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#510760 - 01/17/16 11:23 AM Today's Belize News: January 17, 2016
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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

Sergio Uribio killed
Police can confirm that Sergio Uribio was killed during a domestic altercation in the San Pedrito Area on Saturday, January 16th shortly before 1PM. Jose Alfredo Villeda was injured during the altercation. According to unofficial reports from police, Uribio and Villeda were socializing when the dispute begun. Both men were intoxicated. Villeda was transported to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II in a critical condition immediately after police arrived to the scene. The body of Uribio has since been transported by boat to Belize City to await a postmortem examination at the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital. Arrangements have also been made to air lift Villeda to Belize City for further treatment. Police have recovered a machete and a 2.5 inch knife from the scene believe to be the weapons used in the altercation. Police are currently searching for a third person that was with Uribio and Villeda prior to the altercation, as he may be able to provide more information as to why the dispute started.

CARICOM accredits new Ambassador from Belize
Belize has a new Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). His Excellency Daniel Gutierez presented his credentials to CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque on Wednesday, January 13th during the CARICOM Committee of Ambassadors meeting in Georgetown, Guyana. “As a Member of the Committee, you [Gutierez] will be expected to assist in advancing implementation at the national level of decisions of the Organs of the Community,” said LaRocque during the short accreditation ceremony. At the meeting Gutierez remarked on how the best years of the integration movement lie ahead for what he calls the “tremendous untapped potential” that is within the Caribbean region.

SPTC discusses street upgrades on the island
The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) has begun works on the renovation of streets, mainly focusing on the areas in southern Ambergris Caye. Some of the areas like DFC and San Pablo have seen an initial improvement of their streets and the SPTC ensures that is just a matter of time before a complete transformation comes to the most damaged streets on the island. According to Mayor Daniel Guerrero, the Town Board is fully aware of the situation of the streets and is taking control of the situation. “The streets in DFC and San Pedrito are deteriorating, but not to the point where we can end up stuck. So we have already started to look into the issue, and we have barges full of hardcore material coming in for the most affected areas. This is temporary, as we are trying to buy time before the road is fixed and we can get material from the quarry in Northern Ambergris Caye. When this happens, the first areas of priority will be San Marcos, San Juan, San Pedrito, DFC and San Pablo,” said Guerrero. He expects that the quarry will be accessible in the next coming weeks. Guerrero also indicated that the material from the quarry will be cheaper and of better quality.

Belize group participates in Nigeria’s Calabar Carnival
Belizeans countrywide are big fans of traditional celebrations, especially if it entails colorful costumes and lots of music. Top on the list is the ever-popular Carnival. During the month December, 2015, a Belizean delegation traveled to Nigeria to participate in their 2015 ‘Calabar’. The Nigerian carnival lasts the entire month of December, and showcases the cultural mosaic of Nigerian people while providing great entertainment to millions of spectators within Nigeria and from abroad. Calabar Carnival is one of Nigeria’s premier international cultural events held annually in the municipality of Cross River State in southern Nigeria. The event is considered ‘Africa’s Biggest Street Party,’ and was created in 2004 as part of the vision of developing Cross River State in Nigeria. This area is the number one tourist destination for locals and visitors from all over the world.

SPHS benefits from diabetes awareness campaign
Thousands of Belizeans live with diabetes. Diabetes has become a major health concern across the world, with 9.3% of the human population living with the disease. While diabetes is not a fatal disease, if left unchecked, it can result in health complications and even death. Educational campaigns are one of the main forums that provide valuable information on how to cope with diabetes to live a normal and healthy life. The most recent educational campaign was held at San Pedro High School (SPHS) from Monday, January 11th to Friday, January 15th. The program saw students, teachers and the community in general, benefiting from counseling and testing from Kathy Johnson, Executive Director of Alternatives Inc. (a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to assisting individuals with special needs) and Judy Mitnick, Certified Nutritionist and Diabetes Educator at Bon Secours Hospital System in the USA.

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

Credit card handling by Belize banks
from Hon.Barrows speech. Roughly quoted-we are not in an emergency yet. However Visa and Mastercharge have indicated they will not route US dollars after mid Feb. 1st tier banks are having heartburn in regards to continued off shore banking, pushed along by the IRS. Community bank is a 1st Tier bank as BankAmerica. US regulatory agencies brought Swiss accounts to the light of day, now they are going after Belize and others. Belize has thumbed its nose and now it is time to pay the piper. Visa and MC are part of the regulatory process. The globe speaks English, and for now the dollar is spoken financially.

Caye Caulker Humane Society tanks and Ts
Caye Caulker Humane Society tanks and Ts are now available at Cooper's art gallery on Front St. CCHS logo on the front. "Go Slow" on the back. 100% lightweight cotton sizes S - XXL (also XXXL in the T-shirt). BZ$50 donation to the humane society gets you one!

Jan. 3rd – Jan. 9th 2016 Belize Fishing Report
Aaron Adams from Bonefish Tarpon Trust cam down with 3 assistants to help with some tagging, and tag they did. Our guides found the fish and then helped the BTT fellows rounded them up. They tagged 748 bonefish and 14 permit in the 4 days they worked. We already caught one of the tagged permit! We really appreciate the work they are doing and hope you will support them by buying a membership. Call or join online Bonefish and Tarpon Trust or 321-674-7758

Amandala

Belize seeks urgent US intervention to avert banking crisis
Belize’s banking sector has been grappling with the domino effects of the decision taken by Bank of America and Commerzebank, two leading banks, to sever correspondent banking relations with both offshore and domestic banks in Belize. Immediately, Belize banks had to find alternate arrangements to ensure that trade would not suddenly come to a screeching halt, but even those alternate arrangements now seem to be threatened, and latest information to the press is that credit card settlements could be in jeopardy, which would not just affect Belizeans conducting purchases at home and abroad, but also tourists trying to settle their transactions while in the country. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow told journalists this week that there is “…no doubt at all that we are absolutely facing what is an existential threat; and I am determined—as are the individual banks in this country—to ensure that we do everything that we possibly can and that we continue to go at this thing from every conceivable angle until we can find a lasting solution.”

