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Feb 19, 2002

Businesses prepare for shutdown

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How much is not exactly clear, but a significant portion of Belize’s business community will close down on Wednesday to demonstrate their exasperation at a crime situation that is widely perceived to be out of control. The dominant feeling among merchants was summed up by Albert Street’s Beulah Sikaffy, herself a victim of a violent assault in July.

Beulah Sikaffy

“Yes, we definitely closing tomorrow all day.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“What do you think about the Chamber’s move to protest the crime situation?”

Beulah Sikaffy

“I think it’s a very good move. And I think the business community in general should close in support of it.”

Merchants are not the only ones fed up with crime and violence. Belizeans across every segment of society have been directly affected by the crime wave or know some one who has.

Citizen #1

“Well, I think not all the businesses should close. But the major ones should close, like the ones on Albert Street. But the little small groceries that people are struggling, they should stay open.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“You think it’s an important message they’re sending?”

Citizen #1

“I think so. I think they have to do it more often, that people could realise, or the authorities could realise that people are not joking no more.”

Citizen #2

“Crime is very bad. We have to protect the place and keep them out of trouble and so.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Do you feel scared when you’re walking on the streets sometimes?”

Citizen #2

“Yeah. I don’t come to Belize because of that, I live at Hattieville.”

Citizen #3

“Is this a message to the government or to the people?”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Both, don’t you think?”

Citizen #3

“No, because the businesses need the people.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Yeah, but the government need the businesses too.”

Citizen #3

“Yeah, well what we could do is think about the cause of the crime.”

Citizen #4

“Well I think it really right what the businesses are doing, close down for one day because of the crime. I think it might ease down a little bit if they close down for just one day.”

Citizen #5

“Close down the business, show example. Because these people aid these people and they still break in their place and keep on stealing, killing people for nothing. I think it’s a shame.”

Citizen #6

“Well a lot of people don’t have jobs. They promised them jobs and they don’t have any.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“So does that justify their stealing?”

Citizen #6

“No. If they beg for it, they still no wah give it them, so that is probably their way.”

Although the Chamber of Commerce has issued a long list of those business houses that will close their doors, checks by telephone show that the boycott will not be total. Most of downtown will be shuttered, including the Indian shops, but many Chinese owned businesses tell News 5 they will remain open pending instructions from their association. Most of the tourism industry will stay open to serve foreign guests and the cruise ship trade, but many hotel restaurants will not be open to Belizeans. Gas stations will remain open as an essential service, as will all government offices. One notable exception is the Belmopan City Council, which today issued a release explaining that it will close its offices to sensitise the community that crime is a concern to all citizens. Focal point for the protest is a rally to be held at 10:00a.m. at Battlefield Park. Those attending are reminded to bring their own food and drink as downtown shops may not be in a position to satisfy their needs.


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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