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#479831 - 12/14/13 11:21 AM Today's Belize News: December 14, 2013
Marty Offline


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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

Kent “Bob” Gabourel takes second place at the End of the World Marathon
Hundred of international and national runners converged on the Placencia Peninsula on Sunday, December 8th for the second annual End of the World Marathon. San Pedro Town was also well represented, with six athletes participating in the marathon, including star athlete Kent “Bob” Gabourel. In the end Gabourel managed to bring home the second place trophy for one of the toughest races of the year: the full marathon. 16 year old, Brayan Guardado also made his mark in the running circuit, coming in 9th in the half marathon. The end of the World Marathon was created to coincide with the end of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012. That date, often referred to as the “End of the World,” was especially significant in Belize where the Mayas have lived for thousands of years. The full End of the World Marathon is a 26.2 mile race that begins at the Placencia football field at the end of the peninsula. The race is divided into a full and half marathon, with the half marathon being 13.1 miles long. Representing San Pedro Town in the half marathon race was Jonathan Andino (17), Jordan Santos (15), and Brayan Guardado (16) of San Pedro High School, and Roger Rivera (14) and Jason Estrada (15) from San Pedro Roman Catholic Primary School. These five young athletes were among the 134 participants that completed the marathon.

Elias Hernandez is missing and police suspect foul play
A man living on Ambergris Caye has been reported missing since November 22nd. He is 23-year-old Elias Hernandez, originally of Belmopan City. Hernandez is no stranger to the news or to the police, as his name has come up in very high profile police investigations. But now he has been missing for a month and the last time anyone heard from him was on November 12th. According to the Officer Commanding the San Pedro Police Station, Superintendent of Police Luis Castellaños, Hernandez was reported missing by his sister after communication was lost. Hernandez was a person of interest in an investigation following Belize Defense Force (BDF) firearms that went missing from the BDF weapons storage at Price Barracks in October of 2011. Hernandez was also a person that was believed to have gotten away from Belize Coast Guard Officials during a shootout on July 7, 2012 in which three person were killed during a special operation on northern Ambergris Caye.

Observing United Nations’ International Anti-Corruption Day
On Monday, December 9th, the United Nations (UN) observed International Anti-Corruption Day aimed to raise awareness on public and private corruption and support UN’s Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). International Anti-Corruption Day is a time for reflection and refocusing on a country’s anti-corruption strategy. In Belize, the Belize Youth Social Auditing Network (BYSAN), in collaboration with the University of Belize (UB) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), hosted several events to promote anti-corruption and educate people on the effects of corruption. The event ties in with BYSAN’s goals that entail the promotion of accountability and transparency by identifying all corrupt practices within the country of Belize. Leading up to International Anti-Corruption Day, members of BYSAN participated on several local talk shows discussing key issues that are currently affecting Belize. Members defined corruption and how it affects the future of Belize. Corruption, which is defined as a dishonest or fraudulent act by those in power does not necessarily adequate to only government officials. Corruption can also occur within private firms and even amongst neighbors. Corruption affects all levels of society, and all countries experience social, political and economic corruption. “Corruption has a chain of negative effects, aside from being a ‘Now’ benefit situation. The people involved in the corrupt practices obtain personal benefits from public resources, which in turn cause funding and resources to have to be redirected from possibly more important causes/organizations/institutions. It can lead to a cycle of underdevelopment, poverty, and general distrust and inequality. Corruption starts with two people, but ends with one,” stated Kenny Williams, member of BYSAN on Punta Gorda TV.

SPTC says street repairs to start shortly
For months, residents in the various neighborhoods of Ambergris Caye have been complaining about the deplorable conditions of the roads on the island. The excessive rainy weather conditions this year has added to the deterioration of the streets, but that is no consolation for residents who are forced to traverse through streets that are covered by stagnant ponds of water and mud. According to the many frustrated area residents, they have to travel through the stagnant water and mud to get to work or take their children to school. In some areas, public transport refuses to accommodate them, making it even more difficult to travel, especially during inclement weather. The only alternative is to traverse through water and mud barefoot, making it an unsanitary and messy inconvenience to many who live in these extremely hard-hit areas.

An homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Residents of San Pedro Town paid homage to the virgin of Our Lady of Guadalupe at a special event held at the San Pedro Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday December 11th. The celebration was held on the eve of the day that is set aside by the Roman Catholic Church to commemorate the date that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared before Saint Juan Diego at the hill of Tepeyac, Mexico in 1531. On Ambergris Caye, the event was filled with many presentations include several serenades by local musicians and residents. The event started at 5:00PM on Wednesday and ran until the wee hours of Thursday, December 12th. The church had a constant flow of people as hundreds of churchgoers took time to visit with the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, bring beautiful floral arrangements and lit candles. People of all ages paused to pray to the virgin, asking for her mercy and protection.

Ambergris Today

Taking the Risk
As we approach the end of 2013, I publicly ask the Education policymakers (government and church), principals, school administrators, teachers, and parents in Belize: 1. Are we satisfied with our Educational Systems in Belize today? 2. Have we improved any Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary school in Belize this year? 3. What have we learned this year that could help us to improve our schools in Belize, so that we can more adequately educate and prepare students for life in Belize in 2020? It is widely accepted now, especially by our country’s 21st Century youth, that Belize is not one of the quaint “ends of the world”, as it was previously described by Aldous Huxley and once considered to be by the rest of the world. On the contrary, Belize (not British Honduras) has today boldly taken its place as its own Independent and Sovereign nation in a new century and global age of instant communication. Our children and grandchildren have been born into, and live in, a modern Age of Technology, and so they also see themselves as being on the same stage as everyone else around the world today. Consequently, now more than ever, young Belizeans need our help and guidance to help them adequately prepare to face the challenges of a rapidly changing and advancing world of technology and global economics.

Belize Tourism Industry Association Holds Successful 28th Annual General Meeting
The Belize Tourism Industry Association is pleased to announce that it held a very successful 28th Annual General Meeting and Seminar on Thursday, December 5, 2013, at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza. The event's main objective was to update the membership on the Association's accomplishments for the year 2013 and inform the membership of upcoming plans for 2014 to be carried out by the BTIA Secretariat. It also offered an opportunity for members to dialogue on current issues, challenges and to voice their concerns. BTIA Board Members including various Destination Chairs, Sector Representatives and invited guests from both the private and public sectors were in attendance. Main speakers included BTIA President, Mr. Herbert Haylock and special Guest Speaker Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director Caribbean Community Climate Change Center.

Belize Inaugurates $3Mil Joint Operations Center with U.S. and Canada
On Monday, December 9, the Ministry of National Security inaugurated its first Joint Operations Center (JOC) at Price Barracks. The opening of the JOC represents over two years of teamwork and collaboration between the Belize Defence Force, U.S. Southern Command, and the Governments of the U.S., Belize, and Canada. The JOC’s inauguration is an important step in U.S. and Belize commitment to realizing a safe and secure Belize. The U.S. Southern Command Counter-Drug Program donated the building, valued at three million Belize dollars, in support of a regional security network of land and maritime forces with improved facilities, training and equipment. The Government of Canada provided the internal furnishings and computer equipment. The primary purpose of the JOC is the exercise of operational command and control. It enables law enforcement to plan and execute maritime interception, provide operational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, determine and prioritize operational priority intelligence requirements, collect and share operational information, process and exploit collected operational information and analyze, interpret, and integrate operational information and all other tasks into one cohesive plan.

Misc Belizean Sources

Red Cross Christmas Bake Sale
Sat Dec. 14th - 11am at the Roadkill Bar

HARD CORE FOR STREETS DECEMBER 2013 (9 photos)
The San Pedro Town Council in conjunction with Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism & Culture have recently purchased loads of hard core material for the street repairs. As seen on the pictures, the Marina road is the first road to receive hard core material in order for the delivery trucks carrying the material to have smooth access to town. This is the first shipment of 15 barge loads of hard core. In the upcoming weeks we shall be receiving the remaining barge loads for the restoration of the most deplorable streets.

Central government vs municipal governments in Belize: An ongoing drama
By Wellington C. Ramos In most of the former British colonies that Great Britain ruled during the colonial era, including my country Belize, they all have a central government system in place. Political parties in these countries select their party leaders and if they win the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, they become the prime minister of the country for five years. Once they assume office, their political party controls everything in the country and the opposition parties and members are at their mercy.

