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#485276 - 02/06/14 04:13 AM Today's Belize News: February 6, 2014
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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

San Pedro Dance Academy host free dance show
On Saturday, February 1st, the San Pedro Dance Academy held a free dance concert at Central Park. The show was a repeat performance of The Tropical Nutcracker. The purpose of the program was to allow those who missed the original show, which was a paid show, held on December 15, 2013. The audience was delighted to the see the colorful costumes and the well-choreographed routines. Proud family members and friends applauded the dancers at the end of the show which was a combination of tropical songs and Christmas carols. The dancers were clearly in their element doing what they love.

The San Pedro Cancer Society raises awareness as part of World Cancer Day
The San Pedro Cancer Society (SPCS) conducted two activities to commemorate World Cancer Awareness Day. Their first activity was a food and pastry sale held on Saturday, February 1st. The second event was the Annual World Cancer Awareness Day Candle Walk on Tuesday February 4th. The food sale was held next to BOAZ Golf Cart Rentals, and was aimed to raise funds to assist patients battling cancer on the island. With the help of generous donors, the organization had a variety of cakes, cupcakes and pies to choose from, and even hot tamales on sale. The fundraiser was certainly a success, raising a grand total of $1,105.85.

Reading My Beautiful Belize in Jamaica!
A long overdue vacation to Jamaica was just what Santa ordered for our dear friend Andrea Polanco. Whilst in one of her favorite places, she visited the Bob Marley Museum with friend Lackeisha Ellis, who was introduced to My Beautiful Belize. The ladies had quite a bit of fun while immersing themselves in the wonderful world of the iconic Reggae master.

Ambergris Today

San Pedro AIDS Commission Releases 2013 Expense Report
The San Pedro AIDS Commission is one of the most active groups on the island and since its inception they have been working really hard to creating more awareness about HIV/AIDS on the island. The San Pedro Aids Commission would like to present the public its financial report from January to December 2013. Below is a detailed report about their expenditures which totaled to $8,020.73. The group is once again pleased to make public its most recent details on how they are spending the funds raised and distributing assistance to those in need. San Pedro Aids Commission Expenses as of January 1st to December 31st, 2013: *Donations to AIDS Patients - $4,499.83 - majority of the funds raised goes towards monetary donations for HIV positive patients. Stipends are delivered to these patients depending on their needs and specific cases.

San Pedro Shows Support at Cancer Walk 2014
It is not only during the annual San Pedro Cancer Walk that residents of Ambergris Caye show their support towards the non-profit organization. But it’s at the Walk that they come together on World Cancer Day, February 4, to show their solidarity to the community and share their common experiences with cancer. The San Pedro Cancer Society once again organized the Cancer Walk this year to show the community that there is a strong group of people who are assisting cancer patients, supporting families affected by cancer and spreading information about cancer and treatment for the disease.

Dorian’s Angels Try Wild Hibiscus Flowers at CG Esthetics
By Sofia Muńoz - Carole Goudreau of CG Esthetics is popularly known for her fine services offered at her beauty salon and Dorian’s Angels have been invited by Carole to get all dolled up on previous occasions. This time around Carole invited the Angels over to her salon, not to get pampered, but to try one of her newest products that she is offering her clients; and it is one that is becoming very popular. The product Carole is offering is not for your skin or hair; it’s a premier product that she offers to her customers for weddings or other events along with champagne – it’s Wild Hibiscus Flowers. What are Wild Hibiscus Flowers you might ask? Well it’s a sweet, delicious and unique garnish for food and cocktails.

Misc Belizean Sources

National Elite Basketball League (NEBL)
The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) opens its 2014 regular season with its first week of competition this weekend with two games on Friday February 7 and two games on Saturday February 8. The games are as follows; Friday Feb-7-2014 9:00pm @ Bird's Isle in Belize City Belize City (Smart) No Limit vs San Pedro Tiger Sharks 9:00pm @ UB Gymnasium in Belmopan City Belmopan Bandits vs Orange Walk Running Rebels Saturday Feb-8-2014 9:00pm @ Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal Town Corozal Heats vs Cayo Western Ballaz 9:00pm @ Y-Not Island in Dangriga Town Dangriga Warriors vs Toledo Diplomats An opening ceremony will be held @ Bird's Isle in Belize City before tip-off.

NICK OLMEDO passes away
THE BELMOPAN COMMUNITY MOURNS THE LOSS OF NICK OLMEDO, RENOWN FOR HIS HUMOR. To all whose lives he touched: You don't get over it, you just get through it. You don't get by it, because you can't get around it. It doesn't 'get better'; it just gets different. Everyday... Grief puts on a new face. Condolences to his family.

Weekend weather
Any idea what's expected for this weekend? I'm moving from Corozal to San Ignacio and hoping for no rain. Our present type of Caribbean Easterly winds, with influences from the North, such as cold fronts, South Tropical weather and the prevailing SW high level air stream, it can be hard to see that far ahead. But the indications I am seeing are that we are at last moving away from that long period of problematic rains.

3rd Annual Sailing Regatta
This weekend, come out and support the Corozal Bay Sailing Club (CBSC) as they compete with other Belizean youths in the 3rd Annual Sailing Regatta in front of Jam Rock this Saturday and Sunday. A great weekend to be out and having fun along the bay.

Dream for Belize Essays
The U.S. Embassy visited some Belmopan high schools, presented on MLK's 'I Have a Dream Speech,' and are doing a junior essay competition. Don't forget that the 'I Have a Dream for Belize' essay competition ends on the 9th. The winner gets a tablet, and has their essay published in the papers. "On Monday, the Embassy's Public Affairs Officer, met with students from two different local high schools in Belmopan to discuss the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s, 'I Have a Dream Speech.' The students will participate in a JUNIOR essay competition, much like the current essay competition we are offering to the Belizean public. Just a reminder that submissions are due on February 9th. That's just FOUR days away!!!"

Belize Tourism Board invites to meeting in Corozal
The Belize Tourism Industry Association cordially invites all stakeholders (tour operators, water taxi operators, hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi operators, airline operators, tour guides, industry developers, land developers) and everyone concerned to a meeting to be held on Monday February 10, 2014 at 4:00 P.M. at Tony’s Inn and Beach Resort to update industry stakeholders on current and future plans for the industry and the Northern Districts, including Corozal.

Lost macaw
I've lost Dino. He's a big red Scarlet macaw in Corozal. I lost him near the block factory on an Andeas road. If you see him, please call Gary: 6327190

Tropic Air introduces their new flight Merida – Belize
Starting on March 3rd, you will be able to get to Belize in less than 2 hours, since the Belizean company Tropic Air is now offering 3 weekly direct flights from Mérida, Yucatan to Belize, according to the Tourism Promotion Secretary. Tropic Air is the largest and most experienced airline in Belize. Since its opening flight 34 years ago, Tropic Air has always been a forerunner in the promotion of the tourism industry within Belize and flies to 15 destinations within the Central America country, two in Guatemala, Cancun in Mexico, and San Pedro Sula in Honduras. They also offer charters to more remote and exotic places throughout Belize.

