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#455644 - 01/19/13 03:07 PM Today's Belize News: January 19, 2013
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Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
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The San Pedro Sun

United FC are champions of the local FFB competition

An “A” for turtle nesting revealed in 2012 Turtle Report
Turtle Nesting Season 2012-3 Biologists at Hol Chan Marine Reserve have released the official turtle nesting reports for 2012, and the news is good – actually, fantastic! The Reports indicate that almost double the number of turtle nests were found in 2012 as compared to 2011, and even more exciting is the discovery of three Hawksbill turtle nests – something that has not been recorded since the early 1990’s! Nesting observations took place from mid-May to late November 2012 on Northern Ambergris Caye, with a concentration on Robles and Rocky Point beaches – areas that have seen the most activity throughout the years. Turtle nests monitoring in those areas started in 2009 and has since seen great growth in the number of nests found. Three native turtle species’ nests were studied: the Loggerhead turtle (Chleonia Caretta), the Green turtle (Chleonia Mydas) and the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate).

Ambergris Today

McAfee's Escape From Belize Turns Movie
Belize has been on the international spotlight because of the infamous John McAfee and it seems that once more Belize will be in the lime light as McAfee’s escape from the country will be turned to a movie. The story of eccentric 67-year-old antivirus firm founder John McAfee's escape from Belize, to Guatemala, to Miami, is set to hit the big screen. Warner Bros. has optioned the rights to "John McAfee's Last Stand," a Wired story written by contributor Joshua Davis, reported Hollywood Reporter.

Works Continue in Keeping Belize City Crime Down
On Wednesday, January 16, 2013, Minister of National Security Hon. John Saldivar, accompanied by his CEO, Colonel (Ret.) George Lovell, met with the new Police Commissioner, Allen Whylie and commanders of all formations, substations and branches from around the country to offer ministerial guidance and direction going forward. There was a comprehensive revision of goals and strategies, as well as a full analysis of crime statistics, particularly over the past year, and of the performance of the various formations, substations and branches in effectively responding to it. Specific benchmarks and timetables were agreed for measureable reduction in crime and for successful investigation and prosecution in respective areas. Commanders of the various formations, substations and branches will be held responsible for ensuring that the targets are met within the specific timetables. There will be monthly meetings of zone and branch commanders; and quarterly meetings of senior leaders, similar to that which was held on Wednesday, in order to review the latest crime statistics and offer commanders the opportunity to report on progress, or lack thereof, in their respective areas. Where there is a clear failure to achieve the required results within the stipulated timetable, the Ministry and Department reserves the right to replace those commanders with other individuals deemed competent to get the job done.

Former Prime Minister’s House Riddled with Bullets
The house of Belize’s Former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Said Musa, was riddled with bullets on Tuesday, January 15, 2013. Musa and his wife were just about to go to bed when they heard about six shots in rapid succession; upon making checks outside their windows they didn’t notice anything suspicious and went to bed. It wasn’t until Wednesday morning when Mr. Musa noticed that his house had been hit by bullets. According to news reports in the city, Musa got up at about 6:00 a.m. and upon exiting his house he noticed that his front door had been hit with what he believed to be bullets. He made his way out of the house and noticed that his wife’s vehicle had been hit and drove off to the Princess Hotel where police are stationed nearby and made a report.

Misc Belizean Sources

Former Belize prime minister claims he is on a hit list
Former prime minister Said Musa says he believes he is on a hit list after gunmen fired a number of shots at his home earlier this week. Police are still searching for those responsible for the incident on Tuesday night, but Musa, who served as prime minister from 1998-2008, said that he had been receiving threats before the gunmen fired several shots at his home in the city. “I must tell you my gut feeling is that those threats in December are just coincidental to what happened,” he said, adding “I don’t believe the two things are linked at all,” he said, adding that while the threats had stopped briefly, they started again on the day his house was fired upon. “I really don’t think it was extortion. I think it was a hit,” he said on a television programme.

Flavors of Belize Cookbook
For those who have been dying to get their hand on this cookbook, Flavors of Belize is now available on Amazon!! This book contains some of the most delicious Belizean delicacies so be sure to get your copy!

Channel 7

Faber Says Teachers Should Wait & Consult, Not Strike
Last night we told you that the Teacher Union is planning a mass demonstration in Belmopan on January 29th - and following that, there very well could be a teacher's strike. That's because at last week's collective bargaining negotiation, Government said flatly that it cannot afford to pay all teachers and public officers a 30% increment over three years. That response has angered the Teachers Union - and is likely to catch on with the other unions involved in the negotiation with government. Today Education Minister Patrick Faber told us that government simply cannot afford to budge on this negotiating point which would cost the public purse tens of millions of dollars:.. Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education "I am not understanding that they are moving to a strike at this time. My understanding is that there quiet possibly could be a demonstration to show their disagreement with what it is the government is saying at this time. But a strike is severe and I believe that the teachers will act responsibly as well and that they would not necessarily get to that stage. What they have ask for is time to do their consultation, now how that consultation and getting feedback from the membership especially through the BNTU meetings turn into a strike and possible demonstration is what behooves us. I think people need to be aware that last week we held the most meeting of the collective bargaining negotiation and it was there that the ministerial sub-committee that has been task put to the staff side which is the union side the position that the government is taking which is that we are not able to afford at this time the 30% salary adjustment and I believe that is all this that is happening now in terms of the meetings with the BNTU are as a result of them responding to that position."

PM Says Government Trying Not to Increase Taxes, Cannot Increase Pay
Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister takes a very dim view of the possibility of a strike. This evening he told us that right now his efforts are focused on making sure that there's no increase in taxes for all of the population, so he can hardly consider giving teachers and public officers a raise: Prime Minister Dean Barrow "it's a little disappointing that notwithstanding that they have gone this route, but what is most important is for people to recognize that contrary to what's happening in Jamaica, contrary to what's happening in St. Lucia, contrary to what's happening all over the Caribbean - this government is determine to hold the line so that there will be no increases - no tax increases for our population to bear and so that there will be no retrenchment of teachers or public officers." Next week the Prime Minister is expected to address the nation on the state of public finances and why Government can't afford to give teachers and public officers a raise.

Rosewood Under Lock!
Tonight two 20 foot containers of Rosewood remain impounded at the Forestry Department in Belmopan pending investigation. As we reported, those containers were discovered yesterday evening at the compound of Belize Engineering - which is right next to Customs headquarters in Belize City. The Forestry Department, the CIB, Customs and BAHA responded to the information that the Rosewood was being held there - likely awaiting shipment. This is taken by the authorities to be a violation on the moratorium on Rosewood extraction and exportation because the hundreds of flitches had no official stamp from the Forestry Department. Additionally, customs had only released the containers at the end of 2012 - well after the moratorium went into effect. And so, yesterday evening, Forestry quickly took both containers to Belmopan for safe storage. The other container that was discovered yesterday is a forty foot one with twenty-eight tons of rosewood flitches. That was found at the Belize-Guatemala Western Border.

