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Valley of Peace leaders write

Valley of Peace
Cayo District
November 20, 2012

Dear Editor:

Please allow us space in your prestigious newspaper to voice our concern and hope this letter will help to inspire other communities like ours.

Valley of Peace is a community made up of hardworking people who struggle every day to earn their living by farming the land. We are committed to contributing to the development of our nation. It has always been characterized by being a very peaceful community that wants to live up to its name.

Lately this peace has been shattered by the frequent violent actions of certain individuals whom we consider a detriment to our community. At first we experienced isolated events that weren’t cause for much concern. Presently, however, these are so frequent that the community is very much alarmed. Our youth are now in drugs from a very early age. Gang fights are a frequent occurrence. Fights and serious physical harm occur in and around bars. These are only to mention a few. It’s getting serious and we want it to stop!

The religious and civic leaders of our community have come together to analyze the situation and have come to the conclusion that there are certain factors which have contributed to this problem. The following are the main ones.

1. One of the problems is the ineffective work of the police officer stationed here. The gentleman’s alcohol problem gets in his way of dealing with crime in the community. Cutting deals with perpetrators of crimes to prevent these from reaching the courts is the norm apparently. The only way his superiors find about criminal activity in the community is when people report these directly to Belmopan. This only goes to show the lack of confidence that we have in the officer stationed here.

2. Another problem is the bars that have been given a license to operate in our community. It is a pity that the gentlemen of the liquor licensing board don’t realize the harm they do to a community upon the approval of a liquor license. The individuals who operate these bars violate their permits by selling drinks to underaged persons, having women who not only serve drinks but provide other illegal services. These bars are being operated in residential areas of our community violating the rights of our villagers to peace and quiet. Their rackets usually last late into the night. These are the same streets that our children have to pass on their way to school and they can easily be harmed by individuals who hang around these establishments at any time of day.

3. We have seen the arrival of individuals which bring ideas of gang-related activities and are recruiting our young people to engage in delinquent behaviors. Usually these individuals don’t have proper documentation and can be deported as personae non gratae.

4. Another great concern is the sale of drugs in our community like any other commodity. Everyone knows the persons who are engaged in these illicit activities. A typical example is the gentleman who was shot by a police officer. This gentleman has been engaged in this illicit trade for a very long time and is so blatantly claiming innocence.

Our community, as already mentioned, is tired of this situation and wishes to propose the following strategies to bring the situation under control.

1. An immediate change of the police officer and appointment of an experienced responsible officer, or perhaps two, as our community is a large one.

2. Cancellation of the liquor licenses of the two bars and also the Chinese store that sells alcoholic drinks.

3. We request a group of soldiers to camp here and conduct patrols from time to time in and around the village.

4. The recruitment of able individuals in the community to be trained as special constables to assist the police officer in upholding the law.

5. Periodic checkpoints manned by personnel from immigration, traffic and police department at the entrance to Valley of Peace.

6. Mandatory registration of individuals who come to settle in our community with the police officer or with the Village Council. It was done before and should be enforced again. It should be made the responsibility of the head of the household to present any friend or relative to the proper authorities that comes to stay with or close to him.

Exactly one month ago this letter was presented to the Minister of National Security, Commissioner of Police, Officer from Department of Police in charge of the Cayo District and UDP political officer of the Cayo District. We have been looking forward to a response from our respectable authorities, but it has not materialized as yet.

As religious and civic leaders, we refuse to sit and allow criminals to run us over. Valley of Peace was carved from the forest at the cost of sweat and tears and turned it into this wonderful and progressive village. We plead to our authorities to act promptly and seriously as we will not be the next community to be held under siege.

Respectfully yours,
Religious and civic leaders of Valley of Peace

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