Belize only became independent thirty-six years ago. The vast majority of its citizens are under the age of thirty. In every sense, Belize is a millennial nation struggling to find its footing.
But the small country, sitting south of Mexico on the east coast of Central America, has one of highest murder rates in the Americas.
According to the police in Belize, gang and gun violence is the biggest problem facing the nation. There are also many unskilled young people who are susceptible to joining gangs.
Correspondent John Zarrella visited Belize for “Americas Now.” He talks to government officials as well as Dianne Finnegan who directs the Youth Apprenticeship Program to prevent kids from entering gang life.
The Youth Apprenticeship Program helps train kids for careers in the electrical and woodworking trades as well as the hospitality industry.
Dianne Finnegan has also been responsible for helping to broker a truce between the gangs in Belize.
John Zarrella also speaks to some former gang members whose lives have been forever changed by gang life.
According to the International Monetary Fund, 40 percent of Caribbean countries consider crime to be their biggest obstacle to progress