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#515675 - 06/30/16 06:48 AM Today's Belize News: June 30, 2016
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The news will be a bit brief for the next week or so due to time constraints


Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

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

Belizean Olympiad Representative, Katy Sealy visits Ambergris Caye
Belizean athlete Katy Sealy took a well -deserved break on La Isla Bonita after competing alongside 21 other Belizean athletes at the 17th Central American Championships in Athletics held in San Salvador, El Salvador. The tournament took place from June 17th through June 19th, where Sealy performed exceptionally, capturing gold for Belize in the heptathlon division. As a result, she and her Belizean colleague Brandon Jones will be representing the Jewel at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to be held from the 5th to the 21st of August. Sealy is from England but her father is from Belize’s southern district, Stann Creek. He lived for some time in the valley community of Pomona before moving to England, where he met Katy’s mother. However, Sealy has decided to represent Belize in her sporting career for the sole love of her heritage and Belize.

Area Rep awards outstanding students
On Friday, June 24th, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation and Area Representative of Belize Rural South, Manuel Heredia Jr. acknowledged three students for their outstanding academic achievements. Minister Heredia hosted a small ceremony at the Belize Tourism Board, San Pedro Branch to honor Rachel Alamilla of San Pedro Roman Catholic School, Rafael Marin of Caye Caulker Roman Catholic School, and Rowan Garel. Both Alamilla and Marin were the top scorers in the Primary School Examination (PSE), while Garel is a visually impaired youth challenging the stigma of his disability. Minister Heredia presented Alamilla and Rafael with certificates, along with a $500 check to assist them in their high school expenses. As for Garel, Heredia awarded him with a $10,000 scholarship to further his education at Drew University in the United States. Receiving the grant was his sister Aesha, as Garel is presently in New Jersey, USA with his mother, Milagro, to get familiarized with the campus of his new school. Garel is the first blind person to dive the Blue Hole and climb Victoria Peak as well. He also walked 90 miles to raise funds for the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. Despite being visually impaired, his vision of his future is bright through his efforts and determination.

International Costa Maya Festival Presents: Miss Panama
This week we present to you the lovely Miss Panama, Margareth Villanueva, as she joins the roster of beauties vying for the title of Miss Costa Maya International 2016. Model, entrepreneur, writer and Panamanian philanthropic, the 22-year-old has determination and conviction to achieve whatever goals she proposes. A model from the age of 15, Margareth has done campaigns, commercials and walkways with some of the best brands in Panama. She is also one of the official candidates for Miss Panama 2017. Her enthusiasm, love and joy for life are contagious. A volunteer at heart, Margareth began to give of her time and efforts from an early age. In 2014, she began her own movement focused on socio-environmental aid, drawing in youth to join her in activities that promote goodwill.

Saga receives generous donation from SPTC
On Friday, June 24th, the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), and Mayor Daniel Guerrero made a major donation to the Saga Humane Society. On behalf of Area Rep Manuel Heredia Jr., Mayor Guerrero announced the donation of a red carry-all golf cart with a year of free licensing, two lots in North Ambergris Caye, along with two months’ rent at their current location at Sea Star Street. The donation was given to assist Saga in furthering their work in the community. Not only is the golf cart much needed by Saga, but the extended trunk is convenient when transporting animals. During the presentation, Mayor Guerrero spoke of his positive relationship with Saga since taking on his role of Mayor in 2012. He also recalled the excessive number of stray animals that led to an unfortunate eradication in Ambergris Caye. “After that wakeup call, I gave my 100 percent support towards the team at Saga Humane Society. With support from Health Inspector Horris Patton, and as long as I am Mayor, there will be no eradication here in San Pedro,” said Mayor Guerrero.

Ambergris Today

International Attention Focused on Vulnerability of Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
A World Heritage Committee draft decision released on the 10th of June by UNESCO signaled a possible decision to retain Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Several deadlines to meet required indicators outlined by UNESCO in the Desired State of Conservation Report (DSOCR) have been missed despite the Government of Belize’s affirmation of its resolve in ensuring the continued protection of Belize’s Barrier Reef System and its seven World Heritage Sites in December 2015. The Committee’s Draft Decision notes, inter alia, that the announcement of an offshore oil ban in World Heritage Sites still needs to be translated into a legislative instrument and that the adequacy of the one-kilometer buffer zone needs revision to secure the protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The 21 member countries of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will gather in Istanbul, Turkey in two weeks’ time to debate the status of some of the most extraordinary natural places on the planet, including our Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. “If adopted by the World Heritage Committee next month, this decision would send a message that more needs to be done”, said WWF’s Reef Scientist and Climate Change Officer in Belize, Nadia Bood.

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

BELIZE FISHING REPORT: Weeks of June 19th – June 25th, 2016
Good permit fishing despite some of the iffy weather. It was a small group at the lodge with just a few boats going out each day. Christa got the tarpon picture of the week with a tarpon flipping out of hers arms catching her totally by surprise and her face tells it all. Father son team Mike and Sean visited us from Connecticut to attempt some large migratory tarpon. Weather was not in their favor and ended up seeing some rolling fish but no bites. On another day they did manage to land a couple resident tarpon to help ease the pain!

