By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
United States Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Luis Arreaga at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs visited Belize this week and saw the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Program while familiarizing himself with security issues in Belize.
Arreaga viewed a session of the GREAT Program at St. John’s Vianney Primary School on Monday, as part of his two-day visit in the country, and spoke to the children enrolled in the program.
Arreaga said he wanted to see the GREAT Program for himself because he had heard so many positive things about the community policing involved in the initiative. He noted that recently there has been an influx of children migrating illegally to the US and said the program is a way for Belize to strengthen citizen security, the border and help the children.
Arreaga said it was significant for Belize to have a positive program, which provides opportunities such as sports, music, art, and field trips. He added that it is important to give children a perspective about gangs and teach them the dangers entailed in that kind of lifestyle.
Children need something to guide them and pull them away from gangs and drugs, Arreaga said.
Arreaga said the US government is exploring ways to partner with Belize and strengthen areas of security and said that the US is extremely proud to be a part of and support the GREAT Program.
Arreaga assumed the role of DAS with the US Embassy last November and said he hopes to continue to build on the relationship between the US and Belize and raise the standard of enforcement and partnership between both nations.