Representatives from Security forces from around the region are on Ambergris Caye for the annual Central American Security Conference.

Jorge Aldana reporting for LOVEFM…

“Over a dozen countries from Central America, North America, South America and the Caribbean have been invited to participate in the Central American Security Conference. The two days conference also has representatives from the Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC), Central American Integration System (SICA), and senior leaders from the U.S. State Department, U.S Northern Command, and the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies. It is one of three regional security conference sponsored by the US Southern Command held under the theme Counter Illicit trafficking – strategy, objectives implementations and resources. During his opening remarks, Commander of the Belize Defense Force General Dario Tapia explained that Belize is not speared from illicit trafficking.

General Dario Tapia - Commander - Belize Defense Force

“For many of our nations, illicit trafficking is a major threat to national security and in Belize it is no different. In fact, we strongly view it as an issue that is eating away at the core fabric of our society and therefore the Government of Belize is putting a major emphasis and priority in addressing this ill before it is too late.”

Also speaking at the opening ceremony was General Douglas Fraser, the Commander US Southern Command. According to General Fraser, the region is a focus for the US and the conference will give participating countries and opportunity to learn from each other.

General Douglas Fraser - Commander - US Southern Command

“Our focus, as all of you know is on the issue of transnational criminal organizations and the illicit activity that they conduct. Unfortunately it is impacting each and every one of our countries and so I look forward to sharing our viewpoints, sharing our operations and what we are seeing and the impact within our individual countries and discuss how we can work more closely to addressed this problem.”

And while the problem is regional, here in Belize, General Tapia says that the country is tackling the issues from all angles.

General Dario Tapia - Commander - Belize Defense Force

“We have even gotten more involved in Belize City because of the illicit activity that goes on within our own country. It is a major threat to our national security. We recognize it, the government also recognize it and we are putting more efforts in trying to address the issue of illicit trafficking; however because it is transnational in nature we need the cooperation of many of the nations that are here today represented in this conference.”

Jorge Aldana - Reporter

Would you say that the local crime that is happening is a result of what you are discussing?

General Dario Tapia - Commander - Belize Defense Force

“As I mentioned we don’t produce arms in Belize it has to come from somewhere and certainly small arms trafficking is also an issue for the region, it is not only Belize that finds itself with lots of small arms. There are countries that don’t produce and they have a problem with small arms so it is a major threat, small arms trafficking and that is why I think it is essential that one of the key things of this forum is for us to be able to share information and be able to tackle the issue of small arms trafficking and so I think that is one of the key areas that we can also address.”

Jorge Aldana – Reporter

Are you looking at other countries and try to adapt certain strategies that they have in place and implement it in Belize?

General Dario Tapia- Commander - Belize Defense Force

“Well certainly as General Fraser mentioned in his opening statement we are here to learn from each other, to see what will work for a particular nation and see if we are able to adapt something or share how they make it work in their country and I think any lesson learnt from other country that we can adopt in Belize I think we are able to adapt it as well.”

But even with the US trying to cut spending due to the global recession, it has committed 200 million dollars to the region to tackle such illicit operations.

General Douglas Fraser - Commander - US Southern Command

“There will be an impact, again I don’t know the amount, the focus. When the President was here and dedicated $200,000.00 to address this effort next year and that is a one year number. It remains a very significant focus for United States as well as other countries, but it really points to the real key, there is again not one country and not one solution to this problem, we all have to use our resources to focus on the problem; communicate what we are doing and how we can coordinate better so that in working together we address the problem and don’t look for just an outside solution; I think there is inside and outside solutions and it is us working on an international basis that addresses the problem.”

The meeting is being held at Coco Beach Resort and will end tomorrow.