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#490308 - 05/03/14 12:13 PM Today's Belize News: May 3, 2014
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The San Pedro Sun

Costa Maya 2014 is on!
There was much talk about the International Costa Maya Festival, and the possibility of it not happening this year, but the committee has met and confirmed the dates for 2014! From August 7th through August 9th, the three-day festival will be welcoming guests to the island and treating them to music, games and much entertainment. The Reina de la Costa Maya pageant will be held on Thursday, August 7th, while Friday August 8th will see a variety of entertainers, all leading up the big Saturday night International highlight. Sponsors are being contacted, as are performers/ entertainers who will lead the charge this year. As always, we encourage businesses to join in the sponsorship and support one of the longest-running international festivals on the island. It is a boost to during the slow season, and it will certainly be a highlight for many residents and

SPHS Students and Teachers enjoy Sports Exchange Program
While most students enjoyed their Easter Vacation by going to the beach and spending time with their families, the San Pedro High School (SPHS) volleyball and basketball teams, along with a host of SPHS teachers travelled to Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA to participate in a sports exchange program. The trip, which lasted nine days, gave students the opportunity to participate in sports competitions with volleyball and basketball teams from Northside High School. The unique opportunity gave the students the experience of playing in a professional facility, while participating in practice sessions together, exchanging training and tactic tips to improve their skills.

Caye Caulker Sailing Club hosts Sailing Revival Regatta
On Saturday, April 19th and Sunday, April 20th, the Caye Caulker Sailing Club hosted the first ever Sailing Revival Regatta. Participating teams included San Pedro Junior Sailing Club (SPJSC), Corozal Bay Sailing Club (CBSC), Belize City Sailing Club (BCSC), Belize Sea Scouts and Caye Caulker Sailing Club (CCSC). After the two day competition, SPJSC returned not only with first and second place but with the complete top five roster. The regatta was not a national ranking competition, but rather purely for the love of sailing. The Sailing Revival Regatta was divided into two categories: advanced and beginners. Each group comprised of 15 sailors. At the end of the race, it was Kevin Velasquez from SPJSC who took first place in the advanced group, while first place for the beginners’ group when to Trent Humes from BCSC. SPJSC also took home second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth, eleventh and thirteenth place in the advanced sailing category, and fifth, sixth, seventh, tenth, and eleventh place in the beginners’ sailing category.

Community support can help Kent succeed in the Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games was established in 1930, and is a multi-sporting event that takes place every four years. This year, the 2014 Commonwealth Games are set for July 23rd-August 3rd in Glasgow Scotland and San Pedro’s very own Kent “Bob” Gabourel is set to represent the country in the one man triathlon. While Gabourel has been hard at work training on the island and mainland, the road and weather conditions are still far from what he will face in Glasgow. As such, Kent needs to travel to Glasgow ahead of the Belize contingency if he is to perform well, and that is where the community comes into play. For Kent, this is the opportunity of a lifetime and he feels most privileged to be representing his country. Kent, who is also a devoted trainer in triathlon and cycling for island youth, sees this opportunity as a practical example for his youth, teaching them that no matter where they come from, with hard work and dedication to one’s skill, anything is possible. He has spent the past several months preparing by competing in cycling races, triathlons and a daily workout regime, and Kent already knows the challenges he will face in Scotland. While most sports will be on a controlled platform or field that fundamentally meets the same standards globally, factors such as different altitude for running and cycling, and the icy waters he will encounter in swimming, will surely call for some special preparation and adaption.

Elias Zetina to represent the Belize District at the National Spelling Bee
On Monday, April 28th, 16 students from across Belize District competed in the hopes of representing not only their school, but the entire Belize District, at the 20th National Coca Cola Spelling Bee. In the end that honor went to Raymond Silva and Elias Zetina. Zetina is a proud student of New Horizon Seventh Day Adventist School here in San Pedro Town. The competition saw some truly amazing spellers from 15 different primary schools. Contestants in the Belize District Elimination included Jann Burn from Pancotto Primary School. Britney Longsworth from Crooked Tree Government Primary School, Dawnille Godoy from Zion Park Methodist Primary School, Lori Herrera from Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Primary School, Ruben Hernandez and Steven Hernandez from Hattieville Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, Raymondo Silva from St. Joseph Roman Catholic Primary School, Jonathan Smith from Hummingbird Elementary, Cathrina Williams from St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Primary School, Clinto Edwards from St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Primary School, Amira Arnold from Ebenezer Methodist Primary School, Amberley Marin from Belize Elementary, Jawaan Miranda from St. Luke Methodist Primary School, Monifah Vernon from Queen’s Square Anglican School, Jannelie Mas from Caye Caulker Roman Catholic Primary School and Elias Zetina from New Horizon Seventh Day Adventist Primary School.

Caracol, deep in the Belize Chiquibul Forest still undiscovered!
Time passed quickly, and we were soon deep within Belize’s rainforest in the Maya Mountains, nestled within the Chiquibul National Park. Rising high into skies, in the middle of the thick vegetation of the Maya Mountains is Caracol–the largest archeological site in Belize. She is quite the beauty! Deigo Cruz, our guide for the day, walked us through the rich history of what once was a powerful Maya City. Caracol’s ancient Mayan name was once Uxwitza which means “Three Water Hill but in the Early Classic period, it was renamed to UxWitzAjaw, or “Three Hills Lord.” Later, after modern day archaeologists began uncovering the remains of city in the late 1930’s, they gave the site the name Caracol. Spanish for snail, Caracol was chosen because of the winding road leading to the site, and the discovery of two workstations at one of the structures, El Barrio (The Neighborhood), that were used to crush snail shells. Most of the crushed shells were mixed with clay to make pottery – a unique discovery to Caracol during the excavation process. Distinctive and elaborate carvings at the 16 altars and 11 stelae that are on display make Caracol different from many other ruins in the Mundo Maya region. In fact, our tour guide pointed to evidence that suggests that at one point, part of the architecture on one structure suggest the influence of the Yucatec Maya, after a queen married one of the rulers at Caracol. That explains why part of a structure at Caracol has a slightly different, steep layer, similar to those found on ruins in southern Mexico. Read more: Caracol, deep in the Belize Chiquibul Forest still undiscovered! - My Beautiful Belize Follow us: @MyBeautifulBze on Twitter | MyBeautifulBelize on Facebook

Ambergris Today

San Pedro Costa Maya Festival Confirmed for 2014
After much waiting and speculating that there would not be another festival this year, the San Pedro Costa Maya Festival Committee met this week and has confirmed that Costa Maya Festival 2014 is good to go from August 7 to August 9. The Costa Maya Festival will once again retain its shorter 3-day format with the Miss Costa Maya Pageant taking place on Thursday, August 7; multiple entertainers on Friday, August 8 and an international entertainer highlighting the last night of the festival on Saturday, August 9. The festival committee has started cranking up its gears in organizing the event by contacting sponsors, booking entertainers and performers and booking the international artist who will be the highlight of the festival.

Misc Belizean Sources

Mother's Day Extravaganza 2014
The San Pedro Town Council presents the Mother's Day Extravaganza 2014 on Saturday, May 10 at the Old Football Field. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. This year we have three performers: imitator of Latin Divas, a singer and a stand up comedian. Cost of ticket is $20 and includes gourmet turkey dinner, drink, dessert and a token for all mothers. The show is for ADULT AUDIENCE ONLY! NO CHILDREN ALLOWED! Click this link below to view a performance of singer Julia Manrique.

Misstatements by the media regarding the scope of the permit issued to US Capital Energy Belize Ltd
Government of Belize Press Office, PRESS RELEASE: The Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU), which has oversight of petroleum operations in Belize through its Geology and Petroleum Department, is compelled to clarify the continued misstatements by the media regarding the scope of the permit issued to US Capital Energy Belize Ltd., (US Capital) by the Forest Department on April 30, 2013.

