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Oct 14, 2010

Minor alleges abuse while at Girl’s Home

claudia zetina

This is a sad story of children left traumatized after they witnessed a heinous murder and a mother fighting to keep them. The four children witnessed their father brutally murder a woman at their home in Santa Elena in 2004. In 2008, Police Constable Jose Zetina was sentenced to life in prison, but that was reduced to twenty years after he appealed. Eighteen year old Rosa Mejia, who was his common-law-wife at the time, was slashed several times with a machete and then she was stabbed in throat with a knife, while Zetina’s children watched. After the incident, the kids were returned to the custody of their biological mother, Gloria Morales. It is now six years later and Morales has five children. One of them, fourteen year old Claudia, ran away to work at San Pedro where a Social worker found her. Zetina and Morales say she was placed in a girl’s home where she was physically abused.

Claudia Zetina, Allegedly Abused in Girl’s Home

“I gone dah San Pedro because right my ma mi bruk ih foot and my nephew mi sick but den I neva know I mi really deh inna danger like fi go dah Hostel or dehn thing. Di only thing weh I just beg God fi mek I come out ah dah place.”

Delahnie Bain

“So you just wanted to work to help her?”

Claudia Zetina

“Yes ma’am.”

Gloria Morales, Mother of Allegedly Abused Teen

“I mi have my foot broke and even when I mi di look fi she, I can’t find ah sake ah mi foot get swell up. I walk whole ah San Pedro di look fi my lee gial. Everybody; all di police could tell yoh dah station how much times I gone een deh gone ask dehn and mek wah report. It looks like they find her working in a bar and they come and they pick up mi lee gial and dehn ker ah and I di look for my daughter all ova di place. Even di bar people dehn know I di look fi she all ova and I can’t find ah. I come back to social because I find out dat dehn tek she from di bar and when I get deh dehn tell me dat my daughter seh dat she noh want si me no more again and she noh want si me. Di lady seh dat and den I told her dat I want si my daughter and she tell me dat she noh got time right now fi mek I si my daughter. Ih seh dat she wah mek wah appointment wit me den I could si my daughter. Every time I go dah office, dah lady give me wah appointment. Three appointment ih give me and she fail me; she noh de deh, ih deh dah Benque, ih deh dah Belmopan, oh she noh have time. Being inna di Social hands, dis dah weh my daughter get pan ih back. Dehn treat ah bad inna dah place. Noh even me treat my daughter dah way, noh even me beat my daughter one day. She could tell you.”

But tired of the alleged abuse, Zetina abandoned the girl’s home and planned to runaway to Guatemala with two friends. Her mother, however, caught up with her before she boarded the bus. But during Morales’ search for Zetina, the Department of Human Services showed up at her door and took away her four younger children while she got them ready for school two weeks ago. Morales says they went kicking and screaming and she has not been allowed to see them since. She admitted that she struggles with her finances, but says that’s no reason to take her children away and she fears that they might face the same abuse that her daughter did.

gloria morales

Gloria Morales

“I was getting ready my kids dem; I give dem dehn lunch and everything when I si wah police vehicle reach, di Social reach and dehn tell me dat dehn have to ker my children. I tell dehn why, what dah di reason? She neva give me no reason she just tell me she di ker dehn to Belize. I tell ah give me wah ride inna di vehicle wit you. She seh weh can’t ker you, you have to si how you reach Belize cause we noh ker people inna di back ah di vehicle.”

Delahnie Bain

“How many kids did they take then?”

Gloria Morales

“Four; one name Josephine, next one name Jose, Joshua and Elmer, the baby. Dehn ker dehn and my baby dehn start to scream. All ah dehn start to scream out fi me and dehn neva worry bout dat, dehn just ker my kids dem. I lef inna di bus and I gone dah Belize. When I reach Belize I tell di lady I want si ah and she send tell me she noh have time fi me. Di same one weh tek weh my daughter.  I gone through lot ah things fi my pickney dehn, all di drama my pickney gone through weh dehn daddy do and I dah like wah mother and wah father to my kids dem. And if I go out deh and I noh got nothing fi feed my pickney and I go out deh and I beg fi help I noh think dat dah wah crime—I noh di thief, I di beg di people fi help me. I want dehn give me back my children because my children dehn noh suffer nor nothing. If we sleep pan di ground it’s because we noh have wah bed and instead ah dehn come and help, give we support, dehn come and tek weh di love; my loving kids. Mommy, you know how much time I noh eat dah night? I cry fi my baby dehn, I cry fi my lee gial.”

