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Belize officials defend decision to impose restrictions on Haitians and Jamaicans entering the country

Eamon Courtenay

Posted: Saturday, April 8, 2023. 7:16 am CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: The Belize government has recently imposed visa and other restrictions on Jamaicans and Haitians entering the country, sparking debate and criticism from various stakeholders. The decision comes after over 2,000 Haitian nationals entered Belize between March 2022 and April this year, and over 1,900 vanished without a trace, presumably crossing over into Mexico illegally en route to the United States.

Authorities have invoked Article 226 (a) of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which governs the regional integration movement Caricom, to impose visa requirements for Haitians visiting Belize, while Jamaicans will need to provide evidence of fully paid non-refundable hotel reservations prior to boarding flights to the country.

Chief executive officer of the Ministry of Immigration, Dr. Gilroy Middleton, stated that they are not attempting to restrict any Jamaicans or Haitians who intend to come to Belize legitimately. However, the government is concerned about the number of Haitians entering the country and crossing over into Mexico illegally, given that many have not left via the northern, western, or southern border or any other of their entry and exit points.

The situation with Jamaicans disappearing after entering Belize is also similar, except that it involves a considerably smaller number. Dr. Middleton added that Minister of Immigration Eamon Courtenay will be working on a subcommittee of Cabinet that will be looking into the issues.

Belize authorities have stressed that they respect the rights of individuals under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, and that they must ensure the national security of Belize. Nonetheless, the decision has been met with backlash from human rights activists, who argue that the move discriminates against Haitians and Jamaicans.

The debate surrounding the restrictions imposed on Haitians and Jamaicans entering Belize is ongoing. The Minister of Immigration has formally informed Caricom of the decision, and further updates will follow as the situation develops.


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