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#454011 - 12/22/12 02:48 PM Today's Belize News: December 22, 2012
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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
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The San Pedro Sun

Mayor Guerrero voices concerns regarding police behavior in San Pedro
The recent public outcries concerning the behavior and attitude of some elements of the San Pedro Police Formation toward regular civilians has prompted the Mayor of San Pedro Daniel Guerrero to state his position on the developing issues. The tensions between the general public and the police has been brewing for a couple of days but the hair that broke the camel’s back was the accusations made by three island residents against two police officers who are attached to the San Pedro Police Formation. The three residents are claiming police brutality and alleging that an off duty police corporal placed a gun in the mouth of a male islander on Monday December 17th in plain view of many local residents. There has also been a very serious accusation made by two American tourists who claim that five officers, including a female police constable, had extorted them of $1,500 while vacationing on the island. A number of local residents are also accusing some elements of the San Pedro Police Formation of causing a ruckus that eventually led to some police officer spraying a canister of pepper spray. That incident occurred on night of Saturday December 15th near the San Pedro Central Park and placed tourists and innocent residents in contact with the strong irritating substance without due warning.

San Pedro welcomes new resident Magistrate Sherigne Rodriguez
Magistrate Rodriguez studied law at Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica but is also a graduate of the University of the West Indies after perusing studies at Saint John’s Junior College and Saint Catherine’s Academy. “I decided to go into the legal system because I always wanted a profession. I didn’t just want a job, I wanted a profession,” said Magistrate Rodriguez who opted for law over her initial desire to pursue a career in the medical field. With just a few days as the Magistrate of San Pedro Town, Rodriguez has observed that “the more pressing needs [when hearing cases] concern rampant theft/robberies/burglaries. Some of these crimes seem to be [committed by] persons who are addicted to drugs.” By hearing and dealing with pending court cases, Magistrate Rodriguez hopes to minimize the increasing amounts of stagnant trials over issues such as theft, family and civil issues. Magistrate Rodriguez also looks forward to familiarizing herself with the community and assist as much as possible. Rodriguez officially takes over the vacant post left behind after the transfer of former Magistrate Patricia Arana, who is now with the Financial Intelligent Unit as of June, 2011.

Government Silences People’s Voice on Referendum
In a move to ensure that the issue of whether or not 8,047 signatures were improperly disallowed by the Chief Elections Officer of the Elections and Boundaries Department, the Government of Belize (GOB) sought to strike out the case (Claim No. 225 for 2012) brought earlier this year by Audrey Marie Bradley, Thomas Greenwood and Oceana in Belize. Permission for the case to proceed was granted June 5, 2012 by Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana. GOB applied to strike out the case based on whether the 14 days to file the full application for judicial review started on the date the oral permission was granted or when the written order was perfected by the court. Justice Arana, in striking out the referendum judicial reviews case, said she agreed with GOB Attorney Denys Barrow that the 14 days started to run June 20th. This ruling brings to an end any legal attempt to hold the Government accountable for denying the Belizean people a choice to voice on whether or not there should be offshore oil drilling in Belizean waters.

VIDEO: Maya Deer Dance Dec 20, 2012
San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye, Belize celebrated the historic end, and new beginning of the Maya Calendar with performances throughout the night of Dec. 20, 2012. One traditional dance presented was the dramatic Maya Deer Dance. The event ended with a beach side sunrise ceremony on the 21st.

Ambergris Today

San Pedro Brings In New Maya Baktun
San Pedro Mayor Daniel Guerrero praised the Mayas for their great civilization and contributions to mankind and asked everyone to live in harmony with each other and with nature so that we may continue to prosper. For his part Area Representative and Minister of Tourism Hon. Manuel Heredia outlined the importance of the Maya civilization to Belize and pledged his ministry’s unequivocal support to utilize all resources available for the development of tourism in Belize. The entertainment of the night included the presentation of Miss San Pedro Naiely Puc as a Mayan Goddess and her entourage of Maya warriors. Then the Corozal Community College took the stage with fire dancing, the deer dance and a series of wonderfully choreographed dances depicting women and people in Belize followed by a presentation of all the cultures of ethnic groups in Belize in music and dance. The CCC Dance Company was wholeheartedly received and took the accolades of the San Pedro spectators. Lucio Alcoser and The New Generation Band of Orange Walk Town captured a huge crowd of party folks who wined and dined throughout the night. Thanks to the San Pedro Town Council and the eager party of revelers of San Pedro, the end of the Maya Calendar Cycle was just another reason for celebration and looking forward for more good things to come.

Scotia Bank's Christmas Gift Giving
The management and staff of Scotia Bank, San Pedro Branch, headed out to the neighborhood of San Mateo yesterday, December 20, 2012, to share some Christmas joy with the resident children. After a few weeks of collecting and purchasing toys, Scota Bank employees gave out approximately 500 toy gifts to the less fortunate children of the San Mateo area. Having collected so much toys, they even had some left over and decided to share that with the children of San Pedrito area. Happy smiles filled the faces of all the children who were over-joyed to receive a toy for Christmas, thanks to the giving spirit of Scota Bank. The Management and Staff of Scotia Bank could not have made this happen without the kind donation of toys and cash from their loyal customers and the help of Mr. Gabriel Nunez and Mr. Freddy Gonzalez of the San Pedro Town Council. They would like to extend a big Thank You to the following people that helped made such a worthy cause possible.

