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2/1/2014 to 2/15/2014
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February 15, 2014

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Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

2014s Valentine Poetry Contest Winners
Grand Prize WinnerValentines-Day-background_main Mother Reef by Bradley Haylock, Most Romanticvalentines-2 Unseen Valentine by Kyran Garbutt, Ode to a Lobster by Sharon Matcalfe and Cassidy Brown, Funny Valentine My Beautiful Valentine by LN Garbutt, The Anti-Valentinedevil heart Go Ahead, Be My Valentine by Marea, Island Love Secrets to be Discovered on our Ambergris Caye by Luis Joe Gamez, Spanish Submissionvalentines-day-wallpaper-14 Perdoname, por favor by Vernon Tillett.

The San Pedro Sports Committee Football Tournament officially kicks off
With the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk Project near completion, the Saca Chispas Field finally saw some football action with the first ever San Pedro Sports Committee Football Tournament. The tournament kicked off on Saturday, February 8th and continued on Sunday, February 9th. Football players and fans were happy to be back to the original field, which was closed for over 18 months. Saturday saw two games played in the evening. Dorados and CostaBlu faced off in the first match of the tournament. Eager to make a statement on the new field, both teams gave their all and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. The second game was between Joker FC and Victoria House. The well-seasoned Joker FC was prepared for a battle and secured themselves an easy 6-1 win.

Launch of ICCPR National Report Consultations
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to announce the formal launch of national consultations on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1966, and which came into force in March 1976. Belize signed and ratified this Convention in 1996 and is therefore bound to submit a comprehensive report on the measures it has adopted to give effect to the rights recognized in the ICCPR. The Government of Belize invites all interested stakeholders to actively participate in the consultation process which will inform Belize’s ICCPR report. The launch will be held on February 14th, 2014 at the George Price Center for Peace and Development, Belmopan from 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Announcing the Reina del Carnaval 2014 pageant!
Just when you thought Carnaval couldn’t be more fun, one very clever Comparsas group has decided to up the ante in their fundraising efforts and bring to you Reina del Carnaval 2014. That’s right! Flora’s Carnaval Group has undertaken the big task of hosting a pageant in an effort to raise funds for their costumes and expenses as a group. On Friday, February 28th, at 7:30PM at the Rafael A. Nuńez Auditorium, six fun, bubbly, and talented ladies will be vying for the title of Carnaval queen. They are: Leonor Rosado, Shelly Huber, Mel Spain, Edilma Leal, Sherlette Belisle and Zeida Chan. All six beautiful women will be modeling sportswear, perform talents, and of course, shine in their most elegant of evening gowns before braving a Question and Answer segment.

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge races for Belize’s biodiversity
The race to raise awareness and save Belize’s biodiversity started today Thursday February 13th at the foot of the Cahal Pech Resort in the Cayo District. The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge (MMAC) is organized by American Adventure Sports with the assistance of various organizations in Belize. 50 participants from around the globe will put to test their stamina, survival skills and endurance over a course of three days in a non-stop competition. The MMAC will take the 16 teams through a 200 mile journey across various types of terrain including the Maya Mountains and the Chiquibul National Park. The racers will bike, rappel, canoe and trek utilizing their orienteering skills with the limited use of a compass and a map to finish the race. “This particular race is three days and is just under 200 miles. It is non-stop and completely non-supportive. The race just keeps going through the night and day until they cross the finish line. They will face a lot of challenges along their way. It does not only test them on the course but also the elements, eat and sleep deprivation. It is a difficult challenge but very rewarding in the end,” said MMAC Challenge Director Julia Pollock.

Belize and Mexico agencies discuss transnational crime along borderline
Belize is considered a major transnational route for drugs entering into Mexico that eventually make their way into the United States. In fact, the US estimates that annually as much as ten metric tons of cocaine, with an estimated street value of over half a billion US dollars, passes through Belize’s porous borderline and maritime areas. For that reason Belize and its regional counterparts, including Mexico to the north, have been fine-tuning and strengthening measures to fight transnational crime, including illegal narcotic activities. On Friday February 7th, Mexican and Belizean senior operational officers met on Ambergris Caye to discuss ways to improve their strategy to fight transnational crime, especially drug related activities. In 2013, the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), the US Department of State annual report to Congress, indicated that “Belize is a major transshipment country for cocaine and precursor chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs. Due to its position along the Central American isthmus, Belize is susceptible to the transshipment of cocaine between drug producing countries in South America and the United States, as well as chemicals bound for processing into finished drugs in Mexico.”

Renewal of Sea Cucumber License dates announced
The Fisheries Department hereby informs sea cucumber fishermen that renewal of licenses for 2014 will run from 10th February to 28th February 2014. Fishers who complied in 2013 with the conditions of their license are advised that they must present the following documents when applying:

Melanie Paz wins Ladies’ Single Darts Category in local tournament
Darts enthusiasts from around the country travelled to the island village of Caye Caulker on Sunday February 9th to compete in a local darts tournament organized by the Belize Darts Federation. The competition took place at the Caye Caulker Community Center and was hosted by the Isla Carińosa darts players. The competitors came from as far as the western part of the country to the neighboring island of Ambergris Caye and participated in three different categories. Nine females competed in the Ladies’ Singles category in a best of three rounds. After the first round of competition, four participants advanced to the next round to secure one of two spots in the finals. Taking those spots were Melanie Paz of the San Pedro team and Emerita Marin of Cayo. It was a clean and easy win for Paz, who took the two of the three rounds and captured the first place for the San Pedro Team in the Ladies’ Single Category.

Bert Oliva – Making it Happen in Belize
RESTORE Belize and Chamberlain Consulting will be hosting the world-renowned motivational speaker, Bert Oliva for the “Motivational Missionaries Tour 2014” throughout Belize. The tour starts on Tuesday, February 11th at Old Belize. This activity is part of the “I AM Belize” Public Education Campaign, which promotes national pride and a positive cultural identity amongst Belizeans. This is Oliva’s third tour in Belize. During the period of February 11 through February 19, he will be reaching over 7,500 Belizeans in a series of motivational concerts nationwide, inspiring and energizing young Belizeans to reach their highest potential, with his trademark message “Make it happen!”

Art and Jewelry, oh my! Belizean Arts has something for everyone!
One place that contains a wide array of all these wonderfully beautiful things is Belizean Arts. Nestled inside Fido’s Courtyard, Belizean Arts carries original artwork by Belizean artists from across the country. Owner Lindsey Hackston also has an excellent eye for jewelry and gifts that are unique – you certainly won’t be wearing the same thing as everyone else! Whatever your desire, whatever your budget; be it a Valentine present, a souvenir, or anniversary, birthday, or Christmas, or just because, Belizean Arts is sure to have something for you.

Ambergris Today

Grant to Help Belize's Shrimp Industry's Product Quality and Marketing
Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise development activities in the Caribbean region. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Projects in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The specific objective of the project will be to improve the capacity of the cluster, to better serve selected niche markets in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Certification by ASC will give the Belize’s shrimp farmers access to these high-valued markets, from which they would otherwise be excluded. Importantly, the global demand for ASC certified shrimp is expected to lead to long-term supply agreements with certified farms.

Coral Beach Realty Donates Towards Island Road Infrastructure
On Thursday, February 13, 2014, Mr. Bob Hamilton of Century 21 – Coral Beach Realty presented to Mayor Daniel Guerrero a donation of $10,000 on behalf of Mr. Denny Elkins and Tammy Elkins to go towards road improvements north of the bridge. Denny and Tammy are owners of a condo at Grand Caribe Resort and they are aware of the poor road conditions that locals and tourists encounter when commuting on North Ambergris Caye. It is with this in mind that they decided to make this donation and help the San Pedro Town Council.

First Ever Mrs. Reina Del Carnaval 2014 to be Held in San Pedro
San Pedro’s Carnival is right around corner and to add more fun to the three days of painting and live comparsas (street dancing) the first ever Reina del Carnaval will be held prior to the celebrations. Older women challenge the stage as the pageant is not for the ‘Miss’, but they promise to prove that beauty comes in all ages. One thing for sure, the organizers promise a night filled with fun and entertainment. The Reina del Carnaval Pageant will be held on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 7:30p.m. at the Angel Nunez Auditorium. Proud contestants are Mrs. Leonor Rosado, Mrs. Shelly Huber, Mrs. Mel Spain, Mrs. Edilma Leal, Mrs. Sherlette Belisle and Mrs. Zeida Chan. These lovely ladies will compete in sportswear, talent, evening wear and the question and answer segments. This is a pageant you don’t want to miss so mark your calendars and head out to the Angel Nuńez Auditorium on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Entrance fee: $10 Adults and $5 Children (Regular Seating) and $15 Adults and $10 Children (Reserved Seating).

Global Fantasies Website Promoting Belize as Hedonistic Sex Haven
It’s a website that had gotten Belizean residents very upset, but although many still do not know about it yet, those who have seen it are angry at how Belize is being represented and have urged the Belize Tourism Board to take action immediately. The website, Global Fantasies, is marketing Belize as a premium erotic destination for guests to enjoy the company and services of exotic women all while enjoying the best accommodations, locations and tours the country has to offer. It’s promoting hedonism, or sex tourism, complete with a picture list of scantily clad women to choose from and packages that include all-inclusive treats such as multiple companions at locations that include Turneffe Island. Well, those residents who have been aware of the site want none of that for our beautiful country and were quick to report it to the Belize Toursim Board, which in turn sent out the following press release late last afternoon, February 12, 2014:

Misc Belizean Sources

FISHING REPORT: Week of February 2nd– February 8th, 2014
We had lots of talented anglers at the lodge thanks to Reel Women’s group and Fanny Krieger’s Golden West Womens Flyfishers. Thanks to both groups for sharing their week with us, I learned a lot.

Commentary: The sad state of governance and justice in Belize. By Frank Edward Paco Smith, Jr. JP Recently, in Belize, there was the case of Belize Police Corporal Gino Peck, a well-respected officer, who was charged with the possession of unlicensed ammunition. It is both a peculiar, yet enlightening case in that it demonstrated: (1) the crass nature of amendments to the Firearms Act of 2008 and 2010 and its appropriateness, (2) the manner in which this act can conceivably be used as a tool of oppression, (3) the vulnerability of citizens involving this abominable piece of legislation and (4) the existence of a variety of other-relevant issues. In the case of Corporal Peck, his home was searched and yielded an amount of ammunition and a firearm, for which he had no documentation. The matter culminated last week with the case going to trial. The outcome came in the form of what I deem, from a layman's standpoint, a good example of temperance concerning the matter, the law and mitigating circumstances. In effect, the Chief Magistrate used discretion afforded her by way of a section of the law, a summary jurisdiction procedure act, which created the latitude to impose a fine versus that of the mandatory jail sentence which is called for in the Firearms Act

By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez PUDP is keeping the citizens hostage By engaging in so much wastage This country should at advance stages With its citizens benefiting from all sorts of advantage With better wages and advance drainage Now the IDB is recommending that GoB increase the percentage Of the citizens who have not yet received proper sewage This nonsense makes me cringe People still di empty chamber pot under Belcan Bridge And waste control still di pick up feces in garbage Prisoners are still carrying out night soil Buoy these things make my blood boil! Two weeks ago at a teachers rally Hector Silva made recommendations to GoB On how they could save much needed money To pay teachers their increase in salaries With experience in assisting in preparing eighteen annual budgets Experience no one in the UDP has yet

Garbage Collection Schedule:
The San Pedro Town council hereby advises the general public that garbage collection days are as follows:

Mr. Bob Hamilton donates
Mayor Daniel Guerrero was presented with a cheque of $10,000 by Mr. Bob Hamilton on behalf of Mr. Denny and Mrs. Tammy Elkins. The Elkins are proud owners of a condo in San Pedro and generously made this donation to the San Pedro Town Council to be used towards the road improvements north of the bridge. Mr. Denny and Mrs. Tammy challenge other condo owners north of the bridge to follow their lead and make donations for the road. The San Pedro Town Council highly appreciates this donation that will be used towards the road improvements on North, Ambergris Caye. THANK YOU!

San Pedro Town Council presentes a cheque to the San Pedro Cancer Society
Mayor Daniel Guerrero, on behalf of the San Pedro Town Council presented a cheque to the President of the San Pedro Cancer Society, Miguel Perez. The money will be used to attend a program in Introduction in Counseling at the University of the West Indies in Belize City

DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT: Tirsa Alberta Quiroz nee Pacheco
It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of Tirsa Alberta Quiroz nee Pacheco, age 77 of San Ignacio town. She was a loving mother and grandmother, aunt and friend who was exemplary for her peaceful and loving ways. She was a long-serving lay minister of the Roman Catholic Church and active member of the church’s charismatic movement in Belize. She was the mother of: Ramon Quiroz, Mauro Ismael Quiroz, Dora Cal, Cruzita Quiroz, Miriam Estella Aleman, Cesario Quiroz, Velia Castellanos and Teresa Torres. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren, host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Funeral Services for the Late Tirsa Alberta Quiroz Nee Pacheco will be held on Sunday, February 16th, 2014.

Belize and the United States Partner to Protect the Rights of Belizean Workers in the United States
The Ambassador of Belize in the United States, H.E. Nestor Mendez, and the US Secretary of Labor, the Hon. Thomas E. Perez, signed a Joint Declaration by which Belize and the United States agree to work together to improve the awareness of Belizean workers in the United States regarding their rights as workers regardless of their migration status. In addition to the Joint Declaration, Letters of Arrangement with The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labour and with The Occupational and Safety and Health Administration were also signed by Belize with the respective heads of department. Under the new initiatives, the Embassy of Belize and its network of Consular Representations in the United States will work together with the US National and State level labour authorities to inform Belizean workers in the United States regarding their workplace rights, including information about hourly wages and occupational safety regulations that are in place to protect them.

Things to do in Belize City
There aren’t many attractions in downtown Belize City, but there’s plenty of things to do nearby. After numerous emails, I’ve decided to make a list of activities for one-day cruise passengers and business trip travelers who are staying in the city for the weekend or a few days. Tour the city Your guide will take you on a short scenic tour of downtown Belize City and discuss Belize’s culture, economics and architecture. You will be able to grab lunch at a local restaurant or market and view some historical buildings. This activity can be done on a van or horse and carriage. The Belize Zoo This is a perfect activity for animal lovers and families. The Belize Zoo isn’t your ordinary zoo, here you will only find rescued animals that are native to Belize and they roam “free” in large enclosures that replicate their natural environment. The zoo focuses on conservation education and wildlife rehabilitation and protection. It is known as “the best little zoo in the world.”

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge Progresses
The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge is in its second day now, and the teams are traversing mountains in Mountain Pine Ridge. You can follow some of the teams via their tracking systems. Everyone's doing well so far. The YogaSlackers came in first yesterday. You can read one of the team's pre-race report here:

Belize Cancer Society Grand Fundraiser
The Belize Cancer Society is having a big fundraiser today, Saturday the 15th, at the Cayo Welcome Center. Lucio and the New Generation will be entertaining. They'll have informational booths, and food and drinks. Have a great Valentine's Day weekend.

Hot Mama's Hot Website
Hot Mama's, hot sauce made in Cayo, got a new website. It looks smooth, and the flames the appear when you navigate are a great touch. Well done, Belize Internet Marketing and Website Design. "Typical Belizean hot pepper sauce – only with a twist (blended instead of chopped). Belizeans love their hot pepper sauce and they have it with every meal. Walk into any home or restaurant and it is readily available right there on the table. Made with fresh vegetables such as carrots, onions, garlic, selected red habanero peppers, and mixed with the right combination of lime juice and vinegar. Hot Mama's is sure there is a hot sauce with the correct amount of heat just for you! Most importantly to note ---- no preservatives!"

Big Rock Trail Improvement Project Video
Daniel Velazquez put together a video of the Big Rock Trail Improvement Project. You can see how the improved trail was planned, and hear why it was done the way it was. It's a great mix between video and pictures, allowing you to see the trail planners and many of the SHJC students that volunteered to assist the project. Well done!

Cayo International Film Festival
Cayo is getting its own International Film Festival. About time! It'll be April 28th and 29th, and will be held at the Cayo Welcome Center, with the after parties being at the Soul Project.

Farewell Gomez
Goodbye Gomez. Gomez was the star of the Green Iguana Conservation Project for 16 years. They've uploaded some nice shots of him.

Belize Ruins, Rivers, and Reefs
Here's a video a tourist took with a Go Pro while touring Belize. Cayo is on there first, and they have great footage of Caracol, Rio On Pools, Ian Anderson's Caves Branch, and the Waterfall Cave. The music really goes with the video. Well done. "We tackled the muddy roads, steep stairs, deep caves, and coral reefs of San Ignacio, Caracol, Caves Branch, Caye Caulker, and Ambergris Caye."

SI United Picture Montage
The San Ignacio United have released a picture montage video from the last 2 years. It's pretty cool, and Bob Marley is perfect as the audio track. "2012-2013 picture montage of San Ignacio United FC. Looking forward in having many more years with you wonderful fans. Enjoy!!"

Martz Farm Adventures
The Martz Farm, located just south of Benque, got a great write up. They put up a lot of great pictures from the farm, and from the pontoon boat ride on Lake Benque. Sounds like they have some superb food there too. "We chose to stay at the farm because we had heard great reviews about Miriam, Joe and the extended Martinez family but reading online reviews is one thing and experiencing the magic is altogether different. Over the course of the 4 days we relaxed on the hammocks in the main house, we took a hike to the vaca reserve and went on a boat ride to pristine waterfalls. The kids enjoyed horseback riding to caves and we generally enjoyed around the farm with the family."

BAY Announces Slogan Winners
The Belmopan Active Youth club had a poster and slogan competition recently. Luis Guevara from Our Lady of Guadelupe High School won with the slogan 'Count on Me to be Drug Free.' Egner Oscal, from Belmopan Comprehensive High School, won the poster competition. Congratulations, Luis and Egner! In related news,The Belmopan Active Youths (BAY) Cruise on the Bay fundraiser is this Saturday.

Western Ballaz Opening Ceremony
The Western Ballaz are having their first home game on February 22nd, at their base, the Sacred Heart College auditorium. It'll be a huge night for basketball in Cayo. The opening game will be SHJC vs. SHC. The opening ceremony for the Ballaz will be at 7:45pm, where the team will be introduced. The Western Ballaz will then play the Dangriga Warriors. The after party will be at Meluchi's. Come out and support the best team in the Elite League. "Share the flyer on your page. Let the world know about Western Ballaz first home game!!!"

National Youth Council Video
The National Youth Council of Belize has an informational video out about their purpose, mission, goals, and how to contact them. The DYS has been doing an outstanding job organizing events all over Belize. "For more information on the process-visit the Department of Youth Services office in your area. Get informed about the process."

Dedicated To A Star In Reptile Conservation: Gomez
Gomez, the iguana ambassador for Cayo, and Belize, has sadly passed away. He was the alpha male of the Iguana Hatchery for 16 years. The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is renaming their scholarship to the Gomez Scholarship Fund in his honor. "It is with great sadness the San Ignacio Resort Hotel announces the death of our beloved alpha male Gomez from the Green Iguana Conservation Project. For 16 years, Gomez had been the Star of the educational program and interacted with an approximate of 50,000 visitors from across the globe—instilling admiration in many, turning emotions from fear and hatred to appreciation and care."

Belikin Sports Commercial
Belikin released a great new commercial that encompasses many of the sports you see played regularly here. Great timing, with the Belmopan Bandits winning the PLB, the new Elite Basketball league having just started, and La Ruta Maya under a month away. In fact, it has the start of what looks to be last year's La Ruta Maya in it, and you can clearly see the Hawkesworth Bridge. "There is always some sport happening in Belize and Belikin beer is always a part of the celebration. Belikin, the beer of Belize."

Rotary Paints Belmopan Hospital
The Rotary Club of Belmopan rallied the community together to paint the Belmpan hospital. The finished corridors really look great. It's awesome to see all the youth getting involved with community service projects. Thanks, Rotary! "This is the type of project that touches on much of what Rotary is all about – serving the community, developing human capacity and increasing fellowship. There were many people involved in this project – hospital staff, club members, Rotaractors, spouses, children and friends – really to many to name individually. We would like to thank everyone that was involved!! Everyone contributed to the successful completion of this effort. Also, a special thanks goes out to Builder’s Hardware for helping to contribute the paint for the effort – their continual support for efforts like this is much appreciated!! Finally, of all the things that came out of this, it was the involvement of many children that was the most rewarding. Hopefully, it will help them develop a desire for developing lives of service that will stick with them throughout their lives." They've a short video too.

Press Release

Million Dollar Lawsuit against Businesses in Corozal Free Zone
At least one hundred companies at the Corozal Commercial Free Zone are being taken to court on piracy charges. That is what the Mexican press is reporting. Accordingly, international big brands like Nike, Converse and Chanel have already filed a series of million dollar lawsuits at the Supreme Court in Corozal against these companies for selling imitations and marketing these items internationally. Reports add that these trademark companies have sent their lawyers who are in Belize for a week now and continue to check on the businesses at the Free Zone. Reports add that Nike alone has sued one company for the sum of eight million dollars for the time they have been selling pirated copies of their product.

Commentary: Time to address the issue of political conventions in Belize
By Wellington C. Ramos In Belize, like most other countries, it is left to the political parties to decide what type of rules they want to formulate in their party constitutions to conduct party conventions. In some of the political parties' constitutions there are no clearly defined rules as to how to go about conducting conventions to select candidates on behalf of their parties to run for public office. The leaders of the parties then set discretionary rules from time to time depending on the candidates and the circumstances they face. In the 1970s, when I was a young man growing up in Dangriga Town, our representative was minister of works, Alan Arthurs Sr. This is a man that I know well because I used to be close to the Lopez family who lived right across the street from his house on Lemon Street. His wife and her children disliked the Garifuna people and there were many times when they would refer to my people as "Kerobie". The people of Dangriga got tired of Alan Arthurs and wanted a new representative. The then mayor of Dangriga Town Simeon Joseph was their choice to replace him at the upcoming PUP convention.

Galen Eagles vs. San Pedro Exhibition Game
The Galen Eagles had an exhibition game against the San Pedro Tiger Sharks yesterday at the Sacred Heart College auditorium. San Pedro played a great game, and won the match. In related news, the Western Ballaz are travelling to Orange Walk tomorrow to play the Orange Walk Running Rebels.

Woman of the Year Award
The U.S. Embassy, in honor of Women's History Month, is accepting submissions for Woman of the Year 2014. If you want to nominate someone, you have until the end of February to submit. "The U.S. Embassy is searching for Phenomenal Women in Belize. Send your nominations today for the U.S. Embassy Belize Woman of the Year 2014 Competition! More info here: DEADLINE: February 28, 2014"

San Pedro Town Council member with drugs?
Reports from Belize City say that an employee of the San Pedro Town Council was found with suspected illegal drugs in his vehicle tonight. More details on this developing story as they are confirmed

Body of Valley of Peace man being returned to Belize
The body of Raul Balona, the Valley of Peace resident who was murdered in Arenal, Guatemala is being brought back to Belize this evening. Information received says that Balona’s body, with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is transported via road and is expected to arrive at the Belize Western Border at 6 o’clock this evening. Raul Balona, 21, is the second son of Martita Requena to be killed in as many months. Marlon Flores, 19, was killed earlier this year and his body found near La Gracia village.

Channel 7

Government/CGA Mull Citrus Buyout
Today the board of the Citrus Growers' Association had an emergency meeting in Belize City. It was held at the Maya Airlines conference room before an 11:00 am meeting with the Prime Minister at his Belize City Office. As we have reported, there is a standoff between the CGA and the Citrus Products of Belize Limited -the company which buys their product and in which they are the majority shareholder. At an emergency general membership meeting two weeks ago, the CGA resolved to investigate the possibility of buying out Banks Holdings which is the minority shareholder. The CGA says Banks is the problem, but they would need tens of millions of dollars to buy them out. And that's what led to today's meeting at the Prime Minister's office. Best information says the CGA is looking at the possibility of a government backed buyout. We caught the Prime Minister today after that meeting and he would only speak in very general terms but made it clear that moves are afoot:..

Police Bust Weed On Sarteneja Bus
Belize City police from precincts 3 and 4 were on point today when they stopped a northbound bus at mile two on the Phillip Goldson Highway. Acting on intelligence, they came up with two packs of what looks to be high grade weed. ASP Tzib told us more:.. ASP Oscar Tzib, Precinct 4 "We have personnel from Precinct 3 and 4 intercepted a Sarteneja passenger bus that was traveling from Belize City to Sarteneja. Based on the information we pull off the bus on Chetumal Street where the Quick Response Team conducted a search of passengers, their luggage and inside the bus they abandoned a knapsack which the police search and they found two parcels of suspected cannabis. Nobody claim ownership and as a result the cannabis was confiscated and will be labeled as found property." Jules Vasquez "Is there an indication that there were people in Sarteneja who were expecting this package, based on how it was packed and the other things found in the bag?"

Yohnny Rosado In Trouble With the Law And The BTB
Yhony Rosado, by now, you may consider him a staple on this newscast. He's often appeared as one of the fiery personalities from FECTAB, always fighting one battle or the next to try to protect their cruise tourism interest. But, 7News has confirmed that a simple charge of disorderly conduct, brought against him by his competitor, may be the undoing of his entire multi-million dollar cruise tourism operation. You may remember the name Vitalino Reyes Jr.. He is the man who accused Rosado 2 years ago of pulling a gun on him. Last year, after a lengthy legal battle - which saw Rosado spend one night in jail, he was acquitted of all charges related to that incident. Rosado was able to prove in court that the statement Reyes made was a fabrication. But now, Rosado, is being accused by Vitalino Reyes Sr., his father, of allegedly punching him in the face in brawl that supposedly happened in the Belize City Tourism Village on Boxing Day, December 26, of last year. Reyes claims that while in Fort George Tourism Zone, Rosado attacked him and they had a fight. The incident reportedly happened almost 2 months ago, but police finally arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct. He was arraigned today before the Chief Magistrate, where he pleaded not guilty, and was granted bail of $500. He must return to court on March 25, his next court date.

Ferguson Gets 22 Years For Manslaughter
Last week we told you about how the jury acquitted 29 year-old Glenford Ferguson Jr. of murder, but found him guilty of manslaughter. As we told you, in his trial Ferguson admitted to stabbing 27 year-old Koffi Beeks to death in February of 2017. Today, he and his attorney, Bryan Neal, were allowed to present a mitigation plea on his behalf for Justice Troadio Gonzalez to consider while deciding his sentence. They called 4 character witnesses who testified in court about his life and personality before that incident. After careful consideration, Justice Gonzalez sentenced him to 22 years in jail, but subtracted the 7 years he's been behind bars awaiting trial. So, he will only spend 15.

Mass Drug Destruction In Georgeville
Belmopan police destroyed a large amount of illegal drugs on Wednesday. The independent media was not invited to witness it, but an the press office was and an official release says that between 8:30am and 10:50am, Belmopan Police destroyed 1,261 lbs of Cannabis and 225grams of Cocaine at George Ville Village, in Cayo. Witnessing the destruction were Magistrate Mrs. Griffith, from Forensics Mrs. Leal, Justice of the Peace Abadi, Officer Commanding Belmopan Police Station ASP Mr. Sinquest Martinez, and the police exhibit keeper.

Man Convicted Of Incest
A 44 year-old father has been convicted in the Supreme Court before Justice Troadio Gonzalez of having sexual intercourse with daughter who was 10 years old at the time. To protect the child's identity, we can't give you names or show you his face, but, he had been standing trial where girl testified that he abused her in 2009. He was initially charged with 3 sexual offences, but one of them was withdrawn. The child said that on 2 separate occasions, he sexually abused her. In his defence, he declared his innocence saying that the entire case against him was a fabrication. The jury didn't accept his version of events, and late yesterday evening, they found him guilty after a little more than 3 hours of deliberation.

Man Accused Of Incest With 8 Year Old Niece
And in the case we told you about earlier this month in the South, Independence Police have picked up the man they believe to have abused his 8 year-old niece. As we told you the child reported to police on Saturday, February 1, she went to her aunt's house to get some food to eat. She that while she was there, the uncle arrived and force her to have intercourse against her will. Well after an intense manhunt in the south, the man handed himself over to Independence Police, and he was charged with carnal knowledge, rape, and unnatural crime - suggesting that he also sodomized the small child. He will be arraigned at the earliest convenience.

Registrar Of Hotels Warns About Sex Tourism
Global - that's the website which has caused such widespread outrage in Belize. It offers what it calls a sex paradise in Belize - and offers to host its clients at resorts al across Belize with Belizean females of their choice. When we called the operation's number in Los Angeles yesterday, the person manning the phone assured us that female companionship was included in the package. He told us this could be arranged at any number of resorts across Belize. The Tourism Board sent out a generic disclaimer, but strengthened that today with a letter from the registrar of Hotels. The letter says that quote, "Though we have no reason to believe this is a legitimate service we take this matter very seriously." The letter goes on to caution hotel and tour owners and operators that it is an offence to use any licensed place of accommodation for sex tourism. The letter reminds operators and owners that a registrar can close a hotel if there is a violation.

Jamaican Architecture Students Visit Belize
We all know about the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica, but few have heard of the Caribbean School of Architecture - which is under the University of Technology also in Jamaica. It's an internationally accredited school of architecture, and every year, students travel to Caribbean cities to make studies of various urban landscapes, studying the physical environment and how architecture has unfolded around it. They have been in Belize for the past two weeks making architectural cities of the city buildings, its waterways, its land use and its planning, or lack thereof. Today, they held their review and found that the city often baffles with more questions than answers:..

Cattle Tested Positive For Tuberculosis
Ninety-thousand cattle have been tested in Belize, and one has come back positive for bovine tuberculosis. BAHA reported today that they've gotten confirmation from the Central Regional Laboratory in Merida that cattle specimens submitted for routine testing have tested positive for Bovine Tuberculosis. It's a consequence of the cattle sweep where authorities have methodically tested all cattle for Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis. According to an official release, quote, "The testing of 90,000 cattle has given negative results for these diseases except for one positive case that is being reported." The release adds that this is not the first time that Bovine Tuberculosis is being reported in Belize. The last outbreak occurred in 1991. BAHA says it is confident that Belize can declare itself free of Bovine Tuberculosis or as a country with low prevalence and that the detection of one infected farm does not affect this status.

Security Workers Leave CITCO On A Bad Note
Today was the day when 26 security guards were supposed to be terminated after the City Council made the decision that their posts were redundant. By all accounts, the plan outlined to transition 20 of the 26 into a newly formed private security firm was going well. Both Mayor Darrell Bradley and CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd told the media this week that the labour dispute was resolved in principle. But what about the workers? Well, we found a few of them upset that up to 2 p.m., their severance cheques, which were supposed to be ready at that time, had still not been delivered. This afternoon a few of them spoke to us and said that the council can talk all they want about processing and it's breakdown why the cheques weren't ready, but bill collectors and their hungry children aren't very patient: Jamie Yearwood "People out there are following the news. They know that today we are supposed to get our cheque and they told us 2pm. Now it's 3:15pm, today is Friday, when will we get this cheque. Nobody can tell us at what time or whatever. If you all say at 2pm, which means the cheque should have been ready." Frank Gladden "When it comes to getting our monies, the people inside keep saying that they are working on it. It's not making any sense to me at all. I am bearing patience with these people throughout this whole thing, but now I am losing it."

Not Paying Social Security Costs Employers
By law, all employers are obliged to pay their employees' social security contributions, but today 2 business owners were taken to court not doing so. 41 year old Jignesh Painter, the owner of Miami Shop on Euphrates Avenue and 57 year old Alice Neal, the owner of 3 Star Guest House, located at 11 Meighan Avenue, were charged with failure to pay social security contributions 14 days after each month when they appeared today before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton. They pled guilty to the charge and they were each fined $500.Neal was ordered to pay the fine by April 15. If she defaults on payment she will serve 6 months. Painter was ordered to pay by March 14. If he defaults on payment he will serve 6 months. Painter did not pay the contribution on time from October to December 2013. Neal did not pay the contribution on time from September to December 2013.

Looking Back, 20 Years?
Twenty years ago, February 14th fell on a Monday, and that's the day we picked for the first broadcast of 7News. Channel 7 had been on the air since 1981, but the news started 13 years later. It would be impossible to compile or even estimate how many stories we've aired since then, but what really counts isn't the numbers, hopefully it's the difference we've made to our viewers who we hope have been enlightened, inspired, tickled, and yes, saddened and outraged too. And while we can look back at a quite vast body of work, reflecting on it today, Jules Vasquez recalls that it was almost a failed experiment. He's been the news director since then, while Audrey Matura Shepherd was the first news producer. We asked them both for some light reflections today:.. Jules Vasquez, 7 News Director, 1994 - Present "February 12th 1994 was a day of utter chaos. I recall extremely well that I was alone in the control room because nobody there knew anything about what we were doing and I had it all in my mind which is not a good place to have anything if you ever worked in a newsroom. So, it was a completely misconceived mishandled misadventure and it as I recall I don't think went very well as a virgin flight."

Jury: Paul Jex Didn't Kill Aubrey
In last night's newscast, we told you about Paul Jex, the man who was on trial for the murder of 30 year-old Aubrey Lopez, the son of Belmopan Mayor Simeon Lopez. As we told you, Lopez was murdered on May 12, 2010 when a group of men carjacked him. A gunman inside the vehicle, shot him in the head and threw him out to die on Prince Street. Police later spotted the car and after a high speed chase, allegedly caught Jex inside the vehicle with a weapon believed to have been used in the murder. That's the case that Jex was facing after almost 4 years on remand. Coupled with the fact that police had a witness who gave a written statement that fingered Jex as the gunman, he had quite a lot of defending to do in the 3 week trial. The Jury delivered the judgement last night at 9:30, and 7News was there. Daniel Ortiz reports: Daniel Ortiz reporting At a little bit before 9, well past the 4 hour mark for deliberations, interested parties started to file back into Justice Adolph Lucas' courtroom.?