June 2016 External Trade & Consumer Price Index, GDP, Labour Force Survey
Here are the Statistical Institute of Belize's most recent statistics, published today June 29th 2016: May 2016 External Trade, May 2016 Consumer Price Index, First Quarter 2016 Gross Domestic Product, April 2016 Labour Force Survey Findings. Belize imported goods valuing $175.3 million, representing an 8.2 percent or $13.3 million increase over the same month in 2015. More than a quarter of all purchases from abroad fell within the category of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’, which totaled $49 million. ‘Manufactured Goods and Other Manufactures’, valued at $32 million, accounted for almost one fifth of total imports for the month. Iin April 2016 there were a total of 146,918 employed persons in the country of Belize. This represented a considerable increase of 8,773 persons over April of 2015, when a total of 138,145 employed persons was recorded. The national unemployment rate stood at 8 percent, down 2 percentage points from April 2015, and was the first single digit unemployment rate recorded in almost a decade. The median monthly salary for employed persons was $1,192, almost unchanged from one year ago.

Paradise Theater playing this weekend:
The ticket sales and a donation pot will be donated to the San Pedro Fire Relief Fund to assist the families and business in the rebuilding process. Anyone wishing to donate directly can do so by contacting the San Pedro Lions Club. Equals, Green Room, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ronaldo.

Caye Caulker Tourism Plan
CCVC held a meeting today with ministry of tourism and civil aviation to discuss: Caye Caulker destination launch. Sustainable Tourism Product 2 and its benefits Present at the meeting were: Mr. Abel Castellano, Ms. Terry Wright, Ms. Juliet Neal for the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, and members of the CCVC.

Caye Caulker craft market meeting
Our first meeting with BTB to improve area through: Craft market and possible tourism zone area/attraction that will include our fist Caye Caulker welcome center/information center/ museum! More details to come!

We will donate $10 to the fire relief programs for every person that comes to paint tomorrow. Please sign up at www.paintnsplash.com under the events tab.

Prime Minister’s Remarks on Final Compensation Award by Arbitration Tribunal on Nationalization of BTL

Humphrey Fellowship Competition
The U.S. Embassy is accepting applications for the the 2017 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program, which would allow people to train in the U.S. The deadline is August 15th. . "The Humphrey Fellowship Program is for experienced professionals interested in strengthening their leadership skills through a mutual exchange of knowledge and understanding about issues of common concern in the U.S. and Fellows’ home countries. As a non-degree program, the Fellowship offers valuable opportunities for professional development through selected university courses, attending conferences, networking, and practical work experiences. During the year, Fellows pursue both their individual program goals and work closely with their Humphrey colleagues in workshops and seminars. Unlike a typical graduate school experience, the Program encourages Fellows to travel away from their host campus to learn more about American culture and to network with their American peers. If you are interested in broadening your perspectives and becoming a global leader, the Humphrey Fellowship is for you.

Sargent Pepper's Grand Opening
Sargent Pepper's had their grand opening on Sunday the 26th. Mayor Trapp was there to help with the ribbon cutting. "On behalf of Sargent Pepper's Management and Staff, we want to thank all our invited guests, our businnes suppliers, family and friends who attended this historical moment for our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Grand Opening Event! An even more special and heart felt warm thank you goes out to our customers who has been supporting us from day one to present! And all those who came out yesterday thank you all! We are committed in serving you!"

Climate Change Video Competition
The NCCO is doing its first Climate Change Youth Video Competition. If you are between 18 and 30, and are doing something to combat climate change, you can enter the competition. Go for the gold! "The National Climate Change Office (NCCO) is embarking on its First National Climate Change Youth Video Competition. This competition will allow Belizean youths the opportunity to showcase ways in which they are implementing concrete actions in their communities to address Climate Change. Youths between the ages of 18-30 are eligible for entrance into the competition.

Channel 7

The BTL Bill?: Half Billion
458 million dollars – nearly half a billion dollars – that's how much the government of Belize will end up paying the Ashcroft Alliance for BTL. The full decision from the Permanent Council on Arbitration came down yesterday. In early May, the preliminary findings were made public and it showed that the shares were valued at five dollars sixty five cents each. That brought the total figure owing to the Ashcroft Alliance to 258 million dollars – which was bad enough, but the final decision adds eight years interest at a bruising 8% per annum. In total it's another 200 million Belize dollars in interest alone - bringing the total to a staggering 458 million dollars. Today at a press conference, the Prime Minister outlined the figures – and he didn't shrink from it. Surprisingly, he said, government is still coming out ahead! Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister: The picture looks to be like this. Under costs to GOB I would list the shares at US 128 million. The interest at 99 US million, the arbitration cost awarded by the panel of US 2.2 million for a total of 229 US or 458.4 million Belize. Under benefits to GOB I would list the share value at 5 dollars as opposed to what we paid for just the shares minus accommodation agreement alone. So I would total that as 226 million dollars. I would list the savings of the accommodations on the accommodation agreement; and I set out for you earlier what we were losing, I would list that at 202 million dollars. I would calculate the consumer savings arrived at by way of the lower nationalised BTL charges and service enhancements at 140 million by 20 million per year; dividends and taxes to date 106 million dollars, dividends forecast over the next 10 years is Belize 100 million, for a total of 774 million. Some of you might want to quarrel with my figures but even if I grant you a concession here and there; 774 minus whatever is certainly far greater 458.4 which is what we are paying now. That is why we feel utterly vindicated by the conclusion now of this long saga.

