San Ignacio & Santa Elena join protest against violence
The message against crime was crystal clear in Belize City where there was outpouring support for the family of the fallen eight year old All Saints student. But the outrage against crime and violence was felt across the country. In the northern districts, a few businesses closed, so did in Dangriga. But in the west, which has experienced its share of violence, business came to a halt in a massive show of support both in Benque Viejo and in San Ignacio. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports from San Ignacio.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Shutters were pulled down, doors locked, some even padlocked. Businesses of every variety in the twin towns were closed; only a handful remained open. The mayor of the twin towns said that almost eighty percent of businesses were closed.
John August, Jr., Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena
John August jr
“I was a bit surprised this morning when I was told that most businesses downtown San Ignacio and in Santa Elena were closed. But I guess the level of frustration with crime in our country has reached to this stage and we noticed that most of the business people here are in solidarity. And it is affecting business here in San Ignacio and Santa Elena because most of our grocery stores and other major stores are closed today noh. I took a drive around this morning and I would say about seventy-five percent of the businesses in this municipality are closed today.”
“How successful has it been?”
Edward Cano, Councilor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town
“Well really, the chiney community close their doors, the Hindus, the majority of the shops in San Ignacio close their doors for today noh.”
The mass lockdown came from concerned businesses along with the gentle prodding of one town councilor who had been walking from door to door requesting a shutdown.
“I mi deh out in town to try to convince the people to close their doors for the solidarity for the same victim weh get shot. Really, I try encourage people to make they close their doors because really we noh want make this thing continue especially inna the Cayo area. Really it’s so sad. It hurts the family and it could be somebody else, it could be we.”
According Herbert Gayle’s Male Social Participation in Violence Research San Ignacio is behind Belize City as a place of violent crime. Chinese national Zhen Zhennong was killed in Santa Elena on Mother’s Day while she carried her six month old Yan Yu on her back. And in June, Marlon Rivera was murdered during a double shooting; his friend, Dean Dougal, was shot several times, including a bullet to his neck. Dean was at the throes of death in his hospital bed, but like the Phoenix, this family man has risen from the ashes.
Dean Dougal, Survived Shooting
“My friend called me after the club and he was sitting talking and this guy came from behind and just start shoot. When I woke up three days after, they told me my friend had died. I mi get shot up, but I di heal now. I di go through the healing and only the arm and I still got a lot of bullet in me. When I get blood, they wah take it out because I mi loose wah lot of blood.”
“It seems like a miracle you survived. The last time we saw you, you were in a hospital bed and you still managed to point out the shooter who shot you and your friend.”
“Yeah and I thank god for that because if I didn’t point him out, ih woulda mi get away because ih get away with one murder already.”
The New Officer Commanding the Cayo Formation, Superintendent Chester Williams, is tasked to rehabilitate San Ignacio.
Sr. Supt. Chester Williams, O.C., Cayo Police Formation
Sr. Supt. Chester Williams
“Yes statistically that is the reality in terms of San Ignacio being behind Belize as it pertains to violent crimes in the country. But I must say that my predecessor, Mister Wade, he was doing an excellent job. I took over from him at the end of July this year and basically what I am doing is just following up on what Mister Wade has started and looking at new initiatives that I believe will be able to help the police in succeeding in the Cayo area.”
John August Jr.
“I know a lot of people will say that it’s the police, it’s the Prime Minister’s job to find an answer, but I believe—my personal opinion is that it’s everybody’s job to find a solution to the crime problem we have in this country today. It’s not only up to one department or one man alone. The society has to realize that we have a problem and we need to find ways in how we can correct the problem. It’s a major, major crisis affecting our country.”
“I have a kid too. This dah my son and if anybody woulda kill him, I don’t know how I woulda feel. And I think that we need to deal with the murder because the murder is outa control. If you listen to my voice, I just di get it back from my accident.”
Keisha Bahador, Dougal’s common-law-wife
“You know, a family is united and they come together. He is the head of the family and if we woulda mi lose him, they mi wah grow up without wahn father because fi he love they can’t replace. Other man wah come but they noh wahn love yo children as much as weh they own father wah love them. We almost lost that and ih real scary. Once yo done gone through it then yo wah know how ih feel. It’s rough. I ‘fraid. You watch the news every night and if they coulda mi try kill he front ah hundred and hundred a people middle ah the town, I expect anything you know. So I take a lot of precautions now. So I don’t really go out a lot as I used to.”
“As a mother and as a wife, what do you think can be done to curb the violence? What do you think?”
“Well I think it start at home you know. From the children they are small; you have to teach them right from wrong. You have to give your child a lot of attention and try to teach them from they’re small because it really start at home because when they done grow, you can’t help them. “
While the children are still impressionable, they can be taught to respect life and country. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.