Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2020. 3:15 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: “We had no choice,” Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte said Tuesday, “but to ask the Governor-General to enter us into another state of emergency where we can detain these persons of interest to prevent any further bloodshed. I remain convinced that we would not tolerate any lawlessness in this country. We are in the middle of a pandemic already; we don’t need any more headaches…”
Belize has spent most of the last four months under one State of Emergency or another – the crime-related SOE was instituted at the end of March and rolled into the National State of Emergency in respect of COVID-19 in April, which expired at the end of June – just last week. Annual figures for murders in particular, over April, May and June have been near historical lows, but it has all threatened to be undone by the recent flareup – two murders and the brazen robbery in the compound of the Scotia Bank northern branch.
The 99 persons detained, and others being sought, are accused of a range of crimes – murder, robbery, extortion, and generally causing public terror. They and others like them were specifically warned that they would be headed back to prison if “they try to hold the masses of our people hostage in this country and particularly in the city that we are not going to sit idly by and tolerate them to believe that they can have their way,” as stated by Commissioner of Police Chester Williams. Some have heeded the warning.
For those who have ignored the “stiff messages” sent over the course of the last few hours, said the Minister and his Commissioner, there is a final warning.
“Those who continue to demonstrate that criminal propensity and do not want to fall in line, but instead want to be violent hunting or preying on other people, recklessly shooting at women and children, we cannot have those people among us. Their behaviour is incompatible with human behaviour and as such they do not belong among us and those are the persons that we are after and those are the persons that we are putting away.”
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