Belize, a Central American country with a population of 314,000 has been in an ongoing power struggle with the country’s Canadian owned power company, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) over a rate increase.

Fortis is the majority owner of Belize Electricity Limited which can only raise electricity rates after applying for and being awarded a rate increase by Belize’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC). It applied for an increase earlier this year but was turned down.

According to CEO Marshall, rising oil prices and the regulator’s decision not to allow a 25 percent rate increase are to blame for putting his company in “financial crisis.”

But PUC chairman, John Avery, in an interview with Belize’s Channel 5 News, said the Commission cannot take BEL’s claims about a cash flow crisis seriously and will not allow BEL to pass unreasonable costs onto customers.

BEL is threatening to shut down power production if demands are not met, in effect holding the country hostage. Let there be no doubt, should the US continue its dependence on foreign oil or continue to allow LNG terminals and rely upon that fuel for energy production, we too will be held hostage for ever increasing rates.

This is a cautionary tale and one that has been repeated around the globe many times. Number one, essential services must never be privatized, holding profits ahead of the people. Number two, we have to stop importing foreign resources and price gouging at the pump are no different than BEL holding their hand on the switch in Belize.

Previously, it was US companies that held other countries hostage, a US owned company once did the same thing to Canada, but as we have outsourced our manufacturing and depleted our own reserves we are now in the same position as Belize. We have no national security anymore, we are weak and dependent nation.