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Opposition Leader suggests mandatory military service for teenagers to reduce crime and instill nationalistic pride

Soldiers with the Belize Defence Force practice combat marksmanship speed reload drills during an infantry skills course led by U.S. Marines of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command, at Price Barracks, Belize, Aug. 25, 2015. SPMAGTF-SC is a temporary deployment of Marines and Sailors throughout Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize with a focus on building and maintaining partnership capacity with each country through shared values, challenges, and responsibilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Abraham Lopez/Released)

Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2023. 9:32 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Joining the Belize Defence Force (BDF) has long been a voluntary choice – one involving months of training not only in the use of firearms but also in various tactics and techniques to be used in wartime and, at least until recently, patrolling Belize’s mean streets.

But Leader of the Opposition Moses “Shyne” Barrow has suggested that to reduce the incidence of crime and youth delinquency, a one or two-year military deployment may get our young men to see the light.

Such training, Barrow said, would help instill nationalistic pride and love of country rather than gang life: “…rather than being out there lost on the trails, being absorbed by these bad actors and led astray, they can go into the military and serve, and go into the Sarstoon, and go to our borders, and know what it means to be a nationalist, and know what it means to give your all for your country…”

Barrow made the comments in response to reports that Belize has agreed to send members of the Belize Defence Force (BDF) to the troubled country of Haiti as part of a multinational force to stabilize our CARICOM partner in the central Caribbean following years of unrest over political and economic reform. On this, he was more non-committal, telling reporters that “I did not read that, to deal with what is happening in Haiti, I know they have ongoing civil unrest and political unrest, certainly as a member of Caricom, I sympathize with Haiti and whatever we could do, we should.”

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Courtenay’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week, Belize has agreed to join this effort.

This decision is opposed by, among others, the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF), whose Yaya Marin-Coleman told Channel 7 News that foreign forces should leave Haiti and stop supporting the “dictatorship” of Ariel Henry, who became President and Prime Minister following the assassination of Jovenel Moise a few years ago.


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