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Misc Belizean Sources

Whatcha Gonna Do About It?
An element of the contract we have with Daniel Camal, our building contractor, for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize is that he clears the land that we have in Fire Coral Street of the trees, scrub and general rubbish that has grown and been dumped on it. Some of the trees have grown to over twenty feet and the coverage can only be described as dense – a sharp contrast to how it looked when we started buying the lots back in 2004 ( see the first edition of this blog entitled ‘A bit about us’). When we first arrived on the island at the end of May last year we were dismayed to see that the road facing side of our lots was covered in cars and car parts. This has been remedied, however, following a conversation that Rose had ( so much better coming from a woman) with the motor mechanic who operates his business on the opposite side of the street. The lots though still look a mess.

Candidates from all over Belize are invited to participate in this prestigious online pageant. The candidates will be judged in four segments: Application Form (5%), Preliminary with the Judges (75%), FB Pageant Dialogue (15%) & Public Voting (5%). Percentages of each segment will be tallied and a new Queen will be chosen along with a 1st & 2nd Runner-up. Miss Photogenic, Most Beautiful Delegate & Miss Personality will also be selected. Miss Top Celebrity 2013-14 wins a prize package donated by generous supporters of Teens Belize. This includes an official crown and sash and a year representation across Belize. There are also opportunities that exist for her participation in International Pageants. The winner will be crowned by Outgoing Queen, Christine Syme, who took over official duties from the original winner, Cindy Jones, who is currently pursing studies in Taiwan. Christine has represented at various functions including the Costa Maya Pageant, September Celebrations, Photo shoots, among many other activities in San Pedro, Belize. There will be 8 Judges & 2 Tabulators who will work with the Pageant Committee during the entire selection process.

Snooty Fox Grill House Online
The Snooty Fox has their new, free webpage online. The latest Best of Cayo project. Thanks go out to SHJC's Emmanuel Mangar for making the site.

A Guide to the Maya Temples of Belize [Infographic]
This is a great guide to Belize's Mayan temples. The 4 main sites in Cayo are listed: Cahal Pech, Caracol, El Pilar, and Xunantunich. "It is estimated that there are thousands of May ruins in Belize. Few have been found and escavated by scientists but thousands more exist that are yet to be discovered. This makes Belize a prime destination for tourists and archaeologists all around the world. The beauty is that each temple have a story behind its creation, making each one of them unique and important as the other. Here are some basic facts about some of these magnificent structure and there whereabouts."


News from the crime beat
Police have released details of the armed robbery of the Belize Tourism Board office on Regent Street late on Wednesday afternoon. According to the official police bulletin, two men, one armed with a firearm and the other with a knife, entered the office around four thirty yesterday afternoon and proceeded to rob one thousand, seven hundred and thirty two dollars and seventy eight cents. Both robbers exited the building, but while outside, of them identified as twenty two year old Clarence Lamb struggled with the on-duty security guard. During the struggle, the security guard reportedly took out his issued point thirty eight revolver and fired a shot at Lamb hitting him in his right calf. The other man managed to escape. Police say that a search of the immediate area led to the recovery of two cash pans containing the money. Police investigations continue.
And while police have apprehended one of two suspects in the armed robbery of the BTB office on Regent Street, in Cayo, two men were also victims of armed robbers yesterday. According to police reports, two park rangers were held up and robbed around seven thirty last night in the Barton Creek area. The rangers were reportedly seated on the porch of a house they were caring for when they were accosted by two men, one of whom carried a shotgun and the other a machete. Police say that the armed robbers, who were dressed in dark clothing and spoke Spanish ordered the rangers to lie on the ground. The man with the machete reportedly proceeded into the house with a flashlight and helped himself to a pair of tennis shoes, cell phones and cash, including a hundred dollars belonging to the Government of Belize being fees collected from tourists entering sites in the area. The robbers made good their escape and the rangers say that because the area has no electricity, they were unable to see the faces of their assailants. Police investigations continue.
Fifty-one year old Patrick Gordon, also known as “Pato”,today racked up his twenty first conviction when he pled guilty to charges of kept prohibited ammunition and smoking marijuana. Gordon was sentenced to three year in prison for the ammunition charge and 6 months behind bars for smoking cannabis. Magistrate Dale Cayetano, who imposed the sentences, stipulated that they are to run consecutively, so Gordon will serve forty two months in jail. The bust occurred around eight o’clock this morning. Members of the police’s Gang Suppression Unit, executed a search warrant at a house in Hattieville village where they found a 40 millimetre ammunition in a carton box under a bed. Police say when they entered the house they caught Gordon smoking marijuana. Gordon’s common-law wife, 45 year old Karen Gillett and her 3 daughters, one of them a 17 year old, were with him in the house at the time. They were charged jointly with him for kept prohibited ammunition. But the prosecution did not withdraw the charge from them because the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl- Lyn Vidal, has to be consulted first. The other adults charged were 18 year old Sheridean Gillett and 25 year old Rondean Gillett. Karen Gillett and her daughters were remanded into custody until March 11.

