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Dec 12, 2014

Will Murder Statistics in 2014 Surpass Previous Years?

The countdown is on…. There are only nineteen days to end 2014. Earlier today we looked at the crime statistics and at this point, it is safe to say that the number of murders is far above the 2013 stats. Our database shows one hundred and thirty-nine to date, compared to ninety-nine homicides in 2013. It means that murders went up by a whopping forty percent and counting. The 2014 numbers so far are just shy of five murders from 2012, which was a record year for violence.  And as we said, there are nineteen more days to go. Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Statistics for 2014, relating to the number of homicides committed, are being compiled by the Belize Police Department as the calendar year winds down.  Anecdotally, it has been said that violent crimes have reduced considerably when compared to previous years.  As it stands, our records show that there has been a total of a hundred and thirty-nine murders since January, a majority of which occurred in Belize City.  That, however, will be concluded at the end of the month.  What we’ve set out to do until then is look back at a few of those incidents and the profound effect they’ve had across Belizean society.

 

We begin with an excerpt from a keynote address delivered by Minister of National Security John Saldivar during a commencement ceremony for the last police intake.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security [File: October 8th, 2014]

“No one in the media is bothering to look at the numbers before declaring that crime is spiraling out of control. Yes it is a cycle which we all know, however, a closer look at the numbers would tell you that he overall trend for 2014 is better than 2012 when we had one hundred and forty-five murders. Currently, we have had ninety-three murders for 2014—only five more than the eighty-eight we had up to the end of October last year and still six less than the ninety-nine for the entire 2013, which is our best year in five years. Our projections for the rest of this year, keeping our fingers crossed for success in the next eleven weeks is for our murder count to be well below the 2012 mark of one-forty-five, well below the 2011 mark of one-twenty-four and well below the 2010 mark of one-twenty-nine. This would mean that 2014 could very well still turn out to be the second best year in past five years and still, according to some, the sky is falling down.”

 

Jose Rodrigo de la Rosa Stanford

With approximately two weeks remaining until year’s end, contextually the figures for 2014 indicate that the present number is just six murders shy of 2012, the worst in five years.

 

On October twenty-third, career diplomat Jose Rodrigo de la Rosa Stanford, a Panamanian national assigned to Belize as chargé d’affaires, was savagely dispatched in a secluded area of Belmopan near La Choza.  His death, allegedly at the hands of eighteen-year-old Wilser Echevarria, rocked the diplomatic community.

 

Considered one of several high-profile murders, Stanford’s demise precedes that of former politician and mayor of Orange Walk Ramon Cervantes Senior.  Cervantes was reportedly abducted near Honey Camp on July first and later held for ransom.  Despite a massive search and rescue operation, all hopes of finding him alive were dashed a few days later when his remains were unearthed from a shallow grave.

 

Said Musa

Said Musa, Former Party Leader, P.U.P. [File: July 8th, 2014]

“It a very shocking thing that has happened to Mr. Ramon Cervantes, I mean to be abducted, to be kidnapped and murdered and in the course of his murder he was badly beaten up, tortured in fact. It should shock the conscience of the nation because here this man was a public figure for many years, a mayor actually he was a school teacher for many years and a senator as well.”

 

Cervantes’ murder would prove to be most controversial, with threats of lawsuits tossed around in the wake of an explosive audio recording released months later.  In Belize City, on the afternoon of September seventeenth, a casual game of dominoes ended in tragedy when fifty-six-year-old Cyril McFoy was gunned down inside his yard.  The incident would trigger a spate of retaliatory shootings across the Old Capital.  When it was all said and done several men, including Clifford Flores, had lost their lives.

 

Voice of: Uncle of Clifford Flores [File: September 18th, 2014]

“Well like I said Isani, all ah we familiar because Belize is a small society, ih noh big, da noh New York wih deh. All ah we know weh di happen yo undastand. Everybody know bout di red in color vehicle that dehn always di patrol bout and di white in color one that belong to a certain character. We are all aware of the threat George Street poses to the city, if not to the country because we see the prevalence of how this gang violence is spreading to other areas of the country right. And when I sehe I believe da George Street because I sehe mi bredda dis da Belizean society, people like talk. It is hearsay but there are saying that if da noh so da nearly so. So wi yer di talking, like ah sehe da noh only my family. Two other families apparently lost loved ones last night, everybody was bawling consoling each other. Everybody hollered George Street chancey, dehn think dehn run di city.”

 

Perhaps the most shocking of all homicides this year has been the shooting death of veteran cyclist Ernest ‘JawMeighan’ Meighan.  The forty-two-year-old was struck once in the head by a bullet fired at close range.  He had been visiting the home of his children on George Street.

 

Santiago Castillo Jr.

Santiago Castillo Jr., Former Employer/Mentor of Ernest Meighan [File: August 11th, 2014]

“I received a call on Saturday morning, I would say in the vicinity of 11:25 a.m., telling me that JawMeighan had just been shot. I could not believe it so I did the best I could to immediately verify if this was so. I was positive beyond the shadow of a doubt when Midget, one of the lieutenants in my constituency, had already called me and he went to the hospital and he called me a second time to verify that he was looking at JawMeighan’s dead body in the back of the truck which they had used to transport him. And I heard the blood-curdling screams of his children in the background.”

 

While the number of murders for 2014 may not set a record, the diversity clearly shows that society, regardless of economic or political status, race or orientation, is affected by violent crimes. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Will Murder Statistics in 2014 Surpass Previous Years?”

  1. Rod says:

    All a unu duncy belizeans deserve whey unu the get hope you or one of your family members are not the next to be dispatched on the streets of this corrupt dirt box city of a country this the worse pm and gov. In the history of this once great nation.

  2. Spike says:

    I am sure, with a little more focused effort, Belize will be able to top the record achieved in 2012. Remember tourists, the Belize shooting gallery is most certainly the place to be in 2015.

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