Threats to Economic Freedom in Belize?

James M. Roberts /

Although Belize has made some progress on its Index of Economic Freedom score in the past few years, recent actions by the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the supermajority his United Democratic Party enjoys in Parliament may have put that progress at risk.

Belize is increasingly wracked by violent crime, while its high debt burden is a strain on public finance. The illegal drug trade and money laundering are entrenched problems. The Barrow government took office in February 2008 and has close relations with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, due in part to the many foreign aid petro-dollars he sends to the country.

In return, apparently, the Barrow government may have agreed to play by Chavez’s populist rules: expropriation of private property, centralization of power in the executive (in the name of the people), attacks on the independence of the judiciary, and a crackdown on private media and freedom of expression. (more…)