Following the announcement in the House of Representatives of a Forwarding Operating Base being constructed in Hunting Caye, the topic has raised much concern and scrutiny from the public at large since it was revealed that the construction is one being carried out by a Guatemalan company, BINARQ. And while the topic is one making the headlines after the wake of the death of Special Constable, Danny Conorquie, it is prompting many organizations, activists and advocates defending their turf, in the on-going Belize-Guatemala dispute. Today, several Belizeans held a protest in front of the US Embassy in Belmopan to voice concerns of border safety and security among other issues. That action prompted the US Embassy to reply but they did so via press release on the FOB at Hunting Caye issue. The release states ‘The US SOUTHERN COMMAND is funding the Forward Operating Base (FOB) at Hunting Caye and other projects for the Belize Coast Guard through its Counterdrug Program in direct support of the Belize Coast Guard's 2020 strategy. The bidding process for these infrastructure projects is transparent and open to a pool of international contractors under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Central America “Multiple Award Task Order Contracts” (MATOCS). The Army Corps of Engineers grants the contract to the company assessed to provide the best product at the most reasonable cost as is the custom with contract bidding. As such, source selection is based on ‘best value’ which includes analysis of cost, record of performance, and technical qualifications,” end quote.
This response comes after the Minister of National Security; John Saldivar, said in the House of Representatives that Government cannot turn down a ‘gift horse’ to Belize. Well, today the Ministry of National Security issued a release announcing that ‘the United States Army Corp of Engineers, the US agency responsible for the construction of the Hunting Caye Forward Operating Base, has issued a letter to the Guatemalan company BINARQ which has had the effect of causing all construction at the Base to cease. The Ministry of National Security is insisting that this remains in effect until a satisfactory policy decision can be arrived at among all parties take consideration the sensitivities expressed by sections of the Belizean population.
The release continues to say that Ministry takes this opportunity to clarify that BINARQ, the Guatemalan company in question, was contracted to build the Hunting Caye Base in 2011, months before the current Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar assumed the portfolio. Minister Saldivar was briefed on the on-going Hunting Caye and San Pedro projects, shortly after being appointed as the Minister of National Security in the second term of the United Democratic Party government.
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