No Travel Advisory Yet Despite Border Uptick in Cartel Crime in Chetumal: Belize Urges Caution for Mexico-bound Travelers

No Travel Advisory Yet Despite Border Uptick in Cartel Crime in Chetumal: Belize Urges Caution for Mexico-bound Travelers

With the high-level meetings in both Belize and Mexico, Belize has not issued a travel advisory.  A travel advisory is normally issued by a country to warn citizens of areas they should avoid due to an increase in threats or violence.  Belize’s Ambassador to Mexico, Oscar Arnold told Love News that discussions are being had, but that there are multiple factors to consider before deciding on an advisory.  Ambassador Arnold did note that for those who still have to travel to Mexico, they should be prepared for increased checkpoints, and should take precautions.

Oscar Arnold, Belizean Ambassador to Mexico: “So for Belizeans traveling over they will expect to see more checkpoints, more vigilance at these checkpoints, more questions being asked and so I don’t think they need to be scared of that. However I would advise if you don’t need to travel then don’t but if you have to go across then be more vigilant. Be aware of your surroundings, try to travel during daylight hours, stay on the main roads, don’t travel alone, make sure that you have people with you or you travel in groups and also have some sort of means of communication. These days it’s very easy to buy a chip for Mexico put it in your phone and then you can have communication, you can have Wifi and you can have local calls whenever you need to. There are several factors that the government would have to look at when it comes to issuing a travel advisory. You would have to look at the situation where if it is that Belizeans are being targeted our tourists are being targeted because when we cross over then we become a tourist for Mexico. The type of crimes, the frequency, the level of security that is being provided by the host state and so those are the things we would have to look at. Obviously the reports on the ground from Chetumal, the reports that we compile here at the mission and send it would also have to be looked at but I can say that the security directorate of Belize, the security apparatus of Belize have been monitoring the situation. I’ve been in contact with a few individuals who head that apparatus. They want my feedback, they want to get an idea of what is happening, they want to get an idea of what the municipal, federal and state police are doing to address the situation and based on all of those they will look at it and the decision will be made if it has to be made that a travel advisory would be issued. You would remember that during COVID the business owners in Chetumal, the hoteliers, the restauranteurs all were clamoring for the borders to be opened because the commerce and the money that comes across from Belize is a lifeline for the entire business community in that area. And so the meeting yesterday with the business community the governor and all of the secretary of government and the secretary for citizen security, sends a good message that they want to address it before it gets out of hand and before it starts to affect the entier area economically.”

While many Belizeans may feel dissuaded from traveling across the northern border, one element of security they can look forward to is from Belize Coast Guard (BCG).  The BCG is looking to increase its patrols in the waters in the north. While the BCG is not a part of the special operation being launched by the Police and BDF, Rear Admiral Elton Bennett says it’s doing its part to ensure the safety of Belizeans. 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “We do recognize that there is an increased level of instability as it relates to the security situation along the entire Rio Hondo and we’ve noted through intelligence the increased presence of the cartels along our border. There are implications on the Belizean side obviously and the Belize Coast Guard must put itself in a position where we can provide the necessary security for Belize and all of our interests on our side of the border. So yes we are working to increase our presence in that area. We have deployed additional personnel on the ground and intelligence to try to make a determination of the extent of any impact on Belizean side and we’re working jointly along with the Belize Defence Force and the Police Department to share information to ensure that there is a common understanding of what’s going on. So our interest would be in the area of Consejo, the Freezone area, a limited access up the Rio Hondo and then the sea routes that come across from Chetumal into Belize. You must appreciate that where we’re currently based at Consejo is within very close proximity of Chetumal. As a matter of fact you can see Chetumal very clearly from where we are therefore our position is a very crucial one where we have to ensure that we have adequate man power and fire power to defend Belizean interests on our side.’

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