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The San Pedro Sun

United FC and Los Catrachos move onto final rounds of FFB’s Inter District San Pedro league
The Ambergris Stadium was packed with cheering fans this past Sunday, December 16th as four teams battled it out to see who would move onto the finals for the FFB’s (Football Federation of Belize) Inter District San Pedro League. Squaring off in the second leg of the home and away semifinals tournament was: Suga Boys United, United FC, Los Catrachos and Captain Shark’s Veterans. In the first game played at 1:30PM, United FC gave Suga Boyz a whopping 4-0 game, garnering them a shot at the finals. The second game around 3:30PM was a bit tighter, with the Veterans giving Los Catrachos a run for their money in a game that ended in a score of 3 – 2 in favor of Los Catrachos. This means that Catrachos and United FC will square off in two weeks of competition on January 6th and January 13, 2013. The games will be played in a home and away format where the winner must win both games or in the case that that doesn’t happen – a goal point average will be taken to choose the winner.

Scotia Bank brings joy to the children of San Mateo
The staff of Scotia Bank in San Pedro was out and about in the area of San Mateo in San Pedro sharing Christmas joy to the children. Over 400 gifts were taken into the area on Thursday December 20th and children were happy to see the bankers bearing gifts. All the youngsters of all ages got a gift that was as a result of weeks of fundraising efforts. The Officer in Charge of the Branch Roannie Badillo explained that this marks the second year that the bank’s branch in San Pedro has been bringing joy to the kids of San Mateo. “What we try to do is that the staff tries to raise as much funds as we can throughout a two months period leading up to now and we purchase gifts for the kids. We ask our business customer and our retail customers and we ask the community, whoever wants to donate to give to this causes,” said Badillo who explained that going into San Mateo was a random selection that the staff who felt that area was more in need than others. Badillo took the opportunity to thank all those who assisted in making their second annual toy drive possible. The San Pedro Town Council assisted in transporting the gifts into the area.

San Pedro unites to bring Christmas joy to the Duran family
It was show of community love and support on Saturday afternoon and evening, December 15th when a fundraiser was organized to assist the family of the late Hector “Chapin” Duran. Since November a group of residents of San Pedro have been planning the Christmas benefit to assist Duran’s five children who were left without a father after a tragic, fatal accident claimed his life on October 6, 2012. The support was massive, yielding over $5,000 in a single day’s event. Held on the beach at Wayo’s Bar in Boca del Rio, attendees were invited to participate in the various raffles and auctions with chances to win great prizes, while giving to a greater cause. The silent auctions included 12 items ranging from scuba dives to fishing trips, overnight stays at resorts and even chances to win dining opportunities at various places on the island. Then there were “envelope draws.” For $5, one received the opportunity to randomly select tickets, some of which were winning tickets with over 70 different prizes including restaurant and bar tabs, bottles of rum, gift sets, full body massages, scuba dives and golf cart rentals. Jan Brown conducted her ever popular “Chinese Auction” for dozens of prizes where a secret time-limit was allotted for each of the prizes to be raffled.

Misc Belizean Sources

Tikal Damaged By Drunken Punks & Wackos
from a friend.... Gabriella Moretti of the El Sombrero Ecolodge at Yaxha National Park also told me of another controversy at Tikal. It seems that at the last minute Guatemalan President Molina showed up with a crew of friends for a big dinner party. They disrupted and displaced a bunch of people and there was no advance warning about their fiesta... From combined dispatches: The largest ancient pre-Columbian Mayan archeological site in the world, Guatemala's UNESCO World Heritage site at Tikal, sustained "irreparable" damage from tourists throwing doomsday tourism parties last week. Some of the 7,000 revelers—hopped up on a combination of liquor and self-entitlement—scaled the steps of the site's ancient Temple of the Mask pyramid. Tourists are explicitly forbidden from scaling the steps of Tikal's Temple II, as the pyramid is technically known, due to fears that they'll damage the structure. The rest of the story proceeds predictably.

The Belize Times

Ugly Incident at La Isla Bonita – Residents claim brutality
San Pedro Police are back in the news and once more it isn’t for anything pretty. Three police officials are accused of viciously assaulting three residents of the island. The three officers, PC Mark Young, WPC Sherifa Young and a third person only identified as “Mr. Belisle”, are under investigation following a report of brutality. Despite the investigation, the officers continue on active duty. The alleged victims of the brutality, Ricky Jurado, Viannie Perez and her partner, Elder Mauricio have been charged by Police. Reports are that early Monday morning, between 12:30am and 1:30am December 17th, Jurado and his fiancé Janina Graniel were socialising inside Tackle Box, a local club. While inside, Jurado noticed when a certain male individual went to his girlfriend and placed his hands on her waist, in an attempt to get her to dance with him. Jurado said he went to the male person and told him to show respect for his girlfriend. Jurado said that upon exiting the club, he was confronted by the same male individual who was accompanied by others. A physical confrontation erupted, followed by the male person drawing out a gun and pointing it at Jurado’s face. What reportedly happened next is nothing less than terrifying.

