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#478153 - 11/23/13 05:27 AM Today's Belize News: November 23, 2013
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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Reporter claims Coast Guard used armed and unnecessary force on him
The San Pedro Sun is currently investigating allegations of “unnecessary force” between Senior Staff Reporter Jorge Aldana and Belize Coast Guard officers. Belize Coast Guard Lt. Commander Elton Bennett and San Pedro Police Officer in Charge Luis Castellanos have fully cooperated with The Sun during this investigation. On Saturday November 16th, shortly after midday, Senior Reporter Aldana was detailed to cover an apparent shooting incident involving civilians and members of the Belize Coast Guard. Aldana located and followed a San Pedro police truck making its way from the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II to a lagoon location where a Coast Guard vessel was docked. According to Aldana, he followed the police truck that had three armed Coast Guard Officers in blue uniform and one police officer in plain clothes riding in the pan. The truck was transporting two men seated inside. They were bleeding and appeared to have head injuries. While Aldana followed directly behind the truck he snapped several photos of the individuals who were in the pan of the truck until they reached the end of Jewfish Street. Aldana claims that he stopped approximately 300 feet from where the police vehicle stopped.

Fashion Kids for Boxes of Joy
With the Christmas season approaching quickly, Shantell Pascascio is once again organizing Boxes of Joy, an initiative to provide Christmas gifts for underprivileged children of San Pedro Town. On November 15th Pascascio held her first fundraiser: a children’s fashion show called Fashion Kids. According to Pascasio the show was a huge success despite the unpredictable weather conditions. The show consisted of five segments: Swim Wear, Island Wear, Casual, High Fashion formal and a last segment called “My Style”. The “My Style” segment was all about the individual and his/her personal style. For this segment, the models customized their favorite outfit to match their personalities. The young models certainly demonstrated a great sense of fashion and even a great love for the runway.

2013 Inter-Office Volleyball Tournament won by Lady Rebels & Team Legends
Lady Rebels and Legends are the winners of the first ever San Pedro Volleyball Association 2013 6-A-Side Interoffice Male and Female Volleyball Tournament. The final games took place on Saturday November 16th at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium. The last leg of the tournament started with the female game in which Lady Rebels, the leaders in the tournament, took on the Butterfingers. The game started in favor of Butterfingers, who took the first and second sets with 25-14 and 25-23. But the Lady Rebels made a stunning comeback in the last three sets that ended 25-22, 25-23 and 15-8. It was quite the defeat for Butterfingers who were considered the veterans, however the determination of the young Lady Rebels saw them walk away with the championship title. San Pedro High School (SPHS) females settled for third place in the tournament.

Spending your days on Ambergris Caye: (#7) Lions Bingo & BBQ
At the heart of community fun is the Friday night Bingo and BBQ at the Lion’s Den. It is always an event that is thoroughly enjoyed and comes highly recommended to visitors of La Isla Bonita who want to be part of a local, family oriented tradition. When enjoying the evening you not only have a great meal and good fun but help the club raise funds for the community. There is a great camaraderie amongst the crowd, while groups of friends and families devour fingerlickin’ good BBQ chicken, stewed beans, coleslaw and yummy tortillas, all for a very affordable price. The Lion’s Den also has a full bar for those who want to enjoy a cold Belikin or cocktail with their meal, and they sell three beers for just $10 and local rum drinks at the same bargain price! Bingo starts around 7PM and each game costs $2BZ, with a middle and final game costing $5 where you can win more. Depending on the size of the crowd each game can garner up to $100 or more, with the $5 games adding up to as much as $400! It is fun and easy and a great activity to enjoy with friends or as a family. The Lion’s Den is located on the northern end of Barrier Reef Drive in the heart of San Pedro Town.

Ambergris Today

Oceana Marks Fourth Anniversary in Belize
Since officially opening its doors on November 16th, 2009, Oceana in Belize has achieved remarkable victories and established an enviable track record advocating for the protection and sustainable use of Belize’s marine patrimony. Notable among our successes have been a total ban on all forms of trawling within both our territorial seas and exclusive economic zone; the buyout of the trawler fleet and subsequent donation of the vessels for more sustainable and eco-friendly re-use; the People’s Referendum which allowed Belizean voters to weigh in on the question of offshore oil (to which Belizeans responded with an overwhelming “NO”); and challenging Government’s policies & decisions before the Judiciary of Belize, where Oceana and its co-claimants secured a judgment declaring “unlawful, null and void” six production sharing agreements covering offshore oil exploration blocks within our maritime areas. In fact, Oceana’s advocacy bore more fruits when last year just before our 3rd anniversary Princess Petroleum relinquished portions of its concession block which included Belize’s iconic and world famous Blue Hole as well as the Turneffe Atoll and Lighthouse Reef. In keeping with the celebratory spirit, Oceana in Belize takes this opportunity to salute our Garinagu Community and to wish all an enjoyable and safe Garifuna Settlement Day! Oceana was a key sponsor of the 8th Annual Battle of the Drums, hosted in Punta Gorda Town on our anniversary and one of the major events leading up to Garifuna Settlement Day.

Misc Belizean Sources

CAPPS Reading Contest
They had the CAPPS Reading Contest yesterday at the George Price Centre. Congratulations Judah Swasey and Ronan Stewart for winning 1st and 2nd places! "District Finals for the CAPPS reading contest were held at Belmopan City on November 21st 2013. Congratulations to this year's winner Judah Swasey from Belize Christian Academy, and 2nd Place Ronan Stewart from Arms of Love."

Buy and Sell Classifieds 19-Nov
The Buy and Sell Weekly Classifieds for this week. There's a write up of Rio Frio Cave in this week's issue.

Wonders at the Belize Zoo
The Belize Zoo, which is celebrating its 30th year, and just had Panama the Harpy Eagle's 10th 'hatch' day party, is shown in a new video entitled 'The Wonders at the Belize Zoo.' "The Zoo was buzzing with festivities last week as we celebrated the 10th birthday of Panama our male harpy eagle! Over 100 students, parents and teachers from the communities of Indian Church, La Democracia, and San Carlos came to the Zoo to wish this beautiful bird a very happy "hatch" day. Students got to be eagles for a day, with masks and wings, and received prizes, birthday cake, and valuable knowledge about the importance of raptors like Harpy Eagles to our great country. We thank our friends at The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for helping us provide a special day for the children of Belize."

George Price Highway November Progress
The new road to the soon to be started bridge is looking better each week. Taken on November 19th, 2013.

Thief withdraws thousands using stolen ATM cards
A man from Corozal is the victim of theft and the culprit used his own bank cards to pull off crime. Cyril Perfecto Nal, a resident of San Narcisco village, reported that on Saturday, November 16, he misplaced his wallet containing personal documents, including his ATM cards. Two days later, when Nal went to the banks to block the cards, he got the bad news, that someone had made a total of 13 withdrawals from his account, amounting to $9,000. The police are investigating the incident.

Channel 7

Deputy PM Meets With Cane Farmers: Will There Be A Strike?
On Wednesday, 7News told you about meeting between the executives of the ASR Group and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association which didn't happen because the BSI did not agree to the agenda which the cane farmers wanted. As we told you, both parties are deadlocked on the bagasse issue, and with the open of the next sugar season only a few weeks away, the negotiations to a renewed commercial agreement have been tense. To denote the importance of finding a resolution, senior ASR executives flew into the country to meet with the Cane farmers, but because they couldn't agree on the importance that the agenda should put on the bagasse issue, the association boycotted by not attending. Since then, the Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega, has been hard at work trying to convince both sides to schedule to resume negotiations. On Wednesday, he met with ASR and today at the Sugar Industries Control Board in Orange Walk, he had a 2-hour sit down with cane farmers. 7News was there when the meeting ended, and we spoke to Vega about the progress - if any - he had made:

Mother Of Two Says She Was Cut Off By GOB In IBC Takeover
Tonight, mother of two Shari Muschamp feels like it's her against the world. She was working as a receptionist at the former Ashcroft Allied companies, International Business Company Registry and IMMARBE until government took them over in June of this year. The public pronouncement from the Prime Minister was that no local staff would be fired. But Mushcamp - who had a difficult pregnancy - was on extended sick leave when the government took over - and it seems that when the changeover occurred - and the staff were re-hired as public officers, she was simply left off the employee roll. It wasn't an oversight, Government's legal adviser told Muschamp's attorney that no offer of employment was made to her by government because she was thought to be medically unfit to work. He based that on the fact that by April of 2013, she had exhausted her 16 days sick leave for the year, yet she remained on prolonged sick leave, which earned her a warning from the former management for it.

Hundreds of Head Of Cattle Imperiled By River Valley Floods
The Belize River Valley has been dealing with flood waters for months now. The residents are hardy country folk, so they're doing okay. But, what's starting to be affected is their livestock - and that's because the river has run over the banks and inundated the savannah where their animals used to feed. We found out more when we went down river with the Coast Guard today:.. Jules Vasquez reporting If you are wondering why these cattle have a lean and hungry look, it's because the cattle in this part of the Belize River Valley are starving. The river has run far over the banks and covered much of the available pasture land. Olivia Moody, Chairlady - Maypen Village "Right now the people of Maypen; there are 4 families that have livestock and I think they are the ones that needs more assistance."

Flooding Has Resulted In Agricultural Losses
As we showed you in the Belize River Valley, all around the country, the different communities have been experiencing the serious effects of the flooding caused by the relentless rains of the recent months. The Government of Belize has been studying the situation, and they've been working on the best possible response to help those affected. Today, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, told the media about the meetings that he has been having with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Works. According to Vega, while agriculture is a major area of concern, the priority right now is fixing the roads so that the villages aren't cut off from the main towns: Hon. Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister "At this moment I know Prime Minister and I and the Minister of Works sat down on Wednesday to talk about the roads because we believe that is priority even though the crops is as important. The roads, we have villages that cannot commute from one village to the main town because bridges have been washed away and stuff like that. We have to prioritize our needs. I think the Prime Minister ask the Ministry of Works to do a complete assessment because, we, crying about San Antonio, San Luis bit other areas on the entire country are as badly affected."

PM Resting, Recovering
We've reported on the success that Prime Minister Dean Barrow had with his back surgery in California. Since then, he's been back in Belize recovering, and today, Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega was asked for an update, since he has been meeting with Barrow. He said that at this time, everything has been going smoothly, and that the Prime Minister is recovering at a rapid rate: Hon. Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister "He is doing very good. I am very surprised to his recovery, he is doing extremely well. God must have answered everybody prayers and we hope that the recovery will be on the long term as successful as how it has been in these few days."

Curl Gordon Jr Convicted of Child Molesting
30 year-old Curl Gordon Jr. is awaiting a sentencing hearing after he was convicted of indecent assault of a female child in the court room of Justice Adolph Lucas. The child, who was 7 years-old at the time, testified in court that in October 2011, Gordon touched her inappropriately on her private parts. In his defence, Gordon told the court that he didn't do any such thing, and that the report was made to the police because the mother maliciously influenced her child to tell the police lies on him. The jury of 9 deliberated for a little over an hour before they returned with a unanimous verdict of guilty. Justice Lucas has deferred sentencing until next week Friday, to give him time to prepare a mitigation plea.