Belize Issues Maya Mythical Coins
The Central Bank of Belize, in commemoration of the sacred and historical milestone - Maya Mythical "End of the World" 21 December 2012, has commissioned The Royal Mint to strike a limited edition of gold and silver coins. The front of the coin displays drawings from the Hokeb Ha vase depicting the hero twins described in the Popol Vuh (Maya sacred book). The hero twins are in conversation, dressed simply in kilts, necklaces, ear flares and featured white cloth headdresses. The glyphs in the centre of the figures represent the Maya Mythical ‘End of the World’ date. This date, according to archaeologists, completes a ‘great cycle’ of 13 baktuns (periods of 144,000 days each) since the mythical creation date of the pre-Columbian Maya calendar.

The Re-Enactment Of The Mayan Royal Wedding At Santa Rita
As the Maya calendar cycle of 5,125 years, the 13th Baktun, came to a close on December 20, 2012, in Belize the re-enactment of the Royal Mayan Wedding between Gonzalo Guerrero and Tsazil Há was played out at the foot of the Santa Rita Archaeological Eden Park in Santa Rita Village, Corozal. It was one of many celebrations that took place in the country which celebrated the rich culture of the Maya that is evident throughout Belize. The Corozal branch of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and stakeholders in the tourism industry put together the “Festival del Mestizaje” which featured entertainment by Corozal Junior College students depicting Mayan history through dances and a re-enactment of the wedding between Tzazil-Ha, the Mayan Princess and Gonzalo Guerrero, the Spanish Conquistador. History of Santa Rita Archaelogical Site: And Wedding Garden The Mestizos of Belize are descended from the union of the indigenous Maya and the Spanish who came following Columbus' discovery of the New World. As far as history goes, many texts indicate that the Mestizo community owes its origins to Gonzalo Guerrero also known as (Gonzalo Marinero, Gonzalo de Aroca and Gonzalo de Aroza) - a Spanish sailor shipwrecked along the Yucatan Penninsula from Palos in Spain who, despite being initially enslaved by the Maya, later impressed them with his military prowess and was embraced by the Maya.

Misc Belizean Sources

Spent last night documenting the end of 13 B'aqtun with the Toledo Alcaldes Association
, The Maya Leaders Alliance and the Q'eqchi Healers Association in Santa Cruz, Toledo. This photo has so much going on and says so much about the community of Maya ... the women in the front left are an assembly line making corn tortillas for the village; the men in the left background are eating after butchering 4 pigs down by the river. The man just to the right of the door is stirring huge chunks of pig fat in oil making chicharron - which we snacked on all night. The women to the right are doing dishes, and taking a break from cooking. This is from the first set of images only 15 minutes after arriving. Thanks Cristina Coc, Executive Director of the Julian Cho Society for the opportunity.

Channel 5

Government negotiates $150 Million relief with bondholders
After offers and counter offers have been turned down by both sides, the five hundred and fifty million dollars Super Bond was almost at its own fiscal cliff. But today the prime minister called a late press conference to announce that a deal had just been agreed to with the bondholders, represented by A.J. Mediratta [...]

Even with bond relief, Belize faces potential fiscal cliff
The Prime Minister mentioned that the deal was struck primarily because the Speaker of the House, Michael Peyrefitte, intervened where the team couldn’t. But each rousing speech was ended with sobering declarations. The bond is just one issue that the country is facing. Belize is facing tough financial times and balancing the budget, finding capital [...]

Colombian boat and crew busted in Independence
Belize has been documented as one of the transshipment points for the trafficking of drugs to the United States.  Narco-traffickers have used drug planes and boats to move shipments through Belize. Police were close on the heels of a bust but they caught the foreigners after the drop was made. On Thursday, at three p.m. [...]

New Belizeans swear the oath at nationalization ceremony
Leading up to the March elections, there was a frenzy at the Immigration Department as over a thousand took the oath to become new Belizeans. The hue and cry was because most of them had not gone through the required rigorous immigration process and were lacking documentation. The outcry was also because many were from [...]

Reformed tax structure; Chamber’s Xmas greeting to G.O.B.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week called on the government to reform the tax system because the current structure is not conducive to economic growth. The amount of monies that leave Belize or what is termed as capital flight has always been a major concern because it results in less money in circulation [...]

Chicken vendor is deep fried about City Council’s stop order
It is not over yet for Paul Ferguson, the fried chicken vendor who was removed from in front of Femina Store on Albert Street by Special Constable Selbert Butler on Tuesday. He was arrested, charged and taken to court on Wednesday when he pleaded guilty for insulting Butler. With that matter completed, Ferguson was right [...]

Economic Development Commission examining trade license issue
The Belize City Council, led by Mayor Darrell Bradley, has joined the Belize Business Bureau in forming an Economic Development Commission which will take a critical look at the current issue of trade licenses. On Wednesday, we reported that members of the private sector are complaining that, in some instances, taxes have increased by as [...]

Senior Citizen gets 18 years for Carnal Knowledge
Fifty-five year old parolee Winston Dennison is going back to prison after being convicted on December seventeenth of three counts of Carnal Knowledge of a fourteen year old girl. Today Justice Troadio John Gonzalez handed down a sentence of five years for the first count, six for the second and seven years for the third [...]

Timely counseling for youth who was caught stealing
A fifteen year-old minor who was convicted in early December was sentenced to six months imprisonment at the Belize Youth Hostel facility. And while his mother thinks that he got a harsh sentence in comparison to his accomplice, the sentence in the view of the magistrate was one that justified his action. According to a [...]

P.U.P.’s reaction to Superbond Agreement
Earlier in the newscast, we told you about the agreement in principle that the prime minister says he has reached with A.J. Mediratta. The reaction from the opposition was swift. The People’s United Party welcomed the announcement, but questioned whether A.J. Mediratta had full approval of the bondholders since details were not provided.

