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#500160 - 01/21/15 11:02 AM Today's Belize News: January 21, 2015
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Specials and Events

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

Camp Belize 2015; Pickin’ in Paradise
One thing is for certain, these gregarious fans are hooked on music, and when they are not attending one of Walker’s concerts they are busy making music of their own! Pickin’ Parties pop up daily at local bars, such as Fido’s, Crazy Canucks, Carlo and Ernie’s Runway Bar, Lola’s Pub, Ambergris Brewing Company and Sandy Toes. These Walker Wonders really make fantastic music together and anyone who has the chance to listen to one of their jams is in for a real treat! Week one of Camp Belize ends of January 24th with the second Camp beginning on the 25th. Keep your ears open for Pickin’ Parties at the bars mentioned above, a great time indeed! Have a wonderful musical stay on La Isla Bonita Walker Wonders!

Defining Dance – Silvina Novelo de Moh
They say that dancing is more than just moving one’s body; it is a fundamental part of life and who a person is. Silvina Novelo de Moh is one of the few Belizeans that has made her life revolve around dancing. But not any kind of dancing, the 63-year-old is a proud Mestizo who has been teaching traditional cultural dances for the past 26 years. Affectionately known as “Tia Cheb”, she has taught many generations- including me- the traditional dances of one of Belize’s most vibrant cultures! Born on February 26 1951, Silvina is an original resident of the village of San Jose Nuevo Palmar, located in the outskirts of Orange Walk Town. Like anyone with a rural upbringing, Silvina learned all her skills from her mother, 99-year-old Dolorez Novelo, who is also a dancer. “My mother used to tell me about her experience dancing Mestizadas. I used to love hearing them, it got me excited [to dance too].”

Oceana Belize calls on the Government of Belize to create policies which protect Belizean livelihoods
Petroleum Department’s proposed policy on offshore oil weak on data, details, potential damage. In response to a document circulated to the NGO community on Monday, January 19th as the draft Petroleum Exploration Zones and Exploration Guidelines, Oceana Belize maintains that before any steps are taken to allow offshore exploration, the Government of Belize must ensure that tourism and fishing related jobs are protected; that an effective emergency response capacity is in place; that special places are safe from hazards and that it has provided a full, fair and public accounting, including the inherent risks involved with the oil industry, to the Belizean people.

Belize Sailing Association Elects New Board
The Belize Sailing Association (BzSA) is the popular NGO that developed the country’s Optimist dinghy sailing programme and promotes all recreational sailing. BzSA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday January 10, 2015, at St. Catherine Academy in Belize City. In attendance to fill by election all13 board positions for 2015 were 44 of the 150 association members.

Ambergris Today

Miss San Pedro and On Eagles Wings Ministries Look to Empower Women
At the inaugural event, special recognition awards were presented to three women for their hard work in empowering women in Belize. Kim Simplis-Barrow of the Inspiration Center was awarded for encouraging girls to become agents of change; Diana Shaw, chairperson of Child Development Fund Belize, was awarded for her advocacy & awareness of the publication Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Belize and Miss San Pedro Michelle Nuñez for her leadership in the community as a strong young woman. Michelle Nuñez’s SHINE Girl’s Club is a youth enrichment program for young girls. SHINE stands for Shaping Healthy Identities through Nurturing and Empowerment. Michelle says she will be working with girls between 13 and 16 to build up their self-esteem and motivate them to strive for a brighter future. Initially she plans to work closely with a small group of 15 participants and work on a program that will encompass sis main topics: Self-esteem/self-confidence, body image, sexual risk behavior, drugs and alcohol, decision making and communication skills/future goals and ambitions.

25 Years Ago: Growing Stages of Ambergris Caye -San Mateo
After the expansion phases of San Pedro Town took place in Boca del Rio and San Juan Areas, soon there was the need of still more lots for the residents of San Pedro. The subdivisions that followed were (3) San Pedrito, (4) San Pablo, (5) DFC, (6) Escalante Area, (7) San Marcos, and finally (8) San Mateo. Today I am going to focus in Area number 8 given the name San Mateo (section C in photographs) because it follows the topography of the photo generously contributed to Ambergris Today by Mr. Lucio Ayuso, a retired Belize City businessman and big friend of San Pedranos. Mr. Lucio Ayuso had his own family home in Belize City but also had his vacation home in San Pedro at the site currently owned by Spindrift Hotel. One would have believed that with the mistakes committed in San Juan and even San Pedrito our Town Board leaders would have learned the valuable lessons and not repeat them in future expansions but as sure as Abraham and Moses, the mistakes were repeated and even worsened. The area was partly subdivided and some parts not even subdivided, but the lots were given out mostly to poor people who came to San Pedro from the mainland and who did not have the resources to purchase expensive land from private individuals. All of this area was and still is marshland. I really don’t know why call it swampland when it is really swamp with no land.

Belize Fashion Week
Belize Fashion Week is ALREADY gearing up for 2015. The event has been scheduled for July 9 - 12. Model Search Auditions taking place soon. Click to read schedule and more information.

Flashbacks: The Burning of Don Juan Carnabal in San Pedro Village
Juan Carnabal was supposedly the name of the man in whose honor el Gran Carnabal de San Pedro was celebrated annually. On Ash Wednesday, the day after el Carnabal, an effigy of Don Juan was made using a pair of pants and shirt stuffed with seaweed and a coconut for its head. Don Juan Carnabal was paraded around town on a wheelbarrow or at times on the shoulder of two young men who were in the team that built it and organized a function in his honor. In the night at Central park the Last Will and Testament of Don Juan Carnabal was read to the public. Next week we shall publish a sample of Don Juan’s Last Will and Testament.

Amazon.com Features Mad Dogs Series Pilot Filmed in Belize
Like Netfix and Hulu, Amazon has been producing their own original shows, one which has made at all the way to Belize for filming. Last week, Amazon released its new list of pilot shows that can be viewed for free on their website. One of those shows is Mad Dogs, in which the first episode (pilot) was filmed and based in Belize. Amazon sums up Mad Dogs: When a group of underachieving 40-something friends gather in Belize to celebrate the early retirement of an old friend, a series of wild events unfold, exposing dark secrets, deception and even murder. Starring Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Billy Zane (Twin Peaks), Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) and Romany Malco (Weeds). Executive produced by Cris Cole and Shawn Ryan (The Shield).

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

BELPO's Gazette, edition 7. January 2015
Today I received BELPO's Gazette, edition 7, and would like to share with you all, hope you read and find interesting facts.

2015 TAIWAN SCHOLARSHIPS OPEN FOR APPLICATION
The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is pleased to announce that on Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 at 10:00AM at the Chateau Caribbean Hotel, Belize City, this Embassy and Belize-Taiwan ICDF Alumni Society in Belize will co-host the 2015 Scholarship Program Briefing for those who are interested in this year’s Taiwan scholarships. Starting from 2002, this Embassy has accepted and recommended numerous Belizean students to pursue their degrees from Bachelor, Master to Ph.D programs in Taiwan in various fields such as public health, agriculture, business administration, engineering and information and communication technology. Until 2014, totally 258 recipients are awarded and more than 120 persons have finished their study and returned to Belize to contribute their learning to Belize.

Belize Defence Force Recruitment Drive

Drug Peddler tries to bribe a good cop.
On Monday morning in Placencia, an officer conducted surveillance of a known drug peddler on the peninsula.The accused, though well known, has managed to talk himself out of the arrestable situations in Mango Creek. However, he was caught dealing drugs in Placencia but while the arresting officer was taking him to the station, he attempted one last chance at freedom with a bribe. As a result, on January 19th Dwayne Logan was charged with “Possession of Controlled Drugs”. Because he attempted to corrupt Police Constable 1358 Claudius Cardinez with $100.00USD for his release, officer Cardinez arrested him and charged him for "Attempting to Corrupt a Public Officer" Cardinez is well known for working with the youths in the surrounding villages. Good job Officer Claudius Cardinez.

BOLEDO DRAWING for Tuesday, January 20, 2015: 93. FANTASY 5: 22 36 28 2 18 N

ALBINO TAPIR?
Ya'axché rangers discovered interesting image captures of a white-snouted tapir on a camera trap deployed within Golden Stream Corridor Preserve. This rare footage captures another beautiful secret of the forest. Our question to the IUCN Tapir Specialist Group; could this could be evidence of albinism in the Baird's tapir?

Permanent Inventory Plot at Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve
The CSFI team would like to extend our most sincere appreciation and thanks to the Forest Department and most importantly to Mr. Usher who has taken his time off his schedule to educate our rangers with the techniques needed to create an inventory of the flora in Freshwater Creek and how to collect data needed to continue our forward march to the protection and renovation of our forest and also last but definitely not least Heron Moreno Jr, who despite the fact that he is a student, is always been willing to volunteer and help us in many different activities which are of great help to us.