PM Says Hon. Alamilla Accepts Rosewood Should Not Have Been Burnt
And it is also precious in Belize - though not widely available. Make no mistake, Rosewood is a prized local hardwood - and though the domestic market can't pay Chinese type money for it - it is much sought after. And that's probably why there's been so much public uproar over the burning of a thousand flitches that happened a week ago. Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla has been alternately praised and pilloried bold action. And somewhere between those two extremes is where we found the Prime Minister. Monica Bodden asked him today what he thinks of the incineration:.. Prime Minister Dean Barrow "She has said to me and to Cabinet that if she had to do it all over again she would do it differently. I understand what motivated her. I understand her feeling that if she had tried to sell the rosewood the only people who have the export connections are the same people that she suspects are engaging in the illegal trade. If she had tried to keep the lumber stored somewhere, no doubt mice would have gotten at it, so I sympathized but quite honestly I would have wished that that had not been done."

Behind the Gaza Door
This morning - after 10 days - the barriers locking off three blocks of Dean Street were removed. But we can't say life has returned to normal - after this community was rocked by the mass murder of four well-known area residents. Yesterday, for the first time residents were allowed to re-open the upper floor of the building that was the scene of those murders. They called 7news to see what they found. Monica Bodden was there and she has this report on some interesting observations:.. Monica Bodden reporting It was through this backdoor that the killers allegedly made their way inside the George Street men's apartment complex. If you look closely, the lock on the bolt for the grill door is broken many say it has been for a while now before the incident. This makes it impossible to securely lock the door. In fact, anyone familiar with the door - knows that it can be easily manipulated with just a pinky finger to slide open. Neighbors say this is a fact that police who often search the premises - should be familiar with. The police told the PM the door was not forced open.

Murder Was Up, So Were Arrests
All told, a very small area of Dean Street was the scene of five murders in 2013. First, on New Year's night, Orlando Williams was killed at the corner of Dean street and West Canal - and then 10 days ago, Leonard Meyers, Albert Fuentes, Keino Quallo (Quayle-lo) and Anthony Perez were murdered en masse. Those numbers have gotten 2013 off to a worrying start in terms of crime statistics. But, before we start tabulating 2013, we haven't even finished with 2012. Police released the official crime statistics this morning. They show those 145 murders we've been reporting on, a 14.5% increase from the 124 murders in 2011. We note that there have been only 61 arrests for murders this year - which suggests that as much as 80 of those murders are unsolved. Still, the 61 arrests is a sharp 23% increase from last year's figure. May was the deadliest month, with 16 murders, while June and December recorded 15 murders each. Reports of major crimes such as rape, robbery, burglary and carnal knowledge were up, while theft was down.

Evening Robbery In The City
There was some commotion in the Coney Drive area this evening as shots rang out just after 5:00 pm. According to reports, two men robbed Hamze's store at the corner of Blue Marlin and Coney Drive at around 5:00. But as they tried to escape - reports say two men friendly to the store pursued them. That's when police - who were fuelling up at a nearby gas station - heard the shots and responded. They cornered the men in the open lot between CP Gas Station and the Teacher's Union Headquarters. One of them managed to get away, but the other was apprehended by the GSU. Police covered his face and took him into custody. We'll have more details on Monday.

PM: GOB Can't Afford Electricity Rate Increase
Earlier this week, we told you about electricity rates which went up at the beginning of this month. The PUC held a press conference to say it was going up by a cent more for everything except the street lights. That's because the rate for street lights reverted to 55 cents per kilowatt hour, where it was before the increase came into effect. The bottom line is that everyone will pay more, except for the government on those street lights! Today the Prime Minister explained that they just can't afford it:.. Prime Minister Dean Barrow "Let's be clear on what's involved here - government was always paying 55 cents per kilowatt hour for the street lighting which was hugely more than the rate for the rest of consumers was at the time when those rates was lowered and I think the ordinary consumer by and large in terms of the rate and tariff went down to 41-42 cents or whatever it was.

Vanzie Remanded For Gun
31 year-old Kenroy Vanzie is at prison tonight after he was taken to Magistrate's Court for allegedly being in possession of gun. According to police, they searched his home on Arlington Drive on January 2, and when they swept the yard, the found a 9mm pistol with 6 live rounds of ammunition in a swampy area. As a result, police arrested and charged him with keeping an unlicensed firearm, and keeping unlicensed ammunition, and he was arraigned today before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, but due to the nature of the offences, Senior Magistrate Frazer couldn't grant him bail. He was remanded to prison until March 18 2013, his next court date.

IOC: Belize Olympic Commission Must Hold Regular Elections
This week, the Belize Olympic Association hosted a trio of visitors from the International Olympic Committee Solidarity Committee. They were here to discuss funding for the four year plan leading up to the next Olympics. Every year, IOC representatives visit two countries in each region; this year it was Belize and Nicaragua. And it could not have come at a better time. That's because for the first time in memory Belize's Olympic Commission is having an election. IT has been a very long time since that happened - which is a direct contravention of IOC bye-laws. But everyone - the media included - has let it slide. But now, after decades at the helm, Ned Pitts is stepping down, and the IOC Delegates told the media we should not let anything slide again!: Richard Peterkin, IOC member "What we are seeing is that we are really here to help. We have a budget for the progenial, this budget has been expanded tremendously. We want to make sure that we start early to start utilizing the funds that is available for training, for coaching, for scholarships and everything so that come 2016 they will really be ready - the athletes will be able to perform better etc. and they would be doing a better job as IOC in spreading Olympic values throughout the country."

Over-Politicizing Of An Unfortunate Incident?
For the past two days we've had coverage of the very disturbing incident where former Prime Minister Said Musa's home was shot up. It is one of the most troubling incidents we've reported on - but what also troubled Jules Vasquez was the blatant politicization of a truly unfortunate event. In what we'll term as a sort of commentary, he looks more closely and the narrative of this shooting and the raging political undercurrents behind it:.. Rt. Hon. Said Musa "It was a close call if you like." Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "We view any personal attack or act of violence against the Rt. Hon. Sad Musa and his family as an attack against the People's United Party family." Jules Vasquez reporting That is perhaps as it should be - but it seems yesterday's event was also to try and change the narrative somewhat:

PM Says Security A Major Concern
But, Prime Minister Dean Barrow is looking completely past the politics on this one. He told us today that more has to be done in terms of security:.. Prime Minister Dean Barrow "From a crime perspective naturally it is unprecedented that the house of an ex-Prime Minister should come under gunfire attack and I first of all want to express my solidarity with the former Prime Minister and make clear that for us it really underlines how much more we have to do. How much we have to add to all that we have been doing." Mr. Musa's home remains under police guard.

