Lets forget about the notorious gangsters for a moment and lets examine society’s culpability in all this. In the early 90s I moved from Belmopan to Belize City to attend St. John’s College Sixth Form and for a “country” girl like myself Belize City society was a remarkably different society than Belmopan. My mom’s side of the family is from Belize City. I was born in Belize City and visited Belize City often for shopping purposes and social events such as ballets and concerts but I have never truly lived in Belize City until 1991.
The differences I can see are that Belmopan Society values order, structure, homes, education and social mobility and is very much still British in culture. Extremely orderly and boring as many describe it. Belize City culture seems to value status, name affiliation, name brands such as clothes, shoes, cars etc. The society seems to be very capitalistic and more reflective of an American type culture.
The gangs have existed pretty much since that movie “Colors” if I recall. In fact if you do a search on the history of the “Crips” gang in Los Angeles, it credits two Belizeans as founding members. Trying to pretend this problem has not existed for decades is bordering on the ridiculous. I remember the Itza and Tunan years. In those days, murders were not as rampant and open as they are today. However, murders did exist and with the same ruthless and brutal nature.
I had a very good friend that was in love with the notoriety of the drug dealing gang members. She carried on a secret relationship with Tunan and while I never personally met him, she gave tales of their escapades and every so often she disappeared when he was rumored to be in Belmopan. I remember back then Tunan drove a white car with some blue or green lights glowing under it and he was quite the flashy character. People who knew him loved him and those who hated him, eventually killed him.
When he died, I can recall my friend creating a scrapbook with newspaper clipping of his death. She did not want to attend his funeral because she knew that she would get lost in the sea of women mourning his death, so she asked several of us to go view the funeral with her , which turned out to be quite a spectacle.
I remember Tunan funeral went through several streets of Belize City (not the normal funeral route) as music of Boys to Men played on repeat. I remember all his street urchins walking behind his coffin pouring champagne on his coffin , dressed up and obviously well cared for by their boss. Behind all that was the sea of mourning women my friend predicted would be there. When the coffin reached the Church, to my amazement, the most prominent attorneys and politicians of Belize were in attendance. I personally found the entire display ridiculous. Here you have a notorious drug dealer dead, after undoubtedly bringing miseries to the lives of many and after his ill gotten gain, being legitimized by our society. I trust in Belmopan, he would not have been elevated to any legitimate social level and I guarantee that high level people would not be in attendance.
In the latter 90s and early 2000s I worked in the Prosecution Branch and I remember Pinky Tillett in a case we did when he was but a kid involved in a drug trafficking charge with other individuals. I remember the seriousness of the charge and this kid facing the court and the fact that he looked already hardened at this very young age. My friend Natalia and I would sit after court and try to talk to these young men about making better choices and choosing better paths. It was futile but we tried.
When I listen to the news of the death and mayhem befalling Belize, I can say that I am familiar with many of the names because they were all part of the revolving door of criminals that would take up most of our time in the Magistrate Court. I specifically remember Arthur Young because he was treated with kid’s glove. He had a rap sheet so long, that the court would keep a copy with the Clerk of Court so they did not have the task of reprinting it every time he came up to court. I recall also he did not show up for many cases and instead of revoking bail, magistrates would call his infamous girlfriend, one of many women who signed bail on his behalf.
I also remember looking through hundreds of pictures of murdered victims and the common denominator was young black men. Nameless but young , black and dead. I believe in the past couple decades, the victims lost to gun violence must be over a thousand by now.
Fast Forward to 2012, and here we have another menace of society that was allowed to operate practically undeterred. Arthur Young reputation was that he was a ruthless killer with a charming personality. I am sure no one has mentioned it, but he was a very good looking guy. He reminds me of the Rosado cousins back in the day, extremely handsome, light eyes young men with a thirst for murder and who became un-convictable because juries could not believe that these men were the criminals they truly were. One Rosado was shot dead during a robbery attempt and I am not sure what happened to the next.
So Arthur Young is another handsome, well-connected individual with a thirst for death and so many people are now jumping to his defense with stories that he was “such a cool guy” or that “I grew up with him and we were friends”. To my shock, I read a prominent youth advocate claiming he was “painted wrong by our society” and it made me realize that we in Belize have legitimized the underworld drug dealing personalities. If the person is able to elevate himself, regardless of the brutality of his nature, he has become an acceptable, almost revered character. Forget that he would shoot you down dead in the middle of the street if you stood in the way of his next victim and forget he is a mass murderer. The fact that you drank beer, slept with, grew up with, partied with, smoked with, gave daps to, make you think that he is less than a monster and now the anger turns to the people in the society fighting to maintain your peace and fighting the war daily. We have some screwed up values Belizeans and unless you start treating these individuals like the parasitic, scum of the Earth they truly are, you are in effect legitimizing their existence. With that said, I question how can anyone be part of the whine crew demanding changes? When our society is turned upside down by all the murder and mayhem, remember, you prefer to hang out and socialize with such individuals. In fact it explains to me exactly why fighting corruption will take generations. How can we change our society when so many of us don’t even know what corruption is and what is inappropriate behavior?