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The San Pedro Sun
Melt Café- Great Ambiance. Great Food!
On the menu for us that day was Guacamole, Shrimp Ceviche, Huevos Rancheros, the Jerk Chicken Melt and a Club Sandwich. Each so very different, yet all so good. But first let there be drinks! I opted for a banana smoothie, while Dennis and Janelle chose to start the fun early with a Melt favorite: mimosas! They offer the classic orange and champagne, and even a not-so-usual, but very yummy watermelon and champagne! Cheers indeed! The last item to be shared around the table was the Melt Club Sandwich. And with a great track record with the dishes before, we were sure Melt would impress us with this classic. And without fault, they did! The layers sliced of bacon, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles on whole wheat bread melded perfectly with a little tangy mayo.
Beto Marin: San Pedro loses a courageous Lion
Betito’s contributions are countless; he served as member of the San Pedro Village and Town Council for many years; he was a pioneer in the fishing cooperative on the island; and most significant and dear to him, was the foundation of the San Pedro Lions club in 1975. He served in many capacities, including District Governor and Chairman of Belize Zone and District 59. His recognitions and awards are countless, but the most prestigious of them was the Melvin Jones Fellow (MJF) award in memory of international founder of Lionism. The MJF Award was bestowed on him in April 2012 in a convention dedicated to him. His contribution, commitment, and desire to serve and put others before him made Betito a true “one of a kind.” This island indeed has lost an outstanding personality and a giant. The San Pedro Sun joins the community in expressing heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Edilberto “Beto” Marin.
Funeral services for Don Beto will be held today (Jan. 8th) at 4PM at the San Pedro Roman Catholic Church.
Work starts on Phase 3 of the Renewable Energy Project at Holy Cross
The Holy Cross Anglican Primary School Renewable Energy Project is moving into its third phase. The project, aimed at powering the entire school using solar energy, has already seen the installation of two sets of 24-panel 5-kilowatt arrays that provide up to 10 kilowatts of power for the school. Phase three will see the installation of yet another 24-panel 5-kilowatt array.
The project is spearheaded by Holy Cross Education Foundation and financed solely through donations made via GlobalGiving (a charity fundraising website that gives social entrepreneurs and non-profits from across the world the opportunity to raise funds for improving communities in need). Around $30,000US is needed in order to carry out phase three of the project. On June 25 2014, the organization participated in an “All In” fundraising event which was part of Microsoft YouthSpark Bonus Day, where $200,000US was available in matching funds for all projects on GlobalGiving. “We participated in the recent Microsoft YouthSpark Bonus Day and were successful in raising more than $500 in matching funds. To you, our donors, we are thankful,” said John McHenry, Board Member of the Holy Cross Education Foundation. About $12,000US has been raised for phase three leaving $18,000US needed.
Under the Stars: Casey and Roxsany Bladen
Congratulations to newlyweds Casey Bladen and Roxsany Lima-Bladen! The couple celebrated their nuptials on Saturday, January 3rd before a host of family and friends. The San Pedro Sun wishes Casey and Roxsany a long and prosperous life together! May your marriage be filled with love and harmony!
Cane Farmers refuse to submit to BSI/ASR’s agreement
Over 1,516 cane farmers attended a special general meeting held on Sunday, January 4th at the Escuela Secundaria Technica Mexico campus located in San Roman Village, Corozal, where they rejected all agreements proposed by the Belize Sugar Industry/ American Sugar Refinery (BSI/ASR). Even though the 2015 sugar cane season should be well on its way, cane farmers refused to back down on their demands for better compensation for their product. As such, the crop season will not commence until an agreement between the two parties is signed. The cane farmers stated that they will continue negotiating with BSI/ARI and hope to get a better deal.
Not only was BSI/ASR’s proposal rejected but BSCFA also concurred to join the mandamus action spearheaded by Lucio Teck and Audrey Matura- Shepherd to force Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) to open the crop season without a signed agreement between BSCFA and BSI/ASR. “The mandamus we will not withdraw, unless the SICB does what the law mandates it to do and fix it and put it in the Gazette. Then there’ll be no need for mandamus.
San Ignacio Resort Hotel in Belize Increases Direct Booking Opportunities
San Ignacio Resort Hotel, in the Cayo District, Belize just recently announced that it has implemented Globekey's Online Reservation System for desktop and mobile at www.sanignaciobelize.com in an effort to drive more online direct bookings.
"Today's traveler seeks efficiency, variety, convenience and uncompromised service in the booking process," said Mariam Roberson, Managing Director of San Ignacio Resort Hotel. "We spent over a year planning and analyzing for the perfect online booking solution. Our commitment to delivering unsurpassed levels of luxury hospitality is now complimented with the Globekey Online Reservation System.”
Misc Belizean Sources
Sugar Cane Industry on Hari Kari Watch
Fair-trade consultant Julia Clark wrote a letter to B.S.C.F.A. Chairman Ezequiel Cansino. She said “While I understand that these are difficult times, I am concerned that in changing the premium plan approved at the Ordinary General Assembly the Association may have entered into a major non-compliance. Moreover I do not see how the Association can remain compliant with fair-trade standards with no funds to pay for staff to guide and support farmers and no funds for projects to provide an incentive to farmers to remain compliant with fair-trade Standards… I am therefore concerned that this decision effectively signals the departure of B.S.C.F.A. from the fair-trade movement and all the benefits that have been received in the past and can be received in the future.”
