OTTAWA, Canada — Canada is assisting Belize with its defence policy as tensions between the Central American nation and neighbouring Guatemala continue to simmer over the killing of a 13-year-old boy by Belize soldiers.
|Belize defence ministry CEO, Feliz Enrique|
Feliz Enrique, CEO of the Belize defence ministry, said last week that the US and Britain are also being consulted.
Belize is embroiled a border dispute with Guatemala, which deployed 3,000 troops in April to a disputed area between the two countries after the 13-year-old was shot dead.
Guatemalan officials claimed the youth and his family were attacked as they planted crops near the border.
But Belize’s government said security forces investigating illegal land clearing in a national park had detained a Guatemalan man.
Later that night, the Belizean patrol was attacked and returned fire in self defence. The boy’s body was found the next morning.
On May 19, Belize accused Guatemalan troops of kidnapping a Belizean farmer. It has asked the Organization of American States to investigate that and other live fire incidents on the border.
The shootings are the latest incidents in a dispute between the two countries over Guatemala’s claims to territory governed by Belize.
Top military officers from Belize came to Ottawa in February for meetings and to receive advice from the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces on their country’s future defence strategy, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
“Belize is of growing importance to the Canadian government due to the increasingly precarious security situation in Central America, particularly along the Belize-Mexico border,” the department said a March 2012 briefing note prepared for then-defence minister Peter MacKay.