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Truce Not Derailed by a Few! Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 00:00

Hon. Mark KingThere has been a significant spike in crime and violence in the month of April. The month also saw the bloodiest weekend in a very long time. Shooting incidents in the city are back to pre-truce rates and the sense of security is once again falling. This has caused the question to arise: “Is the truce over?”

The answer to that question is complex. A truce is a temporary suspension of hostilities through an agreement between opposing sides. It is a period in which peace terms should be discussed and explored. The survival of the truce depends on the parties involved in the agreement. If the question asks whether or not violence is on the rise again in Belize then the answer is yes. However, if the question really is whether or not the truce is over then the answer is definitely not.

The truce program is an agreement between rival gang members and the Government of Belize. The gang members have accepted government’s outstretched hands and put down their guns. In turn, government provides employment and developmental opportunities for them. The success of the truce is felt greatest in the Queen Square division where gang violence is almost nil. Young men are now engaged in productive activities that improve the infrastructure of their community. Neighbours hang out again and children play in their yards.

No one ever believed that the truce program would mean an end to crime and violence. The tremendous success experienced in the early months, when the crime rate hit rock bottom, was more than anyone could have ever hoped for. The recent spike in violence is no surprise because from day one the concept of a truce was not appealing to certain criminal elements. The individuals shooting, killing and robbing recently do not belong to the truce program. The program is only for individuals looking for an opportunity to live a productive life. Majority of the young men in gangs across the city were looking for that opportunity and they have taken full advantage of it. However, there are those who prefer notoriety and easy money. Despite the opportunities available to them they have chosen to live by the gun. Only the bars of a prison or the bullets of a gun will stop them in their ways. The trouble makers are few in number but huge in impact. Because of them many in society are declaring the truce dea, more are calling for an end to the financing of the program. It is extremely unfortunate because for every one individual that choose not to be a part of the truce program there are ten that have embraced the opportunity.

Fortunately for those who are choosing to live productively, the recent spike in violence has not swayed government’s support of the program. In an interview with Hon. Mark King, Minister responsible for CYDP and the Gang Truce, he stated categorically that government’s support for the truce program remains “very strong”. He said that the ministry have been active in the communities and have met constantly with members of the truce program. The ministry is well aware of the fact that there are a few individuals who have chosen to remain rogue. Those individuals will not be allowed to derail the entire program. In a press release Minister King stated, “We have many projects in the pipeline that will involve members of the Gang Truce Program and will provide more jobs to these individuals.”

In its very definition a truce is temporary. However, the programs developed during this time could mean a long term ease in violent activities.