From The U.S. Embassy Belize:
Attention U.S. Citizens in Belize!
Are you passionate about public service and want to represent the U.S. around the world? A challenging and rewarding career in the U.S. Foreign Service is waiting for you. The opportunity to work and experience cultures, customs and people of different nations is truly a career unlike any other.
The U.S. Embassy in Belmopan will be administering the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) on February 6, 2015.
If you are interested and qualify please sign up here to take the exam.
The U.S. Embassy Belmopan has an opening for a Purchasing Agent position.
The Purchasing Agent is for the procurement/purchasing of commodities, supplies and services (including off-the-shelf purchases) the Embassy. This includes conducting market research, preparing purchase orders or other procurement actions such as blanket purchase agreements, purchase card orders or contracts, and placing orders for requested goods and services and ensuring that these are received and delivered in a timely fashion; Reviews and processes invoices/billings, obtaining necessary approvals and documentation and submitting these to the Finance Office for payment requests. As cardholder of a Government SMARTPAY Purchase Card, is responsible for its proper use, maintenance, record keeping, statement reconciliation and following through on orders until they are received; Arranges for the repair and maintenance of copiers; Replenishes office supply stock, maintains filing system including electronic filing of all orders and prepares reports as necessary.
Manatee fatalities up
In 2014, a record number of manatees (34) were found dead in Belizean waters. Sixty-five percent of the deaths were caused by boats. In the last seven days, two manatees have suffered the same terrible fate: death by propeller. Support efforts on the water to help curb this disturbing trend. Respect no-wake zones and minimize speed in high traffic areas.
Power interruption Placencia area
Power interruption 9:00am to 10:30am, Tuesday, January 13, Placencia Peninsula: from Surfside Development to Turtle Inn, including Seine Bight and Placencia Lagoon Estate. BEL to replace utility pole and facilitate development works in the area.
NTUCB Press Release on Continuing BSCFA Solidarity
The National Trade Union Congress of Belize; makes an impassioned plea to the members of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, to remain united. There is no way you can come through on the most beneficial end of this matter; if you now fall prey to the plot that has been skillfully weaved and orchestrated to break you up.
Whilst this Congress is being accused of leading this Association blindly, the NTUCB absolutely refuses to buckle under the name-calling. The NTUCB affirms that the measures it has undertaken to lend continued support to the BSCFA, is to ensure the longevity of the organization and to secure the BEST for the members of the BSCFA.
The NTUCB does not intend to see the BSCFA busted; with its members relegated to cane cutters rather than cane farmers.
This Congress begs the cane farmers to stand firm and stand strong as the NTUCB rallies with you to see the debacle through to the best possible outcome.
United we stand … Divided we will all fall!!!
Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort – building new beginnings
Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort in Belize welcomes in the New Year with the launch of the newly renovated Great House and Singanga restaurant.
Nestled in 21 acres of rare coastal forest with the Caribbean Sea at its doorstep, the resort’s main priority was to minimize its impact on the environment during the renovations. As a result, all surrounding foliage was left untouched during the build. And to conserve resources, in-house carpenters used locally sourced wood during construction and in making new furniture.
The new second floor of the Guest House now features an expansive balcony and is home to Hamanasi’s Singanga restaurant. Downstairs the old kitchen has been converted into a large bakery and a new bar with ocean views awaits guests.
With sustainability in mind, an upstairs library has been insulated to not only buffer outside noise but also to keep the room at a constant cool temperature with minimal energy usage. The library has a collection of books on Mayan history and native flora and fauna.
BOLEDO DRAWING for Thursday, January 8, 2015: 94
FANTASY 5: 21 20 39 22 11 F
After 55 Years, the Cane Farmers Association Splintering; PM Can't Save It
Tonight, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association is at an existential crossroads. And that's because - as might have been expected - some cane farmers, particularly those with huge acreages of cane - want to break away from the long established cane farmers association and sign their own contracts with BSI. This could mean the splintering of an institution that has been paramount in the north for 55 years.
But tonight, between a fair trade fleecing and the cane compromise that crashed, there are credible reports which suggest that a move is afoot to form a new association, or associations to replace the venerable, but now beleaguered BSCFA.
Reports that this might happen have been swirling for two weeks now as the sugar standoff became more and more protracted: and today they were formalized when the Prime Minister held a press conference to say, he supports the larger cane groups if they want to go their own way:
The Fair Trade Fuss
And the troubles continue for the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, this time due to the questionable usage of the Fair Trade funds.
As we told you, the farmers took a resolution at the special general meeting last week Sunday that they want their association's executives to share out 4 million dollars of Fair Trade funds, which was already allocated for outreach programs to improve their lives.
That's causing problems in two areas. Firstly, if and when the money is shared out, the association will be broke, and 16 field workers working on projects will be laid off.
Since Sunday, the Association's executives have been warning their membership that if they share out the money in the fashion that the farmers want, it will more than likely get them into trouble with Fair Trade because this money is not supposed to given out in this manner. It is supposed to be invested in programs designed to improve the lives and the farms of the caneros. Meanwhile, Fairtrade has gotten word of the misuse of the premiums, and they've written to the association to express their disappointment.
