The Government of President Felipe Calderon in Mexico has fulfilled its commitment to Belize to make the southern area of Mexico into an area of opportunity by completing a new bridge over the Rio Hondo amd a new access highway leading to it.

But Belize has been slow in fulfilling its part of the bargain, due mainly to a shortage of development funds.

Last Friday Mexico invited Belize to a meeting in Chetumal to discuss the project, and to analyse the progress made on construction of new border facilities in both countries.

Belize and Mexico pledged to work together and in a coordinated way to make the border into a secure and orderly place for trade and investment opportunities, for transportation, education and cultural, scientific and technological exchanges.

Each delegation presented various projects and discussed the progress of building the necessary infrastructure on both sides and proposed modifications to speed up construction so that the facilities can become operational soon.

Traffic from the Corozal Free Zone, competing with traffic from Santa Elena Chetumal has become a border nightmare.

Over the Easter holidays traffic over the existing Freedom Bridge slowed to an agonizing crawl, taking two hours to cross the 400-odd yards from the Belize side on to the Mexican side.

The delegation from Belize was chaired by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Alexis Rosado, who was accompanied by officials from the Ministries of Works; Finance; Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture; Economic Development; and National Security as well as from the Departments of Police, Customs, Immigration and the Border Administration Agency.

The Mexican delegation was chaired by the Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean, Salvador Beltran del Rio Madrid, and was made up of officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Defense; Communications and Transportation; the Environment and Natural Resources; Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food and Public Safety; the Navy; the National Institute for the Administration and Valuation of National Property; the National Institute for Migration; the Customs Agency; the Attorney General’s Office; and the Quintana Roo State Government.

Reports not confirmed say the existing border crossing and the existing Fredom Bridge will be used exclusively for free commercial trade, while the new Bridge further upstream will be used for the flow of regular border traffic.

Prior to Friday’s meeting, Undersecretary Beltrán Del Río visited Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Wilfred Elrington in Belmopan, where he reiterated President Calderón’s invitation to Prime Minister Dean Barrow to make a state visit to Mexico this year.

During their meeting, they also discussed various bilateral issues and agreed to hold the sixth Mexico-Belize Binational Commission prior to Prime Minister Barrow’s visit to Mexico.

The Reporter