Last week, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Dr. David Lee visited Belize for 48 hours. When he left, he had signed a 60 million USD dollar Memorandum of Understanding for a four year package of loans and grants to Belize. It's another generous gesture from the Taiwanese, but it pales in comparison to the 650 million US dollars in assistance Taiwan is giving Guatemala for the building of an important road.
First off, it's basically the same road that the British agreed to build in the 1859 treaty. The British never lived up to their promise - which is why we're still living with this territorial dispute. It's called the "Jacobo Arbenz" 4-lane freeway to Puerto Barrios, a project that should be finished in October 2019.
Speaking about the project two days ago in a meeting with mayors, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said that "this is one of the most longed for projects in his tenure, for its historical and strategic importance in increasing the country's competitiveness."
The Republica newspaper reports him calling it, quote,"the greatest work in history", end quote, noting that the road was conceived in 1859 as part of the Treaty between Guatemala and Great Britain and that 158 years later, his administration that will make it a reality.
According to the Republica, "Morales said the road will have 680 million dollars, of which Taiwan will donate 250 million and provide a loan to Guatemala of 350 million dollars at 1.25 percent interest over a 30 year period" - which is considered a very soft loan.
The agreement with the Government of Taiwan was made when Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales visited Taipei in mid-July.
Belizean diplomats have commented privately that the development of this road can have a huge impact on Belize developmentally and demographically.