SALVATION ARMY CHRISTMAS CHEER (11 photos)
The annual Christmas lunch and party for close to a thousand children was held today, Friday, December 13 at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall in Belize City. Aong the specials guests was His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Colville Young and the Lord Mayor of Belize City, Mr. Darrell Bradley.

Tabby Johnson in Cayo
Tabby Johnson, the Canadian jazz singer, will be playing at the Soul Project tonight, Saturday the 14th. The warm up Belizean musicians will be Drew Gill, Mark Phillips, and Alexander Evans. This is a Winsom Foundation fundraiser for scholarships to students in Cristo Rey. In related news, the Soul Project is having their normal Friday night Open Mic tonight. They just released a video from a few weeks ago of the World Culture Band and Eddie Allen playing Carlos Santana's 'Black Magic Woman.' Awesome song, awesome cover. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=467413596697538

2014 Inspiration Calendar
Today, the Special Envoy Belize launched its 2014 #Inspiration Calendar and Agenda. The calendar features drawings from children with special needs. Photo: Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow smiles alongside June 2014 artist, Albert Card — with Kim Simplis.

ReefCI’s latest newsletter – 13th December 2013
Last chance to name our boat!! We are loving the creativity that our name the boat competition has stirred in you all!! “Weh yu deh, Aquaholics, The spearit of Pterois and White Wata are our favourites so far!! But, can you do better? This is your last chance to go down in ReefCI history!! Put your thinking caps on and send us your suggestions for the name of our new skiff!! There will be a prize for the winner!! Email info@reefci.com! Lionfish Spine jewellery – Update With the help of TIDE and local artist and friend of ReefCI Palovi, we held a Lionfish jewellery session at a recent arts and crafts workshop for the ladies of Toledo. Most had never heard of the lionfish invasion, let alone seen the spines or eaten the fish! The ladies were a little nervous about handling the spines at first but after taking the lead from Palovi and Jo they soon got to grips with them! A great fun session was had by all! More lionfish spines were donated to the ladies who have since made bamboo and lionfish spine beaded curtains and small trinket boxes!! Watch this space for more details on our community outreach program or email jo@reefci.com for further information. ReefCI and TIDE Collaborate: ReefCI and Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) have been continuing their collaboration on removing the invasive Lionfish from Belizean waters. James Foley, Head Scientist at TIDE, took his team of community researchers to Tom Owens this week for an intensive lionfish culling program. In one of the first dives of the week a team of four from TIDE accompanied four from ReefCI, managed to remove 81 lionfish in one dive!! Excellent results!! Keep watching our facebook page for future developments and partnerships.

Channel 7

How Did Medina Get A Bze Passport By Descent?
Tonight, there is the report of a Salvadoran man who got a legitimate nationality under bogus circumstances in a day for just a few hundred dollars. Yesterday, KREM Radio News broke the story of 24-year-old Rafael Alexander Vasquez Medina. He says that in September, his mother was approached at her stall at the Michael Finnegan Market by a woman who said she could get her son's nationality document all worked out for just five hundred dollars. She took only a week to get it done, and application and certificate were processed in just one day at the Immigration Office in Belmopan. The nationality certificate shows that it was signed by no less than the Director of Immigration Maria Marin herself on behalf of the minister. That day was also September 19th., the day news of the Citizen Kim scandal broke. Now, it's all very irregular because Citizen Medina got his nationality by descent, but neither of his parents is Belizean. The nationality certificate shows that his mother is Roberta Medina, a woman who he said he doesn't know.

FECTAB Holds Fiery, Emotional Press Conference
As we reported earlier this week, on Tuesday at 12:35 pm, a 58 year old female cruise tourist died after experiencing difficulties while snorkeling on a Chukka Tour. Today Chukka sent out a statement saying she lost consciousness while snorkeling in the Sergeant's Caye area. Snorkel guides and a lifeguard got the guest out of the water and tried to resuscitate her. They got her to Belize Medical Associates by 1:30 p.m. but she died a few hours later. Chukka quotes medical experts who say that she had a respiratory incident, and took water into her lungs which led to asphyxia by drowning. It's unfortunate, and about the sixth snorkeling death we have reported in the last 7 years, but CHUKKA's adversaries in FECTAB say it's symptomatic of a deeper problem. Today, they held an emotional press conference to make broad allegations of malpractice against Chukka. 7News was there:... Daniel Ortiz reporting FECTAB presented the information they were given about the week of incidents which happened on Chukka operations. It all seemed a bit incredible yet, Tom Greenwood took the time out to outline them.

