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#460341 - 03/16/13 03:02 PM Today's Belize News: March 16, 2013
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Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
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The San Pedro Sun

San Mateo Empowerment Project draws to a successful end
San-Mateo-Empowerment-Project-3After three full years in progress the San Mateo Empowerment Project came to an end on March 14th, 2013. The culmination of the project took place during a short ceremony at the entrance of the San Mateo Subdivision in northern San Pedro Town. The San Mateo Empowerment Project was the vision of Professor Kim Shackelford and the many students of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), who aimed to replace London bridges (long stretches of old wood planks over swamp) with roads for the people of San Mateo. Residents, students and teachers of the area attended the ceremony to show their appreciation towards the effort made by Ole Miss students and professors who have touched the lives of the needy people of the island. “Kim Shackelford is a blessing to us. San Mateo Empowerment Project is a blessing to the residents of San Mateo and we will forever be thankful,” said Grace Williams the Principal of Holy Cross Anglican School, and a resident living in San Mateo. End of San Mateo Road Project-4“San Mateo is the eyesore of the island,” said the Mayor of San Pedro Town Daniel Guerrero in his remarks indicating that the subdivision should have never taken place. San Mateo subdivision was built on swamp land that lacks adequate infrastructure such as roads, electricity, sewage system and most importantly, potable water. “But slowly we are turning the wheels and improving the lives of the people of this area,” continued Guerrero in his remarks. A change that Guerrero said, started with the San Mateo Empowerment Project.

“Woman at the End of the World” to feature ACES’s Cherie Chenot-Rose
Cherie-Chenot-Rose-ACESAs the world celebrates International Women’s Month, a Polish TV Production team travelled to Ambergris Caye, Belize to film a portion of their documentary series about extraordinary women throughout the world. The series, called “Woman at the End of the World”, takes viewers in a journey across the globe showcasing the life, culture and achievement of various incredible women. The series has been in production for three seasons and has become a great success in Europe, featuring exotic locations in Africa, Asia, South America and North America. Hosting the program is Martyna Wojciechowska, a Polish television presenter, journalist, traveler and writer. Wojciechowska is an exemplary woman herself, having conquered the Seven Summits in 2010. The Seven Summits is the name given to the highest mountain peaks in the seven continents of the world. Only about 200 people have climbed the Seven Summits since 2008. The Seven Summits are Mount Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, Mount Vinson and Carstensz Pyramid.

San Pedro Chapter of the Belize Red Cross elects new Executive Committee
The local chapter of the Belize Red Cross (BRC) held elections for their Board of Directors on March 14, 2013. The elections were held during a breakfast meeting held at Estel’s commencing at 10:45 am. Present at the meeting was director general of the Belize Red Cross, Lily Bowman. SP-Red-Cross-BODElected to the board are: Chairperson – Eiden Salazar; Vice-Chairperson – Antony Anderson; Treasurer – Carolyn Kumar; Ordinary member – Cheryl Bowen; Ordinary member – Sandro Cob; Ordinary member – Frank Panton; Youth representative – Swuine Diego and Secretary – Philip Ramsey. Lily-BowmanThe committee is still in need of an office coordinator; who will initially be offered a $250 monthly stipend to open the office three times per week and coordinate BRC activities. With the establishment of the San Pedro branch, this marks seven branches around the country of Belize. Bowman spoke about the meeting and what was accomplished. “This all comes in our attempt and efforts to reactivate our Belize Red Cross branch of San Pedro. Many, many years ago we had a very active branch out here and for whatever reason it went dormant. With this meeting, the group held the election of their Executive Committee and we are now able to declare the branch official.”

Ambergris Today

Video Pick: Miss Costa Maya 2010 in Music Video
In 2010 the San Pedro community saw a very talented Costa Maya contestant crowned Miss Costa Maya, her name - Gabriela Asturias. On the island and in Guatemala she is known as a triple treat with her skills in pagentry, dancing and hosting of events. Three years after being Costa Maya Festival, Asturias has been very busy making headlines in her home town of Guatemala City with her television show "Que Chilero" at Azteca Guatemala and with her all female dance group "Divash" who tours the entire country performing at special events. In January 2013, Divash got the opportunity to debut in Guatamalan Artist Ale Mendoza's music video featuring well renowned Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Dyland y Lenny. Ambergris Today, San Pedro and the International Costa Maya Festival Committee extend a huge congratulations to Gabriela and Divash on their successful truimphs!

Belizeans Graduate from Training Course in Combating Illicit Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives
Forty four Belizeans participants from various law enforcement departments and agencies in Belize have received certificates after completing a two-weeks training course in Combating Illicit Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives, sponsored by the United Nations Regional Center for Peace, Disarmament & Development in Latin America & the Caribbean (UNLIREC). The course, which ran from February 25 to March 8, 2013, covered a wide range of topics including the basics on firearms, legal framework, stock-pile management and disarmament. In her remarks at the Graduation ceremony, UNRILEC Director Melanie Regimbal stated, “Our goal over the last two weeks was not only to impart knowledge on the various firearm activities and how to conduct investigations, or how to look at classification of weapons, or crime scene management, or weapon destruction and practical disarmament measures. These are all issues that are fundamental and are the reason behind the course. But I hope that what you will have gotten out of the last ten days is really an insight as to what your other colleagues are doing to combat illicit firearms trafficking.”

Misc Belizean Sources

Belize Starts Project to Improve Traffic Security
The Belize government starts today a traffic security plan aimed at reducing the high rate of mortal traffic accidents registered here, informed Minister of State, Santino Castillo. Authorities are alarmed, as the country has the highest rate of deaths from traffic accidents in Latin America during the last years, reaching 21.6 per 100 thousand inhabitants, he said. Deaths from those incidents are the fourth cause of mortality in the country, added Castillo. The initiative valued in several millions of dollars, aims at improving the most critical places in roads and highways, strict application of traffic laws, contribute to traffic education and to the efficient response of the Western Regional Hospital, he said. The first stage will start by repairing the capital's most important highway, works that will last at least three years, specified to a local television network, Castillo who is also Minister of Economic and Financial Development.

Abraxas at Midas Tonight
Abraxas plays tonight at Midas Resort. In Bloom will open. It's great to finally see great live music in Cayo every weekend.

SIPL Hosts Hope Preschool
The San Ignacio Public Library hosted Hope Preschool for Children's Month. Reading at a young age is a great idea. "'Valuing literacy: Fostering change and shaping minds'. Children had a blast of fun with stories and activities at the San Ignacio Public Library."

La Ruta Maya 2013 Statistics
The La Ruta Maya statistics have all been posted online. Congratulations once again to the Belize Bank Bulldogs, NICH, and Ziprider for taking first, second, and third places. Team Natius placed first in the Intramural division, and the Oceana Wavemakers placed first in the Masters division. See the rest on their Google spreadsheet online. In related news, Danny Chung's picture of the LRM will be published internationally soon. "This shot will be featured in an international magazine as a two page spread. (Will let you know when it is published.)"

