BC-HOP Prayer for Arts & Economy: Mervin Budram is a Belizean worship musician who has just released a new Christian song. “Put Away” is a heartfelt plea to men and specifically gang members. It calls on them to put away their guns before they take more precious lives. On January 5 Marvin Underwood, 32, a law-abiding citizen, was brazenly murdered in broad daylight near Pound Yard Bridge. The gunman had his face covered and escaped. Underwood’s brother is a well-known member of a rival of George Street Gang. So the murder is suspected to be in retaliation. George Street Gang member Kareem “Robbery” Lopez was gunned down two days earlier. Mervin’s new Christian song is all the more relevant as we pray that this violence not escalate but be “put away.” We need less songs glorifying violence. We need more like Mervin Budram’s call for respect of life.
The prolonged conflict between sugar cane farmers and the foreign-affiliated factory owners, Belize Sugar Industries, has delayed the start of the sugar season. The farmers recently voted that their union, BSCFA, disburse $4 million to compensate them for lost wages. But the BSCFA directors found that they only had $1.5 million to disburse. There is talk of using Fairtrade funds to pay for lost wages. But Fairtrade says that will decertify them. Also, BSI it they will not open the factory until they have a signed agreement. They want a guarantee of the delivery of at least 500,000 tons of cane for the crop year. But negotiations remain stalled. Some farmer groups want to leave the union and seek their own agreement with BSI. Others are backing an effort to legally force the factory to open. BSI is threatening to abandon the factory and leave Belize. We must pray, as the sugar industry is a major linchpin of Belize’s economy.
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