144 Murders in 2012
Even with Christmas Day just a few days away, the streets of Belize are not safer. In fact, the deadliness of Belize City leaked unto the quiet community in Lord’s Bank this past weekend with two murders. Victims #139 and #140 of our unofficial count were both from Lord’s Bank. 69 year old Otto Jorgen Petterson was shot dead inside his shop on Saturday, December 15th. He was shot in the chest by two male persons, who ambushed the store. A day later, the victim was a youth whose life was cut short. 15 year old Dayne Bodden Jr., a student of Ladyville Technical, was shot while riding his bicycle towards his home. Reports are Bodden was mistaken for someone else. Bodden was murdered ruthlessly. He was shot in the left ear, the chest and on the right knee. Belize City recorded four more murders over the past days, three of them on Wednesday night. The unofficial murder count is now 144. 16 year old Allan Gladden, who would have turned 17 on Christmas Day, was gunned down on Patridge Street around 6:30pm on Wednesday night. He was shot by a gunman on a bicycle twice on the head.

Faber blasts Barrow’s record
It comes as no surprise that convention delegates of Queen Square division, the Prime Minister’s constituency, boycotted Patrick Faber’s Deputy Leader campaign event held on Friday, December 14th. Three days earlier, on Tuesday December 11th, Faber was the guest on a live-aired morning show, on UDP Leader Dean Barrow’s privately-owned radio, when he launched an attack on the UDP leadership. Barrow would say only a fool or knave would attempt such a thing. Well it must have been Faber the fool, and in full form. According to Faber, the United Democratic Party’s record on advancing the women’s agenda and youth inclusion has been a miserable failure, and he laid the blame squarely on the UDP leadership. Barrow has been wearing the crown since 1998, following Manuel Esquivel’s resignation. Faber spoke condemningly of the UDP’s track record, claiming the ruling Party seemed to have a problem with stick-to-itiveness. “We have passed many resolutions, on women, on youth, but we never keep them,” vented Faber. He then wondered aloud what the root of the problem was, saying “we haven’t been keeping our commitments, and you know where the problem is, it is with the leadership and that’s all I will say for now”.

Minister’s brother totals GOB vehicle
Paul Faber Sr., who is the younger brother of Minister of Education Patrick Faber, refused to give a urine sample to Police authorities following a traffic accident which resulted in the destruction of a brand new Government-owned Isuzu D-Max pickup. The accident occurred around 4am on Saturday December 15th 2012. The use of Government vehicles is prohibited during weekends, as they are a way of wasting tax payer’s money. According to reports the vehicle, which was driven by Faber at the time, slammed into a bridge and then flipped over several times before landing on the road side, at the corner of Faber’s Road and the George Price Highway. Residents say the vehicle had been speeding. Following the accident, Faber and the injured occupants left the scene, taking the license plate marked BMP-0043 with them and leaving behind the totalled pickup truck.

End of the world?
By G. Michael Reid “In the final days of misfortune, in the final days of tying up the bundle of the thirteen (baktuns) on 4 Ahau, then the end of the world shall come and the katun of our fathers will ascend on high.” ~ The Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin (Makemson) Well folks, this is it; the final week of the world as we know it! On Friday December 21th, all the Tuns, Katuns and Baktuns will run out of wheels, cycles and revolutions. The curtains will close, the lights shall go out and all matters material will reach their final culmination. I don’t know about you but I am starting to get downright nervous! Let me see if I can explain, in as few words as possible, a bit about this predicament presently presenting itself to us. I use this information also, as a backdrop to what I am really trying to say. One of the reasons that Belize became known as “Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret” was because of our rich Mayan legacy. The Mayas themselves might have been the best kept secret of modern times. It is fully acknowledged now that the Mayas were an extremely advanced and intelligent civilization; brilliant mathematicians, architects and astrologers. Interestingly enough, while much was made of Greeks, Romans and Egyptians of old, very little was discussed about the Mayans, until recently. In school, we learned about the Greek temples, Rome’s conquests and the pyramids of Egypt. The Mayans, like their temples only recently excavated, were pretty much buried in history. Somehow now though, the Mayan Calendar has become the most significant topic of discussion. The Mayans counted time by cycles of Baktun and Katun, in what was known as the Short Count and the Long Count Calendars respectively. Sometime around 1000 AD, when the Itzá and Mexican influences took hold of the Mayan world, the Mayan priests for some inexplicable reason, shifted from marking time by the Long Count Calendar (cycles of 13 Baktuns) to the Short Count of Calendar (cycles of 13 Katuns). The Mayans did not consider the number 13 as being bad luck but instead, considered it a very sacred number. Of course, it doesn’t really matter which Count we go by, both Long and Short expire this coming Friday. December 21st, which also happens to be the Winter Solstice after which the modern Christmas holiday is fashioned, will also this year mark the sacred day of Ahau, which according to the ancient Maya is the end of all time.