Mayor Lopez Says Verdict Pains His Family
As you saw, Mayor Simeon Lopez and his family declined an initial interview, and as they left the court their physical reaction suggested that they were disappointed after attending every day since Jex was at Magistrate's Court, all the way through the Supreme Court trial. Today, Lopez was much more responsive, and he gave the media a revealing sit-down interview where he explained the entire situation from his and his family's perspective. Here's what he had to say about the case, how it played out, and about their reaction to the verdict: Simeon Lopez, Mayor - Belmopan City "I tried to be as normal. I try to take it as manly as I could. My wife sort of broke down after the verdict and so my emotion did come up a little bit, so I escorted her out of the courtroom along with my daughter. That was the only emotion I had because of how my wife reacted to the verdict. Besides that I try to be strong in support of the family." "Aubrey was the last of child; he was the baby of the family. He has a widow now and a young son of 12 years old who is preparing to his primary school exam and hopefully go to high school in August/September of this year. Since he lives in Belmopan, I am like the father figure to him. He is a very nice, courteous and respectful little guy."

6 Weeks Later, Man Charged For Shooting
22 year-old Eric Tillett is at prison tonight after he was taken to court for a city shooting which occurred a couple days before Christmas. Viewers may remember a shooting incident which occurred shortly before 6 p.m. on December 23, 2013.The victim, 30 year-old auto mechanic Delton Flowers, reported to the police that he had just left his home at the corner of Peter Seco and Consuelo Streets and was riding his bicycle. That's when he was approached by a man wearing a red shirt who shot him in the leg. The police reported that they recovered one 9 millimetre expended shell from the scene. Well, police investigated for 1 and a half months, and they charged Tillett with attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm. He was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate who remanded him to prison until April 7, 2013.

CWU and City Hall Final Compromise: Workers Redundant But Get Better Hourly Rate Under New Employer
After two weeks of delays, tomorrow the city council will make 26 security workers redundant. That is after the Christian Workers Union and the City Council hammered out a three page agreement this afternoon. It's a win and a compromise for both sides. At a press briefing two hours ago Matura-Shepherd outlined the details:.. Audrey Matura Shepherd, President - CWU "We still feel that as a result of the process 4 workers remain sort of casualty to the process. When you consider that there were 30 people who were being affected and 26 have been given better benefits, then we have to be able to explain why and there are always people who make sacrifices more than others," "The first good news is that we were able to get the council to retain some of the workers. So out of the 30 that would have been adversely affected, we got 5 to remain. They will remain as park wardens. We were able to persuade the council that there were 3 workers who really got ill on the job; one of them suffered a stroke, one has high blood pressure and has nose bleeding and the other one has severe arthritis. What has happen is that the council will retain them as employees for now until they appear before a medical board. Once the medical board certifies them invalid or not then they will know what their options are. If they are invalid then they will go off and get invalidity benefits and if they are not then they will just become redundant and get all the benefit all the others got, so that the other god news and good for them because they really wanted that because of their health condition."

Police, No Leads On Who Killed Kuylen
Orange Walk Police continue to investigate the execution style murder of 31 year-old Stephen Kuylen Jr., and news tonight is that they are no closer to figuring out why the gunmen killed him. As we reported, at around 9:30 on Tuesday night, Kuylen stepped out of his house on 6th street in the Pasadita area, and that's when 2 men ambushed and shot him at close range in the head. They stole his cellular phone and licensed 9mm weapon, before disappearing into the night. We spoke to Inspector Julius Cantun via phone tonight, and he told us that investigators are hard at work trying to gather intelligence, but so far, they've not unearthed any significant lead which they can pursue.

Sex Tourism Offered in Belize?
The ugly and little discussed underside of tourism in the developing world is sex tourism. From the Dominican Republic and Cuba, to Honduras and Costa Rica, American and European men travel all across the world to have a good time with female escorts. And that's the kind of service being advertised by a site named global The site says it offers quote, "Belize Fantasy Adult Sex Vacations" at exotic locations. The idea is that for a premium price, the outfit provides resorts and female companionship. We called the number in Los Angeles and they say they do offer such a service at resorts throughout Belize. The menu shows a listing of dozens of girls up for the offering - and while it looks very much like random image cut and paste from other sites, those we spoke to say they do recognize some of the ladies. The Tourism Board sent out a release yesterday saying quote, "The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) is in no way affiliated with this group nor does it condone its actions, as this is a human rights issue. The Ministry of Human Development, the Human Rights Commission, and the Belize Police Department have been notified and will be handling the resulting investigation." End quote.

Abbas Khan, Nutton Noh Goh Soh
In March of last year, much was made of the case of 39 year-old Abbas Khan, the Naturalized Belizean businessman who works in the Corozal Freezone, who allegedly had 5 Indian passports that he couldn't account for. The story was that he supposedly escaped from police custody in Orange Walk. Well, today, we confirmed that Khan was completely cleared of all charges in relation to that case, and at this time, he is trying to clear his name. The prosecution called 6 witnesses in the case yesterday and none of them could explain how Khan allegedly escaped from their custody. After hearing all the evidence, the Magistrate discharged him from the charge of escape. Just before news time tonight, he came to our studios to explain personally his version of events. He said that in March of last year, 2 off-duty police officers came to his business place in the Corozal Free Zone, where they explained that there was a bench warrant in Orange Walk for an outstanding debt that he owed. He said that the officers never actually took him officially into custody. He said that he complied with their request where he was taken to a conference hall-type area in the police station for several hours. According to Khan, he made arrangements for that debt that he owed to be paid in full, and on March 4, 2 police officers took him from Orange Walk to Corozal to explain the origin of properties that they were investigating, but they never properly explained to Orange Walk Police that they took over his custody.

Harpist Makes Heavenly Music
Tonight at 7:00 at the Belize-Mexico Institute here in the city, a young Mexican harpist named Ada Tzab will have her first concert in Belize. It's a small setting for the Meridian - and we caught her as she was warming up this afternoon:... 23 year old Ada Tzab from Yucatan Mexico has been playing the harp for four years. She says she chose it because she was curious: Ada Tzab, Harpist "It was because of curiosity to explore the instrument because it was unknown for me. So I wanted to meet the instrument," More than meet it, she's gotten to know it. She like the reaction it elicits from listeners: Ada Tzab, Harpist "I really love when I look at the faces of people even before they listen to the instrument, they just watching the instrument. When they listen, they say its heaven."

Altun-Ha and Nine Other Sites Getting EU Sponsored Upgrades
Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites, it's a project spearheaded by the European Union And The Government Of Belize - and it is being implemented at 9 sites across Belize. The idea is that the facilities will be upgraded to benefit Artisans Groups, Women's Groups and other small community entities. This week, the Head of Delegation for the European Union to Belize, Ambassador Paola Amadei is visiting and she got to attend an official groundbreaking ceremony at the Altun Ha site. She explained the importance:.. Construction works are to commence immediately at Altun Ha and the first item to be finished will be the existing Visitor's Centre. The programme also includes training and marketing and the sites to be impacted are: Xunantunich, Nohoch Che'en, Altun Ha, Nim Li Punit, Barton Creek, Lubaantun, Actun Tunichil Muknal, Lamanai and Blue Creek.

Europeans Sponsor Northern Micro-Enterprises
And the European Ambassador was busy yesterday; she went from Altun Ha to the La Immaculada Credit Union in Orange Walk. That's where the European Union is funding the accompanying measures for sugar. It's a kind of export substitution as the guaranteed European Market for sugar from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries is eventually eliminated, or to use the first world term, "liberalized." So the EU is making low cost credit available to fund small businesses that diversify the earnings potential of northern residents. The Project Coordinator explained.. The Credit Union recently won an award for excellence in microfinance at the 2nd Annual Citi Micro entrepreneurship Awards.

Europeans Focus On Maternal/Child Health
And while that was yesterday, today the Ambassador's tour of the north continued at the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk today where the focus was maternal and neonatal health as well as the control of dengue and malaria. The ambassador explained the EU input:.. The EU says that in 2013 alone it disbursed €13.2 million Euros or just under $36 million Belize dollars.

Valentine's, The Busiest Day Of The Year For Florists
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and no one knows that better than Belize's florists for whom Valentine's is their busiest day of the year. Today Monica Bodden visited two florists, an up and comer and a veteran to find out how crazy business gets when love is in the air:.. Monica Bodden reporting Selflorals Design first opened its doors for business in September of last year and since then the small scale floral store has been blooming with business. It is owned by this lovely couple - Celbert Butler and Claudia Zetina. Zetina had been a florist for the last 16 years before venturing off into her own business. Monica Bodden "I understand that you have been a florist for quite a while. Tell me why you decided to open your own floral store?" Claudia Zetina - Owner, Selflorals Design "Because I know that it is time for it. I have worked for 16-18 years for other floral shops, so it's time to open my own." Celbert Butler - Owner Selfloras "I always believe that you need to go on your own and I realize that she is an excellent florist. I could safely say without patting my hand on my back that she is one of the best florists. If you look at those arrangements, it clearly tells that we are in a different league because for this valentines we decide that we don't want to make the conventional stuff, we make a little bit of those but we need to take it up another notch. As you look around we have teddy bears, we have dogs from flowers, we have baskets, we have things for male, for female, for every single person's needs. You can get a rose for $10, say I love you with a rose for $10 from Selflorals. You could get something for $35, $45, $55 - you get a dozen roses wrap nicely for $100. You can get something with a nice vase for $125. You could actually bring your stuff to this shop and we will wrap it for you and we will just charge you a nice fee. If you have wine, chocolates and you want to set with a rose, just bring it and we will do it for you."

Lovers Of Cycling Also Have A Reason To Celebrate
And while Valentine's is for lover's it's also for cyclists. This weekend, the Valentine's Classic is back after an unofficial two year hiatus. That was due to lack of sponsorship, but Digicell is back in the saddle and Kwame Scott explained why the race matters:.. Kwame Scott "This race traditionally runs from the San Ignacio Hotel to the Benque border and back to Belize City, but due to road conditions between Belmopan and Cayo we've been forced to re-route so to speak. On Sunday we leave at 8am from in front of Leslie's Imports travel the Western Highway all the way to the Hector Silva Airstrip and then we turn back finish at Leslie's Imports." "Most of these races at this time of the year - the terrain and mileage are geared towards the training for our cross country which is the big one comes up on the 19th April. With that in mind, this race will be approximately 90 miles. I would also like to mention that this race has been dormant for the last 2 years basically because of financial reasons but thanks to Digicell, this year we are back on the road. We are pleased to say that we are expecting more than 70 riders in the elite big race including foreigners and we have 14 juniors and 5 females which is a victory at this time. I believe on Sunday we will have a very competitive race, there will be fireworks out there on the George Price Highway, so come on out."

Spelling Bee In Its 20th Year
Over the last 20 years, the Coca-Cola Spelling Bee has become a staple in Belizean culture: hundreds of primary school students HAVE competed for the opportunity to become the best spellers amongst their peers. To note the importance of the competition, Bowen and Bowen, and their corporate sponsors held a press briefing today. The Ministry of Education explained the positive impact that the Spelling Bee has had on learning: This year, BTL is sponsoring $35,000 worth of prizes to the winners. Those include a full BTL scholarship with mentor-ship, fees, and tuition. The telecommunications company is also donating 12 net books and 12 my-fi dongles.

Duane Stephenson In Belize
Right now, the Belize City Council is making final preparations for their opening of the newly renovated BTL Park. They're doing so with a Valentine Concert, and they've brought in international reggae star, Duane Stephenson. Today, Stephenson dropped by 7News to explain why you should support the launch, and come to see him in concert: Duane Stephenson "I am here to perform at the BTL official opening of the park and valentines concert - it's a family event. I stress on family because that's what they stress on - on getting me here for the show. We want as much people come out as possible just to support it, just come with your family and just be a part of a great evening. It's going to be a great experience. It starts at 5pm with the kids and of course it works it way up to us the older people, but definitely a good family vibe, great entertainment." Daniel Ortiz "Sir, tell us what you fans here in Belize expect from you and is this your first time performing in Belize?" Duane Stephenson "It's my second time here and definitely I plan to make it the best time here because you never know where you will end up and if you get a chance to come back and you want to leave the best impression as possible and I believe in that and of course I always try to perform at the highest level, put on a great concert and just have people enjoy themselves and you can leave the concert and go to church the next morning and you won't feel like you have sin the night before."

Channel 5

Final cheques for 26 security officers late and short
On Thursday when the Christian Workers Union gave its update on the conclusion of negotiations with City Hall and the Labour Commissioner, it was mostly positive. Most of the workers [...]

CWU says it is disappointed by Belize City Mayor
When we got to City Hall this evening, most of the workers had rushed off. We understand they all got their checks too late to take to the bank, so [...]

An alleged confession statement in the murders of Brian Townsend and Isidoro Bonilla
There is much more to report tonight in what might be four recent murders that are linked. Belmopan Police have detained a nineteen year old Benque Viejo resident. They say [...]

Father found guilty of 2 counts of incest
In the Belize City Supreme Court, the conviction of a forty-eight year old father was secured on Thursday evening before Justice Troadio Gonzalez for sexually abusing his young daughter.  A jury [...]

Man formally arrested and charged for rape of 8 year old
On February fifth, News Five reported a very disturbing and appalling sexual crime against a small child. The child, an eight year old female, visited the Independence Police Station with [...]

B.T.B. warns hoteliers against the sale of sex
On Wednesday, we told you about Global Fantasies, an online site advertising Belize as a sex paradise.  The website features fifteen worldwide destinations where the images of well-known Belizean women [...]

Police launch a manhunt for escaped murder suspect
Belmopan Police say that they are closing in on twenty-nine year old Edwin Paula, an inmate at the Belize Central Prison who escaped while being transported to Belmopan for a [...]

22 years in jail for man guilty of manslaughter
In court today, a Belize City man reappeared before Justice Troadio Gonzalez to learn his fate following his conviction last Thursday. Twenty-eight year old Glenford Ferguson Jr. was sentenced to [...]

Bovine tuberculosis present in Belize
There is confirmation tonight from the Belize Agricultural Health Authority of the presence of bovine tuberculosis in the country.  Bovine TB is a chronic infectious disease which affects cattle and [...]

UNESCO sends out warning on artifacts in the global market
The increase in the smuggling of historical artifacts worldwide has prompted a warning by UNESCO. The UN agency has written to the President of the National Institute Diane Haylock, indicating [...]

Love is in the air….greetings of love to that special someone
Love is in the air….February fourteen is celebrated every year as the day of love, Valentine’s Day. Throughout the day, florists had a long list of orders and jewelry stores [...]

Athletes to take to the George Price Highway for the Valentine Cycling Classic
The annual Valentine’s Cycling Classic is less than two days away and riders from across the country, in various categories, will be participating in the tournament.  The race is the [...]

Orange Walk versus Cayo in the Elite Basketball Tournament
And on the basketball courts, a second run of competition takes place over the weekend. The National Elite Basketball League is hosting several regular season games with participating teams visiting [...]

Smoothies for Dara; a fund raising effort to assist feeding program
Ras Dara’s feeding program has gotten assistance from a number of corporate sponsors since opening his kitchen to needy children across Belize City over the years.  On Sunday, the well-known [...]

B.T.L. Park opens tonight with a bang
While vendors at Mr. Ham’s are busy trying to realize their sales target, officials from the Belize City Council were on hand at BTL Park this afternoon to oversee the [...]

Mother of the murdered Balona brothers fears entire family will be killed
Valley of Peace resident, Martita Requeńa, has lost two of her sons in less than a month, both of them murdered. The two brothers, Marlon Flores and Raul Balona, were [...]

…Investigation launched by Ombudsman Office
The family is running scared and, obviously afraid to go to the Police Department, have turned to the Ombudsman for help. When they first went to the office in Belize [...]

Paul Jex freed of murder; Mayor Simeon Lopez reflects on the trial
A jury deliberated for about five hours and when the panel emerged just before nine o’clock on Wednesday night, they found that the suspect in the murder of the popular [...]

CWU reaches agreement for security officers fired from City Hall
After weeks of tension between Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley and Christian Workers Union President Audrey Matura-Shepherd, an agreement has been reached on behalf of security officers deemed redundant.  The [...]

Union to speak with new security company, Ranger Security
The CWU will be meeting with Hiram Longsworth of Ranger Security on Friday to discuss terms and conditions under which they will be employed. They will be looking at overtime, [...]

Bagasse negotiation begin in earnest
Today, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmer Association and Belize Sugar Industries met in Orange Walk Town for the first round of intensive discussions on the new sugar-cane purchasing agreement, of [...]

20 years of the Coca Cola Spelling Bee
The Spelling Bee is perhaps one of the most anticipated competitions on the primary school calendar. In the yearly event, schools from across the country compete round after round until [...]

Martita Requeńa says they are being forced out of Valley of Peace
Earlier we showed you the grief-stricken family of two murdered men. They have sought assistance and protection from the Office of the Ombudsman because they feel threatened. That’s bad enough, [...]

Gun stolen from safe in San Pedro apartment
A resident of San Pedro is reporting that his licensed firearm was stolen from his home on Barrier Reef Drive. Thirty-five year old tour operator Eric Andrews reported to police [...]

Amputee sentenced to 1 year in prison for weed
An amputee of La Democracia Village will be spending the first of a one year jail term tonight behind bars for a drug possession conviction. Sixty-six year old John Ramos [...]

Abbas Khan acquitted of escape charge
Abbas Khan, a Pakistani national with Belizean citizenship appeared in the Belmopan Magistrate Court this past Wednesday. Khan was on trial for a charge of Escape from the Orange Walk [...]

Merida harpist solo debut at the Mexican Institute
Just at about this time at the Mexican Institute in Belize City, Harpist Ada Tzab from Merida is presenting a solo recital. The twenty-three year old musician has been studying [...]

Duane Stephenson arrives for opening concert of B.T.L. Park
A huge concert to mark the official opening of the B.T.L. Park is set for Valentine’s Day, this Friday. City Hall is planning a grand opening that will see a [...]

Dental visits; Healthy Living tells you why they are necessary
Very few people enjoy going to the dentist but good oral hygiene is one way of ensuring good overall health. The mouth, including teeth and gums, is an organ in [...]


Employers Taken To Court for Social Security Contributions
Two employers, 41 year old Jignesh Painter, the owner of Miami Shop on Euphrates Avenue and 57 year old Alice Neal, the owner of Three Star Guest House located on Meighan Avenue, were charged with failure to pay social security contributions 14 days after each month, when they appeared today before Magistrate, Leslie Hamilton. They pled guilty to the charge and they were fined five hundred dollars each. Painter was given until March 14 to pay. If he defaults on payment he will serve six months. Neal was given until April 15 to pay. If she defaults on payment she will serve six months. Painter had failed to make contributions on time from October to December 2013. Neal had failed to pay on time from September to December 2013.

Duo Charged With Drug Trafficking
Two persons, 28 year old Sandra Thompson and 46 year old Reginald Hamilton, were charged with drug trafficking when they appeared today before Chief magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. They pled not guilty to the charge and they were released on bails of five hundred dollars. Their case was adjourned until April 3. The bust occurred around 12:p.m. yesterday. The police from zone 2 reported that they were on mobile patrol on Faber’s road when they saw a taxi car on the side of the road and a woman near to it. The police intercepted the car and they informed the driver who was Hamilton that they were going to conduct a search. The police said that when they searched the car they found a black plastic bag containing 107 grams of cannabis on the back seat. As a result, Hamilton and Thompson were arrested and charged.

Case of 2007 Murder Wraps Up in Court
Twenty-nine year old Glenford Ferguson Jr. who was convicted of manslaughter last week, was sentenced to 15 years today by Justice John Gonzalez. Justice Gonzalez said that the sentence would have been 22 years but he subtracted seven years, the time that Ferguson was remanded into custody. Before he decided on the sentence, Justice Gonzalez heard pleas for mitigation from Ferguson, his father, Glenford Ferguson Sr and three women, Grace Augustine, Anna Franklin and Mary Gusman. Ferguson was convicted of manslaughter for the fatal stabbing of Kofi Beeks which occurred in 2007 in front of Mel’s Bar in Ladyville. Ferguson was represented by attorney Bryan Neal while the Crown was represented by Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith.

Bovine Tuberculosis Confirmed in Belize; Health Authorities Say It’s Contained
Results from the Central Regional Laboratory in Merida, Yucatan have indicated the presence of bovine tuberculosis on bacteriological culture sent to them by the Belize Agricultural health Authority (BAHA). In a release issued today, BAHA has assured the stakeholders of the agriculture sector and the public in general that they have further strengthened its standard disease control measures. It adds that through the Belize National Sanitary Cattle Plan Project, BAHA has been identifying cattle farms and cattle in Belize while ensuring that tests for the bovine tuberculosis and bovine brucellosis are conducted. Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic disease of animals caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium bovis which is closely related to the bacteria that causes human and avian tuberculosis. So far, over ninety thousand cattle have been tested and all results have proven negative with the exception of the one case that was positive. But before you get alarmed, it is noteworthy that this is not the first time this disease has been in Belize as there was an outbreak in 1991. While the bovine tuberculosis outbreak is considered contained and the risk to animals and humans is insignificant, as part of its precautionary measures, The Ministry of Health and BAHA are reminding producers that it is their responsibility to ensure that their farms are registered, their cattle identified and that they acquire the necessary documents and permits for any movements of their cattle from their farms. For further information you can contact the BAHA helpline at 605-2100 or at 824-4899.

Police News: Drugs, Stolen Firearm and Shooting Incident
Several persons stood witness yesterday as one thousand two hundred and sixty one pounds of cannabis were destroyed along with two hundred and twenty five grams of cocaine. The destruction of these drugs took place in Georgeville Village in the Cayo District between the hours of eight thirty and eleven o’clock in the morning. Among the witnesses were Magistrate Griffith, Assistant Superintendent Sinquest Martinez, a Justice of the Peace and media personnel. Members of the Special Branch, Criminal Investigations Branch and the K-9 Unit of the Belize Police Department were on an anti-drug operation on Wednesday in the early afternoon in San Ignacio Town where they conducted searches on five houses, eighteen individuals and two vehicles. During a search at an open lot on Second Street they uncovered point two grams of cocaine hidden under a drum; thirty point three grams of cannabis in a brown paper bag and four hundred and ninety five grams of cannabis in a pink sack. At another location, this time in Santa Elena Town, they found ten point five grams of hydro cannabis. At both locations, there was no one in the area and therefore the drugs were taken into custody and labeled as found property.

More Jobs for Belizeans in the BPO Industry
A United States firm, Golden Gate BPO Solutions is collaborating with Transparent BPO in Belize City for the opening of a centre that will be accommodating at least five hundred agents thus creating employment opportunities for Belizeans. According to an article on the web, the Belize City office will handle inbound customer service and sales support calls that originate in the US. The release further added that Belize was the chosen location since English is our country’s first language and is the educational hub of the country, offering a refined and well-trained work force. Presently, the BPO industry is still fresh, has an estimated two thousand agents working in its industry and has become the location being looked at by other firms around the world.

Alleged Murder Goes to Central Prison
Twenty-two year old Eric Tillett was charged with attempted murder when he appeared today before The Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. Tillett was also charged with grievous harm and use of deadly means of harm. He was remanded into custody until April 7. The charges arose from a shooting incident which occurred shortly before 6 p.m. on December 23, 2013. The victim 30 year old auto mechanic Delton Flowers, reported to the police that he had just left his home at the corner of Peter Seco Street and Consuelo Street and was riding his bicycle when he was approached by a man wearing a red shirt who pulled out a firearm a fired a single shot which struck him in his right leg. Flowers was taken to Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where his condition was described as not serious. In December last year another man Keithon Arana, was charged in connection with the same incident.

Suspected Murderers Murdered
It was an alert that sent authorities and a community in western Belize in search of 64-year-old, Brian Townsend who had been residing in the Cayo District. The search resulted in mourning as the missing Canadian national was found dead on Guatemalan territory on December 27, 2013. Benque Police did their investigations and set search for two brothers, Marlon and Raulito Balona who they believed were responsible for the murder of Townsend….but the brothers eluded the authorities, that is, until January 19, when Police were called on to investigate the death of Marlon, who was beaten up and strangled in the La Gracia Village in the Cayo District. It is an investigation that is still open and one that has been compounded with the recent murder of his brother, Raulito Balona who was shot and killed in Arenal Village, Guatemala this past Tuesday. The murder victim, who had retired to Belize, was residing in western Belize for some years doing humanitarian works for his community but on Christmas Eve last year he went missing. The authorities with the assistance of the nearby community went in-search of Townsend but it had proven fruitless. A few days later, authorities in Guatemala found Townsend’s body floating in a river.

Senior Citizen Gets Ninth Conviction for Marijuana
Sixty-six year old John Ramos aka “Sadman”, who only has one leg, was sentenced to 1 year today by Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser after he pled guilty to possession of a controlled drug for 29 grams of cannabis. It was Ramos’ ninth conviction for the offence. Police busted Ramos yesterday when they saw him pedal his cart to the back of the Commercial Center on Regent Street. Police intercepted him and when they searched him the found the cannabis tucked in the waist of his pants.


Confessed Thieves Enrolled in Apprenticeship Program
On Monday of this week, Mr. Anthony Ortiz, 30, and a 17 year old male minor, were remanded to prison by Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith after pleading guilty to theft for shoplifting fifteen dollars’ worth of M&M chocolates and Snickers bars from the Puma Gas Station on Freetown Road on...

15 More Years of Jail for Mr. Glenford Ferguson, Jr.
Mr. Glennford Ferguson, Jr., and his supporters had expected him to leave the Supreme Court of Justice Troadio Gonzalez a free man today. He was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder last Thursday by a jury in the February 2007 death of Koffi Beeks in Ladyville and spent...

Belmopan Woman Gets Mauled by Pitbulls, ‘Black Chiney’ Comes to the Rescue
It is said that dog is man’s best friend, but yesterday evening in Belmopan, it turned into man’s worst enemy when two pit-bulls ravaged a young woman, leaving her hospitalized. We warn you, the images in this story are disturbing, for which viewer discretion is advised. A relatively peaceful...

Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Focus on Human Rights
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, today launched its national consultations on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 1966, and came into force in March 1976. The ICCPR ensures the protection...

Belizean Women Featured on the Globalfantasies Tourism Website, Speak Out
Earlier this week, we told you about a website advertises itself as being “…the world’s leading premier erotic adult sex vacation company advertising and features Belize as one of the those hotspots. purports to be selling sex with women, men and even groups. The insulting website is offering...

BDF Corporal, Suffering with a Malformation on the Brain
Mr. Norman Rodriguez looks like your typical 32 year old, he has served in the Belize Defense Force for 13 years and is currently a corporal within the armed institution. Rodriguez’s story though, is far from average, he is battling with an arterio-venous malformation on the brain. When AVM...

Jamaican Artist DJ Nicholas is Back in the Jewel
Today in Belize City we caught up with a Jamaican Christian DJ, Nicholas Eccleston who goes by the stage name DJ Nicholas. Nicholas, who is stranger to Belize, was invited to minister across the country. He tells us about his visit.. DJ Nicholas:- Christian Musician and Singer “Yeah, well...

Accused Murderer of Belmopan Mayor’s Son is Found Not Guilty
Mr. Paul Jex, charged with the murder of the son of Mayor Simeon Lopez, in 2010, was acquitted last night. On Wednesday, February 13th, a Jury of 5 men and 7 women went into the deliberating room from 4:10 pm after Justice Adolph Lucas summarized the details of the case...

Man Charged for Attempted Rape
While one accused murderer walked free, another man accused of attempted murder made an appearance at court this morning . 22 year old Mr. Eric Tillett, is the second suspect charged and remanded for the December 23, 2013 attempt on the life life of Mr. Denton Flowers. Back in...

BTL and Phone Retailers in Negotiations on Network Upgrade
In an update to story unfolding, involving the Belize Telecommunications Limited and its network upgrade. As we told you earlier this week, the company is rolling out a modification in its network, where international phones such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint will not be able to register on the...

CCJ Hears Janae Matute Suit Appeal
On Wednesday, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) heard the final appeal of the case between 12-year-old Janae Matute of Roaring Creek, Cayo, her mother Georgia, and former attendant physician Dr. Raju Meenavalli, in person at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Georgia Matute gave birth to Janae prematurely but because...

Making Tourism Benefit Communities
Thursday saw the ground breaking ceremony to mark infrastructure improvements under a European Union supported project titled “Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites.” It’s an initiative to afford infrastructure development along with other training and marketing activities at nine archaeological sites: Xunantunich, Nohoch Che’en (Caves Branch), Altun...

Lawsuit for Counterfeit Merchandise in the Corozal Freezone
Last year October, three containers were discovered at the Customs Department’s Warehouse in Belize city containing thousands of fake Nike, Converse and Chanel merchandise. The Importing company was Pacific Ocean International LTD, a Chinese owned company operating in the Corozal Free Zone. The containers were found to carry more...

Man shot in San Pedro
A man was shot in San Pedro Town on Tuesday. 19 year old Florentino Velasquez reported that on Tuesday February 11 at about 3:40pm, he wase riding his bicycle on the beach front in Boca del Rio Area. After passing the High School he heard a loud bang and felt...

Drug Busts In The West
Belmopan Police made a sizable drug bust on Wednesday. The drugs 1,261 lbs of Cannabis and 225 grams of Cocaine, were discovered at Georgeville, located in the Cayo District. The drugs destroyed by authorities between of 8:30am and 10:50am that morning. Among personnel witnessing the destruction were Magistrate Mrs....

Music and Streets Works in the Twin Towns
At end of last week, residents in San Ignacio were entertained by a group of Jazz players from Canada. The trip was orchestrated by the Mayor of the twin towns and San Ignacio and Santa Elena, John August, in conjunction with the Missoula Rotary Club in Devon Alberta. Our...

FIFA Congratulates Belmopan Bandits on Championship Win
The Belmopan Bandits received a resounding applause from Belize for their victory this past weekend. However, their victory is also being recognized not only locally but also internationally. Yesterday the 8th and current President of FIFA Joseph Sepp Blatter sent a letter to the President of FFB, Mr. Ruperto Vicente...

The Guardian

National Bank Rolls out Financing - 229 New Home Owners benefit so far
In September the National Bank of Belize opened its doors with the Prime Minister declaring that it was a bank that would be driven by the mantra of service to the people and not necessarily by profits. After it opened its doors, the bank has been living up to its billing. The Guardian sat with the bank's general manager, Jose Marin, he explained that the bank is performing very well. As at the end of January, 229 mortgage applications had been approved by the bank. Of those applications 51% were public officers, 16% were teachers, and 33% were applications by the general public. On average the mortgage size is 75 thousand dollars. The loan limit is 175 thousand dollars and it applies for both new construction as well as refinancing mortgages held by other banks. So far almost 4 million dollars have been approved for home construction with approximately 1.6million dollars having been drawn down so far. A slowing down in the drawdown process has been the rains which has not allowed for construction to take place. Nonetheless Marin says that with improving weather conditions that is expected to change.

Cayo Bridge Project Pushes on
On Thursday February 6th, the Ministry of Works signed on to a contract with CISCO construction limited in the sum of $3,873,059.43 for the third lot of the project to construct a bridge that will span the Macal River to connect San Ignacio and Santa Elena. The 3rd Lot of the project will be the construction of an elevated by-pass road to connect the North end of Joseph Andrews Drive to the Western approach of the proposed new bridge over the Macal that will have one end in the Branch Mouth Road. The work to be done in this lot will be the alignment of the road, clearing of vegetation and other obstacles from the road reserve area, the importation and compaction of fill material and the paving of the road with chip and seal. This portion of the project will also see the excavation of a flood relief channel and the construction of reinforced concrete lining of drains along the road. The entire project is divided into four phases: (Lot 1) the upgrading of Loma Luz Boulevard; (Lot 2) a new bridge crossing of the Macal River; (Lot 3) the construction of a new high-embankment by-pass; and (Lot 4) the rehabilitation of Joseph Andrews Drive to the point it re-connects to the George Price Highway.

Paul Jex not Guilty - Main witness refuses to testify
25-year-old Paul Jex, who has been on remand for the murder of well-known basketball star and educator, Aubrey Lopez, walked out of court a free man at 9 p.m. Wednesday, February 12, after almost 4 years on remand. A jury of 12 acquitted him of the charge after just over 4 hours of deliberation. Since January 28, Jex had been standing trial before Justice Adolph Lucas in which Crown Counsel Kayshia Grant called 14 witnesses to testify against him. Her main witness, who was supposed to have seen the entire crime unfold, took the stand and refused to testify telling the court, while in tears, that he feared for his life. He told the court that his life was threatened. His exact words were “They said that they would kill me”. During a trial within this trial, which the jury did not witness, evidence came out that in 2011, 2 men wearing masks shot at him while he was at his house. The bullets missed him but struck his friend who was with him that time. He said that in 2013, a man rode up on a bike and told him that if he testified, he would be killed. In the end, the court had to test his written statement which he gave to police in 2012, and it was admitted as evidence that the jury could consider. In that written statement, Jex was fingered as the shooter who took 30 year-old basket baller and E. P. Yorke teacher, Aubrey Lopez’s life. The victim was socializing at one of the school’s functions on the night of May 12, 2010. Jex and a group of men managed to get control of Lopez and his vehicle. They shot him in the back of the head, threw him out of the vehicle, and left him to die on Prince Street.

