Authorities in Belize have reported a ceasefire between gangs in the south of the country’s largest city following a surge in homicides, though the country’s prime minister is pessimistic it will lead to a wider initiative.
Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow told 7 News Belize that National Police Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster led the peace talks between the gangs, which had agreed on a ceasefire.
The discussion was called by the police in the wake of seven gang-related killings in the space of 10 days in the Jane Usher Boulevard area of Belize City.
According to News 5, the ceasefire would be complimented by added police capacity in the zone.
“Even as the Police are stepping up their enforcement actions in the area, an effort is being made to talk through the situation with the gang leaders, with the principals to see if some kind of ceasefire, if you will, might be mediated,” Barrow told News 5.
The Prime Minister denied that the initiative would lead to a renewed national gang truce, like the one that ended in late-2012, reported News 5.
InSight Crime Analysis
Gangs are the main cause of violence in Belize City, one of the planet’s most dangerous urban areas. The UNODC’s 2013 Global Homicides Report (pdf) put the 2011 murder rate in Belize City at 105.1 — comparable to some of the world’s most violent cities.
But forging gang truces are hard, as Belize’s government has discovered. Belize City’s most recent attempt to develop a gang truce began in September 2011, and involved 13 gangs who took part in work programs that cost the government an estimated $20,000 per week. The truce led to an immediate reduction in homicides, with only nine reported murders in its first 100 days. Nevertheless, in December 2012 the Belize government ended the initiative due to lack of funds.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Belize
The homicide rate consequently jumped from a rate of 39.2 per 100,000 people in 2012 to 44.7 in 2013, according to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC).