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State of Incompetence, Not Emergency – Says Briceño

State of Incompetence, Not Emergency – Says Briceño
September 05
00:00 2018

In sharp response to the Ministry of National Security’s announcement to declare a state of emergency on Belize City’s Southside, the People’s United Party (PUP) criticized the Ministry for the move.

PUP Leader, John Briceño called a press briefing this afternoon along with Belize City Mayor, Bernard Wagner where he said the measures announced are an indication that the government has no solution to the crime wave, particularly on the Southside.He accused the ruling party of playing politics with and taking the people of Southside for granted.

“Locking up gang members for a month will not do anything to address the poverty and inequality on the Southside of Belize City,” Briceño said, repeating his party’s call for the removal of Allen Whylie as Commissioner of Police. He also called for the formation of a bi-partisan commission that would include civil society to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan to deal with gun violence, home invasions and murders in particular.

“This heavy-handedness is not working!” Briceño asserted, making reference to the Police Department’s various para-military units that take a stiffer approach to dealing with criminals. He questioned what will happen those who are detained to deter crime when the month expires. “We need to do more. We have been asking the government for so long: ‘let’s sit down; let’s come up with ideas. If we even have to put up the necessary funding in that area to try to turn things around, let’s do it.!’ We’re talking about lives,” the PUP Leader insisted. Part of his party’s vision for the Southside of Belize City also involves a transformation into a development zone to create economic opportunities.

While the City Council is not mandated to deal with crime, Mayor Bernard Wagner says that there are social programs that the Council is spearheading that could prove successful, but that there needs to be closer cohesion between the Council and the Ministry which governs the Police Department.

The increase in criminal activity, Briceño said, was an indication of the failures and neglect of the people of Southside Belize City by the government. The PUP, he said, will closely monitor the state of emergency to ensure that there are no abuses or violations of people’s human and constitutional rights; and that the PUP will assist those who feel that their constitutional rights have been violated.

But while the Opposition Leader was critical of the approach to addressing the crime wave on the south side of the City, he hastened to add that his stance on the matter is no indication that his Party will be lenient on criminals. “I don’t want anyone to think for one minute that we are playing politics and cozying up with the gang elements and the criminal elements because we need to go after them with everything that we have. We cannot allow a small handful of people terrorizing the beautiful people of this City,” Briceño clarified.

If his party were in power, the PUP Leader said, the situation would not have reached this stage because of the investments they would have made to inject social and economic opportunities and to put greater police presence to discourage criminal activity.

Briceño also criticized the Ministry of declaring the state of emergency without consulting with Mayor Wagner on a matter that will affect the lives of many Southside residents.

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