Opening Market Access for Belize
Sanitary and Phytosanitary SPS Agreements have been made by World Trade Organization Members to protect the human, animal and plant health within their territories from certain risks, and which may affect international trade. The risk to animal life comes from the entry of pests, disease carrying organisms, additives and contaminants. Meanwhile; the risks to humans come from additives, contaminants and disease carrying organisms in food or beverages. Therefore; the importation of food, plants and animals are three of the main risk pathways. Increasing volumes of international trade in these products means that quarantine procedures must be able to adeptly deal with the potential pathways for pests and diseases. Globally there is an increased demand for fish, meat and vegetables; meaning that there will be an increase in the regional international trade of such foods. Already, the CARIFORUM countries which includes all fourteen Caribbean Community Countries CARICOM plus The Dominican Republic are responding to this increase in trade by seeking to improve their Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures to open access not only to European Markets but to markets around the World that subscribe to SPS Measures. “SPS Measures relate directly to your ability to access markets and relate directly to your ability to protect your domestic markets from risks,” says Dr. Robert Ahern, Manager of the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture IICA Health and Food Safety Program, who was in Belize a few days ago to gauge Sanitary and Phytosanitary measure practices.

Willoughby in Albert
Over the past couple of weeks there has been an increased political presence in the Albert Constituency as Phillip Willougby has now expressed his intention to contest a convention in that constituency when the decision is made. While that may be a ways off, Willougby is trying to establish his presence in the constituency. He has been assisting with all manner of services from free gas tanks to road works, even community meetings and assistance with home repairs. On Wednesday February 12th he was at it again as he delivered fill material to a number of resident in the division. He says that so far he has issued out about 20 loads of clay to the residents who are very appreciative with the assistance since some of them have been living in yards that get flooded during the rainy days. Willoughby told the Guardian that he is trying to assist in whichever way possible and while it may be small, he knows that the residents appreciate his involvement in the division.

BWSL Steps to the Plate 4M invested in water upgrades in Belize City
Mayor Darrell Bradley has undertaken to concrete some 130 streets in Belize City by May of this year and he is working very much apace to achieve this goal. While Mayor Bradley has been able to execute his vision in record time, the one utility company which is bearing a large portion of the workload in order for the pace to be kept is the Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL). On Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer of BWSL , Alvan Hyanes and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company, Alberto August were on Princess Margaret drive as the company was doing work to upgrade the underground water mains on that stretch of road from the Hour Bar to in front of Nazarene High School. Speaking to Haynes, he explained that the extent of work that is being carried out by BWSL was not anticipated and so far the company has invested 4 million dollars in upgrades across the city. By the end of the project which is being promoted by the concreting of streets, the company would have spent 7 million dollars. According to Haynes the company by itself would not have been able to finance the works so it looked at the major shareholder, the Government of Belize which relieved the company from paying 3.1 million dollars in debt to the Caribbean Development Bank. That freed up the debt burden of the company allowing it to proceed with works.

More Coast Guard Seals
Two coast guard officers out of the 23 in the second batch who signed up for the SEAL training have made it past the 5th week of training. If they make it to the end of the training, they will join the first 8 officers who became SEAL officers. The SEAL program is a training regime which was envisioned and planned with the assistance of the US Southern Command and the Special Operations Command. Readers may know that the United States Navy SEALS is the elite force within the military which the White House reported as the unit which conducted the covert operation to capture or kill Saudi Terrorist Osama Bin Laden. The unit carried out the operation and killed Bin Laden in May 2011. That mission is hailed as the greatest military victory of the 21st Century, so for the Belize Coast Guard to carry the name in one of its units, it has to measure up to the excellence and reputation of the Navy SEALS. As such, the training is rigorous where the officers going through it are tested mentally and physically with rigorous, extreme and harsh activity designed to simulate the toughest battle conditions. It culminates at week 5 called “Hell Week” where the physical torment is heightened to see how the officers respond.

Juan Coy is Toledo West Standard Bearer
The United Democratic Party conducted the largest convention so far as it is going about the process of selecting Standard Bearers for various constituencies across the country. On Sunday February 2nd, Juan Coy was elected as the Standard Bearer for the Toledo West constituency. With a total of 2,416 ballots cast, this was the largest convention yet. The polling was an energetic one that saw a constant stream of voters coming to San Antonio Village from all over the division to cast their vote at the Luis Rey School. Despite intermittent showers, the voters were undeterred and followed through to cast their votes. Polling started at 10 in the morning and ended at 5 in the evening. At the end of polling, Juan Coy had secured 1,498 votes securing a victory in that division over Macario Coy who received 762 votes and Luis Cucul who received 132 votes and Jose Antonio Braddick who received 16 votes. There were 10 rejected ballots.

Credit Union in San Ignacio launches expanded service center and Youth Month
Ribbons were cut to a much expanded client center at the Saint Martin Credit Union’s Zimmerman Building at the Corner of Eve and Church Street in San Ignacio Town on Wednesday morning of this week. Present to do the cutting was Dr. John Morris, President of the SMCU as Ronald Hulse, General Manager of the 65 year old financial institution looked on to savour the moments. The significance of the ceremonies is that SMCU can now have up to five teller stations open on Saturdays and pay days, serving many more customers at the same time, with its low interest loans. SMCU also took the opportunity Wednesday to declaring the Month of February as Youth Month, with an intention to offering financial education to young people. The inauguration of spacious offices involved the participation of SMCU’s various partners in development. It was also an opportunity for the many partners, such as Heritage Bank and the Belize Credit Union League, to learn about the special history of the SMCU.

Bert Oliva Motivates a New Army of Young Belizean PIMPs
World famous motivational speaker Bert Oliva is in Belize once again to share his inspiring message to thousands of Belizean students. This is the third consecutive year that Oliva is offering his service for free and his only request to the students at the rallies is that they all leave as PIMPs, Positively Influential Motivated Persons. Restore Belize is partnering with Chamberlain Consulting firm to host Oliva’s “Motivational Missionaries Tour 2014”. From Tuesday, February 11th, to Wednesday, February 19th, Oliva will be speaking to business owners, students, prisoners and other Belizeans in the Central and Southern parts of the country. Bert Oliva migrated from Cuba to the United States when he was just eleven months old and grew up in the Little Havana area of Miami. Instead of partaking in illicit activities like his friends, he grew up responsibly and took a job at Xerox in his early twenties. He specializes in growing large corporations by focusing on the human potential. Oliva believes in mind over matter and his message to his audience is “the only person that can prevent you from realizing your dreams is yourself”. In 2012, Oliva and his team addressed over 4,000 students in San Pedro, San Ignacio and Belize City. In 2013 Oliva returned and held rallies with over 6,000 students in Belize City, Orange Walk and Corozal. This year, Restore Belize is expecting over 7,500 students to attend Oliva’s rallies. New locations included in the tour are Benque Viejo, Independence and Punta Gorda.

Penner on my mind
Infatuation, fixation, fascination, even mania is what the PUP have developed over Elvin Penner. And this week they, through their attorney Edwin Flowers, wrote an epilogue as to why Penner should be charged by police. They end claiming that they will take the matter to court if there is no response within seven days. It is now painfully obvious that the PUP are scratching at the Penner sore but they are simply not getting enough blood out of it as the Belizean people are now more interested in the development that is taking place across the country. Never before has the country experienced the amount of development on a national scale as it is doing right now and the distractionary measures that the PUP have tried to employ have failed miserably. They try to beat at everything that is being done. But like Lisa Shoman trying to beat on the BTL Park, the Elvin Penner matter simply has no traction. Then they tried to get the BNTU to rile up its members; that too failed miserably. Then the BSCFA was being used to try to instigate the cane farmers- that too was NADA. The PUP simply have nothing to go on and at the end of it all, that is what they will end up with... Nothing.

Roger Espejo - 1 with the People
"And 1!", - that was the celebratory roar this past Saturday on the Pink's Alley Basketball Court where Roger Espejo held yet another successful and peaceful sporting event. The event was held as a part of Roger Espejo's relentless movement to uplift the constituency in his position as caretaker. Recently the UDP Caretaker held 'Jungle Jam', a sporting and health event, in the Victoria St. area and pledged to take it to other pockets of the constituency. So said - so done: the 'Majestic' Alley youths overwhelmingly embraced the event and fought their hearts out on the court for first, second and third place cash prizes in a 3-on-3 tournament where 5 teams participated. Roger Espejo goes to a constituency convention at the end of this month in Fort George where he has gained significant popularity by working steadfastly with the communities for the past 20 months - a mission that many party leaders have commended him for and are sure to support him for. Having been religiously 'on the ground' through several projects Espejo's campaign slogan, naturally, has become: '1 with the people'.

Protection for Belizean workers in the U.S.
Belizean Ambassador to the US, Nestor Mendez has signed an agreement with the United States Government which should provide benefits to Belizeans working in that country, regardless of their immigration status. It’s called the Consular Partnership Agreement which will allow the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division to work with the embassy and consulates of Belize to provide Belizeans working in the United States and their U.S. employers with information about U.S. health, safety and wage laws. Belizean Consular Representatives will now have the means to make representation to US Labour authorities on behalf of Belizean workers, whose rights are being violated.

Estella Gonzalez Additionally Charged with Human Trafficking of 15 yr. old minor
On Friday, February 7th, 62-year-old Temptation bar Manager Estella Gonzalez was charged with ten counts of “employing a person not in possession of a work permit”. The charges came after a raid of Temptation Bar on Thursday, February 6th, by police and immigration officials. Gonzalez pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined $10,000. Further investigation by the authorities led to an additional charge against Gonzalez. Gonzalez appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Monday, February 10th, to answer to a charge of human trafficking. Allegations are that between August 19th, 2013 and September 7th, 2013 she harboured a 15-year-old minor for the purpose of exploiting her as a prostitute. Since the matter is an indictable offense, no plea was taken. Court prosecutor, Sgt. Egbert Castillo, had no objection to bail and bail was granted in the sum of $2,000 plus one surety of the same amount. Gonzalez is set to reappear in court on March 12th.

Justin Faber remanded for Robbery
Justin Faber, 21-year-old Hattieville resident is in jail after he was accused of robbing a man at gun point. According to police, Faber held up Randolph Herbert at gunpoint on Saturday, February 8th, and stole his bank card. On Monday, February 10th, Faber appeared unrepresented before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith where he was charged with one count of robbery with a firearm upon Randolph Herbert. Faber pleaded not guilty to the charge but due to the nature of the offense he could not be granted bail and was remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court appearance on April 3rd.

Immigration Police Intercepts Six Salvadorans Heading North
After police and immigration officers intercepted and prosecuted six illegal immigrants on Sunday, February 9th, they are now focusing on a man they believe is part of a larger smuggling ring. Police detained a 29-year-old man after he was caught trying to board a North bound bus with two Salvadorans who were in Belize illegally. At about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Immigration officials received information that made them visit the Belize City bus terminal where they intercepted four Salvadoran nationals who had just exited a bus from Western Belize. They then proceeded to grab two more Salvadorans at the Palotti bus stop along with the man they believe is the smuggler. The authorities believe the men entered into Belize through the Mopan River and were heading North into Mexico.

Mexican Zurisaday Mendez Granted Supreme Court Bail
Mexican national Zurisaday Mendez who was busted in October of 2012 with firearms, ammunitions and drugs was granted Supreme Court bail in the sum of $75,000 on Monday, February 11th, 2014. In October, 2012 police conducted a search of two rooms and several vehicles linked to Mendez at the Las Vegas Hotel. During the search they found two A-K 47s, two 9 mm pistols, one .40 mm pistol, one .38 Auto brand pistol and one Colt Super Auto pistols. There was also a huge number of ammunition, communication devices, and supply of cannabis, cocaine and alcoholic beverages. Police arrested and charged Mendez with 1 count of keeping a prohibited firearm, 2 counts of keeping prohibited ammunition, 3 counts of keeping an unlicensed firearm, 4 counts of keeping unlicensed ammunition, 5 counts of drug trafficking, and 6 counts of possession of controlled drugs.

Pedro Trujeque Remanded for Rape Charge
A 25-year-old woman has accused 49-year-old Pedro Lewis Trujeque of rape. The details of the case have not been released as yet but during arraignment we learnt that the alleged incident occurred on February 9th of this year when the two were on Long Caye. Trujeque appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Wednesday, February 12th, where he was read a single charge of rape. He was unrepresented in court and since the matter is an indictable offense no plea was taken and bail could not be granted at the Magistrate Court level until 90 days after arraignment. However, Chief magistrate Smith informed Trujeque that he can apply for bail at the Supreme Court within the next 14 days. Pedro Lewis Trujeque was ordered to be remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court appearance on April 2nd.

“Sabe” in Jail for stealing Potatoes
Sebastian Alexander Nunez, aka Sabe, was sent to Prison after he appeared in the Magistrate Court to face a charge of theft. Sabe is being accused of stealing two sacks of potatoes on Saturday, February 8th. According to police delivery man Manuelito Pech called in to report a theft at the Michael Finnegan Market. Pech told police that he parked his white van near the market and left it open as he went to deliver onions. When he returned he learnt that two sacks of potatoes had been removed and that they could be found in a green Rodeo parked on West Collect Canal. Police later located the green Rodeo and spoke with the owner, Harley Chan, who told them that he had just purchased the sacks of potatoes from a man known to him as Sabe. Chan told police he purchased the sacks of potatoes for $100. Sabe was arrested and charged with theft. He was unrepresented when he appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano on Tuesday, February 11th, and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Bail was offered at $1,000 but court record shows that Nunez already owes the court $1,800 for previous convictions. It was ordered by the court that Nunez pay his outstanding fines before he can go home on bail. He was unable to do so and was escorted to the Belize Central Prison in default of payment.

Cops Appear in Court for Alleged Shake Down of Thyrel Hyde
Police officers 42-year-old Reymundo Requena and 30-year-old Joslyn Gill appeared in the Belize City Magistrate Court on Tuesday, February 11th, to face charges for the alleged shake down of Thyrell Hyde. Edgar Teul, who is the third police officer to have allegedly participated in the crime, did not show up to court. Hyde claims that on the night of September 8th, 2013 he was in a vehicle in the Buttonwood Bay area when police came to search. According to Hyde, the search turned into a shakedown as officers took away cash he had in his pocket as well $1,500 he had in an envelope. He alleges that the officers then took him to an ATM where he was forced to use his card to withdraw money - $260. The officers then let him go. The ATM transaction was captured on tape with police officers supervising Hyde’s actions. The video evidence was enough for arrests to be made and the three officers were arraigned in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court in December, 2013.

Belmopan Bandits National Football Champions
The Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup 2013 Opening Season came to an end on Saturday February 8, 2014 at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan where the second and final game in the championship series between the Belmopan Bandits and FC Belize where the Bandits handed FC Belize a 5-1 defeat to regain the National Championship. The home team Belmopan Bandits were the first to get unto the scoreboard when Deon McCaulay scored the 1st of his 4 goals in the 37th minute of play to give his team a 1-0 lead. However, that lead was short lived as Mark “Kello” Leslie scored the equalising goal for FC Belize in the 39th minute of play to tie the score at 1-1. The Belmopan Bandits on the offence was able to untie the score in the closing minutes of the first half of the game when Denmark Casey Jr. scored his team’s 2nd goal of the game in the 45th minute of play for a 2-1 lead.

19th Annual Digicell Valentine Cycling Classic
The 19th Annual Digicell Valentine Cycling Classic is scheduled to take place on Sunday February 16, 2014. The race will commence for Elite/Open/Master riders at 8:00 am and it will start from in front of Leslie’s Imports on the George Price Highway to Mile 46 (in front of Belmopan Airstrip) and then back to Leslie’s Imports for the finish. This will cover a distance of 90 miles. The Female/Juniors/Youth will commence their journey at 8:30 am from in front of Leslie’s Imports to Mile 26 and then back to Leslie’s Imports for the finish. This race will cover a total distance of 26 miles. The registration fee for this event is $20.00 and the deadline for registration is set for Thursday February 13, 2014. According to the Cycling Federation of Belize, no late registration will be accepted after 3:00 pm on Friday February 14, 2014. There will also be a late registration fee of $20.00 and this must be paid prior to the event.

National Elite Basketball Competition opens
The 2014 National Elite Basketball League competition opened on Friday February 7 with a number of games played across the country. In the game played out at Bird’s Isle here in Belize City, the San Pedro Tigersharks defeated the Belize City based “No Limits” by the score of 83-78. The top scorers for the San Pedro Tigersharks were Winston Pratt with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, Jamal Kelly with 14 points, Tyrone Edwards with 12 points, 2 rebounds, and 7 assists and a steal and Ashton Edwards with 12 points. Meanwhile, the top scorers for the Belize City No Limit Team were Andrew Ortiz with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 2 steals, Brandon Rogers with 15 points and 2 rebounds and Gregory Rudon with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal. At the University of Belize Gymnasium in Belmopan, it was the Belmopan Bandits that defeated the Orange Walk Running Rebels by the score of 79-69.

New senior female softball team forming
A new senior female softball team is currently forming to participate in the 2014 Belize City Senior Female Competition. The team will be headed by a veteran softball coach who has a number of senior softball championships under his belt. The Head Coach also served for many years as an assistant coach of the National Women’s Softball Team of Belize. The Head coach will be assisted by an up- coming coach who has been actively involved in the discipline of softball. Female players between the ages of 14-30 who are disciplined enough to commit to the task at hand are encouraged to become members of this dynamic new team. Application forms can be picked up from Shane Williams at the Guardian Newspaper or from the Offices of the National Sports Council during normal working hours.

Nazarene High School girls lead in high school softball
The Central Region Secondary Schools Softball Competition continues at Rogers Stadium with a number of games on the schedule. On Tuesday February 11 in the male competition, St. John’s College edged Wesley College by the score of 12-11. The winning pitcher was Dillan Snaggs and the losing pitcher was Keeron Young. In the female competition game played on Monday February 10, Nazarene High School continued on its winning path when it defeated Ladyville Technical High School by the score of 5-4. The winning pitcher was Elma Wade and the losing pitcher was Amber Wade. On Saturday February 9, in the first of two female games played, Anglican Cathedral College defeated St. Catherine Academy by the score of 24-9. The winning pitcher was Ashley Alarcon and the losing pitcher was Jacqueline Alas. In the second female game, Gwen Lizarraga High defeated Pallotti High School by the score of 19-4. The winning pitcher was Jerlene Bowden and the losing pitcher was Jinnelle Flowers.

Belize City Primary Schools Softball competition opens
The 2013-2014 Belize City Primary Schools Softball Competition opened on Monday February 10, 2014 at Rogers Stadium. In the game played in the girls’ competition, Holy Redeemer School defeated Wesley Upper School by the score of 11-3. The winning pitcher was Zaria Jenkins and the losing pitcher was Erica Cadogan. In the boys’ game, Holy Redeemer School also defeated Wesley Upper School by the score of 12-2. The winning pitcher was Jasheed Guerrero and the losing pitcher was Andy Alford. The competition continued on Wednesday February 12, with two more games on the schedule. In the girls’ game, Calvary Temple School defeated St. John’s Primary School by the score of 9-8. The winning pitcher was Pauline Jex and the losing pitcher was Kayja Budran.

Progress brings problems!!! Increase the number of outlets or construct an elevated causeway
There has been much discussion about the Coast Guard boating incident that caused the death of one and injury to some residents of Cooked Tree Village. First of all my sympathies to families that were affected by this incident. The construction of the earthen causeway has allowed Belizeans to move to and from Crooked tree Village more easily. Nevertheless the earthen causeway is in effect a dam across the Northern Lagoon. But Progress Brings Problems!!! The earthen causeway (dam) became impassable due to flooding consequent of the record rainfall that occurred in the 2013. All Belizeans can attest to the unusual rains and the National Meteorological Service can confirm, if they so desire, that there was record setting rainfall in 2013. As is the case, record setting rainfall will result in record setting flooding events, as was the case with the most recent Crooked Tree Lagoon flooding event. The Hydrology Unit can confirm, if they so desire, that the duration of this most recent Crooked Tree Lagoon flooding event was also a record setting event. Briefly, the earthen causeway (dam) across the Northern (Crooked Tree) Lagoon links the Philip Goldson Highway and Crooked Tree Village. Northern Lagoon is part of one of the Belize River’s Storage Complexes that includes the Revenge, Northern, and Southern lagoons, and the Western Lagoon that is connected to Spanish and Governor Creeks. Runoff from the Mopan and Macal Branches of the Belize River flow through Benque Viejo and San Ignacio Towns, pass Roaring Creek Village, thereafter joined by the Labouring Creek Branch before entering into the “Belize River Valley”. When there is normal flow, runoff makes its way through the “Belize River Valley” and under the Haulover Creek Bridge and “Big Bridge” into the Caribbean Sea. During extreme rainfall and extreme flood events the flood water makes its way via ephemeral streams and Southern Lagoon into the Lagoon complex. This flood water would, absent storage in the lagoon complex, flood the lower and coastal portions of the watershed, which includes Belize City. When flood levels recede on the Belize River the Lagoon Storage Complex then releases water via Black Creek into the Belize River near McKenzie Run.

FCD organizing mountain bike races
Friends for Conservation and Development is cognizant that Belize has so much to offer especially to nature enthusiasts. The Chiquibul-Maya Mountains where we operate has so much in hidden secrets. The richness yet abounds and we must bring the natural and cultural richness more closer to home, and to do this we must give a sense of exploration, sense of passion and a sense of love for the land. It is a true fact that this forest is under peril and by opening it to the world to see, can we generate enthusiasm and interest to maintain it. One can only protect something, if we appreciate it and to appreciate it we must know it. Based on this philosophy, FCD has partnered with the American Adventure Sport to launch the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge. This epic race will start in San Ignacio, where some 50 athletes will engage on a three day and three night multi-discipline race encompassing canoeing, biking, hiking, orienteering, spelunking and navigation across the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains including the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, the Chiquibul National Park, Caracol Archaeological Reserve and the Vaca Forest Reserve. The race will start on the 13th of February at 12:01 a.m. and will be open for four days. Competitors include world class athletes, representing 17 teams, from the United States, Ecuador and Denmark. Belize will be represented by three teams. Two are from the Belize Defence Force and one comprised by FCD’s Ranger team, known as the Chiquibul Grisons.

Belizean Tops Negotiation competition in England
In a rapidly changing legal climate, negotiation is a skill that is vital to any career in law. The need and desire to reach settlements outside of court has never been greater than it is in the modern day. Participants in negotiation competitions are given a common set of facts, known by all the parties, and confidential information that will only be known to the participants representing a particular side. The overarching aim is for an agreement to be reached that would be suitable for both parties. Participants receive credit for teamwork, concession management, observation of ethics and the eventual outcome. Even for those who do not eventually pursue a career in law, negotiation can be an invaluable skill. Business, finance and management careers will draw upon the skills required by a good negotiator.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

WWF and partners to hold consultation…
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in partnership with CARIBSAVE, Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI), Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and the Belize Environmental Research Institute (ERI) will be carrying out a series of community consultations on the project ‘Identifying Opportunities for Climate-compatible Tourism Development in Belize’. This project is of great importance given the fact that coral reefs, mangroves and beaches are the cornerstone of the tourism industry in Belize and coastal communities rely on mangrove and reef-based fisheries for food security and income. Growth of the tourism industry is viewed as inherent to economic development in Belize but is often accompanied by habitat degradation that directly threatens the resources upon which the industry depends. The challenge faced is how best to move forward with tourism development whilst maintaining healthy, functional ecosystems that support the tourism industry, sustain livelihoods and provide resilience to climate change. The ‘Identifying Opportunities for Climate-compatible Tourism Development’ project will help to inform this process by assessing the vulnerability of Belize’s tourism system to climate change, including the coastal ecosystems on which it depends, and assessing how current policies facilitate or hinder climate-compatible tourism development based on healthy coastal ecosystems. We are also exploring the policy reforms and adaptation strategies required to enhance ecosystem resilience to climate change and foster tourism development, at a local and national scale.

Notice for sea cucumber fishermen…
The Fisheries Department hereby informs sea cucumber fishermen that renewal of licenses for 2014 will run from 10th February to 28th February 2014. Fishers who complied in 2013 with the conditions of their license are advised that they must present the following documents when applying: (a) Valid Commercial License (b) Receipts of sale of product (c) Catch logs (d) One (1) valid passport picture For additional information you can contact the Fisheries Department at telephone numbers: 224-4552.

Caye Caulker Sailing Club’s Corozal Regatta Weekend Recap
On February 8th & 9th 2014, the Caye Caulker Sailing Club attended its first regatta of 2014. We survived our first regatta. It wasn’t easy since we had no clue what to do but it seemed to go OK and the kids just let it flow and that’s all that really matters. Starting with congratulations … the 44 kids that competed really deserve it all. In less than favorable conditions they all patiently waited for Mother Nature to wake up and turn on the wind machine. Finally, 4 hours later, enough wind started to blow out of the east and the races were on and we managed to get in 3 races on Saturday. Sunday was a bit better with steady 10-12 mph winds so we finished the other 3 races. Blanca from San Pedro Junior Sailing Club deserves an individual pat on the back for winning it all and the San Pedro Junior Sailing Club in total for finishing in the top 5 spots. Honorable mention to our sailors Harrison, Alanis, Malik, Angel and Ricky because that’s our team! But it’s not just about winning, it’s about competing small and all of the kids hung in there and finished every race regardless of their position. Each kid deserved the medal they received at the end of the competition!

Caye Caulker Native/Penn House Volunteer Helps People Move Toward Self Sufficiency
Leila Novelo (right) is the daughter of Cindy and Jim Novelo. Leila is the sister of Luna Novelo who won the Bikini and won first place in the Novice Class A in the NPC Natural Colorado Open Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, Bikini & Physique Championships last year. “If you could wave a magic wand, what would your life be like now? If you have dreams on the back burner, what are they?” Leila Novelo asks each guest who sinks wearily into the chair by her desk at Penn House. Usually, they are people who have had to put a lot of their dreams on the back burner, because every day is a fight for survival. They are battling things like unemployment or underemployment, struggling with how to feed and clothe their families, figuring out how to battle health problems in a constantly changing but always confusing health care system. Dreams may seem like things other people have time for, not them.


The remains of a murdered Canadian missionary, Brian Townsend, 68, was discovered by Guatemalans on December 27, 2013, in Arenal, a village that straddles Belize’s border with Guatemala (part in Belize and part in Guatemala), and now, authorities on this side of the border have confirmed that the two suspects in that murder case have both shared the same fate. According to Benque Viejo police, Raulito Balona, 21, was found shot to death in the western village of Arenal sometime over the past weekend, which is the same village where the decomposed body of the missionary was found. The discovery of Raulito Balona’s corpse has occurred less than a month after his elder brother was killed. Although Amandala understands that the police are still gathering the pertinent information surrounding the Balona brothers’ murder, the Officer Commanding the Benque Viejo Police Formation, Assistant Superintendent of Police Dinsdale Thompson, today told us that they are contemplating the fact that both of the main suspects in Townsend’s murder are now deceased, although it would be premature to believe that there was actually a connection between the murders of the two suspects at this juncture.

Back in 2008 there was outrage over online postings on of explicit nude photos of Belizean women—photos which at least one woman believed had been stolen from her hard drive when her computer was taken to a shop for repairs. This week the shocking revelation was made that the photos of Belizean women—among them prominent beauty queens—were being used to sell Belize as a sex tourism destination. The exploitation of people—especially females and minors—for prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism is said to be a multi-billion-dollar trade, featuring transnational agents. Amandala did some investigation and found out that the website hosting the photos is registered with Llc of Scottsdale, Arizona, in the United States. No one answered the company’s line when we called to question them about the website. Furthermore, the entity which registered the website remains anonymous online. Of note, though, is that the website, which goes by the name Global Fantasies—since it features at least 15 jurisdictions across the world—has other parallel websites, such as Universal Fantasies and Global Fantasy Girls, advertising hundreds of women, grouped by their nationalities. Women said to be from Amsterdam, Colombia, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Thailand, and the USA are some examples.

Stephen Kuylen, Jr., 31, a customs broker of the Pasadita area of Orange Walk Town, was shot to death at about 8:50 last night in his yard on 6th Street in Pasadita, where he lives with his girlfriend. He was shot in the head, cheek and chest, and reportedly in the back, by one of two gunmen who attacked him shortly after he arrived home that night. Kuylen, originally from Corozal Town, had gone into his house, but shortly after, he was called out by two men who came to his gate. When Kuylen went to the gate to see what the men wanted, one of them fired several shots at him, hitting him in the chest, upper back and temple. The two men then escaped into the night. Police responded to a report of the shooting, but could not find the killers. Kuylen was taken to the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk Town, where he was declared dead on arrival. Police said that last night about 9:15 they visited the scene of the crime, where they saw a Hispanic man lying dead in a pool of blood, with gunshot wounds to the left cheek, left temple area and lower back. He was identified as Stephen Kuylen, Jr, 31, a customs broker.

Paul Jex, 26, the man accused of killing Belmopan mayor Simeon Lopez’s son, Aubrey Lopez, 30, almost four years ago, walked out of the Supreme Court in jubilation. Family members quickly embraced him, and wasted no time in steering him away from reporters and the court area, even as he was muttering, “I got to speak to my lawyers.” Jex regained his freedom after a jury of five men and seven women deliberated for four hours and thirty-five minutes before returning into the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas at 8:44 p.m., announcing a not guilty verdict on the murder indictment. Belmopan mayor Simeon Lopez, his wife and other family members who have been in daily attendance at the trial since its beginning on January 28, exited the courtroom moments after Jex and his family had left, and like Jex and his family, they avoided speaking to reporters. On the night of May 12, 2010, Aubrey Lopez, a teacher at Edward P. Yorke High School and a local basketball icon, left his school compound in a blue Mitsubishi Galant car, and dropped off a woman friend on Armadillo Street around 9:00 p.m. She would never see him alive again.

John “Sad Man” Ramos, 66, an amputee and resident of La Democracia Village, Belize District, was sentenced to one year in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled drug in the court of Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer. Ramos is no stranger to the courts for that particular offence, having had eight previous convictions for marijuana possession. When he was convicted for his last offense, he was fined $750, plus $5 cost of court. He paid $730, leaving a $20 balance. According to the police statement, Ramos was in the area of the Commercial Centre when police decided to search him. They found 29 grams of marijuana, which Ramos had stashed under the waist of his pants.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has reserved judgment in the case of Georgia Matute and her daughter Janae against Dr. Raju Meenavalli, who has appealed to the CCJ to overturn a $2.13 million lawsuit awarded to the Matute’s in a decade-old medical malpractice lawsuit. The CCJ heard from attorneys from both sides on Wednesday, February 12. Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith told the court that if Dr. Raju’s appeal to the CCJ—the country’s final appellate court—is not successful, the costs should be borne by the state, since the doctor provided services to Georgia Matute as an agent of the state, During the course of the CCJ appeal, Smith tried to persuade the court that it had not been established that his client was truly responsible for harming Janae, who allegedly developed cerebral palsy as a consequence of complications she experienced at birth. Georgia Matute delivered Janae 13 years ago, on December 20. It is alleged that the doctor miscalculated Matute’s due date and delivered the child too prematurely via C-section without the customary steroid treatment needed to prepare her lung for early delivery.

A man was shot in the leg while riding his bicycle in San Pedro by an unknown shooter. Florentino Velasquez, 19, of Boca Del Rio, San Pedro, was taken to the San Pedro Polyclinic and treated for the gunshot injury. The incident occurred about 3:40 Tuesday afternoon, on the beachfront in the Boca Del Rio area. Velasquez told police that he was riding his bicycle when he heard a gunshot, after which he felt a burning in the lower part of his right foot, and it began to bleed. He then realized that he had been shot. He immediately went to the police who took him to the polyclinic, where he was treated. Police went to the area and have begun an investigation into the shooting.

The “Penner Passport Scandal,” with all its implications, is anything but over, and the public’s desire to know exactly what were the circumstances behind the scenes that led up to this gross violation of Belize’s nationalization procedures remains. So far, the public has not been provided with any substantial updates on the administrative investigations that are taking place at the Immigration Department; however, Amandala understands that two internal reports have been concluded to date – one for the Passport Section, and another for the Nationality Section of the department. In the wake of the recent passport scandal, which became public last September, three staffers from the Immigration Department – namely data entry clerks Omar Phillips, Erwin Robinson and the head of the Passport section of the Immigration Department, Sharon Neal-Flowers – have all been placed on suspension pending the outcome of the subsequent investigations that were launched in order to determine who were the persons responsible for the fraudulent issuance of a Belizean passport and nationality to a South Korean fugitive by the name of Won Hong Kim.

On Monday, the law firm of Musa and Balderamos, acting on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Francis Fonseca, wrote Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie a detailed letter, informing him that if he did not act against disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner and charge him in connection with the “Penner Passport Scandal,” the law firm was instructed to take the matter to the Supreme Court to ask for a writ of mandamus, in which the court would instruct the Commissioner to criminally charge Penner. The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) says there is enough evidence against Penner to warrant criminal prosecution for the Won Hong Kim passport scandal that cost him his Cabinet seat. Amandala tried to get comment from the Commissioner of Police on Monday, with no success, and today, Thursday, we tried again, and again, with no success. We have tried speaking with Prime Minister Dean Barrow, but again, with no success. Citing violations of the Belize Passport Act, the Belize Nationality Act and the Electronic Evidence Act, the letter, signed by Senior Counsel Edwin Flowers, urged Commissioner Whylie to conclude the police’s investigation and bring criminal charges against Hon. Elvin Penner, the Cayo North East area representative.

In certain disciplines, what formal education sometimes appears to involve is learning how to make simple things become complicated. At this newspaper, on the contrary, what we try to do is figure out how to make complicated things become easier to understand. This is how we seek to empower our Belizean people, by enabling a greater understanding of the relevant issues. The process that led to the establishment of the settlement we call Belize involved crimes against two sections of humanity. The British committed crimes against West African people which had to do with the enslavement, transportation, and captive labor of our ancestors. The Spanish committed crimes against the Maya people which involved the violent conquest of the Maya, the seizure of Maya lands, and the forced labor of Maya people for the enrichment of Spanish rulers. In Belize, the British also committed crimes against the Maya, while the Spanish, in their fight against the British for regional hegemony, offered freedom to African slaves fleeing from Belize.