After their emotional reunion, Morales had to return Zetina to the care of the Department of Human Services and they are now discussing what is to happen next. News Five contacted the department but were told that they cannot comment on an individual case.


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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31 Responses for “Minor alleges abuse while at Girl’s Home”

  1. Manford says:

    Much of the problem we are face with in this country is as a direct result of emulating the American systems. Force perfection. The question that must be asked is, what was it that contributed to such proud law abiding and successful Belizeans when we were under British rule when parents and teachers had the full control, first and last word in raising their children, many of whom slept on the floor most of their lives? And respected their parent and older members of the society.Many join the British Honduras Defense Force and perform with distinction at home as well as abroad; Now here come all these intellectual brains on child rearing and what we see are more delinquincies. Same as the United who seperate children from parents for some of the most ludicrous reason, place then in one foster homes after another to which many of these children grew up without proper identity. America say it and soew it, so God Almighty spoke. We are nothing but a fragmented society.

    Its one thing to have education, but not to be blessed with uncommon commonsense is a terrible handicap. Many of us grew up on brown sugar and journey’s (johnny cake) but we respected our parent. I said respect, and left out the word love on purpose, why? Everybody has a different definition for love, but we all know what it mean to be respectful. Many children had the unfortunate experience to have belong to same mother but different father in the same house hold, but they respected their mother.In becoming so intellectual we are losing our common humanity. Nonsense such as this can be place right at the feet of the Politicians.

  2. GUINEA GRASS Observer says:

    This is certainly a sad situation.

    I recommend that the children in school should be taught about their right and where to find assistance.

  3. jr says:

    From this story is clear,the IDIOT social workers dont have a clue on what the hell they are doing.belize want to copy the system they have in the USA.get it belize,the system works here,it will never work in belize.how would that family case be handle here in the USA?the family would have gone infront of a judge,and the judge would decide where the kids go,and that is IF the mother is abusing the children,if she dont have$$$ or a job to provide for her kids,then the belize government ,all of them should be in jail ,it is because of them that belize is a jobless country.crime is high.apart from that,gov here in the USA give foods stamps,help the kids in school,those crooks in power in belize need to set apart some $$ from the millions they make on the oil in spanish lookout,and help poor belizeans.

  4. jr says:

    Look at the pain in this woman eyes?do the prime ministers in belize know what the hell belizeans live?can they read?someone let me know,i left belize 20 years ago,maybe they are blind.someone tell me please,i read this belize woman story and my heart is broken here.

  5. jr says:

    ………..- should get more deep into this story,check the social worker,wire tap thier …,get this story in cam,let all belizeans know the hell this spoor people live,……………….

  6. jr says:

    hey guinea grass,belizean here living in the USA,the dogs have more rights here than belizeans living in belize.find assistance?did u read the story?the incompetent social worker screw that poor woman,get real.

  7. Mike says:

    Sometimes I wonder if the Prime Minister even understands the level of poverty on the streets of Belize. he has never felt it so how can he understand it? Where are the social programs that were promised? When will all these subsidies and poor people stores and food programs and other things that were promised come into effect. There are two sides or more to every story, but one thing is certain is that the rights of these children will not be adequately protected. The social services department is under-resourced, untrained and incapable of dealing with their caseload adequately…the woman will not be able to afford a lawyer to fight her case and will be pushed around and left without options. It is easy to see that only the children will suffer in the end.

    Just a thought…instead of taking away the children and condemning them to a life of poverty and hopelessness in a system which is overburdened and inadequate, maybe the social Services Department could have evaluated the case and provided the family with some type of assistance instead of tearing them apart.

  8. Brown says:

    Many people in Belize don’t know the roles of social workers and the role of Human Service Department, so before you cast judgement its best you research first rather than go by observation and hear say. there is more to this story than what is presented. so we must get the facts before we make judgement.