Belize City teenager remanded to prison for shooting pregnant woman and her mother
Devon Tariq Lopez, 19, a laborer of Lakeview Street, Belize City, was remanded to the Belize Central Prison today, after he was arraigned on six indictable offences, including two counts of attempted murder for the shooting of woman and her pregnant daughter, 18. No plea was taken from Lopez when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, who remanded him to prison until his next court appearance on February 26. In addition to being charged for attempted murder, Lopez was also charged with two counts of use of deadly means of harm and two counts of dangerous harm. If there is enough evidence when a preliminary inquiry is held at the Magistrate’s Court, Lopez’s case will be sent to the Supreme Court for trial.

US businessman, 58, remanded for alleged hit
Bradley Paumen, 58, an American businessman who has been living in Franks Eddy Village, Cayo, has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison after police charged him in connection with a hit that was ordered against another businessman, Michael Modiri, a dual citizen of the US and Iran. Police said that the charges against Paumen arose out of a complaint made on Friday, December 11, 2015, that Paumen had “taken out a hit” (hired persons to carry out a murder) on Modiri, a businessman of Belmopan with whom he has had a land dispute, and three other persons. “An investigation was commenced and [it] led to the arrest of Paumen, who was arraigned at the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court on Friday, 8 January 2016,” stated the police. Paumen said he was not guilty, and has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court date – March 8, 2016.

New Guat president sworn in Thursday evening
As we go to press this evening, Guatemala has sworn in a new president, Jimmy Morales, 46, who formally took office for a 4-year term (2016-2020), in very elaborate ceremonies convened in Guatemala City. In very extensive remarks delivered late this evening, after his installation, Morales expressed the desire for a solution to the territorial, maritime and insular differendum with Belize, which he called “nuestro hermano y vecino” – Guatemala’s brother and neighbor, and spoke of plans to further bilateral relations with Belize. Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who was among the hemisphere’s leaders attending the inauguration, greeted and congratulated Morales, as well as the newly installed vice president – Jafeth Cabrera. Other countries which sent representatives to the inauguration included El Salvador, Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela and the United States. Spain’s former king Juan Carlos I also attended.

Heritage Bank takes over FirstCaribbean accounts and assets on Feb. 1
CIBC FirstCaribbean recently confirmed that it will be closing down its offices in Belize at the end of January, after it received approval from the Belize Central Bank to sell its assets to Heritage Bank, a local bank. So, Friday, January 29, will be the last working day at the bank for nearly 60 employees, and some of them don’t know where their next paycheck will come from. President of the Christian Workers Union, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, told Amandala that while an agreement has been reached on the terms of severance from FirstCaribbean, the deal has not been signed and the terms won’t be disclosed until that happens. Meanwhile, Stephen Duncan, managing director of Heritage Bank, told Amandala that two-thirds of the staff of FirstCaribbean had applied for positions with Heritage Bank, and after they were interviewed, thirty of them were offered jobs with the bank. Duncan notes that the workers of FirstCaribbean are the ones with the institutional knowledge of its existing customers and accounts, which Heritage Bank will take over as of February 1.

Danny Gutierrez appointed Belize’s first Ambassador to CARICOM
Daniel Gutierrez, the man who has served as the marketing, logistics & communications manager for Belize Natural Energy Ltd. since 2006, was appointed today as Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM, according to a statement released out of Guyana, where the CARICOM Secretariat is located. The appointment coincides with the CARICOM Committee of Ambassadors meeting in Georgetown on Wednesday. Reminiscent of the pre-election slogan of Belize’s ruling party, the United Democratic Party, “the best is yet to come,” Gutierrez said, “The best years of CARICOM lie ahead…” “The hard work of our colleagues who diagnosed our hurdles and proposed a strategic plan must be matched by action. 2016 must be a year when words are made flesh; low hanging fruit must be addressed [with] haste and conviction…

Splish Splash – Belizean Michael Salazar 24th pick in MLS Super Draft 2016
In football news: We got some humongous news out of the MLS Super Draft in Baltimore, Maryland, as Belize’s own Michael Salazar was reportedly drafted with the 4th pick in the 2nd round by the Montreal Impact. So, big-ups and congratulations are in order for the 23-year-old Belizean, Michael Salazar. (Michael was a member of the Belize National “A” Team that participated in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the U.S. Out of 41 players selected in MLS Super Draft this year, Michael was the 24th to be drafted.) The MLS Super Draft was held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with the best players from collegiate soccer and a handful of other sources all set to join the USA’s top soccer competition. Salazar may see his first action with the Impact when the team travels to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps on Sunday, March 6. In cycling news: On the Weekend Warriors’ race calendar, coming up this Sunday, January 17, is Damien’s Birthday Race. Class A and B riders will take off from the Maskall Junction, then head over to Altun Ha, before racing to the finish line at M&M, for a total of 42 miles. Meanwhile, Class C riders will start at Altun Ha and finish at M&M, for a total of 30 miles.

Lilly White plans U-15 Four-A-Side at Holy Redeemer playground on January 31
Lilly White presents U-15 four-a-side small goal knockout football on Sunday, January 31, at Holy Redeemer playground in Belize City. Games start at 9:30 a.m. until. There will be lots of school supplies given away, so come out and support the U-15 Four-A-Side Small Goal Knockout. Lilly White is asking for a small donation to this event. Let’s show the children of Belize that we the people care very much about them; so let us all support this great event. Anything to do with school will be of great assistance to this event. Thank you for your kind support, Belizean people. So let us keep our heads up and keep activists like me, Lilly White, active.. Remember, it is you and me need to show and teach the young men and women of this Beautiful Jewel of ours to love and respect themselves and others.

