Dr. Gayle Explains How Detentions Lead to Gang Retaliations Against The State

So while two men have been arrested and the GSU has George Street on lockdown for the time being - we end the first week of this new year with a sense of foreboding.

That's because the random New Year's Night shootings of two Hispanic men has left society shaken. Could the Carlos Valle and Orlando Williams have been just random victims: marked for death only because they are Hispanic males over the age of 40 - and the shooters saw that as the best way to retaliate against the state for a New Year's Eve preventative detention?

It's a scary possibility - and yesterday we asked Violence Anthropologist Dr. Herbert Gayle in Jamaica to decode such behaviour. He's done the most comprehensive study on gangs in Belize - and he told us that the shootings may have had nothing to do with race, it might have simply been the most effective way to lash out at the state after an oppressive lockdown:..

Dr. Herbert Gayle, violence anthropologist
"I have seen in many places where if the murder rate is looking very bad they would just go and arrest the whole gang or clean up a community or what is called social cleansing and that would allow things to stabilize for a while. They are short term measures but extremely good."

"Quite often when a state justifies brutality against young people the same young people justify brutality against the state and by doing so using Jamaican creole "if you can't catch Clark, you catch his shirt." They have not yet attacking state agents - then attack somebody who is external to the intimacy of the people. It's a matter that Spanish people are outside of the strain called black suffering youths. When young creole youths killed each other - people ignore it but if they killed somebody outside out of what we called the combatant frame then it is notice."

And as we start 2013 on that very shaky note, the Police Department is under new leadership. Allen Whylie will assume command of the Department effective January 9th. Acting Commissioner David Henderson - who we note - has not reached retirement age is being placed on early retirement. As what we take to be a sort of reward for years of loyalty - if not distinction, he is being given a contract to be director at the National Forensic Services- an area in which he has no known expertise.

As for the GSU - we reported that ASP Marco Vidal was being moved up to head Special Branch. Well, he is being moved, but we are informed that he will remain in charge of the GSU - which he created. It seems that the GSU will now be subsumed under Special Branch as a sort of intelligence - led strike team.

And while it will be interesting to see how all that works out, the need for a change is apparent. As we have reported, Belize just witnessed the most murderous year on record with 145 homicides - up sharply from the previous high in 2010 when there were 129. The gives Belize a murder rate of 46 per hundred thousand, which - according to our preliminary information, is the highest in the Caribbean. That's right, this year, for the first time, Belize may have that unfortunate distinction with the murder rate in both Jamaica and Trinidad tapering off. Still though, our Central American neighbor Honduras is much higher at 91 per hundred thousand, and Guatemala and Salvador are expected to be in the 70's and 80's - making Central America, again, the most dangerous region in the world.

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