Timber!: Four Forty Foot Containers
A Rosewood scare was raised in Belize City today with four containers on Central American Boulevard. All four of them contain hardwood and sources close to customs say they are all bound for China. But, a report emerged that the four containers were full of Rosewood - and so today, the police and the forestry department got involved. The four containers which had been parked at a warehouse, were bound for the customs lot to be shipped out. But Forestry said it had to check them first. So the seals were broken and an inspection done. According to the Chief forest officer Wilbur Sabido told us they did an inspection and everything seems to have checked out. He says the check shows that it is not Rosewood but Grenadillo, or a wood also known as hormigo. IT is lighter in colour than Rosewood. Still, it seems that there are powerful forces at work to block this export from a Chinese exporter and we are told there it will have to be opened and checked again tomorrow. We'll keep following it.
The Reality Of Guatemalan Casual Labour
Imagine about 150 Guatemalans coming across the western border, crossing freely without any passport. Well it happened yesterday - and it's been happening for years. Belize did just recently sign a bi lateral agreement with Guatemala for the exchange of casual labor, but the treaty only makes official what has been the practice for very long time. Guatemalans dominate the citrus industry's workforce, and with the picking season about to start they've started streaming in. This cell phone picture was captured yesterday and we asked Immigration minister Hulse about it today:..
"Sir 150 citrus workers came across just yesterday morning. How the system works, I know it always work before and after the treaty, is that they don't have any passports. Somebody just comes with their names on a list, their work permits are approved and they come across. That's how it works."
PM Serious About Docking Facility For Belize City
And while Hulse seems to have made an airtight commitment to Director Marin, Prime Minister Barrow has also made a new year's commitment to settle on a viable cruise ship docking facility for Belize City. Now, his undertaking is not as specific as Hulse's one - but he says he hopes to bring both sides together:..
Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"One way or another we will find some way to make it happen. I can't tell you right now exactly how, but we will find some way to make it happen. One thing I certainly want to do is to try to get Stake Bank and FSTV together. My sense is this is a quarrel over money..."
Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Precisely, so, greed and luker."
Cops Under Investigation for Sex With Minor In Barrack Room
In the 90's there was a movie called sex, lies and videotape; but in 2014, it's more like sex, cell phones and facebook. That's what's driving a story about a police officer and a 16 year old girl who allegedly had sex in the police barracks. It seems the officer took nude pictures of her, and then his jealous significant other found them on his cell phone and posted the images on facebook. It's ugly stuff and would never make it to the news, but in this case, the police professional standards branch has been called upon to investigate because the girl's family has made a complaint against the officer at the station.
The Community Baboon Sanctuary Still Going Strong in Its Third Decade
The Department of Environment, which comes under the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development today held a media workshop in the village of Bermudian Landing. They want to encourage the press to feature the educational aspects of environmental protection on the news regularly.
And that started in the conference room of the Community Baboon Sanctuary in Bermudian Landing. Here's what the organizers told us:
"Like it or not the media is a catalyst for change. The media is a vehicle for information, for knowledge and knowledge empowers change and so to get citizens informed, to change policies, to change behaviors, the media has to be involved and so it was a productive direction that the Department of Environment wanted to achieve and so I had recommended that they bring together at least the main departments within the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, so that they could talk to the media about who they are, what they do, how their legislation covers them, what legislations fall under their purview and where there is avenue for relationship."
Southern Formation Lowest Crime Numbers
In 2013, when major crime was on a major downward trend, police were keeping the media up to date with statistics on a monthly basis. And police formations also got recognized on a quarterly basis for holding crime down. But in 2014, it stopped altogether - except for today when we learned that the Southern region got bigged up for the best crime figures. Yesterday at the Police Training Academy in Belmopan the Minister of National Security, and the Commissioner of Police held a meeting to discuss the Annual Statistics and the way forward for the next 3 months.
For the year 2014, the southern Region which consists of Stann Creek and Toledo Districts showed a 37 percent reduction in major crimes. Accordingly, Sr. Supt. Ralph Moody, Southern Regional Commander received the award for the lowest crime rate for year 2014.
SMART Goes To Hospital
As a part of a community outreach project, Smart has partnered with the KHMH to renovate the waiting room area in the Accident and Emergency Unit. Under the project they have renovated two bathrooms, painted the waited room area, refurbished the ceiling, completed plumbing and electrical works and installed a wall-mounted flat screen television. It is a MUCH NEEDED donation. The media was invited this afternoon for the cutting of the ribbon and a tour of the area.
The total cost of the project amounted was six thousand dollars.
Ortega Pushes, Barrow Bristles
At the top of the newscast, we told you all about the splintering within the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, which could lead to the break up of this body which has served the north for 5 decades. A lot of misgivings about the current crossroads the Sugar Industry finds itself at is based on the role of the Sugar Industry Control Board. Can they or can't they order the commencement of the cane season? Today in Orange Walk, Fred Ortega insisted that they must:..
Alfredo Ortega - Director, BSCFA Orange Walk Branch
"All what we need to do and in this case the sugar industry act was made to guide the sugar industry as a whole. So, I don't see now that things that are within the act that can give that opportunity or that balance where one group can find a way out when they are cornered in certain position. Now he will come out and say that that is not good, that that doesn't reflect anything for him. I think that is not a good response for the law abiding citizens."
And so as the BSCFA faces an existential crisis, can government do anything legislatively to save it? Today the Prime Minister bristled at the suggestion:..
SICB Won’t Compel ASR/B.S.I. to Accept Cane Deliveries
There is perhaps an unprecedented level of turmoil in the sugar industry tonight. The issues delaying the start of crop are complicated, but we’ll keep it simple. On Sunday cane-farmers [...]
