Has the Government of Belize secured highly trained Israeli surveillance team to monitor phone conversations and text messages? For some time now, several reports have been claiming that this is the case. We have been doing research on this highly sensitive issue to connect the dots and have found out the following. There has been an undisputed claim that G.O.B. brought in experts to train and equip the Police Department to listen in to conversations over telephone lines for national security purposes. While there has been no official disclosure of these ‘activities,’ it was suspected that the software has been installed at the state-owned company, B.T.L. It also came to light years ago that the Israeli team paid a visit to Smart seeking information about frequencies and other technical communication data, but it was unable to provide legal documentation so they left and never returned. Our research also came up with claims that a number of lists were allegedly compiled with “numbers of interest,” belonging to several key political players. On the heels of these reports, G.O.B. was able to secure a vehicle with high level equipment from the Israelis. The vehicle, it is alleged, is outfitted with cellular transmission blocking, phone conversation monitoring, audio and video surveillance capabilities.
So, what does this say about the citizens’ privacy? Well, if you can remember back in 2010 the controversial Interception of Communications Bill was ratified. Back then, Government said it was to be used primarily to tackle crime. But, any legal mind and surveillance technology expert can tell you that the legislation can be used for purposes that seek to remove citizens’ privacy. Back in 2011, a report appeared in the local press that NICE Systems Limited was hired by the government. That company’s website says that it specializes in telephone voice recording, data security and surveillance. At the time, cell phone owners were registering their sim cards as required by law.
Which brings us to this… A little over a week ago, the media in Panama reported that the Attorney General was investigating illegal wiretapping that took place between the 2009-2014 administrations of President Ricardo Martinelli. Damning evidence against Martinelli discovered traces of high tech equipment used for spying, targeted politicians, union officials, business people, journalists, indigenous leaders and N.G.O.s. And just how did Panama obtain this type of technology? Well, if you are thinking it sounds oddly similar to the story of the Israelis in Belize, then you are right. The Panama press reports that the Martinelli administration bought the surveillance equipment from Israel.
Now, this may or may not have anything to do with this alleged “surveillance,” but since 2009, Israeli access to Belize was made a whole lot easier since they have been able to enter Belize sans-visa. At the time, it was said that the visa waiver would result in a boost in tourism, trade and access to technology. But interestingly, Belize receives less than seventy-five visitors from Israel and Israel even less visitors from Belize. It is all interesting because it is the same Isreali Company that finds itself in the eye of reports in Belize and Panama. We’ll have other developments on this story as they become available.