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#487671 - 03/08/14 10:55 AM Today's Belize News: March 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

61 Teams start strong in first leg of La Ruta Maya River Challenge
61 teams started the first leg of the 16th Annual Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge at the foot of the historic Hawksworth Bridge. With excellent cool weather, the race kicked off on time at 7AM following a short ceremony. A multitude gathered for the kick off of the competition along the banks of the Macal River in the twins towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio. The first leg of the race will take paddlers from the Twin Towns, under the wooden bridge, along banks of rural communities such as Esperanza Village, Duck Run I and many more before coming to an end at Banana Bank Lodge.

Will Compol Allen Whylie charge Penner before statute of limitation kicks in?
The Belize Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Kenneth Benjamin has ordered the Commissioner of Police (Compol) Allen Whylie to immediately commence a criminal investigation against Former Minister of State Elvin Penner. The ruling came after CJ Benjamin granted the Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca the Writ of Mandamus against Compol Whylie. The top police commandant criminally investigates Penner for his role in the Belizean nationality and passport granted to South Korean criminal fugitive Won Hong Kim. One important element of the case had to do with a memorandum sent from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal to the Head of the Police National Criminal Investigations Branch (CIB), Assistant Superintendent of Police Julio Valdez. The memo, which was leaked to the media days before Writ of Mandamus was heard, shows that an investigation was started by the CIB office but was halted. The DPP’s memo said that in his statement, ASP Julio Valdez said “After the documents were examined it was observed that several nationalities were approved by Immigration to individuals without meeting the criteria for approval, yet they were processed and approved… this line of the investigation did not continue, due to instructions, no other follow [up] was made.” The DPP did not get a response as to who gave the “instructions” to stop the investigation.

Indulging and relaxing at Belize Ocean Club, Maya Beach
Maya Beach is a small community on the Placencia Peninsula, located about 7 miles north of Placencia village. It is a small community, mainly made up of small and luxury resorts, private homes and a few wonderful restaurants and bars. It is where Belize Ocean Club is located and where our weary heads would rest for the night. While walking around and taking in the breathtaking views from the main building being built to take complete advantage of said imagery, we were surprised with a refreshing beverage to cool us down. A cocktail at 10AM? Don’t ever say we’re not up for anything! We awoke refreshed after a great night’s sleep in our comfortable beds, ready to enjoy Belize Ocean Club’s amenities. Once again, the sun shone down on the green of the sea, and the great pool beckoned like the temptress she was designed to be. But first: breakfast! We enjoyed some fabulous eggs benedict on the beach while people watching, a warm breeze feeling blissful and tempting us to pull up to the sun loungers and be utterly lazy bums. This is what people do on vacation isn’t it? We go, go, go, GO all the time so when it’s time to relax, and an avenue presents itself, we can hardly figure out what to do with ourselves.

20,000 Strong Empowerment Rally inspires change
The women of San Pedro and Caye Caulker joined the rousing ranks of energetic marchers attending the Women’s Empowerment Rally and March in Belize City on Thursday, March 6th. Dressed in the power color of the day, bright tangerine and orange, small groups of friends from the cayes were joined by female students and teachers from San Pedro High School and Ocean Academy. They were a proud contingent sporting bright signs which carried the slogan, “R E S P E C T is the CAYE!” Busloads of women from all the districts of Belize emptied along Princess Margaret Drive, filling the area with energy and enthusiasm. The island groups were supported by sponsorships from Caye Caulker Water Taxi, San Pedro Red Cross, Manuel Heredia Jr., and Gecko Graphics. The event was organized by Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children and the National Women’s Commission (NWC). Under a searing sun, thousands of women settled into what shade was provided, or stood on the wide field of the 20000 Strong Women's Rally-22Marion Jones Stadium as poignant and empowering speeches commenced. Addressing the crowd as “sisters, mothers, daughters, tias and abuelas”, women from all walks of life took to the stage to rally the thousands. International business icon Marie Sharp encouraged women to follow creative and original ideas, take risks, and not to give up in the face of competition. A tearful 19-year-old Jennifer Lopez detailed her challenging life and road to empowerment; while growing up she received little support from her nuclear family and was threatened by sexual molestation at home. She struggled with much adversity before finding support services from a case worker at Family Services, enabling her to continue her education and nurture her young daughter. Musical artist Melonie Gillett led the thousands ladies in a strong sing-along rendition of Alicia Keyes’ “This Girl is on Fire” and singer Christelle Wilson rallied a danceable version of Chaka Kahn’s “I’m Every Woman.”

Day 1 - 16th Annual Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge (13 photos)
The first leg of the 16th Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge has concluded after over 4 hours of paddling along the Mopan River. The challenge started at 7AM from the Hawksworth Bridge and saw Belize Bank Bulldogs (Armin Lopez, Armando Cruz and David Cruz) crossing the finishing line of day one at Banana Bank Lodge first at 4 hours, 46 minutes, 45 seconds. Coming in second was team NICH (National Institute for Culture and History): Oscar Cardona, Felix and Efrain Cruz. Third place was Wateva Boys (Jesus Linares, Sergio Lopez and Adrian Williams) and fourth went to BTL Cobbs Arms and fifth to Westrack Stingers. Saturday will see the second leg of the race continue from Banana Bank Lodge starting at 6:30AM. Paddlers will continue into Double Head Cabbage in the Belize District. The San Pedro Sun has teamed up with CAN Belize Network to bring you the latest on the 2014 Challenge.

Video: Along the Macal River for the Ruta Maya River Challenge Day 1

Video: More from the Ruta Maya River Challenge.

Ambergris Today

20,000 Strong Women Join Empowerment Rally in Belize City
The month of March in Belize is celebrated annually as National Women’s Month and as a result, the Special Envoy Office, in collaboration with the National Women’s Commission, staged the 20,000 Strong National Women’s Empowerment Rally on Thursday, March 6, 2014, from 10:00A.M. to 3:00P.M. at the Marion Jones Stadium in Belize City. In a press release sent out by the Roman Catholic Church in Belize, they acknowledged and stated that they celebrate the women of Belize during and beyond the month of March however, they did not endorse the 20,000 Women’s rally because to the Catholic Church the invitation did not speak to the complementarity role between men and women as taught by Christ through the Church. The release continued by stating that the National Women’s Commission promotes values that contradict Christian and moral teachings regarding respect for all human life, family, marriage and human sexuality as ordered by God . “The Roman Catholic Church strongly believes that the well being of women cannot be enhanced by advocacy that promotes abortion and so-called pseudo rights of men and women and same sex relationships,” stated the release.

Teen Talk: There is Nothing Wrong in Being Different
by Ryan Ancona - In today’s society we are all expected to have a similar personalities, clothing, likes, dislikes, opinions, etc. Some examples of these would be like seeing lots of guys wearing the same snapback caps with G-Shock watches and Jordan slippers; the girls would also all wear similar clothing. You will also observe that many people try to emulate the same personality that others portray. It’s like everybody is trying to copy each other or this one person they look up to. But then it seems like everyone has the same personality! So why do people do this? Well the obvious answer is to fit in. If we don’t follow everyone else then we are now outcasts and would be mocked by all of the “normal” people, right? Well what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way. You should find what fits you; be yourself. There is no reason that you have to follow one single style just to fit in.

ABC Pre-School Annual Spectacular Presentation
ABC Pre-School will once again be hosting its annual spectacular presentation. Join them on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium! Show starts at 7:00 p.m. bring out the family to this wonderful even and witness seing, Hananah Montana, Caullio, Batman, Superman and much more. Prices: Regular Seating Adults $10 and Children $5 Reserved Seating Adults $15 and Children $10

Condolences to the Family of the Late Jeffrey Eiley
It is with profound sadness that we take notice of the passing on of Jeffrey Eiley, who left this Earth at the tender age of 30. He is survived by his parents, Norman and Susana Eiley and by his siblings Olive Dominguez, Tracy Gomez, and Francis Eiley. Jeffrey will be missed immensely by a large family of Arceo’s and Eiley’s as well by his single daughter Valeria. Hundreds of friends shed tears for Jeffrey as well as hundreds applaud his life, achievements and his fun personality. Never a dull moment with Jeffrey! Always a pleasant memory to relive. He lived a short life, only 30 years, but a long life of excitement, camaraderie, and simple joy. Ambergris Today joins the community of friends in the Sanpedrano Farewell offered to Jeffrey Eiley. We are not ready to let you go but our farewell is not our choice, so we bid you good-bye letting you know that even though you are in a better place than us, we would still want you here. However, adios, and rest in peace in the Glory of God in Heaven.

Misc Belizean Sources

Teachers are holding a peaceful demonstration in Belmopan
Hundreds of teachers from all over the country have converged on Independence Hill in Belmopan for a peaceful demonstration. As the teachers demonstrate outside, inside the National Assembly Chambers, the Honorable the Prime Minister Mr Dean Barrow has introduced the Bill to appropriate certain sums of money for use by the Public Service for fiscal year ending March 31, 2015. The Honorable the Prime Minister is about to read the Budget Speech to the House. UPDATE: At the start of of the meeting of the House of Representatives members of the Opposition, People’s United Party (PUP) took time out to show their support for the teachers who are demonstrating in Belmopan.

La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge underway
The banks of the Macal River in San Ignacio/Santa Elena was abuzz with activity early this morning. It was time for the start of the 16th annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. Hundreds of paddlers suited up for the biggest canoe race in Belize which started from underneath the historic Hawksworth Bridge. The race will culminate in Belize City on Monday afternoon. The first leg of the race takes the paddlers from San Ignacio to Banana Bank.

Passion of the Christ Cast Call
The Passion of the Christ re-enactment in Benque will be on April 18th, and they are doing a casting call. If you're interested, contact Jimmy Leslie or Lorena Calderon, or call 823-2024. "A call to all youths who would like to be part of this year's cast for "The Passion of the Christ" dramatization 2014. For more information contact Lorena Melgar Calderón or Jimmy Leslie, if you would like to be part of this annual event and reminiscence of our Lord Jesus Christ in Calvary...where He laid His life for the sake of our salvation. The rehearsal dates to be announced soon. If you wish to help in anyway or make a donation to make this event bigger than ever visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Parish Office on Church Street in Benque Viejo del Carmen or call 501-823-2024."

La Ruta Maya Kick-Off
And they're off! The 16 annual La Ruta Maya. "Top 10 teams to the finish at Banana Bank are: 1: Belize Bank Bulldogs 2: NICH 3: Wateva Boys 4: BTL Cobb Arms 5: Westrac 6: Happy Cow Natius Wester Home Supply 7: Joseph & Taylor Steelers 8: Black Orchid Resort 9: Crime Fighters 2 10: D&A Hydroplaners"

Video: Hunting Lionfish in Belize

Video: Belize Tarpon
Tarpon caught at Long Coco Cay Feb,2014 on an 8wt Temple fork fly rod. 45 minute fight to boat. Fly rod broke as Martin was touching the leader.

BELIKIN LA RUTA MAYA CHALLENGE 2014 (94 photos)
From San Ignacio to Iguana Creek Bridge

Notice for National Agriculture and Trade Show Planning Meetings
The National Agriculture and Trade Show Committee is convening two meetings to discuss the new layout of the grounds, prices for concession holders and conduct of this year’s National Agriculture and Trade Show. All interested parties are urged to attend the following meetings: For prospective Alcoholic Bar Concessions holders on Wednesday, 12th March 2014 at 1:30 p.m. at the Agriculture Showground Main Stage in Belmopan. For prospective Stall/Booth Concession holders on Tuesday, 18th March 2014 at 1:30 p.m. at the Agriculture Showground Main Stage in Belmopan. The general public is reminded to mark 2nd, 3rd and 4th May 2014 in their calendars. This is when all roads will lead to the biggest and best show in Belize, the 2014 National Agriculture and Trade Show.

Mr. Gabriel "Gaby" Nuñez elected Deputy Mayor
The San Pedro Town Council hereby informs the San Pedro residents that Mr. Gabriel "Gaby" Nuñez has been elected as the Deputy Mayor for 2014-2015.

San Pedro High School Science Fair
We invite everyone to come out to the San Pedro High School Science Fair 2014 taking place at the SPHS grounds from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Come check out the interesting projects the students have been working on for week!

First day of La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge completed
The first leg of the 16th annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge has ended at Banana Bank, in Roaring Creek village. According to the unofficial statistics, Belize Bank Bulldogs finished the first part of the race in a time of 4 hours 46 minutes 45 seconds. Coming in second was NICH with a time of 4 hours 50 minutes 30 seconds. Third place was Whatever Boys with a time of 4 hours 53 minutes 06 seconds. The race will resume on Saturday morning from Banana Bank.