The Love and Peace Concert for youth development will be next Sunday, May 11th, at Mae Gordon Park, starting at 3:00pm. Pen Cayetano and his family band will be playing at the event. Panerrifix Steel Band will be playing also, and the Belmopan Active Youth Marching Band will be there. Don't miss this great event. "All are invited to come out at the Mae Gordon Park on Sunday, May 11th for Love and Peace Concert."
The Love and Peace Concert for youth development will be next Sunday, May 11th, at Mae Gordon Park, starting at 3:00pm. Pen Cayetano and his family band will be playing at the event. Panerrifix Steel Band will be playing also, and the Belmopan Active Youth Marching Band will be there. Don't miss this great event. "All are invited to come out at the Mae Gordon Park on Sunday, May 11th for Love and Peace Concert."

Ms Dangriga, Belize, captures Ms Garifuna 2014 title
For years now, Ms Mirtha Colon, a long time Garifuna activist, who is the president and CEO of Hondurenos Contra El Sida and the manager of a Garifuna center by the name of “Casa Yurumein” in Bronx, New York, has been sponsoring the annual Ms Garifuna Pageant. This contest is the largest one held in the United States for young Garifuna women to compete for the title of Ms Garifuna and normally attracts about 800 people from all over the city. On Sunday 27th April 2014 at 5:00 pm, the contest was held at the Riverside Park Auditorium on Riverside Drive in Manhattan, New York City, and about 400 people turned out to witness this annual historic occasion. Ms Colon has been reaching out to the parents of all the various Garifuna communities from the countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, “Yurumein” St Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States to enroll their young daughters in the competition. It was always difficult for her to get a Belizean to participate in this event. Why? Many Belizeans felt that they do not stand a chance to win because it is being sponsored by somebody from Honduras, which always has the most contestants and also the majority of Garifuna people in New York City and throughout the entire world. This year she was able to convince Ms Brenda Ellis to enroll her daughter Erin Arzu to participate in the pageant.

Belize Lions Zone 59 36th Naitonal Convention
On behalf of the San Pedro Lion's Club we are inviting the community of San Pedro to the Belize Lions Zone 59 36th Naitonal Convention under the theme "Lions-Rejoicing & Uniting to Better Serve Our Communities" on May 2, 3 & 4 at the R. Angel Nuñez Auditorium. FRIDAY - May 2 - Opening Ceremonies - 6:30 PM Entertainment - Introduction of Queens - Keynote Address - Hospitality Booths - Music & Dancing with DJ Tracks. SATURDAY - May 3 - 10 AM - 12 Noon Zone 59 Meeting - 1:30 PM - Afternoon Activities 8 PM: Fun & Entertainment! Queen Pageant & Club Presentations SUNDAY - May 4 - 8 AM Church Service - 10 AM Lions & Citizens Parade with Queens 12 Noon - Auditorium closing remarks & Ceremony 2 PM - Jump Up with DJ Tracks.

MAYOR HAS GATHERING WITH CHURCH LEADERS
On Monday, April 28, Mayor Daniel Guerrero gathered with the church leaders in San Pedro Town to discuss the recent crime incidents. The Mayor welcomed everyone to the gathering and thanked them for taking the time off their busy schedules to meet with him and his councilors. Mayor Danny opened the forum by asking all pastors to help him find a solution through their congregation. All pastors introduced themselves and with their introduction they gave their opinions towards the situation. All pastors gave ascertive opinions towards the situation and came into agreement that a foundation at home needs to be established and that we should start educating the youths, show them dedication and love.

SHJC Marketing Expo
Sacred Heart Junior College had a small Marketing Expo. The new auditorium is getting a lot of great use.

Phillip Goldson Highway between miles 59 and 60
The Ministry of Works and Transport hereby informs the general public that Phillip Goldson Highway between miles 59 and 60 will be undergoing urgent culvert replacement from Monday, May 5 to Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Traffic will be channeled through a diversion and therefore motorist are advised to slow down and exercise extreme caution when approaching the work area. The Ministry of Works and Transport apologizes for any inconvenience caused!

BETEX, Belize's Largest Tourism Expo is next Week
BETEX, the largest tourism expo in Belize, is organized by the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and is scheduled to commence next week from May 7-9 2014 at the Princess Hotel in Belize City. The Expo is a business-to-business event that showcases Belize’s travel destinations, hotels, tour operators, and other tourism service providers. It attracts more than 350 local and international tourism professionals and press representatives. The event is an exclusive opportunity for international travel resellers to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business with local travel suppliers, and to learn more about Belize and experience the destination first hand. First organized in 1996, BETEX is held every two years; the last expo was in 2012. Businesses from around Belize that sent representatives included The Lodge at Big Falls, Hatchet Caye Resort, Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, Programme for Belize, San Ignacio Resort and Cahal Pech Village Resort. This year, the opening night of the event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 7 at the Princess Hotel and Casino. As Belize’s leading national private sector tourism association, the BTIA represents a unified voice and advocates for issues that benefit its members. The organization also influences tourism policy, legislation and marketing for the sustainable development of the industry and improved quality of the visitor experience.

Police Report - COROZAL DISTRICT
Back to back armed robberies target another Chinese business and leaves woman wounded. ROBBERY: At 11:15 p.m. on May 1st, 2014, police visited Ma’s Fast Food located on 7th Avenue, Corozal Town where a businessman of that address reported that at 11:15 p.m. on same date, he and his wife were at their business place when two masked men entered, one of them pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him and demanded money. He stated that he handed over $2,000.00 Bcy in cash, (2) Samsung Galaxy cell phones and $300.00Bcy in phone cards, all to a total of $3,900.00 Bcy. The other male person who was armed with a knife reportedly hit his wife causing bruises and swelling to the left side of her face. The male person with the firearm also hit him to the forehead causing a swelling. Both men then made good their escape. Police investigations continue.

Look out Corozal - International Museum Day Celebration is coming!!

Manuel Heredia Jr. had the opportunity to represent Belize
Yesterday May 1st Minister of Tourism, Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. had the opportunity to represent Belize in a SITCA meeting held in Dominican Republic- Santo Domingo. Many regional tourism initiatives were discussed at this forum.

UDP Having Trepidations About the Return of Godfrey Smith and Ralph Fonseca to PUP’s Executive
Very few people if any make the roguish ruling United Democratic Party shiver in their pants but the announcement of the return of Ralph Fonseca and Godfrey Smith to the ranks of the opposition PUP visited some unease amongst the unruly bunch. Rumors of General elections in Belize have been circulating for months. While no one knows for sure, there is mounting evidence that those suspicions may just be right. Constitutionally, general elections are held once every five years in Belize. The next general elections are not due until February 2017. However the ruling Barrow administration has not been able to hold their own therefore elections may well be called sooner as was the case in 2012 when elections were called one year early. Two years in and Barrow is out of gas – bogged down by “self inflicted” wounds. Corruption so rampant in his administration that calling general elections soon, as in before the end of 2014 may be his only way out. And Barrow knows all too well the decision he must make. He articulated that to the media on February 5th of this year following a meeting of the House of Representatives.

Channel 7

Ministry and Union Part Ways On National Teachers Day Celebration
If you're not a teacher, you probably don't remember back to May of 2009 when a huge national celebration was held in Belmopan for all teachers countrywide. It was a first, a very major event to mark Teacher's Day, and thousands of teachers converged in the UB Gym in Belmopan. The plan was to have it again this year, but that plan has fallen apart, reportedly because of disagreements between the Ministry of Education and the Belize National teachers Union. And this year, the breaking point was over money. Our reports are that the ministry had asked the Union to contribute thirty five thousand dollars to the event - which was budgeted for well over one hundred thousand dollars - most of it set aside for transport to bus in teachers from all over the country. But, citing the large number of activities it has staged this year - including teacher rallies and its national convention a few weeks ago, the Teachers' UNION said it could only contribute ten thousand dollars.

