If you are a Belize City resident, you may have noticed that there are no Belize Defence Force soldiers on the streets as there have been previously, conspicuously standing next to police officers in crime-ridden areas.
That has been so since April 30 of this year, putting an end to 20 years of extra domestic duty for the national army.
It’s comparable to the draw-down of American and British soldiers leaving Iraq and Afghanistan except that those are international conflicts and not internal.
CEO in the Ministry of National Security Retired Colonel George Lovell confirmed the shift in speaking with reporters today.
“I don’t think that there will be a time when I can say it is finally over. The B.D. F. have been on the streets for some twenty add years and we have reached a point when we can safely say that that regular presence of the B.D.F. have now been bit behind us. I was made to understand that there was an arrangement between the police on the ground and that of the B.D.F. that they were going to make the final deployment of troops on that particular day and that it did in fact happen that where the B.D.F. were in fact removed. So, if you were to go there today, there will be no B.D.F.”.
While the BDF have not truly given up, they may make occasional reappearances, as CEO Lovell explains.
Retired Colonel George Lovell: “But God forbid. If there is an increasing in crime and violence, and there is a need for the police to be supported by the B.D.F. hey will be out there. What I can also say is that during those festive seasons, the September celebrations and the Christmas periods, we will have B.D.F. again, supporting the police. So, I don’t want to say that the B. D. F. days on the streets are all gone because I might seem to be or called to be untruthful. This is because of the concept under which they will now operate. We have seen them there to support in providing law and order and safety for our citizens. So, from time to time they will be there supporting the police…not in the numbers and not in a regular basis”.
Most of the redeployed soldiers will be sent to protect the Western borderline with Guatemala.