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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

Letter to the Editor: Air Pollution due to Traffic
Dear Editor, We have been watching the local news about unhealthy air pollution in Beijing-China, New Delhi-India and other crowded cities. We visited San Pedro for a week. While driving our rental golf cart from the Southern part of the island into San Pedro, we experienced the air pollution on the Main Street. Unfortunately, we were caught behind a large truck and had to breathe the exhaust fumes all the way into town and the dust is created. We believe that the beauty of this island should be preserved by enforcing certain restrictions on vehicles. Also, the roads would not be so damaged if the larger vehicles were restricted from the main road. Because of this, we tried our best not to venture into town often. Also, as tourists, the speed of vehicles overtaking the golf cart made trips into town stressful. The opposite of what we would expect for an island that thrives on tourism. We chose Ambergris Caye because of its location and the ease of access to town. We are sadden because the next trip we plan, it may be worse as it tries to compete with modern tourism standards. The beauty and serenity should be maintained and preserved to ensure the longevity of this amazing place. Third-world traffic conditions are not what we expected for an island vacation. Please forward my concerns to your Health Department. We would love to see Ambergris Caye thrive, but keep true to the island culture.

Wolfe’s Woofer: Hearing Aid
"You need to go get your hearing checked,” Sherry said. “You don’t hear even half of what I say to you.” “Huh? Just joking, my dear.” She said, “You’re going to Belize City tomorrow so why not stop in for a hearing examination? You’ve been playing music in front of loud speakers for forty-five years and it must have done some damage to your ears.” In Belize City the doctor asked, “What seems to be the problem with your hearing, Mr. Wolfe.” “I don’t really have a problem,” I said. “It’s the people talking to me that have the problem.”

Letter to the Editor: Biking Hazard
Dear Editor, We love to bicycle ride while on vacation. This is the reason we only book vacations on low traffic vacation destinations and preferable on island’s with predominantly golf carts. We thought that your island’s traffic made bicycle riding unpleasant and even dangerous at times. You have too many cars, too much speeding causing too much dust, danger and health concerns. Neither bike riders nor tourists on a golf cart want to inhale dust while driving to town or inhale vehicle exhaust in San Pedro’s caravan traffic. From a tourist point of view, the traffic on the island needs containment and speed regulations. International guests will not accept such speeding and high traffic during their vacation. Tourists need to relax and re-charge while vacationing and not fight with traffic. Everyone on the island but especially the hotel industry should have an interest in safe traffic to ensure tourist satisfaction.

Doctor Love: Lonely and Straight
Dear Doctor Love, Over the past three years my neighbor and I have become very close. Some times he cooks for me and has dinner waiting when I get home. He also goes out and rents movies on DVD for us to watch. We have never had any physical relations because he is never quite sober and I refuse to be intimate with a drunken man. I finally called it to an end because even though he says he loves me, he has never been able to stop drinking. I do miss him a lot. What should I do? /s/ Lonely

SPBTIA to work with taxi associations and the SPTC in standardizing cab services
On Thursday, January 21st the San Pedro Belize Tourism Industry Association (SPBTIA) held their first meeting of the year. At the meeting, SPBTIA president Melanie Paz stated that their first goal for the year is to work with local taxi associations and Mayor Daniel Guerrero in developing a standardization plan for taxi services on the island. “Our taxi drivers are the goodwill ambassadors of the island. They are the first people tourists meet when arriving here, and it is essential that the experience is a good one,” commented Paz. “We [SPBTIA] want to work with the taxi associations in identifying how and where improvements can be made, and in turn, bring this to the Mayor for consideration. We can work together in establishing a standardization of service that is agreeable to everyone,” she concluded. Comments and suggestions were discussed throughout the interactive meeting, with the taxi association members enlightening the group to the many challenges they face. Commission competition, the deluge of golf cart companies on the island, cab owners who don’t even live in San Pedro and others who own fleets were just a few of their concerns. “These are issues we needed to be aware of,” commented President Paz, “I am so glad we are learning about this.” Paz urged the cab associations to work together in compiling a list of concerns that need to be addressed. “This is the first step in assessing what needs to be done in order to develop a standardization plan.

More dentists, healthier smiles
Another group of volunteers were at the Smile Dental Clinic at Holy Cross Anglican School from Monday, January 25th to Friday, January 29th. Dr. Paul Roggow, Dr. Steve Bender, Dr. Mike Haddow, Linda Roggow, Sue Bender, Rick Bigaouette and Julie Bigaoutte provided free service to students and residents, improving their dental hygiene and brightening their smiles. All residents are invited to take advantage of the dental services being offered. Dental health is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Below are the following dates and location for the dental program:

