Posted: Friday, June 21, 2019. 10:09 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Ministry of National Security and Police Department have heeded warnings against impinging on the right of vendors in Belize City to make an honest living by rescinding a limit on the hours of sale.
In a release issued Thursday evening, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams noted, “While the police effort in trying to minimize the amount of people on the streets during late night hours can be understood, this cannot override the right of the Street Vendors to an honest means of living. The Police will, therefore, work with the vendors with a view to make the area within which they work safer for all.”
In an earlier interview, Commissioner Williams said the limit was an idea of the Officer Commanding Eastern Division, Senior Superintendent Alden Dawson.
While he understands the rationale as explained by Dawson, Williams echoed the view of many on the issue – the vendors must not be hurt. Before the about-face, Williams had planned meetings with the vendors and City Mayor Bernard Wagner for further discussions.
Meanwhile, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA)’s new president, Shawn Saldano, weighed in before the reversal, stating the bigger picture on lack of economic opportunities and tearing apart the social fabric was not being looked at.
“We cannot continue to put the band-aid remedy over serious societal flaws that continue to hurt us. And I repeat, allowing the vendors to close down will not solve crime and violence. I do see the logic that puts the people in a vulnerable position. But I am also aware that a lot of time when I go there especially in the wee hours in the morning there are a lot of police officers out there, purchasing from the vendors. Queen Street Police Station is right up to the street from the bridge. At this point we are asking and begging the Police Department to be very mindful of this situation and not limit these people’s economic opportunities,” Saldano said.
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