Channel 7

Masseuse Who Used Spycam On Clients Goes To Jail
68 year-old Kevin Lee, the acupuncturist who made local and international news when he was arrested and deported to Belize for deviant sexual behavior is in jail tonight, after he was convicted his criminal trial today. Viewers may remember that in October of 2011, he was detained in Los Angeles when reports emerged in Belize that he secretly made hundreds of videos of his clients - men and women included - as they undressed in his clinic. But Belizean privacy laws do not encompass clandestine videotaping, so nothing could come from all those recordings. The DPP's office relied instead on a 20 year-old woman who came forward and made a report of aggravated assault of an indecent nature against him. This woman came to Magistrate's Court and testified in the trial which started last year that on April 6, 2011, she went to his clinic to get a back massage. She said that during this supposed massage; Lee fondled her, which caused her to be annoyed because he was abusing her trust. She said that she paid Lee $60 and left quickly that day, very upset by the inappropriate behavior.

No Bail, Meighan Family Remains Remanded
Tonight the entire Meighan family from Banak Street - including mother, daughter and two sons continue to be on remand at the Hattieville Prison after their Supreme Court bail application failed today. Their attorney Richard Dickie Bradley tried to secure bail, but according to the family's information the DPP's office did not sign the waiver, so it could not be processed. But on a check with the DPP, she said that no application was on her desk and as far as she knows nothing came into her office as yet. With that, the entire family remains on remand until their next court date April 17th. They can try to apply again next week Friday. As we reported, the GSU found two live and very shiny nine-millimeter rounds in their house on March 6th - and because no one wanted to own up to it, the entire family was imprisoned. The family claims a police unit planted the rounds on a previous search.

Bze Foreign Minister Says Belize May Go Ahead With It's Own Referendum
Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington and a delegation of senior Belizean diplomats leave Belize tomorrow for Washington DC. They are heading to an emergency Sunday night meeting with their Guatemalan counterparts and the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza. The subject is the Guatemalan government publicly pushing the panic button on the October sixth referendum. On Wednesday, President Otto Perez Molina told the Guatemalan media that his country might want to postpone the referendum until next year. That's not the kind of thing casually said in public - and today, Belizean Foreign Minister Elrington discussed the implications of this extraordinary pronouncement by President Perez Molina: Hon. Wilfred Elrington - Minister of Foreign Affairs "I was certainly surprised that he would have been talking about it in the press. We have been discussing with his foreign minister, and we thought that we would have kept it at the level where, we would make any public announcement until after we have met with the people at the OAS,. So that was a surprise to me. I get the sense that he is getting pressured in his own country, and he has to speak to his constituencies, so that they can allay any fears that they may have and I think that might be one of the reasons why he would have been moved to do that."

Elrington Issues Another Caution To Territorial Volunteers
And we also got Minister Elrington and his CEO Alexis Rosado to speak about the ongoing efforts by the Belize Territorial Volunteers. That's the Wil Maheia group that's going back to clear other parts of the border on April 6thand 7th. Wil Maheia will go to the area of Gracias a Dios in Southwestern Belize, Nancy Marin will go to the area of Garbutt Falls in Western Belize, and Orlando De la Fuente will head to Aguas Turbias in Northwestern Belize. Today, Elrington again cautioned them about the hazards of border clearing, while his CEO was more moderate: Hon. Wilfred Elrington - Minister of Foreign Affairs "A part from that, those areas are covered in thick jungles. We can't go cut that with machetes; that's thick jungle. So you've been there, you've shown over and over, but I do appreciate that some people believe - genuinely believe - that it is an act of nationalism. I could understand people being nationalistic they are, but I think it's a dangerous way of showing their nationalism, dangerous for yourself, for the nation, and to that extent we advise against it."

Superbond 2.0: The High Cost Of Doing Business, Internationally
We've reported plenty of times on the savings that the Government of Belize realized by re-negotiating Superbond 2.0 -almost 500 million Belize dollars in the first 9 years. It's impressive, but to get that kind of a deal, it's also expensive - principally because Government had to hire international lawyers and financial advisors. How expensive? Well, Government has released the cost of renegotiating the Superbond - and we can see why the Prime Minister called it "astronomical". The cost incurred so far is only $1.4 million US dollars, but after the bond offering formally closes sometime next week - that's when the other costs kick in. Those total up to another $6.5 million US dollars, which is being spent on legal and financial advisors, information agents, contribution to creditor committee costs, and other services. In total, it's about $8 million US dollars. And while that's plenty, the Prime Minister told the media on Wednesday that it pales against the savings that were realized: Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize "The cost is, in Belizean terms, astronomical, but when you look at the savings then we realized, it's a price we had to pay. In the larger scheme of things, of course, it's well worth it. On a net basis, we're way ahead of the game, so we're very pleased - we're happy with - look, the legal service came from Cleary Gottlieb Steen. I've now come to realize that the partner, who handled our reconstructing legally Lee Buchheit, is the Dean of restructurings, of sovereign restructurings internationally. Could we have gone for some quasar bush legal and paid less, yeah, but this thing was so critical that we clearly needed the best. I think we've also been well served by our financial adviser, White Oak Advisory."

Loose Lips Sink Murder Trials? Juror’s Loose Comment Causes Case To Collapse
Over 3 years ago, on August 18, 2009, the body of Alberto Travis Allen was found at the dumpsite on the George Price Highway. He had gunshot wound to the neck, his throat was cut, and an object had been rammed down his throat. Yesterday a mistrial was declared against the men accused of killing him, 24 year-old Cordel Flores and 21 year-old Warren Lewis. The trail started two weeks ago but yesterday morning it took a turn when one of the jurors reportedly commented in the presence of a police officer that both defendants had a winning case. The officer reported this to Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith who then applied to discharge the jury. Her reasoning was that this comment reflects that the jurors are pre-judging the defendants before all the evidence is presented to the court. She continued that this was a miscarriage of justice because the men are not being given a chance at a fair trial.

Work Underway On The Western
Last night we told you about the launch of the Road Safety project - and today - work on the Western Highway was underway. It's re-surfacing work on a particularly deadly stretch of road at mile 31 where many lives have been lost. Works Minister Rene Montero explained: Hon. Rene Montero - Minister of Works "We're concerned about the number of accidents that are happening in this road, and we're trying to minimize that, to insure that the public has a safe road and a well worthy road. We intend to expand this from Belmopan to the boarder - to the Benque Border. So right now, we're going to do a 3-phase project and then eventually we're going to do the whole Highway, the whole George Price Highway, from Belize City to Belmopan - to the Western Boarder. We have on the table right now, in the pipe line, to pave this Highway. To pave the Coastal Road, we're seeking funding for that, and also we're seeking funding for the Caracol Road, because that's a major tourist destination. But this Coastal Road has a lot of potential."

Facing Down Stage-4 Cancer
And while road traffic accidents are the fourth leading cause of death in the country, various cancers account for 11 of the top 50 causes of death in Belize. And while the numbers are alarming, coming face to face with a terminal cancer diagnosis is even more disturbing. Yesterday, Monica Bodden spoke to a 58-year-old woman facing stage four cancer. She also visited the cancer society that has to deal with many such cases. Here's her report: Monica Bodden Reporting And while road traffic accidents are the fourth leading cause of death in the country, various cancers account for 11 of the top 50 causes of death in Belize. And while the numbers are alarming, coming face to face with a terminal cancer diagnosis is even more disturbing. Yesterday, Monica Bodden spoke to a 58-year-old woman facing stage four cancer. She also visited the cancer society that has to deal with many such cases. Here's her report: Statistics show that over the past 10 years cancer has been one of the ten leading causes in deaths and illness in the country and that there is an increase occurring. Ivorine Bulwer - Clinical Director, Belize Cancer Society "Cancer, it's in one of the 10 leading causes of death and illness in Belize, if you look at the statistics over the past 10 years. The numbers are increasing. I think the numbers are increasing with the number of awareness. Part of the rule of the Belize Cancer Society is to educate and provide information to individuals and the public at large on cancer. And I think that over the years, with that consistency of the Society to inform and educate the public, has created some change in behavior where people are getting check. I think, also, our First Lady, Mrs. Kim Simpliss - Barrow, with her diagnosis 2 years ago, that interest has been increased. People are getting screened. The only unfortunate situation is that quite a number of persons are getting screened, but their diagnosis are often in the late stage."