Ponce Recovering From Massive Butane Related Head Injury
On Wednesday, 7News told you about Danny Ponce, the Trial Farm resident who was seriously injured when an LPG Tank, commonly known as butane, exploded sending debris flying all over, striking him in the head. He was rushed to the KHMH hospital in a critical condition, but since then, he's had emergency surgery which has improved his prognosis greatly. Today, 7News spoke with his sister in Trial Farm, and she told us about what his recovery is looking like, after trying to help a friend and getting in such a disastrous accident. Here's what she told us: Marilyn Ponce, sister "It happened on Tuesday. He went with a person that retails Butane gas to shipyard. When they were doing this whole process it seemed like the tank was filled with too much air and then suddenly it exploded. It was actually the iron that was in the hose that hit him on the right side of his skull. According to the doctors, some of the bones broke damaging his right eye too. We're not sure if he's going to lose his eye but that's basically his situation right now."

FSTV Helps Dara Feed
We've told you many times about Dara Robinson's feeding programme. He just never stops giving. His feeding programme for about 40 children keeps rolling through his steadfast commitment to it. But today, he got a little break from the endless fundraising when the Fort Street Tourism Village sponsored an early thanksgiving lunch for his children. We visited during rice hours and found that there was turkey to go with that rice:.. Sheree Young, HR Manager - FSTV "We were inspired by Dara's feeding program, his passion that he has to feed the kids from day to day. This is just a small gesture to give back to them." Dara Robinson - Grassroots Philanthropist "It's not every day these kids get turkey at the program, so I welcome things like that. This is a special treat. My wife made a well put together Turkey dinner."

Belize U-16 Falters In UNCAF Competition
Right now, the Belize National U-16 Football Team is playing its final game against Costa Rica. Things don't look too good for the Junior Jaguars, because they have lost 3 games and only won 1. The third lost game last night in the match against Honduras, where the team was hoping to make a good showing, to recover from the disappointing defeat at the hands of the Guatemala National team. However, Honduras didn't give the Junior Jaguars an easy time, and in the 22nd minute of the first half, they scored the only goal of the game. Team Belize tried to equalize, but Honduras managed to hold them off, winning the match. So, tonight, they are trying to end with a flourish as they play the final match against Costa Rica, because with their goal average, and losing streak, they can't qualify to the final rounds. At this time, at the end of the first half, Belize is already down 2 goals, and Costa Rica is pressing hard to increase their lead.

Orange Is The Colour Of Support
16 days of activism to end gender violence starts officially on Monday. And the women's commission says you can show your support by wearing orange. Anne Marie Williams explains:.. Anne Marie Williams "This year the Women's Commission has decided as part of its campaign to launch a public campaign whereby Belizeans from all walk of life can get involved in ending violence against women." "The theme this year for 16 Days of Activism is "From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World, Challenging Violence Against Women." I think the theme is very apt because the Women's Commission has decided this year to join forces with the Unite Campaign which is the UN Secretary General's campaign. Ban ki Moon has decided that in 2009 he would have started and launched what is known as the Orange Day Campaign when people unite to end violence against women and girls."

OW’s Taco Supremacy Reinforced
And Sunday is local tacos day. No, not really, but that's what Orange Walk would want as they host their third annual tacos festival. We found out more from the organizers. Dillon Jones - Universal Radio "We do have the best tacos in the country, almost in the region - Orange Walk has it and we just need to keep it that way. We want people to realize that the tacos business is a serious industry. If you check it out on a daily basis there is roughly about 35 tacos stands around Orange Walk operating daily and if you put it on pen and paper, you would see the amount of chicken they are using, the people employed, amount of tortillas, vegetable, pepper sauce, even the phone. To me it is a serious industry and it is just growing and growing."

Channel 5

Cane farmers and B.S.I. stand firm; 2013-2014 cane crop is delayed indefinitely
The 2013-2014 sugar-cane crop season was to have gotten underway this coming Monday, November twenty-fifth. But that is not going to happen. There are two obstacles in the way – [...]

Mother of 2 shows up at her government job, to find someone else at her desk
Sharie Muschamp was employed at the International Business Companies Registry when it was taken over by the government earlier this year. She was, however, on medical leave which transitioned into [...]

A symposium on specific ways to end cycle of violence against children
A two-day symposium to end violence against children ended today in Belize City. The session is being held under the auspices of the Special Envoy for Women and Children, with [...]

Senior Counsel pokes holds in proposed legislation of National Security and Immigration Committee
Whatever happened to the National Security and Immigration Committee? The formation of the committee was announced in the wake of the recent passport and visa scandals as one of the [...]

Minister of Education says UB President has it wrong
It still remains unclear whether or not Doctor Carey Fraser, President of the University of Belize was put on leave by the Board of Trustees or he proceeded on his [...]

Man found guilty of the aggravated assault of a minor
Two years ago, a seven year-old child was the victim of sexual assault by a man, who at the time was twenty-eight years old. That man is now thirty years [...]

DJ Linda Blease is the latest victim of burglary
Popular Belizean entertainer, Linda Blease is the latest victim of burglary, following a break-in at her apartment on Thursday.  The female disc jockey reported to Belize City police that her [...]

Women’s Department kicks off 16 Days of Activism
Sixteen Days of Activism to end gender-based violence against women is an annual calendar of events organized by the Women’s Department to promote awareness on the issue of domestic abuse.  [...]

Alarming reports of demon possessions in Orange Walk
There have been escalating reports of bizarre behavior by young female students in Orange Walk Town. From the little information we have been able to gather so far, this all [...]

Baby Jaguars face Costa Rica in final match of UNCAF U-16 tournament
The UNCAF Under-sixteen Tournament has wound down to its final match with Belize facing Costa Rica tonight.  Despite winning only one of four games thus far, the Baby Jaguars have [...]

Hitler video redone about to reflect sentiments on city streets
There is a video that has gone viral on the internet in the past few days. Actually, it is adapted from a scene from a 2004 German movie named “Downfall” [...]


Belizean Will Not Pay FMVL
The Mexican Embassy announced today that the guidelines for immigration formalities and procedures have changed as it pertains to replacing their local visitor’s card (formerly known as FMVL) to the new REGIONAL VISITOR CARD. As we’ve reported, the FMVL cards were only valid until November 8th and as such, a replacement card is needed by all Belizeans travelling to and from Chetumal Quintana Roo. But the good news to us Belizeans tonight is that the application process is free of charge. Applicants must present their passport and submit the original FMVL card at the Mexican Immigration office located at Subteniente Lopez, Quintana Roo. The card is said to be valid for the same one year period upon renewal. Card holders will be entitled to travel within the border state of Quintana Roo for up to 72 hours. It is of note, that Belizeans who are charged a fee for replacement should report the matter to the Internal Control Body of the National Institute of Immigration.

Albion Island Is Experiencing flooding
Although the persistent rains have subsided, some areas prone to flooding are still underwater. This is wreaking havoc for many residents living in low lying areas including the villages of Santa Cruz and San Antonio. CTV3 News spoke with Chairman of Santa Cruz, Thomas Mucul who spoke to us about the situation presently faced by students, workers and even small children who are dealing with the after effects of Mother Nature. THOMAS MUCUL “La situación es que nosotros vivimos en una isla Albion Island, a donde se hace flood y sube el rio y ya no puede pasar ningún vehículo a Santa Cruz ni a San Antonio, tenemos que cruzar en lancha, o en carreta y nosotros vivimos tres millas de la orilla del rio de San Antonio y para que vengan los estudiantes no hay autobús, no hay forma y no pueden llegar hasta San Antonio para agarrar autobús es que los estudiantes llegan tarde al colegio.” Maria Novelo – Reporter “Have you dialogue with the authorities, anybody helping you guys?” THOMAS MUCUL “Yes, I have called the minister’s office and they said that they can’t help and I can’t do nothing and that is my job as the chairman but only to ask for help but nobody can help me.”

The Impact Of The Sugar Cane Industry In Belize
The sugar cane industry of Belize has endured many challenges in the past and has been a solid socio-economic engine for northern Belize and the country. Historically, and even today, we continue to depend heavily on the European Union market access for the survival and resiliency of our sugar industry. But with the on-going dispute between BSI and BSCFA on the revenue profit sharing of sales generated by the Bio Fuel better known as the bagasse, the industry is at risk. While this issue has been making headlines for quite some time now, it is anyone’s guess if and when the parties involved will find common ground. What is of concern to others is the economic downfall that can potentially harm the industry and Belize on a whole. Some fear that if the 2013/2014 crop season is delayed, the effects would be disastrous.

San Joaquin Street Damaged By Heavy Trucking
Residents of San Joaquin Street in Orange Walk Town were enraged this morning. That’s because a developer, who was filling up a lot in the area using heavy machinery caused more damage to the already dilapidated street. Our news team was called to the scene and upon arrival we saw residents up in arms since the road was left completely impassable. Albert Tillett- Resident San Joaquin Street “From since the dump truck start running white marl to fill up a land back there then the big hole started, we could have lived with the little small holes that it had before but since the weight of the big truck coming they start from around 5:30 until about 9:00 in the night and trip after trip and that is what you see right there, it was caused by the dump truck that throw the marl there, the street wasn’t that bad we could have lived with it.”

Eric Gonzalez Sentenced To 15 Years
Eric Gonzalez will spend 15 years behind bars. He was sentenced this morning by Justice Herbert Lord at the Northern Session of the Supreme Court after a jury of 12 convicted him of a lesser charge of manslaughter after they were unable to unanimously agree on the murder charge despite hours of deliberation. Viewers might recall that back in 2009 Gonzales was charge for the murder of Daniel Soto. His case began the first week of November but when it was time to deliberate the jury was unable to unanimously find him guilty of murder and as such found him guilty of manslaughter. During the trial, the Crown was represented by Councils Sabita Maharaj and Linsbert Willis while Gonzalez was represented by Senior Counsel Simeon Sampson.


Joris Hendrik Presents Spring/Summer 2014 Collection
A young, talented designer from the Cayo District will be hosting a Fashion Show tomorrow evening at the Princess Hotel and Casino in Belize City. Joris Hendrik who hails from San Ignacio, Cayo is introducing his Spring/Summer 2014 Collection to the Belizean public in what promises to be an evening of elegance and creativity. Reporter Linette Canto stopped by this afternoon and spoke to Hendrik about the show. JORIS HENDRIK “It’s my first solo show in Belize it’s my spring summer 2014 collection it’s going to be a really fun show the collection is exquisite its very free its very breezy and its very elegant its very Belizean I would say and the show will include a number of performances. We are trying to create that social scene and ambiance where we all interact and socialize. It will be a year. I started off as a hobby 2 years ago but now I made it into my own business. I am really excited I am a little bit nervous because it’s my first solo show in the country but given what I’ve been doing so far showcasing at this year’s fashion week, attending Caribbean fashion week and participating in Carib Fiesta. Thanks to being invited by Belize. I’m very confident that it will be good. And it will be really great for the country. Lot of people haven’t seen my work and we will enjoy seeing some new talent. It all depends on my mode I get inspiration from everywhere you know you could be driving in the car and you see something that inspires you or you know music but mainly for this collection inspiration was gathered from Belize, the country, everything that we see around.”

