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#499774 - 01/10/15 04:36 AM Today's Belize News: January 10, 2015
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Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV 3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

It’s been a great travel year in Belize! Part 3
As Old Man Time ticked towards 2015 it was time for me to measure how 2014 rated on my good/bad/mediocre/epic/thank God-the-year-is-over meter. The best way to recall the highlights (who needs to focus on the low-lights) was to peruse through the 50+ folders of digital images I had accumulated over the year in question. I already knew it had been a pretty good one, and as I reminisced over photos of beautiful, exotic places, colorful landscapes and smiling faces I couldn’t help but realize that what made the experience so special was not only the amazing locales but the special people I shared each experience with. Last year my JOB (not a dirty word) found me paddle boarding, snorkeling, birding, sailing, dining at fabulous restaurants, weekend stays at beachside resorts, enjoying super fun lobster festivals, art festivals, September celebrations, Carnaval and Holiday Lighted Boat Parades, exploring mainland destinations like Placencia, back-road adventures to villages in the Orange Walk and Belize Districts, over the border trips to Merida Mexico and Maya ruins on Ambergris Caye.

Another successful year for the San Pedro AIDS Commission
With 2014 over, the San Pedro AIDS Commission is proud to announce another successful year of hard work. For over 13 years, the San Pedro AIDS Commission has been assisting the community of San Pedro, providing both medical and moral support to persons afflicted by the disease. The group would like to thank the generosity of the residents and businesses of our island community for another successful year of education and support. The San Pedro AIDS Commission 2014 expense report follows: Medication – $1081.25 Donation to Patients – $4107.30 Office Supplies/Expenses – $1157.50 Education – $2497.61 Miscellaneous – $947.70. Please note that miscellaneous includes expenses during our many events like World AIDS Day and other fundraisers. Total Expenses for 2014: $9,791.36.

Police Report
*On Tuesday, December 30th at about 9:30AM while Caye Caulker Police were conducting routine checks on the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi. As a result a female was escorted to the Caye Caulker Police station where a search was conducted on her bag. Police found three black plastic bags all containing a green leafy vegetable substance suspected to be cannabis. The suspected cannabis was weighed amounting to 1,303.6 grams. She was identified as 37-year-old Aura Beatrice Moro of Santa Cruz Area, Santa Elena Town, Cayo District.

Residents claiming negligent charges by BWS
Several island residents have been complaining that Belize Water Service (BWS) Limited has been charging them for unconsumed water. Some residents have registered their discontent with the customer service section of the water company, and in some instances given a written explanation why their water meter has registered low consumption for the specific billing cycle. Despite their explanation, residents say that BWS have taken the position to charge them based on a mean-rate formula to calculate approximate consumption and charges. BWS says that while they can impose charges legally, it must be within reason. The residents contacted The San Pedro Sun and one of them provided a letter that was sent to BWS indicating their reason for objecting to the position of the water company. According to one resident, during the rainy season, their home is connected to their personal water tank that was built long before BWS ran water pipelines in their neighborhood. The resident claims that the entire building is hooked up in such a way that at any given time, they can switch from BWS to the water that is collected inside their concrete vat. The angry resident claimed that during a good rainy reason, their household can go for months without being hooked up to BWS since their vat is large.

Ambergris Today

San Pedro AIDS Commission Reports on 2014
With another successful year behind the organization, the San Pedro AIDS Commission is thankful to all the residents and businesses of Ambergris Caye who were very generous towards the group and assisted in their fundraising efforts. All the efforts of the group’s activities are to raise funds to assist HIV/AIDS patients on the island and to help spread the word on the prevention of the disease. As every year, the San Pedro AIDS Commission remains transparent in their annual financial report by publishing their total expenses for the year. The San Pedro AIDS Commission 2014 expense report follows: Medication – $1,081.25 Donation to Patients – $4,107.30 Office Supplies/Expenses – $1,157.50 Education – $2,497.61 Miscellaneous – $9,47.70. Total Expenses for 2014: $9,791.36

Embassy of Belize in Mexico Launches Facebook Page
The Embassy of Belize in Mexico officially launched its Facebook Page as Embassy of Belize, Mexico at the end of November 2014. In less than two months, the page has received more than 10,000 Likes and reaches an average of 6,000 people per day, indicating a high level of interest in learning more about Belize, what the country has to offer, and positions the page as an important platform for promoting Belize. The Facebook page, which is directed almost exclusively at the Mexican market, is the Embassy’s latest initiative aimed at actively promoting Investment and Tourism from Mexico to Belize and promoting Belizean exports to Mexico. It follows the inauguration of the Embassy’s Tourism Promotion Initiative along with BTB in May 2014 and the launching of the Embassy’s website on September 2014. Belizean producers and hotel and tour operators interested in entering the Mexican market are invited to contact the Embassy of Belize for further information on how the Mission may be able to assist.

Resident Couple Sees Results of Mangrove Reforestation in Ambergris Caye
Bob and Helen McClain moved to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize and finished constructing their house in 1993. They live about 15 minutes north of the bridge but after years of enjoying their beachfront property they noticed that the beach had been slowing eroding. After much research Bob and his wife realized that during construction of their island home they did one crucial mistake without even knowing it, and that was the removal of the mangrove growth on their property and along the shore. Today the McClains have been battling with the elements, trying to counter the effects of erosion. Their attempts at repopulating the area with new mangrove plants have been futile and frustrating. Today an unattractive seawall, made up of limestone rocks, creates a barrier on the shoreline and keeps their beach from wasting away. But Bob and Helen might have just found the solution they have been hunting for years.

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

Chamber of Commerce calls for Peaceful Resolution to the Sugar Industry Impass
The Belize‬ Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) is gravely concerned about the economic impact on Belize of the current impasse between the Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA). The export of sugar cane accounts for BZ$107 million of Belize’s foreign exchange revenue and the loss of this year’s crop can have a crippling effect on Belize’s economy and the lives of every Belizean. The BCCI urges the stakeholders in the sugar industry to continue to seek a peaceful resolution to the current impasse in the sugar industry, and for the parties to be guided by the following important considerations: 1. The long term viability and predictability of the industry; 2. That farmers respect each other’s constitutional right to freely associate, whether with BSCFA‬, act as independents or form other bodies; 3. It is imperative that the crop begins so that farmers can provide for their families and meet their other obligations; 4. That careful consideration is given by the parties to the economic impact of the demise of this industry on the entire country of Belize.

Embassy of Belize in Mexico Launches Facebook Page
The Embassy of Belize in Mexico officially launched its Facebook Page as Embassy of Belize, Mexico at the end of November 2014. In less than two months, the page has received more than 10,000 Likes and reaches an average of 6,000 people per day, indicating a high level of interest in learning more about Belize, what the country has to offer, and positions the page as an important platform for promoting Belize.

2015 Caye Caulker Lobster Fest
Here's the dates for this years Lobsterfest on Caye Caulker! 21ST Annual Caye Caulker Lobster Fest 2015 Friday, June 26 at 7:00pm in UTC-06 Palapa Garden, Caye Corker

Free 2 Be | DJ GracieRock
Bringing back the Free 2 Be Party with DJ GrACiErOcK! Contests- Limbo, The Big Suck-Off, MegaJenga and more (with PRIZES) Free Shots all night just for walking in the door...Belikin Bucket Specials with Free Chips and Salsa. Saturday, January 10at 7:00pm - 12:00am

GraCiErOck: GhettoFunkyShantyTown MixTape
wooooooooo baby! nice mix man!

BOLEDO DRAWING for Friday, January 9, 2015: 00

PDATE on Third Party Insurance when travelling to Chetumal, Mexico:
t’s a Third Party Insurance (seguro de responsabilidad civil) which is mandatory to all Mexicans (and thus, foreigners) driving/traveling on federal roads in Mexico. - The regulation was issued on March 2014 and it took effect last September. - The insurance must be issued by a Mexican Insurance Company, but it can be acquired through a Belizean Insurance underwriter Company. Most Belizean Insurance Companies have partnerships with Mexican Insurance Companies. - The price of the insurance can vary a lot depending particularly on the value of the vehicle as well as the amount of time (period) being covered, etc. - If someone already has even a more comprehensive insurance for traveling with his/her car in Mexico, there is no need to get a new one. For the new year 2015 all vehicles which are models 2008 or from subsequent years and where the purchase price is the equivalent to $162,255 Mexican pesos or $25,000.00BZ (at today's exchange rate), must have a Third Party Insurance when traveling to Mexico.

