Thursday, July 18, 2019

On Tuesday evening, at the busiest part of the day near the Swing Bridge in downtown Belize City, a man in a pickup was shot in the head. Less than an hour after, a vendor on Cemetery Road was gunned down –killed as he tried to make an honest living. Less than an hour after that, a teenager, waiting for a bus, was stabbed and killed near the Western entrance of the city. And a couple hours after, a taxi-man was stabbed to death on Seashore Drive, the same street on which the Prime Minister lives.

Add in the fact that the UDP Mayor of San Ignacio/Santa Elena and his wife could have become murder statistics this week after their home was invaded by three men pretending to be Police Officers. Every single day there are reports of more killing, more shootings, more violent crimes, more assaults and more robberies. Every single day. People are not safe in the streets. People are not safe in their businesses. People are not safe in their homes.

Police are still trying to solve the killing of five men – all at once. They were shot in the head and their bodies dumped at sea. There is also the murder of the Felix brothers. They were at a bar when two gunmen brutally killed them, as many at 30 shots fired. There is also the double murder in San Pedro which remains unsolved to this day. And, a teenager was found chopped to pieces and dumped. So many murders, so much bloodshed that it boggles the mind.

And then, take in the fact, the man who is the chief policymaker in law-enforcement, the man who sits in Cabinet and lobbies for crime fighting tools and for the budget to fight such crime, insists that this is all just perception. He says that the statistic for the middle of the year, still not released to the media up to today, July 18, show a significant decrease in major crimes.

The problem, according to Minister of National Security John Saldivar, is public perception. Crime really isn’t going up at all, he says. Crime is going down. We just think that it is going up. We just think that murders are on the rise. And presumably this sense of fear that all law-abiding citizens feel is just a perception too.

Saldivar goes further, in his new preferred way to meet the public, Facebook, stating that “by any standard these are very decent numbers that demonstrate that our crime fighting strategy is working. There is much more work to be done but our strategy is working.”

And then the man who was best friend to the man accused of beheading and murdering a pastor, went poetic, claiming that “Accepting perception as reality is an enemy to the truth. Giving in to perception as reality kills our hunger for truth. The truth must be told, and must be told always, whether or not we believe the truth, whether or not the truth is different from the perception.”

Perhaps Mr. Saldivar, the man who will never be leader of the UDP or leader of this country, should ask his own UDP Mayor Earl Trapp about his perception of crime. Or maybe, he could ask the family members of those five men whose bodies washed up in the sea. Maybe he should ask his media colleague, Edmond Castro, about his perception after the body of his nephew was found a couple days ago chopped into pieces.

We are living in serious times where life has absolutely no value. And we all seem to be living in a different country from the Minister of National Security. In this country, we are paralyzed by fear, and every day could be our last. In John Saldivar’s country, wherever that is, crime is down. God forbid that crime should touch down close to that Minister and force him to change his perception. God forbid.