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Oct 23, 2017

U.S. Ex-Gangster Tells Story to Kids At Risk in Belize

Is intervention the key to addressing criminal activities and gangs in Belize? The response differs depending on who you are talking to. But can youths and gangsters caught up in the criminal justice system turn away from that lifestyle? The U.S. Embassy in Belize, in partnership with the Bureau of International Information Programs, is embarking on a program that focuses on at-risk youths with an emphasis on anti-gang activities. Today at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts, ex-gangster Hector Verdugo was featured at a guest speaker at one of three motivational forums to be held in the country. Verdugo, after having several run-ins with the law in the U.S., had a change of heart and walked away from crime. He is currently the Associate Executive Director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. Aside from sharing his personal experiences of the hardships of being incarcerated and joining gangs with the students and at-risk youths in attendance, Verdugo will engage stakeholders and share information on ways to support Belize’s youth and discourage their participation in criminal activities and gangs.


Hector Verdugo

Hector Verdugo, Associate Executive Director, Homeboy Industries

“Just seeing kids with no vision, hopelessness in their lives and just saying I gotta do something about it; with the senoras from the community and then eventually it took a long time for one or two government officials to say hey you are doing something right. But mainly the community that really wanted to get a change within the communities. All the stories that I talked about happened to me in my life and as a young person growing up just thinking about joining gangs and thinking of when I see certain things on TV or music and that they would understand that this is a trap. This is a death trap and even if you do live through this, you are really boxing yourself into something that is not free. You are not free. You are going to eventually get busted and you are definitely going to see death around you and all the other crazy stuff—mental health issues, the people who are maimed and in wheelchairs. There is no future, there is nothing; and we are all capable of great things. Somebody would say well not me; either I’m not smart enough or oh my family is from it, so I can’t escape it. No mien; there is always a way for a better life if you believe it. You have to; we have to heal from our life tragedies. And we have to just see that there is hope.”

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 “U.S. Ex-Gangster Tells Story to Kids At Risk in Belize”

  1. Marwaione says:

    Finally someone that has lived the life and wants to make a change in this jewel is speaking, hoping to stop the senseless violence that robs besides their enemies innocent people. Proud of you for making the change.

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