Chukka Responds; Says FECTAB Went Too Far
So, as we've told you, Chukka's response to the Snorkeling incident is that while they are deeply sorry and their condolences go out to family, it was an unfortunate accident for which they are not guilty of malpractice. Chukka's Country manager spoke to us this evening, and she told us that while they are well aware of the campaign against them from FECTAB, she felt that they went too far this time. Here's how she outlined it: Valerie Woods, Country Manager - CHUKKA Belize "If you would allow me to put some truth and we all know what's going on here. This is not the first time that the media has been called out by FECTAB because of a very mellow-dramatic and grandstanding position that they take due to a personal issue or gripe that Tom Greenwood appears to have with Chukka. He has literally declared war on Chukka and its most unfortunate that he is using a personal tragedy to exploit that." "On the matter of snorkeling, yes there was a snorkeling tour and it was conducted near Sergeant's Caye on Tuesday December 10th and a guest did have an incident where she literally became unconscious. Our guides and our life guard immediately got her out of the water, administered First Aid or EMT, continued with emergency procedures until they arrived at the Fort Street Tourism Village where further emergency procedures were rendered and got her quickly over to the Belize Medical Associates."

Yellowman Acquitted; Fawda A No-Show
Did Brian "Yellowman" Audinett beat up Phillip "Fawda" Henry? That's what Fawda Henry told the police in early July. Yellowman - who is the mace-bearer in the House of Representatives - was charged along with his friend Alan Kelly for 1 count of harm, wounding, using threatening words against Henry. They were also charged for assaulting a police officer and wounding PC#1366, Wilbert Chi. The case was heard in the #5 Magistrate's Court today and it ended in anti-climax. "Fawda" Henry failed to show up to court despite being summoned, and his charges were struck out by Magistrate Hattie Mae Stuart. As for the police officer, he testified that he saw Yellowman and another man get out of a pickup truck and go after a man who was presumably Henry, and he went to stop them. But after getting between the men he was hit in the back of the left side of his head, behind the ear, and briefly knocked unconscious. The blow came from behind so he could not say definitively who hit him. Senior Counsel Ellis Arnold, representing Audinett and Kelly, then briefly submitted to the Magistrate that his clients had no case to answer and the Magistrate upheld it and dismissed the charges. We spoke outside court to Audinett who said he's happy to be free and clear of charges:

Jose Alpuche Resigns As Agriculture Ministry CEO
Jose Alpuche, the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture has been pivotal in government's negotiations and decision making in the bagasse dispute. But now, he's stepping down. Alpuche told us today that he gave his notice to the minister on Wednesday and that he will work for three more months. As to why he's stepping down, he told us he didn't want to make an issue of it, but did remark that this whole government thing is not for him. That means that in the past two weeks, Deputy Prime Minister Vega has lost both his CEO in the Ministry of Natural Resources Beverly Castillo who resigned to pursue a political career and Alpuche who says he will remain in the agricultural sector in some capacity. Alpuche was appointed CEO in 2012 right after the UDP won. He was seen as one of the gilded, non-political appointments made after the last election in 2012. Buzz Goff was another; he lasted only six months. Alpuche, when he demits office, will have lasted two years.

Belizean Mayan Artifacts On Major Display In Minnesota
On Monday, we told you about the major exposition of Belizean Maya artifacts currently being shown at the Science Museum of Minnesota. It's the biggest collection of Belizean artifacts that's ever been shown in one place. But that's not what makes the show special or newsworthy. As we found out when we travelled to Minnesota last weekend, the show is an experience, and to depict that the designers relied heavily on the trove of research currently being done on the Maya in Belize. Jules Vasquez reports from sub-zero Saint Paul:.. Join us on Monday for part two of our story when we'll tell you how Belize stands to benefit from loaning the Pieces to the Science Museum of Minnesota by having them properly conserved.

BDF Staff Sergeant Died From Collision Injuries
Last night we told you about the 41 year old BDF staff Sargeant who died in a traffic accident. The postmortem examination conducted on Noe Abimael Carillo of Yo Creek Village, found the cause of death to be Traumatic Asphyxia due to Acute Lung failure and chest injury as a consequence of the Road Traffic Accident. In other words, he didn't die of drowning in a ditch as some had speculated; he got a chest injury which compromised his lungs.

