The Mexican Embassy in Belize this week confirmed reports that the Mexican Federal Government is in the process of abolishing its policy on visa requirements for Belizeans travelling beyond its nearby border city of Chetumal.

Belizeans wishing to travel within that country, stated Marcelino Miranda of the Mexican Embassy this week, will no longer be required to get a Mexican visa if they go as tourists, in-transit travellers, or on a job-related mission.

The proposal to eliminate the need for visas for Belizeans travelling to Mexico has been on the table for a long time, reportedly since the 1990’s, but the present Mexican Ambassador to Belize, His Excellency Luis López Moreno, renewed the effort when he assumed office in November of 2008.

This, noted Miranda, was in keeping with a new policy on the part of the Mexican government of facilitating the flow of immigration in its territory, including for work-related purposes.

The move to change the visa requirement policy took a positive step forward on April 29th of this year when the Mexican government initiated a programme whereby Belizeans are now able to apply for a work permit in order to work legally for a year in Mexico’s southern border states.

Miranda expressed his government’s desire to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation that unite Mexico and Belize by an “open door” initiative that will facilitate the entry of Belizeans into Mexico.

Miranda has refuted reports that the long delay was a result of Mexico’s serious concern over Belize’s “open door” policy for Chinese nationals, who with enough cash, are able to secure Belizean nationality without even having to meet certain requirements as set out by Immigration laws.

Miranda referred to his country’s several bureaucratic state agencies that are involved in the legal process as the reason behind the delay.

Credible sources say the Mexican government’s major concern is that the shift in its visa requirement policy could result in a dramatic increase in human trafficking, particularly for those heading north into the United States.

“It is no secret that Belize is a transit point for other nationals, particularly Asians, to get to the United States, and the Mexican government has to take into consideration the fact that getting a Belizean passport may not be so difficult for these people. Mexico does not want the wrong people finding their way into that country and posing a threat to it or it’s neighbor in the north,” said one government source.

The legal aspect of the new policy has to be coordinated among Mexico’s Foreign Ministry, as well as its National Institute of Immigration, the Secretariat of Public Safety, and the National Council on Population.

In a country of 107 million inhabitants, all these official departments constitute a significant amount of red-tape, though absolutely necessary to streamline the various international, bilateral and juridical agreements with Belize in order to give the new policy the proper legal backing.

Miranda said that there is no specific deadline for the policy to come into effect, but it should take place sooner than later.

Belizeans studying in Mexico, or those seeking employment or engaging in other remunerative activity there, will still be required to obtain the respective visas.

Even so, they should find the process and requirements much easier, Miranda explained.

The Reporter