Tacos Time in OW
If your mouth water when you hear “tacos” then Orange Walk Town is the place to be this weekend. The third annual tacos fest will be held this Sunday at the Banquitas House of Culture. Cindey Rivero is coordinator at the house of culture. CINDEY RIVERO Banquitas House is culture collaborating with Universal Radio and this is going to be the third year that we are having the Tacos Festival. Orange Walk is well known for Tacos and it is made out of corn. As also it is part of our culture so we are celebrating Tacos and it will happen this Sunday. We are going to start at 9 and we will be having a lot of activities throughout the day. So we will be having the canoe race, were going to be having greasy pole, we are going to be having competition such as best flavored tacos, eating tacos competition for all the people that will be wanting to eat tacos for free and then we will be having games for the kids like lime and spoon, sack race, treasure hunt and a new game we invented called corn hunt which fit in with the whole tacos festival. A lot of other competitions like watermelon. Then for entertainment we will be having Captain Roby and Super Furia for free as well dance and then we are going to be having other performances from local singers and dance groups so it’s going to be a full day of events so I am inviting everyone to come out and enjoy bring the family bring friends. And we are just here to enjoy and eat tacos.

Evangelical Churches Association of Belize Investigates Reports of Demonic Possession
Earlier this week LOVE NEWS reported on claims that some residents of Orange Walk were possessed by demonic spirits. We spoke with a relative of a female victim who went in details of what his sister experienced when she was possessed. Today we learnt that the Evangelical Churches Association of Belize is conducting an extensive investigation on the reports. Oscar Barrera is President of Evangelical Associations OW and told us more. OSCAR BARRERA “Evangelical Church Association of Belize with Pastor Crawford now we are doing a little investigation concerning the issue to see what is going to be the outcome of the days to come so that we can get together as a nation and visit these families and we also go in prayer for these people as well. Well actually we believe in the demon possession because the Bible also talks about it and these people are playing with the Devil literally. They are not using the Ouija board anymore they are using pencils and there are certain things that they do to call upon Satan and the demons are taking their bodies.”

MOH and UNPFA Join to Provide Workshop
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund organized the workshops on obstetric and neonatal care. A one day practical training session to sensitize public healthcare workers of the Maternal and Child Health Units was held today at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza Hotel where new medical procedures, and practices in the care of maternal and child health were taught. Technical Advisor of Maternal and Child Health at the Ministry of Health Doctor Natalie Beer told us more. Dr. NATALIE BEER “There we have a representation from all the different health regions in the connection with the United Nations Population fund UNPF. We are organizing to have a more structured training program; to improve the skills of health care workers when providing care to target populations such as women before, during and after pregnancy and child birth and for the new born.”

Belize Makes Progress in Protecting Women and Children
Today the workshop to end violence against women and children culminated at the Biltmore Hotel. The workshop was strategically held because Belize joins the world in celebrating International Children’s Day. The workshop was the collective idea of a group of children and women advocacy group like the National Committee for Families and Children, NCFC and the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF. Both the NCFC and UNICEF agree that after the culmination of the workshop, Belize has a clear road map on how to meet its objectives. LUWANI CAYETANO “Belize is kind of following the example of the region and the world all over the world right now organizations that work with children’s rights are looking at ending violence against children. So this two day symposium is our way of developing a road map so how do we get to the end of ending violence against children what steps do we have to take and how will we know that we have gotten to certain steps. And so we’ve kicked off the 2 days symposium its ending today and we are leaving here with a road map to end violence against children and that’s the kind of way that I guess we have celebrated and worked really it’s more than a celebration it’s us coming together. And determining how is it we are going to work together towards the protection of our children. So its MCFC and special envoy actually this symposium is hosted by the special envoy restore Belize, the ministry of human development, social workers, police everyone is here to kind of put our minds together and develop a road map to ending violence against children. For us child participation is a huge piece.

Maypen Village Flooded; Area Rep Assists
Over the past few weeks we have brought you stories out of Crooked Tree Village where residents have had to adapt to deal with flooded conditions. The same can be said for residents of Maypen Village as we hear in this report from Marion Ali. RESIDENT “The road is filled with water. See that is my canoe I use right there. Right now I want to go to road I will paddle all the way to Red Sand in that dory.” MARION ALI REPORTING Residents of Maypen Village located about 25 miles from Belize City by road are cut off from the rest of the country except for boat access. The flood waters that have accumulated over the pass seven weeks have now begun to affect the lively hood of the villagers and their cattle and today they received the second round of assistance. The Belize Red Cross Society and Nemo Officials along with area representative Edmond Castro went by coast guard both and distributed items to the 10 neediest of 41 families in the village.

Police Chase on Freetown Road
Reports to Love News are that a police chase led to the capture of a male individual on Freetown Road. Love News understands that about nine o’clock this morning police on mobile patrol set chase a man who attempted to escape their custody. The man attempted to escape by going into the compound of Central Primary School on Freetown Road. Eyewitness reports indicate that the individual hopped over the schools fence and attempted to hide behind the infant two building. Armed policemen followed the individual who after seeing police coming for him, he hopped the fence unto Freetown road in the path of a police mobile. The individual was detained and taken to the police station. We understand that a warning shot was fired.

9K Unlawfully Withdrawn From Account
Belmopan Police are investigating a case of theft. Reports are that Cyril Perfecto of the Corozal District lost his wallet last Saturday. Perfecto’s wallet contained personal documents including ATM cards from two banks. Two days later he visited both banks in order to block his cards. The banks informed Perfecto that a person who apparently found his wallet had made thirteen withdrawals which amounted to nine thousand dollars. Police are investigating.

DJ’s Apartment Burglarized
Someone broke into the apartment of well known disc jockey Linda Blease. According to police, sometime between two and six thirty yesterday evening, someone broke into Blease’s apartment located on Santa Barbara Street and stole a number of items including a black HP Laptop valued at a thousand dollars, one red Pro studio Beats head phone valued at six hundred dollars and three hundred and twenty five dollars in cash. Police are investigating.

Charged with Aggravated Assault of an Indecent Nature
Thirty year old Curl Gordon Junior, a cabinet maker charged with aggravated assault of an indecent nature on a female child who was seven years old, was found guilty of the charge yesterday in the court of Justice Adolph Lucas. Justice Lucas has deferred sentencing until Friday, November 29 in order to give Gordon time to prepare a plea for mitigation. The maximum sentence is three years. The jury of six women and three men deliberated for a little over an hour before it arrived at its verdict, which was unanimous. The incident occurred on October 2, 2011. The complainant testified in camera that Gordon sexually assaulted her. Three other witnesses testified for the prosecution. Gordon, who was not represented by any attorney, testified and denied that he committed the offence. He said that it was malice on the part of the mother of the complainant. Crown Counsel Portia Staine represented the prosecution.

Belizean Trio Charged in Mexico
Aston Michael Ramirez, Orlando Habet and Adelfo Ruperto Dzul; the three Belizeans who were caught with drugs in neighboring town of Subteniente Lopez, Mexico have been sent to a prison cell in Mexico. Love News understands that the three men along with a Mexican National Freddy Andrés Lagos Vargas who were caught with nine hundred grams of cocaine were taken to prison after which they will face a trail that could last six months. Other information coming out of Mexico is that investigations into the role of Lagos Vargas, has revealed that he might be responsible for the transshipment of large amount of drugs form communities in Belize and crosses through villages like La Union across the border. As we reported, all three Belize men, were detained after there were suspiciously riding around in a vehicle with Corozal license plates in Subteniente Lopez. Marines from the Mexican army, who had received an anonymous tip, intercepted the vehicle on Cuauhtemoc Street where their search led to the discovery of nine hundred grams of cocaine in the vehicle.

Belize Cited by Caribbean Financial Task Force
Belize has been cited by the Caribbean Financial Task Force for deficiencies in meeting the international standards of fighting money laundering and terrorism. According to News America, Belize and Guyana have been cited by the task force. The report further states that the CFTF has said that Belize must implement all outstanding issues including addressing its customer due diligence requirements and prohibiting dealings with shell banks; while Guyana is being urged to address the strategic deficiencies that exist in its national architecture to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Caribbean Financial Task force is comprised of twenty-nine jurisdictions of the Caribbean Basin Region, which have agreed to implement the international standards for Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, Financial Action Task Force Recommendations in order to protect the international financial system from money laundering and financing of terrorism risks and to encourage greater compliance with the AML/CFT standards. Both countries are being urged to implement counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

The Road to the Resurrection of the Ex Service League in PG
Efforts to reactivate the Belize Ex Services League Punta Gorda branch began yesterday. Correspondent Paul Mahung has the details. PAUL MAHUNG REPORTING A meeting with a cold group of ex military personnel in Punta Gorda signaled reactivation efforts. The session was facilitated by Major Francis Marin. FRANCIS MARIN “We had a meeting with some key members to discuss the way forward for the development and the enhancement of the Belize Ex-servicemen league Punta Gorda Branch President who are retired officers, 002 Ramon Morales, Private Gilbert Gegeo and of course Captain Paul Mahung and acting sergeant Simion Martin Paulino and myself. We looked at the constitution of the Belize Ex-servicemen League and we also looked at the branch constitution. We throw around certain ideas, techniques and methodologies we can improve the recruiting drive bring more membership before and we discuss the responsibilities and duties at the national and the branch level.”

OW North Area Rep Speaks on Flooding
Yesterday we reported that residents of Santa Cruz in the Orange Walk district faced transportation problems due to flooded water over the main road. When we spoke with Chairman of Santa Cruz he said most affected were students who need to come to Orange Walk Town for classes as no buses were running between Santa Cruz and San Antonio. We asked area representative Gaspar Vega about the situation. GASPER VEGA “Yes as we speak San Antonio has more than two feet of water on the highway. San Luis has the same problem and the water is already swelling from the river in the Douglas Village; something that we just suffered a couple months ago. As you know we had to take groceries to those four villages and we can’t complain – that’s Mother Nature. We are just hoping and praying that it stops raining and like today we are not only praying for the sun but even for a little cold front because we know that the sun alone is going to take extremely long to dry this water in our villages.” Severely affected as well is the agriculture sector in the north. We asked Minister of Agriculture Gaspar Vega what is the impact.

#478154 - 11/23/13 05:28 AM Re: Today's Belize News: November 23, 2013 [Re: Marty]
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Social Sector Works on Strategy to Fight Violence Against Children
Violence against children is not limited to the streets; or at least, that is the view of the social sector which is meeting in conference starting today in Belize City. UNICEF is partnering with the office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children, the Ministry of Human Development...

Belize Walks out of United Nations Climate Meeting
Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Hon. Lisel Alamilla. According to news outlet Aljazeera, the annual round of talks are meant to pave the way to a climate deal by 2015 that will peg global warming to a maximum 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial revolution...

Another Bomb Scare Hits the University of Belize
Classes at the University of Belize, Central Campus, were once again been cancelled due to another bomb scare. According to the Head of Public Information, Mr. Selwyn King, a call from an unidentified person came in to the receptionist, claiming to have planted a bomb on the campus. All...

Government of Belize to Introduce E-governance Technology for the Belizean Populace
The concept of e-anything – the usage of technology to improve service to the consumer – may not go over well in a country that is accustomed to the old-fashioned way. But such an innovation may be here to stay, and the Government is leading the way. The Ministry...

Rise and Shine Determines Appreciation Telethon This Coming Saturday
This coming Saturday, Plus TV’s Morning Show, Rise and Shine Belize is hosting its second annual appreciate telethon. Rise and Shine has become an increasingly popular local program in the country and offers extensive analysis of current affairs as well as entertainment and just your everyday tips for living....

Young Mother says she was Senselessly Fired from Government Registry
Earlier this year the Government of Belize seized control of the International Business Company (IBC) and International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) from their former owners, Belize International Services Limited (BISL). Litigation over that takeover will certainly be filed in the courts, but as Government and BISL wrangle,...

Hand in Hand Ministries and BEL Finishes New House for Another Needy Family
On Thursday afternoon afternoon Port Loyola resident Shantel Card was the recipient of a $16,000 home donated and constructed by Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) along with Hand in Hand Ministries. The energy company’s employees and Ms. Card herself worked through an entire...

