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Murderous weekend leads to urgent Cabinet meeting

Over the course of the weekend, six murders were recorded, five of those in Belize City. The unprecedented upsurge in gun violence in Belize City had Prime Minister Dean Barrow, members of his Cabinet and heads of law enforcement agencies convening a Sunday morning meeting. Following the meeting, the Prime Minister hosted a press conference where he outlined steps to be taken to stem the tide of gun violence.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:The Belize Defense Force will be asked- was asked last night- and will be asked on a continuing basis to assist the Belize Police Department with the ongoing campaign to try to get a handle on this thing and to curb this absolutely horrific and disgusting phenomenon. The details of the collaboration will be worked out between the two bodies but very clearly this will mean that there will be more boots on the ground and that more effective coverage can be deployed as a way of trying to contain and in fact prevent some of what has been taking place.”

The Prime Minister said they will revert to a Ministry of National Security which will see all law enforcement agencies under one umbrella Ministry.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:We will have no longer a Ministry of Defense and a Ministry of Home Affairs or Police but one Ministry of National Security which was a model that had always appealed to me and which was a model that was in existence until about a year and a half or so ago. In that context at a post meeting after we had the joint session that is Ministers and the Security Forces I told those Ministers who were present of my intention and got support from all of them. Other Ministers who were informed later this afternoon also supported because it means with one National Security Ministry now there can only be one National Security Minister and that Minister will be the Honorable John Saldivar.”

Another portion of the plan is the designation of certain areas on Belize’s southside as emergency areas.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:We will under section 18 of the Constitution of Belize ask the Governor General to designate certainly clearly demarcated areas on the South Side of Belize City as emergency areas. Now as I said, and it is very important that I make absolutely clear that this public emergency declaration will be area specific. We are not talking about having the writ of this public emergency declaration in fact apply to the whole of the city God forbid or even the whole of the South Side- again the security forces will provide the legal people with the clear coordinates of those areas that we want to cover.”

As soon as that can be done, the matter will be taken to the Governor General to make the declaration. This will give authorities power to act.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:Purpose and intent of those regulations clearly will be to assist the security forces in particular in their ability to remove from the theater of operations as it were even if only temporarily players that are known by the police to be leaders of Murder Inc. if I may use that term to describe those that are at the helm of the gang operations in the city and in particular on the South Side of the City.”