President Donald Trump in the first State of the Union report of his presidency said on Tuesday that he expects countries who receive US aid to kiss up to him.

In his words, he wants Congress “to pass legislation that would help ensure that US foreign assistance dollars always serve American interests and only go to friends of America.”

Belize has always considered herself a friend of the United States. We greatly value this friendship which we have enjoyed with several generations of presidents and we would like to strengthen it. But not at the price of abandoning our other friends.

Belize, for example, maintains a warm and lasting friendship with the Republic of China on Taiwan. We identify with Taiwan because Taiwan faces a situation with mainland China similar to that which we face with Guatemala. We would like to see the United States and other freedom-loving nations recognize Taiwan as a free and independent sovereign state.

Belize also has a close relationship with moderate Arab states, even while we retain our friendship with Israel. We have reason to be grateful to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and while we do not approve of every thing President Nicolas Maduro says and does, Belize has kept her strong ties with Venezuela as we have with the Republic of Cuba.

We have seen enough of President Trump to know that he says what he means, and he means what he says. We admire the strong leadership he is giving to the United States and his determination not to become the victim of subversion and terrorism from abroad.

He has pushed the pendulum of social change to swing from the social ideology of President Obama, who threatened to withdraw US aid from countries which do not accept the full agenda of so-called gay rights, to the far right of the iconoclast, measuring friendship only in terms of what-can-you-do-for-me.

President Trump is still a president-in-the-making, and we have high hopes for him. We believe that he will re-vitalize the United States by reducing its national debt.

We believe that with time he will come to understand that friendship – true friendship – is not a matter of dollars and cents.

Friendship involves loyalty in the face of adversity, a sympathetic concern for one’s welfare and a genuine desire to see one prosper.
Measured in these terms, Belize is a true friend of the United States.

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