University of Belize Hosts Promising Marketing Expo’
The University of Belize is expanding its efforts to develop the tools necessary to promote marketing skills among its students in the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences. Today it hosted its Annual Marketing Expo where the object, according to Dean Vincent Palacio, is for students to put into...

The Guardian

13 new streets for Belmopan
Area Representative for Belmopan, Hon. John Saldivar, has been spending much of his time identifying sources of financing to improve the living conditions of residents of Belmopan and has so far been able to pave 8 streets in the Caribbean Villas area of Belmopan. The streets that have already been asphalted are Jamaica Street, Pacific Street, Atlantic Street, Cayman Street, Bahamas Street, Barbados Street, St. Vincent Street and Bermuda Street. Immediately after concluding those streets, more finances were identified through Recondev and work has commenced on 5 more streets in the Judges Area. Work commenced last week and is pressing ahead with the complete upgrade and paving of Innis Street, Staine Street, Brown Street and Sosa Street. According to Hon. Saldivar, over 500 thousand dollars will be invested in these streets where they will all be paved. Work is also being done to upgrade streets in the San Martin Area. Work is also ongoing with the paving of the street leading up to the George Price Center.

Liar, Liar!
The People's United Party and Channel 5 ploy to create mischief using Alvarene Burgess as their major pawn blew up in their faces on Friday, November 15th. Their elaborate plan to smear Hon. Edmund Castro came to an unceremonious end after the U.S. Embassy categorically denied some of Burgess' allegations. On the Dickie Bradley show of Monday, November 11th, Burgess continued her wild accusations against Hon. Castro. She went as far as to say that she had been called in to the U.S. Embassy where she was interrogated for 3 hours after which she left crying. In her allegations, Burgess stated that embassy personnel had played a recording to her which included Hon. Castro, herself and an unidentified third party. In an unusual denial, the U.S. Embassy's Charge D'Aaffaires, Margaret Hawthorne told the media on Friday that Alvarene went to the embassy to get a visa and not as she claimed at the behest of the embassy. Hawthorne also added that the U.S. embassy did not record anyone especially not a government official as was claimed by Burgess. Alvarene Burgess' wild allegations are now made bare and it is quite clearly exposed that she is a liar.

Garifuna Settlement ay in BelizeGarifuna Settlement Day in Belize
garifuna2.jpg - 107.77 KbAll around the country, Belizeans joined in with the fellow “Garinagu” citizens in Celebrating Garifuna Settlement Day, which was observed on Tuesday, November 19th. It is in commemoration of the original Garifuna settlers who arrived in Belize on November 19, 1802, when they sought and were granted asylum by the Governor of the day. In remembrance of that event, Belize enjoys a public and bank holiday. Throughout the entire day of November 19th, the Garifuna people participate in different ceremonies and activities to remind the younger generation of the importance of the day they were allowed to live peacefully in Belize. On Tuesday at around 7 a.m., Garifunas and other residents living in Belize City and surrounding areas joined together in observing the “Yurumei”, the ceremonial arrival done annually. Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley had the honour of representing the Governor for his second year, he was out at the foot of the Belcan Bridge to welcome the “arriving members”, and to grant them access to the country in the same fashion as it happened 211 years ago.

United States’ $2 Million Donation to Belize’s Arm Forces
The Belize Defense Force and the Belize Coast Guard are now better able to perform their duties thanks to a two million dollar donation from the United States Embassy. On Friday, November 15th, Margaret Hawthorne, Charge D’ Affaires of the US Embassy to Belize, handed over the keys for seven Jeep off road vehicles and one Boston Whaler boat to Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of National Security. The Belize Defense Force received three Jeep J-eight transport vehicles, three Jeep J-eight Patrol vehicles, and one Jeep J-eight Ambulance. Brigadier General David Jones said, “The vehicles will significantly improve the force’s ability to patrol challenging terrains and will be used specifically for quick reaction forces.” Jones said the force was badly in need of an ambulance for some time now. He said, “We need a rugged ambulance to go off-road, be it behind the Mountain Pine Ridge area or the Baldy Beacon area, when our soldiers are doing training and if there is any injury we have an ambulance [now] that is going to be on spot rugged enough to get them in and out of those terrain." Jones said the British Land Rovers were previously used for patrols in challenging terrains but “we don’t have those any more”. In addition to the vehicles, the B.D.F. also received 100 body armour vests, four Panasonic laptops, one tool package and two uninterrupted power suppliers.

Ballistics Training continues for Forensics Personnel
An expert from Canada was in Belize between November 13th to the 15th conducting a three-day workshop with personnel from the National Forensic Science Service who operate the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) donated to Belize by the Canadian Government. Mr. Petar Zenovich, senior instructor from Forensic Technology, the company that provided and installed the IBIS system on behalf of the Canadian Government, was in the country as part of the company’s commitment to ensure proper maintenance and effective utilization of the system. Mr. Zencovich, who has been coaching IBIS operators for over 13 years, said he is very impressed with the progress made thus far by personnel at the National Forensic Science Service in applying the training they receive to operate the system. He noted that they have succeeded in creating a healthy database and establishing precise protocols in order to fully integrate the system into their daily tasks and overall function. He said he is very pleased with the extraordinary effort being put in by the entire management and staff to make the system and the program work for Belize.

Manufactured Outraged and Stone Soup
You may know the story of the itinerant swindler who found himself in a remote village one night. The villages, suffering from hard times, did not offer to share their limited food with him. He told them that he fully understood their lack of hospitality, but asked only for a little help to make his own pot of stone soup. “Stone soup!” exclaimed the villagers, “No one can make soup from stones.” “Just lend me a large pot and let me use your fire hearth and I will show you how,” responded the silver tongued con artist. He set to work with a flourish stirring his pot of water into which he dropped three large smooth, clean stones. When it was bubbling away, he made a great show of tasting it and smacking his lips in delight. He exclaimed that it was coming along fine but a little salt would certainly improve its flavour. Continuing this charade, he persuaded the gullible villagers to drop in assorted vegetable such as onions, carrots and potatoes and finally a freshly prepared chicken and even to stir the pot themselves. As promised he produced a delicious pot of stone soup! In a parallel story, there is a heavy pot of manufactured outrage prepared by a consortium of interested parties hungry for political power. Their supposed pot of corruption is being offered to a Belizean public weary of global hard times. The cauldron admittedly contains a few heavy stones of individual passport irregularities, but the other ingredients are manufactured or manipulated by people who are well practiced in the art of deception.

BDF Destroys Marijuana Worth $30 Million
Since April of this year the Belize Defense Force has been working with a United States task force operating out of Honduras to conduct search and destroy drug operations in Belize’s forest. The operations were kept secret to maximize their effectiveness. As a result, in less than eight months three operations were executed and over 100,000 marijuana plants were destroyed at different locations across the country. According to Brigadier General David Jones, the estimated worth of the product is close to $30 million. The Belize Defense Force was supported in the missions by six US trained seals from the Belize Coast Guard, Officers of the Forestry Department and U.S. military personnel. According to Jones, the first operation was conducted using a Chinook and a Blackhawk helicopter from the US military. Those choppers transported about 100 men to strategic locations in the jungle. It took two days to destroy 62 thousand plants. Jones says without the helicopters it would have taken the BDF up to two years to find and destroy that many plants. The second operation was conducted from September 7th to 10th. Two Chinook helicopters were used and another significant number of plants were destroyed. The third operation was without assistance from the US helicopter and 37 thousand plants were destroyed. General Jones says the BDF is in need of air support. Since BATSUB downsized and closed its air support program, the force has struggled to conduct effective jungle patrols and seek and destroy operations. Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar, says the Government of Belize is “committed to any serious cost share arrangement that our partners are prepared to undertake in the acquisition of helicopters for Belize.” According to General Jones, BDF personnel are already being trained in flying helicopters.

Butane classified, prices changed
The Belize bureau of Standards issued a press release stating that effective November 16th there are two types of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) available in the country and as such there are two prices for these. The LPG being imported by Belize Gas and Western Gas Company Limited from Pemex has a consistency of 60:40 Propate: Butane ratio while LPG imported by Belize Western Energy Limited, Southern Choice Butane or Zeta Gas and Gas Tomza Limited which purchase from Central America has a 90:10 Propane to Butane ratio. The difference between the two products is that the LPG with a higher butane content is more efficient and is more expensive. The Mexican product will retail anywhere from $121.00 to $126.00 per hundred pound cylinder depending on where in the country it is purchased while the product with the lower butane content will sell for $5.00 cheaper. The Bureau of Standards encourages consumers to look out for labeling and markings of LPG mixtures from the suppliers to ensure they are getting what they are paying for. The Bureau of Standards requires such markings to be placed at the LPG retail outlets and mobile units.

Director of Public Prosecutions visits San Ignacio Town
Belize’s longest serving Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs. Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, met with members of the Peoples Coalition of Cayo (PCC) on Wednesday night of last week to interact with members of the Community and to set the pace for future work. The PCC itself is an organization that has been working with the Police to further reduce the rates of crime in the Cayo Area. The idea of a Peoples Coalition first came from the Prime Minister of Belize, the Hon. Dean Barrow. Mrs. Chery-Lynn Vidal was born in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and graduated as an Attorney in 1998. Vidal came to work in Belize in the year 2000 and during those 13 years has spent them mostly at the Office of the DPP. Her work in Belize started as a Crown Counsel at the DPP’s Office, then as Crown Counsel at the Attorney General’s Ministry. Mrs. Chery-Lynn Vidal also served as an acting Registrar of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and as a Registrar General; after which she returned to the DPP’s Office. When Vidal returned to the DPP Office in 2004, she did so as Senior Crown Counsel and was promoted to Deputy Director in 2007, acting Director in 2008 and confirmed as Director in 2010.

Flash Flood in Western Belize
Some eight hours of torrential rains last Wednesday night resulted in flash floods in the Santa Elena Town and other Areas of the Cayo District, resulting in discomfort for many. The flash flood had by 8:30 a.m., on November 14th, prompted a Public Advisory from the National Emergency Management Organization, which stated that some 20 families in the Santa Elena area behind Three Flags and up to the cemetery had experienced a flash flood early in the morning. The business place of Joe Marr by the football stadium in Santa Elena Town was flooding while his children were trying to salvage furniture from the rising waters. Many residents spent early Thursday morning of last week cleaning the inside of their houses and trying to save some of their most precious belongings. Both approaches to the Cristo Rey Bridge had been washed away but by early Thursday the Hon. Rene Montero, Minister of Works, and his team had made an assessment. Workmen continued to work into the late hours of the evening last Thursday to re-connect the Cristo Rey Bridge. A family was saved from the flash floods in the Hillview Area as their house had temporarily become a flotation device, with a portion of the house lifting off its concrete foundation posts.

Flood relief for Rural North
Belize Rural North Area Representative, Hon. Edmund “Clear the Land” Castro, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture are collaborating to assist the cattle farmers of Crooked Tree Village to preserve their livestock so that they can weather the extensive flooding which has almost cut them off from outside help. The communities of Crooked Tree and Maskall continue to experience flooding from the extensive rains which have taken place over the last 3 months. The Belize Red Cross reported last week that some 200 families from the Cayo District and the Belize River Valley were devastated by the unexpected rise in water. But, while Red Cross and NEMO collaborated to assist those families, the Belize Rural North Representative, Hon. Edmund “Clear the Land” Castro, is working to see that his constituents are able to get past the devastation. As has been widely reported, the Crooked Tree Road Causeway is currently under water, and in order for the villagers to get in and out, they have to be ferried by boats provided by the Belize Audubon Society and the Coast Guard. In certain sections of the village, the farm land and pastures have been inundated by water, which is not expected to recede until 2 months’ time at the earliest. As a result, the cattle farmers are going through a severe rough patch, and their area rep. is trying to alleviate their problems.

Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Project
In November 2011, the Government of Belize and the Inter-American Development Bank signed onto an agreement for a loan of Ten Million U. S. Dollars (US $10.00 Million) and an additional Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand U.S. Dollars as Counterpart for a flood alleviation and mitigation project for the Belama Area of Belize City. This project titled, "Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Project," consists of three main components to be implemented over a period of five years. The first component is Engineering and Administration, this includes the establishing of an Execution Unit along with Operational Expenses. The second component is divided in two sub components which are First Year of Civil Works and Second Year of Civil Works; First Year of Civil Works is further divided into outputs such as street improvements (No. 4), Canal Construction (No. 2) and upgrading of two parks. The design for the parks has been completed and tendered and the evaluation process is ongoing; the parks are Albert Hoy and D'Nest Inn. Some of the activities to execute are: change damaged lights, build sidewalks, construct drains & benches, repair both basketball courts and fix the football field. The streets to be improved are: Albert Hoy, Juliet Soberanis, Link Road (Apollo St.) & Loop Road (Delcia Goff St.), the activities to execute are: widening of the carriage way and apply a bituminous double surface chippings, construct drains, wide walks and bike paths plus other ancillary works. Two canals will be built also as part of the civil works these are Maheia's Canal and Bill Lindo Canal. The Second Year of Civil Works includes the construction of Douglas Jones Canal and Upgrading of North Side Canal.

ICT and Innovation as Drivers of Economic Growth
The Government of Belize has hired consultants from the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) in an effort to develop and implement a National Information Communication Technology and Innovation Policy and Strategy as well as an E-Government Strategy and Plan of Action. According to Dr. Colin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities, in developing the policies “we will be looking at the best possible ways that Belize can harness the use of ICTs to transform the way government does business with the public as well as how the private sector and civil societies can use ICTs to improve their efficiency”. Government officials and representatives from the private sector attended a ceremony to launch the drafting of the national policies on Wednesday, November 20th, at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary, assured the gathering of Governments full support of the ICT strategy. He said Government is investing an initial $400,000 into the drafting of the policies and strategies and is prepared to invest whatever is necessary for implementation because the embrace of ICT will strengthen Belize’s economy. Young informed the gathering of a study which shows that when Internet penetration is expanded by 10 percent in Latin American and Caribbean countries the increase in Gross Domestic Product is 3.18 percent.

Belize to Prepare a Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2014 - 2017
The Government of Belize is pleased to announce that in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, through financial and technical assistance, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has commenced preparation of a Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy for the Period 2014 to 2017. The strategy will be one of a series of medium-term strategies that will need to be prepared and implemented towards realizing the vision put forward in Horizon 2030. This vision reads: “Belize is a country of peace and tranquility, where citizens live in harmony with the natural environment and enjoy a high quality of life. Belizeans are an energetic, resourceful and independent people looking after their own development in a sustainable way.” Achieving this vision requires effective planning which involves developing good medium-term strategic plans, linking these plans to successive operational multi-year budgets and putting in place an appropriate monitoring and evaluation framework. This first Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy will therefore complement efforts already under way to improve Government’s budgeting process through the adoption of programme budgeting. Programme budgeting is expected to result in much improved management of public resources.

12 years for attempted murder
On Friday, November 15th, after 10 days of waiting at the Belize Central Prison, 21-year-old Diondray McKoy was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the June 2009 attempted murder of Everald Gray. Justice Troadio “John” Gonzalez, sentenced him to the 12 years effective Tuesday, November 5th, 2013, the day a jury of six females and three males found him guilty of the crime of attempted murder. In mitigation plea, McKoy chose to call no character witnesses. He did say that he did not know how it was that the jury had found him guilty. According to McKoy, he feels so sorry for the victim, but he did not shot him. Prosecutor in the case was Sheneiza Smith who was assisted by Leeroy Banner. In the trial, they called Gray, the shooting victim who testified that, he was at home on Queen Charlotte Street on June 23, 2009, at around 8:30 p.m., he heard someone calling his name. When he went to the door, he saw a man, who reached into his pants waist and pulled out a gun. He turned around attempting to run away, but the man shot him in the left shoulder, left armpit, and his right index finger. He ran into his bedroom, and collapsed there.

Acquitted of aggravated assault upon 8 year-old girl
On Wednesday, November 20th, a man who was accused of molesting an 8-year-old child in 2005 was acquitted by a jury. Ervin Borland had been charged with aggravated assault of an indecent nature upon an 8-year-old girl. At the time the girl accused him of touching her inappropriately on her private parts. In court a jury of 9 persons unanimously found him not guilty of the crime. The trial saw the girl who is now 17 testify in-camera telling the court that sometime between May 19th and 22nd of 2005 Borland had removed her underwear and touched her inappropriately. Prosecutor, Leeroy Banner called only two witnesses to testify in the case against Borland. Those witnesses included the victim and her mother. The child's mother told the court that she had sent her daughter to borrow a scissors from a next door neighbor, but when the child took too long to return home, she went in searched of her. According to the mother, when she arrived at the house she saw Borland wearing only a shirt and no underwear or boxers. She then found her daughter in one corner of the room. According to the child's mother, her daughter who would say nothing much at that time, appeared frighten and scared.

Teenage Boy charged with wounding Teenage
On Wednesday, November 20th, 18-year-old Hayward Hulse appeared in Magistrate's Court to answer to charges of wounding upon his 17-year-old girlfriend. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and bail of $1,000.00 was offered to him which he met. He is to reappear in court on December 2nd. According to the 17-year-old girl, she and Hulse were socializing at the Baron Bliss Grave on Sunday, November 17th, when they got into an argument where she alleges that he became violent with her when he punched her in her face. The minor was given a medical legal form where she was examined by a doctor at a local hospital and her injuries were classified as wounding.

Old fine costs Elroy Saldano three years behind bars
On Wednesday, November 20th, 44-year-old Belize City resident, Elroy Saldano appeared in Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Hettie Mae Steward to answer to charges of harm and aggravated assault upon Tiesha Palacio. He pleaded not guilty to the charges but was unable to go since he has outstanding two old fines for theft and wounding for which he will have to spend three years in jail. Saldano was most recently arrested after Tiesha Palacio reported to police that on Monday, November 18, 2013) she and Saldano got into an argument where he picked up a beer bottle, broke it and then placed it to the left side of her neck which caused a cut wound. Palacio became fearful for her life and as a result, reported the matter to police requesting court action. Saldano is due back in on December 20, 2013.

Vincent “Steeno” Tillett, found guilty of manslaughter
Vincent Tillett was found guilty of manslaughter on Friday, November 15th, in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Darwin Phillips. The matter had concluded 18 days earlier, but Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas had taken time out to consider the case. After that consideration Justice Lucas announced on Friday of last week that Tillett was guilty of manslaughter and not guilty of murder in Phillips’ death. Phillips who was the lover of Tillett’s girlfriend was stabbed once to the chest on February 13, 2011 at a home that the accused occupied at the time with his common-law wife. During the trial, Prosecutor, Kaysha Grant called several witnesses to testify including Denise Stuart and Oran Young. Both main witnesses, chose to give evidence contrary to their 2011 statements and she was forced to treat them as hostile witnesses. At the end of their testimonies, both their 2011 statements were tendered in as evidence. Justice Lucas also admitted a statement that Tillett had given police back in 2011 where he admitted that he stabbed Phillips.

World Anti-Doping Agency has new anti-doping code
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) held its 4th World Conference on Doping in Sports from November 12-15, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where over 1500 participants from the National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs), Regional Anti-Doping Organisations (RADOs), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Sporting Federations (IFs), Sports Ministers (governments), UNESCO, and the media gathered to hear the presentations and the interventions for the new anti-doping code. The 4th World Conference was officially declared open by the Minister of Sports, Sports and Recreation of South Africa the Hon. Fikile Mbalula. The 4th World Conference also had the participation of Mr. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, Richard Young (World Anti-Doping Code Drafting Team Draftsman and International Standards for Laboratories), Ulrich Hass (World Anti-Doping Code Drafting Team), and Jean-Paul Costa (World Anti-Doping Code Drafting Team).

Customs Firms’ Basketball competition champions
The 2013 Belize District Basketball Association Firms’ competition came to an end on Friday, November 15, at the Bird’s Isle. In the third and final game of the championship series, Customs defeated Port of Belize by the score of 70-66 to capture the Firms Basketball Title. The top scorers for Customs were Winston Pratt who scored 33 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal, Marvin Skeet who scored 10 points, and 5 rebounds, Oliver Solis and Devon Garcia who scored 7 points each towards the win and the coveted title. Meanwhile, for the Port of Belize, the top scorers were Earl Johnson who scored 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, Lennox Bowman with 11 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists and a steal and Ian Augustine who scored 10 points, 9 rebounds and a steal. At the end of the championship game, the Belize District Basketball Association presented the championship awards as well as the individual awards. The following players received the 2013 individual awards MVP (regular season) Winston Pratt –Customs and Excise Department, Steals- Ervin Orosco (Atlantic Bank) 3.7, Assists- Ervin Orosco (Atlantic Bank) 4.6, Rebounds- Kurt Burgess (Heritage Bank/Ministry of Trade) 14.7 and the MVP – (Championship series) Winston Pratt. We say congratulations to the Customs and Excise Department for capturing the 2013 Firms Competition.

Belikin Cup Opening Season Tournament resumes
The 2013 Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup Opening Season resumed on Saturday, November 16, with a game played out at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan between the visiting FC Belize and the host team the Belmopan Bandits. At the end of the long whistle FC Belize edged the Belmopan Bandits by the score of 3-2. The visiting FC Belize got on the scoreboard first when an own goal in the 4th minute of play was scored by Floyd Jones to give FC Belize a 1-0 lead. The lead was further extended when Jarret Davis scored the 1st of his 2 goals in the 17th minute of play to give his team a 2-0 lead. However, the deficit was cut in half for the Belmopan Bandits when Deon McCaulay scored his 1st of 2 goals in the 24th minute of play. The first half of the game ended 2-1 in favour of the visiting FC Belize. In the second half of the game the hostility between the two teams resumed when Jarret Davis scored his 2nd goal of the game via the penalty kick in the 50th minute of play to extend his team’s lead to 3-1. The Belmopan Bandits offence came roaring back with a goal of its own when Deon McCaulay scored his 2nd goal of the game in the 78th minute of play to cut the deficit once again to one. As the time expired in the game it was indeed a 3-2 victory for the visiting FC Belize.

