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Guinea Grass residents protest over lockdown

The rise in numbers of Covid-19 cases continue unabated in Belize.  Last night the Ministry of Health identified fifty-two new cases. Three of those cases are in the Corozal District; five are in the Cayo District; nine are in the Belize District including seven in Caye Caulker, one in Ladyville and one in Belize City. 

The rise in numbers of Covid-19 cases continue unabated in Belize.  Last night the Ministry of Health identified fifty-two new cases. Three of those cases are in the Corozal District; five are in the Cayo District; nine are in the Belize District including seven in Caye Caulker, one in Ladyville and one in Belize City.  The remaining thirty-five cases are in the Orange Walk District. AS the numbers continue to rise and every district is getting their fair share of cases, three villages in the north remain under lockdown.  The lockdown is not sitting well with some of the residents, particularly those in Guinea Grass Village, Orange Walk District. The residents staged a protest yesterday and today demanding that the lockdown be lifted.  Their contention is that they are unable to get basic supplies.  Apolenai Camara, one of the organizers of the protest spoke to Love News.

Apolenai Camara, Organizer of Protest: “Our necessities are not being attended as promised. Today we fulfilled the fourteen days that we are on lock down, the villagers are very discontented with the situation how this is being handled and what we want is for this lock down to be lifted that is what we are working out right now. 

Reporter: Those basic necessities that you mentioned what are those and how are you lacking of them ?

Apolenai Camara, Organizer of Protest: “Okay it’s very simple. When you receive a call from the people in charge who are coordinating the assistance, the food assistance or the pantry program, when they call you they do a lot of questions for example how many kids you have, their age, their social security number, if you have a television, a washing machine, if it’s big, small, if you rent, what type of house you live a whole lot of questions that when you receive an assistance they don’t take into consideration that you told them that you have a one year old baby, a new born baby, a three year old baby girl or boy, nothing for them comes in the food assistance. We have elderly folks that are diabetic, we have people just got operated, we have different types of situations and that is why we are very discontent with the way how we are being treated by the government and the people coordinating this for the government. One, that the lockdown be lifted not later than the day after tomorrow that they could have a meeting with both the Ministry of Health and the Attorney General and its committee that they can lift this lockdown because really they can’t deal with us. Guinea Grass is a village with a population of over 3,000 and for locking down our village they needed to give us time to be able to do that. When they decided to do the lockdown at midnight you cannot run to the bank, not everybody has access to vehicle, buses were not running and then people needed to do their errands. For example in my situation I have a one year old baby, what can I give my baby and when the assistance comes nothing comes for the baby? So what I did I did some trading with beans, ten pounds of beans to get a pack of pampers, imagine to that point I have to reach and as parents we are eating one time per day for that food to give us at least for a week so that is what I tried to accomplish. One that they sit down tomorrow the latest in the House and they decide to lift up this lockdown or if they don’t want what we told the policers there and the Superintendent in charge Mr.Juanito Cocom we told them that we want two of us to be given permission to go and fill a form where we can go and apply for a formal protest.”

Camara also highlighted another issue they are faced with.  He says police officers have reportedly been slacking off in their duties and are allowing residents to travel in and out of the village.

Apolenai Camara, Organizer of Protest: “The police have a little tent there where they stay twenty four hours but the unfairness of this is that some villagers are passing with the permission of the police and some police officers that are not on duty but because of them being police they are helping other people maybe their relatives to go and do errands like buying things in Orange Walk and they use the other road to cross in Guinea Grass and we never knew that and that’s why I told the police what is happening and ask if we are under look down because that doesn’t look so we are not hundred percent under lockdown and why certain people can pass and we are crying for us to go and work. We only have nine cases in our village.”

We will keep following this story.