Secretary Kerry’s Priorities for Belize

Vinai K. Thummalapally (Ambassador to Belize, 2009-present)

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The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) launched in 2010 under the leadership of Secretary Clinton does a superb job of articulating our priorities. The various gains made during the past three years should be built upon.

Specifically the following are a few suggestions for U.S. engagement in Belize:

1.       More emphasis needs to be placed on prevention than cure. While the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) has provided much needed assistance to help Belize tackle crime, drug trafficking, etc., diverting assistance towards development efforts is better. Education (primary and secondary) and skills training for youth at risk, particularly adolescent men, are most in need of help.

2.       “Partnership for Growth” launched in El Salvador should be expanded to include Belize. Promoting economic growth will pay huge dividends.

3.       The U.S. government should continue partnering with the Government of Belize, other donor countries, international aid agencies, NGOs and the local business community to share information and develop/implement needed programs.

4.       The QDDR talks about the role of the Chief of Mission (COM) more as a CEO and that the COM should have more authority/responsibility to make decisions in country and coordinate and streamline the efforts of all U.S. government agencies. Being a first time non-career ambassador, I have little to compare with but my general sense is that there is a great deal of room for improvement in this regard. I have seen too much micro management from Washington.

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