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The San Pedro Sun

Supreme Court of Belize orders the release of Slovakian Karol Mello
Shortly after publishing this article, around 12:50PM, The San Pedro Sun learned that Karol Mello has been re-arrested pending charges from the Belize Immigration Department. Details of that arrest will be reported as they become available. The Supreme Court in Belize set Karol Mello free after handing down a decision shortly after 9AM on Friday, August 10th. Mello was detained on July 11th as a result of accusations that he may have been involved in the death of a woman and a child in Slovakia and two gang leaders in 2003 and 2004 respectively. As previously reported in The San Pedro Sun, Mello was detained with the intention to extradite him to Slovakia based on an Interpol request. Mello’s attorney in Belize, Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith, first went to court and filed an injunction order against an extradition order by the Government of Belize until he had been given a trial in Belize. After the Belizean courts granted Mello’s attorney the injunction, a Habeas Corpus case was filed to have Mello’s case dealt with immediately.

Wanted US national Mark Thomas Pappas captured on Ambergris Caye
There has been no official word from the Belize Police Department but The San Pedro Sun has confirmed with local authorities in San Pedro Town that a U.S. national wanted in his country was recently captured. Forty-five year old Mark Thomas Pappas was apprehended at his beach side condominium in the Escalante area on the afternoon of Friday, August 3rdby San Pedro Police. Pappas was being closely monitored before local police moved in on him. Pappas, who has been living on Ambergris Caye for the last six months, was apparently involved with a prominent local real estate business and owns prime beach front properties in Belize. San Pedro police, working on the strength of a U.S. warrant from the state of Maryland, moved in on Pappas. When asked to identify himself, Pappas gave police his full name and presented them with documents proving his identity. Police then informed Pappas that he was wanted in the U.S. for investigation of wire fraud and that he would be detained and handed over to authorities in his country. Pappas was read his rights and then escorted to the San Pedro Police station. The U.S. Embassy was immediately notified about Pappas’ capture.

Man injured in shooting in Caye Caulker
On Saturday, August 4th there was a shooting reported in the Caye Caulker Village. The incident occurred sometime around 5:15AM. One person was shot during the altercation while two others received cut wounds as a result of the incident. According to police, they responded to a report of a shooting incident that occurred somewhere in the Split location of Caye Caulker Village. They later visited the Caye Caulker Health Center where they observed three people with injuries, one of whom was shot. Twenty-nine year old Lincoln Allen, fishermen of Pinks Alley in Belize City was seen suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the left palm of the hand and to another apparent gunshot wound to the left shoulder. Also observed at the clinic was 23 year old Justin Alamina, businessman of Hicaco Avenue of Caye Caulker Village suffering from a cut wound to the forehead and 19 year old Sylvia Joseph, waitress of a Lousiano Reyes street and Caye Caulker’s Miss Lobster Fest 2012-2013, also of Caye Caulker Village, suffering from a cut wound to the left ear.

Benque Viejo del Carmen comes alive for the annual Benque Fiesta!
I have been to Benque Viejo del Carmen on several occasions, in fact one of the main reasons I visit is because my family roots go very deep in ‘Benque’. This trip however, my travels were beyond the family reasons. It was time for the long awaited yearly Benque Viejo del Carmen municipal fair. I have never before been to the Benque Fiesta, so this year when I was invited to attend, I was eager to experience the hype that so many prepare an entire year for. The fiesta celebrates the day of Benque’s patron saint Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Nuestra Señora de Monte Carmelo) with traditional marimba bands, local food and drinks, games, mechanical rides, cultural presentations, sports and dances with entertainment from neighboring countries such as Guatemala and Mexico. Just the combination of food, drinks, cultural shows and music was enough to get me off Ambergris Caye and heading down to the western most towns in Belize. I decided to take the trip the way many do, by boat then by bus. Taking the first Caye Caulker Water Taxi off the island placed me in Belize City by 8AM just in time for the express bus from Belize City to Belmopan.

Ambergris Today

Three Belizeans Allegedly Tied to Sinaloa Drug Cartel
The U.S. government’s effort to dismantle Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel is a war with multiple fronts. The latest is the tiny tourist jewel of Belize. On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced it was freezing the assets of three Belize residents alleged to be drug traffickers and “key associates” of the Mexican drug trafficking group. The Treasury Department has also prohibited U.S. citizens from doing business with the suspects or their companies. The focus on Belize — a polyglot, 327,000-resident wedge of the Yucatan just south of Cancun — is the latest evidence of the overwhelming influence of the south-to-north movement of drugs through Central America. The U.S. government has estimated that up to 90% of the 700 metric tons of cocaine headed from South America to the U.S. wends its way through Central America, and every nation in the region is on the U.S. list of “major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries.”