  9. macal rivera says:

    As I read the comments I say with my mouth open, tell you why, this woman AKA GRINGA is not really what he profess to be, gringa has never been a good mother, as a matter of fact everybody around santa elena town know who is gringa, she is a hustler, drunkard, abuser of her children ( maybe the other men in her life can testify to this) she has given away her children for money and now all of a sudden she cries FOWL!! bs!!!
    Gringa you should be ashamed of yourself for going on local and international news to tell lies,
    I really would’nt doubt you are abusing this child in fact gringa was a prositute before and now I would’nt doubt she is forcing her daughter to do the same work she used to do before. This are the kind of people that are pest in our society, gringa fight with the whole world, her mouthis the worse.
    PEOPLE I SAY TO YOU, GET YOUR FACT STRAIGHT BEFORE YOU PASSED COMMETNS!!!!

  10. Edith says:

    Wow, this is crazy, if children r being abused by the people at child services then that needs to b investigated. At the same time, many people in Belize r struggling with their kids n the children r not taken away, somehow I feel there is more to this story. People in Belize vr compassionate, regardless of the violence, so y would they take these kids away from the mother, after everything they’ve been through if they didn’t have a reason? This warrants a thorough investigation.

  11. Proud says:

    Really sad. Shame on Human Services.

  12. Therese says:

    Very sad story because only the kids are being affected here, they will be scared for life. I pray it all works out in their favor so they can live a normal life and go to school to better themselves.

  13. Jan says:

    That is so sad my heart is broken for this poor mother who struggle to provide for her children…..These so called social workers in Belize don’t know what the heck they are doing. I can give a typical example of where a child was in a very abusive home with mother and stepfather, was beaten every single day and not given food or water most times and the older sibling stepped in got the police involved with the situation and was advised to have the child live with him for the child’s safety and wellbeing. The mom went to the social worker and complained and the so called social worker took the child away from the bro and placed him back in the abusive environment with mom and stepfather….imagine that and they are supposed to be there to protect our kids….bs*!!!!!!!

  14. GOD FEARING youth says:

    Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Belize is growing fast. Visit http://www.cdfbelize.com and learn more about this issue. This is a case of CSEC all over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. RadicalBelizean says:

    This young girl has experienced some horrific things in her very short life. Our children in Belize are really suffering. Even those who have not been touched directly by violence, believe me they are aware of these things happening to other children and they asking questions. I hope she is given some counselling, in order to grow in a young woman who is fully functional and productive.

    You know Belize has changed so much that we don’t care for each other any more. I know when I was growing up in the 80′s it was quite common for extended families to step in and help raise children. I agree to a certain extend with Mike where he said that Social Services should support the family rather than give the money to institutions like girls home etc. On the other hand, I don’t get this attitude we have developed in Belize as though we live in a social state where we act and expect the state pick up the tab. The budget of Belize is so small that we cannot expect the state to deal everything that goes wrong in our lives, as well as running the country (e.g. paying teachers, nurses, police, and all other public servants)

    Where are all the aunties, uncles, grandparents, godmothers, cousins even good neighbours they used to be a big part of our lives if our parents couldn’t or wouldn’t be responsible enough. They say it takes a village to raise a child and some of us need to start helping out more. How much does a little girl like her need? A roof over her head, even if it a sofa in the living room, three square meals and plenty of nurturing and reassurance that the world is not as wick as she has seen so far. I have nieces and nephews and I look out for them as this is my role. We need to find a way of protecting our children in Belize.

    Brown I am not sure what your statement was driving at but perhaps you would like to tell us the role of Human Resources and Social Workers in Belize. I hope you were not attempting to cast aspersions on this little girl, just remember each and every one of us are products of our environment. The sadness on this child’s face is heartbreaking.

  16. RadicalBelizean says:

    Gloria I am glad you are reunited with your daughter. Look after her and get her help, as it is clear she is very troubled. Make sure she’s enrolled in school, look after her.

