LADYVILLE, Fri. Jan 29, 2021– January 2021 marked the 43rd anniversary of the Belize Defence Force, and while some of the BDF’s members have brought disrepute to the organization (most notably a soldier who was apprehended for alleged involvement in the landing of a drug plane), the BDF still made their way to the Sir Colville Young Parade Square at the Price Barracks in Ladyville to host a commemorative ceremony.
The BDF was formed in 1978 via the amalgamation of the Belize Volunteer Guards and the Police Special Force. It is customary for the anniversary ceremony to be held at the end of January each year, followed by the Open House, which takes place on Saturday. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, the soldiers could only commemorate their day by marching during their private ceremony.
This did not deter the proud soldiers from displaying their discipline and professionalism as they stood shoulder to shoulder in full regalia. The newly appointed Minister of National Defence and Border Security, Hon. Florencio Marin, Jr., was also in attendance, as well as his Minister of State, Hon. Oscar Mira. Hon. Marin, Jr., spoke with all members of the media in attendance on Friday during a joint interview and stated that it was a “special, special day” for those who have served and continue to serve in the force. Marin also called on members of the BDF to set the example and “serve as a source of pride and inspiration for the rest of the country.”
The Commander of the BDF, Brigadier General Steven Ortega, also shared a few words with the media to express his sentiments:
“It is very significant. It is a milestone for us in that this time we acknowledge people who have set the foundation for the BDF and we also showcased ourselves to the future [recruits] who are expected to come into the force. So it is a very joyous and happy time for us,” he said.
Both the Brigadier General and Minister Marin, Jr., mentioned that their future endeavors will be geared at increasing the size of the BDF and ramping up border security.
“If you notice, our operation continues to grow, so we expect the numbers for the force to grow as our commitment grows, and with growing comes all the necessary assets and resources that go along with that,” Brigadier General Ortega said.
He added, “We had to downscale everything because of COVID, so that is why they only had two detachments on parade, and we try to complement it with non-personnel, meaning we had the vehicles in the background, just to have it look a bit more.”