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Oct 14, 2014

Hunting Caye F.O.B. Construction Poses No Threat to National Security

Construction of a Coast Guard forward operating base on Hunting Caye was brought to an abrupt close last week after a stop order issued by the US Southern Command. That same day, Thursday, all Guatemalan workers on site jumped in their boat and departed the premises. Government’s response to the breaking news that Guatemalans were constructing a military base in Belize City, using Guatemalan workers, was a mix of cluelessness and the classic – ‘it wasn’t me.’ But now there is some attempt being made at damage control of what has been a highly inflammable episode, starting with a press briefing called by the Coast Guard this morning. Mike Rudon was at Coast Guard headquarters and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

According to Rear Admiral John Borland, the briefing was called because the Ministry of National Security deemed it necessary. The commandant’s presentation was concise, starting off with the reason the contract could have been offered to a Guatemalan company without eyebrows being raised.

 

Rear Admiral John Borland, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

Rear Admiral John Borland

“At the time the contract was awarded under the status force agreement 2007, where there was an agreement that the US government could use any contractor that qualifies and that usually means to the lowest bidder. All parties including Belize did not object to this policy, by this time we have recently entered into a second round of confidence building measure which were designed to reach an equitable and peaceful solution of the territorial referendum between Belize and Guatemala that would be general, definitive, honourable and permanent on the land insular and maritime issue. It also had as an objective, the treatment of economic, commercial tourism cooperation, integration and other transitory measures of good neighbourliness. It was against this backdrop that no one offered any objection that the contract be awarded to the Guatemalan company BINARQ; An international company that works in various countries and has done similar projects in the region.”

 

While opinions have varied on the issue of whether there was a breach of national security, or a potential threat to our national security, Borland explained that the company was only involved in the construction of the physical structure. He claims that there are four factors which constitute that sort of threat – espionage, sabotage, subversion and terrorism – and none of those factors were present.

 

Rear Admiral John Borland

“Espionage could not be achieved as they would not be involved with any of the systems that constitute the operational capabilities of this Forward Operations Base. They would not be involved in the communications, surveillance, weaponry or security mechanisms of this outpost. As for Sabotage this could not be as the monitoring and quality control system of the Army Core of engineer that inspect the building at the end of every phase of construction and at the end of each month would easily identify anything that would compromise the structural integrity of this building.”

 

Threat or not…there’s no ignoring the public outcry, or the fact that the Prime Minister himself has condemned it. So the Coast Guard met with their US partners on Friday and presented a list of requests for future reference. Until there is agreement on these items, the work on Hunting Cay is effectively halted.

 

Rear Admiral John Borland

“No future contracts will be awarded to Guatemalan companies or contractors. No foreign Labourer would be able to work on government of Belize projects without the requisite security clearances and work permits. All foreign workers will enter Belize legally and are documented for accountability and immigration purpose. Our contracts will employ Belizean workers in accordance with the labour laws and directives of the labour commissioner, The Ministry of National Security will receive all contracts. The Ministry of National Security will maintain oversight of all project and workers to ensure compliance with security and accountability arrangements. All projects will continue to be in accordance with the Ministry of Works, cent5ral Building Authority and the department of Environment regulations.”

 

The Coast Guard has also requested that the Guatemalan firm, BINARQ, subcontract a Belizean contractor to conclude the remainder of the work. The company has agreed. All that is left is for the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the list of requests and hopefully, give the final nod.

The forward operating base on Hunting Cay is one of nine scheduled to be built, either through the Government of Belize or funded by US Southcom.

 

 

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4 Responses for “Hunting Caye F.O.B. Construction Poses No Threat to National Security”

  1. Know Yr History says:

    HAHAHAHAHA —

    The Telegraph, 12:01AM GMT 20 Jan 2002

    CHINA claims to have found almost 30 surveillance bugs, including one in the headboard of the presidential bed, on a Boeing 767 that had just been delivered from America to serve as President Jiang Zemin’s official aircraft.

  2. dats just gud says:

    he was told to say that…it’s a pity some of us have to be “yes” men to hold certain positions…….. how the hell Guatemalans working on Belize’s soil and security building will not be a threat and we all know that these people are our enemies caused by the Colonial England and from before our name was Belize…….

  3. Tired of this nonsense says:

    Its not about being a “yes” man, its about presenting the facts to dumbass people who can’t see beyond thier nose because they are being lead by the PUP propaganda. If not for the Conorquie case the building wouldn’t have even made news, because bottom line it that its NOT about national security but about the opposition using this issue to politically embarras the present administration. Open your eyes people, the opposition is taking advantage of the nations’s sensitive emotions over the death of our brother for thier own policial mileage…..what makes you think any policital party cares about YOU…..none!!!!so shut up if you have nothin good to say, because it was under both administrations that oversight occured…..moving forward means finding solutions: what Belize needs is to establish laws that prohibit any future contracts awarded to Guatemalan companies until the territorial issue is resolved. Stop being led like the rats behind the Pied Piper of Hamlin.

  4. Belize one nation says:

    Our present GOB is not doing there job right. How it is possible that the minister of immigration do not know about the Guatemalans working at hunting caye. Those people should apply a working permit to work in Belize, come on Hon. Godwin Hulse. Hon. John Saldiver should wake up to do his job to protect n preserve our nation BELIZE…. Belize’s national security is his priority as the minister of national security, I think he is not competent to deal with these things happening in Belize at hunting caye n at our chiquibul forest reserve.

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