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#510167 - 12/25/15 11:24 AM Today's Belize News: December 25, 2015
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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, West Vision (Cayo) and CTV 3. Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, Rise and Shine Morning Show, and the Dickie Bradley Specials


The San Pedro Sun

SP Lions share the Christmas season with the island’s senior citizens!
The San Pedro Lions Club hosted its annual Christmas Party for the senior citizens of the island on Saturday, December 19th. The event is part of their calendar of activities for the Christmas season, and treated over sixty senior citizens of Ambergris Caye to a night of holiday festivities. This year, the Christmas Party included an appetizer, turkey dinner with all the trimmings, desserts, a large array of cocktails, gifts, music and lots of dancing. The Leos were in full force helping along as they tended to the happy crowd. They are usually assisted by the staff of the Belize Bank, however this year they were unable to join in the event but sent their best wishes to the attendees. At the end of the event, each senior citizen was presented with a gift provided by the Belize Bank Staff and members of the San Pedro Lions Club. Music for the party was provided by San Pedro’s number one band, Rompe Raja! The band took the guests of honor back in time with melodic ballads of the 70’s and 80’s.

US Embassy donates new equipment to the Belize National Coast Guard
On Thursday, December 17th, Belize’s military partners in the United States donated more than a million US dollars in equipment for the Belize National Coast Guard (BNCG). The valuable assistance given to the Belizean maritime law enforcement will bolster their operations of national security in the fight against transnational crime. The hefty donation came through the US Embassy in Belize and was officially handed over a BNCG headquarters near Mile Four on the George Price Highway.

Male Senior Teams face off in second week of 5-a-side Football Tournament
The second round of games for the Island Citizens Sporting Club (ICSC) and the San Pedro High School (SPHS) 5-a-side Football Tournament took place on Saturday, December 19th. Island football fans definitely enjoyed a fun night of football action. 12 of the senior teams faced off in six intense matches at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium starting at 5PM. Playing for the night were Green Hornets FC, Real Jr. FC, Island Boys FC, SPHS Boys, United FC, Harmouch FC, Mata Chica FC, Los Dorados FC, Victoria’s House FC, We Them Boys, Pro Divers FC and reigning 5-a-side champs, Los Catrachos FC. The next round of games will be played on Sunday, December 27th starting at 11AM. For more information on the tournament, contact head organizer Alex Noralez directly at 631-0711.

Costa Rica breaks political ties with SICA over Cuban Refugees Crisis
Costa Rica has broken ties with the Central American Integration System (SICA) following the lack of support from other member countries in regards to the recent issue with Cuban refugees. The announcement was made on Friday, December 18th, when Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister, Manuel Gonzalez, citing a lack of support and failure to include the Cuban migrant crisis on the agenda for discussion at the SICA Summit in El Salvador. Costa Rica has been dealing with over a thousand stranded Cubans hoping to reach the United States of America (USA) through Central America and Mexico since mid-November, 2015. After Nicaragua closed their border to the refugees, Costa Rica reached out to Guatemala and Belize for assistance in the transit of the refugees, but neither of the countries agreed to help.

Ambergris Today

Letters To The Editor: Yakarelis Recaps Experience as Miss Belize Centroamerica
Being able to present my little jewel abroad was a rewarding experience. Through mutual friends, I was contacted by pageant organizer, Saul Benitez, in search of candidates to represent Belize. Ever since my days as Miss San Pedro 2011-12, I have been involved in pageantry as dance choreographer of the Miss San Pedro Pageant for the past 3 years, something I look forward to every year, likewise coaching and volunteering with the San Pedro Dance Academy. Since then, I have been behind the scenes and after putting a lot of thought into it, I decided to participate and represent Belize in the Miss y Mister Centroamerica 2015 in Leon, Nicaragua last month. It was not an easy task, since I had to balance my schoolwork and job and other activities in order to prepare myself for this event. When social media announced my participation in this pageant, it struck me that I’m actually doing this and I felt the support and love from my community since day one. A lot of hard work was involved into this. The pageant was more exhausting and a lot more work than I have expected. Most people think we just walk around and look pretty, but it is more tiring than you think.

Adopt a Bear Toy Drive Delivers HUGE Smiles for Christmas
One hundred and seventy seven lucky island children of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, wore even BIGGER smiles on their faces for the holiday season as their Christmas just got better with the generosity of the community. The Adopt A Bear toy drive was an immense success on its first year that the organizers is already excited for next year’s project. Adopt A Bear is happy to report the collection of $27,000 in presents that were handed out to 177 children at the San Pedro Lions Den on Wednesday, December 23, 2015. Fifteen of those lucky children even received brand new bicycles. They asked for it, the community delivered.

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

BPP CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR MESSAGE
Christmas is founded on the premise of the Christian ideology and in that regard we express Merry Christmas wishes to all who celebrate this holiday. Given our acknowledgement of the plurality of the Belizean society, for those who do not subscribe to Christianity, in the spirit of community, we trust that you too shall embrace the season and celebrate the core values of: Faith, Hope, Love and Joy during this festive season and beyond. It is within this context, your Belize Progressive Party (BPP) Extends heartfelt well wishes to one and all. Yet amid the merriment, as stewards who are committed to the preservation of our natural heritage and the sustainable development of the nation, the BPP takes this opportunity to break from the prevailing notion of commercialism which normally dominates this time of year and wishes to remind you of not only the reason for the season, but also the true reality of our national situation and how it impacts you.

