Last week there have been some reports of vendors being ordered to shut down their operations at night. Dozens of food vendors survive by catering to people who work night shifts and patrons of nightclubs who desire a plate of rice and beans or hotdogs after burning calories at the nightclubs which are strewn across Belize City. Families are supported by these small and modest entrepreneurs. However, though some people have accused the Belize City Council of having being involved in the curfew hours being imposed on the vendors, Mayor Bernard Wagner says that his council has nothing to do with the activity of the police department.
Bernard Wagner – Mayor of Belize City: “Emphatically no, right, that is what I would refer to as a police instituted crime measure or policy that the Commissioner has adapted. Listen we heard about it several weeks or months ago that the Commissioner came outright and said that he had some issues with the way the City and other municipalities are run in terms of those late hour activities; he then made it clear that he would be cracking down on it, this is simply that coming to fruition.”
Jose Sanchez: “In terms of what the vendors do, there is no time frame that you give them?”
Bernard Wagner – Mayor of Belize City: “ No, we issue peddlers license, the peddler’s license authorizes that individual or that entity to conduct business in the city. It does not have any time limits on it, again we have to look deeper into these things in terms of what are the real causes of crime, these peace deal approach where you come and shut down business does not work. These people are hard-working individuals, hard working entities that are earning a living, what you would call a fair living. They want to earn and make fair wages for themselves and their families. When you cut that out, what you do, you are to create more poverty and out of poverty comes crime so I believe this will continue to happen because we live in a society where many of the municipalities do not have the autonomy in terms of running the affairs of the city, being in charge of the police force. This will continue to happen until we make certain reform and give the municipalities more autonomy in governing the city.”
The police officers who are insisting on vendors adjusting their work hours are allegedly enforcing a directive from the Commissioner of Police as part of a crime prevention strategy. In the past month at least one hotdog vendor was robbed on Central American Boulevard and three food stalls were burglarized on Coney Drive.