As a Belizean of mixed ancestry, I have ancestors who were slaves and ancestors who were slavemasters. Previous to the UBAD revolution of 1969, most families in Belize of mixed African and European ancestry sought to position themselves as near to their European side as they possibly could. The most dramatic of such “positioning themselves” involved parents’ promoting lighter-skinned mate choices for their children. “Lightening yu color” was a really big deal. In our daily lives in British Honduras, we tried not to talk “broad”: we wanted our speech to be as clipped and British as possible. This is how we were taught in school. Where literature, music, dress, and so on were concerned, again it was all about aiming at European ideals, British ideals. The British here, and European colonialists all over Africa and the Americas and the Caribbean, had convinced our people that we were descended from savages and cannibals. As a result of this programming, some of us began to hate ourselves. We despised those of our characteristics which were not European-like and which identified us as having African genetics.

Dear Editor, The Amandala article entitled “Bay snook mercury risk in Macal: BELPO” (Wednesday, February 12, 2014) covered the high levels of mercury in the fish in the Macal River as well as issues of water quality. The article reported that the “Amandala was made to understand from an official of the DoE that since the Chalillo project is more than five years old, data reports on mercury levels are now provided once annually. The most recent data we have seen dates back to May 2013, and indicates that indeed, the mercury level of the snook is above normal.” This is not accurate. The Environmental Compliance Plan for the Chalillo project states that: To prevent potential health effects to fish consumers, a risk management program will be put in place during the period of elevated mercury levels (i.e., for five years or until background levels are achieved). [emphasis added]

Dear Sir, Everything is supposed to be back to normal at the Santa Elena Border on trading with Mexico: lamentably it is not. There is a new Mexican broker agency but the speed of dispatching is way below par. Some trucks are still waiting from last week Tuesday. This is very expensive for Belizean businessmen since we have to foot the bill. Even the customs officers on our side are complaining about how poor the revenue stream is. This will definitely affect government’s financials. The former broker agency who could get all trucks going in one day is trying hard to restart his business but Mexico is not Belize and we can cry as much as we want but will have to wait until these new ones learn the ropes.

Dear Editor, The report on the proposed National Occupational Safety and Health (NOSH) Act 2014 published in the Amandala newspaper of January 29, 2014 needs the full and immediate attention of all Belizeans; especially small businesses in the service and fabrication sectors. While the passage of this law is intended to enhance workers’ safety at the job-site, it will have other effects and may bring unintended consequences to the workplace of all business owners, including small repair shops, agricultural producers, fabricators and others. Every employer or employee needs to become educated and engaged in the discussion of this far-reaching proposed law. Essentially, the proposed law seeks to establish in Belize, recognized rules, regulations and practices that many other countries have standardized to increase workers’ safety. That is a good thing. And most reasonable people will agree that improved worker safety at dangerous places such as construction sites are long overdue. Those of us with reasonable logic will also agree this is another step forward for our manufactured products and services to become internationally compliant and competitive. It is a noble effort spearheaded by the National Trade Union Congress.

Dear Editor: With all the recent chatter of alleged unethical behavior of our politicians, I am reminded of the description my neighbor once gave me regarding one of her relatives, who held public office in Belize City during the 70s. Lloyd Coffin was from the Mesopotamia area. He was the great-grandson of William Hugh Coffin, the first Speaker of House (circa 1853), and Mayor of Belize City in 1971. He was a tailor by trade and during his era City Council workers only received a stipend, so Mr. Coffin continued to work as a tailor, at times even sewing the PUP party flag at his home on a Singer Treadle Sewing Machine. He would sit at that machine with his foot on the treadle and that machine created stitches as if though it was powered by electricity. My neighbor said that Mr. Coffin was an honest politician and that neither friend, family, nor foe benefited from his holding public office. He did not enrich himself. He never acquired acres of land, never drove a fancy car, never lived in a McMansion, nor did he have a large bank account. His family members never received any preferential treatment or government scholarships; well, one did, but as soon as it was discovered the person’s family was not PUP, the scholarship was rescinded.

It’s been years since the Integrity Commission has been active, and one was finally appointed by the Senate last week, but the Office of the Prime Minister announced on Monday that two of the appointees – Belize City banker Stephen Duncan and businessman Brett Feinstein – had declined their appointments because the recent passage of legislation to ensure compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) would mean that they would be regarded as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and would, consequently, be subject to “onerous disclosure obligations.” Speaking on The Adele Ramos Show on KREM Tuesday night, Duncan, the managing director of Heritage Bank, said that while he agrees that the Integrity Commission needs to be revived, and he would have been very honored to serve, the overriding factor for declining the appointment is that although he is not a politician, as a member of the Commission, he would be required to make a public declaration, as well. Duncan said that he would have been faced with a situation where in today’s environment, the information would become public and would be seen not only by people with good intentions.

The Standard 6 social studies class of the Sister Clara Muhammad Muslim School, in celebrating Black History Month, visited the Dr. Leroy Taegar Institute of Learning, formerly the Library of African and Indian Studies, managed by the UBAD Educational Foundation. Marva Garcia, the teacher who headed the class, said that in class they discussed many topics—including the culture of our indigenous ancestors and how they got to this part of the world, and they visited the institute to delve deeper into this subject matter. The class was given a lecture on the Africans who later became slaves, and how they came to Belize. The teacher noted that the children were very enthusiastic and engaged, and asked questions. The lectures were very educational and she also learnt many things in the process, she said.

Primary school students from different parts of the city flocked to the interior of the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts this morning, to be participants in the launch of a children’s DVD known as It’s Story Time. The initiative – which is the brainchild of Bel-Caribe Communications – is slated to engage young students in reading and comprehension through a variety of short stories which will provide primary school children with the opportunity to hear the reading of a text, while encouraging their ability to listen to stories. The executive producer of the project is Sandra Mahler, and she told us that the DVD of children’s stories – which took six months to compile – will play a special role in drawing in young, reluctant readers to be more receptive to what books can offer. She explained, “It’s a DVD consisting of children stories taken from the Ministry of Education’s curriculum. It has taken us roughly six months to produce because most of the times we had to do it on weekends when the children were out of school. All the children on the DVD are from local primary schools still presently engaged in school. It was difficult, but it was a learning experience for the children and for ourselves because while working with these children, we were able to bring out talent that these children didn’t know they had within and at the same time, they learnt from us and we learnt from them.”

Last week I was so busy dealing with ensuring that the security officers being made redundant by the Belize City Council would be given a fair chance before the law and that there be compassion for them, that I never got around to writing my weekly column. I hope this does not become the norm for me as I love writing and I don’t like disappointing my readers. I did get the many messages asking me what happened…so sorry, but my busy life happened. That said, the situation I had to deal with brought me face to face with two nasty realities in this country that we are yet to confront and solve. The first is that the poorer, less fortunate material-wise are ALWAYS being taken advantage of. The second is that those in power seem to have become too intoxicated with it: they do not recognize the arrogance and high-handedness in their conduct and decisions.

The changing landscape of Belize’s financial sector—due to amendments to Belize’s laws coming amid pressure from the international community for Belize to implement measures, said to be designed to counter terrorism and money laundering—has necessitated a change in the way banks do business with their customers. Christopher Coye, president of the Belize Association of Offshore Practitioners, told Amandala last week that the revision in the laws do not just affect the offshore sector, but onshore transactions as well, because obligations that have now been created become more onerous on everyone—and especially those who have bank accounts and who will be subject to more procedures, more monitoring and more requirements. Belizeans, said Coye, will experience the changes on a very personal level. (See article captioned, “NEW FINANCIAL LAWS CAST WIDE NET!” published in the midweek issue of Amandala.) Stephen Duncan, managing director of Heritage Bank in Belize, said today that bankers are still trying to come to grips with the latest amendment.

Days ago, parliament passed a raft of legislation which elected officials said were being tabled to avoid financial sanctions which could be recommended against Belize by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) when it meets in Paris, France on Monday, February 10. Parliamentarians expressed the view that the legislation, sparked by recommendations coming to Belize from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, means the imminent demise of Belize’s offshore sector, and while the emphasis of their concerns was on the offshore enterprises, less emphasis was placed on how the legislation would impact the wider Belizean community – most of whom don’t do business in the offshore sector. Speaking with Amandala on Friday evening, Christopher Coye, president of the Belize Association of Offshore Practitioners, said that while the raft of new legislation would indeed have an impact on the offshore industry, the sector has gone through challenges before and it has not only survived, but prospered.

The 2014 Eco-Audit just released today by Healthy Reefs and PricewaterhouseCoopers (Costa Rica) announces that Belize has maintained the top-ranked position with a score of 3.2 out of a possible 5.0, which it also scored in the last 2011 eco-audit. That equates to a “C” – fair but not good enough. Dr. Melanie McField , Director of Healthy Reefs Initiative, said that Belize improved in only 1 of the 28 line items on which it was assessed – an indication that “we need to crack the whip” and “get off our ‘tush’” – as the pace of putting into place measures to protect the barrier reef needs to be picked up. What is an eco-audit? A brochure detailing the assessment—which also includes our immediate neighbors: Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras—says it scored Belize and the other countries on the basis of seven themes, 28 indicators and over 300 supporting documents. It is a systematic review by a group of countries to see how well they are performing when it comes to putting in place measures to improve the management of the reef. McField told Amandala that the eco-audit is distinct from the report card on the state of the reef. The last report card said that most of the reef was in a “poor” state, but early indications are that the health of the reef is rebounding.

Their boots have been stomping the Belize City streets for over the past two decades in an effort to curb the raging urban warfare which had been taking a toll, especially in the crime-ridden and gang-affiliated neighborhoods of the “Old Capital;” but now, the Belize Defence Force (BDF) plans to gradually reduce the number of soldiers who are presently deployed in the environs of the city. The soldiers – who have been working in tandem with the Belize Police Department – are scheduled to be taken “off the beat” at the end of this month, which would be two weeks away. As we understand it, the move has been partially prompted by the recent increase in the ranks of the Police Department, who added 120 new officers to their regiment just two weeks ago, which brought the tally of police officers in the country to somewhere around 1,500. Secondly, the reduction in the incidences of violent crime over the past year – in which there was a record decrease in the murder rate – as opposed to the previous year which saw the highest records of murders and violent crimes in Belize’s history, is believed to have contributed significantly to the withdrawal of the soldiers.

This weekend the University of Belize will honor Mr. David L. McKoy in ceremonies to be held in Dangriga. Mr. McKoy is the first real benefactor the university can identify. About 7 or so years ago, when all we had was the University College of Belize, Mr. McKoy donated some prime real estate, which has become an endowment of the University of Belize, established in August of the year 2000. For a man who was a Cabinet Minister through the 1960’s and 1970’s, representing the constituency of Stann Creek Rural (which became Stann Creek West in 1984), Mr. McKoy is not well known nationally. He came out of the trade union movement in Stann Creek in the 1950’s. As I write, I am wondering if Mr. McKoy ever lost in a general election. (My subsequent research shows that David McKoy won the “Stann Creek” seat in the 1957 national elections in British Honduras. He won “Stann Creek Rural” in 1961; 1965; 1969; 1974; and 1979. He won, then, seven straight times, and never lost.) [NOTE: The statistics, as are almost all this newspaper’s election stats, are from Myrtle Palacio’s WHO AND WHAT IN BELIZEAN ELECTIONS 1954 TO 1993, published by Glessima Research in 1993.]

The president of the Christian Workers Union (CWU) – who has taken up the cause of 26 security guards who have been declared redundant by the Belize City Council (CitCo) – today reported a breakthrough in negotiations over the impending layoff of those security officers. According to the union’s president, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, in a one-on-one meeting with the Mayor of Belize City, Darrell Bradley, sometime this afternoon, several commitments were made in principle. Thereafter, both teams met at City Hall where five proposals were discussed. Although she was not able to comment on the details of what was agreed in the meeting, since she had not yet informed the security officers, she did say that the agreements are welcoming news for those who will be affected.

The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) are today on an expedition to the Columbia River Forest Reserve—a tropical rainforest covering 103,000 acres and said to be one of the largest tracts of undisturbed rainforest in Central America—after reports of increasing incursions by Guatemalans believed to be engaged in illegal logging of mahogany, rosewood and cedar in the south. At the Chiquibul Symposium held last July, Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla said in her presentation that Belize is being threatened from north to south, within coastal and marine areas as well as on land. She cited difficulties being experienced with the protection of the Columbia River Forest Reserve, which, she said, “nobody manages.” “It is supposed to be managed by the Forestry Department, but we don’t have the money to manage it,” Alamilla said, pointing to concerns that the incursions are being made even further inland, and affecting the Bladen Nature Reserve – which she described as “the Crown Jewel of Belize’s protected areas.” But today, BTV’s focus is on the Columbia River Forest Reserve – that largely unwatched forest that is now the subject of increased pillaging.

Over 40 million cigarettes were destroyed by incineration on Tuesday in Chetumal by the Mexican authorities, including the Tax Administration Service and the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris), who said that the cigarettes had been smuggled into the country from Belize, Vietnam, India, China, Canada, Paraguay and the United States. They were confiscated in areas of Yucatan, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo. According to El Diario de Chetumal, the cigarettes were seized in 2013 through 15 procedures, because the products were not in compliance with General Law for the Control of Snuff and Regulations, which requires, among other features, the inclusion of legends, pictographs, pictures, health messages, labeling, and warnings, in the packaging of the cigarettes.

Ashley Perez,15, reported missing from the Belmopan Marla’s House of Hope since 5:00 Friday evening, February 7, has still not been found. She was last seen at the home that Friday, but when checks were made by Theresita Bethran, caregiver at Marla’s House of Hope about 5:00 Friday evening on taking over duties, Ashley Perez and Franchesca August were found to be missing from the home. The alarm was raised; August returned, but to date, Perez has not yet returned, and her whereabouts are unknown. Ashley Perez is described as of having fair complexion, slimly built, short, and has long black hair Anyone who sees or knows the whereabouts of Ashley Perez is urged to contact the nearest police station, or 0800- 922 – TIPS. The members and staff of Marla’s House of Hope are very worried about her and want her to return to the home.

Six Salvadoran men who were picked up by immigration officers on Sunday, February 9, after they entered Belize illegally, were arraigned before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton late Monday evening. They all pleaded guilty to the immigration charge of illegal entry. The six men are Victor Manuel Gonzalez Juarez, Carlos Adalberto Alvarado Valdezon, Santos de Jesus Aleman, Miguel Angel Azmito Cea, Celso Antonio Aleman Valle and Victor Manuel Rivera Valle. Hamilton imposed the mandatory fine of $1,000 each, payable forthwith, in default of which the men will each have to serve six months in prison. He also signed a removal order for them to be deported back to their native Salvador, after they either pay the court fine or serve time in prison.

It has been reported that Belizeans who travel to the shops and businesses in the villages on the Mexican side of the Rio Hondo River, bordering Belize, to make purchases and conduct transactions, account for over 70% of these stores’ sales revenue, despite the approval of a 16% Value Added Tax on the goods. According to El Diario De Chetumal, 70% of the profits of the stores come from Belizean shoppers who cross the river from Mennonite communities to La Union, which is only about 20 meters away in some cases, because the Mexican goods are cheaper, and accessible. However in the interior, there has been a decline in business activity. Forty percent of the 500 businesses that were operating in the area have folded. In an interview with Diario De Chetumal, Israel Oliver Castillo, Secretary of the National Chamber of Commerce, said that the 16% VAT caused a crisis for the stores in the interior, while those in the La Union area that are facing the border remain strong and profitable due to the regular and consistent business activity generated by Belizean shoppers.

There is no better time to “play big” than in a championship game, and Belize’s CONCACAF hero Deon McCaulay proved that “there is only one #1” when he took the FFB Stadium by storm on Saturday night in the decisive Game 2 of the Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup Finals, blasting 4 of his team’s 5 goals, on their way to a whopping 5-1 victory over FC Belize for the championship. According to Bandits’ statistician Allen “Johnny” Martinez, it had been all of 3 years since the Bandits had last beaten FC Belize, and few expected such a big score, after their 1-1 stalemate in Game 1 of the championship series last week at the MCC rounds in Belize City. The Bandits had ended their regular season run with two scoreless draws against BDF and Verdes FC, and only entered the semifinal playoffs in the #3 seed position, ahead of #4 seed FC Belize. FC Belize promptly eliminated #1 seed Verdes in an eventful and somewhat controversial overtime win at the Marshalleck Stadium, where Verdes had not lost a match during the whole regular season; but there was nothing controversial about the way the Bandits disposed of #2 seed BDF, trouncing them 3-nil at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, where Deon came to life with 2 goals, and ending it at the Carl Ramos with a 1-1 draw, where Deon was again on the scoreboard with his team’s only goal.

The long awaited return of semipro basketball took place on Friday night, Feburary 7, in the form of the National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) tournament opening night with Week 1 games being played at 3 different venues across the country – Bird’s Isle in Belize City, UB gymnasium in Belmopan and the Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal. The game scheduled for Ecumenical High School court in Dangriga was postponed due to rain. Tigersharks 83 -78 No Limit Following official ceremonies at Bird’s Isle in Belize City, the San Pedro Tigersharks took on home standing Belize City (Smart) No Limit in an intense contest that saw No Limit out-rebounding Tigersharks, 56-34; but the Tigersharks still managed the upper hand in fast break points, 26-10, and totally embarrassed the home squad from the free throw line, where the Tigersharks scored 23 of 33 (70%) to No Limit’s dismal 19 of 48 (40%). No Limit sported a 1-point lead, 20-19, to end the first quarter; but thereafter the Tigersharks maintained the lead, 38-35, at the half; 59-52 to end the third quarter, and the final score, 83-78, to claim their first victory of the season.

Baggy sails on the first day of the 2014 Corozal Bay Regatta hosted by the Corozal Bay Sailing Club caused the regatta start to be pushed back until after noon. Eventually, the wind came in to make 3 races possible on the first day of racing last Saturday, February 8. On Sunday, winds shifted to the east and picked up enough to make the race interesting, and Blanca Velasquez of San Pedro Junior Sailing Club (SPJSC) made a big statement for the first regatta of 2014, taking first place in a fleet of 44 competing Optimist Class boats. Other top finishers included younger brother Kevin Velasquez (SPJSC) in 2nd place; 3rd was Faith Noel (SPJSC); 4th Jerdon Anderson (SPJSC); 5th Davin Puc (SPJSC); 6th Trent Hardwick of Belize Sea Scouts; 7th Christian Trejo (SPJSC); 8th Antonio Ricardez, Jr. of Belize City Sailing Club; 9th Jazmin Campos of the Corozal Bay Sailing Club; and Sal Scott of Placencia Sailing Club rounding off the 10th spot. Newcomers, the Caye Caulker Sailing Club also tested the waters in their first national ranking regatta.

The Football Federation of Belize (FFB) continues the launching of its youth development program. This week, it’s in Belize City at the MCC Grounds, starting today February 12 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. with children ages 6-12 years; Wednesday, February 13, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. with children ages 13-14 years; Friday, February 14, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. with children ages 15-16 years; and Saturday, February 15, from 9:00 – 12:00 noon for all ages from 6-16 years, male and female. Members of the Belize District coaches are asked to come out and assist the program. Parents are asked to bring your children each day of the program, and team managers can check with Ms. Helen Flowers and Stanley “Jordan” Reneau for information on the U-15 and U-17 male and female competition which will start on March 1.

Reliable reports reaching our sports desk tonight say that former national team coach Leroy Sherrier Lewis responded to a text question while on the Sports Zone show on Plus TV tonight. Asked if he would consider coaching the Belize National Team again, Sherrier Lewis reportedly said that he harbors no hard feelings toward anyone, and as long as the people in charge have the same passion and love for the game as Saldivar does (Min. John Saldivar is owner of recently crowned national champions, Belmopan Bandits. Saldivar brought in Sherrier Lewis in mid-season to take over the coaching of the Bandits.), then he would be open to coaching the national side again. Food for thought, FFB. Of course, Saldivar is not likely to release Sherrier Lewis until after the upcoming PLB Closing Season run-up to the CONCACAF Champions League; but it would be a smooth transition for Sherrier Lewis, as the Bandits presently include a number of former national team players.

The case of three police officers, who have been accused of a brazen theft from Belmopan businessman Thyrell Hyde that was caught on an Atlantic Bank surveillance camera, was brought before Magistrate Dale Cayetano today. Corporal Reymundo Requeńa, 42, and Police Constable Joslyn Gill, appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, who adjourned their case to April 17. The third cop, PC Edgar Teul, was a no-show. The three lawmen are accused of the September 8, 2013 shakedown of Hyde, who told police that the cops took to him to his Atlantic Bank ATM machine and helped themselves to money from his account, after a routine police search of the young man. The allegation against the policemen is that after they searched Hyde and his vehicle in the Buttonwood Bay area, they put him in a police mobile unit and drove him to his bank, where they took his ATM card and helped themselves to monies from his account. Before this happened, Hyde alleged that one of the officers took a manila envelope containing $1,500 from out of the glove compartment of Hyde’s car. After finding his ATM card in his wallet, from which they allegedly took $70, they took him to the bank and withdrew $260 from his account.

A senior citizen of San Roman, Corozal, was assaulted with a knife by a man whom he knows, who had a disagreement with his son over cattle. Bruno Chulin, 77, a cane farmer, suffered a cut wound to his arm and middle finger, and the man who allegedly stabbed him is Victor Lanza, 25, a fellow resident of the village. The incident occurred on Friday, February 7. Lanza was taken to the Corozal Magistrate’s Court yesterday, Monday, where he was offered bail of $3,000 and ordered to return to court on Tuesday, April 8. Chulin was taken to the Corozal Hospital, where he was treated for the cut wounds and later released.

Two murders committed in the Independence area in January have been solved by the Independence police under the direction of Assistant Superintendent Alton Alvarez and his team of investigators. In the first case, the man accused of the chopping death of Rene Arturo Perez, 28, a banana farm supervisor originally from Carrizal Gualan, Guatemala, which occurred on January 3, has been arrested. Jose Donaldo Sosa Madrid, 23, a Honduran laborer of Trio Village, was arraigned on the charge of murder on Friday at the Independence Magistrate’s Court, and he has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until April 30. Police reports are that at about 8:30 Friday morning, January 3, they went to the Felix Paz Guevara farm located five miles east of the Trio Junction with the Southern Highway, where they saw the body of Perez with multiple chop wounds on the upper right side of the neck, the lower right side of the neck, the right shoulder blade, the right hand and the left side of the neck.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning, authorities in the West destroyed a small marijuana “plantation” after a search was conducted at a residence in More Tomorrow. According to police reports, the officers searched the residence at about 8:25 a.m., but nothing illegal was found inside the home. In the yard, however, police discovered 16 small marijuana plants about seven feet away from the house. The plants were reportedly found inside the base of a rusty rim. Police report that the homeowner and two minors were present at the time of the search.

Thieves burglarized a farm in Western Pines and stole over $14,400 worth of goods and equipment. William Ordonez, 50, a plumber of Pelican Street, Belize City, who is the caretaker for the Ordonez family farm, situated about one mile northwest of Western Pines, which is in Western Paradise, reported that at about 5:00 Sunday evening, January 26, he secured the family farm and left. Ordonez said that when he returned to the farm yesterday, Sunday, at about 1:00, he found that the farmhouse had been broken into and that an assortment of items totaling $14,490.00 in value had been stolen.

A destruction of drugs was carried out by the Belmopan police in Georgeville at about 10:30 yesterday morning. Over 1,260 pounds of ganja and 225 grams of cocaine were destroyed by fire. The drug was from “found property” and confiscation by the courts. Witnesses to the destruction were Assistant Superintendent Sinquest Martinez, Commander of Belmopan police; a magistrate; personnel from the Forensic Unit; a Justice of the Peace; and the exhibit keeper from the Belmopan Police Headquarters.

Two robbers escaped empty-handed after they tried to rob a delivery truck with a gun that malfunctioned. The incident occurred at about 11:00 Friday morning on Central American Boulevard. Juan Francisco Alamina, 42, a driver/salesman for Bowen & Bowen, told police that while he and two assistants were making a delivery at the Southside Store on Central American Boulevard, they were approached by two men, one of whom was armed with a gun. The armed thief pointed the gun at the head of one of the workers and demanded money. The worker reportedly remained calm, and seeing that the robber was having a problem with the gun, he ran from the gunman.

A Belize City man was remanded to prison after he was arraigned on a single count of rape when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, who remanded him to prison until his next scheduled court appearance on April 2. Pedro Lewis Trujeque, 49, who was unrepresented in court, did not have to enter a plea after the Chief Magistrate read the charge of rape to him, because the matter is an indictable offense and will be heard in the Supreme Court after a preliminary inquiry is completed at the Magistrate’s Court. The allegation against Trujeque is that on February 9, he raped a 25-year-old woman on Long Caye. According to police, the woman reported that on Sunday, she was walking on the wharf with Trujeque when it started to rain, and as a result, they turned back and headed to the house on the island. In the house, she alleged to police, Trujeque threw her on a mattress and raped her.

The families of Felipa Sanchez, 84, of Douglas, who died 20 years ago and was buried in the Douglas Village Cemetery, are still devastated and angry after thieves robbed her grave and stole her skeletal remains. Police, however, are not conducting an investigation into the grave robbery, to recover the bones of the senior citizen. So far, the bones have not yet been found. The grave was robbed sometime during the night of Saturday, February 8. People in the area who came to the cemetery that Sunday morning found the tomb broken open, with the dress that Sanchez was buried in outside of the tomb, and pieces of the coffin on the ground. A search of the area found a jawbone and a leg bone in a crocus sack, but no other remains of the grandmother was found. In an interview with Amandala, the Deputy Commander of the Orange Walk Police, Inspector Julius Cantun, said that no investigation was being carried out to recover the bones.

The Reporter

GSU seizes over 100 pounds in weed bust
Danny Marin Castellanos, 29, a resident of Benque Viejo del Carmen, was remanded to the Hattieville Prison on Wednesday after he was denied bail on a charge of Possession of a Controlled Drug with the Intent to Supply over 100 pounds of marijuana. The […]

Human remains robbed from grave
The skeletal remains of a woman were stolen last weekend from her tomb in Douglas Village, located in the Orange Walk District. The bizarre incident has shocked the entire community and instead of receiving answers, they have been left questions as to who is responsible and more importantly why it […]

Priest Robbed of Sunday Mass Collections in Churchyard
The Assistant Pastor at Saint Martin de Porres Parish was robbed last Sunday night. Father Brian Christopher reported to police that he was leaving the church after the parishioners had left and was taking the basket containing the church collections through the side door […]

BTL makes tough decision to improve service
Importers who retail cell phones that don’t have the capacity to be connected through BTL’s 4G network, except if they are reconfigured to do so, are up in arms at a decision taken by the company to discontinue the service to all new phones […]

Harley Davidson Bikes Coast through Belize
A visit from more than 200 members of the Black Pearl Cycle Club, a fraternity of motorcyclists, had Belize City Streets revving to the sounds of powerful motorbike engines last weekend. The group of motorcycle enthusiasts congregates at least once a year for their Annual […]

Gary Seawell challenges extradition to U.S.
By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter Gary Seawell, 39, will return to court on March 18, where he hopes to convince Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana that he should not be extradited to the U.S. State of Ohio to face drug trafficking charges. Seawell’s attorney, Arthur Saldivar, explained that Tuesday’s hearing, […]

CWU and CitCo make breakthrough in negotiations
The Christian Worker’s Union (CWU) and Belize City Council (BCC) has reached a major breakthrough in negotiations regarding the termination of almost 30 security workers, said CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd said. Shepherd explained that the two parties managed to come to an initial agreement […]

Butane prices up again
The prices for liquid petroleum gas (butane/ LPG) have increased for the second time in less than a month. The Belize Bureau of Standards announced the increase on Monday but the prices were effective from Saturday. According to the Bureau, the cost of a […]

European Union will double funding for Belize Projects
Ambassador Paola Amadei, Head of Delegation for the European Union, is in Belize again, this time to check on work which has been done with European Union grants to Belize. During her current visit, Amadei pledged that this year, the European Union will more than double its funding to Belize. […]

Bandits win Belikin Cup football championship
By William Ysaguirre freelance Reporter The Belmopan Bandits repeat as champion of the opening season Belikin Cup Football Tournament, blowing away sub-champions FC Belize: 5-1 in the second game of the finals at the FIFA Goal Project Stadium in Belmopan on Saturday night, February 8. Belize’s top goal-scorer of the […]

Joel Borland wins Smart BCA 54-ml race
By William Ysaguirre Freelance Reporter Joel Borland of the Telemedia Cycling Team won the SMART- Leroy Cassasola 54-mile circuit race organized by the Belize Cycling Association on Saturday, February 8. Borland clocked 2:09:00 from Leslie’s Imports on the George Price Highway to the Hattieville roundabout, via the Boom By-pass to […]

Is This Love That I am Feeling?
By Louis Wade Bob Marley’s question, “Is this love, is this love, is this love that I’m feeling?” is a relevant question for today. My father used to joke that “love is a feeling that you feel when you feel a feeling”; and because Love is a feeling, people use […]

How to respond to a hacker attack
By Bevil Wooding “We’ve been hacked!” In our increasingly interconnected world, it is the scenario every organisation fears. Even after you get over the initial panic, distress, confusion, embarrassment and anger of being hacked, it is not always easy to know what to do, or where to begin. The scenarios […]

Indian woman and baby burned alive for dowry, police say
(CNN) — Police in eastern India have arrested the husband and parents-in-law of a young woman for allegedly burning her and her baby girl alive. The primary motive behind the January 30 attack is suspected to be dowry-related, as alleged by the parents of the dead woman, Jharkhand state police […]

Nicaragua’s new constitution becomes law
Changes to Nicaragua’s constitution have gone into effect, paving the way for its leader, Daniel Ortega, to run for a third consecutive term in 2016. The bill approved last month also scraps the minimum required votes for election and allows the president to issue decrees with force of law. Mr […]

Can you die from drinking too much soda?
Parents of a 5-year-old girl who reportedly forced their daughter to drink more than 2 L of soda and water were charged with murder Friday. After drinking some of her stepmother’s grape soda, Alexa Linboom was made to chug several 12-oz. bottles of it over one or two hours as […]

Tiny motors controlled inside human cell
For the first time, scientists have placed tiny motors inside living human cells and steered them magnetically. The advance represents another step towards molecular machines that can be used, for example, to release drugs into specific locations within the body. There is interest in the approach because it could enhance […]

The Parliamentary System which Belize uses to manage our democracy is under stress. It has served Belize for more than 32 years, even before 1981, when we achieved our independence. But today there are problems with the system. Parliamentary democracy seems to work well for bigger countries. Canada, the United […]

Execution Style Murder Stephen Kuylen, 31, was shot at close range
Thirty-one-year old customs broker Stephen Kuylen was executed Tuesday night in his yard at Sixth Street, in the Pasadita Area of Orange Walk Town. Kuylen, who was originally from Corozal Town and whose execution-style killing is the northern district’s first murder for the year, […]

CitCo and CWU settle dispute
The Christian Workers Union and Belize City Council have finally reached a settlement in the case of the security workers being made redundant by the BCC. “We believe that the union has been able to make great inroads for the workers,” CWU President, Audrey […]

Teen confesses to killing Brian Townsend
Belmopan Police have a suspect in their custody who they say has confessed to the murder of Canadian missionary, Brian Townsend. The suspect, a 19-year-old Benque Viejo resident, has given police a caution statement in which he has reportedly confessed to taking part in two murders – Townsend’s and Isidoro […]


Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Belize City
We were up bright and early today, 6am to be exact, to be ready for our day in Belize City. We ordered room service for the room for 6:30am but at about 6:08am room service called to tell us the food was on its way. I didn't need to sleep those extra 20 minutes anyway, right? We ordered the usual assortment of room service breakfast and it wasn't anything I'd write home about. Mass-produced eggs never turn out well and this was more of the same. The hasbrowns and toast were fine but we needed something to eat to get us going and quick so it worked. You may be asking why we got up so very early and the reason is Belize is a tender port, which means we have to take ferries from Navigator of the Seas to the port. Complicating things is the port is about a 20 minute ride away, which is long for a tender. I had also read horror stories about the lines for tenders in the morning and we were concerned about making our excursion on time. So by 7:30, we were walking down to deck 2 to get in line. When we got there (about an hour before first tender was estimated to leave), there was just one couple ahead of us. The line started to build slowly but surely and by about 8:00, the line started snaking back up to deck 3 and beyond.

Dr Lerida Rodriquez ordered bed rest and more tests
Cost of doctors and medical in Belize is an area that many people are interested in when they are researching the possibility of living here. Just like anywhere, it can vary greatly depending who you see and what is wrong. Overall I have been satisfied with my medical care here and thankfully have not required anything major. It started over the weekend with mild discomfort and progressed pretty quick to where I felt like I had a full out war going on inside me. I made an appointment with Dr Lerida Rodriquez for her earliest available time Monday aft. Thankfuly Shirlee was at our place working with me on Belize Red Cross stuff and I scored a ride. Dr Lerida agreed something was not right and immediately ordered me for lab tests and gave me some pills – cost $95 bzd.

