Belize opposition leader Moses ‘Shyne’ Barrow, due to address Sunday’s national convention of Saint Lucia’s opposition United Workers Party (UWP), has denounced his country’s move to impose a visa requirement on Haitians.
In addition, the government of Prime Minister John Briceño would require Jamaican nationals to provide evidence of fully paid, non-refundable hotel reservations before boarding flights to Belize.
According to the Briceño administration, the decision followed a thorough discussion on the increasing number of visitors using Belize as a transit country to reach the United States.
And the Belize Prime Minister has defended the move, asserting that the government did not take the decision lightly.
Recently, the government announced it would invoke Article 226 (a) of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, allowing for the measures on Haitians and Jamaicans.
However, opposition leader Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP) has accused the Belize government of violating the free movement rights of Haitian and Jamaican nationals.
According to the UDP, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas guarantees those rights.
The Belize opposition group stated that in 2013, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) affirmed those rights.
“The Briceno administration must not lead Belize down a path of whimsical decision-making that will undermine the institution of CARICOM,” it stated.
The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), quoting local authorities, said over 2,000 Haitian nationals entered Belize between March 2022 and April this year.
Over 1900 vanished without a trace, presumably crossing into Mexico illegally en route to the United States.
CMC also quoted Belize authorities saying that the situation with Jamaican nationals disappearing after entering Belize was similar, except that it involved a considerably smaller number.