Restore Belize keeping Gang Truce with employment for 200
Restore Belize is one of the key agencies involved in the gang truce coordination committee. While the police patrol the streets, it is tasked to be a mediator of rivaling gangs. Its many facets were constructed by Prime Minister’s Office in 2010. Restore Belize’s efforts have mostly gone under the radar since it involves the personal and private sessions. According to the agency, it directly impacts about seven hundred and ninety persons per week. Seventy two students are in the I am Belize scholarship program; two hundred and twenty primary school students are in its feeding program, thirty two families are involved in its Roving Care Givers program, but its most sensitive project is the Gang Truce Work Programme which employs two hundred persons. Mary Vasquez, Restore Belize’s Executive Director, gave an update on the truce and work program to the media this morning.
Mary Vasquez, Executive Director, Restore Belize
“The process of peacekeeping and peacemaking has been multifaceted. The one that is most obvious to the public is the work program which is a program whereby persons from each neighborhood that is participating in the truce gets employment for fifteen men or women from area. This work program, despite what may be said to the contrary, has been very, very successful for the neighborhoods. There has been a lot of neighborhood clean up. There has been a lot of activity also in rehabilitating parks, etcetera. Through the initiatives of some of the groups themselves, they have gotten extra materials to do a park rehabilitation. And I can point to Victoria Street; particularly that group through Miss Marcia, has raised their own funds to be able to rehabilitate that park. And the work force for that comes from the gang truce work program. So each area has identified its own areas of concern including neighborhood cleanup and the overall neighborhood environment and they have been working on that. So I would just like to say that that program continues; even with the level of threat that we’ve had in the City over the past couple of weeks. I am happy to say that the men from the program do so want the want the continued economic benefit to their areas; that they have still been working. They did make a special request to the police for additional patrols to ensure their security because in a time of high street tensions, you can expect that maybe some of these men might be at risk. The other parts of the program are probably not as obvious to the public and I can speak of them now. One of them is the whole process of crisis intervention and conflict mediation. What has been happening since the start of truce and it has been happening increasingly so as the truce progressed, is that now when there is a conflict—some skirmish or some kind of aggression from one gang to the other—they contact the truce mediators and ask for assistance in intervening directly in that event and in mediating, if it is a conflict of some standing, then they would ask for mediation. And in some cases, these mediations, talks, would continue over two to three weeks. Again it depends on who the participants are and what is the depth and nature of the particular grievance. Through this process of mediation, which as I said it happens behind the scenes—necessarily so—but through this process of mediation, there are many, many grievances that have been resolved peacefully. We continue to do this today.”
Vasquez says their mediators are on the streets everyday dealing with major crisis. Restore Belize mediators still go into the areas and dialogue with the participants. Restore Belize is are also active in promoting inter-agency collaboration and institutional reform.