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#485502 - 02/08/14 04:35 AM Today's Belize News: February 8, 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

Making Tracks Back to the Wild with Wildtracks
What kind of people are willing to spend their hard earned holiday time to volunteer in another country, miles away from the nearest hospital or paved road, working from 6am, sometimes until 10:30pm, sharing their accommodation, bathroom (cold shower only!) and spare time with total strangers? I was lucky enough to find out. Their job is to care for the day to day needs of 38 monkeys and three manatees – not to mention a variety of other resident, rescued and injured animals being cared for at Wildtracks, a wildlife rehabilitation centre, located just outside Sarteneja. Volunteers stay at Wildtracks for up to three months at a time and make a nominal financial contribution for room and board. They work, every day, all day until, after a communal dinner prepared every evening by Zoe Walker, one half of the partnership that founded Wildtracks, they all slip off to tend to their numerous bug bites, send emails home and fall into their beds, exhausted.

We all play a role in the sustainable management of the NPAS
On the evening of Thursday, January 30th an update presentation on the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) was held at the Sunbreeze Conference Room. Stakeholders such as local tour guides and interested parties from the Bacalar Chico, Hol Chan and Caye Caulker protected areas were invited to attend the informative meeting. Lead by the NPAS Secretariat, Valentine Rosado, Education and Public Awareness Coordinator, Arlene Maheia Young, Acting Program Director and Ansel Dubon, Project Manager, the presentation was designed to review the goals and purpose of NPAS and introduce a new branding campaign. The NPAS program adheres to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected area categories which is used toward the conservation of the world’s natural environment and biodiversity. According to IUCN there are five conditions protected area systems should meet: (1) representativeness, comprehensiveness and balance (2) adequacy, (3) coherence and complementarity, (4) consistency and (5) cost effectiveness, efficiency and equity. The IUCN has developed the protected area management categories system to define, record, and classify the wide variety of specific aims and concerns when categorizing protected areas and their objectives.These areas are identified as: Strict Nature Reserves, Wilderness Areas, National Parks, Natural Monument or Feature, Habitat/Species Management Area, Protected Landscape/ Seascape and Protected Area with sustainable use of natural resources.

Closing of the Lobster Season
The Belize Fisheries Department would like to take this opportunity to inform the general public that the lobster season will close effective February 15th and it will remain closed until midnight of June 14th. As a reminder, please note that failure to comply with the closed season will result in prosecution in court under Regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulations, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize R.E. 2003.

Signing of Lot 3 of the Fourth Road Project
The Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Works & Transport announces the signing of the construction contract to carry out Lot#3 of this project, with the lowest evaluated bidder, CISCO Construction Ltd., for the sum of BZ$3,873,059.43. The Government of Belize secured a Loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the Fourth Road Project (Santa Elena / San Ignacio Bypass) to be implemented in the Cayo District. This project is divided into four phases: (Lot 1) the upgrading of Loma Luz Boulevard; (Lot 2) a new bridge crossing of the Macal River; (Lot 3) the construction of a new high-embankment by-pass; and (Lot 4) the rehabilitation of Joseph Andrews Drive to the point it re-connects the George Price Highway.

Concerns raised after a bull shark was fished by local tour company
On Wednesday January 29th, pictures of a dead bull shark were seen on a vessel belonging to Strike Force Belize, owned by Rudy Lewis. Several pictures posted on the company’s Facebook page showed the catch of the day, including the shark, and next to the catch were Lewis and other local islanders. While shark populations have seen a drastic decline due to unregulated overfishing and lack of proper management, bull sharks are not considered an endangered species (as is the case of nurse sharks and the globally threatened hammer head sharks). Nonetheless, only holders of special shark fishing licenses are legally able to fish for shark in Belize. Up to date, only 42 people are allowed to fish for sharks during open shark season, which runs from November 1st to July 31st. According to The Belize Fisheries Department, who approves and grants shark fishing licenses, Strike Force Belize/ Rudy Lewis does not hold such a license.

Biodegradable take out ware
Like we needed another reason to love Elvi's Kitchen! Biodegradable take out ware, kudos!

Ambergris Today

Belize Lobster Season to Close on February 15th
The Belize Fisheries Department would like to take this opportunity to inform the general public that the lobster season will close effective February 15th and it will remain closed until midnight of June 14th. As a reminder, please note that failure to comply with the closed season will result in prosecution in court under Regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulations, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize R.E. 2003. The Department also takes this opportunity to remind fishers that lobster traps should be removed from the fishing grounds during the closed season. The Enforcement Unit will be vigilant in ensuring compliance with the removal of lobster traps that are found deployed after February 15.

Misc Belizean Sources

Rooting out corruption from within and at all levels is critical for Belize’s national development
When it comes to corruption, it is high time that we the people roar into the ears of all our political leaders: Enough! ¡Basta! No more! Nada mas! The people are sick and tired of corruption from one to the other cycle of PUP and UDP government administrations, while there seems every effort to bypass the laws to prevent the perpetrators from being held accountable. In various elections since Belize’s independence, independent voters like myself who are not aligned with any political party, have voted interchangeably for UDP, PUP, VIP or no P, depending on their assessment of the issues, the performance of the ruling administration and comparative quality of leadership. The swing in voting pattern through each election has usually been a reaction against the abuse of power, scandals and corruption, cronyism, arrogance, lack of accountability and transparency, lack of genuine consultation and blatant disrespect for the public, which have surfaced in successive PUP and UDP administrations.

Karen Bevans has decided to step down as Chief Operations Officer of BTL
The Board of Directors of Belize Telemedia Limited announces that Mrs. Karen Bevans has decided to step down as Chief Operations Officer of BTL at the end of the financial year, March 31st, 2014. The Executive Committee on an interim basis has been expanded to include directors Ambrose Tillett and Dr. Colin Young and will provide oversight of the departments in her portfolio while the Board conducts a search for a successor. The Board welcomes her offer to continue contributing to the development of the company and has agreed to engage her as a Special Advisor to the Executive Committee commencing April 1st, 2014. “This year marks Karen’s 25th year with BTL and the Board extends their sincere appreciation for the leadership and dedication she has shown over that time,” said Mr. Nestor Vasquez, Executive Chairman. “We look forward to her contributions in her new role with the company.”

Belize Zoo Transformation Project

Museum of Belize's Newseum
The Museum of Belize has a new blog, and you can find out what's going on around Belize, and Cayo, as far as exhibits at the houses of culture, and other cultural events. In related news, the SISE House of Culture is in the middle of the exhibit about The Story of Resistance in Belize. Check it out when you get a chance.

Belmopan Bandits Theme Song
The Belmopan Bandits, who are playing the championship game tomorrow against FC Belize, have gotten a theme song. It's catchy, and you're sure to hear it tomorrow at the game at the FFB Stadium. Tickets are now on sale. Go Bandits! "TICKETS for the GRAND FINALE CHAMPIONSHIP Game between Belmopan Bandits and FC Belize goes on sale tomorrow morning at 8am at Hyde's Mini-Mart at the Market Square and Chuc's Service Station on the Benque Viejo Road in San Ignacio. PRICE: $20. Ticket Booth at the FFB Stadium opens at 12 noon on Game Day for the sale of Tickets!!!"

A vacancy exists at Belize Electricity Limited for the post of Auditor II.

Regional experts meet to strategize on improving fisheries statistics, data and information
Fisheries professionals from member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) travel to Kingstown in St. Vincent and the Grenadines next week, to take part in a three-day workshop on the development of a CRFM strategy to improve fisheries statistics, data and information, as they also try to resolve capacity challenges confronting Caribbean countries. The event, which will focus centrally on present and emerging fisheries information demands, is a joint collaboration of the CRFM and the United Nations University – Fisheries Training Program (UNU – FTP) in Iceland. It will look at the use of data for economic analysis and fisheries management purposes; the realistic analysis of fisheries data for stock assessment purposes, and future data requirements arising from international markets.

ATLIB Regionals at UB
The ATLIB basketball regionals are today at the University of Belize. The games start at 9:00am. Go Jaguars!

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge Video 2
The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge is a week away. Here's another video from the YogaSlackers about their preparation for the event. "Welcome to the second video in the the Maya Adventure Challenge series. 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."