Teachers march on Independence Hill
Approximately 800 members of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) assembled on the plaza in front of the National Assembly building following a rally at the Belmopan Comprehensive School. The teachers marched along the ring road to Independence Hill. On their arrival at Independence Hill, the teachers told our reporters that they do not care if their pay is docked as threatened by the Honorable the Minister of Education Mr. Patrick Faber. The teachers say that Minister Faber is the problem. The teachers are also calling for the arrest of the Honorable the Member for Cayo Northeast Mr. Elvin Penner and the Honorable the Member for Belize Rural North Mr. Edmund Castro for corruption.

MS. SHARON RAMCLAM APPOINTED CEO IN THE MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Government of Belize Press Office

BEL’s Electrical System Remains Stable Following Passage of Unstable Weather
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) advises customers that strong wind gusts and the passage of a lightning storm over sections of the country on Thursday, March 6 caused unplanned power interruptions throughout the country. These interruptions in power supply ranged between 23 minutes to approximately 2 hours in most areas. The first series of unplanned power interruptions experienced in Belize at 2:46 p.m. yesterday were as a result of bad weather passing over Quintana Roo, Mexico which tripped Comisión Federal de Electricidad’s (CFE) 230 kV transmission line that supplies Belize. This caused an interruption that affected Belize’s entire electrical system. Power supply was restored to all areas between 3:08 p.m. and 3:26 p.m.

Western Ballaz Beat No Limit
Congratulations, Western Ballaz, on winning another game. They defeated the Belize City No Limit in a great game that came down to 1 point. The final score was 74-73. "What a great game! The Western Ballaz defeated the Belize City No Limit by one point. 74-73."

20,000 Strong Rally
The 20,000 Strong Rally was a huge success. Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, the Special Envoy for Women & Children, uploaded some great pictures from the event. "Special thanks to all the WOMEN OF BELIZE who came out and made the 20,000 STRONG Women's Empowerment Rally a success! Thanks to all the businesses that supported by coming out as a group or giving your female employees the time to come out! Thanks to all the volunteers and persons who worked behind the scenes both on the day of and the days leading up to the rally! Thanks to those who couldn't make it out but wore your orange shirts in solidarity! I hope you will stay with us for the rest of this journey toward a truly equal Belize! The real work begins now. Thank you all once again!"

World Water Day in Cayo
The World Water Day Exhibition will be on Friday, March 21st, from 9:00am through 3:00pm, at the Bedran Hall in the SIRH. They'll have interactive exhibits, a water quiz, the awards presentations, info booths, and much more. Best of all, it's free.

Political supporters fight outside House
At the close of the House of Representatives meeting this afternoon, around 2:00 p.m., a fight broke out at the foot of the National Assembly between supporters of the major political parties. Police had to intervene almost immediately to separate the groups of PUP and UDP supporters who were nose to nose. It is not clear who threw the first punch, but a riled up Minister of Human Development Anthony “Boots” Martinez and PUP talk show host Vaughan Gill traded choice words while several others jeered at each other.

Video: Snorkeling Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye snorkeling offers exceptionally good visibility and a wide range of marine life encounters. While snorkeling Ambergris Caye, you may observe green sea turtles, nurse sharks, southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays, moray eels and typical reef fish.

Video: Beyond Belize
A first person chronicling of my journey through Belize.

Video: Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge 2014 (Race Start)
La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge

Video: 2014 National Budget presented in the House of Representatives

Video: Scuffle Breaks out at the foot of the Assembly Building, Boots and Vaughn trade barbs

Video: 17th Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge kicks off in San Ignacio

Video: Rescued hawksbill sea turtle feeding on jellyfish (Belize)

Video: Belize handlining
Caught numerous fish handlining including a 20lb Barracuda and a 35lb King mackerel.

Channel 7

PM Barrow Presents Budget; Makes Bold Boasts
Budget Day in Belmopan is typically quite straightforward as the presentation of the revenue and appropriations bill takes center stage. But these days, there's always more stuff happening. So today, the teachers union staged its national rally and demonstration in Belmopan to coincide with the budget presentation - even if the centerpiece of that Budget was to give them a raise of pay - the teachers who went to Belmopan still aren't happy - and they made their presence felt all through the prime minister's speech as they sang and vocalized outside on the national assembly stairs. We'll have a full report on that shortly, but that wasn't the only distraction at today's House Meeting. At the end of the meeting, at least one blow was thrown right in front of the House - and right when the representatives were walking out. It was a dispute between the PUP's Vaughn Gill - who was all upset about Anthony Boots Martinez getting land for his constituents in Cayo south - where Gill is the PUP political officer. That got really heated - and we'll show you as much as we have of it later on.

Teachers Rally: Tells PM To Put Salary Adjustment In Writing
But the teachers started their debate today - and they say it's about issues bigger than the budget or any raise of pay. They called today's event a rally on social issues, but they've also thrown in that for all the promises of a 5% salary increase, it has not been formally put to them. But, more than just social issues were driving today's event, and that's because Education Minister Patrick Faber warned on Wednesday that the teachers who attend the rally will get their pay docked for the day of lost classes. That - and the fact that the 5% raise is basically "in-pocket" had to have an effect on the crowd - which was not impressive for a BNTU National Rally; such an event usually draws thousands, today they had hundreds. But those that did appear were spirited and defiant. Daniel Ortiz was in Belmopan, and here's his report:

PM Reacts To Teacher's Rally
And while those 750 teachers railed and rallied outside, inside, in his budget speech, the Prime Minister talked about ingratitude and political agendas by some union leaders. In an interview after the budget presentation, he was more guarded in his choice of words, but still firm:.. Prime Minister Dean Barrow "It can't be done." Jules Vasquez "Yet still the teachers are across the way hollering at you incessantly for hours." Prime Minister Dean Barrow "Well I am not going to quarrel. I have said all that I have to say during the speech. The fact is though is that the Belizean public will surely make an assessment of the legitimacy of their protest in view of this wonderful largess that they are getting by way of salary increases. That also speaks for itself."

Opposition Leader Says Budget Doesn't Meet Anyone's Needs
But the former Education Minister Francis Fonseca was not impressed with the raise of pay that the Prime Minister was beating his chest over. Instead Francis Fonseca was chanting reggae lyrics:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca "The Prime Minister's budget presentation almost moves me to sound. I'm reminded of the Morgan Heritage tune "ends nah meet, dem ah seh dat tings di get betta, but we can't feel it, dem ah seh money di run, buy we can't see it," and I think that is the overwhelming response of the Belizean people to the flowery empty rhetoric we heard this morning. It is a budget divorce and disconnected from reality like this UDP government. That is my initial reaction to the budget, obviously we will pour into the details of the numbers and look at it and give a very comprehensive response at the time of the budget debate."

What Caused That Ugly Scene...
As we told you at the top of the news, there was an ugly episode in front of the House Of Representatives this afternoon. It happened around 1:30when the meeting was finished - and the representatives were leaving. But before we get to the fight where actual blows were thrown, we first have to give you the background. It all started with the member for Cayo South Julius Espat speaking on the adjournment. His matter of public interest was a parcel of land in Cotton Tree Village that has been set aside to allow for 254 lots to be given to Port Loyola residents. Espat said it disenfranchises villagers who cannot get land for themselves: Ok, so that should have been the end of it, right. Issues raised, solution proposed, and things move on…except they didn't. The House meeting adjourned right after that and that's when chaos unfolded. The media was interviewing the Prime Minister at the top of the House stairs when he saw something going on at the bottom of the stairs:..

Man Killed In Bar Brawl
Police say that 20 year-old Earl Baizar, a resident of Dangriga, was involved in a fight inside the club, and they were ejected. The altercation then flared up once again, and where Baizar was stabbed by the man he was fighting with. Today, the Deputy Commander of San Ignacio Police told us what investigators know at this time about this incident: Inspector Reymundo Requena - Deputy OC "Sometime around 12:50 this morning San Ignacio police received information of a male person who has allegedly been stabbed and rushed to the hospital. As a result police went to the hospital and on arrival they saw a male person receiving treatment for a stab wound under the left side of his chest, his arm and whilst undergoing treatment he succumbs to his injuries."

DPP Waiting On Full Penner File
Today word went out that a full file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions about police investigations in the Citizen Kim Passport Scandal. Viewers may remember that on Monday, the Supreme Court compelled the Commissioner of Police to investigate Elvin Penner for this passport scandal. Well, our check with the Director Public Prosecution, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, has revealed that she has gotten some materials from the National Criminal Investigation's Branch, but the file is not complete. This evening, the DPP Vidal told us quote, "On my request, they copied certain statements and forwarded to me, but I have not been given a complete investigation file. As it is right now, I am working with what I have and what has already been in the public domain."

Prison Did Full Body Cavity Search
Last night, 7News told you about Natalie Hamilton who allegedly tried to smuggle weed into the prison. Well, the other woman who was caught in the act is 19 year-old Christy Ramclam, she was taken to court today. Ramclam was busted yesterday when she went to prison to visit inmate Anthony Carballo Jr. She was given a thorough body cavity search which resulted in the discovery of the cannabis wrapped in a piece of toilet paper and tucked in her private parts. Carballo Jr, who is remanded to prison on a charge of murder, is the father of Ramclam's child. She was arraigned before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton where she pleaded guilty to drug possession and was fined $500. She had to pay half of it upfront today, after which, she was released.

DIBARI...
We often hear about shoplifting on the news but it gets quite interesting when a police officer is the accused shoplifter. According to the owner of Dibary Store on Church Street in Belize City, a woman police officer was caught red handed stealing a purse from out the store. The incident happened just before midday on Wednesday and we were told it was all caught on camera. The value of the purse is fifteen dollars. Reliable reports is that quite incredibly another woman constable was caught stealing in the store a few months ago. There are over 20 security cameras in the store.

CCIC Inviting B'zeans To Apply For Grants
There are international experts in Belize being hosted by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center. These experts are from the Carribbean Climate Innovation Center, and they are here to promote their project to Belizean engineers. They're doing so by holding a contest where interested persons can win grants of up to $50,000 US to start projects that takes the effects of climate change into consideration. Today, the CEO of CCIC explained the contest to 7News. Here's how it will work: Interested entries will be assessed for their innovation under the categories of water management, resources use efficiency, energy efficiency, solar energy, and sustainable agriculture. We'll post a link on our website where interested Belizeans can apply to see if they qualify for one of these grants.

PROFILE: Emily Martinez-Palacio
So far teachers have been all over the news tonight. They got their raise in the headline story, and rallied for social issues in the second. But so much of the talk about teachers has been controversial and about money, that in the process, the art of pedagogy and the commitment to it seems to have been forgotten. And that's why the format of the I Am Belize Profile has been changed in timely fashion this year to look at teachers and the first episode features Emily Martinez-Palacio. She's been a teacher for 26 years, and she tells the Profile about some of the challenges she's face while trying to inspire young minds and lead students on the path to success: The profile will now be back on a regular basis.

SDA Sets Record Straight On Women Rally
And as we close tonight, the Women's Empowerment Rally is history - and while many are still trying to size it up - we've got some housekeeping to do. On Wednesday's news we reported that the Seventh Day Adventist Church had joined the Roman Catholic Church in its opposition to the march. We heard that informally, but we should have followed up - and we didn't. Turns out the SDA did no such thing. The SDA church sent out a statement saying our statement caused them distress and consternation because they said no such thing. Indeed, they didn't and we apologize for our error. And while the Seventh Day Adventist Church was not opposed to the march, the PUP seemed to have staged an unofficial boycott of the event. None of the party's prominent women leaders such as Area Rep Dolores Balderamos Garcia or Senator Lisa Shoman were there. But John Briceno was there in support of his wife who was a guest speaker. Also present was former PUP Representative Patty Arceo. Here's why she said it's bigger than politics:..

Channel 5

Is There a Warrant for Elvin Penner’s Arrest?
There is much to report in the news from inside and outside the national assembly, but first we turn tonight to former Minister of State Elvin Penner. News Five has [...]

COMPOL Whylie Fails to Update Francis Fonseca on Progress of Criminal Investigation into Passport Scandal
So while official verification of a warrant issued for Penner’s arrest is pending, his name was very much a part of matters in the House today. Following a writ of [...]

Scuffle Breaks Out At the Foot of Assembly Building, Boots and Vaughn Trade Barbs
Over the years, viewers have come to expect that behavior in the national assembly has generally been unbecoming and unruly. But earlier today that spill outside the national assembly where [...]

2014 National Budget Presented in the House of Representatives
The highlight of today’s news should have been the presentation of the 2014 – 2015 Budget but there was a lot else to get out of the way. So with [...]

Budget by the Numbers
The thrust of the Prime Minister’s budget presentation was on education, healthcare and infrastructure. And then Prime Minister Barrow turned to the real meat of the budget, the numbers contained [...]

Cheerless Response from Opposition Leader to 2014 Budget
It is customary to get a response from the Opposition Leader on any budget presented in the House. To our recollection, there has never been any occasion when that feedback [...]

P.M. Says Details of Salary Adjustment are being finalized
Prime Minister Dean Barrow prefaced his budget proposals section of the presentation today by stating that the priorities can be summed up in three words – Additional Social Protection. And [...]

D.P.P. finally presented with files on the investigation
Ten minutes ago News Five received an update from Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal via email. She confirmed that at five forty-three this evening investigators visited her office to [...]

Hundreds of Teachers Demonstrate on Independence Hill during Budget Presentation
The Prime Minister announced that a big slice of the 2014/2015 Budget will be spent on personal emoluments; that’s three hundred and thirty two million dollars. Teachers and public officers [...]

Dangriga Man Stabbed to Death in San Ignacio Following Argument inside Nightclub
San Ignacio police are tonight looking for Gabino Garnett Jr., whom they believe can assist with their investigation into the overnight murder of twenty year old Earl Baizar.  Reports are [...]

Woman who tries to take weed inside Belize Central Prison pleads guilty
Twenty-one year old Christy Ramclam, a resident of Tigris Street, was arraigned in the courtroom of Magistrate Leslie Hamilton today, where she was read a single charge of possession of [...]

Incoming Commander Discusses Future of GSU
Superintendent of Police, Linden Flowers is the new commander of the Gang Suppression Unit. The news broke this past Tuesday that the career officer was bumped up the chain of [...]

GSU Boss Says Officers Aren’t Above the Law
There are thirty officers in the Unit and Superintendent Flowers says that those who step out of bounds will be penalized; criminal elements will be dealt with and that the [...]

Sharon Ramclam is Appointed CEO in Ministry of Natural Resources
A new chief executive officer has been appointed to replace outgoing C.E.O. Jose Alpuche at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture.  Government has looked outside the public service and [...]

Grant for Climate Change Initiatives
C.E.O. of the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center, Everton Hanson, is in country since Thursday; his mission is to sensitize and bring awareness to entrepreneurs on the availability of grants for [...]

17th Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge Kicks Off in San Ignacio
Crowds gathered this morning at the banks of the Mopan River in San Ignacio for the start of the annual Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge. More than sixty teams [...]

CTV3

Rotary Corozal Donates Laptops To Schools In Rural Communities
Rotary International is an organization that supports global projects such as eradication of polio and education. Here at home Rotary Clubs mainly support projects that benefit the local community. Further up North, in the Corozal District, the first Rotary Club was established in 1974. Since then the club has done their fair share of community service assisting the community. In a most recent initiative, the Corozal Rotary Club issued 49 Panasonic Though Book laptops to seven primary schools. Earl Johnston – President Corozal Rotary “Mr. Frank he was a part time resident in Corozal has talked to a Canadian company and they had agreed to donate these computers here and actually he has donated seven, for seven schools that I have to go back and look for the list, but these are donated to the primary schools and we give at least five to each primary school that they can get internet if they don’t already have internet connection so these a basic computers so they can learn computer skills and they are internet capable so they can connect to the internet and can do homework and stuff for their computer labs.”

Celebrating Child Stimulation Month
As part of Child Stimulation Month today Rainbow Brite Pre-school, a pre-school that has been in operation for over 23 years, toured Corozal Town it might have been only in town limits but for the pre-schoolers it was very educational as they visited the various public buildings. Lourdes Marin – Director\Teacher “The tour started at the Town Hall, then we went to the post office and the police station and we are ending at the fire station and this is to have these children exposed to these community places because we dealt with the topic last month on community helpers and our community and so this is to reinforce what we taught and like how right now we are in stimulation month so we taking advantage of this month and thanks to the support of the parents we are out.” Under the umbrella of this year’s theme “Early Childhood Education; Where Our Future Begins” teachers decided to take the students to the police station for them to learn more about the laws of Belize and the consequences of breaking those laws. So what did they learn? We asked them that question and here is their response.

LOVE FM

Teenage Mother Gets Fined for Attempted to Smuggle Weed to Boyfriend in Prison
Nineteen year old Christy Ramclam, a mother of one who tried to smuggle 12 grams of cannabis into Belize Central Prison was fined 500 dollars today by Magistrate Leslie Hamilton after she pled guilty to a charge of possession of a controlled drug. She was ordered to pay 250 dollars forthwith and the balance by April 30, in default six months imprisonment. She paid half of the fine and she was released. Magistrate Hamilton told her that she was lucky because the charge could have been drug trafficking for which the sentence would have been three years, ten thousand dollars or both fine and imprisonment. Ramclam was busted yesterday when she went to prison to visit an inmate. She was given a thorough body search which resulted in the discovery of the cannabis wrapped in a piece of toilet paper and tucked in her private parts. As a result, she was charged. Anthony Carballo jr. who is remanded to prison on a charge of murder, is the father of Ramclam’s child.

Fight in Night Club Leads to Murder
Police investigators of the San Ignacio Police Station are seeking answers into a murder that occurred last night in that municipality. The officers on duty were called out to Burns Avenue just after midnight with reports of a stabbing incident near the Atlantic Bank building. When police arrived at the scene, however, 17-year-old, Earl Baizar was already taken to the San Ignacio Town Hospital suffering from four stab wounds; one inflicted to the left side of his chest, his left hand, left under arm and his right thigh. Preliminary investigations into the incident have revealed that Baizar was involved in an altercation earlier that night inside the Blue Angels night club and that while he was on Burns Avenue he got met up with the same man he had a confrontation with earlier and as a result the stab wounds were inflicted. Baizar succumbed to the injuries at around 12:50am today. Police is looking for Gabino Garnett Jr who would be able to help them in their investigation.

Opposition Leader Not Impressed by Proposed Budget
Opposition leader Francis Fonseca was asked for his initial view of the newly presented budget. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “The Prime Minister’s budget presentation almost moves me to song. I am reminded of the Morgan Heritage tune, ends nah meet, them ah say that things the get better but we can’t feel it, we can’t feel it. Them ah say money the run but we can’t see it, we can’t see it. And I think that is the overwhelming response of the Belizean people to the flowery empty rhetoric we heard this morning. It is a budget divorce and disconnected from reality like this U.D.P. government. So that is my initial reaction to the budget, obviously we will pour into the details of the numbers and look at it and give a very comprehensive response at the time of the budget debate.” The budget will be debated on March 24 and 25.

Prime Minister Presents Budget for New Fiscal Year
Prime Minister Dean Barrow today presented his 2014/2015 budget under the theme “Bettering people, building Belize – a budget for all.” In his remarks the Prime Minister referred to the Caribbean Development’s Bank regional report for February 11, 2014. RT. HON. DEAN BARROW “For 2013 Tourism was down in the traditional powerhouses of the Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines. In Belize it was up just under 6 percent in both the stay over and cruise sectors. Overall growth performance improved in Trinidad and Tobago and in Belize. This is in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Community where economic activity was flat or actually contracted. Examples are Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, Antigua and the BVI. Average inflation in CARICOM was 2.5 percent while in Belize it is 0.5 percent. In the Bahamas the jobless rate, as measured in May of 2013, was 16.2 percent. In Jamaica it was 15.9 percent through July, and in St Lucia it reached a whopping 23.2 percent. Here it was down in September over 2 percent, from the previous year, to 14.2 percent. Foreign Reserves increased only in Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and the EC Currency Union. They fell in the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Suriname. There are massive Public Sector layoffs in Barbados, and wage freezes in Jamaica, St Lucia and Grenada. Now compare that, Mr Speaker, to the paradisiac situation in our country where Teachers and Public Officers with this Budget, this Budget, Mr Speaker, are receiving the nectar of a not less than 5 percent salary increase on top of the annual 2.5 percent increment. Altogether this translates into around 34 million dollars more that this Government is finding, just this year alone, for its employees.”

PlusTV

Young Man Stabbed to Death in San Ignacio
A man was stabbed and killed early this morning in San Ignacio. Sometime after midnight 20-year-old Earl Baizar was on Burns Avenue in front of Atlantic Bank, when he got involved in an altercation with a person riding a 4 wheeler ATV. During that altercation, the driver of the...

Prime Minister Presents Fiscal Year Plan 2014-1015 Salary Increase Budget
The Budget for Fiscal year 2014-2015 was presented at the House of Representatives this morning by Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow. The budget speech was titled, “Bettering People, Building Belize – A Budget For All” . The Prime Minister started by comparing Belize to its Caribbean counterparts, saying that...

PM Dean Barrow Reflects Belize’s Debt Stewardship Into the Budget
The 1 billion dollar budget will begin to roll out on April 1st of this year with revenue and grants amounting to $956 Million. The deficit will be $57 Million or 1.7% of GDP but according to the Prime Minister, a further $70 Million has to be added to...

Belizean Killed in Honduras Massacre
A Belizean man was killed during a massacre in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. According to Honduran Media House El Heraldo, four people were murdered early Thursday and among them, is believed to be Mr. Mario Roberto Cocom, a Belizean. According to El Heraldo, police authorities believe that the four...

Highway Robbers Hit and Run Away With BZ$1,200
There was a highway robbery yesterday afternoon, Thursday March 6. The incident happened in the afternoon at about 3:30 pm on the Phillip Goldson Highway in Biscayne Village. A white Freight liner Truck was heading towards Orange Walk being driven by Mr. Mason Quiroz. Along with Quiroz was Salesman...

2014-2015 Budget Reading Includes More Infrastructure, Health and Education
At today’s budget reading, the Prime Minister addressed the infrastructural projects which he referred to as this administration’s “Herculean public works drive”. He said that it is one of the highest priorities of the Government. Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow- Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development “In...

Teachers Press for a Written 5% Increase Binding Response
While the House of Representatives met in session for the budget reading, members of the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) rallied outside, demanding respect from the Government and defying a reported threat of a pay cut for skipping school at the start of a three-day weekend. As PLUS News reporter Aaron...


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The Guardian

$$$22 Million More for Teachers and Public Officers - PLUS Salary Adjustment!!!
Hon. Prime Minister Barrow will introduce the General Revenue Appropriation Bill 2014 on Friday, March 7, and will be asking members of the House of Representatives to approve a $22 million increase for salaries to public servants. The negotiating teams of the Government of Belize and Unions agreed on a formula for a salary increase for public officers in fiscal year 2014/2015. The salary increase is based on the amount of increased revenue collected in the fiscal year 2013/2014 as compared to 2012/2013. Fifty percent of every additional dollar in revenue would be allocated to the salary increase of public officers. The last meeting Prime Minister Barrow held with union leaders was on Thursday, January 30, in which they were updated on the performance of the economy and revenue collection. After that meeting, Prime Minister Barrow shared publicly that the figures were showing the public officers and teachers would get no less than a 4-percent salary increase from revenues collected.

Francis Begs, Kevin Squanders
The Leader of the Opposition is these days floating about from media house to media house trying to convince the Belizean people that the PUP-controlled municipalities are being unfairly treated. He claims that no development is taking place in these municipalities because the Government is not helping them out. He could not be more wrong. Every single municipality is getting more than its fair share of resources to improve conditions for residents, the only difference is that because the PUP-controlled municipalities cannot be trusted with finances, these are being channeled through the Ministry of Works. And there is great reason for the PUP municipalities to not be trusted. There is absolutely no financials available for Dangriga and Punta Gorda and the Orange Walk financials paint a picture of a town administration more interested in personal enrichment than in community development.

Millions More for Municipalities’ Jobs/Infrastructure Project
The Government of Belize is allocating almost $10 million to Belize City for Phase II of the Belize City Council’s Infrastructure Project and at least $2.5 million to all other municipalities. Belize City will be the first to benefit from Government’s newest municipal development initiative. Prime Minister Barrow says the innovative approach to governance by Mayor Darrell Bradley has made it an easy decision to allocate Government’s support behind the City Council’s initiatives. PM Barrow says, “The absolutely splendid job that has been done so far, the way this city has been transformed, these are things that obliged the Central Government to partner with the Mayor and his City Council in trying to move things forward.” Mayor Darrell Bradley thanked Prime Minister Barrow for the support he has shown and continues to show. Bradley says, “There will be a different city in the next 2 years. The city that my son grows up in will not be the city that I grew up in and by the time the next election rolls around we [would be able to declare] that every single primary street, streets which connects people from one area or neighborhood of Belize City, would have been concreted." Bradley says the funds will be used to concrete 35 primary streets. Those include 14 on the Southside of Belize City and 20 on the North side. Polling started at 10 in the morning and carried on until 5 in the evening with a constant stream of residents making their way to the polling rooms to cast their ballots. They came from as far as Gales Point Manatee and by the time the convention was ended, 2,015 residents had voted. Beverly Castillo easily secured a victory receiving 961 votes. Michael Hutchinson received 502 votes while Dean Samuels received 353 votes. Emroy Castillo received 153 votes and Francis Lizama received 19 votes; 28 ballots were spoilt.

