Crime in the country continues on an upward trend and the number of violent crimes in Belize City alone has seen a surge over the last weeks. To date, there are ninety-seven murders. The statistics are concerning, but not for Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Elrington. In his address at the University Of Belize at a security forum, entitled “Exploring Security Threats at Home and Abroad” on Monday, he expressed how he felt about the crime situation in the country. Elrington said domestic crime is not truly his preoccupation because when comparing Belize to other Central and Southern American Countries, Belize is a very safe country in terms of criminal activity. He added that the criminals are few and those affected by the crime in Belize are usually their friends and colleagues and therefore he doesn’t, quote, “see that as a big problem,” end of quote. Leader of the Opposition John Briceno does not share the Minister’s opinion and blames the Government for the situation.
John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
“Well the surge always is linked to economic activity and unfortunately we are going through a tough time and right now things are getting worse and that is in no way an excuse for it but if we were addressing the social ills that are confronting us I believe that we can find a way to be able to address this issue head-on. I don’t see any sense of direction from the government as to how we are going to deal with this; one day they are hugging up the gang members and giving them salaries to stay home and behave themselves and the next minute they come out with an iron fist there is no real sense of direction, no real plan as to how we are going to address that. That is always going to happen so now the crime goes up and then it forces the government to go in again and probably start to issue money so that they can calm down that is not addressing the fundamental issues that are taking place, that the children are not going to school and those that do don’t have the books and they go to school without a meal on their stomach and they can’t get a job when they come out of school and they live in abject squalor especially here on south side and we are spending $42 million on a basketball court. These are the fundamental issues that need to be addressed. By just dashing out some money will calm it down for a week weeks or months but it’s going to raise right up again because we are not addressing the social ills that are affecting our country today.”
Briceño adds that the recent increase in discoveries of explosive devices and contraptions is reason for further concern.
John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
“It is alarming for all citizens of this country now that we’ve gone I remember when I was a teenager and some friends would tell me that they would get into a fight, all that happened is that they took a guitar and they hit someone in the head with it. Now they are taking out knives and machetes now guns and now we see this escalation that we have grenades and they will say they will worry about intel? Again there is no plan, how we are going to address these issues. I’m not here saying that it is going to be easy and that it’s going to be done overnight but with the intel for instance look at San Pedro, for the past few months we know things are brewing in San Pedro and we haven’t seen any serious action being taken by the security forces. I mean if they were as aggressive as they were with us at the toll bridge in San Pedro probably they could have already quieted down a lot of these things. It’s an island so people can’t run away so you can find them and the intel they know who is doing what but that is not important to them but if we the PUP are trying to stand up and do something ‘now that is important. We have to deal with them.”