Public Consultation by Ambergris Caye Wetland Committee

Chaa Creek's Awesome Eco-Kids Summer Camp Experience
It’s probably one of the coolest and best summer camp experiences in the country and the setting could not be more perfect – Chaa Creek’s pristine 365-acre private nature reserve that is home to an extraordinary range of wildlife, birds and flora. The Eco Kids Summer Camp is a once in a lifetime experience that has lucky Belizean children enjoying summer activities and in the process going home with a deeper understanding and respect for the natural world and their place in it. Ambergris Today was invited to cover a couple days of Eco Camp and I arrived mid-week through the eco camp activities; the kids had already been to the Maya Ruins and visited the Belize Zoo. That day the campers were learning about land conservation which had the group visiting the 33-acre Maya Organic Farm within the Chaa Creek compound.

Public Comments Regarding Marijuana Decriminalization Extended
The Committee commissioned by the Minister of National Security to evaluate the issue of Decriminalization of Marijuana thanks those who submitted their opinions regarding a proposal to remove the current criminal penalties incurred for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) for personal use. Your responses have been respectfully evaluated and taken into consideration, including, many requests to extend the deadline. In this regards the committee has extended the period for submitting your comments to August 31, 2012. For the purpose of this discussion we invite your continued input and ask that you respond to us with your thoughts on the following:

Misc Belizean Sources

Chaa Creek Announces “Diaspora Deals” for Belizeans
With the annual Belize Celebration Season about to get underway, Chaa Creek is offering special discounts for Belizeans living abroad to help them “come home and enjoy the party,” marketing administrator Larry Waight said today. With the annual Belize Celebration Season about to get underway, Chaa Creek is offering special discounts for Belizeans living abroad to help them “come home and enjoy the party,” marketing administrator Larry Waight said today. Belize has a large diaspora, with one out of every three Belizeans now living overseas, for the most part in the United States, Great Britain and Canada. According to the US Census some 175,000 Belizeans live in the US, while it is estimated around 3,000 Belizeans are currently in England. “With so many Belizeans away from loved ones over the holidays, we wanted to do our bit to help reunite people, so we’re offering a 20% discount off all rooms throughout the month of September for overseas Belizeans, or Belizeans wanting to treat their loved ones to a bit of affordable rainforest luxury while they’re home,” Mr Waight said, adding that the “Belize Diaspora Deal” was a result of Chaa Creek’s owners’ and management team’s own experiences.

Public Consultation by AC Wetlands Committee
The Ambergris Caye Wetlands Committee will be having their second public presentation on the proposed marine protected areas for Ambergris Caye. The meeting is scheduled for the 21st of August.

VIDEO: Caribbean Villas Hotel- Ernesto Views
A look at the stormy conditions Ernesto brought to the island.

Cayo Call Center Interviews
Today they will continue interviewing for the new Cayo Call Center. They need customer care agents. Students, here's your chance. Call 824-2357 for more information. "The email address once again is Feel free to call us if you need any assistance or information, but be sure to send in your resume to the email address so that you can be told the time, date and place of the interview."

Rotary's Belize Literacy Project
A big thanks to Rotary for the Belize Literacy Program. "The Belize Literacy Project is in its fifth year of training for teachers all across Belize. This Rotary project, unique in the world, brings the Rotary District from Alberta, Canada, and the country of Belize together as partners through the Ministry of Education and Youth. Teachers will be in training for the next two weeks, beginning 6 August in each district."

Fish bonanza at the Split!
It is no ‘old wives tale’ that after a storm, the fish find a safe harbor to feed and the Split here in Caye Caulker is a well renowned spot where they come in abundance to nourish themselves. Therefore yesterday there was a rather unusual spectacle at the Split as local fishermen, guides and various onlookers joined in the fishing bonanza!! Carlos Ayala of Carlos Tours throwing his line!And for the winners ... a bucket full of Red Snapper By the afternoon the sky had clouded over and it was almost strange to see instead of sunbathers, fisherman lined up on the sea wall to get their chance at taking home dinner. Red Snappers were biting all yesterday and in fact, locals believe that they still will be there today. Good and even inexperienced fisherman were walking away from the Split with at least 3 or 4 good size snappers – just in time for their better halves to throw in the pot to cook for supper!!

