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Sep 5, 2018

Opposition Leader Says GOB’s ‘heavy-handedness’ is Not Working

Earlier this year in March, Prime Minister Dean Barrow called a rare weekend press conference after a bloodbath and ensued in south side Belize City. A number of steps were taken including the redeployment of the B.D.F. to the streets of the Old Capital and the reappointment of John Saldivar as the Minister of National Security.  A public state of emergency was declared for a brief period back then with the hopes that with Minister Saldivar at the helm gun-related crimes would have decreased. Fast forward to more than five months later, the criminal state of affairs in south side Belize City remains the same. Opposition Leader, John Briceño, says that Government’s heavy-handedness is obviously not working. He says that if a P.U.P. Administration was faced with a similar dilemma, a state of public emergency would not have been the answer. Instead, as part of the solution, the P.U.P. would put more boots on the ground.

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

John Briceno

“We will always be on the side of the Belizean people. We believe that we have to be there to protect and defend the Belizean people at all times. We accept that there is a massive, serious problem in this country when it comes to crime. We have been calling out the government for a very long time that we need to take a holistic approach. This heavy-handedness is not working. We have GSU’s, all kind of U’s and different units in the police department some of them dressing them in military fatigue, with huge guns and batons. When they go in the Southside in many instances they terrorize and brutalize people and what happens is that there is a push back from the community because they no longer see the police as a friend. What would we do if we were in government? First of all we would not have gotten to where we are right now because we have been aware of what is taking place and felt that we need to be able to do something about it in trying to bring meaningful improvements in the lives of our citizens in that side. I don’t think I would have declared a state of public emergency but yes I would put more boots on the ground and ensure that people can feel safe, that they can walk the streets. At the same time we have to be able to go in and meet with the community at large there and then try to come up with plans that they believe will help make their lives better. For those who are giving trouble we need to deal with them with the full extent of the law and if you are caught breaking the law you have to answer to that. There is no shortcut.”

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