Harmouch Center Christmas Raffle
Harmouch Center extends Season's Greetings to their customers and congratulates the winners of their Christmas Raffle held today December 24: 1st - TV - Veronica Caseres 2nd - Stove - Elga Padillo 3rd - Microwave - Karina Palma 4th - Tablet - Venezia 5th - Tablet - Erick Blender - Gilberto Rivero; Iron - Erik Martinez; Toaster - Jose Lopez; Electric Kettle - Raquel Gomez; Cake Mixer - Einer Gomez

San Pedro Town Council says Merry Christmas
My fellow residents and visitors of San Pedro, It is with grateful spirit that I greet you during the Christmas season, a time of generosity and gift giving. Christmas is a time to renew our commitment to peace. We must ensure to have peace in our personal lives, in our communities, and in the world. Christmas is also a time of hope; we hope for new beginnings, hope for a better way of life and hope for a brighter future. As I reflect throughout the year, we must be thankful to the Great Lord, for sparing us from any great hardships and blessing us with yet another great year. We might have faced a few small challenges along the way, like the Sargasso invasion and the heavy rains, but we over came it by working together and being patient.

Christmas Dunk on Caye Caulker
Come join in on the second annual Christmas Dunk Christmas morning at 9AM! SECOND bridge south of the mini reserve. Jump in with a whoop or swim for a couple of hours, it's up to you. Just come get wet and say Merry Christmas! All welcome!

Woodrow West comes back home for Christmas
Welcome back home to Corozal! Star athlete, Woodrow West comes back home for Christmas. West is considered one of Belize's Top athletes and star goalkeeper. He took a contract earlier this year with a Honduran professional soccer league -Honduras Progreso. West was their #1 goalkeeper and against very tough opposition mananaged to win the National Championship in that country.Congratulations! Corozal welcomes Woodrow West, who is from Libertad, Corozal and wishes him and his family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

New fuel/gas station in Ranchito Village
Ground breaking has taken place for a new fuel/gas station in Ranchito Village, Corozal at the corner of Ferry Road and the Philip Goldson Highway just about a mile out of our town center. Plans are underway for the first phase of the project which consists of building a fuel depot and other building plans include a supermarket, hotel & casino. The entire development project is scheduled to be completed within a span of five years with the fuel depot being the first part of the project to be done. We will bring you more information as we obtain it from the developer. We welcome this project to our Corozal District in hopes that it will employ people from this area.

Christmas is a special time of the year
….and for our Cruise passengers is a time to enjoy their holidays/break in Belize! Our BTB FSTV Office gave them all a warm welcomed yesterday!

Cayo Welcome Center Holiday
Hoping your holiday season is fun and festive, here is a recap of yesterday's Cayo Welcome Center Holiday Fun!

Neighborhood Watch Benque
A community policing initiative; by the Benque Viejo Sub-Formation & Neighborhood Watch Zone 4 Captain Samuel Bruce began today. Listed police officers Cpl. Joshua McKoy community policing commander, other police which assisted; Wsgt. Thadine Martinez, Wpc. Cheyel Lanza, Pc Silas Lopez, Pc Sydney Agustine. All of Benque Viejo Sub Formation. Zone Captain Sam Bruce; visited various families in his zone to locate some of the most needy families, communicated this with Cpl. Joshua McKoy community Policing coordinator for the Sub-Formation. Police provided and delivered 3-packaged food baskets, Captain Sam Bruce on his own initiative provided boxes of Toys for the children, clothing, Rice, Beans, snacks, and Whole Chicken.

Blackout on Christmas Eve!!! Aye!!!
BEL working to identify the cause of a power interruption affecting entire San Pedro, Ambergris Caye since 5:57pm Thursday, December 24. BEL apologizes for the inconvenience caused.
Power supply restored to all areas from Boca del Rio to the South end of the island by 7:00pm. Power supply restored at 8:20pm to the Northern portion of San Pedro.

How do you finish a birding tour on a high note, without birds?
Take them for lunch to The Farmhouse Deli. Then take them to Caye Caulker to watch the sunset from the split while sipping a stout, then an awesome ceviche for dinner. Oh yes, and get them a few libe birds, i almost forgot

Channel 7

The First Day At Court For The Rice Fight
Last night, we told you that importer Jack Charles finally sued the Government of Belize because BAHA continues to hold his shipment of Guyanese Rice at the Big Port. Well, Justice Sonya Young granted him an audience today on Christmas Eve. Since it was an urgent application for leave to bring judicial review, all parties showed up to court. Those included Charles and his attorney, Leroy Banner, Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke on behalf of BAHA, and Eamon Courtenay who is representing the local rice producers. Justice Young heard them privately in chambers, and after the very short session this morning we spoke with both sides over what is to happen next in what could be a prolonged legal battle. Here's what the attorneys had to say: Leroy Banner, Attorney for Jack Charles "The AG Ministry is saying that that need more time to prepare fully for the case. Having received the affidavit at about 3pm in the afternoon. So they made an application for it to be adjourned until they are properly appraise of the information. So they needed more time to look at it."

PUC Rejects BEL Request For Rate Increase
Two weeks ago we told you that BEL was applying for an increase in electricity rates - taking the average up from 35 cents per kilowatt hour, to 38 cents per kilowatt hour. The power company's position was that the cost of power from the GAS turbine was underestimated. Well the PUC answered them today with the equivalent of a corporate slapdown. The order made by the PUCS today says it, quote, "approves no adjustments to the Mean Electricity Rate and Tariffs previously approved for the period January 1, 2016, toJune 30, 2016, and hereby orders the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) to levy the currently approved Tariffs in respect of the relevant services it is licensed to provide;"

Prison Brawl Between Two Accused Murderers?
Right now, 33 year-old Prison Inmate Sherlock Myvett, a Cayo resident who is awaiting trial for murder, is recuperating at the Prison's medic bay after being stabbed 11 times by a fellow inmate. 7News has learnt that it happened yesterday when Myvett was cornered by a group of fellow prisoners. He was attacked by one of them who stabbed him several times all over his body with a shank. He had to be transferred to the KHMH for treatment, and he's since been returned to the prison since none of his injuries were life-threatening. The police were called in, and Myvett's alleged attacker has been identified as 21 year-old Rigoberto Garcia, from Orange Walk who has been on remand while he awaits trial for murder.

