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The San Pedro Sun

Rose’s Bar and Grill in Caye Caulker denied liquor license over a street side grill
The owner of a renowned establishment on Caye Caulker is at odds with the Caye Caulker Village Council. Eduardo Arceo has been operating Rose’s Gill and Bar for the past 13 years but is now unhappy with the local authorities after his restaurant’s liquor license was denied. The reason for the liquor license denial is over a grill located outside of the restaurant on the street-side that the establishment has been using since its inception. The Caye Caulker Village Council has indicated that the only way they will allow Rose’s Grill and Bar to get a liquor license is if he relocates his grill. The local authorities say that residents in the area have been complaining of the smoke from the grill.

Our Lady of Fatima to visit San Pedro on February 11th
On Monday February 11th, the second Pilgrimage of the Travelling Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to Belize will arrive in San Pedro Town. The statue is scheduled to arrive at 4:00 pm at the John Greif II airport. The general public is invited to witness the arrival of Our Lady of Fatima. The coronation of the statue will take place at the San Pedro Roman Catholic Church at 4:45 pm followed by a rosary. At 6:00pm there will be a mass honoring Our Lady of Fatima followed by a candle light procession along the main streets of San Pedro Town.

Dates are set for the 5th Annual Tres Pescados Slam Tournament
The 5th Annual Tres Pescados Slam Tournament is set for August 15-17, 2013. Tres-Pescados-2As in previous years, the event will be a three-day catch and release fly-fishing tournament for the grand slam species bonefish, permit and tarpon. We will have a Pro division only, with all Pro Teams guided by a licensed BTB fly fishing guide. This year will see changes in the format of the tournament, mostly in point allocations. We still have sponsorship slots available. Simms Fishing Products have already secured a presenting sponsorship position, leading the way for another fantastic tournament in 2013.

Misc Belizean Sources

Photos from last nights San Pedro Carnaval Celebration

SI United vs. BDF Today
The San Ignacio United take on the BDF tomorrow night at Broaster Stadium at 3:30pm. The Premier League of Belize kicks off this season tomorrow. Good luck, guys!

Bob Marley Tribute Pictures
Rotaract raised funds at the Bob Marley Tribute last night. They also got a few really nice pictures. When Catch and Emmanuel Mangar play, it's always a great show. "Fundraising at a very positive, community oriented event!"

Soul Revolution Exhibit Launch at Soul Project
Last night the Soul Project launched the Soul Revolution Exhibit. It'll start at 6pm, and at 8pm, Walter Castillo will be performing some 'songs of revolution.' Cayo's newest and best cultural center has live music and art most every weekend. "PERFORMING AND EXHIBITING NEW PAINTINGS Walter Castillo SONGS OF THE REVOLUTION, Walter will be performing classic protest songs of the Central American 80s Cultural Revolution music starts at 8 pm this sat."

Tourism Statistic Summary for 2012
Great news for Belize: according to BTB numbers, overnight tourists are up almost 11%, bringing in quality tourism dollars, and cruise tourists are going down, meaning less deterioration to the reef. Yes, 2012 was exceptional for tourism, especially overnight tourism, which had an overall 10.7% increase from last year. In 2012, there were 26,872 more visitors than in 2011: 277,135 visitors for the entire year. Cayo has obviously been busier in regards to tourism. "The Belize Tourism Board wishes to extend hearty congratulations to all Belizeans, our partners and stakeholders. It is through continuous hard work, collaboration and dedication that we are able to achieve such impressive results. We look forward to an even greater year in 2013!"

CTV3

Ministry Of Health Deals With Hepatitis A Outbreak
Our news room’s phone line has been busy in the past days. We have been receiving calls from residents in the village of Cristo Rey and nearby communities of an infestation in the area. We visited the village this morning where we were alarmed to hear the confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in the village by Public Health Inspector for Corozal Horris Patten since November of last year. As a result of the high amount of cases, the Ministry of Health has been mobilized assistance for villagers in efforts of preventing the further spread and cure of this disease. Horris Patten- Public Health Inspector “We have a problem in Cristo Rey and nearby villages. The problem is hepatitis A. The ministry of health Corozal has created a list of agenda and we are carrying out the list of agenda from day to day to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A and contained the disease.” Due to the nature of the disease and the social stigma attached to it, we couldn’t ascertain much information, but what you must be aware of is that hepatitis type A can be transferred through various means, including contact with someone infected, eating filthy food and improper hygiene, just to mention a few. If you have been experiencing yellow eyes better known as jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea or tiredness then you must visit your nearest health centre as soon as possible since these are symptoms caused by hepatitis type A.

