By Aaron Humes: Minister for National Defence and Border Security Florencio Marin, Jr., announced during last week’s Budget Debate the introduction of a “Defence Bond,” a facility to finance upgrades and overhauls of materiel, equipment, and accommodations for members of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and Coast Guard.
“A lot of work has to be done. Our installations and facilities in both the Coast Guard and BDF, a lot of it has been [run-down]. We also have to prepare for the future. And we realize only via some form of long-term financing [will] we are able to give our soldiers and sailors proper facilities, proper training, proper equipment for them to continue to do the task they have been assigned to do, and also to meet whatever future challenges, whatever future threats that this country may face,” Marin told the House.
Marin paid tribute to the men and women who stood on the frontline to safeguard borders and national security in the face of COVID-19. In the face of their sacrifice, he said, it would do no good to complain about the challenges this most important of Ministries faced.
Directly affecting the welfare of the soldiers are upgrades at the major military installations of Price Barracks and Camp Belizario completed in November, as well as a planned Coast Guard base at Big Creek near the Port of Big Creek for which groundbreaking is being planned.
Marin said it was necessary to ensure that when soldiers return from the front, they come home to good conditions and a decent living standard.
Marin also cited the development of the Joint Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Program, addressing the joint work of the BDF, Coast Guard, and Police to reduce the incidence of sexual violence within the security sector and provide a response to future incidents. A recent workshop on the topic was held at the Coast Guard base, addressed by nominal commander-in-chief Governor-General Froyla Tzalam.
And, an updated National Security and Development Strategy is in development, while Belize welcomes regional partners to conference in such events as the recent Central American Security Conference and forthcoming Tradewinds Exercise 2022.