How would you feel if it were your child, Mr. Barrow?
June 13, 2015
Last year I was asked to write an article about the police, by a constable, to shed some light on the problems of serving the law here on Caye Caulker and under what kind of conditions they have to perform their duties. I told him I would have to play the Devil’s Advocate because I have my opinions too, I told him, and those might not be to your liking. And you want me to do this in collaboration with you because you want me to express your concerns and at the same time you want to be anonymous.
At the same time, it must be hard when you are straight and you see the corruption around you; probably you feeling like you’ve ended up as a pissing post from all sides – the public, your superiors, your colleagues, etc.
Here or abroad, it is not very appreciated to be a whistleblower, which can result in a lot of trouble on the job, especially in a rigid system as the military or the police.
Well, I told him, to me, it feels like quite a challenge, so let’s see what comes out of this.
Police: Are they the law, or are they beyond the law?
My first meeting with the law happened the first week I moved to Caye Caulker 25 years ago. The story could come straight out of a Marquez novel. A cop named Fluffy arrested my nine-year-old son, mixing him up with another blond boy called T. J. The cop was so drunk that he did not see the difference between one boy and the other. He made my son stand against the wall for about half an hour with one of those 5-foot crowbars above his head, trying to make him admit to the crime that he did not commit, all the while fondling the .38 colt he was carrying in the waistband of his pants.
My son took his chance when Fluffy was fumbling for his cigarettes, threw the crowbar down and ran for the door, out of the station and straight home to me. I was drinking coffee with a lady friend and after I heard the story from my freaked-out boy, I started looking for a nice conch shell to tell Fluffy what I thought of his ways. My lady friend pushed me onto her bed and stayed sitting on top of me, saying that she did not want to get me shot, because a confrontation with the cop in the condition he was in would end up in bloodshed.
The next surrealist story about the police and the comings and goings of this at that time quiet and innocent island life, was the shooting of the sergeant by his mistress, as rendered so poetically by Adele Ramos of the Amandala, ending so tragically for the mistress, but the sergeant survived.
Now the social climate has become harder also here on the Caye.
But things have not changed much for the cops. Their pay is not in relation to the job, if you are straight and not on the take.
A lot of cops get moved from one place to another just after they got established with their families. Having either to move again, often without any compensation, and often having to decide to leave their families where they are getting established so their kids do not get moved around too much.
Living in the CC police barracks in the shape they are in, is below any standard of any man with some pride for himself. So no surprise when you put a man in a doghouse, he will behave like a dog.
Ending up living alone in Caye Caulker where it already is very hard to survive without a partner (and I know that to be very true), is rough. Not having a decent home life with your family is not very uplifting especially if you are a family man. With the existing CC drinking culture it is very easy to fall into that trap. And whatever you say, consumption of alcohol promotes all sorts of behaviors and/or conflicts with discernment in relation with money, women or too young girls and what is right or wrong. So then it is very easy to get into all kinds of “ras”.
In addition it is no secret if you are not Mestizo on this island one gets little respect from the islanders.
Yes, so maybe we should listen more to those officers who are positively engaged and have something to say about the law situation here in Caye Caulker and that maybe the Commissioner of Police together with the new Village Council can together work for a situation to improve the working and living conditions for those officers so that the quality of law enforcement could improve to that level where we all could benefit from on our island. Because certain situations with the law enforcement have been very negatively impacting tourism and we are all hoping this will not continue or escalate more in the future.
Now a year after I wrote this for the CC PC, who did not dare to publish this after conferring with his colleagues, here we are again. We have the riot police with M16’s and AK 47’s shooting in the air to stop people from demonstrating their frustration with the murder of one of our island’s children.
Even the bullets from these guns coming down can kill. This represents to a lot of people again the lack of respect the Government of Belize shows our island population. OK, we might not all have a degree in law or economics but most of us are good family people.
Here on this island we care about all our children. This boy, Ketchi, was one of my son’s classmates. He (my son) was the one who called me very upset from the States to talk about his murder. I did not know about anything because I had not been in the village for two days and I have no TV, nor do I do Facebook.
Which brings me to the question I asked myself, and I think I am not the only one on this island:
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF IT WAS YOUR CHILD? How would you feel if your child was tortured to death in the most horrendous way on suspicion of a crime he did not commit, by the people who are supposed to uphold the law, who you know commit major felony crimes in uniform, like extortion and carnal knowledge, and more?
And are you really surprised by the expression of anger and frustration by the people? Do you think that the police can continue with these Nazi-Guatemalan-El Salvadorian junta methods to keep these island people down?
When the people again feel that they get marginalized, like in the case for the future education possibilities for our children now that the Social Security property which so many people wished would go to the only secondary school on the island, was sold to foreign investors/speculators who have absolutely no interest in the people of this island, other than the economics of this deal.
I know the school is not Catholic, but does that really matter when it is the only school on the island? Did that show our Government being interested in developing this island, and that they are considering the future of our children?
HERE, AN ISLAND CHILD IS EVERYBODY’S CHILD!
THIS CHILD’S DEATH TOUCHES EVERYBODY ON THIS ISLAND!
WITH DUE RESPECT, BUT HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF IT WERE YOUR CHILD, MR.BARROW?
Commentaries from the Garden
Chriss Roggema, Caye Caulker. #226-0226