Cop Conviction Upheld
Marlon Harris, the ex-police officer who was convicted of extortion in March of 2010, will have to pay the $10,000 fine ordered by the Supreme Court, because the Court of Appeal upheld his conviction and dismissed his appeal today. Harris' attorney, Said Musa presented the Judges of the Appeal Court with 6 grounds on which they were basing the appeal on. Those included an unreasonable verdict given the evidence presented in the original trial and 5 grounds of jury misdirection by the trial judge. After hearing the appeal to completion, which included having the Director of Public Prosecutions respond to those grounds, the panel of judges ruled that the appeal was dismissed and the conviction and sentence must stand. On March 23, 2010, Harris was convicted before Justice Troadio Gonzalez of extorting $100 from a private citizen on December 1, 2008, while at a police checkpoint.

Retrial For Alleged Rapist
And while Harris' appeal was dismissed, 21 year-old Isaac Chan will get a new rape trial in the next session of the Supreme Court. He was convicted and sentenced to 8 years where he allegedly assaulted a 16 year-old female minor on September 17, 2010. According to the victim, she got a lift from Chan while Honey Camp Road in Orange Walk. According to her, instead of taking her home, he took her to a separate area and raped her. He was convicted in the Northern Session of the Supreme Court on May 9, 2012, but his attorney Anthony Sylvester presented the Appeal Court with 4 grounds of jury misdirection by the trial judge.

Real Work By Restore Belize
3 weeks ago, we showed you Belizean trainers diligently at work imparting the conflict mediation training they received from the US State Department's Conflict and Stabilization Operations. It's part of Restore Belize's continued effort to provide peaceful advocacy training to members of the different organizations who must mediate in all sectors of society where disputes are expected to occur regularly. Those areas includes the Government departments involved in the second chance programs, at risk youth programs and the rehabilitation centers. It's now being adapted in the education sector, and in the rural communities. Today, Restore Belize held a small ceremony in honor of the participants who were trained by the Belizean trainers as they complete the course. We found out that these newly trained mediators are passionate about the measurable results they see with mediation and its potential. According to the Director of Restore Belize it's because the training is based on basic human reasoning and science, and is not just another talk-shop.

D'.Bi Dubs In Belize
If you're familiar with the work of Jamaican Reggae artist Mutabaruka, then you'll know what dub poetry is - basically it's spoken word usually over reggae rhythms. That's what a visiting Jamaican artist specializes in. Her name is D'bi and tomorrow night, she promises to set lyrical fire to the stage at the Bliss Center. We found out more about here today: Jules Vasquez Reporting Her name is D.Bi. She's a dub poet who has touched stages all over the world - but she's also a playwright and a storyteller D.be. Young Anitafrika - Dub Poet "I tell stories, you know." And the stories she tells are about difficult social realities, from child abuse to imperialism: D.be. Young Anitafrika "I feel like growing up in Jamaica and having growing up in a working class neighborhood, having gone to other prestigious high school in another part of Jamaica, moving to Canada, and moving around the world, what I've realize in all of these environments is that as people, we are people. So, the social issues that we're facing in Jamaica, the issues around incest, molestation, the issues around not having equal access because of how you are in society, where your position on the class line, or even if I go to Sweden and see people sleeping on the streets who has similar issues around access to resources. The issues that were drawing me in Jamaica were not just about Jamaica, and the ones that were drawing me in Canada were not just about Canada, we're talking about global realities for all human beings."

Belize Ballers Lose Games + Big Man
The men's senior national basketball team is presently in Costa Rica competing in the Central American Games. The tournament started on Sunday and so far Belize has played its first two games against Honduras and Nicaragua - both of which we lost. But there is more bad news to report. In Last night's game against Nicaragua, one of our star players got his knee blown out. Belizean American Englebert Cherrington, who is the tallest player on the team, is unable to continue playing in the games due to his injury. So what does this mean for our men's national team? We asked Charles Ellis, who is the Vice President of the Basketball Federation. Charles Ellis - Vice-President, Belize Basketball Federation "Our only big man, about 6'7 - 6'8 Inglebert Cherrington,the Belizean American we flew in from Atlanta, he got his knee blown out last night in the game against Nicaragua."

The Annual Women’s Ride
And the festivities continue in the month of March as the Women Department celebrates Women's Month. Tomorrow the department will be hosting its annual Bike Rally and is inviting Belizeans to come out and support the event. The acting Director of the Department told 7news today that the event is about promoting healthy living: Cynthia Williams - Acting Director, Women's Department "We'll be having our annual bike rally tomorrow. This has become a national event because all the bike rallies that are being organized by the Women's Department in each of the districts will be occurring tomorrow March 16th, and so we are inviting the general public to be a part of it. If you can't come to Belize City you will definitely be able to go to the major town in that district that you are living. It's really an opportunity for the department to promote healthy living, to promote unity and teamwork. It is an opportunity for people to just participate in a fun filled activity, along with your family or along with your staff. We're inviting all business to be a part of - Police is one of the organizations that really come out in full with their police officers, we are also very happy to see Collet and other organizations. We have several of the banks, who throughout the years have also invited their staff to participate in this even.

Channel 5

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington shocked that Guatemala wants to change referendum date
A special agreement signed between Belize and Guatemala specifies that the referendum on taking the territorial claim to Belize should be held on the same day, October sixth. But Guatemala is now seeking to change that and had been sending signals for some time. A bulletin straight from the office of President Otto Perez Molina, [...]

Another border line clearing by Wil Maheia and his Territorial Volunteers
Despite dire predictions and warnings by officials of government and the B.D.F., Toledo activist Wil Maheia, his Belize Territorial Volunteers and about one hundred and twenty-five Belizeans travelled near the Belize-Guatemala border without incident on March second. Emboldened by what it says was the successful symbolic gesture, the group is at it again. This time [...]

Sedi Elrington says the Bar Association is horrible
A proposal to change the Legal Profession Act is being hotly debated among legal minds.  That issue blew up earlier this week and today the Attorney General Wilfred Elrington indicated that he will be moving very soon to push through the amendment which will remove compulsory membership in the Bar Association. The move came to [...]

Restructured bond means no payment to former owners of utility companies
No press conference held by Prime Minister Dean Barrow on any matter related to the economy would be complete without an attack on Lord Michael Ashcroft. The Prime Minister on Wednesday announced the terms of the restructured debt of the Belize bond 2038 and again Ashcroft’s name came up. According to the PM the restructured [...]

