I am originally from Orillia Ontario, earned degrees at the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo. She currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I’ve been to Belize many times and from first-hand experience I can tell Canadians it is not safe to travel there. Organization for Responsible Tourism is asking Canadians to boycott Belize tourism. I’m providing Canadians with five good reasons not to travel to Belize. There’s one overarching message. It’s dangerous for residents and tourist alike.
Number one. According to The Economist magazine, Belize is the murder capital of the world. Relative to its size and population, it outranks all nations. Latest statistics show Belize with 97 murders for a population of 320,000. To put that into perspective, Metro Toronto has 41 murders for the same period, but for a population of 2.4 million people. Most of the Belize homicides were gun related. http://www.channel5belize.com/archive_detail_story.php?story_id=25234
Number two. The Belize government says the country is in crisis due to its crime rate and that its citizens do not feel safe in their communities. The government also expressed lack of confidence in its own police department, citing corruption and lack of accountability. The following is from a recent Belize Cabinet release. “The Government of Belize recognizes the crisis of crime, violence and social degradation in which we find ourselves. These social ills are of priority concern to our citizens, whose right to live in a secure environment is being eroded daily.” Note: this means tourists are always looking over the shoulders. Hard to take in the scenery that way. http://www.belize.gov.bz/ct.asp?xItem=2125&ctNode;=633∓=27
Gangs of Belize
Number three. The Canadian government advises travelers to exercise a high degree of caution in Belize. US Government offers similar advice and more details of why Belize is a very bad destination for tourists. “Mugging is a risk to travellers especially in Belize City. Although the majority of reported incidents are in Belize City, crime occurs in all districts including tourist spots such as San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Placencia. Muggings can occur at any time: day or night. Avoid dark alleys, keep valuables out of sight, and do not wear jewellery. Where possible you should travel in groups. You should use a qualified guide for trips off the beaten track. In some areas of Belize City there has recently been an increased risk of gang related violence. We advise visitors to avoid the areas around George Street and Kraal Road and to exercise caution whilst walking in the city. A lack of resources and training impedes the ability of the police to investigate crimes effectively and to apprehend serious offenders. As a result, many crimes remain unresolved. Nevertheless, victims of crime should report immediately to the police all incidents of assault, robbery, theft or other crimes.”
Number four. Belize’s culture of corruption makes it unattractive to tourists. Drug-related crime in particular is spilling over into many communities, including resort areas. This is an assessment from the American Bar Association. Belize “is continuously plagued by violence, crime and corruption … Violent crime, money laundering and drug trafficking continue unabated in part due to insufficient countermeasures and government corruption. The scourge of drugs and transnational crime has heavily contributed to the rising crime rate and social decline in Belize.” http://www.abanet.org/rol/latin_america/belize.html
Number five: Belizeans do not trust their government to protect them. Almost 15 percent of the San Pedro Ambergris Caye population turned out this spring to protest the crime rate and lack of safety in this resort town. Residents’ loss of their sense of security fueled the event. With the increasing numbers of home invasions, burglaries and armed hold ups, many no longer feel safe and secure in their homes and businesses. Robberies and car jackings, often injuring the victims, also heighten their insecurity. http://www.sanpedrodaily.com/5-8-10.html Belizeans for Justice recently called for the resignation of the Belize Police Commissioner. Belizeans for Justice members have since continued to fear for their lives. http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?mod=article&cat;=Social&article;=4479
The law partner of Prime Minister Dean Barrow shot.
The law partner of Prime Minister Dean Barrow was shot on Monday night as he left his law firm on Albert Street. The news of the shooting spread like wild fire across the city because it involved Rodwell Williams whose law firm was shot at as recent as April fifteenth. Indications are that the shooting was not triggered by robbery, but instead a clear execution attempt on Williams. Williams was rushed to the Belize Healthcare Partners where throughout the night and this morning doctors worked to save his life.