20,000 Strong Women Empowerment Rally
The goal of the 20,000 Strong Women's Empowerment Rally is to empower and inspire women to claim our rightful space as equal partners in the development of our country. The event will serve to celebrate who we are, our contribution to development and our journey as Belizean women. The Rally will feature women speakers from the banking sector, private sector, education sector and past elected representatives: all women who have distinguished themselves as leaders in their fields of work. It is very disappointing that the Roman Catholic Church is attempting to ascribe extraneous motives to this event that is intended simply to honor and uplift women. This rally signals the start of a series of other activities to empower women and provide opportunities for them to realize their full potential. Partnership and unity have always been core values of our approach and we will remain open to genuine dialogue and working with the church to empower women in our society. Let us stand together to embrace our womanhood, champion our accomplishments and chart the course forward!

Anyone Else
After the ruling by the Chief Justice on Monday March 3 which directed the Commissioner of Police to effect an investigation into the Penner passport issue, the PUP promptly declared that this was a victory for both the Opposition and for Fonseca personally. Thereafter we were treated to a string of interviews where several PUP personalities and other microphone addicts expressed their “virtuous” opinions on the matter. Let us delve at little deeper into this recent development. I had previously indicated in this column that I think Penner has been sufficiently reproved and humiliated by his own Party and is presently a political exile. The UDP Party Leader has openly said that Penner will never again represent the United Democratic Party and his name will forever be linked with underhandedness.

San Pedro Tigersharks and Cayo Western Ballaz leads in Elite Basketball League Competition
The 2014 Elite Basketball League Competition continued over the weekend with three games across the country. san pedro tiger sharks.jpg - 73.54 KbOn Friday, February 28, 2014, at the Andres Campus Stadium in Corozal Town, the home team the Corozal Heat picked up its first win of the Elite Basketball Campaign when it defeated the visiting Belmopan Point Bandits by the score of 67-54. The top scorers for the Corozal Heat were Jason Daly with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists; Geovanni Lennan with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals; and Kenroy Roca also with 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.

Ron Vasquez wins Spanish Lookout Course
The Cycling Federation of Belize held its Second Hills Circuit event on Sunday, March 2, 2014. The Cycling Federation utilised the Spanish Lookout Course for this event. At the end of the course in the Open Elite category, it was Ron Vasquez of Western Spirit that captured first place. The second rider to cross the finish line was Henry Moreira of Predators, third place went to Oscar Quiroz of Western Spirit, fourth place went to Liam Stewart of Benny’s Megabytes, and fifth place went to Joel Borland of BTL Cycling. In the junior category, the first rider to cross the finish line was Kieron Robateau of BECOL Uprising and he was followed by Zahir Figueroa also of BECOL Uprising, third place went to Zamir Guerra of Cayo High Roads Cycling Club.

Ladyville Technical High School upsets Nazarene High School
The Central Region Secondary Schools Softball Competition is fast winding down at Rogers Stadium with the commencement of the playoffs. On Tuesday, March 4, in the second game of the female playoffs, Gwen Lizarraga High School defeated Wesley College by the score of 15-4. The winning pitcher was Ashley Lucas and the losing pitcher was Breanna Meighan. | In the second game of the male playoffs, Wesley College defeated Gwen Lizarraga High School by the score of 16-15. The winning pitcher was Devon Tillett and the losing pitcher was Devontae Middleton.

Thousands of Women Expected to Gather at Marion Jones Stadium
The Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow and the National Women’s Commission are organizing a rally the likes that have never been seen before in Belize on Thursday, March 6. Next year, will make it 20 years since the first world conference on women was held in Beijing, China in 1995 and the organizers of the rally are preparing to host 20,000 women at the Marion Jones Stadium to launch a march towards 2015. According to Anne-Marie Williams, Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission, the 20,000 Strong Women Empowerment Rally is “an opportunity for women to come out and become aware of their collective power.” Buses will roll into Belize City from across the country for a rally scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Belize City women will meet at the Memorial Park at 8 a.m. and parade over to the Marion Jones Stadium with marching bands. The parade will move through the streets of North Side Belize City from the Memorial Park, along the Marine Parade Boulevard unto Newton Barracks into Princess Margaret Drive and conclude at the stadium, where Belize City women will join ladies from all corners of the country.

Ministry of Education explains why Rhaburn Ridge school was closed
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports views with grave concern the continued operation of the Hope SDA Christian Academy, located in the village of Rhaburn Ridge in the Belize District despite the fact that approval of a licence to operate the school was not granted. In July, 2012 the school Management of the Belize Union of Seventh Day Adventists submitted an application for a licence to operate a school in the village of Rhaburn Ridge in the Belize District. The Education Rules, 2000 (Rule 11 (1)) requires that an application for a licence to operate a school be submitted 16 months prior to the proposed opening of the school.

Social Investment Fund appoints new Executive Director & Public Relations Officer
The Board of Directors of Social Investment Fund is pleased to announce the appointment of the new Executive Director, Mr. William Lamb, and Public Relations Officer, Mr. Selwyn King with effect March, 2014. Mr. Lamb is an Engineer by profession with more than 25 years. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, with Honors in Structural Engineering from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom in 1995, and a Diploma in Structural Engineering from the College of Art, Science & Technology, Kingston, Jamaica, 1990. Mr. Lamb served as Project Manager and Site Engineer for the expansion of the Philip Goldson International Airport Terminal Building and for the construction of the new San Ignacio Hospital as well as provided technical advice on all Engineering aspect of JEBCO’s construction works. His last tenure was Project Manager for US$10.5M project at the Belize Water Services Ltd.

Third Spanish Lookout Commercial Expo held
Belize’s third Spanish Lookout Expo was held on Friday and Saturday of last week at the 100- acre Country Side Park in Spanish Lookout. Thousands of Belizeans from around the country came to learn about what businesses from Spanish Lookout have to offer to the rest of the Country. “It really is just to get a lot of businesses to have a venue to showcase their products and services and also for the Belizean people to come and visit Spanish Lookout to see what the business community has to offer,” says Norman Dueck, the Director of the Business Chamber in Spanish Lookout and who was responsible for organizing the two day event. With over one hundred companies showing up for last weekend’s Expo, the Spanish Lookout community has once again laid a welcoming mat for visitors to have an exciting time with Belize’s most productive sectors.

2013 Tourism Statistics
The final figures for the 2013 tourism year are in, and we are happy to report that Belize’s Overnight and Cruise arrivals are up! Last year, Belize recorded 223,510 in PGIA arrivals. March 2013 saw the highest tourist arrivals at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) with 28,623 visitors; this is a 10.2% increase in comparison to March 2012. The month with the largest increase in 2013 was August, with a 10.5% increase when compared to August 2012. While there were 3% decreases for April and September, overall PGIA arrivals are up 5.5%. Preceded by a decrease in cruise arrivals in 2011 and 2012, 2013 saw an increase in cruise visitors to Belize. Overall, Cruise passenger arrivals grew by 5.7%. August 2013 saw the largest increase in cruise arrivals, with a 30.2% increase over August 2012. Belize recorded the highest cruise arrivals in January 2013 with 102,871 visitors, which is a 19.4% increase over January 2012. In 2013, a total of 677, 350 cruise passengers visited Belize.

Eulogy for Lionel Lincoln Robert Welch
Lionel Lincoln Robert Welch was born on the 3rd December 1950 in Gales Point Village to Mr. Lincoln Welch and Mrs. Emma Cattouse. On Sunday, 16th February 2014 he left Damion, Shanna, Keisha, Diedra and Franlina to remember his passing. He was the beloved and only child of his Mother and is survived by his siblings Natalie, Jacqueline and Stephen Welch. Nel! A child well Loved Lionel attended St. Augustine Anglican Primary School where he excelled and transitioned to St. Michael’s College for his secondary Education. This all-boys school helped in shaping and moulding this boy into the man we all came to know as Nel. Many of his friends recall his earlier years as a good sprinter and they recall the many bicycle races from this Cathedral back to Michael’s after attending compulsory mass along with St. Hilda’s. His friendship with Cushin Neal, and Desho Rock ignited his interest in weight lifting and he became an avid body builder. His interest and love for football was already kindled but, back then, only the bigger boys caught the school team, so he collaborated with Albert Arnold and other friends and organized an informal football team called ‘Ramblers’, which later ventured into Second Division competitions in Belize City. Sorry FC Belize you were not his first football team!!!! For the record, his squad was always beaten by the “Braves”, a team from Fisher Waterside area that was considered inferior by all his players. His initial sojourn with football was arrested by his departure to UWI.

“Fused Response 2014”
The Government of Belize and the Government of the United States of America have approved a joint Belize Defence Force/U.S. Military training exercise to take place here from March 5 to 14. The exercise, titled “Fused Response 2014” will be conducted by the Belize Defence Force, along with members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The training events will be held in the Cayo District and in the San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The joint training exercise, in which approximately 500 military personnel from both countries will participate, is aimed at improving the interoperability of the participating forces and increasing their capacity to confront common threats, such as organized crime and illicit trafficking. The Belize Defence Force, U.S. Southern Command and Special Operations Command South conduct military activities every year, which keep them updated on the advances in the areas of military operations, readiness, and the mutual interaction between both militaries. Observers to the exercises will include military personnel from Canada and Brazil.

CJ tells Compol to investigate Penner
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin has ordered that Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie must commence an investigation against former Minister of State Elvin Penner for his connection to the fraudulent passport issued to South Korean, Won Hong Kim. The court has found that Whylie acted irrationally, unreasonably and unlawfully when he exercised his discretion to try to save resources on an inquiry he believe would not yield fruitful results. The hearing for the Writ of Mandamus was held on Friday, February 28, where Senior Counsel Edwin Flowers, Anthony Sylvester and Kareem Musa represented Opposition Leader Hon. Francis Fonseca in his claim against the Commissioner Whylie. It has been widely reported that Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow required Elvin Penner to resign as a Minister of State in the Immigration Department for his role in the passport scandal where international fugitive Won Hong Kim ended up with a Belizean passport while in jail. Penner sent an email a few days later explaining how he pushed the documents through to get the passport for Kim, whom he says he was duped by.

Inaugural Meeting - Belize/Guatemala Administrative Commission
The inaugural meeting of the Belize-Guatemala Administrative Commission was convened last Friday 28th February, 2014 at the George Price Centre in Belmopan, between a high level delegation of trade and other officials representing the Government of Belize and an official delegation from the Republic of Guatemala. Mr. Michael Singh, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Trade, Investment Promotion, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection, welcomed the Guatemalan Delegation Headed by Vice Minister Maria Luisa Flores Villagran. CEO Singh reaffirmed the Government of Belize’s strong interest and commitment to maintaining formal trade relations between Belize and Guatemala with Belize serving as an important conduit for trade with CARICOM. Vice Minister Flores Villagran recognized the importance of establishing the Administrative Commission and reiterated commitments from the Government of Guatemala.

PUP do not support women
The Prime Minister's Wife, Kim Simplis-Barrow has taken on the task of bringing to the forefront many social issues that generally linger in the back of the minds of Belizeans. She has single-handedly been able to inspire cancer survivors, being a survivor herself. She has been able to bring forth to discussion tables, issues of persons with different abilities. She has even championed the cause to ensure that every child has an identity by doing birth registration drives across the country. Now, she is taking on the task of highlighting the importance of women in Belizean society, with a 20,000 woman march scheduled for Thursday March 5. The importance of such a cause can never be second guessed as women from all walks of life will be participating.

Adolphus Palacio and Callin Castillo Charged with Arm Robbery
Adolphus Palacio, 19, and 20-year-old Collin Castillo, both residents of La Democracia, are in jail after they were remanded on a charge of armed robbery upon 18-year-old Priscilla Wagner on Friday, February 28. Wagner reported to police that at about 2:30 p.m. on Friday, February 28, she was walking down the Coastal Road after exiting a bus at the junction with the highway when two dark complexion males rode past her very slowly and watched her in a suspicious manner. According to Wagner, one of the men, who was tall and had a gold tooth, turned back and snatched her chain as he rode from behind. The other man, who she described as muscular and short, pointed a firearm at her and demanded that she hand over her purse. The men took a white Samsung Galaxy S3 cell phone valued at $1,486; a gold chain valued $800; a brown purse valued $150 and containing $60 cash; a key value $50 and a flash drive value $80, a total of over $2,600.