Local environmentalists weigh in on Blackadore Caye Project
After a public consultation was held on January 14th in San Pedro regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the development at Blackadore Caye, local environmentalists have been left with many questions and concerns. A number of local biologists on San Pedro were glad to share with The San Pedro Sun their expertise and professional opinions on the multi-million-dollar “eco-project” spearheaded by Hollywood celebrity Leonardo DiCaprio. The San Pedro Sun contacted the Blackadore Caye project management team for a statement and on January 27th they submitted the following. “The development of Blackadore Caye is focused on restoring the island and serving as a localist project that supports the community and country through employment and supply chain. Prior to this recent EIA submission, the development of Blackadore Caye received a fully approved EIA for a project of similar use, but significantly greater size, density and overall impact to the environment of the island. Ownership made the conscious decision to substantially reduce the density of the project and target a goal of maintaining 50% of the island for restorative and conservation purposes. With this change, Ownership intended to maintain open transparency with the public by submitting for a new EIA approval, rather than amending the prior approval. In furthering this goal, it is our intent to work closely with the various stakeholders in this project, including the fishermen’s communities, NGOs, the National Government, San Pedro Town Board, HOLCHAN, the Reserve Management Organization, and the Tour Guide Association in the implementation of this development. We have collected a considerable amount of data on the ecology of the island, including fish and bird populations that we will share with relevant organizations.

UDP National Convention set for March 2016
The United Democratic Party (UDP) is gearing up for their National Convention set for Sunday, March 20th. The convention will serve to elect the party executive body and is to be held at the Ecumenical College Auditorium in Dangriga Town. So far, there are no official persons in the running for the available position of Party Leader, First Deputy Party Leader, Second Deputy Party Leader, National Chairperson and Vice Chairperson. Interested members had up to Friday, January 29th at 5PM to submit their application to contest any of the available positions. At this convention, current Prime Minister and Leader of the UDP, Honorable Dean Barrow, will not be contesting the position of party leader again, as he is planning to retire in the coming years. “We’re having a convention next month which is not really the convention; it’s sort of an interim convention. We are going to try to get a dispensation from that national convention in March, which is the supreme organ of the party, so that we do not have to hold another convention in two years’ time.

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

Caye Caulker Lobsterfest 2016
The dates for Lobsterfest 2016 on Caye Caulker have been announced...

Quad Copter donated to FCD
Richard Pyshorn of Survival Wisdom hands over Quad Copter donated by SkyCap UK. Many thanks to Steve Roest and the team.

Amandala

Bradley Paumen, American investor, in more legal trouble
This afternoon there was a marathon legal squabble in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court over the arraignment of American investor Bradley Paumen and three others, as the state brought new charges of perversion of the course of justice and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The four persons charged are Bradley Paumen, his mechanic, Lisburn Anderson, Paumen’s ex-wife Juan Chon Park, and Johan Abaddi, a Belmopan businessman. The charges laid against the four are conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and perversion of the course of justice. Paumen and Anderson, who are facing charges of abetment to commit murder, were recently released on Supreme Court bail.

27-year-old Skeleton Town man shot to death
A Corozal Town resident, Paul Massam, 27, who lives in Skeleton Town, was shot multiple times as he stepped out of his house, and was declared dead on arrival at the Corozal Town Hospital. Police said that Massam was shot three times — twice in his head and once in his palm. The incident occurred at about 8:30 this morning. Massam was walking out of his house into his yard when a lone gunman walked into the yard and shot him. The gunman then escaped in a car that was waiting for him on a street not far from the victim’s house Police are looking for three individuals who they believe can help them with the investigation.

Cordel, Johnny or Francis? 3,000 delegates to decide
Three thousand delegates of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) are expected to converge on the nation’s capital, Belmopan, on Sunday, when, for the first time in 8 years, they will get a chance to vote in a national leadership convention for top posts in the party. We understand that voting should run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Belmopan Comprehensive School, with results expected a few hours after delegates would have had a chance to cast their votes. The last time PUP delegates had a chance to select a leader by voting was in March 2008, when about 650 delegates voted and chose Johnny Briceño, by a margin of only 20 votes, over Francis Fonseca.

3 charged with cook’s murder
Around 1:40 a.m. Wednesday, a pair of burglars entered the home of Dr. Marcos Christopher Rugama Miranda, located at 6 Simon Lamb Street, from where they stole a flat screen television after leaving one man dead in a bedroom and Dr. Rugama with stab wounds in the center of his chest. Rugama was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and admitted in a stable condition, but Ian Robert Blair, 37, who resides on Lizarraga Avenue but was visiting Dr. Rugama when the two dark-complexioned burglars invaded the home, died of the stab wounds the robbers inflicted on him. Today, police have charged three men in connection with the incident. Late this evening, Thursday, at 6:25 p.m., police issued a press release saying, “ARREST — Reference aggravated burglary/murder sent in police incident report dated 28.01.16. Police have arrested and charged 18-year-old Windell Thurton of #89 Freetown Road; 21-year-old Max Orosco of #103 New Road; and 19-year-old Byron Flowers of #846 Consuelo Street jointly with the crimes of murder, aggravated burglary, attempted murder, dangerous harm and use of deadly means of harm.”

