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by Kristen Ku BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 22,...

From the Publisher

PublisherFrom the Publisher

A young man who was a prosperous businessman but had apparently become involved with gang elements, was gunned down with a massive fusillade of bullets on Sunday night in Belize City, presumably by elements involved with an opposing gang.

It seemed to me, being at an age when people like me are described as “elderly,” that the victim of the murder, Orel Leslie, was the first Belizean from such a highly respectable family who had become so deeply involved in trouble since this gang business began in Belize in the late 1980s. 

Yes, the late Tunan was a business graduate of St. John’s College Sixth Form, and he came from a family that was rated respectable. Robert Hertular’s father was the head of a government department, and Robert himself, who is serving time in a United States prison because of drug trafficking crimes, was a licensed and successful commercial airplane pilot.   

But Orel Leslie’s great grand aunt, the late Amy Leslie, was a preacher/pastor of distinction in the Methodist Church when I was a child/youth. Her sister, Lily Leslie, was a teacher of note in the Methodist school system, and their sister, Daisy, married a Card, and became the mother of Leslie, Bryan, and Mrs. Kay Card Tillett. Bryan Card was a high-ranking public officer in Belize. Leslie Card studied medicine for many years at the UWI campus in Jamaica. Kay Card was a Belizean beauty. 

I believe there are some high-level business elements in Belize who do business with the gangs from time to time, and this sort of thing has been going on for a long time. When there are states of emergency, the young street gangsters go to jail, but the names of “big people” are never mentioned. I’m just saying.

The Leslie family also included the Hon. Vernon Leslie, who was the head of Belize’s Extra Mural Department of the University of the West Indies when I was a youth.

What exactly happened with Orel, when you consider the family from whence he came, and the fact that his father, Homer “Tunku” Leslie, had left a large insurance package for his family when he died of cancer?

It took a little while for me to do the research on Orel’s family history, because people my age are mostly dead or in the States. The Belizean youth who join gangs, to the best of my knowledge, are those who are in desperate need of survival resources. Orel Leslie had been remanded at the Belize Central Prison on murder charges on more than one occasion. It just didn’t figure how he got to where he got: a big man in the gang world who became a major, major target.

Around the same time of Orel Leslie’s assassination, the Belize City Customs Department opened a barrel with some frightening military rifles and ammunition. That investigation has led, for all intents and purposes, nowhere. How many of such guns and how much of such ammunition reached here before this specific shipment?

About ten or fifteen years ago, a few grenades were floating around Belize City. As a people, we were stunned, and scared. At least one or two of these explosives were thrown into the midst of groups of people, but today we have probably forgotten about the specifics of these incidents. 

In the streets, you can meet people who know a lot of things about a lot of things. I write this column not for them: they know more than me. I write it for you innocent Belizeans who dream of a decent, peaceful life, and don’t know what the hell is going on. Whatever is going on, it’s bigger than you and it’s bigger than me. Check it. 

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