Juan Carnaval Arrives In Corozal
The Corozal House of Culture has recently been on this newscast featuring the “Back in the Days” exhibit among many others. Well, tonight they are once more in our newscast, but this time, for an event that has almost been forgotten. The Corozal House of Culture will be presenting an almost forgotten event titled “Juan Carnaval.” This is because the tradition of Juan Carnaval has been hidden for quite some time now and the House of Culture has tasked themselves on reviving this celebration, hoping that it remains an annual event. Director of the Corozal House of Culture Deborah Wilkes, tells us more. Deborah Wilkes – Director, Corozal House of Culture “We have a stage presentation with four different groups here in Corozal. Each different group is performing different dances. We have a wide range of cultural groups from different villages and schools. We have San Narciso RC School and they are performing two dances and a Maya Poem. Here in Corozal Town we have Our Lady of Guadalupe and they are strictly a cultural group. They will perform two dances. We have pre-school teachers from Corozal Town and district and they come together every year in preparation for stimulation month. So this year being our first Juan Carnival, it will become an annual event and will grow each year. At the end we will do a traditional burning of Juan Carnival.”

Unborn Baby Dies At The NRH! Family Blames Nurse!
On this newscast we have brought you all the stories concerning the Northern Regional Hospital and allegations of mal practice and negligence. Last night we were the first to report on the most recent case involving the death of an unborn baby. Another baby died at the Northern Regional Hospital on Monday night inside of his mother’s womb. The would-have-been mother says that everything was fine with the pregnancy, until she was admitted to the hospital. According to the mother, there were no signs of complications until Monday when she felt something was wrong and when they arrived at the hospital, they noticed that the baby had no heartbeat. The mother spoke to us this evening under the agreement of anonymity and here is how she explained the most unfortunate incident. “I went Thursday evening to see the gynecologist and she told me that according to me glucose test she will keep me in for Friday morning and a c-section the test was normal so they gave me another date which was Monday so that I can get the c-section on Tuesday morning, She told me that by Monday 1 o’clock I should be at the hospital. So I went at 1 o’clock. At ten o’clock at the night when they when to check the heart beat of my child it was normal- 138 beats per minute. after they came an hour after they didn’t find the heart beat. They took me to the back and from then I told the nurse that she should call the gynecologist because the gynecologist said if there is any problem that we should call she right away. But the nurse said that no because she has to find the heart beat then she will call but she didn’t call almost two o’clock in the morning.”

Multiple Sclerosis Changes Marlyn's Life
Today an Orange Walk Family is asking the public for assistance for their loved one who is battling multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is a serious disease that doesn’t have any cure. The disease affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. In Multiple Sclerosis, the body's own immune system attacks and damages the nerves paralyzing parts of the body. Twenty-two year old Marlyn Zul was just recently diagnosed with the disease and doctors say that if the family had waited a little bit longer, then it would have been fatal. Mutliple Sclerosis has now completely changed Marlyn’s life but there is hope that she can get better. Marlyn Zul’s mother Marcelina Zul tells us more. “This started like a month ago. She started to lose sensation on the right leg first. Then about a week after she started losing strength on the left foot and gradually it went up to the waist right now. We have been seeing doctors, they took out blood test and urine test but no one could have told us what she had until we were referred to a neurologist. the neurologist made us do a MRI test and through a lumber puncture. The neurologist said that he is 90% sure that she has that condition; multiple sclerosis. It was devastating because no one expected this. We knew something was wrong with here because losing her sensation on her right foot. Up until the last week she was diagnosed with it. She has difficulty urinating and the doctor says that she need a lots of therapy. She is on medication also so we are hoping that she gains back something although doctors told us that she will probably no gain 100% percent back.

Baby Danelly Died Of Excessive Smoke Inhalation
On Monday’s newscast we brought to you the story of a house fire in the village of San Narciso which left a mother suffering from severe burns and a three year old infant dead. The incident occurred sometime around 4:30 in the morning of Monday, February 4th when forty year old Ramona Cabrera was woken up by the smoke and heat from the fire coming from the mattress of her bed. According to Cabrera, she woke up her three year old daughter, Danelly Guadalupe Cabrera, and told her to run outside of the house. The mother attempted to pull the burning mattress outside of the house, but the heat and flames were too much and left her suffering from severe second and third degree burns. According to reports from the fire department, once the fire was extinguished, the heartbreaking and tragic discovery was made when the charred body of three year old Danelly Cabrera was discovered beneath an iron crib. Speculation is that when her mother told her to run outside, the infant became scared and decided to hide from the fire under the crib. The post mortem examination has been conducted on the body of Danelly Cabrera by Dr. Hugh Sanchez. Dr. Sanchez determined the infant died as a result of Asphyxia due to smoke inhalation. What this means is that Danelly Cabrera passed away due to the smoke inhalation to her lungs before she was burned. Preliminary reports indicate that the fire was started by a candle which was lit by the bedside as the house did not have electricity.

