Post-World War II

1980's - present

  • Belize is officially in Central America but often forgotten about in the scheme of U.S. interventions because it was recognized as an English-speaking, British colony until it gained its independence on September 21, 1981; also, it was called British Honduras until it changed its name to Belize in 1973.(2)
  • Because it is the smallest of the Central American nations, it was often overlooked by the U.S.
  • The U.S. only began to concern itself with Belize once tensions with guerilla forces in Guatemala began to escalate.
  • Before Belizean independence in 198, tension arose out of the fact that Britain no longer wanted to keep Belize as a colony and that Guatemala wanted claim it as their own.
  • Guatemala’s claim for Belize lasted for almost a decade after they received independence, which scared the U.S. because Guatemalan guerillas repeatedly tried to build their own military strongholds on Belizean land.
  • Along with the United States’ fear of leftist control by Guatemalan guerillas, there was also the fear of an independent Belize that was controlled by its own Prime Minister, who happened to on the left and therefore was perceived by the U.S. government to be capable of harboring guerillas of his own.
  • In the 1980’s, the U.S. established its own military operation in Belize along with training Belizean officers in the United States. This strategic anti-communist move gave the U.S. government the idea that they had the upper hand in the containment of communism in Belize and the entire Central American region around it, which included Guatemala as well.(3)

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