Belize Prime Minister Discusses Regional Security with US Homeland Security Officials
The month of October saw Prime Minister John Briceno in and out of meetings overseas, working at either accessing funds for Belize, or working out plans that would bring some benefits to Belizeans. Tonight, we’ll tell you of the meeting with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas; the DHS Deputy Undersecretary, Kelli Ann Burriesci, and other US officials. In that meeting, multiple issues surrounding regional security were discussed, including the Sarstoon Protocol. According to Briceno, he has made an appeal to the US to assist in getting Guatemala to come to the table to draft a protocol.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “We met the secretary for Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas and then the Deputy Secretary we were in different meetings and we pointed out that there’s a reason why the Guatemalans don’t want us to have a protocol at the Sarstoon because of whatever may be happening in that area and we’re asking them to help us to see how we can insist with the Guatemalans that we should sign a protocol in that area. But at the same time we believe that if they can help us to strengthen the Forward Operating Base that we have at the Sarstoon with the necessary equipment and fast boats and everything it could help us to be able to monitor if there’s any illegal activities happening in that area. And so again they took note of that because as we have pointed out Belize is just a transshipment area for drugs to go to the United States. We’re doing everything we possibly can to stop that transshipment of drugs but we have limited resources. For instance when there’s an illegal landing strip deep in the Toledo and the plane were to land there by the time the BDF would try to get there by road or by horse or on foot by the time they get there the drugs are already gone. Now again thanks to the United States government we have a plane that can be recording what’s happening from the air but we can’t be on the ground so we need to be able to move very quickly from point A to point B. Again we’re asking the US government to partner with us in fighting the movement of drugs through Belize.”
The agreement for a protocol was made in Istanbul, Turkey back in May 2016 with both Belize and Guatemalan representatives present. Since then, Guatemala has dragged its feet in coming together to draft a protocol that would limit, if not eliminate, the hostilities at the Sarstoon Protocol.