Creative Arts Industry loses one of its dancers
The Creative Arts industry has lost one of its own; dancer and choreographer Troy Longsworth, passed away at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital around three o’clock this morning. Longsworth was hospitalized for days, battling with pneumonia. He was a dancer with the Belize Dance Company for seven years performing on local and international stages. Longsworth [...]

Super Furia’s timely music for the Ba’ktun
Super Furia is one of the north’s most active bands. In September it released Long Live Belize to coincide with the independence celebrations and this week, it released a song to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar. The family-band lead vocalists stopped by News Five to launch their latest endeavor.   Roxanna Alcoser, [...]

Port Loyola kids get gifts from Santa Claus
Almost two hundred children from the Port Loyola community received a surprise treat today when they were invited to the Port Loyola Health Center this afternoon. The kids were given lunch and received gifts from Santa Clause. According to the Nurse Coordinator, Rachel Richard Sanchez, it was a last minute idea but they managed to [...]

CTV3

Christmas Parade Brightens The Streets Of Town
Christmas has always been a time widely used by several businesses and community members to promote goodwill, tidings, love, happiness and especially give back to those less fortunate. Throughout the past weeks, we’ve being highlighting stories which encompass the Christmas Spirit. In the next story, we bring to you the story of the Christmas Spirit Parade which has been taking place in Orange Walk for the past nine years. The Orange Walk Central Drum Corps has been the driving force behind this initiative and have been organizing a bigger and better event every year. This year, the Drum Corps has teamed up with Smart, Centaur Communications, and with L&R Distillery Limited in efforts of making this year’s parade and show the biggest one yet. Coordinator for Central Drum Corps and organizer of the Spirit of Christmas Parade, Eldred Neal, told us more on the purpose of the parade.

OWTC Holds Christmas Party For Over 4000 Children
We are in December when everyone anxiously waits for the 25th of the month to celebrate Christmas. Certainly, the Orange Walk Town Council could not wait for the 25 of December and anticipated the joy and fun of the season with thousands of Orange Walkeños today as a Christmas program was carefully planned for them. Today is the 20th of December and if you are counting that means that we are 5 days away from seeing the biggest and most wanted day of the year, Christmas. Well tonight, the Orange Walk Town Council decided to put a smile on the faces of the people they serve in the town and neighbouring communities. An entire evening of fun and togetherness with the family and friends is the idea behind the entire event that took place at the Orange Walk Central Park. The old man who everyone loves, Santa Clause, made his presence with a load of candy for the children. Mayor Kevin Bernard, someone who is no stranger to the Orange Walk Community, told us about the jolly evening that took place today. Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town “I want first of all to thank all the Orange Walkenos and at the same time for giving us that opportunity and at the same time I want to take this moment to wish all Orange Walk and all Belizeans on a whole a Merry Christmas and a happy new year and we hope that the next could bring us better things for our community and that our people learn that we must come together in order to bring development and this is why we will do our part in 2013 to bring on more progress here in the town.”

NDACC Holds Christmas Party For Habitual Users
While the world seems to be making strives to combat the ever growing problem of the drug trade, it seems that nipping it in the bud is the tact. Targeting the producers, shippers and dealers of the various types of drugs has been the focus of most Drug Enforcement Agencies, Belize no different. In the midst of all of this, one tends to wonder, what happens to those habitual users that want to turn their life around? Who helps them in their time of need? Well, this morning, our news team travelled up north and joined in the celebration of a clean and sober life with NDACC. Reporter Elmer Cornejo and cameraman Kenric Simpson were among the recovering individuals and filed the following report. Corozal is Belize’s northern most districts and home to some 35,000 people. From that populace, 72 Corozalenos are users of one drug or another or rather said, chemical dependent people. In the grand scheme of things, that number may sound insignificant, however the variables start multiplying as addiction becomes heavier. The first problem is that for addicts the sickness of drug dependency is a chronic problem; there’s no lifelong cure, and every day is a struggle. The National Drug Abuse Control Council in Corozal has been assisting individuals from straying to drugs as well as helping habitual users turn away from the drug of their choice. NDACC prides itself on following up with all its addicts ensuring constant communication and a healthy recovery processes. This morning, NDACC organized a Christmas gathering for those who have formed a part of their family throughout the year. District Coordinator for NDACC told us more.

PlusTV

PM announces agreement on Superbond
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Mahogany Heights without water for non-payment to BEL
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Grandmother shares on murder of Robert Allan Gladden
Last night we told you about the death of 15 year old Robert Allan Gladden. Gladden's murder was the first of three...

Police are investigating two Officers for brutality
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Britain donates motorbikes to Belmopan Police Department
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Belize City Council signs MOU with Belize Business Bureau
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Department of Cooperatives will look at laws to avoid mismanagement
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Police expect to charge Easy Glen for fraud
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Police complete investigation into beating of Francesco Shol
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Belize City Hall is responding to the concerns of the business community
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Contract signed for KHMH Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
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Belmopan Bel-Choral Society to hold Christmas Concert
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Glenford Brown convicted for harming a teenager
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#454012 - 12/22/12 02:48 PM Re: Today's Belize News: December 22, 2012 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