Are Caneros Being Misled Into Seeking Order of Mandamus?
And certainly the government is not prepared to see American Sugar Refinery close its doors. After clarifying ASR’s position, the PM did the same with his. The Sugar Industry Control [...]
B.S.C.F.A. Director Prepared to Deliver 500,000 Tons of Cane to ASR/B.S.I. Pronto
Prime Minister says that the reason that government did not move to amend the Act as instructed by the Supreme Court in 2010 is because it wanted to preserve the [...]
PM on Amendment to Sugar Act
And then Prime Minister Barrow dropped the hammer, expressing its full support for any group which would organize to deliver cane outside of the B.S.C.F.A. That signifies a complete dismissal [...]
B.S.C.F.A. Proceeds With Disbursal of Fairtrade Funds to Cane Farmers
There is still no date for the start of the sugar crop and farmers are encouraged to deal directly with the sugar company. While this represents a blow to the [...]
Will Caneros Take to the Streets in Protest?
So far it has only been bad news for the B.S.C.F.A. and it is also bad news for those farmers and directors who have vehemently advocated going back to the [...]
PM Has No Desire to Meet With B.S.C.F.A.
If you were a little unclear about G.O.B.’s rejection of the B.S.C.F.A., the Prime Minister went further. While he met with ASR/B.S.I. on Wednesday, he has no wish to do [...]
PM Says There’s No Requisite Majority to Nationalize ASR/B.S.I.
So to wrap it all up, we picked out the relevant statement which clearly shows the Prime Minister’s frustration with the continuing chaos in the industry. While Barrow has maintained [...]
Jason Williams Gets Additional Prison Sentence for Stealing Rental Car
He is already serving a five-year jail term for firearm and ammunition offenses and will now spend his thirty-eighth birthday behind bars because Jason Williams was convicted today and got [...]
Minister of Immigration on Influx of Guatemalan Laborers
On Wednesday’s newscast we showed you pictures of hundreds of Guatemalan labourers massed at the Western Border waiting to come across. These labourers, we were told, entered Belize on the [...]
K.H.M.H. and Smart Upgrade A&E Waiting Room
When we last heard about the K.H.M.H., the folks there were welcoming the new baby for 2015. Well there is some more positive news tonight. The lobby of the Accident [...]
Good Morning America Chooses Destination Belize for 2015
The tourism industry closed last year on a high note after surpassing a million visitors to the jewel. And early indications are that 2015 may also be a bumper year. [...]
DOE Bridges Gap Between Man and His Environment
It is now abundantly clear that the protection of our environment is key to our continued existence. In fact sixty percent of the country has been designated as protected areas. [...]
Community Baboon Sanctuary Explored
The workshop concluded with a tour by the Community Baboon Sanctuary in the area. The sanctuary, which spans the length and width of seven villages in the River Valley area, [...]
…But Why Is Business Slowing Down?
But the CBS relies primarily on the tourism aspect of the sanctuary. The sanctuary offers six different tours including the nature walk, a river canoe tour that is contracted to [...]
Healthy Living: get techy and live healthy
Welcome to our first segment of Healthy Living for 2015. To start the year with a bang and to help us set our goals for a balanced life style we [...]
Electricity Rate Goes Down By 5%
Yesterday we told you about world oil prices that are reflecting lower prices at the pump for fuel and today there is more relief coming for Belizeans. That is because yesterday, the Public Utilities Commission announced that it has amended the mean electricity rate and previously approved tariffs which are resulting lower costs for the consumption of electricity. This move simply means that the next light bill you receive, you will see a 5percent decrease in your consumption. Consumers will now pay forty one point twenty nine per kilowatt hour, down two point eighteen cents. This newly approved decrease is only approved and applicable from January to June 30th.
Adding To The Sugar Crisis Is Disburstment Of 4 Million dollars Of Fair Trade Funds
Amid the Sugar Industry turmoil, there is the question if the directors of the BSCFA will disburse the four million dollars of Fair Trade funds as mandated by cane farmers during Sunday’s emergency meeting. Chairman of the BSCFA Committee of Management, Esiquiel Cansino, has indicated that the money will be disbursed despite the
repercussions which include another suspension by FLOCERT following the next audit, possible decertification and the dismantling of the association. This is all due to the fact that the use of Fair Trade funds already allocated to projects goes against the organizations standards.
But despite Cansino’s commitment, some cane farmers believe that the directors are just holding back the disbursement process and today they gathered at the compound of the BSCFA as a form of protest to the latest development. According to farmers, their intention is not to dissolve the association, what they do want though is to be fully informed on all that is happening within the association, particularly when it comes to the disbursement of the four million dollars.
Gateway Continues To Mark Change In Orange Walk
The students at Gateway Technical College from Wisconsin are certainly leaving their mark in communities across Orange Walk District. Today, the students who have been divided into groups of their major subjects were at Carmelita Government School teaching Information Technology and Horticulture to students at the Trinidad Government School. We spoke to students from the IT Department and students that are involved in Early Childhood education.
William Stevens – Student
“We are teaching them Power Point; basically we are having them make a Power Point make a background, add pictures from the Internet about specific country that they can choose.”
Maria Novelo – Reporter
“How are they taking to the work?”
Ranchito Resident Claims Police Brutality
A thirty three year old resident from Ranchito Village in the Corozal District is seeking justice for what he claims is police brutality. Elder Aguilar visited our news room in Corozal Town today and claimed that a sergeant, attached to the Northern Border Police booth, attacked him after he (the sergeant) had a misunderstanding with a Mexican national.