PM Blames Musa for 60% Of Share Cost
And now, those "people of Belize" – have a very big bill to foot – and they have to pay the first half of what's outstanding in 10 days. That's 190 million dollars – and we'll tell you how government plans to do that shortly. But, back to today's press conference, where the Prime Minister deflected blame for the entire bill – and said at least 60% of it has to be blamed on his predecessor Said Musa. He's the one who signed the unlawful accommodation agreement which was what led to the BTL takeover. The accommodation agreement constitutes 60% of the share value – so it's more than half of the 258 million that has to be paid for the shares. But, there's also an upside to it because it can be paid in Belize dollars – and the proceeds are supposed to go for social purposes. The PM explained, while taking serious swipes at Right Honourable Musa:

Staggering Cost Of Interest Doesn't Faze PM
And while he can blame the accommodation agreement on the former Prime Minister, the 200 million dollars in interest payments is all on Mr. Barrow. Coming up shortly you'll hear COLA's attorney argue why the interest never had to go so high, but first, the Prime Minister went deep into the spin cycle when he said that even with that 198 million bill – he feels Government still came out ahead:.. Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister: "The arbitration panel awarded 8.3% interest with the interest as I indicated also being split 40% for the acquisition of the shares and 60% for the accommodation agreement. Total interest in therefore by my calculation 198.2 million Belize Dollars. The bottom line ladies and gentlemen is that while we would have wished a less onerous interest rate from the tribunal; 8.3%, we can't really complain given how well we did in the actual share price award. So that especially in view of what we were able to accomplish in rescuing the accommodation agreement position, government has no regrets. We consider the nationalisation by any measure to have been absolutely in the best interest of Belize and GOB stands as strongly as ever by its decision."

Government Paper To Pay Ashcroft Alliance
As we mentioned earlier, half of the award has to be paid within 10 days. Subtracting 65 million dollars that has already been paid, the outstanding figure is 380 million dollars. So, that means half – 190 million dollars has to be paid by the end of next week. That's not easy for government to come up with in a few days – and the Prime Minister explained how they will scrape up the money:… Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister: "Half of the totality of the award is payable within 10 business days with 60% being in Belize currency and 40% in US. The second half of the award will be payable a year from now. Very simply we believe we will have no difficulty especially in view of the excess liquidity in the financial system; getting all the money locally by way of issue of government paper, bills and notes. And the 40% that has to be converted into US and send abroad will also be fairly comfortably covered by Central Bank reserves." And apart from the strain on the reserves, this substantial additional debt will cause Belize's debt load to balloon, likely sending the debt to GDP ratio into the 90% range, which is the red zone. It will also cause a spike in the fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP.

COLA's PUP Attorney Says GOB Didn't Have To Pay
The activist group, COLA, brought in their politician attorney and asked him to interpret the arbitration judgement. He says that the Barrow Administration chose to fight an extensive legal battle dragged out over years, and costing hundreds of millions of dollars, only to retract their defense before this international arbitration tribunal. For COLA and their attorney, they see all that time and money spent in court as especially wasteful, since – in their opinion - the Prime Minister as an attorney – should have known better. They explained that today an impromptu press briefing: Geovannie Brackett - President, COLA: "What we've been saying is that we felt from the very get go that if the government had been more strategic in taking over BTL and if they had just settle from the time that they had the time to settle as you will hear our attorney will explain that the government could have settled this matter a long time ago; rather than dragging this through the mud and dropping it at the mercy of the tribunal."

17 Year Old Female Found Slain In Mahogany Heights
There's another Mahogany Heights murder to report tonight, but this time the victim is a 17 year old girl. Jasmine Petillo was last seen yesterday evening. She was hanging out with a group of friends and left at 4:00. That's the last time they saw her alive because this morning, they woke up to find her half nude body wrapped in a blood soaked quilt. Today we travelled to Mahogany heights to get more answers in this frightening case. It's in her cousin's small bedroom that Jasmine would have her rehearsals. She would plug in her microphone in this sound system and sing the new song she had composed for her aunt's birthday. Jasmine was here on Monday practicing with her other marching band members.

Family Calls Out For Jasmine
And late this evening we also got to speak with Jasmine's grandmother and aunt in Belize City. Her grandmother took care of her and raised her as a child but it is only recently that Jasmine left to go live with her mother in Mahogany Heights. Today Jasmine's family told us what they suspect could have happened and expressed how broken the family will be now without their Jasmine. Judith Petillo - Grandmother of Deceased: "Whatever they do to my granddaughter, who ever do it God no the sleep; da man up there see whe di happen and always he will know what to do. Now you can't think about justice because that you no wa get you understand me so you put everything inna god's hand mommy. Da mi granddaughter, I wa miss ah because then she always say gran when you get sick I will mind you, I will take care of you and now mi granddaughter no wa di deh to mind me again you understand me. I miss mi granddaughter so bad and ih just happen but I feel it to mi heart, I can't take it, I just can't take it miss. She mi have a lee dispute at Mahogany Height I hear with some people and ih mi had a lee case thing and they mi crowd ah, 3 of them crowd ah and they jump ah and self-defence but she help ihself, she mi do they something and we no know if that da the payback for what they do to ah or da something else whe mi happen long time I mi hear da Mahogany Heights because all kind of things happen da Mahogany Heights."