An exemplary Belizean star passes – Joseph Carr, R.I.P.
The Amandala sports desk joins the athletics community in mourning the loss of an outstanding and dedicated Belizean athlete, who shared and passed on his love for the sport of athletics to his family, and had re-ignited his own running career in his veteran years, recently winning the Belize Athletic Association’s 5K run on New Year’s Day 2016, only to be suddenly snatched from us over the past weekend. It was not known to us that Joseph was a long time sufferer of epileptic seizures, and reports are that it was while on a training run this past weekend, that he suffered a seizure which led to his passing. From a very humble background, Joseph Carr stood out in athletic circles as a man who was completely dedicated to the sport, and fully supported his children, all of whom participated and made their mark in the events at school and in open competitions. The Carr family was closely knit, and his loss must be devastating to his wife and children. To them and the rest of his family and friends we extend our sincere condolences. Joseph was a quiet brother we all appreciated and will deeply miss.

Fuel prices
Ten weeks after a comfortable victory in general elections, the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) is scrambling to fix the figures for the 2016/2017 budget. Debate in the House of Representatives with respect to the new budget estimates should begin in early March. With oil prices falling through the floor all over the world, it was devastating to Belizean consumers and taxpayers when the Government of Belize raised already high fuel prices, and did so at the peak of the Christmas season, when our people are more distracted than at any other time of the year. The overall tax regime was already oppressive in Belize, and this UDP administration borrowed and spent a lot of money last year, mostly Petrocaribe loan funds, in order to feed the struggling Belizean economy with some financial steroids. Now, with the new budget around the corner, the chickens have come home to roost, as we would say. The fat cat politicians and their greedy cronies were never going to enter any austerity program: it is always we, the people, who pay the bills for the ruling politicians. It is for that reason that general elections are such a frenzied time in Belize: it is because the prize is control of our public funds, the power of taxation. The UDP returned to power in 2008 precisely because the PUP administrations between 1998 and 2008 had made public funds their private domain in a more reckless and arrogant manner than Belizeans had ever seen.

From the publisher
The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden may be relevant, or compared, to the crisis of native intellectuals in places like Belize, where there are populations which have experienced sufferings occasioned by racism, imperialism, slavery, and colonialism. Some people have referred to the tree from which Adam and Eve were not supposed to eat as the Tree of Knowledge. Theoretically, our “first parents” would have been happy forever and forever in the aforementioned garden had they not chosen, tempted by the snake, to eat the fruit of that tree which God had explicitly ordered them not to do. I have read theologians who say that in eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve exposed and expressed a desire to become like God Himself. Other theologians describe the eating of the forbidden fruit as the Original Sin. There was a specific moment in time when the rulers of Belize moved to educate the children in schools. This was 1814, I believe, when slavery still existed in Belize. The majority of the settlement was of African descent, but the minority European population were the rulers and slavemasters. A small group had emerged by 1814 which was of mixed European and African descent. They are often referred to as “free colored,” so I suppose there were also “slave colored,” in other words, people of mixed descent who were not free. Some people of mixed descent were also slavemasters.

Cañero Lucilo Teck tries to raise $30,000 to settle legal bills
This morning, on KREM’s WUB Morning Vibes show, a telethon was held to help pay the $30,000 legal bill of Lucilo Teck, the veteran cañero who went to court last year for a writ of mandamus to force the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB) to start the sugar crop—delayed amid a standoff in negotiations between cañeros and the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI). After today’s morning show, Teck told Amandala the good news: that they had raised $12,165 towards his legal expenses. Amandala readers will recall that Teck was ordered to pay $30,000 to Barrow & Williams law firm, which had provided legal services for the SICB, after he lost his case. Teck had taken legal action on behalf of the cañeros, asking the court to issue a writ of mandamus to the SICB, to set a date on which the factory would have to open so farmers could start delivering their cane. Teck argued that the stalemate should not have held back the opening of the factory.

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission appointed to implement CCJ order
The Government of Belize has formally established a commission to implement the ruling handed by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the country’s final appellate court, last year, which mandates the Government to adopt affirmative measures to identify and protect the rights arising from Maya customary land tenure. Chairman of the newly appointed Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission, Lisel Alamilla, told Amandala today that she and her team have been meeting since yesterday as they try to fulfill their mandate. Other members of the Commission appointed by Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs, Hon. Vanessa Retreage, who has responsibility for the Commission, are former National Emergency Management Coordinator, P. Noreen Fairweather, and Crown Counsel Randall Sheppard. “This Commission will establish a structured framework that will ensure collaborative consultation and participation of key stakeholders, mainly focusing on the twenty three villages, including Conejo and Santa Cruz, the Maya Leaders Alliance, and the Toledo Alcalde Association, consistent with the rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice,” said a Government statement issued Tuesday.

Transfer of presidential authority in Guatemala, 2016
The hope of a people that corruption will not find a resting place in government lies with James Ernesto Morales Cabrera, better recognized as ex-comedian Jimmy Morales, 46, who today will become the 50th president of Guatemala. As is customary, every 4 years on January 14, the neighboring republic swears in a new president in a process termed “Transmisión del Mando Presidencial” (TMP) or the transfer of presidential authority. Morales, from the National Convergence Front party, won the second round of presidential elections with just under 70 percent of votes last October, comfortably beating out his opponent, Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope (Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza, UNE) party. The selection of the ex-comedian signaled the desire of the Guatemalan masses for a fresh start. It followed some very intense moments since the beginning of last year, and in particular since March, when the populace—tired of perceived corruption within the highest levels of Government—began holding sustained mass demonstrations in the capital.