Kevin Lee guilty of aggravated assault of an indecent nature
  Sixty-eight year old businessman Kevin Lee, a well-known massage therapist, is tonight beginning a year-long sentence at the Belize Central Prison.  Lee, who has been embroiled in an outrageous scandal involving the unauthorized videotaping of dozens of his former clients, was found guilty and convicted of aggravated assault of an indecent nature.  In April [...]

B.T.I.A. Orange Walk Chapter condemns students’ beating of monkey to death
As we reported in our previous newscasts, residents of Orange Walk, as well as various conservation organizations, have expressed outrage over an act of extreme animal cruelty, which led to the death of a howler monkey at the hands of a group of teenagers.  The incident occurred at the Belize High School of Agriculture in [...]

$150,000 paid to DPM’s cronies involved in Placencia land grab
On Wednesday eyebrows were raised when Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed on national television that market value would be paid to four persons after land was given to them with title, and then taken away. It’s a practice which seems to have become the biggest land game in town. It goes something like this – [...]

2013 Human Development Report; where does Belize stand?
The 2013 Human Development Report was launched in Mexico City on Thursday. The study which extended to one hundred and eighty- seven countries looked at the levels of longevity, education and income. Narrowing it down to our region, the report found that by 2030 Latin America and the Caribbean will be home to one in [...]

N.T.U.C.B. lashes out at Kolbe Foundation for firing of employees
The National Trade Union Congress of Belize is lashing out at the Kolbe Foundation over a reported number of terminations and suspensions of Kolbe employees.  The N.T.U.C.B. cites the recent termination of the Casimiro brothers and is calling on Kolbe to reinstate them and to explain why specifically they were terminated. The Congress also cautions [...]

Belizean ballers injured in Costa Rica
A contingent of Belizean athletes is participating in thirteen sporting events in the Central American Games being held in San Jose, Costa Rica. So far the country has won medals in four disciplines including female softball, athletics, heptathlon and triple jump. But in basketball, the team, captained by veteran baller, Keith Acosta, has not been [...]

The Second Annual Primary School Table Tennis Tournament
In other sporting news, for the second year, students cleaned up their tennis paddles and headed to the Belize Elementary School where the Primary School Table Tennis Tournament was held today. Although the tournament is relatively new, the number of participants has grown with new entrants joining returning athletes.  Duane Moody reports.   Duane Moody, [...]

Preschoolers unleash their talent in the 2013 Preschool Festival of Arts
Since Tuesday, the annual pre-school Festival of Arts has been taking place here in Belize City. Over one hundred performances by students from some thirty-six preschools throughout the Belize District will, by the end of the week, take to the Bliss Stage to showcase their talents in drama, music and dance. The festival is being [...]

Career Fair held at Canaan High School
But over here on Coney Drive, high school students from Canaan have throughout this week taken time to consider their future career paths. A Career Fair was held on Thursday where the young minds heard presentations from numerous organizations providing them with valuable information on career options.   News Five’s Carla Bradley reports.   Carla Bradley, [...]

CTV3

Business Establishment Gets Trade Licence Revoked By OWTC After False Pretenses
Yesterday afternoon our newsroom was flooded with calls from concerned citizens requesting information on a number of gaming machines being unloaded off a container parked in front of the D Star Victoria Hotel located on the Belize Corozal Road. Now, when we hear about gaming machines, and we are not talking about one or two, the first thing that comes to mind is (casino). With rumors going around that a casino will be opened in Orange Walk sometime in the near future, we contacted Mayor Kevin Bernard and asked him if the Town Council had issued a Trade License for the operation of a casino recently. His answer was, quote unquote “definitely not”. But what about the more than 40 gaming machines that was taken into the lower flat of the D Victoria Hotel? Well, according to the Mayor, someone is trying to defy the Town Councils decision. Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town “I too received that same concern and that call and what we did is that I immediately sent out my evaluation team to go and inspect the building which is located downstairs of D-Star Victory Hotel and from my records that I have, there is this one Jian Xing Cheng that had applied for a sports bar to operate on that location. Now when we heard that there was an amount of about 40 plus machines that were taken into that establishment which immediately raise alarm. So our evaluators went there and took pictures, got evidence that there are gaming machines in that quantity and from what I am looking at, these individuals never did apply to operate any gaming establishments. They applied to operate a sports bar. And so we have issued, today, a revocation of their trade license application and the chairman liquor license and myself as the secondary signature, have also issued a revocation of their liquor licenses application. And thus a stop order has also been issued for them to cease and desist from any alteration to that establishment that they are doing.”

Students Speak Out About What Really Happened To Howler Monkey
Last night we aired the video footage showing 4 male students of the Belize High School of Agriculture assaulting the black howler monkey that was found badly injured on the grounds of the Belize High School of Agriculture on March 5th. So far, except for the Principal of the high school, no one else has come forward to explain exactly what happen, that is until tonight. There have been a number of speculations, including, that a teacher of the high school ordered a group of students to kill the monkey after it defecated on him while he was sleeping in some bushes located behind the school, a report which Principal Cecilio Pech has denied. However, according to students of the high school, one of their male teachers has a lot do with what transpired on March 5th. According to the students, the male teacher instructed the group to capture the monkey after the animal urinated on him. In order to protect the identity of the students their voice has been altered.

PlusTV

Minister of Foreign Affairs speaks about Belize/ Guatemala Emergency meeting this weekend
Today Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington outlined the plans for the Belize delegation to attend an emergency meeting in Washington, D.C. this weekend called after Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina told the press this week that Guatemala is seeking a postponement of the October 2013 referendum on its...

NTUCB accuses Kolbe foundation of “astounding atrocities”
The National Trade Union Congress of Belize issued a press release today, warning the Kolbe Foundation to refrain from intimidating and infringing on Kolbe employees constitutional rights to organize and associate. According the press release, there have been a number of terminations and suspensions of Kolbe Foundation employees –...

Video-taping masseuse Kevin Lee sentenced to prison.
Acupuncturist and massage Therapist Kun Lin Lee, aka “Kevin Lee” was convicted of aggravated assault of an indecent nature today. A $60 dollar massage is costing the masseuse a year in prison. Today after he was found guilty, Lee stated, and we quote, “Jesus Understands me.” – end quote. ...

Minister of Foreign Affairs discourages Belize Territorial Volunteers from another border visit
The Belize Territorial Volunteers are planning another trek for the week after Easter but Government’s concerns remain the same: errors in determining where the border is to be cleared and possible exposure to Guatemalan forces among others. The Minister of Foreign Affairs says that while he understands the patriotism...

Medical Missionary Team visits Twin Towns
A group of medical practitioners were in San Ignacio and Santa Elena today to offer free medical assessment and treatment to residents in the area. Every year, the team from Florida hosts day clinics in various remote areas of the country. Renee Ester is one the medical mission team....

Police conclude empowerment programme at St. Martin’s Government School
It’s never too early to start equipping children with positive life skills, and the Police Department has partnered up with the US Embassy to do just that. Yesterday the Police Department wrapped up a six week program on gang resistance education and conflict resolution at the St. Martin’s Government...

Bar Association of Belize prepares to debate an amendment
As the Bar Association of Belize prepares to debate an amendment that some argue could imperil its very existence, attorneys have come out for and against changes to the Legal Profession Act that would allow separate associations other than the Bar. Richard “Dickie” Bradley claimed that Attorney General Wilfred...