Human Traffic: Coyotes Caught
2 Belizeans and a group of 18 Salvadorans are facing major illegal entry and human smuggling charges. Police intercepted Belizean driver Anival Alvarenga in a van near crooked tree. When they searched the vehicle they found the 18 Salvadorans jammed in the van. Today police told us more about the 2 angles they are considering in this case. ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural: "Also last evening at about 8 o'clock we intercepted one grey van from Cayo district that had in 18 Salvadorians and 2 Belizeans who were transporting them north. This interception happened between Ladyville and Gardenia. We have managed to confiscate the van and arrested the 2 coyotes who were taking the Salvadorians to the north. We have our assistant superintendent Juanito Cocom presently in Salvador at this time so he'll be making checks to see whether or not any of these individuals are wanted or have any affiliation to the Mara Salvatrucha in Salvador."

PM Says Sarstoon Situation Normalised
Last week Friday, we took you to the Sarstoon River three days after the most recent round of Washington talks. Both sides were locked in meetings for more than 5 hours. Coming out of it was the very vague undertaking that both sides had agreed to, quote, "best practices for the de-escalation of tensions in the Sarstoon River." And we witnessed what may have been that de-escalation on Friday when our news team was not harassed by the Guatemalan Navy. That appears to lend credibility that there was modest success in Washington, since Guatemala was still blocking Belizeans, days after the Istanbul Talks. Today, the Prime Minister was asked to clarify what is the latest understanding on Belizean's free use of the River.: Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister: "We cannot be satisfied until we get that so call cooperation, Sarstoon cooperation mechanism in writing. And I believe that the efforts to do just that are fully underway, ambassadors Rosado from our side and Roldan from the Guatemalan side are to take the first stab at reducing what has been discussed to writing with a view to producing this protocol. In the meantime, it was my expectation after the OAS meeting, last OAS meeting."

GOB Waiting For Sarstoon Mechanism To Consider Changing Referendum Law
The media also asked the Prime Minister if he was still willing to entertain the idea of changing Belize's referendum law from the 60% threshold, to just a simple majority. As we've shown you, Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington had advocated for it. The PUPs Leader's former Representative, Assad Shoman, with his considerable knowledge and experience in Belize Guatemalan relations, agreed with him. The Prime Minister said that he still continues to see merit in changing the referendum law, but he's not prepared to do so while the uncertainty over a Sarstoon Protocol remains. Here's how he explained why: Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister: "We certainly have the intention of amending the referendum act to remove that high threshold. I believe the foreign minister has indicated that the international community in particular the group of friends who's been so forth coming in helping to fund the OAS office in the adjacency zone and the OAS presence in Belize; that group is getting a little bit impatient. They feel that not enough progress is being made in respect to the referendum and try as we might in telling them it's not our fault we are ready to go just about whenever. They do point to the fact of us this high what they view as abnormal threshold in terms of our law; it is their feeling that would make it next to impossible or that any vote on that basis would not be a fair vote in terms of the internationally accepted standards."

#515676 - 06/30/16 06:48 AM Re: Today's Belize News: June 30, 2016 [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Belize City Bad Boys Like "Bush Fire"
A book on Belize's Urban Violence called "Like Bush Fire" was launched today at the Image Factory on North Front Street in Belize City. It is based on Dr. Herbert Gayle's 400 page report on male social participation and urban violence in Belize. The report was condensed in a 200 page reader friendly book of sociology and anthropology that attempts to definitively deconstruct the social fabric of urban violence in an attempt to understand some of it's root causes. The report was launched in 2010, but now the authors hope that the published work will make it into schools, and all government institutions. The book was written by Dr. Herbert Gayle from Jamaica and co-authored by Virginia Hampton and Nelma Mortis. They told us more about the creation of the book from it's concept to completion. Herbert Gayle - Main Author: "We started out in 2008 at the Boys and Education forum that was held there by UNICEF where I met Nelma Mortis who was agitated in the meeting about the state of boys in Belize and I said to her you know start a think tank and come up with ideas as to what can be done. And that's where the work started, I came here, I started training people, a think tank of people that recognize we needed to do research."

Judges and Jurists Consider Justice
This morning, the Chief Justice and the Attorney General's Ministry opened a 2-day workshop called "JURIST", or the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening Project. The premise is that The Judiciary, headed by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, is aware of the public's dissatisfaction with the inefficiencies in the justice system. It was recently well documented when Caleb Orozco and his gay rights activist organization, UNIBAM, complained publicly about the Chief Justice for his 3-year delay in handing down a judgment in Orozco's challenge of Belize's sodomy laws. So, the judges and magistrates participated in the continuation of the JURIST Project, which is a collaboration between the Government of Canada, and the Conference of Heads of Judiciaries within CARICOM. Here's what the Chief Justice and his brother judge, Justice Courtney Abel had to say at today's opening ceremony:

Man Mysteriously Shot On Crooked Tree Road
A man was shot 5 times with a shot gun near Crooked Tree but he survived. Stephen Palacio had parked his car near the junction last night at around 8 and got out. That is when he was shot. Police say they do not have much information as to what exactly happened and why he was there but they told us today that they are still trying to confirm Palacio's version of the story. ACP Edward Broaster - OC, Eastern Division Rural: "Last evening we had a shooting at the Crooked Tree junction where on Steven Palacio from number 15 Racoon Street received 5 pellet wounds from the blast of a shot gun. He was rescued by a vender who transported him to the Orange Walk hospital where he was treated. According to Mr. Palacio he saw some individuals catching crabs when he was shot. We don't have any further details at this time; we will be interviewing Mr. Palacio sometime later today. We are investigating what he was doing in the area; as far as we know it seems as though he was out of his vehicle because his vehicle was not injured, he was in a blue Mitsubishi SUV."