Editorial: ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
The maxim: “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” will not form part of the caroling on Albert Street this year. However, wise men will be humming the tune in satirical resolve. The irony of this morbid adage is that it is a conflation of two biblical sayings: “Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry” in Ecclesiastes 15 and “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die” in Isaiah 13. Over the years there have been a number of jocular variants but surely there is no better summary of the rollercoaster which has become the commercialized Christmas in Belize. This is the thirty fourth yuletide celebration in Belize’s history. The spirit of excess is suppressed but stubbornly alive. That Belizean spirit is timidly peeking out from every home within this eight thousand eight hundred and eight seven square miles between the Sarstoon and Rio Hondo. Very few wish to be bothered by the deteriorating reality that was once British Honduras. We, as Belizeans, are for the most part conservative optimists. Slow to anger, trusting and, some would dare say, uncomplicated. At this time of year dowse us with spirits, ham, family and a healthy slice of black cake and you are forgiven – at least until “los Navidades” have morphed into the larvae of “maga-season”. Belizeans are single minded in our joys and prone to be pathologically sentimental. Our dimming sense of community still flickers in this part of December with a noticeably relaxed sense of self during these few days. The issues which depressed and stressed us for the previous fifty one weeks are all set aside for that one twenty four hours when we look at our children gleefully tearing apart gift wrapping. In those fleeting moments, we are lulled off into the bliss of our childhood Christmases.

Compre boys defeat Ecumenical in basketball nationals
The Belmopan Comprehensive School are the 2012 national male high school basketball champs, after ploughing past the Ecumenical High School boys 62-49 in the finals. Compre led 13-10 in the 1st quarter. Akeem Watters topscored for Compre with 17 points, while Kevin Brown added 15 points and Nelson Middleton scored 8 points. Compre inceased their lead to 29-19 at the half. Quinton Bowen led Ecumenical with 24 points, but Compre was hellbent on not giving the slightest chance to erode the lead. The game was 45-30 in the 3rd quarter. Despite Ecumenical’s Leslie Williams’ 10 points and Brandon Castillo’s 9 points, Compre kept their dominance until the final whiste.

Unstoppable SCA! – City champs win high school basketball nationals
The St. Catherine’s Academy girls repeated as the high school basketball champs when the Independence High School hosted the national secondary school tournament at their brand new auditorium over the weekend. In the finals on Saturday afternoon, SCA outlasted Delille Academy 23-21. Gilda Estrada led SCA with14 points in the game while Indie Dixon tossed in 5 points. SCA led 11-3 in the 1st quarter and 13-7 at the half. Delille’s Shayana Caliz scored 7 points and Moesha Enriquez added 8 points, but SCA maintained the lead 17-11 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Delille tied the score 21-21, but their hopes of getting the lead fizzled when Gilda Estrada scored SCA’s winning basket giving them the two point lead up to the final buzzer. IHS principal, Omar Longsworth, presented the champs the 2nd and 3rd place winners with team trophies and individual medals. The Most Valuable Player award went to SCA’s Gilda Estrada who averaged 14 points per game. How they won? SCA vs. Belmopan Comprehensive – 31-22 Delille Academy vs. New Hope High School – 22-12 Compre girls vs. New Hope High – 16-14 (3rd place)

Bandits vs. Police in Premier League finals
The Isidoro Beaton Stadium will turn into a battleground on Sunday, December 23rd, as Game 1 of the Premier League of Belize football finals comes up. The contenders are the Belmopan Bandits and Police United FC. Both teams won their semi-final matches the week before. Both teams braced their defensive Game 2 of each series ended in a nil zip draw at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium over the weekend. The Police is riding the sweeter victory crest into the finals. They defeated the Belize Defense Force 2-1 in Game 1 at the Norman Broaster Stadium on Sunday, December 9. BDF’s sweeper Vallan Symns drew blood first when he scored in the 11th minute, but the Police’s Evan Mariano equalized in the 33rd minute and Trevor Lennon delivered the game winner for the Police in the 90th minute.

MCC in a Mess! – BTL Corporate Greed Knows No Bounds
Despite warning from football officials that the holding of a dancehall concert at Belize City’s premier football field, MCC Garden, could cause serious damage to the pitch, Belize Telemedia Limited arrogantly went ahead with their plans. Hours after the show, the football officials had been vindicated. The MCC Grounds were left in a total mess! The pitch, which has hosted a few international friendlies, looked like a pig sty, muddy and in no condition for play. Garbage was scattered all over. Outside the grounds, a group of protesters led by social activist YaYa Marin-Coleman and the President of the Football Federation of Belize, Vicente Ruperto, were wrapping up their overnight protest. They had braved the chilly night outside the MCC with protest banners, while the concert was being held inside and the MCC grounds trampled. On the banners, they had messages to the persons responsible for the disaster declaring “Minister look what you’ve done 2 MCC Grounds”, “Who owns the MCC” and “You are destroying it from our youth. Save the MCC”.