Miss Bev takes Rural Central
The Phillip Goldson Highway in front of the Our Lady of the Way primary school in Ladyville took on an air of festivity and combustion that is brought on during a general election. But it was no general election on Sunday as Beverly Castillo, Emroy Castillo, Michael Hutchinson, Francis Lizama and Dean Samuels gave it their all to become the next UDP Standard Bearer for the Belize Rural Central Constituency. Polling started at 10 in the morning and carried on until 5 in the evening with a constant stream of residents making their way to the polling rooms to cast their ballots. They came from as far as Gales Point Manatee and by the time the convention was ended, 2,015 residents had voted. Beverly Castillo easily secured a victory receiving 961 votes. Michael Hutchinson received 502 votes while Dean Samuels received 353 votes. Emroy Castillo received 153 votes and Francis Lizama received 19 votes; 28 ballots were spoilt.

Fort George has new Standard Bearer
The Fort George Constituency held a convention to select a new Standard Bearer for the United Democratic Party on Saturday, March 1. While the numbers were not as impressive as other conventions held across the country, it was not less a sweet victory for Belize City Councilor Roger Espejo who has been holding on to the constituency as caretaker for the past two years. At the end of polling at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall, Roger Espejo had received 268 votes, his competitor, William Schnarr received 190 votes and 15 ballots were spoilt. There were a total of 475 persons who cast their ballots.

Loans Available for Businesses Interested in Exporting
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are available for Belizean business owners interested in hitting the export market. The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) launched an export program in Belize on Wednesday, March 5. IIC is collaborating with the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) to introduce FINPYME Export Plus to Belizean entrepreneurs. The IIC is the investment arm of the Inter-American Development Bank, which deals with private sector lending. The launch on Wednesday is the start of a series of workshops aimed at assisting local business owners to access international markets by addressing certification requirements, improving operations and management processes.

Uplifting Conch Shell Bay
Through the efforts of councilor Philip Willougby residents of the Conch shell Bay area in Belize City, received a visit by a high powered delegation of key players who will be able to make a difference in the lives of the residents there. On Wednesday morning, Mayor Darrell Bradley; Bishop of the Anglican Diocese, Philip Wright; President of the Council of Churches, Roosevelt Papaloute; Commissioner of Lands, Wilbert Vallejos; Director of Hand in Hand Ministries, Bernard Panton and Councilor Willoughby himself, did a walk-through of the area. According to Mayor Bradley, the city council through the efforts of Willoughby did a site assessment to look at the conditions in the area and see how the residents can be assisted. Willoughby says that the players were brought together after he had a meeting with the residents three weeks ago and they brought up concerns that they would like addressed. Among those concerns is the issue of land where tenure of some of the residents need to be addressed. Another key issue was that of the poor living conditions.

Six Traffic fatalities in March
For the month of March 2014, which has just begun, six persons around the country died because of injuries suffered from traffic accidents. Because of the alarming spikes in accidents on the Northern Highway in the Jurisdiction of the Ladyville Police, the Rural Executive Officer, who commands the formation has, said that they will step up their efforts to try to prevent traffic mishaps. -

Freezone heist suspects caught
Corozal Police have charged four men for the brazen armed robbery, which happened in the Commercial Free Zone, that netted the thieves $208,000. Corozal residents 26 year-old Hector Kelly and 18-year-old Brandon Myers were charged with robbery, while Israel Rancharan was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery. All three were arraigned in Magistrate’s Court on Monday, March 3, where they were granted bail of $20,000. On Friday, February 28, 21 year-old Benigno Loria of San Andres Village was charged and arraigned for conspiracy to commit robbery.

Lenny Benguche Gets 10 years for Shooting Ex-Girlfriend
Lenny Bennett Benguche, 27, is now serving a ten-year sentence after he was convicted of maim on Friday, February 21. On January 29, 2008, 21-year-old Christina Zetina was shot in the left foot by Benguche while riding her bicycle in Ladyville Village. Benguche is Zetina’s ex-boyfriend and she was in the company of her new boyfriend, Kareem Young, at the time of the shooting. Five months after the injury, Zetina’s leg had to be amputated due to an infection. Benguche was arrested and charged with attempted murder and maim. In June 2010, a 9-member jury found him not guilty of attempted murder but they were deadlocked on the charge of maim. Therefore, a retrial was ordered for the charge of maim.

Ryan “Lippo” Alvarez accused of Pulling Gun on Uncle
Ryan Alvarez, also known as “Lippo”, is behind bars after he was accused of threatening his uncle with a handgun. 49-year-old Dwight Alvarez told police that he and his nephew, Ryan’s brother, were engaged in an argument when Ryan intervened and told his uncle that he won’t let anyone take advantage of his brother. According to Dwight, Ryan then went behind the yard of their family house, located on Supaul Street, and came back with a 9 mm pistol. Dwight said Ryan pointed the gun at him and, fearing for his life, he walked away and went to report the matter to police. Police arrested and charged Ryan Alvarez with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Nurse caught with stolen items
A stolen item at the San Ignacio Hospital has been successfully recovered by Police. According to a press release issued today by the Police Department, on the 13th of February 2014, Doctor Guillermo Rivas, 53-year-old Medical Officer at the San Ignacio Community Hospital reported to Police that sometime around midday he was in the maternity ward section of the hospital where he returned a few minutes later because he had forgotten his white in color Samsung brand Tablet with a black casing valued at $800.00 and discovered it missing. As a result Police visited the Hospital and conducted searches on personnel working at the time but nothing was found. An investigation was launched into the matter as it was then learnt that this was not the first time that items have been stolen from the facility, yet no report was made. Hence the reason Police exhausted all efforts to recover the missing tablet.

Wanted American Fugitive arrested in Belize
Cody Safadago, 42, is wanted in the United States for leaving the country while out on bail for spousal abuse. According to Immigration officials, Safadago has been convicted of spousal abuse, drugs offenses and human trafficking. Safadago was captured by Immigration officers at a house on Benbow Street after he entered the country illegally on Friday, February 28. He was deemed a prohibited immigrant and remanded at the Belize Central Prison until he was arraigned on Monday, March 3. Safadago appeared before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton and pleaded not guilty after he was told he is being deemed a prohibited immigrant. Safadago told Magistrate Hamilton, “I came through Blue Creek and there was no one there [from Immigration Department].”

Corwin Bennett walks from murder charge
Corwin Bennett was acquitted of murder on Wednesday March 5th, after being on remand for more than 4 years. He had been accused of the January 12, 2011 murder of Kraal Road leader, Raymond "Killa" Gentle. He was thought to be one of two men who either shot or accompanied the shooter when Gentle was killed. The decision was handed down by Supreme Court judge, Adolph Lucas at around 10:00 a.m. The matter had concluded on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 and the judgment came one week later.

Boom Posse shoots Man in the Face
Ladyville police are looking into a shooting incident where Belize City resident 43 year-old Giovanni Berry ended up being shot in a case that resembles vigilantism. It happened on Saturday, March 1, in the pre-dawn hours, where a group of about six residents of the Burrell Boom Village stormed a house he was taking care of. At around 1 a.m., someone broke into Chad Gillett’s home in the village and stole his licensed 9 mm pistol. Fortunately, Gillett woke up in time to catch the thief as he fled. Gillett fired a shotgun blast at the unknown man, who seemed to have been hit by pellets, but he managed to get away on foot. Gillett then immediately called the village police officer, and got a group of his close friends, who are owners of licensed weapons, and they went out to do their own investigation.

Retrial ordered for Edward Buller
On Wednesday, March 5 a retrial was ordered for 55-year-old, Edward Buller, who was initially charged on June 24, 2009, for the murder of Ella Mae Bennett. The body of the 41-year-old Honduran national had been found inside an abandoned home on Central American Boulevard on June 20. On September 19, 2011, a jury of 12 had found Buller not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. Buller was later sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for the crime.

All Green in Citrus Industry
On Friday, February 28, Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow announced to the nation that all stakeholders in the citrus industry had signed off on a Memorandum of Understanding that should solve the flagship company’s cash flow crisis and settle its executive level tug-of-war. A new Board of Directors will be configured for the Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL) to include representation from the Citrus Growers Association, Banks Holdings Limited, the Government of Belize, the Social Security Board and Heritage Bank Limited. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Barrow bridged negotiations between key stakeholders in the citrus industry in an effort to dissolve longstanding disputes that drove CPBL to the brink of collapse. The working capital for CPBL dried up after the commercial banks decided not to release any more money until the company could provide audited figures of its operations, which it was unable to do because the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) and its strategic investor, Banks Holdings Limited, could not agree on an auditor. Without working capital, CPBL could not pay farmers for their fruits and the company would’ve had to discontinue operations.

St. Luke Methodist Girls and Boys win in Primary schools Softball Competition
The Belize City primary Schools Softball Competition continues at Rogers Stadium with a number of games during the week. On Tuesday, March 3, in the girls’ competition played, St. Luke Methodist School defeated its sister school Trinity Methodist by the score of 15-2. The winning pitcher was Destiny Dobson and the losing pitcher was Davina Perrera. In the boys’ game, St. Luke Methodist also won over St. Mary’s Primary School by the score of 12-4. The winning pitcher was Avery Rudon and the losing pitcher was Michael Segura. On Monday, March 3, in girls’ competition, Calvary Temple School defeated Wesley Upper School by the score of 8-6. The winning pitcher was Pauline Jex and the losing pitcher was Erica Cadogan.

Central Region High Schools Softball Regular Competition ends
The 2013-2014 Central Region Secondary Schools Softball Competition regular season came to an end on Friday, February 28, 2014 at Rogers Stadium. In the female competition game played, Wesley College defeated Pallotti High School. The winning pitcher was Brianna Meighan and the losing pitcher was Shenelle Flowers. In the second female game, Gwen Lizarraga High School defeated St. Catherine Academy. The winning pitcher was Ashley Lucas and the losing pitcher was Jacqueline Alas. On Thursday, February 27, in the female game played, Ladyville Technical High School defeated Anglican Cathedral College by the score of 23-1. The winning pitcher was Amber Wade and the losing pitcher was Ashley Alarcon. In the male game played, St. John’s College defeated Ladyville Technical High School by the score of 10-8. The winning pitcher was Dylon Snaggs and the losing pitcher was Isaac Dominguez.

Announcement For Poster Contest For World Water Day
An International Day to celebrate Freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and the United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day. Every year thereafter, World Water Day is celebrated on March 22 around the world. This year, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, in collaboration with other Ministries and Departments, has taken the lead for the celebration of the annual World Water Day (WWD) event as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater.


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#487673 - 03/08/14 10:57 AM Re: Today's Belize News: March 8, 2014 [Re: Marty]
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More News: Scroll up from here

Amandala

JOBLESS MOTHER OF 4, HOMELESS
The single mother who last November took to downtown Belize City with a placard which said that she needed a job so badly she would even work for food, visited our newspaper today with her four children, dressed so smartly in their school uniforms that you would not even know by looking at them that they had nothing to eat for breakfast. “We less fortunate people are the ones suffering. We are not getting the crumbs falling off the table,” Juanita Paulino said. The latest labor force survey published in December indicated that women have an unemployment rate of 22% – double that of their male counterparts. The survey also had found that while the unemployment rate for men had fallen from 11.9% to 9.6%, it remained steady at 22 percent for women, which means that women like Paulino who were seeking gainful employment were having a harder time finding jobs than their male counterparts. The dire consequence of this is that for poverty-stricken, single mothers struggling to find a job, they are unable to meet the basic needs of their children: food, clothing, shelter, education, and healthcare.

TEACHERS WILL “FLEX” IN BELMOPAN
Despite a notice from the Ministry of Education that the salary of teachers who will participate in Friday’s march on Belmopan will be docked for three days, the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) is still pressing ahead with plans to hold a rally and demonstration at the steps of the National Assembly tomorrow, when Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow is expected to read the national budget. Barrow had announced that the new budget includes an additional $22 million to finance a 5% salary adjustment for teachers and public officers. However, the BNTU said that it’s not all about the money – and there are pressing national issues—such as corruption—which the Government has failed to address. BNTU estimates that it has around 6,000 members, but we are told that the announcement from the Ministry, that the pay of teachers who participate in tomorrow’s demonstration will be docked, has dampened the drive to get teachers onboard. “We are very disappointed in this move to intimidate the teachers of this country,” said Luke Palacio, BNTU’s national president, in a statement issued Wednesday.