Kaina and Kathy, The Controversy And The Competition
Tonight the discussion continues on the topic of Kaina Martinez's exclusion from Belize's Olympic team. As we told you yesterday the National Garifuna Council came out with a strongly worded press release demanding that the Belize Athletic Association rescind its decision of sending Kathy Sealy and immediately engage Martinez as a possible candidate for the Rio Olympics. But just how feasible are these demands? The Olympics, after all, are less than two months away. Today we asked the president of the BAA if that is something they can consider at this time. Here is what he told us. Deon Sutherland - President, BAA: "At this juncture no, what is done is done in terms of the selection in terms of the representation we cannot change that because we have no control over the processes of the IOC who is the International Olympic Committee nor the Organization Committee in Rio. They asked for information, information was submitted while it was gathered. They asked for the final roster to be in, we sent in those final roster; at this juncture one month before the start of the Olympics there is nothing else we can do."

BWSL Bucks
Belize Water Services Limited handed over a total of $45 thousand dollars in grants today to assist in various community driven initiatives. The first grant was to the tune of $5 thousand dollars. This was awarded to the National Sports Council of Belize in assisting them in their CODICADER Belize initiative. The HR manager and Public Relations Officer for BWS Haydon Brown told us why they’ve decided to pitch in to the CODICADER program. The national sports council had earmarked a total of $800 thousand dollars to fund the CODICADER games. Now with this generous BWS donation, the sports council says it is closing in on the half way mark of their targeted financial goal. The other grant, which is to the tune of $45 thousand dollars, went to the Program for Belize initiative to help the organization in funding scholarships for deserving students.

Fabulous Fisherfolk
Very regularly on the news, we show you fishermen who break the fisheries laws with out of season catches. But, there are also responsible fisher folk who follow the laws and practice sustainable fishing with a mind to preserve fish stocks in Belize's rivers and sea. Today, the Fisheries Department honoured 3 of them by choosing two outstanding fisherfolk, and 1 Fisherman of the year for 2016. Two of those exemplary fishermen told us how they balance conservation and their needs to earn as breadwinners: Those 3 responsible fisher folk were given a number of gifts and certificates.

The Ride, The Road, The Reason
As we told you earlier, 120 cyclists joined the first leg of this year’s Ride Across Belize Challenge. Here’s the organizer and a few of the participants as they arrived in Belize City after the 6 hour ride The Ride Across Belize will continue from Belize to San Ignacio tomorrow, from San Ignacio to Dangriga on Friday and from Dangriga to Punta Gorda on Saturday. Beneficiaries of this year’s fund raising initiatives include: St. Paul’s feeding program, St. Peter’s School Feeding program, Together We Can Solve Hunger, Cornerstone Foundation Feeding Program, Holy Cross Anglican School Feeding Program, Belmopan Police Feeding Program, Red Cross Feeding Program, and Toledo Schools Feeding Program.

COLA Condemns Social Security Utility Share Purchase
Last week, we told you about the Social Security Board's decision to approve the purchase of 55 million dollars worth of shares in both BTL and BEL. The PUP disagrees with them, and once again COLA is joining the chorus of objection. They're accusing the Government and the SSB Board of Directors of many things, including cronyism, conflict of interests, and poor judgment on the part of SSB Investment Committee. Here's COLA making their case today as to why they view the impending purchase of shares as questionable: Hon. Kareem Musa - Legal Advisor, COLA: "There's a legitimate expectation that our people must a say in how our hard earn contributions are going to be invested and invested in a company that in my opinion is going to be obsolete in the next 10 years. That there has been no forensic audit carried out on this company; let us bear in mind that it has been under government control and with the stewardship of the prime minister's son for the last 8 years. We have seen no forensic audit to see if this company is even viable and yet SSB and its board is being expected and asked to invest blindly people's money, invest it blindly in a company."

SIB: Unemployment Down, So Is GDP
The Statistical Institute of Belize issued a major tranche of figures today. Due to time contraints with a very loaded newscast tonight – we can't go into them with the depth that we usually do, but just to give you a snapshot, here's what we can tell you. First off, GDP growth was down 2% for the first quarter of 2016. That's a very negative indicator, since it was up 7% in the first quarter of 2015. But there's good news for employment figures. A labour force survey conducted in April 2016, showed the lowed unemployment figures in almost 10 years. Unemployment was 8% in April of 2016, down form 10% in April 2015. Unemployment has been trending down from April of 2012 when it was 14%. And, inflation in May increased by 1%, meaning goods cost 1% more this year than they did a year ago. We'll have a more detailed breakdown in tomorrow's news.

Archaeology Symposium Underway
For the past 3 days, local and international archaeologists and anthropologists have been participating in the annual Belize Archaeology Anthropology Symposium, which is being held at the San Ignacio Resort and Hotel. It's a forum where these professionals discuss advancements and best practices in these two fields. But, on Monday evening, before they jumped into the highly technical topics, they enjoyed a laid-back opening ceremony. Here are the NICH leaders welcoming their guests: The symposium continues tomorrow and concludes on Friday.

Channel 5

FinSec Breaks Down Arbitration Award
As we told you Tuesday night, after years of legal battles, the long anticipated figures for the 2009 nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited are in and they are staggering. According [...]

PM Barrow Blames P.U.P. for Majority of Award
In case you missed it, Government, for the acquisition of B.T.L., must pay approximately four hundred million to the previous owners of B.T.L., give or take a million or two. [...]

