Amidst border closures in the fight of COVID-19, the Belize Coast Guard has launched their Blue Lightning operation, designed to secure Belize’s maritime borders. Besides strengthening Belize’s territorial waters, Blue Lightning also aims to stop illegal activities in our seas. Combining river and coastal patrols, the Belize Coast Guard will be especially vigilant against contraband runners, border jumpers, and illegal entry into Belize – vital to safeguarding Belize and her citizens.
Operation Blue Lightning was rolled out with a toll-free phone number, 999, that can be dialed anytime to seek assistance or to provide information to the Coast Guard on any illegal maritime activity. Deputy Commandant of the Coast Guard, Greg Soberanis, said that the operation is a layered security defense strategy which is conducted 7 days per week, 24 hours per day.
A look at the #Belize‘s Operation Blue Lightning. The U.S. is proud to partner with the #BelizeCoastGuard in its efforts to build its capacity to keep Belize safe & secure. @USMissionBelize pic.twitter.com/m7x70BSQcG
— U.S. Southern Command (@Southcom) August 10, 2020
As Phase 4 of Belize’s Travel Reopening Plan, Belize’s land and maritime borders remain closed; both were closed late March to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Belize. Nevertheless, a full reopening of Belize’s overnight tourism sector is listed as phase 4, with no date confirmed. Given the current high case numbers of neighboring countries in Mexico and Guatemala, Belize’s land borders remain closed; this also includes smaller ports of entry, such as those lining Belize’s maritime border. However, Belize has recorded positive cases in country due to illegal border crossings, with Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow highlighting stricter penalties, such as 6 months of jail time for illegal border jumpers and/or contraband goods. However, Belize is currently in Phase 2, with the international airport accepting repatriation flights only.