Channel 7

Karol Mello Freed, Then Re-Arrested
Karol Mello has been fighting his expulsion from Belize since he was picked up in San Pedro on July 11th. And today was supposed to be his big day: the day the Supreme Court gave its decision on the Habeas Corpus application by his attorney Godfrey Smith. The application required the state to prove that it had legitimately imprisoned Mello - who is a permanent resident of Belize. 7news was at the court today to hear the Judge's decision and Daniel Ortiz has this report:... Daniel Ortiz reporting Today is the expiration day of the injunction to stop the Immigration Department from expelling the Slovak detainee, Karol Mello. But that is of no consequence because the Supreme Court has ruled that the Government of Belize has been illegally detaining him. Mello's wife, Zuzana - who has been his interpreter to his attorney - was again present at the Courthouse - but Karol Mello was not there today. In his absence, the strength of the arguments from his attorney, Godfrey Smith, was sufficient to convince Justice Legall. Viewers will remember that the Minister of Immigration, Hon. Godwin Hulse, told 7News that even though The Slovak Republic has no Extradition Treaty, Mello should quote "Face the music". Well, that statement proved pivotal: The court ruled that it cannot allow his expulsion without the proper procedures.

Chinese Grocer Gratuitously Murdered
As we reported last night, a Chinese grocer was killed in Ladyville. Sadly, it is the type of truly senseless crime that has become all too familiar - gunmen robbing and then shooting a grocer. And that's just what happened yesterday. Monica Bodden has reviewed security camera footage which showed that the armed robbers had no reason to kill the storeowner called Kenny. Here's her report:.. Monica Bodden reporting The entire community in the Mitchell Estate Area of Ladyville, was left in shock yesterday evening - when their area Chinese grocer was gunned down in broad daylight. It happened here at E-buy supermarket - on Crab Catcher Street, that 32 year old Peixan Tan known as Kenny was shot once to the left side of his head. Tan was rushed to the KHMH in an ambulance but succumbed to his injuries while being transported. On the scene police recovered a 9mm expended shell and were looking for two suspects in connection to the robbery that turned out to be a homicide. Security footage shows that the two armed robbers entered the store posing as customers.

New Rules: No Challenges To PUP Party Leader
The PUP National Executive met on Wednesday and though no press release was sent out - the Executive unanimously passed two resolutions, which, observers tell us, are huge. Party Leader Francis Fonseca today confirmed that the two resolutions make it so that no challenge can be made to replace the Party Leader or the elected representatives as standard bearers - until after the next general election. So, the effect of the new resolution is that for the next five years or so until the general election - when the party has national conventions - no one can offer himself or herself for leader. And at the divisional level - no one can offer themselves as standard bearer in an area that already has an elected PUP representative. It's an unprecedented maneuver, one that effectively limits the party's internal democracy. Our reports are that the resolution was tabled by Deputy Leader Julius Espat to create a period of stability - which he noted will also be attractive to financiers.

Belize Times Does Not Print, Fires Five Of Seven Staffers
And while the PUP party leader is protected by edict of the National Executive - we can't say the same for four employees of the Belize Times. Four veteran staffers were fired today - after decades of working at the Party Organ - which is also the longest established newspaper in Belize. They say they aren't so much angry that they got fired - they're angry that their severance and gratuity only amounts to small change - after a lifetime of service. Today, still emotional after their last day of work - they came to us after five and vented with anger at the way they were sent off:.. Doreth Bevans, Terminated - 43 years at the Belize Times "Today we got the same letter. Mr. Musa came and said that he wanted a meeting with us. He came and give me this letter; he says that one belongs to me, Fay and Rachel and when I opened the letter there was only $5,940.00. I told Mr. Musa that I didn't want that. I told him that after 43 years working at the Belize Times - what will I do with that kind of money. He told me that that's all he has because he didn't have any more money, he is broke."

