By Marion Ali
Belize will soon have a spanking new military base on Hunting Caye in southern Belize, but what is ironic about the project is that the contractor and masons building it are Guatemalans!
On Thursday in the House of Representatives, Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca, expressed concern over this reality – a situation he described as a “troubling issue” as he spoke of the national security risk in such a scenario.
“Somebody has to be awake man! We can’t all be sleeping over there in the government. Who is looking after these matters?” Fonseca questioned.
Minister of National Security John Saldivar responded by saying that the military base is a gift to Belize from the US government and although we are not comfortable that a Guatemalan company is doing the construction, the US has its own bidding process.
“The question is whether we would look a gift horse in the mouth and give up a much-needed forward operating base, which is important to the security of Belize,” Saldivar remarked.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who also weighed in on the issue, said that he too has difficulty with the fact that the contractors are Guatemalans. Mr Barrow went further to say that he also feels uncomfortable with the fleet of police vehicles which the US government gifted to Belize that bear printed flags of the United Stated on them. Mr Barrow said that we as a country have to begin to recognize that there are no gifts without strings. “I am determined that in the end we will pay our own way because I really…can do without those gifts that come with those strings attached.”
Barrow later told reporters that we have to start doing far more for ourselves and ensure that we don’t end up in a situation similar to developments at the forward operating base at Hunting Caye.