Tech free day and Our first stay on Ambergris Caye
I had been planning to blog Amy’s first trip to Belize mini review below but with the power being off for much of the morning yesterday, I decided to make it a “tech free” Sunday for the most part (no computer, no phone). It’s always nice to hear the story of how someone has fallen for Ambergris Caye as so many do after their first trip, just like we did 8 years ago. Wow Wow Wow….We traveled with our teenager. Had an amazing experience. It was an eye opener of how people live. The resorts, the staff, the food was impeccable! I would love to go back for longer then just a week and without the teenager (eeek). We explored, snorkeled, and ate our way thru the island. The nicest people. Can’t wait to go back. If you ever get the chance to go on vacation and your looking to check out another country, Belize is un~BELIZE~able…You better BELIZE we will go back to …Time of our life. AMY FORDYCE/Grover Beach, California

A Stay at Tropical Paradise Resort in Caye Caulker and Belize’s Best Fried “Fry Chicken” Confirmed
So…last weekend I motored over to Caye Caulker, Belize with the Kelly McGuire group. Those guys were headed back on this big boat at the end of the dock… I had booked a room at the Tropical Paradise Resort that IS the end of Caye Caulker’s Front Street. Lazy Lizard Bar & the Split is at one end of Front street. You can go no farther on this small island… And some of the best swimming on Caye Caulker…

Come to Belize, Marry A Garifuna Drummer: An Expat in Punta Gorda
I met Ruth and her husband Ray at one of my favorite spots, Hickatee Cottages in Punta Gorda, Belize. Every Wednesday night, the owners of the cottages, Ian and Kate, invite Ray to teach traditional Garifuna drumming to the guests. I was a little bit scared. My lack of rhythm borders on sad and this guy is quite famous…one of the very best in the country. But Ray is amazingly talented as well as very easy going. He actually makes the truly clueless feel like they are getting it. Not an easy thing to do. Here is his wife Ruth’s story visiting Belize and then moving to Punta Gorda and starting the Warasa Drum School. I came to Belize for four months. That was seventy-eight months ago. So what happened in the interim? I met this Garifuna drummer…

Getting Artsy Again. This Time Mosaic Tiles on Ambergris Caye
You can’t say that I don’t cover a wide variety of topics. Bikers, a Belikin beer domino tournament and now art and getting crafty. My friend Tami makes beautiful mosaic tiled pieces. Garden ornaments, plates, teapots, tables, posts, SKULLS… this piece is at Belizean Arts shop in Fido’s Courtyard in San Pedro. She has also donated some amazing art to the SAGA Humane Society for our fundraisers with Kelly McGuire. For the big show tonight, she has donated this AWESOME heart. Valentines perfection for a lucky (and generous) bidder.

Belikin Stout 2014 Dominoes Championship Is Way More Exciting Than I Imagined
Hmmm…dominoes. Something I played as a kid. Either lining up and knocking down or matching number to number. Never very exciting. But dominoes in Belize is an exciting game. Intense. In the past, I have driven passed people playing in Belize City…I was invited to this match in Punta Gorda last year. And then I saw this. Watch this short Belikin commercial about dominoes. DOMINOES are exciting!

The growth of Belize’s Global Reputation – A true life Cinderella Story
Belize Boats, Big Bodacious Seagoing Beauty Why are we excited about the success and social cache that Belize Motoryachts holds in nautical circles? After all, Belize Motor yachts are not made in Belize; an Australian Company in Taiwan produces them. So you’d be forgiven for asking why they appear on a blog originating in the rainforest of Belize. We find the news interesting because when The Lodge at Chaa Creek started out as Chaa Creek Cottages, with one little thatched roof cottage and a menu consisting of rice and bean with stew chicken and a bar boasting a selection of rums – Caribbean or One Barrel, and Belkin Beer, it seemed like hardly anyone knew that Belize existed. When we went overseas and people asked where we were coming from, it usually went something like, “Where are you from?” “Belize…” “Where’s that?”

Flying to Belize just got easier thanks to Delta
While perusing the February 9 edition of the LA Times, we came across apiece highlighting the news that Delta now offers nonstop service to Belize City from Los Angeles. While this is old news to us (that most welcome service began last year), it did serve as reminder of how easy it is for our west coast visitors, and those members of Belize’s huge diaspora, to get to Belize and Chaa Creek. Now, you can hop one easy flight from LAX, arrive in Belize City, and jump the Tropic Air flight to Maya Flats at our front door. That means missing the scenic drive in our comfy vans that we use to transport our guests from Belize’s International Airport to Chaa Creek, but it is amazingly quick and easy – wake up in your bed on the west coast of the US, and that evening go to sleep in one of ours surrounded by pristine rainforest. Not so long ago such convenience would have been unthinkable. Really. When Chaa Creek first opened over thirty years ago, just getting from Belize City to here was an all day affair.

The First International Belizean Harley Davidson Biker’s Rally
The first of what is expected to be an annual motorcycle rally was held in Belize over the weekend of February 7 – 9, with some of the riders having made a six-day, 3,200-mile open road sojourn to attend. And by all appearances the “Meeting in the Middle”, or “Encuentro al Media Camino” to use the rally’s Spanish title, looked like a lot of fun – and not just for those astride some of the awesome rides. With Harleys as well as Ducatis, Yamahas, BMWs and even head-turning three wheel Cam Am Spyders in attendance, the Belize Bikers rally was a feast for aficionados of (usually) two wheel road machines. And if you’re thinking of scenes from “The Wild Ones”, that Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin epic film about motorcycle mayhem in a small town besieged by bikers, forget it. This was a very civilised, even family friendly affair, showing that most open road enthusiasts are the sort of people a small, friendly country like Belize welcomes.

The Importance of Capacity Building and How to Get Started
Capacity building is the term used frequently by foundations and nonprofit leadership to ascertain the ability of an organization to effectively achieve it s mission. This article describes capacity building, and why it is important in addition to offering a starting point for engaging in capacity building. DEFINITION OF CAPACITY BUILDING Capacity building is defined as the ability of an organization to achieve their mission in an effective manner. It can also be described as the strategies or actions that an organization takes to ensure that it has the resources needed to succeed. These actions can include: resource development, financial management (diversification of funding sources), organizational learning, leadership development and other activities. In other words, capacity building is any set of actions that an organization takes to improve its ability to perform successful in its chosen area.

Building Bridges in Belize
Partnerships are invaluable to development. In fact, in Belize they are at the center of a new initiative that will help at-risk youth from marginal areas have a chance to learn new job skills and train to become small business entrepreneurs. A few days ago, we launched the Youth Engagement Services (YES!) program, a brand new project that will give 53 local youths, ages 18-24, the essential technical training and business advice they will need to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive local labor market. To do this, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is bringing together key local partners—the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), the Conscious Youth Development Program (CYDP) under RESTORE Belize, Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence, and the Women’s Issues Network (WIN) Belize—to ensure that we provide these young people the best possible environment to succeed.

World Consumer Rights Day Travelling Booth Display Schedule
The Consumer Protection Unit of the Belize Bureau of Standards will be hosting booth displays at several location throughout February and March 2014 in celebration of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD). WCRD is celebrated annually on 15th March, this year the theme is, “Fix Our Phone Rights!” We urge the general public to look for your location in the schedule and come out and learn about Consumer Protection in Belize.

PRESS RElEASE: CARICOM Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Barbados elects new Chairman and Vice Chairman.

“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Just to show that I don’t just ‘cut and paste’ the opening section of an edition ( because Im sure that on occasions it may seem that way) I’m starting today’s one differently with the view from today’s starting position ‘work station’. Yes, you’ve guessed it, at Estel’s. For those of you that have had the pleasure of having a meal there (and for those of you that unfortunately haven’t ) I took the table in the south-west corner. To be honest (pointless being anything else really) I could have chosen virtually any table because when I got there just before 07.30 hours it was virtually empty. I meant to mention in the previous edition that Rose and I spent a fair bit of time at the back end of last week generally tidying up and making ready the self-contained apartment on our ground floor. Why? Well, because at the weekend it got its first use as a place to stay by someone other than us (we spent around a week in it when our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize was nearing completion). Our guests? Frank our friend serving as a member of BATSUB and his dog Ziggy.

The February 2014 - April 2014 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online.
Click HERE to download the PDF

This Issue's Stories:

  • Issues, Challenges and Options for Belize’s Agricultural Sector: Agriculture plays an important role in Belize’s economy, contributing almost 14% to GDP, about 50% to export earnings and provides a significant base for employment and income generation in the rural areas. In the last decade (2003 – 2012), the growth of the agricultural sector averaged over 4% per year but there was negative growth in five years during the decade. In 2012, both the economy and the agricultural sector recovered significantly, expanding by more than 5% and 15% respectively. A review of policies and strategies and the many studies done on Belize’s agriculture during the last 25 years indicate that there is no shortage of recommendations on what needs to be done to facilitate the long term growth of the sector. The first comprehensive policy document for agriculture was prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1986. This was followed by three other initiatives in the last 15 years to provide a policy and strategic direction for the sector. Previous Challenges and Recommendations Since the early 1990s, recommendations on policy options and a strategic direction for the sector emphasized five major areas: (1) a market-led approach; (2) the need to make the sector more competitive in both the domestic and export markets; (3) diversification; (4) incorporation of the issues of sustainability in agricultural production, management and use of the environment and natural resource base; and (5) strengthening of inter-sectoral linkages.
  • TO THE EDITOR Response to Development of Corn, Issue 23 page 17: Dear Editor, In his article titled, “The Development of Corn”, Mr. O’Brien states, “In the field of agriculture, hybrid corn is one of the greatest marketing success stories of all time.” I agree with this statement and I think that if he were still alive, the late soil scientist, William Albrecht, Ph.D, would also agree with this statement. In studying Albrecht’s papers, however, the reader would find that Albrecht explained how simply measuring yield does not take into account the nutritional value of the crop. In Volume II of his papers, Chapter 4, “THE LOW QUALITY AS NUTRITION AND HIGH YIELD OF BULK DEMONSTRATE THEIR MATHEMATICALLY CLOSE RELATION”, Albrecht reports that this mathematical relationship was worked out by O. W. Wilcox and published in June, 1956 as an article titled, Inverse Yield—Nitrogen Law of Nature. This relationship ties increasing yield per acre of dry matter to the production of more carbohydrates but less protein. Albrecht explains that the introduction of hybrid corn is an example. The increased yield of hybrid corn reduced the protein content while the starch and fodder yields have increased. Albrecht concludes, “By this manipulation, we have pushed this crop’s production of protein nearly down and out for growing young animals.”
  • Fertilizers: What & How They Work By Bill Lindo: Most everyone thinks of fertilizers as some chemicals made in a factory and used by farmers and gardeners to feed plants and crops. This is what we call a half-truth. There are many kinds of fertilizers and their use is varied. Some are natural, meaning we mined them from nature and use them as such, or mankind, using different manufacturing processes, refines and concentrates the natural, mined fertilizer into a product with more value added. The by-products of humans and animals as well as plants are also used as fertilizers by farmers, and have been used for over 10,000 years since the dawn of agriculture. In addition, there are slow-release fertilizers and instant – soluble —fertilizers. But, really, what is a fertilizer? It is a concentrated source of energy for plants. Plants grow by energy. They need water, carbon, air (nitrogen & oxygen), sunlight, good tilth soil, and energy to grow and feed humans and animals. Science (Dr. Maynard Murray) has shown that at least eighty or more of the elements in Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of elements are necessary for optimum human health. The farmer is a person who has knowledge of chemistry, biology, physics, mechanics, weather, computers, economics, and some business principles. The farmer knows that agriculture is the only thing on God’s earth that gives one something from almost nothing. He/she puts a bag of 60,000 corn seeds in the soil and 3 months later gets back some 16.5 million seeds – for every pound of corn seeds he/she gets some 275 pounds of seeds – the potential of corn (op) is some 500:1.
  • Milestone Project Handover TTM to MNRA Thank You, ROC Taiwan: After an impressive list of assistance to Belize, the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) signed over three important projects including the assets associated with them to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA). In his speech at the signing ceremony on November 27, 2013, the ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. David Wu, reported 472 families directly benefitted from TTM’s projects; 175 families assisted with training and loans; 24 farmers graduated in November, 2013 from their formal training in food safety and good pesticide use; 700 farmers trained in horticulture practices to improve quality and reduce costs produced over $1.3 million of vegetables and fruit; 517 women’s groups helped; and other noteworthy results of the efforts of TTM. According to MNRA statistician, Philip Tate, Belize used to import rice in 1987 but now, after 450 farmers received training in rice production Belize can supply the local market. The three projects that were signed over by written agreement are the Rice Seed Project (begun in 1991), the Horticulture Training and Demonstration Project (begun in 1992), and the Agro-Processing Project (begun in 1999). To assist MNRA personnel now in charge of continuing these projects, TTM also signed over all the assets, approximately BZ$790,000 worth of vehicles, farm equipment, food-processing equipment, buildings, and documentation such as training and operating manuals.
  • BEYOND THE BACKYARD: Just Kidding: “High on the hill was a lonely goat herd..” A very, happy, catchy song that got me wondering why we do not see more goats. It is claimed that goat is one of the most eaten meats in the world yet we hardly ever see one here, let alone find someone who has ever tasted it. We see a lot of those long legged unkempt Barbados black bellies roaming freely in villages and I believe some Dorper in Cayo. Those are sheep and come with a distinct indicator: the tail hangs down. Goats have a perky tail pointing up, unless sick or in distress. Most sheep have wooly fleece although some tropical breeds have hair not wool; goats have hairy coats. My friend was raising ADGA Nubian goats for milk production. One successful farmer suggests a cross of Boer and Kiko goats for making excellent meat and recommends goat rearing as a profitable business. Goat is a popular meat in other Caribbean locations and many may have sampled delicious Jamaican curried goat. Once only in ethnic markets, it has now found its way to menus with fancier cuisine carrying a label that sounds more palatable. So perhaps on your travels you have tried chevon, cabrito, or capretto and not pictured its curiously intelligent visage. My goat rearing friend says that they are very humanlike in their family rearing and behaviour. She found that sheep and goats do not communicate and stick to their own herds. They are a different species.
  • Pesticide Control Board (PCB) Celebrates 25th Anniversary: The impetus for the establishment of the PCB was the export of bananas as a result of an exportation act adopted by the government in 1985. Although 14 members were to comprise the board, it as not until 1988 that funding allowed the hiring of a staff for its administration. Annual funding of $500,000 is supplemented by license fees and a 2% importation fee of all pesticides. Licensing, which began in 1989, used to be by ingredient but by 1995, it was switched to brand. The board still has 14 members: 4 come from Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), Ministry of Health, Department of The Environment and Belize Agriculture and Health Authority (BAHA); 4 from large agro-producer/grower associations such as citrus (CGA), bananas (BGA), sugar cane (BSCFA), and vegetables; and 6 from other stakeholders: labour, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Prossers, Brodies, and an independent member appointed by the minister of MNRA.
  • Addicted to Round Up: Globally, the use of pesticides and herbicides has become commonplace. Alarmingly, the usage is doubling every five years exponentially. In 1990, 35 million liters of pesticides were sprayed on fields in the US alone; this past year (2013) over 300 million liters were sprayed! In an article from the 5th October 2013 Amandala, “Trade Gap Expands”: “$1 of each $5 dollars of imports is attributed to consumer goods, the largest expense in this category being pesticides, medicines, cigarettes and vitamin supplements”. Chemicals are often applied by spray (e.g., from backpacks or airplanes), where aerosol can be dispersed by wind or overspray can runoff into aquatic ecosystems. Sprayed chemicals enter the transpiration cycle and are taken up high into the atmosphere into the clouds and may be carried long distances from the original point of spraying, later coming to earth in rainfall. The use of these chemicals and their overspray has given rise to a multitude of studies of the toxicological effects of pesticides on non-target species, as well as the impact of pesticide drift into freshwater ecosystems.
  • Sustainable Harvest International- Belize (SHIB) Agricultural Training in Toledo and South Stann Creek: After an extensive 5 year training program, 15 Toledo and Stann Creek farmers were awarded certificates of completion at the Organic Fair in Punta Gorda in October, 2013. Although the core training, based on principles of environment, agroecology, food sovereignty, improvement of livelihood and learning capacity, is the same, the farmers receive customized training based on their needs. For example, families have a work plan that focuses on the first two phases of work, with focus on family nutrition, sustainable and holistic farming (includes soil conservation, reduction or elimination of external inputs), diversification, improved ecosystems, and sustainable livelihoods. SHIB’s mission is to provide farming families in Belize with the training and tools to preserve our planet’s tropical forests while overcoming poverty. Here’s an interview with Yasmin Ramirez, SHIB Marketing Officer who explained the SHIB training program: 1. Who does the training? Training is done by SHIB field officers and Country Director. They are all Belizeans. The field officers hold associate degrees in natural resources management and have additional agronomy training received in Honduras and Nicaragua. All of them are registered organic inspectors. The country director is a renowned agronomist in Belize.
  • Spanish Lookout’s Expanding Rice Industry Belize Ag Report visits with Tropical Country Rice: Tropical Country Rice (TCR), the company behind the rice label of the same name, supplies about 40% of the domestic rice market. Their milling facility is based in Spanish Lookout, with rice fields located within that Mennonite farming community and other lands in Cayo District. Two other Mennonite communities, Blue Creek and Ship Yard, both in the Orange Walk District, grow and handle a bit more of the market share and the remainder of rice production is cultivated for most part by smaller farmers in Toledo District. Total domestic rice consumption in Belize is estimated to be approximately 1.8M lbs/month (21.6M lbs/ year). Overview About 4,500 acres of rice are grown by approximately 30 farmers who utilize TCR to mill and market their rice. Average yield varies between 3,500 to 5,000 lbs. per acre. That yield figure is for ‘paddy rice’ or un-milled rice. Paddy rice mills out from as low as 45% to as high as 70% in milled white rice, depending on the quality of the paddy rice. About 600 acres are flooded fields, and approximately 625 acres are irrigated by pivot (mobile pipe irrigation, see cover photo). Flooded fields give the highest yield but fields that are flooded can be used for only one crop per year. Under pivot, the same fields can grow rice in the summer and beans in the winter. Each pivot irrigation rig can service about 125 acres, and there are 5 of them currently in use for rice in Cayo.
  • A GOOD FUNGUS?: Many are familiar with the potato blights of Ireland and France that wiped out the potato harvests, rotting the tubers close to harvest, which changed the course of history drastically. PHTOPTHERA by name, which means PLANT DESTROYER, was the fungal villain causing those famines. Does a good fungus exist, one that can help plants? Yes, absolutely yes. In the news of late, we read of ‘good bacteria’ located in our stomachs and intestines, being responsible for people’s immune system – some credit up to 90% of our body’s ability to fight off diseases, being related to these gut bacteria. Similarly, we also read of plants’ abilities to fight off diseases, protected by elements in the soil. As with the bacteria – also not visible to the naked eye, both fungus and bacteria have been overlooked and misunderstood. Many notice during the hardest parts of the dry season here, along the edges of row crop fields, when the crops themselves might be wilted for lack of water, that the weeds along the edges appear to be green and vibrant, standing tall and strong. We wonder, ‘interesting these weeds don’t need as much water as those crops.’ In fact, those weeds often do need water but have access to water that the crops do not. How can that be? Think of snakes here in Belize: most of us know that the black snakes (colubridae) will fight off and actually eat baby fer-de-lance (tommy goffs) snakes. If one kills off the ‘good’ snakes, that might almost be an invitation to more venomous snakes, such as fer-de-lances, asking them to come move in. A similar situation exists with fungus.
  • Consortia - The Coming Secret for Success of Small Businesses in Belize: Many small business owners in Belize have become curious, having heard about the success of consortia in other countries. An export consortium is a voluntary alliance of businesses (or other) operating under an agreed set of rules, the first of which could be that members bring all their produce to the organization, a move intended to dissuade opportunistic behaviour. Notwithstanding, the main purpose for this kind of consortium is to promote and export goods and services into the foreign market. This umbrella group requires that members such as small farmers share the huge costs associated with marketing goods, while allowing them to keep their individual profits. As well, members find a consortium attractive because it does not require them to divulge company secrets to the group, such as negotiated prices and contract terms with their individual clients. Apparently, a number of small farmers have determined not to wait for the government to bell this cat. After all, the government of the day has already created the enabling environment and is doing a lot for businesses broadly through initiatives like Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE). Furthermore, consortia require a lot of attention and day to day management which BELTRAIDE, by design, may not be intended to provide. BELTRAIDE’s focus is probably more outward, bringing investment into the country. This creates business opportunity for a local agency to serve as a repository for consortia, helping businesses with common products form into groups and assisting them as they go through the stages (as the saying goes) of forming, storming, norming and performing.
  • Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) Holds 20th AGM: Cacao producers from 42 Villages in Toledo and Stann Creek Districts gathered on Saturday January 18th, 2013 for TCGA’s 20th AGM held at the Julian Cho Technical High School auditorium in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District. From the Industry Report During 2013, production decreased by 53.5%, (2012 having been an all time high producing year for TCGA at over 54MT and 2013 production was 26MT. Multiple factors caused this decrease including cyclical production, farm rehabilitation, and the challenges of Moniliasis (fungal disease). Nevertheless TCGA remains very positive as they move toward sustainability and improved product quality and increased quantities. During 2013, 10 satellite drying facilities and 3 centralized fermenters were built and over 50 training sessions were held. About 300 acres of cacao were rehabilitated. Report was given on the Maya House of Cacao & Chocolate Museum, located at mile 18 on the San Antonio Rd. This is a joint project of TCGA and the European Union and should be open to the public before the end of 2014. Facilitating cacao field rehabilitation, Caribbean experts assisted in the training/ employment of 20-25 youths to use power tools which they used over 6 -9 months while rehabilitating approximately 200 acres of cacao.
  • GlutenFree – To Be or Not to Be?: For a long time I thought the gluten-free diet was just another fad or only for people with Celiac Disease. After I read a book called “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health,” by William Davis, MD., I decided to drop wheat from my diet. The results are remarkable enough to share, so others can enjoy this simple trick for feeling better, enjoying decreased joint pain, increased energy, and yes, weight loss without much effort. The wheat we eat today is a far cry from the original product. “Einkorn wheat, ancestor of all modern wheat, harvested by hunter-gatherers in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago is a 14-chromosome wild grain. Emmer wheat, of Biblical times, bore 28 chromosomes. Modern wheat has 42 chromosomes and has been changed (hybridized, genetically modified) more times than any other grain. What other changes occurred deep within the gene structure of the plant? The truth is that little testing was done on the effects of these hybridized or modified plants on the human body. The testing that was done and modifications made were to increase yield and profits without concern for how it changed the nutritive value of the product. Have you ever wondered why there are so many more obese people today than there used to be? Why do so many more children have autism than they did 30 years ago? Why are so many suffering with joint paint and arthritis?
  • Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA) An Organization on the Way Up: After several years of semi-stagnation and lack of enthusiasm in the cattle industry, there is a revival taking place, thanks in no small part to the Cattle Sweep taking place within Belize. It is no coincidence that almost to the day when all the agreements were signed and it became clear that the much talked about and anticipated Cattle Sweep was actually going to happen, the price of Belizean cattle started to rise and rise quickly, from around 95c/lb. up to a high of around $2.15 in the middle of last year. Currently the price stands at around $1.85/lb. and will hopefully hit the same highs as last year depending on supply and demand throughout the course of the coming year. One thing is for certain: if we can keep the momentum going with the Cattle Sweep, complete this massive project and become certified free and clear for TB and brucellosis, we will not be visiting those dark old days of 95c/lb. again anytime soon. The sweep, as we write, has almost completed round 1 and has already started up north with the second sweep, the Blue Creek farmers blazing the trail and now patiently awaiting round 3! Once the few stragglers that are proving to be very elusive and difficult to catch and test are completed in the south, all the vet teams will be moving back up north to help out up there and things will again move forward at a reasonable pace. It looks as though the original estimates of around the 100,000 head of cattle in the country will be very close to the mark and it is expected that very close to that figure will have been tested by the time all is said and done. The few that are left are mainly because of logistical problems of actually catching these wild animals in the bush in certain areas, being unable to reach animals on the wrong side of flooded creeks and rivers and also due to several farmers actually hiding their animals to avoid taking part!
  • National Conference on Agro- Biotechnology and Biosafety in Belize: Mr Anil Sinha participated in the National Conference on Agro- Biotechnology and Biosafety which was held on 10 December 2013 at George Price Centre, Belmopan. It was organized with the support of IICA, FAO and CARDI. The objectives of the National Conference were (i) to provide scientific information on the topic of biotechnology and biosafety, and (ii) to support the interest of the Belizean government to develop a platform for discussion among the key stakeholders to develop and inform Belize’s strategy as it relates to biotechnology and biosafety. The conference was attended by a total of 83 participants from a wide cross section of agricultural stakeholders from the public and private sectors and international development agencies and civil society which included farmers, industry leaders and representatives of producer associations, concerned citizens, academia, government technicians and policy makers, the media among others. Dr Pedro Rocha, Coordinator, Area of Biotechnology and Biosafety, IICA, Costa Rica and Dr Juan Izquierdo Fernanadez, Consultant, FAO made key scientific presentations on the topics. Mr Francisco Gutierrez, Director of Plant Health, BAHA made presentation on “Drivers and lessons learnt in the development of the current National Biosafety Policy in Belize. Mr Hugh O’Brien, Representative, Grain Growers Association in Belize made presentation on the perspective of benefits of use of biotechnology in Belize while Mrs Miriam DeShield, Representative, Concerned Citizen made presentation on the perspective that some biotechnology in Belize is not beneficial.
  • Belize’s National Agriculture and Food Policy: In early December, 2013 major stakeholders came together at the George Price Center in Belmopan to provide input for the development of a national policy and strategy for creating an enabling business environment for agriculture. Sponsored by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), International Institute of Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the attendees were divided into 5 groups to discuss the challenges and opportunities and provide recommendations for the national policy. The common themes that emerged were (1) the need for more information flow and dialog between farmers and government agencies to identify market niches, agricultural barriers to increased production, high quality products, and eco-friendly practices and (2) the effects of price controls and tariffs on agricultural production. Agriculture contributes approximately 11% to GDP and provides a base of employment and income for over 75% of the population of Belize. The MNRA recognizes the potential of the agriculture sector on the local, regional and global levels and is actively seeking to develop the means to assist farmers, cooperatives, and businesses to be proactive in achieving supply/demand successes.
  • Seed Toxins And The Purpose Of Life: The purpose of life for any organism, animal or vegetable, is to achieve immortality by producing offspring; that is, reproduction ensures the continuation of the species through the perpetuation of its genes. Natural selection determines that the more successful survival strategies result in gradual evolutionary development. For an animal, this might entail being the fastest runner, having the sharpest teeth or the most intelligence, all of which enable the creature to stay alive long enough to mate, hopefully repeatedly. But what does this mean for a plant that can’t run, fight or think its way out of danger? Plants have also evolved a range of self-defense strategies to increase the probability of reproduction. One of the most creative of these is to produce substances that are noxious to predators that might otherwise consume, digest and obliterate the all-important regenerative seed. These poisons or toxins, including fear-inducing ricin and cyanide, are present in some of our most common and seemingly innocuous human foodstuffs. Apple seeds, for example, as well as the pits of many other fruit contain the substance amygdalin. (You may recognize ‘amygdalin’ from the Greek for almond ‘amygdal’, which also gives its name to the amygdala, the almond-shaped structure in the brain).
  • Home Production and Use of Cassava Flour: Much information is available on the cultivation of cassava, an important tropical staple food. This article will focus on a less-well-known and underexploited use for cassava; the versatile flour which can be made from this root crop. We have heard that there used to be a factory in Belize that produced cassava flour for sale. Families in Upper Barton Creek and daughter settlements have been producing cassava flour for home use for over 40 years. Drying cassava for flour takes effort, but it’s an enjoyable job the whole family can help with. It’s a good way to spend time together while producing a useful food! Cassava flour can be used successfully to make pancakes, muffins, cakes, cookies, corn bread and other quick-rise baked goods. Its by-product, cassava starch, also has many uses. To make cassava flour, we dry cassava in the dry season when we have dependably sunny weather. January and February are the best months. The mature cassava roots are first harvested and peeled. To make full use of a sunny day, this job can be done the day before and the peeled roots left overnight in tubs, completely covered with water. The next step is to shred or chop up the roots finely.
  • Mighty Moringa The Miracle ‘Tree Of Life’: This article is the first of a series on leguminous trees that grow in Belize. A leguminous tree is defined as a tree belonging to or relating to the Fabaceae family of flowering plants that bear pods. Botanist Linnaeus initially classified moringa as a leguminous tree and it has since been reclassified. Not until 2002 has moringa been properly confirmed the sole genus of the flowering Moringaceae of the thirteen species of moringa. It is being included in this series as moringa has similar properties to leguminous trees and is an amazing, highly nutritious, versatile tree. Moringa oleifora, also known as widow’s tree, drumstick tree, clarifier tree, benzoil tree, mother’s best friend or miracle tree, is native to northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains and parts of Africa and Asia. Moringa trees thrive and are now widely cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates around the world. Moringa was utilized by ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Thanks to several horticulture projects during the past decade, including The Australian High Commission and Belize-Michigan Partners, moringa is becoming a common and popular tree in Belize. (see Belize Ag Report, July/ August 2009 issue p.17).
  • : Local and Regional Fuel Prices
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$: Find local and some international commodity prices on our Agriculture Prices at a Glance section.
  • Ag Briefs
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

International Sources

Virus Advances Through East Caribbean
A painful mosquito-borne virus common in Africa and Asia has advanced quickly throughout the eastern Caribbean in the past two months, raising the prospect that a once-distant illness will become entrenched throughout the region, public health experts say. Chikungunya fever, a viral disease similar to dengue, was first spotted in December on the French side of St. Martin and has now spread to seven other countries, the authorities said. About 3,700 people are confirmed or suspected of having contracted it. It was the first time the malady was locally acquired in the Western Hemisphere. Experts say conditions are ripe for the illness to spread to Central and South America, but they say it is unlikely to affect the United States.
Tracking Outbreaks
Reports of locally acquired Chikungunya virus as of January 2014
Click map for larger version
Click map for larger version

6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Really Learn Spanish
We've read the arguments for learning French, but let's be honest: Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, or any other language with growing global importance would be a better choice. Spanish may be the best choice of all for a second language, which is why its popularity in schools is soaring worldwide. Here are some reasons why you should estudiar. 1. Spanish isn't a foreign language anymore. In the U.S., Spanish is rising ahead of any other non-English language at a rapid pace, with a steady flow of new immigrants from Latin America and growth in the already large Hispanic population. According to a Pew Research Center report, an estimated 37.6 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish as their first language and analysts predict the Latino population will reach approximately 128.8 million by 2060, likely making it the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. Proportionally, Hispanics will rise from around 16% of the U.S. population in 2010 to 30% by 2050. There are countless reasons for wanting to improve communications with such a big portion of the country, including things as simple as expanding your dating pool. 2. Learning Spanish will help your career.

Ben & Jerry's to go GMO-free this year
“It's a lot of work, but our team stays focused on the larger picture — on the farmers in Belize who are getting a fair wage for their sugar cane; on the farmers in ...

Caribbean: Economic Growth Might Reach 2.3 Percent in 2014
The Caribbean might register a standard economic growth of 2.3 percent this year, said the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Thursday. According to the CDB the zone experimented an economic growth of 1.5 percent in 2013, a modest increase, compared to the 1.2 percent in 2012. "We hope the recovery in regional tourism strenghtens and the expectations of air transport improve, and the costs of the fuels coming from new decreases in the prices of raw materials will help us to the economic growth," the CDB said. CDB, an entity based in Barbados, said that the rise of the incomes and the job generation in the bigger economies, together with the renovation of direct foreign investments, have contributed to the solid growth of the constructive activity and the restoration of tourism in many parts of the Caribbean.

2014 Race for UDB Party Leader is on
The race for Deputy Party Leader of the United Democratic Party is soon to enter the home stretch leg with the finish line set for February 17th. Two of the ruling UDP Ministers have entered their names contesting the seat of Deputy Party Leader, the second most powerful seat within the party’s hierarchy. It is widely known that the one that holds the DPL’s seat is the chosen one to also be the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Belize. Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Party Leader of the UDP Gaspar Vega has been challenged by Minister of Education Patrick Faber. Both men have been canvasing the 31 constituencies and visiting with the delegates in efforts to garner support for their candidacy. Faber has publicly gone on record stating that he believes he can do a much better job at the post of Deputy Party Leader than the current holder. Well, in what has been dubbed as the game changer, Prime Minister of Belize and Leader of the UDP went on record stating that he does not support Minister of Education Patrick Faber. Barrow said and we quote, “I have said that while Minister Faber is, I think, an extremely well-qualified and able minister, while I think that he has a glorious leadership future in the United Democratic Party, at this time, and for this contest, I do not support him, end of story.” And that’s also the end of the quote.

The Reefs Of Belize
A video overview of my 2013 trip to Belize with ReefCI.

Stunning Snapshots From San Pedro, Belize
I returned home from San Pedro, Belize a little over a month ago. I fell in love pretty hard- 23 reasons why to be exact. This tiny blip of land in the ocean is surely one I will never forget. After perusing through my 1,000+ photos, I narrowed it down to about 20 or so. The island's immense beauty made this a particularly tough task.

Power out a week, sorry....

February 8, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Making Tracks Back to the Wild with Wildtracks
What kind of people are willing to spend their hard earned holiday time to volunteer in another country, miles away from the nearest hospital or paved road, working from 6am, sometimes until 10:30pm, sharing their accommodation, bathroom (cold shower only!) and spare time with total strangers? I was lucky enough to find out. Their job is to care for the day to day needs of 38 monkeys and three manatees – not to mention a variety of other resident, rescued and injured animals being cared for at Wildtracks, a wildlife rehabilitation centre, located just outside Sarteneja. Volunteers stay at Wildtracks for up to three months at a time and make a nominal financial contribution for room and board. They work, every day, all day until, after a communal dinner prepared every evening by Zoe Walker, one half of the partnership that founded Wildtracks, they all slip off to tend to their numerous bug bites, send emails home and fall into their beds, exhausted.