More Banking Backlash On GOB Restructuring Scenarios
There is more angry reaction on the money markets to Government's so-called "Indicative Restructuring Scenarios". A UK Investment Banking Consultant called Exotix describes it thusly: "BELIZE - RESTRUCTURING PROPOSALS: WORSE THAN EVEN WE EXPECTED." They go on to explain that quote, "the proposals are even worse (for bondholders) than the fairly pessimistic scenarios we set…and are certainly worse than the market has been expecting." The analysis notes the 46 million dollar coupon payment is due in ten days, and they say, quote, "We don't think the authorities would want to default on the coupon." That is a matter, still unresolved, we gather - though the payment has been budgeted.

Jamaica Dominates Sprints At Olympics
The 2012 Olympic Games will end on Sunday night in London - and all this week, Jamaica has shone brightest. China and the USA may dominate the overall medal count, but Jamaica has the most medals per capita, and currently is behind only Russia in the overall medal count for athletics. Male and Female sprinters from the island nation have medaled the high profile sprint events - and did what had only been done once before in Olympic history when it earned first, second and third place in the men's 200 meters. It's a huge deal in that country where these successes have coincided with the country celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its independence. The final showcase for Jamaican speed is the men's four by 100 relay - which will air live on Channel 7 tomorrow at 2:00 pm.

Deforestation Increases in Belize
According to a report published on the internet, Deforestation in Belize has accelerated since late 2010. That worrying conclusion comes from a new satellite-based assessment of our forest cover by an organization called CATHALAC. It compared forest cover between early 2010 and early 2012, concluding that Belize's forest cover fell from 62.7 percent to 61.6 percent during the period, a decline of 25,264 hectares. The annual loss of 12,632 hectares is higher than the rate observed between 1980 and 2010, when deforestation averaged around 10,000 hectares per year.

Channel 5

Slovak Mello almost freed then rearrested
Forty-two year old Karol Mello, an alleged Slovakian gangster wanted in his home country for a string of murders, was ordered to be released from the Belize Central Prison this morning in a decision by Justice Oswell Legall. Mello, who was detained a month ago, faces criminal charges in Slovakia while efforts are being made [...]

Murder of businessman in Ladyville
Ladyville Police are tonight continuing their investigation into the murder of thirty-two year old businessman Peixan Tan, who was gunned down inside E-Buy Supermarket on Crab Catcher Street on Thursday evening. According to a fellow grocer, two dark complexioned men entered the premises shortly after five o’clock and demanded money. During the armed robbery, Tan [...]

Rape and home invasion in quiet village
While Belize City was spared its daily dose of violence, another community much like Ladyville, is reeling from violence that has disturbed the peace normally associated with the area. A home invasion in Saint Matthews Village has left a man hospitalized and his family traumatized. Early Thursday morning, at around two o’clock, armed men broke [...]

What caused 14 year old to die suddenly?
Fourteen year old Marcella Smith, a promising Edward P. Yorke High School student died mysteriously at her home in Belize City on Tuesday. Smith was found motionless on the sofa and bleeding from the nose by her aunt, Averil Tinsley. Her death has stunned the family, the school and her friends because she was not [...]

Mysterious fish death in the river
Hundreds of fish have been dying in the Haulover Creek in the past few days. It is not known if toxins have been leaked in the river; however, it has become a nuisance for fisherman, Elic Logan and his family, who live on bank of the river in the Lake Independence area. Logan says that [...]

Resort torched in Toledo
The Indian Creek Lodge in Toledo has been under fire by former employees. First there was the issue of an under fed jaguar that was pining away in a cage. That animal had since been rescued by the Belize Zoo. But no one came to rescue the employees who reported to the labor department that [...]

Bowen said he recently met man with the M4 carbine
Steven Bowen Junior was shot by law enforcement officers in San Pedro on Tuesday. He was with Elias Hernandez and Lucio Salazar; all three were accused of being part of a group of about ten, who were intimidating residents with high powered weapons on the north end of Ambergris Caye. Bowen says he knows nothing [...]

Bowen says police didn’t have to shoot him
As for the actual shooting incident, Bowen says the officers had no reason to fire at him. He told us that they were at Salazar’s house and as he was packing to leave he heard gunshots from outside. According to Bowen, he threw himself on the ground and alleges that though the officers found him [...]

So called serial rapist gets 15 years
He has beaten numerous charges for sexual offences, but on July thirty-first, the so-called serial rapist, Leroy Gomez, was convicted of the Rape and Robbery of a twenty-six year old woman, which occurred on August twenty-third, 2011. Gomez appeared before Justice Adolph Lucas for sentencing on Thursday and was given two fifteen year jail terms, [...]

