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#484709 - 01/31/14 10:13 AM Today's Belize News: January 31, 2014
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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials


The San Pedro Sun

Belize and Guatemala sign agreement to strengthen relations with the support of the OAS
The Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala, Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera, along with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, signed an agreement entitled “Road Map and Plan of Action” on Friday, January 24th. The agreement was signed at the headquarters of the multilateral Organization in Washington, DC, USA. The purpose of the agreement is to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Belize and Guatemala during the year 2014. The agreement in return will assist both countries in getting the public to hold consultations on whether the territorial dispute between Guatemala and Belize should be brought before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Belize Basketball Federation seeks players for the COCABA Championship for Boys’
The Belize Basketball Federation is seeking players to form a National Under 16 and National Under 15 boys’ basketball team to play in the U 16 COCABA Championship tournament in Mexico in June 2014 and U 15 championship tournament in Honduras in March 2014. Players from across the country who were born 1998 or after and who wish to become a member of the Belize national basketball team can try out for the teams on Saturday February 1, 2014 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Bird’s isle in Belize city. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children for the tryout. Please contact National team coach Matthew Smiling at 600-4480 or Coach Fred Gabourel at 602-7876 for more information.

Free dental clinics hosted at Holy Cross Anglican School
A group of volunteer dental assistants and dentists are at Holy Cross Anglican Primary School and are the first of two groups scheduled to visit the school over the next two weeks. The group of eight includes three local residents and five visitors from Minnesota, USA. Heading the expedition is Dr. Paul Roggow and his wife Linda.

Ambergris Today

Ministers Removed from Office After Sting of Scandals
At its meeting on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, Cabinet discussed thoroughly the highly publicized matter of checks issued by the Belize Airports Authority (BAA) to politically assist Minister Hon. Edmond Castro. Cabinet was much assisted in its discussion by an informal report submitted to it by the BAA. Cabinet learned that only three checks were issued in the personal name of Minister Castro. One of those was for per diem in the course of the Minister’s official travel on BAA business, another was for assistance in burying the Minister’s mother, and the third was to pay for assistance with sports in Belize Rural North. Cabinet was also informed that the other checks not in Castro’s name, but issued to help the Minister in his constituency, did not amount to even a quarter of the seventy alleged by the Opposition.

Letters to the Editor: Political Manipulation & Belize’s National Development
Have you ever wondered what direction Belize is heading into? Is there a clear path set out for National Development? Is there even a Master Plan for a National Sustainable and Progressive Development Scheme? Or are political agendas defining the path of development every five years? Have our politicians ever consider putting their political agendas aside and begin working with the people of Belize? Do our current politicians even know of the good strategies the Father of the Nation, the Rt. Hon. George Price has helped to achieve? Growing up as a young boy in Big Falls, Toledo, I have witnessed four general elections. The People’s United Party was victorious in the first two elections in 2008 and 2003 while the United Democratic Party was successful in 2008 and 2012. I am an alert individual as it concerns Belize’s Political Past, Present and Future. While I am only 24 years of age, I am deeply disturbed when elected officials, appointed officials and those who hold public office get involved in “acts” which are considered “corrupted, and in non-compliance” with their employment description. While I cannot judge someone based on the acts they partake in, I can only say that the Belizean public are also displeased when corruption happen in Government and minimal, if not, no justice is done. It is “completely” abhorrent to be defending any political affiliate if they engage in acts of corruption, regardless of the scale. Yet, we see this happening in Belize.

San Pedro Sports Council Donates Softball Equipment to Holy Cross
The San Pedro Sports Council and the San Pedro Town Council donated softball equipment to the male and female softball teams of Holy Cross Anglican School on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. Councilor Gabriel Nuñez, Sports Council Member Kent “Bob” Gabourel and Freddie Gonzalez Jr, presented the donation to the teams of Holy Cross and Teacher Brandon Bood. Equipment included two bats, three softball balls, full catcher set and 10 mitts. Teacher and students were very happy and very thankful for the kind donation and said that they will put the equipment to good use. Councilor Gabriel Nuñez and the San Pedro Sports Council are working arduously in providing sporting equipment to schools for the youths of San Pedro to enjoy.

Misc Belizean Sources

Too many big trucks up north on Ambergris Caye
just incredible... never have seen it this bad. Sure, it's rained unlike ever in memory, but this is solely the result of heavy trucks being allowed to pass... unreal. So over the years of living here, we have spent countless hours and literally tens of thousands of our own $'s to build and maintain the "road" in the back. Mind you, this is not a zoned public road. This is on our private land. We did this so that the public, tourists and locals alike, would be able to pass. I took these pictures this morning on our property. This is the result of construction and utility trucks being allowed to drive up and down on a regular basis. I can't begin to imagine the extent of the materials that will be needed to fix this. Thank you to Captain Morgan's for driving their loader up this morning to, with a fork lift attachment and chain, hoist this vehicle up and out before it was swallowed whole. This is not the condition the island should be in for the peak of tourist season. Share this if you live in San Pedro and would like to see more resources allocated to the islands basic infrastructure.

Police State
By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez We are living in a police state Police no longer investigate Drive in tinted vehicle without licence plate Licensed firearm around their waist Some of them draw with haste Beating our youth till they have to wear brace Slapping mothers in their face Tazering them and spraying them with mace Officer turn car dealer Uses his girlfriend fi go register But whenever he comes to town there is a murder Is he for real or is he a grim reaper We have heard of state execution He and all the badman deh pan par He has been instrumental in all the turf war Now when it looks like he is observing from far He is evidently the superstar

What this UDP administration has done for teachers and the education system in the Stann Creek District
As some teachers of Stann Creek go out to demonstrate against the government for a salary adjustment today, I'll just share what this UDP administration has done for teachers and the education system in the Stann Creek District. In the face of economic hardships but because the govt recognizes the importance of education to help not only our teachers but the entire people of Belize. The following are facts: 1. All teachers WILL receive a raise from the government in July of this year 2. 99% of teachers have received for the last 5 yrs and will again receive a 2% increment on their salary. 3. All teachers at the primary level have received pedagogical training courtesy of the govt and it's partners... 97% trained in the district... Unprecedented in the history of the nation and nonexistent in any other district!

Belize Trade Statistics
The Statistics Institute of Belize has released the trade numbers from last year. There are some interesting numbers on there. "As expected, there were significant changes in the importation of several goods in 2013. On the one hand, spending on freight vehicles, earth moving machinery, jewellry and building cement were up. On the other hand, there were less expenditures on fertilizers, milks and creams, and telecommunication equipment. Imports from the US amounted to a record $597.3 million dollars, reclaiming the 32 percent share they held two years ago. Purchases of goods from Mexico and CARICOM were also at their highest level ever. Imports from Panama and China, however, fell for a second consecutive year, due directly to a decrease in free zone purchases."

OAS Scholarships
The Organization of American States visited Sacred Heart Junior College this week to talk about scholarship opportunities. Check out their website for a list of them and information on the types of scholarships that the OAS offers at the Undergraduate Level. Good luck! "With the aim of supporting the efforts of OAS Member States in the development of human resources as a means to achieving the objectives of the OAS Strategic Plan for Integral Development, the OAS provides valuable study opportunities to students by granting scholarships for the pursuit of graduate studies and research that are related to the eight (8) priority areas contemplated in the plan."

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge
The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge is just over 2 weeks away. One of the teams, the Yoga Slackers, has a video about getting ready for the greuling 4 days. Intense! It starts on February 13th. "Follow the YogaSlackers as they prowl through untamed jungles for three days and three nights non-stop in the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge. We’ll be there every step of the way to bring you the planning, the execution, the failures, and the triumphs in a four-part video series, starting now. Enter to win amazing prizes at prana.com/maya-challenge.html"

Supa G at Meluchi's
Supa G will be at Meluchi's tonight. He'll be backed up by Tapric, DJ Lee, Brick City, and Fada Mark. His concert at the Cayo Welcome Center last year was wicked fun. http://sco.lt/7O4qTh Supa G had this to say: "This is bigger than Sweet pain, Supag, Tapric or any of d Djs on this flyer this is about Belizean people being there for each other in our dark days. we r doing a fund raising dance to help one Cayo family get their life bk together after they lost their home and almost everything in a fire. As proud Belizeans my self and everyone u c on this flyer have given up our time to perform for FREE. i wish it was that easy to get any and every band on board but this is d real world. I will help because I have a house and friends that have and any day or time can b my turn to b in their shoe so lets stop think of it as just a dance but also as a way of being there for each other. I turned down a show in Cancun Mexico to do this. Im ready for this! are u???"