Planea Belice emitir 'warning' para quienes visiten Chetumal
Mexican newspaper "Novedades" explains that Mexican authorities are concerned that Belize may want to impose a "Travel Warning" to its citizens who travel on a daily basis across the border to Chetumal. MX and who have been recent victims of robberies at the hands of Mexican "Taxis". Autoridades del vecino país de Belice analizan la posibilidad de emitir alguna alerta o “warning” para sus connacionales al visitar Chetumal, México, según informó el Consul Honorario de Belice en México, Jorge Valencia, quien dijo que lo anterior obedece al número de robos de los que han sido víctimas beliceños que visitan la capital de Quintana Roo. Esto se dio a raíz de que turistas de origen beliceño denunciaron a través de redes sociales, Facebook principalmente, que han sido víctimas de robo en sus visitas a Chetumal, en su mayoria por taxistas, quienes huyen con sus compras en la cajuela de sus autos.

Channel 7

Court OK's Mandamus Hearing, But Not Until February
Can the Sugar Industry Control Board order BSI to open the factory and start milling cane? Audrey Matura Shepherd thinks it can - and that, in the present circumstances it must. Government and its Chairman Gabriel Martinez say the opposite: they say the SICB can only declare the season open after it consults with both sides and gets agreement on a date for the start of the crop. So today, veteran cane farmer Lucilo Teck and executives of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association went to ask the court to intervene and command the SICB to do what they feel is its duty: declare the season open and make it so. They're asking for a writ of mandamus, a court order which would compel the SICB to act. But, first, they must have a hearing to ask the court for permission to apply for mandamus.

Cansino: Caneros Could Cave
And so, in real time, while this case prolongs, farmers are starting to get desperate. Cane is in the ground, there is no foreseeable start for the crop, and the farmers have commitments to meet. Today, we spoke with Chairman of the Committee of Management, of the BSCFA, Ezequiel Cansino, and Chairman of the Orange Walk Branch, Alfredo Ortega. They told us that the farmers are on the verge of caving and signing with BSI to start delivering their cane: Ezequiel Cansino - Chairman, COM of BSCFA "We have been saying that we already having losses on this delay and if we will wait 6 weeks more, I think definitely cane farmers will actually from the list of the cane farmers." Mike Rudon, Ch5 "In terms of the delivery of cane, you are the head of the San Estevan Branch, responsible for 150,000 tons of cane. Are you a part of this alliance which was spoken of yesterday, this alliance of people are ready and prepare to deliver cane immediately to the field?"

Farmers Call Friday Emergency Meeting
And so with this widespread crisis in the BSCFA - the association called another emergency meeting this evening. It started after 5:00. Simply put the Association is besieged: first there's the fleecing of the fair trade funds; second, there's the move by owners of large acreages to go their own way; and third; there's the fact that the mandamus hearing won't start for another 6 weeks. So what's next? Well they're at a crisis crossroads - and many outcomes are possible including two things that may have seemed unlikely just a few days ago: one, the BSCFA may irreparably splinter, or two, to keep the BSCFA together, the association may be forced to sign the agreement which it rejected last week. And that's what they are meeting to discuss right now in Orange Walk Town. Chairman Ezequiel Cansino is asking the 18 branch directors if they will agree to yet another special membership meeting. This time it would be to consider accepting the agreement - the same one they rejected last week. What has changed since then? Well, everything…and the cane farmers association will have to carefully consider its next step.

Chamber Comes Out In Favour Of Starting Crop Now
And the Chamber of Commerce weighed in on the dispute today - saying it is gravely concerned about the economic impact of the current impasse. The business advocacy group concludes, quote, "the loss of this year's crop can have a crippling effect on Belize's economy and the lives of every Belizean." So, who's side are they on? Well, reading between the lines, it would appear to be very much in favour of starting the crop now on BSI's terms. The release says that the parties should consider four things: The long term viability and predictability of the industry; That farmers respect each other's constitutional right to freely associate, whether with ?BSCFA, act as independents or form other bodies; that the crop begins so that farmers can provide for their families and ?meet their other obligations; and That careful consideration is given by the parties to the economic impact of the demise of ?this industry on the entire country.

PUP Says The North Will Not Forget UDP's Perfidy
The PUP also has a position on the still unfolding crisis in the Sugar Industry. Today, Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca told us that Government is encouraging the farmers to break away from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. He said that the country will not forget this maneuver: Hon. Francis Fonseca, PUP Leader "This is a national issue. We've consistently made the point we need to get the crop open. This is vital to the national economy of Belize, vital to the economy of the north and the caneros and their families. But we absolutely condemn any effort by the government of Belize to undermine the BSCFA. We think that is a absolute mistake. We believe it is a very dangerous road for the government to be traveling. The BSCFA, the representatives of the farmers they have always been an integral part of the industry. This industry has grown and has develop and been successful because we have a had a very tripartite relationship; government, BSI, the private sector, the miller and caneros, the farmers, represented by BSCFA.

Minister Figueroa?
He won by the largest margin in Cayo North in over 50 years, and as a reward for his showing at the polls, Dr. Omar Figueroa has been named Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office. So while he's not a full minister, as minister of state Figueroa will be invited into Cabinet meetings. According to a government release, quote, "The decision was made today at a special meeting of Minister colleagues." that he intends to appoint Dr. Omar Figueroa, the newly elected Area Representative of the Cayo North Electoral Division, as a Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister. Figueroa will be sworn in by the Governor-General on Monday. He will take the Oath of Office as a Member of the House of Representatives at its next sitting.

PUP Meet To Discuss Cayo North Collapse
And Figueroa only got this ministerial position after beating PUP's Cayo North candidate Richard Harrison. It was an almost 2 to 1 victory for Figueroa, a sound defeat for the PUP which now relinquishes a seat it held only few months ago. This evening, all area representatives, caretakers and standard bearers of the PUP held a meeting at party headquarters to closely examine the election and its outcome, and what failures caused the loss: Hon. Francis Fonseca, PUP Leader "It was a joint meeting of the national executive of the party and the parliamentary caucus and standard bearers. We received a report from the national campaign manager on the Cayo by-election and also a report from the secretary general of the party on the administrative structure of that by-election. We had a brief discussion following that, but it was a very preliminary discussion."

Police Take Gun Off Streets
There were two murders in Belize City between last week Saturday and Monday. Police have been hitting the streets extra hard to make sure violence does not escalate in the wake of those two gang related killings. And last night the Eastern Division strike team struck again with a firearms seizure. They saw two men on a scooter, dressed in dark clothing on Fabers Road Extension heading towards Central American Boulevard. The scooter had no liense plate and police pulled them over. As they did , the passenger, slipped a chrome handgun out of his pocket and threw it on the ground. It was a 9mm Smith and Wesson with 7 rounds of ammunition in a magazine. Police have since arrested and charged a 17-year-old of a Mopan Street address, Belize City for the offences of "Kept firearm without a gun license" and "kept Ammunition without a gun license." He is a minor well known to police.

PUC Grants BWSL 2% Increase
In November we reported on the investment proposal submitted by BWS to the Public Utilities Commission. The proposal outlines a $108.6 million dollar program of investment that BWS wants to make in water services and projects as well as the operational expenses that amount to $151.3 million dollars. Well the PUC held a press conference today at the Radisson to deliver their response. Now, BWS did not receive the amount they proposed - the PUC approved $60.4 million in investment and $129.8 million in expenditure. While it might seem like a loss for BWS, Chairman of the PUC John Avery says that it is not calculated in loss and profit terms but really it is based on the feasibility of the projects. He gave us his view on those proposed projects. John Avery, Chairman, Public Utilities Commission "As is it we have some concerns about the feasibility of these projects whether or not they would get off the ground. And since the rate setting methodology wouldn't include such in the regulated asset value and they wouldn't have any impact on the rates, then we decided not to really consider them during this current rate review.