2012: A Remarkable Tourism Year For Belize
2012 has been dubbed as a remarkable year for the Belize Tourism Industry. Belize was at the centre of the Maya Apocalypse 12/21/12 phenomena that attracted tourists from around the world. Overnight arrivals saw an overall increase of 10.7%, in comparison to 2011 arrivals. In 2012, there were 277,135 visitors for the entire year which is an increase of 26,872 from 2011. The American market made up 63.7% of this total, while Canadians made up 8.7%. Airport arrivals saw a 16.3% increase in 2012, having 211,747 tourists arriving at the Philip Goldson International Airport; therefore, making up 76.4% of the total overnight arrivals. These arrivals were the highest in March and December with over 23,000 visitors. But on the other hand, cruise arrivals were down by 12%. Despite that figure tourists arriving in cruise ships totaled over 640,000 last year. According to the Belize Tourism Board, they have been assured from cruise partners that Belize will see a major growth in the cruise industry in the near future. According to the release, Belize was a strong competitor when compared to other tourism destinations in the region.

BSCFA Gives Back To The Community
On February 28th of 2008, 6,000 small scale growers in the Belize Sugar Cane Farmer’s Association were the first to benefit from the Fair Trade Premiums of USD $60 per ton of sugar generated. This figure was courtesy of Tate & Lyle, which was once a great part of the sugar industry in Belize but these days, they focus their operations in Europe. Since then, a close relationship has been cultivated with the ultimate objective being the production of quality sugar at the best prices. That agreement is now in its fifth year and Cane farmers continue to see the benefits. As a means of a continuous betterment for the country of Belize, in particular the Belizeans in the north, today the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association held a special gathering at the Libertad Community Centre to issue cheques to students, the elderly and principals of the three primary schools in the village. The total sum issued via cheques amounted to $53, 509.98. The breakdown for the distribution of the checks include 111 student grants, 62 welfare grants catered to the elderly and 75 arm chairs for the three schools in the village. The beneficiaries are more than glad to have been chosen at a much needed time. Present at the ceremony was Chairman of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Corozal Division Arturo Olivarez, as well as Chairman of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association Alfredo Ortega. The Libertad Sugar Cane Farmers Branch approved the Student Grants, School Grants and Welfare Grants at a meeting held in November of 2012. According to Villanueva, today’s ceremony is expected to be repeated next year when commuters can expect to be the beneficiaries of the Fair Trade Premium Funds.

Leases Issued Out In Xaibe
This afternoon, UDP Minister Hugo Patt held a ceremony at the Xaibe Health Post for the distribution of land leases to 176 residents which a multitude attended dressed in their party colours. Even though Patt says that he had invited the entire village, it is a comment that Chairman of the village questions. Chairman of the Village Daniel Tuzl says that is not so and today when we visited him he was in the company of villagers who also allege they were not invited to the disbursing of land leases today. Neither the Chairman nor residents were happy about it. Area Representative for Corozal North Hugo Patt explained to us today’s activity. “We are handing out the leases for the expansion that we had here on Friday. This is the second expansion that we are doing in our constituency. We will be issuing 176 leases. This is only for Xaibe- well t is an expansion for Xaibe village alone. We have spoken to the Deputy Prime Minister and he has assured us that their needs to be a clear message given to Xiabe and the entire country. For us herein Xaibe this is not the last expansion that we are going to do. If need arrives just as in every community we will make sure that the government identifies the piece of land so that the people in the area who have not yet attained a piece of land can do so in the future when the time present itself for that.”

Early Morning Robbery
Orange Walk Police continue their investigations into an early hour robbery that occurred in Trial Farm Village in the wee hours of Saturday, February 2nd. Police received the report on Saturday morning, but for some odd reason, which we won’t speculate on at this moment, the information was released until this morning in the Belize Police Department’s daily media sitrep. According to the report, sometime around 3:45 of Saturday morning, sixty-four year old Jose Ernesto Garcia of a San Martin Street address in Trial Farm Village went to his business to open it for the day. When Garcia entered his establishment, he made his way to the back of the counter where he was quickly detained by an individual that placed a firearm to his neck. Seconds after he was stopped with a gun to his neck, another individual jumped over the counter with a knife and placed it to his stomach. Both men demanding money of which Garcia quickly complied with. He handed the two men his wallet which contained $920 Belize dollars, $550 Mexican Pesos and personal documents. The armed men demanded Garcia hand over more to them and so Garcia had his gold chain snatched from around his neck. The chain is valued at $4,000 Belize dollars. According to Garcia’s statement to the police, both men wore long sleeved shirts and masks on their faces which made it difficult for him to identify any visible traits as the room was also dark. Police continue their investigation and both robbers are still at large.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Successful fundraiser for The Caye Caulker Animal Shelter
The February 2nd. fundraiser for The Caye Caulker Animal Shelter, hosted by the Barrier Reef Sports Bar, met its goal. After serving 32 plates of food for a $20 dollar donation each, receiving an additional $205 donation, and handing out tickets for the raffle for a $5 dollar donation each, volunteers were able to raise a total of $860. The raffle was made possible thanks to the generous donation of the fundraiser’s sponsors through gift certificates. The money raised will be used to feed 20 cats, five dogs and three iguanas at the shelter located on Avenida Hicaco, between Rainbow Hotel and Payless Grocery Store. The shelter is run by Kenny Samson and anyone is welcome to visit and get to meet his four-legged family first hand. For progress on how donations will help feed and care for the cats, dogs and iguanas, please follow the Facebook page “The Caye Caulker Animal Shelter.”

The Belize Times

THE MAD KING – Gang Minister Mark King charged for assaulting and threatening a Police Officer
The Princess Hotel and Casino’s 10th Anniversary celebration held on Monday, January 4th, drew a packed crowd of local and tourist partygoers who went to enjoy some of Belize’s top entertainers such as Supa G and the Gilharry 7 Band. But instead, they were treated to an episode of terror and panic when UDP Minister of Gangs Mark King and his entourage got into a physical and near deadly confrontation with the casino’s security guards. This morning King was escorted to the Corozal Magistrate’s Court and arraigned for three criminal charges. he was given bail of $4,000 and ordered to return to court on April 16. On Wednesday afternoon, Corozal Police charged the first-time UDP Lake Independence politician with Aggravated Assault, Threatening Words and Disorderly Conduct after Police Corporal Nelson Ramos reported that King turned violent on him as he carried out his job to maintain law and order.

No Salary Increase! – Barrow wants Unions to Imagine the Possibilities
Prime Minister Dean Barrow rejected the Unions’ request for a salary increase for teachers and public officers for this year when they met inside the Cabinet room in Belmopan last week Friday, February 1st. This is ...

“SLAP ON THE WRIST”
The Opposition People’s United Party has described Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s response to King’s lawless behaviour as “feeble” and a “slap on the wrist”, and has called on Barrow to remove King from office immediately. Barrow has ...

The Facts As They Are
By G. Michael Reid Aside from being published in the BELIZE TIMES, I have a few internet lists and forums to which I post my articles. I get feedback; some folks agree and some folks disagree. Such is the nature of the game. I always enjoy hearing from my readers whichever ...

Editorial: A ROGUE GOVERNMENT
The moral squalor and crime-ridden sink hole in which our country Belize finds itself today is unprecedented in the thirty one years of the post-independence era. We now have a Minister of State in the Barrow government with special responsibility for gangs who himself behaves like the leader of a criminal gang. At around 3 am in the early hours of Tuesday morning Mark King and some of his fellow gang members including one Diego Witz were involved in a criminal rampage at the Princess Casino in the Corozal Free Zone. The place was trashed. The police were called to quell the drunken brawl. Minister King reportedly objected and tried to prevent the police from taking Witz from the premises into their police vehicle. A firearm was drawn and shots fired. When the dust settled, Witz was arrested and later charged in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court. Minister King was not however detained. He was granted a police bail and served with a summons charging him with aggravated assault of a police officer, disorderly conduct and use of threatening words. The Cabinet had its usual Tuesday meeting. A press release was issued. King was suspended from his ministerial duties for three months. On Wednesday morning the Prime Minister was on the radio, defending his Minister as “an extremely self-contained” person who deserved “a second chance”. In any self-respecting civilized country, a Minister behaving in such unruly violent behavior defying the police in their enforcement of the law, would have been called upon to resign, failing which he would have been removed permanently. ...

Wesley girls bomb Excelsior 3-1 in GM2
The Wesley College girls are No. 1 entering the high school football finals, after defeating Excelsior High School 3-1 in Game 2 of the playoffs. Goals were scored by Kimberly Garcia, Imane McKenzie and Shanice Neal. Wesley had also won Game 1, 2-1 at the M.C.C. Grounds on Friday. The unexpected withdrawal of the No. 2 seed Ladyville Technical High School girls from the playoffs allowed the Excelsior girls to advance to the playoffs. Wesley’s goalie was surprised by a long shot from outside that beat her to give the Excelsior girls a 1-0 lead up to the half. Wesley’s Erica Milligan and Elisha Bernardez led a furious counterattack, and Erica Milligan soon equalized and Elisha Bernardez scored the 2nd winning goal and the Excelsior girls never recovered. ...

Belize Bank Bulldogs win annual canoe race
The Belize Bank Bulldogs Armin Lopez, Amado Cruz and Daniel Cruz won Saturday morning’s annual Haulover to Burrell Boom to Manatee Lookout canoe race organized by the Belize Canoe Association as a warm-up for the 14th ...