George Street Residents Hold Vigil For Slain Men
As we reported earlier on in the newscast, the barriers blocking off three blocks of Dean Street were removed today. That gives residents some sense of relief - and one hour ago they utilized that to hold a peaceful candle-light procession around their neighborhood. They call it a healing process to mend the this emotional toll that violence has taken on this south side community. Women, men and children chanted for peace through the streets of their neighborhood. Residents, of course, include members of the George Street Gang and parents of the deceased. They told Monica Bodden why they are marching:.. Dorla Vaughn, Area resident "We are doing a vigil for the 4 guys because since the murder we believe the community has been in distress." Betty Welch, Mother of Leonard Meyers "People are not satisfy with the results of whatsoever happened because the guys that died along with my son - they were not bad guys, everybody loved them but as I told you that I am fine - I am only waiting to hear what is going to happen after this."

Another of Armed Robbers Remanded
On Monday, 7News told you about the 6 men who attempted to rob the Mahogany Street Chinese Grocer. Police caught them red handed in the property and shot four of them. 4 of the men were injured and police arrested all 6 and recovered all the stolen items. Police charged 20 year old Gregory Knox, 19 year old Jean Pasqual, 18 year old Alexis Ku, 36 year old Steven Swasey, and two 17 year-old minors jointly with robbery, keeping a firearm without a license and kept ammunition without a license. Ku and Swasey were arraigned and remanded on Monday. Well, Knox was arraigned before the Senior Magistrate today and remanded to Prison until March 1. He told the court that at the time in question, he went to take a gift for his daughter in the area of Mopan Street and when he was passing by the shop, he saw one of the men whom he recognized. He said that he gave that man a $5.00 bill and that's how police linked him to the robbery. He also said that he was shot for no reason.

Student Says Police Ruff Him Up
An hour before news time, 15 year-old Andre Arthurs and his mother, Sharee Trapp, came to our studio to complain about a police officer who allegedly gave him a wound under his left eye. It is a strange incident where the Nazarene High School Student was sitting in a bus which was on Treasury Lane waiting for the traffic to move. Someone from the bus hurled an item at one of the vendors. The vendor believed it was Arthurs, and they started to fight. One of the police officers from the Magistrate's Court responded, and according to Arthurs the officer used excessive force: Andre Arthurs - claims police brutality "The bus stop in town and the peanuts man who sells there - some girls in front of me boom him but he thinks it was me and he came and open the back door and pull me by my foot and then the conductor came and lock the door. I open the door and I went outside and he and I started to fight. He hit me and then the policeman came to separate us and then pull me by the shirt and choke me and slams me into the fence and the he slaps me." Daniel Ortiz "Who gave you that thing on your eye?" Andre Arthurs "The policeman." Daniel Ortiz "You are certain sir?" Andre Arthurs "Yes sir."

Football National Team's Big First Game
Tonight, the Belize National "A" Team is in Costa Rica awaiting the first game of the first round of the Copa Centroamericana against the host county. They left for Costa Rica on Wednesday to attend the opening ceremonies yesterday, and they play their first game against Costa Rica tonight at 8 p.m. And Head Coach Leroy Sherrier is looking to put off another impressive performance the way he did in the tournament as coach 12 years ago. In that match, the Belize National Team tied against Guatemala, with a score of 3 goals a piece. And the fact that Coach Sherrier is a Costa Rican who has some inside knowledge of the Costa Rican National Team has not escaped the press in that country. Here in Belize, excitement in high. We spoke to 2 of the FFB members this evening, and they told us that the team's mentality is to try to win each game with an equally strong offence and defence. Here's how they explained it: Luis Pena, PR Officer - FFB "The mod going into the first game is one of confidence and excitement. The Belize National Selection left on Wednesday enroute to Costa Rica where they are right now and tonight is the big match which is the opener since Costa Rica is the host country. The guys are in Costa Rica right now, they are excited and they are waiting for 8 o' clock when the game starts."

The Most Impressive Belizean Comic Book Artists
In October of last year, the Belize Tourism Board, along with the Belize Diaspora Network, and a US Comic Book company, Concrete Park, organized a comic book workshop for Belizean artists. They also set up a comic book competition in which high school artists had 2 months to prepare their comic illustrations which had to incorporate some element of Belizean culture. They recently chose the 3 winning pieces, and in a ceremony today at the House of Culture, those winners were awarded. 7News attended, and spoke to several of the winners. Andrea Polanco, Media & PR Manager, BTB "What the students had to is that they had to do comic that is representative of some aspect of Belize or Belizean culture and so in the comic creations that you will see on the front some of them have depictions of the archaeological sites across Belize and you will see of course the flag. Some of the artwork that they have done is very representative of our culture."

Cayo Primary School Going Solar
El Progreso Government School in the Cayo District is going solar! That's after the Taiwanese embassy handed over two sets of solar panels and the batteries to the school in the Cayo District. And they need it, because they don't have any electricity! The donation came through the effort of volunteers from the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan visited who visited Belize and saw the conditions at the school.

The Belizean Artist Known As Dre
And we end what has been a long news night with something light. It's about an artist called Dre from Dangriga. He does dancehall reggae and punta, but says despite the love he has on the street, they won't play him on the radio. He lamented, in song:.. Dre, artist "It was a hit because out in the road a lot of people step out looking jiggy and clean. The last money that they have they will buy food and thing, they dressed up nice but their belly is groaning." "Me and my agent Big Soup we go through all kind of things - we always forward our tunes but the DJs - I don't know why they act like that - they allow the Jamaican and we are Belizeans, we are from here - we have to eat. Since we are in Belize we are supposed to be on the map right now."

Channel 5

Standoff between government and teachers
Teachers countrywide have voted resoundingly to hold a national demonstration in Belmopan on January twenty-ninth. And if that doesn’t get government’s attention, then they are prepared to go on strike. The biggest issue on the table is a salary adjustment of thirty percent requested by teachers due to the high cost of living. Government says [...]

Government shocked by impending demonstration
Negotiations for a collective bargain agreement have been ongoing since 2008, but teachers are unhappy that they have not been able to move forward on the thirty percent salary adjustment .With that threat looming ahead for the government, Minister Patrick Faber, who is the head of the ministerial negotiation team says that government has been [...]

Faber says no impasse; fight is between the N.T.U.C.B. and G.O.B.
As the clock ticks toward February twenty-ninth, Faber says the ministerial committee is not planning on meeting again until the next scheduled meeting because he believes there is no impasse. Still yet, the Prime Minister is expected to make a presentation to the nation next week providing details of the economic picture.   Patrick Faber, [...]

P.M. makes no apologies for meeting with gangs
In the wake of the brutal slaying of four reputed George Street Gang affiliates last week, government has come under attack in many quarters for what is considered as the state negotiating with criminals instead of taking the hard line. Just after the bodies were discovered, gang leaders from George Street were escorted to a [...]