Tropic Air Celebrates Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day is almost here, and Tropic Air is offering a special where if you buy one ticket at regular price, you get a second ticket for only $14. It's for flights on Valentine's Day only, and is country wide. "As promised, here it is! We are giving you a week to plan your very special Valentine's Day. Tickets are limited, do not include Belize International (BZE) itineraries, and will sell out fast, so book early. Other restrictions do apply. Contact Tropic Air Belize stations or reservations@tropicair.com for the details. "

Reynaldo Verde claims conspiracy on gun allegations
In this week’s editions of two leading newspapers, Amandala and Reporter, there appeared a press release from Reynaldo Verde, the General Sales Tax (GST) Department supervisor who has been vilified by activists peeved by his apparent release from Police custody following the discovery of a firearm at his premises, after he explained to them that the gun was not his. Some wondered if Verde was being given special treatment but in his release he maintains that the Police who visited his home around 6:30 a.m. on January 3 were simply, in his words, exercising proper judgment by investigating his claim after he informed them of what had transpired earlier in the night. But before we get to his version of events, in the opening paragraph Verde asserts that he has been “restrained” in the past few weeks as the charges against him have been repeated – but no more, as he maintains that the statements made against him are “defamatory” and accuses the local press of perpetuating mistaken facts and becoming an unwitting vehicle in a third party’s aim of having him removed from office. You heard right – it’s all a conspiracy! And as proof, Verde asserts that in his line of work, certain “large business interests” have made threats against the Department from time to time, and he knows of specific threats against him personally which he has reported and which are under investigation. The allegations against him, he says, are part and parcel of that conspiracy.

Ministry of Works and Transport Announced the Commencement of the Southside Poverty Alleviation Project
– Phase 2 at a contract signing ceremony for the project on Thursday, February 6, 2014. (4 photos)

Ministry of Works and Transport Announces its Fourth Road Project (Santa Elena / San Ignacio By-Pass)
Lot 3 – Branch Mouth to Joseph Andrews Drive (Inclusive of River Works)

Training Workshops on alternative refrigerants
Department of the Environment is organizing and facilitating three sets of Training Workshops on alternative refrigerants. First training to be held in Belize City on the 10 - 12 February, 2014 and February 17-19, 2014

Channel 7

Ferguson Not Guilty Of Murder, But Of Manslaughter
28 year-old Glenford Ferguson Jr. is at prison tonight awaiting a sentencing hearing after the jury handed down its verdict late last night. He was accused of murdering 27 year-old Koffi Beeks in Ladyville, but after 4 hours of deliberation, a jury of 12 acquitted him of murder. And though they were convinced that he didn't intend to kill Beeks, the prosecution proved that he did stab Beeks to death. The jury convicted him of manslaughter, and though it's not the outcome he was hoping for, his attorney, Bryan Neal, told 7News last night that a few more years behind bars is better outcome than life imprisonment: Brian Neal, attorney "My client was charged in 2007 with murder and he was tried on a charge of murder. The accused had put forward certain defenses, self-defense which would have freed him. Obviously the jury has rejected that. He also relied on the defense of accident which was withdrawn by the judge. We were also relying on manslaughter being an alternative verdict given the fact that there was no intent to kill and also on provocation. we had ask the jury to consider provocation mitigating it to manslaughter."

Senior BTL Executive Calls It Quit
Karen Bevans, the Chief Operations Officer at BTL is calling it quits after 25 years at the company. A release from BTL this morning said that she has decided to step down at the end of the financial year on March 31st, 2014. The release adds that the Executive Committee will provide oversight of the departments in her portfolio while the Board conducts a search for a successor. That Committee is headed by Executive Chairman Nestor Vasquez and Board Members Anuar Barrow, Colin Young and Ambrose Tillett. The release says that she will be engaged as a Special Advisor to the Executive Committee starting in April. Bevans declined an interview and told us by text that it is, quote, "just a career move to explore personal business interests." Bevans ends what has to be considered a stellar career at BTL, where she ascended steadily through the ranks and proved durable as a senior manager during the various changes between 2003 and 2009 when the company changed ownership four times. She leaves as the employee, or non-appointed executive, with the most senior rank.

Mayor Bradley And Matura-Shepherd Still At It
The Security guards at the City Council are staying on the job for one more week. That's the upshot of yesterday's marathon all day session with the Mayor, the CWU President and the Labour Commissioner. But to just report that strips the event of its drama. As we reported last night, Mayor Bradley stormed out of the meeting at around 7:00 pm last night. Today we asked him and Audrey Matura-Shepherd about what happened to end that meeting rather abruptly:.. Jules Vasquez "Sir, did you had an outburst at the labour commissioner? When you call him this morning did you apologized?" Mayor Darrell Bradley "I had no outburst at the labour commissioner. I told the labour commissioner that I apologized for leaving the meeting." Jules Vasquez "You didn't leave, you walk out - you stormed out."

Renaldo Verde, In His Own Words
For 5 weeks, now, we've been reporting on the case of senior Sales Tax Collector Reynaldo Verde, who escaped criminal charges when Glock 380 pistol was allegedly found in the washroom of his residence. Verde was never charged because police concluded that someone planted it there. And today after a month of mauling in the media where his name has become synonymous with uneven treatment under the law, Verde released a statement in an advertisement in today's issue of the Amandala. Verde says, quote, "I have been restrained in the last few weeks hearing my name brought up in an attempt to charge me for an apparent crime I did not commit. I can no longer sit quietly by and accept the defamatory statements to be repeated. The media has also perpetuated mistaken facts, and have become the unwitting vehicle to achieve a third party's aim of having me removed from office." End Quote. He adds, "In my line of work there have been instances of large business interests making threats from time to time." He adds that these business interests have threatened to try to remove him, which he has reported to police, and which is being investigated.

BTL Park Vendors Bottom Line Increasing
It's been a tough few weeks for Belize City mayor Darrrell Bradley. He should be taking victory laps on the one hundred plus streets he paved - probably more than - the last 7 mayors combined. But instead of celebrating, he's being pilloried in the public eye: he lost his cool with the media last week, and last night he stormed out on the Labour Commissioner. The provocation in both cases is the vexing case of the Security Gaurds, who's union has proved a vexation for the mayor. Well today, another provoking issues appeared: the case of his mother in law's stall in the BTL park. He was already accused of favoritism when his a city councilor got one of the prized 28 stalls, and now his mother in law? Today the media asked the Mayor about it, and we went on a food run to get our own answers:.. Mayor Darrell Bradley "It is a fact that and I was unaware of this initially that my mother-in-law has a booth at BTL Park. Mt mother-in-law doesn't live in my house; she is a person who plies a business. Every single person should not be discriminated against. My responsibility here is to assure every member of the public that every process is transparent. There was no cherry-picking, there was no peddling if any influence, there was a public advertisement - Micheal Theus is a private individual, my mother-in-law in a private individual. If those people want to apply for a booth that's being offered as long as there is no decision making that is impartial or threatens or impairs a person ability to be selected or discriminates against a person then that process is transparent and its fair."

BTL Says No More Int'l Locked Phones
Last week, 7News told you about the decision that BTL made to change how the double and triple up credit works for their different promotions. That decision has been criticized by some customers, but BTL says it's moving on up to international standards. Well, there are more changes afoot. Next week Monday, phones made specifically for international gsm wireless companies such as the well-known US Brands like T-Mobile, and AT&T will no longer be accepted on the Digicell network. Don't panic. It doesn't mean that if you're currently using those phones right now, that you will not get service come Monday. Your service will work just fine. BTL will only impose the restriction on newly purchased phones trying to access their network that have never been used before and need to be activated. It may be an inconvenience to customers who may unwittingly buy a new phone with a foreign carrier's name on it, only to find out that they can't use it.

Mark King's Recording History
And even if that cell phone can't get unto BTL's system, it can probably still be used as a voice recorder, which means that Lake I Area Representative Mark King has no problem. We're told that's his weapon of choice when making secret recordings of party officials and other persons. It's true, he did it with Edmond Castro last week - when best reports tell us Castro had been drinking and had unkind words about his Party Leader and Prime Minister Dean Barrow - words which might have suggested disloyalty. But, it's not the first time King has used the power of record to create trouble in his party. In January of 2011, we spoke to him twice - at the time he had been rejected as a candidate - and reports suggested he was blackmailing his party with secret recordings he had made. Here's what he told us about recordings in January and February:.. January 26, 2011 Hon. Mark King "Let me tell you why the United Democratic is afraid for me, it's because I have video and audio recordings and proof of everything that I say and do in this party, that is why they are afraid for me. Last night the Part Chairman call me and rail-up with me and I told him that I am recording him, he hurry hang up his phone and that is why they are afraid of me because you will not set me up."

