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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
, 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!
BELIZE 2013 PIC SHOW
, 26min. Highlights from Belize Trip