Containers OF Grenadillo Cleared For Export
Remember those four containers of export grade timber that we showed you yesterday? Well, tonight they are bound for the far East, after checks showed that they were not Rosewood. They are Grenadillo, also known as hormigo, which is lighter than rosewood, but sought after for its attractive finish. It seems that competing interests in the lucrative timber trade is what caused this shipment to be stopped before they could reach the Port of Belize. Someone said it was rosewood. But the Forestry Department checked and approved the export. Police had gotten involved in the operation and had to stand guard over the four parked containers all night.

Ms. Rose And The "Boots" Betrayal
A Faber's road resident is in need of assistance after her house burnt down in 2013. 50 year old Rose Williams' house was burnt down on August 27th 2013 and since then she has been living with her daughter. According to Williams she has only gotten assistance from a clothing store and Human resources and is still waiting for her area representative Anthony Boots Martinez -who she claims promised to re-build her house. Here is what she has to say. Rose Williams, Fabers Road Resident "Well I lose everything. I had two bedroom upstairs, three bedroom downstairs with my kids clothes, bed, TV - everything. So I don't have anything, I lose everything. Right now I live with my daughter Keisha. She has everything in her house, everything that is here is not mine. Yes, Boots Martinez promise me a hose from April and up to January I haven't gotten anything."

No Way To Make Up For Champagne
The last time we told you about the transgender individual, Vanessa Champagne Paris, legally known as Porfilio Rodriguez, was when she was close to being acquitted of aggravated assault for pulling a knife on Caleb Orozco's sister, Golda. Well, tonight, she's out on bail after being remanded for his latest criminal charge, an allegation that she broke into a house in Independence Village and stole….make up. According to the police, it happened on September 15, when according to Lorraine Duncan, a villager of Independence in the Stann Creek Village, someone broke into her house and stole an eye shadow, and a heart-shaped, gold ring with a diamond, 3 earrings, all to a total value of a little more than $2,000. All the items were recovered, and police arrested and charged Vanessa Champgane with burglary and handling stolen goods.

Police Surround Funeral For A "G"
On Saturday, Kareem Robbery Lopez was executed on Central American Boulevard. Troy Hyde has been charged for his murder - and the scenario has put police on very high alert. That's because Robbery Lopez was a prominent George Street figure, and for police, the aftermath of his murder, and his funeral pose major security issues. And so today, his funeral was more than just that: it was an event, both for his gang fraternity and for the police who had to make sure no acts of retaliation were visited on the funeral or the procession. Monica Bodden was there and here's what she saw:.. Monica Bodden reporting The body of 28 year old Kareem Robbery Lopez was transported one last time through the streets of Belize City. The funeral procession was led by friends, family, George Street loyalists and Belize Police officers who followed the funeral hearse to the graveyard to make sure peace was being kept in the streets.

A Survey For Sour Times In Sugarland
And, before we leave tonight, an update on the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. As we told you, the branch directors met this evening in an emergency session. They wanted a vote on whether they should go back to their members for approval to go ahead and sign the agreement because the cane farmers association is breaking up. 15 Directors attended and they decided that instead of calling another special meeting - they will instead ask the directors to take a survey of their members to find out if they want to go ahead and sign the agreement. By next week, we'll know how that is going. In the meantime, the move for some to defect form the Association is still ongoing.

Channel 5

Supreme Court Green Lights Cane Farmers’ Application for Writ of Mandamus
Cane-farmers, those called the “radicals” by Prime Minister Dean Barrow, this morning got a green light from the Supreme Court to argue for an Order of Mandamus against the Sugar [...]

Did PM Barrow Get It Right on Sugar Industry Act?
“Foolishness on top of foolishness…nonsense placed upon stilts.” – Those words were used by the Prime Minister on Thursday to describe the notion by farmers, described by him as radicals…that [...]

BSCFA Director Says Caneros Are Being Cornered Into Signing Agreement
We note again that the impact will be felt on the ground by farmers, not by attorneys in a Courtroom. The reality is that as things stand now, there is [...]

BSCFA Chairman Ezequiel Cansino Finds Himself in Catch 22
Ezequiel Cansino is the overall head of the largest cane-farmer branch in San Estevan, responsible for one hundred and fifty tons of cane. He is in the unenviable position of [...]

Can Farmers Deliver Cane Without Signing Agreement?
So the sugar cane industry is in turmoil and as we said at the beginning, nobody knows what will happen next. If the wish of government and ASR/BSI comes true, [...]

Cargo Vessel Towed Into Port After Experiencing Mechanical Problems
Turning to other issues, a cargo vessel en route to Belize has been grounded off the coast of the city since the beginning of the week when it began experiencing [...]

Omar Figueroa Appointed Minister of State
Fresh off a huge win in Monday’s Cayo North by-election, Doctor Omar Figueroa is set to join cabinet. Following a special sitting of Cabinet, the office of the Prime Minister [...]

Green Tropics on Guatemalan Laborers
Earlier this week we told you about Guatemalan labourers lined up at the Western border to come into Belize to work. We understood then that they came in on one [...]

NTUCB Reaffirms Support for BSCFA
An organization has remained in the corner of the B.S.C.F.A. is the National Trade Union Congress of Belize which reaffirmed its solidarity with the farmers earlier today. The NTUCB demonstrated [...]

…Undisturbed by GOB’s Name-calling
The NTUCB has also caught flak for seemingly leading the BSCFA impetuously.  The release essentially goes on say that the NTUCB categorically refuses to fold under insults from government and [...]

Chamber of Commerce Weighs in on Sugar Industry Crisis
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also weighing in on the sugar crisis and is calling for a peaceful resolution to the existing debacle focusing on the impact [...]

Port of Belize Affected by Negotiation Deadlock
Equally affected by the ongoing logjam is Port of Belize Limited.  The company does significant business with ASR/BSI and is experiencing cash flow issues as a result of the impasse.  [...]

PM Says Cruise Port Is Coming to Belize City in 2015
In his New Year’s address Prime Minister Dean Barrow made all manner of promises, government spending which he claims will rival and even surpass the unprecedented spending in 2014. There [...]

Champagne Paris Granted Bail for Burglary
Nineteen year old Porfilio Rodriguez also known as Vanessa Champagne is home tonight with relatives after spending the Christmas behind bars. Champagne spent plenty time last year before the courts [...]

2014 Court Session ends with testimony of Prison Officer
Late this evening, the Supreme Court took a half hour session to practice for the upcoming opening of the Supreme Court set to commence on Monday which traditionally kicks off [...]

PUC’s Initial Decision on Proposed Water Rate Increase
The Belize Electricity Limited announced earlier this week that it will be reducing electricity rates. But that saving will not be in your pockets for long because the other utility [...]

Chairman John Avery Explains Rate Setting
Avery went on to explain the rationale behind setting a rate that should last for the five-year period.   John Avery, Chairman, P.U.C. “We would not want to set a [...]

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 [...]


Young Speaks on History of CBS
The Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS) is a private protected area and pioneer in protected area co-management. In the past era, the Black Howler Monkey population was about a mere 1200 on about 4 square miles, today however, Conway Young, Volunteer Administrator Officer at CBS, told Love News that the protected area has now expanded to about 20 square miles and now has an estimated population of 4500 Howler Monkeys. Young also spoke to Love News more about the History of the Sanctuary. CONWAY YOUNG “The community baboon sanctuary was one of the first of its kind in the world in terms of how it is structured. There are seven villages that are literally inside the protected area and it’s a voluntary private protected area meaning that, the 240 land owners who signed a voluntary pledge saying that they are going to abide by certain rules. The community baboon sanctuary was officially opened on the 23rd of February in 1985; we started with 4 square miles with 800 black howler monkeys.

Minor Charged With Firearm Offenses
On January 8, 2015, Belize City police were mobile patrol in specific areas in Belize City and apprehended two 2 men dressed in dark clothing traveling on Fabers Road Extension towards Central American Boulevard on a black scooter without a visible license plate. Police conducted a search on both men and noticed that one of the men – the passenger, took out a chrome handgun out of his pocket and threw it on the ground. The passenger was shown the firearm and was requested to produce a gun license which he did not have. The weapon apprehended was a 9mm Smith and Wesson with 7 rounds of ammunition in a magazine. Police has then arrested a 17-year-old male minor of Mopan Street in Belize City for Kept firearm without a gun license and kept Ammunition without a gun license.