We all play a role in the sustainable management of the NPAS
On the evening of Thursday, January 30th an update presentation on the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) was held at the Sunbreeze Conference Room. Stakeholders such as local tour guides and interested parties from the Bacalar Chico, Hol Chan and Caye Caulker protected areas were invited to attend the informative meeting. Lead by the NPAS Secretariat, Valentine Rosado, Education and Public Awareness Coordinator, Arlene Maheia Young, Acting Program Director and Ansel Dubon, Project Manager, the presentation was designed to review the goals and purpose of NPAS and introduce a new branding campaign. The NPAS program adheres to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected area categories which is used toward the conservation of the world’s natural environment and biodiversity. According to IUCN there are five conditions protected area systems should meet: (1) representativeness, comprehensiveness and balance (2) adequacy, (3) coherence and complementarity, (4) consistency and (5) cost effectiveness, efficiency and equity. The IUCN has developed the protected area management categories system to define, record, and classify the wide variety of specific aims and concerns when categorizing protected areas and their objectives.These areas are identified as: Strict Nature Reserves, Wilderness Areas, National Parks, Natural Monument or Feature, Habitat/Species Management Area, Protected Landscape/ Seascape and Protected Area with sustainable use of natural resources.

Closing of the Lobster Season
The Belize Fisheries Department would like to take this opportunity to inform the general public that the lobster season will close effective February 15th and it will remain closed until midnight of June 14th. As a reminder, please note that failure to comply with the closed season will result in prosecution in court under Regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulations, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize R.E. 2003.

Signing of Lot 3 of the Fourth Road Project
The Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Works & Transport announces the signing of the construction contract to carry out Lot#3 of this project, with the lowest evaluated bidder, CISCO Construction Ltd., for the sum of BZ$3,873,059.43. The Government of Belize secured a Loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the Fourth Road Project (Santa Elena / San Ignacio Bypass) to be implemented in the Cayo District. This project is divided into four phases: (Lot 1) the upgrading of Loma Luz Boulevard; (Lot 2) a new bridge crossing of the Macal River; (Lot 3) the construction of a new high-embankment by-pass; and (Lot 4) the rehabilitation of Joseph Andrews Drive to the point it re-connects the George Price Highway.

Concerns raised after a bull shark was fished by local tour company
On Wednesday January 29th, pictures of a dead bull shark were seen on a vessel belonging to Strike Force Belize, owned by Rudy Lewis. Several pictures posted on the company’s Facebook page showed the catch of the day, including the shark, and next to the catch were Lewis and other local islanders. While shark populations have seen a drastic decline due to unregulated overfishing and lack of proper management, bull sharks are not considered an endangered species (as is the case of nurse sharks and the globally threatened hammer head sharks). Nonetheless, only holders of special shark fishing licenses are legally able to fish for shark in Belize. Up to date, only 42 people are allowed to fish for sharks during open shark season, which runs from November 1st to July 31st. According to The Belize Fisheries Department, who approves and grants shark fishing licenses, Strike Force Belize/ Rudy Lewis does not hold such a license.

Biodegradable take out ware
Like we needed another reason to love Elvi's Kitchen! Biodegradable take out ware, kudos!

Ambergris Today

Belize Lobster Season to Close on February 15th
The Belize Fisheries Department would like to take this opportunity to inform the general public that the lobster season will close effective February 15th and it will remain closed until midnight of June 14th. As a reminder, please note that failure to comply with the closed season will result in prosecution in court under Regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulations, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize R.E. 2003. The Department also takes this opportunity to remind fishers that lobster traps should be removed from the fishing grounds during the closed season. The Enforcement Unit will be vigilant in ensuring compliance with the removal of lobster traps that are found deployed after February 15.

Misc Belizean Sources

Rooting out corruption from within and at all levels is critical for Belize’s national development
When it comes to corruption, it is high time that we the people roar into the ears of all our political leaders: Enough! ˇBasta! No more! Nada mas! The people are sick and tired of corruption from one to the other cycle of PUP and UDP government administrations, while there seems every effort to bypass the laws to prevent the perpetrators from being held accountable. In various elections since Belize’s independence, independent voters like myself who are not aligned with any political party, have voted interchangeably for UDP, PUP, VIP or no P, depending on their assessment of the issues, the performance of the ruling administration and comparative quality of leadership. The swing in voting pattern through each election has usually been a reaction against the abuse of power, scandals and corruption, cronyism, arrogance, lack of accountability and transparency, lack of genuine consultation and blatant disrespect for the public, which have surfaced in successive PUP and UDP administrations.

Karen Bevans has decided to step down as Chief Operations Officer of BTL
The Board of Directors of Belize Telemedia Limited announces that Mrs. Karen Bevans has decided to step down as Chief Operations Officer of BTL at the end of the financial year, March 31st, 2014. The Executive Committee on an interim basis has been expanded to include directors Ambrose Tillett and Dr. Colin Young and will provide oversight of the departments in her portfolio while the Board conducts a search for a successor. The Board welcomes her offer to continue contributing to the development of the company and has agreed to engage her as a Special Advisor to the Executive Committee commencing April 1st, 2014. “This year marks Karen’s 25th year with BTL and the Board extends their sincere appreciation for the leadership and dedication she has shown over that time,” said Mr. Nestor Vasquez, Executive Chairman. “We look forward to her contributions in her new role with the company.”

Belize Zoo Transformation Project

Museum of Belize's Newseum
The Museum of Belize has a new blog, and you can find out what's going on around Belize, and Cayo, as far as exhibits at the houses of culture, and other cultural events. In related news, the SISE House of Culture is in the middle of the exhibit about The Story of Resistance in Belize. Check it out when you get a chance.

Belmopan Bandits Theme Song
The Belmopan Bandits, who are playing the championship game tomorrow against FC Belize, have gotten a theme song. It's catchy, and you're sure to hear it tomorrow at the game at the FFB Stadium. Tickets are now on sale. Go Bandits! "TICKETS for the GRAND FINALE CHAMPIONSHIP Game between Belmopan Bandits and FC Belize goes on sale tomorrow morning at 8am at Hyde's Mini-Mart at the Market Square and Chuc's Service Station on the Benque Viejo Road in San Ignacio. PRICE: $20. Ticket Booth at the FFB Stadium opens at 12 noon on Game Day for the sale of Tickets!!!"

A vacancy exists at Belize Electricity Limited for the post of Auditor II.

Regional experts meet to strategize on improving fisheries statistics, data and information
Fisheries professionals from member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) travel to Kingstown in St. Vincent and the Grenadines next week, to take part in a three-day workshop on the development of a CRFM strategy to improve fisheries statistics, data and information, as they also try to resolve capacity challenges confronting Caribbean countries. The event, which will focus centrally on present and emerging fisheries information demands, is a joint collaboration of the CRFM and the United Nations University – Fisheries Training Program (UNU – FTP) in Iceland. It will look at the use of data for economic analysis and fisheries management purposes; the realistic analysis of fisheries data for stock assessment purposes, and future data requirements arising from international markets.

ATLIB Regionals at UB
The ATLIB basketball regionals are today at the University of Belize. The games start at 9:00am. Go Jaguars!

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge Video 2
The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge is a week away. Here's another video from the YogaSlackers about their preparation for the event. "Welcome to the second video in the the Maya Adventure Challenge series. Follow the YogaSlackers as they prowl through untamed jungles for three days and three nights non-stop in the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge. We’ll be there every step of the way to bring you the planning, the execution, the failures, and the triumphs in a four-part video series."

Tropic Air Celebrates Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day is almost here, and Tropic Air is offering a special where if you buy one ticket at regular price, you get a second ticket for only $14. It's for flights on Valentine's Day only, and is country wide. "As promised, here it is! We are giving you a week to plan your very special Valentine's Day. Tickets are limited, do not include Belize International (BZE) itineraries, and will sell out fast, so book early. Other restrictions do apply. Contact Tropic Air Belize stations or for the details. "

Reynaldo Verde claims conspiracy on gun allegations
In this week’s editions of two leading newspapers, Amandala and Reporter, there appeared a press release from Reynaldo Verde, the General Sales Tax (GST) Department supervisor who has been vilified by activists peeved by his apparent release from Police custody following the discovery of a firearm at his premises, after he explained to them that the gun was not his. Some wondered if Verde was being given special treatment but in his release he maintains that the Police who visited his home around 6:30 a.m. on January 3 were simply, in his words, exercising proper judgment by investigating his claim after he informed them of what had transpired earlier in the night. But before we get to his version of events, in the opening paragraph Verde asserts that he has been “restrained” in the past few weeks as the charges against him have been repeated – but no more, as he maintains that the statements made against him are “defamatory” and accuses the local press of perpetuating mistaken facts and becoming an unwitting vehicle in a third party’s aim of having him removed from office. You heard right – it’s all a conspiracy! And as proof, Verde asserts that in his line of work, certain “large business interests” have made threats against the Department from time to time, and he knows of specific threats against him personally which he has reported and which are under investigation. The allegations against him, he says, are part and parcel of that conspiracy.

Ministry of Works and Transport Announced the Commencement of the Southside Poverty Alleviation Project
– Phase 2 at a contract signing ceremony for the project on Thursday, February 6, 2014. (4 photos)

Ministry of Works and Transport Announces its Fourth Road Project (Santa Elena / San Ignacio By-Pass)
Lot 3 – Branch Mouth to Joseph Andrews Drive (Inclusive of River Works)

Training Workshops on alternative refrigerants
Department of the Environment is organizing and facilitating three sets of Training Workshops on alternative refrigerants. First training to be held in Belize City on the 10 - 12 February, 2014 and February 17-19, 2014

Channel 7

Ferguson Not Guilty Of Murder, But Of Manslaughter
28 year-old Glenford Ferguson Jr. is at prison tonight awaiting a sentencing hearing after the jury handed down its verdict late last night. He was accused of murdering 27 year-old Koffi Beeks in Ladyville, but after 4 hours of deliberation, a jury of 12 acquitted him of murder. And though they were convinced that he didn't intend to kill Beeks, the prosecution proved that he did stab Beeks to death. The jury convicted him of manslaughter, and though it's not the outcome he was hoping for, his attorney, Bryan Neal, told 7News last night that a few more years behind bars is better outcome than life imprisonment: Brian Neal, attorney "My client was charged in 2007 with murder and he was tried on a charge of murder. The accused had put forward certain defenses, self-defense which would have freed him. Obviously the jury has rejected that. He also relied on the defense of accident which was withdrawn by the judge. We were also relying on manslaughter being an alternative verdict given the fact that there was no intent to kill and also on provocation. we had ask the jury to consider provocation mitigating it to manslaughter."

Senior BTL Executive Calls It Quit
Karen Bevans, the Chief Operations Officer at BTL is calling it quits after 25 years at the company. A release from BTL this morning said that she has decided to step down at the end of the financial year on March 31st, 2014. The release adds that the Executive Committee will provide oversight of the departments in her portfolio while the Board conducts a search for a successor. That Committee is headed by Executive Chairman Nestor Vasquez and Board Members Anuar Barrow, Colin Young and Ambrose Tillett. The release says that she will be engaged as a Special Advisor to the Executive Committee starting in April. Bevans declined an interview and told us by text that it is, quote, "just a career move to explore personal business interests." Bevans ends what has to be considered a stellar career at BTL, where she ascended steadily through the ranks and proved durable as a senior manager during the various changes between 2003 and 2009 when the company changed ownership four times. She leaves as the employee, or non-appointed executive, with the most senior rank.

Mayor Bradley And Matura-Shepherd Still At It
The Security guards at the City Council are staying on the job for one more week. That's the upshot of yesterday's marathon all day session with the Mayor, the CWU President and the Labour Commissioner. But to just report that strips the event of its drama. As we reported last night, Mayor Bradley stormed out of the meeting at around 7:00 pm last night. Today we asked him and Audrey Matura-Shepherd about what happened to end that meeting rather abruptly:.. Jules Vasquez "Sir, did you had an outburst at the labour commissioner? When you call him this morning did you apologized?" Mayor Darrell Bradley "I had no outburst at the labour commissioner. I told the labour commissioner that I apologized for leaving the meeting." Jules Vasquez "You didn't leave, you walk out - you stormed out."

Renaldo Verde, In His Own Words
For 5 weeks, now, we've been reporting on the case of senior Sales Tax Collector Reynaldo Verde, who escaped criminal charges when Glock 380 pistol was allegedly found in the washroom of his residence. Verde was never charged because police concluded that someone planted it there. And today after a month of mauling in the media where his name has become synonymous with uneven treatment under the law, Verde released a statement in an advertisement in today's issue of the Amandala. Verde says, quote, "I have been restrained in the last few weeks hearing my name brought up in an attempt to charge me for an apparent crime I did not commit. I can no longer sit quietly by and accept the defamatory statements to be repeated. The media has also perpetuated mistaken facts, and have become the unwitting vehicle to achieve a third party's aim of having me removed from office." End Quote. He adds, "In my line of work there have been instances of large business interests making threats from time to time." He adds that these business interests have threatened to try to remove him, which he has reported to police, and which is being investigated.

BTL Park Vendors Bottom Line Increasing
It's been a tough few weeks for Belize City mayor Darrrell Bradley. He should be taking victory laps on the one hundred plus streets he paved - probably more than - the last 7 mayors combined. But instead of celebrating, he's being pilloried in the public eye: he lost his cool with the media last week, and last night he stormed out on the Labour Commissioner. The provocation in both cases is the vexing case of the Security Gaurds, who's union has proved a vexation for the mayor. Well today, another provoking issues appeared: the case of his mother in law's stall in the BTL park. He was already accused of favoritism when his a city councilor got one of the prized 28 stalls, and now his mother in law? Today the media asked the Mayor about it, and we went on a food run to get our own answers:.. Mayor Darrell Bradley "It is a fact that and I was unaware of this initially that my mother-in-law has a booth at BTL Park. Mt mother-in-law doesn't live in my house; she is a person who plies a business. Every single person should not be discriminated against. My responsibility here is to assure every member of the public that every process is transparent. There was no cherry-picking, there was no peddling if any influence, there was a public advertisement - Micheal Theus is a private individual, my mother-in-law in a private individual. If those people want to apply for a booth that's being offered as long as there is no decision making that is impartial or threatens or impairs a person ability to be selected or discriminates against a person then that process is transparent and its fair."

BTL Says No More Int'l Locked Phones
Last week, 7News told you about the decision that BTL made to change how the double and triple up credit works for their different promotions. That decision has been criticized by some customers, but BTL says it's moving on up to international standards. Well, there are more changes afoot. Next week Monday, phones made specifically for international gsm wireless companies such as the well-known US Brands like T-Mobile, and AT&T will no longer be accepted on the Digicell network. Don't panic. It doesn't mean that if you're currently using those phones right now, that you will not get service come Monday. Your service will work just fine. BTL will only impose the restriction on newly purchased phones trying to access their network that have never been used before and need to be activated. It may be an inconvenience to customers who may unwittingly buy a new phone with a foreign carrier's name on it, only to find out that they can't use it.

Mark King's Recording History
And even if that cell phone can't get unto BTL's system, it can probably still be used as a voice recorder, which means that Lake I Area Representative Mark King has no problem. We're told that's his weapon of choice when making secret recordings of party officials and other persons. It's true, he did it with Edmond Castro last week - when best reports tell us Castro had been drinking and had unkind words about his Party Leader and Prime Minister Dean Barrow - words which might have suggested disloyalty. But, it's not the first time King has used the power of record to create trouble in his party. In January of 2011, we spoke to him twice - at the time he had been rejected as a candidate - and reports suggested he was blackmailing his party with secret recordings he had made. Here's what he told us about recordings in January and February:.. January 26, 2011 Hon. Mark King "Let me tell you why the United Democratic is afraid for me, it's because I have video and audio recordings and proof of everything that I say and do in this party, that is why they are afraid for me. Last night the Part Chairman call me and rail-up with me and I told him that I am recording him, he hurry hang up his phone and that is why they are afraid of me because you will not set me up."

NCL On Ice?
Opponents to the NCL Harvest Caye project can claim a small victory, because according to today's Amandala, the project is on ice until further notice. The newspaper Reports that the National Environmental Appraisal Committee which was supposed to meet on the project, which would have been the final environmental hurdle, has been directed by Cabinet to postpone its meeting, in the wake of the public consultation in Independence Village. Person at that consultation, as we showed you, gave a universal thumbs down the first EIA which was prepared, for inadequacies in addressing environmental concerns. The Amandala also reports that the first EIA presented at the public consultation was supposedly an old EIA which was prepared for a project previously planned for Harvest Caye, but not effected. Because of the result of the consultation meeting, NCL reportedly has agreed to submit an extensive and thorough Addendum to the first EIA.

Teachers Want More Than 4%
At Wednesday's house meeting the Prime Minister reported that teachers and public servants will get something like a 4% raise. That's what came out of a meeting he'd held with the unions on the previous Thursday. That disclosure is more than the teachers wanted to tell us when they had a press conference two days earlier. But it's out there now, and while you might think the teachers would be happy, they're still not. That's the characterization they claim that Educaton Minister Patrick Faber gave LOVE FM in an interview - and they reject it. A release says that at no point in time during the meeting with the Prime Minister did any member of the BNTU team express acceptance or delight with the Prime Minister's report. The union says it will present its take on the meeting in due time.

Independence Police Make Murder Arrest
Independence Police are reporting that they've made major progress in the second murder for the year which happened in Trio Village. 22 year-old Honduran Jose Donaldo Sosa Madrid has been arrested and charged with the murder of 25 year-old Guatemalan Rene Arturo Perez. Police formations of the south conducted extensive cooperative operations, and their diligence was rewarded when Madrid was caught in the Toledo District. He will be arraigned on next week Monday. As we reported, Guatemalan Rene Arturo Perez was found chopped to death in Trio Village, near the banana farm that he works. Viewers may remember that Donaldo Sosa Madrid, the main suspect, and now the accused, was being sought at the time because investigators found evidence at his house, which linked him to the crime scene.

Another Sick Southern Sexual Abuse Case
Last night the ugly news was about an eight year old raped by her uncle in Bella Vista Village in Southern Belize. And tonight there is another disturbing report from the south. A 12 year old girl from Georgetown Village in the Stann Creek District, visited Independence police station along with her mother and reported that sometime in the month of May 2013, a male person she knew as Leslie paid her five dollars for sex and told her that he will marry her. This was repeated in August and December of 2013. And now, Doctors have confirmed that the child is 25 weeks pregnant. No one has been detained since the child did not know the man's particulars.

Harley Davidson Convention In Belize
The first ever biker's convention is being held in Belize this weekend - and it's huge. Organizers are expecting 400 motorbikes with riders from as far as California and Panama and as close as Merida, Honduras and Guadalajara - and yes, they all rode here! Nigel Espat of the Black Pearl Cycle Club explained the importance of it today - as at least one hundred bikes were traffic blocking in front of his business Auto Zone on cemetery Road:.. Nigel Espat, Black Pearl Cycle Club Belize "Being here is history in the making in Belize. It's the first ever Belize Bike rally. From here it's going to be an annual event but this is the first and so we are inviting everyone to come out. It is something unprecedented that never before this has happen and they all came because of the biker culture that we have been promoting. We have been representing Belize for the past 4 years in events in Mexico and in Central America."

Tropigas' Price Is Right
A few chosen customers of Tropigas, one of the companies under Unicomer, went home with gifts from the company after they competed in the Belizean version of the Price is right. The game happened this morning, and Tropigas invited the media to see them giving back to their patrons. The contestants had to do some very interesting and entertaining activities, while competing against each other for the main prizes. 7News attended, and we spoke with the Manager about this game: Rochelle Tucker, Chain Regional Manager - Tropigas "We call it "Come down to Tropikong Competition." Kong is one of our biggest representatives when it comes to Tropigas. He is our mascot and we want everybody to familiarize themselves with him and put it matching to our branch."

Dara's 12th Bob Concert
Grassroots Philanthropist Dara Robinson continues his fundraising efforts for the less fortunate. This weekend he is having his 12th annual Bob Marley Birthday tribute concert. The concert is not only to celebrate the life of the reggae icon - it is to also raise money for needy families. On Thursday he held a food drive that turned out to be successful. But with all that he is still urging everyone to come out to the concert on Sunday and donate at least one can of food. The concert starts at 4 on Sunday evening on the Bird's Isle Basketball court.

Channel 5

Chief Operations Officer of B.T.L., Karen Bevans, steps down from the job
Karen Bevans, the Chief Operations Officer of the country’s largest telecommunications provider, Belize Telemedia Limited, has announced her resignation, effective the end of March. All indications are that the news [...]

The CWU and the Mayor still at loggerheads
Following several meetings, press releases and interviews with both the Belize City Council and the Christian Workers Union, the issue of the redundant security workers has degenerated into little more [...]

Mayor speaks on booths at the B.T.L. Park that went to family and friends
The B.T.L. Park is very near completion and it is extremely impressive. Take wide open spaces, full-time Police presence, colorful booths, adequate seating and aesthetics, fashionable and functional bandstand and [...]

Public officers who verified signatures in Penner Recall well-compensated
On December thirty-first, the Elections and Boundaries Department rejected the Elvin Penner recall petition submitted by the P.U.P. Of two thousand and two signatures presented for scrutiny, only one thousand, [...]

Land and money; San Jose Nuevo Palmar villagers say plenty missing monies
On Thursday night, we reported about a land grab in the Orange Walk East constituency. Tonight, there is another story which also involves land and money; plenty missing monies. On [...]

Reynaldo Verde makes a statement on details of firearm incident
The issue of revising the existing gun laws, in light of the recent conviction of police corporal Gino Peck for possession of unlicensed ammunition, has taken center stage in recent [...]

Chamber supports the OSH Bill, but has concerns about impact on small businesses
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 2014 was tabled in the House of Representatives on January twenty-ninth after pressure from the National Trade Union Congress of Belize to have the [...]

NEAC hearings on NCL development project is postponed indefinitely
There was a recent emotional and fiery consultation on the proposed multimillion dollar tourism project at Harvest Caye by Norwegian Cruise Lines. By all accounts, stakeholders in the south vehemently [...]

A pregnant woman and a man suffering from tuberculosis appear before the courts
A woman who is pregnant and a Belize City man who is suffering from tuberculosis were taken before the court separately for criminal charges. The first to be arraigned was [...]

Manager of Temptation Bar hauled to court for employing girls without valid employment permits
Sixty-two-year-old Honduran national Estela Gonzales has been charged for employing persons not in possession of a work permit, following a shakedown of Temptation Hill by immigration officials on Thursday night.  [...]

Benque Mayor says ambulance not confiscated, but in Peten for repairs
On Monday, we reported that Benque Viejo del Carmen and surrounding villages have been without an ambulance for the past several months.  While it was initially rumored that the vehicle [...]

The annual Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation (COBEC)
Officials from the Ministry of Education, as well as stakeholders from across the sector, particularly those belonging to the Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation (COBEC), gathered in Dangriga for its [...]

Career Day at SJC
Students looking for their dream jobs or for career options had the opportunity today to interact with a number of organizations. Over at the Saint John’s Gym, a number of [...]


Prime Minister Talks About Constanzas' Resignation From The Party
After the house meeting yesterday in Belmopan, the media managed an interview outside the National Assembly building with Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Of the slew of questions posed, he spoke briefly on the moves of the losing camps in his party. In particular, the resignation of David Constanza, candidate for Orange Walk East, who was bested by Elodio Aragon Junior in Sundays Convention. Barrow said the move is one that is ‘not good for his party’. Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize “Of course as it always been the case with these conventions there are hurt feelings with respect of those that lose, I don’t think it is a problem in Toledo East, I don’t think is it an insurmountable problem in Dangriga but I have the sense it going to prove well nai intractable in Orange Walk East, get the sense that the losing camp is extremely upset and that it is making all sorts of allegations upon which I will not comment now or if those allegations become public except to say that naturally that is not good for the party.”


Not Guilty of Murder but Guilty of Manslaughter
Twenty-nine year old Glenford Ferguson Jr., charged with the murder of 35 year old Kofi Beeks, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter late yesterday evening in the court of Justice John Gonzalez. The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for over four hours before it arrived at its verdict which was unanimous. Justice Gonzalez has deferred sentencing until Friday, February 14 in order to give Ferguson time to prepare a plea for mitigation. Beeks was fatally stabbed in the left side of his neck around 1:30 a.m. on February 16, 2007. According to the evidence adduced by the prosecution, Beeks and Ferguson were standing outside of Mel’s Bar in Ladyville when they had a misunderstanding over a red rag. Ferguson stabbed Beeks in his face and neck with a knife. One witness testified to seeing Ferguson stab Beeks. Ferguson gave a statement from the dock in which he admitted he stabbed Beeks but he said that he was defending himself. Ferguson said Beeks attacked him with a Belikin bottle and he stabbed Beeks. But the jury did not believe that it was a case of self defense and it found Ferguson guilty of the lesser charge. Ferguson was represented by attorney Bryan Neal. Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith represented the prosecution.

Found in Belize; Extradited and Sentenced to 30 Years
A US National who was on the run from the law and was found in Belize has been sentenced to thirty years in prison by a federal judge in Portland, Oregon, USA. Kenneth McVicker III pled guilty to engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors. Prosecutors had alleged that McVicker had molested at least eight boys, ages 5 through 12. It was also alleged that he had photographed the abuse and distributed the photos. Federal agents in the US became aware of the photos after McVicker sent them to an undercover agent who was posing as a collector of child pornography. McVicker was in Belize working on a commercial art project when he was picked up by the authorities.

Statistical Institute of Belize Says Erroneous Conclusions are Being Drawn From Recent Data
The Statistical Institute of Belize has issued a press release to counter what it describes as “erroneous conclusions being drawn from recently released September 2013 Labour Force Survey results and the 2013 inflation rate”. The Institute says that it wishes to clarify that unlike the Gross Domestic Product, which refers to economic activity during an entire calendar year, the Labour Force Survey provides a snapshot of the employment situation of only the one month of the year in which it is carried out. The survey results, it says, are specific to the month of September 2013 and it is not advisable to use this single data point to draw inferences about unemployment for the entire year. The Institute further states that there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the GDP growth rate and the unemployment rate and adds that in the third quarter of 2013 two of the major industries, petroleum and electricity, recorded decreases in production. This reality, it says, contributed to the relatively low GDP growth rate. These industries, it continues, are labour-intensive and their declines did not impact upon the overall level of employment. Meanwhile, regarding concerns about the criteria used to qualify a person as employed the Statistical Institute points out that this is in line with internationally accepted definitions of employment and is the same criteria that have been used in previous surveys.

Police News
Police officers of Precinct Four’s Quick Response Team scored a bust of cannabis yesterday when they conducted a search at a residence in the Belama Phase one area of Belize City. The search happened just before four o’clock in the evening which led to the discovery of a black plastic bag hidden under a dog house. Inside the plastic bag, police found one hundred and forty eight parcels, weighing a total of one hundred and sixteen grams of marijuana. As a result of this find, 21-year-old, Robert Tillett; 29-year-old, Vern Fitzgibbon and 27-year-old, Candy Gabourel, all of #27 Antonio Soberanis Street were arrested and jointly charged with the offense of drug trafficking.

Trio Charged with Drug Trafficking
Two men and a woman were charged with drug trafficking when they appeared today before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser. They are 29 year old Vern Fitzgibbon, 21 year old Robert Tillett and 27 year old Candy Gabourel. They pled not guilty to the charge and they were offered a bail of five thousand dollars. They are to return to court on April 8. The bust occurred yesterday when members of the Quick Response Team of Precinct Four conducted a search at a residence at #27 Antonio Soberanis Street in Belize City. The police reported that they searched the yard and found a plastic bag containing 116 grams of cannabis tucked under the dog house. As a result, all three persons who were inside the house were arrested and charged.

Chief Operations Officer of Phone Company Steps Down
Her name has become synonymous with Belize Telemedia Limited but today, Love News Centre received a release announcing the stepping down of. Karen Bevans, the Chief Operations Officer of BTL. The announcement came from the Board of Directors of Belize Telemedia Limited and, while no reason was cited for her departure from the seat of COO, the release did say that her resignation becomes effective on March 31, 2014. Reporter Linette Canto conducted a telephone interview with Chairman, Nestor Vasquez about Bevans’ resignation. NESTOR VASQUEZ “It came as a complete surprise to us; by us, I mean the Executive Committee which is made up two directors, myself – Chairman of the Board and Anwar Barrow – another director of the Board. So, it came as a complete surprise this week and when we got the letter from her, we met with her the following day and after a very cordial meeting, we took it to the Board because a board meeting was scheduled for Thursday; so, it happened Thursday and the board merely accepted whatever she stated in her letter; I think the letter was simple and clear and it was initiated entirely by her and it came as a complete surprise to us but when you have worked so many years, we have to be really appreciative for all she has done for the company and so, we merely accepted what she said in her letter.”

Tropic Air Introduces Direct Flight to Merida, Yucatan
Currently, many Belizeans who travel to cities in neighboring Mexico make much use of the Mexican bus line, ADO. It is a trip in high demand as locals cross the border for many reasons, among them being medical and for the importation of products to Belize. But, recently an alternative has been introduced for the Belizean populace as Belize’s local airline, Tropic Air has announced that they will be providing direct flights to Merida, Yucatan starting early March. The 2-hour flight to Merida will be available three times weekly namely, Monday, Tuesdays and Fridays. In a statement by Mr. John Grief III, President of Tropic Air, he said, “We have been working closely with our partners in the Yucatan on this service, and we are excited to be flying there!” Grief added, “We expect the market for this service to grow and we plan to add additional service as that happens. Not only will Belizeans finally be able to fly directly to Merida, but this opens up many new opportunities for the archaeological and eco-tourism markets.” Presently, Tropic Air, which has been in operation for the last thirty four years currently flies to fifteen destinations within Central America.


CWU gets Labour Commissioner to Postpone Redundancy
In a victory of sorts for the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) and its president Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams has decided to postpone the planned redundancy of 26 employees of the Belize City Council until next Friday, February 14. The postponement is in order to provide for further...

Mayor Responds Why He Left Amidst a Meeting with Labour Commissioner
The Mayor responded this afternoon. When asked why he left the meeting, he said, It’s as simple as this: it was 8:30 at night, and he had a wife and son to get home to. The Mayor says he has spoken with the Labour Commissioner, apologized for leaving the...

Mr. Reynaldo Verde Claims Conspiracy on Gun Allegations
In this week’s editions of two leading newspapers, Amandala and Reporter, there appeared a press release from Reynaldo Verde, the General Sales Tax (GST) Department supervisor who has been vilified by activists peeved by his apparent release from Police custody following the discovery of a firearm at his premises,...

No Compensation for Giovanni Blease, says Lands Commissioner
When we spoke with Area Representative for Caribbean Shores, Santiago Castillo, last month, he made note that Giovanni Blease would be compensated, whether monetarily or with another piece of land, after his application for the Seashore Park was rejected by the Lands Department. Mayor of Belize Darrell Bradley didn’t...

Known Activist Mr. Moses Sulph Accused of Rape Returns To Court
Moses Sulph, well known community activist, was recognized for his stance against issues concerning the Belize/Guatemala dispute, offshore drilling and many other social issues. However in February of last year, serious allegations against Moses Sulph were made by a 26 year old woman. When Sulph was arraigned in court...

Manager of Temptation Bar and 10 Employees Dragged to Court
Today, the manager of Temptation Bar, 62-year-old Honduran and naturalized Belizean, Mrs. Estela Gonzales was taken to court along with her 10 female employees, who were reportedly working at the establishment without a working permit. This is the second shake down on Temptation Bar, located at Mile 10, on...

Woman Who Tried to Obtain Voter’s ID Detained for False Documents
On Tuesday of this week, a woman walked into the Toledo East Electoral Division Office requesting a Voter’s ID, but what she got instead was a slap on the wrist. A registering officer at the Department says that upon searching for the documents requested by the woman, it was...

Men Struggle For Gun Onboard Bus
A struggle ensued among four men, over a gun on board a bus in the old capital, sometime 8:30 last night. According to the driver of the bus, he was seated on the driver’s seat in the company of his uncle while the bus was parked in front of...

Stake Bank Project Passed In the Senate
While yesterday’s Meeting of the Senate saw debate on a number of the bills tabled, there was accord on the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, 2014. The Bill is for the construction of a cruise port to be at Stake Bank. According to the Government, the idea...

Belize Active Youth Announces Winners of Slogan and Campaign Competition
As part of its anti-drug campaign, the Belmopan Active Youth, in December of last year, launched a poster and slogan competition. Invitation was extended to high schools within the Belmopan area. Yesterday, a panel of judges met to review the entries and select winners for the respective categories. Here...


For the first time since the Belize Airport Authority cheque scandal came under public scrutiny, the man at the center of the controversy ventured to tell his side of the story at today’s Sitting of the House of Representatives. After weeks of being under consistent fire and being completely mute after it was revealed that several questionable cheques were issued and/or sanctioned by the now ousted Belize Airports Authority (BAA) Board of Directors either to or on behalf of Transport Minister of State, Hon. Edmond Castro, he finally took the opportunity to respond to the allegations, and sought to both defend and explain his actions. During the Special House Sitting, Castro read from a prepared text in defense of his premise that his actions should not be considered corrupt, quoting even from the Bible while making a public plea that he is just “a poor man”. Castro explained, “Mr. Speaker, I have been accused of corruption. The accusations are coming from the Unions, the Opposition, the media and other members in the public. The allegation is that the Board of Directors of the Belize Airport Authority wrote a number of cheques in my name or on my behalf. The BAA was under my portfolio; it is those circumstances which according to my critics constitute corruption.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Leader of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), is grappling with major political trouble with the risk of losing his slim 17-14 majority in Parliament in the face of “the difficulties that the behavior or the actions of some of [his] Ministers” has caused for the UDP administration, now approaching the end of the second year of the party’s second consecutive term in office. In Wednesday’s meeting of the House of Representatives, an Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) member cited a recent editorial carried by Amandala: “Barrow’s crisis: Belize’s crisis,” published in the Wednesday, January 29, 2014, mid-week edition of the newspaper. That editorial said that, “Mr. Barrow had been making a lot of noise about running a tight ship after he first came to power in 2008. But he only had a 17-14 seat margin. This is now a government which really should go back to the electorate in quest of another mandate, we think. The Prime Minister will do all he can to prevent the collapse of his administration.” “There is no doubt at all in my mind that the scandals have threatened to swamp us, that they have threatened to cause us to come undone, and naturally, that is a source of great regret, because to some extent, it is self-inflicted,” Barrow said, speaking with journalists on Wednesday afternoon after the House meeting.