Belizean Shot In The Head During Robbery In Mexico
Reports reaching our newsroom tonight is that Albert Gentle, a car dealer from Georgeville Village in Cayo, is tonight at a hospital in Villahermosa, the largest City in the Mexican State of Tabasco. That's after being shot in the head by a group of 5 robbers believed to be Mexican criminals. We're told that Gentle was part of a convoy of more than 10 vehicles traveling to Belize. He was in an 18 wheeler truck which was towing a container. Our information says that he temporarily separated from the rest of the convoy, and he stopped for gas at a gas station in Villahermosa. That's reportedly when a group 5 armed robbers pulled up in a vehicle and attacked Gentle and his friend who was traveling in the truck.

Thieves Made Off With A Boat Engine
A $21,000 boat engine was stolen from the Alfonso Young Boat Yard on North Front Street. The 72 year old security guard Delvie Gavilan reported to police that yesterday morning at around 1:00, 2 men with shirts covering their faces held him up at gunpoint, and told him to stay seated, as one of the men stole a 75 horsepower Yamaha outboard engine which was mounted on a 25 foot skiff in the yard. The engine is valued at $21,890. Police have one man detained for this robbery. The engine belongs to the Belize Audubon Society.

Police Investigating Fatal, Pint Bottle, Stabbing
Police are still investigating yesterday's stabbing death in the city. As we told you, 45 year old Lindbert Brown was stabbed with a pint yesterday on Far West Street. Brown was hanging out with two friends, a male and a female when a fight broke out. Brown attacked the female with a broken pint bottle - and that's when his male friend intervened, wrested the bottle away from him and then stabbed Brown in the head and neck. Police say all 3 persons are mentally challenged and they are not treating the case as murder. The case file has been sent to the DPP's office for review.

Fuel Prices Are Increasing After X-Mas Weekend
So, here's our Christmas gift to you - it's a tip: if you own a car and have some cash, go and gas up before Sunday night. That's because at 12:01 am on Monday morning fuel prices are going up - and by more than a few pennies. Diesel is going up by 81 cents, regular by 97 cents, and premium by 72 cents. That's a sharp and surprising increase. Surprising because world oil prices are at a 14 year low - and also because prices have been trending down since November. The year's lowest price for regular was recorded on November 28th at seven dollars 38 cents a gallon, and the year's lowest price for diesel was recorded just a few days ago on December 16th.

MIT Finds Weed Being Transported A Bus
The public and politicians may complain about those traffic checkpoints that slow down traffic, but they have a knack of producing good sized weed busts. Yesterday morning, the Mobile Interdiction Team set up a checkpoint at mile 37 on the Hummingbird. They searched a James Bus and found a big bag stuffed with many smaller bags of weed. All totaled, it weighed in at almost ten pounds of weed. No one claimed the bag and it had no name, so it was labeled as fund property.

14 Years For Trying To Rob A Tortilla Factory
23 year-old Joseph O'brien tried to rob the Golden Corn Tortilla Factory on Central American Boulevard in September of 2015. Tonight, he's spending the first few days of a 14-year prison sentence for it. As we reported at the time, three men, one of them armed with a .38 pistol, stormed into the business and snatched the money from the cash pan. But that wasn't enough, one of the robbers then grabbed a cell phone from a worker, and that's when the owner tackled the man with the gun. His two accomplices ran off, but the employees and the owner subdued the gunman until police arrived and arrested him. That armed robber was later identified as Joseph O'brien, and he was charged with robbery, 5 counts of aggravated assault, and keeping an unlicensed firearm. He ended up standing trial for the robbery and firearm charges, and the prosecution called the owners, the employees and the police investigators to testify against him.

BTB Email Discusses 2 Million Dollar Insurance Hike At FSTV
Two days ago, the BTB's Director of Destination Planning and Cruise, Valdemar Andrade told us he didn't know anything about the 2 million dollar insurance requirement that the FSTV was imposing on independent tour operators. But 7News has obtained an email which shows that early that morning, before he gave us the denial, Andrade sent out an email to the independent operators talking very specifically about that same two million dollar insurance requirement. He tells the operators, quote, "we are not in support of the requirement for the 2 million dollar insurance being required of the operators." Again, this is the same insurance requirement which a few hours later he claimed to know nothing about. The only good news coming out of that is that it puts Andrade on the record as saying BTB opposes the insurance requirements. And so do the operators. It's come to a head today because all 6 of them were required to sign their new leases. Those new leases will allow them to remain inside the village for another year - but the lease now also comes with the requirement to have the 2 million dollar insurance per passenger.

Food Vendor Killed In Accident Near Camalote
A food vendor is dead after he was flung from his motorcycle in an accident. It happened yesterday in Camalote Village between miles 50 and 51. 36-year-old Belmopan resident Marina Christina Vasquez was heading to Belmopan in her SUV while 61 year old Israel Romero was traveling ahead of her on his motorcycle. Vasquez started to overtake Romero but that's when Romero swerved to the left - right into Vasquez's vehicle. Romero was then launched off his motorcycle. He received major head and body injuries and was rushed to the Western Regional Hospital. But he didn't make it. Vasquez has been served with a notice of intended prosecution.

The Marley Tradition For Christmas
Apart from your Christmas trees, your turkeys and your Christmas hams, there is one other Christmas essential that can't be overlooked - and that's Marley! Not Bob, or Damian…nope, it's the kind of Marley you put on your floor. It's a central part of the traditional Christmas housecleaning, but what is it about marley really? These inexpensive, decorative floor coverings come in many splendored colours, but what makes a marley good enough to take into your house? Emanuel Pech took to the streets to find the answer to that question. Bright, colorful, and decorative patterns- these are the marks of a good marley. When we stopped at Vin Fa's Shopping center yesterday, the sale of marley was still at its peak. Costumers rushed in to make that last minute purchase of Marley for that final Christmas touch. Marlon Grey has worked a long time with the sale of marley. He described this year's marley rush as more hectic that last year's. Marlon Grey - Shop keeper "This year I think it's a little even more hectic than last year. It's a trend - it normal procedure. Every year around Christmas time people crowd up in here buying marley. That's the number one item they keep buying; marley, paints - a number of items." Reporter "What do you prices look like?" Marlon Grey - Shop keeper "I think we have the best prices around town. The marley 72 inch, the regular grade is $5.50 per yard and we have a new quality here. It a foam material with backing and it's thicker than the regular marley and its $.7.95 per yard. Very good quality. People buy it a lot."

