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Crime and Violence

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Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2019. 5:24 pm CST.

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

By Senator Markhelm Lizarraga: Crime and violence, like we see increasingly, is in so many ways, reflective of the so many wrongs in our country today!  This Is a problem that will not be solved by spending on guns and bullets and more boots on the ground. If we believe this will solve the problems, we are wrong. This compounds because we spend less in our budgets addressing social issues while spending more on militarizing. The social ills today, are what they are, not because persons wish to be that way, but because of our indifference as a government. We have allowed it to where it is today. Look at the context, these incidents, occur in neighborhoods of very scarce resources… this is important to note. They occur in areas that Citizen Security, or insecurity are mentioned nightly on the news. We agree, on the term Citizen security, a very nice term used by politicians, media and Citizens. But, beyond the term, there is little we agree on. The term becomes no more than a matter of perception. Because what is citizen security for me, is not what it is for you, or not  what it means for many in our society, and especially, our leaders. We live increasingly in a society that is without vision or hope, strategically numb, action-less, and terrorized.  Is the killing and murder any less painful for a mother, father, brother, sister, when the killing was caused by a bullet, than when it was caused by the lack of access to resources and opportunity?   Does it scar families any less? This Insecurity we see today in our society, is the result of a wounds left to fester for too many years, if not decades.  The attempt to band aid this festering wound with political patronage and politically implemented programs, has obviously failed miserably. The festering pus and blood oozing unto the streets from the wounds, have been especially ignored misdiagnosed and mistreated for too long.  Government cannot attack and criticize a population when they themselves have not been good examples, provided or encouraged or inspired solutions.

The perception, that persons with very high governing and official positions, have allowed, permitted, some say even encouraged and participated, in this unregulated informal sector that exists, the sector that most noticeably lends to violence in society today, is all too real.       In reality, the complex issues today that affect our citizen’s security, are not limited to poverty, lack of employment, deprivation of essential rights and access to rights, it is not only due to a poor housing and a congestion crisis in many parts of the city, cognitive challenges that compound educational necessities, cost of living, access to proper nutrition, alcohol and drugs abuse and use, the increasing breakdown in family structures, poor values and morals in our society, but a combination perhaps of all, and then some. There is no one issue more important or more pressing than the other. THEY ALL NEED TO BE THE PRIORITIES of ALL our leaders.   What we see in the recent and increasing confrontations between the police and citizens, is but the tip of the iceberg. 

Persons already on edge, will explode with any pressure, on any trigger. You see, the police represent the state, and are supported by a state, that funds and defends them.  Who supports and defends the persons that confront the police and are victims of police over- reach? Who defends those that suffer from this state of terrorism we are in? If the state cannot, it is only natural then that allies will be formed by the persons that live in similar social situations, those that share the same reality, that have the same identity, that suffer together. What we are left with then, is rebellion, and anarchy prevails! Violence, in some sociological circles, is defined as the use of force to achieve a purpose, or “against the natural mode of proceeding”. One definition in the dictionary defines it as “strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force. Some even claim, it is nothing more than an alternative form for people to come out ahead, because they are immersed in a social darkness. There is the term “symbolic violence” a sociologist called Bourdieu explains it. It means a kind of indirect violence, which is not physical. Government has exercised over our peoples a symbolic violence for too many years, in our mental and social structures, in our institutions, by promoting divisions in our NGO’s, UNIONS, under resourcing and weakening our oversight bodies, and abandoning some of them. This, is an “invisible” but significant violence, that ultimately creates the environment that incubates the violence we see on our streets today!  Abuse of power is violence. An author Foucault (philosopher, psychologist) says that “power is everywhere, we must only make the invisible, visible” Government and our politicians have failed in the “fish giving”, unsustainable approach. They continue to ignore all the other long term partnerships necessary for the successful delivery of permanent and well mitigated solutions and a vision to cure our society’s critical illnesses.    It is only when we as leaders, begin to encourage and promote listening to one another, learning from one another’s plights, feeling and empathizing with one another, promote and encourage civil discourse, and yes, even disagree, we can disagree on the path, but should never on the vision. It is only then, that we will begin as a nation to heal, and find the solutions, by working together, in making our nation the true Jewel it deserves to be!

 

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