Glenford Ferguson, Jr., 28, who was on remand for almost 7 years for the murder of Ladyville resident Koffi Beeks, 27, was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter after a 12-member jury deliberated for about four hours, in the Supreme Court of Justice John “Troadio” Gonzalez late tonight, Thursday. Justice Gonzalez has set February 14 as the sentencing date to give Ferguson’s attorney, Bryan Neal, enough time to prepare character witnesses for a mitigation hearing. On the night of February 16, 2007, Beeks was socializing at Mel’s Bar in Ladyville when he became involved in an altercation with Ferguson, who inflicted a stab wound to Beeks’ neck. The Crown’s case was prosecuted by Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith, who was assisted by Crown Counsels Leroy Banner and Kileru Awich.

A convicted burglar, Denfield Lemott, 35, a resident of #20 Racecourse Street, who is serving a five-year sentence for burglary, was convicted on a second burglary charge on Wednesday when his trial ended before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, who imposed a seven-year sentence that is to run concurrent with the five years he is serving. The new prison term means that Lemott will have to remain behind bars for two more years. The burglary incident occurred on January 13, 2013, when Lemott entered the office of Pauline Griffith, a nurse at the Cleopatra White Health Center, and stole a wallet containing $100. According to Nurse Griffith’s testimony in court, she had left her office to go to another office in the building, and when she returned, she saw Lemott in her office.

At the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives Wednesday, Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca echoed strong public sentiments that the existing firearms legislation unjustly casts too much of a wide net, to the peril of many innocent and upstanding citizens who have had to spend time in jail on account of the laws which National Security Minister John Saldivar conceded to be “draconian,” but which, he claimed, were necessary to push back a spiraling crime rate. “I am no fan of guns, but it is clear that the laws, as they now stand, lead to injustice and inequity, and [we] have obligation to review [it],” Fonseca said, adding that the necessary revisions ought to be made to take account of public concerns. Recently, community activists such as Russell Roberts and Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) have been clamoring for the Government to urgently revisit the laws in question. Last week Friday, Special Branch Corporal Gino Peck was the first to escape a jail sentence, after a firearms conviction, when he instead was fined $600 in court. The incident intensified public demands for Government to revisit the controversial firearms laws.

Amandala has been reliably informed that the meeting of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC), which was scheduled for February 12, 2014, has been postponed indefinitely, following a Cabinet directive sparked by a report of the recently held public consultation, as well as public concerns over the social and economic dimensions of the project. Norwegian has undertaken to invest US$50 million on Harvest Caye to establish a culturally vibrant destination island for its cruise passengers. However, there are concerns from some locals over whether the venture would truly be a win-win project for Belize. Public concerns were heightened with the recent consultation, at which it was revealed that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), submitted by the company, had many errors, simply because the EIA was not a new EIA – but a revision of a preexisting EIA for a resort project previously planned for the same island. Amandala has been informed that Norwegian will have to do quite an extensive and thorough addendum to the existing EIA, but the Government is also of the view that the critical socio-economic concerns would also have to be addressed.

The conviction of Corporal Gino Peck on ammunition possession charges in the Magistrate’s Court last week has intensified public debate on the draconian gun laws that some attorneys suspect are unconstitutional. The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) presented their version of amendments to the gun laws today, Thursday, at a press briefing at their Independence Hall headquarters. The PUP says its approach to the gun laws reflects a bipartisan spirit, a sentiment that the Leader of the Opposition trumpeted during his speech at Wednesday’s House of Representatives meeting. Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca, who was flanked at the head table by the party’s legal advisors, attorney Anthony Sylvestre and attorney Kareem Musa, who is also the communications director of the Eastern Caucus, told the media that the PUP views the issue of amendment to the Firearms Act and the Criminal Justice Act as one of national importance. “We believe it should be addressed urgently,” Fonseca said. Fonseca said he was glad when the Minister of National Security signaled the government’s support for reviewing and revising the laws, and that he had met with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Solicitor General to advance that agenda of revising the laws.

Hamlet or Diogenes?
“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true.” – Demosthenes There are some observers who feel that recent discourses by Prime Minister Dean Barrow suggest a man who may be approaching Hamlet-like indecision. At best, they think he may be sharing too many confidentialities with the people of Belize and, indeed, the world. From another perspective, it may be that what we are seeing is a man, like Diogenes of Sinope, who is seeking honest men. At this newspaper, we are cynical about such matters. We don’t believe it is possible to form a government in Belize without dishonest individuals. There are simply too many of them in the high places of Belize. And, by “high places,” we are referring to the categories from which the political parties draw on candidates. Whatever the qualifications involved with membership in these categories, we choose to refer to them as “high places.” To be quite blunt, we are being sarcastic.

For us in little Belize, it may be that all the various energies and initiatives we have seen over the past few years have not impressed us. But, they should, because they are all indigenous and authentic. I am referring to Wil Maheia and the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) in Toledo, Bobby Lopez and Hubert Enriquez with the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) in Belmopan, Nancy Marin and Don Hector Lopez in Cayo, the small citrus growers in the Pomona Valley, the cane farmers in the Northern Districts, the teachers as organized nationwide in the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), and the Belize City-based Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA). Washington and London have an agenda for Belize, and their agenda does not make allowance for what is indigenous and authentic in Belize. The rulers of our world want us to fit into a Eurocentric pattern which features neoliberal capitalism. What this means is a form of economic organization wherein global financial forces decide what we Belizeans should do with our natural resources, how our human resources will be utilized or exploited, and what constitutes desirable development and national well-being.

Just before press time tonight, we were informed that the termination of 26 security officers from the Belize City Council has been pushed back once again, this time, until next Wednesday, February 12. The indication is that the Labor Commissioner needs time to invoke what is called “statutory duty.” Although we are not sure exactly what that means, it seems that it did not sit well with Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley, who, we were told, walked out of the meeting before the Commissioner could conclude what was referred to as a marathon session, which started at around 8:00 this morning. Almost 11 hours after, representatives of the Christian Workers Union (CWU) and the Belize City Council (CITCO) were deadlocked in a session with the Labor Commissioner, Ivan Williams, to decide the fate of the security officers whose jobs were to be made redundant by City Hall tomorrow.

High school dropouts, males especially, are considered particularly vulnerable to crime, drugs and other social ills. Several studies done by researchers have determined that keeping young people in school at least until they are 16 years of age, drastically reduces the likelihood that they will become juvenile offenders. Another matter of concern is that high school dropouts normally get dragged into the cycle of poverty since they are at a great disadvantage in the attempt to earn a decent income. The Ministry of Education is making an effort to address these trends. Presently it allots funding by applying the district poverty rate to each school’s enrollment. But, because poverty is not evenly distributed among schools, some who don’t need it are getting an above average allocation, while some that may have poorer students are not getting enough. This morning, at a breakfast meeting that was held between officials of the Ministry of Education and the media, the Ministry unveiled a Secondary Education Finance Reform Initiative. It’s a program through which the Ministry is seeking to assist all students and their parents to make education more affordable.

Official company information posted today on the London Stock Exchange reports that the August 2013 sale agreement between BCB Holdings Limited and Yumi Limited for the sale of Caye Chapel, a resort island in Belize, was not completed, and as such “the company is now engaging with other potential purchasers for Caye Chapel.” Back in August, Amandala had reported on the intent of BCB Holdings to sell Caye Chapel to Yumi Limited of the British Virgin Islands. The purchase of the 265-acre property would have been for US$30 million. The sale to Yumi should have been concluded by the end of 2013, but BCH Holdings has provided no explanation as to why the deal reportedly fell through. If you are wondering how Caye Chapel—a property once owned by Isaiah Morter, Belize’s first known black millionaire—ended up in the hands of the Michael Ashcroft Alliance, we have found out from court papers that British Caribbean Bank International Limited, based at Market Square, Belize City, had acquired the property in lieu of a US$30 million liability Caribbean Holdings Inc. (CHI) held with the bank.

One week ago the village of More Tomorrow lost two of its original pioneers in the persons of Mr. Adelian Dominguez and Mr. William Neal, better known as “Crow.” Both men had been ailing for some time. May they rest in peace. For the last forty years these men had helped to build and expand the 221-year- old village. They will be sorely missed by their wives, their children, and their friends. I pray that Almighty God Allah grant them paradise and that their families will grow from strength to strength. As-salaam-alaikum. Peace be unto you.

Speaking at the close of the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives today, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow announced that teachers and public officers would be getting this July, but retroactive to April 2014, a 4% salary adjustment, which he said would amount to an estimated $24 million. Barrow was responding to a statement from Ivan Ramos, the Opposition People’s United Party area representative for Dangriga, a teacher of 20-plus years, who spoke of the recent rallies held by the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), saying that the teachers deserve the raise they have been asking for. While the BNTU continues to call for a minimum salary adjustment of 5% this year, Barrow said that they would be getting what looks like a 4% salary adjustment, and “the way it appears now” they would be getting something like $24 million in salary increases.

Wil Maheia of PGTV sounded the alarm on Tuesday that excessive hazardous waste was being held at the Punta Gorda Hospital, spilling over into the hospital’s morgue, because the hospital’s incinerator has not been working for a long time. The “red bag” refuse, said Maheia, could pose serious health risks, especially since the access way to the hazardous waste, which includes used needles, had not been locked off. John Bodden, Sr. Public Health Officer, has confirmed to Amandala that the hazardous waste—which has been onsite for weeks—would be transported today to Belize City for incineration. Bodden explained that there has been a problem with the disposal of hazardous waste from the hospital, firstly because the hospital’s incinerator has not been working for nearly two years, and also because the dumpsite at which the waste was buried in the interim could not be used, because the excessive rains had rendered the low-lying dump unusable.

A shuttle bus was destroyed by fire when it erupted into flames at about Mile 25 on the George Price Highway. Firemen responded quickly and put out the blaze, but the van had already been completely burnt. However, their quick response prevented the fire from spreading into the bushes, which would have caused a massive bush fire. The incident occurred about 1:40 yesterday afternoon. The particulars of the shuttle bus and the cause of the fire are unknown because the investigation into the fire has been halted, Amandala was told, because the owner of the van and the driver would not give statements to Fire Department officials, and thus impeded their efforts to investigate.

A group of about nine families, living behind the newly constructed Tow Tow building on Mahogany Street Extension near Tibruce Street, are having difficulty accessing their homes because the alley leading to their properties has been blocked by neighbors who have fenced in the alley as a part of their respective yards. The families are presently using the yard of the new building to access their homes from Mahogany Street Extension. The owner of Tow Tow is presently constructing a concrete fence around the property, but out of consideration for the affected residents, is hesitating to complete the fence, since the families would then have no access to or from their yards. Joan Harris, a resident of the area, told Amandala that it is only due to the kindness of the owner of the new building that they are able to get into their homes. She would like the Mayor and the City Council to knock down the fence built across the alley and reclaim the alley from the neighbors who took it as a part of their yard.

Belize parliamentarians gave rare bipartisan support to a raft of legislation in the National Assembly this week, as the country tries to avert major financial sanctions already being felt by our sister Caribbean country, Guyana. This follows a call last November by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to its members to “consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating” from Belize and Guyana, where several Belizeans study law at the University of Guyana. Gail Teixeira, an elected member of Guyana’s 65-member parliament, and the Chief Whip for the Government in the Parliament and Presidential Advisor on Governance, told Amandala today that Guyana has already been feeling pain for not having yet passed the legislation. Towards the end of 2013, she said, Guyanese in the diaspora who had tried to send money back home via the banks or Western Union, to take care of their living expenses on their return home, found that their bank accounts in the US were being closed because of their Guyanese connection.

Concerned parents and guardians are calling on the management of St. Martin De Porres School and the Ministry of Education to delay an election of new members of the Parent Teachers Association due to be held on Monday, February 10, 2014, because of concerns that they are being given only days’ notice before the election is held. In the process of challenging the decision, KREM’s YaYa Marin-Coleman, who has a relative attending the school, sought assistance from the Ministry of Education to get the meeting delayed after the school’s management decided that it would stick with the announced date.

Seven persons were appointed to the Integrity Commission when the Senate met today at the National Assembly in Belmopan. Heading the Commission is Marilyn Williams, attorney-at-law and the former director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). She is one of three attorneys who will now sit on the Commission. The other two attorneys are Philip Zuniga, SC, ex-president of the Senate and a former executive chairman of Belize Telemedia Limited; along with Kevin Arthurs, attorney and board member of the Human Rights Commission of Belize. Joining them will be returned Integrity Commission member Ms. Armead C. Gabourel, Stephen Duncan – managing director of Heritage Bank, and Wilmot Simmons of Prosser Fertilizer & Agrotec Co. Ltd.

The Uh family of Chan Pine Ridge Village in Orange Walk is mourning the death of their son, Luis Uh, 13, who drowned in a large pond frequented by swimmers. The pond, which is a dugout left after white marl was extracted from the ground, is located about 2 miles outside of Chan Pine Ridge. The body of the boy was found about 5:00 Sunday evening by some soldiers of the Belize Defence Force stationed in Orange Walk Town, and residents of the area. Luis was declared dead on the scene after he was retrieved from the bottom of the pool, which has a depth of about 20 feet. Police said that there were no signs of violence on the body, and no foul play is suspected.

The extreme loss of forest cover in Belize can cause major ripple effects for the country – among them worsening climate change and the deterioration of river quality and increased drought conditions around the country. It is estimated that between March 24, 2013, and January 30, 2014, a total of 9,290 hectares of Belize’s forest have been stripped, putting Belize’s forest cover at 60.7%, down from 61.1% last March. Just prior to Belize’s Independence, it boasted forest cover of nearly 75%, at 1.6 million hectares. Today, the forest cover is reported at 1.3 million hectares. The information was shared with us via Facebook by Emil Cherrington, manager of the Applied Research and Scientific Development Division of the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (in Spanish ¨CATHALAC¨- Centro del Agua del Trópico Húmedo para America Latina y el Caribe).

Ricardo Eustace Castellanos, 47, a resident of San Joaquin, Corozal, lost his life when he was knocked down by a taxi driver, also of San Joaquin, who has been issued a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). The taxi driver, Giovanni Correa, 56, reported that he was driving his car from Corozal to Orange Walk, and that when he approached Louisville, Corozal District, at an area between Miles 74 and 73 on the Philip Goldson Highway, he knocked down a man. Correa told police that the man, who was walking on the right side of the road, suddenly ran onto the road and threw himself into the path of the oncoming vehicle, slamming into the right front portion of the car. The man fell violently onto the road and died almost immediately from massive head and facial injuries. Correa reported that the incident happened quickly, and that there was nothing he could have done to avoid hitting the man.

The beginning of the year has brought pain and misery to Steven Reichert, 60, a retired Canadian businessman who lives in Benque Viejo, after his violent, out-of-control neighbor, Benaro Hob, allegedly chopped him several times with a machete at about 10:30 Sunday morning in the Chapel Hill area of Benque Viejo. As a result of the vicious machete attack, Reichert suffered chop wounds to his hands, to the back of the head and to his back. He has been treated and is recovering at home. On Monday, Benaro Hob, 68, was arrested and charged with harm and wounding, and ordered to take a psychological evaluation. He has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until March 27, when he is to be returned to the Benque Magistrate’s Court. Reichert told police that he and his daughter, 2, were walking on a footpath to his business place when he heard a noise behind him and footsteps approaching. He turned around to see what was happening, and that was when a man known to him, who was armed with a machete, swung the machete at the child.

A woman who is wanted on an Interpol international arrest warrant for her alleged involvement in a large-scale human trafficking ring in Honduras, her native country, was captured in Belize and is now in prison awaiting deportation. Blanca Rodriguez, 40, was apprehended by Belize Immigration officers on Monday at a house in the Sunset Park area of the Mile 8 community, on the George Price Highway, where she was staying with some Belizean friends. Rodriguez had violated the conditions of her visitor’s permit to Belize. She appeared before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton on Tuesday, and was fined $1,000 after she pleaded guilty to the immigration offense. Hamilton ordered that she pay the fine immediately and he also issued a removal order for her to be deported to Honduras.

To The Publisher, Shakiera LOMONT writes from France This letter is not a reply, but somewhat like an “OKEYING” to your last letter to the public. It hits me on the 6th February morning as I opened my computer as usual to read my country’s news; honestly, I am not a frequent reader of your letters, but I have been reading them regularly for the past three weeks. I like the way you express yourself and the words you choose to express yourself; it makes me want to pick up the pen again … more on that.

Editor, I have a simple and quick solution that will get the draconian gun law changed immediately. Have someone plant some ammo of different calibers in a restaurant or bar in Belmopan that the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers are known to frequent. When they are there, call the GSU and report the illegal ammunition. Since the law is supposed to apply equally to everyone, they will all be arrested and taken to jail with no chance of bail. Let them see the ridiculousness of this law that they enacted first hand and how unfair it is and how it affects innocent people’s lives.

Editor Sir, This week the Belize National Teachers’ Union (B.N.T.U.) completed a series of six rallies that took it throughout the country. The rallies were historic. It was the first time in this back-to-back UDP administration that a union took to the streets to demand its attention on major issues. And despite government’s attempt to scare the teachers from standing up for their rights, the rallies were all well attended. Topics covered at each event included the need for progress with negotiations for the long overdue salary increase for teachers and respect for teachers from the Minister of Education. Teachers also used the rallies to demand decisive action on national issues that are a major hindrance to progress in the country.

Both teams had high hopes and dreams of “finishing” the finals series at the MCC Grounds yesterday, following the pattern set by the Bandits in their semifinal series with BDF, where a 3-0 shutout at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium for all practical purposes determined the outcome of that series. No way any right thinking fan, or even the BDF squad themselves, could have realistically hoped for a comeback against such enormous odds and against such a formidable opponent. The draw in their return match at the Carl Ramos was no surprise to anyone, but at least BDF salvaged some respect by managing a draw in injury time, after trailing their Belmopan visitors 1-0 for most of the game. On Sunday at the MCC, there were shades of déjŕ vu, as once again the Bandits took an early 1-0 lead over their opponent in Game 1, after starting the game at a torrid pace that saw some confusion in the FC Belize defensive line. Bandits’ super striker Deon McCaulay capitalized on some FC Belize defensive hesitation after David Trapp centered across goal, and Deon’s well placed grounder caromed off the inside of the right goal post near the southern “ragamuffin” bleachers, outside the reach of a diving Glenford Chimilio in goal for FC Belize. 1-0, Belmopan Bandits, at the 5th minute of play. And what a way to start a game for FC Belize, after bold predictions of “ending it all” by some of their fans, who turned out in huge numbers for this gala at the MCC.

In our report last weekend, Wesley girls and boys were through to the Finals of the Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) football competition. Both Gwen Liz females and males had a 1-0 edge going into their semifinal game 2 on Friday against SCA and ACC, respectively. Here are the results of those games. On Friday, Gwen Liz girls and boys repeated their shutout victories in game 2. Gwen Liz girls won, 2-0, over SCA, with goals from Tyra Moreira and Kishay Bevans; and Gwen Liz boys blanked ACC, 3-0, with a goal apiece from Albert Davis, Clinton Dawson and Allan Castillo. That set the stage for the Finals best-of-two series between the females and males of Wesley College and Gwen Lizarraga High School, to be played on Monday and Wednesday, February 3 and 5. Noteworthy is that, throughout the semifinals, neither Gwen Liz female nor male team had conceded a single goal.

The National Secondary Schools Sports Association’s (NSSSA) Central Division football tournament climaxed this evening at the MCC Garden in Belize City where the two final games of the season were played with intensity as the finalists in the female and male categories fought for the right to be crowned as champions, while their fans and schoolmates excitedly cheered on. It was Gwen Lizarraga High vs Wesley College in both females and males, and game 1 of both best-of-two Finals series had been drawn on Monday, 0-0 for the girls and 1-1 for the boys. In the first game today, the female teams of Gwen Lizarraga High School and Wesley College played to another scoreless stalemate during regulation time, which caused the game to go into overtime. During overtime, neither team managed to shake the net, therefore the game and series winner was left to be decided by penalty shootout.

The Inter-District football home-and-away Finals series was originally scheduled to begin this Saturday, February 8, but that date has now been postponed; also, the venue for Game 2 has been changed from Isidoro Beaton Stadium to the FFB Field. Yesterday, no doubt because of the big Premier League championship match this coming Saturday night, the FFB sent out a press release announcing the new schedule for the FFB Inter-District Championship series, which now begins next week Saturday. New FFB Inter-District Finals schedule: Saturday, February 15, Game 1 7:30 p.m. – MnM Steelers vs Roaring Creek United – Michael Ashcroft Stadium Sunday, February 23, Game 2 3:30 p.m. – Roaring Creek United vs MnM Steelers – FFB Field

It’s here! Opening Week of National Elite Basketball League
The cream of the crop in Belize basketball will be in action this weekend, as the much anticipated National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) tips off its 2014 regular season with games at 4 different venues across the nation. Eight (8) teams are participating in this first ever National Elite competition, which basketball enthusiasts are hoping will bring back the quality of play and enthusiasm the sport enjoyed during the glory days of the now defunct “semi-pro” basketball league. All 8 teams will see action in the opening weekend of competition, with two games on Friday, February 7, and two more on Saturday, February 8. And the regular season schedule calls for similar action each weekend, with all teams busy, except for a break in competition during the Easter weekend. Week 1 schedule: Friday, February 7 9:00 p.m. – Belize City (Smart) No Limit vs San Pedro Tigersharks – Bird’s Isle in Belize City 9:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits vs Orange Walk Running Rebels – UB Gymnasium in Belmopan Saturday, February 8 9:00 p.m. – Corozal Heats vs Cayo Western Ballaz – Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal Town 9:00 p.m. – Dangriga Warriors vs Toledo Diplomats – Y-Not Island in Dangriga

Police are on a manhunt to recapture a dangerous prisoner, Edwin Paula, 29, of San Martin, Belmopan, who escaped from police custody yesterday afternoon at about 4:30 while he was being escorted back to the Belize Central Prison. Paula was on remand on murder and robbery charges. Police said that they were returning Paula to the Belize Central Prison, but when they arrived at Cotton Tree, the van slowed down for a pedestrian crossing on the highway, and that was when Paula, who was sitting in front near the door, suddenly jumped out of the van and sprinted away. Police chased him, but could not catch him. Anyone who sees him or knows of his whereabouts is urged to call the police.

A Belize City man who was in a live-in relationship with a female police special constable was convicted on a charge of theft from her when his trial before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith concluded on Wednesday. Richard Longsworth, 29, a part-time mason, was fined $100 plus $5 cost of court. In addition, Longsworth was ordered to repay Special Constable Nakesisha Usher, his ex-girlfriend, the $2,000 that he was found guilty of stealing from her. Chief Magistrate Smith ordered Longsworth to begin repaying Usher $100 per month, beginning on February 15. If he fails to repay Usher, a distress warrant will be issued against him. The $100 court fine was supposed to be paid immediately, but up to 12:00 p.m., Longsworth was unable to come up with the money, so he was taken into police custody. If he defaults on paying the court fine, he will have to serve two months in prison.

A Ladyville mechanic, who has several cases pending and was not present in court when one of his cases concluded, learned that he was found guilty in absentia when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, who sentenced him to six months in prison, on Tuesday. Alrick Smith, 29, expressed surprise when Frazer told him, “I have found you guilty in absentia of aggravated assault. Is there anything you would like to say before I pass sentence?” Smith, looking confused, declared: “I was present for all of my adjournment and spoke at all the cases.” Well, you were not here when this case finished, and the court cannot wait on you, Frazer informed him. “According to the evidence that I heard, I must tell you that I am satisfied that you are guilty of the offence,” Frazer continued.

The Reporter

Corporal Gino Peck free after paying fine
Though his career in the Police Department remains on the line, Corporal Gino Peck, 42, has avoided mandatory jail time on two counts of keeping unlicensed ammunition and keeping prohibited ammunition. Peck, who was fined for the offences, was saved prison time last Friday, when […]

Citrus growers take action on audit
Members of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), meeting at their headquarters on Saturday, agreed to allow the Association’s members on the Finance and Audit Committee (FAC) of the Board of Directors of Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL) to settle a festering dispute over the […]

BNTU says rallies were a success
The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) held a press briefing at their office on Tuesday and declared that January’s month of rallies was a success as the majority of their membership turned out to support the union’s cause. The BNTU claimed that in Corozal […]

Castro poor, or Poor Castro?
By Louis Wade When Jesus uttered the words “He that is without sin Cast the first stone”, he must have known that his comments would be used by corrupt politicians and secularists two thousand years later to cover their misdeeds. Of recent the phrase is being used more and more, […]

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry is currently reviewing the OSH Bill tabled in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. The Chamber, while fully supporting health and safety measures for employees, is deeply concerned that the Bill contains variations from the draft that was circulated and […]

Fabrigas gets international certification on safety
Fabrigas Limited, a private company that sells a variation of inert gases, this week received international certification for safety after it met the standards of the International Organisation of Standardisation, ISO. It came after 19 months of training, adjustments and internal adaptations of the company’s quality management system. ISO, which […]

Peanut allergy treatment a success
Doctors say a potential treatment for peanut allergy has transformed the lives of children taking part in a large clinical trial. The 85 children had to eat peanut protein every day – initially in small doses, but ramped up during the study. The findings, published in the Lancet, suggest 84% […]

Stem cell major discovery claimed
Stem cell researchers are heralding a “major scientific discovery”, with the potential to start a new age of personalised medicine. Scientists in Japan showed stem cells can now be made quickly just by dipping blood cells into acid. Stem cells can transform into any tissue and are already being trailed […]

Water rates going up
All Belizeans, with the exception of Caye Caulker residents, can expect a higher water bill this coming April. The Belize Water Services Limited applied to the Public Utilities Commission for a 16.25 percent increase in water rates. However, the PUC only approved a 6.4 percent […]

Profiting from a strong private sector
By Kay Menzies Many people speak of the private sector in generic terms, without seeing themselves as members of this group. Investopedia breaks the definition of private sector down clearly, stating that it is “the part of the economy that is not state controlled, and is run by individuals and […]

Joel Borland wins BCA time trials
By Willam Ysaguirre Joel Borland of the Telemedia cycling team won the individual time trials organized by the Belize Cycling Association on the Burrell Boom bypass road on Saturday, February 1, clocking 30:33 over a 12-mile course to win first place overall in the elite category and first in the […]

Wesley & Ladyville Tech girls win in high schools softball
The girls of Wesley College and Gwen Lizarraga High School both enjoyed victories when the Belize City high schools softball competition continued at the Roger’s Stadium last Saturday morning, February 1. The Wesley girls defeated the girls of Anglican Cathedral College 15-7 in Saturday’s first […]

Negotiations between the Christian Workers Union (CWU) and the Belize City Council (BCC) have broken down, and as a result the Labor Commissioner has intervened and called an impasse. During the course of the meeting between the two parties, the CWU had made four […]

Gun law review begins! PUP proposes change
On the heels of Wednesday’s presentation in the House of Representatives, the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) made a bid for changes to be made to the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act and the Firearms Act to reverse the current state of affairs. In […]

Integrity Commission finally here!
The Integrity Commission, which has been inactive for the last four years, was officially appointed at Thursday’s Sitting of the Senate. The appointments are for a period of two years effective from February 1st, 2014. The official appointment comes a little more than a […]

Barrow speaks out on UDP corruption
Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed the issue of corruption in his administration after Wednesday’s House Sitting and he was surprisingly candid about his views on the matter. “There is no doubt at all in my mind, that the scandals have threatened to swamp us. […]

The Belize Times


Las Terrazas Resort and O Restaurant: Perhaps the Most GORGEOUS Pool on the Island
Last week I took a trip up to Las Terrazas Resort, just about 3.5 miles over the bridge on North Ambergris Caye, for lunch and some pool time. Every single time I get off the water taxi or walk by the resort and step through the open lobby palapa and see this pool, I just love it. I don’t know if the style is from the Mediterranean (perhaps a Greek Island…Mykonos) or maybe Moroccan…maybe Bali? Those in the design know can surely clue me in…but I think it is beautiful. Clean, white, modern with Belizean dark wood all around…I took a tour around the grounds, inside a variety of the rooms, ate at the restaurant and I was very impressed. They have a lovely stretch of beach and are within walking distance of quite a few fun bars and restaurants, a beach with some privacy, easy access to options and to town. (Three things that I would be looking for when visiting Ambergris Caye. Check, check, check.)

Love May Not Have Been Invented in Belize, But Chocolate?
It was back in February 1894 that Hershey’s, a company whose name is synonymous with chocolate, was founded. But according to The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s food and beverage manager, it is the ancient Maya who deserve credit for inventing the “Food of love.” And 110 years after the founding of Hershey’s, Belize’s Chaa Creek eco resort is continuing the Maya tradition with unique spa treatments using chocolate and its the main ingredient, cacao. In Belize’s early Maya civilisation cacao was so highly prized it was used as money. As the preferred beverage of both the royal elite and commoners, chocolate was deemed to be vital to health and wellbeing, and to enhance love. Bryony Fleming Bradley, who also manages Chaa Creek’s Hilltop Spa, which has introduced the Chocolatissimo Belize Vacation package, said that the Spa’s professional therapies utilise massage and the absorption of cacao through the skin to refresh and revitalise while inducing sensations akin to falling in love.

International Sources

A magical world at Francis Ford Coppola's luxe resorts in Belize
Need isolation? Coppola's Blancaneaux Lodge is in the middle of the untamed, natural beauty of a Belizean forest preserve. Need local culture? Turtle Inn is on the coast near the fishing village of Placencia. As Hummingbird Highway carves away from Belize's resort-laden sands, pavement dissolves into rutted dirt tracks and the dense jungle canopy starts to press in from all sides. The tallest buildings pushing through the foliage are Maya ruins, and howler monkeys and macaws lurk in the ceiba trees. Late at night, distant thunderstorms ring the horizon, broad sheets of lightning illuminating the mountains. Before I brought my family to Belize for 10 days last summer, I packed a copy of "Heart of Darkness," knowing that although traveling through Central America wouldn't precisely parallel a trip up the Congo River, Joseph Conrad's novel would remind me that the book was the indirect inspiration for our itinerary. I had traveled to Belize several times before I started a family, and even though tourism has transformed much of the country for the worse in the intervening 20 years, I wanted to revisit what I loved most about the tiny but diverse nation: lavish lodgings smack in the middle of untamed, natural beauty. And because I cover the movie business for The Times, I thought of no better way to see the country than by staying at Francis Ford Coppola's two Belizean resorts, Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn.

Victoria family, Ashley Furniture send goods to Belizean orphanage (w/video)
Traci and James Kral sat in front of the family computer and clicked on their email inbox. Hours earlier, the Victoria pair distributed multiple requests to Christian-based organizations with ties to Belize. Their email explained the family's desire to travel to Belize on a mission - volunteering for Belizean children however needed. "We didn't hear back from anyone for weeks, and it forced us to go through this self-examination about what our real motives were in taking this trip. When no one responded, we thought maybe God was telling us that he didn't want this for us," Traci Kral, 38, said. Still, the Krals were eager to do God's work abroad, living out the biblical passages of their prayers that referenced caring for widows and orphans. Traci and James prayed one last time before sending out the final email, and agreed that if no one responded this time, the family would reexamine its plan for international service.

Save Nature, Save Lives
Indirect impacts. Many consequences of ecosystem loss take less direct pathways. In Belize, it took detailed study to discover that fertilizers applied to croplands caused changes in wetland vegetation far downstream. Unfortunately for coastal residents, these changes favor a variety of mosquito much more effective at transmitting malaria. Farming practices in one place have unwittingly resulted in greater exposure to malaria many miles away.

The United States and Sugar Policy in the Caribbean
In 2001, President George W Bush launched the Caribbean Third Border Initiative with the countries of the Caribbean “to make sure the benefits of globalization are felt in even the smallest economies.” The Third Border Initiative is designed to enhance diplomatic, economic, and law enforcement collaboration between the United States and its Caribbean neighbors, the often overlooked “third border”. Yet, the US maintains its protectionist policies on sugar to the detriment of both US consumers and Caribbean nations. Sugar is the most highly controlled agricultural commodity in America with the current US policy focusing on 3 main areas: price supports through loan agreements, domestic market controls, and tariff-rate quotas (TRQ). Among the details of its sugar policy are provisions which allow the US government to sell excess sugar to ethanol producers at a significant loss of up to 10 cents per pound, allowing the government to utilize excess sugar, should sugar prices be substantially low, according to

February 7, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Healthy smiles courtesy of the Smile Dental Clinic and its volunteers
The Smile Dental Clinic at Holy Cross Anglican School is bringing more healthy smiles to the faces of San Pedro Town’s beautiful children. As reported in Volume 24, issue #05 of The San Pedro Sun, The Smile Dental Clinic is currently hosting a free two-week dental clinic open to all the children of the island. The second of two groups comprises of six volunteers, three from San Pedro Town and three from the United States. Heading the second group of volunteers is Doctor Alex Wills, a visiting dentist who has been offering his service for seven years at the Smile Dental Clinic. Dr. Wills is joined on his seventh mission by his wife Nancy Wills, a dental hygienist, both from Cape Carteret, North Carolina, USA. Dr Ken Beading from Kalamazoo, Michigan USA is also volunteering. Three local dental assistants, Eleanor Carrera, Bonnie Musbach and Norma Chin assist them while conducting the clinics. All three ladies have joined volunteers on several dental missions at the Smile Dental Clinic.

