Interesting Q & A on the Belizenet board...

Q: Any clues as to why the US is overwhelming Belmopan with the embassy complex? It looks bigger than the Belize government buildings. We still live in the US, but are moving to Cayo District. Looks like no place is safe from our "tax dollars at work."

A: I've read that the U.S. State Department has developed three standard designs for new American Embassies -- small, medium and large. Small costs around US$50 million, medium around $70 or $75 million and large around US$100 million, exclusive of land costs. There are different and I suspect more costly design standards for embassies in major world capitals such as Moscow or London.

Belize's is the small version. The announced cost for the U.S. embassy in Belmopan is US$50 million.

Typically, the small version is supposed to take a little over two years to complete, including planning.

These designs are supposed to provide secure facilities. I don't know the specifics, but the construction is blast-hardened and provides living space for personnel as well as administrative offices. In some cases other U.S. offices such as USAID are incorporated into the embassy compounds.

The present embassy in Belize City is in a lovely old building, but it is certainly not very secure and over the years has been subject to flooding from hurricanes and once was badly infested with termites.

You wouldn't think that the U.S. would need such a large and costly embassy in a little country like Belize, but when you're dealing with Uncle Sugar and State Department bureaucracy I guess you have to go with the design specs.

--Lan Sluder