More News: Scroll up from here

Amandala

MIDNIGHT NIGHTMARE ON SAN PEDRO
Allegedly drunken cops, male and female, assault two couples, then charge them in court What was to be a fun night out turned into a nightmare for a group of friends in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, on Sunday, December 16, 2012, and, a late report from police this evening indicates two female officers reportedly have been interdicted. Amandala spoke to the victims of the incident, who gave their account of what happened a few minutes after midnight that Sunday morning. Ricky Jurado, a 27-year-old San Pedro resident, said he was with some friends socializing at the Tackle Box Bar and Grill when a man grabbed his fiancé, Janina Graniel, 24, around her waist as she was walking by. Jurado said he approached the man to address the issue, and they got into a small argument. The man, later identified as an officer, and his three companions, who were all behaving as if they were intoxicated, walked out of the bar, Jurado said. The said officer and his companions were all later identified as police officers attached to the San Pedro Police department. All were in civilian clothing. Jurado said the group did not go too far, but he smelled trouble and decided to leave as well. “While we were walking past them, [the officer] grabbed me by my neck and pulled out his gun. I guess it was a 9mm, and he just put it in my mouth,” Jurado said. “He threatened me that if I did anything he would shoot me, and that’s when I heard [the female officer] say, ‘shoot that f****** Spanish,’” he went on to relate. Jurado said that he feared for his life and did not resist. He said his fiancé, Janina Graniel, then got involved, and asked why they were doing that to him. Jurado said that was when the female officers attacked Graniel.

CHRISTMAS SORROW – 3 TEENAGERS SHOT DEAD IN TWO HOURS
The ages of the victims are: 14, 16 and 19. Instead of partaking in joy and laughter in this festive season, three families are mourning the death of three teenagers who were callously shot to death in separate incidents just six days before Christmas. Robert Allan Gladden, 16, a student of Marage Road, Ladyville; Raheem Requeña, 19, of Plues Street; and Reynaldo Garrido, 14, of East Canal, were shot in three different locations in the city within a span of two hours, between 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday, December 19. Police said that about 6:30 p.m. yesterday, Wednesday, they went to the corner of Partridge and Lavender Streets and saw Gladden’s body lying face down in the middle of the unpaved road. He had been shot in the right side of the back of the head and in his forehead, above his left eye. Police say that Gladden was walking on Partridge Street, going toward Lavender Street, when a man of dark complexion with dreadlocks approached on a bicycle and fired two shots at him, and rode into Partridge Street, escaping into the surrounding area.

IS KEITH HARRIS, 44, TRUCK DRIVER, FOR REAL?
Harris is accused of handling stolen goods — twelve 40-ft containers worth $120,000, and 150 sheets of plywood, and stealing $5,000 from Arturo Matus; he owes rent, owes Joseph and Taylor, owes $983 to BTALCO and $5,530 to Monica Pawn Shop; and wrote bad check for $1,092! Keith Harris, 44, a truck driver of #124 Freetown Road, was today arraigned in Magistrate’s Court #2 for theft. According to a report made to police, Harris stole a computer from his friend, Maria Belizaire. Belizaire told police that on December 3, 2012, she loaned her HP brand laptop computer to Harris. However, when she asked Harris for it, he told her that it was at a friend’s house being fixed. Belizaire alleges that for the past 3 weeks, she has been trying to retrieve her laptop from Harris, but all her attempts, so far, have been futile. Harris finally gave Belizaire the phone number of the friend he alleged had the computer, but when she called the number, the person told her that he did not have the computer. After going through a back-and-forth with Harris over the computer, she decided to make a report to police.

DAVID TAYLOR, 40, PLEADS GUILTY TO INDECENT ASSAULT CHARGES
The British man’s home was raided by police after a report was made about suspicious activities involving young boys. Today, David Taylor, 40, appeared in the Dangriga Magistrate’s Court, where two charges of aggravated assault of an indecent nature and one charge of committing an unnatural crime (buggery) were read to him. Taylor, a British man who lives in Placencia, had his home raided by police after a report was made to them about suspicious activities involving children – male children. The search resulted in police finding 500 pictures of 4 young boys (between 10 and 13 years) posing nude and involved in lewd acts with adult males. Police also found 50 videos with the same repulsive acts being performed. Yesterday, Taylor was detained, pending charges of indecent assault and having possession of pornographic material.

23RD KREM NEW YEAR’S CLASSIC IS ON
Notwithstanding the present difficulties being experienced by the Belize Cycling Association executive, cycling fans will not be disappointed this New Year’s Day, as Krem Radio has confirmed that the tradition continues with the 23rd running of the Krem New Year’s Day Cycling Classic on January 1, 2013, New Year’s Day. A press release yesterday from KREM RADIO states as follows: “The 23rd KREM New Year’s Day Cycling Classic is organized by Krem Radio. It is to be held on January 1, 2013. The Open race will start at the Santa Elena Border at 9:00 a.m. The Women and Junior will start in front of the Town Hall in Orange Walk Town at 9:30 and 9:35 a.m., respectively. Team representatives are requested to submit their Titular List of Starters by Wednesday, December 19, sent to email kremcyclingclassic@gmail.com and re-confirm their starters at the Technical Meeting which will be held on Thursday, December 27, 2012, at the Krem compound, starting at 11:00 a.m. Race numbers and other paraphernalia will also be issued at that time.” The prize list includes: OPEN – 1st Prize – $2,000.00 + $250.00 & Trophy + 1 Bull; 2nd Prize – $1,500.00 & Trophy; 3rd Prize – $1,000.00 & Trophy; 4th Prize – $500.00; 5th Prize – $350.00; 6th Prize – $275.00; 7th Prize – $200.00; 8th Prize – $175.00; 9th Prize – $150.00; 10th Prize – $100.00; 11th and 12th – $75.00 each; 13th to 15th – $50.00 each; and 16th to 20th – $25.00 each. M/Juniors – 1st Prize – $500.00 + $250.00 & Trophy; 2nd Prize – $300.00 & Trophy; 3rd Prize – $200.00 & Trophy. WOMEN – 1st Prize – $500.00 + $250.00 & Trophy; 2nd Prize – $300.00 & Trophy; 3rd Prize – $200.00 & Trophy.