Channel 7

Fears Mount For Missing Man From Roaring Creek
24 year old Roaring Creek Resident Emerson Daly is missing tonight - and there are growing fears about his wellbeing. He was last seen on Sunday and today police got a major lead when the car he was last seen driving was found abandoned on Mount Pleasant Road - between miles 46 and 47 on the George Price Highway. A farmer in the area reported that he saw the vehicle there this morning. Police recovered the car, but there was no sign of Daly. The car is the property of his uncle and he had borrowed it. Search team have been organized and they scoured the area in Mount Pleasant for more clues this afternoon, but found nothing. Tomorrow they will go search down by the river. Daly is the owner of his own business called Daly's Dream Creations and is very well known as a handyman in the village. We'll have an update on this story tomorrow.

Two Men Charged For BDF Private's Cruel Murder
Last night, we told you about the murder of 23 year-old BDF Volunteer Denver Villafranco. It happened on Saturday night when several men ambushed him, beat him up and fatally stabbed him. Well tonight, the men who police believe are his killers are at the Belize Central Prison, after they were taken to the Magistrate's Court today. They are brothers 38 year-old Orlando Staine, and 41 year-old Phil Staine, and they were arraigned this morning before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith on the single charge of murder. They were denied bail and remanded; Chief Magistrate Smith remanded them until February 25. As we told you, Villafranco was walking on Complex Avenue just before 7:30 on Saturday night, and when he arrived at the Sunflower Street intersection, 3 men ambushed him. One of the men clubbed him over the head with a crowbar, another slashed him in the abdomen and stabbed him several times in the chest, and the other punched him several times. They left him lying in a drain, and that's when police arrived and tried to rush him to the KHMH for medical treatment. He died 10 minutes later while undergoing surgery.

UDP + Dr. Carla B.
Political circles have been buzzing all day about a mystery UDP Press Conference tomorrow. An invitation sent out this afternoon only refers to, quote, "an announcement on party matters" by party Leader Dean Barrow. But what will he announce? Well, we heard it's a new political candidate for the party - but yesterday the Prime Minister very deliberately dodged our question:.. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "This is a party, a UDP press conference, not a government of Belize." Jules Vasquez "I've heard that a bog announcement will be made about a new candidate." Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "Indeed." Jules Vasquez "You care to share?" Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "No sir, I don't. That will take all the fun out of the press conference."

Fair Trade Threats
Last night, we showed you the comments from Oscar Alonzo, the CEO of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, about the current situation with Fairtrade - which is an arm of the European Union. He told the media that he hopes that when the auditors from Fairtrade come in that they consider why the farmers chose to use the money in the way they did, even though it clearly not compliant with the standards. Well today, Seven News got copy of a letter sent to the association from Jon Walker, Sugar Manager of Fairtrade Foundation. It's dated January 8, and in it, Walker discusses the disbursement of 6.5 million dollars of Fairtrade premiums. He says, quote, "I write to…express the concern of the Fairtrade Foundation at the continued viability of the BSCFA compliance with Fairtrade Standards." End quote. Addressing the issue that the farmers may be justified because of the sugar crisis which ended yesterday, Walker says, "While respecting the rights of the membership of BSCFA to decide on their future participation in Fairtrade, and understanding that Belizean sugar industry is going through a turbulent period, I would urge you all to consider the potential impact to BSCFA by leaving Fairtrade."

Stevedores Stand With Sugar
And staying with sugar, the cane season is scheduled to begin in earnest next week - which is good news for the farmers, but also for those further down the line: the Belize City stevedores. They work the sugar ships - which works out to a very lucrative take. So, with the delayed start of the season - and a possibly shortened season - they stand to lose money. But yesterday, we found two leading stevedore sin Belmopan protesting with the cane farmers against the deal that was signed. We asked them why:... Deon Pitter, Stevedore "Which multi investor comes to this country and treat us nice? For the past two years we are getting 107 million dollars from sugar cane. Do you believe we would be getting that same figure with those multinational people in control?"

Even In Defeat, Ortega Stands Strong
And while they were there to support Alfredo Ortega, Lucilo Teck, Javier Keme and their own Christian Workers Union President Audrey Matura Shepherd - Ortega has his own difficult questions to answer. He stands to be on the wrong side of the history as the season has started and a 7 year agreement has been signed - yet even yesterday he was still protesting against it. Here's what the media had for him yesterday:.. Reporter "Sir, how do you answer the criticism that today you are wasting these people time, you are wasting your time because this protest will lead to nothing?" Alfredo Ortega, Director, Orange Walk Branch, B.S.C.F.A "No, that's not true. We are not wasting anybody's time. I think that these people that are here, they are fighting for their rights. In this case, we have the government siding with ASR/BSI and that is why things has happen as they are. Farmers are being chanced and there are many farmers at this point don't realize what would be the end result of this, but believe me you, that in the future, you will see things happening and you will see how many famers will become slaves instead of farmers."

Tough Questions For Teck
We also had some tough questions for Lucilo Teck. He's the senior cane farmers who took the Sugar Industry Control Board to the Supreme Court - to ask for an order of mandamus - which would compel them to declare the season open. That effort backfired and ended up costing the farmers another two weeks before the season could start in earnest - when they ended up signing the very same agreement. And what's more by then the venerable cane farmers association had splintered. Here's what we asked him:.. Lucilo Teck, cane farmer "That was the plan of BSI to divide us from the beginning." Jules Vasquez "In deed the association is divided. But how much of responsibility for that rest with you, if you all hadn't run to challenge the resolution, then BSCFA would have signed as one hundred percent. But now it's broken up."

Will The Sugar Quota Of The Future Be Equitable?
But one thing that the so called radicals like Ortega and Teck agree on with the Prime Minister is that going forward, there must be equity in cane quotas. We're talking about the expected increased capacity of the BSI sugar mill - funded by ASR. IT will increase capacity - but who will get to supply it with more cane? Will it be the farmers of BSI itself? BSI is obviously in a better position since it has the money to expand. Yesterday Ortega raised concerns about this as did the Prime Minister:.. Alfredo Ortega, Director, Orange Walk Branch, B.S.C.F.A "We don't want this to happen that the manufacturers will have that opportunity to outbreak with production when every acre that the producer would plant, that means one acre less for the farmers. We are here to fight for the benefit of the farmers, so that the manufacturer stops planting and the farmers be the ones to control all the production that is needed for the plant."

OCEANA Warns About Reef
Three delegates from the UNESCO World Heritage Center are in Belize to talk about the protection of the Belize Barrier Reef. The main objective is to get Belize's Barrier Reef off a 2009 list of endangered sites. There are multiple threats facing the Barrier Reef and OCEANA along with its UNESCO partners is trying to inform the public as well as the government about the detrimental effects the damage or erosion of the Barrier Reef will have on the country. They told us more today:.. Janelle Channona, Vice President OCEANA "So in 2009, the government was informed that the Belize Barrier Reef system was being placed on this site's endanger list and the threats identified included sale and development within the immediate vicinity of the world heritage site. As you know 7 sites make up the world heritage site system in Belize. They extend from Bachalar Chico in the north all the way down to southern waters.

Oil Exploration Guideline Released - OCEANA, COLA Object
And OCEANA also sent out a release expressing its disappointment with the Petroleum Exploration Zones and Exploration Guidelines - which was circulated in draft form today from the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities. OCEANA says that the document is weak on data, short on details and could cause damage to the environment. The release says quote "Oceana Belize maintains that before any steps are taken to allow offshore exploration, the government of Belize must ensure that tourism and fishing related jobs are protected and that an effective emergency response capacity is in place." COLA also sent out a release today saying the booklet sets out four zones for petroleum exploration, encompassing nearly all of the territory of Belize, but in only one of these zones is any sort of exploration restricted - namely the Maya Mountains and portions of Stann Creek and Toledo Districts and the extreme northern tip of Ambergris Caye.

NTUCB Pres Dylan A No-Show Again
Yesterday in Belmopan, the NTUCB went out to Belmopan to support the cane farmers. But considering the NTUCB is a large umbrella group covering thousands of workers, only a few executive members were on the stairs of the national assembly in Belmopan. And that did not include the president Dylan Reneau who again was a no show. We asked why:.. Marvin Mora, 2nd VP - NTUCB "Dylan Reneau, I think his office is right over there. You can interview him and ask him. But as for the National Trade Union Congress, we are on the verge of going to elections and that will happen right at the end of this month in Caye Caulker when we are going to have our AGM. So, at the end of the day, its up to the general membership to decide how we are going to deal with this issue. But for right now let Dylan answers for Dylan." Mike Rudon, CH5 "Do you feel that at that AGM, at the end of that AGM, Dylan Reneau will still be president of the NTUCB?"