USA Wants Cuban Fugitive Who's In Belize Jail, But Red Tape A Factor
In February, we told you how Cuban fugitive Raonel Valdez Valhuerdi had been caught in Benque Viejo. Valhuerdi is listed as a wanted man by US Marshals for masterminding the 2012 robbery of 110 pounds in gold flakes valued at 2.8 million US dollars. He was caught in Belize in mid February, where he pleaded guilty to illegal entry and paid a two thousand dollar fine. But, local authorities tell us he is still in jail, and an article in the newspaper USA Today says that's because US Immigration has blocked attempts to return him to the United States to be put on trial. The USA today reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has told investigators it will not allow Valdez, a Cuban national, to go back to the states. That's because the US has no way of sending Valdez back to Cuba once they get him back to America. The situation is under review by homeland security, but those working closely to the case in the States are concerned that Belizean authorities will release him before he can be sent to the US for trail. The newspaper reports that Investigators from the U.S. Marshals Service chased Valdez from Florida to the Bahamas and Mexico. That's where the trail went dead until he turned up in Belize carrying a Cuban passport without an entry stamp. It would have gone without notice, but Immigration officers at the Benque border, sensed something unusual and searched his name on the Internet and found that he was wanted in Florida.

Mayans From Buffer Community Got To Us Capital Drillpad For A Showdown
The exploration permit for US Capital Energy was supposed to have expired yesterday, May first. But, it didn't; the Administrator of National Parks and the Chief Forestry Officer simply rolled it over, waiving the expiration date, which allowed the company to keep operations going. But the Mayan communities in the buffer zone rejected that decision; they say it is illegitimate because it defies the judgment handed down by Justice Michelle Arana. And so the Mayans say that they'll monitor the drill site inside the Sarstoon Temash National themselves. Sounds a lot simpler than it is - since that would be considered a trespass by the private oil company. But trepass is just what they did yesterday. Our colleagues from KREM News were there - and Daniel Ortiz put together this story. Daniel Ortis reporting Yesterday morning at around 10:00, about a hundred or so residents of the Mayan Buffer Communities made their way to US Capital Energy's A1 Drill Site, which is about 10 meters inside the Sarstoon Temash National Park.

Is Valentin Makin Actin' the Fool?
On Wednesday, we told you about the letter that Valentin Makin, the ejected 1st Alcalde of Conejo Village, wrote to the Toledo Alcalde Association demanding an explanation about the procedures used to remove him from office. Well, the Association's president, Alfonso Cal, has responded to his request. In a letter to Makin, Cal outlined the series of events which preceded his removal from office. He noted that Makin had to have known that this move was in the works given what had transpired in his presence. According to Cal, two village meetings were held, where the allegation emerged that he unilaterally signed on behalf Conejo Creek Village that the community gives, quote, "unequivocal free, prior and informed consent for US Capital Energy Belize Ltd to continue its work and drilling on Maya Customary Lands." End quote. Cal noted that in that meeting, a villager confronted him with the allegation that he'd betrayed the community, and that he denied it.

PUC Says Not So Fast, Not So Low On New Light Rate
The Public Utilities Commission wants to lower your light bill, but not quite as low as BEL wants it. On April first, BEL put in for a rate reduction to 43 cents per kilowatt hour, almost 4% down from 44.65 cents. But the PUC says the best rate would be more like 43.47 cents per kilowatt hour - which is only down 2.65%. That is the PUC's initial decision and if you don't like it, you can make your objection known to the PUC by May 12th, 2014. The new rates are for July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.

Cotton Tree Village Council Taking GOB To Court For Land Lawlessness
If you follow the news, you'll remember that in March there was an ugly scene at the foot of the National Assembly Stairs. It was the scuffle between UDP Minister Boots Martinez, Mace Bearer Yellow Man Audinett and PUP Cayo South Operator Vaughan Gill. They were fighting about 254 lots that Anthony Boots Martinez had secured in Cotton Tree Village for his Port Loyola constituents. Gill and his boss, the Cayo South representative Julius Espat alleged that Martinez and the Ministry of Natural Resources were disenfranchising Cotton Tree Villagers of land that should be set aside for their village. Now, with Espat as their sponsor, the village council has secured a top law firm to take their challenge to the Supreme Court. They say that the ministry bypassed all the requirements in the Village Council, and Land Utilization and the Environmental Protection Act when it set aside the land for Port Loyolans. Those laws say that the village council and its lots committee have the authority and the autonomy to decide who gets land where within their village boundaries.

Labour Day Was For Lounging?
Yesterday was Labour Day - the day for workers, and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize invited its membership to be part of a march from Constitution Park to Memorial Park, where they would hold a rally. In terms of support, it was poor; from a possible membership of more than ten thousand, we only counted about 30 people. That would suggest that it was a failure, but the President of the NTUCB told us that the hope is that a seed has been planted: Dylan Reneau, President NTUCB "Today we had a host committee meeting at the ITVETT and it was attended by the chamber and I think we did a masterful job of presenting the workers views on occupational safety and health and in fact the house committee did invite us to be a part of the panel whenever we do the countrywide tour and I am looking forward to that." Daniel Ortiz "Sir, are you able to tell us if you've gathered the opinion that you sway them a bit. I know that chamber was one of the individual groups that came out strong against the OSH bill?"

Downpour Leaves City Inundated
The heavy rains don't usually come until June but a late season cold front pushing past Belize caused a torrential downpour last night. It rained for hours here in the city - and when residents woke up, it was to a city underwater. Here's how it looked this morning: Cecil Jenkins, Sanitation Administrative Supervisor "Like you say we could never predict when the rains will be falling, so I guess yesterday or last night when this rain came it was like a surprise to the public, but we never expect this." Monica Bodden reporting It was tough going this morning in the city, rubber boots - fashionable ones - were called for Or high stepping across the puddles while the police station looked like it needed a coast guard rescue.

Canton Done At CPBL
Embattled CEO of CPBL Henry Canton was allowed to resign - and he did so effective Wednesday April 30th. A release from CPBL says that "Canton tendered his resignation from the company where he has served as the CEO…since October 2002." It confirms that Canton will continue to be on the Board of Directors - and that his second in command, Chief Operations Officer Jaime Alpuche will be Acting CEO until a new CEO is appointed by the Board of Directors. Giving no hint of any acrimony surrounding his departure, the release says quote, "on behalf of the Citrus Products of Belize, its employees and the Board of Directors, the Chairman Mr. Douglas Singh takes this opportunity to thank Dr. Canton for his years of valuable service...and looks forward to a continued working relationship with him as a member of the Board of Directors..." And while that is a graceful end, many in the Citrus Growers Association feel that it is not a fitting end; they would have wished for Canton to be summarily dismissed, and for his successor to be someone from outside the company.

Social Security Can't Issue Cards
One of the most basic functions of the Social Security Board is to issue social security cards - every adult living and working in Belize should have one. But, what happens when somehow SSB runs out of the stuff to make the cards? Well, we're finding out right now because that's just what has happened. For over a month - those going in for cards have been given a provisional letter instead. Social Security tells us that the stock of what are known as "overlays" finished in mid March. Overlays are the protective plastic that goes on top of the card. Now, we suppose, these sorts of shortages happen even to multi million dollar organizations like Social Security, but the really incredible part is that SSB tells us that the new stock of "overlays" was ordered in the last week of January 2014 - and they still haven't arrived! That's more than three months ago! And, guess what? They aren't arriving until the end of May, making it four months - a quarter of the year - between ordering and arrival. Makes us wonder, where do these magical overlays come from!? Wherever it is, we'd have to guess that rush delivery wasn't available, and SSB coolly tells us that they expect to resume issuing of cards by May 27, 2014.

