In other news tonight: Acting Prime Minister, Cordel Hyde, says he is thankful that the State of Emergency (SOE) in his constituency has come to an end. On Tuesday, 31 men from the community, who were identified as gang members, were released after spending 30 days in prison under the SOE. The move was sparked by a flare-up of gun violence that had occurred among rival gangs in the area. Yesterday, our newsroom asked Hyde if he intends to meet with the men to bring an end to violence once and for all.
Cordel Hyde, Acting Prime Minister: “You know as I have said before, this is not an overnight problem. This is a problem that’s been there for decades and we continue to do all we can daily, to try to help, to try to alleviate the issues, to try to address the issues really and to try to make sure that, you know, ultimately, that is not a choice. Like, you have other choices. That’s what it’s about, making sure that you have other choices. But the truth of the matter is that there are some people who no matter what you do will go down that road but our job is to make sure that we’re there for the people who don’t want to go down that road, who want to go down a different road. But, at the end of the day I’m a big proponent of trying to make sure that the young kids stay in school, trying to make sure that they don’t fall out of school and become easy candidates, easy targets for gang membership and that kind of stuff you know. Every year for many many years over 1500 kids drop out of school. That’s each year and lots of times they don’t go back to school and lots of times these are kids that are in Standard V, and Standard VI, and 1st Form, and 2nd Form. That’s primarily where they fall out from. Why do they fall out of school? They fall out of school because of economic reasons and ultimately it’s the job of this Government, it’s a firm priority that we have and we started already with the free education campaign on the south side of Belize City where we’re making sure that kids will have everything they need to go to the four Government high schools on the south side. So that there’s no reason not to be at school and I’m a firm believer that once you go to school, once you complete school, you won’t join any gang and you won’t get into any trouble, and you won’t get killed. You know so, that’s the challenge that we have to make sure that these kids stay in school, work with the people who want to work with us to try to help them find employment, help them get retrained or trained. Give them an opportunity. The ones who don’t want, well you know, you’ll have to deal with that in a different way.”