Tonight, Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde is speaking out against the State of Emergency (SOE) that was declared in his constituency over the weekend. The SOE was implemented in the St. Martins area of Belize City on Saturday following the shooting of six known gang members, two of whom died. Under the SOE, 56 men were initially rounded up by police but only 31 were identified as members of a gang and taken to prison. The Commissioner of Police Chester Williams had stated that the move was a last resort after mediation efforts failed. But according to DPM Hyde, the SOE was not necessary and stigmatised the residents of the area.
Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources, Petroleum & Mining: “In principle, I don’t like states of emergencies and for practical purposes, I don’t either because the truth of the matter is you’re isolating the very people you need to cooperate with the police to curb crime. It’s a broad sweep, a kind of big roundup of all and sundry, including innocent people, because the truth of the matter is 60, 70 people that you round up are not going together to kill anyone or commit any crime. It’s, so you’re really taking up innocents. In that process, too, innocent people are being rounded up. Also, within those 50, 60 people that you are dealing with, can you imagine how their families feel? Their children feel? Their friends? The community? They are really pissed. They are isolating them, you know? And in Lake I it’s a difficult process for us because not everyone commits crime. Not everyone is involved in that and every time you do a state of emergency in our community you are really stigmatising us. You are really stereotyping our people and if you do that, who’s going to want to come and invest? Who’s going to want to come live there? Who’s going to want to engage with our communities? So we really have to think long and hard before we go to that level. That has to be an absolute last resort. You cannot just willy-nilly decide okay we are tired of this. These guys are not listening and we’re going to have a state of emergency. That has to be a last resort, mien, and the people of Lake Independence are the best we have in the country brother. Right.”
Hyde further explained that he strongly believes the mediation efforts of the Leadership Intervention Unit (LIU), headed by William Dawson, and GOB’s multi-sectorial approach to crime will result in a decrease in gang violence.
Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources, Petroleum & Mining: “We have to continue with the mediation. I’m a big William Dawson Jr. fan. I believe we have to give him and his people the support to mediate and get things done. Ultimately, we have to do a better job as a government at pooling our resources, integrating our efforts, unifying our efforts across the ministries, the ministries that impact positively our youths, whether it is to make sure they go to school, make sure they can get a piece of land, make sure they can get a decent house, make sure they can get a decent house, make sure they have access to proper health care. That’s all our people want. Our people from the south side aren’t different from other people across the country. It’s a fundamental lack of understanding what our people have been through and when you begin to understand what our people have been through then you will understand that people want the same things. They want to make sure that their children succeed. They want to make sure that they go to school, finish school. They want to make sure they get a piece of land, they get a decent house, they have access to healthcare. They want the same things. So, it’s about the opportunities and ensuring that we accentuate our efforts and so I think we started but there’s no overnight solution, no fly by night operation that’s going to fix everything. But ultimately, it’s about the mediation efforts in the immediate and making sure that we work with the kids who want the change. We work with the folks who want to go to school, who want to change their life, who want to be something and for those who don’t want to go that route then we have to strengthen our legal system to address those folks.”