New Belize Consul General office in Chetumal

COROZAL, Monday, June 11, 2007 (CTV-3 News)

In 2005, the Government of Belize closed the Consul General’s Office in Chetumal, Quintana Roo as a form of cost-cutting during Government’s austerity initiative. Those austerity measures are still in place, but ever increasing cross border collaboration has caused GOB to take another look in that direction. Last week the Government of Mexico officially accepted credentials for a new Honorary Consul of Belize to the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Our reporter, Jorge Aldana, has the story.

Belize’s Consul General’s Office in Quintana Roo, Mexico was closed in 2005 as part of Government’s austerity initiative, but that move was not destined to be permanent. In 2006, the Prime Minister of Belize appointed businessman Rafael Chavez Martinez as Honorary Consul of Belize to the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

HE Rafael Chavez Martinez - Consul of Belize to Quintana Roo, Mexico.

“The Prime Minister recommended that I be the Honorary Consulate to the Government of Mexico, and it went to the Congress and it was approved, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico gave its credentials to us.

”Belizeans frequent Chetumal everyday, we trade with Mexico everyday, its very important and we have daily problems. We need to defend Belizeans daily. Since 2005, since the Consul General’s Office had been closed I’ve been assisting the Government of Belize, and while the process took a lengthy time, over eight months, because it had to go to the Congress of Mexico, to the Senate, to the Home Affairs, and approved, and it came eventually this year in 2007 in April, and I’m pleased to serve.”

Chavez-Martinez is no stranger in Belize since he has served as a City Councilor and a Senior Justice of the Supreme Court. He is also a well-known investor and businessman. Hugo Carrillo is the Executive Secretary at the Belize Consul General’s office and told us how Belizeans can locate the office.

Hugo Carrillo - Exe. Sec. Belize Honorary Consul, Quintana Roo, Mexico

“The office is located on Avenida San Salvador, number 566, and it is close to the previous supermarket San Francisco. We have our numbers and it will be open twenty-four hours for emergency situations, if it arises.”

Chavez says that he will absorb all expenses and the office will be sustained by what is collected from the issuing of Visas.

HE Rafael Chavez Martinez

“All over the world, Honorary Consulates finance their own office. Normally the governments would appoint business people who know the business sector, who know people in the government of the country in which they have been appointed, who has influence there, and we have to finance it ourselves.”

“I do feel a little bit of the expenses, hoping that perhaps we can obtain some visa money and some other services money, but so far the immigration at the boarder gives the visa and we hope that the Government of Belize would allow us to give the visas in Chetumal instead.”

The Office of the Honorary Consul will offer basic services for Belizeans requiring help. In addition, the office will be open to anyone needing information about Belize. Chavez- Martinez says that even though there is an office in Chetumal, Belizeans traveling to Mexico should still be careful and law abiding.

HE Rafael Chavez Martinez

“Es un placer ser su consulado de Belice en Chetumal, y quisiera arbitrir a ustedes que cuando van a Chetumal, por favor no lleven armas, no lleven drogas, tengan cuidado y estoy a sus servicio para ustedes. El penal en Chetumal para armas es treinta y cinco años, para hasta una bala. Asi que tengan cuidado como viajan a Chetumal y si me necesitan tenemos nuestros teléfonos de emergencia, veinte-cuatro horas, nuestras oficinas abren de la nueve de la mañana a la una, y desde las dos de la tarde hasta las cuatro. Todos los días estamos disponibles para ustedes.”

The last person to serve at the Consul General’s Office in Chetumal was Rick Moguel.

(Ed. NOTE: The consulate’s numbers in Chetumal are (0052) 983-8331934; fax (0052) 983- 8331937. Its emergency, 24-hour numbers are (00521) 983-1250800 and (00521) 983-1200672. The roaming cell number is 610-5071, and the email address is chaveznson@btl.net. Mr. Chavez has asked us to warn Belizeans not to take guns or ammunition across the border. The penalty for a firearm, or one bullet, he says, is 35 years in jail.)