Belize enjoys having a relatively strong currency compared to other sister countries in regions of Central America and the Caribbean – the Belize dollar, pegged at a rate of 2:1 to the US dollar. Belize also boasts a unique passport, branded with the symbolic and historic coat of arms. However, it has formally signaled its commitment to adopt a common CARICOM passport – a move that is now in progress, but a government officialtells Amandala that the plan to implement a common CARICOM currency has been pushed back to 2015.
Still, Belize’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Hon. Gaspar Vega, last week signed a 59-point declaration in San Pedro, Sula, Honduras, on Friday, December 5, 2008, encompassing the region’s plans for integration under the Central American Integration System.
The San Pedro Sula Declaration, in article 38, specifically calls for the group to look into the establishment of a single currency for Central America. The declaration also covers migration, international cooperation, tourism, economic growth and development, agriculture & fisheries, regional transport, education, as well as environmental and social issues.
The most widely reported outcome from the meeting was the decision to advance efforts to establish a common currency and passport for Central America.
An official release of SICA – whose information is published entirely in Spanish – cites the world financial crisis and high food prices as critical concerns of the region.
It is noteworthy that while Belize was represented at the meeting by our deputy prime minister, Hon. Vega, Guatemala was represented by president Alvaro Colom Caballeros – talking regional integration only three days before foreign affairs ministers of the two countries were to meet in Washington, D.C., to sign a special agreement – purportedly to submit Guatemala’s age-old claims over Belize’s territory for determination by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
At Monday’s signing in Washington, D.C., the Foreign Affairs Minister of Guatemala, Haroldo Rodas, while still insisting on his country’s territorial claim over Belize, mentioned on several occasions the regional move towards integration under the banner of the Central American Integration System, abbreviated SICA in Spanish.
Meanwhile, Belize’s Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, was leading a delegation to the Cuba-CARICOM summit in Barbados.
(The Government of Belize has not issued any official reports on either the Honduras or Barbados meetings.)
Last February, Belize was the host country for a joint meeting of Central America and the Caribbean, and the venue for the signing of a cooperation agreement between SICA and CARICOM.
Official proponents of CARICOM in Belize seem still uncertain of exactly how Belize would fulfill simultaneous integration efforts being pushed by SICA and CARICOM.
We are advised that even before Belize became a member of SICA, it was already a member of CARICOM, and actively involved in the integration talks for that region.
We do know that while there are regional integration talks at both the CARICOM and SICA levels, there are, in fact, discussions taking place for wider integration in Latin America and even more so the entire Americas, as talks of a common currency for the entire Americas have for years been entertained, and continue to be promoted by some. In the recent years, those talks have sometimes come under the “dollarization” proposals.
Of note is that the world financial crisis is providing renewed impetus for proponents of a common currency beyond national borders, but within countries there are still many unanswered questions – and concerns - as to exactly how such a system would benefit nations such as Belize.
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