A five year old girl allegedly raped in Belmopan
Allegations of rape against a minor have surfaced in Belmopan. Correspondent Fem Cruz has the details.

Official says there was a decline in rice production in 2012
The Toledo rice, beans and corn producers association has recorded what has been described as an alarmingly low rice production season for 2012. Correspondent Paul Mahung has the story. Usher told Love News that he is seeking a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture to discuss the dire situation and hopefully get the requested assistance to help the rice farmers. The Rice, Beans and Corn Producers Association Chairman says that if the requested financing comes through, the major problems facing the rice farmers will be eliminated almost immediately.

Live grenade recovered from beneath city church
A live deadly grenade, which belonged to the batch of 24 that went missing a few years ago from the BATSUB compound, was today discovered in Belize City. At around noon today, the police, alerted by someone in the neighbourhood, discovered the lethal explosive device in an concrete enclosure beneath the Church of Christ on West Street in Belize City. The police called BDF bomb expert, Lieutenant Colonel James Requena, told Love News that had this device detonated, it would have been tragic. A resident who lives across from the church where the grenade was discovered told us that her grandchildren are always underneath the church building playing. Lieutenant Colonel Requena advises people that whenever they stumble upon any suspicious-looking device, to call on the BDF to come and safely remove it.

Trouble at UB, teachers want official inquiry into alleged irregularities
Tonight there is trouble brewing at the University of Belize. According to documents delivered to the RSV News Centre late this evening, the Staff Association of the University of Belize has written to the Prime Minister, asking that he appoints a commission of inquiry to probe allegations of corruption at the nation’s national university. The letter, dated December nineteenth, asks Prime Minister Barrow to initiate an independent investigation of the UB payroll audit based an auditor’s report carried out by the firm of Castillo, Sanchez and Burrell. UBSFA is asking for the prime minister to assign a neutral entity to investigate the findings of the audit in which irregularities were reported in an official payroll audit report with concentration in the Human Resources and Budget and Finance departments for the year 2010 to 2011. In the letter to the Prime Minister, the Staff Association lists a number of irregularities, including, Gross breeches in Managerial and Financial Policies, Change of Status of Director of Human Resources by only individual members of the Board, without the consultation of the board of trustees, violation of the code of ethics as set out by the UB Board of Trustees Code of Ethics and the University of Belize Act by Board members, Salary increase for one unit of the university and overpayment for overtime in the same unit, the Human Resources Department and Signature irregularities. The UBSFA believes that it is a conflict of interest for the UB Board of Trustees to investigate itself and therefore calls to the Prime Minister to aid in the matter as he did when he commissioned independent investigations in DFC and KHMH. The Interim President of the UBFSA, Allison Crawford told Love News that they are still awaiting a response from Prime Minister Barrow.