Mesoamerican Health Project Donations
Feelgood news of the day. The Mesoamerican Health Project donated medical equipment to improve maternal and child health care services at the Northern and Western Regional Hospitals.

PUP leader addresses national issues
In a lengthy interview with local media in Belize City today, Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) touched on several national issues. First he reaffirmed his support for the cause of the Belize National Teacher’s Union (BNTU) and took the opportunity to condemn the response of Education Minister Patrick Faber and Prime Minister Dean Barrow made earlier this week in other media where they criticized the motives of the Union and in particular president Luke Palacio. Fonseca says the teachers need and deserve their salary adjustment, and should not be punished for their actions. Next on the agenda were the sanctions handed out to dishonorable duo ex-Minister of State Elvin Penner and current Minister Edmond Castro this week received more sanctions for their various misbehaviors.

Paul Nabor recuperates
He is a Belizean icon and a legendary Paranda musician. But today, 86 year old Paul Nabor is in recuperation at the Punta Gorda town hospital. This is Nabor’s second stint in the hospital in as many months after he was diagnosed with pneumonia late last year. Friends and family have been by his side during his hospitalization. Among those at Paul Nabor’s bedside is his daughter Marie Martinez who came in from Los Angeles, California when she learned of her father’s illness. Martinez says her father’s condition has improved and he is resting comfortably.

Channel 7

Will Gino Get A Jail Sentence?
Tomorrow morning at 9:00 the chief Magistrate Anne-Marie Smith will sentence Corporal 259 Gino Peck for keeping an unlicensed firearm, keeping unlicensed ammunition, and keeping prohibited ammunition. Because of the strict gun laws the judge's hands are tied and it is considered a virtual inevitability that he will be sentenced to the mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years for some of the ammunition and 5 years for the others - with the sentences to run concurrently. Today Gino Peck's wife told us that they have been trying to prepare themselves what will more than likely happen tomorrow:.. Loretta Peck - Wife of Gino Peck "I am prepared; I try to focus on all my emotions and my energy for tomorrow. I don't want my husband to see me breaking down. Come tomorrow we expect a victory."

Teachers Rallied And Railed Up In Griga
And while all eyes will be on the Belize City Magistrate's Court tomorrow, today the hotspot was Dangriga where the teacher's union held their rally for the Stann Creek District. This was their fifth rally: there have been 2 in the north, one in the central, and another in the west. Today in the south, as the public exchanges between the union and the government have degenerated to a string of recriminations, the tone from the union leadership was belligerent. Here's the story from the south:.. Daniel Ortiz reporting The schools in the Stann Creek District were closed for the entire day, because a little less than half of the 712 teachers in that district participated in the 4th day of BNTU rallies this month.

Teachers Say Hon. Faber Falsely Accused Them
A huge issue for the Stann Creek teachers, as we showed you, is that their Education Minister, Patrick Faber basically said that they were trying to cheat the children out of a second day of classes this week because they already planned to take tomorrow off, what he called, "breaching the policy of the ministry", to go and collect their pay. His comments suggested mass delinquency on the part of the teachers in that district, that they intentionally skipped work. Today, the BNTU Stann Creek Branch President scolded Faber calling his comments in the House of Representatives misleading. She said that he was twisting the truth because he, Faber, knew that his ministry granted them permission to get the time off a very long time ago: Nadia Martin Caliz, President BNTU - Stann Creek "Minister is a politician also and we know what politicians do, they twist the truth. One of the things I want to provide Channel 7 with before you leave from here today is a schedule that comes from the Ministry of Education giving rural teachers from Corozal to Toledo time off at the end of the month and some of the have half day, some of them have an entire day. In the Stann Creek District only 8 of our schools that are all the way down south will get tomorrow off. Every other school will be open and classes will take place as usual."

Unions Not Satisfied With Actions Against Penner/Castro
As you saw, the National President, Luke Palacio was in Stann Creek today, and he was expected at a meeting in Belmopan with the Prime Minister, as one of the 3 union leaders negotiating a salary adjustment. Representatives of the BNTU, the Public Service Union, and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers participated in that meeting, at its completion, our colleagues from Plus TV tried to get comments from the unionists and the Prime Minister, but they all declined. BNTU Rep George Frazer told Plus TV only that they finally got a chance to get clarification with the Prime Minister on questions they had from last year. Back in Dangriga, though, the teachers discussed Cabinet's recent decision on the BAA scandal, and the decision to remove Penner as Chair of a House Committee, thus taking away his Government ride. Palacio said that it is a welcome step in the right direction in dealing with that immigration scandal, but it is far from enough:

Leader Of The Opposition Calls For BAA Audit
And while the unions aren't satisfied with the actions against Elvin Penner, the opposition leader isn't altogether happy with what's happening with the Belize Airports Authority and its former minister of state Edmund Castro. The Opposition's party organ, the Belize Times first broke the story of the BAA's cheques to Castro in December - and had been releasing them slowly. But when the Opposition Leader dropped the load in the House of Representatives last Wednesday, that blew the lid off the scandal and set in motion the events that led to this week's dramatic Cabinet decision to require the resignation of the entire board of directors, to terminate the general manger and to remove the portfolio from Transport to Tourism.

Fonseca Calls For Fresh Elections
And to hear the leader of the opposition tell it, the Castro/Penner predicament constitutes no less than a crisis in governance. Miming the words of an Amandala editorial this week, Fonseca says that the Barrow Administration should seek a new mandate:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "We shouldn't beat around the bush. The reality is that Mr. Barrow's government is in crisis and he understands that if Penner and Castro fall his government falls. That is the reality. That is what we are dealing with. So, we, the Belizean people and the nation of Belize are really being held hostage by a political party that is protecting its political interest and really abandoning the national interest and I think it is time for the government to understand that the electorate is ready for fresh elections. It is time for us to go back to the people and seek a new mandate to govern Belize."

City Council Security Guards Say They Are Being Axed
Tomorrow is the last day of work for 26 security guards as employees of the Belize City Council. The Council says it's privatizing the service as a cost cutting measure - the mayor told LOVE TV that the saving could amount to over three hundred thousand dollars. But the Christian Workers Union which represents the workers says their workers stand to lose their jobs. The mayor has written the union to assure them that the new private security provider will take over all the staff - assuring no job loss. But, those staffers say that with one day to go before the changeover, they haven't gotten anything in writing from that new employer. And so, today they asked their union to go public with their issue in the hopes that some intervention will be made. President Audrey Matura Shepherd explained:.. Audrey Matura Shepherd, President - CWU "They were told "we wish you all the best in your future endeavors." There was no commitment in writing that you are being dismissed from this council, however the commitment is from the new employees X,Y and Z - that never happened."

Chief Magistrate: Horse Will Stand Trial For Murder
30 year-old Jermaine "Horse" Garnett, his 23 year-old step-son, Cassian Bennett, and 35 year-old Kenneth Barrow will stand trial in the Supreme Court for the murder of 19 year-old Raheem Requena. That's what the Chief Magistrate decided today after completing the preliminary inquiry into the case. As we've reported, the attorneys for the accused men have submitted to the court that the evidence from the main witness, who cannot be located at this time, is not solid because there could be line of sight issues and lighting in the area. Well, the Chief Magistrate took her entire court to the crime scene yesterday and after careful consideration, she did not accept the arguments from the defence.

