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Feb 18, 2002

B.C.C.I. calls for 1-day business shutdown

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On Monday nights, our newscast usually opens with the worst of the weekend crime. But lately the situation has gotten so bad, every night is beginning to feel like a Monday. So today, we’re starting out with how one sector of the community is expressing its frustration. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Over the years, the business community has consistently contributed towards helping the authorities combat crime. But the recent attacks against many establishments have left this sector of the community feeling betrayed and outraged.

Kevin Herrera, General Manager, B.C.C.I.

“We need to take a much tougher stand on crime. Somehow, something is not being done properly, which will ensure that the rate of crime come down. We have been working along with government on the issue of crime in trying to bring down this crime rate for a while. We donated computers, we participated in the cash for guns programme, we assisted the police with several initiatives in terms of helping them to set up a database, setting up a hotline within the Chamber, several things we’ve worked on.”

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry has planned a nation-wide shutdown of all businesses. The closure will take place on Wednesday and will last for one day. B.C.C.I.’s General Manager, Kevin Herrera says the protest is a show solidarity and it is hoped it will to bring national attention and focus to the issue.

Kevin Herrera

“We have to make a strong stand. Nobody has the solution, or all the answers in relation to crime and how you eliminate it and eradicate it completely. Nobody, I don’t know of anybody who has those answers, but what we can do is work together in terms of solving it. This is one step in that process. So hopefully, one is we bring attention to this issue, we show our solidarity, we bring attention to it, and then we work on real meaningful and effective ways in terms of addressing the issue.”

Jacqueline Woods

“It’s still not certain just how many businesses will close on Wednesday. A number of companies we contacted told us they have not decided yet on what action they will take. However, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry remains optimistic.”

Kevin Herrera

“There seems to be an overwhelming support for the cause. As I mentioned to you, so many people are affected and I think that it’s hard to find a person in Belize who has not been affected one way or the other with crime. Whether it’s through burglaries or murders, or whatever.”

Herrera says following Wednesday’s action, B.C.C.I. will be meeting to discuss suggestions of short and long term measures to be used to address the disturbing situation.

Kevin Herrera

“On the short term, definitely we want to see more patrols out, we want to see more policemen out, we want to see the B.D.F. We want to see a lot, lot more patrols. But on the medium to long term, we have to look at the social issues that affect crime. Employment, and you know that the business community plays a very important role in that area, we have to look at programmes, we have to look at education. There are so many social factors that we can look at, but again, we have to take it step by step.”

According to Herrera, both the Indian and Chinese business communities have also expressed an interest to support the action. The last time the Chinese community shut down for the day in 1997, it was also triggered by a series of attacks against several businesses. Jacqueline woods reporting for News 5.

As for the big businesses backing this action, James Brodie and Company has confirmed to News 5 that it will be closed on Wednesday. We understand that the grocery store and several other businesses have promised to pay their employees for the day. On Wednesday morning, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also hold a rally at the Battlefield Park in Belize City starting at ten and will include addresses from key members of society.


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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