Government, Ashcroft and others discuss docking facility at Port of Belize
The Government of Belize has issued a statement confirming that it has been in talks with at least two companies which are interested in partnering in a venture to establish a new cruise port on the Southside of Belize City, at Port of Belize. As we reported in the midweek edition of Amandala, rumors of the discussions between the Government of Belize and British billionaire Michael Ashcroft, whose Turks and Caicos bank, British Caribbean Bank, has the Port of Belize under receivership, had reached the ears of Michael Feinstein, who had proposed a US$100 million mega-tourism enterprise with a cruise port at Stake Bank, off the coast of Belize City. The release, which was issued Tuesday, said: “Cabinet noted that as an option, it is reviewing numerous studies that have been done over the past two decades which identifies the Port of Belize as a viable facility. The Government has recently received expressions of interest to develop the Port of Belize from two companies so far. One is the company that currently controls the receivership, Ports Investment Limited (PIL), and Hertzog International Incorporated.” Although Parliament has approved a bill to grant exemptions on the payment of taxes and duties to Feinstein’s Stake Bank project, the legislation has yet to be brought into force.

Gunmen shoot pregnant teen and her mom
A mother and her pregnant daughter are fortunate to be alive after a barrage of bullets was fired upon their home at approximately 8:40 p.m. on Monday, January 11. Shenell Rowland, 18, told Amandala that she lives at #9 Dolphin Street with her mom, Stephanie Smith, 41, her elder sister, 20, and her two younger brothers, 11 and 14. Rowland said that her elder brother, 24, who lives with his grandmother, was sitting on the step outside of their home with a friend and playing games on the friend’s cellphone when the incident unfolded. Rowland told us that she served her brother a plate of food. Shortly afterwards, her mom, Stephanie Smith, told her to send her brother home, since it was getting late. Before she could relay the message, though, shots were fired at them. Her brother and his friend ran into the house and headed to the back room, and Rowland and her mom proceeded to close the door to prevent the gunmen from entering and to protect the children, but while doing so, they were both shot.

Busted contrabandistas pay a heavy price
Two contrabandistas, Franciso Lopez and Eddy Meza, are in police custody for the possession of uncustomed goods, after they were allegedly busted with 7 sacks of carrots and other produce, including celery, onions, red bell peppers and avocados, which authorities said were imported illegally from Mexico. The men, who were detained at about 9:00 yesterday morning at the Michael Finnegan Market in Belize City, will be charged 3 times the value of the goods, based on the selling price in the market. Amandala has been informed that Customs officials have seized 700 pounds of carrots, which are sold at $1.50 per pound at the market. So, the men, Lopez and Meza, will be charged $4.50 per pound for the carrots, which in total will amount to $3,150. The seizure of the illegal carrots is good news for San Carlos farmers, who, as a result of being boxed out of the market by the contrabandistas, are suffering major losses because they are unable to sell about 10 acres of carrots.

Honduras judge releases Tabony, but not his money
August “Gus” Tabony, 65, a popular US national who lives in Belize, was released by Honduran authorities on Monday evening, after 4 hours of closed-door hearings in which he had to prove that the US$16,490 with which he had been nabbed at the airport was not dirty money but money that he had gotten from legitimate sources. Tabony’s ordeal began at about 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 5, when he was about to board a Tropic Air flight from Roatan to Belize with US$16,490 cash bundled inside his backpack and briefcase. Tabony told us that the money was seen when he walked through the body scanner, and that was when he was pulled aside, and then he was detained and taken to the police station, where he was kept for 6 days in detention. The businessman told us, though, that he was not placed in a cell but allowed to stay inside a room that was equipped with a bed and air conditioning. He said that the cops, with whom he became friends treated him well.

Supreme Court rules that GOB breached environmental law for NCL’s Harvest Caye
The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) won an important claim in court today, when Supreme Court Justice Courtenay Abel ruled that the Department of the Environment (DOE) did not follow the letter of the law when it approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Harvest Caye cruise port and docking facility in southern Belize. The legal battle, spawned by the BTIA’s application for judicial review of the manner in which the government hastily approved the NCL’s project, has been ongoing for two years. The project is scheduled to be launched this year. Justice Abel, in a two-hour long session in which he read his decision, said the DOE had failed to follow the procedure in the public EIA notices. The judge declared that the EIA rules had been breached and he expressed the hope that his judgment would deter any future violations. Justice Abel also noted that the government did not comply with the legal requirement to publish notices in the local media. He said that the ads published in the Amandala and The Reporter newspapers were not sufficiently repeated so that the public could be afforded adequate opportunity to submit comments, suggestions and criticisms.

Audrey challenges PG cops on detention of minor in murder investigation
Apart from the laws on the books governing how minors should be treated in the criminal justice system, there are the Judges’ Rules, which set out specific ways in which police should conduct investigations involving minors in their custody. However, quite the opposite has been happening on a regular basis at police stations across the country, where minors are being routinely held for more than the constitutionally approved 48 hours. Attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd has written a letter to Superintendent of Police, Simeon Alvarez, the officer in charge of the Punta Gorda police formation, challenging what she asserts is the unlawful detention of a minor, 15, whom her law firm, Matura & Co. Ltd., is representing. The letter is copied to Bart Jones, the police’s legal officer, and to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie. We tried to reach both Jones and Whylie for their side of the story, but our attempts proved futile.

