On Wednesday we told you about criticisms the Government of Belize received over the use of BDF helicopters during GOB’s consultations with Mayan communities in the remote villages in the south. Critics insinuated that US Capital should have fitted the bill for the fuel, and not GOB, since it is in US Capital’s best interest that the villages agree to the granting of the PSA for oil exploration in the Sarstoon Temash National Park. While BDF Commander Steven Ortega made no comments on the criticism, he did share a bit about how those very same helicopters have been benefiting BDF soldiers who travel long distances by foot into remote areas.
BDF Commander Steven Ortega: IF you notice, the Chiqibul, I don’t know when last you’ve been in there but it is very hard to get in and so those helicopters greatly enhance our ability to get in. I don’t know if you’ll have time, but speak to some of the soldiers who go out on patrol who have benefitted from getting dropped in instead of walking for three days to get to a post. 45 minutes flight of a 3 day walk, which would you prefer? SO they have benefitted quite a bit and we also use it for when soldiers get sick in those areas to bring them out. I think you remember when there was a flooding in one of the rivers down south when they had 3 chiildren that were trapped on one side of the river. It was our helicopters that went in through NEMO, and rescued the 3 children who were trapped on one side, and the pilots are always willing to fly because flying time for them is like gold.
Reporter: IS it because it’s expensive to use the helicopters?
BDF Commander Steven Ortega: It is expensive to use but if it is needed we will fly.