Irregularities reported in final deal between FirstCaribbean and workers
The road to a settlement agreement between CIBC First Caribbean and the Christian Workers Union, which represents a majority of staff, has been a rocky one, and Amandala is reliably informed that as the bank prepares to shut down its offices in Belize tomorrow, Friday, the deal has been signed—but, reports say, with major irregularities that have some workers feeling jilted in the process. Information to Amandala is that CWU vice president Basil Brannon signed the deal last Friday, January 22, after he was reportedly misled into thinking that union president, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, who was on leave until last Friday, had agreed for him to sign on her behalf. When we contacted Brannon today to discuss the matter with him, we were advised that he was not available and he did not return our call. Last week, we reported to you that FirstCaribbean workers had been paid a 2% salary increase for 2014 and 2015, after the chief staff reps who liaise with the CWU brokered a compromise deal with management.

Caribbean fights to shield its US$29 bn tourism industry from Zika
The countries surrounding Belize have all reported confirmed cases of the Zika virus, and so have four of our CARICOM sister nations. In fact, Belize is one of only two Central American countries which have not yet confirmed a case of Zika virus infection in its population, but tourism stakeholders here are just as concerned over the financial cost of the disease, following the release of upgraded travel alerts to US tourists, who make up the bulk of visitors to our region. In this vein, the Caribbean has embarked on an aggressive campaign to fight not just the virus—but also the adverse economic impact it can have in our region. “We can never let our guard down where infectious diseases are concerned, and that is particularly so in our tourism-dependent Caribbean region,” said Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in a news conference held in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday.

Trenches closed at MCC, BDF vs Bmp Bandits looks good for Sunday
This evening, around 5:30 p.m., we visited the MCC to see the situation with the reported closing of the trenches near the sidelines (see picture above), and it does appear to us that Sunday’s game between BDF and Belmopan Bandits is more than “tentative.” Except for the official green light by inspecting referee Christopher Reid, which should have taken place today, but may have to be done tomorrow, all indications are that Belize City fans will finally get to see Premier League football action again.. (The last PLB game at the MCC was August 30, 2015, when BDF hosted Placencia Assassins in the PLB Opening Season 2015-2016.) BDF players were just leaving the field after workout when we arrived, and we caught up with coach, Gregory “Paisa” Cantun and his assistant, Jerome “JeJe” Serano, who confirmed, that their team is ready to play at the MCC on Sunday. Game time is 3:30 p.m., and it will be BDF FC hosting Belmopan Bandits FC.

Two overtime games in CYDP Peace Cup finals
The MCC Grounds looked like “old times” on Sunday, January 24, where hundreds of fans, including our fine ladies in all their regal splendor, adorned the bleachers, and inspired the young men to give two exciting football performances, with both the 3rd place and championship games going into overtime before a winner was declared for the CYDP Peace Cup 2015-2016. There was maximum security from the Police Department, and it also helped that all the games of the CYDP Peace Cup tournament were FREE. The third place opener ended 3-3 in regulation between Kelly Street and last year’s champ, Tut Bay, with Kelly Street emerging 4-3 winners on a goal by Francis “Franco” Andrews in the second overtime period. Goal scorers for Kelly Street were Stephen “Breds” Baizer, Wilfred Fisher and Francis Andrews (2); while for Tut Bay, Brian Martinez, Kevin “Motto” Alvarez and Delroy Flores got 1 apiece.

C-Ray Saturday Race Series 2016 – Week 2
The C-Ray Cycling Club Saturday Race Series continued over the weekend, Saturday, January 23. Forty-one cyclists lined up in six different categories – 17 Elite, 1 Female, 8 Category 4/5, 9 Junior, four 40years+ and two 50years+. The race finished in 57 minutes and 12 seconds, averaging 24.6 miles per hour, making it 1 minute and 28 seconds faster than week #1. At 6:00 a.m., all 41 cyclists were ready to go at the start line, properly dressed in their thermal wear to manage the 62 degree “cold” weather on the Boom – Hattieville by-pass road. At the sound of the whistle, George Abraham was the first to launch an attack; the race speed went up rapidly to 30+ mph for the first half mile of the race. George would try again and again, until finally he managed to get away with Brandon Cattouse. They were quickly tracked by the Smart Team who was out there in numbers, 5 men to be exact. As soon as they were caught, George attempted to make a run again. As he got out of the saddle to attack, his chain broke and his right foot flew out the pedal. He tried to bring himself back upright, but ended up hitting the pavement to the left, sliding into the middle of the road, causing everyone in the peleton to start playing “Dodge the George.” Thankfully, everyone managed to get around the spill. Veteran cyclist Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden stopped and rendered assistance to his friend, helping him to get into the C-Ray vehicle, which transported him to the KHMH.