OCEANA REFERENDUM NOT HAPPENING
Last week Oceana and the Government of Belize representatives met in Justice Michelle Arana’s court to continue trial on whether a national referendum will be held on the matter of offshore drilling in Belize. That case was adjourned to today, Thursday, December 20. Oceana, Tom Greenwood and Audrey Bradley’s claim was struck out for failing to comply with the leave given on June 20, 2012. The file claim was to be submitted within a 14-day period. The deadline for the submission was on July 5, 2012, however the claim was submitted on July 11, 2012. Oceana asked for an extension, but because the leave was not complied with, there was no claim. Oceana’s attorney Godfrey Smith said it was “not the decision we were hoping for, but we are seeking our options.” Smith told the media that they are considering an appeal. Oceana was seeking a judicial review of the signature rejection to allow Belizean registered voters to partake in a national referendum concerning the matter of offshore oil drilling in Belize. Over 8,000 petition signatures were rejected by the Chief Elections Officer, Election and Boundaries Department and the Governor General of Belize that would have triggered a national referendum on whether or not to proceed with offshore oil exploration and drilling.

CONRAD JONES AND ROMEL PALACIO, JR., STILL MISSING – THEIR FAMILIES WANT THEM HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Retired Police Inspector Conrad Jones, 64, of West Street, Belize City disappeared on September 12, 2012, in Hattieville, and Romel Palacio, Jr., 37, disappeared in Dangriga on Thursday, December 6. Their families mightily wish for them to be found and are at home for Christmas. They must be present at the family table to eat the traditional Christmas dinner, and to make the family complete, relatives say. Jones has been missing for over three months now. A Customs guard at the time he disappeared, Jones was returning home after concluding duties in Benque Viejo for Customs on Thursday, September 11. The driver of the vehicle he was in, left him at the Hattieville roundabout around 11:30 p.m. A security guard for the Golden Haven Home for the elderly near the roundabout said that afterwards, around 2:00 a.m. that Friday morning, September 12, he saw Jones still in the area trying to get a passage to go home. He said that he went to make his security rounds on the compound, but when he came back around 2:30 a.m., Jones was nowhere to be seen. Police and Customs officials searched the area, and in Hattieville but their efforts were fruitless. The family is offering a $500 reward to be paid to anyone for information leading to the recovery of Jones, dead or alive. They can call the nearest police station or 0800 TIPS, or they can contact Silpa, Jones’ daughter, at phone numbers 605-4606.

AMBULANCE DRIVER DIES AFTER POLICE BEATING
Francisco Shol, 53, of Indianville, Punta Gorda, ambulance driver for the Punta Gorda Hospital, was laid to rest today in at the Punta Gorda Cemetery, and a policeman is being investigated for his death. The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 14, at the PG Sports Bar in Punta Gorda. Witnesses told police that Shol was socializing at the bar when a policeman who was not from the Punta Gorda Formation went into the bar and began drinking with Shol. The policeman afterwards beat Shol in the bar, then dragged him outside and beat him again. The policeman then put Shol in the pan of a pickup truck and took him to the Punta Gorda Hospital. Shol was later found in a drain a short distance from his home. He was rushed back to the Punta Gorda Hospital, where he was stabilized and shortly after, he was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital by Wings of Hope Air Ambulance, but he died shortly after while receiving medical treatment. Doctors who examined him said that he died due to fractures in his skull due to blunt force trauma (he was beaten in his head).

WILFRIDO NOVELO ON THE MAYA CALENDAR Letters
This coming Friday, December 21, is going to be a momentous occasion in the land of the Maya. The twentieth katun of the current thirteenth bakun is coming to an end. Such an event will not repeat itself until 5,125 years in the future. The Maya will be celebrating our version of what was our Y2K. On December 31, 1999, at midnight, we closed the tenth century of the second millennium. On December 21, 2012, Maya time reverts back to zero. In small change, we count time like this: 24 hours is one day, 365 days is a year, one hundred years is a century, and 10 centuries make a millennium. The Maya count time like this: 24 hours is a day, they called it a kin. 365 days is a year, they called it a tun, and twenty years makes a katun, like our century, and twenty katuns makes a baktun, like our millennium. On December 21, 2012, the Maya are closing the 20th Katun of the current 13thbaktun. Nothing apocalyptic, nothing cataclysmic, nothing catastrophic, nothing tragic, nothing traumatic, will occur on that day. If anyone was putting any high premium on bad omens on that day, perish the thought. It will not happen.

EULOGIO LASHES OUT AT SCROOGE STORE AND TEACHERS Letters
Dear Sir, It would appear as if the justice system in Belize is failing the Belizean people. It is not clear if the justice meted out is really fair or not. Case in point: A man steals 3 packs of cheese and is sentenced to 3 years in prison. Another individual is caught with (x) amount of marijuana (drug trafficking) and gets 3 years in jail. What message is this giving the Belizean people? Next point: a single mother is caught stealing food for her hungry children at one of the richest stores in Belize City. She is arrested, taken to court, ridiculed, and then given probation. OK. We know what she did was wrong, but the way the economy is in Belize right now and the high rate of unemployment, can we really blame her? She was caught stealing from one of the richest stores in Belize City. What they could have done if they had had the right marketing people, was to take this golden opportunity and turn it to their advantage. They should have pardoned this lady on live TV instead of taking her to court, and given her a big food hamper for her hungry children. Next, she could have been given a job to continue feeding her hungry children, this being the Christmas season and all. Do you know how good this company would have looked?

