Minister Ablonczy Supports Central American Security and Stability During Visit to Belize

October 13, 2012 - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), completed her official visit to Central America today following a series of key events that reinforced Canadian efforts to improve security and stability throughout the region.

Today, Minister Ablonczy toured the Guatemala-Belize Adjacency Zone, the buffer region established to help reconcile the two countries’ long-standing territorial dispute. The Minister was accompanied by the Chief Executive Officer of Belize’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Alexis Rosado, Guatemala’s Vice-Minister of External Relations, Carlos Raúl Morales, and the OAS Secretary General’s Special Representative for Belize and Guatemala, Ambassador Raúl Lago.

“Our government is committed to working alongside our neighbours throughout the region to improve safety and security for the people who call the Americas home,” said Minister Ablonczy. “Canada is pleased that Guatemala and Belize are working closely together to resolve the issue of the Adjacency Zone between their two countries. We are confident that a resolution will improve the stability and security of both nations and are pleased to be helping to achieve a peaceful result.”

The work of the Organization of American States (OAS) Office in the Adjacency Zone is crucial as it contributes to reducing violence and insecurity, while improving prospects and conditions for effective conflict resolution.

Canada recently announced $1 million in additional support for the Organization of American States (OAS) Office in the Adjacency Zone to help it in its work to bring Guatemala and Belize toward a permanent solution. This adds to the $445,000 Canada has contributed to the Office since 2009.

On Friday, Minister Ablonczy was joined by Belize’s Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, to announce Canada’s delivery of state-of-the-art ballistics identification equipment to the Belizean National Forensics Laboratory. The Canadian-made Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), valued at approximately $720,000, will help local investigators to link firearms to crimes and suspects. The equipment will also allow Belize to contribute to a regional ballistics information network, which could be drawn on by other national and regional law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL.

Canada’s donation of the equipment is being further bolstered through support to train Belize National Forensics Laboratory staff at the Biology Unit of Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Sciences in the area of DNA testing and analysis.

“Canada’s support will increase the capacity of Belizean authorities to combat transnational organized crime and to contribute to greater overall security for the Belizean people,” said Minister Ablonczy. “These projects are part of our consistent, ongoing commitment to strengthen security and institutions in the Americas.”

In Belize, Minister Ablonczy also visited the community at Spanish Lookout, which is home to an estimated 2,500 Canadian Mennonites. The community has ties to Mennonite communities in both Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

For photos, please visit Minister Ablonczy Travels to Guatemala.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Joshua Zanin
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)
613-944-2300

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874
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Backgrounder

Guatemala-Belize Adjacency Zone

The long-standing issue of the disputed border between Guatemala and Belize will be addressed through a public referendum to be held simultaneously in both countries on October 13, 2013.  The referendum will decide whether the border issue should be sent to the International Court of Justice.

For more information, please visit OAS Office on the Adjacency Zone.

Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS)

This donation was funded through Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP), which supports efforts by countries in the Americas to prevent and respond to threats posed by transnational organized criminal networks. The equipment donation is part of the Central American Ballistic Information Network (CABIN) project, which was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Summit of the Americas in April 2012.

For more information, please visit Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program.