Sunday’s significance
When the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) enters a leadership national convention on Sunday in Belmopan, the exercise will constitute the supreme decision-making body of the 65-year-old party. Sunday’s leadership convention may arguably be the most democratic exercise ever in the history of the PUP. There will be at least four times more delegates choosing the PUP Leader than the amount of delegates who chose the Party Leader, on separate occasions, in 1996 and 2008. It may well be, in fact, that Sunday’s convention will be the most democratic exercise ever in the history of major political parties in Belize, and it be even be the most democratic exercise ever in the history of the settlement of Belize. There are romanticists, dare we say apologists for white supremacy, who have pointed to the vote in June 1797 which decided to defend the settlement by a 65 to 51 margin as some kind of primitive people power in the settlement. But that vote was taken by white slavemasters and a few free colored people of substantial property. There were thousands of slaves in the settlement who did not participate in the vote.

From the Publisher
They say that in the United States, more than half the marriages end in divorce. The situation became so bad, and the likelihood of marriage failure became so great, that the always innovative Americans came up with something called a pre-nuptial agreement. The pre-nuptial agreement was supposed to mitigate against the possibility down the road of a terribly messy divorce involving vicious custody battles for the children and deadly disputes over moneys and properties. The thing about the pre-nuptial agreement was that it was so incongruous when you considered how romantic the climate was supposed to be before the wedding vows. After all, bottom line about marriage it was absolutely to be consecrated in an atmosphere of enchanted, exhilarating love, and the storybooks always said that “they lived happily ever after.” So why would you need a pre-nuptial agreement to, essentially, prepare for the worst when it was supposed to be all good?

“Yes, Channel 7, it is the end of the world.”
Dear Editor, Channel 7 Television ran a news story this past Monday, with the headline, “Gay Cruise Came to Belize – World Didn’t End.” As a broadcaster, I would say that is a clever, catchy headline, however Channel 7 and all the rest of us need to understand that it really is the end of the world. We are Belize; we are NOT America. With the decision last year by the US Supreme Court to make same-sex marriage the law of the land in the US, it is more urgent than ever that we let the world know that we are Belize – because America is beginning to experience the “Last Days” judgment of God. The US Supreme Court may be known as “supreme” in America – but NOT in Belize. The Constitution of Belize begins with this statement: “WHEREAS the people of Belize- (a) affirm that the Nation of Belize shall be founded upon principles which acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms, the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions, the dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator;”

Hon. Cordel Hyde is the man our people want for PUP Leader
Editor Amandala Sir, Hon. Cordel Hyde’s video: “Cordel Hyde for PUP Party Leader” has had a breaking record of well over 74,000 views, over 1,600 likes and over 165 shares so far. That is proof that he is by far the most popular candidate in the PUP Party Leader race. In the 2015 General Elections there were 67,566 persons who voted PUP. The vast majority of people agree that roughly about 65% of PUP’s who voted in the said elections are today supporting Cordel for Party Leader. Cordel’s charisma, positive vibes and his genuine love for people, especially the less fortunate and the poor, has made him the most popular and most acclaimed candidate today. He has filled the hearts with hope. His heart beats at the same rhythm of the people’s heart, while their aspirations are in tune and the same. He is the candidate that the majority see as the only man capable to change and restore the PUP. He will reform, renew and revitalize the party. The business community and private sector are willing to guarantee financial support to him because of his antecedents of honesty and transparency.

Education Reform Phase II at a tune of $70 million
Today was the official launch of the Belize Education Sector Reform Project Phase II at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. The Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, said that in the second phase 35 new schools will be built: 22 pre-schools, five primary schools and eight secondary schools, and these schools are expected to accommodate 5,300 students. Deidre Clarendon of Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said that CDB is facilitating Belize with a loan of US$35 million to assist with its educational reform. Clarendon said, “The government of Belize has recognized that education is the transformational vehicle for economical growth and development and this project exhibits the country’s understanding of the critical role of basic education in that process.” Faber said that phase I and phase II of the Belize Education Sector Reform Project were focused on three policy objectives. Two of these objectives — improving the “quality and relevance of education at all levels” and increasing student achievement by strengthening the governance of the system, were addressed in phase I of the project, said Faber.

Consumer prices down in 2015, but meat prices spike
A reduction in world crude prices and fuel costs resulted in an 8.7% decline in consumer fuel prices in Belize during 2015—offsetting price increases experienced on the home front for basic food commodities, such as meats, particularly ground beef, which rose by almost 20% from $5.00 a pound to $5.99 a pound. Overall, though, consumer prices fell by about a penny on the dollar during 2015, with prices falling in December by 0.7% over last December, according to information released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). For the year 2015, the average national inflation rate was negative 0.9 percent. During that month, fuel prices were comparatively lower than the same time last year. According to the SIB, “The price of premium gasoline was down by about 10 percent, while that of regular gasoline was 16 percent lower. Diesel fuel was more than 24 percent lower than it was in the same month, of 2014.” The SIB added that these decreases, combined with a drop of more than one third in international airfares, resulted in an overall decline of more than 8 percent in the ‘transport’ category when compared to December 2014.

