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SHADES OF THE OCEAN HOPPER?
The body of one murdered fisherman has surfaced, but the other four fishermen, and boat have vanished.
Four of five Belizean men who went to fish in the Colson Caye area in the Stann Creek District are missing. The fear is that they have been brutally killed and disposed of, after the body of the fifth man was found on Monday evening, chopped up and shot in the chest and back, with the indications being that he may have been tortured before he was killed.
As of press time tonight, Thursday, neither the four men or their boat have been found.
The family of the fifth man, Thomas Levi Young, 49, of Lucky Strike, is devastated, trying to deal with the reality that he has been violently taken away. Young was found floating in the sea about a mile off the shores of Colson Caye at about 2:00 Monday afternoon. His corpse was in an advanced state of decomposition. Doctor Mario Estradabran, who conducted the autopsy, declared that his death was caused by exsanguinations – internal and external bleeding – due to gunshot wounds to the chest.
Police, who took Young’s body to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after taking it over from the Coast Guard who had retrieved him from the sea, reported that there were two large chop wounds in the center of his head; as well as a large chop wound on his left hand, on which there was a shark tattoo with the name “JAWS;” a cut wound under his chin; a chop wound on his left small finger; and two gunshot wounds, one in his upper left chest and one in his upper right back.
GSU BRUTALITY COSTS TAXPAYERS $205,000
On August 26, 2011, a little after the 6:30 evening news ended, members of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) besieged George Street and descended in droves upon its residents as they were engaging in the repast following the funeral of Charles Woodye.
The residents, most of whom are believed to be members of the George Street Gang (GSG), reported to police that they were terrorized by members of the GSU, who stormed their houses and began beating, kicking, and punching them, then smashed the bottles of liquor they had there for the repast.
The following Monday, August 29, the bruised and battered residents went to the media to let the entire country know of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the GSU.
And in those interviews, they also vowed legal action against the officers because of the injustices that were visited on them, an injustice that they claimed was totally unjustified.
The matter received so much attention that it warranted the return of the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, from a diplomatic trip in order to quell the rising anger of the residents, and temper the situation via mediation.
PANCHO OUT, AUDREY IN!
The infighting within the Christian Workers Union (CWU) seems to have been quelled with an announcement Thursday afternoon that firebrand attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd, who recently left her position as Vice President of Oceana in Belize to return to private practice, will be the new president of the CWU going forward.
The CWU held a press conference at its Cemetery Road office in Belize City at 1:00 this afternoon and announced that Antonio “Pancho” Gonzalez, and James McFoy, who have been at the helm of the union for the past decade, would immediately step aside, following calls from the stevedores, a faction of the CWU, demanding that the two men leave their positions.
Gonzalez and McFoy, both present at the press conference, were calm in their composure, as they pledged to continue supporting the work of the CWU. Despite coming under fire from the stevedores over allegations that they failed to properly account for the union’s finances, both Gonzalez and McFoy continue to claim innocence against charges of wrongdoing.
They both told the press today that they have “no regrets” at the moment of their departure from the CWU.
CPL. REYMUNDO REQUEÑA, 42, AND PC EDGAR TEUL, 30, CHARGED WITH THEFT AND HARM
Today, two of the three police officers accused of “shaking down” Thyrell Hyde back in September were finally brought to court and criminally charged with theft and harm. Those officers are Reymundo Requeña, 42, a police corporal of Benque Viejo, and Edgar Teul, 30, a police constable of Maya Mopan, Belmopan.
According to police, Thyrell Hyde reported that on September 8, 2013, while socializing with some friends at Dolphin Park, he was approached by some officers who exploited their authority to steal money from the youth.
And how brazen were these officers? They searched Hyde, took the money he had on him, and when they found his Atlantic Bank ATM card, they took him to the bank’s Freetown Road location and allegedly stole money from his account, as he stood and watched.
The two officers were taken to court this afternoon in a vehicle with a private license plate, and they appeared nonchalant during their arraignment before Magistrate Clive Lino. Cpl. Requeña was charged with harm upon Hyde and for stealing $70 from him, as well.
ROAD ACCIDENT CLAIMS LIFE OF SOLDIER
A Belize Defence Force soldier, Staff Sergeant Abimael Carrillo, died at the BDF hospital in Price Barracks, Ladyville, about an hour after being rushed there to be treated for massive head and body injuries he sustained in a traffic accident.
Carrillo was travelling in a pickup truck being driven at the time by Juan Tuyub. Tuyub was turning the curve into the Old Airport Camp Road, now Price Barracks Road, from off the Philip Goldson Highway at Mile 8 ¾ in Ladyville, when he lost control of the vehicle and it overturned at about 1:30 this morning, Thursday.
People in the area rushed to assist the soldiers.
At the scene, police saw a grey Toyota pickup overturned, with its four wheels up in the air, and it was submerged in water.
The vehicle was pulled out of the water, and its occupants were taken out by the bystanders and placed on the roadside. Tuyub, who was the first person taken out, was unhurt, but Carrillo was in an unconscious state. The pickup was then towed to the BDF Camp, along with the injured soldier.
NELSON MANDELA – WHEN COMES SUCH ANOTHER?
The signing of a Book of Condolences dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela, aka Madiba, who passed away last Thursday, December 5, continued today at the Library of African and Indian Studies, on the Kremandala compound, at 3304 Partridge Street in Belize City.
The signing is a joint effort of Kremandala and the UBAD Education Foundation (UEF).
Among the first to pen their thoughts were students of Gwen Lizarraga High School and St. Martin De Porres School. They came at the opening session held at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, which was incidentally being celebrated as Human Rights Day 2013.
It was also the day when tens of thousands in South Africa—including heads of state from many countries across the world—participated in a Memorial Service as part of the 10 days of mourning, which concludes this Sunday, December 15, with Mandela’s state funeral.
