US congratulates Belize on independence anniversary

Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
Associated Press / Claudio Cruz

The Trump administration has congratulated Belize on its 37th anniversary of political independence from Great Britain, saying that “the bonds of friendship between our nations are strong.”

“On behalf of the government of the United States, I congratulate the people of Belize as you celebrate your independence,” said US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo in a statement on Friday.

“We stand united in a common goal of achieving prosperity and security for all citizens of Belize,” he added.

As Belize enters into a national dialogue in pursuit of resolving its longstanding territorial dispute, Pompeo said the Trump administration recognizes “the broad efforts of government, political parties and civil society to bring about the peaceful resolution of conflicts, economic development and regional integration.

“Our partnership in the region strengthens the ties of our relationship — one based on trust and mutual respect,” he added. “I look forward to continuing our close collaboration on fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law for the benefit of all Belizean people.

“I offer my heartfelt congratulations and warmest wishes for continued prosperity as you celebrate your Independence Day,” the US Secretary of State continued.

While Belize celebrated its 37th anniversary of political independence on Friday, with a military parade, marches and parades, as well as street parties, Prime Minister Dean Barrow warned that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation still faces “multiple challenges.”

He described as “glorious” Belize’s achievement since independence, despite being confronted by a “large, militarized neighbor with an unjust and illegal claim to our country, threatening our extinction; and a colonial power reluctant to do what was necessary to help finalize our secure freedom”.

But Barrow said “the maintenance of our independence with our territory intact is vindication of all those qualities that made our original struggle so wonderful to behold.”

The prime minister, however, acknowledged that “there are still multiple challenges that beset us.”

He said many of those challenges are new.

“They are not peculiar,” he said. “They are no more than should be expected from any nation-building process, and are shared by all small, developing countries.”

But Barrow said the centuries-old border dispute with Guatemala “remains the same bane that confounded our Independence campaign.

He expressed confidence that when the issue goes before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “it will mark the beginning of the end for Damocles and his sword.”

“As for the rest, the durability of the Belizean spirit, the imperishability of the Belizean soul, are what will see us through,” he said. “Our hard-won independence has been enriched by our own human capital and the world’s recognition of our fantastic natural wealth.”

Belize celebrated its independence under the theme “Belize da fi wi — Now and Forever, 8867.”

Formerly British Honduras, Belize obtained its political independence on Sept. 21, 1981.

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