Belize’s exports lowest since 2009, while imports hit new record
External trade statistics just in, indicate that Belize’s export sector experienced a depressed year in 2015, with total exports down to $535.33 million—the lowest since 2009. Meanwhile, the country’s import bill hit a new record, at roughly $2.1 billion for 2015. Belize experienced its fourth consecutive decline in annual export earnings since 2012, which correlates directly with a fall-off in earnings from crude oil sales, which hit its peak in 2010. The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), in its latest trade bulletin, informed that “plunging world prices resulted in a 64 percent drop in the country’s crude petroleum earnings from $102 million in 2014 to $36 million for the year 2015.” In fact, there was no crude petroleum exported in December 2015, compared to almost $7 million in exports of that product in the same month of 2014.

Cruise port exclusivity in Belize – a thing of the past
Currently, there is only one port for cruise tourists in Belize – that is the Belize City port operated by the Belize Tourism Village, but a second port is due to be added in southern Belize, possibly in late 2016 or 2017, by Norwegian Cruise Lines at Harvest Caye. What seems clear is that the era of exclusive deals for Belize’s cruise sector has come to an end after Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel ruled decisively on the matter last October. Abel had ruled against the exclusive arrangement between the Fort Street Tourism Village (FSTV) and the Government of Belize in a challenge lodged by Michael Feinstein, an original partner in the tourism port who has since developed a model for a cruise port at Stake Bank, offshore Belize City. Even though the court has struck down the exclusivity clauses, Feinstein recently backed down from his plans after reports that the Government is pursuing talks with the Ashcroft group for another cruise port in the Belize City area – a resurrection of an old idea to build a cruise port at Port of Belize.

“Fish Right, Eat Right”
“To the average Belizean, savoring seafood is a national pastime…it is also by paying homage to the hardworking fishermen who brave the open seas every day to satisfy our hunger for the best seafood. The Belizeans dishes are special; there is just some extra special, crunchy, tasty delectableness in that whole fried snapper, sere, hudut and panades that make it finger-licking good.” Alyssa Carnegie, communications director of Oceana, remarked at the launching of a local brand “Fish Right, Eat Right.” “Moving forward, the onus is on you, the consumer, not only to enjoy those delicious meals, but to enjoy it responsibly by insisting that your source complied with fisheries regulations”, she said. Oceana in Belize, Nature Conservancy, the Fisheries Department, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Environmental Defense Fund, the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) are embarking on a campaign to ensure that responsible consumption and fishing practices are adapted. Today at Hour Bar, they launched their local brand “Fish Right, Eat Right,” under which they will be promoting this new initiative.

Bus passenger pistol-whipped
A passenger travelling in a crowded bus from San Ignacio to Belize City had the shock of his life when a man entered the bus through the back door when the bus stopped on the highway to pick up a passenger, beat him in the head with what a passenger said appeared to be a gun, jumped out through the back door and escaped into the bush. The passenger was rushed to the San Ignacio Hospital, where he was treated and released shortly after. He is now recovering at home. The conductor of the bus reported that he did not see the attacker come on the bus, but when he saw the passenger after the commotion, he realized that he was bleeding from the head. Police were informed that a passenger had been shot in a bus in Esperanza village, and as a result, San Ignacio police responded. On a West Line bus heading to Belmopan, they saw Conrad Thomas leaning on a seat on the arms of a female, and he was unconscious.

US Capital asks GOB to extend oil exploration contract
The oil exploration contract for US Capital Energy expired on January 21, 2016, but Amandala is reliably informed that the company has asked the Government of Belize whether it can renew its petroleum concession—at least for another year. When we asked Alistair King, US Capital Energy’s representative in Belize, about the possibility of the company pursuing an extension to its contract, he told us that although they had asked the Government to consider it, no decision has yet been taken. King said that their directors are still considering it, and they are negotiating. He added, though, that crude prices are expected to hit a low of US$17 a barrel – which would be a factor that will be taken into account when the company determines how it will proceed.

Elena Smith is new Senator for unions and civil society
The newest appointee to the Senate is trade unionist Elena Smith, who was formally sworn in when the Senate met on Wednesday at the National Assembly in Belmopan for its first sitting for 2016. Asked how she plans to go about discharging her duty as Senator for both the civil society and trade unions, who may at times hold opposing views, Smith—who served for 8 years as president of the Belize District branch of the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU)—told Amandala that, “…at the end of the day, I am there to look out for the good of the entire group that I serve, that I represent and so I cannot go based on people’s emotions. I have to look at whatever is put in front of me objectively, because I myself have to offer some kind of position as a senator.”