Schoolteacher Gets Off Carnal Knowledge Charge
37 year-old Cordel Gonzalez, who was a teacher at Edward P. Yorke High School, walked out of the Supreme Court a free man today after the prosecution withdrew 2 counts of carnal knowledge against him. He was accused of having sex with an underage student in November 2009. She formally reported that Gonzalez took her to his house on 2 occasions and had sex with her. He was charged in connection with that report, but today, when his case was called up before Justice Adolph Lucas, Crown Counsel Portia Staine informed the court that the prosecution cannot proceed against him. She entered a nolle pros, meaning that if any new evidence emerges against Gonzalez, he can be criminally prosecuted once again in the future.

DOE Teaches How To Massage The Media For Your Message
Two weeks ago we reported on the Department of Environment's workshop for the media at the Baboon Sanctuary. Today the department held part two of this workshop at the Radisson - and this time it was for public officers - so that they could learn about the process of newsgathering. Why is this relevant to their field of work? Well, according to Communications Consultant Daedra Haylock, if environmental officers understand and appreciated the work 'we' do, there will be a more fluid and efficient flow of information on environmental topics to the public. She told us how this session will achieve that. Daedra Haylock, Communications Consultant "The first half focused on the media and how to inform them on what is going on - on the environment, department official's standpoint. This part is focusing on the government officials, trying to make them be equip for working with the media, so that they can understand the dynamics of working with the media, the dynamics of the media in Belize and help them to prepare and understand the work of new gathering and the work of media management and the work of that whole process of assembling a newscast.

City Police Chief Confidence Building On Southside
Assistant Commissioner of Police Dezerie Phillips, the officer commanding Eastern Division, was out on La Croix Boulevard in the Lake Independence Area today meeting and greeting the citizens today. ACP Phillips was reaching out to residents in a crime ridden area trying to reassure them that the police department is making its best effort to keep them safe. She told us that the residents have taken notice that the patrols have been focused on known hotspots in the city: ACP Dezerie Phillips, Officer Commanding Eastern Division "This is an ongoing efforts that we are making across the city. It has been on for some months now. We are just intensifying our efforts. This is a daily effort in all the precincts where we have our police officers go out into the community and speak to the public. Just trying to find out what are some of their concerns, what incidents that have been occurring to them. We also wanted to know what are some of the things we can do that could make the public feel safer and also to improve the quality of service that we offer to the community and as well we ask the community what can they do to assist us in making their community a safer one."

Who Gave The Order On Nuri?
Last week when it was taking a public pounding for creating the circumstances the led up to the breakup of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, the Barrow Administration sent out Ministers Wilfred Elrington and Godwin Hulse to put out government's side of the story. So on Wednesday morning, they went to the LOVE FM Morning show where they explained the position at length. The hosts that morning were Ava Diaz Sosa and Carmen Barrow. Absent was regular Nuri Mohammed. He has since said on KREM Radio that he was taken off the show that morning at government's request. Yesterday the media asked the Prime Minister who gave the order:... Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "Certainly did not ask for Mr. Mohammed to be pulled from hosting the show. No, the two persons, the two ministers in particular, who were the guests that morning are more than equal to Mr. Mohammed, so that would have been pointless, really would have been counterproductive."

Enter Hon. Omar
And one last bit of news that came out of Belmopan yesterday is the swearing in of new member of the House, Omar Figueroa, the representative for Cayo North. He is the eighteenth member on the government side - if you include Elvin Penner who was still lurking around at the far end of the UDP back bench. Figueroa was gracious to his opponents in his first remarks before the house:..

Channel 5

Family of Missing Roaring Creek Resident Fears the Worst
The family of a missing Roaring Creek resident fears the worst tonight. Twenty-four year old Emerson Daly took off on Sunday in a vehicle belonging to his uncle promising to [...]

Staine Sibling Arraigned for Murder of B.D.F. Volunteer
Two brothers have been arraigned for Saturday’s murder of B.D.F. volunteer, Denver Villafranco. The siblings, Orlando and Phil Tyrone Staine from the Saint Martin De Porres area appeared before Chief [...]

UNESCO officials assessing the endangered barrier reef system
The Belize Barrier Reef was placed on an endangered list by UNESCO since 2009 and it remains on that list tonight. But we can report that a delegation from UNESCO’s [...]

OCEANA Says UNESCO Visit Opens Opportunity to Dialogue
Over the past five years, there has been continuous degradation of the reef.  Concessions have been granted for offshore oil exploration and mega tourism developments within the reef system are [...]

Is the Sugar Industry Better Off with the Amendments to the Sugar Act?
And our question tonight is: Do you think the sugar industry is better off with the amendments to the Sugar Act allowing for the formation of splinter associations? Send your [...]

COLA Sounds Alarm Over Petroleum Exploration Zones
The Geology and Petroleum Department has circulated a document entitled Petroleum Exploration Zones and Exploration Guidelines. The department claims that it “recognized the need for a framework aimed at harmonizing [...]

Where is the President Dylan Reneau of the N.T.U.C.B.?
When the N.T.U.C.B. hosted a press conference last week to express support for the farmers, President Dylan Reneau was conspicuously absent. Inquisitive by nature, we asked for an explanation and [...]

Janae Matute Receives 1st Installment From G.O.B.
News Five is especially pleased tonight to report that the government has started making good on payments due to young student, Janae Matute. Matute was born with cerebral palsy which [...]

Former EP Yorke teacher Acquitted of Carnal Knowledge Charges
In late 2009, the then E. P. Yorke Teacher, Cordel Gonzalez, was charged with two counts of Carnal Knowledge upon a fourteen year old student. He lost his job after [...]

24 Year Old Charged in Anti-Drug Operation
  Twenty-five year old Cassian Young was charged today for the Possession of a Controlled Drug with Intent to Supply to Another. Young was intercepted by police in the area [...]

Is Carla Barnett the New U.D.P. Standard Bearer for Freetown?
The prime minister has called a press briefing at U.D.P. headquarters Wednesday morning. Well, the invitation has been causing a stir since it was circulated. Sources tell News Five tonight [...]

Government Provides $2 Million for Sugar Roads
All stakeholders in the sugar industry are no doubt under intense pressure to get factors in place for a successful crop season. For things to work, all parties – the [...]

Cane Fields of B.S.C.F.A.’s Finance Committee Chairman is Torched
The B.S.C.F.A.’s Finance Committee Chairman, Javier Keme, has been in the forefront of the move to hold off on signing the agreement with ASR/B.S.I.  It was an unsuccessful effort, largely [...]

Armed Robbers Escape with Vehicle
San Ignacio Police are seeking your help in locating a 1999 Honda CRV with license plate BMP-2024. The vehicle was stolen during an armed robbery in the Santiago Juan Layout [...]

What’s the future of Puerto Azul?
Remember the Puerto Azul Project…a proposed mega-tourism development within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll at Sandbore and Northern Cayes? It has been out of the headlines for quite some time, but [...]

Department of Environment Discusses New Communication Strategy
Two weeks ago, on January eighth, 2015, the Department of Environment and its partner agencies embarked on a new communication strategy with a workshop held for media representatives at the [...]

Remembering Andy…7 years after his passing
It’s been seven years since Andy Palacio, Belize’s musical icon, passed away. Known across the world, Palacio put Belize on the map and left a rich legacy of the Garifuna [...]

CTV3

Ambassador Paola Amadei is in Belize, A Number of Ground Breakings Take Place
Government has concluded several European Union funded project and this week head of the delegation for the European Union to Belize, Ambassador Paola Amadei is in the country to visit these projects as see their inauguration. On the nineteenth she attended the inauguration of the Benque Viejo del Carmen market and today attended a similar ceremony at the Belmopan market. Both projects were completed under the Belize Rural Development Program, BRDP. Also under the BRDP, officials broke ground today for the construction of a Metrological Laboratory at the Belize Bureau of Standards. The laboratory which is being developed with a budget of BZ$2.35 million will be key in ensuring that the measuring standards used in the country's commercial trade meets the official international standards. Other projects to be inaugurated this week include three craft markets rehabilitated on the archaeological sites of Nim Li Punit, Labantuun and Blue Creek and also the official opening of the San Lazaro to August Pine Ridge road which was rehabilitated under the Accompanying Measures for Sugar.

Rotary Corozal Seeks New Members
Here in Belize the Rotary Clubs are under the umbrella of Rotary District 4250, which comprises of clubs from Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. Here at home the oldest club is Rotary Belize which houses the Belmopan, Corozal, Dangriga, Orange Walk, Placencia, and San Ignacio clubs. The members of each club take pride in serving their community by carrying out projects and vocational commitments but there is always more that needs to be done but not enough hands to get the job done. And that is the problem that the Rotary Club of Corozal is currently facing, a shortage of membership. Wanting to turn things around, today the club launched a campaign to recruit more members.

BTIA O/W Chapter Holds AGM
The Belize Tourism Industry Association Orange Walk Chapter held its Annual General Meeting last night. We were present for the event and here are a few highlights of the occasion. Dalila Ical – Reporting There are currently seventeen members under the BTIA Orange Walk Chapter and on the night of January nineteenth, the chapter met for its annual general meeting. The election of officers was part of the agenda but it was also a time for the chapter to take a look at achievements over the last year. It was a financially challenging one said outgoing chair Osmani Salas but the chapter’s membership persevered. “Well, things have been tight our members in Orange Walk have always come through to make sure that we keep operating so even though they pay their annual fee many of our members from their own pockets contribute on keeping our chapter and our information center open so one positive thing I think we can mention and another positive development of the Chapter here is that we set up a partnership with Oceana Belize and they are planning to undertake a national public awareness campaign to promote importance and the value of the marine realm and they agreed to engage our chapter in Orange Walk to represent them and carry out their work in Orange Walk so we expect that partnership to start from this month or the latest next month and that will bring some resources that will help our Chapter to do more work in Orange Walk,”

Member of Fort George Says We are Going Back To Dictatorship
Our coverage of the House of Representatives ends with a snippet from Member for Fort George, Honourable Said Musa who also was stern but composed on his points to the Amendments of the Sugar Industry Act. Musa made reference to Hitler as he chastised GOB’s move as a dictatorship type of leadership for the country. This comes after of course, Barrow called him “senile” in the honourable House. “For the Prime Minister to tell this nation, well yes maybe they could have set it and maybe the court could have ordered it. But how can the court order anything to be done when the court doesn’t have an army, doesn’t have a police to inform it? Mister Prime Minister last time I heard that said it was by Hitler in Nazi, Germany…that the courts don’t have no power, only the government. We have the political power. That is the clear sign of this country sliding into a dictatorship.

Muffles High School Has A New Auditorium
We have followed the development taking place at Muffles High School over the last few months and today we can tell you that the institution boasts of a new auditorium, which though not fully completed, was used for the first time by the entire school faculty and students. In what the school calls a soft launching, they held their first activity this morning at the auditorium that sits within the school compound. Following a brief ceremony the ribbon was cut and the building blessed by Father Oliver Smalls. The project is being overseen by the Building Committee consisting of Rosendo Urbina Sr., Armando Vldez, Alvaro Alpuche and the Chair of the committee, Manuel Martin.

Will BSCFA Be Decertified By Fair Trade For Disbursement of 4 million dollars?
The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association now counts with 17 branches and 3088 members from the last count. While the association is trying to move ahead after 42% of its membership decided to join other associations, there is still a dark cloud looming over the group. As previously mentioned, the association is currently facing a suspension or even decertification from Fair Trade after its directors complied with the mandate of can farmers and disbursed four million dollars in Fair Trade funds among them. Directors were totally against the disbursement of the funds and one person that came under fire for allegedly not wanting to sign the checks is no other than Financial Controller for the BSCFA, Javier Keme. To date, even though he signed the checks, Keme still believes disbursing the funds was a huge mistake, one that should have never been committed and the Committee of Management should have never permitted.

More Drugs Confiscated In La Isla Bonita
Anti-drug operations keep yielding success stories for the police department in San Pedro Town. The latest incident occurred on Saturday evening when police visited the corner of Almond and Tarpon Streets and observed a tall male person of dark complexion dressed in a white T shirt and a green short pants standing on Chicken Drive Street. The person was observed going back and forth to a big tank in a yard and handing people something when they approached him. Police then conducted a search on the male person, however, nothing incriminating was found on him. A search was then conducted around the tank where police found a black plastic bag containing green leafy substance suspected to be Cannabis.

Orange Walk Central Area Rep. Outlines Assistance Given To Cane Farmers by the P.U.P
Tonight, while the impasse in the Sugar Industry finally blew over, or so it seems, much of what was said and done in the honourable House of Representatives yesterday involving amendments to the Sugar Industry Act is still fresh in the minds of many Belizeans. The debate was highly scrutinized by the opposition and other entities that stood against what they call the imposing actions of the Government. From the opposition’s perspective, cane grower and member for Orange Walk Central John Briceno gave a highly compelling argument that resulted in acknowledgement from Prime Minister Dean Barrow calling Briceno’s presentation as one with “substance”. Most enthralling from Briceno’s speech was based on history and facts that past PUP administrations have done a lot more than what people think to benefit all stakeholders in the Sugar Industry.

GSIP Sees Number of Hurdles
The last report that was made on the Guadalupe Street Improvement Project, “GSIP” was sometime last year when Osmany Salas, member of the GSIP shared the good news that the Minister of Finance had decided to waive the GST from the contract which would leave the committee with approximately $30,000.00 in pocket to invest in the project. We were also made to understand that Orange Walk Mayor Kevin Bernard and the Orange Walk Town Council had assigned all property taxes, trade license and liquor license from the area into the committee’s account. In an interview with Osmany Salas last night, we asked him for an update on the development of the project. “It is all about finances and unfortunately we haven’t receive the support we expected or we would have wanted, a few residence have made their contributions, quite a few have been paying their taxes not all of them and that is one of the ways that the residence could help the project by ensuring that their taxes are paid on time, their property taxes etc. a few businesses have offered to pay in advance so what we did we sent out letters of request for sponsorship to a number different businesses and there hasn’t been a response, we need to follow-up.”

Honorable Mai Defends the BSCFA
Another vocal participant in the House of Representatives siding with farmers was member for Orange Walk South, Abelardo Mai. Mai defended the mother umbrella organization of the farmers, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. His points delved from production growth, social and economic programs to fertilizing fields in a timely manner. And whilst the Sugar Industry is a pivotal productive sector for the North, Mai’s argument was that no foreign entity should come in and bully Belizeans from what is truly theirs, citing that farmers should be the real owners of the assets in this country. “A slanderous remark for merely political and malicious intentions like the Association has spent millions of Fair Trade money and has nothing to show for it, it is a complete fabrication, it is completely deceitful and nothing close to the truth, the record speaks for itself Mr Speaker, through the Associations Fair Trade premiums productivity grew from 980,000 tons of sugar cane in 2008 to 1.4 million tons of sugar cane we have today the mill is practically choking with so much cane that we have Mr speaker,....”


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#500161 - 01/21/15 11:03 AM Re: Today's Belize News: January 21, 2015 [Re: Marty]
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LOVE FM

Delegate Suggestions; Would it Benefit Cane Farmers?
Yesterday the House of Representatives met to introduce a bill to amend the Sugar Industry Act to “bring the Act into conformity with the Belize Constitution; to secure to all Cane Farmers the freedom to belong to an Association of their own choice; to facilitate the commencement of the grinding seasons in a fair and equitable manner”. Three Cane Farmers have signed an agreement with the Belize Sugar Industries and American Sugar refinery and it is expected that the crop will start soon. At yesterday’s House Meeting, PUP’s Area Representative for Orange Walk Central made five suggestions to the Government of Belize that would benefit the Cane Farmers. JOHNNY BRICENO “I think that the Government needs to pass legislation to allow Cane Farmers to be represented on a sugar marketing committee. Why do I say that? For so long the Cane Farmers have been saying that when they deliver their cane and BSI processes that cane into sugar they take it on their own and give it to their parent company which was Tate and Lyle and now to ASR to sell the sugar and we don’t know if t they get the best price, we don’t know if that is the price or if they could get a better price or a lower price we don’t know that but to avoid the suspicion that has been growing up in the Industry.

PM Oppose Suggestions From PUP Delegate
It is expected that the sugar cane crop season will soon start since four cane farmers association have signed the agreement with BSI/ASR. Each association will have to reach its quota or the amount of cane it should deliver every month. The Sugar Industry control Board, SICB, is expected to properly regulate that matter. However there is still the issue BSI/ASR growing its own cane. At yesterday’s Sitting of the House of Representatives, Orange Walk Central Area Representative, John Briceno, made five suggestions that he says would be in favor of the cane farmers. One of those suggestions is to have the government limit the amount of cane BSI/ASR produces to have milled. Prime Minister Dean Barrow says he cannot do so and explained why: PRIME MINISTER HON. DEAN BARROW “There is no way we can put a cap on BSI’s quota since we are talking particularly about BSI. The job of the sugar cane production committee is to allocate quotas and to maintain the balance, to ensure that the farmers are able to increase their quota allocations as capacity increases but since the potential for capacity increase is almost limitless depending merely on how much money ASR is prepared to spend I don’t think it would be fair to say that BSI’s quota can never increase.