P.M. also speaks of recent shooting at home of Said Musa
The prime minister also spoke of the recent shooting of his predecessor Said Musa on Tuesday night. Musa told the media at a solidarity gathering at P.U.P. Headquarters that the threats he received in December were not related to the actual attack. He claimed that his gut instinct was that the shooting was not for [...]

Late evening robbery leads to shooting on Coney Drive
Late this evening the gun violence hit close to home. A brazen robbery at a grocery store off Coney Drive close to Channel Five, led to a chase, shootout and subsequently the capture of one assailant. Just after five p.m., two persons entered a store located at the corner of Blue Marlin Boulevard and Coney [...]

Rosewood, a hot commodity; P.M. weighs in on burning of illegally harvested wood
There is no new discovery of a container or stash of rosewood to report tonight, though it seems that attempts to smuggle illegal rosewood and export it to China these days has become as common as shootings in Belize City. In the past week there have been four busts including one in Golden Stream which [...]

…While investigations continue, Maya Leaders Alliance say Mayan rights are being violated
Still on the rosewood around five on Thursday evening, two containers containing tons of rosewood flitches were confiscated from the compound of Belize Engineering Company Limited. Officials of the Ministry of Forestry are still in the process of determining the volume, origin, and documentation of the precious woods in the containers which were registered to [...]

Recommendations to end the illegal extraction of rosewood
Coc also made recommendations on how to proceed to put an end to the illegal extraction of the natural resource.   Via Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance “We are asking the ministry and the minister in particular to launch an inquiry into this situation; to establish a sound investigating team who will find [...]

Men charged for stolen Ministry of Health vehicle, walk free
It made the headlines when a Government vehicle was stolen from a compound of the Ministry of Health last May eighth. A man caught on surveillance camera, dressed in camouflage clothing walked into the compound and drove off with the 2009 Toyota Hilux Pick-up truck, assigned to the Ministry. Three persons were charged: police officer [...]

John McAfee, his life story continues
John McAfee…depending on your particular perspective he’s anything from a lovable rogue to a nuisance to a devil in disguise or a demented lunatic. Whatever he really is, and nobody is quite sure, he captured the attention of local, regional and foreign media for almost a month as he led Belize Police on a merry [...]

National Selection A team to say goal against Costa Rica
The national selection A Team left for Costa Rica on Wednesday headed by the president of the F.F.B., the vice-present and the general-secretary. The team is gearing up tonight and is playing against the host country, Costa Rica, in one of the three games that will be played in the next five days. Tonight’s game [...]

Special Committee selected to deal with escalating crime
Prime Minister touch on a number of hot button issues when we caught up with him at the Best Western Hotel earlier today. PM Barrow was there for a meeting of a special committee selected to deal specifically with the escalation of crime. There was representation from the Crime Control Council, the Police High Command, [...]

Sedi versus Darrell; can council withhold licenses legally for nonpayment of taxes?
From the burial services takeover to the massive congestion of city streets, the Belize City Council always seems to be in the center of unwelcome controversy. Today is no different, as the discussion of a brewing debate is slowly taking center stage. On one side, Mayor Darrell Bradley has instituted a policy which requires that [...]

Traffic congestion caused by months of street work by City Council
Street works around the City, have been causing delays in traffic for months but this morning, trying to get to work, school or almost everywhere else, was absolute madness. The rerouting of a main thoroughfare backed up traffic significantly. Carla Bradley reports.   Carla Bradley “If you were traveling from Central American Boulevard towards Freetown [...]

PlusTV

Police confirm 145 murders for 2012
The Belize Police Department has confirmed the number of murders nationwide in Belize for 2012 as 145, a new nation...

City Administrator, Ismael Garcia, details Belmopan's Liquor Licencing decisions
The Liquor Licensing Board for the City of Belmopan held its first meeting for the year this week. The Board meets ...

Kenny Morgan explains why Belize City Council took over construction of graves
The Belize City Council has come under fire by residents and undertakers concerning its policy on construction of g...

Belmopan Mayor, Simeon Lopez, tells why CBA placed stop orders on construction projects
The Central Building Authority is enabled by the Belize Building Act 2003 which is an act to control building opera...

Minister of National Security, Hon John Saldivar, addresses issues into the investigations of the killing of 4 men
The murders of four men from George Street continue to be discussed as Police have not made any arrests in the matt...

Charges against 3 men for taking Government vehicle withdrawn for lack of presecution
It was a big story when a Government vehicle was taken after a man dressed in camoflauge walked onto the compound o...


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#455645 - 01/19/13 03:07 PM Re: Today's Belize News: January 19, 2013 [Re: Marty]
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Amandala

GUN VIOLENCE “REACHES” SAID MUSA
Former Prime Minister reveals death threats in December; now house and car shot up. Police responded to a call yesterday morning, Wednesday, reporting that the house of former Prime Minister of Belize, Rt. Hon. Said Musa, had been shot at, and his wife’s vehicle “shot up”. The shooting occurred at the corner of E Street and Princess Margaret Drive in the King’s Park area of Belize City. The former Prime Minister’s property was shot at about five times around 11 p.m. on Tuesday, January 15. Police, in a press release issued today, Thursday, said that the vehicle was found “with two apparent bullet holes to the right front passenger door, (1) apparent bullet hole to the driver’s side door panel, and the rear passenger glass window shattered.” The release added that police observed “an apparent bullet hole to the front screen door and wooden front door, damages to the front exterior cement wall, and damages to the interior cement wall near the front door of the residence.” Five 9mm expended shells were recovered from the scene by police. Musa said that he had locked up his house around 11:00 p.m. and retired to his bedroom when shortly after he heard multiple gunshots in the area.

ROSEWOOD, ROSEWOOD EVERYWHERE – AND IT’S ILLEGAL!!
In the past couple weeks the issue of illegal rosewood extraction has literally exploded into the public consciousness. Illegal rosewood shipments have been confiscated by Government, but to date, no one is in prison for the offence against our Belizean patrimony; in fact, no one has even been taken to court for the matter, and the Belizean public has not been told why. Confiscated rosewood has disappeared out of a Government compound, and no one has been held accountable. Hon. Lisell Alamilla, whose portfolio includes Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, has publicly burned a number of confiscated rosewood logs to show her determination to put an end to the illegal trade, but the “burning” question remains as to why no one is in prison for the crime. Today, officially, the Forestry Department and the Customs Department “are investigating the origin of a 40-foot container containing approximately 28 tons of rosewood flitches which is being held by the Belize Customs Department at the Belize-Guatemala Western Border. The container was being brought into Belize via the Western Border on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.” The information to Amandala is that 380 pieces of rosewood are being held at the Customs Department at the Western Border in Benque Viejo del Carmen.

