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Oct 11, 2012

Igniting a peaceful demonstration against crime in Cayo

There was a total shutdown today of the business community in San Ignacio. By any measure, it was a monumental success and after Wednesday night’s disastrous public meeting with the attorney general, residents came out in full force to support the anti-crime demonstration. They were joined by UB, Galen and Sacred Heart students. The community’s frustration had been building up over a spike in crime and violence. Two recent murders and no solutions in sight added to their frustration in what culminated today with a remarkable show of force.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The symbolic delegation of a solidarity torch to the family of twenty year old Suzenne Martinez, who was killed in San Ignacio Town last Wednesday, culminated a morning-long relay organized by student athletes from the University of Belize, Galen University and Sacred Heart College, respectively.  The completion of the twenty-mile run was a collective exhale from the hundreds who gathered at the Central Park to express their dismay with the current state of crime and violence in Cayo.

 

Nancy Marin, Resident, San Ignacio Town

“Enough is enough with the crime and enough is enough with leaders that do not give us any hope.”

 

In the wake of Suzenne’s murder, residents united to send a strong message to government that they are fed up of the existing situation.  Across the twin towns businesses remained closed, bringing economic activity for the day to a complete standstill.  A congregation of teachers, students, scouts and other NGOs stood vigil in honor of slain family and friends, equally concerned about the future of their loved ones.

 

Maria de Lourdes Matus

Maria de Lourdes Matus, Vice Principal, Santa Elena Primary School

“I have a daughter that is seventeen years old and she is sometimes on the street because she goes to the junior college and that is why I am here with my teachers.”

 

Among the assembly was Pastor Scott Stirm, a well-known activist, whose presence on behalf of the church signified a change in the involvement of the clergy regarding the issue of crime and violence.

 

Scott Stirm

Pastor Scott Stirm, Participant

“It’s part of the awakening that’s happening in our nation, of the church involved in social issues that affect our nation.  But, you know, I believe with all my heart that the crime level and some of these terrible murders is cutting deep and we need everybody, every aspect of society to rise up and put their foot down and say we’re not going to tolerate this anymore.”

 

The massive turnout was also attributed to the reaction of the citizenry following an unsuccessful public meeting with Attorney General Wilfred Elrington on Wednesday night.  The objective of that meeting was to have had an open discussion with a view to arriving at a solution to the present scourge.  Unfortunately, things went downhill at the halfway point.

 

Nancy Marin

Nancy Marin

“I think that the prime minister made a grave mistake to send that particular man to San Ignacio.  He’s been known to not be charismatic and to become very insulting.  He insulted the people of Cayo, you don’t do that.  You’re playing with people’s emotions and more dangerously you’re playing with the emotions of the youth of Cayo, and people are angry, people are upset.  They needed somebody to try to calm them and smooth things out.  He came and insulted us, firstly, by accusing us that we are bad parents, that it is our fault, that it is our children out there committing the crime which is something, we already know that.  But it’s a breakdown in society, we’re not talking about a breakdown in individual homes.”

 

Equally disappointed with last night’s outcome was Glen Velasquez.  He joined the gathering to publicly voice his displeasure.

 

Glen Velasquez

Glen Velasquez, Participant

“The attorney general says to the people that if we have a problem we just have to solve it and that’s not the kind of answer we needed and the people were totally dissatisfied [and] that’s the reason why they walked out.”

 

And while a handful was out to vent its frustration, others like Hamid and Lily Martinez, parents of Suzenne, were there to pay their respect.  Since her death they have helped to organize the Purple Movement.

 

Lily Martinez

Lily Martinez, Mother of Suzenne Martinez

“We don’t want no more, no more, no more.  We’ve gotten tired of this.  It’s hard and we don’t want other families to past through the same thing so we are glad that people are supporting, you know.”

 

Part of that support was the signing of a joint petition by representatives of the aforementioned schools which will also be presented to the prime minister. 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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10 Responses for “Igniting a peaceful demonstration against crime in Cayo”

  1. Storm says:

    Wow, I’m so impressed by the leadership of Cayo! Like in other countries, it seems that church and student leaders are showing the way and flexing PEOPLE POWER.

    It’s the essence of democracy, and it can topple any corrupt or inept government.

    I hope leaders in other cities and villages learn and follow the example of Cayo. PEOPLE POWER needs to seize back control of our country.

  2. Rod says:

    Why wasn’t the loser judas barrow there is he not the supposed leader of the country this in itself is a national disgrace he doesn’t have the ….. to look the people in the eyes because he knows that because of his failed polices hundreds of people are dead needlessly useless incompetent pm and gov. I done tell unu that barrow does not care about Spanish he is the biggest biggot in the country.

  3. BELIZEAN says:

    This is simply a DYS-FUNCTIONAL government! Telling the people to help themelves!? What is that? Giving the go ahead for a CIVIL WAR?

  4. Al says:

    Finally someone from the church has stepped up to be heard. I pray he gather the people togther regardless of religious standing and affiliation and begin a prayer vigil. God is the one person who can bring relief to this satanic attack that has fallen on this country.

  5. Truth says:

    United we stand stronger! let us settle for stupidity and false promises no more!!..

    Proud of you Cayo and hope that the families can all find comfort that justice was served!

  6. Dr. ER says:

    Ms. Nancy Marin, interviewed above stated “it’s a breakdown in society, we’re not talking about a breakdown in individual homes”. While Government has to play a huge role in maintaining national security, it is us, the individual families, that have an even bigger role in ensuring security and peace – family is the backbone of society. Society will indulge in anything that the families allow it to, and for a change to happen it must start with the “individual homes”, otherwise we would be as fighting the wind. Teach your children values and in turn they will teach them to their children, and in so doing we will ensure security and peace in the years to come and even when we are no longer alive.

    A chain is as strong as its weakest link…society is as strong as its weakest family. And as Anne Graham once said, “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

  7. why nancy says:

    Nancy should have stayed out of this story. because it becomes politicized if a person who has political aspirations become involved. it makes the cayo situation look as if it involves Nancy’s party. Nancy next time stay out of it. Perhaps the reporter did not know that the cayo residents wanted to stay far from politics.

  8. Common Sense says:

    Belizean – I agree. Government is not listening to the people, and this is a sure sign of a great loss in democracy. The people can push this government out, it wont take much to do at this point. But who do you replace them with? Not the PUP, that is for sure.

    New fresh, non-traditional-party-affiliated leaders of Belize – stand up now PLEASE for the sake of our country. An “Arab Spring” can be avoided.

  9. Bear says:

    Sedi should resign. He can’t do the job, and he doesn’t want to do it.

  10. AnnonBelizean says:

    Rod I use to give you hell for your comments, because I believed that you lay blame on the government for everything, when sometimes, I believed that blame should have been direct elsewhere. In this situation however, I must say that I agree with you. Yes it is the duty of a government to provide a safe environment for it’s citizens, and I believe that this current administration is failing so far. However my question to you is, do you think the situation would be better off under the opposition? I will say though that we are a nation of one people, and there is no room for the racist remark.

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