The Reporter

Police advance Paumen case
Another person has been charged in the ongoing ‘abetment to murder’ case of Bradley Paumen. The Reporter has confirmed on Saturday that the Special Branch of the Belize Police Department arrested and charged one of Paumen’s employees for ‘abetment to murder’. He is expected to […]

Driver escapes incineration in RTA
A driver escaped being burned to death on Saturday in a mid-morning traffic accident on the George Price Highway. At around 10:30 a.m., Robert Logan was driving his blue Ford Ranger pickup truck by mile 13 when he lost control of the vehicle and sped […]

Telemedia makes investments in schools and technology
Belize Telemedia Limited is planning a leap forward in two areas: computer training for the next wave of professionals both inside and outside the company; and a revamped national network that will see the state-run company take the lead again in service to customers. On Tuesday afternoon, BTL signed a […]

Bowen and Bowen invests $40 million in a new bottling plant
  This week, Bowen and Bowen made a $40 million investment in a brand new bottling plant to avoid a bottle shortage that have plagued the company in the past.  After noticing that soft drinks and Belikin bottles shortages was an issue for consumers, especially in […]

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission appointed
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Vanessa Retreage, on Monday, January 11th, appointed the members of the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission.   The Commission, which will work out of the AG’s office in Belmopan, comprises former senator and Minister of Forestry, Lisel Alamilla, who […]

Supreme Court addresses plight of prisoners on remand
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin said this week, that the situation with prisoners on remand at the Belize Central Prison (BCP) is unacceptable. Speaking at the opening of the legal year on Monday, CJ Benjamin explained that the number of prisoners on remand, and the duration […]

Traffic accident leaves man critical
A man is currently being transported in a critical condition to the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital following a road traffic accident about 45 minutes ago. The accident happened near mile 13 on the George Price Highway and involved a blue pick-up truck. The victim, a […]

The Belize Times

Pregnant woman & mother shot inside home
Now even pregnant woman are being shot in Belize. 18 year old Shenelle Roland, who is 6 month’s pregnant, survived a frightening violent assault of her home on the night of Monday, January 11th. Her mother, Stephanie Smith, had to be rushed for emergency care at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, for a gunshot wound to her stomach. Roland said that she was at home on Dolphin Street with her mother and two children when gunmen entered the house and fired at them. The attack on two women and two children was a cowardly one. But the gunmen cared less. One of the bullets grazed Roland’s tummy. Luckily, it did not harm the baby or complicate the pregnancy in any way. She has to visit the hospital daily for dressing, to avoid any infection.

Mayor Humphreys shuts down Dangriga vendors
A group of vendors in Dangriga Town are up in arms and are strongly considering taking Mayor Francis Humphreys and the Dangriga Town Council to Court after the UDP-elected Council forced them out of a location where they have been carrying out business for over four years. According to the Town Council, the vendors can no longer operate small vending stalls in an area on North Stann Creek Riverside Street. The Town Council has declared the space as a “No Vending Zone”, and has even taken court action against three vendors who insisted on utilising the area. But the vendors say the Mayor and Council have abused their authority and acted wrongfully. The vendors point out that the land they are doing business on is privately owned. They have a business arrangement with the owner, who was granted a trade license by the Town Council. According to the Town Council, the vendors can no longer operate small vending stalls in an area on North Stann Creek Riverside Street.

Boots, from Pool Table Dealer to Fuel Station Owner?
While many Belizeans have been struggling to cope with the hard economic times and poverty, the UDP Ministers have been busy hustling to make themselves and their families richer. Belizeans have come to know of Castro the wealthy cane farmer and Boots the lucrative pool table dealer, but what about Boots the pool table dealer AND fuel station owner? Sounds strange? Well, it seems too good to be true for the Southside Port Loyola area representative and Minister of Social Transformation and Human Development. Over the 8 years he has been in office and in power, it seems the only transformation Boots has been interested in has been his own. Before the November 4th 2015 elections, a large tract of land containing green forestry was cleared away by bulldozers along mile 43 on the Phillip Goldson Highway. The land, it was reported, would make way for a fuel station owned by a wealthy UDP politician.

Remembering Rt. Hon George Price
Friday, January 15th, 2016 marks the 97th birthday of the late Father of the Nation and great leader of the People’s United Party (PUP), the Rt. Hon. George Price. In memory, honor and appreciation of the distinguished legacy of Mr. Price, Party Leader, Hon. Francis Fonseca and other members of the party will be laying a wreath at Mr. Price’s burial site in Lord Ridge Cemetery on Friday, January 15th, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. The occasion also presents an opportunity for us as a nation to reflect and to remember the many contributions and the selfless service and dedication to Belize which he embodied. These must continue to live on in each and every one of us if our country is to progress and advance. The PUP reiterates its commitment to the Social Justice Agenda which continues to demonstrate a blueprint of the Party’s plans for Change and Reform in many fundamental sectors of government.

Think About It
2015 is behind us and now, as a nation, we are faced with the prospect of probably the most challenging period in our existence. The current United Democratic Party (UDP) administration has had a remarkable run and in November of last year was elected to an unprecedented third term in office. The situation is that had all things been fair and equal, the UDP would have lost not only this previous General Election, but more so the one prior to that in 2012. Elections in Belize however, while usually peaceful, are anything but fair and in particular the way things are run under this administration. Another self-evident truth is that the UDP was not elected based on performance or even on promises but instead on government largesse. In 2012, shortly after the UDP scraped by with a slim majority of two seats, there began a free flow of Petro Caribe funds. Notwithstanding that it is a loan and that it will have to be repaid, but still it presented an excellent opportunity for our country to dig itself out of a hole and make preparations for a sustainable future. Borrowing by both political parties had saddled the country with severely high interest debt and while Petro Caribe is also a debt, it was at a reasonable and very attractive rate of interest.