Western Ballaz vs. Galen Exposition Game
The Western Ballaz just played an exposition game against the Galen Eagles at the Sacred Heart College auditorium. It was a great game, and the Ballaz had 19 unanswered points in the first half. Galen was able to rally in the second half, and they won 71-60. The Western Ballaz will travel to Corozal to play against the Corozal Heat on Saturday.

Monica Gallardo's Little Pink Photo Contest
It's Valentine season, and Monica Gallardo, one of Belize's best photographers, is having a photo competition to celebrate the occasion. The winner gets a free photo shoot. Just send her a picture of you in pink to enter. If you want to see some of her great shots, they have a wall dedicated to her at Fuego Bar and Grill. Good luck! "Oh yes we have reached the month were we can wear lots of pink and no one can say anything! And whether you’ll be spending a romantic evening with your boo or enjoying a drink and sharing some laughs with your girls, I've whipped up a little game it for all the ladies and brave gents! Send me a picture of your best looks in Pink and share the link! That's it! Send your pictures to: monicagallardo93@gmail.com or post on my FB page and on the 10th of February I will announce the winner. The best dressed will receive a Photo shoot Package! It can be used for family, couples or even photos with your best gals ;)"

Jan 26 - Feb 1 2014 Fishing Report
Our Orvis Flats seminar ended with a bang with the nice tarpon from Mike with Capt. Cesar. Thanks again to Orvis for sending such a great group of folks. We have new friends forever. Kim and Doreen deserve some praise for their permit prowess.

Channel 7

Hon. King’s Secret Recording Could Have Proved Pivotal At Today’s House Meeting
Today tension was high at the start of the House Meeting in Belmopan – and that's because of a major event that passed completely under the radar. Remember last night how we told you about the conversation with Minister of State Edmund Castro and businessman Kareem Berges that fellow Minister of State Mark King secretly recorded? Well we heard it was about questionable activity that would implicate Castro and King passed it on directly to the Prime Minister. But today we have information which says the conversation –secretly recorded after Castro had had a few drinks – was about Castro's loyalty to the PM and whether he would be attending today's house meeting. Why is that of any importance? Well, first, remember that the UDP government has a 17 – 14 majority in the house. And then factor in that Minister of Housing Michael Finnegan is out of the country getting back surgery – and he'll be out for a while. So he was not available for today's meeting. So that leaves the UDP side with 16 votes, but with Elvin Penner stripped of his house committee chairmanship and his vehicle last week, he can't necessarily be counted on for a vote – which brings it down to 15 – with Castro – which is a one person majority over the PUP's 14.

PM Going Through "Dark Night Of The Soul" With Misbehaving Ministers
And if that candor wasn't startling enough, the PM also spoke about the political difficulties within his own party. When asked whether he's spending time focussing on the opposition, or on internal problems in the UDP – the PM said it's the latter, and gave the clear impression that he's going through a kind of dark night of the soul: Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize "There are times when indeed I feel that my troubles are being caused more by the difficulties that the behaviour or the actions of some of my ministers, the difficulties, that sort of behaviour has resulted in. I am very worried indeed because I am absolutely convinced that the Government is doing a phenomenal job, with respect to the kind of public spending that I've told you about, with respect to the improvement in the quality of life, with respect to employment creation, with respect to the success against crime, with respect to being able to solve the huge issues of the day, ASR/BSI/BSCFA, the Superbond, matters that are extremely weighty and critical in terms of the national interests. And on that basis, I would have felt that notwithstanding the well-known difficulties of anybody trying to get a third term, and which would have to be present in any case. I would have felt that at this early juncture, we would have been able to feel pretty good about where we are, delivering goods and services, making sure that people can see tangible improvements. But, there is no doubt at all in my mind, that the scandals have threatened to swamp us, that they have threatened to cause us to come undone, and natural that is a source of great regret because to some extent, it is self-inflicted.

Teachers Will Get 4% Raise, Costing The Public Purse 28 Million
But it was like a tale of two polticial fortunes today. While the PM confessed grime foreboding about his party's political future, he also promised to hold all the UDP town councils in the next municipal election. And he also disclosed what the teacher's wouldn't say yesterday: how much their raise and that of public officers is working out to be: Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize "Based on the numbers that we're looking at, they're likely to get something like a 4% salary increase. They cannot get 10%, and you, Said, know better than anybody else, man. That would be irresponsible. Look, Mr. Speaker, it is not just that they're getting a something like a 4% increase, you know. You look and see what's happening around us. In Barbados, 3,000 public officers are being laid off, in Grenada, a 3-year wage freeze. Notwithstanding that, this Government, is giving teachers and public officers - the way it appears now; caution, the final calculations aren't in - something like 24 million dollars in salary increases. And remember, when we do that in July for this fiscal year, that's locked in forever. So whatever happens with the recurrent revenue next year and the year after, it doesn't matter. The 4% will continue forever and ever amen."

Compre Girls Suspended As Facebook Fight Goes Viral
Tonight, the public embarrassment is mounting for 2 female high school students from Belmopan Comprehensive following a fist fight that has gone viral on Facebook. The students, who we are reliably informed are normally friends, got into a disagreement which escalated into a fight. There was another student who had a camera phone recording the entire scene, and he caught the fight blow by blow – even as a teacher tried in vain to break it up. That video ended up on Facebook, and by the end of the day, it had hundreds of views. It has caused considerable embarrassment for the girls, and for their school. Today, the Principal declined comment saying they are investigating. The girls have been suspended for two weeks pending the outcome of the investigation.

House Of Representatives Turns Into Madhouse As Orange Walk Representatives Run Amok
And it almost came to blows today in the House of Representatives. Debate turned to diatribe today when Orange Walk south Representative Jose Mai spoke on the adjournment about corruption in the Ministry of Natural Resources. Mai cited specific cases and urged that something be done about – and that started a string of recriminations: Hon. Jose Mai - Area Representative, Orange Walk South "But this cannot continue. Corruption then, and corruption now is now different. Corruption at a galloping pace, or at a trotting pace is corruption. Sin is sin. If you don't believe me, ask Denny Grijalva. Sin is sin." Hon. Gaspar Vega - Minister of Natural Resources/Area. Representative, Orange Walk North "Mr. Speaker, who is the Representative from Orange Walk South to talk. Let me tell you, yes." Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Speaker of the House "Members, members, why are you all embarrassing yourselves." Hon. Gaspar Vega "You are the one who was caught red handed contrabanding beers. You are the one who your own party members were upset." Hon. Michael Peyrefitte "Members! Please sit down. Why are you doing this to yourselves? This is the last person to speak for the day and this is what you do? Come on, man. I am talking to two of them. When we behave like this, this is what we inspire."