Shadeen Ramos of St. Martin De Porres School told KREM Television that she celebrates Mandela as a proud Black man who fought for human rights.
PUP MAYORS CRY FOUL!
The Independence Hall on Queen Street in Belize City was today the venue for yet another press conference staged by the Opposition PUP; however, this time around, the topic was chiefly concentrated on the present United Democratic Party (UDP) administration’s “unfair” distribution of subventions to the municipalities which are currently run by mayors who represent the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP).
The three mayors – Anthony Fuentes, mayor of Punta Gorda Town; Kevin Bernard, mayor of Orange Walk Town; and Gilbert Swazo (Ret’d Major), mayor of Dangriga Town, who sat at the head table along with their Party Leader, Hon. Francis Fonseca, claimed that not only are their town councils unable to function effectively with the monthly funds that they presently receive from central government, but they are also being left out of the decision-making process as it relates to the allocation of the monies which will be disbursed by Government for proposed infrastructural works which are soon to be conducted across the country.
Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca demanded respect and “fair and equitable” treatment, which, he said, both the mayors and the people who live in those municipalities are not getting. He accused the Prime Minister of placing the interests and authority of his (the PM’s) caretakers above the interests of the municipalities.
PUP LEADER FROWNS ON PM BARROW’S “CHRISTMAS CHEER” PROGRAM
While chastising the government during his press conference today, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Francis Fonseca, heavily criticized an annual social welfare program that has been generated by the current United Democratic Party (UDP) administration, referred to by none other than the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, as the “Christmas Cheer” program.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow has made it clear that he makes no apologies for the program, in which all elected area representatives of both major political parties – in addition to the fourteen UDP caretakers – will receive varying sums of monies to assist their respective constituents over the upcoming Christmas holidays.
According to Fonseca, the program is structured in such a way that the seventeen elected UDP area representatives will receive the “lion’s share” of the pie, so to speak, as they are going to be assigned $90,000 each to hand out to their constituents, amounting to a total of 1.53 million dollars for the ruling party’s elected reps.
The 14 elected People’s United Party (PUP) representatives, on the other hand, will be given $25,000 each to do the same, but one of the things that has the PUP Leader “fighting mad” is that the 14 UDP political officers in those PUP divisions will also be given $25,000 dollars each to share amongst their supporters, which when combined, soars to the tune of an additional $700,000.
DEON LEAVES BANDITS FOR GREECE
National team striker Deon McCaulay, who is presently tied for the goal scoring lead in the Premier League of Belize Opening Season competition, flew out from the Philip Goldson International Airport this afternoon en route across the Atlantic Ocean to the European nation of Greece, where he is slated to participate in tryouts before hopefully signing with the AEL Kallonis football club in the city of Kalloni, Greece.
The recent Gold Cup in the U.S. was considered a perfect stage for Belizean stars, especially Deon, to secure a contract with a professional team in the international arena. But Deon was not at his best in that tourney due to injury, and has just recently returned to his goal scoring form.
Deon leaves behind, aside from relatives and friends, his Belmopan Bandits team which is presently involved in a very tight race to the playoffs in the Premier League of Belize 2013-2014 Opening Season competition. With his goal this past weekend in the Bandits’ 2-1 win over Verdes FC, Deon had secured a tie for the goal scoring lead along with Franz Vernon of league leading Paradise/Freedom Fighters with 5 goals.
WESLEY GIRLS AND ACC BOYS ARE CSSSA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS
As we reported in our Sunday, December 8, edition, the best-of-3 games Finals series for the Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) high school basketball tournament tipped off on Thursday, December 5, at Bird’s Isle with Wesley girls taking game 1 by an 18-15 score over Gwen Liz High; while the ACC boys blew out their SJC opponents, 68-42.
On Friday, in game 2 of the Finals, Gwen Liz girls rebounded to even the series with a similar 18-15 score over Wesley girls, thus forcing a game 3. Ann Ma Chen led Gwen Liz with 8 pts, while Shanice Humes led Wesley with 4 pts. But the Finals ended without a fuss for the boys, as ACC again demonstrated their dominance over SJC, beating them this time by a 72-55 score. Top scorers for ACC were Douglas Valley and Antwan Rivero with 17 pts apiece, and Francis Arana with 14 pts; while SJC was led by Andrew Vasquez with 20 pts and Dudley Erskine with 14 pts.
With the completion of the male championship, the MVP award (donated by Young’s Engineering Consultancy) was given to Douglas Valley of ACC; while the Silent Hero Award (donated by Mr. Emory Bennett) went to Holdane Swazo, also of ACC.
FFB OPEN INTER-DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
The Football Federation of Belize (FFB) sponsored Open Inter-District Football Tournament 2013-2014 continued over the weekend with the usual 2 games played in each of the 4 Zones.
ZONE 1 – In game 1 at the Toledo Union Field on Saturday, December 7, MnM Steelers were 2-1 winners over Mavericks, with a goal each from Tyron Parham (39’) and Dion Burgess (63’); while Andre Logan (6’) scored for Mavericks. Game 2 was on Sunday at the Michael Ashcroft Stadium, and saw GB United with the 4-2 win over Police FC (scoring details pending).
ZONE 2 – Game 1 on Saturday at the Carl Ramos Stadium was a 1-1 draw between Hope Creek United and San Martin FC. Octavio Ramirez (7’) put Hope Creek in front, but Melvin Barrientos (18’) equalized for San Martin. At the Isidoro Beaton Stadium on Sunday, Roaring Creek United crushed Green Gold FC by a 5-1 margin, with Kenny Williams (14’, 53’ & 70’) netting a hat trick and Ajani Banner (12’ & 67’) a brace for Roaring Creek; while Hugo Franco (83’) got the late consolation goal for Green Gold.
ORANGE WALK SPORTS
Three games were played on Monday, December 9, at the Guinea Grass field in the Emma Flowers Softball Tournament. San Narciso Red Orchids won, 5-4, over Louisville; Caledonia crushed Guinea Grass, 10-1; and Carmelita shut out San Estevan, 15-0.
