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BDF to Build Fence at Western Border Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 May 2018 00:00

The Government of Belize has issued a press release stating that “The BDF Light Engineers will be working in conjunction with the Border Management Agency to improve the fences and gates to ensure better control at that official crossing point.” The decision to improve the fence comes from the need for effective border management and flow of traffic, which have sometimes been hard tasks to accomplish. Felix Enriquez, CEO, Ministry of National Security, comments that “For some time now there has been a general policy in place and a strategy to improve the way how things are managed at the border and while it is a national security issue, it is fundamentally to be managed by the Border Management Agency.  Now we’ve seen a lot of it happen up north, but the Benque Border has been neglected for some time and what happened is, we’re seeing an increase of activity in terms of the throughput of people passing to and fro.” According to Said Guerra, Director of International Affairs, it is in this light that the project of upgrading the fence came about; to improve security.

While the construction might sound like a simple task, it is anything but. There were reports of things getting heated between BDF personnel and Guatemalan taxi drivers over the weekend when Belize authorities sought to clear the area to allow for the unloading of the materials. The Guatemalan taxi drivers are known to operate freely in the Adjacency Zone but when they were asked to park elsewhere, things got tense and personnel from the Guatemalan police later showed up.

The Guatemalan media has already distorted the information, making it seem more controversial that it really was. According to Guerra, he received a call from an inspector in Benque informing him of the situation. “The only thing that happened yesterday is that the B.D.F. arrived and asked a tour operator to please move from the parking area where they were going to download.  They wanted the area to be cleared.  That was about it.  But our friends from Guatemala, from the other side, they thought that they were being moved, but they were not being moved by force, we had our police also intervening to explain to them and to translate what was happening to the tour operators and taxi drivers who usually sit around that area in front of the O.A.S. office.”

According to the Guatemalan paper, Prensa Libre, the Guatemalan tour operators were being roughed up and forced to move by BDF personnel but Guerra maintains that there was no use of force. There are conflicting reports from the passersby and tour operators as well with some claiming that there was visible tension and some claiming that there was none.

The official reports from Belize are of the understanding that there was no physical tension, only a misunderstanding. Whatever the case, CEO Enriquez emphasizes that the B.D.F. is not establishing a permanent presence at the border crossing.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 May 2018 12:41