Female National Football Team prepares for International Matches
Belize’s Female Football National Team is in training for a series of international matches scheduled for mid-February and March. 24 athletes have been called by the Football Federation of Belize to try-out for the national squad that will play international friendlies in Merida, Yucatan on February 15th and then the official in San Jose, Costa Rica from March 3 to 17. The BELIZE TIMES wishes out national team the greatest success as they represent the jewel ...

$540,000 for Sugar Roads Vanishes
After months of pleading to Central Government for urgent repairs to devastated sugar roads, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association had to travel to Belmopan to twist the Prime Minister’s arms and demand assistance with road rehabilitation in order for the 2012-2013 crop to commence. The Association learnt that over half a million dollars were eventually allocated for sugar road repairs for both Orange Walk and Corozal District. But like with everything, it seems the UDP found a way to hustle. Inside sources indicate that a certain Minister pushed for his supporter to be awarded with the contract, presumably to have the favour returned in the form of support in an upcoming UDP convention for Deputy Leader. In December 2012 the company owned by the UDP crony was awarded the contract. This UDP crony is a failed candidate who ran against the Hon John Briceño in Orange Walk Central and has now been named as Caretaker of the constituency. ...

Two Murders in 12 Hours
The city went into panic on Monday January 4th when two residents were murdered in shootings that occurred within eleven hours from each other. 17 year old high school student Eddie Soriano ...

THINK ABOUT IT
LIFE GETS WORSE This is a terrible indictment and a failure of leadership and Government. It is said that figures don’t lie. The Statistical Institute has released some information on the key economic indicators. Unemployment has not gone down, not by an inch or a single person. Instead it has reached the highest levels ...

Border Dispute
A couple years ago, our Standard 6 teacher gave us a task to build some projects. My good friend and I decided to go to a popular company in Belize and get a few phones and different internal parts such as the wires, etc for our assignment. Both of us ...

In my perspective – Stand for something!
by Rayford Young In the early 1970s, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward broke the Watergate story for The Washington Post and set the standard for modern investigative reporting. Their investigations into the scandal of the Nixon administration brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. I remember these two young reporters as if ...

Banks’ Fire Sale Auctions – Shooting themselves in the leg
The banks in Belize are the largest advertisers in the weekly newspapers....promoting the auction of peoples’ hard earned assets....avoiding acknowledgment of Belize’s depressed economy....and the need to refinance most sectors of a structurally, increasingly uncompetitive economy....which is the primary cause of decline in real incomes for individuals and ...

Big money politics
UDP inside sources tell the BELIZE TIMES that they expect anywhere between one million to two million dollars to be spent in the upcoming convention for Deputy Leader. “Money will be rolling,” said the insider. But why will so much money be involved in an inter-party election that ...

JP Association condemns actions of Mark King
The Association of Justices of the Peace & Commissioners of the Supreme Court condemns the behavior of the Hon. Mark King. Mr. King is a Justice of the Peace who was appointed through the association. The Association believes that as a Justice of the Peace Mr. King ...

Area Representatives and Ministers… for whom?
Queen Square, Mesopotamia, Collet and Port Loyola are four divisions on the Southside that voted red in the last general election. In those elections the victorious candidates were Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Michael Finnegan, Patrick Faber, and Anthony “Boots” Martinez. I contested the Port Loyola Division and ...

Of this and that…
RACIST BELIZE? February is Black History Month. It is celebrated because of blacks in the USA. Black people celebrate the dignity of their culture. The power structure is wicked. February is the shortest month. That is the month they gave blacks. They took the rest of months. What a thing. The UDP ...

Four Weeks Later, and still nothing…
On the serene morning of Tuesday 8th January, 2013, the residents of Dean and George Streets awoke and busied themselves as is their daily routine. The stillness in the air (which in retrospect now should have been a foreboding of things to come) was abruptly ended with ...

Racist Barrow?
A nasty racial tension is brewing in the United Democratic Party. The cause is Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s remarks on national television that he supports Gaspar Vega in the January 17th convention for UDP Deputy Prime ...

Drug Racket in Health Ministry?
There are strong allegations coming from a songbird in the Ministry of Health, and independently backed-up by two members of the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA), that some very senior officials in that Ministry are moonlighting in a drug racket, in which they are raking in thousands, if not millions of dollars. Our Ministry of Health source says that this high-level hustle began recently after the Inter-American Bank (IDB) provided money to the Ministry of Health, through a bi-lateral agreement between the IDB and the Government of Belize, to fund a Health Information and Management System. This system includes programmed assistance in the monitoring, procurement and distribution of pharmaceuticals throughout the government-run national health services, including hospitals and clinics. This includes the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) in Belize City. This hospital, about two years ago, was engulfed in a similar drug procurement racket involving cronies of the UDP government, and more specifically, Cabinet Ministers. It was a doctor and whistle blower, who is also a member of the BMDA that blew the lid on the mismanagement and corruption at this hospital. This stink embarrassed the government and forced the Prime Minister to appoint a Commission of Inquiry. ...