Upcoming games in San Narciso on Monday, December 16, will include Louisville vs Caledonia, San Estevan vs Guinea Grass, and San Narciso Red Orchids vs Carmelita.
Hon. Abelardo Mai Female 8-A-Side
The Hon. Abelardo Mai Female 8-A-Side football tournament had 3 games scheduled to be played at Indian Church on Monday, December 9. Trinidad won by default (3-0) over Yo Creek; Chan Pine Ridge clipped Indian Church, 2-1; and Carmelita won, 1-nil, over Guinea Grass.
Games for Monday, December 16, at Chan Pine Ridge, beginning at 10:00 a.m., will be Yo Creek vs Carmelita, Trinidad vs Guinea Grass, and Chan Pine Ridge vs Indian Church
BARACK AND RAÚL SHAKE HANDS Editorial
In Johannesburg on Tuesday, having flown there for the ceremonies in honor of former South African president, Nobel Peace laureate, and international hero – the late, great Nelson Mandela, the president of the United States – Barack Obama, whose father came from Kenya in East Africa, and the president of Cuba – Raúl Castro, whose father came from Galicia in Spain, shook hands in a spontaneous, unplanned gesture which was photographed and flashed all over the world in television and newspaper images.
The United States, a capitalist nation which is considered the superpower of planet earth, more than fifty years ago imposed and has sustained an economic embargo against the relatively small island of Cuba, which became communist after the Cuban Revolution of January 1, 1959, led by Raúl Castro’s older brother, Fidel. The relations between the two nation-states have been quite hostile for more than a half century, because of the embargo, because of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April of 1961 and because of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.
The White House had to move quickly this week to do damage control where the Barack–Raúl photograph was concerned, because the politics of Florida is greatly influenced by a large and rabid anti-Castro group of Cuban exiles, and it is for sure that in the United States overall, such a photograph constitutes negative politics for the Barack presidency.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
There’s an important article on the Caste War in this Tuesday’s edition of Amandala, but it is a fairly long article and I’m sure most of you won’t take the time to read it. The reason the article is important is because it was written by a former British High Commissioner to Belize, Mr. Peter Thomson, and because it is the first admission I know of, in 2004, by a British official that the British and the Santa Cruz Maya had a “rapprochement” in the second half of the nineteenth century, at the same time that the “Mexicans” had a similar relationship with the Santa Cruz Indians’ “most significant rival Indian tribe, the Icaiche (or Chichuanha).” In other words, it was Belize and the Santa Cruz Maya (the bravos) versus Mexico and the Icaiche (the pacíficos) at various times during the 1850s.
The quotation marks around “Mexicans” are mine because in 1853, when the Mexicans and the Icaiche cut a deal, Mexico was not the modern nation-state we know today. The Yucatán had always been somewhat of a self-contained entity, because it was so distant from the federal capital in those days. Transportation was probably faster by sailing ship than by road 150 years ago, and if you look at the map you will see that Texas is actually much closer to the Yucatán than Mexico City is. There is a history between the Yucatecans and the Texans, who were both giving the federal Mexican authorities all kinds of trouble from time to time.
Before its independence in 1821, Mexico was known as “New Spain,” and its territory included both the Yucatán and Texas. A couple decades after Mexican independence, there were Sam Houston and Davy Crockett and Santa Anna and the Alamo, and Texas became a part of the United States of America.
WHY DANTE, EBONY, ROBERT AND SELVYN ARE SO SPECIAL!
Disability Week concluded last week, but for the remainder of the month of December, the showcase of differently-abled children by a group of activists from Stella Maris School will continue.
As a follow-up to last week’s article, Amandala presents this feature story on three parents and the differently-abled children with whom they share many fun moments. Indeed, life can become a challenge when caring for people with special needs, but the light moments of humor these parents share with their children make the experience not just livable – but also loveable.
Lynn Santos is the mother of Selvyn and Robert Kelly, both students of Stella Maris School. While Selvyn moves on at the end of this school year — hopefully to a vocational school where he can master cooking enough to live out his dream of becoming a chef, Robert still has a few years more in school.
Robert, 13, is blind, but there is hope—a 50-50 chance—that he could see again one day. Robert and his mom had traveled to the USA when he was a baby with the intent of getting him an eye operation, but the logistics didn’t work out, and they had to return home. They have still not lost hope that someday soon he can get the support he needs to get the eye operation.
CORRUPTION A WAY OF LIFE
— by Audrey Matura-Shepherd
We hear the word “corruption” regularly, and have come to use it loosely and frequently, so much so that in Belize without hesitation Belizeans have consistently referred to the government and country as corrupt, but in so doing they forget they too are a part of the government and country and thus by extension are saying they are corrupt. The usage is so over-abused that to say one is corrupt or that there is corruption is not as impacting as it ought to be.
Recently, Plus TV owner Louis Wade received a letter threatening legal suit for libel because of the words uttered on his station by Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca, in relation to the Lands Department being corrupt and by extension the Minister with responsibility for it, Gaspar Vega. For libel, which is the broadcast form of a defamation, to be proven, the person offended must show that what was said is: “an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others.”
I am sorry to say, but my opinion is that if such sentiments are being expressed about the Minister of Lands and the Lands Department, it did not come about because of this statement on Plus TV. Rather, those sentiments existed long before and just grew stronger with every land scandal that emerged. Think about how many Belizeans recently have been finding out someone else owns their land, and when the root of the deal is uncovered it is traced right back to some government official or Minister. Do people understand that from the Minister to their CEO, to the attorneys, to the Lands Officer, from government to government, have found ways to take choice land from unsuspecting Belizeans? Sadly even the court is used to sanction some of these transactions, or by the time the victim realizes what has happened, they can never recover their land. OR some just don’t have the money to mount a challenge or just don’t know better.