Government Gets A Win Against Ashcroft
How many pending cases does the Ashcroft Alliance currently have against the government of Belize? You'd probably need two hands, two feet and a tail to count them all! But the last word on one highly technical one came down last week from the Caribbean Court of Justice. It is an appeal from the government of Belize against the Alliance, represented in this case by 20 respondents. The Alliance had won a partial victory in the Belize Court Of Appeal when they challenged the constitutionality of two Amendments to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, both relating to criminal contempt of court. The government went to the CCJ which found that there were inconsistencies in the law but, in their words opted to use quote, "a scalpel, rather than a machete to sever that which is inconsistent." They concluded that the legislation is constitutionally valid save for some parts. And so, they removed one of the 16 subsections and amended another. Today Denys Barrow, who represented the government said that it is a significant victory for the government.. Denys Barrow, attorney for Government of Belize "Contrary to the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Caribbean Court of Justice decided that those sections which were struck down should be restored and they are therefore now part of the law of Belize."

8 Year Old Girl Victim Of Hit And Run
A hit and run incident has left an 8 year old girl hospitalized in the paediatric ward at the KHMH. It happened sometime after 3 on Monday evening in the Village of Tambran down in the Toledo District. From what we understand, Marivella Che was knocked down in front of her house. Her father - Domingo Che- was at home at the time and ran out to see what happened after he heard a bang. He saw the truck sped off and then turn around back towards the accident scene - but the driver never stopped to render assistance. Here's this father's story. Domingo Che, father "Marivella got knocked down by a vehicle." Monica Bodden "When did this happen?" Domingo Che, father "This happened at 3pm on Monday in Tambran Village." Monica Bodden "Were you at home when this happen? You mentioned that she came in from school and then she left from home?" Domingo Che, father "Yes, she left in a hurry but I didn't see where she went. When I heard a loud noise "bam," she got knocked down. I hurry went to pick her up but she wasn't speaking." Monica Bodden "She was knocked down in front of your house?" Domingo Che, father "Yes in front of my house." Monica Bodden "You didn't see the driver? Was it a hit and run?" Domingo Che, father "Yes but the driver didn't stop. When he knocked her down, he went. I thought he was going to help me but he went."

BTL Double and Triple Up Not So Sweet Anymore
Today was a double and triple day for Telemedia, but their customers weren't too satisfied with the way the new system works. Your Digicell credit is now being separated into a bonus and primary balance. The primary balance is the money you put into the account and the bonus balance is the free credit you receive on a double and triple up purchases. But here is where it gets a little technical, because with your bonus balance, you are not allowed to make international calls or send calls and text to a Smart costumer, instead you would have to use your primary balance. And while many costumers on facebook were blatant about their dissatisfaction in the new change, General Manager of Customer Services, Dr Dionne Miranda told 7news it's the company's way of moving forward towards industrial standards to improve the products and services offered to customers. Dr. Dionne Miranda, General Manager of Customer Services "What we've gone ahead and done is we've had to move towards industry standards because we were trying to improve the products and services we were offering to our Digicell customers and in doing this industry upgrade, an upgrade to our system we separated the bonus balances that customer receives when they top up, so right now there is a primary balance which is the money that you put into the account and your bonus balance is the free credit that you get when you do a double up on a double or triple day. This occurred on January 15th, but however it didn't impact customers until today because this is the first double/triple."

CGAÂ’s Million Dollar Complaint Against CPBL
Right now, the country is just starting to relax just a bit after the cane farmers ended their embargo on the sugar mill and started to deliver the sugar cane after 11 weeks of delay. It has caused a significant setback, and everyone is putting in extra effort to catch up after the late start. With one crisis averted, the Ministry of Agriculture is being called upon to intervene in another, this time in the citrus industry. The Citrus Growers Association's executive is scheduling an emergency meeting this weekend to address its general members, the citrus farmers, about a delay in payment from the Citrus Products of Belize Limited, company which buys the growers oranges. Today, we spoke with the Chairman of the CGA, who told us that the farmers are owed over a million dollars, with no timeline for payment from the CPBL Management: Eccleston Irving - Chairman - CGA "Growers are sending their fruit and there has been really an arrogance of no communication or when that communication is had, it is not formal and to indicate that growers will not be paid. So, the association has had to be running behind really to get proper information as to when growers are going to be paid."

Dangriga Alleges Diversion Of Funds
You probably remember the Dangriga Market - before Penner, Castro and the Airports Authority, that was the first corruption flare-up. Contractor Kennard Smart alleged that he had been "hustled" by senior staffers at the Social Investment Fund which was funding the market. After a quick review, the Contractor General recommended the dismissal of four senior staffers while the Executive Director was forced to resign. That's all well and good for the anti-corruption effort, but it doesn't put the market anywhere nearer to completion - so vendors are still suffering losses and the residents have to live with a temporary market. SIF is putting it back out to bid, but - as the old saying goes - while "di grass di grow the horse di starve". Today the Dangriga mayor lamented their long suffering without a market:... Gilbert Swazo, Mayor - Dangriga "The phase 2 project through consultation with the people of Dangriga - they selected that 1.2 miles of street which includes Dr. Miranda Crescent, the Gazbi Ramos Road and the Trucking Boulevard to be paved. That is what the people of Dangriga want. SIF is now stating that the minimum 4 hundred thousand dollars to complete the market will be subtracted from our phase 2 allocation. That is what they are saying. Essentially that means to me that the 1.2 miles will not be paved again but be reduced by $400 - $450 value whatever that is equal to in terms of works or miles on the ground."

Channel 5

B.N.T.U. shows muscle in the Culture Capital
The Belize National Teachers Union showed muscle today in Dangriga. The teachers of the south want their salary adjustment…they want to be respected…they want better working conditions and they want [...]

B.N.T.U. National President says salary adjustments and increment are different things
As we told you, Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the joint union negotiating team in Belmopan today. Since he has already said as much in an unofficial but public [...]

Leader of the Opposition supports and respects teachers
As you heard, the message of the teachers was trumpeted in Dangriga. And if there is strength in numbers, then the teachers showed muscle today. There is also support for [...]

COLA comes out support of Convicted Cop, Gino Peck
Police officer Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday and his attorney Simeon Sampson is preparing to immediately mount an appeal to his sentence for ammunition offenses. Peck has the [...]

Francis Fonseca speaks on the divide between Police Dept., GSU & Office of D.P.P.
The introduction of the Firearm Act back in June 2008 attracted opposition in many quarters because it was considered draconian. The legislation says that anyone found in a house or [...]

City Hall lets go thirty-six security workers; the CWU takes up their cause
In mid-December, firebrand attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd was named President of the controversial Christian Workers Union, and little over a month after she is facing her first challenge. That’s because the [...]

Opposition says government is in crisis and it is ready for elections
The Leader of the Opposition touched on a number of issues of national importance when we spoke with him this morning. Francis Fonseca minced no words as it pertains to [...]

Trial on the murder of Aubrey Lopez before the courts
On May twelfth 2010 popular basket-baller Aubrey Lopez was abducted and then brutally murdered, shot in the head and then pushed from his own car in Belize City. Five days [...]

Works on Dangriga marketplace to resume using monies for road works
In September 2013, the Dangriga Market, a significant part of the Municipal Development Plan, was brought to a screeching halt by the combination of an allegedly incompetent contractor and corruption [...]

A new chair of the Integrity Commission after 4 years
There has not been a functioning Integrity Commission for years even though by law, the government must establish a Commission. In fact, the last recorded meeting of the Commission was [...]

Opposition Leader calls for an independent audit of Airports Authority accounts
The Board of the Belize Airport Authority has been asked to resign en masse by Cabinet in the wake of the Castro cheque scandal and from what we know at [...]

Corruption; teachers say they want real reform…
This morning teachers marched in Dangriga, and they say the march is also against corruption in government. That particular topic has grown wings lately with the revelations coming out of [...]

…While Opposition Leader says government action is a slap on the wrist
The P.U.P. leader also maintains that the actions which have so far been taken against disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner are lukewarm and not real. And the reason [...]

The gripping story of the Peck family
As we said earlier, Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday morning for ammunition charges. On the eve of his sentencing, his wife, Loretta, made a compelling case on his [...]

Healthy Living addresses a common skin infection
It’s one of the more unsightly and uncomfortable skin infections that you can encounter. Let’s face it: Boils can be a literal pain. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we get some [...]