Persons In The Haylock Bus Got Injured
In an update on the other accident we told you about last night, the one that happened near Haulover bridge on the Northern Highway, police say a number of people were injured. As we showed you, a dump truck collided into a passenger bus when its brakes failed. The bus received extensive damages and the driver and some passengers received minor injuries. The truck driver received no injuries. The driver of bus and other injured people were transported to KHMH via Bert Ambulance.

"Jerusalem" Residents Suffer From Flood Ponds In Their Streets
Yesterday, the rains caused quite a number of the City's streets to flood, or worsen the potholes that already exist. It was an annoyance for everyone, but a few hours later, the water went down. But for others, such as the residents of the "Jerusalem" area, the pain lingers for days, which turns into weeks, and sometimes into months. Today, one of the residents invited us in to see what has become their reality while they wait for Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley to pave the City's Streets, hopefully getting to their area sometime soon. She told us she's spoken with both Bradley and her Area Rep., Patrick Faber, who she says has only promised to help - in a situation of dire desperation: Tanya Pantin - Resident - Jerusalem "Well for years that we have lived in the Antelope Street extension area it has been difficult even to get to work on a daily basis. Sometimes the children would have to remain at home because the water would come up so high and we would actually be trapped, not being able to get out. Yesterday morning, once we got up, we found out that the water was so high that my daughter and I, we decided that we would come to this area which is a dump for land filling and we retrieved about 50 or more tyres that you have seen over there and we actually decided to make a "London bridge" out of that."

4th Inspiration Calendar Launched
The 2014 Inspiration calendar and agenda was launched this morning by Special Envoy For Women And Children, Kim Simplis Barrow. It's the calendar's 4th year and it highlights the creative side of children living with disabilities as well as advocating to reduce stigma and discrimination. With support of McNab Designs, a cheque of 29 thousand dollars was also handed over at the event. The money is proceeds made from the 2013 sales. We found out more... Those who are interested in ordering a copy of a calendar can contact the office of the Special Envoy.

Jamaicans Are Here For The 3 For The Price Of 1 Concert
Three of Jamaica's biggest dancehall and reggae artists are in Belize tonight getting ready for a major performance. Alaine, Aidonia and Romain Virgo will be hitting the stage tomorrow night at the ITVET alongside a long list of Belizean artists. The promoter and the artistes told us about the show:.. The concert starts at 9 tomorrow night.

Channel 5

Another nationality scam uncovered as Salvadoran gets nationality in 1 day
Tonight, there is more evidence of corruption in the issuance of nationality certificates, this time directly implicating insiders in the Vital Statistics Unit, and likely the nationality section of the [...]

FECTAB Executives crack under pressure
FECTAB press conferences are normally colorful and charged.  Today, the organization held another one of those, but it also got emotional.  Two of its firebrand members cracked under the pressure [...]

Murder in Valley of Peace
There is a murder to report…one, in the generally peaceful community of Valley of Peace in the Cayo District. The victim has been identified as Valley of Peace resident Isidoro [...]

Charges against House Sergeant, Brian “Yellow Man” Audinett, are dropped
House Sergeant-at-Arms, thirty-one year old Brian “Yellow Man” Audinett, and Housing Inspector, thirty year old Allan Dale Kelly, appeared this morning in Magistrate’s Court for trial on charges of harm, [...]

Inspirational artwork of children with disabilities featured in 2014 calendar
The Special Envoy for Women and Children today launched the latest edition of the Inspiration Calendar. The artwork in the calendar was done by children with special needs who started [...]

Special Envoy speaks on the passing of amendment to criminal code
On Thursday, the second and third reading of amendment two to the criminal code was passed in the House of Representatives. The amendment had a rocky start because some sectors [...]

Lynn Young, the new Chairman of Kolbe
There is a change to report tonight at the top of the Kolbe Foundation which manages the Belize Central Prison. John Woods, who had been Chairman since 2002 when the [...]

4, including a minor, charged for ammunition offenses
A group of four, including a minor, two brothers and a friend were today before the court to answer to ammunition offenses after they were busted in the city allegedly [...]

VIP supports second motion for a senate inquiry
The Senate is scheduled to meet next week to ratify a number of bills that were passed at Thursday’s House meeting. But another matter will be coming up. The opposition [...]

