Mexican Secretary for Foreign Relations visits Belize

Dr. Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena, the Mexican secretary for foreign relations, visited Belize this weekend and was hosted by his Belizean counterpart Wilfred Elrington. In a short press conference on Sunday afternoon, Dr. Meade noted that Belize and Mexico have had a long relationship, but much of it is informal.

Dr. Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena – Mexican Secretary for Foreign Relations:

vlcsnap-2013-08-27-08h22m26s92As we said at the beginning of this briefing, this meeting has been very [cordial]. We want to work closely with Belize to build upon the friendship, the respect, and the love that issues.  Both of our countries got together.  Mexico was the first country to recognize Belize as an independent country.  Mexico was the second country to name an ambassador to Belize.  But we don’t yet have the legal framework necessary to take the relationship to the level where we would want it.  So we have both tasked our under-ministers to identify that agenda, to set what we want to accomplish.  Mr Elrington already gave a list as with what we want to do, in terms of signing an agreement for mutual protection of investment, in terms of finding an agreement for extradition, in terms of signing an agreement to avoid double taxation, all of the necessary underpinnings for a healthy relationship between two countries.

Minister Elrington details what will be done to establish the legal groundwork for relations between the countries.

Hon Wilfred Elrington – Belize Foreign Minister:

vlcsnap-2013-08-27-08h39m49s21We’re seeking to change that.  Things that we will have to be doing is enter into legal arrangements, legal framework,  to allow us to do trade with each other and to protect that trade we have to a special agreement protecting the investment of our investors; double taxation treaties, we will have to enter into; mutual legal assistance treaties;  extradition treaties, we will have to be getting into.  We want to develop more cooperation in terms of education, in terms of security, in terms of health.  There are some things that we are presently doing and there are things that we want to do in the future and we came together at this meeting to try to formalize those matters. We have discussed them, and the technical people will go into detail and elaborate on them.

One area that Mexico has been engaged in is sports facilities, particularly the Belize City Center. Dr. Meade says Mexico is still willing to assist with that project.

Dr. Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena:

We will set up  a meeting later on this week to identify where exactly Belize is at in terms of refurbishing its Civic Centre, and in which way Mexico can support that effort. That is something that we will be committed to do. We want to be part of that refurbishing of the Civic Center, and we want in order to be able to do so, to know exactly where the Government of Belize is at and what the Government of Belize can do to help. So we agreed to scheduling a meeting between those responsible within the Government of Belize and those responsible within the Ministry of Finance in charge of co-operations, so that we can work out the details and to what it is that Mexico can do to support that effort. We talked about how security will play a relevant role in what we try to build in the future. Just before this meeting together with the Mexican authorities in terms of the border, we went along the Rio Hondo border to look at first hand as to what the situation was there. We agreed with Minister Elrington that security has to be an important part of our joint agenda and our joint efforts. It is a border that poses challenges, but it is also a border that has many opportunities and it is a border that by working together—Belize and Mexico—we will be able to make it a secure border for citizens on both sides of it. and so that the border is identified not because of its problems, but because of the opportunities that it provides for both our countries. We are going to work on security, we are going to get our border committees to set up an agenda on that specific issue and we will be following through periodically.

vlcsnap-2013-08-27-08h22m34s176Though not as well known as the one between Belize and Guatemala, Belize does have a dispute with northern neighbor Mexico, over the location of their boundary where the Rio Hondo exits into the Bay of Chetumal. The two countries are working to resolve it. We hear more from Foreign Ministers Wilfred Elrington and Dr. Jose Antonio Meade.

Hon Wilfred Elrington – Belize Foreign Minister:

We know that there is an ongoing Border Commission that is working on finalizing our border issue with Mexico.  We did not go into any details with respect to that, but that is something that we have a commitment to continue to work very closely along with our friends from Mexico to finally resolve [it].  But it’s not a contentious matter.  Mexico has been one of our staunchest friends and allies, and respecter of our territorial integrity and sovereignty.  So that’s not a problem in terms of contention.  It’s just that it is a work that is still in progress, and we hope to conclude it.

Dr. Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena:

We agree that our borders commissions would meet.  We have a treaty in place that regulates our border.  That has worked well for both of our countries. But there is some technical work that needs to be done in order to resolve, from a technical perspective, exactly what the correct understanding of the treaty is.  It is not an irritant.  It is not an issue of contention.  It is just work that needs to be done from a technical perspective from both of our Border Commissions. We have Agreed that the Border Commissions will meet, and will continue to work on a technical basis to understand and to define what exactly the Treaty’s correct interpretation is, but from a technical perspective, and without any element being identified as a point of conflict.

Dr. Meade previously served as Secretary of Finance and Energy under President Felipe Calderon.

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