Staine Brothers Charged for BDF Volunteer’s Murder
Two brothers, 38 year old Orlando Staine and 41 year old Phil Staine, were charged with the murder of 22 year old BDF private Denver Villafranco, when they appeared today before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. They were remanded into custody until February 25. The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 17.According to reports, Villafranco was attacked by 4 men while he was at the corner of Sunflower Street and Complex Lane, about 150 yards from his home. Villafranco was hit on his head with a crowbar, his abdomen was slashed with a knife, he received multiple stab wounds to his chest, and he was punched and left lying in a drain. By the time the police arrived at the scene he was already dead. The fatality was preceded by an altercation which occurred while the deceased and a friend were drinking.

Where Is Puerto Azul Now?
Last year Love News told you about Puerto Azul, a multi-million dollars project, was designed to be built in Northern 2 Caye of Lighthouse Reef and is described as a mega project for the mega rich and fabulous. The environmental community and some NGO’s agencies announced its utmost concerned towards the project stating that it poses a risk to Belize’s Reef and other natural resources. Love News spoke to Chief Environmental Officer of the Department of Environment, Martin Alegria, who gave us an update on this matter. MARTIN ALEGRIA “From the department of the environment’s perspective what we are responsible for is the environmental screening. As far as I recall last year we had developed a terms of reference for an EIA to be developed. At that stage it is up to the developers/ investor, the ball is in their court where the development of that report should be done in accordance to that terms of reference and that is where we are up to now where a lot of the ground work, studies and research should be conducted and underway in order to develop that EIA report.”

Grounds Broken for New Sporting Facility in Western Belize
On Monday ground was broken for the Hilltop Project in Belmopan. That is one of the sports projects that will be implemented by the Belize Infrastructure Limited. On hand for the special ceremony was area representative and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar. “This is going to be our main facility for a few years to come and so it is going to receive a covering over the basketball portion of this facility and the tennis portion will be renovated including the flooring and lights. Here at this side of the court we will Belmopan Sporting Complexbe receiving covering as I said and fixing up of the court and lighting facilities as well.

Nolle Prosequi in Carnal Knowledge Case; Teacher vs Student
A nolle prosequi, indicating that the prosecution cannot proceed, was entered today in the court of Justice Adolph Lucas in the case of 37-year-old, Cordel Gonzalez, who was charged with 2 counts of carnal knowledge on a female child. Crown counsel Portia Staine, who entered the nolle prosequi, said that the reason was because the complainant lives abroad and she has difficulty travelling to Belize. Gonzalez was not represented by any attorney.The first count occurred on November14, 2009 and the second count occurred on November 27. At the time Gonzalez was a teacher at Edward P Yorke High School. The complainant was a student. The girl, accompanied by her mother, went to the police station and the girl reported that Gonzalez took her to his house on 2 occasions and had sex with her. According to a report, it was a video that alerted the school about the affair.

DOE Aims For Better Partnership With Media and Government Entities
The Department of Environment held their second workshop session at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. The main focus of today’s worship is building better relationship with the Media and Government entities. Love News spoke to Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer in the Department of Environment. MARTIN ALEGRIA “We have decided from late last year decided to embark on a program to try to sensitize first and then build partnership with the media in general and at the end try to develop a communication’s strategy in order to keep that partnership and strengthen it as years go by. What we are trying to achieve here is to have our staff in key government agencies prepared to know how to deal with technical issues in a professional manner with the media as partners rather than rivals.

Police News: Marijuana Possession
Forty three year old Edwardo Jones was arrested and charged for the crime of possession of controlled drugs. Police say that on Saturday evening, they noticed Jones at the corner of Almond and Tarpon Streets in San Pedro Town. He was reportedly seen handing something to several persons who approached him. Police immediately approached him, conducted a search on his person but nothing incriminating was found on him. A search was then conducted around the tank where police found a black plastic bag containing marijuana. The drug was taken to San Pedro Police Station and weighed. It amounted to 8.0 grams.

PlusTV

Man still missing since Sunday; vehicle found with traces of blood
An upcoming entrepreneur from the Village of Roaring Creek, Cayo District, is missing since Sunday, and the family’s hopes of ever seeing him alive again are wearing thin. According to reports, 24 year old Emerson Daly was last seen on Sunday at around 8 pm when he left Roaring Creek in his uncle’s vehicle, a grey Pathfinder, en route to Belmopan. The family reports seeing him in the company of another person who they could not identify. “He borrowed my uncle’s vehicle, because his one was giving him trouble. He told my uncle he would be back in 15 minutes. He won’t take long. He just went to deal with something at Belmopan. He didn’t say what. He just said he would be back in 15 minutes. He had on his white undershirt and a khaki pants and his slippers. If he went out somewhere he would dress decent, ’cause he’s not that person[who] will have on regular clothes.”

A closer look at the new sugar legislation
On Monday we saw the passing of new Sugar Industry legislation, to assist in propelling the industry out of an impasse between the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and the American Sugar Refineries/ Belize Sugar Industries. With the delay of the crop season and an agreement not forthcoming between the farmers and the miller, Government stepped in to allow for associations other than the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) to negotiate with Belize Sugar Industries for delivery of sugar cane to the Tower Hill factory. More than five years ago, the Supreme Court of Belize had ordered, by consent, that the Sugar Industry Act be amended. The Government did not comply then but with the circumstances being what they are now, Government went to the House on Monday to do just that. It was rushed through the house on Monday, with the opposition complaining that it was not enough time to analyze the amendment.

Teacher beats carnal knowledge charge
A nolle prosequi, indicating that the prosecution cannot proceed, was entered on Tuesday in the court of Justice Adolph Lucas in the case of 37 year old Cordel Gonzalez, who was charged with 2 counts of carnal knowledge of a female child. Crown counsel Portia Staine, who entered the nolle prosequi, said that the reason was because the complainant lives abroad and she has difficulty travelling to Belize. Cordel Gonzalez was not represented by any attorney. The first count occurred on November14, 2009 and the second count occurred on November 27. At the time Mr Gonzalez was a teacher at Edward P Yorke High School. The complainant was a student.

Amendment to the Sugar Act in the House of Representatives
All’s well that ends well, says the Government of Belize, after seeing the near collapse of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, and seeing the impasse in the sugar industry through. On Monday the parliamentarians met at the House of Representatives in Belmopan to discuss and pass forthwith the long overdue amendment to the sugar act. The bill secures to all cane farmers the freedom to belong to any association. As we have reported, since the splintering of the BSCFA, two other independent associations have come forth: the Progressive Sugar Producers Association or PSPA and the Corozal Sugar Producers Association or CSPA- who had representation at Monday’s house sitting. The amendment bill was introduced by the Area Representative for Orange Walk North and Minister of Agriculture Hon. Gaspar Vega, after which it was put on the table for it to be debated with some good old finger pointing.

Sugar cane farmers protest outside National Assembly Building
Meanwhile outside of the house was a protest by a handful of cane farmers and their supporters; estimated at a bit above 50. Also there were members of National Trade Union Congress of Belize and members of third party Vision Inspired by the People, who showed up in solidarity with Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. Attorney Audrey Matura-Sheppard addressed the accusation made by the Prime Minister that Attorney Matura-Shepherd’s advise to the farmers to go to court was misleading and a waste of the “How can it be a waste of time, when the that cases that we’ve tried to have too have been denounced by the Government and on complete lies? For example: When we went to Court to get the permission for mandamus, when I was at the General Assembly, I never told the cane farmers the day we go to court, there and then we will get the ruling. I told them we had to a permission stage, and that we were asking for the Court to hear the matter by the Tuesday or the Wednesday. However, we got the hearing on the Friday, and I told them at the permission stage, we would ask for the entire case to be heard within ten days. We did all of that at the Court.

BSCFA met with General Assembly upon demand of BSI
In the backdrop of Monday’s events, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association met with their General Assembly on Sunday, at the request of BSI/ASR, to get the approval from their general membership to sign the agreement and put an end to this long saga of the impasse in the sugar industry. As was expected, the meeting was short and to the point. The voting was cast and the majority said yes to the agreement. After the meeting we spoke with Chairman Ezequiel Cansino, who has been the target of much criticism. “”We just came to get an approval from the membership to go ahead and sign the agreement with BSI. We came straight to the point and the cane farmers responded as positive as we expected. We don’t have anything else to do today, but only that we will inform BSI, and try our best to sign as soon as possible tomorrow. As from tomorrow, we decide to work on the list, because we have to clear our list from the other members who have already joined other associations. So we have to clean this list, so as we can get clearly how many cane farmers will stay with us, and how much is the amount of production that we will be manageing.”

