The construction of a Coast Guard forward operating base on Hunting Caye was brought to an abrupt stop in the first week of October after the US Southern Command issued a stop order.
The move came after word got out that the forward operating base was being built by Guatemalans.
At the time the contract was awarded under the status force agreement 2007, there was an agreement that the US government, who is funding the project, could use any contractor to build the operating base. So the US awarded the contract to the Guatemalan company BINARQ, an international company that works in various countries and has done similar projects in the region. But when the noise started the U.S ordered the construction to stop in order to review the situation. But when they got back to GOB the news was not good.
“We have been advised by the US Army Corp of Engineers that at this point there are only two options for Belize. One, that the construction of the forward operating base continues under the existing contractual arrangements with BINARQ and no change in their workforce configuration. Option two is for the government of Belize to complete the construction of the forward operating base. These two options were presented to Cabinet on Tuesday by my ministry and Cabinet has made a decision to go with option two which is for the government of Belize to continue and complete the construction of the forward operating base.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
“I’ve been told that the cost of completing the forward operating base is one point six million dollars—a cost that government will gladly assume in the context of our determination to demonstrate to the people of this country that we are both willing and able to stand on our own feet. I want to be perfectly clear that decision is not in any sense meant to be a rebuke to the United States of America. The fact is that in contracting with the Guatemalans, they did what the agreement side by the last administration perfectly entitled them to do. So there can be no quarrel with them. But in the context of the fallout from the disclosure made as to the fact of this Guatemalan company being the contractor, the context of the outpouring of nationalist sentiment—which of course is something that this particular government is always anxious to encourage—I am perfectly happy with the decision of Cabinet.”
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