COAST GUARD INVESTIGATES ITSELF: SAN PEDRO SUN REPORTER LIED, IT SAYS
Features — 13 Coast Guard investigates itself: San Pedro Sun reporter lied, it says
The incidents did not happen the way the reporter claimed they did — Coast Guard report.
The Coast Guard announced today that it has concluded its investigation into the alleged intimidation of senior reporter Jorge Aldana of the San Pedro Sun newspaper in San Pedro, at gunpoint by armed members of the Coast Guard.
Aldana reported that he was made to lie down on the ground, with guns aimed at his head, and when he tried to see what was happening, the guns were put to his head and he was ordered to look away, while his camera was taken away and his photos deleted. The incident reportedly occurred on Saturday, November 16, in San Pedro.
Deputy Commandant of the Coast Guard, Elton Bennett, told Amandala that they had conducted an intensive investigation, but found no truth to the allegations. The investigation included interviews with witnesses, and the recording of statements from individuals who were in the area, as well as close collaboration with the police, said Bennett. He said that he wanted to set the record straight — that Aldana was not intimidated, as had been alleged.
He further said that the Coast Guard will not take action against Aldana, and the matter is now considered finished.
For his part, Aldana said that he also considers the matter settled, and will not seek any action against the Coast Guard, and will not offer further comment.
BELIZE’S PHONE NUMBERS DUPLICATED IN ARKANSAS, USA
Due to a phone problem experienced over the weekend, we have learned that phone numbers of some subscribers in Belize are identical to phone numbers of subscribers in Arkansas, USA. In 1947, the state of Arkansas was assigned the 501 area code – identical to Belize’s country code.
On Saturday, a call was placed to a Belizean subscriber via an iPhone, and the person who answered on the other end was an American who said she was in Arkansas and whose phone number is the same as that issued to a subscriber here in Belize.
This is the first time we came to realize that local phone numbers in Belize are not unique – contrary to claims made by authorities here that when phone numbers are registered, they can become your unique number.
Belize’s country code was issued by the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and our best information is that the country code has been a fixed identifier for Belize since the 60s—possibly earlier. Belize fully switched over from using the six-digit numbering plan to the seven-digit number plan on 1 August 2002.
GENDER NEUTRAL RAPE BILL BACK TO PARLIAMENT
The Criminal Code Amendment Bill, also dubbed the “gender neutral rape bill,” which would make it possible for a female to be charged for the rape of a male, and which would expand provisions under which forced unnatural sex would be categorized as rape, was taken back to the House of Representatives today for passage—this time with no marked opposition against the bill.
When the law was introduced in late September, there was a wave of controversy over provisions which some members of the public said seem to acquiesce to the notion that consenting adults can legally engage in acts now criminalized as unnatural sex under Belize’s Criminal Code.
However, today, Chair of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, Patrick Faber, apologized to the churches for the language that has to be in the bill, but insisted that the amendments were formulated to protect children, and for no other reason.
Faber said that Section 53 is being challenged by UNIBAM in the courts, but the Government is championing the effort to keep the law on the books, and to keep unnatural sex as a crime.
“That is what the Government’s position is,” Faber said.
NATIONAL BANK EXPANDS LENDING
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow announced this morning, at the final sitting of the House of Representatives for 2013, that the National Bank of Belize will expand its lending portfolio by increasing the ceiling for mortgage loans—offered at a concessionary rate of 5.5%—from $100,000 to $175,000.
Barrow reported that since the bank opened its doors in September, it has approved $2.6 million worth of loans for public officers and other Belizeans.
“There is another $4.1 million worth of loan applications in the pipeline,” he added.
Barrow also announced further plans for the expansion of the bank’s portfolio:
“Within the next couple of weeks, the bank expects to receive its first commercial deposit. The board of the bank and the chairman of BTL [Belize Telemedia Limited] have agreed that BTL will invest, by way of cash deposit of 3 years, a total of $5 million with the National Bank,” Barrow announced.
He said that the deposit will be made in two tranches of $2.5 mil and the rate the bank would pay BTL, a government-owned utility, would not exceed 2% per annum.
“The commercial banks are being so conservative that there is some difficulty with respect to huge depositors such as BTL to be even able to place such funds at the bank,” the Minister of Finance said.
SECURITY FORCES PARTAKE IN 2ND ANNUAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN
This morning, members of all the major sectors of Belize’s law enforcement agencies were out in full force in Belize City as they participated in the 2nd Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run is held annually to raise both funds and awareness for disabled children across the country. The 5-day torch run was originally started by the Belize Police Department, however all law enforcement partners, including the Customs and Immigration Departments, joined in the effort to bring the torch from all the way down south in Punta Gorda to Belize City.
As part of the last leg of the run, elements of the Belize Police Department (mainly recruits), the Belize Defence Force, and the Belize Coast Guard ran untiringly while chanting different slogans through the principal streets of Belize City in the wee hours of dawn today.
This morning, they actually started in Ladyville, which is about 10 miles from Belize City, and came into the city with different bearers leading the run and carrying the torch at specified intervals.
HUMAN RIGHTS RECOMMENDATIONS (2005-2013) LAUNCHED
A publication documenting nine years of human rights recommendations (2005-2013) to Belize and outlining Belize’s commitment for action—such as putting in place measures it says would protect the rights of members of the LGBT community against discrimination and persecution—was launched Tuesday night, in commemoration of Human Rights Day 2013, at the Princess Hotel in Belize City.
Eamon Courtenay, SC, Belize Bar Association president, the keynote speaker for the event, said that society has to resolve and design appropriate solutions to what he called “trending issues.”
“How will we guarantee the rights of members of the LGBT community? Is the death penalty constitutional? Are persons on remand in prison for several years truly innocent until proven guilty? Are they being afforded a fair trial within a reasonable time? Can the state continue to compulsorily acquire private property without full compensation within a reasonable time? How will we give recognition to full property rights of the indigenous Maya, especially as their rights have been affirmed – not once but three times by the courts in Belize?” Courtenay probed.