The Doctor’s Orders – Killer Heels
Many women are sold on high-heeled shoes because of the perception that it enhances professional appearance, creating a classic poise and walk. In high-heeled shoes, posture changes so that the back is arched with the buttocks sticking out provocatively, the pelvis and chest are thrust forward, and the calf and thigh muscles tighten, giving a firmer and more youthful look. But high-heeled shoes and aging are the biggest factors leading to foot problems in women. Aging affects your feet With aging your feet spreads gradually, becoming wider and longer because of the years of standing. Your arches fall or flatten, joints on your feet and ankle become stiff and the natural padding under your heel and forefoot becomes thinner. You may feel like you are walking on pebbles. High heels damage your feet High heels are shoes with a heel 2 inches or higher. In high heels your foot slides forward in your shoe, redistributing your weight mostly under the metatarsal heads (ball of the foot), creating unnatural pressure points and causing abnormal standing posture. The Achilles tendon or heel chord shortens, there is gradual flexion contracture of your knees and an increase in the lordotic curve of the lumbar spine (lower back). Shoes that are too narrow or short, especially the pointy-toed styles will most likely lead to corns and calluses, hallux valgus (bunions), and claw, hammer or mallet toes. High heels can also cause overworked or injured leg muscles, degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee, low back pain and you may lose your balance and fall off your heels, fracturing your ankle, giving the orthopaedic surgeon some business. It can also cause corns and calluses, toenail problems, hammer, mallet or claw toes, bunions, tight heel chords, pump bumps (growth of a bony area on the back of the heel), pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia), Morton neuromas and stress fractures. Advice for buying good footwear

Adults, Children, Christmas and Belize
Christmas is quickly approaching and many look forward to this pleasant time of the year. We can see houses lit up, snowmen smiling on roof tops, reindeers, and even Santa Claus appearing in people’s yards! This is one of the most anticipated times of celebration, especially for the children, who are anxiously waiting for Santa to bring that exact gift that they have on their wish list. Well, there is also the adult’s view on Christmas. They enjoy the season as much as the kids due to the fact that it brings back many joyful memories! But for adults there is also a clear understanding that the children are expecting these gifts from Santa. They know that Santa doesn’t exist and someone has to purchase these gifts for the children! So for parents there are a couple of other preparations that go into the season. So, here is the pattern: the children expect gifts, and the adults purchase the gifts. But after a while we all grow up and become adults, and the receiving of gifts begin to slow down as the adult now transforms into the giver of gifts. This is where I would like to take off in this article and address our country Belize. I am concerned about the fact that our country is still suffering from a mendicant mentality and so we consistently want to borrow from our neighbors! We have over thirty years of independence, meaning we are long time adults and should be working for our wages rather than borrowing them. We cannot continue to function as children during the Christmas season without a clear sense of responsibility and just keep looking for hand me downs. We cannot continue to blame a super-bond, or crime, or lack of job opportunities for the situation Belize finds herself in. It is time to grow up Belize. It is time to start our own business and cease to depend solely on grants from abroad.

The Nativity in Art
Perhaps one of the most timeless images of western culture is that of the Nativity. In Christian Art it has been a key subject since the early 4th century. Most of the artistic depictions of the Nativity are based on narratives from the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Every year during the season of advent many people construct a version of the Nativity to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. There are five Nativity scenes by different artists over time that I consider my all time favorites. In 1999 Pen Cayetano painted “Silent Night” (illustration # 2). According to the artist “the painting shows a transformation of the original birthplace in Bethlehem to Hopkins Village in Belize. Christ is born in a dorey at the seaside of Hopkins, father and mother Garifuna. Mosquitos are singing around instead of angels. Christ was born poor, but he is a Messiah.” Cayetano draws us to the drama with his use of intense light near the baby. His gestural style of painting elaborates on the spectacle being revealed. This picture is one of the best Nativity scenes I’ve seen.

UB Faculty & Staff Association calls for UB probe
The BELIZE TIMES has obtained a copy of a letter from the Interim-President of the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Association, Allison Crawford, sent to the Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Minister of Education Patrick Faber, calling for an investigation into the University. In the letter, Crawford, who sits on the UB Board of Trustees, also writes complaining of what she calls “irregularities under the same Chairmanship of the Board”. The Chair is held by Imani Fairweather-Morrison. “The faculty and staff feel that they have tolerated too much from the Board of Trustees, and are fed up with the way the Board is operating. The Association believe that the Chairperson is abusing her authority and is micromanaging the University which is in violation of the Board Code of Ethics and the UB Act that trustees must avoid interference with personnel and administrative matters. The Board members are ineffective and clearly do not know their functions in adhering to protocol and procedures…”, charged Crawford. The Interim-President challenges the Education Minister to intervene in the matter and also called on the Prime Minister to appoint an Independent Commission to investigate the UB Payroll Audit Report.

