Prime Minister John Briceno left the country today as he is heading a delegation on a state visit to Mexico City. But before he left, PM Briceno recorded a video statement, addressing the nation on crime. The PM’s address comes after the heinous murder of 15-year-old Dwayne Gabourel.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “The tragic shooting of young Dwayne Gouberal once again has our nation saddened and outraged. As a Belizean society we have suffered too much at the hands of gang leaders and their surrogates who for more than two decades have terrorized and plagued our once peaceful communities in Belize City and in the past ten years all urban areas across our country. Already this year twenty six persons have died because of gang violence. Less than five hundred gang members have been terrorizing neighborhoods and communities particularly in the south side of Belize City. Gang violence is festering in part because of what has become a careless culture of silence and hopelessness especially in our poor and vulnerable communities. The violence has to stop. The terror on these communities must end. While no law or set of laws alone will end the fear and senseless violence it is clear that immediate action is needed. If such actions means stricter enforcement by the police including reinstituting a longer state of emergency then we must do so. If it means getting more police patrol in the streets, more cameras and better surveillance then we will do so. I know we’re all tired of the senseless violence and the killings and for this reason I am calling on us as a nation to address this matter together. Just as it took decades to reach this level of callous anger and violence it will take us some time to get to a lasting solution but we can neither give up nor give in. We have to keep working at it as one nation.”
In his address, Prime Minister Briceno stated that his government stands committed and willing to work with all stakeholders to reduce crime.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “As a government we’re all in. Every minister is currently involved in our commitment to curbing crime especially gang related crime and violence. But it will take our efforts as well as the efforts of business, civil, social and political organizations working together. It will take gang infested communities to say ‘No more.’ to the guns and gang hangouts in their neighborhoods. And it will take more access to social intervention programs in these communities including jobs, free access to education and a conscious effort to cut off recruitment of children by gang affiliates. To this end the government must find ways to give incentives to people who provide information to get the guns off the street and to report predatory actions by gang leaders then we will do so. And if we have to strengthen laws and ordinances to allow the police to go after potential gang leaders and gun runners then we will do so. Yes, some of the actions we must take might cause certain individuals to say our approach may be heavy handed however if our actions can save the life of one more youth or the future of one more vulnerable child then we must and we will act. My instruction to the Minister of Home Affairs and to the members of the police department is that now is the time to use all necessary resources to save our children, our communities and our country from the senseless killings, the senseless shooting of young Dwayne Gabourel and the killing of five young persons so far this year must be met with the full extent of the law so that those who commit these terrible crimes are brought to justice.”
Prime Minister Briceño is expected to return to Belize on October 2. Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Francis Fonseca, is Acting Prime Minister.