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GOB Aims to Strengthen Ties With the Diaspora

Significant progress is being made in strengthening the relationship between the government and people of Belize and the diaspora. Last week, some 400 Belizeans living in the USA attended Town Hall Meetings held in Houston, Chicago, New York and Miami. The town hall meetings were organized by the Diaspora Relations Unit in the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations. The format of the Town Hall Meetings allowed for discussions among the government officials and the Belizeans in attendance. The ministers of government provided updates on the current situation in Belize, with an emphasis on the plans for economic recovery. The Government of Belize delegation included Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform Henry Charles Usher who pointed out that the main objective of the meetings was to reach out to a wide cross-section of Belizeans living in and around these cities and to exchange information and ideas that will contribute toward nation-building.

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional Reform and Diaspora Relations: “When it comes to the diaspora trip I thought it was important for me as the Minister of Public Service to make this trip and really a conservative number has around 300,000 Belizeans living just in the United States there are certainly more all over the world and it’s important to recognize the contributions that they have made to Belize not only in terms of remittances, in terms of sending home the barrels and so on that all Belizens are used to but these individuals have gone over there, made a life for themselves, many of them working two three jobs to make ends meet, getting their education, getting qualified and then becoming professionals. It’s not time for us to learn from them. They have gone over there, gotten the experience, gotten the exposure, qualified themselves and now they want to give back to Belize. I call it reversing the flow of the brain drain you know that was really what I was over there trying to explain to them how we can partner Belizeans at home, Belizeans abroad how we can partner to build our country. We’re at forty years of independence if we want a better fifty we have to start now and that’s what my message to them was and it was well received I have to say that there are so many professional Belizeans living in the United States and elsewhere and they really want to contribute. We have doctors, we have nurses, we have accountants, lawyers, business people, construction people involved in construction they’re all working very hard and they want to see how they can contribute to Belize. Of course there are some issues that they have to get clarity on. Issues about how you move back home, issues about how they can secure land for their retirement so that they can build their retirement home, how they can bring in their stuff to be able to contribute to Belize dealing with customs and immigration rules and so on.”

This is the first in a series of activities being planned by the Ministry that are designed to strengthen relations with the diaspora and identify opportunities for business and development in Belize.