BELMOPAN, Tues. Oct.19, 2021– The Secretariat of the United Democratic Party (UDP) issued a press release this week in which it condemns the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Kareem Musa, who oversees the operations of the Police Department, for what it described as a lack of control and direction in the prevention of violent crimes in the country. In the strongly worded statement, the UDP accused Minister Musa and the Chief Executive Officer in his ministry of being indifferent to the circumstances facing fellow Belizeans and stated that this current administration has failed to implement any concrete solution after taking office last November.
The UDP release then detailed the crime statistics of Belize and, in particular, Belize City. It stated that just over the last weekend, three murders were recorded in the country, two of which took place in Belize City. The release notes that this year, in comparison to last year, 2020 (during the first 10 months of which there was a UDP administration at the helm), an alarming 16 more deaths have been recorded for the period of January to September — with the total number of deaths already amounting to 90 in 2021.
The release further points out that “gang-related gun-violence is now directly affecting the most innocent and vulnerable citizens, as many of the victims have been children and elderly persons”, and it further alleges that instead of addressing the situation, Minister Kareem Musa and his Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Arthurs, are appropriating funds from Belizean taxpayers to have lavish vacations and frolic with foreign celebrities (a reference to an event attended by Minister Musa and CEO Arthurs while Musa, in his capacity as Minister of New Growth Industries, was meeting with members of the Belizean diaspora in the US to promote investment in local initiatives,)
The release continued, “Adding insult to injury, the insensitivity and lack of initiative by the political directorate to fight crime is further aggravated by the fact that a PUP Minister’s own son, who is an ex-policeman, is being linked to one of the murders over the weekend and was allegedly caught in possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.” (This statement refers to the alleged detention of Darrel ‘Tutsi’ Usher, the son of Hon. Gilroy Usher, Sr., for alleged possession of a gun used in the shooting of a Biscayne resident who was heading to a funeral in Belize City. According to Usher, however, members of the Police Department had requested his assistance in retrieving the firearm.)
The UDP statement went on to call on Minister Musa and CEO Arthurs to tender their resignations and called on the Prime Minister to address this urgent issue and detail plans to curb the recent surge in violent crime.
Minister Musa appeared this week on the Sunup talkshow on Channel 7, however, to present his plans to mitigate gun violence in Belize and listed a number of initiatives, including a focus on schooling and the raising of the maximum age for mandatory schooling from 14 to 16 years of age as well as increased counseling aid efforts to beautify crime-riddled communities and establish employment hubs in those areas. In addition, he mentioned more severe punitive measures for those who refuse to be reformed. Gang leaders could be subject to up to 20 years imprisonment, and gang members could face up to 10 years in prison.