The three arms of the Ministry of National Security have had to work closer than every during the covid-19 endemic in order to ensure the safety of Belizeans. The Belize Coast Guard has been going above and beyond to assist in maintaining the State of Emergency regulations on sea as well as on land. Captain Elton Bennett, the Commandant of the BCG, gave us an insight into their operations.
Captain Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “We started off looking externally. You know we closed our borders therefore we had to get out on the borders and to shut down that maritime flow of traffic from across Mexico into Belize and from Honduras and Guatemala into Belize and then the initial quarantine of Ambergris Caye was a huge deployment on our side and recently we’ve shifted in terms of our operational objectives we’re now looking internally. After we moved from shutting down the maritime borders our focus was on curfew, supporting the police on land ensuring that we adhere to the curfew regulations. Now we’ve shifted operations to those quarantine and detention centers and we’re currently manning the ITVET facility in Corozal where it’s that facility that we’ve identified as the detention center for those border jumpers or those who come into country illegally that’s where they were sent to spend their time before they’re taken in front of a magistrate. So that’s where the Coast Guard’s focus is now. We’re also manning a quarantine center in San Pedro and I think the guys are doing well we’ve been able to make our presence felt at those detention facilities. We have not had any escape from any of our facilities, we’re grateful for that. The guys on the ground really understand the importance of this and their executing accordingly. Because the borders will be opened you will have border jumpers coming, the economy will be moving, school will be opening so we will have another wave coming at some point; the Coast Guard is prepared to take on that responsibility of being a front line service for this country to ensure that we do whatever we need to do to protect the Belizean people whether that’s shutting down the maritime borders or that is enforcing curfew on land or manning a quarantine center the Coast Guard is prepared to take on whatever role the Ministry of National Security requires us to take on.”