CTV3

Millions Being Lost Due To Present Situation At Mexican Border
Tonight, approximately 50 trucks remain parked at a parking area in the Santa Elena Border with destinations to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. As we reported last night, since Friday of last week, import and export products were not being allowed to cross the border since its private broker agency; Agencia Aduanal, “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados,” which is the only broker agency for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border in Subteniente Lopez had its license suspended. Today when reporter Victor Castillo visited the Mexican Customs authority, in an off camera interview, CTV3 News was made to understand that there are several reasons for the agency’s suspension. Licenciado Raymundo Loyola in charge of the Customs Department in Chetumal stated that the request of suspension was made by the ‘Servicio de Administracion Tributaria’ and the reason is one of three of the following; lack of information on the declaration form, a falsification on the document or a wrong address.

Onions Rottening In Container Parked At The Border
For weeks we have been reporting on the negative impact of rains to the production of local scale onions for the country. And while the country has faced its share of losses in that agricultural sector, the importation of onions from neighboring Mexico was supplying the local marketing the meantime. And with a halt on imports and exports from neighboring Mexico, today when Reporter Victor Castillo visited the border he came across a container full of onions with markings of its destination into Belize to recipient BMDC, which stands for the Belize Marketing and development Corporation. This container was one of several trucks that have been unable to cross the Mexican border due to the Broker Agency license being suspended since Friday of last week.

OWTC Serious About Taking Over Guadalupe Park
The Orange Walk Town Council is carrying out all necessary procedures to regain control of the Guadalupe Park in Orange Walk East. The Park was this Monday handed over to government from private hands but the idea is to place it under the National Sports Council. Mayor Kevin Bernard says that they are going to pursue jurisdiction of the park since the family members of the donor, Angel Castillo have requested the park remain for the public. Today the Council began cleaning the area. Mayor Kevin Bernard elaborates on the reasons for starting work despite not having full control of the park as yet. Kevin Bernard – Mayor or Orange Walk Town “To show our commitment and our seriousness in ensuring that the Guadalupe Park remains in the hands of the people of Orange Walk and we decided to start immediately in the cleaning up of that area and show them that we will start with those types of work, this is an on-going process and we have put it as part of our maintenance plan and we want to ask the support of residence of that area.”

Nick Jones Laid To Rest By Brotherhood
53 Year old businessman of Corozal Town, Nick Jones, was buried at his farm in Ranchito yesterday. But the funeral service was not a traditional type burial; in fact, he was member of both English Mechanics Rights and the Universal Mixta Masons of Belize. Ii is said that Jones was given high honors because he was of a high degree. The body was escorted from his house to the Alpha Lodge Temple in Corozal where lodge services were held. Present was the Grand Lodge of Belize for both Mechanics and Mixta Masons. Jones was then taken in a funeral parade to Ranchito for a church service and finally taken to his farm for burial.

Baby making Babies, Where Does The Problem Lies?
A United Nations progress report on population has spotlighted what it describes as high rates of teenage pregnancies in the Caribbean and other developing countries. The report has called on Governments to help adolescents achieve their full potential through education and adequate health services. And in this respect, Young people's sexual reproductive health is an area that requires increased attention in policies and programmes. But what are the root causes of this alarming trend and what can we do as a society to this increasing social and economic problem? Reporter Maria Novelo followed this story and filed the following report. Maria Novelo – Reporting Belize is among the countries in the Caribbean Region with the highest rate in teen pregnancies. With 55% of the population below the age of 25, studies show these target groups are the most vulnerable. Executive Director at the Belize Family Life Association, Joan Burke says, while these statistics are not unique to Belize, there are a number of factors that contribute to particular young girls engaging in sexual activities.

Chapel Inaugurated At NRH
It was an event that brought together worshipers of different denominations under one roof, or in this case, one tent. We are talking about the inauguration and blessing of the first ever, chapel at the Northern Regional Hospital in the Orange Walk District. It was a project that took several years to complete but it has finally become a reality for all those who were involved in the initiative from the start. Here is a look at what was a special moment for many. Dalila Ical – Reporting The Serenity Chapel of Faith and Hope is the first of its kind at the Northern Regional Hospital and it is a project that has filled the hearts of many with joy. The idea for the chapel was born from former nurse at the NRH, Ofelia Novelo founder of the MujeresAyudando a Mujeres a Superarse group in Orange Walk Town. North Regional Health Manager Guadalupe Longsworth says After Mrs.Novelo pointed out the need for the chapel; everything soon started to fall into place as shortly officials from Scotia Bank Limited approached them in search of a project to finance.


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#484710 - 01/31/14 10:14 AM Re: Today's Belize News: January 31, 2014 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

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LOVE FM

Gino Peck Robbed of Internal Tribunal
The Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, has joined the Belize Police Department and the list of persons that have offered full support to convicted Police Corporal, Gino Peck. Peck was found guilty earlier this week by Chief Magistrate, Ann Marie Smith, for Keeping Unlicensed Ammunition. The charge against him arose out of an incident in 2012 when members of the Gang Suppression Unit searched his residence on Currasow Street and removed a few rounds of ammunition. Since the case was brought before the court, Peck’s plight has garnered a considerable amount of air time on the official media and even more on the social media networks, from people who are convinced that he was deliberately targeted by the sequence of events that led to his conviction. COLA, in coming to the aid of Corporal Peck, has said that he is the latest example of the double standard practiced by the authorities and that from the start the pursuit by the GSU bears the hallmark of vindictiveness. Delroy Herrera, who is a key figure behind the attempt to get the Government to repeal or amend the current Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act, says that this is another classic example why the law needs urgent attention.

Union Wants Council to Hold Off on Security Privatization
Since Love News broke the news that the Belize City Council is moving to privatize its security services on Tuesday, the Christian Workers Unions have expressed grave concerns about the 36 security officers that are being made redundant. In an interview with Love News on Tuesday, Mayor Darrell Bradley, said that the Council Security Manager, Hiram Longsworth, through his security company, Rangers Company, had been awarded the contract. Mayor Bradley had stated that both he and Longsworth had agreed that the 36 security officer would be re-hired with Rangers Security. We understand that none of the workers have received a 100% guarantee that this will be the case as expressed by some of the affected workers in a press conference this morning. HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING “The Belize City Council has opted to privatize and outsource its security services. Thirty six security officers were given their walking papers as last week and were told that their post had become redundant. In an interview with Love News earlier this week, Mayor Darrell Bradley said that privatization is the way to go as it will result in cutting the council’s security budget in half and increase efficiency. The thirty six workers are members of the Christian Workers Union and according to the President of the Union, Audrey Matura Shepherd, Mayor Bradley did not follow the law.”

Trio To Stand Trial for Murder
Three men charged with the murder of 19 year old Raheem Requena, who was fatally shot in his chest in December, 2012, were committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court at the conclusion of a preliminary investigation today by the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. They are 30 year old Jermaine ”Horse” Garnett, his step-son, 23 year old Cassian Bennett and 35 year old Kenneth Barrow. They are to appear in the Supreme Court on June 17.The prosecution has intimated that it intends to call 30 witnesses, among them the main witness, an eye witness who is reportedly out of the country. The three are represented by attorneys Anthony Sylvestre and Alifa Elrington Hyde. Sylvestre and Hyde told the court that their clients have alibi witnesses. Yesterday Chief Magistrate Smith visited the scene of the crime, corner Kut Avenue and Kraal Road, so that she could get a better understanding of what occurred.

PlusTV

Mr. Aubrey Lopez’s Murder Trial Gets Underway
30 year old Mr. Aubrey Lopez, one of Belize’s elite basketball players, beloved teacher, and son of the Belmopan City Mayor, was gunned down in May of 2010 in the old capital. Mr. Lopez was accosted by his attacker, or attackers, while driving a friend’s vehicle on Prince Street. He...

Council Releases 36 Security Officers, the CWU Fights Back
The Belize City Council is in another spot of bother today after reports that its efforts to privatize and reorganize its security department under a trusted employee have run into an unforeseen snag – the Christian Worker’s Union. The CWU, whose sprawling national membership covers interests as diverse as...