Junior Footballers playing 500 ball in UNCAF U-16 championship
The National U-16 Football Team of Belize is currently playing 500 ball after losing to El Salvador last night by the score of 2-0 out at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan in the on-going Unión Centroamericana de Fútbal (UNCAF) competition that is being hosted by the Football Federation of Belize in Belmopan. The goals for El Salvador were scored by Jose Melendez in the 2nd minute of play and Carlos Mendez in the 60th minute of play. The UNCAF Championship opened on Monday, November 18, 2013, at the FFB Stadium in Belize with six (6) of the Central American countries participating. In Belize’s opening game against Nicaragua, Team Belize edged Nicaragua by the score of 2-1. The goals for Belize were scored by Rogi Solórzano in the 20th and 33rd minute of play. Meanwhile, the goal for Nicaragua was scored by Anderson Treminio in the 67th minute of play. In the other games also played on Monday, Guatemala blanked El Salvador by the score of 2-0. The goals for Guatemala were scored by Brandon De Leon in the 14th minute of play and Esteban Garcia in the 19th minute of play. And Costa Rica edged Honduras by the score of 2-1. The goals for Costa Rica was Scored by Luis Hernandez in the 41st and 51st minutes of play, while Foslyn Grant scored for Honduras in the 17th minute of play.

Hon. Rene Montero Christmas 9-Ball Tournament
The exciting Hon. Rene Montero Christmas 9-ball tournament continued at LINK-UP Bar in Santa Elena , Cayo, near the Hawksworth Bridge. On Sunday, November 17th, in the first match Di Rebels defeated Old School by 2-1. Winning for Di Rebels were: Barry Rudon over Fidelio Montes 5-3, and Mark Buquis over Luis Usher 5-4. In the losing effort for Old School it was Gilbert Luna over Dwight Crawford 5-3. In the second match, Link-Up defeated Champions 3-0. For Link-Up, Juan Maiestro Villanueva won Vallan Hyde 5-0, Erwin Woodye won Jordan Uck 5-3, and Jimmy Rudon won Michael Hyde 5-0. In the third match, Shooters defeated Dibo’s 2-1. For Shooters, Rogelio Boteo won Charles Talbert 5-3, and Wallace Chu won Jose Guerra 5-3. For Dibos, it was Manuel Balona winning David Fernandez 5-1. In the fourth match, Champions won Snipers by 2-1. For Champions, it was Vallan Hyde over Jose Luis Rodriquez 5-0; and Jordan Uck over Edwin Gonzalez by 5-2. In the losing effort for Snipers, it was Hector Ortiz defeating Michael Hyde 5-3.

Old School Vega’s 2013 Cup champions
The 2013 Vega’s Cup Tournament came to an end of Sunday, November 17, in a dramatic finish. In the championship game played between Old School FC and Jaguars United, the game ended 2-2 at the end of regulation time. The goals for Old School FC were scored by Christopher Hendricks in the 9th minute of play and Oliver Hendricks in the 67th minute of play. For Jaguars United, the goals were scored by Ervin Cocom in the 50th minute of play and Gabriel Perez in the 66th minute of play. In overtime the game also ended in a draw and it was not until in the penalty shoot out that Old School captured the title with an 8-7 victory. Meanwhile, in the third place game played between Barrio Boys and San Jose FC, the game ended 2-2 at the end of regulation time. The goals for San Jose FC were scored by Ervin Patt in the 18th minute of play and Jeffrey Yama in the 62nd minute of play. Meanwhile, the goals for Barrio Boys were scored by Osmy Medina in the 26th and 43rd minutes of the game respectively. The game then went into overtime where at the end of the overtime the game remained a draw. It was not until the penalty shoot out that San Jose FC edged out Barrio Boys by the score of 4-3.

#478155 - 11/23/13 05:28 AM Re: Today's Belize News: November 23, 2013 [Re: Marty]
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Three Belizeans are in a jail in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, awaiting trial after they were captured on Friday with 900 grams — over five pounds — of cocaine. They were intercepted by Mexican Navy marines on Cuauhtémoc Street in Subteniente Lopez Town on the Mexico-Belize border, and charged with drug trafficking offenses. They were then handed over to the Office of Public Prosecution in Chetumal, where they have been imprisoned and are awaiting trial. Information to us is that on Friday, the Mexican Marines were on mobile patrol on Cuauhtémoc Street when they stopped and searched a car in which three Belizeans and a Mexican national were travelling. The search resulted in the discovery of over two kilos of cocaine, and the four men were immediately arrested.

Tonight, the leadership of the University of Belize (UB) hangs in the balance after its president, Guyanese national Dr. Cary Frazer, went “off the radar” – so to speak – subsequent to alleging to Prime Minister Dean Barrow in a letter that the UB Board of Trustees has “micromanaged” the university, which he believes has restricted his leadership. Today, Amandala has confirmed that Dr. Cary Fraser is officially on leave for reasons unknown. The confirmation was made by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Harrison Pilgrim. When KREM News asked the reason for the president’s leave, Pilgrim responded that he was not aware that there had to be a reason for going on leave. When he was asked how long the president will be on leave, Pilgrim responded that it was an administrative issue. During the president’s absence, the Interim Provost, Dr. Wilma Wright, will hold over. Earlier this month, rumors were rampant that Dr. Cary Fraser had resigned from his post. It turned out that Dr. Fraser had written to the Prime Minister to say that he would be leaving the institution at the end of the academic year 2013/2014. He is expected to remain in office until the end of this current school year, which ends in May 2014.

High-ranking sugar industry sources told Amandala this evening that the recent battering from torrential rains has rendered the sugar roads in northern Belize virtually impassable to delivery trucks, and even if parties disputing over how the million-dollar-pie earned from bagasse power generation were to reach an accord, farmers will still not be able to start the crop year on Monday, November 25, 2013, as had been planned. Apart from having to contend with horrible roads, farmers would also have to contend with lower returns, since the sugar quality would be low, due to waterlogged fields. Earlier this week, the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) issued a statement, conceding that although the mill stands ready to start the crop on November 25, 2013, “it is appreciated that there are difficulties with roads and fields caused by the excessive rain and this start date may need to be delayed.” Former Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development, Gabriel Martinez, the chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board, confirmed that the industry is presently at a standstill, when he told Amandala this evening that the roads are “in a terrible state” due to the rains and that even if farmers want to start the crop year, he does not think the roads will permit them to start.

Chaplain George Castillo, the Dangriga-born elder who has retired from serving as Chaplain of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the USA and author of the book – My Life Between the Cross and the Bars, returns to the USA tomorrow, after spending time home to celebrate his Garifuna roots – highlighted in Belize every November. Chaplain Castillo traveled with his wife of 56 years, Mrs. Muriel Castillo of Brooklyn, New York. Mrs. Castillo first visited Belize in 1970 and that was the most memorable of her four trips to The Jewel. She speaks of Belize with a beaming smile on her face, just as she does of her husband – who says the couple is still honeymooning. Garifuna Settlement Day was founded by Thomas Vincent Ramos in 1941 to acknowledge the contributions of Garinagu in Belize; but today, the positive contributions of Ramos and the Garifuna people are acknowledged even outside the borders of Belize. Ramos was one of Chaplain Castillo’s mentors. Chaplain Castillo said that a prophecy given by Ramos that he, Castillo, would occupy the Methodist Mission House in Dangriga did come true some years later. Chaplain Castillo, like Ramos, puts great emphasis on education. Although he did not complete high school here in Belize, Castillo worked and studied in the US and as a result of his industrious efforts, made history in that country.

The weather forecast calls for a high 90°F temperature inland Belize Friday, and while that is not the most extreme temperature on record in Belize, a report issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), dubbed the WMO Provisional Statement on Status of the Climate in 2013, is saying that the year 2013 is the globe’s seventh hottest in more than a century. During the first nine months of 2013, above average temperatures were present across most of the world’s land areas, perhaps most notably in Australia, “along with ocean waters to the south and south-east of Australia, as well as much of northern North America, the northeastern Pacific Ocean and part of the coastal north-east Atlantic, northeastern South America, northern Africa, and much of Eurasia,” the report said. It added, though, that “Cooler-than-average temperatures were scattered across a concentrated region of North America, central South America and the eastern Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Ecuador, a small region of northern Russia, and parts of northeastern Asia.” Amandala was unable to get local data from the National Met Service to indicate where exactly Belize falls within this range.

The board of directors of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) met today and decided that they would write ex-minister Gabriel Martinez – the chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board — and Agriculture Minister Gaspar Vega, requesting to meet with the officials on Friday to seek Government’s intervention in an ongoing stalemate between cane farmers and Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) over the sharing of revenues derived from bagasse through power generation. Alfredo Ortega, BSCFA vice president, told Amandala today that the last agreement between cane farmers and BSI ended in December 2012, and they refuse to sign a new agreement for the 2013-2014 crop year, due to start in less than a week, if it will again exclude them from revenues earned from power generation using bagasse – a by-product from milling sugar cane. Cane farmers boycotted a meeting with BSI yesterday, saying that the company has refused to stick to the agenda proposed – that agenda being the resolution of the bagasse revenue-sharing conflict.

Since the inception of the Belize Chess Federation in February of 1987 by the late Ricardo Aguilar, Belize City has not experienced a Round-Robin Blitz tournament. With the resurgence of Chess in the Jewel, many chess players had not gotten an exposure to a Blitz type tournament. So it was more than a welcome treat to the many chess aficionados of Belize City, who participated in the almost four-hour brain buster. Looking back, before the advent of the digital chess clocks, 5 minutes per side game was the standard for Blitz or Speed Chess. Also, before the introduction of chess clocks in the mid 1950’s, chess club “rapid transit” tournaments had a referee who would every ten seconds call out the elapsed time. Internationally, one of the first known official “Speed Chess Championship of the World” (or World Blitz Championship) took place in Kemeri Riga in Latvia, Europe, in 1937.

Here are the results of the race held in the Kulcha Capital, Dangriga, yesterday. Thanks to all who made the trip down, and the effort given for us to have had a great race, considering the weather over the last two weeks. WW Dangriga race results: A-Class – 1st Barney Brown (Scotiabank, 2:21:15); 2nd Warren Coye (Santino’s, st); 3rd Mark Gentle (BCB/FT Williams, st); 4th James Frampton (Santino’s, st); 5th Daniel Cano (M&M Engineering, st); 6th Isaiah Willacey (Digicell-4G, st); 7th Ken Gladden (Scotiabank, 2:22:10); 8th Palas Joseph (Santino’s, st); 9th Kirk Sutherland (Digicell-4G, 2:22:30); 10th Windell Williams (Scotiabank, st); 11th Halton Ritchie (Scotiabank); 12th Dean Belisle (BCB/FT Williams); 13th Andrew Brown (Cayo Rentals); 14th Steven Bissett (BNE); 15th Wilbert Jones (Digicell-4G).

The games were not played on Saturday, due to the wet condition of the MCC Grounds, but the all-clear was given yesterday, Sunday, November 17, for most of the Week 7 games in the SMART 13 & Under Football Tournament to be played. Three games were actually played, as one was determined by default, while another will be played as a back match. The postponement from Saturday to Sunday may have affected some teams more than others. Ladyville Jaguars coach Michael “Wataplat” Flowers said his team missed two of his best defenders, who had to attend church in Ladyville on Sunday morning and could therefore not make the trip to Belize City. In the first game on the schedule, City Boys won by default (3-0) over Young Stars. Collet Strikers then dropped Ladyville Jaguars, 2-1, on a goal apiece from Wayne Ford and Tyrel Estrada; while Joshua Martells got the goal for Ladyville, who suffered their first loss in the competition. Next it was defending champion Hattieville United with an impressive 3-0 win over Third World, with Jairo Donis, Edil Lemus and Jadon McGregor each shaking the net for Hattieville.

