4 years after all the noise Hunting Caye base opened Print E-mail
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Friday, 06 July 2018 00:00

On Wednesday June 27th the Forward Operating Base at Hunting Caye was officially inaugurated. The base can accommodate 15 law enforcement personnel and has separate quarters for female Coast Guard officers. It has a complement of power sources which includes, wind, solar and diesel. Present at the ceremony was Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar along with Ports Commissioner, Merlene Bailey Martinez; Commander of the Belize Coast Guard, Admiral John Borland, Commissioner of Police, Allan Wylie; Lt. Colonel Eldridge Singleton, Senior Defense Attaché, U.S. Embassy; among other invited guests.

Speaking at the ceremony, Hon. John Saldivar, noted that while it has had a number of delays, the base is strategically positioned for law enforcement which has international significance.

“It is from here that Belize differentiates internal waters from territorial seas. The implications for national security therefore requires a permanent and consistent presence to ensure that the operational reach and jurisdiction is extended to this forward operating base and beyond in order to combat the evolving threats to national security.”

He added that, “Hunting Caye is located at the northern apex of the Belize Honduras Guatemala maritime border and it provides that forward deployment from where we can project sea power in encountering transnational organized crime. Increasingly in recent year’s drug trafficking, weapons and human smuggling routes transit Belize from south to north. The ramping up of transnational crime therefore makes this point a critical location for the deterrence of illicit activities for us and for our regional partners.”

For his part, Lt. Colonel Eldridge Singleton stated that the base, “promotes three critical things that help the Belize government. One of them is economic prosperity, the other one is a display of good governance of Belize’s borders on land and sea, and finally, it actually shows that there is great citizen security that is being provided to the overall populace here in Belize and its international territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone in the Caribbean sea.”

The U.S state department has long been interested in the construction of the operating base as they had originally been the ones financing the project. They had secured the services of a Guatemalan company to do the construction and it was well underway having reached about 70% completion when it came to a screeching halt. The reason for the interruption in construction was because Mose Hyde, back in October of 2014, began expressing concern over who was constructing the base. The PUP soon joined in opposing the construction of the base causing it to come to a full stop after the U.S. announced that it would not continue to finance the project.

It took almost 4 years before the base was finally completed last week and it had to be financed by Belizean tax payers.

From a strategic law enforcement point Hunting Caye is located in the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, a string of islands at the southernmost point of the Belize barrier reef covering some 25 square kilometers.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 July 2018 14:49