Home Burglary on Patridge Street
An 18-year-old student of Patridge Street in Belize City reported to the police that between the hours of 9:30 and 10:30 am on January 8, 2015, her home was burglarized. Stolen from the home were electronic items, perfume and a school bag all amounting to a total value of $480.00. Police has since detained 24-year-old Eleck Alexander Mckoy of Racoon Street Extension, Belize City and recovered the stolen items.

Fire Victim Plea’s For Area Representative Help
On August 27, 2013 the home of Rose Williams was burnt completely down and left her with nothing but the bare clothes she had on. Today Williams told Love News that it is already a year and four months since the incident and she has not received any assistance from her area representative. ROSE WILLIAMS “Going for two years my house has been burnt down. My area representative told me that he will help me in all that time, two times he helped me. I live in a house now that is $500 a month so in January he gave me $250 and March he gave me $250 and from then until now I have not gotten any help from him. Yes I went to the office, the secretary gave me his phone number, his personal cellphone number, I called, text whatever I got no answer.

GSU Raids Home on Vasquez Avenue
A home was raided by the GSU on #5706 Vasquez Avenue, two houses away from the Ceviche hut. The purpose of the raid is still uncertain, however, a family is presently detained by the GSU. A man and woman are in custody of the law presently with the presence of their two toddlers. On the scene were five police officers from Zone seven Police Station. Love News has not received any information prior to this raid.

Minor Diagnosed With Cancer
Cancer affects hundreds of Belizeans, young and old. Today Love News visited Belize Medical Associates where they met up with 8-year-old Gabryella Barnett, a young cancer patient, who is diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, a cone cancer that spreads rapidly and can be deadly within one year if left untreated. Her mother, Christina Valencia, spoke to Love News. CHRISTINA VALENCIA “My daughter was diagnosed from a doctor here that she has a case of osteosarcoma a very serious possibly deadly bone cancer and her bone cancer has been moving very fast because she was diagnosed on the 6th but we have been dealing with the pain and everything from the 5th of December 2014 she has been complaining of leg cramps and pains which we thought were just because she played too much but two weeks later the pain got worse and we took her to the KHMH, the did an x-ray which the doctor said he saw a shadow on the right femur and he could not tell us what it was, we had to get a second opinion. So we came to the medical and two weeks later we are trying to raise the money to get tested and we came Dr.Smith ordered and x-ray and a blood test which determined that she had the bone cancer.

Matura-Shepherd Speaks On Validity of Sugar Act
Abelardo Mai was not the only one who responded to the Prime Minister’s comments made yesterday during the press conference as they pertained to the constitutionality of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association. Attorney, Audrey Matura Shepherd issued a release late last night that read, in part, “It seems intentional today that the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean O. Barrow tried to make it appear as if though there is a court decision that declares the Sugar Industry Act No. 27 of 2003 unconstitutional in parts and to the extent that it will affect the case of Lucilo Teck v Sugar Industry Control Board and BSI claim no 739 of 2014; this is far from the truth.” This morning we met Matura-Sheppard outside the courtroom, where she commented further on the release she issued last night.

Court Says Yes To Judicial Review on Writ of Mandamus
With talks of division mounting within the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and the speculations that some members will be branching off to other entities, a release impressing on the importance of unity was circulated today by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize. The one-page document states, in part, quote, “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 skilfully 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“.

NTUCB Calls for Unity Among Cane Farmers
With talks of division mounting within the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and the speculations that some members will be branching off to other entities, a release impressing on the importance of unity was circulated today by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize. The one-page document states, in part, quote, “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 skilfully 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“.

Figueroa To Join Cabinet as Minister of State
With only four days of celebrating victory in Cayo North and adding one more seat in the House of Representatives under the umbrella of the United Democratic Party, Dr. Omar Figueroa now joins the Cabinet as today, a release from the Government Press Office, indicates that Figueroa has been appointed as a Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister. The release states that the announcement came from the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow at a special meeting of minister colleagues. Dr. Figueroa is scheduled to be sworn in on Monday, January 12, 2015 by His Excellency Sir Colville Young, Governor-General of Belize. Figueroa will officially take the Oath of Office as a Member of the House of Representatives at its next sitting.

Chamber of Commerce Urges for Peaceful Resolutions in Sugar
Peaceful Resolution to the Sugar Industry impasse – that is what the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is calling for via a release they sent out today. The BCCI has expressed grave concern as it pertains to the economic impact on Belize as a result of the current impasse between the BSI/ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA). The release went on to say that, quote, “The export of sugar cane accounts for one hundred and seven million Belize dollars of Belize’s foreign exchange revenue and the loss of this year’s crop can have a crippling effect on Belize’s economy and the lives of every Belizean. The BCCI urges the stakeholders in the sugar industry to continue to seek a peaceful resolution to the current impasse in the sugar industry, and for the parties to be guided by the following important considerations: ONE – The long term viability and predictability of the industry; TWO – That the farmers respect each other’s constitutional right to freely associate, whether with BSCFA, act as independents or form other bodies; THREE – It is imperative that the crop begins so that farmers can provide for their families and meet their other obligations; FOUR – That careful consideration is given by the parties to the economic impact of the demise of this industry on the entire country of Belize.”

#499775 - 01/10/15 04:36 AM Re: Today's Belize News: January 10, 2015 [Re: Marty]
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Omar Figueroa new Minister of State in the PM’s Office
Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow announced on Friday, January 9, 2015, at a special meeting of Minister colleagues, that he intends to appoint Dr. Omar Figueroa, the newly elected Area Representative of the Cayo North Electoral Division, as a Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister. It is expected that Dr. Figueroa will be sworn in by His Excellency Sir Colville Young, Governor-General of Belize, on Monday, 12th January, 2015. Dr. Figueroa will also officially take the Oath of Office as a Member of the House of Representatives, at its next sitting.

NTUCB & BCCI support cane farmers
All eyes are indeed on the north, as Belize waits out to see the outcome of the current impasse in the fragile sugar industry. The NTUCB says the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association must remain united! In a press release issued late Thursday evening, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) said they stand in solidarity with the cane farmers and the BSCFA, and went on the make an impassionate plea to the members of the association to remain united as they see this debacle through. The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is also wary of the current impasse in the sugar industry. In a press release issued on Thursday the BCCI urged all stakeholders holders involved to continue seeking a peaceful resolution. Failure to do so would have a crippling effect on Belize’s economy.

PM addresses recent turn of events in the sugar cane industry
On Thursday morning Prime Minister Dean Barrow gave government’s position on the recent turn of events in the Sugar industry, stating that it is now a crisis. PM Barrow recapped the negotiations recounting that on Dec...

BSCFA says PM’s alliance appears to be with ASR/BSI
While the Prime Minister says he is all for the farmers and would not wish to see the association splinter, BSCFA’s Alfredo Ortega says he does not buy it, and is of the strong opinion that the Prime Minister’s alliance is with BSI/ASR. Alfredo Ortega – BSCFA Committee of Management“I am very s...

Alfredo Ortega comments on Fairtrade’s letter to BSCFA
As we told you earlier, a letter was sent by Kieran Durnien, Assistant Program Coordinator of Fairtrade International, to the management of the BSCFA, warning that the distribution of the $4 million dollars that the farmers are clamouring for could mean the immediate suspension or, in the worst case...

New Cane field on Western Highway
As the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association reels at the current state of affairs, there are movements afoot from other companies unbeknownst to the association. Very reliable information reaching Plus News points to the existence of a cane field located at mile 25 on the Western highway. Sources s...

VIP to Contest 2015 Municipal Elections
The Vision inspired by the people, also known as VIP, is a political third party that has been around for over 5 political terms  but has never won a seat at the House of Representatives or at the Council level. VIP party leader Paul Morgan ran for the 2009 municipal elections in Belmopan...

Guatemalans lining up for work in Belize?
Reports are that a load of Guatemalan immigrants are coming across the Western border with temporary passes to work with Green Tropics, and this has raised major concerns. However, Minister Godwin Hulse says that he is not aware of those reports.


