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Leader of Opposition Comments on US Restrictions on Belize

The United States had recently informed the Government of Belize that it will impose a restriction on the country for its lack of ability to curb the incidences of human trafficking. The US State Department had sent information that it would partially punish the country for its ineffectiveness in dealing with human trafficking. The United States has granted a partial waiver to Belize on foreign assistance restrictions even though Belize remains on Tier 3 in the U.S. 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report. This year, Belize was rated as Tier 3 since the government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Normally, countries that are rated as Tier 3 are subject to specific foreign assistance restrictions unless the President waives those restrictions. The restrictions apply to non-humanitarian and non-trade-related foreign assistance, and to funds provided through international financial institutions, to Tier 3 governments.  The restrictions are intended to encourage governments to make more significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for combating human trafficking. It is yet to be decided how and when the restriction will affect the country but it will not be expected to affect the Central American Regional Security Initiative program which assists Belize with preventing South America’s narcotics from reaching the USA. Leader of the Opposition John Briceno expressed his views with Love News about the possible restrictions that will be imposed on Belize.

John Briceno, Opposition Leader: The US government is saying ‘we don’t see you putting the efforts.’ that is where it is important for members probably in the Human Development Ministry to sit down with people in the US embassy or people from the State Department to get a better understanding as to say ‘okay why is it, where do you see us falling short?’ ‘what can we do to correct this ?’ because this is important. Now the United States is saying that they are considering cutting all commercial assistance that they are giving to Belize. Whilst I don’t think they’re going to curtail the assistance to control or to stop the narco trafficking in Belize because I think it’s in their interest but then how about our cane farmers? We have about 12,500 tons of preferential quotas in the United States for sugar and if we were to lose that our already low prices that are farmers are getting for their sugar can will probably go even lower and that is going to be very bad news for the cane farmers in the north. Human trafficking is modern slavery and it is despicable and we need to go after all of those people that are involved in human trafficking and as a government and as a country we need to do everything possible, we need to ensure that the laws that are in place that we can enforce them and we can enforce them to every extent of the law – to go at the people that are the perpetrators that are constantly being involved in human trafficking. To ensure that the police is properly trained and that the police then with proper training we can get these people.