Castro Defends Himself
That happened almost at the very end of the House Meeting. Before that, PUP Representative from Toledo West Oscar Requena made a statement alleging that his colleague Edmund Castro had violated the provisions of the prevention of corruption in public life law. He said it is actionable by the DPP – and that Castro had committed a crime: Hon. Oscar Requena - Area Representative, Toledo West "The member has broken the law. Mr. Speaker, this is not simply wrong or merely distasteful, as the Prime Minister has characterized it. It is absolutely corrupt and illegal." Hon. Edmond Castro - Area Representative, Belize Rural North "I've been accused of corruption. The accusation is coming from the Opposition, the Media, the Unions and other members in the public. The allegation is not that the Board of Directors of Belize Airport Authority wrote a number of cheques in my name or on my behalf. The Belize Airport Authority was under my portfolio. It is those circumstances which, according to my critics, constitute corruption. I readily accept and admit that BAA wrote a cheque to help me to defray some of the expenses associated with the death and burial of my mother. This is no corruption, Mr. Speaker.

PUP Suggests, UDP Agrees, To Re-visit Draconian Gun Laws
But it wasn't all bickering in the House today – there were a few things both sides could agree on. One of them was that the severe gun laws need to be revisited. The issue is in sharp focus presently because of the Gino Peck case and the Reynaldo Verde situation. The Leader of the Opposition urged the government to do something about it, and government appears ready to listen: Hon. Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition "I am no fan of guns, Mr. Speaker, but it is clear that the laws as they presently stand, are leading to injustice and inequity. And I think that we in this Honourable House have a duty and an obligation to review when the citizens of the country are concerned and we these matters playing out nationally. We have a duty to pause and say, 'Let us review the legislation, and if necessary, let us revise it to take account of these concerns of the Belizean people.'" Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security/Area Representative, Belmopan "My government will be looking very carefully having now gotten the reprieve from the crime situation. We will be looking more carefully to see how we can revise the firearm and other related law to make them fairer, as you would say, and review them with a view to satisfying the clamours of the Belizean citizenry with respect to these laws. Only yesterday, and again today, I met with the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as the Solicitor General, and we have begun a review of these pertinent laws with a view - like I said - to find some fair and less draconian laws. We are indeed looking at the jurisdiction of the Magistrate with respect to this current law, and looking at perhaps returning to the Magistrate the jurisdiction of deciding on bail matters."

Bi-partisan Agreement On Banking Laws, Both Sides Agree To Comply While Complaining
But it wasn't all bickering in the House today – there were a few things both sides could agree on. One of them was that the severe gun laws need to be revisited. The issue is in sharp focus presently because of the Gino Peck case and the Reynaldo Verde situation. The Leader of the Opposition urged the government to do something about it, and government appears ready to listen: Hon. Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition "I am no fan of guns, Mr. Speaker, but it is clear that the laws as they presently stand, are leading to injustice and inequity. And I think that we in this Honourable House have a duty and an obligation to review when the citizens of the country are concerned and we these matters playing out nationally. We have a duty to pause and say, 'Let us review the legislation, and if necessary, let us revise it to take account of these concerns of the Belizean people.'" Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security/Area Representative, Belmopan "My government will be looking very carefully having now gotten the reprieve from the crime situation. We will be looking more carefully to see how we can revise the firearm and other related law to make them fairer, as you would say, and review them with a view to satisfying the clamours of the Belizean citizenry with respect to these laws. Only yesterday, and again today, I met with the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as the Solicitor General, and we have begun a review of these pertinent laws with a view - like I said - to find some fair and less draconian laws. We are indeed looking at the jurisdiction of the Magistrate with respect to this current law, and looking at perhaps returning to the Magistrate the jurisdiction of deciding on bail matters."

$10k Fine For Trafficking
29 year-old Donald Gaskin, a resident of Kraal Road is out tonight and he must come up with $10,000 for a drug trafficking fine, or else he will serve 3 years in prison. Viewers may remember that the police were on mobile patrol on April 5, 2013, when they saw him coming out of a yard on Faber’s Road with a knapsack in his hand acting suspiciously. When Gaskin saw them he went into a nearby Chinese grocery shop and tried to push the knapsack through the bars of the Chinese Shop. The shopkeeper saw what he was doing, and so, she shoved it back at him, and that’s when the police detained him. When they searched it, they found 433 grams – or just under a pound – of cannabis on him, so they charged him with drug trafficking. The officers testified to this, and after the trial concluded, Magistrate Dale Cayetano found him guilty of the offence. Gaskin was sentenced to pay $10,000 by May 30, and if he defaults he will serve 3 years in prison."¨

Belmopan Police Search For Escaped Prisoner
Tonight, Belmopan Police continue their third night of searching for the escaped prisoner, 29 year-old Edwin Paula, who escaped on Monday evening while in transit from the Belize Central Prison to the Belmopan Police Station. 7News has confirmed that Paula and the 3 other men he was jointly charged with were being transported to Belmopan where they would be held in custody to be taken to court for their adjourned hearing. At this time, it is unclear how he managed it, but when the police van he was in slowed down at a bump in Cotton Tree, he jumped out and ran off. Police immediately set chase, but he managed to escape. At this time, the manhunt continues. Paula was jointly charged with 19 year old Manuel Hernandez, 18 year old Rudy Santos and Rasheed Crespo with 3 counts of Robbery and 1 count of Murder, for the shooting death of Salvadoran Isabel Antonio Ballona. They were also charged with 9 counts of aggravated burglary for the brazen armed robbery of students at the UB Dormitory last year. The other 3 defendants were taken to court yesterday, and their case was adjourned to a further date.

UB's PR Man Resigns
UB President Dr. Cary Frazer is on the way out, and now the Director of Office of Public Information, Selwyn King is also leaving the University. 7News confirmed with King before news time that he has indeed tendered his resignation to the University, and he is going to remain in office until the end of the month to provide enough time for the university to find a suitable replacement. And while rumours are circulating around as to why he has suddenly made the decision, he told us that he is grateful for the opportunity to have served the university from since 2010 until now. He said that he has entered another chapter in his life.

High Speed Gang Chase On Canal Side
There was a high-speed chase this afternoon on East Collet Canal – which neighbours said involved a red jeep of George Street boys and a white car allegedly driven by a relative of a municipal politician. From what we understand, the incident happened just before 2 this afternoon. Eyewitnesses say they saw both vehicles reversing at high speed on East Colet Canal. Luckily for the man being pursued, the red jeep lost control and crashed into a nearby fruit stand- giving him enough time to escape on South Street. A gunman was seen running away from the red jeep. No one was injured in the incident.

Fired At A Cop, Goes To Jail
29 year-old Alrick Smith is spending his second night of a 6 month jail sentence after he was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm on Police Constable Norman Anthony for opening fire on the officer while trying to escape. Anthony testified in the case that on May 11, 2011, Smith was accused of stealing cattle in Bermudian Landing. He received information that a van matching the description of vehicle used a cattle heist was located in the May Pen village, and he responded accordingly. He said that when he got there, he saw Smith in the vehicle after a police chase, and he managed to corner him. Anthony says that when Smith realized that he couldn't escape, he pulled a firearm and fired a shot at him. When Anthony took cover, Smith escaped, but he was later captured and charged.

