Presentation by Frank Edward Paco Smith, M.Sc. at the 2nd Belize National Research Conference, 2019.
Threats to Belize’s security are often conceptualized and cast as emanating from external elements. Indeed, with the looming existential threat of Guatemala and its unfounded claim to our sovereign territory, on the surface the aforementioned is par for the course. Yet, when considering the realities associated with the many challenges to Belize’s wellbeing, an entirely different and plausible argument can be put forth. This paper advances the viewpoint that Belize’s greatest security threat, in actuality, stems from internal concerns deriving from the “Enemy from Within”; that being the employ of selective governance practices that essentially set the stage for systemic and endemic corruption which spans political lines. This unfortunate, yet persistent perversion of good governance is characteristic of precisely how Belize continues to be administered. Hence this fundamental, qualitative, analytical research shall employ case studies to explore the extent to which the negative impact of such intentional dysfunction transcend a range of areas critical to Belize’s overall interests including, but not limited to: National and Citizen Security, Diplomacy and Sovereignty, the Economy and a myriad of inputs encompassing Sustainable Development. In addition, it delves into how this reality has manifest into the bipartisan decision to sign the Special Agreement/Compromis in 2008 and the subsequent push for a “yes” vote on the impending Referendum, despite the inherent risks of such efforts.
Key words: Belize-Guatemala dispute, border disputes, national security, governance