September Is HERE! The Key Events on the Island And In the Country… It does seem a bit crazy that it is September already. School starting…eyes on the hurricane forecasts (knock on wood…all relatively good so far in the Atlantic) and SEPTEMBER CELEBRATIONS.
Last week, The Belize Tourism Board printed the official schedule for the towns around Belize…places like Dangriga, Benque and Punta Gorda have events almost every day of the month. In San Pedro – one of the most vibrant towns in the country – we have this.
The town is busting out the red, white and blue. Flag flying from carts and down Main Street, in the park…
Let’s start with this weekend. In Belize City – the two night, Sir Barry Bowen Belikin Bash. 6pm to Midnight – free concert in Memorial Park.
LORD RHABURN IN SAN PEDRO! Bruk down music at its best! See you at the Central Park on Wednesday, September 9!
Official Ceremonies, Coronation of Miss San Pedro take place at the Hon. Louis Sylvestre Sports Complex, starting at 9:00 a.m. followed by the Uniform Parade. Everyone is invited to attend the parade; all business establishments and organizations are invited to participate in the Uniform Parade.
Take note that the Block Party and Independence Eve with fireworks will take place at the Hon. Louis Sylvestre Sports Complex (Old Football Field)
The historic Battle of St. George’s Caye was commemorated on Thursday with Tenth of September activities being held across the country. In Belize City, an official ceremony was held at the Fort George Memorial Park where a host of dignitaries, including Mayor Darrell Bradley and Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia were in attendance. Before a diverse audience, the keynote addresses would be delivered by Heredia and Bradley. The official ceremonies gave way to a parade through the streets of the City. News Five’s Isani Cayetano looks back at the tenth celebration.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“So today, we gather and stand and sing and praise and shout, honoring these Baymen. But I cannot help but feel that there should be more to our remembrance of them. That as we stand here and look back at their sacrifice we should in this place and on this occasion re-commit ourselves as they did to the service of this our Belizean nation. After all, this is an anniversary and on each anniversary there is a renewing of vows, if you will, a rededication to the principles of fidelity and love of country. So today, in true remembrance, we should as a nation, strong and free, united at home and abroad renew our vows to this our beloved Belize, that we each should through our various endeavors work to build a more perfect union to serve this nation and each other with selfless devotion, civility and fervent pride. That we should not allow ourselves to be divided by our politics but we should, as they were, stand united by our desire to see this our nation long endure so that those who lived and struggled before us should not have struggled in vain and that we who live now should be resolved to honor their legacy by living lives worthy of their great sacrifice.”
Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
“Two hundred and seventeen years ago, on September 10th, 1798, the governor of Yucatan and his Spanish armada retreated from our waters, their mission a complete failure. Our future with high promise, a free nation was in waiting. Yet the victory was no fluke or coincident. In fate, it was the mark of an unprecedented movement of unity and of common good between our forefathers to not only protect but safeguard the integrity of their vision of freedom and independence. Because of this event a unique way of life, the Belizean way of life was possible and today we stand as witness and an offspring of the victory that shaped what we know today as our beloved Belize. If we turn back to those troubling times in our history we find very compelling evidence that the seeds of nationhood were set by valiant men and women who, regardless of their social status, came together on common ground. Indeed, we may perhaps find evidence that can guide us in addressing some of the challenges we face today as many of the key catalysts of that time are as relevant today as they were more than two hundred years ago.”
On Saturday, Channel 7 had extensive coverage of the 2015 Carnival Road March, but that's just the culmination of a day which started before dawn with the j'ouvert. That's where ordinary citizens, take to the streets by the thousands and have their own party with mud, alcohol and dancing.
7News was out there on Saturday when we saw A STAGGERING 10,000 youths and young adults taking over the streets.
Here are few highlights:
Carnival’s Winners and Losers
And that mud soaked mayhem led, of course, to the Carnival Road March with all it's colour, splendor and wild dancing in the street. Our Carnival Host Wilson Grinage spoke to a few of the revelers when they were just getting ready for the road:…
And at the end of the day, the winners were for the junior category, Jump Street Posse, and for the seniors, Soca Moca came in first. We spoke to representatives of both camps:..
In the junior category, second place went to Mahogany Masqueraders, while Sunshine took third place.
In the seniors, Princess Mother Nature was second and Titans took third.
And before we close tonight - we'd like to urge all our viewers on Central Cable who didn't have audio on their 7News tonight to Call Central Cable and complain - because the fault was at their end, not at ours. IT's a repeated problem with this cable system which affects thousands of viewers, but, regrettably, it's one we are powerless to fix, so please, call them and complain.