Omar Figueroa recites oath at National Assembly
Also on the agenda of Monday’s sitting of the House of Representatives was the swearing in of Dr. Omar Figueroa as the duly elected Area Representative for the Cayo North Division, following his landslide victory at the January 5th bi-elections. An elated Omar Figueroa walked into the House of Representatives for the first time on Modday, greeted by a tumultuous applause by his supporters sitting in the galleries. He recited his oath and was then given a chance to speak. “I rise, Mister Speaker, today with great pride and on behalf of the people of Cayo North. As a person born and raised in San Ignacio Town within the constituency of Cayo North, it is indeed an honor and privilege to now hold this seat in parliament. I am grateful and indeed humbled by the overwhelming vote of confidence that the wonderful folks of Cayo North clearly expressed.

BDF volunteer stabbed and killed
Residents of Police Street, Belize City, are puzzled as to why attackers targeted 23 year old Denver Villafranco, a Belize Defence Force (BDF) volunteer soldier, on Saturday night around 7:20 p.m. According to police, Mr Villafranco was found lying motionless on the street, with an apparent stab wound to the right side of the abdomen. He had been walking on Complex Avenue about 20 minutes earlier,headed in the direction of Mahogany Street, when three men attacked and caused his fatal injury. He died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital while undergoing treatment within 10 minutes of the incident. As police investigations continue, the street’s residents mourn the loss of a man described as a “peacemaker” in the area, someone who could be depended on. Unfortunately, his last act of peacemaking may have led to his death, as described by an area resident and friend of his who we spoke to off-camera.

Body of missing woman found in San Pedro
22 year old Silvia Carmen Benites was reported missing last week, when reports are that she was last seen on a beach drinking with a number of men. After that, she was not seen or heard from. However, Miss Benites’ body was unexpectedly found in an area north of San Pedro town on Saturday afternoon. According to authorities, passersby in the area, three and a half miles north of San Pedro town, smelled a stench in the area and upon making checks, discovered the nude body of the Honduran national, in a muddy pond at the side of the road. Police say that a post mortem examination revealed that Sivia Benites’ body has multiple blunt force injuries to the right side of the face, the neck, and the back. They also found restraining type injuries to the shoulders and inner thigh. Due to the state of decomposition, the cause of death could not be determined.

Amandala

4 killers used knife, crowbar on BDF volunteer
Private Denver Villafranco, a 22-year-old soldier of the Belize Defence Force Volunteer Battalion, B Company, in Belize City, died after he was attacked by four men who hit him in the head with a crowbar, slashed the right side of his abdomen with a 4-inch knife, exposing his intestines and stabbed him in the chest multiple times, after which Villafranco was punched, kicked, and beaten by the men, who then left him in a drain and ran away. The incident occurred at about 7:30 Saturday night at the corner of Sunflower Street and Complex Lane in Lake Independence, just about 150 yards from his home. When police found him in the drain, Villafranco was already dead. A quick and intense investigation led to three men, who have been detained and police are on the hunt for the fourth person.

Bill to amend the Sugar Industry Act passed
Parliament today rushed the passage of controversial amendments to the Sugar Industry Act, Chapter 325 of the Laws of Belize, paving the way for two new sugar associations: the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association and the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association, to emerge as competing lobbying groups for cañeros in northern Belize, even as the fate of the vanguard association, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association (BSCFA), hangs in the balance. To date, the Government has resisted calls from cañeros to channel $4 million of PetroCaribe funds into the financially beleaguered organization to replenish Fairtrade monies that ought not to have been disbursed to farmers. The disbursement of those funds last week has compounded the association’s already deteriorating financial position, amid a new change introduced with the amendment that will remove a substantial revenue stream – the “cess,” a mandatory deduction from sugar payments normally paid to the BSCFA.

Body of missing San Pedro waitress found decomposing
Carolyn Sylvia Benitez, 28, of San Pedrito, San Pedro Town, a mother of three children who was working as a waitress at a restaurant in San Pedro, had been reported missing since Monday, January 12. Benitez, however, was found dead, her body in a state of decomposition, at about 11:30 Saturday morning on the road that runs through Grand Belizean Estates, in an uninhabited area about 3½ miles north of San Pedro Town. An autopsy conducted on her body was not able to conclusively determine the cause of her death, due to the advanced state of decomposition of the body. Benitez was last seen alive by her family on Sunday, January 11, before she left home to go to work. According to police, at about 9:30 Thursday night, January 15, Danilo Alvarenga, 36, visited the San Pedro Police Station and reported that on Wednesday, he received a call informing him that his common-law wife, Carolyn Sylvia Benitez, had been seen drunk at about 4:00 Monday morning, January 12, and that she was sitting on a bench with an alcoholic beverage in her hand in the company of four men, and that was the last time she was seen.

Cop charged with having sex with underage girl
Police officer Patrick O’Brien of the Independence police is presently remanded until April 14 on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse. He was taken to the Independence Magistrate’s Court on Monday, where he was arraigned on the charge. No plea was taken from him. The allegation against him is that he had sex with an under-aged girl, 15, in June last year, 2014, at the Police Barracks in Independence. Police said that on Monday, the girl and her mother made the report to police, and that same Monday, the officer was later arrested and charged with carnal knowledge, a charge that was later changed to unlawful sexual intercourse.

Convicted rapist and kidnapper beats murder rap
An Orange Walk man who was convicted of two counts of rape, kidnapping, unnatural crime and is serving a 13-year prison sentence was acquitted of a murder indictment in the Orange Walk Session of the Supreme Court late Thursday evening, January 15, after a jury of 7 women and 5 men deliberated for four and a half hours before returning a unanimous not guilty verdict. In 2005, Mark Vega, 39 and Luis Urbina were tried in the Belize City Supreme Court for the June 2002 murder of Susana Pethkau. Urbina was acquitted of the murder charge, but the jury was hung on its verdict for Vega, leading to a new trial. This time, the trial was held in the Orange Walk Supreme Court before Justice Herbert Lord. Vega was defended by attorney Bryan Neal.

LPG down to low of 92 bucks
Falling prices on the world market for fossil-based fuels have finally been trickling down to Belizean consumers with pump prices now ranging from $7.21 for a gallon of diesel to $7.88 for a gallon of premium gasoline in Belize City. On Friday, January 16, more good news came for consumers when it was announced that effective Saturday, January 17, 2015, the price for the 100-pound cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the most common cooking fuel, which is also called “butane”, would fall by $6.00, slashing again what had been recorded as the lowest price tag for LPG in 2014.

Bandits 3-peat, 4-nil over Police for PLB Opening Season championship
The Isidoro Beaton Stadium had its biggest crowd in years on Saturday night, January 17, for game 2 of the finals series between defending champions Belmopan Bandits and sub-champions Police United for the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2014-2015 Opening Season Championship. And the status quo remained at the final whistle, with the Bandits coming away with a big 4-nil victory and the championship, their 3rd consecutive win in the PLB tournaments. The Bandits were back-to-back champions in both the 2013-2014 Opening and Closing seasons, earning a berth to the CONCACAF Champions League, which they could not utilize because the FFB field failed to meet the required standards. In the 2013-2014 Closing Season finals, it was the Bandits over Police, 3-0 and 1-0; and in game one of the 2014-2015 Opening Season finals, the Bandits had drawn 0-0 with Police. And as it turned out on Saturday night, after beating the Bandits twice in regular season and once in the playoffs this season, Police United was still unable to get a goal against the Bandits in finals play, falling 4-0 this time, to the disappointment of their many fans.

Belize Juniors to Salvador for U15 & U18 Table Tennis Championships
The Belize Table Tennis Association (BTTA), in partnership with the Belize Olympic Committee, will be sending a delegation to represent Belize in the 2015 Central American U15 & U18 Table Tennis Championships, which will be held in San Salvador, El Salvador from January 20th to the 25th. Latrell Solis, John Delcid and Jaylen Nicolson will represent Belize in the Under 15 category for singles, doubles, and team events. They will be accompanied by our technical director, Gabriel Guerrero, as coach, and will join over 100 other junior players from 7 of our neighboring countries to compete for the title. This is a great experience for our junior players as we continue to make our way onto the regional and international stage.

C-Ray Saturday Race results, January 17
The C-Ray Cycling Club has committed to hosting a series of 12 Saturday Races leading up to the Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic. These races started on Saturday, January 10, and plans are to have them every Saturday until Saturday, March 28. The race is open to all cyclists of the Junior, Female, Weekend Warriors and Elite categories; one race with separate prizes. The 2nd Saturday, January 17, saw 38 cyclists lined up – 9 Juniors, 1 Female, 6 Weekend Warriors, and 22 Elite. The race started (and finished) at Leslie’s Imports and turned at the Boom Village junction, for approximately 45 miles. Below are the results by category: JUNIOR – 1st Darien Anderson; 2nd Yan Cattouse; 3rd Michael Grajalez.