Million Dollar Baby's Christmas Miracle
He's only a few days old, but Baby Shamir from Corozal town is getting a miracle for his first Christmas gift. He was born four days ago with a birth defect called "esophageal atresia", or an incomplete esophagus which does not connect to the stomach. That means he can't swallow, can't eat, can't ingest nutrients - basically, he can't survive. After a post natal gastrostomy was performed at the KHMH, the newborn was immediately referred to World Pediatric Project. Now, it's a million dollar emergency surgery that can only be performed abroad - which is complicated. There's never any guarantee that a specialized medical center will take the child - since it is on a charity basis. And if they do take him, working out all the details just a few days before Christmas - including the very prohibitive cost of an air ambulance to a medical center is time consuming. But, the Virginia Commonwealth University is coming through big time - so big, and so quick that it would make even Santa feel shame.

The Passing Of A Celebrated Belizean Writer
And while Shamir is moving up, one of Belize's greatest authors and playwrights, John Alexander Watler has moved on. We are informed that Watler - who celebrated his 75th birthday on December the fifth - passed away in Baltimore, Maryland sometime between yesterday and today. Friends tell us that Walter had been in good health and had been travelling between the east and west coast. He had just published his latest work a few weeks ago; it is titled "Weggy's Rumour." Watler is possibly the most prolific published Belizean writer - and is certainly among the most imaginative and humorous. He has countless works including standouts, "Cry Among the Rain Clouds", "Sea Lotto" and "The Bomba Codex." He is also the writer of many short stories - which is what he started out writing in 1956 - and plays.

Tropigas Customer Will Live Free For An Entire Year
The cost of living - how do you manage it? That's a question that daily confronts all of us - and it bedevils those who live on the margins. But one lucky person doesn't have to worry about that anymore; at least not for another year. That is because today she was the winner of Tropigas' "Live Free For a Year Christmas raffle." Keisha Torres spent about a thousand dollars at Tropigas this Christmas season and now she holds a $12 thousand dollar check in her hands. We were there when she picked dup her prize this morning: Reporter "When you found out that you were the winner for the free for a year raffle?" Keisha Torres, Winner of Tropigas Raffle "On Tuesday when the lady call me." Reporter "What was your first reaction when you heard you won?" Keisha Torres, Winner of Tropigas Raffle "I was surprised." Reporter "Tell me how will this assist you in your daily expenses?" Keisha Torres, Winner of Tropigas Raffle "It cover all after the big shopping for Christmas."

How Di Christmas Di Cohn?
It's Christmas Eve! And for us here at channel 7, that means it's time for a good old 7 news tradition. Today like all other Christmas Eves our news cameras took to the streets of down town Belize City to ask one question, "How Christmas di cohn?" Like always, it was a mixed bag opinions, however most people seemed to be doing ok. They offered season's greetings to their family and said they looked forward to an even brighter 2016. Emanuel Pech did the questioning this year.

Channel 5

Mennonite Communities Join G.O.B. in Rice Litigation
On Christmas Eve, businessman Jack Charles was before the Supreme Court in a case he is bringing against the Government of Belize. The importer is seeking permission for a judicial [...]

Jack Charles Says Cost of Storage will be Recovered in Damages
While the shipment of seventy-five tons of prepackaged grain remains grounded in Big Creek, as of Christmas Day the importer will have to start covering the cost of storage.  That [...]

Sergio Garcia Asks C.E.O. Alpuche a Tough Question
Former Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Sergio Garcia is presently a technical advisor to Jack Charles.  As a regional trade specialist, Garcia is familiar with the provisions [...]

A Dangriga Fugitive is Recaptured in Lakeland
On December second a man considered a dangerous criminal escaped from Police custody while he and two others were being transported to the Belize Central Prison from Dangriga. According to [...]

Mum’s the Word on San Ignacio Police Station Rape Incident
As we get set to close up shop and head into the Christmas holidays, there is no significant update in the alleged rape at the San Ignacio Police Station. Four [...]

What’s the Pulse of the People this Christmas?
It’s Christmas Eve and around the city today, residents from across the country were hustling and bustling in the downtown Albert Street area doing last minute grocery and gift shopping. [...]

Post Office Cashier Embezzles $10,000
A report remains on the desk of the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Transport and NEMO today on the misappropriation of approximately ten thousand dollars from the Post Office in [...]

No Increase in Electricity Rates Says PUC
There’s good news tonight for consumers. The Public Utilities Commission has issued a statement in respect of a proposal for a rate increase in electricity. Following the submission from Belize [...]

Fatal RTA Claims Life of Elderly Motorist
A sixty-one year old vendor from the village of Armenia died yesterday afternoon from injuries sustained when the motorcycle he was riding was hit by an SUV. It happened between [...]

Rural Eastern Division Retooled for Policing in Belize District
There will be peace in the twenty-two thousand square miles of the Rural Eastern Division’s jurisdiction this Christmas, at least if the officers in that division have anything to do [...]

A Christmas Message from Father Matt
Every year we get the traditional messages of Christmas happy tidings and goodwill, of peace and all things holy and joyful. And that’s a good thing because Christmas is a [...]

Christ is the Reason for the Season
With the Christmas holiday weekend just a few hours away, downtown Belize City is alive with activity. While it is easy to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, [...]

Keisha Torres Wins Tropigas Raffle
Christmas will be a lot brighter this year for a Belize City resident. Tropigas officially handed over twelve thousand dollars cash to Keisha Torres this morning at its Belize City [...]

B.E.L.’s Annual Hamper Drive
The PUC has put the brakes on electricity rate increase, but the employees of Belize Electricity Limited are in the spirit of giving. The annual hamper drive where residents from [...]

