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Oct 8, 2012

Demonstration against crime following UB student murder

Early this morning a crowd started to assemble at Columbus Park in San Ignacio. The numbers quickly began to swell as the residents of the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena came out to demonstrate against crime. Earlier this year in June, young Jasmine Lowe was murdered and last week, another resident was found dead. The semi-nude body of Suzenne Martinez was found in a drain near her house. With a growing list of unsolved crimes, the western communities say they want justice. And like in the case of Jasmine, the wheels of justice are grinding slow and the suspect is yet to be charged. 

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

It was a case of déjà vu as at least a hundred persons gathered at Columbus Park in front of the San Ignacio Police Station. The residents from San Ignacio and Santa Elena are demanding justice, which for them remains elusive following the murder of one of their own. Juliana Guerra was back with her noose championing the return of capital punishment for criminals.

 

Juliana Guerra

Juliana Guerra, Santa Elena Resident

“We get enough and this si a straight message to our leaders; that we are serious and we will take action. If they cannot do it, then we will do it. We gave them a mandate you know. The day of election we gave them a mandate. So now we are expecting them to act. You see any one of them here? No. So the people have to do what they have to do. We are asking them for justice. What hard in that. Justice. Hang them; that’s the only way we can get justice.”

 

Duane Moody

“But what about human rights?”

 

Juliana Guerra

“Which human rights? Any human rights the protect the advocate for the victims out there. You hear any human rights say oh dehn di target the people; make we goh see weh we di do. You see any human rights di do that.”

 

From 5:30 this morning, the demonstrators convened infuriated by the lack of a solution to spiraling crime. They became even more irritated when a text forwarded to many, according to them, sought to prevent the residents from demonstrating.

 

Alberto Palma, President, Bishop Martin Neighborhood Watch Committee

“Last night around nine p.m., I started receiving calls and text; people asking me if it is true that everything has been canceled because there was a cell number that was texting people and sending out messages that everything was canceled; that there wasn’t going to be any gathering out here this morning. The people are saying that this was Minister Penner’s doing. Well as you can see he didn’t get what he wanted. And he is also out here today with us.”

 

The text from 610-4439 was, in fact, sent by Cayo North Area Representative, Elvin Penner. Penner says that he was misinformed; but supports the residents.

 

Elvin Penner

Elvin Penner, Area Representative, Cayo North

“I was blamed for having tried to deter this demonstration which is not so. I was in fact the person who sent out a text and encouraged people to come out here and peacefully demonstrate.  I am proud to be a part of a demonstration like this because it shows that the town that I live in, the twin towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio is serious when one of our people has been hurt. We show the nation that if you touch one person from our town, you touch the entire town. When I realized they had a meeting and it was decided that the town shutdown was to happen on Thursday, I understood that it was the protest also was to happen on Thursday. So I am now responsible to make sure that the people that I invited out don’t come out here and nothing is happening. So I sent out that text. But what they failed to mention was that I sent out a third text. When I realized that the demonstration was still happening, I was asking them to come out and support it once again because I will be there.”

 

Ralph Moody

The demonstration was triggered by the recent death of twenty year old U.B. student Suzenne Martinez on October third. Twenty-nine year old Pedro Ical—an alleged sex offender who has had as many as three previous rape charges— was picked up by police but no murder charges were placed on him.

 

Supt. Ralph Moody, O.C., San Ignacio Formation

“There were certain things that we discovered that is the property of Suzenne that was in his possession.”

 

Duane Moody

“So if not murder, maybe handling stolen goods or anything of that sort? No charges whatsoever in connection with Suzenne any at all?”

 

Supt. Ralph Moody

“Yes we discussed it with the D.P.P. and she is saying that there is not sufficient evidence to charge for the handling of stolen goods.”

 

Jamid Martinez

Jamid Martinez, Brother of Suzenne Martinez

“Weh more evidence unu need when dehn done ketch this bwai with my lee sister phone, the broke it pan di wall. Come on mien, this dah [bleep]. I really, really, really disappointed and I just want she outta this mien because this government noh di gel to me. I know what Jasmine Lowe father di go through and I never expect fi make I di pass through this mien. Fi tell you the truth, like wah man, I want he dead. But I really disappointed with this D.P.P.”

 

Residents have ten demands that they have forwarded to the Prime Minister which includes the removal of the Director of Public Prosecution, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.