Home Economics – Tomato-based Industry – A Belizean Dream
Tomato is a vegetable-fruit that can be grown year-round in Belize. Belize can produce a large surplus of tomato, using a fraction of the land used to produce corn, however it would have to develop green-house tomato production and/or expand irrigated systems production to make this happen. In 2007, the US imported ONE MILLION metric tons of tomato, amounting to about US$1 billion. In that year, the US consumed around US$1.3 billion of fresh tomato, and about US$1.2 billion of processing tomato. In 2007, Mexico exported around ONE MILLION metric tons of tomato, earning around US$1.2 billion, supplying close to 90% of US imports. That same year, it imported around 48,000 metric tons, at a cost of around US$48 million. That same year, Trinidad & Tobago, which supplies much of the CARICOM market for tomato-based sauces, imported around 2000 tons of tomato paste. Barbados imported around US$1.3 million of tomato ketchup, mostly from Trinidad. Tomato is approximately 50% water, so that two pounds of fresh processing tomato can theoretically yield about one pound of industrial tomato solids. If Trinidad used fresh tomato to substitute all its imported tomato paste, it would need about 8 million pounds of tomato. Belize currently produces about 10% of the tomato-based sauces that it consumes, and imports the rest from CARICOM (Grace Kennedy), USA (Hunts, DelMonte, Heinz, Kraft), Guatemala (Regia, Crilla, Grace), Mexico (La Costeña, La Anita), and a few smaller quantities from other destinations. The total consumption is estimated at around BZ$1.5 million per annum. In short, tomato can be big business for Belize, both domestically and regionally.

Christmas cheer in OW East
Hundreds of children gathered at Nature Park in Orange Walk Town to share the joy of the season at a Christmas Party hosted by PUP Orange Walk East Area Representative Hon. Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez on Sunday December 16 2012. The children participated in friendly games before collecting treats, snacks and then formed a queue to collect Christmas gifts from Hon. Mendez and Santa Claus. The sharing of gifts was also assisted by Orange Town Mayor Kevin Bernard and Deputy Mayor Josue Carballo and Councillor Ian Cal. .

Christmas Message from The Rev. Roosvelt Papouloute
District President – Belize/Honduras District of the Methodist Church Isaiah 7: 14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Matthew 1:23 – Look the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us. I invite you to read Isaiah chapter 7 in order that you may have a broader sense of the context of the sign promised by God in this prophecy. At the time referred to, the kingdom of Judah, under the government of Ahaz, was reduced very low. People were being killed in Judea, and carried away captives, including women and children, together with much spoil. A fortified city of Judah and his inhabitants were carried away captive to Damascus. In this critical conjuncture, need we wonder that Ahaz was afraid that the enemies who were now united against him must prevail, destroy Jerusalem, and the kingdom of Judah, and annihilate the family of David. For Ahaz and the people of Judah It was a moment of sorrow and pain, of great fear and anxiety. To meet and remove this great fear, apparently well grounded, Isaiah is sent from the Lord to Ahaz in order to assure him that his enemies should not stand. To encourage Ahaz, he commands him to ask a sign or miracle, which should be a pledge in hand, that God should, in due time, fulfil the predictions of his servant. On Ahaz refusing to ask any sign, Isaiah 7:14 tell us; therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. The other place in the bible where this prophecy is also recorded is Matthew 1:23 “Look the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us”. In both contexts these words are rightly applied to the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus, for of no other can they be referred to. And only Jesus, our Saviour represents that message of hope and assurance of this prophecy.

Christmas Message by Anglican Bishop Phillip Wright
John, author of the Book of Revelation, says in chapter 1, verse 4 and following: “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” The creator of the universe is also the king of the universe. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. His dominion stresses as far as the East is from the West, and into the deepest universe. He has authority over the entire created order. So for Jesus, who spoke much about the kingdom; who demonstrated, through word and deed, an authority consistent with the values of the kingdom: then it is only reasonable to conclude that he himself is the king. The Season of Advent, each year, reminds us of the need to prepare to receive Christ into our hearts – anew and refresh. Yet, we also know that we are no longer expecting a baby in a manger, but a king to return who will rule in our hearts and in the universe.

Peace On Earth
The Christmas Season is rapidly approaching. We hear the very familiar carols and we see our people hustling and bustling on the streets as they go shopping for the things they think they will need. In the midst of all this we hear the story of the birth of Christ. How Jesus was born and because Mary and Joseph had no place to put him he was placed in a manger. The evangelist tells us that the angels were heard singing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of goodwill.” Peace is perhaps one of the most used words in our vocabulary. Because of the present situation in our country, with all the violence and killing, we all want peace. Belize is no longer the peaceful country we once knew. No longer can we talk over our differences and be willing to forgive each other. I sometimes find it hard to understand how long some people can hold on to enmity. Not only do they hold on to enmity for a long time, but they never forget and when the opportunity presents itself to break even they are anxious to do the same. Many of our problems stem from this attitude. Jesus, whose birthday we are celebrating, taught us to forgive. He told Peter to forgive seventy times seven times. In the prayer he taught us we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others.