Healthy Tips as 2015 Comes to an End
In this, our last Healthy Living segment for 2015, we compile some of the top health tips offered by our medical, mental health and fitness experts during the outgoing year. [...]


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#510168 - 12/25/15 11:25 AM Re: Today's Belize News: December 25, 2015 [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Amandala

Cop detained on rape allegation
A San Ignacio cop has been detained pending investigation into an allegation that he raped a woman while she was detained at the San Ignacio Police Station, at about 5:30 Sunday morning. The woman, 25, of Bullet Tree, Cayo District, told police that early that morning, while she was in custody at the police station, a police constable came to her cell, took her out and took her to a room in the station, and raped her. After he had finished, the officer took her back to her cell, the woman told police. The alleged crime became known when the victim told another police officer what had happened, and the accused cop was detained, pending investigation.

Death row inmate gets 25-year prison sentence
The longest serving death row inmate at the Belize Central Prison was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment this morning by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin after he heard mitigation pleas from character witnesses who testified on Friday on behalf of Glenford Baptist, 40, a convicted murderer. Baptist was convicted of murder in November 2001 for the shooting death of Azrin White, who was gunned down on the night of July 24, 2000, as he was walking with his girlfriend on Iguana Street Extension. Three men rode up on a bicycle and shot him dead, then, as he fell in the drain, the men rode off. Baptist was convicted along with his other two co-defendants, Gilroy Wade, Jr., and Oscar Mendez. The court had found that they had acted in a joint enterprise, and all three were sentenced to death by then Supreme Court Justice Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington. Since his sentence, Baptist has been languishing behind bars, unsure of his fate.

Cashier steals $10,000 from Post Office
On December 10, the supervisor of the Express Mail Section (EMS) of the Post Office had informed the Postmaster General Elston Wade that something was not right in her section. That same day, the supervisor made further checks into the matter and confirmed that her suspicions were correct, James Gabriel, Deputy Postmaster General of the Post Office, told Amandala. Gabriel said that the supervisor discovered that the cashier was responsible for the disappearance of funds amounting to over $10,000 in the months of October and November. Gabriel explained what went wrong: When a customer pays for his/her express mail to be sent, a receipt is to be issued to the customer, filed, and entered into the computer, and thereafter, the package is mailed.

Steve Harvey invited to host Costa Maya on San Pedro
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) managed to create a buzz in international media this week when it tweeted a public invitation to Steve Harvey, suggesting that he should host next year’s Costa Maya pageant, organized out of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize next summer. Harvey, a world-famous comedian loved by many Belizeans, hosted the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant this weekend, but made a major blunder by announcing the wrong winner.

Despite gridlock, FirstCaribbean confirms departure next month
It’s official! CIBC FirstCaribbean announced via a press release on Monday, December 21, 2015, that after having received approval from the Central Bank of Belize, it plans to close its doors in Belize at the end of January 2016, but the Christian Workers Union (CWU), which represents the bank’s staff, says that the announcement was made “in a mad rush” amid an impasse between management and the union over an exit package—a salary increase, adjusted severance pay and debt forgiveness for roughly 50 workers, most of whom are uncertain about their professional future. “The workers are frustrated,” CWU president, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, told journalists today. She noted that the gridlock over the terms of an exit package for union members has been ongoing since October, when workers went on strike and picketed the bank’s offices.

Three illegal dwellings recently reported inside Chiquibul
Belize Defence Force Commander David Jones confirmed to Amandala today that an illegal dwelling set up by a Guatemalan at Valentin has been detected and Belize authorities are currently working with officials of the Organization of American States (OAS) to remove two buildings which have been illegally placed on the Belize side of the border. Jones said that the two buildings are located near Valentin, in western Belize, very close to the Belize-Guatemala border. Derric Chan, Park Manager for Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) said in a press conference on Wednesday that Guatemalans have continued to farm and even set up dwellings inside Belize, and it appears that they are staking claim to certain lands, identified by survey lines, pegs and markings. There is apparently land speculation in the area, and it appears that in some cases, some illegal farmers “rent” from another more influential farmer.

Two time defending champs, San Pedro Tiger Sharks, wins
The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) hosted its opening marathon this past Saturday at the UB gymnasium in Belmopan. Five of the eight teams that will participate in the upcoming season attended the marathon. In game 1, Cayo Western Ballaz defeated Independence Thunderbolts, 36-33. Elvert Ariola was the top scorer for Cayo Western Ballaz with 11 points, while Lloyd Coe sank 8 points in a losing effort. In game 2, San Pedro Tiger Sharks came out victorious over Belmopan Bandits, 48-37. San Pedro Tiger Sharks was led by sharp shooters, Caleb Sutton and Ashton Edwards, who scored 16 and 11 points, respectively, with a lot of their points coming from behind the arc. Jevan McKenzie was the top scorer for Belmopan with 10 points. With Dangriga obtaining the bye, they played game 3, where they defeated Independence Thunderbolts, 47-42. With the loss, Independence was eliminated from the competition.

Belize Assembly for Persons With Diverse Abilities (BAPDA)
In November 2015, the Belize Assembly for Persons with Diverse Abilities (BAPDA) had a recent election of officers. Pictured above: (back l-r) Wayne Usher advisor; Francis Gill, assistant secretary; Leigh Flowers, advisor; and Chaplin. Rose Armstrong, advisor (front l-r); Noreen Martinez, treasurer; Roxanne Marin, president; Berndina Eck, secretary; Rasha Dawson, vice president; and Kent Young, assistant treasurer. BAPDA continues to promote optimism in the lives of persons living with diverse abilities, advocate and protect members, and lobby with the government and society. We uphold the rights of persons living with diverse abilities, discourage discrimination, and promote inclusion of everyone in society.