Light bills down 5% starting this month
Over 62,000 electricity consumers should see their light bills go down by about 5%, after the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued a final decision declaring that new tariffs are being put into effect until June 2015. The rate adjustment, from an average of 43.47 cents to 41.29 cents per kilowatt hour, includes a $5.5 million rebate to consumers due to reduced power costs for purchases from Mexico. Last year, the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) had requested that the PUC reduce electricity rates by 3.4%, from an average of 43.47 cents per kilowatt-hour (KWh) to 42 cents per kWh for the first six months of 2015. Derek Davis, Director of Electricity at the PUC, told Amandala that the PUC’s initial decision had called instead for a 5% reduction and that decision became final because no one objected to it.

Cañeros swimming in “shark-infested” waters?
A thorny resolution that was passed at a meeting of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA)’s general membership meeting this past Sunday in which cash-strapped cañeros voted to share out an additional $4 million of the association’s funds among themselves, threatens to have dire implications not only for the stability of the BSCFA itself, but also on its tremulous relationship with the Fairtrade organization, through which the farmers acquire substantial financial benefits, mainly in the way of Fairtrade premium prices for their product. The decision, which was made in the face of a cash flow crisis resulting from the currently delayed 2014/2015 sugarcane crop season, is intended to provide roughly 5,300 cañeros with about $754 each after the funds are equally divided, and while the disbursement may be for a worthy cause, officials of the BSCFA have expressed great concern over the move at a meeting at their Orange Walk office today, since the association will likely be decertified or suspended for non-compliance with Fairtrade standards, and worse, we understand that it could even mean the collapse of the BSCFA.

PUP, UDP agree to discuss campaign financing reform
Alberto August, chairman of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), has denied allegations by Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca that the UDP dipped deep into the public coffers to finance its campaign for the Cayo North by-election held two days ago. August would not disclose how much was spent on the UDP’s campaign, and he told us that allegations that they spent upwards of $800,000—we suggested a million dollars—are untrue. “As I said earlier, there is cause for concern when it comes to the use of public funds in election campaigns and people will say, ‘Scorch on both your houses,’ but I think that as a country we have to get beyond that,” he said, at a press conference held at his party’s headquarters in Belize City Tuesday. “I see public funds being used for election purposes in an unprecedented way today in Belize. I don’t think it bodes well for politics. I don’t think it bodes well for democracy, for the development of our country,” Fonseca expressed.

BSI/ASR wins sugar war?
The extended turmoil in the sugar industry—the multimillion-dollar industry which not only fills breadbaskets in northern Belize, but which also forms a major pillar on which the national economy stands—is evidently heading to a major meltdown which could mean the end of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association (BSCFA) and in the view of some, the end of the small cañero as well. For the second consecutive year, the sugar crop is off to a late start, because the farmers and the millers have been unable to reach an accord on the terms of their business relationship. The impasse has caused financial pain among cañeros, and on Sunday, they forced the hands of their directors to disburse to them $4 million of Fairtrade money – a move which could lead to the decertification of the association by the European program, which would cause negative effects to ripple across the export sector. (See story elsewhere in this edition of Amandala.)

US sends request papers for two Bahamians, beginning extradition proceedings
Last September, United States authorities unsealed a federal indictment in Brooklyn, New York, for five individuals and five companies in Belize’s offshore banking sector. With the cooperation of Belize’s law enforcement authorities, and particularly the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a move was made to shut down the operations of the companies named in the indictment. The FIU, additionally, in cooperating with the US, got a Supreme Court order to freeze the accounts of the individuals and companies named in the indictment. That court order that the FIU had secured was overturned, however, by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin in hearings that were held in chambers. The FIU was ordered to unfreeze the accounts and to return the properties of the companies.

Belizean drivers now need Mexican 3rd party insurance in Mexico
Belizeans are known to frequent various areas in Mexico, such as Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Cancun, and Merida for recreation, shopping, medical treatment, among other reasons, but now, there are new requirements for those who plan to drive in these areas: Belizean motorists who are traveling to Mexico this year will need to procure Mexican 3rd party insurance for their vehicles. The regulation was passed by Mexican authorities in September 2014, but was only enforced last month. It has drawn the ire of many local drivers, however, who view it as an additional hassle to visit our neighbors to the north. When the media went looking for answers yesterday, Javier Aguilar, Head of Trade, Investment and Tourism Affairs at the Embassy of Mexico, explained that in the past, only Mexican motorists were required to have third party insurance, but now it has become mandatory for both Mexicans and foreigners as well.

Cristo Rey burglar sentenced to 7 years in jail
Elton Coba, 30, of Louisville, Corozal District, was given a 7-year jail sentence for burglary and handling stolen goods on Monday in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court when he appeared before Magistrate Hurl Hamilton, who arraigned him on the charges, to which he pleaded guilty. Police said that on Friday, Coba was captured by Alfonso Alamilla and his family, the angry owners of the house in Cristo Rey Village, which Coba broke into and from which he stole the family’s jewelry. The family held him captive and handed him over to police, who, when they searched him, found two gold medals with Jesus Christ engravings valued at $120, one gold double-link bracelet valued at $300 and a pair of gold earrings with leaf designs valued at $60 – all of which had been stolen from Alfonso Alamilla’s home.

Fonseca says the PUP will wage “a very fierce and competitive battle” in the municipal elections
On March 4, 2015, voters from all nine municipalities will go to the polls to elect new slates of persons who they want to govern their town or city. Currently, most of those municipalities are controlled by the ruling United Democratic Party, but despite the resounding defeat the Opposition People’s United Party suffered at the polls in Cayo North on Monday, Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca says that his party will wage “a very fierce and competitive battle” in the municipal elections. “There are other battles to come; the municipal elections are in a few weeks, in March, and we now move on to that battle for the municipal elections,” Fonseca said. In the wake of his party’s defeat in Cayo North, Fonseca held a press conference today, Tuesday, January 6, congratulating the victors – Dr. Omar Figueroa and the United Democratic Party, for what Fonseca described as “a clear, decisive victory yesterday.” “As the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly I welcome Dr. Figueroa to the National Assembly,” Fonseca said.

Pain at People’s Stadium, jubilation at Isidoro Beaton
That’s why they play the game. You just never know. Four days ago, the newly energized Verdes football club was on top of the world, leading the playoffs with 8 points and 2 games remaining. The Bandits had 7, and Police had 6, after suffering back to back losses (1-0 and 4-0) to the same Verdes FC. (The 4-0 loss was on Wednesday of last week, New Year’s Eve, not Sunday as we had erroneously reported in last issue.) Needing only a draw this past Sunday, January 4, at the Norman Broaster Stadium to tighten their grip on a spot in the finals, the Verdes organization, which has done an exceptional promotional job for the game, was feeling very confident. (See standings for Wednesday, December 31.) But on Sunday, January 4, Belmopan Bandits pulled out a 1-0 win over Verdes FC in Cayo, on a Shane Armstrong goal in injury time, pushing the Bandits to the top of the standings with 10 points. The Saturday night before, Police had to break a 1-1 deadlock with BDF in the closing minutes to come away with a 2-1 victory, and this put Police at 9 points, right behind the Bandits, leaving Verdes in third place with 8 points.

Former 3-time Cross Country Champion – Duncan Vernon passes
The Cycling Federation of Belize would like to express its sincerest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Duncan Vernon. Mr. Vernon was the Annual Cross Country Classic Champion for 1957, 1960 and 1961. As a great cyclist, he also challenged the riders and placed second in 1954, 1956, 1958 and 1965. A cycling legend in his time. His funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 17, at 12:00 noon at the Wesley Methodist Church on Albert Street. His body will be laid to rest at the Homeland Memorial at Mile 7 on the George Price (Western) Highway. All members are asked to attend his funeral services and in their jersey or team uniform. May his soul rest in peace and ride in glory.

