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Sep 5, 2013

US Southern Command’s General John F. Kelly Visits Belize

The US Southern Command has been a very friendly partner in Belizean development – in areas ranging from medical care and infrastructure assistance to training and the donation of military expertise and equipment, very often on a large scale. Perhaps Southcom is best known by the general public for its New Horizons initiatives which have touched many lives across the country. But it does much more than that. And that’s why the Commander of the US Southern Command General John F. Kelly was greeted with much affection and fanfare on this, his first visit to Belize. He stopped off in Belmopan for a brief meet and greet. Mike Rudon was there and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

General John F. Kelly arrived at Police Training Headquarters at around 2:00 this afternoon, followed by his official military entourage and joined by the heads of Belize’s military and law enforcement arms. Kelly is the man responsible for all operations and initiatives of the US Military from the south of Mexico to the tip of South America. So this visitis significant.

 

General John F. Kelly, Commander, US Southcom

General John F. Kelly

“The United States extends a hand of partnership all over this part of the world. Most of this part of the world generally want to be partners with the United States.”

 

Currently Southcom is engaged in different small training operations in the country, and Kelly says the scope of their operations here is basically dictated by Belize.

 

General John F. Kelly

“Whatever Belize wants. I think what we saw and what we have seen in the past in the partnership between the United Sates and this country focuses on small units, temporary units at the request of the government to come down and do certain things. Certain training; I was down in the southern part of the country and saw a very small number of U.S Marines and a small part of the U.S. Navy working with the river unit that is there doing basic soldier and marine skills that they have asked us to help them with. And in the course of the conversation one of the things that came up is my medical people suggested to the general that perhaps in the future we could come down with additional medical personal more about combat or in the field type medicine. Whatever the government wants, whatever we are requested to d, we will provide in temporary small units tailored to what the V.D.F or the Coast Guard want.”

 

And when it comes to the priorities of Southcom…well, they’ve been instrumental in helping Belize deal with organized crime, up to and including gang warfare on the streets. And their presence has been meaningful.

 

General John F. Kelly

“No matter how big or small a country is crime is a cancer that eats away at the soul of a country. There is no country that I know of that  supports things like human trafficking to trafficking in women for sex purposes, drugs no country I know of supports that so any country regardless of what their political system is that wants to work with the U.S against these terrible cancers. They are partners of ours and this go beyond political agreements or disagreements or whatever. I have no plans for Belize it is what Belize want from the U.S. Southern Command in the partnership that we can move together in fighting these rural cancers.”

 

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

John Saldivar

“This is as fitting an occasion as any to acknowledge how instrumental the U.S. and the U.S. embassy here in Belize have been in assisting and supporting our efforts to effectively fight organized crime. I am happy to report that our homicide rate for this year is the lowest we have seen in recent years and I am optimistic that this success will continue for the rest of the year and beyond. Your presence here is a compelling reaffirmation of the continued commitment by your government in this regard and I would like to use this opportunity to likewise reiterate my ministry and my government on wavering commitment to continued fulfilling our role in this fruitful and essential partnership as we endeavor to make our country, this regions and the world safer and more secure.”

 

General John F. Kelly leaves the country shortly. He has toured the country’s borderline and waters by helicopter. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

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