NCL On Ice?
Opponents to the NCL Harvest Caye project can claim a small victory, because according to today's Amandala, the project is on ice until further notice. The newspaper Reports that the National Environmental Appraisal Committee which was supposed to meet on the project, which would have been the final environmental hurdle, has been directed by Cabinet to postpone its meeting, in the wake of the public consultation in Independence Village. Person at that consultation, as we showed you, gave a universal thumbs down the first EIA which was prepared, for inadequacies in addressing environmental concerns. The Amandala also reports that the first EIA presented at the public consultation was supposedly an old EIA which was prepared for a project previously planned for Harvest Caye, but not effected. Because of the result of the consultation meeting, NCL reportedly has agreed to submit an extensive and thorough Addendum to the first EIA.

Teachers Want More Than 4%
At Wednesday's house meeting the Prime Minister reported that teachers and public servants will get something like a 4% raise. That's what came out of a meeting he'd held with the unions on the previous Thursday. That disclosure is more than the teachers wanted to tell us when they had a press conference two days earlier. But it's out there now, and while you might think the teachers would be happy, they're still not. That's the characterization they claim that Educaton Minister Patrick Faber gave LOVE FM in an interview - and they reject it. A release says that at no point in time during the meeting with the Prime Minister did any member of the BNTU team express acceptance or delight with the Prime Minister's report. The union says it will present its take on the meeting in due time.

Independence Police Make Murder Arrest
Independence Police are reporting that they've made major progress in the second murder for the year which happened in Trio Village. 22 year-old Honduran Jose Donaldo Sosa Madrid has been arrested and charged with the murder of 25 year-old Guatemalan Rene Arturo Perez. Police formations of the south conducted extensive cooperative operations, and their diligence was rewarded when Madrid was caught in the Toledo District. He will be arraigned on next week Monday. As we reported, Guatemalan Rene Arturo Perez was found chopped to death in Trio Village, near the banana farm that he works. Viewers may remember that Donaldo Sosa Madrid, the main suspect, and now the accused, was being sought at the time because investigators found evidence at his house, which linked him to the crime scene.

Another Sick Southern Sexual Abuse Case
Last night the ugly news was about an eight year old raped by her uncle in Bella Vista Village in Southern Belize. And tonight there is another disturbing report from the south. A 12 year old girl from Georgetown Village in the Stann Creek District, visited Independence police station along with her mother and reported that sometime in the month of May 2013, a male person she knew as Leslie paid her five dollars for sex and told her that he will marry her. This was repeated in August and December of 2013. And now, Doctors have confirmed that the child is 25 weeks pregnant. No one has been detained since the child did not know the man's particulars.

Harley Davidson Convention In Belize
The first ever biker's convention is being held in Belize this weekend - and it's huge. Organizers are expecting 400 motorbikes with riders from as far as California and Panama and as close as Merida, Honduras and Guadalajara - and yes, they all rode here! Nigel Espat of the Black Pearl Cycle Club explained the importance of it today - as at least one hundred bikes were traffic blocking in front of his business Auto Zone on cemetery Road:.. Nigel Espat, Black Pearl Cycle Club Belize "Being here is history in the making in Belize. It's the first ever Belize Bike rally. From here it's going to be an annual event but this is the first and so we are inviting everyone to come out. It is something unprecedented that never before this has happen and they all came because of the biker culture that we have been promoting. We have been representing Belize for the past 4 years in events in Mexico and in Central America."

Tropigas' Price Is Right
A few chosen customers of Tropigas, one of the companies under Unicomer, went home with gifts from the company after they competed in the Belizean version of the Price is right. The game happened this morning, and Tropigas invited the media to see them giving back to their patrons. The contestants had to do some very interesting and entertaining activities, while competing against each other for the main prizes. 7News attended, and we spoke with the Manager about this game: Rochelle Tucker, Chain Regional Manager - Tropigas "We call it "Come down to Tropikong Competition." Kong is one of our biggest representatives when it comes to Tropigas. He is our mascot and we want everybody to familiarize themselves with him and put it matching to our branch."

Dara's 12th Bob Concert
Grassroots Philanthropist Dara Robinson continues his fundraising efforts for the less fortunate. This weekend he is having his 12th annual Bob Marley Birthday tribute concert. The concert is not only to celebrate the life of the reggae icon - it is to also raise money for needy families. On Thursday he held a food drive that turned out to be successful. But with all that he is still urging everyone to come out to the concert on Sunday and donate at least one can of food. The concert starts at 4 on Sunday evening on the Bird's Isle Basketball court.

Channel 5

Chief Operations Officer of B.T.L., Karen Bevans, steps down from the job
Karen Bevans, the Chief Operations Officer of the country’s largest telecommunications provider, Belize Telemedia Limited, has announced her resignation, effective the end of March. All indications are that the news [...]

The CWU and the Mayor still at loggerheads
Following several meetings, press releases and interviews with both the Belize City Council and the Christian Workers Union, the issue of the redundant security workers has degenerated into little more [...]

Mayor speaks on booths at the B.T.L. Park that went to family and friends
The B.T.L. Park is very near completion and it is extremely impressive. Take wide open spaces, full-time Police presence, colorful booths, adequate seating and aesthetics, fashionable and functional bandstand and [...]

Public officers who verified signatures in Penner Recall well-compensated
On December thirty-first, the Elections and Boundaries Department rejected the Elvin Penner recall petition submitted by the P.U.P. Of two thousand and two signatures presented for scrutiny, only one thousand, [...]

Land and money; San Jose Nuevo Palmar villagers say plenty missing monies
On Thursday night, we reported about a land grab in the Orange Walk East constituency. Tonight, there is another story which also involves land and money; plenty missing monies. On [...]

Reynaldo Verde makes a statement on details of firearm incident
The issue of revising the existing gun laws, in light of the recent conviction of police corporal Gino Peck for possession of unlicensed ammunition, has taken center stage in recent [...]

Chamber supports the OSH Bill, but has concerns about impact on small businesses
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 2014 was tabled in the House of Representatives on January twenty-ninth after pressure from the National Trade Union Congress of Belize to have the [...]

NEAC hearings on NCL development project is postponed indefinitely
There was a recent emotional and fiery consultation on the proposed multimillion dollar tourism project at Harvest Caye by Norwegian Cruise Lines. By all accounts, stakeholders in the south vehemently [...]

A pregnant woman and a man suffering from tuberculosis appear before the courts
A woman who is pregnant and a Belize City man who is suffering from tuberculosis were taken before the court separately for criminal charges. The first to be arraigned was [...]

Manager of Temptation Bar hauled to court for employing girls without valid employment permits
Sixty-two-year-old Honduran national Estela Gonzales has been charged for employing persons not in possession of a work permit, following a shakedown of Temptation Hill by immigration officials on Thursday night.  [...]

Benque Mayor says ambulance not confiscated, but in Peten for repairs
On Monday, we reported that Benque Viejo del Carmen and surrounding villages have been without an ambulance for the past several months.  While it was initially rumored that the vehicle [...]

The annual Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation (COBEC)
Officials from the Ministry of Education, as well as stakeholders from across the sector, particularly those belonging to the Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation (COBEC), gathered in Dangriga for its [...]

Career Day at SJC
Students looking for their dream jobs or for career options had the opportunity today to interact with a number of organizations. Over at the Saint John’s Gym, a number of [...]


Prime Minister Talks About Constanzas' Resignation From The Party
After the house meeting yesterday in Belmopan, the media managed an interview outside the National Assembly building with Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Of the slew of questions posed, he spoke briefly on the moves of the losing camps in his party. In particular, the resignation of David Constanza, candidate for Orange Walk East, who was bested by Elodio Aragon Junior in Sundays Convention. Barrow said the move is one that is ‘not good for his party’. Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize “Of course as it always been the case with these conventions there are hurt feelings with respect of those that lose, I don’t think it is a problem in Toledo East, I don’t think is it an insurmountable problem in Dangriga but I have the sense it going to prove well nai intractable in Orange Walk East, get the sense that the losing camp is extremely upset and that it is making all sorts of allegations upon which I will not comment now or if those allegations become public except to say that naturally that is not good for the party.”


Not Guilty of Murder but Guilty of Manslaughter
Twenty-nine year old Glenford Ferguson Jr., charged with the murder of 35 year old Kofi Beeks, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter late yesterday evening in the court of Justice John Gonzalez. The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for over four hours before it arrived at its verdict which was unanimous. Justice Gonzalez has deferred sentencing until Friday, February 14 in order to give Ferguson time to prepare a plea for mitigation. Beeks was fatally stabbed in the left side of his neck around 1:30 a.m. on February 16, 2007. According to the evidence adduced by the prosecution, Beeks and Ferguson were standing outside of Mel’s Bar in Ladyville when they had a misunderstanding over a red rag. Ferguson stabbed Beeks in his face and neck with a knife. One witness testified to seeing Ferguson stab Beeks. Ferguson gave a statement from the dock in which he admitted he stabbed Beeks but he said that he was defending himself. Ferguson said Beeks attacked him with a Belikin bottle and he stabbed Beeks. But the jury did not believe that it was a case of self defense and it found Ferguson guilty of the lesser charge. Ferguson was represented by attorney Bryan Neal. Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith represented the prosecution.