Editorial: March 4 bigger than January 5
Monday’s by-election in Cayo North was not as important as the national municipal elections scheduled for Wednesday, March 4. Monday, January 5, represented a big victory for the ruling United Democratic Party, and a major personal setback for the People’s United Party (PUP) Deputy Leader, Hon. Julius Espat. But Monday was a local election, confined to just one constituency, it could not affect national political power, and the Cayo North by-election did not offer the PUP the opportunity to control municipal budgets, as March 4 does. The results of the March 2012 general election were extraordinary because of unprecedented divergences in voting patterns between Belize City/District, on the one hand, and the other five Districts, on the other. The 2012 results were also extraordinary because the Opposition PUP had experienced major leadership turmoil in October and November of 2011, yet came within fewer than 100 votes of winning a narrow general election victory three, four months later. In late 2011, elected PUP Leader Johnny Briceño unexpectedly resigned. Interim Leader Mark Espat, despite being endorsed by 30 of the 31 party constituencies, gave up leadership after less than two weeks, whereupon several people offered themselves for the leadership position, including Julius Espat and Mike Espat. Francis Fonseca, who had lost to Briceño in a March 2008 leadership convention, was then suddenly appointed Leader by PUP power brokers.

From the Publisher
The United Democratic Party (UDP) first took control of the Southside of Belize City in the 1979 general election, when they won two of the then three Southside constituencies. Their Philip Goldson won Albert (which he had first won in 1965), and their Curl Thompson won Mesopotamia, for the first time. Mr. Harry Courtenay of the People’s United Party (PUP) held on to Collet. For the 1984 general election, the number of Southside constituencies was increased to six, and the UDP won all of these in that election. Since that time, the UDP have always won the majority of the Southside seats, with the sole exception of 1998, when the PUP won four of the Southside constituencies. In the 2012 general election, the UDP won all six of the Southside seats. With the addition a few years ago of a sizeable amount of Southside voters (who were previously in Lake Independence) to the Pickstock constituency, Pickstock may now be described as a Southside constituency. If we did that, it would be the case that the UDP hold seven out of seven Southside seats. But, we’ll just leave it at six. The point is that the Southside represents a political stronghold of the UDP.

Terrible traffic in Punta Gorda
Dear Editor, Vehicle traffic in Punta Gorda is not regulated. The Coke and Belikin depot is smack in the center of town at the corner of Main (George Price Street) and North Street, where all traffic in P.G. meets. School buses, villagers, passenger buses, cargo delivery trucks, Public Works trucks with road building materials and government and private cars and pickups all meet and pass this junction, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is a mess, and vehicles usually collide at this junction. Worst of all, Bowen & Bowen has the 18-wheelers jutting out of this congested depot five feet into the street so citizens cannot use the pedestrian walk on North Street. Bowen and Bowen’s agent here has other properties around P.G. that can be used with proper ventilation for its workers, and not obstruct traffic. Another eyesore is the largest wholesale-hardware store in PG, belonging to A. Witz, which is at the corner of King and Main-Middle Streets, and he uses the sidewalk of the narrow Main-Middle Street for parking big trucks with steel and cement. People have to use one side of this street, and the Fire Station is just two buildings way.

“I blame our political class”: Brian Plummer
Dear Editor: The global system of governance is a reflection of the system of most countries. The United States of America (US), who always criticize countries like North Korea, Cuba and China for human rights abuse, have been found to be wanting in its human rights records. The black community in the US has recorded myriad cases of police brutality (inhumanity). This is clearly human rights abuse by the US. The police are agents of the nation state. It is not only in the US that there are many cases of police brutality in a systematic way; it difficult to find a country in the world that doesn’t have this social ill – just to a varying degree. The goal of any economy should be to organize resources to provide the greatest degree of wellbeing to its entire population. The evidence of police brutality suggests that has not been the case for countries where this is prevalent, such as in Belize, because it is usually the socially marginalized being brutalized. The elites in a given country influence the political directorate whether in a democracy like the US or an authoritarian state like North Korea.

Sam Trucco writes from Ambergris Caye
Dear Editor, What is happening to the beachfront in San Pedro? The law states it is Queen’s Land 60 feet back from the high water mark. Yet, past Ramon’s Village north to Boca del Rio we have private individuals/businesses in permanent structures from the water’s edge up. Some sell tours; some sell water, soda etc. We have a proliferation of massage establishments right on the beach inside this 60-foot zone. We have tables upon tables of souvenir stands, some of which also offer illegal substances. We also have restaurants with tables on the water’s edge with waiters bobbing and weaving around the locals and tourists trying to make their way down the beach, running back and forth delivering drinks and food. There are actually stretches of the beach that you have to navigate that are less than 10 feet wide where these stands are set up. Why has this situation been allowed to get so out of control? Why have the laws of Belize been completely ignored for the benefit of a few and to the detriment of all?

Cañeros grapple with Fairtrade money troubles
Over 5,300 cañeros have issued a demand to their leadership to apportion to them $4 million, despite warnings from executives and officials of their association, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), that this would soon lead to them being decertified by the European program known as Fairtrade, under which they are paid a premium for Belize sugar. The premium payments are supposed to be used for programs to improve production. It so happened, though, that cañeros, some claiming financial hardships but others apparently suspicious that the office staff and executive are “living high” on the Fairtrade funds, issued a demand to their organization at their General Assembly meeting on Sunday to distribute $4 million set aside for projects to them. With 5,350 farmers sharing that pie, it means that each one would only be getting about $750.

Fresh hope for Janae
On Monday, January 5, 2015, Fred Lumor, SC, received a $300,000 check – the first payment from the Government of Belize towards a $2 million award which the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decreed in April 2014 as a just compensation for Janae Matute, a girl who developed cerebral palsy due to birth complications, and her mother, Georgia Matute, in a landmark medical malpractice suit for Belize. Lumor told us that although there was no letter accompanying the payment, which is for damages and legal fees, Mr. Nigel Hawke informed him that they plan to discuss with him their intention to make installment payments to settle the balance of the bill. “It means a lot to me. I will be able to provide better care for Janae. I will be able to seek further medical attention for her,” said Georgia Matute, Janae’s mom.

Mayor reveals plan to take on BML workers
Next Friday, January 16, a total of 158 sanitation workers who have been employed by the Belize Maintenance Limited (BML) will be absorbed into the workforce of the Belize City Council (CitCo) as part of a transition process that will come into effect upon the expiration of CitCo’s sanitation contract with BML. After months of dialogue and bargaining with BML and the Christian Workers Union (CWU), which represents the labor interests of the workers, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley today announced that the workers will be brought on board under a management operation through which they will be placed primarily in two departments headed by former city councilor, Wayne Usher, and CitCo Sanitation Manager, Percival Murillo. According to Mayor Bradley, only 110 of the workers will actually be employed in the Council’s already brimming Sanitation Department; others will be assigned to sweeping dusty streets, while some will work to address the ongoing drainage issue, and even as security and traffic officers, depending on their specific skill sets.

The Reporter

US to discuss migration issues with Cuba
US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson will lead a delegation travelling to the Cuban capital, Havana, later this month. These will be the first high level talks since Cuba and the US announced last month that they were restoring relations. The US State Department said the talks – to take place on 21 and 22 January – would focus on migration. The United States severed ties with Cuba’s communist government in 1961. Despite the lack of diplomatic relations, the two countries hold routine talks on migration every six months. The state department said that the next meeting would also seek to push forward the rapprochement process announced by US President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro on 17 December.

Omar Figueroa to be appointed Minister of State
Newly elected Cayo North Area Representative, Dr. Omar Figueroa will be appointed as a Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced the decision to appoint Figueroa as Minister of State at a special meeting of Minister Colleagues on Friday. Figueroa will be sworn in as Minister of State by Governor General Colville Young on Monday January 12th. He will also take the Oath of Office as a member of the House of Representatives at the next sitting of the House. Figueroa won a convincing victory for the United Democratic Party (UDP) in Cayo North on Monday, delivering an additional seat for the government in the House of Representatives and giving the government an 18 to 13 majority.

Murder at Dream Valley Resort Was this a contract killing?
Belmopan Police have made no arrests for the daylight murder of resort manager, Yaima Duany Ledesma, 30. Ledesma who was born in Cuba but has Swiss nationality, was shot twice at close range in the bar of the Dream Valley Resort, in Teakettle Village, Cayo District. Ledesma has managed the Dream Valley Resort for three years and had just returned with a group of tourists when two men approached and shot her at close range. Investigations by The Reporter revealed that the attack came from two men, dressed casually, who left their vehicle in the parking area of the resort, about 50 feet from the bar. In no apparent hurry, the men strolled into the bar and ordered drinks from the bartender, while asking for the manager. They made no attempts to mask their identities from the staff or from the tourists who were gathered nearby. When Ledesma entered the bar in response to the summons from the men, one of them took out a 9mm pistol and fired five shots at her.