CitCo Pawned BTL Park!!
A recent audit carried out on the Belize City Council doing the worst financial period ever has revealed that the UDP Council under former Mayor Zenaida Moya and six current-Councillors was so strapped for cash that it even pawned out BTL Park, located on Princess Margaret Drive. According to the audit, carried out by Castillo Sanchez & Burrell, the BTL Park was used to secure a $3,695,444 loan taken out at the Heritage Bank Limited. This revelation is shocking. Until now, no member of the public was ever aware that the extent of the financial shenanigans of the Council was that it had used BTL Park, a public recreational facility, as collateral for a loan. This was kept secret from the public, both by the past Mayor and Councillors. Even Central Government was aware, but they chose to protect the Council’s already battered image, rather than be transparent to the public. Apparently the Council’s financial worthiness was at junk status, and in addition to pawning out the city’s park, the Government had to gamble taxpayers’ money by providing a guarantee of $3,900,000, to obtain the funds from the bank. Of the Councillors who served under Moya, six were re-elected in the March 2012 municipal election: Dion Leslie, Roger Espejo, Phillip Willoughby, Dean Samuels, Eric Chang and Kevin Singh. These Councillors, who served during the council’s most disgraceful record, were likely aware of the pawning of BTL Park, yet they hid the truth from city residents.

Corozal Bay Executive – Hard At Work
One of the duties of a Constituency Executive Committee as stated in Article 6 Section 9 part (e) of the Constitution and Regulations of the People’s United Party is “to hold functions whether of a social or cultural nature with the dual purpose of serving the people and of raising funds to carry out the PUP’s work”. An example of such duties occurred on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at the PUP Office on College Road, Corozal Town by means of a Bar-B-Q fundraiser. Members of the Executive Committee supported by friends and supporters gathered at the PUP grounds to get the job done. The event was very successful. Funds generated will be used to help finance the highly anticipated Children’s Christmas Party in Corozal Bay that will take place on Sunday, December 23rd at the PUP Office. The sole purpose of this event is to “Serve the People” and in extension create a moment of happiness to the less fortunate. Corozaleños are invited to join hands with the Executive Committee in order to offer a moment of joy, happiness and laughter to the children of Corozal Town.

PUP Belmopan Holds Christmas Concert
Residents of Belmopan, particularly children, had the joyous opportunity to enjoy a Christmas Concert organized by the PUP Belmopan Executive Committee. The concert was held on Sunday December 9th 2013 at the Civic Center. Talented individuals sang and danced to a wonderful audience. During the event the children participated in a number of games and were visited by Santa Clause. They each received soft-drinks and a party bag. Also in attendance were parents, and many of them took the opportunity to encourage the PUP Executive-Committee to continue the work of enhancing the image of the Party in Belmopan. The Christmas Concert was a tremendous success. That was only possible due to the generous contribution of residents of the Division, members of the business community and services rendered by Party supporters. Deep gratitude is expressed to all those who helped to make the Christmas Concert a success.

PUP Marshals on the move!
The People’s United Party Marshal’s Service Corps has had a challenging year, with the loss of lives of several of its members this year. Despite the struggles, Marshal’s President Steve Latchman has worked tirelessly to keep the party unit together and active. One of those events, to conclude the year, was a Joint Meeting/Social Activity held on Sunday, December 9th, 2012. The event held at the Log Cabins, which is located at Mile 68 George Price Highway in San Ignacio, was an exchange gathering for members of the Eastern Caucus and Western Caucus, with the support of various PUP leaders. Over fifty members attended, taking part in a day of positive social activities.

Blogs

‘Celebration” in Ambergris Caye,Belize
In the previous edition I advised that I would not be publishing again until Friday 28 December. Well, I changed my mind. I am the publisher after all! I decided that I would let you know just a bit about what our first Christmas Day on Ambergris Caye was like. Which is nothing to do with the raison d’ētre for this blog i.e. our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize but … Got up early – I always do – with the need to wrap up the presents I had bought for Rose on Christmas Eve.The Christmas shopping experience on Ambergris Caye is nothing at all like it was in England (no surprise there really). When we lived in the UK I would normally head off to the West End hitting the shops in Regent Street and Oxford Street where the high end stores such as Selfridges, John Lewis, Debenhams, Liberty, Jaeger, Hermes,etc are located. The journey there – on an underground train – was normally unpleasant because the train was so full and the shopping experience was not much better. Shops full of pushing and shoving people who had obviously left their manners at home. The upside though was that as long as I had a credit or debit card, or both, with me getting presents for Rose was relatively easy. Not so when living in Ambergris Caye, Belize. No packed underground . No underground in fact. No high end shops . No really packed shops. Not the same range of choice. But for me a much more pleasant shopping experience and one that, given the limited choice, I had to give far more thought to. What could I buy for Rose that is easily available and – and this is the really important factor – are things that she would like and make use of ? I elected to buy things that she could hopefully make use of for her interest in handicraft.

