Belmopan – For the first time since 2011, Belize hosts the 2022 Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC) from 31 January to 2 February, which includes high-level defense and security leaders from the United States, Central America, and other Western Hemisphere countries. U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the Belize Ministry of National Defence are co-hosting this year’s conference themed “Collaborative Responses to Regional Security and Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief Challenges.” The United States, through U.S. SOUTHCOM, sponsors CENTSEC annually to facilitate dialogue between regional security leaders as part of a continuing commitment to strengthen cooperative ties and achieve shared security goals.
Leaders are engaging in roundtable sessions and bilateral meetings on topics ranging from transnational criminal organizations and irregular migration, to COVID-19, climate change, and natural disasters. The U.S. delegation is led by SOUTHCOM Commander General Laura Richardson, a four- star general in the U.S. Army. Heading the Belizean delegation is Belize Defence Force Commander Brigadier General Azariel Loria. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the indispensable need for global and regional collaboration. The United States is committed to strengthening partnerships with Central America aimed at addressing transnational threats of mutual concern,” emphasized U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Leyla Moses-Ones.
“CENTSEC is an opportunity to examine present and future challenges threatening both democracy and citizen security from a regional perspective, and to engage in candid discourse on ways we can work together to forge a secure and prosperous region.” Belize Minister of National Defence Florencio Marin Jr. emphasized, “Belize is proud to once again host this important regional security meeting in collaboration with the U.S. SOUTHCOM. We look forward to the critical discussions that will take place over the course of the days ahead and remain committed to strengthening cooperation with our Central American neighbors as we work to address the issues which continue to challenge our region. We are also pleased to welcome General Richardson to our Belizean shores and congratulate her on being the first woman to lead the U.S. SOUTHCOM. Belize looks forward to continued and strengthened partnership during her tenure.”
Participating countries include Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemalan, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Representing the United States are leaders and security experts from the U.S. Southern Command, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. State Department.