Opposition Leader Responds to Plus TV on Issues Concerning Teachers
PLUS News sat down today with Leader of the People’s United Party (PUP) Francis Fonseca at his Belize City office for a wide-ranging discussion of current national issues. We begin with the teachers’ movement that is today in Dangriga. The PUP leader reaffirmed his support for the cause of...

Passing Vehicle Hits Southern Child, Now at the KHMH
Authorities in Punta Gorda are investigating a hit and run on the highway that has left a 7 year old girl injured. Police say that they believe they have recovered the vehicle involved in the incident. Our colleagues at PGTV spoke with Sergeant Pedro Ical. Mr. Pedro Ical- Sergeant...

Dangrigans Desperate for Completion of Market, says Mayor Swazo
The public tumult that arose from the scandal at the Social Investment Fund, involving high ranking officials within the institution has long died down. However, the aftermath is very much still a reality for residents of Dangriga Town. Due to the mismanagement of finances allocated for the renovation of...

Should Accused Immigration Officers be Given Immunity?
The trio of Immigration Department officers facing possible termination for their role in the passport scandal are not to escape according to the dictum of Prime Minister Dean Barrow who believes he has done enough to their ex-boss, Elvin Penner. But some suggest that instead of punishing the immigration...

Desperate Wife of Accused Corporal Peck Says She Expects a Miracle
Today PLUS News spoke to the wife of Corporal Gino Peck, who waits apprehensively to see her husband tomorrow, Friday, for what may be the last time in a while. He is to be sentenced for possessing unlicensed and prohibited ammunition found inside their Curassow Street home in 2012....

Land Lease Complainant Says Rivals Even Broke Down his House
Earlier this week, we told you of the initiative headed by Rise and Shine to host free legal advice to members of the public who are experiencing land dilemmas. The consultations held over the weekend was made possible through the partnership of five attorneys who volunteered their time to...

The Guardian

Unemployment Down, Inflation Down
The Statistical Institute of Belize’s latest surveys show that Belize’s unemployment rate fell and inflation was at 0.5 percent in 2013. Director General of the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), Glen Avilez, held a press conference on Wednesday, January 29th, to explain the data collection process in its Labour Force Survey and calculation of inflation. Avilez explained that the Labour Force Survey is conducted twice each year, in April and September. The labor force is made up of all individuals of working age who are employed, available and looking for work. In September of 2013, 5,910 households were randomly selected to be a part of the survey. According to Avilez, responses were obtained from almost 90 percent of the selected households which covers over 14,500 individuals 14 years and older. 64 percent of those individuals were in the labour force. The others are students, housewives and others who were not available for work.

Another CCJ judgment in Favor of Belize
The Caribbean Court of Justice has once again ruled in favor of the Government of Belize in a matter which essentially entangled GOB and the Ashcroft Alliance. The matter concerns an appeal to the CCJ as to the constitutionality of two amendments, one in April of 2010 and another in October 2010 to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act. The first amendment was “to strengthen the provisions relating to contempt of court...” the other amended the Principal Act as well as the First Amendment. This amendment sought to “clarify the law as to the ingredients of the offence of criminal contempt of court; to make provision for mitigation of penalties in the case of natural persons in certain extenuating circumstances; to specify the rules Governing Trial on Criminal Information and Complaint;..” The original case was brought to the court of appeals in Belize by the Ashcroft Alliance, at the time their primary argument was that the legislation was specifically designed to target them and that it was unconstitutional. At the end of that trial the court ruled partially in favor of them. That ruling was handed down by Justice Muria on December 22nd, 2010. Immediately after that ruling, the Government appealed at the CCJ and the ruling was handed down on January 24th by Honourable Justices Nelson, Saunders and Hayton, Delivered by The Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders and Judgment of The Honourable Justices Wit and Anderson.

Heads Roll at BAA
Cabinet announced on Tuesday January 28th that the portfolio of Civil Aviation under which the Belize Airports Authority falls will be moved to the Ministry of Tourism. The portfolio is in effect being moved from the Ministry of Transport. Additionally the Solicitor General and the Financial Secretary will have meetings with statutory bodies to review their operational protocols and advise on how to administer those institutions properly. The current directors of the Belize Airports Authority will be asked to resign. In effect the entire board will now be changed, these persons include the current chairman, Barbara Miller. While the entire board was asked to resign, the General Manager, Kenworth Tillett is also no longer at the head of the statutory body. The shakeup came after a series of checks were publicized in the media and allegations were made that there may have been wrong doing in the issuing of the checks. Since the publications, the Prime Minister has gone on record to say that the entire matter was prompted by improper judgment. In the Cabinet Release it states that "Cabinet was much assisted in its discussion by an informal report submitted to it by the BAA. Cabinet learned that only three cheques were issued in the personal name of Minister Castro. One of those was for per diem in the course of the Minister’s official travel on BAA business, another was for assistance in burying the Minister’s mother, and the third was to pay for assistance with sports in Belize Rural North.

Account for the Money Says PM
Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow announced on Tuesday, January 28th that there needs to be accounting by Area Representatives on how they spent a monthly stipend of $2,300 which they receive. In a release from Cabinet, it was announced that, "the Prime Minister, as Minister of Finance, has instructed the Financial Secretary to require every Area Representative, upon pain of losing the stipend, to account for the $2,300 monthly allocation provided for constituency office rental and secretarial services. We at the Guardian are certain that every single one of the UDP area representatives will have no trouble in providing evidence as to how the stipend is spent. Very much cannot be said about he PUP area representatives who have not opened constituency offices since they took up their offices. Some of the PUP representatives will now be forced to be in their constituencies to do what they were elected to do. For years now, persons living where there are currently PUP representatives have complained that they have been absent from their areas.

Cycling Association to hold Individual Time Trials
The Belize Cycling Association would like to inform all athletes, that the Individual Time Trials that was postponed from last Saturday January 25, will be held this coming Saturday, February 1st, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. on the Boom Road starting in front of CDS Service Station. As an update to this event, please note that this is the first in a series of ITT, where we will be having the elite riding 12 miles, while the Masters 4/5, Females, Youth and Juniors will be doing 6 miles. Please note those who had previously registered your name remains on the list. Anyone who would now like to take advantage of this change in date may register at the Office on the second floor of the Commercial Centre. Deadline to register is Thursday, January 30th. No registration will be taken at the start, as we are required to generate a starting list a day before the start of the event.

IDB provides US$540,000 Grant to Belize for George Price Highway Project Preparation Studies
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Belize today signed a grant agreement for US$540,000 to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The agreement was signed in Belize City by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Gina Montiel, Manager of the IDB’s Country Department for Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. “We are pleased to support Belize in its efforts to expand and rehabilitate its road network, which is so crucial to the country’s development”, said Gina Montiel. The grant will support the preparation of an investment program to finance the infrastructure works needed to upgrade and absorb growing traffic volumes on the highway.

Controversial Land reverted to Ministry of Lands
Elodio Aragon Jr. along with his father, held a press conference in Orange Walk town in a lot that was once a parking lot to serve Hi-5 entertainment center and the Orange Walk East Sports Complex. During the press conference Elodio Aragon Jr. announced that he had spoken to his father and his brother Adin Aragon and was able to persuade them to return the parcel of land back to the ministry of natural resources and the government of Belize. Last week, concerns had been raised over the Orange Walk East Sports Center where allegations were being made that there were moves by some 'private' individual to take over the land where it stood. Wrapped along with the allegations was an adjoining parking lot which was held by Adin Aragon, the young brother of the Orange Walk East hopeful, Elodio Aragon Jr. During the press conference on Monday, both Aragon Jr. and Aragon Sr. explained what the situation was.

Belize and Guatemala hold forum to strengthen bilateral relationship
In the wake of the uncertainty surrounding the postponement of bi-national referendum on the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute, Belize and Guatemala signed a new diplomatic initiative on Friday, January 24 at the OAS Headquarters in Washington DC. The agreement is called the Road Map and Plan of Action, and it’s main objective to strengthen the bilateral relationship between both countries during the course of the year to enable public consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice. The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, and Foreign Ministers Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera were all signatories to the Road Map. Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington told reporters at the event that the agreed document "evidences the commitment and resolution of the governments of Belize and Guatemala, with the support of the OAS, to seek to use our best efforts to develop the essential climate of trust and confidence."