A Perfect Christmas Potluck
We attended Bob and Helaine's (which I probably spelled wrong -- my apologies) annual Christmas potluck yesterday afternoon, and it was a great time! I had gone last year as well, but Barry had a bad cold and had to stay home. I was glad that he could attend this year and enjoy the food, friends, and festivities. I transported the casserole I'd made down the beach in my bike basket. It was a fun way to get to a party on a warm, breezy Christmas Day on the island. There was a great crowd and lots of new people (and several pooches!) to meet, plus some familiar faces. The second floor porch catches wonderful breezes and is a great place to hang out and chat. The chicken wing I'm chowing down on here was made by Cheri of Lazy Croc, so you know it had to be good! There were plenty of appetizers to munch on while the final dinner preparations were being made indoors. I was saving my appetite for the meal so only tried the one chicken wing.

Snorkeling More of the Belize Barrier Reef
We left Caye Caulker with Raggamuffin Tours around 1030am. While probably some of the most commercial part of the Belize Barrier Reef, Coral Gardens/Shark Ray Alley/Hol Chan, are very impressive in my opinion. They plan the order in which you arrive at each stop in perfect sequence…as each stop arrives, the sites get more and more exciting. Coral Gardens Last time I visited these sites, Coral Gardens was a little ho-hum, but not today…there were a ton of smaller fish at Coral Gardens today. Here are some of the most colorful. Stop two was Shark Ray Alley. Going here is a must do in Belize. They not only coaxed the Nurse Sharks and Caribbean Sting Rays to the boat with a little food, we also got in and swam around with them. The Captain, Jahlee, was catching a Sting Ray for everyone to touch and I was a bit too close for my comfort. I think I even let out a little squeal as the Sting Rays tail came within inches of my face. I didn’t know I could snorkel backwards so fast…taking people out as I went. I touched both the Nurse Shark (which has sandpaper like skin) and the Sting Ray (which has slimy skin) last year, so I let others do it this time. We were also joined by A LOT of Jack Fish…and, I mean A LOT. I think my Mom really enjoyed the Sharks and Rays…who wouldn’t? Below are some photos of the Nurse Sharks from the boat and then both the Nurse Sharks and the Sting Rays from the water. Our final stop was Hol Chan. Last time I was here there was a fairly strong current that we had to swim against on the way out…luckily that meant we could just float back to the boat. Today there was absolutely no current which made it much easier. In either case it’s not a problem because the guides will always help you along. Hol Chan is a reserve, so there is no snorkeling on your own. All snorkelers must stay with a guide at all times. I don’t have a problem with this at all since I tend to see many more fish with their keen eyes helping spot them. So, what did we see right off the bat? A Green Moray Eel. It was such a treat because he was right out in the open moving around. I find them to be extremely beautiful and a bit scary all at once. There were also some massive Groupers right near the boat. Hol Chan is an open channel in the reef, so unlike most of the areas near this reef it is around thirty feet deep. The sheer number of fish in this channel is amazing. Aside from all the brightly colored fish, we also saw several Tarpin which can get up to eight feet long and weigh over 250 pounds. Our guide says they put up quite a fight when you get one on the line. It’s legal to fish for them (outside the reserve), but they are strictly catch and release. We attempted to track down a Sea Turtle, but they hid from us all day (I got to see one last time…so cool). I could go on and one, but the best way to explain Hol Chan is to include some of my favorite photos.

International Sources

Gay Activist Vows To Fight Belize's Immigration Law
Jamaican gay-rights activist Maurice Tomlinson and the group Aids-Free World have added Belize's "offensive" immigration law as one of the fights they will champion into 2013. "Only two countries in the Western Hemisphere, Belize and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, arbitrarily ban the entry of homosexuals as a 'prohibited class'. AIDS-Free World is working to bring that to an end," the group has stated. Tomlinson, a member of the Jamaican lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) community and an HIV-activist, signalled his intention in a media release, stating that he travels to all parts of the Caribbean and, as a gay man, he is legally barred from entering Belize and Trinidad. Tomlinson, who has been invited to conduct training and sensitisation sessions in Belize City from January 14-16, said despite the invaluable contribution he can make to Belize's HIV response, as an attorney-at-law, he is unwilling to break the law to conduct these sessions. He was invited to Belize by the United Belize Advocacy Movement, Belize's only civil-society group working exclusively to promote the health and human rights of LGBT/men who have sex with men citizens. According to the ardent gay activist, he considers the ban on his entry into Belize to be a violation of his right to freedom of movement within the Caribbean Community. Hence, a refusal of the invitation and, with the support of AIDS-Free World, he has initiated a challenge to Belize's Immigration Act before the highest court in the region, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Commentary: Challenges and uncertainties of CARICOM states will continue in 2013
As 2012 comes to an end, many political analysts and observers have predicted that the social, economic and political challenges faced by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations in 2012 will likely continue in 2013. As the observation train makes it way through the region, a perfect starting point will be from our northern CARICOM nation of Jamaica. The recent return of the People's National Party (PNP) to power has no doubt generated great expectations especially amongst the poor and suffering. Unfortunately, the PNP's JEEP development strategy was sidelined by Hurricane Sandy, which resulted in the destruction of roads, homes and public service utilities. Although Sandy diverted many positive initiatives, the lively debate about Jamaica's membership in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) brought two distinct views on Jamaica's entry into this regional institution. The government of Jamaica’s position seems to suggest that a referendum was not necessary and there are other devised mechanisms that can be applied to proceed to membership. The opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has clearly indicated that a national referendum is necessary before considering membership in the court.