 

Alberto Palma

Alberto Palma

“The people have decided that they will give the Prime Minister until Wednesday morning to give us an answer. And if nothing is done, then on Thursday morning, people are asking for the shutdown of Cayo District if nothing is done. The people are asking for a forensic lab in Belize because one of the problems that we have is because everything has to go to another country. To get the results, it takes like three or four months for that to come. By the time that is here, the criminals are already out on the streets doing crime again; that is one of the things that is causing the problem. Number two, we are asking the government to equipment the police department with everything that they need so for them to do their job in a better way. the police do what they can do, but they only can do so much with what they have. So we are demanding from the government to put in more resources into the police department; give them the tools that they need.”

 

Elvin Penner

“I don’t think the community, when it comes to crime, could ever ask for too much. And for one, I can promise the community that I will do whatever it takes that the message gets to its final destination which is perhaps cabinet and eventually perhaps the House of Representatives where certain decisions are taken when it comes to laws that would have to be changed. What I cannot do is say what the outcome of my effort is going to be because like I mentioned to other media houses, I’m only one member of the Cabinet.”

 

But is the system flawed?

 

Elvin Penner

“I would be the first to admit that there is certainly a serious flaw in our judiciary system starting from the police force because files have been lost in the past; starting from the court case itself where witness can be threatened and not come to court and therefore a person can be acquitted; a person perhaps being charged prior to having gotten sufficient evidence that the charges would stick. There are a lot of problems in the judiciary system that needs to be looked at. But again, like I said, I am not the person that can make all the changes; I am not the person that by myself can fix that. But I am one of the persons that agrees that there are difficulties and these need to be addressed.”

 

Juliana Guerra

“We Belizeans have been quiet for too long; we have been dormant for too long. The criminals are killing our youths and we won’t tolerate none.”

 

Another demonstration, this time with a shutdown of all business in the Twin Towns, is set for Thursday. Duane Moody for News Five.

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6 Responses for “Demonstration against crime following UB student murder”

  1. Rod says:

    All businesses in Belize should shut down I repeat every business in Belize Gould shut down until this useless incompetent impotent corrupt pm resign your kids might be next people or one of your family members might be next shut down all businesses in the country cayo people do not wait on this incompetent gov. Hang this guy unuself do the job unuself hang him hang him high then start to hang all they ya ministers who are committing treason and theft of the po people money demand that this pm resign guan barrow guan judas you are the scourge of this country you are worse than cancer.

  2. JESSE says:

    Its about time the UDP lawfir, removed that worthless Government lawyer who dont know how to work for belizeans and cant bring justice.

  3. Rod says:

    I for one am proud of the people in cayo at least they show back bone not like the people in Belize who sit in their homes and cowar like cowards people you have to ask yourselves what is more important to you making money or your children’s welfare and your families then after take action this cannot continue any more too many innocent people have died because of this corrupt and incompetent pm and gov. All the business people should close for a week march everyday until this pm resigns he doesn’t care about anyone other than his family and friends he needs to be swept away and replaced by someone who can do the job. Don’t be afraid march march I am proud of the cayo community.

  4. Mary says:

    Mr. Penner should be ashamed of distorting the truth. He was caught red handed and had to face the public. No one is naive he is only insulting the peoples intelligence. How about a
    member of his family alledgedly threatening a youth if she assisted the demonstration that she would face the consequences. Where is the discipline he talking about when he can’t even have discipline in his home. Can this newcast check to see if the report was made to the police.

  5. Al says:

    Go Cayo, don’t let up. I hopw that what your protest is not just this one time, keep it up at least once every week. The world is watching and standing with you. How far from the reality of these criminal activity is the House or governent seat, that Mr Penner is saying that will make sure the message gets there. Are the governmental body on a separate planet that they are not hearing what is going on. No one has to take it to the house, except the people of the house who are elected officials are living with their heads in the sand.
    The silence from the government is deafening, oh how I wish some representative would say something. My suggestion to all women is to learn how to protect yourself, do not make it easy for these killers. If you are attacked, leave some marks where it is visible, in the face, on the hands, and most of all gough the eyes and if you can hurt their private parts. Carry a nail file in your hands when traveling alone any sharp instrument, learn to fight back.

  6. ladymatura says:

    outrageous how the minister admits there is a problem but he does not see him alone bringing solutions – he forgets there is power in one and he has the support of the people. our politicians are not prepared to demand more in government and are not prepared to resign in solidarity with the people and out of principle! go Cayo Go! we are with you and we so proud you are taking and stand! the rest of the nation should rise up in protest as well… ya basta!

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