After defeating Nicaragua, 2-1, on opening day, Monday, November 18, and losing 2-0 to El Salvador on Tuesday, the Belize Baby Jaguars suffered their second loss yesterday to Guatemala by a 3-2 score in the UNCAF U-16 Championship being hosted in Belize at the FFB Stadium. Tonight Belize faces Honduras, and tomorrow, in the last game of the tournament, Belize meets Costa Rica. Six Central American teams (Panama is not participating) are seeing action every day from Monday to Friday of this week, with the winner to be determined by points total (and goal difference and most goals, if necessary). The games are played with 35-minute halves. Considering that we are yet to conduct a National Inter-District U-15 football competition, for players to better hone their skills, as well as allowing for more recruitment of talent country-wide, our Baby Jaguars are giving very good account of themselves against teams from countries who have fully integrated youth programs going for some years now.

In our part of the world, capitalism has been linked with God and Christianity. One reason for this is that the leading theorists and proponents of communism, the antithesis to capitalism in the first half of the twentieth century – Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, et alii – were outright atheists. They believed, in the words of Marx, that religion was the opium of the oppressed masses and that belief in God served no useful purpose. Capitalism, which had brought slavery and colonialism to Africa and America, was able to project itself in the said Africa and America as the defender of God and religion because its most important philosophical opponents were so completely opposed to God and religion. The natives in Africa and America who were victimized by the European conquest more than five hundred years ago, in the main had been engaging in various kinds of spiritual rituals and ceremonies as a relevant part of their lives. Africans and Americans, then, were religious peoples. European conquest also took place in Asia, but in this newspaper we usually focus on the European conquest’s effects on Africa and America, because Africa and America are from whence the vast majority of our Belizean citizens are derived.

Colonel Swindal lifts Air Force One into the sky. Davis, watching from the tarmac, is shocked by the steepness of the ascent – “almost vertical,” he says. It’s as though Swindal wants to leave not only Dallas but also the earth. President Johnson has never been on Air Force One – which is code-named Angel by the Secret Service – at least not in flight. Whenever he and Kennedy were flying to the same city, he would ask for permission to come aboard, to be allowed to share a little of Kennedy’s spotlight, to wave from the top of the same ramp. Those requests were always refused – Kennedy always citing security concerns, Johnson always believing his exile was for more personal reasons. The Kennedy people dismissively called him Rufus Cornpone, the sort of man capable of ruining a good suit just by wearing it. Evelyn Lincoln says later that Johnson’s repeated demotion to Air Force Two “bothered the vice-president more than anything else.” Now here he is, flying on the first plane, leaving the second in its wake – not due to the favor of a more powerful man but because he is the most powerful man. He looks around the stateroom. Jackie Kennedy has helped decorate it. Soon he will have much of it torn out.

Amid PetroCaribe concerns, Belize deal remains intact: Official
Belize may be able to barter rice, sugar and tourism services to pay for oil. Reports are surfacing again in the international press of uncertainty over the PetroCaribe initiative, through which Belize receives fuel from Venezuela under a concessionary finance arrangement which permits the country to defer payments and to use those funds to instead finance projects for socio-economic advancement. With an initial $20 million from the proceeds of the Venezuela-financed PetroCaribe Fund, Belize launched the National Bank of Belize—which plans to offer mortgage financing at a concessionary rate of 5.5% for a maximum of $100,000—on September 2, 2013. This has been the signal output from Venezuela’s pact with Belize. Whereas a Belize official told us that the deal has yielded substantial benefit for Belize, there is an indication that other countries may not be as happy. Earlier this month, it was reported that Guatemala had decided to pull out of the alliance. Then the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reportedly issued a word of caution, saying in the Caribbean Region Quarterly Bulletin, Volume 2, Issue 4, that, “A possible new direction in PetroCaribe’s future could also impact the Eastern Caribbean. St. Lucia has recently begun to receive shipments of fuel from Venezuela under PetroCaribe, amid announcements by President Maduro that the interest rates on deferred payments would double to 2 percent.”

This is an understatement and sadly, in this country the extent of the corruption has not yet been revealed. There is a reason why the corruption in this Ministry does not see the light of day – I say it is simply because usually for a scandal to break out the informant must come from within. And, it is likely that said informant is not in agreement with the corruption, so they leak information and become whistleblowers. In the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Lands Department is one of the most powerful places to be because common desk officers have learnt the art of stalling work and suggesting their willingness to expedite it if an incentive is provided. To compound the situation, even the general public, who complain about corruption, visit the office and are themselves all too willing to also suggest their disposition to provide gifts to have their matter facilitated. Or in some instances, some law firms, land agents, or even business entities make sure each Christmas they “look out” for their insiders … trust me, they know who they are.

Two of Belize’s local tour companies were prestigiously rewarded this morning, albeit aboard a visiting Princess cruise ship which was docked 5.5 miles off the coast of Belize City. Both Bacab Eco Tours and Chukka Tours were accredited by Princess Cruise Lines for the sophisticated services that they offer — for the Horseback Safari Ride, and for the Xunantunich Maya Ruin Marimba Tour respectively. The tours are a part of local expedition packages that are regularly sold onboard the Princess cruise ships which dock in our harbor on scheduled visits. Bacab Eco Tours’ horseback ride was singled out as outstanding in the Low Volume Tour category for Belize for the 2012-2013 cruise season, while the High Volume Tour of the season in the Port of Belize was won for the second time in a row by Chukka Tours for their Xunantunich Maya Ruin Tour. Both tours obtained high ratings and positive passenger comments and were tagged as excellent-value tours. Dana Ionescu, customer service director for Princess Cruise Lines, commended both tour operators for their exceptional work during the 2012-2013 cruise season. While addressing the awardees, she said, “The effort made by you and your staff regarding the operational efficiency and overall quality of these tours is commendable. And Princess would like to acknowledge all your efforts, dedication and passion in offering our passengers a very good experience and assist[ing] them to escape completely.”

After weeks of suspension, the hearings of the Public Accounts Committee, tasked to examine, consider and report on the Auditor General’s reports on public finances, is due to resume meetings on Monday, November 25. The meetings which had been slated for October were initially postponed due to inclement weather and the rescheduled meeting did not happen because only two of six committee members attended. The PAC meetings are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 25 and 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 27. On Monday afternoon at 3:30, the National Security and Immigration Committee meets to consider three new bills tabled at a meeting of the House of Representatives on Friday, November 1.

As an individual with a physical challenge I have always been sensitive to the problems which persons with either physical or mental incapacity have to endure. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. During the early 1990s, the commemoration of World Mental Health Day (10th October), which is marked in Belize as part of the larger Mental Health Awareness Week, has stimulated national initiatives at improving mental health education, awareness and advocacy. In recent years national and regional efforts in the field of mental health have emerged that place due priority on improving mental health and achieving equity in mental health for all people worldwide. Our national health and social development policies and strategies increasingly focus on promoting mental wellness, prevention of mental disorders and the removal of stigma associated with mental disease.

Daniel Ponce, of Trial Farm, Orange Walk, is in a critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) after a butane tank which he was filling, exploded, causing him to suffer a massive injury to the head. About 11:00 Tuesday morning, Ponce was filling a butane tank when the tank exploded, slamming the nozzle of the tank hose into the side of his head. Ponce was rushed to the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk Town, then to the KHMH in Belize City. Doctors are now working to save his life. According to reports, on Tuesday, Mennonite businessman Johan Lassen, 35, proprietor of Bert Quality Chicken, of Camp 10, ordered butane gas, which was to be delivered to his business. Lassen told police that when the gas was delivered and he paid for it, he left his business and was going home, in the same area, when he heard a loud explosion, which came from behind his business place.

New butane price structure raises questions about quality On Saturday, new LPG prices came into effect, according to a release from the Belize Bureau of Standards. The new price schedule is different from that which was released last month in that it has two price tiers, depending on the quality of the butane. According to a release issued Friday, butane imported from Pemex in Mexico, which has 60% propane and 40% butane (60:40), will be sold at $3 more per 100-pound cylinder, while butane imported from Central America, which has 90% propane and only 10% butane (90:10), will be sold for $2 less per 100-pound tank. Amandala was told that because there is a higher demand for butane in colder months, the impacts are felt in the local market, with LPG prices escalating and quality eroding. A spokesperson of the Bureau of Standards has advised Amandala that although the 60:40 butane is the standard for the local industry, Belizean importers are being allowed to bring in the 90:10 in the winter months.

A motorcyclist who slammed into a pickup truck is recovering at the Corozal Hospital from injuries to the head and body. Aurelio Chimal, 48, a bus driver of Nuevo San Juan, Orange Walk Town, who was riding the motorcycle, suffered a large cut wound to the forehead, and a swollen left foot. His condition has been declared as serious, but stable. Police said that about 6:15 yesterday evening, they went to the scene of the accident on the Patchakan Road, between Xaibe village and Patchakan, in the Corozal District. On their arrival they saw a red Nissan pickup on the right hand side of the road. They also saw a black Meilun motorcycle on the same side of the road, on the ground, beside the pickup truck. The motorcycle had a blown front tire, and its front lamp was broken, while the left side of the front of the pickup’s cab and the left side of its pan were damaged.

A petition letter signed by some 18 residents of an area near 2 ¼ Miles on the George Price Highway and Diana Dorado Street in Belize City was brought to Amandala today. The residents wrote the letter to appeal to either Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley or Lake Independence area representative, Hon. Mark King, to repair or upgrade the streets on which they reside because of the huge potholes and the inconvenience of having to walk through water when it rains. They complained that they have had to endure the conditions for over 5 years, and that “it has become unhealthy and unsafe not knowing how deep the holes are that you fall into.”

According to the crime statistics issued by the Belize Police Department today, major crimes for this year have seen a decrease since 2012. The stats – which are for the months of August, September and October – are showing a decline in homicides in the past three months. There were 119 murders recorded at the end of October 2012, while for that same period this year, there were 88 murders. The frequency of another major crime – robbery –has also decreased, from 413 incidences last year to 236 for the same period this year. One of the only crimes that is on the increase is theft; so far this year there have been 845 cases of theft, while there were 777 such cases up to the end of October last year. While there has been a decrease in the number of major crimes that were committed in October of this year, as compared to October 2012, the decline actually has been taking place gradually since August, in which 114 major crimes were reported. Then, in September there were 111 reported incidents, and last month recorded 73. Those numbers were significantly higher during the same period last year.

The Mayor’s people, ready to pounce on unwary citizens They say that perception sometimes becomes reality, and it is unfortunate that today, as a regular vehicle driver in Belize City, I find myself looking upon our diligent, well uniformed Belize City Traffic Officers as I would upon an enemy. The impression I get is that these officers are in the hunt, looking for victims to pounce upon. They are just doing their job; and their boss is the popular and smooth talking Mayor of Belize City, who is trying his best to manage the traffic while fixing these troublesome streets. But sometimes I get the feeling like there are traps being set for us helpless drivers. And I have been caught before. Have you? The driveway in the Atlantic Bank yard on Freetown Road is almost always full. Meanwhile, perhaps the widest street in the whole country borders the Atlantic Bank sidewalk. But for some strange reason, the Traffic Department has decided to paint the edge of the sidewalk red, meaning it is a “no parking” area. The taxi drivers simply ignore the sign, and park their vehicles there any time of day or night. They are standing only a few feet away, so, if a traffic officer stops by, they simply jump in their car and drive off. Unlucky me; if I want to go to the ATM, I have to park very far away, or take a chance that an unsympathetic officer will not stop by while I am inside the ATM.

