With all the murders and shootings happening in Belize City and with the recent crackdown on street security, Mayor Bernard Wagner spoke to Love News this morning. According to Mayor Wagner, City Hall is serious about tackling crime and the council has established several programs for families who have become victims of the violence in the streets.
Barnard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “It’s really sad that it has come to the point where our youths have no regard for our women, for our children, for our mothers. I never thought I would see the day where crime has escalated to this where you see sixteen shootings in a forty eight hour span, eight fatalities. We continue to reach out to our youths, we continue to reach out to the other agencies, we continue to reach out to the government; anything that the City or the office of the Mayor can assist with we are ready to assist, we are ready to partners in this fight against this crime, against this scourge in our city. We have already had several programs in place, we have our community outreach program, we have a grief therapy program that we have an in house counselor Ms.Aimee Jex who does counseling to these families, to these mothers, to these fathers when they suffer violence in their families. We want to be integral in alleviating this problem, we want to be a part of the solution but we are not mandated to some extent to take on that type of activity but we stand ready to work with the minister, we stand ready to work with the police, we stand ready to work with any other agencies to the point where we are ready to even see how we could put together resources to come to some solution for these kids.”
Mayor Bernard Wagner told Love News that every crime in Belize touches him and his council is willing to work hand in hand with any entity to bring the crime to a halt. He says that while he is not justifying what the criminals are doing, he believes that the bottom line has to do with the lack of opportunities for the young people.
Barnard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “We know that crime again is a symptom of a bigger picture it’s a symptom of poverty, it’s a symptom of unemployment and when we are able as a government to provide opportunities and we are able to provide some sort of going forward future for these kids many of them I spoke to one of the parents yesterday and she said her son that died died just like his father, they kicked down the door shot his father he was there he saw it and it’s a continuous cycle. We need to change that cycle, we need to provide opportunities for our youths and our families and communities. Do you honestly believe that these youths want to be killing each other? No, I don’t believe that. I believe that these youths feel a bit hopeless, hopelessness is prevalent in our society and this is how they manifest themselves. We as leaders have to be able to connect with them and to show them a different way and it has to be about caring, about providing opportunities, education, providing employment, providing some level where they could see a future for themselves, they don’t see a future for themselves that’s why they shoot recklessly in houses, they shoot mothers, they shoot kids, it’s hopelessness. I’m not justifying what they’re doing I’m saying that we have to look at both sides of the equation, as leaders we have to look at both sides.”
So far, we’ve told you of the police’s plan which is tantamount to preventative detention. We have a state of emergency and those detained under this declaration will go to the Belize Central Prison for at least 30 days before they could get a judicial review. At the moment, Belize is bracing for the arrival of COVID-19 which means that when these men go to prison they will be even more imprisoned as they will not be allowed visitors and will only be able to keep in touch with the outside world via phone. The Belize Central Prison announced earlier today that effective Saturday, March 21, family visitations will be placed on hold indefinitely as the prison prepares its facility for COVID-19. The prisoners will still be able to receive monies and phone calls but no visits. According to the CEO, Virgilio Murrillo, if any prisoner displays symptoms or is infected, an isolation building has already been identified on the prison compound.