The US Changes Its Position On Valdez
At the top of our newscast, we told you about how US Fugitive Raonel Valdez may not be sent to America to face trial for a 2.8 million US dollar gold heist. Well, a few minutes ago, American Newspaper, USA Today, published on their webpage that US Immigration Officials have reversed their position, and that they will allow Valdez to be extradited to face trial for the crime. The Newspaper reports that Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Barbara Gonzalez, confirmed late this evening, the agency has approved Valdez's return. USA Today says that Gonzalez did not say why the Agency changed its mind. Finally the paper notes that in the sequence of events that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement changed their position shortly after the US press picked up the story that Valdez might be released because of their decision to block his return.

City Residents Put In Work On Labour Day
While you were at home relaxing and enjoying Labour Day yesterday, the City Council reports that 468 city residents came out and participated in the third annual "Labour for Belize Initiative". The event started at the San Cas Plaza where the participants gathered for an opening ceremony. Participants included workers at business houses, students, community groups and employees of the Belize City Council. They were deployed on different assignments at 22 project sights. Those assignments included clean-up campaigns and tree planting along the Northern and Western Highways and Mahogany Street and upgrades to several parks and public spaces. By noon, more than 350 bags of trash had been collected. This is the third year of the event.

Romantic Romain In Belize
As part of the Agric fair weekend festivities, Jamaican reggae superstar, Romain Virgo will be performing live in concert on Saturday night in Belmopan. But, it's not any old reggae concert, Virgo's performance is billed as an "unplugged" event. Today he made he stopped in at our studios for a one on one interview about the show and told us what his fans can expect tomorrow night. The concert is tomorrow night at the Barrio Fino Night Club Parking Lot in Belmopan.

Jackie Case Comes Out With Video
Jackie Castillo - is one of the most well-known vocalists in Belize. But, for all her years of performing - she's never released a music video. That's what she stopped by our studio to do today. It is called "Borrow and Steal" and was directed by Tariq Young of Young Star Entertainment who is a Belizean American music director living in California. Castillo told us the video was shot at various locations in the city and only took the team 5 days to put everything together. And we close tonight with Jackie Cas's full video for "Borrow and Steal"

Channel 5

Standoff between Maya communities and US Capital Energy in the south
For months, tensions have been mounting between SATIIM, the Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management, and US Capital Energy Limited that is carrying out pre-drilling activities within Maya communal lands [...]

Guns and ammunition are stolen from the San Pedro Police Station
Eight guns and more than one hundred rounds of ammunition were stolen between Wednesday night and Friday morning in San Pedro. Usually when that happens it’s time to call in [...]

Henry Canton resigns as C.E.O. of CPBL after years of infighting
After weeks of speculation and more than a decade at the helm of Citrus Products of Belize Limited, C.E.O., Doctor Henry Canton, has tonight stepped down from the post.  This [...]

Search team scours the Macal for the body of an Ontario resident
A young man from the village of Ontario in the Cayo District is missing, and is presumed drowned in the Macal River. Eighteen year old Justin Lamb was with two [...]

Cotton Tree villagers to sue G.O.B. over lands given to Port Loyola residents
A land dispute is tonight brewing between residents of Cotton Tree Village and Port Loyola Area Representative Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez, following the parceling out of two hundred and fifty lots [...]

Belize City man charged for sexual assault
A Belize City man was remanded today to the Belize Central prison for two weeks after he was accused of committing a sexual assault upon a female during which he [...]

Repeat drug offender found guilty of possession
An elderly woman who made her way into the courtroom with the help of a walking stick was today charged with possession of a pipe.  She is sixty-four year old [...]

U.S. Army Ranger missing at sea for 3 days
Police and Coast Guard are continuing the search for kayaker Wrangler Shane Leesman, missing in the seas off San Pedro since April twenty-ninth. The former American Army Ranger was with [...]

Big drug bust in the west
Two men are in Police custody tonight, charged for drug trafficking and multiple traffic offences. Roland Rivers and Paul Morgan fled from San Ignacio Police when they were approached, and [...]

Central Regional Administrator allegedly named in an audit report
On Wednesday, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Health, Peter Allen, was under fire particularly for the recent appointment of Danini Contreras as Director of Drug Inspectorate. There is one other [...]

Birthday celebration for Fuego in honor of National Tapir Day
The tapir is the national animal of Belize and rightly so, because the jewel is home to the healthiest tapir population worldwide. To celebrate that notable achievement, the Belize Zoo [...]

Flooding in the city
Torrential rains on Thursday night caused flooding in most parts of the city. The municipal airstrip had to be closed…some schools including St. John’s Sixth Form called off classes and [...]

Romain Virgo in concert for Agric Weekend!
The annual National Agricultural and Trade Show kicked off today with an opening ceremony at the show grounds in Belmopan and will continue throughout the weekend. Aside from the livestock, [...]


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#490309 - 05/03/14 12:15 PM Re: Today's Belize News: May 3, 2014 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

More News: Scroll up from here

LOVE FM

Cotton Tree Council Wants Say Over Their Village Lands
Reports reaching Love News is that the process of issuing land to Belize City residents is well underway by the Government. An estimated two hundred and fifty lots have been surveyed in the western village of Cotton Tree in the Cayo District…..and while the perception out there would be that the government is doing the right thing by giving Belizean citizens their little piece of this jewel, the Village Council of Cotton Tree is condemning the move. The village council, headed by the Chairman, Oscar Otero sought the legal services of Barrow and Williams to seek an injunction against the Government in order to have the issuance of these lots put on hold. We spoke to Chairman Otero today. OSCAR OTERO (Spanish to English translation) “Our situation in regards to the lands in Cotton Tree Village is that we want the government to respect us, right now they have no respect for the Cotton Tree village council. There are laws that states that the Village Council should be consulted on this land issue and the government should respect those laws when they started this land project where they are dividing land into lots and giving it away to who they want and that is why we condemning that move by the government.”

Drowning Reported in Western Belize
He recently relocated to Ontario Village from San Ignacio Town, Cayo District following an incident of assault that occurred about two weeks ago where he was accused of cutting someone in the throat area….but seemingly luck was on his side as the victim refused to have any court action or police investigation conducted on the incident. That was two weeks ago…and now, Justin Lamb is presumed dead after having gone underwater and not resurfacing. Reports are that on just after midday on Thursday afternoon, Lamb was in the company of 18-year-old, Travis Gongora when they went to the river with another friend. Lamb reportedly jumped into the water around 1:30pm but he never came out. Police went to the area by the river and efforts were made to locate Lamb but they proved fruitless.

Vehicle Flips During High Speed Chase with Police
Two men of the Belize District brought attention to themselves in western Belize on Thursday when they sped down the George Price Highway between the towns of Benque Viejo del Carmen and San Ignacio. A mobile patrol was in the area and immediately pursued the brown pickup truck, indicating to them to pull over but the driver refused and continued at high speed…that is until he lost control of the vehicle on Buena Vista Street near the San Ignacio Police Station. A search of the vehicle was conducted and a red sack containing twenty eight pounds of cannabis was found on the passenger side. Another sack was found behind the driver’s seat containing twenty pounds of cannabis. As a result, 32-year-old, Rolan Ranique Rivers of a Daisy Hornby Street in Belize City and 39-year-old, Paul Rubio Morgan of Mahogany Heights were detained. Both men will remain under lockdown in San Ignacio holding cell until Monday as there is no court in session for today. They will be charged with several traffic offences and drug trafficking.

Restaurateurs Robbed and Assaulted in Northern Belize
A case of assault and robbery is being investigated by the authorities in Corozal Town following the armed holdup of a business couple in that municipality. On Labour Day, Police responded to a call and went to Ma’s Fast Food on Seventh Avenue where the owners reported that just after eleven o’clock on Thursday night, two armed, masked men entered their place of business and demanded money. The man told investigators that he handed over two thousand three hundred dollars in Belize currency along with two Samsung cellular phones. But the thieves, perhaps feeling the need to leave their mark behind, assaulted the man, leaving him with a swollen forehead. The man’s wife was also injured to the left side of the face. Police are investigating as the men made good their escape.