Belize City primary schools basketball update, semifinals start tomorrow, Tuesday
The Belize City Primary Schools Basketball Tournament, being coordinated by the National Sports Council, entered its playoff stage on Thursday of last week, and the male semifinals are scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, at Bird’s Isle. In games played last week Tuesday, January 13, (M) St. Ignatius defeated James Garbutt SDA, 33-11, with Glenford Bermudez leading St. Ignatius with 11 pts, while Ralston Menzies had 4 pts for James Garbutt. (F) St. Luke Methodist won, 6-1, over St. John’s Anglican. Khia Leslie netted 4 pts for St. Luke, while Taliyah Hyde got the sole pt for St. John’s. And (M) St. Joseph demolished St. John’s Anglican, 35-2. Justin Williams and Daemion Garcia had 8 pts each for St. Joseph, while Levan Tillett got the 2 pts for St. John’s.

Editorial: Day of devastation
Over the course of Belize’s battle for self-rule from 1950 to 1981, the sugar cane farmers of our Corozal and Orange Walk Districts became the strongest section of Belize’s socio-economy. The sugar cane industry featured the focused, hard-working descendants of refugees from Yucatan’s Caste War who had come to Belize in the second half of the nineteenth century, and then the British multinational, Tate and Lyle, invested in a new sugar factory at Tower Hill in the Orange Walk District around 1963. The political circumstances of the Tate and Lyle investment are very interesting, but they are almost never discussed. The nationalist People’s United Party (PUP) Leader George Price had been in open battle with the colonizer British in 1957 and 1958. In 1957, the British sent Mr. Price home from London in disgrace, and then in 1958 the British arrested and charged him with sedition, for which he was acquitted in the Supreme Court of British Honduras.

Attention: Hopkins needs village roads fixed NOW!
Dear Editor, The village of Hopkins’ roads are the worst ever! This is high season and running any type of business requires one to go from point A to point B! It is impossible by foot, bike, car, or scooter to drive safely to go anywhere without it being a huge hassle because of the numerous, huge deep pot holes. It is not fair for the tourists who came to Hopkins to enjoy the village life; if they cannot move around easily, they should not be traumatized with the horrendous mobility with these endless huge pot holes. If one rents a car they are subjected to returning it without damage. Impossible! Driving anywhere is extreme wear-and-tear on any vehicle, never mind a real nightmare to drive the slowest possible without bottoming out. Tourists are leaving because of it. Many of my guests made the comment, about never returning and leaving earlier than planned. I am relaying their disgust of the road conditions. Never mind the locals who live here and the ones who are trying their best to accommodate the overflow here in Hopkins this season, of numerous unhappy travelers while making a living at tourism.

Graduate of FBI program resumes command of San Pedro police
A police officer, who is a graduate of an FBI training program, is now the Commander of San Pedro Police. Superintendent Luis Castellanos resumed command of the San Pedro police force today, after attending the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy Program in Quantico, Virginia, USA. He was selected to represent Belize in the training program along with 215 other law enforcement agents. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy Program is known internationally for academic excellence, which includes 11 weeks of advanced training, which are conducted by the FBI Academy training staff, special agents, and other staff members holding advanced degrees, many of whom are recognized internationally in their fields of expertise.

BSCFA General Assembly agrees to sign contentious sugar agreement
Another in a long series of General Assembly meetings hosted by the embattled Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) commenced shortly after 9:00 this morning at the Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico auditorium at Mile 72 on the Philip Goldson Highway, with just over 850 of the association’s 3,000 plus members in attendance. With a single objective on the agenda, today’s meeting proved to be one of the shortest that has ever been held in recent memory, because no more than twenty minutes after the session got underway, the many distressed cañeros were given the opportunity to either hold their ground, or overturn a previous resolution to have the government-controlled Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) pronounce the sugarcane crop season open while negotiations between the producers and millers continue under an interim agreement. As soon as the motion was read to the anxious crowd, an overwhelming majority of the audience, under a strong sense of duress, voted in favor of having their association’s executives sign onto a disputed new commercial purchasing agreement which had been flatly rejected at a similar meeting just two weeks ago, on January 4.

Two men remanded to prison for possessing parts of a shotgun
Two Belize City men who said they wanted to be good Samaritans when they found parts of a shotgun and who were busted by the Gang Suppression Unit before they were able to hand in the parts to police, were remanded to prison this morning after they were arraigned on a charge of possession of a firearm without a gun license. Akeem Requeña, 21, an electrician and resident of Marva’s Alley, was charged along with David Moss, 19, a student of Dolphin Street. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charge. When he entered his not guilty plea, Requeña asked Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer if he could say something. “I had informed the police that while going through an alley, we found a ratchet and a gun handle. We told the police that we had just found it, and we were going to hand it in. But the police told us that we better tell that to the judge,” Requeña explained.

Eric Vellos, 24, dies in weekend traffic accident
A young employee of Bowen and Bowen Limited unfortunately perished in a traffic accident after his vehicle flipped several times and crashed into a culvert between Miles 81 and 82 on the Philip Goldson Highway this past Saturday night. Police said that at about 11:50 p.m. on Saturday, January 17, they were informed of a fatal road traffic accident in the area of Ranchito, Corozal District, and upon arrival at the scene, they observed an extensively damaged gold Nissan Altima with license plates CZL C-04613 in a drain on the right hand side of the road, with its four wheels in the air. Investigators later learned that Eric Nelson Vellos, 24, of a 5th Avenue address in Corozal Town, was traveling alone in the direction of Orange Walk Town to Corozal when he suffered a tire blowout and lost control of the car at around 11:30 that night.

Bar Association expresses concern about the performance of the Court of Appeal
The traditional opening of the Supreme Court is the time when the bar and the bench engage in their reflection on the performance of the judiciary at the opening of the new legal year. During this year’s address on Monday, January 12, the Bar Association expressed its concern about the performance of Belize’s second highest court, the Court of Appeal, particularly during its last session. “The Bar Association wishes to put on record its serious concern about the Court of Appeal. The last session of the Court of Appeal was historic in its underperformance,” said the president of the Bar Association, Eamon Courtenay, S.C. “For the first time in history, there was not a single criminal appeal, as far as I can remember. That is unacceptable.” Courtenay added, “There was a record low number of civil appeals heard.”

CITCO officially takes on BML workers
Yesterday, January 15, the Belize City Council’s contract with the sanitation company known as the Belize Maintenance Limited (BML) officially expired, signaling the end of that company’s responsibilities of cleaning up the Old Capital. Although he has maintained that it will be no easy task, two weeks ago, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley announced that he and the Council had drafted a plan to absorb the employees of BML, and as a result, 158 of BML’s sanitation staff today reported to City Hall as full-time employees with security of tenure under the newly implemented Municipal Regulations Policy, which was rolled out for personnel from all municipalities in mid-December 2014. As part of their introduction, the new City Hall employees participated in an all-day orientation in which they met with Bradley and other key members of the council who outlined their rights and obligations as full members of staff.

Patrick JonesPJ

Roaring Creek man reported missing
The family of a Roaring Creek man is tonight asking for the public’s assistance in locating their loved one. Twenty four year old Emerson Daly has not been seen or heard from since Sunday night and his family is fearing the worst. The young entrepreneur, according to family members left home around 8 pm on Sunday and was reportedly heading to Belmopan. This afternoon, we were able to confirm that the vehicle that Daly was driving was found in an area just off the George Price Highway with what appears to be blood stains inside.

Teacher beats carnal knowledge charge
A nolle prosequi, indicating that the prosecution cannot proceed, was entered today in the court of Justice Adolph Lucas in the case of 37 year old Cordel Gonzalez, who was charged with 2 counts of carnal knowledge of a female child. Crown counsel Portia Staine, who entered the nolle prosequi, said that the reason was because the complainant lives abroad and she has difficulty travelling to Belize. Gonzalez was not represented by any attorney. The first count occurred on November 14, 2009 and the second count occurred on November 27.

Brothers charged for BDF soldier’s murder
Two brothers, 38 year old Orlando Staine and 41 year old Phil Staine, were charged with the murder of 22 year old BDF private Denver Villafranco, when they appeared today before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. They were remanded into custody until February 25. The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 17. According to reports, Villafranco was attacked by 4 men while he was at the corner Sunflower Street and complex Lane, about 150 yards from his home.

