Canada ups as­sis­tance to Belize

Drug war spillover hurt­ing tiny coun­try

Ottawa Citizen - - CANADA - MUR­RAY BREW­STER

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.

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