Restore Belize was established in June 2010 as a crime reduction initiative to operate from the Office of the Prime Minister. The program became necessary since violent crime has been consistently increased over the past decade. A workshop to formulate a strategy has been underway all week and it is being attended by the Minister of Police, the Commissioner of Police, and Restore Belize representatives. Jamaican Social Violence Anthropologist Herbert Gayle has been invited to return to Belize to brief the participants on his four hundred page report into the violence plaguing the country. Restore Belize’s Mary Vasquez says that they have also had the help of a consultant.
Mary Vasquez, Program Director, Restore Belize
“We spoke with the UN agencies and UNICEF stepped forward and said we will fund this exercise so with support from UNICEF we were able to hire a Consultant, Adele Catzim Sanchez who has decades of experience in development planning, in social policy and in community engagement in Belize. So she is the person who is drafting this plan for us. But concurrent with the start of our planning process, the release of several important documents also came about. To be specific we are looking at the Gayle report, the male social participation and violence study that was done by Doctor Gayle and a team of Belizean researchers. The final report came out. We have the census being completed. We have the report card on where Belize is in reaching millennium development goals, where Belize is in completing the national plan of action for children and families. So we have several current studies that we can lean on to direct our activities and to focus on their areas that are more urgent in addressing the root causes of crime. So to assist in this process, to energize this process and to ensure that we are taking into account the very import results by Doctor Gayle and his team, we invited him as a co-facilitator this week to work with us, to meet with key decision makers and policy makers as well as practitioners on the ground to talk about how we can reduce the violence, where does the violence begin, at what age does it begin, at what age are we really starting to see we are forming this person into a very aggressive lifestyle. So we are looking at that and what is most urgent that we can do now to address the severe problem of violence that we are experiencing.”
Dr. Herbert Gayle, Social Anthropologist
“I think it is tremendous that there is an NGO in our secretariat that can work with a mega research because as you know this is a four hundred page report covering the pillars of development because we treat in the study violence as a byproduct of the social ills within the society. So we don’t treat violence as the end in itself because it is not. Therefore the aim right now is to produce the matrices or the action plan for the next five years to see how we can deal with the social ills and the central political authority problems—meaning the whole matter of governance and policing and civil society and judiciary and how we can change those to put them on a plane whereby once we fix those, the murder rate itself would go down because it is a consequence of all of these problems rather than an end in itself. So that’s what we are doing. We are putting some plans for intervention. As you know, there is a problem with intervention—lots of planning but not intervention. So this is about planning for intervention—not just objectives which are lofty, but plans that have deadlines of time, the scope; how much can we do by that time, by what time and where we’re gonna be doing it to get the thing done.”
If all goes according to plan, a strategy for the implementation of Restore Belize should be in place by February.