Coast Guard Extends Search For Former US Marine
The search continues for the American national that went missing at sea on Tuesday, April 29 north of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. On Tuesday morning, two former officers of the Unites States Marines, who arrived in Belize last Saturday, had gone kayaking around eleven o’clock when the kayak capsized and the men drifted out at sea. A concerned resident, who saw the kayak drifting on the waters, contacted the Coast Guard to alert them and that was when the search began for 24-year-old, Brad Josker and 29-year-old, Wrangler Leesman, both of the Texas state, USA. Leesman was found and rescued during the initial part of the search while Josker remains missing. Love News was reliably informed that Leesman’s family had chartered a helicopter to do a flyover of the waters but that proved futile. While a search at sea would ordinarily be done over a period of 72 hours, it is expected that this search will be extended as consideration has been given to the experience acquired by Leesman as a former Marine officer. Up to news time, the search for Leesman has been conducted as far as thirty five miles outside the reef. Meanwhile, Josker has returned to his home in the USA yesterday.

Canton Resigns From Citrus Company
Dr. Henry Canton has resigned as Chief Executive Officer of the Citrus Products of Belize Limited. It has been rumoured for some time that Canton would be relieved of his post, one he has held since October 2002. During that time Dr. Canton has held a sometimes testy relationship with the majority shareholder, Citrus Growers Association. Dr. Canton will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors. A release from the CPBL informs that Chief Operations Officer Jaime Alpuche will be acting CEO until a new CEO is appointed by the Board of Directors.

PlusTV

Belize River in Cayo Claims Another Life
Many people frequent the river, especial during days of hot weather. Yesterday, May 1st, was no exception. At the height of the midday sun 18 year old Travis Gongora,18 year old Justin Lamb, of Camalote Village and another friend from Ontario village went swimming in the Belize river just...

U.S. Capital Carries On with Work in Sarstoon-Temash
The Forest Department has confirmed with U.S. Capital Energy that it has decided to waive the expiration date of today, April 30, 2014, contained in the permit granted to the company to conduct petroleum exploration operations in the Sarstoon Temash National Park. Because it was ordered to by Supreme...

Ministry Clarifies Type of Permit that U.S. Capital Received
Today, the Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU), which has oversight of petroleum operations in Belize through its Geology and Petroleum Department, issued a press release to clarify what they say is “continued misstatements by the media regarding the scope of the permit issued to...

Squatters in Harmonyville Buffer Handed Eviction Letters
Only last week Plus News visited the community at Harmonyville on the George Price Highway along with BIGYEA leaders to bring to national attention the squatting problems that the community is experiencing. The squatting continues to persist even though three years have past since the plot of land was...

Agriculture Show 2014 is Declared Open
The official opening ceremony for the Agriculture and Trade Show 2014 kicked off at the show grounds at 3:55 pm and after the inspection of the Guard of Honour by the Governor General Sir Colville Young, the National Anthem was sung accompanied by the Panerrifix Steel Band. The event...

Earthday Celebrated at the University of Belize
International Earth Day was celebrated on the 22nd day of April, but with the celebrations still young, the University of Belize, in Belmopan, hosted their own annual earth day celebrations, organized by the class from the Natural Resource Programme under the Faculty of Science and Technology with guest speaker...

Belize City Council Celebrates Labour Day with Community Clean Up Initiative
Yesterday, Labor Day, the Belize City Council held its third annual “Labor for Belize initiative”. The event encourages residents of Belize City to labor for their community through service and fellowship. At San Cas Plaza where the opening ceremonies were held, some 468 participants gathered for remarks by Mayor...

Cayo Police High Speed Chase Ends in Accident and Drug Bust
At 8:25 p.m. on May 1st, while police were conducting mobile patrol within San Ignacio Town, they observed a brown pick-up approaching from the direction of Benque Viejo at a very high speed. Police signaled the driver to stop, however; he continued driving at the same speed. Police then...

More Robberies to Report in the Corozal District
Reports coming in to Plus News are that a spate of Robberies in the Corozal District continues. According to Police reports, on Thursday, May 1st, at around 11:15 p.m., a businessman, along with his wife, was at their business place, namely Ma’s Fast Food, located on 7th Avenue, Corozal...

Infant Viciously Attacked by Dog in Santa Elena
On Wednesday, April 30th, five year old Christopher Jones was reportedly playing in a yard on Zaiden Street in Santa Elena town when he was viciously attacked by a dog. An eye witness says that the scene of the aftermath was “horrifying” as the witness described the little boy...

Cotton Tree Village Council to Sue Government Over Land Distribution
You will recall that Plus News broke the story of the discontent in the village of Cotton Tree in the Cayo District when villagers learned that a large parcel of land surveyed in the Cotton Tree village for distribution would be given exclusively to residents from Belize City and...

The Reporter

Police seize nearly 50 pounds of weed
A police mobile patrol in San Ignacio Town, Cayo at around 8:25 p.m. Thursday night yielded almost 50 pounds of marijuana. It happened when police observed a brown pick-up approaching from the direction of Benque Viejo Town at what they describe “very high speed”. A police press release issued today states that police signaled the driver to stop, but he continued at the same pace. say they pursued the vehicle which later overturned on Buena Vista Street in front of the Police Station. Police say they searched the interior of the vehicle and they discovered a red sack on the front passenger seat which contained 28 pounds of cannabis.

Robbers target Ma’s Fast Food in Corozal Town
Armed robbers got away with almost $4,000.in cash and valuables when they targeted Ma’s Fast Food in Corozal Town shortly after 11 p.m. on Thursday. The owner of the business, whose name police have withheld, reported that he and his wife were inside the establishment when two men wearing masks entered. One of them pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him and demanded money. The businessman said he handed over $2,000.00 in cash and the man then stole two Samsung brand cellular phones and $300.00 worth of phone cards, all valued at around $3,900.00.

Rains cause class cancellations; downpours expected to last all weekend
The rains that came down on Thursday night and caused flooding throughout Belize City led to the cancellations of classes for many schools throughout the city. Streets and compounds for many of the schools were severely flooded and inaccessible. Some of the schools which cancelled classes include, St. Ignatius Primary, St. Joseph Primary, All Saints and even St. John’s Junior College which, was supposed to be having exams today. Forecaster at the Belize Meteorological Service, Francisca Wellington told The Reporter that two systems converging over the region are causing the rains. Wellington explained that a frontal system in the Bay of Campeche and another nearby caused increased moisture and instability in weather conditions.

Study: Consuming more coffee reduces risk of type 2 diabetes
A study which the Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) has published shows that increasing coffee consumption by on average one-and-half cups per day over a four-year period reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. According to the study, led by Drs. Frank Hu and Shilpa Bhupathiraju of the US Department of Nutrition and Harvard University respectively, the reduction of that risk is as much as 11 percent. The authors examined the associations between four-year changes in coffee and tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in the subsequent four years. They used observational data from three large prospective, US-based studies in their analysis which collected detailed information on diet, lifestyle, medical conditions, and other chronic diseases every two to four years for over 20 years.

Cyclist’s murder impacts many sectors
Members the Cycling Federation of Belize turned out en masse last Friday to lead the funeral procession of their slain brother-in-the ride Ernest “Dangalang” Thurton, a 41-year-old cyclist of the Santino’s team, who was gunned down behind his aunt’s home in the Junesville area of Belize City around 4:00 pm Tuesday evening, April 15. Funeral services were held at the Central Assembly of God Church on Freetown Road in Belize City, where his employer and cycling teammate of more than 14 years, Minister of State for Economic Development, Santino Castillo, paid tribute to Thurton’s life as a hard worker on the job and on the road with his cycling team.

