By Kevin Bernard, Mayor of Orange Walk Town
Thursday, March 7, 2019
As a community, we are still reeling after the murder of Dwayne Cummings, a star in our community, a young man with his entire life ahead of him, with so much potential. There has been no justice for his murder. In fact, many of us are losing hope that anybody will pay for this senseless crime. We’ve seen it happen before.
Dwayne’s friends and family are still struggling to cope with the loss. In fact, I’m told that they have organized another event on for the 23rd of March in the hope that they will keep attention on this case, and it won’t just go away like so many others. I stand with them in solidarity. We cannot allow this to just go away. I will continue to stand with them, because Dwayne meant something to all of us.
Last week, we also received the shocking news of six men who orchestrated a bold robbery at the northern border. In the end, they were caught by officers who responded very quickly. But it could have easily gone the other way. The hard-working ‘Peseros’ could have been shot and killed. Innocent people could have been hurt or killed. The brave officers who responded could have been shot and killed. Belize has turned into a crazy place.
I saw video footage of a game between two of Belize’s universities this week which degenerated into a fight. And in the middle of that fight are two men running around with guns waving wildly. One of them is shooting off his weapon. Yes, I am told that they were Police officers, but to me that makes it even worse. Police Officers should be disciplined and trained to know how to handle a situation like that. Those men certainly weren’t. Anybody who saw that video had to be left with an image of crazy lawlessness.
And there are so many other stories, like the teenager who was killed in Valley of Peace, other murders, shootings, robberies. Every time we blink a plane lands somewhere, and the Police never seem to be able to recover the drugs. It’s gotten to the point that almost every time we turn on the news, or go on Facebook, we see footage of stores being robbed, and store owners being beaten up. Its way past out of control.
Those who are organizing the vigil for Dwayne Cummings are intending it to be more than that. In addition to demanding justice for Dwayne, they are asking that all Belizeans take a stance against crime in general, against corruption, against injustice, against politics as usual and against all those things which are keeping us down and affecting all our communities today. Again, I am proud to stand with them, because we cannot continue the way we have been.
I have stated it before, and I will again. We are a small, tightly knit community in a small country. Whenever something goes wrong—whether it is a brutal murder or funds misappropriated from public coffers by those entrusted to guard it—it affects all of us. Poverty affects all of us. So many social ills affect all of us, and we have to stand against them together. It is the only way we can fix our country.
In a matter of a few months, when General Elections are called, I will be asking for the support of the people from Orange Walk East, so I can be your voice in the new government and your voice in the House of Representatives. Real change will take real will at the highest levels of government. For a long time we have been forced to tolerate a government which has no real will to help the people, no real will to deal with the social issues, no real will to tackle crime. This government has been about ensuring that all Ministers, their family members, their cronies and their friends get rich. It’s as simple as that. That needs to change NOW, or we will be here next week, and next month, and next year crying out for justice, just as we are today.