JEFFREY EILEY, 30, GUNNED DOWN ON BARRIER REEF DRIVE
The Eiley and Arceo families of San Pedro are mourning the death of Jeffrey Eiley, 30, who was shot multiple times on Barrier Reef Drive in San Pedro at about 1:30 this morning, Thursday. Eiley was rushed to the San Pedro Poly Clinic, where he was declared dead on arrival. Residents of Barrier Reef Drive reported that they were awakened from their sleep by multiple explosive bursts of gunfire. Four gunshots were heard first, and a few seconds later, about six more shots were fired. Shortly after, they heard someone crying out for help. They went out to see what was happening and that was when they saw Jeffrey Eiley, a tour guide of Marina Drive who was well known to them, and who was the nephew of Patty Arceo, bleeding and wounded. Police responded quickly and took him to the San Pedro Poly Clinic, where he was declared dead on arrival. He was then taken to the morgue at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

13 Bowen and Bowen employees sacked
Late yesterday evening, 13 employees who did not show up to work for two days in protest of an adjustment in their terms of employment that was recently implemented by their employer, Bowen & Bowen Ltd., were laid off by the company. The group of workers – primarily deliverymen— were reluctant to sign the new work contracts issued by the company, believing that their eligibility for holiday pay, commission and benefits would be severely cut. Apparently, the company concluded, after the employees were absent for two days that those workers had abandoned their posts without proper notification, and so they were replaced and presented with termination letters which informed them that their services were no longer required. Today, Amandala met some of the affected employees at the Labour Department in Belize City, where they had initially gone to contest the terms of the new work contract. Kevin Garbutt, who said that he has worked at the beverage company for 8 years, told us that they were given a new contract to sign, but they refused to do so. He said, “We didn’t sign because they were not going to pay us overtime and for holidays, which is due by law, so we got together and took it to management, but they refused to hear from us and decided to terminate us even though we have our doctor papers.”

KREM will be on the river for this year’s La Ruta Maya River Challenge
The yearly spectacle of canoes and paddlers which has become known as the Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge will come to pass this coming weekend, and for the first time, an all-female coverage team representing KREM Radio will be bringing live play-by-play coverage of the event to radio listeners across the country for the entire 4-day duration of the canoe race. Scores of paddlers and fans will converge on the banks of the Macal River in San Ignacio this Friday to either participate in, or witness the start of the event, and the KREM team promises to broadcast all the thrills and spills that occur along the way. The event will be a 4-day, 180-mile race, in which 300 male and female paddlers of different ages in 100 canoes will compete. One of the Belize Defence Force’s military nurses, Venice Lambert, will also be a part of the KREM team. She spoke about her role in providing the coverage. “We will be providing facts along with interviews so that radio listeners feel like they are there on the spot with us”, she said.

CATHOLIC BISHOP OPPOSES “20,000 STRONG” MARCH
Plans for an unprecedented “20,000 Strong” march for women—in commemoration of Women’s Month observed every March—were met with resounding opposition from the most powerful church in Belize, the Roman Catholic Church, which issued a rare caution to its membership about the event, on suspicion that the move to have women rally behind the women’s empowerment banner is part of a wider agenda to get them onboard with changing gender norms, including the promotion of abortion and same-sex relations. The march is one of the highlights of Women’s Month, which Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, said, in a printed message in commemoration of the celebration, is “a time to pause to celebrate the achievements of women in their quest for gender equality.” Before the controversial 2013 Gender Policy came into effect, such a statement would not have elicited a strong response, but against the backdrop of a new gender policy which makes clear provisions to accommodate genders other than male and female, and which acknowledges the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transsexual (LGBT) community and rights for which they have been lobbying, the temperature of the conversation has changed.

PUP launches 2014 Women’s Agenda
The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) launched its 2014 Women’s Agenda, “Charting Greater Pathways for Belizean Women as Nation Builders,” to coincide with Women’s Month on Wednesday, at its Independence Hall headquarters. Senator Lisa Shoman said that this is the fifth Women’s Agenda that the PUP has launched. It is written by women and based on consultation with the women of the PUP, which also plans to incorporate it as part of the party’s manifesto. The six-point Women’s Agenda is focused on Education and Skills Training; Health and Wellness; Socio-cultural/Political; Economic Empowerment; Land, Housing and Property Rights; and a Legal section. In its Education and Skills Training section, the agenda sets out a seven-point objective which includes bringing about parity for girls and women from pre-school through tertiary education, including in technical and vocational programs. The PUP also wants girls and women to have equal access to education and employment and to expand and sustain relevant skills training for girls and women in the rural communities.

Beverly Castillo wins big in UDP’s Belize Rural Central Convention
The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) held a convention to select its standard bearer for the Belize Rural Central constituency on Sunday, March 2. After the ballots were counted, newcomer Beverly Castillo, the former Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources, emerged as the winner, edging out Michael Hutchinson and three other candidates in the five-way race to become the UDP Belize Rural Central standard bearer. Castillo, who ran a sophisticated campaign with media advertisements, posters, and hordes of workers projecting her message on T-shirts, garnered 961 votes, while Michael Hutchinson, a former UDP Minister of State who appears to have fallen from grace with the UDP’s top brass, was a distant second with 502 votes; City Councilor Dean Samuels managed to capture the third spot with 353 votes, while Emroy Castillo picked up 152 votes, and John Lizama finished the race with 19 votes.

CitCo presents mid-term progress reports
The current City Council administration – led by Mayor Darrell Bradley – has arguably been making tangible strides to improve the ambiance, and develop the infrastructure of the Old Capital, and this morning, the Belize City Council (CitCo) presented their report card encompassing recent accomplishments within the last year and future plans for further infrastructure works and policy implementations across the evolving city of Belize. In his presentation, the Mayor proceeded to update the public on what CitCo has been up to, while boasting that all city residents can see that the city is moving forward. “Significant efforts have been made to ensure that City Hall is run in a way that comports with the highest level of ethics and accountability”, Bradley stated. He told the audience of three core areas of development on which the council is focused, which are infrastructure, governance and economic development.

PUP give ComPol Friday 2 p.m. deadline
Attorney Edwin Flowers, S.C., the lead attorney for Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca, who steered a judicial review through the Supreme Court, resulting in the court’s granting of a writ of mandamus directed to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie to “continue, accelerate and conclude criminal investigations against Elvin Penner and others for their role in the illegal issuance of a Belize passport and nationality certificate”, has written to the Commissioner requesting an update on the investigation by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, March 7. Flowers’ letter, dated today, March 6, reminds Commissioner Whylie that: “Of course you are also aware that willful disobedience of the orders of the court makes you liable to contempt proceedings.” On Monday, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin issued the Supreme Court’s prerogative writ of mandamus to the Commissioner of Police, whom the court found had acted “unreasonable, irrational and unlawful”, in the handling of the Penner passport scandal.

Weed and white supremacy
When the anti-colonial movement began in British Honduras in 1950, the dominant presence in the local economy was that of the Belize Estate and Produce Company, Limited, known to us here as “BEC.” BEC owned incredible amounts of prime real estate and raw land all over the colony, and it was really as if they were the business extension of the colonial administration the British Empire ran from Government House. Because of the fact that they were working partners with Government House and because BEC had grown out of the rule of the Baymen in the settlement of Belize, Belizeans hardly thought of BEC as “foreign direct investors.” But, technically, BEC would have to be categorized as such by modern PUDP politicians and their economists. Those of us in the resistance movement, on the other hand, would describe BEC as a predator organization, because they brought little investment into Belize, and they exported all their profits to Britain. In fact, the British peer who came here in 1985 was quite similar to BEC: he brought little investment and exported all of his profits. For decades, however, he was dubbed as a “foreign direct investor.” And, he was favored by both the PUP and the UDP.

FROM THE PUBLISHER
This has been an unprecedented post-general election period in Belize’s modern political history, in the sense that it has seemed as if campaigning continued and has not stopped since the March 2012 general election. One of the reasons for the highly energetic politics from then till now was the narrowness of the UDP victory back then. Another reason was the need for the new Opposition PUP Leader, Hon. Francis Fonseca, to consolidate the gains in prestige he had achieved with his party’s 14-seat performance in the 2012 generals. Remember, Mr. Fonseca had been defeated by Hon. John Briceño in the PUP leadership convention in March of 2008. Then, when Mr. Briceño resigned, under some financial duress, in October of 2011, Hon. Mark Espat had been the PUP Interim Leader for 11 days, and in fact endorsed for the substantive leadership by 30 of the 31 PUP constituencies. It was not as if Mr. Francis entered the leadership like a conquering hero after Espat declined the PUP leadership offer: it was more like emergency surgery. The surgery was successful. The PUP came within 60 or 70 votes of winning the general election. It was a stunning performance, and Mr. Fonseca welcomed and deserved his party’s accolades.

LETTERS: WAR ON WEED HAS FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS
Like, where is the compelling governmental interest? Dear Editor, I looked at a recent eye-opener, the case of the one-legged man receiving six months for 1/10 of a gram of cannabis. Yeah, I know he had committed similar violations of the law in the past and still owed money. Last I recall, the courts had fined him $10,000 for a past similar violation. How does a one-legged man pay such a fine? This is only one example of casualties in this war on the people. With all that said and understood, what are we looking at here? What is the cost in time and money in just this one case? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you the cost of the cannabis involved. Let’s see what 1/10 of a gram of cannabis is, in the material world – pretty much $35.00 an ounce in most places in rural Belize. OK, 28.3 grams in an ounce, $35.00 divided by 28.3 grams in an ounce = $1.24 per gram. 1/10 of a gram is twelve and one half cents.

LETTERS: City females’ backbreaking work for an honest living
Dear Editor, I write to say congratulations to the 12 young ladies, many of them single mothers, who have accepted work digging trenches through rocks in the hot sun in Belize City to earn an honest living. Digging trenches through rocks with spade and pickax in the sun is backbreaking work, best suitable for men. Given the choice no parents would want to see their daughter or other female relatives doing that type of manual work, that could result in birth problems or other serious effects on their bodies down the road. The fact that females have to accept that type of employment, speaks of the massive unemployment in the country or the huge difficulty in getting a job, especially among single mothers, who don’t have the benefit of a high school education. By accepting backbreaking construction work to earn an honest living, the ladies on the Southside of the city have also struck a severe blow to an often repeated lie against them. The lie is: that Southside women,who are marginalized, are satisfied with a little $20.00 or $30.00 from a Minister once per week and have no interest in decent steady employment to care for their families.

LETTERS: Belize’s major alcohol problem
Gentlemen, Thank you so much for inviting me to participate at the liquor licensing regulations meeting. I believe it was very worthwhile to get input from so many different levels and sources that will help craft a better piece of legislation. I have two issues, obviously requiring more evaluation, before consideration of legislation. They are as follows: a. Consider creating “jurisdictions” and putting a maximum number of licenses based on population, with ­­­­­­distance limitations from schools, churches, residential area and add appropriate zoning. This accomplishes two things (probably not popular with local Councils): (i) it prevents discretionary granting of licenses. This is a country that needs to do all it can to curb corruption and a fixed number of licenses for defined areas is simply that, fixed. (ii) it also adds value to the license, which, barring violations that would render the license invalid, has a financial value. People who have that license, and knowing that there are not others readily available, would be much more concerned to follow rules and regulations. They will follow the rules on closing, they will follow the rules on noise abatement, because they don’t want to lose that license!

SPORTS IN BELIZE – PRIVILEGE OR OPPORTUNITY?
It is difficult to discuss sports in Belize without provoking emotional responses from various quarters, but we hope that in this essay we can provide clarification and background instead of sparking controversy. The recent announcement of the new appointments to the National Sports Council suggests to us that power has returned to those who see sports as privilege, rather than opportunity. All children, even handicapped ones, love sporting competition, and we can view sports as an actual human right. So no reasonable person would want to deny Belizean children the right to play sports. The problem is that we are a poor country, with limited facilities. It has happened, most notably in the case of the Belize City Center, that there are disagreements between those who see sports as privilege, and we generally refer to such peoples as “amateurists,” and those who see sports as opportunity, and those are the people who support professionalism in sports.

Ideas and Opinions – Coconut Grove
Some ideas are more valuable than silver or gold. Most people spend their whole lives without conceiving one such idea. But a precious few are blessed to have more than one. I first heard of the idea that the establishment of a national bank by the government could transform our economy, from Dr. Leroy Taegar and Bill Lindo, at about the same time. They were associates, so they might have conferred. Bill went further; he has been studying the subject for the past fifteen years, read the books of, and corresponded with one of the foremost experts in, the field of national banking. It took a long time till a government saw merit in the idea and had the courage to take action. It is to the credit of our present government that our national bank is a reality. The government is advised by people it considers experts, but Bill is saying that they are making some mistakes which might be avoided. If they listen to what Mr. Lindo has to say, it might be less expensive.

