On Monday, Belize opposition leader Moses ‘Shyne’ Barrow and Saint Lucia’s Allen Chastanet visited Vieux Fort, which has recently seen a spurt in deadly gun violence, to offer ‘hope and inspiration’ to at-risk youth.
Barrow, a reformed former ‘bad boy rapper,’ served time in the United States after three people sustained injuries in a nightclub shooting in 1999 and was subsequently deported.
He wrote and performed on several multi-platinum albums, such as Usher’s Confessions, Lil Wayne’s Carter IV, and Notorious B.I.G.’s Born Again.
Now the leader of Belize’s opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), Barrow was the guest speaker at Sunday’s annual convention of Saint Lucia’s opposition United Workers Party (UWP).
UWP. leader Allen Chastanet said Barrow’s story of transformation is a testament to the potential for positive change in every individual.
Chastanet said on their visit to Vieux Fort, he and the Belize opposition leader had the privilege of hearing firsthand from residents about their daily challenges and hardships.
“One of our key priorities was to connect with at-risk youth and offer them a sense of hope and inspiration,” the former Saint Lucia Prime Minister wrote on Facebook.
For his part, Barrow sent a message to young people who see crime as the only opportunity for empowerment that they can do better.
“They can help themselves. They can escape poverty. They can find a way, and they have to believe that. They have to pray for that, and they have to work toward that,” he explained.
“If you are waiting for a politician to help you then you’ve already lost,” Barrow declared.
“But if you help yourself – if you empower yourself, then the politicians will have to perform their duties at a certain level because the collective society will no longer tolerate deplorable, mediocre performances,” the former rapper asserted.
He stated that young people involved in violent crime need alternatives provided by the government.
But Barrow also spoke of the need for deterrents.
“I believe it is a balance of social investment, but also the judiciary, the security forces need to be strengthened so that there is no corruption and so that there is accountability,” he said.
“You cannot think that you will be given the opportunity to have a productive life, and you will dismiss that opportunity and there will not be consequences,” Barrow told reporters.
He described himself as an advocate for opportunity and alternatives which the state should provide.
However, the Belize opposition leader said should people not access the opportunities, there must be consequences.
Headline photo courtesy Allen Chastanet’s Facebook page.