Again our apologies, but the news in full will be repeated at 10:00 tonight and 6:00 tomorrow morning - so hopefully they have their act together by then.
If not you can catch it on the web at 7newsbelize.com, courtesy BTL, Belize's fastest, most reliable broadband provider.
Belize Carnival 2015 Here are some of the photos from Carnival 2015. If we uploaded all the photos we would have you sitting here on Facebook for days. lol
Enjoy these photos and we promise we will add more soon for your enjoyment.
SHARE these photos with your friends and family.
Carnival 2015 - Lining up Here are some of the photos as the Carnival Groups were lining up and getting ready to pound the pavement.
2015 Mas Camp Highlights Are you ready for Jouvert and Carnival this Saturday, September 12th?
Here are some highlights of the Mas Camps from Day 1
Why You Should Not Miss Out on Belize City's Carnival Parade The sights, the sounds, the colors, the people, the spirit, the joy, but most of all the PRIDE! Witnessing the Belize Carnival Parade, that takes place during the country’s September Celebrations honoring Independence Day, is nothing short of spectacular. Immerse yourself into the celebrations and you will get to experience first hand why Belizeans are considered such a happy and celebratory people.
Boys and girls as young as six years old are decked out in full costume to the theme of their mas band camp and their energies are as, if not stronger, than those of the adults who swing, twerk and gyrate their bodies to the high-energy sounds of “Jump Up” music, as they call it in Belize.
Belize City Carnival Parade 2015
Belize City comes to life during the country's September Celebrations in observance of Independence Day. A highlight of the celebrations is the Carnival Parade that showcases color, sounds and high spirits of the jubilant people of Belize. It is a party like no other and one not to miss out on.
Best yet: Carnival Road March 2015! If there’s one thing Belizeans know how to do, it’s partying- and there is no better party than the Carnival Road March! I’m talking colorful costumes, pounds of glitter, blaring soca music and lots of booze. Since its inception in 1975, the Carnival Road March has only being getting bigger and better, and is now a highly anticipated event in the September Celebrations calendar. This annual event has had thousands of Belizean flocking to Belize City on a designated Saturday in September to not only witness, but be part of, the largest show of culture, pride and patriotism. So what were my observation on Saturday, September 12th Carnival Road March 2015 – AMAZING, sign me up for next year! The family and I were out from early to get just the right spot at Princess Margret Drive. Loaded with snacks and refreshments, we eagerly waited for the parade to come by.
2015 Carnival Road March brings color and culture to Belize City The 2015 Carnival Road March took place on Saturday, August 12th and saw thousands of Belizeans making their way to Belize City for the highly anticipated event. Held annually since 1975 as part of the September Celebrations, carnival has been growing each year and has become one of the biggest shows of culture and patriotism in the country. The event starts with pre-dawn J’ouvert and ends with a jump up party at BTL Park immediately after the parade. Prior to carnival day, organizers held the King and Queen completion on Saturday, September 5th. During this event, judges got the first look at the groups’ costumes and selected the best in both categories: junior and senior. Winners for this competition are as follows: Junior Queen- 1st Mahogany Masqueraders, 2nd Jump Street Posse, 3rd Collet Royal; Junior King- 1st Jump Street Posse, 2nd Pickstock Carnival Band, 3rd Sunshine Masqueraders; Senior Queen- 1st Titans Mas Band, 2nd Mother Nature Creation, 3rd Evolution Mas Band; Senior King- 1st Titans Mas Band, 2nd Soca Moca Carnival Band, 3rd Mother Nature Creation.
The 12 Best Faces of Belize Carnival One of the biggest September Celebrations events took place in Belize City this past weekend (September 12th, 2015) - the annual Carnival Road March, which surely did not disappoint fans who lined the streets of the “Old Capital” to witness the celebration. Just in case you missed it, here are our picks for the 12 Best Faces of the event:
Belize celebrates 34th anniversary of Independence; rain alters uniform parade
Belize celebrated the 34th anniversary of her Independence on Monday, with official speeches in Belmopan from the Mayor of Belmopan, the Leader of the Opposition and from the Prime Minister.
Belmopan Mayor, Khalid Belisle, who revealed that he was born just months before Belize got independence, told the gathering that he has never known a Belize that was not politically independent. The mayor urged all to do all they can to take our country to new heights and advised while the struggle to do so can be arduous, there is no challenge that is insurmountable. He also said that as we go about our individual work, “there is no other agenda than the belizean agenda to be advanced.”
Diane Haylock, co-chair of the September Celebrations Commission, and who represented the Chair, Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia said, “It is clearer today that what we sought prior to 1981 was not about severing colonial ties”, but a desire to be resolute in our fight to create democracy.
