High-Level US Delegation Strengthens Bilateral Relationship with Belize
The United States of America is looking to strengthen its bilateral relationship with Belize to assist the country in various areas of concern. This week, a delegation of high-level US Government Officials visited the country to meet with government officials and NGOs to discuss challenges in security, economic development, migration, and climate adaptation. The group included senior representatives from the US National Security Council, the Office of the Vice President, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This morning, the US Embassy in Belmopan held a press briefing where the officials spoke on the reason for their visit and responded to questions from the media. Deputy Assistant Security of Defense for the Western Hemisphere Affairs, Dan Erikson explained that the rare visit speaks to the importance of the bilateral relationship the US has with Belize.
Dan Erickson, Deputy Assistant, Security of Defense for the Western Hemisphere Affairs: “During the visit, we’ve had the opportunity to meet with various senior figures in the Belizean government, including the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Home Minister, the National Security Advisor, and other elements that manage economic policy and security policy of Belize. From the perspective of the Department of Defense, we recognize the important role that Belize plays both as a member of the countries of Central America but as a member of the Caribbean community as well and we really do recognize Belize’s leadership in the region. We’re also very appreciative of the steps that Belize is taking to address climate change. This is an important issue for the Department of Defense as well and we do want to work with Belize to strengthen its capacities for humanitarian assistance and disaster response. We also recognize the challenges that are posed by transnational criminal organizations. We had an opportunity to review border security and look at some of the initiatives that we can take there including a visit we conducted to the Joint Intelligence Operations Center which helps to provide air domain awareness in Belize, as well as a visit to the Air Wing where we got to also see the Cessna that was donated recently which allows Belize to have greater knowledge and domain awareness over its airspace. I think looking forward this visit really does demonstrate the degree to which the United States pays strong attention to its bilateral relationship with Belize. We look forward to continued very productive discussions and to the work that lies ahead to strengthen this relationship.”
The delegation reiterated that Belize is a strong partner of the US that consistently offers support in tackling regional efforts such as transnational crime and migration. Deputy Assistant Administrator within USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mileydi Guilarte, says that such an example is the government’s amnesty program. She explained that the US government will provide one point two million dollars to the International Office of Migration in Belize to support their efforts.
Mileydi Guilarte, USAID’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean: “As we collectively address historic levels of displacement and evolving migration flows in the region, initiatives like this one are critical. Today, I am pleased to announce $600,000 U.S. dollars, which is $1.2 million Belizean dollars in additional funds for the International Office of Migration to continue supporting the important work in Belize. Coordinating closely with key government counterparts in migrants hosting districts from San Pedro to Valley of Peace and to Punta Gorda and beyond. Providing legal status is crucially important, but the need goes beyond. The support will continue to help migrants to integrate and host communities, access healthcare, enroll their children in school and learn English as a second language. Giving migrants the opportunities and tools to build livelihoods in their new communities benefits the entire region. But it also helps them quickly contribute to their host country economy by entering the labor market and starting businesses. This integration work is just one part of USAID’s approach to the challenges of migration in the region. We’re also tackling the root causes of migration and the things that drive people to migrate from Northern Central America, such as corruption, democratic governance, democratic backsliding, and climate change. I want to thank Belize for its unwavering commitment to advancing and implementing the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration that underscores the importance of a regional response to our shared challenges.”
The delegation also responded to questions surrounding the importance of strengthening bilateral ties in the region and China’s growing influence in Latin America.