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Dec 16, 2008

U.S. donates $1.2 million to B.D.F., Coast Guard

Story PictureThe priority issue in the U.S. bilateral relations with Belize is in the war against drug trafficking. It is known that Belize is used as a transshipment point for illegal drugs making their way to the United States. Well today the United States Government stepped up the plate and provided the B.D.F. and the Coast guard with a generous contribution of equipment to strengthen security measures. The one point two million Belize dollars worth of military equipment will be used by both the B.D.F. and the Coast Guard to secure our borders and waters against drug trafficking and to assist in recovery efforts in natural disasters. Among the items received were outboard engines, hand tools, power tools, lighting equipment, tents, generators, water pumps and more. According to Commander of the National Coast Guard Service, Admiral Cedric Borland, the donation came at an opportune time.

Admiral Cedric Borland, Cmdr., Nat’l Coast Guard Service
“The Belize Coast Guard received six new outboard engines from the United States of America through the U.S. office. Our operations require us to be out at sea twenty-four-seven. These engines that we received are going to replace some of the engines that we currently are using.”

Brigadier General Dario Tapia, Cmdr., B.D.F.
“Specifically, it was items of equipment to fully equip the light engineer company and some outboard engines and trailers to tow our boats for the special boat unit. The United States government’s generous donation today gave us that capability to equip the light engineer company in a moments notice. For the light engineer company, the equipment means that they will be able to now be equipped to take on any task in terms of construction.”

Robert Dieter, Ambassador, United States
“We’ve been working on two initiatives with the security forces here with the B.D.F. We’ve been working with them to establish a light engineering company so a lot of the equipment that they’re receiving today is to assist them in terms of construction efforts and that sort of thing. The idea is that they would have a platoon in the next year or two that could be deployed to assist in the event of a natural disaster in Central America or somewhere in the Caribbean. Also, we’ve been working to establish the Belize National Coast Guard and so this equipment today will give them a little more horsepower on their boats and that sort of thing. We’re also finishing up construction at Calabash Caye for another Ford operating base and also we’ll be doing a groundbreaking here sometime in the spring for a headquarters for the Coastguard that will be out by mile four on the Western Highway. So they’ll have quicker response time in the event that they are needed.”

Dieter says that another nine hundred thousand U.S. dollars worth of equipment can be expected in the next few months and the Merida Initiative announced by Washington to beef up security in Central America will be providing funding for the police department and other non-military security forces in Belize.

According to Commander of the B.D.F., Brigadier General Tapia, the B.D.F. has a special one year program that is offered to soldiers in the force. The program is held at the Institute of Technical Vocational and Training in Belize City and some of the equipment will be used for training purposes.

Brigadier General Dario Tapia, Cmdr., B.D.F.
“Along came a training package that members of the Light Engineer company are currently doing at ITVET. This package includes plumbing, electrician, masonry and some other bits and pieces that go along for doing construction. Once these members of the Light Engineer company finish their training at ITVET and come next year hurricane season, I expect that the Light Engineer Company will be fully equipped and fully trained to take on any task or light engineering task during the recovery phase to benefit the Belizean people.”

Duane Moody
“So the Light Engineer Company is a part of the B.D.F.?”

Brig. Gen. Dario Tapia
“Indeed, it is part of the Belize Defence force and part of the support and services battalion. Come Hurricane season, this light engineer company will be fully contained with their equipment, their transportation. As you can see, there are also some tents, newly donated tents for them to use whenever they are deployed. So it will be a deployable unit should the need arise.”

The Light Engineer Company will bolster assistance that may be required in case of disasters. The program which started in September of this year is expected to end before the beginning of the 2009 Hurricane Season.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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