He said that the document launched Tuesday night—20 years: Working for Your Rights – Human rights recommendations to Belize—has highlighted Belize’s achievements, as well as gaps which need to be addressed.
REFLECTIONS. WHEN COMES SUCH ANOTHER?
As we ponder the passing of our great and beloved global warrior for peace, freedom, justice and equality – Madiba, Nelson Mandela, may his soul rest in peace, the greatness and the humility of this giant of a man forces us to reflect on his comrades, the other great men/women in the struggle for life’s eternal goals and dreams for all humanity.
Twenty-seven years of incarceration. Defiance. Anger. Unity and commitment in the struggle. Determination and sacrifice. The goal and the objective. For the people, for the future. The journey. The only solution. The only hope. Dignity and humility. The power of prayer, soul searching, and redemptive vision. Justice “roll down like waters.” Forgiveness and reconciliation. Amandla. Power to the people, all the people, “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.”
When we look back upon this man, who walked and talked among us, and smiled with us, and raised his fist in defiance and his hand for “peace and love” and unity for all his people; when we marvel at the greatness and the beauty of God’s creation, personified in the wisdom and the dignity and the humility of our great Madiba; when we reflect upon the warmness of heart and inspiration of mind that permeates our very soul in grappling with the passing of this great one… it behooves us, especially at this time of year, to reconsider and reflect upon another great one, whose life and message continue to inspire and empower new generations of freedom fighters, warriors for peace, with human rights and dignity, always dignity, and defiance in the face of injustice.
HURRICANE SEASON “SIXTH LEAST ACTIVE SEASON SINCE 1950, WITH THE FEWEST HURRICANES SINCE 1982”
Whereas the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season saw a below-average year—due to dry conditions at the mid-level of the atmosphere—Belize experienced above-average rainfall for the last four months of the season, in some cases, double the usual rainfall, according to information supplied to us by forecaster Derek Rudon of the National Meteorological Service.
“This unexpectedly low [cyclone] activity is linked to an unpredictable atmospheric pattern that prevented the growth of storms by producing exceptionally dry, sinking air and strong vertical wind shear in much of the main hurricane formation region, which spans the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. “Also detrimental to some tropical cyclones this year were several strong outbreaks of dry and stable air that originated over Africa,” Bell noted.
Rudon told Amandala that all the experts who made seasonal hurricane predictions called for an above-average season, but the season turned out to be below average.
“It turned out to be the sixth least active season since 1950, with the fewest hurricanes since 1982,” Rudon said.
HAYLOCK BUS AND BELIZE WASTE CONTROL TRUCK COLLIDE
At 4:30 this evening, passengers onboard a Haylock Ladyville bus got more than they bargained for when a truck belonging to Belize Waste Control collided head-on with the bus.
The truck driver’s name was not released, but witnesses say the truck ran into the bus just as it crossed over the Haulover Bridge. The front of the bus was damaged, as well as the door.
The driver of the bus, Linsbergh Lewis, suffered an injury to his left leg, while as many as 15 passengers who were on the bus suffered minor injuries and were taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for treatment.
The truck driver was alone in the truck and he left the scene uninjured; it is reported that he will be served with a notice of intent to prosecute.
WPC MARILYN PATE, RECOVERING FROM CHOPS WOUNDS TO THE HEAD
Police officer Marilyn Pate, of the Orange Walk police, who was chopped multiple times in her head and on her hands in Trial Farm, has been discharged from the Orange Walk Hospital and is recovering at her home.
She had received five chop wounds to her head, and suffered a fractured skull as a result. She was also chopped twice on her hand and she complained about a swelling on her face and numbness in both hands.
According to police, the incident occurred about 3:30 on Friday, December 6. Pate, along with officers from the Human Services Department, had gone to the home of Oscar Hernandez to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of children made against him when Hernandez allegedly attacked her in his yard with a machete. Oscar Hernandez has since been on the run.
COROZAL POLICE COMMANDER’S MESSAGE IN THIS FESTIVE SEASON
Assistant Superintendent of Police, Andrew Ramirez, Commander of Corozal police, has advised Corozal District residents to anticipate an increase in criminal activities because of the Christmas season.
His advice to Corozal residents consists of a set of tips that all Belizeans would do well to keep in mind. Residents are encouraged to report all suspicious activities to the police immediately. It is recommended that they not leave on lights or leave curtains pulled to the side, since this would allow criminals to have the advantage of seeing what is in their houses. It is also recommended that they secure their homes, and keep doors and windows locked whenever possible. Those who are going away should tell their neighbors, so that they can keep an eye on absent owners’ properties.
Ramirez also advises against drunk driving and urges drivers to ease the consumption of alcohol, especially if they will be driving.
Drivers must think of their families and others before consuming alcohol in excess, said ASP Ramirez. He reminds the public that drivers who drink, should not drive.
Also, children must be aware of the seriousness of “Palomitas.” He continues to implore business establishments to open and close during the prescribed hours. Adhering to the opening and closing times would prevent the criminals from pouncing on them. Ramirez also cautions businesses to not serve any alcoholic beverages to any police officer in uniform.
“WHITE BWAY” WRITES FROM CAYE CAULKER
When I read this letter in the Amandala about the foreign retirees, etc., I felt that this was a perfect example of an issue that needed to be answered by a foreign-born Belizean, a “white bway” who has been living here for 25 years with a Belizean family, who has seen all these foreigners come and go for all those years.
To make a statement that a group of foreigners will move back to their countries and will take Belize tourism back home with them is an insult to Belize and its people. It is the beauty of Belize and its population that brings tourism to Belize, not this segment of the foreigners who started their businesses in tourism. Yes, they might be privileged, having funds to invest or having access to cheap financing from abroad; while Belizeans pay 12-18% interest, they pay 2.75- 5%, and build some nice places. Or maybe, they have better skills to attract their foreign customers through the internet, because they have better computer skills, but to state they are tourism in Belize … please!