Student Government not happy about discontinuation of fee subsity at University of Belize
Six years ago when the Government of Belize proposed the termination of their allocation of funds to UB, the student government and students protested the decision, forcing GOB to absorb the expected increase in fees. But that was then and now in 2013 the allocation of funds may soon be terminated as outlined by the Minister of Education, Patrick Faber. The UB student Government and Nation Builders today held a press conference to outline their position on the decision. Former President of UB and member of Nation Builders, Moses Sulph told the media that back in 2006 the country faced economic difficulties which rendered it difficult for students to afford to pay an increase. Sulph contends that the economic predicaments have worsened and the students just cannot afford an increase. UB’s Student Government’s National President Hope Amadi voiced that the choice to heighten prices in fees is the wrong one. Meanwhile the president of St. John’s College Jr. College, Micah Goodin expressed that SJCJC has reason to worry because most of its graduates will seek further education at UB, today he challenge the competence of the Minister of Education and the rest of the Government. According to Amadi the increase will go over three hundred dollars should it become effective. At this time the student Government is trying to get the support of UB students, especially those for the January intake, which Amadi says is about 500.

Spokesman for Succotz village council responds to concerns over use of football field
On Wednesday’s newscast, Love News reported on the concerns raised by residents from San Jose Succotz Village in the Cayo district about damages being done to the community’s football field. Reports are that a musical concert has been going on for the last few days and that vehicles being driven onto the field have gutted the playing area. Today, spokesperson for the Succotz Village council, Wilson Patt, told Love News that the concerns are basically much ado about nothing.

Robbery reported at Coast Guard headquarters
The headquarters of the Belize National Coast Guard should be one of the safest places in the country. But tonight the police department is investigating a burglary which happened there late last month. According to reports, the theft happened sometime between December twenty eight and December thirtieth. Police say someone entered the engineering section of the building located on the upper floor and stole a laptop computer valued at four thousand dollars. The Belize National Coast Guard headquarters is located at mile four and a half on the George Price Highway.

Toledo businessman robbed at gunpoint
There are reports of another armed robbery in rural Toledo district. A businessman reported to police that around seven forty five last night, he was heading to his home on the Boom Creek road when he was held up at the wooden bridge in the village. The businessman told police that three men of dark complexion all carrying firearms, came out of the bushes and held him up. They reportedly stole the man’s wallet, cell phone and other personal documents. Police say one of the robbers fired a single shot, hitting the radiator of his vehicle, before the robbers made good their escape. Police investigation continues.

Toledo police find and destroys marijuana plantation
An early morning police anti-drug operation led to the discovery of a quantity of suspected marijuana in the Toledo district. Correspondent Paul Mahung reports.

Mother of man who killed his baby’s mother talks with Love News
The families of the young couple killed in a murder-suicide on Sunday night in Punta Gorda are preparing for their burial. The deaths of twenty one year old Keena Williams and twenty four year old James Staine Senior is an unspeakable tragedy that has rocked the quiet community of Cattle Landing on the outskirts of Punta Gorda town. Staine is reported to have shot his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself. Today Staine’s grieving Michelle Swasey told Love News, the search for answers continues, even as she prepares to law him to rest. Staine will be buried on Saturday, following funeral services at the Queen Street Baptist Church in Belize City.


A Tale of Five Cities: Merida's Bici-Ruta
Merida, in the Yucatan state of Mexico, has an awful lot to recommend it: the beautiful architecture, the great restaurants, the cultural activities, and the many parks being among its attractions. And in the winter, the weather is absolutely beautiful. However, one of the Merida traditions we were most excited about was the Bici-Ruta or bicycle route. This occurs every Sunday morning, when a long stretch of streets, including the Paseo de Montejo, are closed off to motor vehicle traffic, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to take over and cruise up and down more easily. We were absolutely delighted that our visit would allow us to participate in this fun event since we had a full Sunday in the city. We rented two cruiser bikes right on the Paseo (between Calle 45 and 47) and joined the other cyclists on the street. The hourly cost was just $40 MX (approximately $3.20 US) for the two bikes -- a deal. Bike Rental place on Paseo de Montejo I tried out a lot of bikes before finding one I felt comfortable on. Weeeeeh! This pink one was the one. There were some really interesting human-powered vehicles among the more conventional bicycles. Fun family bike, but difficult for the person doing all the work!