Two More Years For Denfield
35 year-old Denfield Lemott, who is serving 5 years in prison for burglary had 2 more years added on to his jail time after he was convicted of a second burglary where he broke into a nurse's office at the Cleopatra White Health Center. Pauline Griffith testified in the trial before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith that on January 13, 2013, she left her office for a few minutes and when she returned she found Lemott in the office area by himself. When she questioned him, he said that he was waiting there, and she told him to leave, she saw her wallet, which contained $100 in cash in his back pocket. Lemott was detained by a security guard who was alerted, and when the wallet was taken away from him, she confirmed that it belonged to her. Lemoth was then charged with theft.

DPP's Full Take On How Gino Got Free
As we showed you in our last segment, the gun law came up in the House of Representatives, and there appears to be bi partisan consensus to move forward with reform. But, the Leader of the Opposition confessed that he doesn't know how Gino Peck's mandatory Prison sentence became a 600 dollar fine. The Prime Minister's body language when he said that seemed to suggest that he felt the same way. Well, for clarification, we go back to Monday's statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal. Here now are her exact comments from Monday, unedited to properly reflect her position. She said quote, "I also want to take this opportunity to address the issue of Section 54 of the Summary Jurisdiction (Procedure) Act which was invoked by the defence in Peck's sentencing hearing on Friday, as I have been asked about it by all and sundry today; I heard Senior Counsel's interview in which he mentioned that I had drawn it to his attention and I also heard it being characterized as a "surrender".

Full Integrity Will Be Appointed Tomorrow
The long delayed Integrity Commission will be properly appointed tomorrow by the Senate. It is comprised of chairman Marilyn Williams, accountant Breth Feinstein, Armeid Gabourel, Wilmot Simmons and opposition appointees who are both lawyers Phillip Zuniga and Kevin Arthurs.

Changing For Climate Change
Today, representatives of Government of Belize hosted a consultation workshop with the United Nations Development Program, the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance, and the Global Environment Facility on an assessment of the country's vulnerability to climate change. They're assessing the country's resilience to the effects on the agriculture, tourism, water, coastal development health, and fisheries sectors. Minister Lisel Alamilla was opening speaker at the workshop, and here's an excerpt of her comments to the local and international climate change and environmental experts present:

Giving the Gift Of Life
The Gift of Life programme for medical assistance to children across the country has been in existence since 1977, and the international doctors have since assessed over 1,000 Belizean children. An American Paediatric Cardiologist has been in Belize since Monday, and he managed to provide urgent medical attention to 2 very sick children. We caught up with him at the KHMH today assisting needy parents to see if their children are sick, and he told us more:

UDP Constanza Resigns After Convention Loss
At the very top of the newscast, you heard the Prime Minister's candid comments on the worrying state of his party. Part of his answer was in response to a question about the state of his party after the convention season has started. The UDP has had large turnouts at their conventions but managing the aftermath has proven difficult. That's especially true in Orange Walk East where Elodio Aragon beat David Constanza. He has posted a statement on FACEBOOK saying that he is resigning from the party. The statement says, "I ran under the UDP, not because I approved of the party but because I knew it needed change."ť After that, he says, "On Sunday, I did not go up against a candidate but against an institution many, many times more powerful than what I stood for. It is because of what I represent and because of the injustice and corruption that my supporters witnessed on Sunday that I would like to state publicly that I have, since Monday, resigned from the United Democratic Party. To all my supporters: we could not accomplish the change that we sought but at least we gave it a good try."ť Today, before we had seen that Facebook post, the Prime Minister alluded to the ill wind blowing from Orange Walk East.

#485277 - 02/06/14 04:14 AM Re: Today's Belize News: February 6, 2014 [Re: Marty]
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More News: Scroll up from here

Channel 5

Prime Minister gets candid on corruption in his administration
The House of Representatives had a full agenda for its special sitting today. It is the second sitting since the start of the new year convened primarily to avoid blacklisting [...]

Barrow says scandals can topple his government
In recent months, the Elvin Penner passport scandal followed by the visa hustle, the Castro Airports Authority cheques and the “hotbed of corruption” in the land departments, among others, have [...]

Castro gives lengthy explanation on BAA cheques scandal
While the Prime Minister was short on details outside the House, Minister of State Edmond Castro was long on prose as he rose for the first time since the BAA [...]

PM says there is a recording involving Castro made by Minister King
All sittings are generally ‘special’ in nature, and this one was no exception. It offered a little good, some bad and more than the usual ugly. There’s a whole lot [...]

U.D.P. Conventions: David Constanza resigns from the party after Sunday’s convention
The United Democratic Party is in the middle of conventions to select what they refer to as caretakers in the fourteen constituencies where that party does not have an area [...]

The fiery exchanges inside the House between Orange Walk members
There’s a lot of hard news out of the House of Representatives, but there was also a prolonged exchange, which has become a trademark of every sitting. That was provided [...]

The members of the integrity commission
Last Tuesday, former FIU director Marilyn Williams was appointed as the new chair of the Integrity Commission, after approximately four years of the agency being defunct.  The Prime Minister told [...]

4% – the salary adjustments for teachers
Throughout the month of January, the unions took to the streets calling for an end to corruption and salary adjustments. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Barrow announced that based on [...]

Firearm Act to be revisited
While the issues outside the House after the proceedings took center stage, there were several important matters raised inside the House. Premier among those has to be the Firearms Act, [...]

Bill passed to address threat by Caribbean Financial Action Task Force
Seven bills were passed today in the house. But the real purpose of today’s House Sitting had to do with a threat by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.  In [...]

Very disturbing cases of sexual assault involving minors
There are two very disturbing cases of sexual assault involving minors to report on tonight. The first reportedly happened in Bullet Tree Falls, Cayo, on Tuesday evening where the mother [...]

Principal Public Health Inspector says PG Hospital followed proper procedures
On Tuesday, we reported on a garbage situation at the Punta Gorda Hospital involving the accumulation of medical waste inside the storage facility.  The incinerator which is used to consume [...]

The Gift of Life; Rotary’s program for children chronic heart problems
The Rotary Club of Belize’s annual Gift of Life Program is underway at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Since Monday, the visiting doctors have been attending to a growing number [...]

“Every Rose has Thorns,” the annual fundraiser for Rotary
To help raise the much needed funds to keep the Gift of Life Program alive, the Belize Rotary Club is putting off its annual production…a play entitled Every Rose has [...]