Special constable gets 15 years for keeping unlicensed gun
Former Special Constable Jose Haylock, 36, is serving jail time after he admitted to being in possession of an unlicensed gun and unlicensed ammunition. Haylock received three sentences of five years, which include one for keeping an unlicensed pistol and two for keeping unlicensed ammunition. The sentences, however, are to run concurrently, so he will spend five years or less behind bars. Haylock chose to change his plea from not guilty after prosecutors introduced video footage of the search that officers of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) conducted at his Louise Bevans Street residence in February of 2012. Haylock was present at the time. His live-in companion, Corrine Martinez, was not. On the strength of a search warrant, the officers recovered a .22 caliber pistol with ten rounds of ammunition in the magazine under the cushion of a single couch, as well as eleven rounds of 9mm ammunition in a blue purse. While sentencing Haylock, the Chief Magistrate chided him for allowing a “charade” of a trial to continue for two years, knowing fully well, she said, that he was in fact guilty.

UB girls win National ATLIB Football Championship
The defending champions, the girls of the University of Belize won the Association of Tertiary Level Institutions of Belize National Football Championship. Sacred Heart Junior College hosted the event at the Norman Broaster Stadium auditorium in San Ignacio last Saturday and Sunday. The UB girls won the championship finals 2-0 over their arch-rivals from the year before, the girls of Independence Junior College. Iris Galdamez and Emmerlyn Nunez led the UB offensive, supported by Delmi Cornelio and Leonella Chu on the wings and Anijay Quiroz and Zenda Avila at midfield. Avila scored the first winning goal on a free kick that sailed over the outstretched gloves of IJC goalkeeper Marian Trujillo to find the far corner of the net. Iris Centeno and Brenda Alvarado led the furios IJC counterattacks with the help of Erica Vallecillo and Roxana Alvarado on the wings and Zulma Portillo and Sylvia Cabral at midfield, but they could not get past the staunch UB defense anchored by Esther Cal, with the help of Aaren Ritchie-Bonar, Tricia Coye and Albertha Garcia.

Smart No Limits crushes Toledo Diplomats 105-46 in NEBL basketball
Basketball fans witnessed the Toledo Diplomats, the only team to defeat the league leading San Pedro Tigersharks in Toledo, fall 46-105 to Smart No Limits. No Limits enjoyed their sixth victory when the national elite basketball competition continued at Birds’ isle last Saturday night. Akeem “Timmy” Trapp hit two 3-pointers as he led No Limits with 19 pts, four boards for a 17-11 lead in the first quarter. Greg “Chippy” Rudon also hit a 3-pointer as he poured in another 18 pts and three rebounds, while Kevin Domingo laid up 17 pts to cruise to a 45-17 lead at intermission. Andrew Ortiz rammed home three monster dunks to add 16 pts, snagging nine boards, while Brandon Rogers tossed in 22pts and Brian White added 10 pts. John Rudon matched his brother with a 3-pointer as he added seven and Ervin “Poty” Orosco chipped in four.

Alba Petrocaribe opens office in Belize
The opening of a head office for Alba Petrocaribe Belize Energy Limited, APBEL, last Friday is expected to bolster the diplomatic ties that Belize and Venezuela enjoy. Petrocaribe is an oil alliance of Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of concessionary payment. Since the signing of the existing agreement in September of 2012, the United Democratic Party Government has embarked on an infrastructure development that has resulted in the construction of sports stadiums in every municipality, the introduction of social programs and a $20 million investment to establish the National Bank of Belize Ltd. Under the Petrocaribe agreement APBEL buys the fuel from the state owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela Sociedad Anonima, (PDVSA) and then sells to Trafigura, which through its subsidiary, PUMA Energy Belize Ltd, markets all petroleum products in Belize.

PUP talks oversight reform
“Our governance reform agenda is about how do we fix these oversight institutions once and for all,” People’s United Party Leader Francis Fonseca said during a recent conversation with The Reporter. “We have to legislate it. We have to put the changes that we want into law,” Fonseca said. Singling out the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Fonseca said that a reconstitution of the PAC is necessary for it to be effective. Sharing Civil Society’s proposition presented several months ago, Fonseca agreed that the PAC should maintain the four government representatives and two opposition representatives but include three social partners, namely, the Senators representing the churches, the business community and the unions.

Rescuers look for trapped miners in Colombia
It is a race against time as rescuers in Colombia use large mechanical diggers to try to uncover up to 30 people buried under tonnes of mud at a gold mine. They have recovered three bodies so far but Colombian officials say the unstable soil is making the search a challange. At least seven large mechanical diggers have been working non-stop at the bottom of the large pit. Those who have gathered at the scene have refused to move away despite being warned that they themselves could be buried alive by another landslide. Fellow miners and relatives of the victims watch on as the rescue operation in Santander de Quilichao, Colombia, continues. Thousands of unchecked mines can be found in Colombia’s most remote areas and a Colombian official says illegal miners had used machinery to open huge holes to extract gold, and one of them caved in, burying them.

Patrick Jones

Belize prepares National Transportation Master Plan
The Government of Belize has enlisted the technical support of the South Korean Government in preparing a National Transportation Master Plan. The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU) unveiled this to private and public sector interests at the Radisson Fort George Hotel last Friday morning. The Ministry made the request for the assistance in February of 2013 and the Korea Development Institute, the University of Seoul and the TESO Engineering Company of South Korea came up with the plan. Minister of Science and Technology, Senator Joy Grant explained that since tourism is a prime mover of the Belizean economy, infrastructure improvements to roads used for tourism were a priority, and two roads considered were the old Northern Highway to Maskall, which tour companies use to access the Mayan site at Altun Ha, and the longer, steeper road to the Caracol Archaeological Site in the Mountain Pine Ridge, which becomes impassable in the rainy season.

OSH consultations continue with unions
Consultations regarding the tabled Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill continued on Tuesday night in a meeting, which included members from the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The forum took place at the ITVET campus on Freetown Road under the aegis of the Public Service, Labour, Industry and Trade Committee, which has been hearing concerns from relevant stakeholders. Reneau made a presentation of the NTUCB’s perspective of the OSH Bill and explained that the union believes the Bill will cause more positive than negative effects. Chamber members also voiced their concern and the BCCI maintains its position that the Bill as currently constructed will do more harm to the economy than good. One of the major points of contention that has come to the forefront in the OSH Bill dialogue is the issue of regulations.

BTL and BCWU sign new CBA
Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) executives and its workers’ union, the Belize Communications Workers Union (BCWU) have signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The agreement was signed on Tuesday at The Renaissance Towers and BTL Executive Committee Chairman Anwar Barrow said that the signing was significant, given that the last CBA was signed 15-years ago. he conditions of the CBA include a four percent increase each year for the next three-years, an increase in subsistence and lodging allowances, an increase in burial grant allowance, a new paternity grant, the provision of 4G service to all staff members, and most importantly, an increase in the company’s contribution to the employees pension scheme, Barrow explained.

U.S. Capital carries on with work in Sarstoon Temash while Maya divided
U.S. Capital Energy has received official word that it can continue with its work in the Sarstoon Temash National Park, where it is searching for petroleum. Chief Forest Officer Wilber Sabido and National Parks Administrator Hannah St. Luce-Martinez wrote to the oil company’s local representative, Alistair King this Tuesday, stating that they consider it appropriate in their discretion, to defer deciding on the application for an extension until the outcome of the consultations with the people of southern Toledo District ordered by Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana is known. This is on the condition that the operations for which the permit is granted continue since they were not specifically stopped by Justice Arana. For this reason, the Forest Department has decided to waive the expiration date of April 30, 2014, contained in the permit granted to the company. Attorney for U.S. Capital Michael Peyrefitte says this essentially confirms the status quo. The company can proceed because Justice Arana did not strike down the permit, making their presence and activities legal; and there is presently no injunction stopping them (although attorneys for SATIIM have applied for the third time for an injunction, this time post-judgment following Justice Arana’s decision on April 3.)