Investing In Belize Is A Sure Bet
Whether you’re looking to open an international business venture, relocate to a tropical country, or retire in paradise, Belize makes for a great investment. Major advantages include the official language being English, a stable government, easy access to North America, a booming tourism industry and a good economy. Here are some investment opportunities Belize has to offer: Belize is an ideal place to run away from it all. When most people think about taking a vacation they think about traveling to paradise, and that’s just what Belize is. With our lush rainforest, legendary Mayan temples, pristine beaches, rich marine life, many islands, diverse cultures, and lots of fresh air, Belize has it all. There’s just never enough time in just one visit to do it all. Retiring in Belize is a good way to make the best of your golden years. After years of working for your family, it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy Belize’s slow paced lifestyle. The low cost of living and tax-free pensions leave you with more money to do the things you really want to do – exploring and having fun. You can wake up in the morning surrounded by trees and mountains and in the next few hours you can be relaxing on the beach, enjoying your favourite drink.

International Sources

Benefits for Belize: Vacation time spent helping less-fortunate
A vacation can mean rest and relaxation for some, but for Andi and Bill Grantham, the opportunity to help others is vacation enough. The Granthams recently returned to Green Valley after spending nearly 10 days in November in Belize, a country on the northeastern coast of Central America. There they volunteered with the Belize Mission Project — a group dedicated to providing free dental and medical care to the poor of the country. The out-of-pocket cost to the couple, with airfare, amounted to about $2,000 each. The cost included accommodations provided by a dentist from Kansas who settled many years ago in Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. “We were prepared to spend this amount to be part of this project,” Andi said. “We knew that we were going to be helping less-fortunate people with medical and dental needs that do not have access to health care.” Although the mission is not affiliated with any particular denomination or church, the project is Christian-based, according to its website, and participants may join in the daily morning devotion. The group, which travels to Belize at least one week a year, typically consists of approximately 40 dentists, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, dental hygienists and assistants, nurses, dental technicians, general helpers and everyone in between. Many bring their own medical supplies, often amounting to thousands of dollars in value. Andi and Bill are no strangers to the mission. This is Andi’s third visit to the country and Bill’s second.

PM: Belize Set to Finalize Superbond Deal
Belize will officially sign an agreement on the restructuring of its large commercial debt in the early part of this month, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said in his first national address for 2013. The agreement will “resolve once and for all the crippling commercial debt burden that has threatened to turn Belize into an economic basket case,” he said. “The settlement we have reached with Superbond holders is on terms very favourable to us,” he said. “The relief we have been able to secure amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.” That savings has been estimated at around $150 million on a bond that totaled almost $550 million. The debt had been a major issue in Belize’s March 2012 election campaign after Barrow suggested the country would not make payments on the debt. Belize defaulted on a coupon payment on the bond last August, when Barrow said the country was unable to make the payment. Despite the debt issues, Belize’s economy improved in 2012, growing by 4.2 percent in 2012, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. That was the highest growth rate in the Caribbean.

Giving Back to Belize
As a parent, I feel that one of my many responsibilities is to teach my children about compassion and giving back to others. It is no secret that American children have it really good. We live in a land of fancy stores, well manicured homes, and a great education system compared to much of the world. Most American kids don’t really understand the reality of true poverty. So, when it comes to teaching my kids this concept, it can be hard. I, like so many parents, can easily get caught up in our daily life of material things and stuff. We are a society caught up in iPhones, video games, and celebrities. It is truly a difficult task for our young people to see beyond that. While vacationing abroad, I always make a point to stop at a local school, village, or library. In past years, I would stock up some needed donation items to distribute to local charities. Our family would show up to distribute our donations and my kids would love the attention and praises of being told how kind they were. Honestly, this attention would overshadow the meaning of why we were there. I never had much success with impacting my kids for more than the time it took them to get their next virgin pina coloda. I really wanted to make an impact in their young minds, but have had little success in the past. On our recent summer trip to San Pedro, Belize, a different approach was attempted (this tactic was somewhat by mistake, dictated by luggage restrictions). We showed up empty handed, except with a basketball from our local University, and thought we’d send a monetary donation after returning home. The focus of this visit turned away from my kids and onto the true meaning of the less privileged kids of Belize. The visit was all about observing and really seeing the needs of the children who attend this tiny school.

