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Rumble in the Heartland

December 13
18:55 2019

Rumble in the Heartland

By: Neri Briceno

‘District’ and ‘Village’ have always been places of reprieve for city folks and those in urban areas when they want to relax, recharge, rejuvenate and even retire. This can be seen especially during the holiday season and even more so during Easter. But, the one thing that these areas no longer represent and that which drove people to them in the first place, is safety. Over the years I have been documenting the time that violence and violent crimes have taken up in our media and it has grown exponentially. This is not an indictment on Belize media in any way, but what this shows is the awful reality of the environment in which we now live.

We are living in a very violent time in our nation’s history. Places like Punta Gorda and Belmopan which were once considered totally immune from street violence have now had their fair share of it, and it even seems to be on the increase. The most recent killing of Glenford Hines Jr. who appears to have been an innocent bystander and the attempted assault of former Belmopan Mayor Anthony Chanona after leaving church of all places demonstrates that literally no place is safe. I am glad that Commissioner Williams took immediate steps to address both situations and not only with added Police presence but also with a plea for more community involvement, since the Police will never curb this on their own.

The level and audacity of criminals in committing violent crime have shown no bounds. People have been killed in front of court buildings, in their homes, in their yards, on their farms, in their bedrooms, in their vehicles, in their businesses, at their workplace and on the place of choice, the streets. The violence has taken a life of its own not so much in complexity, but in numbers. There is not a single week that goes by where there is no violence reported. Sadly it has become a way of life and only a few people can now say that it has not affected their lives personally.

Growing up in rural PG in the 1970s, I can remember two murders that put the fear of God in me as a child. Both were respectable businessmen who were well known not only in the community but in the entire Toledo District. Their deaths were a huge loss not only to the people of the south but to the nation as a whole. These men were nation builders in their own right and had their lives been longer they would have had an even bigger impact on the nation. I will not mention the names out of respect and privacy to the families of these men who still to this day reside in the south. Their families have continued their legacies and continue to be extremely productive members of the southern and national landscape. The crimes were never officially solved that I know of, but the experience profoundly affected me as a young boy. My line of thinking was that if these men who were prominent and well know could have died from violence, an unknown child like me could be snatched even easier. I carried that thought for a while as a child until gradually the memory of the violence passed. I will not go so far as to use the term traumatized, but I was pretty shaken up by the experience.

Today, violent crime is commonplace, and I am afraid that not only adults are getting immune to it, but also our children. It’s bad enough that they experience it daily on TV and in cyberspace via video games, but exposing them to the actual reality of it is even worse. I will not attempt to explain away the cause of this violence that is eating away at the nation, because honestly, I may only have part of the answer since it is multifaceted. What I will say is that it is that one element that can kill every other positive thing that our nation is trying to build. A human life can never be replaced or at least not in this lifetime, maybe on the other side, but that’s a conversation for another time.

It’s all about the people!!!!

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