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From the Publisher

PublisherFrom the Publisher

“A controversial state of emergency in Belize to crack down on a surge of gang-related murders and other violent crimes has led to the arrest of nearly a hundred people.

“The order, announced on Tuesday, gives police the power to search homes without a warrant and detain suspects for up to 90 days. Originally implemented for 30 days, the government announced on Friday that it was increasing its length to maximize its effectiveness.” 

– by Natricia Duncan, Caribbean correspondent and Hipolito Novelo in Belize City, in the Sunday, June 30, 2024 issue of THE GUARDIAN.

Critics of myself used to say that I brought something from America which does not exist in Belize. Well, did I bring crack to Belize? No. Did I bring gang violence to Belize? No. What I brought to Belize was black consciousness.

If you are someone who is not black, and you dislike black people, I would say that may be understandable. My bigger problem is with black people who don’t like themselves. I thought that if our black people knew the real history of our ancestors, they would act on the basis of greater self-esteem.

For the last three and a half decades, we have watched our black youth butchering each other in the old capital/population center of Belize.

The political solutions offered have been basically twofold: organizations such as Conscious Youth Development Program, Youth For The Future; and the Leadership Intervention Unit, which seek to get the hostile combatants to reason with each other; and then the hammer solution—states of emergency.

Some states of emergency, which involve apprehending and arbitrarily incarcerating gang figures on the basis of their history, last thirty days, but the latest state of emergency will last for ninety days—that’s July, August, and September.

When I was a young man in the 1960s, most of us black youth had a problem with Premier George Price, because he was pushing a Maya agenda and ignoring African historical truths. The thing about Mr. Price, however, was that he was not a materialistic man, and he envisioned a future for Belize wherein we Belizeans had dignity and self-esteem, even if we were not rich. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

Mr. Price’s critics said that he was preventing progress in our country. He was voted out in 1984, and then we saw the “progress” that his critics were envisioning. That progress involved indiscriminate alienation of national lands and islands, and tourism. 

Today, tourism is the biggest deal in town. The vast majority of the tourists are of European ancestry. The vast majority of the modern Belizean hotels are owned by people of European ancestry. Many of the people of African ancestry whose forefathers were forcibly brought here as slaves to work in the forestry industry, have migrated to the United States, but we do not know how many of them have American documents. A Trump victory in November could bring disaster for undocumented Belizean migrants.

Those black people who remain in Belize have been marginalized, because forestry is practically dead and they have not made the transition to agriculture. Our black youth have become an underclass of criminals, and they war with each other for control of the drug trade. The streets of Belize City are empty at night, and often red with blood. We are talking about more than 35 years of suicidal war, mainly on Belize City’s Southside.

The latest state of emergency, ninety days, covers the holiday months when Belizeans entertain tourists with what is supposed to be patriotism. Now, younger gang figures will emerge in Belize City during this state of emergency, but they will not have the experience and clout that the incarcerated leaders have. So, the police will probably find it easier to control their behavior.

What we must accept, those of you who are respectable Belizeans, is that none of our two major political parties has a solution for the problems of our black youth. Neither do the Christian churches and their schools, which refuse to teach black conscious history.

I give big respect to Nuri Muhammad for all the work he has done over the last three decades, but we are yet to find a solution for the problem in the Southside and parts of Northside.

We black people dislike each other, so we are killing each other. Why do we dislike each other? We dislike each other because we are ignorant about ourselves and blame ourselves for the sins of our enslavers. In Belize, we call this ignorance, education.

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