This brings me back to a conversation I had with a fellow islander on the San Pedro Express Bridge. He wanted to encourage me to write about exactly this attitude by a lot of foreigners coming lately into Belize who have a very condescending, degrading attitude towards Belizeans. I know him to be a pretty balanced, straight, hard working family man, a great craftsman, well-spoken and intelligent, and I was very surprised by the degree of insult he was talking about, or maybe not, because when I did a construction for a friend of my wife, I got a similar treatment.
GMO CORN STILL BEING PLANTED
The issue of GMO food continues to build. It is my understanding that even though GMO corn has been banned from Belize, it is still being planted in both Spanish Lookout and the Banana Bank area. We must somehow keep this issue and this fight on the forefront.
Many proponents of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) always seem to tout “the science” when making claims that GMO products are safe for animal and human consumption. I’m left wondering what science they are using to back up these claims.
In September 2012, the results of the first-ever long-term animal feeding trial of GM corn and glyphosate residue were released, led by Giles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen in France.
The study results found much higher incidences of tumors, digestive problems, organ damage, and premature death in lab rats fed GM corn and glyphosate residue, the primary ingredient in Roundup.
FOUR PERSONS, INCLUDING A MINOR, 14, REMANDED ON AMMUNITION CHARGE
Kenroy Willoughby, 20, and his brother Julian, 24, were charged along with Nurie Polanco, 26, and a minor, 14, for being in possession of three rounds of ammunition.
At 9:30 yesterday morning, police visited their residence at #7005 Antelope Street Extension, to conduct a search for illegal firearms and ammunition. Although nothing illegal was found inside the house, a black plastic bag was found under the house and inside, police found three 9mm Lugar brand rounds of ammunition.
No license could be provided for the rounds and the four were taken to the police station and charged.
None of the four had any representation when they appeared before Magistrate Clive Lino and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
5 POUNDS OF WEED FOUND ON PASSENGER BUS
A newly formed unit of the Police Department known as the Mobile Interdiction Team found and confiscated 5 pounds of cannabis onboard a passenger bus that was travelling to Corozal from San Ignacio on the George Price Highway.
The marijuana was found about 5:30 yesterday in the rear of the bus, wrapped in three separate packs in a pillowcase on the luggage rack. No one onboard the bus claimed ownership of the cannabis, which has since been labeled as found property, and will be handed over for destruction.
LESLIE FRAZER, 34, GETS 8 YEARS FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER
Frazer will only spend 5 years in prison; 3 years were deducted because Waight provoked the attack, said the judge.
Leslie Frazer, 34, was convicted of attempted murder on November 29, 2013, and this morning, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
During the trial, which started on November 25, 2013, Faron Waight, the victim, testified that after seeing Frazer around his house in the early morning hours of May 29, 2011, he confronted him whilst armed with a stick at the corner of King and Tigris Streets.
When he approached Frazer with the stick, Frazer grabbed a machete from out of a bag he was carrying, and told Waight “Yoh think I noh come prepared for you?”
Waight told the court that when he saw the machete, he turned around to run, but he still was chopped in the back of his head, causing him to fall to the ground. After Waight fell, Frazer continued to chop him, causing injuries to his arm, chest, back and face.
The Belize Times
Deal or No Deal? – ASR/BSI to Cane Farmers: No More Byproduct After Bagasse!
American Sugar Refining Inc. (ASR), the foreign owners of Belize Sugar Industries (BSI), has bowed to tremendous pressure from cane farmers and has agreed to put the issue of paying for bagasse on the negotiating table.
Today ASR wrote to the Prime Minister, who they accepted reluctantly as a mediator in the dispute, to inform him of their new position.
“We do advise that we are prepared to discuss the claim for payment for bagasse with the BSCFA,” stated the letter to the Prime Minister.
This new position by ASR is a breakthrough for cane farmers, who have insisted for several years that they deserve a financial stake, even if minimal, in the profits derived from the sale of electricity that the company produces by turning the waste from sugar cane known as bagasse into energy.
The cane farmers and BSI are bound by an agreement to negotiate for payment for any byproduct of sugar cane. The cane farmers have been adamant to negotiate for bagasse now or they would boycott the start of crop season, which normally starts in December every year.
Julius Keeps It Real!!! – Last House Meeting for 2013 ends in ruckus
PUP Deputy Leader Hon. Julius Espat turned up the heat on the UDP at today’s House Sitting, causing the Speaker of the House Michael Peyrefitte to release fumes through his ears and order Hon. Espat to ...
PUP Leader denounces UDP cronyism – Barrow doles out more sweets for illegal caretakers
As if preparing for early elections, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has been concocting ways ...
THINK ABOUT IT
CAÑEROS SHOULD STRIKE There is a problem in the sugar industry in our country. The men who plant the sugar cane, tend to it, cut it, pack it in trucks and transport it to the factory are unhappy. They feel betrayed. They have been betrayed. Twice betrayed. The sugar factory and ...
By G. Michael Reid Belize’s first ever referendum was held on February 7th, 2008. It coincided with the general elections which were also held on that same date and at the same time. The referendum was in response to a consistent and loud call for a change to the makeup of ...
Mandela Mayors vs. Pinocchio Prime Minister
Barrow’s explanations make no sense. We at BELIZE TIMES are not sure if he has second term fatigue or if the scandals are too big. It could be that he is losing his touch. It might be that he has given up and simply does not care. Whatever it is, the ...
Brown Bombers take on Hattieville United in SMART Mundialito finals
The Brown Bombers and Hattieville United Youth Sporting Club will clash in the 2013 SMART Mundialito football championship finals, as both teams won their playoff matches against City Boys Jrs. and Ladyville Rising Stars of Ladyville on Sunday, December 15.