Aguilar’s side of the story goes like this, he claims that he had just returned from returned from the Mexican Border when the sergeant had a verbal exchange with some Mexicans that were sitting in-front of Princess Casino.
According to Aguilar he was waiting for a taxi to travel back to Corozal Town when he was approached by the sergeant who asked him to move from in-front of the casino where he was waiting for the taxi. Aguilar says at that instance he identified himself as a Belizean but the sergeant demanded that he produce and identification card. Aguilar declined to do so and the officer went back to his booth only to return shortly after accompanied by another officer and that when unjust force was used against him, says Aguilar.
Honorable Mai Concerned About Disbursement of 4 Million Dollars
From what we all know the money will be disbursed, but as we’ve heard there will be consequences. And that is what has many preoccupied including Orange Walk South Area Representative Jose Abelardo Mai. As a cane farmer, Mai says he understands the cries of caneros. But he is also conscious of the fact that the moment the four million dollars of Fair Trade funds is distributed, there will be a huge price to pay.
Jose Abelardo Mai- Director of Communication Northern Caucus
“I am very concerned for a number or reasons, one the farmers are in crisis mode hence the request of the amount of financing, I understand them and the need for money because they are broke and they have no money but I am not certain if it is the right thing to do and my whole concern is the sustainability of the Association, will we be able to survive if we spend that money I am not certain and that is what scares me but again we are pushing the farmers over the cliff. We could have avoided all of this man if tomorrow it would be announced that the crop would begin I am certain that the farmers would say you know what we could wait another week.”
BSCFA Writes To SICB To Start Crop
The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association has written to the Sugar Industry Control Board in respect to the start of the sugar crop for this year. This according to Chair of the Committee of Management, Ezequiel Cansino, is in following with the mandate of the farmers, which was passed at Sunday’s meeting. Cansino says the Committee of Management is respecting the resolutions of the farmers and is acting upon them.
Ezequiel Cansino – Chairman of the committee of Management
“Todos quedamos de acuerdo de que fue una resolución pasada por la Asamblea y vamos a respetar esa resolución y por eso mismo también dieron su consentimiento al comité de manejo que procega con todo lo que se tenga que hacer. En este punto referente a este caso de apoyar al Mandemus hemos cumplido al enviar le la carta el SICB también se le envió a BSI pero hasta el momento no hemos tenido respuesta de ellos y si ya tenemos la aplicación del Mandemus la copia de nosotros y la petición de la abogada, Matura para unirse con el representante de nosotros para discutir más como van a trabajar con este asunto pero hace unos minutos lo conseguimos y ahorita se le esta enviando al abogado de nosotros para que lo viera y de su opinión legal sobre este caso.”
BSCFA Contnues To Make Calculations To Grant Cane Farmers 4 Million Dollars
The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association officials continue to make calculations and projections into its survival following the decision to grant cane farmers the disbursement of four million dollars. The consequences as explained by the officials are severe and can even mean the collapse of the association on a whole. One of the biggest concerns for the leaders is the Association’s standing with Fairtrade following the disbursement of the money. As is, the general assembly voted to dissolve all projects that had been approved and financed with a large part of the money. According to Chair of the Committee of Management, Ezequiel Cansino, the association is still going to push for one of the key projects on child labor. Cansino says they are making every effort to getting the project off the ground and want to carry through with it in its entirety since this was one of the biggest noncompliance that had propelled the Association into a suspension by Fairtrade last year.
Ezequiel Cansino – Chairman of the committee of Management
“Eso nos va afectar no solo como miembros de Fair Trade si no como productores de caña de azúcar, sabemos que el internacional condena lo que es el Child Labour y tengamos o no tengamos Fair Trade tenemos como mitigar como resolver ese problema en esta industria.”
Public Service Vehicle Caught Fire
Late this evening, residents on 5th Street South in Corozal Town were alarmed when a taxi car bearing license plate D1805 attach to the Los Tucanes Taxi union in that municipality caught fire causing panic for residents. Luckily, with the quick response of onlookers and the driver of the vehicle, they were able to extinguish the fire. From the image provided, significant damages were concentrated on the engine. Luckily no one was injured.
Upgrade in KHMH Waiting Room
Collaboration between the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and SMART telecommunications has resulted in the upliftment of the emergency waiting room at the facility on Princess Margaret Drive in Belize City. Love News was there for the presentation and spoke to Linette Canto of the Public Relations Department at SMART.
“We were approached by Dr.Johnson of the KHMH we took a look at her proposal which was in different phases the first phase being the most important phase which is the emergency area where patients have to wait to receive treatment. We looked at it and we decided that it really was an awesome proposal because imagine you are in distress and you are not feeling well you will want the area in which you are to be very comfortable and that is why we decided it was something we wanted to take on. Originally when we were first approached we were given a tour of the hospital.
Farmers Given Green Light to Break Away from BSCFA
He said the reason the Government did not move to comply with the court order to amend the law, was because it wished to preserve the integrity of the BSCFA. He went on to say that it will support the farmers who decide that they want to break away from the BSCFA and sign an agreement with BSI/ASR.