Big Up Belize’s Woodrow West!
–Belize’s national team goalkeeper, Woodrow West, who was also the star goalkeeper for the Belmopan Bandits FC, took up a contract earlier this year with a low ranked club, Honduras Progreso, in the Honduran top professional league; and, with West their #1 goalkeeper, they have just won the Honduran national championship, a remarkable feat against very tough opposition. Congratulations, Woodrow!

Leechi strikes again, Police 1-nil over Verdes in PLB finals game 1
Just like he did in game 2 of the semifinals last Sunday against Placencia Assassins at the FFB Stadium, veteran Police United midfielder Orlando “Leechi” Jimenez, himself a former captain of a championship Verdes team, made a halftime entrance into game 1 of the finals against Verdes FC in their home turf at the Norman Broaster Stadium yesterday, and again Leechi delivered the game winning goal, just 5 minutes after action resumed in second half of a hotly contested match. Like the previous Sunday, when his veteran teammate Norman “Tilliman” Pipersburgh/Nunez had lobbed a free kick into that uniquely vulnerable space between the defence line and the goalkeeper, this week it was his brother Danny Jimenez, off a fast run on the right side, who centered perfectly into that soft spot of indecisiveness between defence and goalie, and like a shark smelling blood, Leechi’s accelerating long strides from midfield saw him overtake the bouncing ball and pounce with precision and guile, stroking it past a bewildered Yusef Guerra in goal for Verdes, as dumbstruck Verdes defenders , intent on marking the Police frontline attackers, were one step too slow for the goal scoring instincts of the wily veteran.

Editorial: Season’s greetings
With Christmas just a couple of days away, we know that there are millions of human beings in refugee camps all over the world, most notably in various countries of the Middle East, but also in Africa and Asia, even Europe. Over the years, Belizeans have often spent Christmas in various Mexican jails, because of immigration, narcotics, and other charges. These have been private, family pains. In Belize, we have accepted refugees from Guatemala, Salvador, and Nicaragua because of the wars in those Central American republics and harsh economic conditions at their socio-economic bases. This acceptance of refugees process in Belize began more than four decades ago in an informal way, then it became formalized through the United Nations in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But, the present reality of thousands of Cubans spending Christmas in refugee camps in Costa Rica is a new consciousness for us in Belize, and even in the region. Christmas is, of course, a very special time of the year. We refer to it as a “season,” a season of peace and goodwill to all men. The traditions that we have in Belize with respect to Christmas, began with the Christian religious beliefs brought here by the European Baymen, and then those beliefs were affected by Belizeans’ mahogany camp experiences, which were secular in nature.

From the Publisher
Last week the United Democratic Party (UDP) Government of Belize struck a devastating blow against the waterfront workers when they signed a statutory instrument which now includes the waterfront amongst what are called “essential services.” This means that the power of the waterfront workers to take industrial action against their employers, the Port of Belize, is now severely restricted. The journalists have to do research so that the Belizean people can find out exactly what “essential services” are, and also when and why the law was introduced. I know that the police and the public hospital were declared “essential services” decades ago, and I believe this law was signed in order to prevent any workers’ union from being able to cripple the elected government. I believe it was because of some socio-political emergency, such as the Heads of Agreement in 1981, that the ruling politicians took measures to control the unions and protect their administration.

US$40 mil and no oil – US Capital contract to explore southern Belize nears its end
US Capital representative in Belize, Alistair King, told Amandala today that the company’s US-based shareholders have still not decided whether they will continue on their mission to explore for oil in southern Belize, particularly with the price of oil dropping to US$37 a barrel. King said that he would be waiting to hear from the investors within the next couple weeks. The company’s current contract to explore for oil in Toledo expires on January 21, 2016, but King said that seeking an extension on that contract is a possibility. The contract—which was first issued to US Capital 15 years ago, on January 22, 2001—has already been amended twice: back in 2004 and again in 2007, for a second contract period to begin January 2008. Under the contract, the company has 8 years to explore for oil, and those 8 years expire in 4 weeks. It would have gotten an additional 25 years to produce from the oil field had it declared a commercial find before the end of the 8-year exploration period.

Belize Bank parent company, BCB Holdings, to change name
Notifications have been published via the Bermuda Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange of the intent of BCB Holdings Limited—the parent company of the Belize Bank, the country’s largest commercial bank, and Belize Bank International—to change its name to Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited. “The Board believes that the new name is better suited to the company’s strategic focus and aspirations,” said the notice published via the Bermuda Stock Exchange. In August 2005, the Belize Bank and affiliated Belize assets became subsidiaries of BB Holdings, created after the de-merger of Carlisle Holdings, while its European assets continued to be held under the Carlisle Group. In May 2009, BB Holdings changed its name to BCB Holdings. Now, BCB Holdings is announcing its plan to change its name to Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited.

Police Department is over 2,000 strong
The pass-out of Squad 92, after three months of training, brings the total number of officers in Belize’s police force to 2,067, John Saldivar, Minister of National Security, said today at the National Police Training Academy in Belmopan. A hundred and sixty-seven recruits graduated today, Friday, and were joined by family and friends who came to celebrate with them and wish them well on reaching this milestone in their lives. “The success of our law enforcement system depends on the willingness of all to participate and contribute to public safety”, Saldivar said. He recalled a few years ago that Belize was listed as one of the countries in the world with the highest homicide rate per thousand of the population, and as a result, citizens were losing confidence in the Police Department. Saldivar pointed out, “A police precinct concept that was introduced in 2013 has proven to be highly effective and was further advanced with the division of Eastern Division into three precincts, with senior officers in command.” Also, he said, the infusions of community-oriented policing resulted in more focus on the elements of the population responsible for crime and have brought the police closer to the community.