B.T.B. launching new initiatives to improve tourism
The recent figures issued by the Belize Tourism Board on visitor arrivals to the Jewel are promising. With an overall increase of nine percent in arrivals in the first half of the year and the month of July already showing an estimated seventeen percent increase at the PGIA alone, the BTB machinery is in full [...]

Will bondholders take the new options?
A few bond restructuring options have been posted on the Central Bank of Belize’s website. And according to a research analyst, there are default concerns. The yield on the bond in its current form, jumped three point five percentage points to twenty-three point four percent after the announcement of the three options, which suggest that [...]

House fell on boy, but bills also weighing family down
While the bond is a billion dollar issue, a local family is facing financial difficulty of their own. And while it won’t cost anywhere near the Superbond, raising a few dollars more is a matter of life and death for their child. Ten year old Brithon Cordova remains hospitalized since his house in Orange Walk [...]


Coye and company convicted of money laundering
A groundbreaking conviction, on a white collar crime, has been handed down by the Chief Justice of Belize in the na... Chinese businessman shot and killed at E-buy establishment

Chinese businessman shot and killed at E-buy establishment
Police were called to E- buy Supermarket located at 116 Crab Catcher Street in Ladyville just after 5pm yesterday (... Employees feeling the blow of Zabaneh blacklisting

Employees feeling the blow of Zabaneh blacklisting
Mayan King Banana Farm is having problems paying its employees. John Zabaneh said he’s unable to pay his 200 employ...

PlusNews nabs exclusive interview with John Zabaneh
PlusNews crew travelled to Placencia to met with John Zabaneh to get his side of the story. We will be bringing tha... Tackling match fixing and corruption in football

Tackling match fixing and corruption in football
The Football Federation of Belize on Monday sent a delegation to Guatemala City to attend a two day workshop (Augus... Kids sharpen skills at academic summer camps

Kids sharpen skills at academic summer camps
For children summer is all about vacation and for the diligent at heart summer camps and activities. One social ent... Judge orders the release of Karol Mello... but hes not free yet

Judge orders the release of Karol Mello... but he's not free yet
Justice of the Supreme Court Oswell Legall this morning ordered the “immediate” release of Slovakian national Karol... How you can make your voice count in marijuana decriminalization debate

How you can make your voice count in marijuana decriminalization debate
The Committee commissioned by the Minister of National Security to evaluate the issue of Decriminalization of Marij... Belize Lodge and Excursions burnt to the ground

Belize Lodge and Excursions burnt to the ground
The Belize Lodge and Excursions, located in Indian Creek Village, was recently brought into the media spotlight whe...

Police investigating teenager's sudden death
A teenager is discovered dead in her home. A residence on St. Jude Street in Belize City was the grim scene on Tues...

Remembering artist Benjamin Nicholas
The superlative Belizean artist, Benjamin Nicholas, passed away earlier this year in Dangriga. On Monday past he wo...


BDF captain arraigned on handling stolen goods in Cayo
A BDF captain has been arrested and charged with handling stolen goods, being a firearm. He was taken to the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court, where he appeared in front of Magistrate Narda Morgan, who remanded him until September 3.

Ashcroft’s $40 mil arbitration award against GOB not enforceable, rules Court of Appeal
“...there is no legal obligation on the part of Belize to recognize and enforce domestically arbitral awards within the contemplation of the New York Convention...” said Court of Appeal... Belize never ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards under which arbitration in London was sought and so is not obliged to pay

Ernesto spares Belize, but drenches Mexico
Security forces shut down Princess casinos at the Belize-Mexico border. DEMO Corozal Coordinator, Willard Levy, said they refused to comply with directive to close.... While the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) of Belize declared an “all clear” for the entire country of Belize at 9:30 Wednesday morning, what was last night Hurricane Ernesto has been dumping heavy rains over parts of Mexico, as it moves toward the Gulf of Mexico, where, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, it could retain tropical storm strength well into Thursday.

Leroy Gomez, convicted rapist, gets 15 years
Today, Justice Adolph Lucas sentenced Leroy Gomez, 26, to 15 years for rape and another 15 years for robbery after a 9-member jury found him guilty of rape and robbery on July 31.

