A much needed Coast Guard base was inaugurated today in Bacalar Chico, which is located about a mile south of the northern Belize border or at the northern tip of Ambergris Caye. According to the National Security Minister, John Saldivar, there was an incident back in 2012, when their forces came under fire at Bacalar Chico, and lives were lost. Since then, there has been work put into creating a permanent presence there. The ministry had difficulty locating the land to build the base, and only just found the perfect place last year. The base costs in excess of two hundred thousand dollars, and was funded by the Government of Belize. Saldivar said that being able to curb crime on the seas, so close to the border, will help in curbing crime throughout the country.
John Saldivar – Minister of National Security: “There is a lot of criminal activities that take place on this side of the North Ambergris. For years we have known that we have had to put a permanent presence. We have had a makeshift or temporary presence along here but we have now established a permanent presence and that we hope will help to curve some of the illicit activities that happen in this area. The important thing about it is that the illicit activities that happen in this area really drives crime throughout the country whether it be Belize City or any other part of the country. A lot of what takes place here in Northern Ambergris drives the crime in the rest of the country. It is hoped that this area here, this particular base is going to have enough resources to be able to deal with most of the routine stuff. If they do need assistance elsewhere San Pedro is very close by, an hour or so away and they will also be able to assist. Right here we hope to have a self-contained base that is able to respond in terms of vessels, we have large vessels, we are going to be getting some smaller vessels that are able to navigate in the more shallow waters so this is going to be pretty much a self-contained base. In 2012 our people actually came under fire from the criminal elements who work and operate out of this area so indeed it is very dangerous for our security forces but I am confident that they are properly trained and ready to deal with any situation that may arise.”
Courtney Menzies: “How many guards can be posted at one time?”
John Saldivar – Minister of National Security:We don’t like to give out our figures but in excess of ten I am sure and eventually as I also said earlier we are going to beef it up, even more, to make sure that we are able to deal with the entire coast from here going down towards San Pedro.
The base is equipped with sleeping and bathroom facilities. According to Saldivar, the only issue is water, but for now, they will rely on rain to obtain drinking water.////////