PUP Calls for Mark King’s Removal
The People’s United Party (PUP) voices its concern over the gravity of the unlawful behaviour of the Minister of State, Mark King and the feeble response of the Prime Minister to Minister King’s conduct. Following a criminal altercation that took place at the Princess Casino in the Corozal Free ...

PUP continues to assist family of slain cane farmer
PUP Leaders gathered in San Victor today for a special occasion; to continue respecting the life and sacrifice of cane farmer Atanascio Guttierez, who was killed by security forces during a cane farmers’ protest at the BSI Tower Hill entrance on February 2, 2009. To pay tribute, PUP leaders Hon. Florencio Marin Jr, Hon. Ramiro Ramirez, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai and Hon. Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez visited Atanascio’s widow and family in San Victor Village.

Remembering Thomas Francis Martinez
Dear Editor, I am very happy that in your Sunday, February 3rd, 2013 edition you chose to highlight the life of one of Belize’s most respect but least known Union leaders – Thomas Francis Martinez. I would appreciate the opportunity to share with your readers what was my personal remembrance of Tom with whom I had the privilege of working. Thomas known to a lot of us a “Tom” served the General Workers Union (GWU) in various capacities and later as the President up until the time of his retirement from trade unionism. Among some of his many achievements were seeing through the amalgamation of two fragmented unions to become the largest and most active and progressive unions in the history of Belize, in the 70s and into the 80s. Tom was a small man in structure and build, but when it came to championing workers’ rights, he was tall and fearless. He was deeply involved in the workers’ struggle no matter if it was the sugar industry, the rice industry, citrus and even Belize Electricity Board. Despite the setbacks caused by a lack of resources, Tom never relented. His fight for social justice accomplished many positive changes in the trade rules, many of which are being eroded today. I consider Tom as a powerful giant in unionism. We owe him respect and gratitude for his selfless work. We thank his family too for supporting him as he devoted time to the country. I am personally grateful for the humility, instructions, mentoring and guidance given to me. ...

Belizean-American Dr. Angela Banner-Joseph writes on crime and violence
Dear Editor, Each day in Belize, we experience a large number of crimes that seriously affect our community. There is no doubt that Belize is becoming more violent. We need to create real-world strategies to strategically address the problems that plague our community and families. It saddens me that the criminal offenses ...

Blogs

Ultimate Hot Wheels
Some of the cars I see in San Pedro remind me of Hot Wheels racers as you will see in my pictures below. For me it is a reminder that life in Belize is not the same as it was back in Canada. Seeing Hot Wheels cars around town always puts me in a good mood, similar to how I think living in a tropical climate and being a 10 minute walk from the Caribbean Sea is better than Prozac. I was planning to do this post when I got home last night but tv and a program on Nat Geo about Egypt and King Tut secrets caught our attention and I never made it back to my laptop. Here are my TGIF moments from yesterday: - Surprise of our house guest Dennis returning from the mainland early because he had to get his passport stamped at Immigration. - Getting a nice scalp massage at CG Esthetic when I went to get my hair done.

6 Photographs That Prove Belize is Pretty Awesome
Here are some of our favorite photos that prove Belize is pretty awesome for a vacation destination. The Belize Jaguars can be found throughout Belize in the lowland forests and along the coasts. According to the Belize Zoo Director, Adult jaguars are solitary and only come together for a short time to breed. We selected this photo because we believe that Jaguars are one of the most beautiful creatures to see in Belize. Caracol ( the snail in Spanish) is an important Maya site in western Belize and is located deep within the Chiquibul Nature Reserve. According to Jaime Awe, the Director of Archaeology in Belize, Caracol was the center of one of the largest Maya kingdoms in Mesoamerica and up to now, it contains the extant remains of thousands of structures. The reason why we selected this photo is because historically, Caracol has a very deep and interesting history and is a must see attraction in Belize. Rio On Pools are located on the road to Caracol Archeological Site and features a wide, open expanse of pine forest, and small waterfalls that cascade over large granite rocks, ending in round pools connected by natural waterslides. The reason why we selected this photo is because these pools and waterfalls are situated in a scenery not common in Belize.

