A year later and still no answers. Written by: Aria Lightfoot.


“Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”  Nelson Mandela

Keino Malcolm Quallo- murdered 7/1 or 8/1 2013

Keino Malcolm Quallo- murdered 7/1 or 8/1 2013

It was reportedly a stormy late night January 7th or early morning January 8th, 2013, when several people  (likely men), entered into the apartments of Keino Quallo; Anthony Perez, Albert Fuentes and Leonard Myers and brutally, savagely and gruesomely murdered them. Although the houses in that neighborhood practically sit on top of each other, no one heard or saw anything.

It may be a coincidence that the police visited the house the same night and broke a lock the assailants came through; and it is plausible that the police surveillance camera was not working that night; Belize get equipment donated without technical support. What was unimaginable were the the heinous crimes splattered all over the media; showcased by the police; and hurriedly theorized by media as gang affiliated murders.  Evident were the unprofessionalism and incompetence on proud display. The murder scene quickly  turned into a public spectacle filled with reporters, onlookers and police officers; treating the crime scene as a blood filled sideshow; trampling through an unpreserved crime scene; with no regard for family and friends who looked on in horror. It was a very disrespectful and unethical event behaving as if the lives taken meant nothing.

The murders shocked the core of citizens, friends and strangers; it almost caused a riot and created such a volatile environment that even the US Embassy issued warnings.  Fingers began to point, accusations ran rampant, gunshots rang out; residents were visibly upset and a standoff between the residents of the area and the Gang Suppression Unit played out on the news, social media and YouTube.  After the drama subsided, four men not only died but also joined the ranks of more than a thousand unsolved and un-investigated murders in Belize.

The sad reality is that the lives of those stolen means absolutely nothing to a good portion of Belize Society; the powers that be; the police force, who seem to have stalled on a disinterested investigation; the media, who just needed their sensationalism fix for the week and the government of Belize who have treated the death of our troubled youth population with disdain; keeping intact a DPP and Attorney General inept to address the failed criminal justice system.

So a year later, the death of Keino Quallo remains un-investigated and unsolved. No updates, no witnesses, no claim about ongoing investigations. I really don’t think they care. It is this exact unprincipled attitude that is creating a ripe environment for criminals in Belize.   I ask everyone reading this… what does it say about our society that does not respect the lives of its own citizens? What does it say of our society where citizens cannot seek justice for their injustices? What does it say of our society where murder is so rampant that it no longer offends our moral compass?  Unfortunately, we have seemingly evolved into a society where many Belizeans are bedazzled with pageantry, position; the rapture and pettiness to grasp the magnitude of one thousand unsolved murders; too docile to hold our government accountable for the incompetence of the criminal legal system and too aloof to feel empathy.

Murder is running free in Belize; acting irresponsible; choosing randomly; acting irrationally and violently… he has an unquenchable and unrestraint thirst; he is no longer confined to the Southside of Belize City; he no longer thirsts for only the poor and disadvantaged; he has expanded his scope. Recently three Canadians killed or missing…when he visits, we still remain numb to his pain, oblivious to the path of self destruction…Can you see our shameful and disgraceful shell of a justice system?

Keino, my friend,  you can never die when your memory lives.  Your life mattered! The state is responsible for investigating your death and the death of every person whose life is ripped from them.  The government has a duty to ensure the safety of citizens and visitors to Belize. The government should put the mechanisms in place to bring murderers to justice; to give family members closure;  and to hold each and every life in the highest regard regardless of status or stature.  One year later and no answers…

Who was Keino Quallo? by Aria Lightfoot


Keino

Who was Keino Quallo?  Many people see a black unshaven face and a headline.  “Four Gangbangers brutally murdered”. He matches what people think a “gang” banger looks like.  They have no idea of who he is or where he came from, what led him down his path. All people know and feel is that they are stricken by fear because of violence. Any solution, even state-sanctioned murder, is an acceptable solution. The thinking is, he was a menace to society – so who cares, he probably have killed many more people and getting his just desserts.

Not so fast…

I met Keino in High School.  I must have been about 14 years old, my second year in High School and he was one year ahead.  Keino arrived in Belmopan with such notoriety.  He was arrested in the U.S. for drug trafficking at the age of 15 years old. His father was a well-known attorney, Glenford Quallo, was recently murdered.

Keino popularity grew fast at Belmopan Comprehensive School. He was charming, articulate, athletic, tall, and very intelligent.  He was a snappy dresser and carried himself with a lot of confidence, therefore the women flocked him.  We became friends because my best friend was dating his friend at the time.

I found him very interesting.  His experiences and world -view and his perspective on different issues. He was, if I recall, a die-hard PUP supporter and in my mix of friends we had both die- hard PUP and UDP supporters. Our discussions would range from politics to law to life.  My God we were only 15 at the time!  We also shared sports in common.  We both played basketball and played on the school teams so we travelled all over Belize playing sports.

About a year into our friendship, we started dating.  He was a generous and extremely loving boyfriend and my parents would have none of it.  He gave me  gifts that I had to return a day after it was given.  My mom was concerned about his reputation and well my dad probably would not have approved even if Jesus were the suitor. In Belize, there really are no rooms for mistakes or second chances. I would fiercely defend him to my mom because I knew him far more than the reputation that followed him.