  17. mean says:

    Hello my beautiful belizeans!!! I wanted to raise a concern in Belama area. I did not know where exactly to post this but since here is talking about kids then, i decided to do it here. As everyone knows Belama is a growing community. There are a lot of kids attending school from this area. There are kids attending many different schools from all the phases of this community. A bus has been running the kids to school. The bus would come at 7:30am and all the primary school kids would board that bus and be on their way to school. From quite some time now that same school bus has been running the highschool students of Belama. This is great cause each highschool student has to pay $1 to get on a regular bus. The problem is that this bus comes for the high school kids after 7:00am in the morning. by the time this bus returns, its already late for the primary school students. A lot of the students that board this bus have stopped. Kids who go to school at Holy Redeemer cannot wait in this bus because its too late. The bus stops some of the kids at their gate. Button Wood Bay kids get dropped off at their school. This is wrong cause students from Holy Redeemer get drop off at Belchina and they have to walk from there. Students from the soutside have to also walk to their school. And this is after the bus is already. I think this is an issue that the people incharge need to see how they can arrange that theses buses come ontime and try benefit all the children. Its not fair that some kids are going to be dropped off at their location and the rest will be dropped off at stop by their school. Try to put in place some form of routh that will benefit all the kids and not just some. Also the same highschool bus should not be used to picl up the primary school kids as it s unfair. If the same bus has to be used them the time that they pick up highschool should be earlier. Also the bus operators need to put some descipline on the bus. Kids coming off at a close stop should sit infront so as not take much time when its time for them to come out. Majority of the kids that get on the bus are from phase 4 and the majority of them get off at Button Wood Bay. They go to the back of the bus and play and when it is time for them to come out they take so much time. So by the time the bus reaches on the next side its terribly late. Somehing should be done cause the bus system should be beneficial to all. SOMEONE PLEASE LOOK INTO IT!!!

  18. ang says:

    The best one to ask is the children them how they are treated and by whom.

  19. belizean says:

    Shame Shame on that Social worker lady she should be fired..she is probably selling kids for sex someone should open an investigation on her, looks like she takes matters personal and has all power of the law in her hands Who the heck she thinks she is???? I am not living in Belize thank goodness or else I would become a secret detective follow her every move.

  20. Margaret says:

    The system of taking a child sometimes several children because the mother can’t provide for them is something I will never understand. When a child is put in the foster system money is spent somehow to take care of that child. In the U.S. there are some foster parents who do it just for the money and then they mistreat/abuse the children. Why not take that same money that is going to go toward raising that child or children and give it to the mother to raise and keep the children together. As someone already said it’s ludicrous! and it bleeds my heart!!!

  21. jena says:

    En español diriamos, personas con titulos sin educacion alguna. Adonde quedan los sentimientos y derechos de los los niños. Bajo cualquier circunstancia los niños aunque pobremente merecen ser devueltos a su madre biologica. Que verguenza con estas dis que trabajadoras sociales. Que nos pasa Belice en ves de preocuparnos por la delincuencia que esta a flor de piel nos preocupamos mas en dar infelicidad y desamor a los niños que mas lo necesitan…What would you do MS. SOCIAL WORKERS if you were faced with the dilemma of having your child/children taken away just because you weren’t lucky enough to hustle for food or provide them with all the material stuff they needed. Many of us out there can provide an education and a decent meal, but we tend to take for granted that children need love. Love which cannot be bought at any store, but which is something this mother I bet you had by tons for her children. Put some sense in your life and stop worrying about homeless and poorly fed children, HEPL THESE MOTHERS SOLVE THE ISSUE DON’T MAKE THE PROBLEM BIGGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. belizean says:

    Macal It no matter if this lady name GRINGA I am from cayo and I know Gringa the point is her kids are not dead it no matter if she has/had a million kids they r not dead or abandoned I remember Gringa came to USA and brought all her kids how many mothers from Belize do that??? Rarely any so choose your words babe and instead of judging harshly try and do something to help the poor uneducated mother in Belize who really really need.

  23. DISILLUSIONED says:

    Human Services Department, let’s be realistic here; In a nation with an overwhelmingly high poverty rate, WE CANNOT AFFORD TO TAKE AWAY KIDS FROM THEIR FAMILY, PARENTS, and SIBLINGS FOR SLEEPING ON THE FLOOR! I happen to know a lot of Belizeans who slept on a friend’s or relative’s floor when they first went to the cold @ss United States to live! THAT’S A FACT!

