US Senators Push for Increased Support to Belize in Combatting Transnational Crime and Migration

US Senators Push for Increased Support to Belize in Combatting Transnational Crime and Migration

Belize is being coined as a cooperative country that the United States should invest more in by increasing its support in combatting transnational crimes and migration.  US Senators Benjamin Cardin and Tim Kaine both signed a letter to the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, dated April 29.  In the 2-page correspondence, the Senators are urging the US Department of State to realize that Belize is set apart from other countries in the region, when it comes to its efforts in combatting crime and drugs.  Senators Cardin and Kaine highlighted Belize’s new and emerging issues when it comes to drugs and crimes, including the discovery of coca fields in the south and drug laboratories.  Based on these new findings, among other factors, the Senators wrote, quote, “We believe that Belize, as a key strategic ally committed to transparent democratic governance and under threat from foreign malign and criminal actors, should see increased attention and investments.  Belize is experiencing a rise in the same risk factors that have negatively impacted its neighbors including: transnational criminal activity, high homicide rates, and large swaths of ungoverned territory including porous and sparsely-populated borders, and ineffective law enforcement and judicial institutions. The discovery last year of coca plantations and clandestine laboratories, combined with the recent seizure of fentanyl test strips, are troubling new developments.  The government of Belize has demonstrated a strong willingness to work with the United States and the international community to address these vulnerabilities.”  End of quote.  The letter goes on to suggest that Belize be included in projects that could assist in fighting the crime, drugs, and migration issues that are major issues for the region.  The Senators commended the recent negotiations with Belize on the Millennium Challenge Compact and asked that more inclusion be done with tools like the Development Finance Corporation, the Countering the PRC Malign Influence Fund, and the William Perry Center for Hemispheric Cooperation.  While assisting Belize with more funding and support was the essence of the letter, the two Senators did point out that Belize has significantly strengthened its legislative base for countering transnational organized crime, as well as its extradition law to provide reciprocity with the U.S. and Mexico, and a budget increase for citizen security.  They went on to speak highly of Belize’s commitment to getting a solution from the ICJ on the border dispute with Guatemala and also praised Belize for its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.  To be precise, the senators wrote, quote, “Belize’s continued diplomatic ties with Taiwan show its shared values of democracy, self-determination, and respect for international law; with democracy in decline in so many countries throughout the world, we must not take these values for granted and work with the government to counter the People’s Republic of China’s continued efforts to negatively influence the region.”  End of quote. /

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