Madness and mandamus
There is an eerie feeling in the air over this nation and only those with a sense of discernment can detect it… others are oblivious of the forces at work. It makes me think of the old Biblical days when literally offerings were burnt to God and so the smoke of the burnt offering permeated the atmosphere. But those offerings greatly depended on the heart of the “offeror.” So we are not “burning” offerings, but our individual conduct and acts and especially those of our leaders set the tone of what is out there, the “smoke-screen” in the public domain. It’s like madness going on and people being allowed to get away with madness! The tone on many things are set by our leaders, be it political leaders, church leaders, youth leaders, women leaders, social leaders, sports leaders, just leaders on a whole. Union’s right to rally An interesting power play took place the past week and I wrote about it in last week’s edition of this column and this week I sat back and saw the power play but did not anticipate that such a gigantic player as the Catholic Church would step in. From this writer’s corner I was looking at the duplicitous nature of the Ministry of Education under the leadership of Patrick Faber and several things came to mind.

SATIIM’s former Finance Officer charged for embezzlement
A 40-year old villager of Forest Home Village, who was formerly employed as the finance officer for the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), located in southern Belize, was today charged for a portion of funds that were reportedly embezzled from the organization over a 15-month period. Between January 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, David Duncan – who held the post of administrator and finance officer at SATIIM – allegedly forged, deposited and cashed several cheques belonging to the environmental organization, which amounted to approximately $110,000. Some 10 months ago, in May of 2013, the report was initially made by SATIIM’s Executive Director, Greg Ch’oc. At the time, Ch’oc was reluctant to comment on the matter because he said that it was in the hands of police, who were doing their pertinent investigations.

Blazin’ Reggae Showdown at Bird’s Isle this Sunday
Community members and reggae lovers in particular are being invited out to Bird’s Isle this Sunday, March 9, to support a worthy cause, while enjoying a variety of reggae music from 4:00 p.m. until midnight. The event, dubbed “Blazin’ Reggae Sunday”, will feature a host of local deejays who will be providing the audience with a mixture of both old and new reggae songs, and the subsequent proceeds will be used to assist in the administration of some much-needed feeding programs which are conducted to help disadvantaged schoolchildren in Belize City. Today, Amandala spoke with two of the organizers, Anthony “Tony G” Grant and Deon “Ras Pitta” Pitter, who told us about the show and about their intent to make it a monthly event. “We are putting together a show called Blazin’ Reggae Sunday and it’s a kickback from my show on KREM called ‘Blazin’ Reggae Vibes’ which is aired from Monday through Thursday from 5:00 a.m. until 6:30 a.m.”, Grant said.

2 DEAD AFTER FATAL TOLEDO ACCIDENT
Two men from the Toledo district are dead following a fatal traffic accident in Trio in the Toledo District, while a female police constable and two motorists were seriously hurt in separate traffic mishaps in the Belize district. Police reported that at 7:05 p.m. on Sunday, March 2, 2014, they visited an area in front of the primary school in Trio, where they saw a white pickup truck overturned in a drain. However, no one was seen in the vehicle at the time. Police said that they then visited the Independence Polyclinic, where they saw the bodies of 25-year-old Wilfredo Jaime, a farmer of Independence, and Antonio Mejia (age unknown). Police also observed 19-year-old Christopher Gutierrez, another farmer of Independence, who appeared to be in a state of shock. Gutierrez was transported to the Southern Regional Hospital, where he was later admitted.

Brother and sister die 28 hours apart
Double tragedy has struck the Garbutt family of Corozal – with the deaths of two siblings of the family occurring within 24 hours of each other. Special Constable Loneth Ferguson died first at about 1:30 Monday morning after a bout of illness at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, and then her brother, Lennox Garbutt, 43, according to reports, died at about 1:30 Tuesday morning at the scene of an accident he had – he was travelling from Corozal to Belize City to make preparations for her funeral and make other arrangements in connection with her death. The traffic collision in which Garbutt was involved took place between Miles 6 and 7 on the Philip Goldson Highway. He was officially declared dead at about 5:30 a.m., at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Garbutt was driving his Toyota Corolla car with L/P CZL-C- 027302, in which Gary Williams, 34, a laborer of 11- 6th Street, Corozal Town was a passenger, when a head-on collision occurred between the Corolla and a Sebring Touring car, being driven at the time by Steven Wade, 23, an employee of the Ministry of Health, who resides on Water Lane in Belize City. As a result, Garbutt suffered massive injuries to his left foot, chest, right arm and hip.

COROZAL HEAT
Last Friday night at the Corozal Civic Center, the Corozal Heats (1-3) whipped the Belmopan Point Bandits (2-2) with a score of 67-54 and secured their first win of the season in the National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) tournament. The first quarter was well played by both teams, with very few turnovers committed by either side. As a result, the lead was volleyed from one team to the other. At the end of the first quarter, Belmopan was up 17-14. The teams’ evident scoring drives made the second quarter very interesting. Corozal had the upper hand in regards to their three-point shooting which was, by far, much better than Belmopan’s; however, Corozal had many more turnovers. Unfortunately for Belmopan, the Bandits failed to capitalize on those turnovers. By the end of the second quarter, the Corozal Heats had taken the lead, 35-27. The third quarter saw the Heats trample the Point Bandits, as their lead grew to 12 points, mainly through the hands of Jason Daly and Kenroy Roca. Roca was on fire, sinking 4 three-pointers from 6 attempts. The third quarter ended 53-41 in favor of Corozal.

Gwen Liz girls, Wesley boys win
In the NSSSA Central Division High School Softball playoff games today at Rogers Stadium in Belize City, the girls’ team of Gwen Lizarraga High School and the boys’ team from Wesley High School were both victorious in their matches. In the first game, the #3 seed Gwen Lizarraga female team trumped the #4 seed Wesley girls’ team by a score of 15 to 4. The winning pitcher was Ashley Lucas, and the losing pitcher was Brianna Meighan. The second game was much more competitive, as the #3 seed Wesley boys’ team edged out the #4 seed Gwen Liz males by 1 run, the game ending with a 16-15 score. The winning pitcher in that game was Devon Tillett of Wesley College, while the losing pitcher was Devonte Middleton of Gwen Lizarraga School.

Tennis news
This past Saturday, March 2, twenty-two children ranging from ages 4 to13 years participated in a tennis tournament hosted by the Belize Tennis Association at the Belize Pickwick Club Tennis Courts. There were three different categories: green/advanced, orange/intermediate, and red/beginners. The advanced and intermediate category played doubles. In the green/advanced category, Harnadar Tut and Gavin Riveroll took the 1st place, with Adrian Marshalleck and Jonathan Smith taking 2nd place. In the orange/intermediate category, which had the most participants, the competition was tight; but in the end, Jayda Smith and Devesh Hukmani took 1st place, and Sofia Solano and Marianna Diaz took the 2nd place medals. In the red/beginners category, Daniel Musa came out on top, with John Paul Jaramillo taking the runner up position. Both Daniel and John Paul are extremely promising players, and they held the longest rallies of the entire tournament, impressing all parents and fans present!

Dangriga sports stats
Classic Gold Mayor’s Cup The Classic Gold Mayor’s Cup football tournament, sponsored by Traveller’s and Belikin, will get under way this Sunday, March 9, at the Carl Ramos Stadium with a Grand Marathon, commencing at 10:30 a.m. Teams taking part are: Benguche, New Site, Silk Grass, Wagiya, Wagierale, Green Gold Hope Creek, Hopkins, Southside, Riverside, and Conquerors. All teams are asked to please be on time. First place for the Marathon will be $1,000.00, second $500.00, third $300.00. Registration per team for the Marathon is $75.00. The regular season begins the following weekend with 2 games on Friday and 2 games on Sunday. This will be a short season, so teams have to be fully prepared both mentally and physically. BDF hosts PLB season opener The Premier League of Belize (PLB) will kick off its Closing Season tournament throughout the country of Belize this weekend; and here inside Dangriga’s Carl Ramos Stadium this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. will be the “southern derby” battle, as home team BDF will see action against their worst foundation rivals, Punta Gorda’s Paradise/Freedom Fighters.

Gwen Liz girls overpower Nazarene High
Gwen Lizarraga High girls softball team coach Keith Madril was worried about “making team,” but otherwise exuded confidence going into this evening’s clash with regular season #1 seed Nazarene High. In Monday’s playoff first round, Nazarene High had gotten their first taste of defeat, when they fell to #2 seed Ladyville Technical, 6-5; and it was older sister Amber Wade on the mound for Ladyville Tech who took the victory over baby sister Elma, pitching for Nazarene. #3 seed Gwen Liz girls had made light work of #4 seed Wesley on Tuesday, crushing them 15-4, so today they got their chance against Nazarene to earn a spot in the finals on Friday against Ladyville Technical. Gwen Liz coach Madril confessed that his team lost to both Ladyville Tech and Nazarene in regular season games because he made some tough decisions with problem players, whom he promptly benched for coming to games late or not showing up at all. His biggest worry was having power pitcher Ashley Lucas protected by her reliable battery-mate Tyra Moreira.

EX-SPECIAL CONSTABLE BUSTED TRYING TO SMUGGLE WEED INTO PRISON
A former Belize City Council Special Constable was busted on Wednesday when she went to the Kolbe-managed Belize Central Prison to visit her boyfriend and was found in possession of 0.3 grams of cannabis. The former Special Constable, Natalie Hamilton, 31, a resident of Periwinkle Street, appeared before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton, who arraigned her on the drug possession charge. Hamilton pleaded not guilty and was released on $500 bail plus one surety in the same amount. Hamilton had gone to visit Gyon Bernard, a remanded prisoner who has a number of cases pending in court, including two counts of attempted murder.

Raymond “Killa” Gentle’s accused killer, Corwin Bennett, walks
Earlier this week, we reported on a shooting which had taken place in Burrell Boom whilewherewhen a mob of villagers were in pursuit of a thief or thieves who had burglarized the home of Chad Gillett. Based on information we had received at the time, we were told that it was a fellow resident of Burrell Boom who was shot; however, Amandala understands that the shooting victim was 43-year-old Belize City resident, Giovanni Berry. Berry was reportedly in the village working on a newly built house and had decided to bunk for the overnight, but he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was caught in the middle of a horrifying ordeal and woke up to the nightmare of a hail of gunfire in his direction, allegedly by a vigilante group.

“Weedy” wanted to chop security guard
A security guard of Discount Superstore escaped being “chopped up” at the supermarket by a man who chased him with a machete in the store. The storeowner quickly called police and the machete-wielding man ran out of the store and drove away in a taxi. The incident occurred about 7:40 Monday morning at the store on Mahogany Street Extension. Christian Ramirez told police that at about 7:37 Monday morning, while at work, a man whom he knows as “Weedy,” who was armed with a machete, approached him and attempted to chop him. He ran into the store, and the man chased him inside the supermarket.

Corozal Free Zone robbers captured
On Tuesday, February 25, a Mexican businessman, Ricardo Villasenior, 43, of Las Flores Manzoni, Calle Alcatraz, Quintana Roo, Mexico, was robbed at gunpoint in the Corozal Free Zone. The thieves got away with $1,250,000.00 pesos in different denominations, which is the equivalent of BZ$208,000, and then, after further taking Villasenior’s cellphone and an additional 800 pesos out of his pocket, locked him up in his car trunk. Police have arrested Benigno Loria, 21, of San Andres, Corozal, who is a former employee of North American Store where Villasenior was robbed; Israel Rancharan, 22, a laborer of Venezuelan Site, Corozal Town; Hector Kelly, 26, a laborer of Halls Layout, Corozal Town; and Zandon Myers, 18, a laborer of 4th Avenue, Corozal Town.

Court of Appeal orders retrial for Edward Buller, convicted of manslaughter
The Court of Appeal has quashed the 16-year sentence of Edward Buller, 55, and ordered a new trial. Buller was convicted of manslaughter for the June 20, 2009 death of Ella Mae Bennett, 41, a Honduran national whose body was discovered in an abandoned house on Central American Boulevard. The trial judge had failed to direct the jury on a caution statement that Buller had given to police, the court found. Buller had contended that the statement was taken from him by force, and this was the legal lynchpin which resulted in the appeal justices ruling to overturn the conviction. At his trial, Buller denied being at the crime scene. He told the court that he was at home watching television. In June 2011, Buller was tried on a murder indictment, but after deliberating for over four hours, a jury of six men and six women returned into the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas with a not guilty of murder verdict, but a verdict of guilty for the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Man shot in the face in Burrell Boom was Belize City resident
Earlier this week, we reported on a shooting which had taken place in Burrell Boom whilewherewhen a mob of villagers were in pursuit of a thief or thieves who had burglarized the home of Chad Gillett. Based on information we had received at the time, we were told that it was a fellow resident of Burrell Boom who was shot; however, Amandala understands that the shooting victim was 43-year-old Belize City resident, Giovanni Berry. Berry was reportedly in the village working on a newly built house and had decided to bunk for the overnight, but he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was caught in the middle of a horrifying ordeal and woke up to the nightmare of a hail of gunfire in his direction, allegedly by a vigilante group.