PM DEAN BARROW
“Those farmers and branches that are talking about getting together to sign the agreement with BSI outside of the BSCFA have a constitutional right to do so. That is both self-evident and clear as a matter of the 2010 Supreme Court order. And the government if those farmers choose to exercise their undoubted right will do whatever is necessary to vindicate that right. That is the law of the land and government’s constitutional duty. There has been talk of government calling an emergency house meeting on Monday to pass the amendments to the sugar act mandated by that 2010 supreme court order, that will not happen and it will not happen for two reasons.
Were the Farmers Misled on Writ of Mandamus?
The Prime Minister said those individuals that campaigned against the agreement are misleading the farmers. He said the court ruling back in 2010 found the Sugar Industry Act illegal.
PM DEAN BARROW
“And one of the reasons the act was found unconstitutional was precisely because it only recognized the BSCFA as the sole representative of cane farmers, the sole organization apart from the miller to be involved by the SICB in taking actions such as fixing the period for the annual crop. The amendments mandated by the court include the removal of the BSCFA as sole grower representative and substituting therefore any and all organizations such as the United Cane Farmers Association which brought a challenge to the act in the first place and the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association. In these circumstances it seems to me to be foolishness on top of foolishness, nonsense placed upon stilts for these people to argue that they will get the court to aid their illegal bid to pressure the SICB. The question might fairly be asked, can an entity declared unconstitutional under the act even have standing to move the court? We will soon find out.”
Sugar Impasse Trickles from Farmers to Country’s Overall Economy
Yesterday the northern caucus of the People’s United Party called for the Government to make a move given the delay of the crop season and the economic impact it is having on the northern district. Today Prime Minister Barrow said the impasse is having an effect not only on the north but the economy of the country.
PRIME MINISTER, HON. DEAN BARROW
“The damage to the economy of the north and the livelihood of cane farmers increases with each passing day. According to the Central Bank of Belize sugar exports generate $107.5 million in 2012 and $107.3 million in 2013. 5,500 farmers make up the BSCFA and sugar income underpins these many thousands of households; paying their everyday bills, servicing their mortgages, sending their children to school and in the main preserving the quality of life for both the Orange Walk and Corozal districts.
Hubert Elrington Predicts Devastation for the North
During today’s press conference, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that a number of farmers are contemplating to break away from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. While it would create a division among the farmers, the move to form their own association would certainly not be deemed illegal or unconstitutional; particularly following a court order handed down in the courtroom of Justice Legal on June 8, 2010. Attorney Hubert Elrington was the legal representative for the United Cane Farmers Association which had challenged the Sugar Act back in 2010 through their president, Wilfredo Magana. Elrington took us back to that case and its outcome.
ATTORNEY HUBERT ELRINGTON
“The order was made on the 8th of June 2010 and the application was for a declaration that the act itself, the entire act, was unconstitutional null void and of no effect and the order so declared so they don’t have any act I hear Mrs. Matura talking about an act and the cane farmer’s association talking about an act and the factory talking about an act the government talking about an act, no act exists, it was declared unconstitutional way back in 2010 and if my memory serves me right and I think I have a fairly good memory, the government was given by the judge Justice Legal three months to enact a new law that conformed to the constitution of Belize but that was never done.”
Government Will Not Compel ASR/BSI to Accept Deliveries
There are many who are calling on the Government to step in and set a date for the start of the sugar crop. Cane farmer Lucilo Teck has taken the matter to court and filing a writ of mandamus for them to do so. Today Prime Minister Barrow said that will not happen.
PRIME MINISTER, HON. DEAN BARROW
“We have said from the start and we maintain our position that we are incapable if we are to act in accordance with the law of forcing BSI to accept deliveries but we have gone beyond that. We have said not only is it impossible to do that, it is also undesirable to do that. We don’t believe that a party that is one side of an arm’s length commercial relationship should be compelled to do anything against its wishes. There are huge implications for any such attempt on the part of government to do that. Huge implications for foreign investment, huge implications in respect to this particular investment. These are people who can afford to absorb the loss and walk away from Belize and I am telling you it is quite clear to me that they would do precisely that if any effort were to be made to compel them. In all circumstances I repeat government cannot and does not even wish to compel BSI.”
Gapi Says No Protest In Sight From Caneros
The extended delay of the start of the crop season is causing speculation that farmers might decide to protest in some form to show their discontent. Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega was asked if he expected some sort of demonstration by farmers.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, GASPAR VEGA
“I haven’t gotten that impression yet, I haven’t gotten that message. I think it is clear that even within the Cane Farmers Association, it is clear that what happened at the last general meeting was not what majority of the farmers wanted. I am convinced that if there was a secret ballot done tomorrow the results would be different. All of us throughout this entire country know the sensitivity of that industry and people are scared to have their cane fields burnt; they’re not worried about tires, they’re worried about their cane fields.”
PM Blames BSI/ASR for Unsigned Agreement
The situation in the sugar industry remains uncertain and it is not certain what effect comments made by Prime Minister Dean Barrow will have. At a conference today, the Prime Minister said the Government has always supported the sugar cane farmers. He said in the recent negotiations, Government pressed successfully on behalf of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, ensuring that the areas of concern brought by farmers were addressed. After an agreement between ASR/BSI and the BSCFA was reached he said trouble arose when it was time for the formal legal contractual agreement.
PRIME MINISTER, HON. DEAN BARROW
“I pull no punches in saying that the unraveling that then took place was entirely the fault of ASR/BSI, they insisted on a clause giving them the right to judge cane quality when that function had been agreed as being the province of the SCPC ever since the time of the industry MOU forged again by this administration and which was entered into I think in 2010. Not surprisingly and in fact quite justifiably the BSCFA rejected this ASR move and made clear that they would not sign the agreement unless that offending clause and in fact one other was taken out.