3 years in jail plus fines for Melonie and Michael Coye
Atlee Matute and Deitrick Kingston fined $25,000 each... Today, after about six hours of mitigation hearings, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin finally sentenced the convicts of Belize’s largest money laundering scheme – which was unraveled after $1,557,789 was discovered in two suitcases in the home of Michael Coye, located at #12 Johnson Street.

Sinaloa Zabaneh!
US directs sanctions against John Zabaneh in drug trafficking allegations... Mexican Sinaloa Cartel link cited by US Treasury ... The Unites States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Tuesday, August 7, 2012, that the Stann-Creek based, Belizean business magnate, John Zabaneh, his nephew Dion Zabaneh, of Belize City, and Corozal-based businessman Daniel G. Moreno, as well as five businesses associated with the elder Zabaneh and Moreno, have been named under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act as persons and companies that can no longer do business with US individuals and companies.

Corozal and Belize City are Champions in the Sprite/Belikin Beer 3x3 basketball tour.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Corozal team defeated the Orange walk team 15 to 10. The team from Corozal included Marcell Richards, Jason Grant, Alton Herrera and Benedict “Big Ben” Terry. Benedict was a force to reckon with the entire day. His post presence was superior on this day, and opposing teams couldn’t match up with him. A quick history of Big Ben shows that he grew up in Libertad and played for the UB Black Jaguars, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He recently returned from the University of Alabama with a Master’s degree in Accounting. He was also a member of the University of Alabama practice team.

Double Head fans celebrate in ‘Landing
Excellence defeat Western Eagles in game 3 to become National Cricket Champions 2012... Game 3 of the best-of-3 games series for the 2012 Harrison Parks National Cricket Championship between Excellence of Double Head Cabbage and Western Eagles of Rancho Dolores ended before 4:00 p.m. on Saturday at the field in Bermudian Landing, where hundreds of cricket fans jammed the sidelines to witness the final game of the competition. After losing game 2 at home the previous week, failing to eclipse what seemed an easily attainable score by Western Eagles, Excellence captain Ian Broaster was determined not to allow his team to make the same mistake twice. Rancho was all out for 97; and Ian led off the batting along with Orson Flowers.

West Lake seeks redemption in Champions Cup finals game 2 on Sunday
After suffering a 6-1 shellacking from BDF in game 1 of the Belize City Champions Cup 2-game finals series on Sunday last, the West Lake squad is hoping to regroup and salvage their reputation with a competitive match in game 2 this coming Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at the MCC.

Kent Thompson’s “flood-fly catcher” invention
Double Head Cabbage cricket fans were in such a comfortable position in the early going on Saturday, confident of an easy victory over Rancho’s Western Eagles, that there were many relaxed conversations taking place on the sidelines, while the Double Head batsmen were going through the motions towards the expected victory.

Belize’s border forest threatened
“...extensive deforestation [in Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala] advancing towards the Belize frontier”... Whereas Belize is lauded internationally for its exemplary forest preservation efforts, its immediate western neighbor, Guatemala, is grappling with one of the highest deforestation rates in Central America, and as anticipated, the escalating deforestation problem is extending into Belizean forests, as Amandala, supported by Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), had highlighted in a May 2011 special report featuring massive land clearings, slashed and burned for illegal plantings by Guatemalans in the Chiquibul—a spillover of activities in the fast-growing Peten which features very high poverty rates. (See photo accompanying this article.)

43 years of Amandala
Monday, August 13 of 2012 will mark 43 years since Amandala was first published in Belize in 1969. We are very proud of this achievement on Partridge Street because our main competition was established by leaders of the Chamber of Commerce in 1967. They had at their disposal everything money could buy in the way of printing technology. Ours was a roots newspaper, begun, literally, with nickels and pennies and dimes. Because of this beginning and our specific journey of growth, as slow and rough as it was, the people of Belize know that no politician owns or controls Amandala.

Ideas and Opinions - Decriminalize Marijuana II
I have to generalize because, the exact figure is not known but, a significant number of our young citizens are sent to jail each year for the possession of marijuana. They are users, not sellers. They take their own money to buy a substance which will do them harm. For that act, should a wise and concerned government make them criminals for life?

Editorial: Jamaica at 50
A tiny Caribbean country much smaller than Belize, but with a population of just under three million persons, Jamaica on Monday, August 6, celebrated its 50th anniversary as an independent nation. Regardless of geography, it’s a “large” country. It “plays big,” on the regional and international stage. It always has.