BUS DRIVER AVERTS COLLISION WITH LOWBOY
At about 9:00 last night on the Philip Goldson Highway in Biscayne, an alert and quick-thinking driver of a BBOC passenger bus averted a collision with a tandem truck, probably saving the lives of his passengers and preventing untold damage to his bus. The bus driver told police that about 9:00 last night he was traveling in his BBOC bus from Orange Walk to Belize City, when upon arrival at Biscayne he saw a lowboy swerving across the road and coming towards his bus. He immediately took evasive action and drove off the road to avoid a collision. He reported the matter, and police say that a vehicle checkpoint was set up at the Burrell Boom junction where, around 9:30 p.m., a blue International towhead truck with license plates L/P A-2825 that was towing a red trailer with license plate TO199 coming from the direction of Orange Walk toward Ladyville, was stopped.

The Reporter

Bandits Release McCaulay to Atlanta Silverbacks; Reportedly Signed Contract with US team from January
The Belmopan Bandits released their key striker, Deon McCaulay, to the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday, March 1st, effectively ending McCaulay’s contract with the team. McCaulay, 26, who entered the contract with Bandits in February 2013, was in limbo since the news broke that he […] Nazarene & Ladyville Tech girls lead high schools softball

Nazarene & Ladyville Tech girls lead high schools softball
William Ysaguirre Freelance Reporter The girls of Nazarene High School and Ladyville Technical High School are leading the Belize City High Schools Softball Competition and will face off against each other when the playoffs under the Paige system begin at Rogers Stadium in Belize City on Monday, March 3. The […]

Nazarene & St John College boys lead high schools softball
WIlliam Ysaguirre Freelance Reporter The boys of Nazarene High School and St John’s College are leading the Belize City high school softball competition and will face off against each other when the playoffs under the Paige system begin at the Rogers Stadium in Belize City on Monday, March 3. The […] New clinic offers diabetic patients hope

New clinic offers diabetic patients hope
Orange Walk is now home to the first Diabetic Clinic in the country. Opened on Saturday, March 1, the clinic is the brainchild of Drs. Vladimir and Perlita Sarrión. The clinic named “Nueva Esperanza,” translates to “New Hope” in English. And true to its name, the clinic offers new hope […]

Domestic violence wake-up call issued by UK watchdog
Devoted dog owners Doctors and nurses should receive special training so they can recognise the signs of domestic violence and ask questions, the health watchdog says. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is publishing new guidance to raise awareness among those coming into contact with victims. NICE […]

Passport case exposes malfunctioning system
If there is any one thing that the “Citizen Kim” passport scandal has done, it has re-emphasized the extent to which Belize’s oversight mechanisms are indeed malfunctioning. Since last September, We, the Belizean people, have watched in real time the true manipulative powers of the One-Party Government. We’ve watched it […]

A New Lord for Belize?
His name appeared almost as a blip on Channel 5 News in July of 2013: Lord Neil B Gibson, of LNBG, LLC. But after the win of the now UDP standard bearer for Cayo South, Ralph Huang, the name is back in the public domain, and with […]

Finally free! Court of Appeal exonerates Coye family
By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter BELIZE CITY, Tues. Mar. 4, 2014 Court of Appeal Justices Dennis Morrison, Douglas Mendes and Samuel Awich on Tuesday acquitted Melonie Coye; her late father, Michael; employees Atlee Matute and Dietrich Kingston; and the family owned Money Exchange International Limited, ending a five-year odyssey for […] Corwin Bennett, 20, not guilty of Raymond Gentle murder

Corwin Bennett, 20, not guilty of Raymond Gentle murder
By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter A Belize City youth was acquitted of murder charges for the death of a reformed gang boss three years ago. The verdict came on Wednesday morning in the Supreme Court. Justice Adolph Lucas told Corwin Bennett, 20, that he was not guilty of the January […]

Belize’s fading oil industry
The Statistical Institute of Belize’s latest data reveals that Belize’s Petroleum industry is in steady decline, but the Ministry of Energy says that companies are working to address problem. The SIB’s data revealed that crude oil production fell as much as 23 percent when compared […]

National Budget includes 5% Salary Adjustment for Public Officers
Teachers and public officers will get a 5% salary adjustment and the 2014-2015 National Budget calls for no new taxes, but teachers will still march on Independence Hill on Friday during the presentation of the Budget. Their decision to demonstrate is grounded in their […]

Forms with Function – Can we do more to encourage startups?
An enabling environment consists of the set of conditions that allow something to grow and thrive -or keep it from doing so. In agriculture, these conditions include weather, irrigation, fertilizer, and the other factors required to have a particular crop grow in abundance. In the case of business, such conditions […]

Controversy over 20,000 woman rally
The Special Envoy for Women and Children Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow said that while she is disappointed at the religious groups who didn’t endorse her office’s 20,000 Women rally, she stands ready to work with churches for women upliftment. “It is very disappointing that the […]

Belize and Guatemala hold first meeting eight years after agreement is signed
Belize and Guatemala have recently formed an initiative to promote amicable relations between the two countries. Representatives from both countries signed on to the Belize-Guatemala Administrative Commission at an inaugural ceremony held at the George Price Center meeting last Friday. The commission will serve as […]

VIP calls for COMPOL resignation
The Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) has called for Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie to resign. The VIP said that they are “of the opinion that the current Commissioner of Police is unable to carry out and execute under his command, a true, […]

NCL’s EIA sparks controversy
Unconfirmed reports say that the National Environmental Appraisal Committee has reviewed Norwegian Cruise Line’s amended Environmental Impact Assessment and approved the project despite unanimous public disapproval, Michael Heusner, NEAC Belize Tourism Industry Association representative, said. Heusner confirmed to The Reporter that NEAC met Tuesday, […]

MOE threatens to dock teacher’s pay. BNTU not scared
The Ministry of Education has threatened to dock the pay of teachers who attend the Belize National Teachers Union rally scheduled for Friday, but the BNTU says that its rally will proceed as planned. Minister of Education Hon. Patrick Faber told the media this week […] Women’s Rally for empowerment garners fair numbers

Women’s Rally for empowerment garners fair numbers
Women from all walks of life in the Belizean society from across the country marched and rallied from the Memorial Park to the Marion Jones Stadium in Belize City today as part of a movement for greater empowerment and to celebrate their cause as […]

Blogs

Merida, Mexico: I Love So Many Things About this City
I DO LOVE A CITY. Especially one with fabulous museums, music, art, FOOD, cafes, culture, parks, history, shopping, nightlife, very low crime and options, options & more options. And Merida has all of that. SO MUCH OF IT. The gorgeous view flying on Tropic Air from Belize City to Merida. Low enough so that you can see the beautiful and mostly empty landscape. From chalky ocean to the sprawling White City of Merida. Gorgeous homes, hotels, gardens, pools and restaurants “hiding” behind cement walls and facades in the Centro or city center. An impressive boulevard constructed during Merida’s hey day as one of the richest cities IN THE WORLD. Mansions as private homes, banks and office buildings, crumbling facades and some…used for more practical things.

Belize Tourism Statistics 2013
The Belize tourism statistics for 2013 are in and I must say I am impressed with the numbers. Compared to other countries, 294,000 tourist arrivals (roughly) in a year may sound meagre but for a country with a population of 330,000 it makes a huge impact to the local economy. I believe that three out of every five people are directly impacted by tourism and indirectly, everyone profits. From the taxi driver to the local farmer, everyone benefits!

Exploring the ATM Caves in Belize: A Most Excellent Adventure
The ancient Mayan sacrificial caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize invoke a rare sense of discovery on the often worn out tourist trail. The genuine feeling of exploration makes the ATM caves one of the most exciting and worthwhile adventures we’ve experienced during our travels, and we couldn’t recommend it enough. We arrive at the park entrance early, grab our gear and take off on the hike to the cave. Along the way our guide Luis tells us stories of jungle jaguars, saving lost hikers and Mayan history. After crossing through three rivers and walking for an hour we get to the cave entrance. From here it’s goodbye to the bags, and our cameras. They have enforced a strong ‘no gear’ policy in an attempt to preserve the caves. If you’re claustrophobic you don’t need to worry too much. The cave itself is spacious, and only rarely are you stuck in tight spots. The cave twists, turns and has a number of different levels. For the more adventurous type there are a few challenges if you’re up to it, but ask your guide before wandering off. After 45mins we hit the end of the wet chamber and arrive at the dry chamber, where we climb up a rock and into an upper shelf of the cave.

PENNER ABSCONDS
Reliable information is that infamous former Minister of Immigration, Elvin Penner has absconded! NBZLive has been reliably informed that following word that police were going to pick him up before the weekend was out – Penner boarded a Guatemalan tour bus and headed to Mexico. On Monday, March 3, 2014, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin issued an order of mandamus ordering reticent Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie to conduct an investigation into circumstances which resulted in jailed in Taiwan, South Korean citizen, Won Hong Kim, procuring a Belizean passport and citizenship. The document was signed by the disgraced former Minister, Elvin Penner. The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) has refused to conduct investigations into the matter that has outraged Belizeans at home and abroad.

International Sources

The State of Sexual and Reproductive Health in Belize
When picturing Belize, many people imagine beaches, snorkeling, and Mayan ruins. The Caribbean country is about the same size as the state of Massachusetts, and has a population of just over 324,000. The people who live in Belize are as diverse as its environmental attractions. Because of its natural beauty, Belize has become a popular tourist destination. Despite its riches of natural and cultural diversity, Belize is not a paradise for all. Women face many unique challenges. According to the World Economic Forum’s measure of gender equality—which is based on women’s economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment—Belize was ranked 102nd out of the 135 countries in 2012. It falls second to last among the Latin American and Caribbean countries. The National Gender Policy in Belize states that women are recruited for jobs and promoted at lower rates than men, and they receive lower salaries and fewer employee benefits then men who hold the same positions. The lack of opportunities for women means they often find themselves financially dependent on their male partners.

Latin America and the Caribbean Host 30 Percent of World's Murders
Latin America and the Caribbean, it seems, are two of the most blood-wrought regions on the planet. Statistics indicate that 30 percent of the world's homicides occur in the Latin American and Caribbean region. World Bank Citizen Security Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean Rodrigo Serrano-Berthet revealed in a World Bank report that despite Latin American and Caribbean region having only 9 percent of the world's population, almost one of every three murders globally are committed there. Berthet also states that out of 50 cities around the world with the highest homicide rates, 42 are in Latin America, including the top 16. "Other areas of concern to Latin Americans, such as inflation, poverty and unemployment, have improved. By contrast, the incidence of crime and violence has not changed in recent decades, and remains at very high levels, much higher than in other regions," Serrano-Berthet said.

Mexico: Dismantling the Sinaloa cartel’s financial structure
To dismantle the Sinaloa cartel once and for all, officials must attack its finances and networks of business and political accomplices that aided Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera during his 13 years as a fugitive. “The arrest of ‘El Chapo’ means nothing more than a change in leadership for the criminal organization,” said José Reveles, a security analyst and author of El Cártel Incómodo (The Uncomfortable Cartel). “To ensure the group is actually destroyed, we cannot leave intact the organization’s financial capacity or the political protection at the state and local levels that gave it impunity.” The arrest of Guzmán on Feb. 22 in Mazatlán must lead to an intensive effort by money-laundering investigation units to locate funds and companies the Sinaloa cartel allegedly uses to acquire weapons and bribe officials, Reveles added.

Fortis Inc. Recommends Shareholders Reject TRC Capital Corporation's "Mini-Tender" Offer
Fortis does not endorse this unsolicited mini-tender offer and recommends that shareholders reject the offer and do not tender their shares in response to the offer. The Corporation's recommendation is based upon the fact that this offer is at a price below the market price for Fortis common shares (4.51% less than yesterday's TSX closing price of $30.63) and is subject to numerous conditions. TRC Capital's offer states that it may terminate the offer if, among other things, the market price of Fortis common shares declines from the close of business on March 4, 2014, or if it is unable to enter into a credit facility satisfactory to it to obtain the financing necessary to consummate the offer.

Record year for Central America with nearly 13 million visitors in 2013
Nearly 13 million visitors in 2013 The final visitor figures for 2013 released by the Ministries of Tourism of the seven Central American countries - Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama - show that tourism to the region continued to grow last year, with a total of 12,959,843 visitors, 3.83% more than in 2012. The region also continued to grow in popularity amongst European visitors, with a total of 890,821 European travellers in 2013, an increase of 3.44% compared to the previous year. Spain (172,529 visitors) and Germany (128,770 visitors) remain the main source markets in Europe, followed by the UK (104,810 visitors). Costa Rica and Panama were the two countries that experienced the greatest increase in the number of European visitors, 5.6% and 18.5% up respectively.


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