Peacemaker stabbed 42 times by “drinking buddy”
The stabbings occurred at the home of Rodrigo Ayuso on Fonseca Street, just a few blocks from Medina’s home on Guyana Street. Medina, reports say, spent many of his hours socialising with friends on Fonseca Street where death caught up with him around 6 p.m. last Wednesday. Deputy Officer Commanding the Orange Walk Police station, Assistant Superintendent of Police Selvyn Tillett, explained that a fight broke out at Ayuso’s house and Medina , who was sleeping at the time, jumped up to intervene. That was when the knifebearer focused the attack turned to him.

Officer commanding Bella Vista village charged!
A sting operation on Saturday night by police at the Bella Vista Police Station in Toledo has led to the arrest of the officer commanding that station, Police Constable Bernard Villanueva. Villanueva is charged with extortion following surveillance, which incriminated him. The operation was linked to a report by Jeydi Romero, 28, a Honduran domestic of the same community, which stated that Villanueva forced her to pay him $200 for the release of her husband, Nahun Romero, who was being held at the village police statíon. Later that night police set up a surveillance operation near the police station and watched as a man entered the police station and hand over something to Villanueva.

World Bank provides US $6 million for plan to protect Barrier Reef
The Belize Marine Conservation and Climate Adaptation Project is a US $6 million climate change project funded by the World Bank. It is scheduled to begin early this year, according to the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute. The project is to go on for five years and is geared towards strengthening the resilience of the Belize Barrier Reef System to climate change. Strengthening will come about through ecosystem-based marine conservation and climate adaptation measures. The plan is to employ a two-track approach which combines ecosystem-based adaptation with enabling policy and legal frameworks as an effective long-term approach to help strengthen the resilience of the reef system against adverse effects of climate change.

City Council had a good year, with more revenues and smaller deficit- audit shows
The Belize City Council has released the results of its annual audit conducted by PKF Accountants and Business Advisers for the period up to March 2014. The audit shows that the council’s total asset value as of March 2014 was $84,999,721 or nearly 16 percent higher than the previous year ($73,376,598). Property and equipment account for more than $70 million of this year’s total asset value. The council’s total cash value stands at $3,234,431 as of March 2014; the previous year the cash value was $5,575,076. Trade and other receivables account for more than $10 million of the council’s assets.

Getting ready to take on new staff, mayor looks forward to debt-free CitCo
The Belize City Council will take on 158 workers formerly employed by Belize Maintenance Limited as early as next week, Mayor Darrell Bradley announced this week. Bradley said the Council has scheduled an orientation session for the new employees who will start work on January 16th. Bradley explained the incoming employees will be sub-divided into several units, which will deal with different aspects of sanitation. There has also been a re-configuration of management to facilitate the increase in staff, the mayor said and new regulations will be drafted to deal with the changes.

Armed youth shot dead during face-off with intended victim
A youn man who pulled a gun on a manhe was attemptingto rob was shot and killed around 7 Sunday,night on Costa Rica Street Extension in Belmopan. Nineteen year-old Kevin Vasquez, a welder, reportedly accosted Mark Conorquie, 31, who was standing outside his house in the Salvapan area, of Belmopan. Conorquie told police that the youth reached for a gun in his waist and Cornoqui went into attack mode. The two men struggled and during the struggle the gun that Vasquez was carrying was discharged three times. Vasquez received bullet wounds to his head, chest and upper leg.

Municipal streets bond hugely successful! No need for concern, mayor says
The Belize City Council has paid off the first tranche of its municipal (Streets) bond and is projecting that it will be able to meet its target payments comfortably in the years ahead, Mayor Darrell Bradley said Tuesday. The council made the first payment on the bond on December 24th. He said that payments, which include principal and interest totalled $1.5 million. The amount represents about 7.5 percent of the bond, and the sinking fund being managed by the Central Bank has a comfortable surplus, the mayor said. Bradley indicated that the next payment is due in three years when 50 percent of the bond has to be repaid. The Council projects that at that point the municipality will be able to comfortably make the payment of interest and principal.

Cane farmers hold-out will lead to sugar shortage
The Belize Sugar Factory, owned by the American Sugar Refineries group (ASR) only has enough sugar in its warehouse to supply the country until the end of January, BSI personnel the explained this week. Director of Cane Farmer Relations for ASR/BSI, Olivia Aviles, said this week that if the impasse between the company and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) does not end quickly, the country will face a shortage of local-produced sugar. “We know that shops have some stored up, but that won’t last very long. We can only hope we arrive at an agreement, and soon,” she said. Aviles added that the impasse also presents a more urgent problem for the cattle farming industry since molasses, which is used to make cattle feed, is close to depletion also and will not last to the end of January.

Police concerned about more gang violence! Call on community for more eyes and ears
Belize City police have gone on red alert following the Saturday night murder of Kareem “Robbery” Lopez, a known member of the George Street Gang. Lopez was shot to death on Saturday night by a man on a bicycle as Lopez walked back to his car after buying food from a snack shop on Central American Boulevard, a few blocks from his home on Jane Usher Boulevard. It was 10:30 at night, and Lopez perhaps thought it was safe enough for him to venture out. But two men on bicycles were trailing him, and as he walked back to his car they shot him many times in the head and upper body, and left him dead in the street. City police, anticipating a resurgence of gang violence in the city, have beefed up their patrols of known gangland hot-spots. They have established checkpoints and increased their intelligence activity. They are also conducting random searches of suspicious persons and vehicles.

It may be hard to believe, but it is nonetheless true that we are witnessing the collapse of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association before our very eyes. The frustrating thing is that we don’t seem to be able to do anything to prevent it. Last Sunday the cane farmers […]

Primary school teacher is accused of inappropriate behaviour with students
A male school teacher at a Catholic primary school located in Belize City is the subject of an allegation that has surfaced of inappropriate behaviour involving standard five female students at the school. The Reporter has confirmed that there is such an allegation made at Saint Ignatius Primary School against the teacher, said to be in his mid-20’s. The incident in question occurred during the week prior to the close of classes Reports are that the teacher segregated a group of female students and showed them a video, the nature of which is uncertain. During the class period, however, he reportedly made the girls sit on his lap one by one, while he touched them inappropriately. The matter has been reported to the school’s administration.

Fuel prices plunge at the pumps
Motorists, as of Monday night, are experiencing a dip in fuel prices. This is the second drop in oil price since 2009 when the global trend swept prices up from just above $5 to more than $11 per gallon. Regular gasoline now stands at $7.57, a drop of 80 cents. Premium gas dipped by 79 cents to $8.01; and diesel now sells for $7.22, a 67-cent drop. The current prices are the result of fierce global competition among oil-producing nations. For the past several months oil prices have plummeted well below US $100 per barrel, dipping by as much as half that figure.

National Bank is coming to town! Building purchased for $3.01 Million from Pedmar Investment Company
The National Bank of Belize will be expanding its services to Belize City with the opening of a new branch in the downtown area. The Reporter has been reliably informed that the new branch of the National Bank will be located at #53 Regent Street where the Infotel Call Center was previously located. The information indicates that the government has already approved the purchase of the building for more than $3,000,000 from Philip Espat, the brother of Mark Espat who is the government’s Economic Ambassador. Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed Thursday to The Reporter that the expansion is indeed under way, but said he is unable to give any further details about the initiative. National Bank Chairman, Joy Grant also confirmed on Thursday that the expansion was already underway and added that the new branch should be ready for opening within the next few months, though she could not give a specific timeline.

PM Barrow aims to by-pass Belize Cane Farmers Association
At a press conference called on Thursday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow stated that as long as the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association maintains its position that the Sugar Industry Control Board must intervene to start the crop, he has no intention of meeting with them. Instead, GOB will support any cane farmer or cane farmer group which is formed to deliver cane to ASR/BSI. According to the PM, those farmers or groups would be fully within their rights to do so without the Sugar Industry Act having to be amended. On Thursday the leader of the nation categorically and surgically shredded the position taken by those in the BSCFA including attorney and NTUCB representative, Audrey-Matura-Shepherd, who he described as “radicals”. As far as intervention by the SICB is concerned, the Prime Minister said that will never happen. Cane farmers have written to that body asking that it step in to force ASR/BSI to start milling the cane.