ILLEGAL BELIZE ROSEWOOD SURFACES…FROM GUATEMALA?
Guatemala has a restriction on the exportation of rosewood in log form, and Belize has a moratorium on the product, so where did the rosewood at the Western Border come from? In the past couple weeks the issue of illegal rosewood extraction has literally exploded into the public consciousness. Illegal rosewood shipments have been confiscated by Government, but to date, no one is in prison for the offence against our Belizean patrimony; in fact, no one has even been taken to court for the matter, and the Belizean public has not been told why. Confiscated rosewood has disappeared out of a Government compound, and no one has been held accountable. Hon. Lisell Alamilla, whose portfolio includes Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, has publicly burned a number of confiscated rosewood logs to show her determination to put an end to the illegal trade, but the “burning” question remains as to why no one is in prison for the crime. Today, officially, the Forestry Department and the Customs Department “are investigating the origin of a 40-foot container containing approximately 28 tons of rosewood flitches which is being held by the Belize Customs Department at the Belize-Guatemala Western Border. The container was being brought into Belize via the Western Border on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.” The information to Amandala is that 380 pieces of rosewood are being held at the Customs Department at the Western Border in Benque Viejo del Carmen. The press release adds that the Forestry Department “is working with its counterpart in Guatemala and is awaiting confirmation on the origin and legitimacy of the rosewood material. Guatemala has imposed a restriction on the exportation of rosewood in the log forms (flitches), sawn wood and veneer sheets.” This particular rosewood situation differs from the others that made news over the past few weeks. This situation is not a bust on the wood, but rather the transfer of a container of wood being delayed until the arrival of documentation to confirm the place of origin of the wood. The container did come from Guatemala; that fact is not being disputed. The issue in question, is from where exactly did the wood come? There is a suspicion that the wood was extracted from forests in Belize, and was, to avoid trouble due to our moratorium on the product, transported to Guatemala, and brought back to Belize to look as if it was shipped from Guatemala.

BOY, 15, REMANDED TO PRISON FOR SEX WITH GIRL, 15
A boy, 15, of San Pedro Town, has been remanded to the prison for juveniles at the Kolbe Foundation after he was taken to court on charges of carnal knowledge of a girl, 15, and grievous harm to the girl. He was taken to the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court on Friday, January 11, where he was remanded until March 26. The girl and her mother, both residents of Benque Viejo, went to Benque police and reported that when the girl went to San Pedro in July for the summer and in December for the Christmas to visit her relatives, the boy took her into his parents’ bedroom, where he engaged her in sex. The girl was taken to the Benque Town Clinic, where doctors who examined her declared that her hymen had been ruptured, and that she had been carnally known.

ELECTRICITY RATES GO UP FOR CITIZENS, BUT NOT FOR STREET LIGHTING
It was made public in 2012 that electricity rates would increase by 16.87 percent for the New Year. The new rates went into effect on January 1, 2013. What was not made known to the public until this week was the distribution of the increased rates. The Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) said that the increase was necessary to recover additional cost of power for 2012 and to cover increases in the cost of power for the period of January 1 to June 30, 2013. It was the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), however, which issued a press release that outlined the way the increase would be distributed. What seemed to some to have been unfair in the distribution is the fact that the rate for the street lights, paid for by Government, did not increase, but it did increase for consumers. The PUC had proposed that the rate for street lights be increased by nine cents from 55 cents to 64 cents per kilowatt hour, but the government rejected that proposal and requested that the increase be placed on the rates for other customers. The Mean Electricity Rate (MER) has increased from 41.81 cents to 48.86 cents per kilowatt hour for residential customers.

A VISIONARY AND ATHLETIC GIANT
I featured Maya Ortega in my last contribution highlighting Belize’s football heroes. In this edition I wish to reflect and pay tribute to one of his contemporaries who to my mind shared traits characteristic of Caribbean intellectuals who led our region’s nationalist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti neo-colonial efforts. In the context of the development of the sport of football this athlete was visionary and progressive. He was as much a revolutionary in his time as were intellectual giants of our Caribbean civilization such as Walter Rodney of Guyana; Maurice Bishop of Grenada; Ralph Gonsalves, the current Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Professor Neville Duncan of the University of the West Indies; and our own Evan X Hyde. Such leaders were strident in their opposition to neo-colonialism, they challenged the status quo, were independent in their thinking, provocative in their advocacy for a new international economic order and confident in our ability to be masters of our own destiny. Their novel thought and activism came at great personal expense but they were always brave and courageous making sacrifices to advance the cause of the masses. Walter Rodney was assassinated; Maurice Bishop was executed brutally; Evan X was tried for seditious conspiracy; and no doubt Prime Minister Gonsalves and Professor Duncan experienced severe economic hardships brought on by the victimization of those who would defend their privilege rather than heed the advice of these leaders in promoting and protecting the rights of the “lumpen proletariat.” It is in this manner that I compare Bembe the Mugger Garbutt as a revolutionary. His challenge was to the elitism and privileged of the then Belize Football Association. He challenged the establishment in ensuring that the lucrative proceeds from the admission fee to the games were evenly distributed for the benefit and the good of all the players.

IDEAS AND OPINIONS – ABOUT GANGS
The gangs are very powerful organizations. Their power come from their members’ commitment to support and protect each other; from the fact that they are armed; and that they kill without compunction and, apparently, without fear of the consequences of their crimes. Over a year ago, I asked someone, who moved freely in the areas ruled by gangs, how large were the gangs. He said there were about twelve gangs in Belize City and each had about fifteen to twenty members. That was then. I understand that now, there are about fifteen gangs and, the gangs are large and growing in size because, they are actively recruiting new members of younger and younger age. What is more, if you live in an area where a gang is established, you have no choice but to join the gang. We tend to think of gangs as composed only of males. Actually, gangs include their female companions, sisters and, in some cases, single mothers. So, each male gang member may have at least three female associates who are involved in crime. All together, there might be as many as twelve hundred persons engaged in gang criminal activity. Gang members and their female companions are having children. What will their future be like? Is it likely that the male children of such unions will be other than a gang member? They, like their parents, will be the children of hopelessness, deprivation and neglect. If nothing is done about gangs, the time may come when gang membership will become a significant segment of our population.

BELIZEAN DREAMS; REALITY CHECK
Our National “A” Team left yesterday for a date with football destiny in Costa Rica. Their vibes are up-beat and positive; there are no visible undercurrents, as in years past when we received reports of some disgruntled players due to unequal and even neglectful treatment by the past “heads” of the FFB administration. Both new Head Coach Le Roy Sherrier Lewis and FFB President Ruperto Vicente share a genuine love of the game and respect for players’ feelings, both having served with distinction in their past football playing careers. Our boys will give their all, as they always do. And Belizean fans are hopeful and excited about the games, which reportedly will be shown live in the coming days on GOL T.V. From this sports desk, we share the hopes and dreams of all Belizeans where our National Team is concerned. We saw them off yesterday at the Philip Goldson International Airport, and they know we are behind them all the way. There is only one mindset that one can have when going into battle if one truly hopes to be victorious. Our young men are going on the field to win, and we would have it no other way. Miracles can and do happen in sports; and sometimes the odds makers are proven wrong. Can Belize do it? Of course, we can; but it will be such an achievement as few casual observers can fully comprehend the enormity of. It would be cause for nothing short of a national celebration that would result from such an accomplishment; and those young men would be national heroes, so huge would be their achievement.

