REPORT #288 May 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Colombia to our south has broken down into anarchy! This is almost no legitimate government anymore except in name and a few pockets.

Recent statistics claim over a million Colombians have left for Spain in Europe. About 80,000 are the figures for Colombians who have overstayed their USA visa's in South Florida. Panama and Costa Rica also have an influx of fleeing Colombian business middle class. The expectation is that another 4 to 5 million small business Colombian refugees will try to reach the USA this year.

Bandit gangs have ruined the Colombian countryside and are now ruining the cities. Rural farmers have fled for several years to the cities of Colombia, trying to escape the extortion, the kidnappings and killings. While different groups, both claiming leftist and rightist sentiments and private armies abound; the situation is no longer one of civil war, revolution, or any kind of ideaological battle. It is pure banditry, as in the breakdown in China of a hundred years ago, with Warlords running private gangs and armies throughout the countryside.

Because extortion and kidnapping has proven so lucrative, every Tom, Dick and Harry in the cities are now getting into the rackets. Not only are rich people targets, but small business people, and even ordinary poor people. A lady from a family I know was kidnapped a few weeks back. She was from a poor family. The demand was for $5000 USA ransom. The relatives could not find that much money, so the gang strapped explosives to the old lady and blew her up.

Children are the new fad as kidnapping victims. There are currently an estimated 3000 children being held as kidnap victims in any one week throughout Colombia and that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is going to get worse before it can ever get better. Law and order and government has completely broken down.

Herein lies an opportunity for Belize. A source of immigrants that have some money and lots of experience, both in farming, and business operations.

Selective immigration of Colombians in Bogota would be the way to go. Bring them to Belize. They understand our climate and third world problems.

Unlike the new Chinese immigrants who are from a temperate industrialized metropolitan society, the Colombians are better fitted to starting farms, and small manufacturing businesses for export. Belize could do worse than importing 5000 Colombian families with specific work experience and small amounts of capital.

Opportunity knocks for Belize, is anybody listening?

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