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Aug 19, 2020

Contrabandistas Will Serve Mandatory Jail Time

Mark Lizarraga

The second piece of legislation that seeks to curb border jumping activities was passed today in the Senate.  The amendment to the Customs Regulation Bill 2020 aims to remove the imposition of a fine as a penalty for certain offenses and replace it with mandatory imprisonment.  Before the legislation, persons caught with contraband were charged three times the amount of the goods and then released.  The amendment removes the fine and replaces it with jail time which means anyone who is caught with contraband goods will be sent to the Belize Central Prison. In the Senate, the parliamentarians described the amendment as a draconian band-aid solution.


Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Private Sector

“If you want to send somebody to jail, mandatory imprisonment then you have to provide them with provisions to do things n the proper way where we have proper establishments. And as far as the wholesaling of these issues we agree totally. We after the middle men and go after the people as well who buy it because that it what feeds it. So we support that because we have been calling for that for years. We are happy that it is being put in place because it does affect revenue. Because if they are not paying we pay.”


Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, P.U.P. Senator

“And so while we don’t want to encourage contraband and we understand the need to stop there must be a counterpart and the counterpart cannot be just simply sending people to prison. Not even a month ago we are sending half of Southside to prison. What kind of policy is that, Mister President? The fact of the matter what is underlying all of this Mister President and it has just come to light in a magnified way is the poor handling of the economy. That has been the problem. They have mismanaged this economy and this is the result of the high cost of living we are seeing in this country and this is why people are resorting to these extreme measures.”


Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, U.D.P. Senator

“The idea is not about revenue and if it is draconian then the government pleads guilty, proudly please guilty. We have to do whatever we have to do to not have that disease spread more in our country. And the scientists, the doctors, everybody is telling us that the source of this is from border jumpers and from people engaging in contraband activity. So where is the adjustment in the law going to be? It has to be with people who are border jumping and contrabanding stuff. So it is not about band aid legislation. We are living in a different time when things change by the moment. Things change by the second. So we constantly have to be analyzing the situation and make the necessary arrangement to send the message.”

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