ON BECOMING AN INSTRUMENT OF PEACE Letters
Over the last couple of days, I have had occasion to reflect on my mid-life crisis and how close I am to my three score + ten of sojourning here in my country, Belize. I was thinking about my contributions to the development of this noble spot and the “what-could-have-been” as an exile in another country. Guess what! I fell into a state of melancholy so deep that I had to find some writing, some reflection, by another person somewhere out there who had found him or herself in the same dilemma. I found a very old book of reflections by the celebrated South African author Alan Paton of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi – “Lord make me an Instrument of thy Peace.” Allan Paton had to make a choice between going into exile or staying and becoming such an Instrument of God’s Peace. He, of course, stayed in South Africa, and by his writings, did champion the cause of God’s Peace there. The Belize of today has placed any true Christian in an appallingly difficult and harrowing situation. Why? Because the economic, political, social and judicial situations, in my opinion, are clearly opposed to the teachings of the New Testament. If you take each of the Belizean woes separately, you find in each circumstance that they are contributing to the melancholy seen and felt in the streets, boardrooms, both Houses of Parliament and the courts of this land – greed for greed, hatred for hatred, up-manship for up-manship and nolle prosequi after nolle prosequi. It seems to me that a particular brand of apartheid is alive and well in Belize.

FROM THE PUBLISHER
In one of my columns last week, I pointed out that mankind developed the ability about seven decades ago to destroy planet earth and mankind itself. We had entered the nuclear age. In the United States, the terrifying possibility of nuclear holocaust hit home during the October 1962 confrontation between America and Russia, a confrontation known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the years immediately following that frightening episode, American president John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas (November 1963), the Vietnam War began to escalate dangerously (1964/1965), and then the Black Power phenomenon (1966) marked the philosophical adoption of the violent self-defence concept, as opposed to Christian and Gandhian non-violence, by young American blacks. The American power structure, which is dominated by a financial-military-industrial complex, did everything it could to convince the American people that a lone, crazed gunman, one Lee Harvey Oswald, had murdered the American president while he was seated in an open convertible in a motorcade, but I do not believe this story. I believe the American power structure itself conspired to kill Kennedy for various reasons, one of these reasons being the fact that JFK had refused to provide American air cover for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles, and another reason being the indications that he was not completely hawkish where the American war effort in Vietnam was concerned. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, soon began to increase American involvement in what was basically a civil war in Vietnam. A shooting war always increases the budgets and leverage of American generals and admirals, and such a war boosts the profits of companies which are engaged, directly or indirectly, in the business of manufacturing arms and armaments.

THE TRAGEDY AT MCC, TIME FOR A CHANGE
When YaYa Marin Coleman launched her one-woman 24-hour protest outside the MCC Grounds cement fence at 6:00 p.m. last Friday evening, December 14, the MCC field was still a reasonably playable grass surface. It certainly wasn’t the best in the country; it had already suffered repeated abuse from heavy equipment on different occasions when the Sports Council allowed the venue to be used for non-sporting public events. But the field had slowly recovered, with the new grass camouflaging many of the lumps and uneven places where posts had stood and vehicles had been driven. No one but the Most High controls the weather, and there are no guarantees that bad weather will not come on the day of a concert, as it did on Friday night, to make the football field especially vulnerable to the heavy traffic that comes with such events. Well, as we feared, and as YaYa protested on the sidewalk outside the MCC on Friday night and into Saturday morning, the rains came down, and the MCC soon became a veritable “pig pen” of muck and debris of various sorts, rendering it unplayable for the weekend games, and for some time to come. From behind the Zinc Fence, we have cried out against this abuse of the MCC for years. Just over a month ago, the President of the Football Federation of Belize (FFB), Ruperto Vicente, had registered his strong disapproval of the use of the MCC for an Indigenous People’s Festival, which was subsequently moved to a different venue. But for the DigiCell 10th anniversary concert this past Friday night, the FFB president’s appeal was completely ignored; and the show went on as planned at the MCC.

SHOWDOWN IN CAPITAL CITY – BANDITS VS POLICE
They have never met before in this Premier League of Belize Opening Season 2012-2013 Tournament; but they will clash in game 1 of the championship finals this Sunday at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan. We are talking about the North Zone #1 seed Belmopan Bandits and South Zone #1 seed Police United FC. There were 6 teams in the North – Belmopan Bandits, Belize Defence Force, F.C. Belize, San Pedro Sea Dogs, Juventus FC, and FC San Felipe Barcelona; and 6 teams in the South – Police United FC, Placencia Assassins, Verdes FC, RG-City Boys United, Paradise/Freedom Fighters, and San Ignacio United. Aside from a double round-robin within each zone, there were 4 out-of-zone (OZ) games for each team in the two zones – North and South – in this tournament, so some teams never got to meet in regular season. For their OZ games, the Bandits met Paradise/Freedom Fighters (3:0), Verdes FC (2:0), RG-City Boys United (0:0), and San Ignacio United (2:1); they met defending champion Placencia Assassins for the first time in the semifinals (1:0 and 0:0), and they have yet to face Police from the South. Meanwhile, in their OZ games, Police clashed with San Pedro Sea Dogs (3:1), F.C. Belize (3:0), Belize Defence Force (1:3), and FC San Felipe Barcelona (3:1); they got to avenge that loss to BDF when they met again in the semifinals (2:1 and 0:0), but they never stepped on the field against Juventus FC or Belmopan Bandits from the North. Some critics have commented that certain teams had an easier schedule than others, because of the particular opponents that they did not get to face in their OZ games. Next time they propose that all teams get to face each other at least once, to better “level the playing field.”