What’s The World Famous Chicken Drop?
Chicken security, bring me my CHICKEN! That’s a sentence that only makes sense if you’re in a hyperbolic parallel universe or in San Pedro, Belize. San Pedro has made a fun tradition of gambling on chicken poop. Yes… you bet on a spot where you hope the chicken will poop and win you some money. $100 BZD to be exact. The game, which is hosted every Thursday starting at 7:00pm at Wahoo’s Lounge, looks almost like a bingo game without the golden age crowd and with a lot more booze. As a player, you bet on a number between 1 and 100, and the rest is up to the chicken. All you have to is cheer and lure the chicken to “drop” on your number. Now, here’s how the game goes…

I believe in MIRACLES!
It is not often that you genuinely believe that you have witnessed something short of a miracle but I feel that this week has been one of those instances. One of Caye Caulker’s greatest characters, Ras Creek (Bert Nicholas) fell into a coma last Saturday. He had been complaining of headaches and had not moved out of bed for three days and by Saturday his girlfriend realized something was far from correct. Creek was moved to the hospital where it was discovered he had not one but two blood clots on his brain and he was operated on. Doctors removed the clots successfully but felt that his prognosis was not good due to the injury and they worried that he perhaps would at least be disabled or even die. On Wednesday morning the Doctors decided to ‘wake’ him up and by the afternoon he was singing and making jokes in the hospital bed!! Improvements have been so speedy that Doctors are now confident that Creek will have a full recovery!! For me, this is a miracle – this and coupled with the amazing strength and resilience this true champion, pulled Creek from a desperate situation back to life!!! Or perhaps it was the power of prayer – Creek rightly so (due to his enormous heart and his impossibly infectious character) is a minor celebrity and is loved all over the world. The outpouring of international love that were willing him back to health was truly for that of a superstar – truly amazing! He and his rasta boat is synonymous with Caye Caulker and life without here would not be the same. We do not need to consider life without Ras Creek because as of today he is out of intensive care and on the long road to recovery – and that I feel is a miracle!!

Perfect Day
As has become the Saturday routine for me since the beginning of last August, I spent the greater part of the morning watching football. Started off with ESPN watching Spurs get the three points (ouch) by beating Newcastle United. This was followed, with a channel switch to Fox Soccer, at 9 am by watching Arsenal (with ten men for most of the second half) beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. A perfect start to the day (well for me at least). After taking care of one or two chores – I don’t just sit around watching football all day – Rose and I went to go look and see what was going on at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and we got there around 2 pm. Walking from the road to the house we could see that the guys had been making good use of the hoist to move a load of concrete blocks upto the First Floor.

Mennonite Gurls A'ken Cook: Saturdy n' Julie's Kitchin
T' photo above is mah kitchin, but I don’t want t'ell y'all about mah kitchin today. I want t' reminisce about Saturdy n' mah Mom’s trayler wen I wuz growin up. Saturdays were rigidlee set as t'Mom’s ordr uf thangs and ‘Saturdy wurk’ fallerd t'same routine week aftr week, year aftr year! Mos Mennonite homes would have bee much t'same. Saturdy wuz always a preparashun day with Sundy n' mind. T' trayler needed t'be cleend.. top t'bott'm. Everthang that could be, wuz dusted includin t'baseboards. I remembr t'baseboards bein one uf mah furst cheres as a youngn and I remembr crawlin' roun on mah hands and knees makin shure thay were all a'loose uf dust and ever uther week washed. Floers were scrubbed , and ever uther Saturdy were also waxed and polished. Everthang wuz tidied and put away. Beds were stripped and changd, ever uther week, reddy fer Mundy warsh day.

International Sources

The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards
The Sony World Photography Awards, an annual competition hosted by the World Photography Organisation, has recently announced its shortlist of winners. This year's contest attracted more than 122,000 entries from 170 countries. The photographs are being judged in six different competition categories, including Professional, Open, and Student Focus. The organizers have been kind enough to share some of their shortlisted images with In Focus, gathered below. Winners are scheduled to be announced in March and April. [40 photos]