Vehicle stolen during armed robbery
A vehicle was reported stolen on Monday, January 19 in San Ignacio town. The 1999 Honda CRV – as shown in the photo – was stolen in the Santiago Juan Layout area around 6:30 pm on Monday during an armed robbery. The vehicle carried license plates BMP 2024. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this vehicle, please contact the nearest police station of call telephone number 610-3124.

Blogs

A Gorgeous Sunset Sail off Ambergris Caye with Ecologic Charters
Perhaps the best way to see the sunset over Ambergris Caye is by boat. And last week, as luck would have it, I was invited on a sunset cruise…on one of two gorgeous catamarans owned by Ecologic Divers located at the north side of town by the Phoenix Resort. Both 50 foot catamarans – the Impromptu and the Infinity – are available for chartered trips for you and your friends and family. Book a few days…or a week…head out with dive tanks, lots of food and drink, a captain and a chef (both certified divers) and just follow your own agenda.

20 awesome facts about the Cayo District in Belize!
The Cayo District is home to some 73,202 people and takes in more than 2,000 square miles (5180kms) of tropical forest, rolling hills; rich pasture land, vibrant rivers and an amazing assortment of Maya archaeological sites. 1. It is the largest district in Belize. 2. Cayo is home to the most impressive and artifact-rich Maya ceremonial caves ever found in Mesoamerica: Actun Tunichil Muknal is the star of the show. 3. Hand-cranked ferries are still used to forge rivers to Maya ceremonial sites and Mennonite community centers. 4. Both English and Spanish are widely spoken in Cayo, which is home to large populations of Latinos, Creoles, Chinese, Lebanese, Mennonites and Maya.

Commentary: Legendary Garifuna choreographer Armando 'Crisanto' Melendez
By Wellington C. Ramos. On Friday, January 9, 2015, at about 6:00 pm, many Garifuna people living in New York City packed Casa Yurumein in the Bronx to listen to a cultural presentation given by their legendary choreographer Armando ‘Crisanto’ Melendez. For years now he has been the head of the Honduras Folkloric Garifuna Dance Company where many Garifuna men and women have been trained to learn all the Garifuna music, drumming, dance and others aspects of this rich culture. I was anxious to see this great individual because I have always heard of the commitment, dedication and passion he has displayed over the years in preserving his culture. He brought with him two Garifuna master drummers known as Dumbrie. This title is the highest honour given to a Garifuna drummer who is versed in beating the two Garifuna drums namely the primera and the secunda. The meeting was chaired by Mr Carlos Gamboa, a well known Garifuna activist in the Garifuna community here in New York City, who originated from the Garifuna village of Labuga (Livingston) in Guatemala. He began the meeting by highlighting the life accomplishments of Mr Armando ‘Crisanto’ Melendez over the years. The meeting was conducted with exchanges in the Garifuna, English and Spanish languages. These languages are spoken by many Garifuna people worldwide. He wasted no time in introducing the presenter.

International Sourcesizz

UWI begins presenting witnesses in Bain case
THE University of the West Indies yesterday began presenting its witnesses in the case brought against the institution by Professor Brendan Bain over his termination as director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network (CHART). The UWI called its first witness, Professor Peter Figueroa, after Bain closed his case following seven days of evidence from various witnesses in an attempt to prove he'd been wronged by the university. Bain is suing the UWI for breach of contract, breach of constitutional rights, and defamation over the university's decision to terminate his contract.

Photographer’s ‘Unseen Cuba’ gives a rare view of the island
Even with restrictions lifting on U.S. travel to Cuba, few of us will ever see the island from the vantage point of Lithuanian photographer Marius Jovaisa. But we can look at his pictures — and marvel. The first and only artist to receive permission from the Cuban government to fly over the country and photograph it, Jovaisa appears Friday at Books & Books in Coral Gables to talk about Unseen Cuba, (Unseen Pictures, $99.95). “I put a lot of my heart into this project,” says the photographer of four other large-format books, Unseen Lithuania, Magic Cancun & Riviera Maya, Heavenly Yucatan and Heavenly Belize. “I hope to evoke the feeling I did in my home country. People just don’t have an opportunity to see things from this angle.” Shot from an ultralight craft, with stunning aerial views of the island from Cabo de San Antonio on the western tip to Baracoa in the east, Unseen Cuba is the culmination of almost five grueling years of Jovaisa’s life. He came up with the idea after the success of Unseen Lithuania, which sold 70,000 copies in a country of less than three million people. Having grown up under Soviet rule in Lithuania, Jovaisa expected to face a certain amount of red tape getting permits for the project. But he had no idea he’d spend 21/2 years wrestling with bureaucrats before he ever got off the ground.

Prof Bain closes case
Professor Brendan Bain on Tuesday closed his case after seven days’ testimony from various witnesses. One witness for the claimant, Shawn Wenzel – an information technology consultant – testified that the articles written about Bain’s termination by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and subsequent demonstrations in his favour were picked-up by various websites and news agencies and published in 15,000 places across the globe, including Europe and the United States of America. The defendant, the UWI, is to begin its case when the matter resumes in the Supreme Court just before 2:00 this afternoon. The first witness for the defendant is listed as Professor Peter Figueroa.

5 Tips for Becoming an Expat
Expatriates — those country natives whose wanderlust causes them to pull up stakes and move to another country — seem to be doing well, thank you very much. According to a 2014 study by global banking giant HSBC, the vast majority say they enjoy their new homes, and Switzerland, New Zealand, and, yes, the U.S. are all high atop the list of countries expats call home. That doesn’t mean becoming an expat is a great or even a good idea — not unless you cover some foreign destination basics first. "There are a great many decisions involved in making the move abroad, ranging from consideration of finances and managing money, right through to integrating into the local community and arranging childcare,” says Andrew Ireland, EVP and Head of Premier Banking at HSBC Bank USA. Knowing what you want — and what works — in a foreign land is really Job One when preparing for life as an expat.

Using Belize’s Retiree Program For An Easy Life
Jim and Kathy Suits had long been planning to move outside the U.S. for retirement. English-speaking, with a tropical climate, and close to North America… little Belize offered a lot to a couple looking to retire abroad. Plus, the feeling of independence they experienced there, and the focus on personal responsibility and family values, had great appeal for the Suits. Belize’s Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program was one of the main factors in their deciding on Belize. This program makes the transition to a new life in Belize quite easy for expats…and cost-effective. “I liked the QRP. I like the tax advantages. It does have some drawbacks. You don’t get to be a resident. You’re a permanent tourist. But it makes it easy for someone to come down and retire without a lot of headaches,” says Jim.

Enjoying Our Business In The Cayo, Belize
Jamie and Barbara Quinion have no regrets about their move to western Belize. “We’re not just living our dream of the good life,” Barbara says of the couple’s new life in the ancient Maya village of San José Succotz, in Belize’s Cayo District. “We are living the ‘excellent life!’” Five years ago, they decided to sell their winery in Canada and move abroad, for several reasons. “What attracted us to Belize is that it’s English-speaking—that was a big plus—with a good climate, really friendly people, and incredible diversity for such a small country. We live in the farthest point west on the mainland, where we go swimming, tubing, hiking, biking, birdwatching, or just enjoy the great view from our property.

Real Estate On The “Maya Route”
Encompassing Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of El Salvador and Honduras, La Ruta Maya (the “Maya Route”) covers the territory of the Maya civilization, which reached its height from 250 to 900 A.D. One of the New World’s most advanced cultures, the Maya had written language, mathematics, a sophisticated calendar, and architectural skills that saw them construct massive temples and spectacular cities, many of which still stand. However, the Maya were never a single empire; rather, kings ruled over small territories surrounding a city.

Integration in Belize
Expats have been coming to Belize to live and retire for decades. And that means things are “set up” for newcomers. It’s a well-trodden path, whether you are buying a home, getting a bank account set up, looking for a car mechanic, or anything you need to do…you just have to follow it. There are social clubs, churches, volunteer organizations…and informal parties, get togethers, and happy hours in expat communities all over the country. There is a major concentration of expats in places like Corozal in the far north near the border with Mexico, Ambergris Caye (an island just off the coast on the edge of the MesoAmerican Reef), Placencia (a long peninsula in the middle of the country), and the Cayo District, an inland area known for its mountains, jungle, and farmland. Expats have found their paradise in Belize, whether it’s by the beach or inland, and they welcome newcomers with open arms.

Videos

Winning Carnaval Comparsa: San Pedro AIDS Commission., 2min.
Underwater Belize GO PRO 3, 3.5min. Ambergris Caye, Belize - January 2015.
RLC and Belize 2015, 3.5min.
JAN. 20TH 2015 - The Belize Tourism Industry Association Orange Walk Chapter Annual General Meeting, 5min.
Scuba Dive - Belize - Queen Trigger eating Lionfish, .5min.
Trip to Belize, 4min. Video from my time on Caye Caulker

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Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
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