Cayo man arrested for possession with intent to supply
In the Cayo District, on Tuesday December 6 at 4:25p.m., police were patrolling on the George Price Highway Santa Elena Town, when they stopped to conduct a search on 45-year-old Albert Dennis Myvette, who was riding a bicycle on the highway.
They discovered a yellow plastic bag containing 130 grams of suspected cannabis from his pants waist.
As a result, police arrested and charged Albert Dennis Myvette of George Price Highway, Santa Elena Town, for the offence of Possession of Controlled Drugs with Intent to Supply.
Custom Broker threatened with a gun
A 30-year-old Custom Broker, and a resident of Belize City, reported that on Wednesday December 7 at 9:05a.m., he was riding his bicycle on Albert Street and while reaching in front of Bon-Fire Alley on Albert Street, one of three men, who were standing in front of the Alley, pulled out a black hand gun and asked him, “You wa dead?” Fearing for his life, he sped off on his bicycle.
Police investigation into the matter continues.
4 arrested for possession of a controlled drug
On Wednesday December 7 at about 7:00 a.m., police conducted a search at #19 Fabers Road in Belize City, at a small wooden bungalow structure, in the presence of the four occupants. There police found a black plastic bag containing what appeared to be cannabis.
Police then escorted all four persons ...
Tourist fined for weed possession
Honduran national and American resident, 42 year old Mario Silva Brown, was fined $250 for possession of 0.9 grams of cannabis in the court of Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer. Mario Brown, a bathroom and kitchen designer residing in the U.S...
Senior citizen charged for Drug Trafficking
On December 6, 2015 at about 11:00a.m., police conducted a search at the residence of 57-year-old Randolph Cadle of Crooked Tree Village, which led to the discovery of a black plastic bag containing 101.3 gram suspected cannabis.
Present at the time of the search were 25-year-old Dean Lanza of Pelic...
Drugs found in abandoned lots in Belize City
On January 6, 2015, police conducted searches in an abandoned lot located on Price Alley, Belize City, which led to the discovery of a black plastic bag that contained eleven transparent plastic bags of suspected Cannabis, which amounted to a total of 96 grams...
Two to One victory for Omar Figueroa in Cayo North
The Red Machine was fully oiled and executed perfectly on Monday January 5, 2015 when Dr. Omar Figueroa delivered the Cayo North constituency once again for the United Democratic Party. Defeating his opponent with a two to one margin the Red Hills are once again claiming the color of their fame.
The return of the Red Hills however is being done so with a true charismatic people person who has already committed to begin the work immediately. During a call to Wave Radio’s Fus Ting Da Mawning, on Wednesday,Dr. Figueroa started off by thanking all the voters who came out to support him and in particular those who voted for him. He also thanked those who exercised their right even if it was not in his favor. He then went on to explain that his first order of business is to establish his constituency office. He added that he will be based at his office for at least two days a week and he assured that he would not leave until every single persons is attended to.
Belize City Council ready to hire BML workers
On Friday, January 16, the largest staff of any municipal government in Belize will increase by 59 percent. The sanitation contract between the Belize City Council and the Belize Maintenance Limited (BML) will expire on January 15; therefore, the Council is preparing to host an orientation exercise the following day for 158 individuals that it will be absorbing from the company. The questions that have been on the Mayor’s mind for months are how will the Council be able to cover the new wage bill and how will such hirings fly under recently established “Municipal Service Regulations”.
Mayor Darrell Bradley says he is still concerned about the challenge of such a huge addition to the staff but says that he is committed to making it work. After consultations with the Human Resource Department of the Council, the Mayor has decided to divide the Sanitation Department into two units. One will continue to be headed by current Sanitation Manager, Percy Murillo, and a new unit will be headed by current Emergency Management Coordinator, Wayne Usher. Bradley says one unit will be responsible for operations dealing strictly with collection of garbage and other residential services. The other unit will be responsible for cemetery services, cleaning parks and other public spaces as well as other public health operations.
UDP Government mandates lowering of fuel prices
For the fourth consecutive time since November 25 the price of fuel went down this week again. On Tuesday January 6, the price of premium stood at $8.01, regular at $7.57 and diesel at $7.21. Premium went down by 77 cents, regular went down by 80 cents while premium went down by 67cents. The price decrease is directly related to the UDP’s government commitment to pass on savings to consumers immediately when the acquisition price of fuel goes down. Senior officials say that the savings is directly related to the government’s tax formula which is set where government’s take is fixed as a percentage of the price of fuel acquired.
The prices have now fallen from $10.48 for premium, $10.12 for regular and $8.37 for diesel in November of last year.
Cane Farmers reject agreement to deliver cane to BSI
There is approximately 1.477 million tonnes of cane on the ground currently, and through Audrey Matura-Shepherd’s influence, the milling season will be delayed even further because the farmers have decided to reject the government facilitated compromise agreement with BSI/ASR the second time around. As a result, more cane will be wasted, and the farmers will lose more money on their investment.
In last week edition of the Guardian, we told you how Matura-Shepherd was campaigning hard with the help of those within the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association who did not like the terms of the agreement. She had been meeting with the farmers in small groups to try to convince them that there is no need to sign the commercial agreement. She and her client, Lucilo Teck, a farmer claiming over 40 years of experience in the industry, had already attempted to block BSI/BSCFA agreement when they went to court for an injunction.