Facing the music
A man posted on his Facebook page photos of him having sex with a female police officer. The five or six photos went viral in Belize City. It’s the most wicked, worthless thing a man could do to a woman. A few words posted with the photos says this is what you get when you f… with me. Presumably, the female broke up with him and this is his version of getting back at her. Police says the Facebook “account” is false so they can’t charge the person for any offense of which there would be several. The photos are explicit. Any man, who stoops so low as to publicize such photos of a female he once was in a relationship with, is not a man. He is a low-down dirty bastard.
Last week a fire destroyed one of those infamous trailer houses the UDP had been selling in a previous government. Fifteen persons, mostly children, called it home. While sleeping, they were awakened to the screams of fire, fire. God be praised, no one lost their lives or were injured. Their home and most of their belongings went up in smoke. It is becoming a frequent assurance for the TV media to show families burnt out of their homes or houses falling to the ground with occupants. It represents the sad neglect by the Ministry of Housing in its on-going failure to assist the poor and desperate who are living in unacceptable conditions. Same neglect applies to the Ministry of Poverty (Social Transformation).
Sometime in 1981 or so, foreign cable television entered Belize. The story of how Belize finally got cable is a soap-opera series in itself. And perhaps we will try to describe some of it someday. There are several studies which say that shortly after American television enters a country; it is followed by an increase in crime, violence, drugs, materialism, loose morals nakedness and other manifestations of the decadence of the “Hollywood” mentality. There were three major personalities who were sounding warnings of the damage of unregulated foreign TV: George Price, Bishop O.P. Martin and Said Musa.

The Truth Shall Make Us Free
“How to lie with Statistics”, this book by Darrell Huff would be a favorite of Prime Minister Dean Barrow. He is versed in all the chapters that deal with dishonesty, distortions and half-truths using figures and percentages. Barrow’s speeches, whether on the occasion of New Year’s or Independence tainted with lies and abuse of information. His selective use of UDP-created data should be available to students to learn how the Prime Minister can twist the truth and distort the facts. Of the few examples given by Barrow, ALL show the UDP government as performing excellently. Put another way, all is well and the country is doing wonderfully. The truth is the society is unraveling, cost of living is high, crime is at crisis levels and the economy is grasping for oxygen. What will not come out of the Prime Minister’s mouth was a comparison of matters of pressing national concern. The examples are many. Let us list a few. Poverty. This word is a stranger to the Prime Minister’s thought process. It’s harsh and debilitating effects are of no concern to him. The reason? He has passed not one single piece of legislation on the issue. There is no policy that he can point to that tackles this problem.

U-15 football playoffs heat up
The battle for a place in the Belize District Football Association (BDFA); under-15 football playoffs has heated up as there is only one remaining spot; the Hattieville River Side boys became the 3rd team to qualify to the playoffs, by a nil-zip draw with Berger United at the MCC Garden on Sunday. Berger United has one remaining back match, taking on the No. 2 seed SMART Brown Bombers on Sunday, January 17. In Game 2, the Bombers made it harder for Face of Belize to make the cut to the playoffs, as the Bombers posted a 5-3 win over Face of Belize. Tyreek “Pippin” Muschamp scored 2 goals, and Eshaq King, Maynor Hernandez and Michael Deshield scored a goal apiece for Bombers. Face of Belize’s Ajani Vaughan scored 2 goals; and Sergio Andrade scored 1 goal.

SJC bombs Maud Williams 4-1 in football opener
The St. Johns College boys enjoyed their 1st win of 2016 high school football season with a 4-1 win over the Maud Williams High School boys at the MCC Garden on Tuesday, January 12. Lincoln Myvett scored first for Maud Williams, but Denroy “Bobo” Lopez soon equalized for SJC for a 1-1 draw at the half. Carlos Guerra scored SJC’s 2nd goal after the break, then Claishaun Lewis came off the bench to score a 3rd goal, and Lopez became the provider with a pass to Troy Guy who buried the ball in the back of the net for the 4-1 win.

Belize Bank Bulldogs win Boom to Manatee Lookout canoe race
The Belize Bank Bulldogs: Armin Lopez, Amado Lopez and Byron Cruz won Sunday’s Burrell Boom to Manatee Lookout canoe race organized by the Belize Canoe Association in preparation for the 18th annual Ruta Maya River Challenge in March. The Belize Canoe Assocaition will be holding other races to help the paddlers prepare for Ruta Maya; the next race will be upstream from Haulover Bridge to Burrell Boom on Sunday, January 24, and there will also be the annual Boom to Riverside Tavern race.

Long distance running legend Joseph Carr dies
Belize Times Sports joins the Belize Amateur Athletic Association and the entire sports community in extending their condolences to the family of a Belizean athletic legend, the late Joseph Carr died of an epileptic attack on Saturday, January 9. Joe was on his way home from his employment as a security guard when he fell into a drainage ditch just a stone’s throw his home off Antelope Street in Belize City. Joseph Carr’s most recent trophies were barely a week old as he had won the BAAA’s New Year’s 5K run on the Central American Boulevard, a race in which his daughter Ashonti also won 1st prize in the 15-19 Junior female category. Carr had represented Belize at many international and regional athletics tournaments over the past 2 decades; and he was in training for this year’s New York City marathon.

The trip of a lifetime
Our trip to ‘Africa’ was simply a dream that became reality. We were able to travel to a place many only knew by means of our history books and the television. As many of us know, history taught us that the African continent is Homeland or our Motherland. Therefore, being able to touch its soil is considered an opportunity of a lifetime. We were selected to go on such a wonderful trip so that we could partake in of one of Africa’s biggest yearly festivals held for over the past 11 years, known as the Carnival Calabar held at Cross River State in Nigeria. The invite was extended to us to represent our beautiful Jewel in its expression of arts and music, specifically, Carnival. Aside from all the initial excitement that filled us during the preparation for the trip, we were still faced with the reality that we were going to be leaving behind our family during the Christmas Holidays; nevertheless, we all managed to prepare ourselves and families just before our departure. We were also holding faith that the trip would still be possible, since on the day before departure, we experienced challenges in terms of hotel accommodations and other travel arrangements. Our prayers were answered however and we were ready to leave for our destination to represent our country abroad.

