The Christmas holiday season is one of the periods which sees a high volume of Belizeans travelling through the northern border in the Corozal District to shop in neighboring Chetumal, Quintana Roo.
Official records show that in the days surrounding Christmas day such as this past weekend, several thousands of Belizeans cross daily. While the peak to the number of travellers exiting Belize is usually early in the morning, the peak of travellers returning to Belize are the evenings. Many days and nights, the long lines of cars and bottleneck crowds are quite a sight. But last night, with hundreds over travellers crossing the border and only a couple booths being manned by Immigration officials to process travellers, the pent up frustration led to a scuffle with officials. We understand that the travellers got so frustrated with the slow lines that many attempted to just cross through the immigration area without stopping to be checked. Unable to handle the crowds and chaos, this caused the Immigration officials to close the doors and basically detain everyone from crossing. Frustration levels went even higher, with the scenario being described as a near riot.
Immigration officials called in Police officials to provide support and they arrived to quell the crowds. Six buses including those travelling to Belize City were held back waiting for their passengers. The Police were seen at the main doors allowing a group of travellers at a time. It took the crowd about an hour to cross the border station and many left angry at the delay.
The environment was very tense, and we suspect Immigration authorities will be reviewing the incident and make revisions to the process as a result.