B.D.F. Cmdr: Military cooperation will continue with Guatemala

Craddock's co-host, B.D.F. Commander Lloyd Gillet, offered an outline of what the conference accomplished and went on to field questions on the two security issues of greatest importance to Belize: drugs and the Guatemalan claim.

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett, Commander, B.D.F.
“We want to find out how we can measure how we are making success in terms of security. The General mentioned that this is a transit region and illegal drugs pass through, migrants, arms are passing through. How can we measure success against the trafficking of drugs? One indication is the amount of tracks leaving Colombia and reaching the United States. There are sensors that can detect these things moving and so over time we’re gonna track how many tracks continue to go through. Secondly, the other thing we can use to measure is the price and purity of the cocaine reaching the United States and over time we’ll see whether the price goes up and the purity goes down, that means that we are having progress. The third way is to see how the regional security initiatives are taking hold. There are several initiatives and each country participates in these initiatives.”

Stewart Krohn
“General, we all know that a large scale drug trade cannot flourish in the region without significant amounts of corruption in law enforcement. Are you concerned about corruption within the security forces of Belize with regard to the drug trade?”

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
“Well I can only speak on behalf of the B.D.F. I know we do all we can, Alfonso has been out on the ground with us destroying marijuana fields and there is police participation. I know that we—”

Stewart Krohn
“We’re not talking about destroying marijuana fields General, we are talking about high level corruption. There have been past key members of the B.D.F. who are strongly suspected of being involved in the drug trade, are you concerned about that as an on-going proposition?”

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
“I don’t know of any present high-level B.D.F. involved in drug trade, and if you know, maybe you let me know or let the police know.”

Stewart Krohn
“General, it would appear from all these meetings that go on where you sit around the table with the Guatemalans that there is this budding relationship between the Belize Defence Force and the Guatemalan military. Do you have any reason to be concerned that this growing friendship may have a down side to it, that the public may feel that maybe Belize and Guatemalan armies are getting a little too close for comfort?”

Brigadier General Lloyd Gillett
“I have no concern about that. I think it’s a good thing. I don’t know any friends that are concerned that their friendship would injure anybody else. But I think if you look at what has happened on the ground, in 2000 Belizean patrols were being captured, now that’s not happening; couple years ago, there was conflict between settlers and the B.D.F. and a number of them got killed. And over the last two years our relationship with the Guatemalan armed forces improved, so has the security situation in the adjacency zone improved, and I think that so has the coordination in terms of deterring other criminal elements coming into Belize, so has that improved. So I think it’s a good thing and we’ll continue it.”