Coincidence??? Belize on US Bad List 6 Days after Recognizing Palestine Statehood Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 00:00

US Ambassador H.E. ThummalapallyMany intellectuals have come to believe that Belize’s appearance on the “Presidential Determination on Major Illicit Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2012” six days after it officially announced its recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state is more than mere coincidence.

Before a look at their basis of such conclusion it is important to address a concern more close to home. Many University lecturers across the Caribbean have made a conscious effort to remove the negative connotation from the word black. The media is a very powerful agent of perception and its embrace of the word black as meaning bad and ugly is hurting the cause of educators like Miss Silvana Udz. Such was the case with last week’s coverage of Belize’s appearance on the major drug transit and producing countries list. The Amandala headline read, “Barack Blacklists Belize” and Channel 5 headline read, “Belize Blacklisted by U.S.” 2011 is way past the era of accepting something bad as being black.  

Belize’s appearance on the “blacklist” that the two media houses were referring to has raised interesting discussions on Obama’s foreign policy. He campaigned as a candidate that would stop the bullying of smaller nations- the end of the “Big Stick Policy” where relationships with old allies would be strengthened and new relationships established. The truth of that only seemed to have materialized in a brief honeymoon period and soon Uncle Sam was his same old self again. Those critical of the United States’ decision to put Belize on its drug trafficking watch list compares the move to Belize’s 2006 appearance at Tier 3 on the Trafficking in Persons Index. The move in 2006 raised eyebrows because it was during a hotly contested campaign between Guatemala and Venezuela for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. The United States was concern that Belize was supporting Venezuela and lobbying CARICOM members against Guatemala.  The U.S. was supporting Guatemala because of their feud with President Hugo Chavez. The Government of Belize made it clear that it was not supporting Guatemala and soon found itself downgraded to the most troubled level on the Trafficking in Persons Report.

Similarly, Belize’s appearance on the United States’ drug watch list comes after Belize found itself on the wrong side of U.S. foreign policy. There is a move to pass a resolution in the United Nations to declare Palestine as an independent state. The United States has gone on the record to say that they will veto any resolution that appears in front of the United Nations Security Council in regards to Palestinian statehood. Belize is officially on the other side and has already officially “recognize Palestine as a sovereign and independent State within its pre-1967 borders.” According to a government press release, “In taking this decision Belize joins more than a hundred and twenty other members of the United Nations who have formally recognized the State of Palestine. This decision is consistent with Belize’s long held position in support of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination in an independent, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side with secure and mutually recognized borders in peace and security with its neighbours.” Many now believe that the decision not only caused Belize to join the list of more than one hundred and twenty countries that recognizes Palestine’s statehood but it also caused Belize to join a list of 22 counties on the list of Major Illicit Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries 2012. If this assumption is true, then Obama has continued the same bully tactics of the presidency he inherited.

Whatever be the case of Belize’s appearance on the U.S. watch list, whether purely coincidence or not, the United States is in no position to point blame for the drug game. As the largest consumer, they are to hold blame for the turmoil this region is in due to the drug trade. Without the North’s demand for drugs there would be no drug industry. Furthermore, Belize is a victim of the trade due to its geographical position. Instead of painting a picture of Belize as a big player in the game, the U.S. should do more to assist in our efforts to keep drugs out. Bluntly speaking, in its attempt to stop the drug trade Belize is really fighting the United States’ war- since that’s where it is going. Now that BATSUB has withdrawn its air support this is the United States opportunity to step up and help a country that is fighting its war. On Tuesday, October 27, 2009 in his first press conference the Guardian asked H. E. VinaiThummalapally if he

would lobby for the funds to Belize to increase for its fight against drug trade considering the country’s geographical position. Funds are allocated to the region to combat threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime and money laundering. However, Mexico is already the richest country in the group and it receives by far the largest share of the funds. For that reason, some critics call the initiative “Plan Mexico”. Ambassador Thummalapally said that Belize’s geographical position is crucial in regards to drug trafficking; therefore, “the funds to Belize can only increase”.
Since we have been placed on such a troubled list let’s hope that the increased assistance matches the “increased threat”.