Haylock went on to say that Belize has seen significant growth in tourism, particularly since 2012. She also spoke of efforts to advance tourism standards under the National Tourism Master Plan and shared the Ministry’s ongoing projects, which include the establishment of a new cruise port in southern Belize, a new football stadium in San Pedro, a new international airport in San Pedro and the coming on stream in October of two international airlines: Southwest and Copa, which is expected to open new avenues for Belize from South America.
Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca acknowledged the sacrifice of the people before our time, whose efforts were “to free Belize from the colonial chains.”
“Belize has claimed its place as a sovereign nation” with its own unique identity, Fonseca summed up, but “there are lessons to learn from the past. And what will we make of the next 34 years? What will we make of the next chapter” of out country’s existence, he challenged, and what will we do to aspire for better.
The opposition leader also paid tribute to the roughly 200 Belizeans who, on August 16, displayed patriotism and determination to ensure that their country remains intact, when they journeyed to the Sarstoon. Before ending his address, Fonseca called for governance reform. He also quoted from speeches that the late Father of the Nation, the Right Honourable George Price delivered in the early 60′s, when in his words, Mr. Price defined the true essence of independence – when a people has its own flag, anthem and passport.
The Prime Minister, in his speech, started off by speaking of the government’s achievements to regain the Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL).
He also revealed that the government will offer an dditional 10 percent in both companies to Belizeans, and will write off the $9 million debt that Belizeans have with the Karl Heusner Hospital and another $2 million at other public hospitals throughout the country.
The PM also spoke of new infrastructural work to begin shortly and investments in the country’s security forces. Additionally, he spoke of another salary adjustment to take place next fiscal year for civil servants.
The official ceremony had in attendance the Governor General Sir Colville Young, members of the Judiciary, members of the National Assembly, members of the Clergy, and other invited guests.
The traditional student parade in Belize City was called off due to inclement weather.
Caye Caulker Independence Day Parade. Sept 21st 2015
Carnival 2015 Belize
Two of Belize's most popular events during the September Celebrations, Wet Fete and Carnival, captured as seen by Flying Eye Productions.
Independence Eve’s HUGE PARTY & The First Ever 21st Jump-Up Parade Rain Out It was the BIG holiday weekend across Belize. Independence Day – Belize’s 34th. And San Pedro was kicking it off with a Sunday night, Independence Eve, celebration in the back Football Field, musical performances including one by Soca star Ricardo Drue..and a huge fireworks display.
The weather looked iffy that afternoon but the event turned out AMAZING. Follow DFphotos_BZE on Instagram. Looking at the STUNNING photos he took of the event. Check out his videos also…totally awesome.
And then after the fireworks…and everyone went to the clubs…at about 3am, the skies opened. After months of drought…and it POURED. 5 inches overnight well into the morning.
The parade was supposed to line up at noon…and was postponed. We heard that Belize City had cancelled their parade…that Corozal had paraded in the rain and that Orange Walk (THE BIG ONE) would start late…at 4pm.
And for the first time ever. San Pedro cancelled it’s Independence Day parade. Postponed actually…for Saturday the 26th.
Prime Minister of Belize Independence Day Speech 2015
September 21 this year arrives to the accompaniment of an even greater than usual celebratory chorus. And the multiple positive developments occurring during the first three quarters of 2015, have appeared to reach a flood just in time for Independence Day. Thus it is that we have now procured vindication in what was an ongoing battle to win final acceptance of our decision to take back the Belizean patrimony constituted by our nation’s essential public utilities.
For my Administration, It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of the BEL and BTL settlements. After all, this has been for us a kind of second sovereignty campaign. Now, after six years of struggle, those two fundamental Belizean assets are ours to have and hold forevermore. And to further concretize this achievement, let me announce right away that Government will be offering an additional 10% of the shareholding in both companies to the Belizean-and I stress Belizean-public, including the two companies’ employees. In the case of BEL it will mean a seat on the Board for the small shareholders, and in the case of BTL it will mean a second seat for those small shareholders. Altogether, then, it will give citizens a chance to participate in the running of the nationalized entities; and, perhaps more important, to share in the profits that the two companies are making and will continue to make. We therefore think it meet and right that all Belizeans embrace this second coming; and that this year, in these circumstances, we give particular swell to the strains of patriotism that annually animate our anniversary festivities.
The settlement capstone coming now, is a fitting acme to all that’s been happening since the start of this year. For truly the nine months between January and this day, saw social and infrastructural advances in our country that took us to the summit of those heights we have been scaling since 2008. And there is yet more infrastructure progress to come, as you shall hear in a moment.