MOU Signed to Improve Coordination for Sustainable Fisheries in the Western Central Atlantic Region
Three Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs): the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM); the Organization of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector (OSPESCA); and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations – Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (FAO-WECAFC) on Wednesday 27 January signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate, support and strengthen the coordination of actions among the three RFBs to increase the sustainability of fisheries. This initiative to improve coordination for sustainable fisheries is supported through the UNDP/GEF-Catalysing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project. This 5-year regional project seeks to support the implementation of a 10-year politically endorsed Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of the Shared Living Marine Resources of the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+ SAP); through the full implementation of ecosystem based management/an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EBM/EAF) within the CLME+ region.

Man pleads guilty to handling stolen license stickers
A Belize City man who was facing a charge of burglary pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and had the burglary charge against him withdrawn when he appeared this morning with his attorney before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith for trial. The Belize City Traffic Department was burglarized in March last year and a number of license stickers were stolen. A video surveillance camera showed a security guard entering the building and after investigating the incident, police charged Glenroy Reynolds with one count of burglary. Today in court, however, Reynolds and his attorney, Christelle Wilson, accepted responsibility for a lesser charge of handling stolen goods, and the court prosecutor withdrew the burglary charge against Reynolds, who maintained that he did not burglarize the Traffic Department office. Following a mitigation plea from Wilson, who pointed out to the court that Reynolds was a first-time offender, Reynolds was spared prison time and was fined $1,000, which he has to pay by August 31; if he defaults, he will have to spend six months in prison.

The Reporter

Man wanted by police for burning down brother’s house
Jeovannie Mejia, an Orange Walk resident from Otro Benque Street is wanted since Thursday night for arson. The fire was reported at around 9:13 p.m. in the Petville area, between San Estevan and Orange Walk Town. Mejia’s brother, Andy Leroy Mejia stated that his brother set fire to the house after having gotten into an argument with their father. The Fire Department could not save the house and it burnt to the ground. By the time the police arrived at the scene, Mejia had escaped and is now wanted by for arson, according to Officer in Charge of the Orange Walk police station, Nicholas Palomo.

John Briceno is new PUP Leader
John Briceno is the new Leader of the People’s United (PUP). Briceno, who spoke to the media only minutes ago, said it is time to unite the party in order to win elections. He said he will reach out individually to Francis Fonseca and Cordel Hyde to mend fences and to take the party forward. He added that it is time they all put their differences aside and to start to unify the PUP. If there needs to be a National Party Council meeting to weed out those whose intention is not to work in unity, he said, there will be that assembly. Meanwhile, Rodwell Ferguson was also elected as Deputy Party Leader, representing the party’s Southern Caucus. As well, Henry Usher was returned as the Chairman and Anthony Mahler is the new Communications Director. Counting ended shortly after 9:00 p.m. at the Belmopan Comprehensive College with the results for Deputy Party Leader, representing the Northern Caucus. Abelardo Mai took that position. Outgoing Communications Director, Myrtle Palacio gave the results.

Counting of ballots starts for new PUP leader
Counting has begun on ballots cast today for a new People’s United Party (PUP) Leader, with a turnout of about 2,758 of a possible 2,971 delegates. The elections began at 9:00 a.m. and ended at 4:00 p.m., after PUP extended the voting process by an hour at the Belmopan Comprehensive College in Belmopan. Preliminary indications are that while counting will not be finished for about another hour, John Briceno holds onto a comfortable lead thus far, with Francis Fonseca in second place and Cordel Hyde next. PUP Communications Director, Myrtle Palacio informed the media about an hour ago that because the voting was for five different positions, the counting will last longer.

Fishermen to now pay $20,000 fine for fishing in protected areas
An amendment on the Forestry Act has increased security for protected areas, by increasing the payable fine for violations from $500.00 to $20,000. Amanda Acosta, executive director of the Belize Audubon Society (BAS) stated that the regulation should help lessen the number of fishermen daring into conserved areas to fish. She stated that the Society suggested the new fine as they noticed that fishermen were apathetic to the $500.00 fine since they were making a lot more out of merchandise they took from protected areas. As of now, the demarcated areas are within the Barrier Reef and no fisherman is allowed to fish outside of them. Acosta explained that the idea is for there to be a marine creatures spill-over. Although fishing at large takes place within the Barrier Reef, the overflow of fishes that come from the protected areas supply it with an abundance of creatures from which fishermen can take.

PUP National Convention underway in Belmopan
The People’s United Party (PUP) is holding its National Party Convention at the Belmopan Comprehensive School in Belmopan. Three of the party’s heavyweights, including two former leaders, namely Francis Fonseca of Freetown and John Briceno of Orange Walk Central, are contesting, along with Lake Independence Area Representative, Cordel Hyde. There are also other members vying for vacant positions, including those of Deputy Leader and Chairman. The last PUP National Convention was held in Dangriga in 2010.