PM confirms land returned for reserve in Placencia
Controversy erupted in Placencia over a set of land sold to persons aligned with the Barrow administration, which residents say should be set aside for a reserve. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed their return. Dean Barrow – Prime Minister: There was a complaint made to me...

JP Association to train Saturday
The national Association of Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of the Supreme Court is the association with the function of looking after those two important classes of legal officials. There are over 3,000 Justices and Commissioners in the country, most politically appointed, of which about 600 are members...

Gospel Expo at Belmopan Showground this weekend
The National Agriculture and Show Grounds is getting a quick revamping for a weekend event. No it’s not an early Agric Show, but a Gospel Expo. The fair which kicks off tomorrow morning, will see a full day of entertainment and presentations. There will also be display booths, a...

Executive director of The Word At Work, Tim Tam, is home from rehab
We have an update on Executive director of The Word At Work, Tim Tam and his wife. The Word at work is an organisation that has many projects in Belize and Tim Tam and his wife Lisa were involved in a traffic accident near San Juan, New Mexico, on...

Rozel Arana is new Deputy Mayor of Orange Walk Town
The Orange Walk Town Council has announced its new Deputy Mayor. The current council had previously vowed to select a new deputy mayor yearly and this year that person is Councilor Rozel Arana. The council has additionally made other changes which includes shifts in councilors’ portfolios.

Men accused of murder of Alberto Travis may get a retrial
It was three weeks into a murder trial being heard in the Supreme Court, when a juror’s comment brought the trial to a sudden halt. 24 year old Cordel Flores and 21 year old Warren Lewis were being tried for the 2009 murder of Alberto Allen, when an unexpected...

Two Chinese-owned businesses targeted by robbers
Two Chinese-owned businesses were targeted by robbers. The first happened on Tuesday in Belize City. Tommy Zhu reported to Police that he was with his wife inside Sunny Li when two men entered the establishment, one armed with a handgun and demanded money. The men made off with an...


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#460342 - 03/16/13 03:03 PM Re: Today's Belize News: March 16, 2013 [Re: Marty]
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Amandala

OMBUDSMAN’S REPORTS, 2009-2011, HIGHLIGHT INJUSTICES IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR
85% of the 790 cases remain open or unresolved. Ombudsman Lionel Arzu, appointed this January after the office had been vacant for about a year, has his work cut out for him. Apart from having to catch up with the backlog of work at the office, he will have to appear at the meeting of the Ombudsman Report Committee, slated for Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Also present at the meeting will be former Ombudsman Cynthia Pitts, who prepared the 2009, 2010, and 2011 reports, which were tabled at the last Sitting of the House of Representatives. There has been a marked downturn in the number of complaints taken to the Office of the Ombudsman: The office processed 332 complaints in 2009, 275 cases in 2010, and 183 cases in 2011. Of those 790 cases lodged over the three-year period, 85% of the cases remain open or unresolved. Pitts told us that the bulk of the complaints she had to process alleged abuses by the police. Next in line were complaints involving lands, such as problems getting land titles or complaints that private lands had been sold off without the knowledge or consent of owners.

IDEAS AND OPINIONS – OUR CAPITAL IS BELMOPAN
Paris is the capital of France, of England it is London, of Spain, Madrid, and of Italy, Rome. Capitals of all countries are cities, but the word city is not included in their names, unless the name of the country and its capital is the same. Mexico City is the capital of Mexico, Guatemala City of Guatemala and Panama City of Panama, for the obvious reasons that there would be confusion, if they were not distinguished in this way. Belize City was named the capital of our country for the same reason. If this piece is sounding like a lecture for school children, that is exactly what is intended. It is also intended as a reminder to television broadcasters and talk show hosts who have been referring to our capital over the airways as Belmopan City. I have to admit that it may have a certain ring to it which the name by itself may not have. Also it sounds more imposing. Perhaps the citizens of Belmopan may even like it better, being self-conscious of their present small population. But, Belmopan is the official name of our capital city and, we have a duty to respect that fact. There is another reason why we should treat the name of our capital with respect, even reverence. It has a unique history, beginning with the famous poem, “We Unite to Build a Nation,” written by our National Hero, George Price, when he was Premier. He had a vision of Belize becoming a great nation, when he wrote these lines, Look west, Belizean builders, see the shining mountain and the Jeweled City of Mopan, radiating Light and Love and Peace and Joy. He must already have had in mind, a capital city, built in the interior, on a high hill, away from stormy winds.

46 ILLEGAL CLEARINGS AND 9 ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS REPORTED IN CHIQUIBUL
“Clearing of forest this year is more aggressive… By the end of March this could have doubled…” FCD Exec Director, Rafael Manzanero said. Executive Director of Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), Rafael Manzanero, has informed Amandala that 2 aerial flights conducted with the help of LightHawk and the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) on February 15 and March 5, 2013, indicate increasing incursions, and particularly clearings by Guatemalans for farming and settlements. Manzanero said that “…clearing of forest this year is more aggressive and we anticipate that forest fires in the Chiquibul this year will be high. In the next six months this will all be crops and it will be difficult to extract people.” The image accompanying this article shows a composite map from the two flyovers along the Belize-Guatemala border, which indicate new developments for 2013. Forty-six new clearings were reported along with nine illegal settlements—this excluding the residence of Guatemalan Rigoberto Gutierrez, who has been residing within the protected area for over two decades.

NAZARENE HIGH SCORES DOUBLE – MALE AND FEMALE CHAMPIONSHIP IN CSSSA SOFTBALL
The Finals of the Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) high schools softball tournament were played on Saturday at Rogers Stadium, and for the first time ever, Nazarene High School has won both the male and female championships, and will be representing the Central Zone this weekend in the Nationals to be held in Belize City. We have not yet receive the scores from the CSSSA, but it is confirmed that Nazarene’s female ace of CODICADER fame Ashley Lucas pitched the girls to victory over E.P. Yorke High; while Jerome Carr was the pitcher of record for the Nazarene boys who defeated a game SJC for the male championship. Both Nazarene female and male teams will represent the Central Zone in tomorrow’s high school Nationals at Rogers Stadium.

BDF ON TOP AT WEEK 5 OF PLB CLOSING SEASON
Week 6 clash of security forces: Police vs BDF at MCC... Already Week 5 is history, and the race is hotter than ever in the 2012-2013 Closing Season of the Premier League of Belize, as, for the first time this season, defending champion Belmopan Bandits have been knocked out of their top position in the standings. Belize Defence Force (BDF), who drew twice with 1-1 scores against the Bandits in the Opening Season, handed the Bandits their only defeat a week ago, 2-nil, in this Closing Season, and now trail the Bandits by only 1 point in the aggregate race for the coveted Champions League berth. (See standings at bottom.) No team is undefeated so far in this Closing Season, and all have made their mark in the win column. Some teams may have been affected more than others in Week 4 and Week 5 games because of the absences of their U-20 National Team players who left on Sunday, March 3, to represent Belize at the Central American Games in Costa Rica. Perhaps, most affected were F.C. Belize (John King, Avian Crawford and Khambrel Blease) and Belmopan Bandits (Denmark Casey, Jr., David Madrid and Edmund Pandy, Jr.), but they should all be back in time for hostilities this weekend.