Minister Castro Defines Corruption and Says It Would Have to Be Proven That He is Guilty of Such
Belize Rural North area representative Edmund Castro has finally responded to the allegations of corruption. As has been reported there have been numerous questions following the revelation that a number of cheques issued by the Belize Airports Authority were issued to the area representative or people within his inner circle. HON. EDMOND CASTRO “Mr. Speaker, I have been accused of corruption; the accusations are coming from the unions, the opposition, the media and other members in the public. The allegation is not that the Board of Directors of Belize Airport Authority wrote a number of cheques in my name or on my behalf. The BAA was under my portfolio; it is those circumstances which according to my critics constitute corruption. Well, Mr. Speaker, before I answer my critics, I went to the dictionary to find out the real meaning of corruption. Corruption as defined in my dictionary as follows: (a) impairment of integrity, inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means as bribery or departure from the origin or from what is pursued to be correct. Based upon that definition it would have to be proven that I have done something wrong or immoral or to be guilty of corruption but the only thing that is being said is that the Board of Directors of BAA has issued a number of cheques in my name or on my behalf or to persons associated to me. There is no suggestion that the Board did not have the lawful authority to issue cheques nor is there any suggestion or evidence that I had any influence over the board by any improper means to issue cheques. There is no suggestion that I had forced the Board to issue cheques or that I had extorted cheques from the BAA’s office or the Board.”

Opposition Supports Stake Bank Project
The Opposition also expressed its support for the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “We wish to offer our support for this project and in arriving at that offer of support; we looked at essentially four criteria: (1) is this project good for the economy of Belize? We believe so that it will be good for Belize; we thing that it will be critically important to the future of the cruise tourism industry which is obviously directly related to the economic development of Belize (2) have all the environmental clearances been met? Have all the technical people signed off on the project and given their approval on the environmental side? My understanding is that has been done and finally, the developer, Mr. Feinstein and stake bank team are Belizeans who, I think, have a consistent history of investing in Belize and putting their money back in the country and so, in offering our support, we looked at that criteria and we simply want to place that on the record.”

Police Seeks Uncle For Rape of Minor
Police are on the lookout for a man of the Stann Creek District following the rape of a minor. The 8-year-old victim, in the company of her aunt went to the police station and reported that on Saturday, February 1 at around 5pm, she visited her aunt’s home in Bella Vista Village in the Stann Creek District to get some food but when she got inside the house, her uncle came and began kissing her and had sexual intercourse with her against her will. A medical examination was conducted on the child and it was certified that she has been carnally known. Up to news time, the uncle remains on the run.

Minor Sexually Assaults Toddler
A minor of Bullet Tree Falls Village in the Cayo District is in police custody following the sexual assault of a three year old girl. Investigators report that on Tuesday, February 5, the little girl’s mother, a Guatemalan national, went to the San Ignacio Police Station and told them that on February 4 at around 5pm, a young boy who lives next door came over to her house to visit. She says that while she was in the room to get some clothes, her 3-year-old daughter came walking towards her and she noticed that the child was not wearing her underwear and was bleeding. The little girl told her mother that the young boy assaulted her with his finger. A medical officer has certified that the child was assaulted. Investigations continue.

Caye Chapel Goes Back on The Market
In August 2013 news surfaced that a conditional agreement was signed between the BCB Holdings and Yumi Limited for the sale of Caye Chapel Resort Island, located just twelve miles from Belize City. The agreement was for thirty million US dollars but recent reports gotten from a London-based news agency are that the deal with Yumi Limited, a British Virgin Islands company fell through and so, the 265-acre property is back on the market. According to the report, while BCB Holdings issued a statement confirming the drop-through of the deal, no reason was given but the company did say that they are engaging with potential buyers for the resort island. The Caye Chapel Resort Island which boasts a private airstrip, golf course, marina and five beach front luxury estates is currently the property of BCB Holdings, the parent company of financial institutions operating in Belize and owned by Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Government and Opposition Agree on Issues Regarding Caribbean Action Task Force
Today’s House of Representatives meeting saw the government side and the Opposition side agree on a number of issues as Belize tries to comply with the Caribbean Action Task Force. On November 20, 2013 the CATF identified Belize and Guyana as countries in the Caribbean region that fell short in the fight against money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regimes. Prime Minister Dean Barrow said the group will be meeting in Paris on Monday and it was imperative that everything be in place to ensure that the country does not get blacklisted. In rising to support the bills, Opposition leader Francis Fonseca said the passage of the bills can lead to the undermining of the offshore banking sector. RT. HON. DEAN BARROW “This is the first of the raft of bills that we are seeking to pass today in order to register our full compliance with the requirements of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Action Task Force. This one is fairly straight forward, Mr. Speaker, they are trying to ensure that there is no concealment of beneficial owners of registered companies since they see concealment or non-disclosure of ownership as a possible device of hanky-panky, for hp.”

Kraal Road Resident Fined 10K for Drug Trafficking
Twenty-nine year old Donald Gaskin, a resident of Kraal Road charged with drug trafficking for 433 grams of cannabis, changed his plea from not guilty to guilty when he appeared today before Magistrate Dale Cayetano. Gaskin asked for leniency and Magistrate Cayetano did not give him a custodial sentence. He fined Gaskin $10,000 and gave him until May 30 to pay. If Gaskin defaults on payment he will serve 3 years. Gaskin was busted around 11:20 a.m. on April 5, 2013. The police were on mobile patrol on Faber’s Road when they saw Gaskin coming out of a yard with a knapsack in his hand. When Gaskin saw the police he went to a Chinese shop nearby and pushed the knapsack through one of the bars of the shop. The shopkeeper, however, pushed back the knapsack and when the police retrieved it and opened it they found the cannabis inside. As a result, Gaskin was arrested and charged.

US Military Personnel Deployed to Belize for New Horizons 2014
Deployed military personnel from the United States have begun arriving in Belize for year-2 of the New Horizons initiative. This initiative of the US Southern Command gears at enhancing the skills and readiness of its military members through the humanitarian assistance activities. In 2013, the US personnel, during their stay in Belize had constructed community centres, medical clinics and schools around the country. The Belize Defense Force is currently working with the participants of New Horizons 2014 preparing medical and construction sites as construction equipment and materials as well as the remainder of this year’s team are expected to arrive in Belize next month. As part of this initiative, teams of American, Canadian and Belizean medical doctors and specialists will be providing medical treatments to the local population while civil engineers will construct a ward at the hospital in Belmopan. In addition, three schools will be built in Belize City as well as one in Hattieville Village in the Belize District. The US Southern Command has been partnering with Belize’s military over the last twenty years. The New Horizons headquarters is based at Price Barracks in Ladyville Village, Belize District.

UB’s PR Officer Says It Is Time To Move On
Last night we gave you the latest update on the status of Dr. Carey Fraser and his resignation as the President of the University of Belize. We understand that Dr. Fraser is still on leave and Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, said yesterday that Dr. Wilma Wright is the Acting President. Faber told us that he does not micro manage the university and any other questions must be forwarded to the Office of the Prime Minister. But the latest news coming out of the University tonight is that Public Relations Officer for the University, Selwyn King, has handed in his letter of resignation. We were made aware of this yesterday but it was not until this morning that King confirmed this piece of information to us. King handed his resignation a couple of days ago and told us that quote, “It’s time to move on; move on to another chapter of my life,” end of quote. King did not provide reason for his resignation.

Hattieville Resident Slapped with Three Charges After Assaulting Spouse
Robert Mejia, a resident of Hattieville who allegedly assaulted his common-law wife, was charged with 3 offences when he appeared today before the Chief magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. The charges were aggravated assault, wounding and using threatening words. Mejia pled not guilty to the charges and he was released on a bail of $500. He is to return to court on April 3. The incident occurred on December 13, 2013. The complainant, Rhondine Gillett, reported to police that Mejia attacked her with a knife and caused a wound to her. She also said that Mejia threatened her.

