Features — 21 August 2019
Agree with one of three callers to the WuB

Mr. Matthew Smiling called the WuB, KREM Radio’s morning talk show, last Tuesday to express his sorrow over this crazy violence in Belize City. He also declared that it is wrong to describe the genocide in Belize City as mostly a South Side problem because it extended to the entire city. Mr. Smiling said that in his neighborhood, which is on the North Side of Belize City, there are five gangs/sets of rivals, and the separation between two of them was just a fence.

Mr. Smiling is sincere, but he has to realize that his establishment is North Side, but because of their proximity to the South Side, whatever good or bad is on that side is bound to come his way. That part of North Side naturally has to be included in the South Side description.

There is a natural division in Belize City, the Haulover Creek. From the day God made it, the Haulover Creek has a south bank and a north bank. If you swim across the Haulover Creek and haul yourself up on the north bank, you are on North Front Street. If you walk one block you are on New Road, the street where the Smiling family has their establishment.

If you swim across the Haulover Creek east of the Swing Bridge, and haul yourself up on the north bank, you are on North Front Street, and if you cross the street you enter Majestic Alley. The point I’m making is that these areas are close, very close to the South Side of Belize City, and thus these areas on the North Side are as “inner city” as South Side, Belize City.

South Side is the natural name for the area on the South Side of the Haulover Creek. A number of people say they don’t like the description, South Side, Belize City. I think anyone who feels that it is wrong to call the area south of the Haulover Creek, South Side, should go and tell God to fill up the Haulover Creek.

A name is what you make it. Matthew Smiling could have made his name into something bad by becoming a gang banger. He chose to make his name glorious by riding his heart out and becoming a Cross Country champion.

Ms. Sandra Coye called the WuB and emphasized a link between the decriminalization of marijuana and the gang violence in our country, especially in the city. We all know that these turf wars existed before decriminalization. The numbers show that violence was increasing long before decriminalization.

There is an assumption in some quarters that decriminalization has resulted in a substantial increase in the use of marijuana, and this has led to greater rivalry among the gangs. I have heard Mr. Louis Wade of PLUS TV express this view.

I think the assumption that marijuana use has increased exponentially since decriminalization is false. My observation is that decriminalization of marijuana just made people who have always been smoking weed, feel a little more comfortable. Now they don’t mind going about smelling of the stuff. I have yet to meet someone with a stick of weed hanging out of their mouth when I’m on the street, but I don’t go about that much. It’s not impossible that a lot more Belizeans are smoking weed like crazy, but I don’t see that.

Both Ms. Coye and Mr. Wade are full-blown against drugs and alcohol drinking, and they are not shy about hibbing the kitchen sink to further their views.

Another caller to the WuB, I believe it was last Thursday, stated emphatically that he does not smoke marijuana that isn’t grown in Belize. He said he did not trust the reputedly high grade marijuana grown abroad. I 100% agree with the brother’s reasoning.

I’m not a weed smoker, but for years I’ve puzzled over the attitude of authorities toward it. Indeed, I have agonized over their attitude. The authorities know that some of our citizens smoke weed, and there is no quality control of the product; then, obviously, Belizean citizens who smoke weed are at the mercy of people who sell weed. We are our brothers’ keeper. We are aware that sellers have the capacity to adulterate their product, why they would do that, and that it is a dangerous thing to do.

It never dawned in my innocent mind that not only did the authorities not care about weed smokers getting adulterated products, they were in the adulterating business themselves for an ugly purpose.

We know there are conspiracies. The Europeans introduced diseases to Native Tribes to decimate their population. They would justify their horrible actions as acts of war. Medical science not only uses guinea pigs and rats and rabbits for experimental purposes, they use people too, and sometimes those people they use for their experiments are unwitting. It is not hard to understand why some people view vaccines with great distrust. There are people who are into controlling the world’s population.

But would a people’s own government cruelly do them in? The answer is that they would if you are a member of a group that they don’t like. These politicians, they come with smiles and wiles to gain power, but inside some of their chests are hearts that beat with hate. During the days of Prohibition in the USA, that country’s government, with the blessing of people who hated alcohol drinkers, didn’t care if there was deadly poison in the rum people drank.