Will GOB continue to support FCD’s efforts in Chiquibul Forest?
The efforts to safeguard the Chiquibul National Park from exploitation and harm at the hands of illegal Guatemalan incursions are resulting in success according to the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD). After two years of sustained efforts to curb what seemed to be open season on illegal hunting and farming by Guatemalans, FCD is reporting a reduction in illegal activities inside the national park. FCD’s Executive Director, Raphael Manzanero, explained to the media that their strategy of increasing the presence of rangers and boosting properly thought-out patrols throughout the national park have made the difference. But FCD’s limited budget can only sustain the strategy for a few more months.

The best of the worst is yet to come!
This UDP Government really does not give a damn about the small farmers in this country. They talk about food security but I think as long as Agriculture Minister Gaspar Vega’s fridges are stocked and Dean Barrow doesn’t have to scramble around for small change to buy basic groceries…all’s well in the world. I have had to sit and watch the poor cane-farmers of Orange Walk begging for help. Many hours of backbreaking work in the fields every single day and this government will not listen. See they don’t know what it is to get up at 4:00am, ride miles to reach your cane-field and then spend hours preparing, burning, chopping, harvesting. They have no idea. When Gaspar Vega had the chance to stand with the farmers when ASR/BSI was taking advantage of them, he stood instead with the rich boys of the giant company. That is the life he understands, never having to worry where money will come from to pay bills or send his children to school or even to feed them.

3 years later…still no answers to eerie Southside massacres
The gruesome discovery of four men tortured and killed inside an apartment at the corner of Dean and George Streets seems to have faded from the memories of Police and national security authorities, but for family and close friends of the victims every year that passes without any closure is depressing. On the morning of Tuesday January 8th 2013, the residents of Dean and Plues Streets in Mesopotamia and Queen Square constituencies in Belize City woke up to a nightmare. Any sense that the day would be normal was shattered by the discovery of four young men, who were well known in the neighbourhood and even the wider Belize City community, beaten, stabbed, and with their throats slit.

MCC Garden messed up!
The Belize District High School football tournament has been limited to one game per day as the MCC Garden still has no lights. Which begs the question: why was the existing lighting taken down before the new lights were ready to be installed?!? That’s not the end of the absurdity at Belize City’s premier football facility. Concrete foundations for the new lighting towers have been cast into the ground at the 4 corners of the field, but the work has stalled. No lights, lighting towers nor power cables are evident within the MCC compound, but mysteriously a long, deep ditch has been dug around the field, reportedly to receive the power cables for the lighting. Fans are bemused as to what purpose this ditch serves; as it has created a pitfall into which several players have fallen and been hurt. The most recent was Wesley College’s Deandre Pitters had to retire from the field on Thursday; after he overran the edge of the field following an errant ball and fell into this ditch, bruising his ribs.

PUP National Party Council paves way for National Convention
PUP held its first NPC for 2016 at the Independence Hall, the home of the Party. Delegates from 31 constituencies, Parliamentarians, Members of the National Executive and members of Boards attended and participated in the vibrant discussions and decisions. Party Leader Hon. Francis Fonseca thanked all for their support to the Party during his leadership. The 3 contestants for Party Leader signed a pledge of commitment as follows: unconditional support and allegiance to the candidate elected Party Leader by the delegates at the January 31st Special National Convention. 2. committed to work for the achievement of the aims and objects of the peaceful constructive revolution and the principles and programmes of the PUP 3. reaffirm their belief in the political creed of the party

Supreme Court scolds DOE over approval of Harvest Caye Project
On Wednesday, 13 January 2016, the Belize Supreme Court ruled on BTIA’s lawsuit against the Department of the Environment (DOE) and the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) following the DOE’s decision to approve the construction by Belize Island Holdings (BIHL) of a cruise port at Harvest Caye, just three miles south of Placencia Village. The Hon. Justice Abel declared that there was a breach of Regulation 20 of the EIA Regulations concerning to the published notice in relation to the Addendum to the EIA. The court also ruled that the content of the published notice was deficient in various areas and, very significantly, that the decision of the NEAC to recommend the approval of the EIA was in breach of EIA Regulations, prior to considering the EIA for approval. In delivering the judgement, the Hon. Justice Abel also observed that the consultation process was somewhat short-circuited and that short cuts were taken, “which ought not to have happened, and one hopes this will not happen in a similar situation in the future”. The Court determined that BTIA was “largely and significantly” successful against the DOE, NEAC and BIHL, and ruled that the Defendants should pay the cost of the Court proceedings in the sum of $50,000. The Court judgment means that the DOE and the NEAC must now do a better job at discharging their legal responsibilities to safeguard Belize’s natural resources and administer Belize’s environmental regulations fairly and responsibly.

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

Post-mortem on American tourist finds she was strangled
A post-mortem examination conducted on the body of 39-year-old American national, Anne Elizabeth McComb, determined that she died of asphyxia by compression of the neck (manual strangulation), as well as blunt force traumatic injuries to the head and neck region. McComb’s body was found […]

Placencia 12th Sidewalk Art and Music Fest just around the corner
The 12th annual Placencia Arts and Music Festival will be held on February 14th and 15th at the famous Placencia village beach sidewalk, and artists, locals, and tourists alike are all excited for the colorful and lively event. The Art and Music Festival boasts […]

Tourism stakeholders alarmed over tourist’s murder, calls for more security in fear for industry
Following the two recent murders of foreign nationals in the West, a Canadian and an American in the Cayo district within the span of two weeks, starting with 37-year-old film maker, Mathew Klinck, who was found dead at a home he was sitting, stakeholders […]

National Garifuna Council blasts Honduras over Garifuna military attack
Belize’s National Garifuna Council (NGC) demands that the Government of Honduras stop the massacre of Garifuna in Honduras and to stop the militarization that they are imposing on Garifuna communities. This follows a December 28 attack in the village of Iriona along the coast in which two […]