Last two offshore oil contracts expire, as Belize looks to onshore oil
The Director of the Geology and Petroleum Department, Andre Cho, confirmed to Amandala this evening that the last two offshore oil contracts, which had been held by Princess Petroleum and Providence Energy, were not extended beyond their expiration date of October 11, 2015, freeing Belize’s marine space from any immediate prospect of oil exploration. Amandala has been receiving multiple inquiries about the status of the offshore oil contracts, which had been challenged by Oceana a few years ago. In a Supreme Court suit, Oceana challenged the legality of contracts that had been given to these two companies, as well as Sol Oil, Island Oil, Miles Tropical Energy and PetroBelize Limited. Five of the six contracts had been granted on the same date, October 12, 2007. The contract for Island Oil, granted back in 2004, was the only exception. Cho told Amandala today that currently, there is no company with an offshore exploration license for drilling in Belize.

Cuban migrants in crisis: Costa Rica closes doors and withdraws from SICA’s political bodies
Costa Rica’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed via a statement issued online on Friday night, December 18, 2015, that it had earlier today suspended its political participation in the regional integration body – Central American Integration System (SICA, Spanish acronym) – and had withdrawn from high-level regional meetings that were being held in El Salvador over the decision by Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua to not allow Cuban migrants stranded in that country to transit through their borders. Costa Rica president Luis Guillermo Solís urged the countries within SICA to work together to reach a humanitarian agreement for the thousands of Cubans who remain in Costa Rica but who want to migrate to the USA. The Cubans have been using a Central American corridor to seek special migrant status under the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, which provides special privileges for Cubans to legitimize their status in the US, even if they arrive without papers, but which turns them back to Cuba if they are detained at sea.

Number of BDF boots on the border, top secret!
The question of how many Belize Defence Force (BDF) soldiers are currently manning the Chiquibul National Park – the area where incursions by Guatemalans is the most problematic – was raised today when our newspaper spoke with BDF Commander David Jones about the proposition that more BDF officers should be deployed to protect the country’s borders. Jones told us that he could not disclose the information to us, since we would, in turn, make it public. We asked him if he could at least indicate what percentage of the force is deployed to the border, since he could not tell us exactly how many, but he also declined to provide that information. We asked how many soldiers are deployed to man a conservation post, but he also refused to disclose that information. “We have soldiers in there,” he asserted, adamant that he won’t tell us how many. According to Commander Jones, “We have arrested the situation quite a bit.”

Parties react to law making stevedores an essential service
Two weeks ago stevedores, employed by the Port of Belize Limited, went on a three-day strike over the failure of the port management to come to an agreement with them over retroactive pay and retirement packages. The stevedores, most of whom are members of the Christian Workers Union, struck without warning, causing one ship to turn back without off-loading its cargo, while another ship waited outside the Belize City harbor until the stevedores’ industrial action was settled, before it was off-loaded. That was the last time stevedores were able to resort to industrial action without serving notice to the port management, because the government moved swiftly to rein them in by signing into law on Friday, December 18, a Statutory Instrument (SI) regulating stevedores under the Essential Services Act. Minister of State with responsibility for the labor portfolio, Hon. Hugo Patt, signed the SI, which amended Section 2 (a): Settlement of Disputes in Essential Services Act Chapter 298 of the Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2011.

The road ahead: Belize joins 194 nations in landmark climate change accord
In Paris earlier this month, 195 countries, including Belize, reached a historic climate change accord intended to scale back the dire effects that are possibly being felt in Belize in the form of accelerated erosion of beaches along the country’s coast, drought in central and northern Belize, bleaching on the country’s world renowned barrier reef and unusual flood events. At the 21st Annual Conference of Parties held recently in France, Belize was represented by a 10-member delegation led by Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”

Bus conductor, 33, remanded for allegedly having sex with girl, 12
A bus conductor was arraigned and remanded to prison on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse this morning when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser. Fraser explained to Dalton Longsworth, 33,that he does not have to enter a plea, because the offense for which he has been charged is indictable, and will be heard in the Supreme Court, after a preliminary inquiry that will determine if there is sufficient evidence against him to commit his case to the Supreme Court for trial. Police have alleged that Longsworth, on November 11, 2015, had unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor who is 12 years and 8 months old. Longsworth asked Fraser if he could explain something to the court. He then told the court, “I had nothing to do with that young lady. The date when they said that I had sex with her, I was at home sick.” After Longsworth had presented his explanation, Fraser told him that the matter for which he has been charged falls in the category of crimes for which her court cannot offer him bail for three months.

11 injured in road traffic accident
Eleven people received varying degrees of injuries after the vehicle they were travelling in overturned between Miles 34 and 35 on the Philip Goldson Highway at about 4:30 this afternoon. Six of the injured persons were taken to the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk, and five were brought down to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. The driver of the vehicle reported that he was travelling to Orange Walk Town from Belmopan and upon his arrival in the area, the vehicle suffered a tire blowout, causing him to lose control, and the vehicle ran off the road and overturned. An ambulance and police went to the scene, and the injured were taken for medical attention.

The Reporter

Kidney Association sounds Christmas alarm
The Kidney Association of Belize is calling on Belizeans who are at risk for kidney disease to be mindful of their diet during the Christmas celebrations. KAB President, Ruby Nicholas explained that in Belize the majority of kidney disease patients are those who ended up with kidney failure due to either diabetes or hypertension. These groups are especially vulnerable during the Christmas season because of all the festivities. “For the hypertensive patients we’re asking them to be careful with the ham, and for the diabetic patients to keep away from the carbonated beverages and cakes which are common around Christmas time,” Nicholas said. She added that in the event anyone in the at-risk groups decides to eat foods that will likely worsen their condition, that they do so in utmost moderation. She also advised all groups, including those already with kidney disease, to be adherent to medication guidelines, drink eight glasses of water daily, and include fruits and vegetables and fruits in every meal throughout this holiday.

Imports go up, but so do exports
Belize’s exports have risen while exports have declined, according to the latest data released from the Statistical Institute of Belize. The SIB this week released its External Trade Bulletin for the month of November, which showed that imports had increased by 3.8 percent or $6.9 million, from $183.3 million imported in November 2014, to $190.2 million. Exports were recorded at $38.1 million, a $5.7 million or 17.8 increase from 2014’s $32.4 million. Merchandise imports from January to November totaled $1.9 billion dollars, showing a 3.2 percent or $58.3 million increase over the same period last year. Merchandise exports for the eleven months (January to November) amounted to $515.3 million, down by 11.5 percent or $66.7 million from the same period last year.

