would remain there for some time and promising “to watch developments with Guatemala closely”. Britain only finished its military presence in Belize, which experienced attained independence in 1981, in 1994, with its garrison changed by a little British Military schooling unit.