BNTU’s Lies and Distasteful Rhetoric
Leaders of the Belize National Teachers Union seem to be getting more bitter and frustrated at every rally. Sources close to the union say their frustration stems from the fact that they have been unable to get close to fifty percent of their members out to the rallies. There are also many former loyalists who have lost confidence in Luke Palacio’s ability to motivate the troops and some close to him are planning to make a move on his presidency. The frustration from the very uninspiring rallies is felt across the board within the union’s executive. No one seems to be more frustrated than the man who has been hailed as the “Lion of the BNTU”, George Frazer. Frazer remembers the days when the union was fired up and marched mightily. He forgets; however, that the catalyst behind that passion was a desperation to get rid of an administration that was giving away the country’s assets and pocketing the people’s money. That is not the case in Belize today. Where there is wrong there is also discipline. Corruption is not the order of the day in this administration and the Prime Minister is not a lying thief. The “rallies” being organized by the union today are being held in a time when teachers are being paid while furthering their education for free. The union is asking teachers to express displeasure in a time when they are receiving annual increments and more benefits than ever before. This is a time when a salary increase for teachers and public servants is imminent – no wonder why teachers have not attended these “rallies” in impressive numbers.

Belize National Teachers Union holds rally in Cayo
The Belize National Teachers Union BNTU held its fourth rally to muster the support of teachers at the Macal River Park in San Ignacio Town last Friday. A total of three Union branches merged in San Ignacio Town despite a constant drizzle. The Benque Viejo del Carmen’s BNTU Branch was led by Leandra Chulin, the Belmopan Branch by Francis Avella, while the San Ignacio Branch was led by Manuel Medina. Some fifteen speakers took their turn at the teachers’ rally to rationalize why a salary adjustment was needed now. After the speeches, the teachers took to the main streets in San Ignacio Town and crossed the Hawkesworth Bridge to Santa Elena Town to continue their march.

Dara’s fundraiser again
Dara Robinson is once again inviting the general public, primary schools, tertiary schools, churches, the government, the opposition, NGO's, businesses, citizens, visitors and anyone else to support his Food Drive. It is the 5th annual initiative that he is conducting and it will be held on the MCC Tennis court from 10a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday February 6th. Dara says that he will be accepting all manner of non-perishable food items which he will then use to distribute to less fortunate individuals as well as his feeding program. The feeding program he conducts feeds primary school children on the north side of Belize City who are unable to secure a healthy midday meal while attending school. The fund raiser is being done to coincide with Bob Marley's birthday. Being a fan of the legend, dara will also be holding the 12th annual tribute to the musical icon on Sunday Febrary 9th at the Birds Isle. This will take place on February 9th from 4.p.m to midnight.

NCL EIA Consultations underway
On Wednesday, January 22, approximately three hundred and twenty residents from villages and towns in the south gathered at the Independence High School auditorium to give their input at the public consultation on the Environmental Impact Assessment for Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposed cruise port on Harvest Caye. The EIA as it was presented to the public has since been withdrawn with the developer promising to amend it to better address the environmental issues which have been raised about it’s inadequacy. Representatives of NCL, including the Harvest Caye Project Director, Hugh Darley; brothers Carlo and Daniel Arguelles from International Environments Limited; and NCL environmental consultant, Jose Pepe Garcia faced the crowd at around 7:30 p.m. to field any and all questions about the project. They answered to all concerns which had to deal with the environmental impact that the development on Harvest Caye could possibly have. The Department of Environment was also present to witness and conduct the meeting.

New cops for the Beat
One hundred and Twenty Seven recruits passed out of the Police Training Academy on Wednesday, January 29, after 16 weeks of training as part of recruit intake number 89. That’s 90 police constables, and 37 women police constables who have graduated and joined the ranks of the police department. It is among one of the biggest squads, with the record being the 130 recruits who passed out last year. In the same fashion that majority of the officers went to Belize City to become part of the Police Precinct system, majority of these new officers have been assigned to Eastern Division to help maintain police focus on one of the toughest police jurisdictions in the country to maintain law and order. It is this same precinct system to which many have attributed some of the success in lowering the murder rate for this year, reducing it by 46, a decrease of 32% in Belize City, recognized as one of the region’s murder capitals.

Papa Mena takes Dangriga
The United Democratic Party successfully held the second convention to elect a Standard Bearer in 13 constituencies across the country. On Sunday January 19th it was Frank 'Papa' Mena going up against Arthur Roches for the position of Standard Bearer for Dangriga. Voting began promptly at 10 in the morning and in a record breaking turnout for that constituency in a convention, Papa Mena would emerge victorious. A total of 1,676 persons cast their votes; of those Mena received 1,077 while Roches secured 581 votes, 18 ballots were rejected. Immediately after the convention, the results were made known after which the oath of office was administer to Mena. In addressing his supporters, Mena thanked his supporters and he explained that it was now time to work. He said it was all about love and it was also time to unite the party for the better of Dangriga.

Police Department’s position on the matter of Corporal 59 Gino Peck
The commissioner of police with the support of the Ministry of National Security hereby informs the public that the department will be supporting Corporal Peck fully, including payment of all legal fees in his appeal to his conviction on keeping unlicensed and prohibited ammunition. The Belize Police Department is saddened by the manner in which the decision to proceed with criminal charges against Corporal Peck was made in January 2012 as the department is confident that it could have been properly dealt with through its own internal disciplinary process. Unfortunately, the department was not given the opportunity to handle this matter as they have customarily done. It is unfortunate that we are at a point where a long serving member of the department is facing a jail sentence for a matter that could have been handled internally. Should his appeal prove successful, the commissioner of police will then exercise his power to decide what internal disciplinary action will be levied against Corporal Peck in the manner in which it should have been handled in the first instance.

Penner Stripped of Vehicle and Chairmanship
After investigations showed that Hon. Elvin Penner was involved in wrong doing at the Immigration Department, Prime Minister quickly removed him from Cabinet and stripped him of the portfolio which he handled. He was additionally asked to resign from the National Assembly and the United Democratic Party, the latter two he has not yet done. And while the penalty against Penner was swift and severe, there were still outstanding matters as to his tenure in the House of Representatives; he still held a government vehicle and was still the Chair of the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transport and Communication. In a release from Cabinet it was announced that Penner will no longer hold either the vehicle or the chairmanship. The release stated that "Cabinet also examined other areas in which it felt action was needed to combat any suggestion that the Administration would not resolutely act to put a stop to Ministerial or official wrongdoing.

Two-Bit Opinion
Last week when I told you that the convention to select the standard bearer for the Orange Walk East constituency would be exciting and emotional little did I realize that I was making more of a prediction than a promise. I mean, things really got heated over the weekend between the two contenders, Aragon and Constanza. One of the more vocal and radical supporters of Constanza, Landy Burns, came out swinging at the Aragon family, making provocative accusations only days before the convention, which is slated for this Sunday February 2 at the Louisiana Government School. Judging from the feedback on the streets, I can tell you this; for a while there it was a big political notch for the Burns offensive, until Lot Aragon gave his press conference on Monday 26 January and doused the cauldron with cold water. Having known Elodio “Lot” Aragon for many, many years, I can tell you that he is a seasoned politician and will not run and hide from any accusation or shy from any accuser. And to show his skill in these matters, he returned the favor in kind to Burns, but never did once impugn the character of Constanza in his counter. That was a good move and went down well with UDP supporters of both sides in the contest for standard bearer.

New Resources Center for Buena Vista Village
On Wednesday January 29th, area representative for Cayo Central, Hon. Rene Montero along with Japanese ambassador to Belize, His Excellency Yasou Takase And the chairman of Buena Vista Village, Eddy de la Rosa, officially cut open the ribbon to declare the Buena Vista resource center opened. The 26'X80' structure was constructed at a cost of $245,852 through grant funding from the Japanese government along with counterpart funding by the Government of Belize. Along with the building there are also walkways and a perimeter fence. The building was constructed for use by primary and high school students as well as the community of Buena Vista in general. According to Minister Montero, the resource center will have a computer lab and library which will serve some 180 students during normal school hours.