RECORD HOLDER MARLON CASTILLO WINS SMART BELMOPAN CYCLING CLASSIC; CROSS COUNTRY IS NEXT
Thanks to the sponsorship of SMART, the 32nd Annual SMART Belmopan Cycling Classic went off without a hitch, and it was record holder from 2008 Marlon Castillo emerging victorious from a field of close to 60 cyclists on Sunday, March 10, in a race that, for the first time, started and finished in front of the SMART headquarters building at Mile 2 ½ on the Philip Goldson (Northern) Highway. An exciting twist at the finish was the extra “lap” around the two roundabouts that gave fans more opportunity to appreciate the efforts of the cyclists as they neared the finish. The Open/Elite and Masters rode together to Belmopan and back; while the Juniors/Youth and Women race went to La Democracia and back. The Belmopan Classic, approximately 100 miles for the Elite race, as it comes so near to the Holy Saturday Cross Country, is traditionally viewed as a primer, a tune-up for the cyclists, and a preview for fans who are keen to assess the relative “condition” of the various contenders for the Big One. And sure enough, all the big names were there at the finish, with defending champion from 2012, Ron Vasquez, proving that last year’s showing was no accident, as he battled eventual winner Marlon Castillo to the final sprint, despite being hampered by a leg injury from a fall sustained earlier in the race.

NATIONALISM OVER ALL Editorial
“Despite pleas from Iran, the Shiites of Iraq did not rally to Iran. Religion was not able to overcome nationalism and state control. On the other side, the ethnic Arabs living in the areas of Iran adjacent to Iraq did not rally to the Iraqi case. Ethnic identity, like religion, proved weaker than nationalism and state police control.” - pg. 82, WAR, PEACE, AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, David W. Ziegler, Addison-Wesley Longman, 2000 “From the 1490s on, an additional factor was added to this potent mix: the experience of the Discovery and Conquest. The result was an ideology of empire that made the Discovery and Conquest not only noble and justified endeavors but also the duty of the faithful. This ideology consisted not just of abstract ideas concocted for the benefit of the crown; it was supported by official statements that came both from the papacy and the Spanish monarchy. In the wake of Columbus’s first voyage, the pope presided over a Castilian-Portuguese treaty that divided the Americas, still a largely imagined region, between the two kingdoms. Thus, in effect, Spaniards were the recipients of a divine grant of lands and peoples they had yet to find and see, let alone subdue. This permitted claims of possession to be seen as synonymous with possession itself. Through the simple acts of arrival and declaration, Spaniards placed lands ‘under the lordship’ of the Spanish crown. Everything that followed, the entire business of Conquest and colonization was the consolidation of that possession.” - pg. 68, SEVEN MYTHS OF THE SPANISH CONQUEST, Matthew Restall, Oxford University Press, 2003 It only took the Honorable Louis Farrakhan a day in Belize on his third visit to realize that an extraordinary institution existed here which he intended to acknowledge and endorse publicly. Minister Farrakhan acknowledged and endorsed Kremandala in his keynote address to the Belizean nation last Friday night at Bird’s Isle.

FROM THE PUBLISHER
The leadership of Kremandala held a series of inspiring meetings with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his inner circle between Thursday and Saturday mornings last week. In 1975, I had briefly met the Minister on his first visit to Belize. I did not meet him on his second visit here in 1986. So, this was the very first time we had sat down to talk privately. Minister Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam is a religious organization, while Kremandala is a secular one. The Minister’s NOI is also a business organization, and a powerful one, while Kremandala grew out of a black activist organization which was significantly influenced by Islamic leaders between 1969 and 1972. A commonality between the NOI and Kremandala derives from a serious concern about people of African descent in this part of the world. Several months ago I referred in this column to black Americans as the financial and technological elite of the black world. During one of his speeches last week, Minister Farrakhan said that if one were to measure the gross domestic product of black America by the standards of a nation-state, black America would be the seventh or ninth largest nation in the world. As it is, of course, black America is an integral part of the United States of America, so the separate GDP measurement would only be a teaching tool. I did not hear all of the Minister’s speeches last week, but he never dove deep down into the matter of the Guatemalan claim to Belize. I have been told that the Minister did suggest, at the end of his Bird’s Isle presentation, that Belize meet Guatemala halfway, so to speak, where the matter of our southern sea is concerned. The Minister and I did not hold any in-depth discussions about the claim.

GUATEMALA GOVERNMENT INDOCTRINATING ITS YOUNG CITIZENS Letters
Dear Editor, While perusing the Guatemalan newspaper La Prensa Libre, I came across this article that the Guatemalan Ministry of Education is instructing schools to use – a map of that country showing the country of Belize as a part of Guatemala. If you notice, all the other countries have solid lines defining the borders, but Belize has a dotted line reinforcing the point that we are a part of Guatemala. They have included a caption stating that “the territorial dispute is pending resolution” . While we are here talking about education on this Guatemala issue, our neighbors are busy indoctrinating another generation with the concept, “Belice es nuestro”. Where is this indoctrination in our schools? Truth be told, patriotism is a function of indoctrination, and I would have to say Guatemala is way ahead of us in that department. “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War.

FROM PAUL TO NURI Letters
Dear Nuri, A proposal for the GRANDEST ALLIANCE EVER. Sorry I missed meeting Minister Farrakhan in person, but I watched his three main speeches on television. He was magnificent! I am now convinced that what needs to be done is for the three great monotheistic religions to unite to combat radical secularism, radical individualism, radical subjectivism and radical sexualism. Almighty God promised Abraham that he would have children as numerous as the stars. Has not that prophecy been fulfilled? Jews, Christians and Muslims number about 4 billion. That’s more than half of the world’s population. But, we must increase our cooperation to combat the real evils of this world. The first step is for all Jews, Christians and Muslims to increase our awareness that we are all children of the same father – Almighty God or Allah, or Yahweh! There is no other God but Him! Not money! Nor race! Not religiosity! Not sex! We have allowed ourselves to hate one another because of differences in doctrines and beliefs. How curious that we have all been ignoring the very core of the teachings of Moses, Jesus and Prophet Mohamed. The greatest commandment is Love! of God and of my neighbor! Like Gandhi, we must remind ourselves daily that we are all children of God, the merciful, God, the greatest good!

GMOS AND YOUR HEALTH Letters
Dear Editor Thank you for providing a forum for Belizeans to discuss the growing controversy over the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our country. Some of your readers will recall that I was very fortunate to have been an apprentice for 13 years to Don Elijio Panti, Belize’s most celebrated Maya healer. Don Elijio was recognised worldwide, made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and received numerous awards, such as “Distinguished Contribution to Science” (The New York Botanical Garden) for his work. Since 1977 I have been working to preserve, use and further the knowledge of Belize’s vast cornucopia of medicinal plants as developed by the Maya over thousands of years and still used successfully throughout Belize. I only mention this to explain my rather unique perspective and why I am so opposed to the introduction of GMOs into Belize’s wonderfully rich yet fragile ecology. Don Elijio passed on to me a deep respect for how the Maya, over thousands of years, thrived using Belize’s countless species of plants for food, shelter, clothing and healing. It is a beautiful relationship that involves a profound reverence for nature and her plants, and especially with maize, or corn.

