There is undeniably an increased sense of nationalistic fervour being experienced by many Belizeans, brought into sharper focus by the death of an on duty officer by the hands of Guatemalans. Border security and integrity, especially as it pertains to a nation which has expressed a claim on Belize, is of utmost concern in times like these. It is no wonder then that many are outraged at developments happening on Hunter Caye.
On that Caye is being built a Coast Guard Security Facility.; which is all fine and well. The problem is that this facility for one of Belize’s security arms is being built exclusively by a Guatemalan company with only Guatemalan workers.
The Leader of the Opposition asked how the Ministry of National Security would allow such a thing to be happening.
The Minister of National Security addressed the question saying that it was a gift from the United States, and having Guatemala build the facility, was the United States’ stipulation.
Honourable John Saldivar – Minister of National Security
“That forward operating base is being gifted to us, the people and Government of Belize, by the United States Government. They have their own bidding processes that we must respect, and though we are not comfortable with the fact that a Guatemalan company is doing the construction, the question has to be whether we would look a gift horse in the mouth and give up a much needed forward operating base, from which to do the very same security activities which we all know are so important to the security of our nation.”
The Prime Minister also addressed the matter and seemed disturbed that Guatemalans were building the Coast Guard Facility. In fact, he said he had a problem with that and Belize may have to forego some of these gifts if the strings attached are too much.
“I don’t know that it was any failure on the part of anyone in term of not telling me about that. As it is now that I know, I imagine that there is nothing that I can do. The contract must be well in the stage of execution and I don’t think we want to overreact and say to the Americans stop it. But certainly going forward, I will make clear that this mustn’t happen on another occasion.
I spoke as well about the vehicles. We don’t want to appear ungrateful. We know that we are not yet in a position where we can refuse assistance from friendly countries, but this really does highlight a degree of insensitivity and also the position we find ourselves in which is not a happy one where we end up thinking that we have to go with the program because we are getting something out of it.
I am pretty much saying, going forward, that is going to change. I don’t want to go to the other extreme and end up being accused of turning my back on gifts, on assistance that we could use on the basis of false pride. But it really does irk me when I see all these police vehicles emblazed not just on one location, on at least two locations on the vehicles with the US flags.
We have got to start doing far more for ourselves and ensuring that we don’t end up in this sort of a situation such as is happening with the forward operating base.”
The Hunter Caye base currently under construction is not the first. In fact, PlusNews has learned that the Coast Guard base currently in full operation on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, was built by Guatemalans as well.