Chamber takes P.M. to task on gang violence. Negotiating with gang leaders sends wrong message!

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry has issued a statement demanding that the Government do more to control gang violence and sharply rebuking the Prime Minister for negotiating with gang leaders.
The complete statement is reproduced below:
“Private Sector is gravely concerned about the recent acts of violence in Belize. Although we are less than 3 weeks into the New Year, there has already been a sharp increase in crime, escalating last week with a quadruple murder of men from George Street, and today’s attack against the home of the former Prime Minister of Belize”.
“The Private Sector calls on the Government and citizens alike for adherence to the rule of law and the protection of our citizenry.
“We demand that the Government implement measures that are directed at improving the quality of life in Belize and adopts a position of zero tolerance to crime and known criminals”.
“The Private Sector condemns the Government’s perceived need to negotiate with criminals while the demands of law-abiding citizens for protection and safety are repeatedly ignored.
“We consider that the Government’s willingness to engage in negotiations with these gang leaders sends a dangerous signal to Belizeans and the international community.
“We consider that criminal factions have been emboldened by the fact that they can bring the Prime Minister to the negotiation table, while citizens cower in fear.
“The Private Sector renews its recommendation that the Government sanctions a wholesale implementation of the Crooks Report, rather than the piecemeal implementation of select recommendations.
“Despite official claims to the contrary, crime is escalating, not regressing. It is therefore imperative that serious and urgent measures are implemented to curb the crime situation so that Belizeans are given a renewed sense of safety and security.
“This is the time for the authorities to govern, not engage in amicable discussions
“The Private Sector takes this opportunity to remind Belizeans that it is integral to the creation of wealth in a country. Measures must be taken to lower the cost of production and the cost of doing business.
“This will stimulate the economy, which leads to improving sustainable employment and thereby increasing the buying power of our citizens so that they are able to shop in Belize and contribute to the development of our beloved country.
“This can only be created by an invigorated private sector. Our calls have so far fallen on deaf ears, while criminals are perceived to be sent on vacations and paid extortionist stipends.
“On the issues of vigilance, detection and enforcement, our criminal justice system has also been a major contributor to the rampant crime situation. The private sector demands that the Government makes sufficient allocation to the police, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Judiciary to ensure that those offices are sufficiently staffed and trained to investigate and prosecute criminal acts.
“It is only when we can increase our conviction rate that persons will be deterred from engaging in criminal activity.
“We call on the government to take immediate and serious measures, given the gravity of the situation.
“We ask that swift action be taken to finally curb this criminal scourge that has besieged our beloved country, especially Belize City. We must move with haste to avoid further erosion of our society.
“We want to work, we want to be productive, and we want to contribute. Please allow us to do so”.
The release is signed by:
Kay Menzies,
President, BCCI,
Mark Lizarraga,
Business Senator, BCCI
Arturo Lizarraga,
President ,BBB

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