Taiwan Scholarships available
Since the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) made scholarships available to Belizeans in 2002, over two hundred and thirty Belizeans have received scholarships to study in Taiwanese Universities. On Tuesday, January 28th, the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Belize-Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) Alumni Society in Belize hosted a public briefing to encourage more students to apply for a scholarship of their choice. There are 29 programs being offered from 21 universities under the 2014 Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) scholarship program. Students and parents from across the country assembled inside the conference room of the Chateau Caribbean Hotel to listen to presentations by officials from the Taiwanese Embassy as well as past scholarship recipients. Jacqueline Ifield, President of the Belize Taiwan ICDF Alumni, was first to address the attentive crowd. She encouraged everyone to apply because a scholarship to study in Taiwan is the greatest opportunity one can hope for. She said the quality of education is excellent; the country is safe and the people are extremely nice. Ifield said living in Taiwan could be a little challenging at first with the language difference but as much as Belizeans are trying to learn Mandarin they are trying to learn English so communication is easier as time passes.

Guardian Bombers - Belize City Senior Male Softball Champs
The Belize City Softball Association 2013 Senior Male Competition finally came to an end on Wednesday January 22, 2014, at Rogers Stadium, after the championship series had to be postponed because of the wet conditions of the playing field. In the third and final game of the championship series, the budding champions Guardian Bombers wasted no time in establishing its supremacy in the game and the outcome of the title when third base Nelberth Flowers with only one out in the top of the first inning blasted a three run homer-run off Oceana Strikers starting and losing pitcher Jerome Carr for a 3-0 lead. The Guardian Bombers then added five more runs in the top of the 2nd inning when it send 9 batters to the plate who collected an assortment of hits including shortstop Carlyon Flores’ 2 run double.

Albert Constituency youth basketball tourney to start
The Albert UDP Committee will be hosting a Youth Basketball Competition for boys living in the Albert Constituency and are between the ages of 11 – 15 years old. The competition is scheduled to commence on February 15, 2014 and teams are quickly forming. Boys living in the Albert constituency that are interested in participating in the competition can pick up application forms from Ms. Mary Guzman at the Youth for the Future Secretariat on Regent Street (Old Hotel Mopan) and at the National Sports Council Office at Rogers Stadium. The Youth Tournament will be played only on Saturdays and is being sponsored by the Hon. Herman Longsworth, Area Representative for the Albert Constituency and the Minister of State with direct responsibility for Youth and Sports.

FC Belize faces the Belmopan Bandits in football finals
The Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup will enter into its championship series on Sunday February 2, 2014, at the MCC Grounds commencing at 4:00 pm between FC Belize and the Belmopan Bandits. FC Belize and the Belmopan Bandits advanced to the championship round when they both eliminated their opponents over the last week in the semi-final round. On Sunday January 26, at the Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo Del Carmen, FC Belize eliminated the home team and number seed into the semi-finals Verdes FC by the score of 2-1. The home team Verdes FC got on the scoreboard first when Rodney Pacheco scored the 1st goal of the game in the 14th minute of play via a penalty to give his team a 1-0 lead. However, the visiting FC Belize was able to get onto the scoreboard when Michael Hernandez scored his team’s equalising goal in the 29th minute of play to tie the score at 1-1. The first half of the game ended 1-1.

Queen’s Baton Relay coming to Belize
The Queen’s Baton Relay is a much loved tradition of the Commonwealth Games and symbolises the coming together of all nations and territories in preparation for the four-yearly festival of sport and culture. The official launch took place on October 9 2013 at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II placed Her message to the Commonwealth into the baton. The baton then departed from Glasgow for its epic journey to all 71 nations and territories beginning in Asia, visiting India, the Host Nation of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. Over 248 days the baton will travel sequentially through each nation creating an engaging journey through Asia, Oceania, Africa, Americas (south), Caribbean and Americas (north), before returning to Europe and the UK. The baton will average one to four days in each nation with an extended duration of seven days in Wales and fourteen days in England.

Central Region Secondary Schools softball to opens
The 2013-2013 Central Region Secondary Schools Softball Competition is scheduled to commence on Monday January 27, 2014, at Rogers Stadium with 8 schools participating in the female competition and 7 teams in the male competition. The schools participating in the female competition are Wesley College, Excelsior High School, Pallotti High School, Ladyville Technical High School, Gwen Lizarraga High School, St. Catherine Academy, Anglican Cathedral College and Nazarene High School. The schools participating in the male competition are Wesley College, Gwen Lizarraga High School, Ladyville Technical, Excelsior High School, Anglican Cathedral College, St. John’s College and Nazarene High School.

Escuela Mexico in Belize celebrates its 31st Anniversary
The “Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico” (ESTM), in San Roman Village, Corozal District, completes today its 31st Anniversary. The Official Ceremony was headed by its Principal, Mr. Carlos Castillo, and the Mexican Ambassador to Belize, Mario Velazquez. More than 800 people attended, including school officials, teachers, students and their families. The Escuela México is a technical/vocational high school that was built and donated in 1982 by the Mexican government as a friendly symbol of recognition of the Independence of Belize. In January 1983, formal classes began with an enrollment of sixty-eight (68) students and a small staff of five teachers. Since its establishment, the student population has grown considerably. The enrollment now stands over 680 students.

Rotary Club of San Ignacio supports future scholars
An innovative educational program for young people is now ongoing in the Cayo District and is being supported by the Rotary Club of San Ignacio. On the agenda at its weekly Rotary Club meeting held recently at the Cayo Center for Employment Training, was a lively discussion for the continued support of our future scholars of Belize. Today, the Rotary Club of San Ignacio has students with scholarships at both the Eden and Saint Ignatius High Schools in Santa Elena Town and at Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio Town. A total of 26 scholars are being supported via these scholarship programs with the top scholar having a choice to a two year tertiary level study at the University of Belize, Galen University or Sacred Heart College. This two year scholarship at the tertiary level is a memorial scholarship for Mrs. Paulita Bedran, whose son Abdala Bedran was a founding member of the Rotary Club of San Igancio.

UB research findings on the effect of salinity on callus formation and organogenesis of Red Kidney Beans published in international research journal
Red Kidney Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), a major staple food source in Latin America and particularly in Belize plays a significant role in the cultural and economic activities of Belize. The legume, high in protein content and considered to be on the daily menu across Belize is faced with on-going challenges due to increased soil salinity, global warming and its effect. “The experiment was carried out in an effort to develop a salinity resistant variety of red kidney beans,” said Associate Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Belize, Dr Thippi Thiagarajan. “It was carried out to test the ability of Red Kidney Beans to form callus and undergo organogenesis under in vitro saline conditions.” Grain legumes have been noted to have a poor regeneration capacity under in vitro conditions, and in light of the sea level rise and its effect on soil salinity, therefore developing a variety that can withstand saline conditions will be an advantage for countries like Belize where climate change can have drastic effect on salinity of soil in the near future. Research is being conducted in generating full plantlets from callus under saline conditions that can tolerate moderate saline conditions that may result from rising sea level.

UB distributes micro propagated planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector
The University of Belize, as a catalyst for change to enable socio-economic transformation and sustainable development in Belize, is producing quality planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector. Its current focus, at its micro propagation laboratory Central Farm Campus, is Belize’s sugarcane industry. To date, the University, in collaboration with the Sugar Industry Research & Development Institute (SIRDI), the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) and individual cane farmers of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), has distributed close to 30,000 micro propagated plants to the sugar industry to establish demonstration plots in the Corozal and Orange Walk areas. Such plots are to be used by these organizations as trial nurseries to produce quality cane seed for farmers. Spearheading the activities at the Bio-propagation laboratory is Dr. Stephen Williams, Micro propagation Laboratory Manager.

