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Sep 1, 2021

Gang Members Air Concerns with Ministers

Some fifty gang members from Southside Belize City are incarcerated at the Belize Central Prison under the recent State of Emergency.  They will spend two more weeks behind bars before they are released back into their respective communities.  Today, Ministers Kareem Musa, Kevin Bernard and the Director of the Department of Youth Services paid a visit to these young men.  They were there to hear their concerns and to offer support and assistance. News Five’s Paul Lopez was inside the Belize Central Prison’s auditorium and filed the following report.


Abdul Nunez, Youth Counselor

“These are the words that Bob Marley did utter. Yeah mih know mih bredda, yeah mih know mih sista, one love, one love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.”


Paul Lopez, Reporting

This auditorium at the Belize Central Prison is filled with men accused of being members of gangs. They are behind prison bars under a state of emergency declared in Southside Belize City for one month.


Gang Member

“For the past three years, I come dah jail bout two times fuh state of emergency to. I nuh know if people want I put my mic and pick up a gun, because I stay in my house. I have big people weh look after me. Minister Musa know weh I the talk bout.  I have big people weh tell me to slow down my trouble. I tell deh I the try, I try I try. Every time I guh outside, police deh chance me. I have to stay inside. I stay out ah deh way. Every time a shooting happen, they come after me. Fuh what? I nuh do nothing at all. I try stay out ah trouble, but I can’t stay out ah trouble, because every time deh do me something like that, my mind have to outrage.”


One by one, these young men, for the most part sworn enemies outside these prison walls, created a united front in voicing their concerns about police abuse, and a lack of jobs and opportunities in their community.  Overwhelmed with emotions, this young man used obscene language, and he was quickly reprimanded for it by the C.E.O. of the Kolbe Foundation, Virgilio Murillo.


Virgilio Murillo

Virgilio Murillo, C.E.O., Belize Central Prison

“Words like rass, nuh the use words like rass around yah, ih nuh wah work. I the tell yo. You want to raise your concerns and issues, you do it respectfully. You have no mouth fuh the go off eena this place yah. Ih nuh wah work. Do I make myself clear?”


One young man expressed his frustration with not being able to see the Commissioner of Police after reportedly making several attempts. He too was quickly shut down.


Gang Member

“I wah talk to he fuh three years, and he nuh want see me. Everybody nuh the yah. Everybody need fih the yah fih mek we talk to one another. Everybody nuh the yah. How we wah talk? Weh happen to the rest out deh? Weh happen to deh? Weh happen to deh? Deh business yah to. I wah know what dah the problem mien. I the yah for four of them yo know, four. But unuh nuh wah hear from we. Sih when I the talk to unu, unu sit me down mein.”


Here, a third accused gang member noted that jobs have been promised to the young men in community, but he says those promises have gone unfulfilled.


Gang Member

“Deh seh deh got job, everything set fuh we. From dah past time till now, we the try sih deh same people weh seh mek wih check deh fih get the jobs deh fih the youths deh.All we need dah fuh we protection. And more man than this mih the deh. Jervis mih the deh, and man from other blocks mih the deh, get the sense. And, nothing happen fih we. Look weh part we deh right now, we still the yah. Nobody give we anything from then till now.”


Those exchanges led to some final words from the head table of officials before the men were escorted out of the auditorium and back to their designated holding areas. When we spoke to Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa after today’s engagement, he did not take offense from the emotionally charged comments.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“The first thing I told the gentlemen at the head table is why you shut these young men down? It was getting real. It was getting raw. And, I wanted to hear from them. And, I did get to hear from them. But, at the same time these young men are frustrated. Let’s not forget that. We are not coming to some hunky dory place where everybody is all happy go lucky, singing kumbaya.”


And while no kumbayas were sung. Before the heated conversations, these men were challenged to channel their inner creativity by spending their time behind bars writing a song of their own as a part of their rehabilitation.


[Highlight of presentation from Abdul Nunez…]


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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