McAfee has been taking Assange’s pills
Insecurity expert John McAfee’s stranger than life tales are starting to get a little on the weird side. Stopping just short of the Belize government harvesting humans for alien experiments, McAfee describes using 75 netbooks and 29 "operatives" to track government officials, Cabinet assistants, and local power brokers. He claims that he has uncovered embarrassing personal details but an international terrorist conspiracy run out of Belize. According to McAfee he gifted cheap laptops loaded with keylogging software and hired "'pillow talk' masters" to seduce and wiretap targets. All this for revenge on the Belizean government for what he has claimed is a long-running campaign of intimidation. He said that he had proof that the Prime Minister (had personally ordered the murder of an alleged Belizean gang leader. He also said that Belize was "clearly the central player in a larger network whose goal is to infiltrate the US with individuals having links to terrorist organizations." McAfee claimed that he ended up living with eight of his honeypots and was nearly killed by one, who was a double agent. He is famous for playing practical jokes on journalists so it might be another one of those sorts of things. However if he does come up with proof it will be just another spin on the wacky and weird life of McAfee.

John McAfee turns super spy
Claims he hired honeytraps and keylogged Belizean officials... Fugitive and antivirus entrepreneur John McAfee claims to have gone from software guru to super-spy, unearthing plots by the Belize government which he says are part of a coordinated global terror network. The antivirus creator has hinted that he fancied himself as a James Bond style spy, admitting to using a range of technology to track government officials in Belize. On his blog, McAfee claimed that he was "pissed" after a raid on his property by Belize Police in April, which saw his dog being shot and many items damaged. He claims he was refused an apology. McAfee says he decided to target and spy on government officials in a bid to uncover embarrassing personal details - as well as what he claimed was an international terrorist conspiracy run out of Belize. He started by deploying 75 netbooks and 29 operatives to track government officials, Cabinet assistants, and local power brokers. To get into his targets' lives the software developer gifted the laptops loaded with keylogging software to his victims and hired "'pillow talk masters" - 23 women and six men - to seduce and wiretap targets. McAfee claims that eight of the women were so accomplished that they ended up living with him. And as with any spy, he adds one was so accomplished, that she became a double agent and nearly got him killed. He claims to have found damning information, one snippet being that the Prime Minister had personally ordered the murder of an alleged Belizean gang leader. He also claims that Belize was "clearly the central player in a larger network whose goal [was] to infiltrate the US with individuals having links to terrorist organisations."

John McAfee unravels online, details terrorist plot uncovered by his own spy operation
By gifting cheap laptops loaded with keylogging software and hiring "'pillow talk' masters" to seduce and wiretap targets, McAfee says he carefully crafted his revenge on the Belizean government for what he has claimed is a long-running campaign of intimidation. Naturally, he quickly discovered first that the Prime Minister (from whom McAfee says he repeatedly demanded an apology) had personally ordered the murder of an alleged Belizean gang leader, then that Belize was "clearly the central player in a larger network whose goal is to infiltrate the US with individuals having links to terrorist organizations." Along the way, he ended up living with eight of his honeypots and was nearly killed by one, a double agent. McAfee's story reads even more like a movie script than what's happened so far, despite the fairly sketchy sources he's included on his blog. While it's tempting to write the whole thing off as a conspiracy, it's also quite possibly one of the many "practical jokes" he claims he's played on readers and journalists, or an attempt to outwit the Belize police force that is still attempting to question him in a murder case. If, as McAfee says, "Much of my life is a mystery to me," it's even more impenetrable from the outside.