Separate Finds of Cannabis Reported
Members of the San Ignacio Quick Response, Team Two rid the town of three hundred and forty two grams of suspected cannabis during a search conducted on Tuesday, February 4 at around 9:30pm. According to police the team visited an open lot on Blue Bird Street in that municipality and during the search they came across a black plastic bag hidden under a pile of dried grass. At the time of the find, no one was in the area; therefore the drug was labeled and deposited as found property. Joint operations conducted between members of the Mobile Interdiction Team (MIT) and the K9 units have resulted in the discovery of one thousand four hundred and eighty four grams of suspected cannabis. Reports indicate that the team was doing searches in the Alta Vista Village in the Stann Creek District when they came across a black garbage bag containing the drug in an abandoned lot. The drug was labeled as found property as no one was found in the area at the time of the search.

Minister of National Security Says Gun Laws Will Be Revised
Speaking on the adjournment Opposition leader Francis Fonseca spoke of the need for the review and revisions of the firearm act. He went on to list cases of what he termed “honest, hardworking Belizeans” which the gun law has pulled into the criminal system. In response Minister of National Security John Saldivar said it is important to recall the environment in which the amendments came into being, he said they are looking carefully to see how the laws can be revised to make them fairer. HON. JOHN SALDIVAR “Having now gotten the reprieve from the crime situation, we will be looking more carefully to see how we can revise the firearm and other related law to make them more fair, as you would say, and review them with a view to satisfying the clamors of the Belizean citizenry in respect to these laws. We respect the draconian nature of these laws but we respectfully submit that they have been most instrumental in assisting the police in its fight against crime. Only yesterday and again today, I met with the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the Solicitor General and we have begun a review of these pertinent laws with a view, like I said, to find some more fair and less draconian laws that will not restrict or reduce the ability of the police to deal with criminals but certainly, with respect with the wide net that has been cast by these laws.


Prime Minister: Possible 4% increase is Quite Generous
The Prime Minister also gave an update on the salary negotiations for public servants and teachers. Last week Thursday, the PM met with 7 Union Leader from the Belize National Teacher’s Union, the Public Service Union and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers. The purpose of the meeting...

Minor Under Police Custody for Sexually Assaulting a Three Year old
A minor is today in police custody for sexually assaulting a three year old. A Guatemalan mother living in Bullet Tree Falls Village, Cayo District visited the police station on Tuesday, February 2nd. According to the mother, while at home, she was visited by a male minor who is...

Church Burglarized and Vandalized
A church was burglarized and vandalized. Between the hours of 9:00 pm on Monday, February 1st and 5:15 a.m. on Tuesday, February 2nd, someone entered the San Jose Catholic Church and stole American Brand Speakers that were valued at two hundred dollars Belize ($200). However, the burglar did not...

Minister Castro Makes Public Plea, says He’s Just a Poor Man
The Area Representatives met at the House today, and as always, we bring you highlights of the day’s event. To start it all off, Hon. Elvin Penner did not show up at today’s House meeting. However, his colleague the Hon. Edmund Castro, who was missing at the last House...

Mark King Records Private Conversation With Castro
Minister’s Castro’s woes don’t end in the House today. Thanks to his UDP colleague the (KING PIC) Hon. Mark King, a recording of Castro having a candid conversation, allegedly on corruption involving Castro, has found its way into the hands of the Prime Minister. The conversation, it is reported,...

Government Pledges to Revisit Gun Laws
For the past few weeks, various sectors of the public have been lobbying for Government to modify the Firearms Amendment Act of 2008. It is argued that provisions within the legislation, allow for the criminalizing of law-abiding and blameless citizens. The civic outcry surrounding this matter has been enormous,...

P.M. Barrow Says He’s Distraught By Government Scandals
The United Democratic Party has entered its third year in office, since the last General Elections in March of 2012. There is no disputing that the Barrow Administration has made significant strides in the governing of the country. But with high points, has also comes lows. The Government has...

Oil Exploration in Residential Area of Belmopan
Plus News has learned that rights have been granted for BCH International Belize to conduct oil and gas exploration on a parcel of land in Belmopan. The exploratory Seismic Program will be carried out at a lot on Brown Street. BCH International Belize has contracted Discoveries Geophysical Services Ltd....

Man Charged Over Faked Job Letter
A Belize City resident who tried to deceive Immigration authorities while helping a friend finds himself somewhat lighter in the pocket as a result. 24 year old Dyron Galvez was charged today in the Magistrate’s court with assisting a person to use a false document. On December 3, 2013,...

Suspected Human Trafficker to Go Home
On Tuesday we told you that 40 year old Blanca Garay Rodriguez from Honduras had been nabbed in Belize and jailed for failing to comply with the conditions of her visitor’s permit. Tonight, we understand that Ms. Rodriguez, named by INTERPOL and Honduran authorities as suspected to be involved in...

Alleged Rapist of Minor, Wanted by the Belizean Law Enforcement
A three year old girl wasn’t the only one to get sexually assaulted in the last three days. An 8 year old minor from Bella Vista Village, Stann Creek District accompanied by her aunt, reported that on Saturday February 1st at around 5:00 p.m. she visited her aunt’s home...

Why Hon. Julius Espat of PAC Seems Silent for Now?
Little has been heard of Julius Espat concerning the Public Accounts Committee. PAC is a body that had been relatively stagnant for some time before Espat, the chairman of the Belize Public Accounts Committee (PAC), lobbied for changes within the system that would see more oversight of the social...

Seven Bills Passed In The House
While Hon. Julius Espat is out of the country on important matters, we bring you back to the House, where a total of seven bills were passed. The bills that were passed on the house today are the “Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill”, the “Widow’s and Children’s...

Minister Alamilla Issues Findings on Climate Change
Belizeans must be wondering where all our recent weather extremes – hot sun, heavy rain, biting cold – are coming from. The National Meteorological Service says last year’s rainy season, particularly November, was the wettest on record, but is there more to come? Back in September we told you...


Kelly McGuire Packs Fido’s: SUPER Fun Crowd Dances & Sings for Three Hours
I’ve written about Texas artist, Kelly McGuire a few times in my blog. He is now visiting San Pedro 2 – 3 times a year and February is his biggest set of shows. 1. Because it’s one of the busiest months on the island. Just look at the crowd that he drew last night… And 2. because it’s his BIRTHDAY and he always does a big birthday bash on Ambergris Caye. I arrived early for the 6pm show. A good 15 minutes early (which in Belize is like arriving the day before) and saw Kelly unloading his equipment from a taxi. This guy needs roadies! I caught up with Kelly and Brian, the General Manager of Fido’s, while they were setting up.

Do you know of Belize Consumer Price Index

Job Vacancy for Sustainable Energy Project Officer (SEPO)
Kindly click on the link to view the available post for a Sustainable Energy Project Officer (SEPO) for the CARICOM-GIZ Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) Project based at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.