Pharmacy Association introduces public awareness campaign
The Belize Pharmacy Association this week introduced a public awareness campaign highlighting the importance of the Drug Inspectorate and the need for qualified persons to operate it. The BPA began its media rounds on Monday by appearing on local talk shows. It is also preparing fliers and educational posters to be distributed within the coming weeks. The BPA maintains that without properly trained personnel and adequate checks and balances for the importing of medical supplies, the general public is at risk of serious harm due to sub-standard drugs. Hortence Humes, president of the BPA, told the Reporter that the association launched the campaign because the Ministry of Health refuses to listen to the BPA’s request that a more qualified person be appointed as the Director of the Drug Inspectorate.

Mothers to sue KHMH for dead babies
Five mothers who lost their children to the bacterial outbreak at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital last year are suing the hospital for damages. According to the claimants’ attorney, Karim Musa, the mothers are suing for the cost of burying the babies, valued at $2,000 per child; and compensation, at the court’s discretion, for the emotional trauma caused by the loss of their children. They are also seeking interest, and costs of the legal proceedings. Musa explained that the parents have been trying to come to a settlement with the hospital since last year but nothing has been done. He added that they have requested the medical records for the children but the hospital has not submitted any.

Independence Needed Reveals Auditor General’s report to OAS MESICIC Commission
The Auditor General, Dorothy Bradley has met with the Organization of American States (OAS) Commission to discuss the difficulties facing her office. Bradley told The Reporter that she met last Thursday, April 24, with members from the OAS Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (MESICIC). The discussion, according to Bradley, revolved primarily around the obstacles the Office of the Auditor General has and continues to encounter. Bradley said she re-iterated some of the concerns she has publicly aired before, including the issue of autonomy. In the Auditor General’s last published report for the period April 2010 to March 2011, Bradley detailed many of the issues that the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) faces on a frequent basis and Bradley has maintained her position. That report cited that the International Organization for Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), the Lima and Mexico Declarations and the December 2011 United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution A/66/209, all strongly support the independence of SAIs. According to the April 2012 issue of the International Journal of government auditing, INTOSAI declared, “the task of an audit institution can only be objective and effective if it is independent of the audited entity and protected against outside influence.”

Businessman loses wife and child in traffic accident
Businessman, Raul Magaña Jr., 35, is reeling from the loss of his common-law wife and his three-year-old son who were killed in a traffic accident. The accident occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Monday at mile 27 near Biscayne Village on the Philip Goldson Highway. Magaña, was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser fromñOrange Walk Town towards Ladyville when he lost control of the vehicle and ran off the road. Magana’s common-law wife, Lisa Li and their three-year-old son, Raul Lee Magaña were seated beside him on the passenger side of the vehicle when they suffered a rear wheel blow-out and ran off the highway before it overturned several times and landed on its roof in nearby bushes. Li and baby Raul were flung violently from the vehicle as it summersaulted off the highway.

Water bill to rise by 6.9%
The Public Utilities Commission has approved a water rate increase of 6.9 percent for Belize Water Services Limited. The increase, which was approved on Monday, will be retroactive to April 1. The approved rate represents an increase of $6.90 per $100of water used, and will be in effect at least until March 2015. Caye Caulker, residents who were originally thought to be unaffected will see an increase of approximately five cents. Rudolf Williams, director of Water and Waste Water at the PUC, explained that the approval should mark the end of the discussion on rate increases for this annual review period. “They (BWSL) do still have the option to take it to court and apply for judicial review if they disagree with our decision,” Williams said. “But I think it is unlikely that it will go any further than this.”

PSU threatens to sue MOH’s CEO
The Public Service Union has threatened legal action against Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr. Peter Allen, if he does not formally apologize to Chief Pharmacist, Sharon Anderson. The PSU said in a release this week that Allen via email made libelous statements assaulting Anderson’s character. The union quoted Allen as saying that Anderson was “holding the(pharmaceutical) system to ransom.” “The Public Service Union condemns the attack on Mrs. Anderson’s character and reputation and will continue to support her in demanding an apology and a retraction of the email. If not forthcoming legal action will be taken for libel,” the union said. The union also emphasized that Allen had authorized several persons to sign customs entries for pharmaceuticals without giving due process, including consultations with the Chief Pharmacist and the Director of Health Services.

Toddler Dies after he ingests insectide
A toddler from the Orange Walk district is dead after having apparently ingesting an insecticide or some other poisonous solution on Wednesday morning. Two-year old, Gutige Usher was rushed to the Northern Regional Hospital after his mother, Rhondene Usher saw him walking out of a storeroom adjacent to the house around 10:30 a.m. with liquid that smelt of insecticide coming from his mouth. Usher, who was hanging out clothes at the time, rushed to the toddler’s aid and washed his face with soap, gave the child some water to drink but liquid continued to come from his mouth.

Bags of marijuana found in crashed pick-up truck in San Ignacio
The Belize Police department has released additional information on the incident in San Ignacio on Thursday night in which a vehicle crashed near the police station. It turns out the pick-up truck was carrying just under 50 pounds of marijuana. As we first reported, the occupants of the vehicle appear to have been trying to evade police but ended up crashing into the police parking lot. The official report says that around 8:25 pm on Thursday, a mobile patrol saw the brown pickup truck approaching at a high rate of speed from the direction of Benque Viejo del Carmen. Although police signaled the driver to stop, he continued past the police and a chase ensued.

Alcaldes meeting in Punta Gorda town
The Maya communities in the Toledo district that are near to the drilling site for US Capital energy are intent on keeping the pressure on the oil company to suspend operations until prior and informed consent is obtained. On Thursday, bus loads of people showed up at the site inside the Sarstoon Temash National Park; but they were met with resistance, including a group of police officers. Today, Alcaldes from 38 Maya communities met at the Social Security Board conference room in Punta Gorda town for what can only be described as a strategy session.

Blogs

Mexico to Belize | Bumpy Boats & Immigration Issues
As we ate our last quesadillas and sipped our last Coronas in a lively Mexican restaurant, a feeling of melancholy crept over us. Our two months in Mexico were relaxing, rejuvenating and exactly what we were looking for, but we weren’t expecting to be so sad to leave this colourful country. We reflected on our time here and enjoyed our last delicious Mexican meal. As we made our way to the Chetumal pier, our sadness soon melted away in the intense sun and we both became excited for our next paradise, Belize. We were greeted by unexpected costs and fees when we arrived at the windy dock. Apparently there is a $5 USD “port fee” as well as a $25 USD fee (306 pesos) for exiting the country. The somewhat friendly immigration officers told us “If you flew into Mexico, this fee would have already been included in your ticket price”. The good news was that we did fly into Mexico, the bad news was that we didn’t have the papers to prove that we already paid this “tourist” fee. Officially, there is no fee for exiting Mexico and the fact that we flew into the country should have been proof enough that this fee was already paid.

International Sources

Cayman Islands, Belgium sign tax information exchange agreement
The Cayman Islands and Belgium have officially signed a tax information exchange agreement, reports the Caribbean Journal. Cayman Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton and Belgian Ambassador Godelieve Van den Bergh signed the agreement last week at the Government Administration Building in Grand Cayman. The tax information exchange agreement is the 35th into which the Cayman Islands has entered. It provides for the exchange of information for tax purposes upon request between the two countries. The Cayman Islands has signed a number of such agreements in the last few years alone.

Mayan glory days echo at Belize's elegant Xunantunich ruins
It’s not as famous as Mexico’s Chichen Itza. It’s not as tall as Guatemala’s Tikal. But here in western Belize, the Xunantunich Mayan ruins will make your jaw drop. And maybe your palms sweat. Pronounced shoe-NAN-to-nitch (or as some tourists mangle it, Tuna Sandwich) its name means “stone maiden.” The dominant structure, El Castillo, is notable not only for its elegant friezes of hieroglyphs depicting rulers and gods, but for the fact that visitors can still climb to the top of the 130-foot temple, if they dare. Unlike at Mexico’s Chichen Itza, which was closed to climbers in 2006 after a woman fell to her death, Xunantunich’s climb is done in bits and pieces, with plenty of flat places to stop — and even a handrail staircase for the final descent. Still, it’s not for everyone. “I’m afraid of heights,” one tour guide confessed as he stood in the shade on a plaza halfway up, watching the rest of his group ascend to the very top. “The view is still good from here.” Mayan grandeur Reachable independently by car or as a day-trip excursion for cruise ships docked in Belize City (see sidebar), Xunantunich is one of Belize’s top attractions, although many Americans have never heard of it.