NATIONAL TEAM LEAVES FOR COSTA RICA AND COPA CENTROAMERICANA
Leaving Belize on TACA International Airlines 12:30 flight this afternoon en route to Costa Rica for the Copa Centroamericana was a Football Federation of Belize (FFB) delegation, the center piece being the National “A” Team. The delegation is headed by President of the FFB, Ruperto Vicente, along with Secretary-General Michael Blease, and Second Vice-President and National Team Chairman, Rawell Pelayo. According to a FFB press release yesterday, the UNCAF Congress will be held on Thursday, January 17, and the tournament commences on Friday, January 18, to close on January 28. On opening day, Friday, January 18, Belize meets host Costa Rica; then Guatemala on Sunday, January 20; and Nicaragua on Tuesday, January 22 in the first round of play. The final round, including the top 2 teams from each group, will be played on January 25 – 27. (Group A – Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize; Group B – Honduras, El Salvador, Panama) The travelling National Team members are: Woodrow West; Frank Lopez; Elroy Smith; Evral Trapp; Tyrone Pandy; Delone Torres; Cristobal Gilharry; Ian Gaynair; Andres Makin, Jr.; Dalton Eiley, Jr. (captain); Evan Mariano; Ashley Torres; Russell Cassanova; Jeromy James; Devon Makin; Shannon Flowers; Trevor Lennon; San Leobardo Mendez; Deon McCaulay; Harrison Roches. The technical staff accompanying the National Team: LeRoy Sherrier (Coach); Carlos Slusher (Assistant Coach); Julio Santos (Assistant Coach); Kent Gabourel; Thomas Rivars; Elfryn Reyes; Herbert Trapp, Jr.; Marlon Tillett. Also joining the delegation were Premier League executives William Myvett and Onan McClean.

FROM THE PUBLISHER
The power structure during the British colonialism we Belizeans experienced in this region, a power structure which was built on the philosophy of white supremacy, had a standard approach to dealing with any form of insurgency. That approach involved the identification of the leader of that insurgency, and then the directing of maximum firepower against him. The thinking was: kill the head, and the body will die. A few years ago there was an insurgency in the Tower Hill area, involving cane farmers or cane factory workers, or both. The power structure of the independent Belize focused on the leader, and went all out after him. I was very impressed by how the body of the insurgents maneuvered to neutralize that focus, and to protect the leader. Their tactics were brilliant. In the corporate and political structures we see in the developed, industrial world, the structures are designed with the intent of minimizing the importance of personality at the apex of the pyramid. If the corporate or political structure in sophisticated systems loses a charismatic leader to illness, death, or whatever, the structure can replace that leader and continue functioning without major hiccups. I think the most sensational example of that in my generation’s lifetime was when the United States president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in November of 1963. This was an absolutely traumatic event for the American superpower. And yet, a new president was sworn in, in a matter of hours, and life in America basically went on as if nothing catastrophic had occurred. The system withstood the shock. It had been designed to do so

Letters: DOES NOT SUPPORT BURNING OF ROSEWOOD
Dear Editor, I write in reaction to the burning of rosewood by the Minister of Forestry last Friday in Golden Stream. I find it very sad that a Minister will stoop so low and destroy our natural resources. She has no conscience or respect for the poor of Toledo. The rosewood is not for her or the government; it is for all of us. It could be used by our crafts and furniture makers and for posts for houses. Also, the government says that it does not have money to fix our roads and schools, yet they destroy a precious wood that could make money to help the poor. I know that the alcaldes and villagers from Poite, Dolores and other border communities are selling rosewood and other hard woods to Guatemalans every day, but nothing is done by the Forestry Department to stop them, but they stop it in other villages. Why this injustice and double standard? Are they better than other people?

Letters: PLACENCIA VILLAGE COUNCIL CORRECTS “MISINFORMATION” SENT TO CBA
Dear Mr. Waight, The Placencia Village Council hereby takes this opportunity to respond and address the letter sent to the Council on November 10, 2012 (Ref: CBA250-11112). The Placencia Village Council is aware of the functions of the Central Building Authority. At the inception of the Council of 2010-2013, we made efforts to continue working with, and strengthening, the relationship between the Council and CBA. We were very happy that the Director at that time, Mr. Satchwell, was very pro-active and open when it came to working with the Council. We, at no time, ever stated, in any official capacity, to any contractor/builder/owner, that the Council has the only say when it came to issuing building permits. It was always mutually understood that protocol is: Step 1. All applications first come to the Council; Step 2: The Council reviews floor plans and retain a copy for archiving; Step 3: Give an official letter of support, after collecting our Social Consideration Fees due to us under the National Laws of Belize;

Letters: PLEASE HELP WITH MY ANCESTRY SEARCH!
DearEditor, My name is Raymond Williams in Michigan, USA. I am a descendant of the Ford family from Belize. I am trying to research my ancestry and I cannot seem to find any one information on my family tree beyond my great grandfather, James Alexander Ford, born about 1873. I have some info on my great grandmother, Juanita, born about 1876, since she came over to the United States. UnfortunateIy, I have never been to Belize. The only cousin from Belize who I was close to, Michael Burns, was killed in Belize a few years ago, before I started to research my ancestry. I don’t know who to turn to, since I do not know any of my other relatives in Belize. Would you please help me and direct me to a location where I can make contact to others who could help?

Letters: OVER $400,000 UP IN SMOKE
Dear Editor, Those who “have” will certainly agree with action of Minister Alamilla in the burning of the illegally harvested rosewood in the Golden Stream area in the Toledo District. However, the “have-nots” are unable to comprehend how this action can deter the illegal harvesting of timber. They cannot understand how this huge resource is literally burnt and not put to good use. They say it is equal to lighting the forest on fire. For this I have put together some suggestions as to what this valuable resource could have done to the Toledo District. Here are a couple of them: • This amount could have at least built a four three-classroom school buildings in the District • This amount could have purchased an enormous amount of school supplies and furniture for the school rather than teachers having to beg for these items. • It could have purchased at least 10 vehicles for the Forestry Department, when the Minister well knows that the Dept. is limited with dilapidated vehicles. Four days after this incident the young inexperienced driver of the Toledo Forestry vehicle overturned the only Toledo office vehicle – and guess who recommended this young fellow?