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

Multiple people hospitalized after bus and car collide
Reports of a bus accident a short while ago, just outside of Punta Gorda (PG) Town, have surfaced and suggest that multiple persons were injured and some have been transported to the PG Hospital for X-Rays and treatment. The accident was reportedly caused when […]

Punta Gorda minor detained for murder
Confirmed reports from Punta Gorda (PG) police, indicate that a male minor of that municipality was detained and released yesterday after intensive questioning in connection to last week’s early morning murder of popular taxi driver, 64-year-old Antonio Mendia Rodriguez. Rodriguez was stabbed multiple times […]

Orange Walk Police identify body found early Thursday morning
Orange Walk Police do not suspect foul play in the death of a man who was found in the wee hours of this morning. Officers were called out to the corner of Baker’s and Main Street where they found the body of a Hispanic man […]

Is the People’s United Party moving forward?
The People’s United Party’s (PUP) leadership convention is scheduled for January 31st. For the PUP, the convention should serve as a catalyst to unite the divided factions of the party; to rejuvenate and invigorate its grass roots people-centered ideologies; to create a new path […]

Prices down
The Statistical Institute of Belize has released its latest figures and they show prices trending down in November, led mainly by the falling price of fuel. The costs per gallon of premium and regular gasoline were down by 25 percent and 27 percent, respectively, […]

Belize Bank donates $6,500 to Christmas programs
The Belize Bank, as part of its annual Christmas activities with the community, donated $6,500 worth of aid to the Salvation Army and Mercy Kitchen for programs to support needy families during this time of the year. Last Thursday Belize Bank Santa Helpers were at the […]

Jack Charles takes rice dispute to Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is holding an in-chamber hearing on leave to apply for judicial review by Xtra House owner Jack Charles against the Belize Agricultural Health Authority’s (BAHA) refusal to release Guyanese rice from Big Creek Port. Circle R Products, representing producers from Blue Creek and […]

Orange Walk Police find body on Christmas Eve
Orange Walk police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a man who was found dead in the wee hours of Christmas Eve. The body was seen lying on the corner of Bakers Street and Main Street in Orange Walk Town. Officials […]

Blogs

We accomplished a lot and enjoyed a great celebration
We may not have a building yet but that did not stop the San Pedro Branch of the Belize Red Cross from working hard in our community throughout 2015. In the coming year we hope to have a big space to call our own so we can continue our work in first aid and have a place to run community programs for youth and seniors.

2015: What A Year To Be in Belize! Part One
I had a great year. Plain and simple. Ups and downs for sure…but great. Ambergris Caye, the area most visited by overnight guests, also had a big year. Since I first visited in 2006, it was the year of the most changes – and most of those changes came by the way of the newly paved road north – which really broadened the area we consider easily accessible – and for me, the number of vehicles on this island. But let me get back to me :) and show you a bit of what I did this year in Belize. 2014 was the year of TRAVEL but I did get myself around a bit this year. And next year? I want to pick it up again…way up.

Videos

  • Merry Christmas Ms Cynthia! Belize, 3min. from Chaa Creek

  • Belize San Antonio Women’s Group Tour - Chaa Creek, 4min. The San Antonio Women's Group in San Antonio Village Belize still make ceramic pottery by hand. They demonstrate how this is done using the "coil method", and guests will be able to try their hands at creating something of their own. Following this, help to prepare your lunch by learning to make corn tortillas on a traditional fire hearth. Learn about the process of grinding the fresh corn and transforming it into the “masa” or dough that you will use to make the tortillas.

  • Belize 2015, 53min. Exploring Belize for the first time. We spend time checking out the Cayes and the mainland. We found great snorkeling at both Hol Chan and shark ray alley. On the mainland we really enjoyed hiking to Xunatunich. It was an excellent peak into the past.

  • Belize Mission Trip, 2.5min. Built School- Visited Orphanages- Hosted Multiple Health Fairs (Church- Redlands Seventh Day Adventist)

  • River Crossing to Barton Creek Cave, Cayo, Belize, 6min. In late December 2015, rains prevented us from visiting to the ATM Caves (google it), so our guide Israel took us to Barton Creek Cave to canoe into a cave used by the Mayans. Those same rains, resulted in a water swollen river crossing where he expertly steered the 1999 Toyota 4Runner (2WD, Propane powered!) across the river. By the time we left the cave, the continuing rain made the river crossing impossible for others. By the next morning the rising water level closed Barton Creek.

  • Leaving Barton Creek Cave (Cayo, Belize), 19min. As the rain had continued, while we were exploring, it was best to leave the Barton Creek Cave via "Mike's road". And again, local knowledge and experience, got us up a wet, slippery, gravel/rock-lined hill in a RWD vehicle with an open differential (1999 Toyota 4Runner). This unmarked road was especially treacherous as it wound its way through a Salvadoran refuge town on the landowner's property (Mike) and access was only granted to registered guides taking visitors to/from the Cave.

  • Royal Palm Villas - San Pedro, Belize 7B, 3min.

  • Empowerment Show Dec 17th 2015 True Meaning of Christmas, 25min.

  • Princess Cruise | 2015 Belize, Honduras, Mexico, 5min. We sailed on the Caribbean Princess Cruise Line and it was such a blast! We visited Belize, Honduras, and Mexico! We swam with fish, climbed the Mayan Ruins, and held (and almost took home) exotic animals!

  • Belize Dollar Banknotes

  • Rain at the Blue Hole, Belize, 1/2min.

  • Belize with uncle Rams 2015, 8min.

  • ORANGE WALK TOWN,BELIZE CHRISTMAS FIREWORKS,MINI BOMBS AND GUNSHOTS 2015, 8.5min. BELIZE CHRISTMAS FIREWORKS 2015.

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