“More, More, More” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Well, it’s been a while since the last edition so (once again) there’s some catching up to do for those of you that find this blog either interesting, informative, amusing, irritating (I could go on but will not for fear of adding ‘boring’ to the list!). Or just have some time to fill-up. So, where do I start. Well on Sunday I enjoyed a relatively easy, ‘don’t do too much’, type of day. For a start I got up later than usual, not rousing from the bed until around 06.15 hours. I then enjoyed my quality ‘ me time’ on the veranda. I don’t have to think about what I have to do. I’m on auto-pilot. Mug of coffee ((for new or erstwhile readers the coffee is instant (I don’t profess to have ‘taste’ where coffee is concerned), black with no sugar)) and the iPad and straight to the veranda. The one on the first floor on the western (lagoon facing) side of the house.

International Sources

Dark Side of International Retirement
You have probably seen the ads with the alluring promises – live in luxury on your Social Security income, kick back while a maid and gardener toil away for just a few dollars a week, enjoy great food and fresh fruit, and experience wonderful medical care complete with inexpensive house calls. While all that might be true in some instances, there is a darker side of international retirement that the ads aren’t going to tell you about. This article will show you the other side of the coin, so you can make a more educated decision. International Retirement Is Great for Some Folks For some people an international retirement is a terrific idea. These are the folks who spent time abroad in the Peace Corps, armed services, or live for the thrill of international travel. They know what to expect – and what they aren’t going to get – when they retire abroad. Most of these people are going to be very happy living abroad after their working days, and they will usually live much better than they would have in the U.S. or northern Europe. We celebrate their choices and wish them well.

Modest Growth in Euro Tourism to Central America
CENTRAL AMERICA SEES ONLY MODEST GROWTH IN EUROPEAN TRAVELERS IN 2013; SURPRISINGLY BRITS DON'T FLOCK TO ENGLISH-SPEAKING BELIZE About 648,000 Europeans visited Central America from January through September 2013, according to data from the Central America Tourism Agency as reported by a UK magazine, Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings.That was a modest increase of 1% from the same period a year earlier. Travelers from Spain were the #1 source of European visitors, followed by Germany, the U.K., France and Italy. Costa Rica was the first choice of Euro travelers in Central America, with Panama seeing the greatest growth (14%) in European visitors. Europeans made up about 7% of all 9.4 million international visitors to Central America during the nine-month period in 2013. Even though Belize is the only country in Central America with English as the official language, it was next to last in the number of visitors from the U.K. British travelers chose Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama as their top destinations. Costa Rica had about 28,000 U.K. visitors. In Central America, only El Salvador got fewer British visitors than Belize, about 1,700 versus around 7,000 Brits coming to Belize.

Alloway resident visits Belize, brings home special message
An Alloway resident and Salem Community College student recently adventured in Belize, in Central America, to give to those in need. Jessie S. Keen will graduate in May with an associate’s degree in health science. Keen was sponsored by her church and led by Jack and Sue Fosbenner of Ranch Hope as she traveled to Belize in November. “I look at life in a completely different way and appreciate the little things more often. As we were delivering food boxes, we went to many different homes with poor living conditions,” Keen said. Keen was one of 21 members to spend eight days in Belize City, the country’s largest city with a population of 70,000. More than 600 children and teens were reached out to during the trip. Keen said that she hopes to return to Belize this next November to continue helping residents. “I feel as if it’s my home away from home,” Keen said.

Get me a Belikin
My wife and I are just back from exotic Belize, where, in the heavy rain, at a jungle wildlife sanctuary, we saw wild howler monkeys, close enough to touch, if you want to get bit. There would be a lot less crowding among us humans, I think, if we bit like howler monkeys do. The monkeys were unperturbed by the rain. Their long, black fur sheds water like the roof of thatched palm leaves over a palapa. If you have water repellent fur, you don't need a palapa. I had hoped the monkeys would fling feces at us, something I had heard about and wanted to see, but alas, there was none of that. Neither was there any of the masturbation for which monkeys are well known. There were one or two instances of urination from on high, but it was more casual than malicious, and quickly rinsed away by the rain. We also did some diving in Belize, where the coral reefs are teeming with exotic undersea life. Among other things we saw dolphins, sharks, stingrays galore and a cranky moray eel that, if it could speak, would have said, "Hey, you kids! Get off of my lawn!" What I want tell you about today, however, are the resident pelicans of Belize. You have to be careful talking about pelicans down there because "pelican" sounds a lot like "Belikin," the excellent local beer. If you are in a bar, say, and you mention pelicans, you are likely to get another round, especially if your speech already is a little slurred.

Help! My Spouse Doesn't Want To Retire Overseas
A spouse who's not in favor of discovering what life might be like somewhere else can be a deal-breaker for the idea altogether. You can't very well pack your better half's suitcase for him (or her), take him by the hand, and lead him out the door (as we did with our then 8-year-old daughter when she made it clear, on the eve of our planned departure for Ireland years ago, that she was not on board with the whole moving-to-a-new-country thing). No, a significant other who insists he wants to stay put is a way bigger challenge than a child who's opposed to a move. Years ago, walking down the street in Paris, a colleague remarked, out of the blue, "You and your husband sure are lucky. You both seem to have the same ideas about how you want to live and where you want to spend your time.

Cave Tubing in Belize for Cruisers: Tips, Tours, and Charlie’s Cave Tubing Review
Cave tubing tours popular attraction in Belize, particularly among cruisers, but not all cave tube tours are created equal. Here’s a guide to what you need, what you need to know, and who you need to choose as your cave tubing guide. The Basics: Wait, I Need a Tour? The tubing caves are owned by the National Park and cannot be accessed without a licensed guide. In other words, you must book some kind of tour and can’t go it on your own. Tours can be booked through the cruise line, with a local company, or on an independent basis. Be aware that not all tour companies offer the same type of tour or level of service with their tour. Be sure to do your homework and know what you want to make the experience memorable. Tours are weather dependent and can be closed if the water in the cave is too high. Be sure to check with your tour company to ensure that you have other options if the cave is closed, particularly in the rainy season (June-November). All tours begin by crossing the river at a low point and ascending into the jungle. From that point it is slightly less than a one mile hike to mouth of the cave where you will put in and use the current to propel you through the cave. It is not an overly strenuous activity, but there are stairs and some stamina involved.