RALPH AND MANUEL DESTROYED SEMI-PRO
What former Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel’s wife was doing in her Searchlight column two weeks ago was expressing the view of Belize’s bigoted amateur lobby on sports, that is, that sports should not, can not be a moneymaking industry. Mrs. Esquivel has opened a can of worms, because it was her husband who finished destroying the semi-pro basketball industry in Belize. This was during the 1993-1998 UDP administration. The reason Dr. Manuel Esquivel has not been seriously indicted all these years is because the industry had already been seriously wounded by the previous PUP administration, when an unelected Ralph Fonseca was the de facto Finance Minister. So then, similarly to how the UDP and the PUP took turns carving up choice portions of the Barracks for themselves, both the PUP and the UDP attacked what would have been a major Southside industry. In its inaugural year of 1992, semi-pro basketball was an absolutely sensational success, except where the bottom line was concerned. At the time, the only acceptable basketball facility in the old capital was the Civic Center, which had been constructed in 1981 by a PUP government on the south bank of the Haulover Creek, next to the Belcan Bridge. For basketball games, the attendance capacity of the Civic was 1700 plus, and the facility soon proved too small for the crowds which were excited by semi-pro’s Kremandala Raiders and Crown Stadium, and later by the return of Penta Lakers’ Kirk Smith and Fred Garcia from college in Texas.

2 POLICE OFFICERS ACCUSED OF BRUTALITY AND ROBBERY
Two policemen attached to the Orange Walk Police Station are under investigation for theft and brutality accusations after a fisherman of Orange Walk reported that he was beaten and robbed by the said policemen early in the morning on Saturday, December 15, 2012. According to reports, Lisandro Sanchez was inside Butchies Night Club on Belize Corozal Road when he was apprehended by the two officers. Sanchez said that the officers did not take him to a station, but took him to the Orange Walk bypass near the San Estevan Rounabaout and beat him up. Sanchez reported that after he was beaten, the officers robbed him of $10,000, which he said he had earned from a pearl sale he made in Belize City on Friday, December 14, 2012. Amandala spoke with Orange Walk police on Tuesday, December 18, and was told that no charges have been made and that the matter is under investigation. Both officers have been detained while the investigation continues.

Blogs

‘Christmas Shopping’ for Ambergris Caye, Belize
For our shopping expedition to look at fixtures and fittings for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize in Belize City today Rose and I left ‘home’ at 7.40 am to catch the 8 am ferry ( we had to draw some cash first from the ATM first and that was the reason for the early start). We got good seats with plenty of space around us but that all changed when we got to Caye Caulker to take on passengers. The boat very quickly filled and it was necessary for some passengers to sit on the steps to the entrances/exits. The trip though passed without event and we arrived in Belize City at 9.20am. Before going to look at fixtures and fittings for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we had to go try to get some Secret Santa presents to take to the Christmas Lunch we are attending at Pedro’s Hotel next Tuesday. For this we planned to visit a few stores in Albert Street first. Take note of what was on offer and the prices of the items we thought are worthy of a present . For us this means ‘what might we use if we got it as a present’. Oh, the price range for the Secret Santa presents is BZ$70-80. First off we went to Delta Stores ( the store that I bought our clothes airer from). There were some really interesting and useful stuff in there – safes, garden equipment, fold-away chairs, – and at reasonable prices ( by Belize standards) but nothing that took our fancy for the presents.

We're back, with tales to tell
Did you miss us? Last night your intrepid BeBelizers returned from sixteen days of exploring the country next door, Mexico, by bus. What a blast! We visited five cities and traveled through five states. We were enchanted by the colors, the colonial architecture, the people, the fiestas, and the glorious spicy foods -- not to mention all the great Mexican beers we can't buy here in Belize (it's true that prohibition does make the heart grow fonder!) With apologies to our readers who are here to learn more about Belize, we took a lot of photos and want to share many of them, along with our experiences, with our friends and family as well as record them for ourselves for posterity. So, please indulge us as we veer away from the Belize-centric focus of this blog for awhile to recount our tales of Mexico. It's gonna take quite a few posts to cover this one!

The Beginning of a New Era: Sunrise Maya Ceremony On the Beach of Ambergris Caye, Belize
Last night and this morning the National Institute of Culture and History along with the San Pedro Town Council put on quite a show for the end of the Maya calendar. When I arrived at the park today at 5am, the party was still going on from the previous night. The midnight fireworks were long over but the DJs had only just finished, the stage for the live music was just emptying and there were plenty of people standing around enjoying their last drink. Belize (or what is Belize today) was at the very heart of the great Maya empire. In fact, the population of Belize 1000 years ago is thought to have been at least double of what it is today. The entire country is covered in Maya temples, cities and artifacts. Many people that live on our island are of Mayan descendants and Mayan dialects are still actively spoken in Belize. For anyone who thinks the Maya people died out...just visit us or the Yucatan in Mexico or Guatemala and you will find that they are alive and well. Here are some of this morning's 5am celebrations to mark the end of the Mayan calendar, the beginning of a new era and the winter solstice. Today is the longest night and shortest day of the year. The beach was set up with torches and a calendar ready for the boat arrival.

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday Season
We wish everyone Love, Joy, Peace, Abundance and Happiness not only during this special time but also far into the future. Happy Holidays!

