Belizean Lives Matter

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

As we go to press, Police are scrambling to investigate the double murder of the Felix brothers, Maurice and Emory, which occurred on the North side of Belize City Wednesday night. Without any fear or hesitation, a gunman walked into a well-lit bar where the brothers were hanging out and gunned down both of them. At the same time, Police have to figure out who murdered Jermaine Balthazar. His body was found dumped like garbage on the Frank’s Eddy road in the Cayo District this morning. And then there’s the shooting of Ozen Rhaburn this morning in Hattieville. The Belize Times understands he may have been shot as many as eight times. And, for good measure, a shooting in Santa Elena last night.

Of course, there are the murders of the five Belize City men near Swallow Caye, the Errol Crowne murder, a shooting in Santa Elena, and of course the murders of the tour guide and the tourist just off San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.

Of all these murders, the only one that got the attention of the Prime Minister, at least to some extent, was the murder of tourist and American national Gary Paul Swank. That brought the PM out of what had all appearances of being an early retirement. It seems that the Government had only just realized that there is crime in Belize, and that there is a need for more resources for the Police, and that San Pedro has a drug problem with the potential to destroy tourism.

Even the Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar, was forced to cut short an all-expenses paid junket to Taiwan and return to the country, where he reportedly held emergency meetings with Commissioner of Police Chester Williams and CEO George Lovell. All because one tourist was killed. It wasn’t because there have been at least 15 murders of Belizeans in the past two weeks. It was because one out of the fifteen was an American tourist.

This week PUP leader Hon. John Briceño condemned the UDP for its last-minute response to a problem which has been evident in Belize for many months. Every single year, under this UDP administration, at least 140 Belizeans have been violently killed – men, women and children – and the Barrow administration has done absolutely nothing. On many different occasions the PUP has called the attention of the Government to the serious lack of resources of the Belize Police Department, to no avail. The PUP has pointed to the dismal conviction rate in the country, reported to be in the vicinity of 3%. Nobody in Cabinet has listened.  The PUP has pointed to the crisis in the judiciary, where persons accused of committing crimes are behind bars for years before they go to Court, and most times they walk out of Court free for some reason – either a technicality or the prosecution falls down or the witnesses forget or disappear. Every area of the judicial system is a joke, and the criminals know it and take advantage of it.

The country is in crisis, and this government will not listen. And until they listen, the blood of Belizeans will continue to be shed daily. Now, it seems, our criminals are not content to kill one at a time. So they kill three at a time. Five at a time. Two at a time.

Nothing will change until this government’s leaders take their heads out of the sand and find the will to fight crime. Sadly, it took the death of a tourist to wake up the comatose PM. But for every tourist that dies, there are a hundred Belizeans bleeding in the streets. Mr. Barrow needs to understand that Belizeans lives matter.

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