Featured Traveler: Joshua Berman
If you’re reading this, the world hasn’t ended, and travel writer Joshua Berman is relaxing tranquilo-style in Belize, celebrating the perpetuation of the world as we know it. You can read more about what tranquilo-style means on his blog, The Tranquilo Traveler. As you’ll see, he’s an expert on Belize and Nicaragua, and a trusty source for recommendations—just take a look at the Wanderlist he created on AFAR.com, “The Mundo Maya of Belize.” If we all have only a short time left on this earth, reading Josh’s in-depth research on the proclamations (or not) of the end of the world according to the Maya calendar might not be priority one. But since we’re all still here, read it. It’ll give you some good cocktail-party chatter for the coming week—and might make you want to book a flight to Belize to join Josh. And check out his pretty funny responses to our travel questionnaire, below. Right now I’m on the RTD Sky-Ride bus to Denver International Airport. Though I would much prefer to be in bed, it’s really early. And dark. And cold. Occupation: Spanish teacher, travel writer My next trip is to Belize!

Luna di miele nel Belize
Nell’anno dei Maya (2012), potete anche decidere che, alla fine, il mondo non finirà e prepararvi tranquillamente al vostro matrimonio per l’anno prossimo,. E se sceglieste proprio la terra dei famosi indios: il Belize. Era la terra dei Maya, prima dell’arrivo dei primi europei. Divenne poi il cosiddetto Honduras Britannico e oggi è una ex colonia inglese. Se le leggende sui Maya, propagate in modo un poco maldestro negli ultimi tempi, vi hanno incuriosito e volete andare in un luogo dove troverete molte testimonianze della loro esistenza e molti reperti, potreste essere incuriositi dal Belize. Ecco una destinazione nozze che, nonostante il modo bizzarro in cui i suoi primi abitanti sono assurti agli onori delle cronache, potrà lasciarvi ricordi indimenticabili come viaggio che una coppia di neo sposi intraprende per la prima volta. Sono innumerevoli gli spunti che si possono trarre dalle varie proposte di viaggio nei depliant delle agenzie specializzate, noi ve ne proponiamo alcuni un po’ particolari e decisamente orientati al tipo di vacanze solidali, ovvero eco-friendly.

Sisters in Belize!
During the years 1963-64, our mother Mary Anne taught high school girls in Belize as part of the Papal Volunteer Corps. She never got to go back before she got sick, though I think she very much wanted to. That's part of why, when I was planning a trip to Central America in 2011, I chose to visit Belize. I thought it would be a nice pilgrimage-ish detour before getting to the more famous Costa Rica. I turned out have it backwards. Not only did I fall in love with Belize---Cayo, the western district, in particular---but when I got back to Durham, I hadn't even unpacked before I started looking up flights to go back. (I wrote about that journey starting here.) I stayed in the States long enough to put up one play, act in another, and see that Obama got reelected. Now I've been back in San Ignacio, the capital of Cayo, for a month; and will be for two more! One of the greatest pleasures has been sharing Cayo with my sisters, Clare and Julie, who came to visit for five days. They traced the path I'd originally taken---first landing in Belize City and staying at Belcove, where Haulover Creek laps right under the windows; then taking the bus into Cayo, where I met them at the bus depot just uphill from the Macal River. We had many adventures, of which I'll let them tell tale, if they want :) Above is a picture of Clare and Julie by the Macal at DuPlooy's Jungle Lodge, not far from where I'm living. Meanwhile, here is the ongoing album of pictures I've taken since being in Belize this time around. Enjoy!

3 Easy Places to “Reside” Overseas
Some countries not only welcome full-time foreign retirees, but compete for their attention, offering special benefits and discounts for those who qualify packaged in what are typically referred to as pensionado programs. Countries on this list include Panama, Belize, Uruguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Malaysia (the only country in Asia where foreign retirees are formally sought-after). While, again, I wouldn’t choose where to retire based on residency options, if you’re geographically flexible, the countries working hard to attract foreign retirees would be good places to start your retire-overseas search. In Panama, Belize, and Uruguay, for example, three of the most foreign retiree-friendly places in the world, the process has been formalized and simplified, and the path is well-worn. That is, lots of other foreign retirees have already done what you’re thinking about doing, meaning you’ll have lots of support. The requirements for qualifying for residency status vary country to country, and some countries offer a number of different options (Panama offers more than a dozen, for example). In this case, when the country where you’re thinking you’d like to retire offers more than one choice for becoming a full-time resident, you want to understand all the options to be sure you’re choosing the one that provides the greatest benefit for you. If you’re new to this topic, it can get confusing, so let’s start with some definitions.