But on the social side I want at once to express my great satisfaction at the record salary increases that, for the second year in a row, we have been able to give to our civil servants: to our teachers and nurses and doctors and soldiers and policemen and all public officers.
Our economy is doing well. The great growth of the first quarter was succeeded by a small contraction in the second, due to some difficulties with commodities and in particular the huge resource decline in oil. But grains will recover from drought, shrimp from disease, and citrus from the market conditions that saw a temporary fall in price. Meantime we are still at 2.7% in GDP year-over-year increase, inflation is just about the lowest in the region, and unemployment is significantly down.
Because we expect continued economic and revenue growth, next year should see a third salary raise for Government workers and this is really quite extraordinary. They are the largest individual sector workforce, and the multiplier effect of these big boosts in their disposable income cannot be stressed enough. They are also the bulwark of our middle class. And this Administration has always been focused on two things: bootstrapping the poor, and expanding the middle class. It is with pride, then, that we point to the social protection and job-creation efforts (especially in construction) we have chartered for those at the margins; and the growing of the public service middle class by the reclassification of administrative grades and the net rise of pay scales. In both cases, our National Bank has completed the equation by providing hitherto undreamed of access to affordable, indeed cheap, credit.
Talking about employment and wages, gives me a chance to address the situation of the workers at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Their case is a special one. They are not, with the exception of a few seconded from the public service when the KHMH Authority came into being, Government employees. So strictly speaking their conditions of service, including salary, have nothing to do with GOB. But you can’t tell them that. They know that Government still subsidizes the KHMH, and in fact to the tune of 36.4 million dollars annually. It is out of this subsidy that their salaries come, they see that GOB has been able to find more to pay its public officers, and they want equal treatment, the same access to Government’s bounty. While the situation is not quite as straightforward as they make out, we have heard their cry. And the position is that GOB will find the funds to provide them with the salary increase that, after negotiations, was agreed with the KHMH Board and the Cabinet sub-committee. We demanded something in return, though. We expect that the staff and administration at the KHMH will begin to demonstrate immediately their ability to engage in efficient cost recovery and the cutting of waste; and that they will start to move now towards the financial self-sustainability that autonomy for the KHMH was supposed to mean. Also, as a matter of principle GOB does not want simply to hand over the monies for the salary increase as a gift. We will therefore treat it as a buyout of the debt owed by consumers, by the Belizean public, to the KHMH. As of year-end 2014, that total in unpaid bills amounted to around 9 million dollars. Of course, in trading off these bills that people owe to the KHMH, we won’t be giving KHMH dollar for dollar. We will, though, pay them enough to do two things. The first is to fund the salary increase to the expected tune of just about 2 million dollars. And the second is to assist with residual costs for the new, state of the art, PICU/NICU that is to be opened next month.
The figure for this should not exceed another million dollars, since the bulk of equipment and construction monies has already been provided by the fund-raising efforts headed by my wife. At the risk of being accused of nepotism by those that do not know the proper meaning of the word, I pause now to ask you for a round of applause for Kim Simplis-Barrow; and for all, especially Oak Foundation, that contributed to making the PICU/NICU a reality.
So… This write-off to the public of 9 million dollars in their unpaid KHMH bills, which the collection agency hired by the KHMH will now no longer be hounding anyone for, is this year’s Independence Day gift to people from the Government of Belize. For the sake of completeness, and to make that gift even greater, we will also forgive all monies currently owing by patients to all Government hospitals throughout the country. This amounts to another 2 million dollars and, we are sure, will be especially appreciated by residents of our towns and villages.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my fellow Belizeans:
I said I would return to the issue of infrastructure and I do so now.
I want to point out that I had said earlier this year that we were going to roll out PetroCaribe to the rural areas, and we have done so with a vengeance. Since March we have spent around 20 million dollars in village constituencies, and we are not done yet. We have reached every single constituency, if not every single village, and this UDP transformation phenomenon is now truly countrywide, truly national.
A while ago I spoke of the economy and was pleased to emphasize its basic soundness. What I wish now to do, is to underscore that tourism remains our single largest driver, and talk a little about our plans to continue encouraging its star turn. These include additional marketing and quality improvement efforts. But they also include destination infrastructure improvement, and there are three projects in that connection that I wish to highlight. First, there is the continuation of the North Ambergris Caye road project. We have just signed a contract for the construction of another 4 miles of the road providing land access to the premier resorts on North Ambergris, making for a total of 11 miles that we have already funded. When this next phase is completed we will sign for the last few miles to take us to the Basil Jones airstrip, which we will redevelop, redesign and expand into an international airport. I am also happy to announce that Basil Jones will be renamed the Efrain Guerrero International Airport in honour of the eponymous, recently deceased San Pedro patriot. With this, we expect a phenomenal new opening up, a veritable tourism explosion, in Ambergris Caye, which is of course already our market leader.
