Is Belize Safe?
“You make Belize sound like heaven. But you forget to mention the serious crime problem this country has. When I was there, a bus was stopped and the people were robbed and the women were raped. Not really heaven, is it?”
— John M., United States
Belize Correspondent Phil Hahn replies:
“I agree. Heaven is a place where tragic things like this wouldn’t occur. The truth is, that place doesn’t exist on this earth. My high regard for Belize or for any other country where I enjoy spending time acknowledges that occasional random acts of violence take place everywhere. But they take place some places more often than others, and, in fact, a desire to escape these kinds of horrible occurrences is one important reason many people are deciding now to live and retire overseas. Other countries can be safer than the country where you’re coming from, including, certainly, the United States.
“I looked into the unfortunate episode you write about and found that it took place in a remote region of Belize near the Guatemala border. The bizarre event was perpetrated deep in the jungle by non-Belizeans crossing the border.
“A country of but 300,000 people, most of them farmers and fisherman, and home to a large community of Mennonites, Belize is one of the safest places I’ve ever spent time. I’ve never felt threatened here, and neither has my wife or three children.
“We are not alone in this opinion. ‘Open Road’ travel guide says this country is ‘Peaceful and non-meddlesome, blissfully unimportant…Belize rarely merits attention in any foreign newspaper.’
“Belize is full of warm, wonderful people. I introduced you to a few of them the other day. I hope that, during your time here, you had a chance to get to know some of them yourself and to experience something of what this country has to offer. No, it’s not heaven, but it’s a special place.
“Unfortunately, precisely because events like the one you describe are so uncommon, when they do happen, they make big news.”