UDP pommels PUP in Cayo North Omar Figueroa wins 2 to 1!
The United Democratic Party won in convincing fashion at the Cayo North by-election on Monday, January 5th, taking the PUP stronghold and beating its candidate two to one at the polls. When the final ballot was counted and recorded around 9:30 Monday night, it became clear that the UDP’s Omar Figueroa had received 2664 votes, while PUP’s Richard Harrison had received 1348 votes. Fifty-one ballots were spoilt. Political analysts claim that the UDP’s victory was widely expected because of the energy and resources put into the campaign by the ruling party. In the four weeks following the announcement of the by-election, the UDP launched an intensive, well-funded campaign with an army of campaigners armed with flags, banners, shirts, placards and posters on every utility pole and tree within view.

Patrick JonesPJ

Supreme Court green lights Writ of Mandamus application
Supreme Court Justice Shona Griffith this morning agreed to grant permission for leave to apply for judicial review in respect to a Writ of Mandamus in favour of Lucilio Teck against the Sugar Industry Control Board. Justice Griffith indicated at the very start of proceedings that she was inclined to do this because she felt the case has sufficient merit to move forward. However there was one hurdle to overcome in the form of an objection raised by SICB attorney, Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams. According to Williams the claim as filed by attorneys for Teck, Audrey Matura Shepherd and Anthony Sylvestre, was irretrievably flawed as the claim included substantive relief, particularly declarations that could not be granted at this preliminary stage.


Food Porn...Top 5 Life Dinning Experience
My mother raised me to believe that if I had nothing good to say, then I should just say nothing. I recently dined at Casa Picasso here on Ambergris Caye...and this could be a very long blog! If you figure I've generally eaten 3 meals a day for 35 years...then I've eaten roughly 38,325 meals. This one is easily in my top .00013% (or top 5 for easier reference). My friends Matt, Sara, and Karen were kind enough to invite me and even pay my tab - it was a most excellent surprise that Barb, Joe, Tacogirl (Laurie), and Paul were also able to join. The menu, for me, was like what a nudie mag is to most men - I couldn't take my eyes off it. My mouth watered from beginning to end. I decided on the Chef's Tasting menu (a Thursday special); since it was also Chef Ben's Birthday and he was cooking a sampling of his personal favorites from home...how could this possible be anything but excellent?! Didn't hurt that I was two Watermelon coolers (aka - the "Matt Hoys") in by the time the first course arrived. I'm not usually a Vodka man, but you couldn't taste it at all - trust me, it was there...but you couldn't taste it behind the watermelon/ginger yumminess.

El emporio de Los Mendoza Matta
Word is that these guys are tied to some high profile people in Belize. Las empresas de los cuatro hermanos –originarios de Morales, Izabal– a quienes se les vincula con el crimen organizado, han obtenido contratos públicos por Q74.6 millones. Veinticinco empresas de los hermanos Mendoza Matta captaron Q74.6 millones en proveeduría a municipalidades y organizaciones del noroeste del país, durante una década. Así se resume una de las facetas de esta familia vinculada con el narcotráfico y crimen organizado en Izabal y Petén. El portafolio corporativo de las 25 empresas de los Mendoza Matta incluye constructoras, gasolineras, transportes, hoteles, restaurantes y distribuidoras de productos agrícolas, entre otras. El pujante desarrollo empresarial podría ser, en opinión de dos analistas, un mecanismo para blanquear dinero de origen ilícito.

I fell off the wagon at Casa Picasso
I knew from the moment I saw Jackie’s facebook post for this weeks Cassa Picasso tasting menu that I was at risk for falling off the clean eating wagon. (See her post in italicized text below). Not all of our table did the special menu as it had a couple rounds of seafood on it, but those of us that did were willing to share some of the other bits like bacon jam mac and buffalo fingers. Kryptonite in hand, we instantly had them salivating in their seats and wishing they had a plate both those items in front of them. With desert we enjoyed a chorus of happy birthday and a foodie discussion about the history of putting cheese on apple pie. Apparently it is a northern thing, usually from New England. What a great night and this morning I was still satisfied and back happily on the wagon :) Ever wonder what chefs like to eat on their night’s off or after their own restaurant closes?…..Well here is your chance….This Thursday is “Tasting Thursday” and in honor of Chef Ben’s Birthday this Thursday, Chef Ben is preparing 5 of his favorite dishes to eat in a wonderful, flavorful 5 course, tasting menu. Of course, if you know a chef, you will be surprised at what they eat and what they make for themselves…..it is not all Foie Gras and Cherries Jubilee.

International Sourcesizz

Ocean Trash: 5.25 Trillion Pieces and Counting, but Big Questions Remain
Plastic, plastic, everywhere: The world's oceans are full of discarded trash that degrades and sinks, or drifts ashore at places like Turneffe Atoll in Belize. The numbers are staggering: There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. Scientists call these statistics the "wow factor" of ocean trash. The tallies, published last year in three separate scientific papers, are useful in red-flagging the scope of the problem for the public. But beyond the shock value, just how does adding up those rice-size fragments of plastic help solve the problem? Although scientists have known for decades about the accumulating mass of ocean debris and its deadly consequences for seabirds, fish, and marine animals, the science of sea trash is young and full of as-yet unsolved mysteries. Almost nothing was known about the amount of plastic in remote regions of the Southern Hemisphere, for example, until last year because few had ever traveled there to collect samples.

CTO, IMF differ on direction of Caribbean tourism
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the International Monetary Fund seem to differ on the direction of Caribbean tourism. In a recent report from the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), CTO Chairman Richard Sealy, says research has shown that the Caribbean is moving in the right direction as it relates to cruise visits, long-stay arrivals and tourism spend. He said the unrelenting efforts of the CTO member countries, the CTO and partners in the private sector, combined to produce these positive results. Mr. Sealy who is also Barbados' tourism minister, said adjustments to the United Kingdom's Air Passenger Duty (APD) were among the hallmarks for the CTO in 2014. However, the IMF said in a recent report that a study examining what is driving the tourism flows in the Caribbean has found that the region’s share of the global tourism market is declining. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Working Paper titled “Revisiting Tourism Flows to the Caribbean: What is Driving Arrivals,” finds that tourism arrivals and expenditure are sensitive to both price and income factors in source markets; price and income elasticities of tourism have declined since 2008 and that price elasticity is statistically insignificant for “high-end” destinations. - See more at: http://www.winnfm.com/news/local/11062-cto-imf-differ-on-direction-of-caribbean-tourism#sthash.04AiQIbN.dpuf

Kill A Lionfish, Save A Reef: How This Invasive Species Is Taking Over The Caribbean
When was the last time you heard conservationists urge you to go spearfishing? That’s what’s happening in Florida and the Caribbean as the Lionfish, an invasive species native to the Indo-Pacific region, has taken over coral reefs and other ecosystems, threatening to completely take over native fish populations. If you’re a California diver and interested in spearfishing, this may be the perfect opportunity to spear all you want, and help the environment in the process. A Brief History of the Lionfish Invasion: Lionfish have been a popular aquarium fish for a long time, and some believe the lionfish invasion started when Hurricane Andrew smashed a saltwater fish facility in 1992, releasing six adult lionfish into the ocean. Another theory is that aquarium fish may have been released by people looking to get rid of them, similar to the way the snake population has boomed in Florida’s Everglades. It’s also possible that it’s a combination of the two, with additional lionfish being released into the wild by others in the Atlantic and Caribbean over the years.


Amazing World of Human Echolocation, 9min. This Video will be used to raise funds for an Instructor from the World Access for the Blind from the USA to come to Belize, Central America to teach Blind people a unique technique called Flash Sonar or echolocation. This will give them more freedom and independence and help their families and the community they live in.
Belize 2014, 5min. Vacation to Placencia Belize, December 2014.
Caye Caulker, Belize Snorkel Sailing Trip w Raggamuffin Tours video, 2min. An amazing day of snorkeling on the barrier reef off the coast of Caye Caulker, Belize
Belize & Guatemala!, 6min.
BELIZE 2013 PIC SHOW, 26min. Highlights from Belize Trip


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