Career Cop faces long Years in Jail
Career police officer, 41 year-old Corporal Gino Peck, was found guilty of ammunition offences in the Magistrate’s Court on Monday, January 27. That’s a very unexpected and dramatic ending in Peck’s case, and the outcome is that his family’s financial stability is slowly crumbling. On January 19, 2012, a little over two years ago, the Gang Suppression Unit raided the Peck family home where they found 8 live rounds of .45 ammunition – a prohibited item - in a chest of drawers in their room. Under their bed, the GSU found 2 knapsacks. In one of them, they found 23 live rounds of 9mm ammunition, 18 twelve-gauge cartridges. The other bag contained six rounds of 9mm ammunition, four .38 rounds and 3 more 12-gauge cartridges. Because of the discovery, the GSU arrested and charged Gino and his wife, Loretta with keeping unlicensed ammunition, and keeping prohibited ammunition. The case caught the attention of the media when the Police Eastern Division refused to support the GSU on their action against one of their own, who they believed could easily be exonerated if the arresting officers would only look carefully at Peck’s reasons for having the ammunition. His defence remains – and has always been – that he got control of the items while on operations as a police officer.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Caye Caulker Hotel Makes Trip Advisor's 'Top 25 Hotels in Central America'
– Following the announcement of four Belize properties that made the ‘Top 25 Hotels in Central America’ list, the popular travel site, Trip Advisor, announced other categories in its 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards. We are pleased to say that travelers’ positive reviews and ratings placed Belize in several of those categories. Overall, Belize claimed thirty seven placements in seven categories at the regional and world levels.

Blogs

"Take It to the Limit" in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
On Saturday Rose and I went to the Burns Night Dinner organised by the Belize Branch of The Royal British Legion. It was being held in the Flagstaff Mess, Price Barracks in Ladyville and our journey there should have been a relatively simple one. I’d booked tickets on Tropic Air‘s 16.00 flight to the Municipal Airport where our friend Ian , a serving member of BATSUB, was going to pick us up and take us to his house (well a bungalow actually) on the camp so that we could get changed. I ‘say’ changed because the dinner provided an opportunity to wear a dress. For Rose that is, not me before you let your imagination go in to overdrive. Me? I was going to wear a jacket, shirt (long sleeved too), trousers and shoes (a proper pair, not flip flops or loafers). The first time in twenty months! We left the house at 15.00 hours and after loading our stuff on the ‘cart I put the key in the ignition, started the engine and tried to engage the reverse gear. Nothing, the gear stick was flapping around like a bed sheet on a washing line! Now if I was mechanically minded I would have had a look, got out a tool kit and solved the problem . But I didn’t because I am to motor mechanics what Genghis Khan was to world peace. So I did the next best thing and ‘phoned a taxi and then I ‘phoned Tropic Air to warn them that we would be a little later than the thirty minutes before flight time that they ask you to be. Imagine ‘phoning United Airlines, British Airways, etc in similar circumstances ?

International Sources

¿Belice es nuestro?
Después de seis años de intensos análisis, negociaciones y cabildeos, el Tribunal de La Haya tomó una decisión que algunos ya califican de salomónica y otros de arbitraria. Perú ganó 50 mil kilómetros cuadrados de mar en el océano Pacífico, pero la Corte de la Haya reconoció a favor de Chile el Hito 1 y el paralelo que nace a partir de allí hasta las 80 millas, como su límite territorial y marítimo. Chile no cedió soberanía, pero sí una importante porción de mar en una zona económica exclusiva. Así que en realidad lo jugado trascendió el tema de la soberanía y tuvo más que ver con un tema económico: la explotación de los recursos marítimos de esa zona. Tocará ahora ver qué sucederá con la mediterraneidad de Bolivia y cómo resuelven entre todos su salida al mar. Además, queda pendiente también el asunto del anillo energético sudamericano, ya que cualquier inestabilidad política en Bolivia, Chile o Perú podría afectar en mucho su implementación. Más allá de nuestra mirada al sur, la noticia de lo sucedido en la Corte de la Haya sobre el diferendo entre Perú y Chile, seguro ha provocado un efecto dominó en las vecindades cercanas y no tan cercanas.
Bad translation: Belize is ours?? After six years of intense analysis, negotiations and lobbying, the Hague Tribunal made a decision that already qualify for some other arbitrary Solomonic. Peru won 50 thousand square kilometers of sea in the Pacific Ocean, but the Court of the Hague acknowledged Chile for the Milestone 1 and the parallel that comes from there until 80 miles, as its territorial and maritime boundary. Chile gave no sovereignty, but a significant portion of the sea in an exclusive economic zone. So actually played transcended the issue of sovereignty and had more to do with an economic issue: the exploitation of marine resources in this area. Touch now see what happens to the landlocked Bolivia and how to solve among all its landlocked. In addition, the issue of the South American Energy Ring is also pending since any political instability in Bolivia, Chile and Peru could affect in a deployment.Beyond our gaze south, the news of what happened in the Court of The Hague on the dispute between Peru and Chile, sure has caused a domino effect in nearby neighborhoods and not so close.

Devon high school students heading to Belize
Students from a Devon high school are getting ready to head to Belize, in Central America, for a once in a lifetime trip. The students, from John Maland High School, are part of the school’s jazz band, and will soon be playing and teaching jazz music to the Belizean people Devon’s mayor, Stephen Lindop, came up with the idea. Two years ago he was in Belize building a playground, and he heard about a school with a music program. “I checked out their band and found out they didn't have jazz and I thought, ‘Wow, I'm in Devon, we have a tremendous band program’,” said Lindop. When Lindop returned, he presented the idea of bringing Devon music students to Belize to band teacher John Maland. “These kids have great music skills and we know they can go down, and make a contribution, make some new friends and help out another community,” said Lindop. “What a great thing to do.” The students started fundraising and Maland says the response has been overwhelming. “We’ve got three flutes, a clarinet, twelve trumpets and a cornet, three trombones, a euphonium, a tuba, orchestra bells, keyboard amp, bass amp and a synthesizer we’re bringing down.”

Death by sludge, coal and climate change for Great Barrier Reef?
Authorities approve plans to dump three million cubic metres of dredge spoil into waters of already at-risk reef... There's a phrase environmental scientists and campaigners like to use to talk about the slow and relentless degradation and destruction of habitats and natural wonders. "Death by a thousand cuts", they call it, as small chunks of habitat are lost and environmental laws are eased or repealed. A bit of bush here for a tourism development, a stand of mangroves there for a beachside resort. An entire nature reserve for a coal mine. Sometimes, the threats come like pincer movements with all angles covered. For the Great Barrier Reef, though, the world's most famous and largest coral reef system, a final decision passed down today gives us another gash, through which could rush millions of tonnes of coal. The reef is being threatened from all sides. Dredging for coal and gas ports. Increased shipping frequency. Run off from agricultural developments. Increased ocean acidity and rises in sea temperatures from fossil fuel burning. The threats have got the reef surrounded. Now the government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has decided to allow up to three million cubic metres of ocean bottom to be dredged and then dumped within the borders of the marine park and also the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

Canada-CARICOM Trade Talks Shrouded in Doubt
Negotiations on a trade agreement between Canada and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have limped along for over five years. Unless political will and energy is now put into the process, the negotiations could fizzle out by the end of June – a ‘drop-dead’ date now accepted by both sides. Abandonment of these negotiations would not be good for Canada and certainly not for CARICOM countries. For, while the negotiations focus on trade and investment and rules that guide them, the relationship between Canada and CARICOM goes far beyond these considerations. In Canada’s case, although its merchandise trade with all CARICOM countries is less than 1% of its total trade in goods, successive governments have enjoyed close relations with 12 of the Commonwealth Caribbean countries that are part of the 14 independent countries of CARICOM. Until recently, Canadian governments have been able to rely on Commonwealth Caribbean governments for support on hemispheric and international issues reflecting their shared values and common interests.

Reducing illicit trafficking in the Caribbean: 20 nations meet to coordinate efforts, way ahead
Maritime interceptor fleets, information-sharing mechanisms, regional strategies and human rights were among topics covered by defense, law enforcement and civilian leaders from 20 nations who met in Santo Domingo Jan. 28-30 to examine security efforts in the Caribbean. Hosted by the Dominican Republic just a short distance from the sea that bears the region’s name, this year’s gathering of the annual Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) included the participation of delegations and regional representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Colombia, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, the Netherlands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, as well as Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.


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