Barrow Says Takeover of B.T.L. Was Worth Every Penny
It’s not quite as simple as that. The settlement agreement, agreed to in 2015 between Prime Minister Barrow and Lord Michael Ashcroft, does indeed stipulate that the Accommodation Agreement portion [...]

G.O.B. Claims Analysis Shows Benefits from B.T.L. Outweigh Costs
To round off his sales pitch, the P.M. then launched into a costs-benefits analysis which he maintains is complete vindication of G.O.B.’s seven years of effort and fighting the good [...]

$200 Million Due in 9 Days – Barrow Says No Problem
Two hundred million in ten days, now actually nine, sounds like a big deal. But it’s not, apparently. In fact, Government says they will have absolutely no difficulty raising the [...]

P.U.P. Says Arbitration Award is the Cost of Barrow’s Arrogance
The Prime Minister appears to be deeply impressed with the four hundred million dollar arbitration award, but the P.U.P. is not. In a release issued late this evening the Party [...]

Teenager Brutally Stabbed in Mahogany Heights
A gruesome discovery was made this morning in Mahogany Heights. The body of a young woman stabbed multiple times was found in a ditch behind the village, a short distance [...]

18 Salvadorans Nabbed by Police in Human Trafficking Operation
The police have made a significant bust of a suspected smuggling ring of illegal Central American nationals. Two Cayo residents, twenty-two year old Anival Alvarenga and twenty-four year old Victor [...]

2 Belizean “Coyotes” Detained by Cops
ACP Broaster says that the rural corridor is used by coyotes to transport illegal immigrants into the country as they make their way to Mexico with their final destination the [...]

Belize City Man Shot in Mysterious Circumstances
Ladyville police are also investigating a shooting that occurred around eight p.m. on Tuesday at the Crooked Tree junction with mile thirty-one on the Phillip Goldson Highway. Twenty-five year old [...]

Have Tensions in the Sarstoon De-escalated?
While all eyes will now almost certainly be turned on the arbitration award, the situation at the Sarstoon continues in limbo. Coming out of a meeting at the O.A.S. last [...]

PM Wants P.U.P. to Re-Engage in Talks
The People’s United Party announced on the eve of the Washington meeting that they would be withdrawing from the process because government didn’t appear to be serious in its talks [...]

Did G.O.B. Take Attempted Interception of Media in the Sarstoon Seriously?
The last time News Five went to the Sarstoon just prior to the Washington talks last week, we were chased out by a Guatemalan naval vessel with nine armed soldiers. [...]

G.O.B. Will Change the Referendum Act When Sarstoon Protocols Established
To referendum or not to referendum – that is the question or at least one of the questions. Another involves the amending of Belize’s Referendum Act. It’s been reported that [...]

SIB Releases Latest Statistics
Today was report card day from the Statistical Institute of Belize.  S.I.B. held its quarterly press conference this morning to present the most recent figures pertaining to Belize’s economic performance.  [...]

COLA Steps Up in B.T.L. Arbitration Award
Ahead of the prime minister’s press conference this afternoon, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, held its own media brief to discuss the impact of the B.T.L. arbitration award.  [...]

COLA Attorneys Says Delayed Misappropriation was a Costly Blunder
Attorney Kareem Musa, who describes the entire nationalization as a political blunder, maintains that the former owners of B.T.L. should have been compensated at the time the utility company was [...]

Judiciary Participates in Reform Project
This morning, the courts took a break from court proceedings and instead the judiciary participated in the JURIST project which is the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening Project.  A cross-section [...]

Chief Justice Says Elimination of Backlog is a Priority
The Chief Justice says that one project that has had success in the Court of Appeal involves backlog elimination. The initiative is still in progress and involves case management methods [...]

Herbert Gayle Launches ‘Like a Bushfire’
Born out of a social research known as the Gayle Report, conducted in Belize over six years ago, Like A Bushfire was officially launched at the Image Factory this morning.  [...]

Gayle Says Project was a Labour of Love
In 2013, Cubola Productions approached the research team with an idea to compile the results of the Gayle Report into book form.  It has been three years since and the [...]

BWS Partners With Restore Belize
Belize Water Services Limited has announced a partnership with Restore Belize’s “I am Belize” Scholarship Program, as well as the Belize National Sports Council.  BWS has pledged to assist with [...]

2 Programs Benefit from BWS Contributions
Each of the various representatives, including Roger Bradley and Ritchel Dominguez, described their respective programs.  The ‘I am Belize’ Scholarship Program began several years ago and was primarily funded through [...]

Outstanding Fisherfolk Recognized
The Fisher of the Year Award Ceremony was held in Belize City this morning to acknowledge fisher folks, men and women, who have been outstanding in their effort to secure [...]

Guadalupe Lampella Is Most Outstanding for 2016
Guadalupe Lampella has been a fisherwoman for over forty-five years.  She was selected as the Outstanding Fisher Folk for 2016 after meeting the criteria of participating in the decision-making process, [...]


