Belize has consistently been listed as one of the top five countries in the world with the highest murder rate per capita, not to mention an appalling three percent murder conviction rate. Couple that with the tier three ranking designated by the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report which has Belize as one of only two, tier-three trafficking countries in the western hemisphere, a dismal reflection for a country of close to 350,000 residents that prides itself as the “jewel.” This morning the Ministry of National Security and the Police Department held a joint press conference to declare a State of Emergency in two areas of Belize City. Following a sweep of over a hundred gang related individuals, the Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, Acting Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams and CEO for the Ministry, Retired Colonel George Lovell presided over a press conference to discuss the plans moving forward. In March, following a deadly weekend in Belize City, Prime Minister Dean Barrow hosted a press conference during which measures were announced, including declaring a state of emergency in several areas on the south side of Belize City. The authorities at the time held off on implementing the drastic measures however, after a bloody weekend in Belize City that saw at least six murders, CEO Lovell said it has become necessary to put certain sections of the plan into action.
RET’D Col. George Lovell C.E.O, Ministry of National Security: “The recent shooting and violence that we have had over the weekend have caused us to relook the situation and we have decided that it’s absolutely now necessary for us to invoke two areas from the five that was initially identified in March of this year as special areas and so yesterday the Governor General of Belize had signed a statutory instrument. Statutory instrument number 49 of 2018 which is a proclamation declaring a state of public emergency in the Southside of Belize in two areas that the commissioner will speak of in a few. We believe that with us going into our festive season 10 21st and the fact that the type of incidents that we have seen over the last week or so it is absolutely necessary for us to arrest the situation and to do so before it gets out of control and before we have to go back to that state where we were in March of this year. That is what we are doing; hopefully the Police Department will be able to without any additional resources and additional support from the sister agencies to be able to go in there and arrest the situation in the areas that have been named.”
The State of Emergency did not go unnoticed by Uncle Sam. The U.S. Embassy in Belmopan has issued a warning to its citizens in Belize. It has dispensed some measures they should take, including: exercising increased caution in Southside, Belize City; being vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs; using caution when walking or driving at night; not to resist any robbery attempt and avoiding crowds, which will be difficult during this weekend’s carnival and the other celebration events slated throughout the month.