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Saturday, January 22, 2022
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Mexican border

Dear Editor,
Was in Chetumal City lately and noticed that it is depressed by the lack of Belizeans patronizing the area. The businesses are clamoring for Belizeans to return, but because of the pandemic, we are not allowed to cross our borders freely.

Belizeans like to visit Chetumal, because most things are cheaper over there — foodstuffs, auto parts and repairs, doctors and medicines, etc. Mexico is one of our largest trading partners, and Chetumal is our gateway there.  The closed border does not really affect the pandemic numbers in Belize, because most people are extremely careful when traveling; it mostly spreads in the homes and crowded places where people take off their masks for whatever reasons.

What the closed border is doing is making Mexican imports more expensive for us. It is much more expensive to cross cargo into Belize with a strictly regulated border than with a liberated one. But methinks Belize doesn’t have to worry about an avalanche of Belizeans rushing into Mexico if the borders are opened. Two things will slow it down: the fact that you must pay $100.00 Bz to get your Covid test upon returning, and now the Mexican customs are charging a fee of 19% on any items that are not regular foodstuffs. Auto parts, hardware and commercial quantities of any items, not really cargo, just a dozen of this or a dozen of that. For example, I was bringing a pair of cart wheels, and the officer told me to provide the purchase ticket and to go pay 19% of the value so as to be able to get it out of Mexico, like an export tax. That is after I had already paid 16% iva on the item at the store. Don’t know if it was a legal tax or not, didn’t bother to ask.

I would like the Embassy of Mexico in Belize and the CANACO in Chetumal to note this, or Belizean tourists won’t be crowding their beautiful city. Also, I would like to encourage GOB to open the border with proper protocols. Having it closed is costing businesses too much and not really affecting the pandemic numbers. This is extremely bad for both Mexican and Belizean businesses.

Romel Cuello

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