On September 23, at the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with the foreign ministers of Central America to reinforce the commitments the United States and other donors have made in support of your efforts to reverse the tide of crime and violence in the region.
She was joined by the foreign ministers and senior officials from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, as well as representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, Organization of American States and United Nations Development Program. This meeting represents the next phase in international donors’ support for the region.
The United States and other donors are working to identify high-impact, sustainable citizen security programs we can support to supplement what governments in the region are carrying out. Our goal is to make a real and positive impact to build a safer, more stable foundation for the growth and prosperity that citizens throughout the region desire.
As the U.S. Ambassador to Belize, I work with Belizean officials to ensure that our assistance is targeted to Belize’s most pressing citizen security challenges. I also work with the ambassadors of other embassies in Belize to coordinate our assistance and make the best use of our respective technical skills, resources and comparative advantages.
Through my ongoing consultations with government officials, civil society, and the private sector, I hear their citizen safety concerns and encourage their cooperation with one another. As we have learned, both in the United States and through experience around the world, the most effective crime prevention programs involve citizens and government, working jointly to define the threats and implement the steps to resist and overcome criminal elements and reduce crime on the streets.
The United States can and will support Belize’s citizen security efforts as Belizean citizens and institutions take the difficult steps to create an environment where our collective efforts can take root. Any government needs resources when it sets out to support law enforcement and security personnel, rebuild courts and prisons, and protect those who are most at risk from criminal activity. These resources can come from increased revenues, including from the private sector, more efficient tax collection, or shifts in budget priorities; and the government is obliged to act accountably and report transparently when it spends the taxpayers’ money.
Every step to reduce the impact of corruption in Belize and the region will build confidence in the police, judiciary, and other institutions of government. The United States, in coordination with our international partners, is eager to move forward with our neighbors throughout the region to address citizen security and the everyday impact it has on all of us. Security is a basic right and one of our most fundamental priorities as we work together to create a better future in Belize and across our hemisphere.
- Editorial by U.S. Ambassador Vinai K. Thummalapally