Family: US Coast Guard to aid in search for missing Austin-area man
The US Coast Guard will be sending an airplane and two helicopters to help in the search for a missing Pflugerville man who was last seen off the coast of Belize, a family spokesperson said. Wrangler Leesman and a friend were on a small kayak off the coast on Tuesday when it flipped over, according to the San Pedro Sun newspaper in Belize. His friend, Bradley Evans Josker, was located by Coast Guard officials and told police strong winds and high waves knocked them from the kayak, the paper said. The two were holding on to the kayak when another wave hit them and they became separated. Leesman, a former Army Ranger, has not been seen since.

Gilbert mom pleads for help finding missing US Army Ranger son
He's served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now US Army Ranger Wrangler Shane Leesman is missing in Belize, and his family has set up a crowd funding page to help with search costs. Leesman, who was born in Arizona, was on vacation with an Army friend. The two men were kayaking in rough waters when their boat capsized. His friend, Bradley Evans Josker, was able to make it to shore. "They decided to turn back and they couldn't get the kayak to turn back," said Leesman's mother Dee-Dee Leesman. "A second wave hit him so hard, that it knocked him completely off of the kayak," she continued. The incident happened on Tuesday, April 29th, and though the Belize Coast Guard has searched the area, there has been no sight of the 29-year-old Ranger.

Mayan ruins Xunantunich Belize
Xunantunich, a grand Mayan ruin in the rolling countryside of western Belize's Cayo District, had its heyday around 600-850 AD. The main structure, El Castillo, is notable for its elegant friezes on three sides. Unlike many other Mayan ruins, you can climb up a series of stairs either part way or all the way to the top of El Castillo.

For What it's Worth: Sailing the Seven Seas - okay, the Caribbean
Sorry about my absence last week, but I was on vacation with the family on a cruise in the western Caribbean. What follows, in large part, are observations from the last seven days. Most daunting: Snorkeling in a strong current off Belize was a challenge, but I would give the nod to finding out that the average age of the 3,000 or so passengers on the ship was 53 years. Almost as daunting: That I am now older than that average age. Nothing better: Than when perfect strangers take time to complement your children for their manners and/or maturity. I never get tired of such a gratifying gesture; of course, I always double check to make sure they're talking about mine.

Latin America: A Culture of Violence?
On April 17, 2014, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its 2013 Global Study on Homicide. Once again, Latin American countries were ranked the most violent in the world. Central and South America captured more than a third of all global homicides, with the majority of those homicides occurring in the top five countries: Honduras (1), Venezuela (2), Belize (3), El Salvador (4), and Guatemala (5). With the exception of Belize, which is not considered a Latin American country, each country has sustained a top 10 Global Study on Homicide ranking since at least 2010, and Venezuela alone has had a consistently rising homicide rate since 1995. It begs the question, why is Latin America so violent? Some analysts have suggested that Latin America suffers from a “culture of violence.” While socialization into a violent environment can result in desensitization to violence, it does not provide an explanation for the presence of violence in the region, only the outcome. In addition, socialization does nothing to explain why the Latin American “culture of violence” is not present in countries such as Chile and Costa Rica – Latin American countries that have relatively low homicide rates in comparison to the global average.

'My favorite' series - the Morpho amathonte butterfly
Edgar Corales, a butterfly farmer from Costa Rica, is fascinated by the Morpho amathonte butterfly. He's trying to breed the vividly-colored creatures. But it's not easy.

Cuba to host international LGBT conference
More than 400 advocates from across the world will travel to Cuba next week to attend the first international LGBT conference that will take place in the Communist country. The sixth International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association for Latin America and the Caribbean (ILGALAC) Regional Conference will take place in the beach resort of Varadero. A number of parties and other events are scheduled to take place in nearby Havana, the Cuban capital, during the gathering. Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro who is the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX,) is president of the local committee that organized the ILGALAC conference. Mariela Castro did not return the Washington Blade’s request for comment. CENESEX’s website prominently features information about the ILGALAC conference that includes a preliminary agenda. “As the host country for the sixth ILGALAC Regional Conference, Cuba is not exempt from the problems of the region’s LGBTI communities,” states the organization. “The humanistic nature of the Cuban Revolution has focused on the human being in his teleological purposes since its beginning. Although the Cuban LGBTI movement does not have the organization of other international movements, the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the country is now evident with more impact and achievements.”

Shrimp ban agreed in Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea
In order to protect the shrimp breeding and development periods, the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) established ban seasons and areas for catching all shrimp species in seawater and estuary lagoon systems in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The new order published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) will also promote the sustainable exploitation of the species and will make it possible to maintain availability levels. The fishing ban will apply in the following dates and areas: From 1 May to 1 August 2014 in the area stretching from the US border in Tamaulipas to the mouth of the Coatzacoalcos River in Veracruz; From 15 June to 1 November in the marine waters covering from the mouth of the Coatzacoalcos River to the meridian of 87° 00' west longitude, including the marine waters of Contoy fishing grounds; From 1 May to 30 September in the coastal strip opposite the states of Campeche and Tabasco to the seabob (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) fishery with smaller vessels. In addition, the authority established a closed season for catching all shrimp species in the estuarine lagoon systems under federal jurisdiction of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the following time periods and zones:

Videos

Video: Waterfall Jumping in Waterfall Cave, Belize, 3min.
Waterfall Cave contains a series of 6 or 7 underground waterfalls which can be climbed. On the way back we had the option of jumping into the deep pools below or to rappel down. We chose to jump!

Video: Science Hope for Sharks and Reefs in Belize nytimescomvideo, 6min.
Glover's Reef

Video: Belize diving 2014: Turneefe & Lighthouse atolls, 5min.
A video of the northern atolls of Belize around Caye Caulker. Lots of turtles, morays and eagle rays. Taken on a GoPro hero3. Enjoy!

Video: Juanita Ballet Belize, 3min.

Video: Falsetto Vybz - Missing You Official HD Music Video | Belizean Artist (Corozal Town), 4min.
Falsetto Vybz is missing his boo Majestic Essence. He never believed he would ever find real Love but now his only problem is that he wants his love to stay by his side every day of his life. Listen to him as he voice his feelings about how he feels since she went away.He toured Corozal Town, Belize remembering the days when she was around with him. #Like, #Share, #Comment, #Subscribe and keep on supporting Falsetto as he keep propagating on his music journey. God Bless!!!! :)

Video: 2,334 Photographs from Central and South America, 5min.
Just over a year ago my girlfriend and I set off on what was to be an amazing three months of travelling throughout Central and South America. Together we created a film to ensure that we never forget the fantastic places we visited, the wonderful friends we made and the great times we had. Every frame in our film is a photograph taken on a 550D Canon camera and then (painstakingly) edited together on to an 8 frame per second timeline. The music bed is 'Milky Chance - Down by the River (FlicFlac Edit)'

Video: Belize 2014, 1hr 17min.
Placencia, Tradewinds CruiseClub, San Ignacio 3/13-3/25/2014

Video: Rebecca's Belizean Fudge, 6min.
Making fudge at our place in a small village here in Belize. Follow along with Becca as she makes fudge - and a video in the process. She had her older sister video tape the making of the fudge, but other than that, she did the entire process herself. This fudge contains no chocolate or peanut butter. It was absolutely delicious! Papa got to eat one small piece when Becca first made it, but it all disappeared somewhere. nobody seems to know where it went to.....

Video: Scuba Diving 2014 - Isla Marisol Belize Lionfish Highlights, 5min.

Video: Allied Health Belize Mission Trip, 6min.


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