Belize ended 2015 with low inflation, says SIB
The cost of living in Belize closed off 2015 being lower than it was the year before, according to the latest data from the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). On Wednesday, the SIB released the “December 2015 Consumer Price Index”, which measures the change in prices for various goods and services in Belize. The data showed that for December 2015, average costs were 0.7 percent (70 cents) lower than they were in 2014. The SIB attributed the decline to lower fuel, Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), and electricity costs. “Within the category of “Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels” an increase of 2.2 percent in home rental prices overshadowed a 20 percent decline in electricity rates and a steep drop in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas,” the SIB said. The average price for a 100 pound cylinder fell from $109.26 in December 2014 to $83.88 in December 2015, a decline of 23 percent. During the same period, the average price per gallon of all three types of fuels remained lower than they were in December 2014.

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

Fatal stabbing in Belize City
There was a stabbing after midnight Friday night near the Complex Building in the Lake Independence area of Belize City. Although we have tried, we have been unable to get any information from Police on how the incident unfolded. All we can confirm so […]

3 year old accidentally crushed by gate
Tragedy has hit a young couple whose 3-year-old daughter, Brianna Timmons, was crushed by a heavy iron gate on the front of the Lloyd Coffin pre-school compound off Mahogany Street in Belize City. The frightening incident happened on Friday night just before 7 when […]

Belize Defense Force gets new soldiers, operating bases
Belize’s national army, the Belize Defence Force, has its ranks grown by eighty to over 1,500 men and women after a full passing out ceremony took place on Friday in Price Barracks, Ladyville. While according to Minister of National Security John Saldivar, more than […]

John Briceno returns to leadership of the People’s United Party
In the race for party leader of the People’s United Party, Johnny Briceno has triumphed over rivals Francis Fonseca and Cordel Hyde, returning to leadership of the party he stepped away from five years ago. Like his rival Hyde, Briceno has been preaching a […]

Prime Minister returns from Washington, to host press conference
Prime Minister Dean Barrow returns today from Washington where he and his delegation met with US Government and banking officials to resolve the crisis caused in Belize by derisking. This involves the bigger US Banks who have been severing ties with banks in Belize […]

People’s United Party Convention complete; counting underway
Voting as of this hour in the People’s United Party Special National Convention is complete and counting is underway. Almost 3 thousand delegates were eligible to vote for a party leader, four deputy party leaders, a chairman, a treasurer, a national campaign manager, and […]

PUP Special National Convention underway in Belmopan
Almost 3 thousand delegates are eligible to vote in today’s special National Convention of the People’s United Party. As of this evening at the Belmopan Comprehensive School off the Ring Road, the party will have an undisputed leader, selected by its members. But in only one case would […]

Belize Media Group had excellent 2015 – here’s what’s ahead in 2016!
Your Belize Media Group is committed to being Belize’s number one online source of news and information. In 2015 you came to us first for news about the general elections, crime, the economy, tourism, weather and sports. More than 2 million persons visited our website […]

Blogs

Kelly McGuire’s Birthday Week(s) Kicks off On Ambergris Caye With a Full House
Texas singer and award winning songwriter, Kelly McGuire, has been to Ambergris Caye quite a bit. So many times that he has written an album called “Boat in Belize” (2007) and then “King of the Island” (2011). Every year, he comes down to celebrate his birthday with all of San Pedro. And yesterday, ON THE MOST GORGEOUS DAY, I headed down to Island Time Bar & Restaurant for his second show of Belize 2016.

February In Belize: Events Galore
It’s hard to pick the busiest month of the year in Belize…and while Christmas week may be the busiest week of the year, February may be the busiest in terms of a month of solid events and visitors. The weather is absolute perfect. There are festivals all over Belize.

We Went on Vacation…And Now Live Full-Time in Paradise
Many people say that you cannot possibly come to Belize and not have some kind of a big adventure. I have to agree. My first visit to Belize was in 1995. I vacationed for a week of scuba diving off Glover’s Reef. I met my Belizean husband, Marcos, during that trip, and he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico with me in 1996. I was a practicing psychotherapist and my husband launched a small business. We enjoyed living in Santa Fe, but were intensely busy virtually all of the time. We traveled to Belize every year and explored the country in depth over the next 17 years. We knew our hearts belonged to this small nation, with its laidback lifestyle and friendly people. The breakneck speed at which life had to be lived in the U.S., raising two kids and running two businesses while maintaining a house eventually took its toll. In 2013, we made a permanent move to San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye. The beauty of the crystalline turquoise water, gorgeous weather, and active and thriving English-speaking community is something I still appreciate.

Rice with Chicken a la Margarita (Arroz con Pollo a la Margarita)
HEAT 2 Tbsp. dressing in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; cook 4 min. on each side or until browned dam on both sides. Get it out of the pan. ADD pepper and onion in skillet; cook and stir 5 min. or until crisp and tender. Add broth, rice, cumin and remaining vinaigrette; stir. Bring to boil. Put the chicken on top and cover the pan. Cook over medium-low heat to maintain a gentle boil for 25 to 30 min. or until chicken is done (internal temperature reaches 165 º F) and rice soft. Remove from heat. Let stand covered 5 min. Sprinkle the dish with cilantro.