International Sources

Maya not surprised to see a world Friday morning
Editor's note: A first-person from a local Maya. My alarm buzzed. I rubbed my eyes as I reached for my screeching cellphone, the tone similar to the blaring klaxons you hear in movies when an impending disaster is detected at a nuclear plant. “6:00 a.m. Friday Dec. 21, 2012.” I walked down the stairs to open my door so Chico, my Chihuahua, could step out. A chilly Florida breeze greeted me, as orange trees loaded with golden fruit swayed and danced in the wind, the invisible hand of nature. “The world is still here, Chico,” I said to my 5-pound black and white Chihuahua, oblivious to the doomsday proclamation we've been hearing about for decades. “I guess we Maya were right to believe the world was not going to end today.” As if concurring, Chico gave a chirpy bark and ran into the green fernery to deposit his share of fertilizer. I wondered how the foreigners who started spreading the rumor that the world will end on this date, and blaming it on the Maya, felt.

Oswego County woman's Belize vacation creates media storm in Central American country
Lisa Merz planned to spend her November vacation diving in the Caribbean off the coast of Belize. Instead she spent a night in a jail, sparked a political controversy and became fodder for talk radio, television and websites in that small Central American country. It all began when Merz witnessed what she thought was a drug deal. It ended in her arrest, the transfer of the officer who arrested her and calls for the tourism minister’s resignation. Merz, 43, of Sandy Creek, is a traveling nurse. She first began diving in Belize about 15 years ago and over the years she said she has encouraged friends and family to travel to there too. “I love it there. I love the people. I love the culture. I love the diving,” she said during an interview last week. On Nov. 19, she flew to San Pedro a resort town on Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize for a 12-day vacation. Merz spent Nov. 23 on a boat diving with other tourists. When they got back to shore, the group went for drinks at Fido's Restaurant & Bar on the beach. At about midnight, the group left Fido’s for another club. As she was leaving the bar, Merz said she saw Jonathan Pacheles, 18, of Switzerland, a diver she met on the boat, being surrounded by young men. One man had a backpack and it appeared that he was trying to sell drugs to Pacheles, Merz said. Pacheles told police a man followed him from the bar. When he stepped outside, the man offered him drugs, and put some in his hand, Pacheles said.

Belize and Trinidad - a lesson in homophobic exclusion
LGBT rights advocate, Maurice Tomlinson, explains his legal challenges to Belize and Trinidad anti-gay laws... It’s getting cold in the global north and some lucky souls will be able to get away for a few days (or weeks) in the sun. The Caribbean is usually a very popular vacation destination for northerners because of the variety of leisure options available to suit just about every taste. Two Caribbean territories that demonstrate the range of delightful diversions on offer are the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (which is quite cosmopolitan, with a strong creole influence) and the central American territory of Belize (decidedly more rustic and Latin inspired). Both countries are at almost opposite ends of the Caribbean and although there are some common traditions flowing from a shared history of British colonization, very little else links these countries. There is, however, one very noticeable similarity; both territories ban the entry of homosexuals, and they are the only countries in the Western Hemisphere to do so.

Mayan (and other) Sites We’ve Visited
Since our Trans-Americas Journey started in 2006 we’ve visited nearly 100 archaeological sites in the US, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. These sites have given us a window into cultures ranging from the Anasazi to the Zapotec but most of our Indiana Jones time has been spent with the Maya–we’ve visited 54 Mayan sites so far with more to come. With so many posts about so many sites we wanted to index them in one easy place–and here it is. We’ve categorized sites by culture and by country and alphabetized each site within its grouping for quick reference. The links take you directly to our blog post concerning that site. Bookmark it for trip planning and research–especially with the puzzling end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012.

I’m planning new life with my girlfriends ... in Southampton
SOFTWARE fugitive John McAfee has told how he wants to start a new life in Britain – with his two young girlfriends. The troubled tycoon, on the run from the authorities in Belize, made the sensational claim in an exclusive interview with The Sun. Last month we revealed how cops in the Caribbean country want to question him about the murder of his millionaire neighbour Gregory Faull, who was shot in the head following an argument about McAfee’s guard dogs. Police in Belize launched an international manhunt after McAfee, who founded the famous anti-virus software company that bears his name, smuggled himself across the border into Guatemala. Earlier this month the 67-year-old Brit was deported to Miami, where he has been living in a boutique hotel while trying to figure out how to reunite with his young lovers Samantha Vanegas, 20, and Amy Emshwiller, 19. In a bizarre interview, McAfee revealed he intends to start again with the girls — in SOUTHAMPTON. McAfee, who was born in Sling, Gloucestershire, hatched the plan after becoming frustrated with the US authorities, who are refusing to give the women visas so they can join him in the States. He said: “I feel just as much British as I do American. My mother, Joan Williams, was British and met my father Donald McAfee while he was stationed in England during the Second World War.

Belize PM says debt deal reached with creditors
Belize has reached a deal in principle with creditors to restructure about half of its unpaid debt after "long and arduous" talks, allowing the country to avoid default, officials said Friday. Prime Minister Dean Barrow told a press conference that he would release details about the restructuring of the $544 million bond in the coming days. "The agreement is comprehensive and it is sustainable," Barrow said. In August, the tiny Central American country of just 330,000 inhabitants missed a $23 million bond payment. In September, it made an $11.7 million interest payment, only about half of what it owed but enough to avoid full-blown default. The government here had proposed rescheduling debt payments over 50 years at a lowered rate of two percent, a position analysts qualified as extreme. Mark Espat, leader of Belize's negotiating team on the debt restructuring, explained that details of the deal could not be made public until they were explained to all of Belize's creditors.

My Town Monday (Retro Edition): Xunantunich
I was going through some pics of the Mayan Ruins in Belize. I worked and lived in the capital of Belmopan from 2005-'06. On a rare day off, my wife and I were able to explore Xunantunich, one of the many incredible sites remaining from one of the oldest known civilizations.


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