Now, really now, I don’t believe everything I read, but when you think about all the hate we just looked at, it’s quite plausible. I didn’t say it was easy to believe. Far from. The way I roll, I’ll walk a mile to get out of your way if you don’t make me feel happy or if I sense that I don’t make you feel happy. But some people will roll you out of the way. They not only won’t get out of your way, they’ll come looking for you, to give you the sense.

There’s this story at www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org which says that maybe 10,000 Americans died from alcohol that was poisoned by the United States government. Those Prohibitionists were very dangerous people. It’s not a long article, “Deaths During Prohibition: Government Poisoned Alcohol to Stop Drinking”, so I’ll just copy the hopeful, the shocking, and the real ugly parts:

“The Promise: Temperance advocates promised that Prohibition would usher in a beautiful new world. Crime, poverty, violence, marital abuse, industrial injuries, sickness and premature death would all go down… Deaths during Prohibition were to drop…The Reality…National Prohibition actually made problems worse. And it created new problems. There was mob violence and murder. It killed innocent bystanders. Murder in general increased sharply. But there was a less well-known source of deaths during Prohibition. It was the federal government…

“…there was no regulation of illegal operators. They made their beverages quickly and carelessly. The lead solder used in illegal stills could leach toxins into the bootleg. That made it poisonous. There were many other sources of toxins in the illegal alcohol. Drinking bootleg alcohol paralyzed, blinded, or killed many people…

“Bootleggers didn’t intend their bootleg to contain toxins. They didn’t want to kill their customers. The government was doing that. It was bad for bootleggers’ business. That was the government’s goal. It was legal to distill alcohol for industrial purposes. Alcohol was a common ingredient in paints, solvents, fuels and medicines. Also, many industrial processes used it…

“So the federal government required the addition of terrible-tasting substances to make alcohol undrinkable. Some of the substances were toxic. Denatured alcohol was the result. By the mid-1920s, bootleggers were stealing 60 million gallons of denatured alcohol each year. Bootleggers re-distilled it to remove most of the foul and sometimes toxic substances. Thus, bootlegging of industrial alcohol continued…

“In 1926, the government turned to the use of more poisons in its fight against drinking. It ordered distillers to make their alcohol more deadly. Specifically, twice as deadly. Then, the next year, the government ordered the addition of additional poisons. They included these…Mercury salts, Benzene, Cadmium, Zinc, Ether, Chloroform, Carbolic Acid, Acetone, Iodine, Brucine (similar to strychnine), Formaldehyde (the major content of embalming fluid), Methyl alcohol (wood alcohol), Kerosene, Gasoline.

“The government defended its action. A leading official was blunt: ‘The great mass of Americans do not drink liquor. There are two fringes of society who are hunting for ‘booze.’ They are the so-called upper crust and the down-and-out in the slums. They are dying off fast from poison ‘hooch.’ If America can be made sober and temperate in 50 years a good job will have been done.’

“Wayne Wheeler of the Anti-Saloon League was also adamant:  ‘The Government is under no obligation to furnish the people with alcohol that is drinkable when the Constitution prohibits it. The person who drinks this industrial alcohol is a deliberate suicide. To root out a bad habit costs many lives and long years of effort.’”

Okay, so, that that’s how these fill-in-the-blank people in government operate. I’ll say just these few things, for now. The USA has millions of people and maybe they could afford to throw some away, but over here everyone counts.

I know there are people who hate rum drinking and weed smoking and I can see where they could draw anger from drunk or drug-dazed people driving on the highway and endangering innocent lives. This is an area where our authorities have to step up, to help people from hating so much. Have you ever heard of the police arresting a drunk driver who hadn’t been in an accident? If they announced that they’d be stepping up the pressure on drunk drivers, and did so, the demand for designated drivers would go up.

Some of us need our drink, and some their weed, so designated drivers are in demand. But designated drivers who speed are as bad as or worse than drunk drivers. Ah, I remember one of my close buddies had a car and he was allergic to drink, and drugs too. But near drunk as a skunk, I was a safer driver than he was on the highway.

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Deshawn Swasey

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