The San Ignacio Market
Located on the banks of the Macal River, the market in San Ignacio is a truly unique opportunity to experience Belizean life. Farmers, traders, and vendors from all walks of Belizean life gather together to sell their wares. Don’t be surprised to hear a blend of German, English, Spanish, Creole and the Mayan tongue as everyone from Mennonite farmers to indigenous craftsmen use the San Ignacio Market to sell their delicious local fruits, vegetables, medicinal herbs, and handmade clothing. Cayo District is home to a number of different local cultures, including old rite Mennonites who moved to Belize from Europe, indigneous Maya, native Creole peoples, and Spanish-speaking Mestizos. These groups use the Saturday market in San Ignacio as a meeting place, exchanging gossip and news while selling their homemade goods. A trip to the market gives visitors a chance to see Belize at its best, a harmonious blend of different cultures and traditions all on display in one colorful and lively marketplace setting. Visitors can arrive at the market via canoe or other watercraft directly at a marked landing as the market is situated just adjacent to the banks of the Macal River. Visitors coming from overland will easily be able to spot the market as it is right next to the football stadium. The official address for the market is Savannah Street in San Ignacio.

International Sourcesizz

Belize’s watchdog issues Cease & Desist orders against FXPrivate, MT Capital Partners
The International Financial Services Commission of Belize (IFSC) has issued warnings and Cease & Desist orders against two companies offering Forex services: FXPrivate and MT Capital Partners. The watchdog notifies the public that MT CAPITAL PARTNERS LTD. is not and has never been licensed by the International Financial Services Commission of Belize (IFSC) to engage in FX advisory services, or in any other international financial services. The entity was dissolved on January 13, 2016 and is no longer on the International Business Companies Register of Belize, the Commission explains.

Latin American and Caribbean economies face slower growth this year
Latin American and Caribbean economies will grow just 0.2 percent in 2016, according to new projections made in early January by the Chile-based Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). In its annual report, “Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2015,” the commission reiterated its call to the countries of the region to involve more investment and productivity in order to stimulate growth. As in previous years, external conditions have variable effects in the region, which will again show marked differences in 2016. ECLAC predicts that Central America is expected to grow around 4.3 percent; South America’s GDP will shrink by minus 0.8 percent, mainly due to the expected contractions in Brazil (minus 2.0 percent) and Venezuela (minus 7.0 percent); while the English-speaking Caribbean will grow 1.6 percent.

New Weapon to Fight Zika: The Mosquito
Every weekday at 7 a.m., a van drives slowly through the southeastern Brazilian city of Piracicaba carrying a precious cargo — mosquitoes. More than 100,000 of them are dumped from plastic containers out the van’s window, and they fly off to find mates. But these are not ordinary mosquitoes. They have been genetically engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, which die before they can reach adulthood. In small tests, this approach has lowered mosquito populations by 80 percent or more. The biotech bugs could become one of the newest weapons in the perennial battle between humans and mosquitoes, which kill hundreds of thousands of people a year by transmitting malaria, dengue fever and other devastating diseases and have been called the deadliest animal in the world. “When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close,” Bill Gates, whose foundation fights disease globally, has written.

Feather forensics: scientist uses genes to track macaws, aid bird conservation
When a massive road project connected the ports of Brazil to the shipping docks of Peru in 2011, spanning the South American continent, conservationists predicted widespread impacts on wildlife living along the route that stretches almost 5,500 kilometers (about 3,400 miles). Roads are a well-documented source of habitat fragmentation, interfering with access to available habitat for many terrestrial and tree-dwelling species. However, it wasn’t clear whether or not birds are able to fly over these barriers. George Olah, a biologist from the Australian National University, set out to see if they can. Olah was already studying the genetics of scarlet macaws (Ara macao) in a remote area of southeastern Peru when the Transoceanic Highway was built through the middle of his research area. He realized that the forensic genetics techniques he was using to learn more about the local macaw population might also uncover evidence of the road’s impact on the birds.

Videos

  • Belize Video, 2min.

  • Shark Ray alley Belize, 10min. Swimming with the sharks and rays.

  • Belize 2015 Teaser: From Caye caulker to the jungle of Belmopan, 2min. From diving in Caye Caulker to expedition in the deep Jungle of Belize, here is the teaser of my last trip to Belize. Special Thanks to Frenchie's Diving, Caye Caulker, & Yache Jungle camp (maya guide adventure), Belmopan.

  • Belize December 2015, 13min. Silvia and Jeremy return to Belize: Placencia and San Ignacio.

  • Belize 2015 - Barrier Reef Diving, 13min.

  • BELIZE BARRIER REEF, 12min. DIVE SPOTS CAYE CAULKER MARINE RESERVE, GREAT BLUE HOLE, HALFMOON CAYE, LONG CAYE, TURNEFFE ATOLL

  • Blue Hole Belize, 7min. 3 great dives in Belize, including the Blue Hole and Shark Alley.