We became very close when my mother got sick.  He was truly my rock during that very difficult time in my life.  We would study together, have future plans and we trusted each other.

Maybe my mother’s death signaled a change in our relationship. Maybe death had him reflecting on the death of his father and changed him. He reflected often in his life.  If wishes could come true, his father would still have been around.

At this time we were both a SJC 6th form.  I remember passing all my CXCs and he thought that I always seem to have successes and he seems to be marred with failure. I was too young to understand how much of a deep thinker he was.  His observation not a jealous thought, but he felt that society would not think he was somewhat good enough…eventually; I began to see changes in him.  He drew back. He did not want to ruin my future he claimed.    He began showing signs of depression and he decided he would push me away, flaunted other girls until we eventually broke up.  Depression is quite common in young men at this age I have learned.

We kept our distance from each other.  We both moved on with life, and then one day I heard he was shot based on an argument he had with someone. I called his mom and Keino and I reconnected as friends only.  Did he go back and shoot that person. NO HE DID NOT.  Isn’t that what a gang banger would do?

Keino grew up on George Street.  He made friends with many of the young men of that area. He became a youth officer because he recognized the neglect in opportunities afforded to them.  He reached out to many people who today are probably calling for the death of these young men because they thought they thought he was wasting his time. He was empathetic; he was a loving person and may have been the least materialistic person I know.

In 2001, I moved from Belize to pursue my studies in the U.S.  I would call him on his birthday each year or call him when I visited Belize just to see what he was up to.  I didn’t call him for the past two years and thought about it. I thought, I should never ignore a birthday because what if it was his last, an unfortunate prediction on my part.

I began hearing disturbing reports from friends and family members that he was having mental issues. I recall he had a confrontation with his stepfather, however when I called him and asked him about it, he seemed quite lucid to me and his perspective made sense.  He said, people have determined he has a mental problem so whatever he says or does, he is not taken seriously and they have already determined he is mental. . He spent the time during our conversation reflecting quite a bit.   I tried to tell him, he has to look forward and stop focusing so much on a past he cannot change.  I felt like the past was in his head stuck on replay.

The last time I spoke to him, it was a very good conversation and it was mostly him reminiscing about high school.

About two years ago, I heard he got arrested for weed and I tried to reach out to him but could not find him.  I think he knew I would be giving one of my famous lecture speeches and probably was not up to hearing it.  He did tell my family and friends to tell me hello each and every time he saw them, except on Saturday before he died. My brother and another friend both described him as walking around totally out of it and walking around barefooted.  Not the image of the gang-banger I imagine.

Keino was not an angel, he paid the price and was repeatedly judged from one big mistake he made as a youth. He experienced a tragic event that unraveled his life.   He lost the male figure to direct his path.  He got lost.

Belize is a country of no second chances.  It almost seems that your fate is sealed if you make a mistake to be forever identified by such a mistake until you become the exact person everyone says you are.

So here I am standing up once again for my friend. I know he would never take another life just knowing the pain he went through when his father’s life was taken.  I know he would defend me if the tables were turned. He was a kind, empathetic soul who got lost in mental illness and poor choices of friends.

Unfortunately, to many he is merely a black face who looks like a gangbanger, so who cares he has a teenage daughter reading their hurtful comments. Who cares he has family and friends that love him; who cares that no one has presented any proof he was involved in gang activities, who cares that many of our lost young men work for the same people you would deem respectable?

We in Belize have become a society so gripped in fear of the monsters we help create that we are willing to sign away our liberties, we celebrate rumors of police involvement to eradicate these monsters, gang-bangers, in our short sighted approach to a solution, failing to realize we are creating bigger, more dangerous and more power monsters.

Rest in Peace my friend, God is your only judge and God sees and knows all.  Your heart is pure; your spirit left us long before your body did and now sleep with no more pain.

 

Daily Dingleberry 01-11-13 For the Slow and Stubborn


banner-evidence

GET THE FACTS, MAX

Ok. I really am getting tired of being targeted just because I ask for evidence. I have no problem asking the hard questions and socking it exactly where it belongs. But PLEASE do not get uppity when I ask for proof. Spreading rumours and crazy conspiracy theories will not help anything. That is just irresponsible. You can not say you love this country and its people when you engage in rumour mongering and propaganda. That obscures the real efforts to find the truth. Do you hear me???????  Our biggest problem is collection of evidence. While we are spreading rumours about how much the gang leaders were paid off, from $1500 each plus room and board to $40,000 each, where the hell is your concern for the murdered men???? You should be yelling and screaming about how the crime scene was handled. You should be yelling and screaming about how the bloody coroner might not have run tox screens or how he keeps giving different times of death…THAT is the concern here! Without evidence, none of this matters! Focus people. But see. That’s just it, right? You don’t really care about justice. You care more about causing hysteria and furthering your political agendas.

 

L-E-A-D-E-R-S-H-I-P

Find out what it means so you can show some.

You need to find out who did this because either way, it is the signal of greater changes to come.  If it is an international cartel, you have a serious problem you have not even begun to understand. If it is a state hit, you need to realize that miscarriage of justice is NEVER ok, no matter how much disregard you have for alleged criminals. Our justice system is in shreds. Nothing good can ever happen as long as we keep chasing our tails instead of real hard truth.