US Support Bolsters Belize’s National Security Strategy
Belize and the United States Government are working to improve citizen security by bolstering the country’s national security strategy. Through funding from the US Embassy in Belmopan, a team of experts from the William J. Perry Center embarked on a mission in Belize. The team met with several members of Belize’s security apparatus and government agencies to discuss democratic governance, the rule of law, human rights, cyber security threats, and transnational threat networks. The thirty-four personnel attended workshops and seminars centered on solution mapping on strategic defence, whole-of-government policy responses, and frameworks for policy implementations. The center’s Director, Dr. Paul Angelo, spoke to Love News about the initiative and information gathered during the meetings.
Dr. Paul Angelo, Director, William J. Perry Center: “So here in Belize our real focus was trying to help the government not just the security forces we really worked across all the agencies and ministries of government to try to offer perspective on best practices throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and how to reduce armed violence which is a growing concern for people here in Belize. Belize is nowhere near as dangerous as neighboring countries, as we’ve seen with the plague that the Marasalva Trucha or the M18 represent for countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. But there are troubling trends that Belize has confronted with regard to homicides in recent years. And so our ambition here was to provide a regional perspective on what works and what doesn’t in terms of stemming the tide of homicide and violent crime here in Belize. We’re really lucky here in Belize. We have several well-placed alums from our executive education courses at the Perry Center who all seem to be working very well together across the various ministries of government to put together a national security strategy. And the Perry Center is here to support them every step of the way in doing so. As we look across the Central American context or the Mesoamerican context, Belize is in a good place. It’s sort of a jewel of tranquility in a rather unstable or historically unstable neighborhood. And our mission here is to preserve that. And so we have to look at what kinds of crime or security trends are afflicting neighboring countries and try to create the circumstances and provide police with the tools to avoid falling victim to those same trends.”
Dr. Angelo further spoke on Belize’s strong democratic values and the need to improve the fight against cybercrime in Central America.
Dr. Paul Angelo, Director, William J. Perry Center: “Yeah, I mean cybercrime is a huge problem. There are hundreds of billions of cyber attacks annually in just Latin America and the Caribbean alone and many of the countries of this region are woefully underprepared in terms of the governance structures and the capabilities that they need to respond adequately to cyber attacks but more importantly the tools that are needed to prevent cyber attacks from happening in the first place. And so at the Perry Center we work assiduously with our partners across Central America and the Caribbean on how to build the legal structures and the regulations that are required in order to both prevent and then respond to cyber attacks should they happen. I think Belize is on solid footing when it comes to democracy. As we look to the challenge that armed violence presents in particular countries like Belize, other countries across Central America should really resist the temptation to fall into sort of sort of faddish trends that resort to more aggressive tactics for dealing with vulnerable populations that tend to present the worst kinds of violence in the country.”
The team departs the country today.