Found in Belize; Extradited and Sentenced to 30 Years
A US National who was on the run from the law and was found in Belize has been sentenced to thirty years in prison by a federal judge in Portland, Oregon, USA. Kenneth McVicker III pled guilty to engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors. Prosecutors had alleged that McVicker had molested at least eight boys, ages 5 through 12. It was also alleged that he had photographed the abuse and distributed the photos. Federal agents in the US became aware of the photos after McVicker sent them to an undercover agent who was posing as a collector of child pornography. McVicker was in Belize working on a commercial art project when he was picked up by the authorities.

Statistical Institute of Belize Says Erroneous Conclusions are Being Drawn From Recent Data
The Statistical Institute of Belize has issued a press release to counter what it describes as “erroneous conclusions being drawn from recently released September 2013 Labour Force Survey results and the 2013 inflation rate”. The Institute says that it wishes to clarify that unlike the Gross Domestic Product, which refers to economic activity during an entire calendar year, the Labour Force Survey provides a snapshot of the employment situation of only the one month of the year in which it is carried out. The survey results, it says, are specific to the month of September 2013 and it is not advisable to use this single data point to draw inferences about unemployment for the entire year. The Institute further states that there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the GDP growth rate and the unemployment rate and adds that in the third quarter of 2013 two of the major industries, petroleum and electricity, recorded decreases in production. This reality, it says, contributed to the relatively low GDP growth rate. These industries, it continues, are labour-intensive and their declines did not impact upon the overall level of employment. Meanwhile, regarding concerns about the criteria used to qualify a person as employed the Statistical Institute points out that this is in line with internationally accepted definitions of employment and is the same criteria that have been used in previous surveys.

Police News
Police officers of Precinct Four’s Quick Response Team scored a bust of cannabis yesterday when they conducted a search at a residence in the Belama Phase one area of Belize City. The search happened just before four o’clock in the evening which led to the discovery of a black plastic bag hidden under a dog house. Inside the plastic bag, police found one hundred and forty eight parcels, weighing a total of one hundred and sixteen grams of marijuana. As a result of this find, 21-year-old, Robert Tillett; 29-year-old, Vern Fitzgibbon and 27-year-old, Candy Gabourel, all of #27 Antonio Soberanis Street were arrested and jointly charged with the offense of drug trafficking.

Trio Charged with Drug Trafficking
Two men and a woman were charged with drug trafficking when they appeared today before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser. They are 29 year old Vern Fitzgibbon, 21 year old Robert Tillett and 27 year old Candy Gabourel. They pled not guilty to the charge and they were offered a bail of five thousand dollars. They are to return to court on April 8. The bust occurred yesterday when members of the Quick Response Team of Precinct Four conducted a search at a residence at #27 Antonio Soberanis Street in Belize City. The police reported that they searched the yard and found a plastic bag containing 116 grams of cannabis tucked under the dog house. As a result, all three persons who were inside the house were arrested and charged.

Chief Operations Officer of Phone Company Steps Down
Her name has become synonymous with Belize Telemedia Limited but today, Love News Centre received a release announcing the stepping down of. Karen Bevans, the Chief Operations Officer of BTL. The announcement came from the Board of Directors of Belize Telemedia Limited and, while no reason was cited for her departure from the seat of COO, the release did say that her resignation becomes effective on March 31, 2014. Reporter Linette Canto conducted a telephone interview with Chairman, Nestor Vasquez about Bevans’ resignation. NESTOR VASQUEZ “It came as a complete surprise to us; by us, I mean the Executive Committee which is made up two directors, myself – Chairman of the Board and Anwar Barrow – another director of the Board. So, it came as a complete surprise this week and when we got the letter from her, we met with her the following day and after a very cordial meeting, we took it to the Board because a board meeting was scheduled for Thursday; so, it happened Thursday and the board merely accepted whatever she stated in her letter; I think the letter was simple and clear and it was initiated entirely by her and it came as a complete surprise to us but when you have worked so many years, we have to be really appreciative for all she has done for the company and so, we merely accepted what she said in her letter.”

Tropic Air Introduces Direct Flight to Merida, Yucatan
Currently, many Belizeans who travel to cities in neighboring Mexico make much use of the Mexican bus line, ADO. It is a trip in high demand as locals cross the border for many reasons, among them being medical and for the importation of products to Belize. But, recently an alternative has been introduced for the Belizean populace as Belize’s local airline, Tropic Air has announced that they will be providing direct flights to Merida, Yucatan starting early March. The 2-hour flight to Merida will be available three times weekly namely, Monday, Tuesdays and Fridays. In a statement by Mr. John Grief III, President of Tropic Air, he said, “We have been working closely with our partners in the Yucatan on this service, and we are excited to be flying there!” Grief added, “We expect the market for this service to grow and we plan to add additional service as that happens. Not only will Belizeans finally be able to fly directly to Merida, but this opens up many new opportunities for the archaeological and eco-tourism markets.” Presently, Tropic Air, which has been in operation for the last thirty four years currently flies to fifteen destinations within Central America.


CWU gets Labour Commissioner to Postpone Redundancy
In a victory of sorts for the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) and its president Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams has decided to postpone the planned redundancy of 26 employees of the Belize City Council until next Friday, February 14. The postponement is in order to provide for further...

Mayor Responds Why He Left Amidst a Meeting with Labour Commissioner
The Mayor responded this afternoon. When asked why he left the meeting, he said, It’s as simple as this: it was 8:30 at night, and he had a wife and son to get home to. The Mayor says he has spoken with the Labour Commissioner, apologized for leaving the...

Mr. Reynaldo Verde Claims Conspiracy on Gun Allegations
In this week’s editions of two leading newspapers, Amandala and Reporter, there appeared a press release from Reynaldo Verde, the General Sales Tax (GST) Department supervisor who has been vilified by activists peeved by his apparent release from Police custody following the discovery of a firearm at his premises,...

No Compensation for Giovanni Blease, says Lands Commissioner
When we spoke with Area Representative for Caribbean Shores, Santiago Castillo, last month, he made note that Giovanni Blease would be compensated, whether monetarily or with another piece of land, after his application for the Seashore Park was rejected by the Lands Department. Mayor of Belize Darrell Bradley didn’t...

Known Activist Mr. Moses Sulph Accused of Rape Returns To Court
Moses Sulph, well known community activist, was recognized for his stance against issues concerning the Belize/Guatemala dispute, offshore drilling and many other social issues. However in February of last year, serious allegations against Moses Sulph were made by a 26 year old woman. When Sulph was arraigned in court...

Manager of Temptation Bar and 10 Employees Dragged to Court
Today, the manager of Temptation Bar, 62-year-old Honduran and naturalized Belizean, Mrs. Estela Gonzales was taken to court along with her 10 female employees, who were reportedly working at the establishment without a working permit. This is the second shake down on Temptation Bar, located at Mile 10, on...

Woman Who Tried to Obtain Voter’s ID Detained for False Documents
On Tuesday of this week, a woman walked into the Toledo East Electoral Division Office requesting a Voter’s ID, but what she got instead was a slap on the wrist. A registering officer at the Department says that upon searching for the documents requested by the woman, it was...

Men Struggle For Gun Onboard Bus
A struggle ensued among four men, over a gun on board a bus in the old capital, sometime 8:30 last night. According to the driver of the bus, he was seated on the driver’s seat in the company of his uncle while the bus was parked in front of...

Stake Bank Project Passed In the Senate
While yesterday’s Meeting of the Senate saw debate on a number of the bills tabled, there was accord on the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, 2014. The Bill is for the construction of a cruise port to be at Stake Bank. According to the Government, the idea...

Belize Active Youth Announces Winners of Slogan and Campaign Competition
As part of its anti-drug campaign, the Belmopan Active Youth, in December of last year, launched a poster and slogan competition. Invitation was extended to high schools within the Belmopan area. Yesterday, a panel of judges met to review the entries and select winners for the respective categories. Here...