GOB RELIEVED: 86.17 % ACCEPTED NEW SUPERBOND TERMS
GOB says it needed at least 75 %... Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow held a press conference today, Wednesday, where he officially announced that the Government of Belize has completed the debt restructuring process. At least 75 percent of the bondholders had to accept the terms of the new bond offering in order to trigger a collective action clause. The offer has resulted in 86.17 percent of bondholders tendering their bonds due in 2029, in exchange for new bonds due in 2038, reported a pleased Prime Minister. The PM said that the fact that this happened is testament to how successful the Debt Restructuring Team had been during the restructuring process. The team was lead by Ambassador Mark Espat and the members were Minister of Labor, Local Government, Rural Development and National Emergency Management Hon. Godwin Hulse, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, Governor of Central Bank of Belize Glenford Ysaguirre, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Finance Allan Slusher, Deputy Advisor to the Ministry of Finance Yvette Alvarez, CEO for the Ministry of Economic Development Yvonne Hyde, and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Belize Christine Vellos. Superbond holders had to decide within the period from February 15, 2013, to March 8, 2013, whether they would tender old bonds for the new bonds. The 86.17 percent excludes the bondholders of Venezuela, who did not meet the deadline, but were to participate.

DOCTORS GIVE UP ON RONALD RIVERS AT THE KHMH
He is no longer breathing, and nothing more can be done for him After fighting for his life at the Intensive Care Unit at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for 10 days, Ronald Rivers, 28, has been given up by doctors. He will be declared dead as soon as he is disconnected from the Intensive Care Machine that is breathing for him, and that is expected to be any day now. His family says that nothing more can be done for him. His two lungs and kidneys have collapsed, half of his skull taken away to release the swelling in his brain: he suffered two massive strokes, he is suffering from pneumonia, he remains in a coma, and he is no longer breathing. The announcement was made today by his brother. His brother told Amandala that he is being kept on the machine to prepare the family for the reality of his death when he is disconnected. Doctors caution that people don’t survive such conditions, and if they do, they would not be the same and would be paralyzed. Rivers was a member of the Belize National Basketball Team, but he was shot in his face at the Uno Gas Station at the corner of Vernon Street and Youth For the Future Drive by a gunman who rode up on a bicycle at about 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 4. Rivers was repairing his vehicle at the time.

GUAT PREZ WANTS TO POSTPONE ICJ TO 2014
BOX: Belize law was in force before ICJ agreement, which affirms that the parties would observe their internal laws in executing the agreement, says CEO Rosado. Belize and Guatemala to meet at OAS on Monday, March 18. Belizean and Guatemalan officials are due to meet in Washington, D.C., USA, next Monday, March 18, 2013, to discuss, among other things, a recent call by Guatemala president Otto Pérez Molina to seek a one-year postponement of the simultaneous referenda on the settlement of the Belize-Guatemala territorial differendum, currently programmed for Sunday, October 6, 2013. In Guatemala on Wednesday, Pérez Molina announced that his administration would formally seek the postponement because of changes Belize had made to its Referendum Act back in 2008—changes which he argues would invalidate the referenda. The June 2008 amendment to the Referendum Act means that beyond just a simple majority being necessary to decide in the referendum, a 60% voter turnout is also required on the Belize side to ensure its validity; however, Belizean officials have indicated that voter turnout has historically been higher than the set threshold. Meanwhile, Belizean officials have underscored that the change in the law was made well before the special agreement or compromis to seek the ICJ resolution was inked by both parties in December 2008. Speaking with Amandala today, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexis Rosado, said the Referendum Act ought not to be an issue, since the special agreement acknowledges that both Belize and Guatemala must follow their respective laws in executing the agreement.

POLICE SHOOT TWO THIEVING BROTHERS DEAD
The brothers, 18 and 21, had just run out of a store they held up in San Ignacio Police have shot dead two thieves who had just escaped after carrying out an armed robbery of a store at about 1:00 p.m. yesterday, Tuesday, at Rose’s Chinese Store on the Benque Viejo Road in San Ignacio. When police confronted them, the thieves opened fire at police and police returned fire, killing the two of them almost immediately on the spot. Police say that they were on patrol on the Benque Road when they were alerted about an armed robbery in progress at the Rose’s Store on the same road. They immediately responded, and on their arrival saw two men who were wearing masks on their face and one of whom had a shotgun, running out of the store. Police said they shouted “stop” to the men, but the gunman instead fired a shotgun blast at them. Police immediately returned fire, hitting the men, who were taken to the San Ignacio Hospital, where they were pronounced dead on arrival.

PRISON TROUBLE – NTUCB SEEKS AUDIENCE WITH PM BARROW
President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), Dylan Reneau, told Amandala tonight that they plan to respond urgently to reports of staff firings at the Belize Central Prison, under the management of the Kolbe Foundation. Reneau went further to say, however, that the NTUCB would also be challenging the continued privatization of the prison, as it is an important factor that appears to be impacting the crime situation in Belize. Amandala was told that on Tuesday, March 12, right after the holiday weekend, a couple who had been employed as security staff at the prison were terminated. Collive and Carol Casimiro had been working at the prison for 7 and 9 years, respectively. “We have to look keenly at the case of Mister and Misses Casimiro to see how we can try and reverse that situation,” Reneau told Amandala tonight. Whereas Casimiro told us they were fired, a prison official told us that they resigned. On the issue of the privatization, though, Reneau said, “We’ve been concerned about the privatization and its impact for some years.”

Blogs


It is fricken freezing today, so cold that tacoboy had to go get the aloe vera for my home spa time or I would have chickened out of eventually getting wet. My mind is drawn back to the last warm day we had before this cold front hit, Monday and and our trip up north to X’tan Ha Waterfront Resort. Pronounced Ishtan Ha and meaning the waterfront, it is a stylish, colorful, tropical beach resort that 7.2 miles north of town. Always trust a Penland to turn things a round and give a proper style makeover from head to tow. After 6 months of being boarded up it took 25 men 5 months to repair, replace and repaint. Doug Penland took a tired worn place and gave it the tlc it needed, created a colorful tropical getaway and something special. Tom Sather an Eye Doctor from Montana and Michelle also had a big hand in executing the vision. Oliver and Della who run the resort also need a mention. They are friendly welcoming folks who are pitting their heart and soul into making X’tan Ha Resort a great place and it shows. While there we saw people eating at the restaurant, enjoying the great stretch of beach, using the paddle boat and having fun on the water trampoline. Next time I go I want to try standup paddle boarding and see if I can do it without falling over. Whether you are just popping up to the beach bar for a fun days adventure or looking for a full out Island style getaway, X’tan Ha is a must do on your North Ambergris Caye to do list.

The Cute, The Quirky and the Ugly: The Signs of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker
I am a giant GIANT fan of hand-painted, colorful signs for businesses, private houses…for just about anything. Neon? Flashing lights? Gaudy pre-printed signs? Not a fan. So as I look through thousands and thousands of my pictures from the past few years, I thought I’d post just a handful. I’ll let you categorize them as cute or bizarre. Who I am to pass judgement? Here are my faves…let me know if I missed any of yours. And just to be clear what type of sign I DON’T like…here is an example. Let’s start in Caye Caulker, an island which just oozes cuteness. Drinking is fun. Simple, appeals to all ages and straight to the point. Though take my word for it, drinking green stripe is NOT fun.

