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Dec 3, 2021

Delroy Cardinez: From Wagner’s Youth Facility to Youth Spokesperson

Accused of murder while still a minor, then later acquitted, twenty year old Delroy Ranks is one example of a Belizean youth transforming his life.  So often the young men who end up at the Wagner’s Youth Facility are looked down on, or viewed as being impossible to change. But, Delly is on a mission to prove the naysayers wrong. He discovered his love for music while on remand inside the facility. With the support of the Conscious Youth Development Program and the Leadership Intervention Unit, he is determined to make a musical career for himself.  Today, News Five’s sat down with him to talk about his failures, the lessons he has learnt, and how music is helping him to process the challenges of poverty in his community and find new opportunities.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Delly had a rough start to life. At the age of sixteen he was accused of murder and sentenced to serve time behind bars at the Wagners Youth Facility inside the Belize Central Prison.


Delroy “Delly” Cardinez, Musician

“Sometime yo get caught up. Put it like that, sometime yo get caught up and get accused wrongly, meaning dah your company, the people yo heng with. Suh, you heng with this one, everything he do affect you and everything you do affect he, because deh wah seh unu heng together. So, lets guh seh me and you heng Mr. Paul, and she you guh do something bad outta the way, deh wah she Delly have to the deh with ah to. But, deh nuh know, people like seh. Dah suh I mih get accused. I mih end up get charge for accused murder.”


It is during his time inside the prison walls that Delly discovered his love for music. While incarcerated he wrote his first song entitled “In the Jail.”


Delroy “Delly” Cardinez

“First I does just like little thing, but ih nuh suh deep. Dah when I gawn dah Kolbe foundation when I get remanded fih the murder. I began doing music right there. When I write my first music behind prison, that is when I link up with Mr Harriss and Mr Dawson. Deh ker me to Jeremiah. Deh I buss my first song, “In the Jail.” Then after that, when I come out, when I lef jail I link TNS and dah weh part I meet Echo Middleton.”


After being acquitted of the charges, Delly returned to his community, known as “Jungle.” Gun violence has claimed several lives there, including fifteen- year- old Dwayne Gabourel who was gunned down at a corner shop in September. Gabourel’s murder shocked the nation, because of his promising future. As a member of the community, Delly says his mission is to highlight the struggles there, while promoting the talents of its residents.


Delroy “Delly” Cardinez

“I di try my best cause I would seh, people look down pan my environment you understand. Some of the greatest, lot of potential and talent and skill the back deh. Look, when yo could seh like Winston Pratt, basketballer. We have footballers. We have people weh could mek  sewing. We have people weh could do all kindah thing. We have lotta talent dah back deh. But, people look pan it because weh I mih seh pan the live, people nuh have it, suh people have to thief light.  People share public pipe, water. Some people sleep pan floor. Some people not even have a decent toilet. Facts, we the bring it out, cause we nuh the hide it.”


Delly is now being recognized by some of Belize’s top music producers for his talent and message. One of his pivotal relationships was established behind bars where he met the director of the facility, William Dawson. Since his release, Delly has been working with Dawson and the Conscious Youth Development Program, CYDP, to fine tune his craft and leadership skills.


Delroy “Delly” Cardinez

“I come out of an interview this morning from some people with Galen and deh ask me dah question. Galen.”


Paul Lopez

“What were you doing with Galen?”


Delroy “Delly” Cardinez

“No, with CYDP this morning, they came down. And, deh the tell me how my life, like how I the do right now with myself. They saw me on Open Your Eyes the other day, you understand and deh want have an interview with me. Deh she deh wah put the interview eena wah documentary weh deh the proceed right now and thing. And deh tell me, if I fih be the Prime Minister fih one day, if I fih be the Prime Minister, what I wah do? I tell deh like huh, I hard but the first thing I think I wah do, the first movement dah free education. Word, because I think free education dah the right thing.”


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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