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Oct 11, 2017

I Want To Be a Soldier in the Army!

Police were called in this morning at Price Barracks to remove a group of men and a woman hoping to be accepted as recruits for the new B.D.F. intake. They have been there camping out for at least twelve days braving the elements, with little to eat and drink. Today, we found patience was running low and desperation high. The group believes there is favoritism at play though the B.D.F. says out of six hundred applications, only one hundred made the cut. News Five’s Duane Moody headed over to Price Barracks for a firsthand look of what is taking place.

 

Delyn Jones

Delyn Jones, Crooked Tree Resident

“We have fi we parents home and we want better fi we life. We don’t want to be on the streets the rob and di kill; we noh into that.”

 

Akeem Crawford, Esperanza Resident

“I have my son fi feed and my ma noh di do too good. And I have my whole family and I dah di only bwai fi my ma and I have to try look after she and look after my sister dehn. My pa gone left me from before I even three years old and I have to be the bigger man.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

For a second week, up to fifteen persons from various parts of the country have been patiently waiting outside the gates of Price Barracks, in hopes that they will be called upon and make the cut to join a select few in the new recruit intake of the Belize Defense Force. These individuals, including a female, have been exposed to the elements, sleeping on cartoon boxes with little water and a knapsack filled with clothing. But they remain resolute in becoming a soldier, even though they claim that they are being mistreated.

 

Akeem Crawford

Akeem Crawford

“We just di try get off ah di streets boss; nothing noh deh out there. We di try get ina di B.D.F. force but they guys di treat we rough out yah. We noh have no problem fi camp out yah until they try call we in, but man di drop out and then dehn di call dehn family members from home to get ina di job because dehn dah high man and thing. But just because we noh have no high man behind fi we back, we can’t get in there. Man di come with letter from minister and them thing and just walk straight in pass we out yah, like we dah nothing.”

 

The soldiers in training are chosen based on several merits; written, physical and medical tests. In its most recent recruitment, following tests that were conducted in July of this year, a total of six hundred applications were received. Of that amount, only one hundred is shortlisted and brought into the recruit training program, which started two weeks ago. Those who dropout are then replaced by men in waiting, but those too are from a standby list of applicants.

 

Steven Ortega

Colonel Steven Ortega, Acting Commander, B.D.F.

“Six hundred and we are only taking in a hundred so you understand the difficulty in getting that. So we have a list that is produced and out of that list we have a hundred that came in. Whenever somebody leaves, somebody takes their place; so a standby list is produces. And we informed the personnel that are outside the gate that they won’t be accepted on the list if they are standing out there.”

 

Akeem Crawford

“I have several family members ina the Belize Defense Force right now weh tell me dehn pass through dah same thing and dehn neva gone through this. No police come chase them; nobody chase them from yah. Wait up to about three weeks right out yah and get into the job, ina di job right now. Lotta dehn weh deh ina suit right now pass out yah and tell we hold strong bredda, unu wah get in. We pass through this, we pass through this.”

 

Colonel Steven Ortega

“I wouldn’t say they weren’t able to pass the test, but their grades weren’t all that good. So we need people who can actually operate at a different level nowadays, especially with the way technology and all the increases in statistics have been going along. So that is why we try and pick the best so that they can improve what they can in order for them to come in.”

 

But Acting Commander of the B.D.F., Colonel Steven Ortega, says that there are only two lists from which the force is operating—an original and the standby lists. And today, the police were called in to remove the gathering for several reasons.

 

Colonel Steven Ortega

“Yes it was an instruction passed down because what happened, our B.D.F. police went out there and asked them to move and they said that they will not move so we asked the police to come in and move them out of the place. We are asking them to leave because if you notice, they are out there exposed to the elements, there is not proper food, not proper sanitation and they are short of rest basically. So if they are called upon to come into training, they will be defeating themselves.”

 

Some allege that racism is at the root of the issue; something that the command of the B.D.F. says is not condoned within the force.

 

Akeem Crawford

“Some of the sergeant dehn, the staff sergeant come out yah and dehn di talk about they want all black man go home because they want a Maya defense force and dehn thing deh. But they thing deh noh right mien.”
Colonel Steven Ortega

“That is never so. Never ever in the B.D.F. we have had those types of remarks and we will never accept it or tolerate it. So the B.D.F. has no ethnicity, we are just B.D.F.; that’s it.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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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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1 Response for “I Want To Be a Soldier in the Army!”

  1. Gonzalo says:

    Bdf da no Charity. You need fitness, character, intelligence, and a positive mind set to be an officer. This is not just a way out to get a job. If they hungry and exposed to the elements, take them to hattieville and lock them up. They will be fed and sheltered with the additional benefit: they won’t thief and kill because they no into that. This is so ridiculously entertaining, but it shows the level of desperation from our youths. Just wait, hold on guys, be patient…. THE BEST IS YET TO COME!!!

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