According to the Belize Press Office, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment of Belize, John Antonio Briceno, recently visited Barbados for meetings with US officials in his capacity as Chairman of CARICOM. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cuba has now reported that Prime Minister Briceno is heading to Cuba to hold talks with Cuban officials on April 27 and “to carry out other activities.”
While the nature of the talks between the Belize Prime Minister and Cuban officials is unclear, the Belize Prime Minister’s trip is happening after a report this month from Belize’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration that the Department of Border Management and Immigration Services in Belize has seen an upsurge in the number of Cubans, among other nationals, entering Belize via irregular means, trying to reach the US/Mexico Border and using Belize as a transit point. The visit of the Belize Prime Minister to Cuba also coincides with preparations underway in Cuba to celebrate International Workers’ Day on Sunday, May 1.
Regarding the surge in Cuban migrants in Belize, Belize sources said that “Cuban nationals are utilizing the Refugees Program to avoid repatriation and are being handed over to Help for Progress.” The Mobile Interdiction Team of the Belize Police Department also apprehended 16 Cuban nationals early in April 2022 who entered via irregular means and handed them over to Immigration.
In relation to the Internal Worker’s Day celebration, the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples said that over 800 foreign delegates will descend on the Cuban territory from April 30 to May 2 to participate in tours of work centres and forums designed to “explain the effects of the United States blockade within the sector and the ways to overcome these obstacles.”
Cuban sources also stated that the international group of delegates will participate in a protest march, and on May 2 there will be a reflection and debate event at the Convention Center in Havana.
Fernando Gonzalez Llort, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples said that the debate will include discussions on “solidarity with the just causes of the peoples, the global economic crisis, access to vaccination against COVID-19 and its geographical disparity, as well as diversity in the anti-imperialist struggle.”
Loop News was unable to confirm at press time whether the Belize Prime Minister will participate in this debate or any marches protesting the economic blockage of Cuba by the United States or whether possible solutions in connection with the migration of Cubans to Mexico via Belize will be discussed.
More about the Belize Prime Minister
Juan Antonio Briceno, affectionately known as Johnny Briceno (born July 17, 1960), is the fifth Belizean politician to serve as the Prime Minister of Belize. He served as leader of the People’s United Party (PUP) and the Leader of the Opposition, from 2008 to 2011. Previously, he was Deputy Prime Minister from 1998 to 2007. On February 8, 2016, Briceno again became Leader of the Opposition in Belize.
In 1993, Johnny Briceno was elected to the National Assembly as the representative for the Orange Walk Central division; in 1994 he ran in the municipal elections in Orange Walk Town and served as a member of the Town Council for two terms from 1994 to 2001. In 1994 he was elected Co-Chairman of the People’s United Party; in 1996 he was elected to one of the two top positions, as Deputy Party Leader and he became the youngest Belizean ever to become Deputy Leader of the People’s United Party. Briceno served as Deputy Party Leader from 1996 until 2008 when he resigned and offered himself as a candidate for Party Leader. During his years as Deputy Party Leader Briceno and the PUP won national elections in 1998 and in 2003 and as the leader in the northern region the Party won more than 50 percent of their seats in the national as well as in local elections.