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Belize Coast Guard address border jumpers

Twenty nine sailors in the Belize Coast Guard (BCG) have tested positive for COVID-19. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has stepped in to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 which has worked thus far as the day to day operation at the BCG has not been disrupted. The acting commandant at the BCG tell us more.

Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “Working with the Ministry of Health has really assisted us with mitigating the number of cases that we have in the Coast Guard. The acting DHS, Dr.Dias, has really been working very closely with us over the past few months. She has been working very closely with our chief medic at the Coast Guard headquarters and has provided guidance, recommendations as it relates to measures that we need to implement in order to keep our numbers down. We have been following those recommendations and hence the reason the numbers for the Coast Guard has not really spiked. So because of that we have been able to maintain our numbers out at sea, it has not affected our operational rotation as it relates to the number of persons that are deployed so it has been working out for us well and we intend to maintain that status quo.”

Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCG has taken on several operations in our Maritime waters for this year as explained by acting commandant Soberanis.

Gregory Soberanis, Acting Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: This has been a very active year for the Coast Guard. The year started as you know with the COVID pandemic and so in the initial months of the year we had the COVID operations out in San Pedro where we had to somewhat cordon off San Pedro to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Then the floods came with the second wave of the pandemic where we had to not only cordon off San Pedro again but we also had to deploy out west for disaster relief efforts. So the operational tempo has been very high for us because apart from the pandemic and the flood we still have to execute our routine operations out at sea. We still have our patrols that deploy to our forward operating base and still have to execute our counter narcotics operations, deter illegal fishing in our waters, deter contraband and most importantly what one of the things that we have really focused on this year is maritime border command; ensuring that our maritime borders both south and north is being maintained with Coast Guard presence that we don’t have that cross border transmission of the coronavirus, we don’t have the border jumpers using the maritime corridor to enter Belizean sea space. So we’ve been extremely busy this year. As I mentioned the operational tempo has been high but we’ve been able to execute our mandate and we intend to continue to be vigilant at our northern borders and our southern borders especially within this time, this Christmas time we anticipate you know that people will want to go across into Mexico for contraband activities so we are going to maintain a high state of awareness and vigilance at our northern border and our southern border as well.”

Just today, the Acting Commandant Soberanis along with his operational staff met with the leadership of Sarteneja Village to discuss community collaboration and partnership on mitigating measures to deter border jumpers.  Discussion was also held with members of Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development to enhance cooperation and management of the marine resources and environment in Corozal Bay area.