Over $200,000 to be paid by government to settle GSU abuse
In August of 2011, there was a violent confrontation on the streets of Belize City between armed police officers of the Gang Suppression Unit and residents of George Street who [...]

Attorney says clients want an apology
Each of the eighteen claimants is to be paid a portion of the total judgment, to be divided according to the evidence each presented. Those who accused the officers of [...]

Belize National Boxing Selection games being held this Sunday
Amateur boxers from across the country will be competing this weekend for a chance at making the Belize National Boxing Selection.  Pugilists from various gyms, including the Lion’s Den One [...]

Food vendor pleads for custody of her children and grandchildren
  Popular Belizean food vendor Gloria Jimenez is in a protracted battle with the Department of Human Services for custody of her three children.  The kids were taken away from [...]

LOVE FM

Mayor Bradley Represents Belize at Municipal Conferences
Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley returned home earlier this week after attending two regional municipal conferences. The first was a Mayors’ colloquium held in Miami, Florida. It focused on the theme of developing sustainable cities and had the participation of Mayors from the United States of America, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It featured presentations and panel discussions on a range of issues affecting local government, including municipal financing, climate change, green technology, solid waste management and emergency management. Mayor Bradley sat on a panel to discuss public sector financing and the Mayor spoke about his experience with the municipal bond and the Belize City infrastructure project. Mayor Bradley went to Trinidad and Tobago where he attended a conference on Local Economic Development in Trinidad and Tobago. This conference featured presentations on local economic development and community mapping. Mayor Bradley was a presenter and spoke on the role of local government in promoting local economic development within cities.

Fishermen and Vessel Remain Missing at Sea
More than a week after they left to go fishing and never returned, the search continues for four missing fishermen. On Monday the body of 49 year old Thomas Young was found in the waters of Southern Belize. Young went along with 26 year old Darwin Gentle, 24 year old Elgin Graham, 34 year old Sergio Flores and 26 year old Kenrick Chi. The last contact that was made between the fishermen and their families was on Saturday. Operations Officer for the Belize National Coast Guard Service, Lieutenant Gregory Soberanis, says that so far, there have been no other clues. LT. GREGORY SOBERANIS “We have been aggressively conducting patrols down south; Alligator Caye, southward towards Dangriga, all the way down to Tobacco Caye over the past few days. Thus far, our efforts have resulted in none of the fishermen being found nor have we sighted the vessel, Natasha. As you can see the weather conditions have made the search somewhat tedious but nevertheless we are committed to continue on with the search until higher command gives the directive to terminate or suspend the search efforts. The islands in that area are filled with mangrove inlets and so we want to make sure that the area is properly combed, looking in all the little channels and all those mangrove channels to see if maybe the vessel is submerged. The efforts continue and at the end of play today, we will look at all that has been done throughout the week and the higher command will make a decision as to what will be the next step in this operation.

Early Afternoon Robbery at Chinese Store
A broad daylight robbery occurred this afternoon in Belama Phase three in Belize City. It happened at about one o’clock at Gun Fa shop when two armed masked men entered the business and proceeded to rob the proprietors of an undisclosed amount of money and other items. We understand that while the two assailants robbed the store, two other male individuals stood outside on watch. Unfortunately no one was hurt and police investigations continue.

Government Wants to Keep Homosexuality a Crime in Belize
During the House Sitting, the Bill to amend the Criminal Code as it relates to rape and other sexual offenses against children was passed with unanimous support. The Bill, which the Minister of Social Transformation, Anthony “Boots” Martinez introduced, also received resounding support from the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis Barrow, who was present for its passing into Law. The Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, explained in detail what the passage of the Bill means for child sexual offenders. PATRICK FABER “I listened as CEO Alpuche and I hope she doesn’t mind but I think she said it publicly today, so I am hoping that it’s okay, shared a story of a child that was finger raped, Mr. Speaker; that was molested with a finger and the charge of rape or any serious charge could not be brought against that simply because there was no legislation to cover that and I listened, as a little girl, who is at sixth form nor or UB, thanked the committee, thanked the ministry to put forward this piece of legislation because there was not enough legislation to nail this person down. Under this new legislation, Mr. Speaker, if a penis goes into a mouth or a vagina or an anus, it is now considered to be rape. It certainly is making it more difficult for these persons who are harming our children whether it be their parents, their loved ones or people from outside, there are people in this country who are causing irreversible harm to the children of this country and this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker is moving us forward progressively to stop them dead in their tracks.”