Year in Review - 2014
Through the Residential Mortgage Payment Program, the Government of Belize will assist qualifying Belizeans by reimbursing December 2014 interest and principal payments on all residential mortgages with an original value of up to BZ$100,000.00, as was stated in the Pime Minister’s Independence Day Speech. Borrowers from the National Bank, Commercial Banks, Credit Unions, the Development Finance Corporation and the Belize Social Security Board can apply for assistance; however borrowers must meet the following criteria approved by Cabinet:
1. Must be residential mortgages of original value of no more than BZ$100,000.00;
2. Must be residential mortgages for new home construction. Mortgages for home improvement will not qualify;
3. Mortgages taken out solely for the purpose of refinancing prior mortgages for the construction of new residences will also qualify for the program.
4. Must be legally registered mortgages and not merely the deposit of title deeds called “Equitable Mortgages.”
Cane Farmers force Fair Trade money bonanza
In August, three and a half months ago, news emerged that Fair Trade intended to reduce the amount of Fair Trade Funding that the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association received after buying Belizean sugar at premium prices. Secondly, the organization which provides oversight of the use of the money, Flo Cert, temporarily decertified the association yet again due to financial misappropriation and theft of the association’s funds, and the violation of child labour statutes. Only 2 days after being officially cleared of the most recent ban, the farmers are forcing the Association to do something which is bound to get them in trouble again with the oversight bodies of the Fair Trade agreement.
Fair Trade threatens to de-certify Belize after cane farmers demand a $4M drawdown
Fair Trade International, the organization which allows sugar from Belize to be bought at a higher price as a form of social outreach programs, has written to the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, for the second controversial resolution made by the farmers to fleece Fair Trade Funds. They want to draw down 4 million dollars to be distributed evenly among each of the 5,300 farmers. The only problem is that this is not the way Fair Trade intended these monies to be used, and now, the BSCFA risks being de-certified or suspended once again after being green lighted only days before Christmas.
Apart from torpedoing the latest deal being offered by ASR/BSI, the General Membership passed another resolution on Sunday, January 4, that their association must make available 4 million dollars for them to share out while the uncertainty of the start of the crop is being dealt with. Now, that’s not how that money is supposed to be used for. It was budgeted to fund development programs for the farmers so that their crop quality can improve, and so that the lives of the farmers are improved. It is not supposed to be used like a bank book to cover hard times.
Doctor Omar Figueroa wins in the Cayo North Division
By the time the dust had settled in a fiercely contested Cayo North Division, Dr. Omar Figueroa came out leading at the polls on Monday of this week by 1,316 votes, with him getting 2664 votes and his contestant Richard Harrison, 1,348 votes. There were 51 ballots that were rejected in the entire election process.
On exiting the counting center at the Cayo Center for Employment Training, where some 13 ballot boxes had just been counted, the new Representative for the Cayo North Division Dr. Omar Figueroa thanked the Prime Minister of Belize, the Hon. Dean Barrow, the Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Gaspar Vega, and his family and friends; for their support during the bye-elections held for Cayo North on Monday.
PUP calls a ‘closed press conferece’
The PUP’s 2012-2016 Reform Agenda pledged “A Freedom of the Press Law” as part of the many fiascos (Manifesto) promises to the Belizean People.
On Tuesday 6th January the People’s Disunited Party held a PRESS CONFERENCE at the PUP’s Headquarters on Queen Street, to update the public as to the results of the By-election held in Cayo North. Invitations were sent out to all media houses and PRESS outlets to attend said press conference. Shane Williams, a reputable journalist in the employ of the Guardian Newspaper responded to the invitation to media houses and went to the PUP’s Headquarters where the so called press conference was to be held. Whilst getting his equipment ready, Mr. Williams was approached by non-other than Vaughn Gill, the Host/co-Host/producer/director of the morning show-the Whip hence forth known as the WEEP. Gill told Mr. Williams in no uncertain terms that “this is a closed press conference” and that he was not welcomed at this press conference and had him brusquely escorted out of the PUP headquarters.
PUP- DEVOID of LEADERSHIP
“We have to keep in mind it’s a bye-election which was forced, as I said, by a sudden resignation.”
The question has still not been answered as to why there was this sudden resignation from a person who obviously wanted to be in politics, but did not see the leadership of the PUP viable; note there has been nothing coming out of that camp.
“ So I think, as some of you have characterized it, we were in a sense caught off guard. I think everyone regarded us as underdogs going into this bye-election even though we had held the seat before. "
A Cold Farewell
I first met the Chairman of the United Democratic Party, Mr. Alberto August, about a year ago at a function at Mr. Lot Aragon’s residence here in OW. The Chairman had just attended a meeting with the OW Central UDP committee to plan the upcoming convention for that constituency, and thereafter he decided to give the “Chief” a shout.
When Lot introduced me to Mr. August, the Chairman commented that he had the impression that the by-line "Jamil Matar" was a pseudonym perhaps for Wilfrido Novelo, a supporter who has indeed in the past contributed regularly for the UDP. Anyway, Mr. August said he was pleased to meet me and that he liked my articles.
I quickly became aware that the UDP chairman was full of dynamic energy; constantly on the move, and fully dedicated to the success of the UDP. As he spoke with supporters that evening, he came across as being intimately informed of the challenges facing the Party at all electoral levels, from village council to national constituencies.