Blogs

San Pedro To Belmopan and Back…Picking Up My New US Passport
As of January 1, 2016, The US Embassy in Belmopan, Belize no longer adds additional pages to your valid passport. When it’s full, it’s full. And it was time to get a new one. A trip to Kerala, India would require two full pages for my Indian visa. It was time to move fast. I made an appointment online (January 4th) with the US Embassy in Belmopan, arrived with my 2″ x 2″ photos and application. $110US paid, I was out of there pretty quickly. And on my way to a gorgeous lodge in the mountains. I would show you tons of pictures of the Embassy but it is as secure as Fort Knox – no photos, doors that are solid steel (even one that I needed assistance opening), a giant marble fortress. It’s as intimidating as buildings get in Belize. I am nervous (for no reason) just being there. Did I have an old traffic ticket that has turned warrant? Does the IRS want to audit me just because? Has Donald Trump decided that US Citizens can no longer live abroad? I dramatize. The people that work there are actually lovely. But this place is SECURE. I left with a receipt and my old passport and was told an email would come in 10 business days. I received an email Wednesday, January 13th, that my passport was ready for pick-up. Wowzer. QUICK. I decided to head to Belmopan and back to San Pedro in one day. Here’s how I did it. Easy but…a long exhausting day of travel.

Fiesta de Carnaval Belize
Every year during the week before Lent, the town of San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye explodes with ecstatic demonstrations of singing, dancing, parades, flour fighting, and even a painting contest. The period of Lent is a 40-day season of fasting and prayer, so Belizean locals let their freak flag fly during Carnaval, competing in special group dances known as “comparsas”, and hosting several lively parades in town throughout the week-long festivities. Visitors will get swept up in the fun, witnessing the beautiful rehearsed comparsas (group dances), riotous parades, plenty of live music, demonstrations of local culture, and engage in flour fights in the middle of the street. Face painting, as well as creating traditional paintings, is an important component of the festival. People from all over Belize, as well as around the globe, flock to San Pedro to partake in the celebration. Don’t wear your finest clothes, as you’re guaranteed to get covered in paint and flour during the wild week of Carnaval. Be prepared to relax and enjoy all the fun, dancing in the street to live music, or witnessing the comparsas (group dances) as local teams compete for the grand prize. With lots of local art on display, visitors too can try their hand at painting, with separate contests for adults and children. If you enjoy having fun, live music and dancing, as well as partying through the night, then you’ll definitely have the time of your life during the Fiesta de Carnaval.

International Sourcesizz

To Protect Against Zika Virus, Pregnant Women Are Warned About Latin American Trips
Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies. Women considering becoming pregnant were advised to consult doctors before traveling to countries with Zika cases, and all travelers were urged to avoid mosquito bites, as were residents of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. “We believe this is a fairly serious problem,” said Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, chief of vector-borne diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This virus is spreading throughout the Americas. We didn’t feel we could wait.” The C.D.C. advisory applies to 14 Western Hemisphere countries and territories: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.


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#510761 - 01/17/16 11:24 AM Re: Today's Belize News: January 17, 2016 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Oklahoma City University students perform high school construction work in Belize
Students from Oklahoma City University constructed part of a high school in Belize during the winter break. The Reverend Charles Neff, Vice President for church relations, lead a group of 11 students and three family members to Belmopan, Belize Jan. 2 – 9. The students, ranging from freshmen to graduate students, vary in their respective fields of study. “Our primary mission was to help construct the second floor of the Belmopan Methodist High School”, said Neff. The team mixed and hauled concrete by hand, sifted sand, bent and tied rebar to make support columns, and assisted with other jobs as needed. The team also purchased 100 pounds each of rice, beans and flour and repackaged them in two-pound bags for distribution to the villages surrounding Belmopan. The team also visited Marla’s House of Hope, a girl’s home, where team members helped the girls with homework, played volleyball and exchanged stories about life in their respective countries. In addition to the mission projects, the team also attended worship services at the Belmopan Methodist Church, visited the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich, attended classes at the Methodist High School, toured the Belize Zoo, visited Belize City and finished the week with a jungle zip line and cave tubing adventure.

Brazil to fund development of vaccine for Zika virus
The Brazilian government says it is directing funds to a biomedical research center to help develop a vaccine against a virus linked to brain damage in babies. Health Minister Marcelo Castro says the goal is to develop "in record time" a vaccine for Zika, which is spread through mosquito bites. Zika infection in pregnant women has been linked to a rare condition called microcephaly, in which the head is smaller than normal and the brain does not develop properly. Brazil's Health Ministry says 3,530 babies have been born with microcephaly in the country since October. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert Friday advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to Brazil and several other countries in the Americas where Zika outbreaks have occurred.

Videos

  • DRONE FILM BELIZE CITY FPS MEDIA, 1min. This film highlights the scenic coast of Belize City with breathtaking views from above.

  • Coral of the Caribbean, 5.5min. Footage from Roatan, Belize, Cozumel and St. Lucia. This was all shot with a Go Pro Hero 3, SRP red filter and sometimes a Fantasea or SeaDragon video light. All of this was shot in 2013-2014 when I had less than 50 dives under my belt, hence why it is so bumpy at times ;)

  • Catching sailfish off of Ambergris Caye Belize, 1min.

  • Mahi Mahi fishing Ambergris Caye Belize, 1min.

  • Turtles of Belize, 1.5min. My daughter's nickname is "Turtle." This video of turtles swimming in the waters of Belize is for you.

  • Power Boat Ride Belize, 5min. Power boat ride over the marsh land in Belize.

  • Power Boat Ride II Belize, 4min. In the video the Captain of the boat had fun with crazy turns and speeding up a little more.

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