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Aug 2, 2023

Five Days Into Belize City State of Emergency

Five days ago, a State of Emergency was declared for several areas across Belize City. As a result, a number of suspected gang members were rounded up and transported to the Belize Central Prison where they will spend the next twenty-five days in lock down. Belize City residents are experiencing relief from an escalation of gang-related murders. But, what happens when the S.O.E. is lifted? On Tuesday, Moses “Shyne” Barrow, the Leader of the Opposition, disparaged the Government of Belize over its decision to turn to a State of Emergency as its response to the increase in gang rivalry. When we caught up with Musa today, we asked him for a response to the criticism.


Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

Kareem Musa

“I think it was Dr. Herbert Gayle who famously coined what an SOE does, because it’s very popular in Jamaica, it’s popular, of course, in Salvador, because it’s a long term imprisonment in Salvador, it’s now being practiced in Honduras, but a state of emergency, as Dr. Gayle put it, is like morphine. It’s a shot of morphine. And so, we cannot look at it as a solution. And, I try to get the media to understand that this is not a solution to crime. We have other solutions that we’ve put in place, but this is just a tool that is being utilized. Obviously you’re going to have that sort of temporary reprieve because it’s only a band aid. It’s only for a short time because it cools off the warring factions. That is all it does. But, at the end of the day, when these individuals come back out it is up to them to decide, you know what, I will not continue with these retaliations. I will put down my guns. I will try to lead a positive life. If they choose not to do that, then of course there is going to be the consequences that follow for that. Of course you’re going to end up right back in jail in this very vicious cycle. And so, while we have seen that temporary reprieve, that’s no sort of comfort to me as minister, because yes, it is fulfilling its purpose, but at the end of the day, it’s the other programs, it is the effective policing that is going to bring down the crime rate. And, as I keep saying, um, time and time again, the black and white statistics do not lie. It is showing, even as of today’s date, even before the SOE, that the violent crimes are down this year. Compared to last year, I think it is some fifty-two murders that we have this year. Last year it was sixty-seven and last year even was a record year. And so I see the Leader of the Opposition, like a scavenger really just sitting on his bedside waiting for somebody to die to then call out the minister. But for thirteen years they had that opportunity to fix crime. But for thirteen years it was far worse under the U. D. P. Even the latest poll that was conducted showed that crime is down and that people feel safer under this administration. And so, while he criticizes, I have to dig deep, I have to roll up my sleeves, and I have to make sure that we continue with this downward trend in crime, because that is something that he will never be able to escape.”

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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