The Bombers bombed the Rising Stars 4-0 with goal scorers: Tyreek “Pippin” Muschamp, Dion Cacho, and Naheem Gentle who increased his tournament goal scoring lead to 9 with the 4th goal.
Tyrone Tun triumphs in national table tennis tournament
Tyrone Tun won the men’s singles championship when the Belize Table Tennis Association held the 2013 Belize Natural Energy annual national table tennis championships at the Belize Elementary School Auditorium on Sunday, December 8.
Petie Matus won the female championship and teamed up with Arturo Tux Vasquez to win the mixed doubles championship, while Tyrone Tun teamed up with Billy Musa Jr. to win the Men’s doubles championship.
32 players contested the men’s singles championship. In the end the results were as follows: 1st – Tyrone Tun; 2nd – Ian McField; 3rd – Carlos Cui; 4th – Tux Vasquez.
Lady Jaguars outshine Moen Stars in volleyball championships
The Lady Jaguars won the 2013 Belize Volleyball Association’s national senior female volleyball championships held at the Orange Walk Multi-purpose Complex on Sunday, December 8.
The tournament was played in a round robin format with 5 teams all playing each other once.
In the finals, the defending champs, the Lady Jaguars, upset the 16-time champs, the Moen Stars, 25-13, 25-21. Zaire Garbutt, Maurissa Williams, Shantell Arnold and Tichele Solis led the Jaguars’ attacks scoring hits at the net on plays set by Sherylee Thurton, Leanne Garbutt and libero Tisha Solis.
AMAZING GRACE – Deal or No Deal?
Almost every night my family gathers around the television set to enjoy episodes of The Chase, Lingo, or Family Feud. Despite the variations in our ages and entertainment preferences, the game shows unite us. Together we laugh at the funny answers of the participants and the cheesy jokes of the ...
Social Security, Credit Unions & Christmas
By Richard Harrison The Belize Social Security Board (BSSB) is one of the biggest cash cows in Belize, raking in an estimated $2 million on a weekly basis. That amounts to over $100 million annually. Theoretically, this money belongs to the workers of Belize. Credit Unions have traditionally behaved like Savings & ...
The Winning Case – NEVER LOSE AGAIN
By Kevin L. Arthurs You can win every and all your court cases. The purpose of this syndicated column is to share with you a few secrets of the justice system as well as to empower you with some basic legal knowledge ...
The Prime Minister spins in a cyclone of lies
By Norris Hall Has the Prime Minister of Belize been caught lying? Is this just his standard practice, or is his lying a part of his political territory for incompetence and cover-ups? There is a case to be made about lying by ...
The Hon. John Briceno, the Quality of Life and the New Revolution
By C. Trench-Sandiford-Deputy Party Leader For the Hon. John Briceno, the quality of life of the Belizean people must be a constant thread in the New Revolution, if it is to fulfill the promise of the peaceful constructive Belizean Revolution. In consulting ...
WOMAN IN THE HOUSE – THE STATE OF AIDS
By Dolores Balderamos Garcia On December 1, 2013 the world marked World AIDS Day. The themes for this year's celebration were “Justice for All” and “Getting to Zero” for new cases and for discrimination. I chaired the National AIDS Commission for the first eight years of its existence, first as Minister for ...
REFLECTIONS ON THE PUBLIC SQUARE – EDUCATION REFORM
By Francis W. Fonseca A few weeks ago, John Briceño gave me a book entitled “How Children Succeed-Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” by Paul Tough. The book has become a New York Times Bestseller by challenging conventional thinking on Education and for introducing a new generation of researchers and ...
GOB Pays Big Bucks for GSU brutality
On the 26th of August, 2011, residents of George Street and mourners of the late Charles Woodeye were subjected to one of the most terrifying experiences of their lives. Without warning or reason, the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), a rogue arm of the police department established by ...
GOB, give us the best Christmas gift, JOBS!
Dear Editor, The best Christmas gift the Government can offer many people on Caeser Ridge Road, Jane Usher Blvd, Pen Road, and other streets on the Southside in Belize City are JOBS. Things are dread this Christmas for hundreds of people on the Southside because of the huge unemployment problem on this ...
A Brutal Attack May Have Been Prevented If…
Dear Editor, On November 26, 2013 the media reported a brutal attack on a Canadian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Baier, on the Placencia Peninsula. The social and economic short term externality effects were immediately obvious, and the long term externality effects are yet to be observed. I would like to send my deepest ...
Ian Anderson Forges Swollen Rivers to Serve Artisan Cheese on Ambergris Caye
A big festive wine, meats, shrimp & cheese party was planned. Some of the best distributors in Belize were lined up to bring samples and demonstrations to San Pedro but then it rained. A LOT. The “low bridge” in San Ignacio, Cayo District is now back under water.
Here it is when in normal working order.
And Belize’s Ian Anderson, who owns Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch Jungle Resort in Cayo and now a master Cheese Man (is that a term?), was in trouble. Would he make it to San Pedro to showcase his line of Belizean made artisan Cave’s Branch cheese?
Mid-day, he posted these pictures from his property. Ha. Awesome.
Wine and Cheese in San Pedro Tonight
Not flooding rivers, nor impassable highways, nor airport closures.. nor potholes in Belize city will stop us from coming to San Pedro tonight..
Along with Caves Branch Artisan Cheeses, Richard Price and Premium Wines will be offering a selections of wines for your enjoyment .. and purchase.
All of us from Caves Branch Artisan Cheeses and Premium Wines .. look forward to see all of you at our cheese and wine presentation tonight at 6 pm, Banyan Bay conference room on the beach.
Countries sticking together to help Children
The Ministry of Health just reported a successful outcome of the first Belizean baby to benefit from an arrangement with the cardiology paediatric services with the Hospital Cardiologico Infantil Latinamericano in Caracas, Venezuela.
