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September 6, 2018

Belize~ The Southside needs long-term commitment

Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2018. 10:18 am CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.

By Richard Harrison: I am grieved by the games being played on our people of southside Belize City…having lived on Iguana Street in Queens Square for two years while attending Belize Technical College Sixth Form…and knowing so many of the good, respectable families that lived here….and many of whom still live here.

Many of the families may have lost a “bad egg” or two to the drug trade…which is what fuel the gangs…and throws more drugs and weapons into the pot with them…and sets up the rivalries to divide and control them. It is hard for a head of household to bind his family together, earning $250/week honestly, when one of the enterprising young ones start coming home with $100/day…with real gold jewelery…fancy cars…beautiful women, etc. Soon enough the siblings and neighbors shift focus towards this “success” and even the parents willingly step aside and turn a blind eye, grateful for the help with making ends meet, and even a little extra.

Our various governments have fertilized this situation and have done nothing to change the conditions of the FAMILY on the southside..to strengthen back the head of households with the real income and support with which they could bind their family…and provide for all their basic needs…so that drugs and gangs go back to being an option for youth…as it was back when I lived here…instead of it being an almost compulsory part of EXISTING in some pockets of the south side.

Most of the south side are still good people!

BUT…it is getting worse at an accellerated pace due to poor economy, shabby justice system of revolving doors with luxury living on the wrong side, utility by some corrupt elements of the political and law enforcement class, free reins of influence for hardened criminals deported from USA, and the entrenched culture of gangsta music, lingo, movies, art, dress, habits and reward/punishment exercises…piled into a “sardine can”.

This situation has been built up over 30-40 years…it will take no quick fix.

Our country must confront this challenge with serious determination…it must start with practical things like tax overhaul to create a competitive and productive economy…which can double the minimum wage in the near term…and commit to invest $250 million over 10 years…for three consecutive decades. In other words, we need to make a long term commitment to re-integrate the southside into normal, peaceful, productive Belizean life…liberated from the scourge of poverty, drugs, gangs and weapons.

It must involve a large team of full time social workers, nurses, community police, church volunteers, NGOs and governmental departments…combined with a formula that facilitate major private sector investments that generate gainful employment.

There must be compulsory primary and high school and technical/vocational education of high quality that also cultures values, morals and ethics…life skills development…technical skills..sports…cultural development…personal health and hygeine…using the existing institutions and enhancing them with qualified people, plans and budgets…complete with daily minimum, standard nutritional supplements that can be given to each student each day (CARE from Canada used to give us a glass of milk each day when I was in early primary school as part of a countrywide project)…done trough the institutional management, and not through political “charities”.

We must end payment of gangs…groceries, appliances and cash for political supporters…which all come from the public purse…and redirect those resources into a more comprehensive, long-term development plan.

Of course infrastructure development is vital…and the people need to be more spaced out…reduction of congested living is key…and the entire sea front, Haulover Creek front, canal fronts and lake fronts are areas that can rapidly improve quality of live and employment opportunities….from swing bridge, to Birds Isle to Punta del Este near Burden Canal…and from swing bridge north to the otherside of Belama Phase IV…in other words, use all the local resources available with a blue print development in hand…put our architects and engineers to work with our social workers, teachers and community leaders to design it.

If we want people to live and behave like people…then we must create the conditions for them to do it…with dignity and integrity…so they can hold their heads high…especially our heads of households…so that they do not so easily surrender themselves to the drug trade, gangs and gangsta culture…the three toxins of our south side.

There must be leaders of all kinds who can walk peacefully among the people of the southside…helping them to organize themselves…at individual, family and community levels…and there are many international friends who would be willing to help.

Like Belize…although facing difficult challenges…there is hope for our beautiful, hard working, friendly, fun-loving people of the southside…. in UNITY we can face and overcome any challenge…and achieve all our just objectives.


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