    We have a lot of social issues in this country. BIGGER ISSUES! If a child is not being abused, or on the street hanging out, getting into gangs, robbing, etc, or on the street begging DURING SCHOOL HOURS, or being forced into prostitution by her parent or guardian, or dying of starvation / malnutrition, or kept home away from school to mind a younger sibling, then I don’t think that we should be ripping apart that home.

    If you guys at Human Services’ are really itching for work, just take a drive down Central American Boulevard, and see how many kids, under the age of 10, are already on the street mugging, assaulting, begging, and looking dirty. Some of them are right in front of Brad’s Store at Farmer’s Market where very influential politicians, hang out, and just turn their heads, pretending not to see them!

  24. MACAL RIVERA says:

    BELIZEAN___ FOR YOUR INFORMATION YOU NO REALLY LIVE DAH BELIZE OK, THESE ARE NOT THE ONLY CHILDREN GRINGA HAVE, SHE SELL MOST OF THEM, MAYBE YOU BOUGHT ONE WHEN SHE WAS IN THE STATES, SEEMS YOU KNOW SOMTHING!! WELL TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH GRINGA THE REAP WHAT SHE SOWED, SHE USED TO ABUSE HER CHILDREN REALLY BAD, THIS IS NOT HER FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH HUMAN DEVELOPMENT OK.
    MAYBE ALL THE OTHER CHILDREN FATHERS CAN TESTIFY TO THIS OK,
    GRINGA HAD OVER 12 CHILDREN FOR YOUR INFORMATION.

  25. Sasha says:

    So sad when there is no one to take care of you, Father in jail, mother having additional kids when times are HARD, young girl running away, working in a bar at 14yrs, COMMON, she should not even beeen HIRED. BLAME everyone for the ILLS OF SOCIETY. Government programs should have COMPETENT PEOPLE LICENSED FOR THE JOB. They should even have an emergency PHONE # where they can be readily reached and RESPOND TO. In Belize it doesn’t matter if the mother/father is a drunkard, prostitute, pedophile everyone still lives together, SAD BUT TRUE. Who is going to look after the welfare of the kids? NOT GOVT.

  26. Uri Pennil says:

    This is my mother and sad to say Macal is right me and my brothers and sisters were abandon by this woman who claim to have loved her kids so much . The last time i’ve seen my mom was at the age of 8 when me my little brother lenox jr the 3 and my aunt and uncle the ones who adopted us , went to visit in Belize i remember her in the hotel lobby and we took a picture with her , but from then on there was nothing but bad things i would hear of my mother and it was true i witnessed it myself so dont let her fool you into thinking it was the dept. of human services that messed up it was her and her little games she likes to play ! Shame this is my mother and i speak of her this way but it is true and im tired of her being so fake what about all twenty of us over here you forgot about ! Mom i wished you’d change :’(
    RIP DAD : LENNOX – iloveyou with all mi heart .

  27. Uri Pennil says:

    Claudia reach out to me if you could love your sis uri :-*

  28. Concern citizen says:

    To jr: This system does not work in the US either, I keep telling you people, it does not work in the US, why do you all think it is going to work in Belize? Foster homes in the US, is hell on earth, and it’s becoming like that in Belize. Wake up Belize get an identity and do the right things. Stop following these corrupted government officials, in the US.

  29. Danny J. Thompson says:

    I will have to agree with URI And Macal ! She abandoned 8 kids in New York. I am her eldest son. I don’t ever recall her abusing any of us. And no she never sold any of us just to clarify that B.S. She was always loving and caring. I still don’t know why she left us. The last time I saw this woman was in 1996. Before she left us, promising to return for us, which never happened.

  30. Danny J. Thompson says:

    Lizzie you need to Facebook me or call me!

  31. gloria pennill says:

    ok danny n lizzie i understand how yah’ll feel but for yah’ll 2 but it out there like that how does that make thae rest of us feel family problems is family problems how u think mom feels ur juss giving these poeple more to speck about n thats not right i no how mom is or did u forget me jessie ,and linda use to live with her in belize we no wat we know but this is family problems n at the end of the day thats our mother she is not right in da mind right now n yah’ll lucky i aint hear about this when it was going on n that im mad of but dad is gone (R.I.P lenox pennill) love always but she is the only one left we should b helpin her not hating her.. i will when i get myself done wit school….

    n uri thompson if u read this i love n miss u wit all my heart sis will never forget u….

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