#485503 - 02/08/14 04:35 AM Re: Today's Belize News: February 8, 2014 [Re: Marty]
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For the first time since the Belize Airport Authority cheque scandal came under public scrutiny, the man at the center of the controversy ventured to tell his side of the story at today’s Sitting of the House of Representatives. After weeks of being under consistent fire and being completely mute after it was revealed that several questionable cheques were issued and/or sanctioned by the now ousted Belize Airports Authority (BAA) Board of Directors either to or on behalf of Transport Minister of State, Hon. Edmond Castro, he finally took the opportunity to respond to the allegations, and sought to both defend and explain his actions. During the Special House Sitting, Castro read from a prepared text in defense of his premise that his actions should not be considered corrupt, quoting even from the Bible while making a public plea that he is just “a poor man”. Castro explained, “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 that the Board of Directors of the 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.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Leader of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), is grappling with major political trouble with the risk of losing his slim 17-14 majority in Parliament in the face of “the difficulties that the behavior or the actions of some of [his] Ministers” has caused for the UDP administration, now approaching the end of the second year of the party’s second consecutive term in office. In Wednesday’s meeting of the House of Representatives, an Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) member cited a recent editorial carried by Amandala: “Barrow’s crisis: Belize’s crisis,” published in the Wednesday, January 29, 2014, mid-week edition of the newspaper. That editorial said that, “Mr. Barrow had been making a lot of noise about running a tight ship after he first came to power in 2008. But he only had a 17-14 seat margin. This is now a government which really should go back to the electorate in quest of another mandate, we think. The Prime Minister will do all he can to prevent the collapse of his administration.” “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 naturally, that is a source of great regret, because to some extent, it is self-inflicted,” Barrow said, speaking with journalists on Wednesday afternoon after the House meeting.

Glenford Ferguson, Jr., 28, who was on remand for almost 7 years for the murder of Ladyville resident Koffi Beeks, 27, was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter after a 12-member jury deliberated for about four hours, in the Supreme Court of Justice John “Troadio” Gonzalez late tonight, Thursday. Justice Gonzalez has set February 14 as the sentencing date to give Ferguson’s attorney, Bryan Neal, enough time to prepare character witnesses for a mitigation hearing. On the night of February 16, 2007, Beeks was socializing at Mel’s Bar in Ladyville when he became involved in an altercation with Ferguson, who inflicted a stab wound to Beeks’ neck. The Crown’s case was prosecuted by Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith, who was assisted by Crown Counsels Leroy Banner and Kileru Awich.

A convicted burglar, Denfield Lemott, 35, a resident of #20 Racecourse Street, who is serving a five-year sentence for burglary, was convicted on a second burglary charge on Wednesday when his trial ended before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, who imposed a seven-year sentence that is to run concurrent with the five years he is serving. The new prison term means that Lemott will have to remain behind bars for two more years. The burglary incident occurred on January 13, 2013, when Lemott entered the office of Pauline Griffith, a nurse at the Cleopatra White Health Center, and stole a wallet containing $100. According to Nurse Griffith’s testimony in court, she had left her office to go to another office in the building, and when she returned, she saw Lemott in her office.

At the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives Wednesday, Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca echoed strong public sentiments that the existing firearms legislation unjustly casts too much of a wide net, to the peril of many innocent and upstanding citizens who have had to spend time in jail on account of the laws which National Security Minister John Saldivar conceded to be “draconian,” but which, he claimed, were necessary to push back a spiraling crime rate. “I am no fan of guns, but it is clear that the laws, as they now stand, lead to injustice and inequity, and [we] have obligation to review [it],” Fonseca said, adding that the necessary revisions ought to be made to take account of public concerns. Recently, community activists such as Russell Roberts and Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) have been clamoring for the Government to urgently revisit the laws in question. Last week Friday, Special Branch Corporal Gino Peck was the first to escape a jail sentence, after a firearms conviction, when he instead was fined $600 in court. The incident intensified public demands for Government to revisit the controversial firearms laws.

Amandala has been reliably informed that the meeting of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC), which was scheduled for February 12, 2014, has been postponed indefinitely, following a Cabinet directive sparked by a report of the recently held public consultation, as well as public concerns over the social and economic dimensions of the project. Norwegian has undertaken to invest US$50 million on Harvest Caye to establish a culturally vibrant destination island for its cruise passengers. However, there are concerns from some locals over whether the venture would truly be a win-win project for Belize. Public concerns were heightened with the recent consultation, at which it was revealed that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), submitted by the company, had many errors, simply because the EIA was not a new EIA – but a revision of a preexisting EIA for a resort project previously planned for the same island. Amandala has been informed that Norwegian will have to do quite an extensive and thorough addendum to the existing EIA, but the Government is also of the view that the critical socio-economic concerns would also have to be addressed.

The conviction of Corporal Gino Peck on ammunition possession charges in the Magistrate’s Court last week has intensified public debate on the draconian gun laws that some attorneys suspect are unconstitutional. The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) presented their version of amendments to the gun laws today, Thursday, at a press briefing at their Independence Hall headquarters. The PUP says its approach to the gun laws reflects a bipartisan spirit, a sentiment that the Leader of the Opposition trumpeted during his speech at Wednesday’s House of Representatives meeting. Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca, who was flanked at the head table by the party’s legal advisors, attorney Anthony Sylvestre and attorney Kareem Musa, who is also the communications director of the Eastern Caucus, told the media that the PUP views the issue of amendment to the Firearms Act and the Criminal Justice Act as one of national importance. “We believe it should be addressed urgently,” Fonseca said. Fonseca said he was glad when the Minister of National Security signaled the government’s support for reviewing and revising the laws, and that he had met with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Solicitor General to advance that agenda of revising the laws.

Hamlet or Diogenes?
“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true.” – Demosthenes There are some observers who feel that recent discourses by Prime Minister Dean Barrow suggest a man who may be approaching Hamlet-like indecision. At best, they think he may be sharing too many confidentialities with the people of Belize and, indeed, the world. From another perspective, it may be that what we are seeing is a man, like Diogenes of Sinope, who is seeking honest men. At this newspaper, we are cynical about such matters. We don’t believe it is possible to form a government in Belize without dishonest individuals. There are simply too many of them in the high places of Belize. And, by “high places,” we are referring to the categories from which the political parties draw on candidates. Whatever the qualifications involved with membership in these categories, we choose to refer to them as “high places.” To be quite blunt, we are being sarcastic.

For us in little Belize, it may be that all the various energies and initiatives we have seen over the past few years have not impressed us. But, they should, because they are all indigenous and authentic. I am referring to Wil Maheia and the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) in Toledo, Bobby Lopez and Hubert Enriquez with the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) in Belmopan, Nancy Marin and Don Hector Lopez in Cayo, the small citrus growers in the Pomona Valley, the cane farmers in the Northern Districts, the teachers as organized nationwide in the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), and the Belize City-based Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA). Washington and London have an agenda for Belize, and their agenda does not make allowance for what is indigenous and authentic in Belize. The rulers of our world want us to fit into a Eurocentric pattern which features neoliberal capitalism. What this means is a form of economic organization wherein global financial forces decide what we Belizeans should do with our natural resources, how our human resources will be utilized or exploited, and what constitutes desirable development and national well-being.

Just before press time tonight, we were informed that the termination of 26 security officers from the Belize City Council has been pushed back once again, this time, until next Wednesday, February 12. The indication is that the Labor Commissioner needs time to invoke what is called “statutory duty.” Although we are not sure exactly what that means, it seems that it did not sit well with Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley, who, we were told, walked out of the meeting before the Commissioner could conclude what was referred to as a marathon session, which started at around 8:00 this morning. Almost 11 hours after, representatives of the Christian Workers Union (CWU) and the Belize City Council (CITCO) were deadlocked in a session with the Labor Commissioner, Ivan Williams, to decide the fate of the security officers whose jobs were to be made redundant by City Hall tomorrow.

High school dropouts, males especially, are considered particularly vulnerable to crime, drugs and other social ills. Several studies done by researchers have determined that keeping young people in school at least until they are 16 years of age, drastically reduces the likelihood that they will become juvenile offenders. Another matter of concern is that high school dropouts normally get dragged into the cycle of poverty since they are at a great disadvantage in the attempt to earn a decent income. The Ministry of Education is making an effort to address these trends. Presently it allots funding by applying the district poverty rate to each school’s enrollment. But, because poverty is not evenly distributed among schools, some who don’t need it are getting an above average allocation, while some that may have poorer students are not getting enough. This morning, at a breakfast meeting that was held between officials of the Ministry of Education and the media, the Ministry unveiled a Secondary Education Finance Reform Initiative. It’s a program through which the Ministry is seeking to assist all students and their parents to make education more affordable.