#485278 - 02/06/14 05:23 AM Re: Today's Belize News: February 6, 2014 [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy


SIB's Report On Unemployment And Inflation Discussed At The House
It was only a few days ago that we reported on the Statistical Institute of Belize’s report on unemployment. In today’s sitting of the House of Representative, Orange Walk Central Area representative John Briceno addressed those statistics. Briceno mentioned that the information gathered may not have been very consistent. According to Briceno, during the survey conducted by the Statistical Institute of Belize, once a person is working even if for only an hour they were recorded as being employed. Briceno adds that this process makes the report far from accurate. John Briceno – Orange Walk Central Area Representative “Underemployment continues to rise because we have a weak economy, a dismal economy Mr. Speaker, actually it was reported that the economy in the past nine months of last year only grew 0.4% which is nowhere close to the 2.5% of GDP growth that was projected in the budget debate last year and certainly it is a far cry from the 5% growth that the UDP government promised the Belizean people, but it would rather interesting to know the underemployment rate Mr. Speaker or may perhaps we are ashamed to know that we are a par time nation or seasonal nation that we only work during when the crop is on or worst yet a catch and kill nation Mr. speaker, so how can we say that there is lower unemployment when the economy is not expanding, a meagre 0.4% expansion of the economy cannot give you a 2% decline of unemployment, the number certainly does not add up. While the government maybe blotting that the unemployment wen down last year it is still a lot worse than when it was in 2008 because in 2008 when they got into government the unemployment rate was at 8.5% and the records are there 8.5% Mr. speaker.”

UDP Agrees To Review Fire Arms And Ammunition Act
There has been much debate and clamour from both politicians and the public on the stringent laws surrounding firearms and ammunition. This continues to be of national importance to the People’s United Party and Party Leader Francis Fonseca today once again spoke on the matter. Fonseca says that several sections of the laws under the Firearms Act are unconstitutional and as such, the opposition suggests three principal amendments to the act. Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition “Section sixty of act which deems these various clauses of persons automatically in possession must be repealed because it infringes a citizen constitutional right under section (5) to only be deprived of their liberty upon reasonable suspicion upon having committed or being about to commit a criminal offense, it also infringes a person’s section (6) of constitutional right to presumption of innocent because it requires those clauses of persons to be in possession of the firearm and ammunition and as we point it out in the CCJ case they held that such a provision infringe the constitutional right to the equal protection of the law.”

David Constanza Resigns From The UDP
While the fireworks at the House of Representatives did not go off until nearly the end of the sitting, here in the north, specifically Orange Walk, the first flayer went up around 10:00 this morning when David Israel Constanza announced that he was resigning from the United Democratic Party. Now, this is the same David Constanza that was campaigning under the UDP ticket just a few days ago for the convention in Orange Walk East for Standard Bearer of the party. The same David Constanza, that ran, and lost against former Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon Jr. If you are a voter of Orange Walk East then you might already know that the convention was dressed up in allegations of corruption as the Aragon camp was accused of buying the election. The convention was spoken about widely in the social media with David Constanza being placed as the man who went up against a party and not a contender. During the convention it was more than obvious that Aragon Junior had the support of the big wigs of the UDP, including Mayor Darrel Bradley, and Minister John Saldivar. Constanza on the other hand stood all alone with only the support of his followers.

Dirty Laundry Aired In The House Of Representatives
The sitting of the House of Representatives today saw the second and third readings into an number of bills including the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, the Companies amendment bill, the Money Laundering and Terrorism prevention amendment bill to name a few. That part of the morning flowed with relative ease, but tensions ran high, quickly shortly after the Prime Minister called for an adjournment of the sitting. Sparks started flying shortly after the Orange Walk South Area Representative Abelardo Mai stood and spoke on corruption within the Lands Department. There was mention of more land grabbing in Orange Walk East and what we can tell you is that this time the land where the former East Polyclinic is located is in question as reports are that it is in the process of being awarded to a UDP stalwart working at the Lands Department in Corozal. We will have more on that story in our subsequent newscast.

Will Constanza's Resignation Affect The UDP In The General Elections?
Now, this begs the question, what effects will Constanza’s resignation from the UDP have on Elodio Aragon Junior and the party itself come General Elections? Guess we’ll find out for sure when the Prime Minister calls elections. What we can tell you though is that one should bear in mind that Constanza only lost to Aragon by 294 votes. A total of 2384 votes were casted, 1327 in favor of Aragon Jr. and 1033 in favor of Constanza. Now, while political pundits say the convention on Sunday saw one of the largest turnouts in Orange Walk East, our records show different. In 2010 when the UDP convention for Standard Bearer for Orange Walk East was held there was a larger turnout. At that time, the convention was contested by Orlando Landy Burns, Marcel Cardona and Denny Grijalva. Two thousand eight hundred and twenty votes were casted out of which Cardona received 621, Grijlva 797 and Burns 1377 more than what Aragon Junior received in Sunday’s convention.

Ministry Of Education Launches Financial Aid Program For Secondary Schools
With a high rate of high school drop outs and cash-strapped families unable to put their child through High School, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation are launching a financial aid program for students enrolled in secondary schools. Following an extensive review of the education sector, the Secondary Education Finance Reform program is incentive-based, according to Minister of Education Patrick Faber. According to Faber, potential beneficiaries of financial assistance are being screened based on performance, as well as socioeconomic needs. Patrick Faber– Minister of Education "This initiative which is phased over 7 years and seeks to level the playing field of secondary education financing by allocating public resources to secondary schools on a per student basis and including compensation component of additional funding for students identified as having academic or socio economic need. Related to this secondary education finance reform we are currently engaged in negotiating with secondary schools a restructuring and capping of secondary school fees. This we proposed to include waivers of fees for students identified as having socio economic need. All of you know that secondary schools charge fees and these fees vary widely from school to school program to program. If you are a student or parent, you will know that these fees can be exorbitantly high and even if you are not a student or a parent you know that. Such high fees can result in socio economic exclusion of many within our society who cannot afford to pay. Second, it's in preparation of our efforts of establishing a national qualification framework which we hope to include a national secondary certification which may include a minimal number of passes in key CXC subjects therefore no matter how you acquire these passes whether though formal or non-formal schooling, you would be considered to have high school equivalency."

Water Rate Going Up
The Public Utilities Commission has made an initial decision to approve the Belize Water Services Limited’s proposed increase in water rates for the country. That is the outcome of an Annual Review Proceeding by the Public Utilities Commission and on Monday the Commission’s Director for Water, Rudolph Williams explained that while BWSL asked for a 16 percent increase, they gave them 6 percent and explained why in a press conference at the Radisson. Rudolph Williams– Director for Water "We looked at the proposals that were made for the capital expenditure and we believe that some of those proposals could be deferred to the full tariff period and some of them we believe were not necessarily required at this time. The BWS has always had problems with funding their investments and to allow them to do that now; we have not seen anywhere where they will be able to source the funds that they are asking for."

Salvadorans Living In Belize Experience Opposition To Vote In Their Country
The fact that Salvadoran Nationals living in Belize were transported to El Salvador by the Salvadoran Embassy here in Belize on Saturday to vote for the elections on Sunday is causing quite a stir in the Central American Country. We understand that the Embassy transported 226 Salvadorans to their country of birth free of cost under the condition that they vote for the FMNL Party. Each member of the group received free transportation, accommodation, food and $300 for pocket expenses. Reports suggest that Salvador’s Ambassador to Belize Rolando Brizuela Ramos traveled along with the group. According to reports submitted by (El Salvador.com), the group was promised to receive assistance in Belize should the FMNL Party win the elections.


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