US Magazine Picks Western Belize as Retirement Choice
And now, according to the March 11, 2013 article in US News and World Report , western Belize is attracting a new demographic . “As recently as a few years ago, the numbers of foreign retirees living in Belize’s Cayo District numbered only a few dozen. Today, small but ever-expanding communities of expats and retirees seeking a back to basics lifestyle have established themselves in this pristine land of rivers, waterfalls, and rain forest. “Many people, reaching this stage of life, are reminded of what’s really important. This realization is spurring a new generation of folks looking for opportunities around the globe to embrace a self-sufficient, resilient lifestyle. In this context, Belize stands out,” the article advises. Ms Fleming said that Chaa Creek has been assisting people relocating to Belize for years now. “Over the years we’d find that people would come here on holiday or on one of our all-inclusive Belize vacation packages, fall in love with the country and people, and ask our advice on how to relocate here. We’re familiar with the Government of Belize’s retirement incentives, which are really quite generous, and can point people in the right direction as far as finding land, workers and navigating their way through the legalities and practicalities of moving here.

Hiking Trails in Belize
There are several ideal hiking spots in Belize, a few with clearly marked trails, often located within a jungle lodge’s property, at a national park, or in the surrounding jungle of a Mayan archeological site. It’s best to have a guide or a knowledgeable local with you on hikes that take you deep into the rainforest, while others, in national parks, are easily done without. Still, be careful where you wander off to, it’s a real jungle out there! Here are a few of my favorite hiking spots in Belize: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary: A few of the best spots to hike in Belize are located in the southern Stann Creek District, approximately two hours from Belize. One of these, Cockscomb, is also the world’s first ever jaguar preserve and beyond that, one of the most biodiverse protected areas in Belize. There are waterfalls, mountains, abundant bird and wildlife, and more. There are marked trails at Cockscomb, some of which you can do on your own, and others more steep, for which I recommend a guide. Mayan sites: Most of the Maya archeological sites are located amid rainforest, and make for excellent spots to hike and spot wildlife along the way, as you explore sites. These include Lamanai, Altun Ha, and Xunantunich. Blue Hole National Park: One of my favorite parks in Belize, there are marked trails at the Blue Hole National Park, and you can either spelunk at the onsite St. Herman’s Cave or cool off in the inland “Blue Hole”–a gorgeous emerald sinkhole–after your hike. The Blue Hole National Park is located in Western Belize, off the scenic Hummingbird Highway. Billy Barquedier National Park: The waterfall entrance to the park has a separate trail and path, with a rope to hang on to, leading to a beautiful stream and small waterfall.

International Sources

PDF Publications
What a great resource. PDF editions of selected books, reports and guidelines published by the Getty Conservation Institute.

Sharks, rays win new trade protections
Five species of sharks and two types of manta rays won new safeguards Monday, as delegates to a global wildlife summit voted to limit the trade of species that have been overharvested for decades. Historically, many nations have been reluctant to protect marine species that are in high demand for health remedies and culinary delicacies, primarily in Asia. But faced with scientific evidence that these species risk becoming extinct, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted in Bangkok to place trade limits on shark species for the first time in nearly a decade. Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International, said she was “delighted” that countries will now have to prove that any catch of porbeagle, oceanic whitetip and three species of hammerhead sharks is sustainable and legal before allowing for export. In 2010, delegates rejected attempts to protect the five shark species, including scalloped, great and smooth hammerheads.

Texas honours Garifuna Chief Chatoyer
The state of Texas became the first US state to honour Garifuna Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer by proclaiming March 14 as “Chief Joseph Chatoyer Hero Day in Texas”. A petition put forth by the Greater Houston Garifuna-American Partnership, Texas House of Representatives was led by Texas House Member Dr. Alma Allen and State Senator Rodney Ellis from the Texas State Senate. “This is a historic moment for fellow Texans, Garifunas, Vincentians and the Caribbean,” said Jerry Castro-Cayetano from the Partnership. “This effort not only showcases the depth of diversity in the state, but will allow fellow Texans to learn about the different communities.” Joseph Chatoyer (died March 14, 1795) was a Garifuna (Carib) chief who led a revolt against the British colonial government of Saint Vincent in 1795. He is now considered a national hero of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, also Belize and other Carib countries he fought for during the war. Camillo Gonsalves, Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations, described him in 2011 as his country's "sole national hero". In addition, Chief Chatoyer is the highest figure among the Garifuna in the Central American Caribbean coast and the United States. During National Garifuna Settlement, Education and Awareness Month (November 12 – December 12) in 2010, the Partnership petitioned for congressional recognition for another Vincentian, William Henry Brown, who is known to be the “Father of Black Theater” for his innovation and by being the first producer of the first black theater play in America, “The Drama of King Shatoway” (1832), an eyewitness account of the rise of the Caribs against British colonization.

Bingo! Henny the Hen Just Made Her 'Mark' on No. 16
This sport is known in polite company as chicken-poop bingo. Along with its cousin, cow-chip bingo, this twist on the church-hall pastime has proved that an age-old game of chance can cause quite a stir when it is centered on an animal. At least a few decades old, the chicken antics have become a popular staple at fairs, festivals and fundraisers in small-town America, and beyond. A few countries away, as many as 500 tourists and locals crowd into a local bar in San Pedro, Belize, on Thursdays for "The World Famous Chicken Drop." Noele Sutherland-McLain, co-owner of Wahoo's Lounge, credits two expats from New Orleans with coming up with the idea 24 years ago. She said it has become quite a spectacle, with street vendors and tree-climbing contortionists setting up camp outside. The bingo itself is run by two guys wearing "Chicken Security" shirts. Those who attend such events enjoy this game of chance and nature, but the idea has irked some animal-rights groups, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Belize’s New Agritourism Lodge
Set within the vast rain forest between the Maya Mountains and the Caribbean Sea, Belize’s Belcampo Lodge is taking agritourism to a thrilling new level. My first night at Belcampo Lodge is punctuated by what sounds like Ozzy Osbourne being strangled in the pitch dark. The cottage is suspended in a dense canopy of hanging vines and gumbo-limbo trees, providing natural privacy, so I’ve traded my bed for a hammock on the screened porch to feel closer to this forest primeval. A breeze rattles palm fronds as a rain shower sweeps through, carrying the scent of jasmine. Nuts hit the corrugated zinc roof and roll to the ground far below. Suddenly, just before dawn, the Ozzy-like roar of a troop of howler monkeys bolts me upright—and it’s resoundingly clear that I’m bivouacking beyond my comfort zone. By first light, their screeching has faded, giving way to the soft clicks of keel-billed toucans. Soon I’m seated on the lodge’s veranda with a pair of binoculars, keeping an eye on the cotton tree where these colorful birds hop from branch to branch, until breakfast arrives: a plate of “fry jacks” (puffy tortillas), sour-orange marmalade, nutty granola sweetened with coconut, and cinnamon-bark-smoked bacon. I could linger long into the morning, watching the toucans play, but I want to see where baby chocolate bars are born. At the end of a steep driveway lined with torch ginger and flowering trumpet vine, the landscape opens up to a broad valley that the Belcampo farm team has planted with cassava and banana cover crops. Inside the nursery I meet head forager Kenny Ramos, a tall, shy man with a passion for vanilla orchids and rare varieties of cacao. In his spare time he hunts for wild plants in untrammeled corners of Belize and tracks their genetic profiles.


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White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Conch Shell Inn: All rooms are right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro, so within walking distance to anything and everything!!
Lil’ Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
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