Official company information posted today on the London Stock Exchange reports that the August 2013 sale agreement between BCB Holdings Limited and Yumi Limited for the sale of Caye Chapel, a resort island in Belize, was not completed, and as such “the company is now engaging with other potential purchasers for Caye Chapel.” Back in August, Amandala had reported on the intent of BCB Holdings to sell Caye Chapel to Yumi Limited of the British Virgin Islands. The purchase of the 265-acre property would have been for US$30 million. The sale to Yumi should have been concluded by the end of 2013, but BCH Holdings has provided no explanation as to why the deal reportedly fell through. If you are wondering how Caye Chapel—a property once owned by Isaiah Morter, Belize’s first known black millionaire—ended up in the hands of the Michael Ashcroft Alliance, we have found out from court papers that British Caribbean Bank International Limited, based at Market Square, Belize City, had acquired the property in lieu of a US$30 million liability Caribbean Holdings Inc. (CHI) held with the bank.

One week ago the village of More Tomorrow lost two of its original pioneers in the persons of Mr. Adelian Dominguez and Mr. William Neal, better known as “Crow.” Both men had been ailing for some time. May they rest in peace. For the last forty years these men had helped to build and expand the 221-year- old village. They will be sorely missed by their wives, their children, and their friends. I pray that Almighty God Allah grant them paradise and that their families will grow from strength to strength. As-salaam-alaikum. Peace be unto you.

Speaking at the close of the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives today, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow announced that teachers and public officers would be getting this July, but retroactive to April 2014, a 4% salary adjustment, which he said would amount to an estimated $24 million. Barrow was responding to a statement from Ivan Ramos, the Opposition People’s United Party area representative for Dangriga, a teacher of 20-plus years, who spoke of the recent rallies held by the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), saying that the teachers deserve the raise they have been asking for. While the BNTU continues to call for a minimum salary adjustment of 5% this year, Barrow said that they would be getting what looks like a 4% salary adjustment, and “the way it appears now” they would be getting something like $24 million in salary increases.

Wil Maheia of PGTV sounded the alarm on Tuesday that excessive hazardous waste was being held at the Punta Gorda Hospital, spilling over into the hospital’s morgue, because the hospital’s incinerator has not been working for a long time. The “red bag” refuse, said Maheia, could pose serious health risks, especially since the access way to the hazardous waste, which includes used needles, had not been locked off. John Bodden, Sr. Public Health Officer, has confirmed to Amandala that the hazardous waste—which has been onsite for weeks—would be transported today to Belize City for incineration. Bodden explained that there has been a problem with the disposal of hazardous waste from the hospital, firstly because the hospital’s incinerator has not been working for nearly two years, and also because the dumpsite at which the waste was buried in the interim could not be used, because the excessive rains had rendered the low-lying dump unusable.

A shuttle bus was destroyed by fire when it erupted into flames at about Mile 25 on the George Price Highway. Firemen responded quickly and put out the blaze, but the van had already been completely burnt. However, their quick response prevented the fire from spreading into the bushes, which would have caused a massive bush fire. The incident occurred about 1:40 yesterday afternoon. The particulars of the shuttle bus and the cause of the fire are unknown because the investigation into the fire has been halted, Amandala was told, because the owner of the van and the driver would not give statements to Fire Department officials, and thus impeded their efforts to investigate.

A group of about nine families, living behind the newly constructed Tow Tow building on Mahogany Street Extension near Tibruce Street, are having difficulty accessing their homes because the alley leading to their properties has been blocked by neighbors who have fenced in the alley as a part of their respective yards. The families are presently using the yard of the new building to access their homes from Mahogany Street Extension. The owner of Tow Tow is presently constructing a concrete fence around the property, but out of consideration for the affected residents, is hesitating to complete the fence, since the families would then have no access to or from their yards. Joan Harris, a resident of the area, told Amandala that it is only due to the kindness of the owner of the new building that they are able to get into their homes. She would like the Mayor and the City Council to knock down the fence built across the alley and reclaim the alley from the neighbors who took it as a part of their yard.

Belize parliamentarians gave rare bipartisan support to a raft of legislation in the National Assembly this week, as the country tries to avert major financial sanctions already being felt by our sister Caribbean country, Guyana. This follows a call last November by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to its members to “consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating” from Belize and Guyana, where several Belizeans study law at the University of Guyana. Gail Teixeira, an elected member of Guyana’s 65-member parliament, and the Chief Whip for the Government in the Parliament and Presidential Advisor on Governance, told Amandala today that Guyana has already been feeling pain for not having yet passed the legislation. Towards the end of 2013, she said, Guyanese in the diaspora who had tried to send money back home via the banks or Western Union, to take care of their living expenses on their return home, found that their bank accounts in the US were being closed because of their Guyanese connection.

Concerned parents and guardians are calling on the management of St. Martin De Porres School and the Ministry of Education to delay an election of new members of the Parent Teachers Association due to be held on Monday, February 10, 2014, because of concerns that they are being given only days’ notice before the election is held. In the process of challenging the decision, KREM’s YaYa Marin-Coleman, who has a relative attending the school, sought assistance from the Ministry of Education to get the meeting delayed after the school’s management decided that it would stick with the announced date.

Seven persons were appointed to the Integrity Commission when the Senate met today at the National Assembly in Belmopan. Heading the Commission is Marilyn Williams, attorney-at-law and the former director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). She is one of three attorneys who will now sit on the Commission. The other two attorneys are Philip Zuniga, SC, ex-president of the Senate and a former executive chairman of Belize Telemedia Limited; along with Kevin Arthurs, attorney and board member of the Human Rights Commission of Belize. Joining them will be returned Integrity Commission member Ms. Armead C. Gabourel, Stephen Duncan – managing director of Heritage Bank, and Wilmot Simmons of Prosser Fertilizer & Agrotec Co. Ltd.

The Uh family of Chan Pine Ridge Village in Orange Walk is mourning the death of their son, Luis Uh, 13, who drowned in a large pond frequented by swimmers. The pond, which is a dugout left after white marl was extracted from the ground, is located about 2 miles outside of Chan Pine Ridge. The body of the boy was found about 5:00 Sunday evening by some soldiers of the Belize Defence Force stationed in Orange Walk Town, and residents of the area. Luis was declared dead on the scene after he was retrieved from the bottom of the pool, which has a depth of about 20 feet. Police said that there were no signs of violence on the body, and no foul play is suspected.

The extreme loss of forest cover in Belize can cause major ripple effects for the country – among them worsening climate change and the deterioration of river quality and increased drought conditions around the country. It is estimated that between March 24, 2013, and January 30, 2014, a total of 9,290 hectares of Belize’s forest have been stripped, putting Belize’s forest cover at 60.7%, down from 61.1% last March. Just prior to Belize’s Independence, it boasted forest cover of nearly 75%, at 1.6 million hectares. Today, the forest cover is reported at 1.3 million hectares. The information was shared with us via Facebook by Emil Cherrington, manager of the Applied Research and Scientific Development Division of the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (in Spanish ¨CATHALAC¨- Centro del Agua del Trópico Húmedo para America Latina y el Caribe).

Ricardo Eustace Castellanos, 47, a resident of San Joaquin, Corozal, lost his life when he was knocked down by a taxi driver, also of San Joaquin, who has been issued a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). The taxi driver, Giovanni Correa, 56, reported that he was driving his car from Corozal to Orange Walk, and that when he approached Louisville, Corozal District, at an area between Miles 74 and 73 on the Philip Goldson Highway, he knocked down a man. Correa told police that the man, who was walking on the right side of the road, suddenly ran onto the road and threw himself into the path of the oncoming vehicle, slamming into the right front portion of the car. The man fell violently onto the road and died almost immediately from massive head and facial injuries. Correa reported that the incident happened quickly, and that there was nothing he could have done to avoid hitting the man.

The beginning of the year has brought pain and misery to Steven Reichert, 60, a retired Canadian businessman who lives in Benque Viejo, after his violent, out-of-control neighbor, Benaro Hob, allegedly chopped him several times with a machete at about 10:30 Sunday morning in the Chapel Hill area of Benque Viejo. As a result of the vicious machete attack, Reichert suffered chop wounds to his hands, to the back of the head and to his back. He has been treated and is recovering at home. On Monday, Benaro Hob, 68, was arrested and charged with harm and wounding, and ordered to take a psychological evaluation. He has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until March 27, when he is to be returned to the Benque Magistrate’s Court. Reichert told police that he and his daughter, 2, were walking on a footpath to his business place when he heard a noise behind him and footsteps approaching. He turned around to see what was happening, and that was when a man known to him, who was armed with a machete, swung the machete at the child.