I WILL CONTINUE TAKING MY FISHING $$ TO COZUMEL
Dear Editor, I grew up the son of a fisherman; because I chose to be a businessman I am unable to fish in Belizean waters. None of my friends or relatives are willing to take me out to traditional fishing grounds because I do not have the necessary licenses, permits or pay the necessary fees to fish. I am ashamed to say that it is easier and cheaper for me to fish in Cozumel, Mexico than it is to do in Belize. Coming from a village I would have to lose business time and go to the city to obtain these. Not worth it for once or twice a year. I now go to Cozumel once or twice a year to fish instead of doing so in Belize. Cozumel has the same sand, sun, sea and Maya ruins as Belize for half the cost. I can travel from Belize to Playa del Carmen for around $50.00, plus another $5.00 to ferry to Cozumel. Cost of hiring a boat with captain plus a few beers is around half of what it is in Belize. These trips cost me far less than what I would pay in Belize if only I could have done it in the first place. What makes this so affordable? Taxes, taxes, taxes . Belize is taxing itself out of business. High taxes on fuel, utilities, hotels and other operating costs make Belize less than competitive in offering affordable competition. The Prime Minister did not make it any easier when he announced that the agreements he had negotiated with the hotel sector “aren’t going to happen”.

I.O.C. DELEGATION IN BELIZE, OLYMPIC COMMITTEE ELECTIONS SET FOR FEBRUARY 16
A visiting delegation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held a press conference this evening at the office of the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (our National Olympic Committee or NOC) at the corner of Albert and Prince Streets where they heard comments and questions from media representatives present. Members of the delegation, Ms. Joanna Zipser-Graves, Olympic Solidarity’s Manager for the Americas; Mr. Richard Peterkin, IOC Member; and Mr. Nills Holmegaard, IOC Project Officer, reportedly met earlier today with representatives of various sports federations in Belize as well as with the Minister of Sports, and also had a chance to visit the on-going construction at the Marion Jones Sports Complex. This is the IOC delegation’s first visit to Belize, and Mr. Peterkin said his friend, Belize’s NOC President Ned Pitts had informed him of his intention to hold elections, as he has not been well lately. Elections are scheduled for February 16, at which a new executive will be charged with managing the affairs of the Belize Olympic Association’s affairs for the next four years. The IOC delegation sees their role as important at this time to help “manage the period of change” anticipated following next month’s elections and to “discuss the Programme Guide for the 2013-2016 Quadrennial Plan.”

Editorial: THE ICJ
“Maybe we can find a reason to send a child off to war. So why if we’re controlling all the oil, is it worth a child dying for? Is it worth it?” - Prince, in “Money don’t matter tonight” “Throughout the seventeenth century, European soldiers were still only slightly removed from thugs; they raped, robbed, and pillaged civilians as assiduously as they fought the enemy. Whole towns would be massacred without much thought, and even when soldiers attempted to behave with a measure of humanity, they still pillaged wherever they went, because pillaging was the only way to support their operations, especially on long campaigns. Since most of Europe lived harvest to harvest, an army often left famine in its wake.” - pg. 124, THE BLACK COUNT, Tom Reiss, Crown Publishers, New York, 2012 The newspaper has recently been running a few excerpts from Adam Hochschild’s book about Belgium’s King Leopold II and the atrocities he committed in the Congo state in the last part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. Leopold became a criminal and murderer because he was greedy for money, and ivory and rubber fetched very high prices on the world market in those days.

BELIZE CITY TEACHERS MEAN SERIOUS BUSINESS!
The Belize City Branch of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) is unhappy with the Government, whom they’ve been trying to negotiate with for a salary increase over the last few years. The branch held a meeting this afternoon at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall, at which over 500 teachers voted overwhelmingly, by secret ballot, that they will suspend classes on Tuesday, January 29, to travel to Belmopan to protest outside Cabinet Meeting, which is normally held every Tuesday. The Branch president, Kathleen Flowers, said that the joint negotiating team has been meeting with Government for the past two years to get an increase in salaries and other benefits for teachers, but they have been unsuccessful. All the various branches of the union held meetings today and voted on a plan of action. The results of today’s votes will be relayed to the National President, Luke Palacio, and his council of management, which will then presumably carry out the mandate of the teachers. Flowers said that the Belize City Branch stands willing to participate in whatever is planned by the collective union.

Blogs

Reverend Bill: Gallus domesticus and Papagayo
Reverend Bill, the boat captain, was not a reverend and his name was not Bill; also, he was not really a boat captain. Reverend Bill had colored himself with stories of adventures in the North Sea where he lived most of his life although he had never been there. Feverishly he followed in periodicals, sailboat construction and designs. Regularly he revolted against new techniques and materials. One season he continuously discredited fiberglass, “If God had wanted man to have fiberglass boats, he would have made fiberglass trees,” he would say. The next season it was fuels, “Gasoline is foolish and smart captains should use diesel.” Finally he gave up construction and design entirely. He was Reverend Bill, the boat captain, because what he once was had become unimaginable to him. It was not known whether Bill was a good captain or not, for his days were spent on a stool at the Holiday Bar where he had thrown himself so violently into the sea he had very little time left for sailing of any kind.

A Tale of Five Cities: Palenque, around town
I was all set to write about the Palenque ruins today, but that's a big post with a lot of photos, and time kind of got away from me on a busy day, so this will be a shorter, simpler post with a potpourri of photos from around town during our stay. Palenque was unlike the cities we'd been too so far -- no brightly colored colonial buildings in a centro historico district and a bit grittier. But even though it was not as beautiful, we always felt safe walking around (including at night). This was a normal city where folks were just out and about living their lives. If the ruins were not so close by, they'd probably never even see a tourist.Lots of construction going on in the center traffic circle of town where this cool Maya head sculpture is Fence around graveyard in downtown Palenque Ready to go to the Palenque ruins Cute orange VW Beatle Downtown Palenque Festive holiday flags A local bar with an amusing sign in front...

Interesting Facts about Japanese Glass Fishing Floats
ommon names: Glass floats, glass fishing floats, or Japanese glass fishing floats The Japanese glass fishing floats were once used by fishermen in many parts of the world to keep their fishing nets as well as long lines or drop lines afloat. Norway was the first country to start production and use of glass fishing floats around 1840. Christopher Faye, a Norwegian merchant from Bergen is credited for their invention. Interesting facts about the Japanese glass fishing floats: European and Asian fisheries have used Glass floats for well over 80 years, possibly much longer. Many glass floats remain in circular ocean currents in the North Pacific. Glass floats wash up along the whole West Coast of the Americas, Hawaii, the South Pacific Islands, and beaches all around the Pacific Rim, Australia, Russia and Japan. The Floats also comes ashore on the Gulf Coast States, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Japanese glass fishing floats were hand made by a glassblower, using recycled glass from old windowpanes, water jugs, whiskey, and sake and milk bottles. Many glass floats show wear patterns from rolling in the sand and surf. When the netting disintegrates a net pattern image remains with clear glass in the places the float was protected by the net. Some glass floats have small amounts of water trapped inside of them. This occurs when floats are suspended in arctic ice or held under water by nets. Water pressure on the glass surface forces entry into the floats through microscopic imperfections in the glass. There are many types of nets attached to floats made from all manner of materials. Nylon, help, or other natural fibers are used. The classic thick hemp rope used decades ago is probably the one type of net that is considered most special to many glass float collectors.