City Council Makes Good on Promise to Cover Debt
Last week Love News reported that the Belize City Council was having problems closing its debt to Belize Waste Control for garbage collection. At last we spoke with General Manager of BWS, George Lamb, he indicated that the Council had fallen behind on 15 weeks of payment. This amounted to over 700 thousand dollars. But today there is an update to that situation. According to Mayor Bradley, the Council has been able to make four payments between last week and this week, which brings the number of weeks owed down to eleven. Mayor Bradley says that the Council hopes to make two more payments this coming week, which would further bring that payment to under ten weeks. Coupled with this, Mayor Bradley reminds that the Council must also, by virtue of a court order, honour a payment of 62 thousand dollars on December 20th. This ruling was made some years ago under a previous municipal government.

Case Falls Apart; Yellowman and Kelly Set Free
Thirty-one year old Brian “Yellowman” Audinett and 30 year old Allan Kelly, charged with five offences, three involving Phillip “Faada” Henry and the other two a police officer, were freed of all charges today when they appeared before Magistrate Hettie Mae Stuart. In relation to Henry, Audinett and Kelly were charged with using insulting words, using threatening words and harm. Those charges were struck out when Henry, who was duly summoned, did not show up in court. Audinett and Kelly were charged with assaulting police constable Wilbert Chee and causing a wound to the back of Chee’s head. Chee testified that at around 5:30 a.m. on July 12, 2013, he took his family to Novelo’s Bus Terminal on West Collet Canal Street and while he was there he saw a confrontation between the accused and Henry. Chee said he approached them and identified himself as a police officer and told them to stop what they were doing. Chee said that while his back was turned to Audinett he felt a blow to the back of his head and he fell to the ground unconscious. Chee testified that he regained consciousness after about one minute and Henry helped him to his feet. He said he then asked some persons who were around him what had happened. After the prosecution closed its case, Ellis Arnold, the attorney for the accused, submitted that they did not have a case to answer to because Chee did not see who stuck him and he did not know what happened. Magistrate Stuart upheld the submission and dismissed the charges.

FECTAB Holds Emotional Press Conference
The Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize, FECTAB called a press conference this morning that was filled with emotions; so much emotions that President Tom Greenwood cursed and FECTAB member Yohnnie Rosado cried. Like in many other previous press conferences, FECTAB had a lot to say about Carnival’s Chukka Belize, the Belize Tourism Board and the Government of Belize. But the main reasons that FECTAB called the press conference was to let Belize know through the media, that Chukka Belize has had several “incidences” with tourist and that Chukka Belize is controlling the tour operating business in Belize. FECTAB says that Chukka has been hiring inexperience tour guides which had led to several tourists being injured on several occasions. Chukka Belize has sent out a release refuting the allegations and Chukka’s Country Manager, Valerie Woods says it is blatantly untrue and inflammatory. It’s a feud that has been ongoing and shows no signs of calming down. We got both sides of the bad blood between both companies and here is what they had to say. YOHNNIE ROSADO “We know we are doing what is right fighting for our business, it’s every native person; if it were an American they would be fighting for their business, in this case we are Belizeans and we don’t have respect for any company that comes from outside and try to knock us out of business. I remember a meeting that the tour operators were in along with BTB and NICH and I remember Valerie Woods came in and said that she is not here to make any friends; I came here to do my business. Well here it comes again, Ms. Valerie Woods, I am not afraid of you or Chukka or even this Government of Belize that are not ready to protect the people. This Christmas comes and we don’t have jobs; I own my business, I invest every penny in this business. BTB has not apologized to me either verbally or written, they are waiting for me to make a mistake. Forgive me but it hurts me very much to know that I put everything in this business.


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#479832 - 12/14/13 11:22 AM Re: Today's Belize News: December 14, 2013 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

More News: Scroll up from here

Amandala

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”
2013 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
Dear Editor, 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
Dear Editor, 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 ...

Triskaidekaphobia
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 ...

Blogs

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.

International Sources

Fruit-eaters
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.

Beautiful Bel-IZE
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.


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