As the city, that was once the old colonial capital of Belize has grown from 30,000 population in the 1960's to over 80,000 in the year 2000, the usual sort of social breakdown occurred.
The breakdown is basically a copycat of the same phenomena of what happened in ex-colonial Africa and in many cases ex-colonial Southeast ASIA.
The leading problem to the growth of the port city of Belize, unlike Asian countries, was not population growth nationwide in Belize, but was from the political biases of townies. Many the African countries including a Central American one, the nation of Belize followed the political setup that was left by the ex-Empire builders. Political power was concentrated in an old colonial sleepy capital, which after the colonial governments left, was taken over by natives. The population representation system gave a distorted amount of power to old ex-colonial capitals. This continued to concentrate rural populations into the old colonial capitals.
In the country of Belize, this was the port town of Belize City. By population representation voting, a country like Belize, that was pioneer, and had vast amounts of unexplored and virgin forest lands with a small population was developed according to the tastes of the controlling batch of politicians from the old town capital. Nearly always, these were concentrated in the old colonial capitals. As in Belize at the port town of Belize City. All resources were developed and concentrated for several decades in the old town. Despite immense wealth in Belize of land and opportunities; townie leadership under the system spent the resources and investments into shoring up the families of power in the old port town. Business opportunities of the import/export type of merchandising seemed to be the way to go; instead of hard pioneer development work of an agricultural nature in the hinterland. This distorted development and nation building, and like many African countries, the even scarcer rural populations flocked to the port town of Belize City on the coast to get the higher levels of education facilities that were lacking in the countryside and other six districts. Ordinary government services taken for granted in the old colonial capital, like running water, paved roads, postal services, access to government bureaucracies were only available in this one old colonial capital. And so the town grew into a very small city. The 300 villages in the rural areas were basically ignored and stagnated.
As the city grew from a small rural type ex-colonial capital, the population living here permanently, became estranged from their rural relatives. After several generations of this, a new poverty class developed in the old colonial capital of Belize city and was different than any other poverty class of before times. The new poverty level had no real estate, had no security of homes, no place to grow food and had lost contact with their rural relatives, who for the most part had also migrated to the old port, to get higher education and government services that were only available here in this one location nationwide.
The problem was a bias on how the nation of Belize was to be developed. The controlling viewpoint represented an educated elite in the old port of Belize City. These were often pseudo provincial small town intellectuals with no real grasp, or feeling for the opportunities available around the hinterland. They could talk the talk, but could not walk the walk. Nor did they want to. It took immigration from abroad, particularly for investors with money from outside to show the shortcomings of the development biases, when the rich country of Belize was being politically controlled and developed from the townie viewpoint.
Along the way, many social problems grew in the old colonial capital. The events had been mirrored in similar old ex-colonial capitals in the many countries of Africa a couple of decades earlier. But nobody "leading" the government townie orientated political policies paid heed. They simply made all the same mistakes again, that had been done in Africa 20 years before.
With the mistakes came some of the same problems. Among these were sections of youth in the old port town of Belize City, who were single parent family, with no extended family backup from rural relatives. Living by their wits on the streets, always borderline poverty in both starvation and food shortages and limited by the growing town switch from a mixed cash and rural barter system, to a sole cash system of exchange as events unfolded down the next 10 to 20 years; one of the predictable social problems occurred. This was the development of the port town GANG mentality. It first reared it's head during self-government years in demonstrations and union arguments with the old ex-colonial government operations. A sort of mob mentality that transferred to key individuals the knowledge that gangs of correct membership could get something advantageous done.
The port of Belize City has many gangs now. Some go by the name of the Crips and the Bloods, a sort of gang mentality from those youth who had gone walkabout to Los Angeles in the USA and returned after being deported from that northern country after serving jail terms in educational systems called penitentiaries of professional criminal losers. Other gangs, are just poverty stricken youths, who without proper parenting, proper homes and proper extended families from rural villages, seek some of the luxuries that other people have through robbery and violence. They usually lack sufficient education, or rural practical examples with mentors, to learn to operate differently. The growing town into a small city, also compounded the problem with the switch from a barter economy to a sole cash driven economy in the expanding town.
Another sort of gang are the political gangs. This also was predictable and had been developing similarly as examples were earlier in the old ex-colonies of Africa. The current political gangs are the PUP party and the UDP party.
Gangs are usually comprised of youth who grow up together. They experience the same things. They know each other from the same schools, the same social events and the same streets. They know each other's personal pecadillos, reputations and are aware of the skeletons in the closets. They have an intimate knowledge of each other and where the bodies are buried, so to speak. There is an element of trust in small gangs through similar experiences and growing up in the same milieu. The drug gangs of the port town, are into violence and drug sales.
They sport new cars, girls on the arms, bars as a business and semi automatic machine guns, or sawed off shotguns. The smaller street gangs, are usually youth growing up without education, job, or money in the new cash only society of the port town and seek to remedy that action by robbing places like Chinese Stores, with some sort of weapon, be it a knife, or revolver.
The political gangs are not much difference. Except in their case, they have studied, received an education and in many cases are controlled by townie lawyers. The lawyers are probably the same mentality of the lower sort of gangs on the streets, except they took the time and trouble to learn a method of stealing that can be done without violence, or getting caught. Or if caught, they can manipulate the system through their education to get off without serving any time. The basic idea to make a living and get wealth off the system of government in a semi-legal way. The political gangs steal differently using contracts, IBC's, political blackmail, or bribery and various sweatheart deals through manipulating the political system of government and government bureaucracies, which they endeavor to control. The goal, to get rich off the revenue, or loan borrowing capacity of the nation.
While a simple gang of the port town of three youths might commit a burglary, or robbery, the rewards are usually anywhere from $20 to several thousand dollars. On the other hand, the drug gangs are more organized, intellectually skillful with a native street wise intelligence and their rewards can be from a few thousand dollars to over $50,000, depending on the illicit deals they swing. The political gangs of the port town have the advantage over the others. They can rip-off investors legally, change the laws to suit, use the police and the BDF as thugs, or the justice system to intimidate and persecute targets and opposition political gangs. The rewards are usually much higher. Anywhere from a half a million dollars to a recent alleged $3.75 million theft from Social Security. At no time does a political crook go to jail. So there are rewards to being a member of a political party gang of the old port town of Belize City.
It is probably the problem of the port town political gangs and the electoral population representation system which they use to plunder with, that is confining the would be nation of Belize to mediocricity as a developing nation. For Belize the nation has immense resources, a great deal of wealth according to any population ratio measure and could do very well in world wide competition. It will never happen of course, not as long as the port town old colonial capital political gangs perpetuate their rule. Finding alternative means of developing the nation and forming a national government by districts is the goal of any successful future development of Belize. But the gangs control the process and this is unlikely to ever happen, outside of violence and revolution as has happened in many African countries. Revolutions rarely solve things either. Usually you get either a dictator or newly formed gangs of a different autocratic type. It comes back to the same thing.
The future of Belize is mediocricity. A typical autocratic gang ridden and run society of the usual Banana Republic style. In Belize it is more a townie controlled LAWYERS REPUBLIC! With Belize run like a plantation for the townie political gangs skimming what they can off the cash flow tax revenues under one disguise or another.