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Belizean Ambassador to Mexico Comments on the Re-opening of Land Borders

The Briceno Administration has decided to re-open land borders in early 2022. Late last, month Prime Minister John Briceno met with members of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) to discuss health management protocols that will be implemented when the land borders are re-opened. Yesterday, our newsroom sought comment on the issue from Belizean Ambassador to Mexico, Oscar Arnold, who has been living in Mexico over the past seven months.

Oscar Arnold, Belizean Ambassador to Mexico: What I can say is that they have done very well with their vaccinations. People were lining up and they increase the number of vaccinations that they could have done over the last few months, people are wearing their face masks. There’s a robust sanitation and temperature taking whenever you go into any public building and a stores and the government buildings and that sort of thing, some of them even go as far as have a QR code. That you scan and they know who visited the building in the event that they would have to do some level of contact tracing. And for my experience, depending on the state that you’re in. For example, the tourist areas seems to be a little bit more relaxed and they have a little bit more difficulty with their spread of the pandemic. A few months ago. It’s been on the decline. It’s been on the downward Trend just like what is happening back home in Belize, but it’s very important to note that. Even with the borders reopening it’s a very personal decision. You need to decide and weigh the options of going across the border or staying at home in Belize. I understand and I know from the numbers that many Belizeans want the borders to open so it depends on who you speak to but at the end of the day it’s a personal decision that you must make and not because of the border is open you should see running en mass just running over the Border.”

Ambassador Arnold also discussed the economic benefits that both countries would gain if the borders are opened for trade come next year.

Oscar Arnold, Belizean Ambassador to Mexico: “The business community in Chetumal has been clamoring as well for  the borders to be open because they want some inflows of that Belizean Dollar to get back their local economy on track, but at the end of the day, it’s a decision. Like I said, it’s not clear-cut. No country can survive or continue with the closed borders. We weren’t designed for that. And so, it’s a very difficult decision. It’s a decision where every week we prepare a covid report on the situational status here in Mexico and in all of their 32 states and we forward that. So that is also factored into the decision making. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  From the economic standpoint of this move who in your opinion is set to gain more because while there are some Belizeans that have been clamoring for that border to reopen, some are saying why not keep our dollars at home. “

Oscar Arnold, Belizean Ambassador to Mexico:  I believe some are saying why not keep your dollars are at home and there’s a very good argument to make that as well. But also remember that there’s a level of cross-border trade that is being impacted as well. Belize for argument sake we can say is a net importer when it comes Mexican products and Mexican Goods, but the government is working hard to try to change that. We know that Ministry of Agriculture the minister of Agriculture has done a He-man’s job in making sure that we got cattle. We now have also  an agreement to have shrimp restarted and trade in the Mexican market. There’s work for other agricultural products that are the same. And so it’s a toss-up. We have our consumers from Belize who go across and purchase in Chetumal but on the macro scale in a larger scale I believe it can benefit as well with some of the gains that we’ve done with the administration to start to get our products to penetrate the Mexican market as well. And obviously that we have tourism. The minister of Tourism was lately in Mexico City along with the minister of civil aviation and blue economy and they’ve also made inroads to try to make sure that we get more tourism. We’ve laid the groundwork to see if we can get a direct flight from Mexico City. That would make Belize a little bit more accessible to the European market into the Mexican market as well. “

Ambassador Arnold noted that the COVID-19 situation here at home will also play a role in the decision-making process.