255 Million + 395 Million in Debt Translates to A Victory for Belize, Says PM Barrow (BTL Arbitration)
After almost seven years of court battles surrounding the takeover of Belize Telemedia Limited, the Government of Belize are now better informed on how much money they will need to settle and close this issue. Early last month, a preliminary report was published by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands and from then […]

PM Barrow Says Satisfaction Will Come Via A Written Mechanism with Guatemala
In today’s press conference, Prime Minister Dean Barrow allowed the issues surrounding the Sarstoon River and the relations between Belize and Guatemala to be discussed. The first question regarding this subject focused on where we are in terms of access to the Sarstoon and our negotiations with Guatemala. Here was the Prime Minister’s response. DEAN […]

COLA Accuses GOB of Appeasing the Guatemalans
Just hours before the Prime Minister’s press conference, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) held a press brief to discuss a couple issues. President, Geovanni Brackett spoke of the Guatemala dispute, he said the decisions being made by Government seems aimed at appeasing Guatemala. GEOVANNI BRACKETT “We’ve seen the veracity by the government who […]

COLA Seeks Legal Counsel to Simplify National Issues
Yesterday, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) spoke to Love News about their concerns as it relates to Belize’s economic state; specifically, the fifty five million dollar shares being bought by the Social Security Board from Belize Telecommunications Limited and Belize Electricity Limited. COLA has since then met with attorney Kareem Musa, to seek […]

Teenager Stabbed Multiple Times and Dumped in a Ditch
Neighbours, relatives and police investigators are tonight trying to put the pieces together as to how a seventeen year old girl ended up in a ditch in the Mahogany Heights residential community bearing over ten stab wounds. Love News was alerted minutes after the body was found and upon reaching the scene we found police […]

Statistics Released for First Part of 2016
This morning the Statistical Institute of Belize released its latest figures as it relates to Consumer Price Index, External Trade, Gross Domestic Products, and the Labor Force. Presentations began with the Consumer Price Index by statistician one, Angelita Campbell who said on average prices were one percent higher in the month of May 2016 when […]


Accident on George Price Highway claims one life
Over the weekend, a traffic accident claimed the life of Rosendo Teck as he was travelling on his motorcycle. On Saturday the 25th of June, Teck was travelling on the George Price Highway when he tried to overtake a bus, but collided head first with a Ford Escape and was flung off his motorcycle, dy...

Two arrested for murder of San Benito man
Police in the South have arrested two persons for the murder of San Benito Poite resident, 36 year old Francisco Ack. The two Belizean farmers were arraigned today for the murder of Ack who was killed while walking home after church on Saturday the 18th of June. On the following day, the 19th of Jun...

Fire aftermath; Picking up the pieces
San Pedranos are picking up the pieces after a massive fire wiped out 8 businesses and 3 family homes after midnight on Monday, June 27th. A total of 88 people have been affected by the devastating blaze and now the relief efforts are on the way on the island. San Pedro residents have kicked into co...

Compol discusses Santa Cruz 13 and lack of village police
In Monday’s newscast we reported that the Government of Belize led by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl Lynn Vidal, dropped all charges against 13 Mayans, including MLA spokesperson Christina Coc, after one year of dragging them through the courts in Punta Gorda Town. The charges t...

Police deletes pictures taken by Journalist
Citizens sometimes complain about police overstepping their authority or abusing their authority. Similarly, journalists sometimes find themselves face to face with that same kind of behavior from police. One Journalist from the Belize Media Group, was taking pictures of a police operation in San Ig...

Deidra Smith receives Queens Award
60 young people from across the Commonwealth received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award including Belizean, 28 year old Deidra Smith. The recipients were awarded in London at Buckingham Palace this past week by Her Majesty the Queen in acknowledging the achievements of those young persons who are tra...

San Ignacio’s Officers of the Month
The Belize Western Police Division had a brief ceremony on Friday June 24th at their headquarters in San Ignacio where they honored officers of the month for June 2016. Corporal Michael Salazar told us about some of the criteria looked at when choosing officers of the month. Michael Salazar, San Ign...

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

PUP slams GOB over BTL settlement
The People’s United Party (PUP) issued a statement this evening and said it was appalled and deeply concerned by the final figures released by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Tuesday with respect to Government’s acquisition of BTL. The PUP said the figures were even worse […]

Economic stats: Unemployment down, economy shrinks, exports rebound but not enough
The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) released a battery of economic statistics during a press conference today in Belize City. The big headline is that the economy shrank 2 percent in the first quarter, primarily due to a slowdown in agriculture, marine production and manufacturing, […]

How much debt has the Barrow government added to the country?
Belize’s national debt, now estimated to be somewhere around $2.6 billion, is always a hot topic of discussion. The national debt is projected to balloon to $3 billion by the end of 2017 and Belizeans should be concerned about how government intends to manage its […]

GOB breaks down BTL settlement
Prime Minister Dean Barrow held a press conference this afternoon at the Biltmore Hotel in Belize City to brief the nation on the Arbitration Panel ruling on the final settlement of the BTL nationalization. Barrow was accompanied by Financial Secretary Joseph Waight and BTL Chairman […]

Southern Belize Communities undergo training for natural disasters and climate change
The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has concluded the Community Preparedness and Resilience initiative that was launched in July 2015. Through the program, over 14, 000 residents of Stann Creek District were assisted in preparing for and responding to disasters and climate change adaptation. Through the […]

BWS donates to CODICADER and RESTORE Belize
Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) has entered a four-year partnership with RESTORE Belize to sponsor its “I am Belize” scholarship program for needy students, to the tune of 40 thousand dollars for the next four years. The state-owned water company also gave a check for 5 thousand […]

Woman murdered in Mahogany Heights
Breaking Belize News has been made to understand that a woman was found dead with multiple stab wounds to her body in the small community of Mahogany Heights near mile 30 on the George price Highway. This is a developing story. BBN will post more […]