A woman who is wanted on an Interpol international arrest warrant for her alleged involvement in a large-scale human trafficking ring in Honduras, her native country, was captured in Belize and is now in prison awaiting deportation. Blanca Rodriguez, 40, was apprehended by Belize Immigration officers on Monday at a house in the Sunset Park area of the Mile 8 community, on the George Price Highway, where she was staying with some Belizean friends. Rodriguez had violated the conditions of her visitor’s permit to Belize. She appeared before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton on Tuesday, and was fined $1,000 after she pleaded guilty to the immigration offense. Hamilton ordered that she pay the fine immediately and he also issued a removal order for her to be deported to Honduras.

To The Publisher, Shakiera LOMONT writes from France This letter is not a reply, but somewhat like an “OKEYING” to your last letter to the public. It hits me on the 6th February morning as I opened my computer as usual to read my country’s news; honestly, I am not a frequent reader of your letters, but I have been reading them regularly for the past three weeks. I like the way you express yourself and the words you choose to express yourself; it makes me want to pick up the pen again … more on that.

Editor, I have a simple and quick solution that will get the draconian gun law changed immediately. Have someone plant some ammo of different calibers in a restaurant or bar in Belmopan that the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers are known to frequent. When they are there, call the GSU and report the illegal ammunition. Since the law is supposed to apply equally to everyone, they will all be arrested and taken to jail with no chance of bail. Let them see the ridiculousness of this law that they enacted first hand and how unfair it is and how it affects innocent people’s lives.

Editor Sir, This week the Belize National Teachers’ Union (B.N.T.U.) completed a series of six rallies that took it throughout the country. The rallies were historic. It was the first time in this back-to-back UDP administration that a union took to the streets to demand its attention on major issues. And despite government’s attempt to scare the teachers from standing up for their rights, the rallies were all well attended. Topics covered at each event included the need for progress with negotiations for the long overdue salary increase for teachers and respect for teachers from the Minister of Education. Teachers also used the rallies to demand decisive action on national issues that are a major hindrance to progress in the country.

Both teams had high hopes and dreams of “finishing” the finals series at the MCC Grounds yesterday, following the pattern set by the Bandits in their semifinal series with BDF, where a 3-0 shutout at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium for all practical purposes determined the outcome of that series. No way any right thinking fan, or even the BDF squad themselves, could have realistically hoped for a comeback against such enormous odds and against such a formidable opponent. The draw in their return match at the Carl Ramos was no surprise to anyone, but at least BDF salvaged some respect by managing a draw in injury time, after trailing their Belmopan visitors 1-0 for most of the game. On Sunday at the MCC, there were shades of déjà vu, as once again the Bandits took an early 1-0 lead over their opponent in Game 1, after starting the game at a torrid pace that saw some confusion in the FC Belize defensive line. Bandits’ super striker Deon McCaulay capitalized on some FC Belize defensive hesitation after David Trapp centered across goal, and Deon’s well placed grounder caromed off the inside of the right goal post near the southern “ragamuffin” bleachers, outside the reach of a diving Glenford Chimilio in goal for FC Belize. 1-0, Belmopan Bandits, at the 5th minute of play. And what a way to start a game for FC Belize, after bold predictions of “ending it all” by some of their fans, who turned out in huge numbers for this gala at the MCC.

In our report last weekend, Wesley girls and boys were through to the Finals of the Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) football competition. Both Gwen Liz females and males had a 1-0 edge going into their semifinal game 2 on Friday against SCA and ACC, respectively. Here are the results of those games. On Friday, Gwen Liz girls and boys repeated their shutout victories in game 2. Gwen Liz girls won, 2-0, over SCA, with goals from Tyra Moreira and Kishay Bevans; and Gwen Liz boys blanked ACC, 3-0, with a goal apiece from Albert Davis, Clinton Dawson and Allan Castillo. That set the stage for the Finals best-of-two series between the females and males of Wesley College and Gwen Lizarraga High School, to be played on Monday and Wednesday, February 3 and 5. Noteworthy is that, throughout the semifinals, neither Gwen Liz female nor male team had conceded a single goal.

The National Secondary Schools Sports Association’s (NSSSA) Central Division football tournament climaxed this evening at the MCC Garden in Belize City where the two final games of the season were played with intensity as the finalists in the female and male categories fought for the right to be crowned as champions, while their fans and schoolmates excitedly cheered on. It was Gwen Lizarraga High vs Wesley College in both females and males, and game 1 of both best-of-two Finals series had been drawn on Monday, 0-0 for the girls and 1-1 for the boys. In the first game today, the female teams of Gwen Lizarraga High School and Wesley College played to another scoreless stalemate during regulation time, which caused the game to go into overtime. During overtime, neither team managed to shake the net, therefore the game and series winner was left to be decided by penalty shootout.

The Inter-District football home-and-away Finals series was originally scheduled to begin this Saturday, February 8, but that date has now been postponed; also, the venue for Game 2 has been changed from Isidoro Beaton Stadium to the FFB Field. Yesterday, no doubt because of the big Premier League championship match this coming Saturday night, the FFB sent out a press release announcing the new schedule for the FFB Inter-District Championship series, which now begins next week Saturday. New FFB Inter-District Finals schedule: Saturday, February 15, Game 1 7:30 p.m. – MnM Steelers vs Roaring Creek United – Michael Ashcroft Stadium Sunday, February 23, Game 2 3:30 p.m. – Roaring Creek United vs MnM Steelers – FFB Field

It’s here! Opening Week of National Elite Basketball League
The cream of the crop in Belize basketball will be in action this weekend, as the much anticipated National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) tips off its 2014 regular season with games at 4 different venues across the nation. Eight (8) teams are participating in this first ever National Elite competition, which basketball enthusiasts are hoping will bring back the quality of play and enthusiasm the sport enjoyed during the glory days of the now defunct “semi-pro” basketball league. All 8 teams will see action in the opening weekend of competition, with two games on Friday, February 7, and two more on Saturday, February 8. And the regular season schedule calls for similar action each weekend, with all teams busy, except for a break in competition during the Easter weekend. Week 1 schedule: Friday, February 7 9:00 p.m. – Belize City (Smart) No Limit vs San Pedro Tigersharks – Bird’s Isle in Belize City 9:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits vs Orange Walk Running Rebels – UB Gymnasium in Belmopan Saturday, February 8 9:00 p.m. – Corozal Heats vs Cayo Western Ballaz – Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal Town 9:00 p.m. – Dangriga Warriors vs Toledo Diplomats – Y-Not Island in Dangriga

Police are on a manhunt to recapture a dangerous prisoner, Edwin Paula, 29, of San Martin, Belmopan, who escaped from police custody yesterday afternoon at about 4:30 while he was being escorted back to the Belize Central Prison. Paula was on remand on murder and robbery charges. Police said that they were returning Paula to the Belize Central Prison, but when they arrived at Cotton Tree, the van slowed down for a pedestrian crossing on the highway, and that was when Paula, who was sitting in front near the door, suddenly jumped out of the van and sprinted away. Police chased him, but could not catch him. Anyone who sees him or knows of his whereabouts is urged to call the police.

A Belize City man who was in a live-in relationship with a female police special constable was convicted on a charge of theft from her when his trial before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith concluded on Wednesday. Richard Longsworth, 29, a part-time mason, was fined $100 plus $5 cost of court. In addition, Longsworth was ordered to repay Special Constable Nakesisha Usher, his ex-girlfriend, the $2,000 that he was found guilty of stealing from her. Chief Magistrate Smith ordered Longsworth to begin repaying Usher $100 per month, beginning on February 15. If he fails to repay Usher, a distress warrant will be issued against him. The $100 court fine was supposed to be paid immediately, but up to 12:00 p.m., Longsworth was unable to come up with the money, so he was taken into police custody. If he defaults on paying the court fine, he will have to serve two months in prison.

A Ladyville mechanic, who has several cases pending and was not present in court when one of his cases concluded, learned that he was found guilty in absentia when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, who sentenced him to six months in prison, on Tuesday. Alrick Smith, 29, expressed surprise when Frazer told him, “I have found you guilty in absentia of aggravated assault. Is there anything you would like to say before I pass sentence?” Smith, looking confused, declared: “I was present for all of my adjournment and spoke at all the cases.” Well, you were not here when this case finished, and the court cannot wait on you, Frazer informed him. “According to the evidence that I heard, I must tell you that I am satisfied that you are guilty of the offence,” Frazer continued.