We are also constructing a new road to Lamanai via Bermudan Landing and Lemonal. That contract has also been signed, and this will mean that Lamanai will now form part of the day trip circuit for cruise passengers and provide increased tourism opportunities to Orange Walk and to the Belze Rural North villages along the route.
Finally, and this really will constitute a new jewel in the tourism crown, we are going to do a paved highway to Caracol, with two points of origin from Georgeville and Santa Elena. We are funding locally, and have already signed the contract for, road rehabilitation from Cristo Rey to San Antonio and thereafter to the junction with the Georgeville road. Then the OPEC and Kuwaiti Funds, which are already doing the rehabilitation of the Hummingbird Highway, will partner together to take us the 40 plus miles from the junction to Mountain Pine Ridge and then to Caracol. In addition to the huge tourism boost this will provide, it also carries tremendous implications for a quantum improvement in our security protection arrangements for the Caracol area.
Talking about security, we are pleased with the disbursement start now of the 30 million U.S. Cabei loan. As has been detailed, the monies will assist the police, the BDF and the Coast Guard.
The improvement in forensic capability that is part of the deal should, together with improved policing, lead to a better crime solving and conviction rate. The community outreach of the police especially on Southside Belize City, will combine with a second surge in hope and improved living and job conditions that the commencement now of Southside Poverty Alleviation Project Phase 2 represents. Under that programme, a total of 37 million dollars is being spent on the Southside constituencies. The money funds improved streets and drains; land reclamation and landfill for low-lying yards; construction of new homes and home improvement; education, training and social development. This dramatic GOB infusion of money and resources, together with the revised Southside strategy of the police high command, should contribute to the reversal of the spike in the Belize City murder rate that this year brought.
The Coast Guard will get two new, latest model vessels for maritime protection and illegal drugs and fishing interdiction. And the BDF will be able to acquire multiple additional assets that, along with the one helicopter already confiscated and the two more coming from Taiwan by Christmas, will greatly increase its capacity as the front line guardian of our territorial integrity.
Of course, the BDF will also build the forward operating base on the North Bank of the Sarstoon River as it continues to assert and exercise Belizean sovereignty in that area. This is a sovereignty that Government and all our security forces, as a matter of first principle and existential duty, will always wholly maintain. But we do not need civilians, however well-intentioned, to complicate matters. In flashpoint situations, preservation of the sovereignty and security equation must be left to our trained, professional, and highly skilled military; a military that has time and again demonstrated its ability to take care of business and perform at a level out of all proportion to its small size.
Before I close, a word to our private sector.
The settlements with Fortis and the former BTL shareholders, will in time no doubt bring increased opportunities to partner with Foreign Direct Investment. But even now, relying only on local resources, chances are going begging. There is, for example, still not enough advantage being taken of the excess liquidity in the system. Government is therefore committed to helping you, the Central Bank and the commercial banks, work through issues that continue to bedevil the lending institutions and access to credit. Tax reform, which will rationalize the business climate and provide breaks even as it closes loopholes and seeks to address abuse, is at long last in train. And Government is determined to make doing business in this country easier, something that has to become the foremost mandate of the ministry of trade and commerce.
But I repeat that our economic fundamentals are good. Our debt trajectory, especially with compensation for the nationalizations being way below what the pessimists had projected, is eminently manageable. And with the buyout of high interest SuperBond debt with low interest PetroCaribe funds, our prospects are excellent over the longer term. As with the other sectors, then, the world-or at least Belize’s corner of it-is your oyster. We urge you, therefore, to go forth and profit.
Ladies and Gentlemen, My Fellow Belizeans:
I conclude by saying that the shades of our National Heroes, of George and Philip, are keeping watch over us. George Price was the father of our Independence and Philip Goldson the defender of our democracy. There is, in my view, quite a confluence occurring now and we are proceeding to build on two foundational legacies. We do so by consolidating economic sovereignty and cross hatching it with George Price’s political sovereignty and territorial integrity; and by expanding social protection and increasing individual opportunity to make perdurable Philip Goldson’s free speech, libertarian democracy.
In doing this my Administration, as always, seeks to do right by all the people of Belize. And as a Government on this last Independence Day before the next general elections, we stand before the bar of history fully expectant of a judgment recognizing us as the good and faithful servants we have always striven to be. So, confident in the job we have done and the support of our citizens, my Cabinet and I wish each and every Belizean, at home and abroad, a Happy Independence Day.