Cassidy Martinez was diagnosed when she was three months old with an Atrial Septum and Ventricular Septum Defect in Belize City. Her parents were advised to seek further medical assistance for surgical procedures from a Paediatric Cardiologist, but this is a specialist service not yet available in Belize.
Fortunately for young Cassidy and other Belizean children, the Governments of Belize and Venezuela had signed a technical cooperation agreement in August 2010 for the provision of Paediatric Cardiology Services for Belizean children up to 15 years of age with congenital heart disease.
So, enter the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Belize and Ambassador Yoel Perez Marcano. Working with Belize’s Ministry of Health they jumped in and accepted the request to assist baby Martinez. She underwent a successful surgery on October 10th, 2013 and returned to Belize during the first week of November.
Crocodiles and alligators eat meat — red or white, fresh and bloody or rotten and stinky. When croc biologists noticed seeds in the stomachs of dead crocs and excreted in croc poo, they were dismissive. The reptiles eat fruit-eaters and herbivores, and the seeds likely came from the preys’ stomachs. Even when they found seeds of 16 species in 265 alligator stomachs, biologists collectively labelled it “plant material.”
Sifting through croc literature, a group of eight American biologists found that of the 18 species of crocodilians, 13 had fleshy fruits, berries, nuts, legumes, and grains in their stomachs. In a report published in August 2013, they said as many as 11 studies on American alligators alone recorded plant material in the animals’ guts. Among their favourite fruits is the alligator apple, related to custard apple. Other sought-after fruits include passion fruit, squash, and prickly pear. According to villagers in Belize, Morelet’s and American crocodiles eat alligator pears, also called avocadoes, and alligator apples.
Dancing under the Shed: Celebrating Garífuna Settlement Day in Belize
Garífuna Settlement Day, one of Belize’s biggest cultural celebrations and an official holiday, takes place on November 19th. Every year, the country commemorates the arrival of the first Garinagu people—an Amerindian people who are descendants of West Africans and Caribs—to Belizean shores on November 19, 1802.
“You can’t come to Dangriga on Settlement Day and not dance under the shed, Lily. You have to try it!”
I gaze at the circle of revelers, a stone’s throw away from the sidewalk where my friends and I are standing. They’re shaking their hips in a partially obscured space under a thatch roof, chanting in unison. Their voices manage to rise above the reverberating beat of drums. Just a few feet away from the dancing, a group of men are slamming dominoes and throwing back white rum in the dark of night. By midnight, crowds have spilled into the streets of this sleepy Afro-Caribbean town on Belize’s east coast. Dangriga has turned into one large, outdoor pedestrian party.
Our next port of call was the under the radar Country of Belize, which is a country on the north-eastern coast of Central America. It is the only country in the area that has English as the official language, though an English ‘Creole’ and Spanish are more commonly spoken. Belize is bordered on the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Its mainland is about 290 km long and 110 km wide. Belize surprisingly is the birthplace of chewing gum.
From Tulum we got a 3hour bus to the port City of ‘Chetumal’ , It is an important port for the region and operates as Mexico's main trading gateway with the neighbouring country of Belize. We lined up on the dock while Mexican Immigration armed with automatic weapons and sniffer dogs sussed everyone’s bags out.
From here we got what was supposed to be a 90 minute water taxi to the island of San Pedro which is a town on the southern part of the island of Ambergris Caye in the Belize District, this ended up taking close to 3 hours. We lined up on the dock in San Pedro to get our passports stamped by Customs and immigration before a 30 minute boat ride to our destination- a small limestone coral island off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean sea called Caye Caulker.
Caye Caulker is a sleepy carribean village. Life is slow-mo. Belizians are friendly, unperturbed and in their own little world. Most of everyone walk around barefooted and time for them stood still. The phrase for Belize is 'Go Slow'. We purchased some cool local T shirts.
The story of a girl activist - Belize
"Accurate, fun and interactive information about teenage pregnancy helps girls make better and more informed decisions," says Thandiwe Diego, 14.
My fight is for the empowerment of the girls in my community, through information, education and exposure to positive ideas.
Biggest challenge: Most girls in my community are poor. Most of them don't have access to the internet and other basic things such as food, water and electricity. Some of them live in abusive and dysfunctional homes. These factors stunt the girls' emotional, intellectual and physical growth.
Proudest moment: We broaden the girls' experiences by creating a traditional Garifuna [people of African and indigenous origin living in central America] singing group. We learn songs in Garifuna and sing them at the annual Garifuna Settlement Day re-enactment. Experiences such as these give the girls the chance to shine and be noticed positively by the whole community.
Accurate, fun and interactive information helps the girls to make better and more informed decisions. Higher self-esteem is also a big part of our fight to empower girls – because they are poor many of them are sneered at by the rest of the community. With higher self-esteem the girls can allow themselves to dream big.
From a Stress-Filled Office to Relaxing in Belize
I know I made the right decision to move to Belize when I start my day with a warm first light and song birds…instead of a buzzing alarm clock and an icy wind rattling the window.
At first light, the dog and I are strolling along Laguna Seca. The village has yet to start its day, so we share the lagoon with the coots, ibis, and flocks of parakeets. As the sun peeks over the horizon it splashes my pre-dawn world with tropical color and a sparkling lagoon. A wonderful “good morning” to another day in paradise.
I have always been a morning person but in my previous life as an attorney there was quite a difference. I knew my day would be filled with constant interruptions, nearly impossible deadlines, and ridiculous demands. Although I loved being able to help people, my mind and heart never started the day in the right place.
To be greeted by the natural beauty of Belize certainly sets a happier tone for your day.
After our walk it’s time to get my son up for school. He is a freshman in the local high school and he has adjusted quite well.
Breakfast is usually a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice from oranges that came from our neighbor John. We might also have bananas which I pick up at the market—eight for 50 cents. At the market, you can always find reasonably priced fresh pineapple, mango, papaya, and an assortment of vegetables.