Former Belize Prime Minister’s House Riddled With Bullets
The house of Belize’s Former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Said Musa, was riddled with bullets on Tuesday, January 15, 2013. Musa and his wife were just about to go to bed when they heard about six shots in rapid succession; upon making checks outside their windows they didn’t notice anything suspicious and went to bed. It wasn’t until Wednesday morning when Mr. Musa noticed that his house had been hit by bullets. According to news reports in the city, Musa got up at about 6:00 a.m. and upon exiting his house he noticed that his front door had been hit with what he believed to be bullets. He made his way out of the house and noticed that his wife’s vehicle had been hit and drove off to the Princess Hotel where police are stationed nearby and made a report.

Speculation at the Split
New Years Eve was a big event here on Caye Caulker and the Split had its fair share of clientele and were jam packed for their big event! The dance floor – the enclosed area that hangs over the beach was the ‘dance floor’, although everywhere and anywhere people were dancing needless to say!! The pressure of so much weight jumping up and down to celebrate the New Year coming in forced the floor of the building to almost collapse. All party goers were safe and unhurt but this has forced the owners and manager to tear down this part of the building. Whilst it does not detract from the general feeling from the building there is a sense of ‘what happens next’!!! Lips are sealed and gossip is rife but we will eagerly await the new improvements and we will ensure that we will keep you posted as soon as they arrive!!

Knock on Wood
It was quite chilly on the veranda this morning when I took my early (around 4.30 am) coffee. We started to feel the drop in temperature yesterday evening when a cold front moved in and it was still there this morning. Actually had to put a ‘T’ shirt on and probably could have put a sweat top on too like many of the people taking their early morning walk. It got colder as the day progressed but compared to where we come from (UK), especially at the moment, it is still lovely and warm. On the drive up north to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize in the afternoon we could really feel the chill factor in the wind, especially with no windshield on our golf cart, and I regretted not putting on the sweat top that Rose recommended. When will I learn that – as she tells me – she is always right ? As we approached the site there was no trace of the sound of a concrete mixer, just the sound of hammers hitting nails. After parking the ‘cart and walking towards our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we could see why. The Ground Floor golf cart parking area looked like a forest. A bit of literary license but there were a lot of horizontal wooden poles in sight. Poles that will support the form boards for the concrete beams that will be first stage of the First Floor.

International Sources

Belize's Unexpected Italian Food Palace On Caye Caulker
When his marriage ended and he retired from two decades of running a wholesale company in Zurich, Switzerland, 50-something-year-old Sandro Sorentino briefly moved back to his native Italy before resolving to live a care-free life fishing in the Florida Keys and Caribbean. Having had a vacation home in Key West, he figured his new-found retirement freedom would allow him to stay on one tropical island for six months, after which he'd seek out big fish at the next location. However, Sorentino dropped anchor in Belize in 2006, and he is now settled down into a successful yet unexpected career on the island of Caye Caulker. Sorentino, the t-shirt-clad and barefoot chef and owner of Sandro's Piccola Cucina, says opening the restaurant, "happened by accident." "I came to Caye Caulker to fish. I planned to stay half a year," he muses. "I started a take-out business to keep busy while I fished." Tourist and ex-patriot demand for his Italian food on the small island paradise turned his retirement hobby into a reservations-required restaurant and the most classy dining option in an otherwise casual locale. I ate at Sandro's Piccola Cucina after a fellow tourist described it as "the best Italian restaurant" he has ever visited anywhere in the world. On an island full of delightful mom-and-pop beachside grills serving up conch, lobster, sea bass and shrimp, Sandro's comforting Italian specialties indeed are pure heaven.

Adventure Travel in Belize
My prior career as a tax preparer meant I was used to navigating endless flowing rivers—of paperwork—and I always seemed to be going against the current. I’ve since had a river-related experience in my new career as a travel writer…but it was a lot more fun. Here’s how it happened. My destination was the rugged Toledo District in southern Belize where an Indiana Jones-worthy cave begged exploration. Blue Creek Cave, known as Hokeb Ha (which translates from Mayan as “where the water enters the earth”) is a 200 million-year-old cave located in the tiny Maya village of Blue Creek. One of the largest underground cave systems in the world, Hokeb Ha comes complete with a river, several waterfalls and an altar…and the only way to explore the mammoth cave is by swimming all the way through. My adventure was deceptively easy at first. It began with a 20-minute jungle hike along the banks of the Moho River. It got more challenging when we had to cross a rocky creek bed before scaling a small rock wall that brought us to the cave entrance.

The Charm of San Ignacio
One of the best written articles about Cayo ever. "Tucked away in a valley between two rivers, San Ignacio is a quaint little town filled with culture and beauty. It is surrounded by rolling hills and jungle vegetation. There is a soft stream that runs through downtown, connected by an emblematic old yellow steel bridge. The central business district consists of small alleyways that showcase its vernacular colonial heritage. The town is populated by a mosaic of ethnicities that includes Mestizos, Kriols, Lebanese, Chinese, and Amerindian. San Ignacio’s surrounding area is rich in history. There are two ancient Mayan sites that are nearly within walking distance. Cahal Pech, which dates backs to 1200 B.C.E, was a former hilltop palace home for the Mayan elites. Xunantunich, located less than one mile from the Guatemala border, was a former ceremonial site for the archaic civilization. Here, you can freely climb to the top of the largest pyramid and enjoy a splendor view of the land. Also just south of town is the Mountain Pine Ridge, a place of waterfalls, caves, and wildlife. We drove about two miles directly into it and although it was the most treacherous ride we have ever experienced, it generated a memory that will stay with us for a lifetime."

DJ Check My Move at the Soul Project
The Soul Project is having DJ Check My Move mixing tonight. Don't miss the funky, chill, and dance grooves that he'll be rolling out. You won't hear a single overplayed song there, guaranteed.

Black Rock Lodge Wins Trip Advisor Award
Black Rock Lodge, ranked as the number 1 hotel in San Ignacio on Trip Advisor, has won their 2013 Traveler's Choice Award for Best Service. Congratulations, BRL! "Couldn't ask for a better place for the $$. Every person was happy, helpful, and relaxed. Javier went out of his way to be hospitable. Room decorated with fresh hibiscus blooms. Romantic! Seeing the birds n the am a highlight. Toucans and many other pretty colors with great scopes set up on deck. Central area for bar and food led to as much or as little interaction with others as you like. Very close to xunatanich Mayan ruins. We had our own car and stayed one amazing night and then on to the next adventure. Not a place you will soon forget!"


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