Canada ups assistance to Belize
Drug war spillover hurting tiny country
Spillover from Mexico’s violent drug war is prompting the Harper government and the Canadian military to become more involved in helping defend the tiny Central American country of Belize.
A series of internal reports, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the government has quietly increased co-operation with the Commonwealth nation.
Canada is providing nonlethal equipment for security services and helping with strategic planning and the training of soldiers.
The documents, which all date from the spring of last year, describe the situation in Belize as deteriorating in the face of ultraviolent drug cartels that are battling Mexican and U.S. law enforcement.
“Belize is of growing importance to the Canadian government due to the increasingly precarious security situation in Central America, particularly along the Belize-Mexico border,” said a March 23, 2012, briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
“Following increasing success to counter transnational criminal organizations in Mexico, these organizations have advanced into Belize, bringing with them violence and public insecurity.”
The country’s minister of defence requested help from Canada when conducting a strategic defence review in 2011, say the internal documents.
Canada’s special forces recently delivered a batch of military equipment, including binoculars, combat clothing, helmets, boots, gloves and other gear.