Mount Mercy MBA students apply business lessons in Belize
Group partnered with local merchants, assisted with development strategy. A group of Mount Mercy University students last month partnered with small entrepreneurs in Belize and found that good business practices are often universal — what works for the largest operations can be translated to a mom-and-pop shop. “For us, it was very neat to see how the things that we learn when we talk to corporations … can be brought down to a small company that had basically just this man and his wife,” said Jesse Weyant, a Mount Mercy master of business administration student from Center Point. “It’s neat to see that the same things apply, just on a little smaller scale.” Bob Walker, associate professor and business department chairman, and Celina Peerman, adjunct professor of the MBA program, led the trip, taking 16 MBA students for a week in Punta Gorda, Belize, in January. The students partnered with small businesses in the community of about 5,500 people. The five businesses included a drum school, a gift shop and an Internet cafe. Weyant and two other MBA students on her team helped a small organic dried fruit business. The owner wanted to seek investors and begin exporting his fruit to Guatemala and the United States. But the students helped him see that he was overlooking his local market, team member Bob Heubner said. By the time the team left when their week was up, the business owner had sold out of his inventory. “We explained to him how it would be easier to focus on the local market, build his production process as efficiently as he could, then we built costing spreadsheets to help him determine his costs and prices,” said Heubner of Springville. “Based on our recommendations he actually went out and hired a person to help him ramp up production, to get sales and marketing in the local areas.” Another student team helped owner Emmeth Young with his Maroon Creole Drum School. The business was still organizing and unpacking after a move from a different town, and many of the former advertising and online efforts had fallen by the wayside. Young gives drum lessons but also sells homemade drums at his wife’s cafe, which was a business paired with a different MBA team. “That’s a classic business problem — you’ve got to have a sign,” said MBA student John Schroeder of Cedar Rapids. “He just had the drums kind of scattered around the cafe, some of them were priced and some of them weren’t. “Tourists would come in and didn’t understand.” So the students helped reorganize the drum display, show better pricing and helped with a logo and signs. Within the week, Young sold five drums, an amount it typically took him a month to sell, Schroeder noted. They also recommended he make a portfolio so interested customers could see what drums he has in stock.

VIDEO: The Science of Caves from ProjectExplorer.org’s “New World, New Millennium”
ProjectExplorer.org’s Kat Lonsdorf visits Rio Frio Cave in Belize to learn how caves are formed.

VIDEO: Composting & Organic Farming from ProjectExplorer.org’s “New World, New Millennium”
ProjectExplorer.org’s Kat Lonsdorf visits Chaa Creek to learn about organic farming and composting.

The World Didn’t End: Maya in Belize
“It looks fake,” says the Canadian, peering through his sunglasses at a reptilian hump in the distance. Our paint-flecked boat – Mrs. Cristina – glides closer, nosing marshy reeds. Captain Ignacio cuts the engine, and water ripples gently over the ridged torso, which remains motionless. “Yeah, it’s just a piece of driftwood,” says the New Yorker, handing the binoculars over. And with that, the baby crocodile pushes off with a muscular thrust of its tail, leaving a solitary, expanding water ring in its wake. It’s a prescient sign – we’re floating down the New River to the Maya site of Lamanai, whose name comes from “submerged crocodile.” Like many of Belize’s Maya ruins, Lamanai lies deep in the jungle – but it also overlooks the New River Lagoon, so most visitors journey here on a riverboat from Orange Walk, just as we were doing. The river waters are eerily placid, but the jungle along its banks are not: Howler moneys scamper overhead, emitting guttural howls, while a great blue heron extends its long neck, and flaps into the sky. As we float near a strange black cluster quivering on a tree branch, the swarm disbands, and hundreds of bats fly off every which way. An old barge, heavy in the water with its load of molasses, slowly drifts past us. On the deck sit three sun-browned beefy locals in sunglasses who raise their hands in unison. Around a bend, in the distance, lies the Dutch Mennonite settlement of Shipyard. It’s both a strange and beautiful image: Men in wide-brim hats and women in ankle-length dresses, hoeing the soil and hanging up laundry, against the tropical backdrop Belize.

Take Action–Belize: Our Life, Our Lands — Respect Maya Land Rights
In southern Belize, Sarstoon Temash National Park holds within its 42,000 acres the most pristine rainforest in the country. Its primary forests have been attributed by National Geographic as remnants of the ancient Maya’s agroforestry systems, and today continue to be sustainably maintained by the Maya peoples of Southern Belize. The Supreme Court of Belize ruled in 2007 and again in 2010 that the Maya who have ancestrally cared for these forests shall hold the legal titles to these lands. This court ruling, along with national and international laws, mandates that Indigenous Peoples must give their Free, Prior and Informed Consentbefore any development project that may affect them. But that right has been trampled on again and again by the Texas-based oil company US Capital Energy, which received a concession from the Belize government to extract oil in Southern Belize beginning in 2001. In further flagrant violation of the Maya land rights under national law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and recommendations by the Inter American Human Rights Commission, the government has now granted the oil company permits to move to the second phase of exploratory drilling in the park and on Indigenous territories. US Capital Energy has so far cut over 200 miles of seismic trails for oil exploration in the national park and on communities’ traditional lands, also causing forest fires destroying 400 acres, including the unique ecosystem of the sphagnum moss, the last of its kind in Central America.

Adopt a Jaguar
Once ranging from the southwestern United States to northern Argentina, jaguars currently inhabit Central and South America, and can be found in wet and dry forests, savannahs and shrub lands. These versatile carnivores feed on medium and large sized mammals, reptiles and birds. The third largest cat in the world, jaguars may weigh more than 300 pounds and are strong swimmers and climbers. Habitat loss and retaliatory killing continue to threaten the survival of the species. Populations have been greatly reduced in areas where humans have settled.