Features — 08 July 2017 — by Bilal Morris


Belizeans in Los Angeles, California and Belize will remember one of the first efforts of diaspora news in 1983 for the Los Angeles Belizean Community: the outstanding newspaper by the Los Angeles Muslims of Belize (LAMBS) called, “Belizean Focus”.

The newspaper that was published by L.A.M.B.S. documented one of the most interesting phenomena that today has created what is called here at this documentary series, “The Belize Gang Crisis.” As seen on this headline in a 1984 edition of the Belizean Focus the headline titled, “Belize / Third Greatest Drug Trafficking Country to the U.S.” has become a wake-up call for most Belizeans today in terms of the destabilization of a once peaceful Belizean society.

The legendary newspaper that ended publication in 1985 during the creation of the organization BREDAA that later brought Belizeans in L.A. the popular radio show on KPFK Los Angeles called, “Belize-Caribbean Pulse”, was the first in the Belizean diaspora to call the crisis for what it has become today in Belize.

Since the so-called “War on Drugs” in the 1980s and Belize’s role in it as one of the chief transshipment points for drugs (cocaine and marijuana) into the United States, the newspaper’s visionary perspective won it wide acclaim and respect at home in Belize as a cutting edge Belizean publication.

Belizean Focus predicted in hindsight through its journalistic endeavors in the Belizean diaspora that Belize would one day become a country racked by gangs in Belize City, a population center that has now erupted into violent urban warfare fueled through the massive proliferation of guns coming in through Belize’s porous borders with Guatemala and Mexico.

This violent crisis facing a Belizean nation-state today that was once a peaceful and predominantly black country, has now taken the lives of hundreds of Belizean black men. Belizean Focus, like its counterpart, the Amandala newspaper in Belize, chronicled the important and critical stories that were affecting the country of Belize. It helped connected Belizeans at home with those abroad through news, views and reviews on how the global and international news events were impacting a developing country like Belize.

And through this expose, we here at Belizean Legends celebrate the making of the only Belizean diaspora newspaper, “Belizean Focus”, that became the flagship for the Los Angeles Belizean community and the Belizean diaspora, 34-years since its publication.

(Photo courtesy of Nuri Akbar and the BREDAA archives)

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