PM Dean Barrow working on a gang truce Print E-mail
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Thursday, 08 September 2011 00:00

Hon. Douglas Signh and PM Dean Barrow.BELIZE CITY, Tues. Sept. 6, 2011
Following the threats that members of the George Street Gang made against the public after the events of the evening of Friday, August 26th, 2011, the Government of Belize (GOB) organized a meeting with members of the majority of the Gangs of Belize City. Those meetings took place on Friday September 2nd and on Sunday September 4th. As a result of those meetings, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has brokered a cease fire between the gangs.

These meetings took place at the ITVET compound on Freetown Road. Members of the Belize Police Department took over security of the compound. Every vehicle belonging to gang members were swept for weapons, and each member was searched before they could enter the meeting room, on both days.

GOB was represented by Prime Minister Barrow, who cut short his trip to St. Kitts; Dr. Herbert Gayle, Social Anthropologist, he was also flown in; Minister of Police and Public Safety, Hon. Douglas Singh; the Commissioner of Police, Crispin Jeffries; Brigadier General Dario Tapia, Commander of BDF; Senior Superintendent of police Edward Broaster, Director of the Conscious Youth Development Project (CYDP); and Minister of Works, Hon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez.

On Friday, there were two – one hour and forty-five minute meetings, one at 1:30 p.m., and another at 4 p.m.

In the first meeting, GOB met with Back-a-Town, PIV, Kraal Road, Taylors Alley, and persons purported to represent Southside Gangsters (SSG).

In the second meeting, GOB then met with George Street and their affiliates: Ghost Town, Supal Street, and Gill Street.

At the end of that meeting, it was decided that both groups, who are reputed to be rivals, would meet again with GOB on Sunday.

 On Sunday, both groups met with GOB, but this time together, and that meeting ran for about 3 hours. At the end Prime Minister Barrow told the media that a truce has been agreed upon by both sides.

Mr. Barrow said that this truce was brokered on two main points: the principle that the State would do whatever it must to keep the citizens safe, and for gang members’ sense of self-preservation.

PM Barrow explained that the gangs were of the opinions that too many members of each side have been dying out senselessly in the past few months.

He then explained that a coordinating committee has been set up which would monitor the gangs and try to keep the peace. Once it is proven that the truce can hold, GOB and the committee would then authorize jobs to be given to restore infrastructures in the different neighborhoods.

At the end of Friday’s meeting, PM Barrow told the media that the residents of George Street have decided to move past the incident on August 26th, and they’ve decided to take the matter of their violation of rights to the courts; he agreed that they have a right to do so.

We used “purported to represent SSG, because on Tuesday, a press release was sent out claiming that there was no representative of SSG in the meetings.

The release claimed that GOB only met with gang members of George Street to deal with the issue of alleged improper force used by the Gang Suppression Unit.

The release continued that due to this, no member of SSG attended on the grounds that there wouldn’t be a fair exchange of ideas and thoughts because GOB is using SSG as a scapegoat to mend bridges with the “dominant George Street”.

This is an unfair allegation that SSG has made, Ministry Officials were under the impression that SSG and Kraal Road was represented by an individual, as he had claimed. As a result, GOB conducted the meeting with the understanding that SSG was properly represented.

As  a result, GOB has scheduled a meeting with members of the SSG. That meeting was chaired by Hon. Douglas Singh. At the end of the meeting Minister Singh explained that he was optimistic that the truce commitment is shared by those whom he met with. He added however that because of the loose affiliation the group has with the SSG and the lack of direct command that the SSG leadership has on the group he met it will pose a challenge. He concluded however that government is committed to make the truce work.