The Reporter

Corporal Gino Peck free after paying fine
Though his career in the Police Department remains on the line, Corporal Gino Peck, 42, has avoided mandatory jail time on two counts of keeping unlicensed ammunition and keeping prohibited ammunition. Peck, who was fined for the offences, was saved prison time last Friday, when […]

Citrus growers take action on audit
Members of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), meeting at their headquarters on Saturday, agreed to allow the Association’s members on the Finance and Audit Committee (FAC) of the Board of Directors of Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL) to settle a festering dispute over the […]

BNTU says rallies were a success
The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) held a press briefing at their office on Tuesday and declared that January’s month of rallies was a success as the majority of their membership turned out to support the union’s cause. The BNTU claimed that in Corozal […]

Castro poor, or Poor Castro?
By Louis Wade When Jesus uttered the words “He that is without sin Cast the first stone”, he must have known that his comments would be used by corrupt politicians and secularists two thousand years later to cover their misdeeds. Of recent the phrase is being used more and more, […]

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry is currently reviewing the OSH Bill tabled in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. The Chamber, while fully supporting health and safety measures for employees, is deeply concerned that the Bill contains variations from the draft that was circulated and […]

Fabrigas gets international certification on safety
Fabrigas Limited, a private company that sells a variation of inert gases, this week received international certification for safety after it met the standards of the International Organisation of Standardisation, ISO. It came after 19 months of training, adjustments and internal adaptations of the company’s quality management system. ISO, which […]

Peanut allergy treatment a success
Doctors say a potential treatment for peanut allergy has transformed the lives of children taking part in a large clinical trial. The 85 children had to eat peanut protein every day – initially in small doses, but ramped up during the study. The findings, published in the Lancet, suggest 84% […]

Stem cell major discovery claimed
Stem cell researchers are heralding a “major scientific discovery”, with the potential to start a new age of personalised medicine. Scientists in Japan showed stem cells can now be made quickly just by dipping blood cells into acid. Stem cells can transform into any tissue and are already being trailed […]

Water rates going up
All Belizeans, with the exception of Caye Caulker residents, can expect a higher water bill this coming April. The Belize Water Services Limited applied to the Public Utilities Commission for a 16.25 percent increase in water rates. However, the PUC only approved a 6.4 percent […]

Profiting from a strong private sector
By Kay Menzies Many people speak of the private sector in generic terms, without seeing themselves as members of this group. Investopedia breaks the definition of private sector down clearly, stating that it is “the part of the economy that is not state controlled, and is run by individuals and […]

Joel Borland wins BCA time trials
By Willam Ysaguirre Joel Borland of the Telemedia cycling team won the individual time trials organized by the Belize Cycling Association on the Burrell Boom bypass road on Saturday, February 1, clocking 30:33 over a 12-mile course to win first place overall in the elite category and first in the […]

Wesley & Ladyville Tech girls win in high schools softball
The girls of Wesley College and Gwen Lizarraga High School both enjoyed victories when the Belize City high schools softball competition continued at the Roger’s Stadium last Saturday morning, February 1. The Wesley girls defeated the girls of Anglican Cathedral College 15-7 in Saturday’s first […]

Negotiations between the Christian Workers Union (CWU) and the Belize City Council (BCC) have broken down, and as a result the Labor Commissioner has intervened and called an impasse. During the course of the meeting between the two parties, the CWU had made four […]

Gun law review begins! PUP proposes change
On the heels of Wednesday’s presentation in the House of Representatives, the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) made a bid for changes to be made to the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act and the Firearms Act to reverse the current state of affairs. In […]

Integrity Commission finally here!
The Integrity Commission, which has been inactive for the last four years, was officially appointed at Thursday’s Sitting of the Senate. The appointments are for a period of two years effective from February 1st, 2014. The official appointment comes a little more than a […]

Barrow speaks out on UDP corruption
Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed the issue of corruption in his administration after Wednesday’s House Sitting and he was surprisingly candid about his views on the matter. “There is no doubt at all in my mind, that the scandals have threatened to swamp us. […]

The Belize Times


Las Terrazas Resort and O Restaurant: Perhaps the Most GORGEOUS Pool on the Island
Last week I took a trip up to Las Terrazas Resort, just about 3.5 miles over the bridge on North Ambergris Caye, for lunch and some pool time. Every single time I get off the water taxi or walk by the resort and step through the open lobby palapa and see this pool, I just love it. I don’t know if the style is from the Mediterranean (perhaps a Greek Island…Mykonos) or maybe Moroccan…maybe Bali? Those in the design know can surely clue me in…but I think it is beautiful. Clean, white, modern with Belizean dark wood all around…I took a tour around the grounds, inside a variety of the rooms, ate at the restaurant and I was very impressed. They have a lovely stretch of beach and are within walking distance of quite a few fun bars and restaurants, a beach with some privacy, easy access to options and to town. (Three things that I would be looking for when visiting Ambergris Caye. Check, check, check.)

Love May Not Have Been Invented in Belize, But Chocolate?
It was back in February 1894 that Hershey’s, a company whose name is synonymous with chocolate, was founded. But according to The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s food and beverage manager, it is the ancient Maya who deserve credit for inventing the “Food of love.” And 110 years after the founding of Hershey’s, Belize’s Chaa Creek eco resort is continuing the Maya tradition with unique spa treatments using chocolate and its the main ingredient, cacao. In Belize’s early Maya civilisation cacao was so highly prized it was used as money. As the preferred beverage of both the royal elite and commoners, chocolate was deemed to be vital to health and wellbeing, and to enhance love. Bryony Fleming Bradley, who also manages Chaa Creek’s Hilltop Spa, which has introduced the Chocolatissimo Belize Vacation package, said that the Spa’s professional therapies utilise massage and the absorption of cacao through the skin to refresh and revitalise while inducing sensations akin to falling in love.

International Sources

A magical world at Francis Ford Coppola's luxe resorts in Belize
Need isolation? Coppola's Blancaneaux Lodge is in the middle of the untamed, natural beauty of a Belizean forest preserve. Need local culture? Turtle Inn is on the coast near the fishing village of Placencia. As Hummingbird Highway carves away from Belize's resort-laden sands, pavement dissolves into rutted dirt tracks and the dense jungle canopy starts to press in from all sides. The tallest buildings pushing through the foliage are Maya ruins, and howler monkeys and macaws lurk in the ceiba trees. Late at night, distant thunderstorms ring the horizon, broad sheets of lightning illuminating the mountains. Before I brought my family to Belize for 10 days last summer, I packed a copy of "Heart of Darkness," knowing that although traveling through Central America wouldn't precisely parallel a trip up the Congo River, Joseph Conrad's novel would remind me that the book was the indirect inspiration for our itinerary. I had traveled to Belize several times before I started a family, and even though tourism has transformed much of the country for the worse in the intervening 20 years, I wanted to revisit what I loved most about the tiny but diverse nation: lavish lodgings smack in the middle of untamed, natural beauty. And because I cover the movie business for The Times, I thought of no better way to see the country than by staying at Francis Ford Coppola's two Belizean resorts, Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn.

Victoria family, Ashley Furniture send goods to Belizean orphanage (w/video)
Traci and James Kral sat in front of the family computer and clicked on their email inbox. Hours earlier, the Victoria pair distributed multiple requests to Christian-based organizations with ties to Belize. Their email explained the family's desire to travel to Belize on a mission - volunteering for Belizean children however needed. "We didn't hear back from anyone for weeks, and it forced us to go through this self-examination about what our real motives were in taking this trip. When no one responded, we thought maybe God was telling us that he didn't want this for us," Traci Kral, 38, said. Still, the Krals were eager to do God's work abroad, living out the biblical passages of their prayers that referenced caring for widows and orphans. Traci and James prayed one last time before sending out the final email, and agreed that if no one responded this time, the family would reexamine its plan for international service.

Save Nature, Save Lives
Indirect impacts. Many consequences of ecosystem loss take less direct pathways. In Belize, it took detailed study to discover that fertilizers applied to croplands caused changes in wetland vegetation far downstream. Unfortunately for coastal residents, these changes favor a variety of mosquito much more effective at transmitting malaria. Farming practices in one place have unwittingly resulted in greater exposure to malaria many miles away.

The United States and Sugar Policy in the Caribbean
In 2001, President George W Bush launched the Caribbean Third Border Initiative with the countries of the Caribbean “to make sure the benefits of globalization are felt in even the smallest economies.” The Third Border Initiative is designed to enhance diplomatic, economic, and law enforcement collaboration between the United States and its Caribbean neighbors, the often overlooked “third border”. Yet, the US maintains its protectionist policies on sugar to the detriment of both US consumers and Caribbean nations. Sugar is the most highly controlled agricultural commodity in America with the current US policy focusing on 3 main areas: price supports through loan agreements, domestic market controls, and tariff-rate quotas (TRQ). Among the details of its sugar policy are provisions which allow the US government to sell excess sugar to ethanol producers at a significant loss of up to 10 cents per pound, allowing the government to utilize excess sugar, should sugar prices be substantially low, according to Sugarcane.org.


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Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
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