BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 31, 2019– In an apparent effort to reaffirm ties between Belize and the US, a senior State Department official paid a visit to Belize to liaise with several political figures and diplomats on October 27 and 28.
Julie Chung, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, visited the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow; the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. John Briceño; the Ambassador of Japan to Belize, H.E. Hiroyuki Kubota; and the Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. Remus Li-Kuo Chen, to reinforce how important and fruitful our ties have been both with the US and Taiwan over these past decades.
Her visit took place in light of the recent problems America has been facing as a result of the influence of Cuba and China in the region. America has been calling for a regime change in Venezuela since president Nicolas Maduro assumed power in May of 2018, which has resulted in violent country-wide unrest.
The US believes that Cuba’s communist system has widely influenced what is occurring in Venezuela, which Ms. Chung spoke about during her encounter with the media. “What’s happening in Venezuela is something that Cuba is contributing to, it really violates all human rights and the international rule of law. We urge every country to do what they can to push back against the Maduro regime, this is one of our top priorities,” she said.
Additionally, the Western Hemisphere has also been seeing an increase in China’s presence, as former Taiwanese allies such as El Salvador, Panama and the Dominican Republic have switched their allegiance, much to the disapproval of the US Government. These circumstances and the recent visit to China by area representative for Caribbean Shores, Hon. Kareem Musa, and members of the Belize City Council back in August are believed to be the impetus behind Ms. Chung’s visit to the country.
Although the State Department’s visits can be viewed as an attempt to safeguard their own interests in Belize, Julie Chung did assert that America is trying to safeguard the welfare of our country as well as Taiwan. Ms. Chung expressed this to the media by saying: “I came to reaffirm the strong relationship, the wide ranging levels of cooperation and partnership that we have. In addition I also wanted to come and congratulate the Taiwanese Ambassador here for the 30th anniversary of relationship between Taiwan and Belize and to reaffirm our support for that partnership.
“And again, as we’ve seen, there are other characters and other nations that may not have the best interest of Belize at heart, and it’s great to see countries like Taiwan come here and be a partner to Belize.”
Other topics were discussed at the press conference, such as the increase in border security and the re-enforcement of immigration policies to curb illegal entry into the US. Ms. Chung also met with the Chamber of Commerce and other political leaders before her departure immediately following the press meeting on Monday.