Posted: Sunday, December 20, 2020. 3:22 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: With an estimated 99 murders for the year 2020 entering today, Sunday, the Police Department is not likely to fulfill the prediction of the Belize Crime Observatory that the country will finish below 100 murders for the first time in seven years. But no matter what, unless there is an unusual explosion in the coming holiday season, Belize is on track to finish with fewer murders for 2020 than 2019, when there were 134.
November featured 12 murders with the last being taximan Erwin Castillo. December has so far had six by our count compared to 15 last year.
The first was in Punta Gorda Town where fireman Rudolph Matura, 29, was shot dead at his workplace.
Days later, there were murders back-to-back in Belize City, with the deaths of Micah Baltazar on Neal Pen Road and Keith Courtenay Jr on Ebony Street.
Augustine Coc was shot dead coming home from work on Thursday, December 18, and two nights later, Terrence Rhaburn was one of five men shot while at work at the newly-opened St. Martin One Stop Auto Care Shop.
Several other near-misses have been reported and Police are still puzzling over the death of Darwin Chavarria in Punta Gorda as their information keeps changing.
Starting tonight, the nightly curfew runs from 8 p.m. to five a.m., but it doesn’t appear that it has prevented any of these murders which all took place before curfew time.
New Minister of Home Affairs, Kareem Musa, told reporters on December 10 that “multiple factors” have kept the murder numbers down, including some we have mentioned before such as time in quarantine, curfew, and state of emergency, especially in Belize City. But he also cites the work of the Department and its boosters.
Commissioner of Police Chester Williams added, “It has always been one of our greatest efforts to make sure we bring down the murder rate, a life loss really and truly takes a toll on a family and we try our best to avoid that from occurring, notwithstanding we cannot prevent all murders from occurring so, we just need to continue doing what we’re doing, with a view to ensuring that we keep that trend.”
We repeat what we have said before in conclusion: For what it’s worth, official statistics point to fewer murders this year while Belize was under any lockdown or imposed a state of emergency. After 38 murders in the first three months of 2020, the months of April, May, and June, spent mostly under lockdown, saw 13 murders combined; when the lockdown was lifted at the start of July, 14 murders were recorded in that month alone. August, spent under slightly relaxed emergency regulations, and with the threat of COVID spiraling, saw just four murders; September and October where that threat was lifted, saw increases to seven and eight murders respectively.
Whether that proves the criminals need “positive control” to stop the killing is not a question we can answer here. But for there to be a murder-free, never mind COVID-free, holiday season, some kind of grip has to be gotten on the situation – if not for the likes or the figures, then for the cost of human lives.
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