From The Publisher
The Russian people have begun celebrating the bicentennial of their war in 1812 to repel the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France. Outside of Moscow in September of 1812, the Russians and the French fought what was at that time the bloodiest battle in history – the Battle of Borodino. There were almost 100,000 casualties at Borodino


Checking out Punta Gorda on two wheels and two feet
On Saturday and Sunday (July 28-29), we explored the town of Punta Gorda several times, riding beach bikes provided by Hickatee Cottages, where we were staying, and on foot. Punta Gorda is very different from San Pedro, even though both towns are right on the water. Unlike San Pedro, which caters to divers, fishermen, and tourists from all over the world (including celebrities), "PG" is not touristy. And since it's not on an island, cars and trucks roam where mostly golf carts and bicycles still travel the streets of San Pedro (though more and more motor vehicles arrive monthly, it seems). Traffic was lighter than in San Pedro overall, even on a Saturday. There's a great Saturday market we got to check out, and I bought a Maya bag from a local man that probably would have cost me double in San Pedro. The PG town clock is stuck at 1:05 forever, but at least it has a toucan! Wheeeeeeeee! Buying Benedryl at the local pharmacy -- only $2.50 US for 24 tablets, way cheaper than in San Pedro! The local chocolatier was closed while we were in town, unfortunately. Heavy sigh! Part of the Saturday market

Weather Returns to Perfection, Distilling Fine Pruno and Off On Vacation
Hurricane Ernesto has now completely blown by and the weather on Ambergris Caye has returned to beautiful. Even almost Tropical Storm Gorden (out in the Caribbean but potentially headed out way) seems to have fizzled. The sea is still churned up a bit...more chalky blue tan water than the usual crystal clear aquamarine but it will settle in a day or two. Some of the beaches will require a bit more clean-up. A bunch of sand has washed away or shifted... To reclaim "my beach" at Royal Palms, they have started a project which will be going on for a few weeks. Some buoys were set up yesterday to kick off the process. Across the street, I've noticed quite a few people across the street harvesting sea grapes. I honestly didn't know this pretty fruit was even edible. Apparently, when these "grapes" turn red and then purple, they are very tasty and can be turned into wine. I have tried quite a few local wines...wines that are brewed out of almost everything...but never the sea grape. At the Belmopan Agriculture fair in June, I think I tried about 4 different kinds. And that was barely scraping the surface.

International Sources

Bondholders wary of Belize's bid to renegotiate debt
Markets have reacted negatively to Belize's indicative restructuring proposals, published on the central bank website this week, with some predicting a protracted negotiation process unlikely to be completed before the Central American country's next coupon payment is due August 20. Given that looming deadline, and the less than favorable terms, Citigroup analysts describe Belize's announcement as a "threat of a credit event rather than a willingness to negotiate," adding that it would not be surprising if the government does not pay the 8.5% rate should it fail to reach an agreement with creditors by then. In his budget speech for fiscal year 2012-13, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said the government had made room for overall debt-service payments at BZ$200.7 (US$83m), of which BZ$174.5m is tied to external debt. However, it had been assumed that the government wished to cut a deal with creditors before payment on the 2029 bond on August 20, when it steps up to 8.5% from 6.0%. "The committee will convene to discuss a response, but we are not taking the indicative scenarios very seriously," said AJ Mediratta, a partner at Greylock Capital Management and chairman of the ad-hoc committee of holders of the 2029s formed to engage the government.

Belize to host investment conference in Los Angeles
The Consulate of Belize in Los Angeles will be holding an investment conference on Saturday, August 25, 2012, so that the Belizean Community may attend and explore the current opportunities in Belize. Presentations will be made by: (I) Development Finance Corporation (DFC) – Presenting information on Purchasing Homes under Foreclosure in Belize, Payment Mechanisms, DFC Mortgage Finance and Commercial Lending Programs. (II) Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (Beltraide) – Presenting on Government of Belize Incentive Programs, Beltraide Business and Investment Services, Priority Areas for Investment in Belize, and Showcasing Belizean Companies. The conference is intended to provide Belizeans living abroad with information on how to invest, own a part of and become an economic stakeholder in the country of Belize. This is an opportunity to participate and become fully involved in the economic development of Belize. This conference reinforces the government’s position that Belizeans living outside the borders of Belize are and will continue to be a valuable resource for the country.

Edited by Marty (11/17/12 09:53 AM)