Half a billion for BTL?
Prime Minister Dean Barrow will be holding a press conference in Belize City this afternoon to brief the country of the decision from an Arbitration Panel regarding the final compensation figures for the nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL). The judgment, however, has been leaked to […]

Author of Male Social Violence Report on Belize to release book
Dr. Herbert Gayle, anthropologist specializing in social violence and based at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, is in Belize to launch his new book, based on the major report “Male Social Violence and Urban Participation in Belize” released in 2010. Dr. […]

COLA: Consult Belizeans before selling utility shares
The sale of 55 million dollars in shares in Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) appears to be a done deal between Government and the Social Security Board (SSB), after approval was received last week from the latter’s Board of Directors. But […]


This is San Pedro Strong
It’s been on everyones mind lately and it weighs more than most Sanpedranos can bare. A fire, one night, 11 buildings, 27 families, 88 people who lost it all. Immediately after our first news report the outpour of concerned calls and messages overwhelmed our phones, websites and social media and we all knew there was work to be done by all of us. I posted a flyer on Facebook the evening of the fire thinking if a handful of volunteers came to help we would do everything in our power to assist in the cleanup of the site. You amazed me San Pedro! Forty-five of us met at Estel’s on Tuesday morning to assist in the cleanup and we were only one of the many groups who volunteered.

No fund me’s please and Important San Pedro Fire Updates
There has been lots of talk and people stepping up from afar to help those affected by the San Pedro Fire. My mom and Stepdad immediately put money in my Canadian Bank account for me to pass along. Yesterday I was asked politely if I was willing to address the individual fundraising campaigns sprouting up and being asked for all over Facebook. Here goes…. A few people have started up “Go Fund Me” campaign type sites to raise money for the cause and we do appreciate everyone’s efforts and wanting to help. However it is easier for all of NGO’s collecting money to be approved by the Lions Den. If too many sites get out there it makes it hard to keep track of and disorganized. At a time like this we all need to be as organized and efficient as we can. This is an enormous task ahead of us and we appreciate everyone who is helping in any way. The Mayor and a few heads of each NGO came together yesterday afternoon and made a concrete plan which we are all doing our part to follow. Different organizations are working together, but still maintaining their own policies and protocols when it comes to disaster relief and management.

San Pedro rises strong from the ashes
Cleanup on Middle Street in San Pedro Town, Belize, continues today after Monday’s devastating fire. More than 60 volunteers showed up this morning to help clear debris from the area where 11 shops, restaurants and homes once stood. And life goes on. The annual fishermen’s breakfast and boat parade were this morning. A stage is being built and chairs set out in front of the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the annual feast of Saint Peter, our community’s namesake, with a Mass tonight by the Bishop. Across town at Hon. Louis Sylvestre Sports Complex an even grander stage is being built for the Dia de San Pedro celebration, with entertainment, music and fireworks planned. Entertainment will continue through Saturday with big name bands on the stage each night. (Here’s the full schedule.) Behind the Sylvestre field stage is the itinerant carnival where so many people were enjoying themselves when the fire broke out. Scores of revelers abandoned the ferris wheel and whirley rides and streamed into town to join the bucket brigades which yet again saved a piece of San Pedro.

International Sourcesizz

NOAA Outlook for Central America June 30 – July 6, 2016
In the last seven days, seasonal rains continued throughout Central America, however below-average totals were again registered across many anomalously dry regions. The highest weekly precipitation accumulations (>100mm) were received throughout many coastal areas in the Yucatan peninsula, southern Guatemala, and along the Atlantic coastline of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Lesser, but well distributed totals were received over many interior departments of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Since the end of May, seasonal dryness continues to strengthen across many central regions of Guatemala and Honduras. While many of these areas have experienced an increased number of days of rain during this span, several weeks of below-average totals have led to many areas experiencing between 50 to 80 percent of their normal rainfall accumulation over the past three months. In western Guatemala, the delayed onset and erratic distribution of rainfall have already resulted in wilted, early-planted crops. A failure of Primera rains by mid-summer would mark the 3rd consecutively failed season of Guatemala and Honduras.

Belize’s IFSC issues warning against binary options broker YieldOptions for forged license
Belize financial regulator the International Financial Services Commission of Belize (IFSC) has issued a warning against binary options broker YieldOptions, owned and operated by HSBO Capital Ltd. According to the IFSC, YieldOptions is fraudulently claiming to hold a license for trading in financial and commodity-based derivative instruments and other securities, issued by the Samoa International Financial Authority. The Licence No. IFSC/60/241/TS/14 carrying its name and purporting to be signed by Mr. Gian C. Gandhi, the former Director General of International Financial Services Commission of Belize is a complete forgery. The IFSC warns with regards to this to take note and exercise extreme caution.

Francis Ford Coppola's Private Island Is Taking Reservations
Francis Ford Coppola has successfully conquered the film and wine worlds, and has been making a serious mark on the hospitality world as well. After successfully opening several resorts around the world, the director is set to unveil his first private island this summer. Coral Caye is located off the coast of Belize, near Coppola's beachfront property Turtle Inn. Beginning July 1, guests will be able to enjoy a rustic two-acre island just eight miles from the mainland, Coral Caye. The property can accommodate up to 12 guests — but a private island for two sounds more romantic. As with all Coppola Resorts, top-notch service is paramount. The live-in caretaker on this piece of paradise will provide all meals, including fresh seafood dinners and continental Belizean breakfasts.


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