Belizean Diaspora and Government Officials Meet in US Cities
Author: Admin – October 04 2021
Monday, October 4, 2021 - Some 400 Belizeans living in the USA attended Town Hall Meetings held in Houston, Chicago, New York and Miami from September 28 - October 3, 2021, organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations (MTDR) through its newly established Diaspora Relations Unit (DRU).
The Belizean diaspora plays an integral role in the overall development of Belize. It is estimated that over 300,000 Belizeans are currently living abroad, and the majority of those are residents of the United States. Belizeans living abroad continue to contribute to Belize’s economy in many ways including investment, tourism, expertise exchange, philanthropy, and remittances. The main objective of the meetings was to reach out to a wide cross-section of Belizeans living in and around these cities and to exchange information and ideas that will contribute toward nation-building.
The Government of Belize delegation comprised of the Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations; the Hon. Henry Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform; H.E. Lynn Young, Ambassador of Belize to the United States and Permanent Representative of Belize to the Organization of American States; Mrs. Sandhya Murphy, Ambassador for Diaspora Relations; Mrs. Nicole Solano, Chief Executive Officer in the MTDR; Belize City Councillor Mrs. Stephanne Hamilton, Councillor for Tourism and Diaspora Relations; Mr. Paul Thompson, Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources, Petroleum & Mining; and Ms. Sandra Mahler, Senior Liaison Officer in the MTDR. Hon. Gilroy Usher, Minister of State in the Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy, and Logistics and H.E. Carlos Fuller, Ambassador to the United Nations, joined the meeting in New York. Mrs. Leticia Castellanos, Honorary Consul of Belize in Chicago and Ms. Janine Sylvestre, Honorary Consul of Belize in Florida also joined the meeting in their respective cities.
“Belize’s development will require the input and contributions of all Belizeans, those at home, as well as those around the globe”, commented Hon. Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations. “These types of meetings with our fellow Belizeans abroad allow for personal interactions, and allow us to listen and understand the needs of our people. We will schedule a meeting in Los Angeles before the end of this year, and intend to continue the dialogue in other cities as well.”
The format of the Town Hall Meetings allowed for discussions among the government officials and the Belizeans in attendance. The ministers of government provided updates on the current situation in Belize, with an emphasis on the plans for economic recovery. The Ambassador for Diaspora Relations provided details on the plans for the DRU and explained some of the initiatives being undertaken by the unit. During the Question & Answer segment, those in attendance were given the opportunity to make comments, express concerns, and raise matters that require follow up. A business card raffle was also conducted, and four lucky Belizeans won Belizean products, including a four-night stay in Caye Caulker, Belize, courtesy La Isla Resort.
Three Belizean restaurants were visited on this tour. Bow’s Taste of Belize, a prominent Belizean restaurant, hosted the meeting in Houston. Ovo Frito Cafe and Garifuna Flava Restaurant hosted the delegation in Chicago, both owned and operated by Belizeans.
Ongoing collaboration with the various Belizean business associations in the various cities will ensure further reach within the Belizean diaspora. This is the first in a series of activities being planned by the MTDR that are designed to strengthen relations with the diaspora and identify opportunities for business and development in Belize.