Ya da fu we Belize… Since the above thought was introduced at the time of Independence, one gets the distressing impression that we don’t have a clue what it signifies. All discipline, good manners, courtesy have disappeared. Like an animal released from its leash by his master, we seem to be running amok, wantonly abusing ourselves and our country. The traffic chaos exemplifies our inability to understand that we are now responsible for ourselves. The children who are forced to play on the streets, the pedestrians who jaywalk daring the cars and trucks to hit them, the cyclist who rides wherever he chooses, including the sidewalk, the driver who stops in the middle of the road to chat with a friend, caring less about those behind him, all contribute to this mess. Officialdom adds to the nightmare by growing a hedge at the Northern Road from Belcan Bridge. Those turning left to go north must put half their vehicles into the maw of the incoming traffic.


Last minute vacation to a surprise destination
Travel snacks, a supply of vitamins and load of laundry on the go – check. Packing for my last minute vacation will recommence as soon as I finish this post, I was planning to finish last night and ended up at Trivia instead. Congrats to the Westies who took the $90 Darth Vader head prize pot. I figured since all my electronic gear was charged it would I would not have to much to do this morning before I leave. Wrong I was, new chores keep popping up faster than I can cross off everything I wanted to get done before leaving :) Thankfully the sheets are ready to go in the dryer. The countdown is officially on :) It is 7:00am and I start the first leg of my 3 part journey by getting to Tropic Air for 8:30 am to check in and catch my 9:00am flight to Philip Goldson International Airport. You will find out soon enough where I ended up. Travel Tip: This is for those of you who are planning your first Belize Vacation and wondering what the timing is like for clearing customs and getting to or flying from San Pedro Airport. The Tropic Air guideline is as follows: Allow for 45 minutes upon landing to clear customs and for return flights time they ask that you be at International airport 2 h ahead of your scheduled flight.

The “Real Belize”: Punta Gorda Has SO Much Character & I Love It
I really didn’t have many preconceived ideas about the southernmost sizeable town in Belize – Punta Gorda. I knew the far south was the least touristy area of Belize. They also see the most yearly rainfall and the entire region is pretty rural. The majority of tourists never make it down there and there isn’t a very big expat population. Hmmm…so wet, muddy and dull. Could I really spend 3 full days and four nights in this town of a few thousand? Absolutely. In fact, I’m already plotting my next visit for very early 2014. Punta Gorda may not be for every single traveller (but I’d argue neither is Belize) but it is for me. Everything fantastic that I now know Belize can be, all in one small town: culture, music, diversity, wildlife, the ocean, the cayes, seafood, rivers, caves, Mayan ruins, adventure and most of all? An amazingly diverse population (you actually hear the Ketchi and Garifuna languages on the street) with a welcoming, proud sense of community.

Belize’s Garifuna Settlement Day an International Success
Despite a week of very wet weather, this year’s Garifuna Settlement Day 2013, a national bank holiday in Belize that is also formally honoured in other countries and several US states was another big success, according to The Lodge at Chaa Creek. Garifuna Settlement Day is a unique cultural holiday honouring the Garifuna, a remarkable and resilient race of people who continue to play a major role in shaping modern day Belize, The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s food and beverage manager said . Bryony Fleming Bradley said that Garifuna Settlement Day, celebrated on November 19 throughout Belize, it is an important national holiday that was celebrated at Chaa Creek with Garifuna music and food. Garifuna Settlement Day is also celebrated in Honduras on April 12th, Guatemala on November 26th and in Nicaragua on November 19th,she said. And many people will also be surprised to learn that there were large celebrations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other North American urban centres where there are large Garifuna diasporas, she added. This year Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has issued a proclamation to establish and recognize September 17th as Thomas Vincent Ramos Day. Ramos is considered to be the father of Garifuna cultural identification in the 1940s, and fought for Garifuna rights and recognition.

What to Pack for a Week of Adventure in Belize
So you’ve got your ticket booked and you’ve bookmarked all the adventures you want to experience in Belize: exploring sacred Mayan caves, tubing along a lazy river and horseback riding past an ancient Maya city. But now you’re staring at your empty suitcase and wondering “What should I bring?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s our packing list for Ka’ana’s favorite Belizean adventures:

Joel's story
I was born in Belize and adopted at the age of 4. My adopted father was in the Navy so we moved around a lot. I eventually moved to London but things didn’t work out and I ended up on the streets. Whilst living rough I met a Big Issue vendor who told me about the magazine, so I decided to walk through the doors of The Big Issue in August 2009 and have never looked back. Selling is like a real job: I was on my pitch early every day and worked an 8-10 hour day. It showed people I’m hard working, that I make my own money and run my own business. During the summer of 2010, The Big Issue Foundation asked Joel if he would like to join the vendor placement programme at the law firm, Freshfields. Every Thursday Joel has been selling the magazine in their office, gaining valuable work experience, establishing some fantastic contacts and improving his business and communications skills.

International Sources

Two wild sides of Belize
ORANGE WALK, Belize -- Nature in Belize is intense. Like most people who find their way here, I was responding to that call of the wild: the growl of the jaguars roaming Mayan ruins in the dense jungle of the interior and the waves breaking over the hemisphere’s largest coral reef. Tucked between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast, Belize provides two very different experiences, and in one week I explored both — the mystery of ancient cities in the jungle and the astounding beauty of 70 species of corals on the reef. No one can forget the roar of howler monkeys swinging in the tropical canopy or the sight of the largest fish in the world, the whale shark, which is as long as a school bus. First on my agenda was the jungle. A white-hot sun bore down on the small boat as we rode upriver through the thick rain forest of northern Belize. We were headed to the ancient Maya city of Lamanai. It’s a place of dark secrets, not the least of which was the cause of its demise. The city, which once had a population of 50,000, was buried by dirt and foliage for four centuries until archaeologists started an excavation in the 1970s. Only five buildings have been uncovered. More than 730 buildings remain hidden in the firm grip of the jungle, an entire city never seen by modern eyes.

Searching for Mayan ruins along the New River
Embarking on the wrong tour at the right time might just result in the perfect getaway. Halfway to the freshwater lagoon, the British couple split off from each other, goose-stepping through the tropical grass. The wife makes it safely to a flagpole and crouches down, binoculars ready. The Jaribu stork they are stalking takes a step forward and the husband freezes mid-stride. "He looks exactly like that damn bird," Steve whispers across the table. It's just after sunrise and we finally have the restaurant patio at the Bird's Eye View Lodge to ourselves. We're in Belize researching material for a television series and we've committed a cardinal travelling sin. We booked a three-day sightseeing tour to visit the Mayan ruins at Lamanai and Altun Ha, but didn't read the fine print. It turns out we're on a birding tour and what we thought would be an interesting inland add-on to our Belizean Barrier Reef snorkelling trip is beginning to feel like a Monty Python skit.

How we hid our money offshore ... it's easier than you think
Opening a bank account in a tax haven is child's play, a cinch for virtually any Canadian, QMI Agency has found. QMI currently holds a credit card in good standing, issued from a tiny Caribbean island, to hide money from Canadian tax authorities. It looks like just any other MasterCard. We can use it for any purchase in Canada or elsewhere, without anyone asking us questions. We can visit any Canadian financial institution to transfer the funds. QMI chose a Desjardins credit union branch. To stay off the taxman's radar screens, we simply had to deposit less than $10,000 at a time. Had we moved more than $10,000, Canadian financial institutions would have been required to report the transaction to a federal agency, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). Obtaining the Caribbean MasterCard and opening an offshore account required just a basic knowledge of finance, an average command of the Internet, and the ability to lie about one's identity. THE BENEFITS OF AN OFFSHORE COMPANY IN BELIZE - Companies established by foreigners pay no tax to the government of Belize. The only fees are for the incorporation of the company. - Information about directors, officers, shareholders and the beneficial owner are not registered in Belize and are not accessible to the public. It's impossible for prying eyes to know who controls the company. - No control over funds transferred abroad. People can deposit large sums into another tax haven, no questions asked. - Any individual or corporation can become a shareholder, director or officer of the company. In other words, owners can hide behind aliases or empty shells.

Cobie Smulders’ Detachable Baby Bump
ON PURSUING HER INTEREST IN MARINE BIOLOGY: “Scuba diving is enough right now, though I did a course and I really enjoyed it. But we’re talking about going back to college for, like, six years, so I just don’t know. If I retired I could do it, but it involves so much lab time and the lab courses are all during the day, so it’s a hard thing to figure out. Actually, I teamed up with a charity called Oceana, one of the leading environmental organizations that deals just with marine life and protection. I’m going to Belize with the organization in December to take samples of the coral reef. That’s my dream realized right now; it’s fantastic.”

Mega-cruise ships looming over historic harbors spark debate
It's morning here and a human tide is pouring through the Pile gates, the massive fortifications that have protected this ancient port city from invaders for half a millennium. Hordes armed with credit cards and camcorders now breach Dubrovnik's medieval walls every day, part of an ever-growing army of tourists surfing a global upsurge in cruise ship vacations. The cruise boom is bringing much-needed cash to coastal communities around the world. In Europe alone, the cruise industry says it generates jobs for 326,000 people and contributes more than $50 billion a year to the economy. As flotillas of Titanic-dwarfing mega-cruisers loom over historic harbors, however, residents of port cities from the Arctic to the Mediterranean are asking if the daily onslaught of passengers is causing irreparable damage to their fragile historic districts. "We have a problem because the numbers of cruise passengers have moved beyond capacity," said Sinisa Horak of the Croatian Institute for Tourism. Other battles to halt planned cruise-terminal construction or limit numbers of passenger disembarkations are raging from Australia to Alaska, Norway's fjords to Belize's Caribbean beaches.

Ayo (The Garifuna Collective)
MUSICALLY, Belize is the proverbial mouse that roars. This tiny nation has a population smaller than that of Canberra yet it is a comparatively powerful voice on the world stage, courtesy of a colourful cultural heritage. As a Spanish, English and creole-speaking former British colony located on the northeastern coast of Central America bordering the west Caribbean, it boasts an exotic background and location that translates to an intoxicating mash-up of tropical Afro-Amerindian polyrhythm and melody. Driving percussion created by traditional primera, segunda and turtle shell drums, in unison with jawbone, shakers, maracas, cowbells and claves, and dancing guitars are what gives the Garifuna Collective's Ayo and its collaboration with Canadian indie rocker Danny Michel, Blackbirds are Dancing Over Me, such a potent pulse. These simultaneous releases are beholden to Belize's best-known musician, Andy Palacio, whose acclaimed album with the Collective, Watina, set the template for a modern and accessible world-pop style. Ivan Duran, who produced that seminal 2007 record, also steered the new releases. The groove generated in both CDs, like that on Watina, is predominantly playful yet tinted with an underlying sense of sorrow. Indeed, Ayo is bookended by valedictory songs that, while relatively bright and breezy, are dedicated to Palacio, who died in 2008. The album's heaviest percussion groove, Beiba Nuwari, makes a bigger impact, while Gudemei features electric slide guitar that imbues it with an earthy, bluesy feel. The guitar break on Aganba has more of a surf-rock twang. A ska chop distinguishes Dungua.

Shrimp fishing begins in Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea
The Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Sagarpa) announced the start of the fishing season for several shrimp species in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. According to the new regulations published in the Official Journal of the Federation, the measure includes among others the seabob shrimp (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) and the pink one (Farfantepenaeus duorarum). The ban on pink shrimp in the marine area of Campeche started on 15 June. The seabob shrimp can be captured by smaller-scale vessels, in marine waters and lagoon systems from the mouth of the river Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, to the border with Belize, except for Contoy fisheries and marine waters of the coastal front opposite Campeche and Tabasco.


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