The San Pedro AIDS Commission is ready to take on 2014!
The San Pedro AIDS Commission is pleased to report on a successful 2013. For over 12 years, the San Pedro AIDS Commission has been assisting the community of San Pedro, providing both medical and moral support to persons afflicted by the disease. The group is made up of volunteers, and funds are gathered through fund raising events and donations from the generous community. Of their hard work and efforts in 2013, a grand total of $8,020.73 was given to HIV/AIDS patients. $1,219.90 went to medications and vitamins while $4,399.83 earmarked for patients’ living and travel (doctor, checkups, etc.) expenses. In addition, the San Pedro AIDS Commission allocated $1,511 towards education programs on HIV/AIDS.

60 million dollar water and sewerage expansion project planned for North AC
In October of 2013, The San Pedro Sun broke the story that the Government of Belize (GOB) is embarking on a project to design and construct a water and sewerage system on north Ambergris Caye. That project was unveiled to the residents of Ambergris Caye on Thursday January 30th at the first of several planned consultations. The project will see the installation of a second water and sewerage system for the northern portion of the island, a total of 15 kilometers north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge to Blue Reef Island Resort. The budget for the construction is US $30 which is a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) facilitated through the GOB. GOB has appointed Belize Water and Sewerage Limited (BWS) to be the executing agency for the project. It is geared to enhance the quality of life for the populace and visitors on the northern portion of the island, protect the fragile ecosystem and the Barrier Reef system and support the tourism package on Ambergris Caye.

Ambergris Today

Casa Pan Dulce Bakery Expands Services in Mainland Belize
Casa Pan Dulce Bakery, located at Laguna Drive, San Pedro Town, would like to inform its valuable customers of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker that TWIN TOWNS BAKERY of Santa Elena/San Ignacio is now a subsidiary of Casa Pan Dulce Bakery. We take this opportunity to inform our Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker customers that three of our products, namely sliced bread, special white and whole wheat bread will be temporarily packaged in the Twin Town’s Bakery bags (pictured above). This process is necessary to eventually phase out the bags and fully merge the two bakeries and eventually fully brand our Casa Pan Dulce name throughout all our market. Casa Pan Dulce Bakery is expanding horizons on the mainland and so we remain committed to operating in the most efficient manner, while keeping with its values, and constantly finding better ways and better products to serve our customers. We reassure our customers of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker that we will continue to use only the best ingredients in our products.

Teen Talk: Teens Can Overcome Peer Pressure
Was there ever a time when one of your friends wanted you to do something but you felt it just wasn’t right and you still did it anyway? Well that is a little thing called peer pressure and more than likely you have dealt with it before. When I was a little younger this was a very big problem for me but fortunately this was one of the problems I have successfully overcome. Now I am going to give you some tips on dealing with peer pressure.

Education in Belize: Next Steps?
We have tried to identify Who’s the Enemy in our Education Systems in Belize and open our eyes to why so many of us live desensitized to daily life in this new global and digital age. Now, it’s time to move on to the next stage. Are we ready and willing? Mega-sized problems that continue to plague our nation everyday lie not only in areas of Education but in other key areas that prevent us from improving our standards of living.

Misc Belizean Sources

for San Pedro

Carnaval 2014 Schedule!
Limited Food Booths Available! Visit or Call the San Pedro Town Council at 226-2936 to register your booth. Grand Prize for Best Carnaval Inspired Booth, Food and Drink! Also, all COMPARSAS who will be participating in this year's Carnaval to visit or call the San Pedro Town Council Office to register your comparsa!

$20.00 entrance fee for the PLB Belikin Opening Tournament Championship Game
The Management of the Belmopan Bandits Football Club would like to respond to comments in the public and social media concerning the $20.00 entrance fee for the PLB Belikin Opening Tournament Championship Game between the Belmopan Bandits FC and FC Belize on Saturday, February 8, 2014. While Management has great concern and consideration for all of the fans of the Belmopan Bandits FC and would like to see maximum support for our team at the game on Saturday, we must also remind our fans and football aficionados that to assemble and maintain such a talented team that is undoubtedly, on its way to its second PLB Championship in three seasons, has not been without cost and personal sacrifice on the part of the Management and Team. The Belmopan Bandits FC is the only fully professional football club in the country where players are paid on a weekly basis whether the team plays or not, or whether it’s a home game or an away game. For many of our players this weekly salary is their only means of sustaining their families and therefore Management has ensured that all players get paid every week for the past twenty weeks even though the gate receipts at home games have not been anywhere close to enough to cover weekly expenses. Even during the weeks when games were postponed due to inclement weather our players were still paid. No other team has done this for their players and that is why the Management is confident that the players will do their utmost best to bring the Championship home on Saturday night.

Denburg Edison Clifford Coleman passes away
On February 6, 1994 Belize lost a legend in Denburg Edison Clifford Coleman, a radio pioneer, comedian and journalist. He worked primarily with Radio Belize and is recognized as having brought that station to a position of prominence in the small Central American nation. Coleman was born in Benque Viejo del Carmen on January 8, 1931 to descendants of Honduran immigrants from Isla Roatan. Having attended primary school in Benque Viejo and high school in Belize City, he became involved in the nationalist movement on the labour front, working with George Price and the General Workers' Union in the 1950s. He had also gotten a part-time job with Radio Belize as a temporary announcer, at first working only in Spanish because the bosses thought he did not have the right accent for delivering an English-language newscast.

Startup Mistakes and common missteps in small business that you can learn
ost, if not all small business owners make mistakes and that can be a good thing. It means your are taking risks, and that’s how you grow your businesses. But making too many mistakes during the startup phase could land you in trouble. The key to small-business survival is to learn from your missteps and those you see other businesses making. Mistake 1: Setting your prices too low or too high. When it comes to pricing, service businesses have it a little tougher, since there isn’t a clear-cut cost of goods, and it’s easy to underestimate the time a job will take. Consult an association for your particular industry to help determine average prices for your type of business, clientele and location.

Lobster season will close effective February 15th
The Belize Fisheries Department would like to take this opportunity to inform the general public that the lobster season will close effective February 15th and it will remain closed until midnight of June 14th. As a reminder, please note that failure to comply with the closed season will result in prosecution in court under Regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulations, Chapter 210 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize R.E. 2003. The Department also takes this opportunity to remind fishers that lobster traps should be removed from the fishing grounds during the closed season. The Enforcement Unit will be vigilant in ensuring compliance with the removal of lobster traps that are found deployed after February 15.

Benque Viejo Ambulance missing
The Benque Viejo Ambulance has been missing for several months now with no action or explanation by public officials. It would seem that, since no one has any knowledge of it, it should be treated as Theft of Public Property. As yet no investigation has been launched or explanation offered. When Channel 5 attempted to interview the Benque Mayor on the subject he "ran". This is a serious health issue for the Town of Benque. The Polyclinc is only open during normal hours and this ambulance is critical for our health and safety. Your life could easily depend on this ambulance being available on a 24hr. basis. It would be easy to have it stationed at the Fire Department that is manned 24/7, has trained EMS personnel and drivers. First we have to find it. Rumors are that it is in Guatemala where it was used to help resolve a personal debt of the Minister. We need to know where are ambulance is, how it got there and why no one will talk about it. Silence creates rumors and that Ambulance belongs to the people of Benque.

Unrest within the residents of Benque Viejo
It appears there's unrest within the residents of Benque Viejo, residents not happy with their Minister with corruption issues fresh on their minds. The PM's comments hit home for many in Benque Last night a group of residents posted several placards around the streets of Benque, expressing their discontentment with their area Minister. The police were seen this morning 7:30am taking pictures of the placard's but didn't take them down? Do they agree? It's now assumed the Mayor will send town board workers to take them down? Yes confirmed by 10:00am the rights of residents in Benque to express their opinion were torn down by town board workers.

Caribbean member states of CRFM weigh in on important international case on IUU fishing
Seventeen member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are making their voices heard in a milestone international case on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing—dubbed Case No. 21—which is being reviewed by the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea (ITLOS), based in Hamburg, Germany. According to the CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, “this is a very important international case which should not only contribute to the development of international and domestic law in an area that is important for effective conservation and management of fisheries, but also clarify the law in respect of the responsibility and liability of States and international organizations for IUU fishing.” To date, more than 20 countries—Saudi Arabia, Germany, New Zealand, People's Republic of China, Australia, Japan, the UK, Chile, the EU, Sri Lanka and the US—and 8 organizations have submitted written arguments on Case No. 21. Those organizations include the CRFM, the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and the United Nations.

Turneffe Orcas (killer whales)
just off Maugre Caye in the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. Thanks to the divemasters from Amigos del Mar dive shop for taking the video. Enjoy! Amazing footage! We hear Orcas are spotted in the area on occasion, thanks for sharing!

Placencia Sidewalk Arts & Music Festival
We had a blast last year at the Placencia Sidewalk Arts & Music Festival last year! If you missed out, the fun begins next weekend! Take advantage of the Tropic Air Belize Valentine's special and fly your sweetie there for just $14 on Friday the 14th!

Fourth Road Project (Santa Elena / San Ignacio By-Pass) Lot 3 – Branch Mouth to Joseph Andrews Drive (Inclusive of River Works)
The Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Works & Transport announces the signing of the construction contract to carry out Lot#3 of this project, with the lowest evaluated bidder, CISCO Construction Ltd., for the sum of BZ$3,873,059.43. The Government of Belize secured a Loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the Fourth Road Project (Santa Elena / San Ignacio Bypass) to be implemented in the Cayo District. This project is divided into four phases: (Lot 1) the upgrading of Loma Luz Boulevard; (Lot 2) a new bridge crossing of the Macal River; (Lot 3) the construction of a new high-embankment by-pass; and (Lot 4) the rehabilitation of Joseph Andrews Drive to the point it re-connects the George Price Highway. The subject of this contract signing, Lot 3 of the 4th Road Project, is the construction of a new high-embankment by-pass road that will link the North end of Joseph Andrews Drive to the Western Approach of a proposed new bridge crossing at the Macal River in the vicinity of the Branch Mouth Road. The scope of works includes: the setting out of the new alignment, the clearing of existing vegetation and other obstacles from within the new reserve; the importation and compaction of suitable material; the construction of a granular pavement layer; and the application of a bituminous wearing course.

Jungle Hospitality in Beautiful Belize
Jungle hospitality, one of the thing's Cayo is known for, is one of the focuses of this superbly written article from Jaxfax magazine. Chaa Creek and Hidden Valley Inn are highlighted, of course, and Caracol, ATM, Butterfly Falls, and the San Antonio Women's Group classes are recommended. Well worth a read. "Belize offers two realities: Jungles where you can hear the roar of howler monkeys and stay in rooms that make you feel like you’re at luxury summer camp - where you can disconnect from 24-hour media and other noise pollution, and the glowing aqua shore where you can lean against palm trees on a beach that retains its wild outlines and enjoy a pina colada. Belize offers both those experiences. Start in the jungle with rigorous hiking, biking, swimming, bird watching and other activities and end the trip with relaxation, snorkeling, a fishing excursion perhaps or a trip to a high-end spa."

Battle of the DJ's Competition
The Battle of the DJ's competition is coming to Benque. They'll have the dance at the Cancha Marshalleck on Valentine's day, Friday, February 14th.

Channel 7

PM Trying To Broker Citrus Saving Deal
As we've been reporting since last week - there's a crisis in the Citrus Industry. Farmers can't get paid because the Citrus Products of Belize Limited -which owes them, hasn't found an auditor to satisfy their bankers - and until they do, their accounts remain frozen, and the farmers are out a million dollars - which increases weekly. Add to that the enduring hostility between the majority shareholder which is the Citrus Growers Association and the minority shareholder Banks Holdings - plus the fact that industry wide earnings are way down, and you've got a full blown crisis in one of Belize's most important agro-industries. And that's where the Prime Minister had to enter today. He held meetings with the two growers groups, Belize Citrus Mutual and the Citrus Growers Association. They're trying to map a way to get out of their short term cash problems, and their longer term difficulties with Banks Holdings. At an emergency meeting last Saturday THE CITRUS GROWERS took a resolution that they will agitate to buy back the 47% shares from Banks Holdings for over 20 million dollars and their intention was to approach government for assistance.

City Council And CWU Go To Mediation
The City Council intends to fire 26 security workers tomorrow - with 20 of them being re-hired by a new private firm. But their workers' representative, the Christian Workers Union is trying to stop the transition or at least slow it down. Through public pressure, the Union managed to delay the changeover by a week, but now it's coming right down to the wire. Both sides were called to a mediation session by the Labour commissioner Ivan Roberts this morning at the Labour Office in Belize City. The mayor had to leave early to head for a court appointment - but the media caught him on his way out - and he said what CWU President Audrey Matura Shepherd is asking for is unreasonable:... Mayor Darrell Bradley "We will deal with the labour commissioner as much as is required for him to be satisfied that whatever processes that need to be follow we will follow. But for our intents and purposes we have agreed as a council to proceed with this. We made representations to the labour commissioner that we have taken into account the staff members. We have tried to make the blow as soft as possible. I stay up at nights when I have to make these kinds of decisions. We have cooperated with everything that the union has but many of those proposals that they have are very unreasonable and we will not accede to anything that is unreasonable."

PUP Says Change Gun Law Now!
The Gun Law, it's been at the forefront of the public discourse for weeks now, and yesterday in the House of Representatives, you actually heard both sides of the House agree on making changes to the draconian laws. Police Minister John Saldivar said he was in discussions with the Director Of Public Prosecutions and the Solicitor General and had commenced a review of the laws to make them fair and less Draconian. But, today the PUP held a press conference to say no discussion with the relevant authorities needed; they have the changes in hand. The party has produced a draft for the Crime Control and Criminal Justice act, and for the firearms Amendment Act. And in a curious twist says they want to lead from the opposition: Kareem Musa "The PUP has a duty and an obligation to step in where the government seems unable to govern and to make the necessary changes. We are in effect leading from the Opposition." Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "When the citizens of our country are of a growing view that this particular law, these particular laws are being applied inequitably or leading to injustice we certainly have an obligation to look at those laws."

Jury Mulls Murder Verdict
Right now at the Supreme Court a jury of 12 is deliberating to reach a verdict in the murder trial of 28 year old Glenford Ferguson Jr., who was accused of the February 2007 stabbing death of 27 year-old Koffi Beeks. Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith prosecuted the case and she called her main eyewitness who said that Beeks was eating in front of Mel's Bar in Ladyville on February 16, 2007. The witness testified that she saw when Ferguson Jr. grabbed Beeks in a "bear hug" from the back. He then pulled out a pen knife and stabbed him the left side of his neck. Beeks bled out, and even though he was rushed to the KHMH, he died from the blood loss while undergoing treatment. Ferguson had given Ladyville Police a caution statement saying that he stabbed Beeks in self-defence. The medical examiner testified that from his observation, Beeks was stabbed from behind.

Sickening Rape Of Small Child
Independence police continue to look for an uncle accused of sexually abusing his 8 year-old niece, and as soon as he is located, he will be criminally charged. The child reported to police that on Saturday evening, she went to her aunt's house to get some food to eat. She said that when she got inside, her uncle arrived and forced himself on her where he had intercourse with her against her will. A medical examination certified that she was carnally known. Also, On Tuesday, a Guatemalan mother visited San Ignacio Police with her 3 year-old infant saying that 15 year-old boy assaulted her daughter. She told police that on Monday evening, she left her daughter inside a room with the boy for a few minutes. She said that her child came to her in the other room she was bleeding from her privates. A medical examination confirmed that she was assaulted.

Coast Guard Seals, And Then There Were 2
In just a few years since it was established in 2005, the Coast Guard has gained a high public profile. Yes, they've had misdeeds and mishaps - like the one that resulted in a loss of life last week, but few can question the unit's commitment to excellence. Add to that, major "back-ative" from the US Military, and you end up with the Coast Guard Seals trained by the US Navy Seals. We showed you the first squad's graduation last year, and this year's intake is now in their fifth week of rigorous training. Here's how it looked yesterday:.. Jules Vasquez reporting These two Coast Guards crawling unto the beach - with the crack of gunfire ringing around them are going through hell, or as their Commander calls it, hell week:

Benque Ambulance, Down But Not Out
The ambulance for the Town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen, which also provides service to surrounding communities, has been missing from the area for emergencies, and because of that, rumours have been circulating that the allegation is that it has been confiscated by a business entity in Melchor De Menchos as some sort of collateral for a supposed ministerial debt. Well, Mayor Miguel Velasquez of the Benque Viejo Town Council, which manages and maintains the ambulance, told 7News today that this allegation is UNTRUE. He explained that the ambulance broke down for some days now, and they've been trying to get it fixed. An auto mechanic was identified in Peten, Guatemala as the ideal person to repair it after an extensive search, so it was towed to his mechanic shop. Velasquez said that a particularly difficult part for the ambulance had to be ordered, and the mechanic is in the process of installing it to finalize the repairs.

Barrow Vs. the Brothers Espat In The House
Last night we had a whole lot of news on the House of Representatives, almost to the exclusion of everything else. But even with all that, we still missed a few items of note. First is the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Bill - which was presented for a first reading at the last House meeting - and was approved yesterday - again with bi-partisan support. And, right that it should have that because the developer Mike Feinstein has had traditional ties with the PUP as a backer. And so, both the current and former leaders of the party spoke in favor of it yesterday - but then the former leader John Briceno brought up another port, the one in Commerce Byte that led to a round of finger pointing from the House Floor right into the Gallery: Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "We wish to offer our support to this project and in arriving at that offer of support we looked at essentially 4 criteria: 1.) Is this project good for the economy of Belize? We believe so that it will be good for the economy of Belize. We think it's critically important to the future of the cruise tourism industry which is obviously directly related to the economic development of Belize - have all the environmental clearance been met - have all the technical people signed off on the project and given their approval on the environmental side and my understanding is that has been done. That is very important. And finally, the developer Mr. Feinstein and the Stake Bank team are Belizeans who I think have a consistent history of investing in Belize."

Briceno Challenges Inflation/Unemployment Stats
And while he got that one started, Briceno managed to dodge the PM's hammer blow in the debate. But he didn't get off so easy when he spoke on statistics. As we've reported, the Statistical Institute of Belize has produced reports showing very low inflation and decreasing unemployment. Briceno didn't challenge the veracity of the figures, but he did question what they mean: Hon. John Briceno - Area Representative, Orange Walk Central "Certainly it is welcome news Mr. Speaker that the SIB presented that inflation was at a low rate of 1.6%. But I am sure many Belizeans is not feeling the numbers because if you ask the ordinary citizen across the length and breadth of this country they will tell that they are not feeling those numbers because they feel that the cost of living continues to go up. For example in 2009, a pound of red kidney beans was at $2.25. Today that same pound of red kidney beans is $3.50. during our time that we were in government the UDP use to say that things hard out here, but right now if you talk to the Belizean people, most of them will tell you that things are harder out here under this UDP government."

Remembering That Morning On The Crooked Tree Lagoon
Tomorrow will make it one week since that terrible boat collision happened in the Crooked Tree Lagoon. It cost the loss of one life, 20 year old Ben Gentle, but nine other were injured. Two of them, a 14 and a 15 year old are still in the hospital recovering. Monica Bodden spoke to them today about their medical situation and their recollection of that terrible morning:.. Monica Bodden reporting It's exactly one week since the fatal boat collision in Crooked Tree Village. It has left an entire community traumatized and some of its victims are still hospitalized. Today I visited 2 of the youngsters at the KHMH Surgical ward. Monica Bodden "Alita, tell me how are you doing today?" Alita Garbutt - Accident Victim "Good, not bad, only some shocks on my foot."

BREAKING: Citco Redundancy Put On Hold, Again
There is late news coming out of that meeting at the labour department which finished at 6:45. President of the Christian Workers Union Audrey Matura Shepherd tells us that the redundancy has been put on hold again, this time until next week Wednesday. The Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams, not Roberts as we had reported, needs time to further review the case, we are told. Matura Shepherd also tells us that the mayor stormed out of the meeting because he was unhappy with that resolution to again delay the council's plans. We could not reach the mayor for comment

Palmar Problems
Tonight, there is a rift growing in the in the San Jose Palmar Village in the Orange Walk District. It's because of the way that the village's land committee has been distributing lots over the past few months. It surrounds the appointment of the committee members, which a group of Palmar residents says do not have a proper mandate. They're making wholesale allegations against the committee, but essentially, they're challenging the committee based on this document, signed in October 2001 by the then Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. John Briceno, who is currently the Orange Walk Central area represent. The document supposedly outlines how exactly the appointment of the lands committee should take place. The group held a press conference today, and here's a short excerpt from the Chairman of the village explaining the challenge: Village Chairman "The next group is saying that they will fight it and they are saying that they are already the lands committee but we will not accept that. We are here to say that we are united and if we have to go - I don't know what we will have to do but we will not accept a committee that is appointed or only selected by a small group of people. We will only accept a group - a lands committee elected by the descendants of San Jose Nuevo Palmar."

Ras Indio, Rebel Fu Real
Reggae Artsist Ras Indio has touched stages all over the world, and now, for the first time in a while he's back to perform in Belize for a Bob Marley Tribute. The show takes place on Saturday at the Ornage Walk East Sports Center - yes the same one that's been in the news recently. Well this weekend, all those troubles should be healed by music. He told us about the show - and about his new song, which is in the truest tradition of protest music:.. THE SHOW STARTS at 6:00 on Saturday.

Rotary’s Rose
The Rotary Club of Belize is putting on the first night of their latest production called "Every Rose Has Thorns". It's a fund raising initiative to keep programs like the Gift of Life going. Last night, we showed you how the program was going, and now the Rotary Club is asking you to come out purchase tickets and come watch the play. The organization has been doing it for almost 10 years, and yesterday the Secretary told us why you would want to support them: The first showing started a while ago at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts, and they would like for members of the public to buy the tickets, the proceeds of which are going to their outreach programs.

Channel 5

Mayor Darrell Bradley’s choice words for CWU President, Audrey Matura-Shepherd
This morning, a team from the Belize City Council met with CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd and the Labour Commissioner in downtown Belize City. The issue on the table remains the [...]

Another prime property in Orange Walk East ends up in the hands of political affiliate
As recent as two weeks ago, we reported that the Guadalupe Park in the Orange Walk East constituency ended up the hands of Adin Aragon, the son of the former [...]

Rosewood bust in the South
From Orange Walk, we head south. The illegal logging of rosewood appeared to have cooled down that is until this week when SATIIM rangers on patrol in the Sarstoon Temash [...]

Labor Commissioner puts off redundancy of 26 security workers until next Wednesday
The meeting between the Labor Commissioner, the CWU and the Mayor concluded a little while ago at the office of the labor Commissioner. Word to News Five is that the [...]

The P.U.P.’s draft bill to amend the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act and the Firearms Act
In response to a sustained outcry against the Firearms Act, as amended in 2008, Minister of National Security John Saldivar stood in the House on Wednesday to say that his [...]

Opposition senator argues the draftsmanship of Domestic Banks and Financial Institutions Bill
Following a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the senate met today in Belmopan. Seven bills were brought from the House, including proposed legislation to deal with [...]

…Leader of Government Business agrees, but still passes bill
In responding to Shoman’s concerns, Leader of Government Business Godwin Hulse, echoed a similar sentiment, particularly where it pertains to laws that will inevitably have to be revisited.  Nonetheless, he [...]

Still no reaction from the B.N.T.U. on 4% salary adjustments
After crunching the numbers, the Prime Minister said on Wednesday in the House that the quantum in salary adjustments for teachers would not be less than four percent. The Belize [...]

Murder trial of Bert Vasquez adjourned once again
The lifeless body of thirteen-year-old Jasmine Lowe was discovered in an overgrown area off the Cristo Rey Road after she was reported missing in early June 2012.  In the wake [...]

Toledo West Area Rep calls out P.M. Barrow on Castro cheques scandal
As we showed you in Wednesday’s newscast, Minister of State Edmond Castro spent twenty minutes in the House reading a prepared statement to explain, or at least attempt to explain, [...]

Leader of the Opposition says no excuse to appropriate public monies
That was the PM in the House on Wednesday. He maintains that there were only three questionable checks, but the truth is that there were a lot more than that. [...]

Barrow and Briceńo debate state of the economy
The Statistical Institute of Belize recently released statistics pointing to an unemployment rate of fourteen point two percent and an inflation rate of point five percent. As far as the [...]

Toledo East Mike Espat speaks of cancellation of port leases
In August 2013, the government cancelled the lease held by the Ports of Belize Limited to the Commerce Bight Port in Southern Belize. That…after the Belize Bank seized control of [...]

P.M. Barrow says millions to be invested for road works around the country
With the insults, condescending commentary and petty taunts out the way, the Prime Minister then disbursed some good news where infrastructure in concerned. The first bit of news is that [...]

Healthy Living looks at the value between a carrot stick and a French fry
February fourth was the celebration of World Aids Day. There is still much stigma associated with HIV AIDs so this year, the theme was Debunking Myths and Building Awareness. Tonight [...]


Former Minister Of Natural Resources Clarifies Accusations Made Against Him
After Mai revealed that case publicly in the House sitting, Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega snapped back and pointed fingers at the People’s United Party on similar accusations. According to the Minister of Natural Resources, while the PUP is quick to make accusations, they have themselves engaged in the very act they now condemn as the opposition. Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources “I will make mention of one Mr. Meggs applied and paid for a piece of property which was the prime property of the residence of the health inspector of every health inspector that visited Orange Walk town, that is where he was housed or she, and the only reason why he has not gotten a title is because I have not issued it and they have not challenge it in court because they are ashamed of what they’ve done.” And in view of the continuous rise in land battles, we checked with Orange Walk Central Area Representative John Briceno on the accusation and he said that in this case, the matter was not properly clarified adding that the Minister of Natural Resources was making at attempt at distracting the attention from his managerial abilities in the ministry.

Auditors Investigate Allegations Of Misappropriation Of Funds At Corozal Town Council
In the month of January of this year the Corozal Town Council came under scrutiny after allegations surfaced that a whopping $80,000.00 was misappropriated from the tax revenue department. At that time Mayor Hilbert Campos revealed that the Revenue Manager had been relief of his duties. It was also reported that two other persons also from the tax department of the town council were being investigated. We must note though, that Mayor Campos never agreed that $80,000 was missing as was rumored. He stated that the missing fund was not even close to the figure rumored and that an investigation would be carried out into the matter. Tonight we can safely tell you that an investigation is ongoing at the council. Sources tell us that officials from local government are currently conducting a complete audit to the books of the council. Today Reporter Victor Castillo decided to take another glimpse in the issue and tried to get in contacted with the Town Administrator for an update but he was told that the administrator is in an all-day meeting.

Orange Walk Police Crack Down On Human Trafficking
Belize is classified as a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. In both aspects Belizeans and foreign women and girls, primarily from Central America, are obliged to work in bars, nightclubs and brothels throughout the country. And while the Government of Belize does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; it is making significant efforts to do so by enacting an anti-trafficking law for the protection of potential victims. And it is no secret that human trafficking of persons remains a societal ill here in our country and on a local scale there is a no tolerance policy program under the auspices of the Orange Walk Police Department. Reporter Maria Novelo sat down with Second in Command, Inspector Julius Cantun to see what steps are being taken to ensure the effective prohibition of the commercial sexual exploitation among girls and women. Here is that report!

Weekly Crop Review
Though it was delayed for close to two months due to the stalemate between the Belize Sugar Industries Limited and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, the 2013/2014 crop season is finally underway. What repercussions the delay will have is no yet known but what we can tell you tonight is that the miller and the producer are working hand in hand in order for the crop to be a successful one. The crop has entered its third week and figures for the second week show that up to February 2nd a total of seventy thousand three hundred and ten tons of cane has been milled. In efforts of keeping Northenos informed about the progress of the crop season tonight we kick off our weekly crop review. Week 2 of the 2013/2014 sugar cane crop season began on January 27th and ended on February 2nd 2014. Figures show that since the beginning of the crop season on January 24th to February 2nd the factory has milled a total of seventy thousand three hundred and ten tons of cane. Last year during the same time frame the factory milled ninety four thousand eight hundred and fourteen tons of cane.

More Charges Levied Against Kevin Manzanero
Today more charges were added to Kevin Manzanero’s police record when he appeared before Magistrate Hurl Hamilton at the Corozal Magistrates Court. On November 16th of 2013 Chinese businessman Jain Chang of College Road in the Corozal District, reported to police that around 1:30pm, two male persons wearing caps, entered the store where both men pointed what resembled to be firearms and accosted his worker Yan Chao Wu who was behind the counter. Then men made off with approximately $1,800.00 in cash and nine cellular phones, 45 cellular batteries and an I phone all adding to a total value of $6975.00.

More Land Grab In O/W East
In the sitting of the House of Representatives yesterday, things ran smoothly for the better part of the morning. But as we showed you last night, the House soon turned into a boxing ring as things got pretty nasty as members of Parliament snapped very personal slurs against each other. Tonight we bring you the very thing that thing that triggered the chaos – land matters. Orange Walk South Area Representative Jose Abelardo Mai made reference to the land controversy surrounding the Guadalupe Park in Orange Walk East but then proceeded to present yet another case in which public land has once again been privatized in the same constituency. This time, the matter surrounds a land where the former East Polyclinic was once located. According to Mai, the paper works for that parcel is in the works and is to be given out to a UDP stalwart working at the Lands Department in Corozal.

Palmar Residents Accuse Land Committees Of Embezzlement
Tonight, descendants and concerned residents of San Jose Nuevo Palmar in the Orange Walk District are up in arms. They are alleging corruption and embezzlement of funds from lands in their village. Tired of being lied to and taken for granted by the present lands committee, the irate villagers took to the media today as they held a press conference staged at the Community Center. Reporter Maria Novelo and videographer Jesus Melgar were there to capture the fuss, here is that report. A handful of concerned citizens of the San Jose Nuevo Palmar Village attracted the attention of the media today as they accused the present and former land committees of illegally embezzling monies from lands being sold within the village. This they claim is contrary to the rules set in the appointment of a land advisory committee. Concerned Descendant, Lorenzo Aldana says, this has been occurring since 1996 without accountability or transparency, and villagers have simply had enough.


Opposition Party Wants Discretion to Be Restored to the Magistrate
The House of Representatives met on Wednesday and the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act and the Firearms Act were not on the schedule for the day’s events. This, according to the Opposition, People’s United Party, was an indication that the Government does not see the public outcry to amend or repeal the Law as an issue of pressing national importance. So today, the PUP held a press conference at its Queen Street headquarters to scrutinize the Law and with the assistance of two of its Legal Advisors, Anthony Sylvestre Junior and Karim Musa, it did. And the party hopes to make proposals with amendments that it hopes to present to the Government and other relevant offices. PUP Leader, Francis Fonseca, explained first. FONSECA “We recognize the importance for us to remain vigilant and tough on crime; crime is a real problem in our society but certainly when the citizens of our country are of a growing view that these particular laws are being applied inequitably, we certainly have an obligation to look at those laws and so, our message today is that we have done our work; we have proposed specific amendments to these particular laws, the Firearms Act and the Crime Control Criminal Justice Act; we are going to make that available to the Government of Belize; we want to work with the government on this issue.”

Police News
Craftsman tools valued at five thousand dollars were stolen from a Belizean mechanic in the Joseito Layout area in Corozal Town sometime between 10pm on February 4 and 8am on February 5. According to the mechanic, 56-year-old, Howell Grange, a grey Nissan Urvan vehicle belonging to A & R Company was parked in his yard and the two containers where the tools were stored were inside the vehicle. As their investigation continues, Police is reminding the public that the purchasing of stolen goods is an offense. A food delivery guy was robbed on Wednesday night in the vicinity of Faber’s Road in Belize City. Reports are that 34-year-old, Nelson Tablada was riding a Lifan100 motorcycle on McVille Road on his way to make a food delivery when he was approached by two men of dark complexion. Tablada says one of the men was armed with a handgun and he was robbed of his motorcycle along with other items. The two robbers are being sought by the Police.

Prime Minister Says He Is Hurt by the Untoward Behaviour of Some Ministers
Following yesterday’s House meeting we met up with the Prime Minister and we asked him whether he faces a greater threat from the opposition, People’s United Party from within the UDP. RT. HON. DEAN BARROW “I don’t want to seem to be making light of the opposition; I don’t want to disrespect the opposition but it is a fair question and there are times indeed when I feel that my troubles are being caused more by the difficulties that the behavior or the actions of some of my ministers, the difficulties, that sort of behavior has resulted in. I am very worried indeed because I am absolutely convinced that the Government is doing a phenomenal job with respect to the kind of public spending I told you about, with respect to improvement in the quality of life, with respect to employment creation, with respect to the success against crime, with respect to being able to solve the huge issues of the day, BSCFA, ASR, the Super Bond, matters that are extremely critical and weighty in terms of the national interest and on that basis, I would have felt that notwithstanding the well-known difficulties of anybody trying to get a third term and which would have to be present in any case, I would have felt at this early juncture, we would have been able to feel pretty good about where we are; delivering goods and services, making sure that people can see tangible improvements but there is no doubt in my mind that the scandals have threatened to swamp us, they have threatened to cause us to come undone and naturally, that is a source of great regret because it is self-inflicted; I have been personally, extremely hurt because I at the top of the pyramid, run completely straight and that, I believe, is well known but when indeed, I have to defend or appear to be defending behavior that is the opposite of straight, my personal credibility takes a great hit.

Chamber Analyzes OSH Bill
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BCCI, says that it is reviewing the Occupational Safety and Health Bill that was recently tabled in the House of Representatives. The Chamber says that while it fully supports health and safety measures for employees, it is deeply concerned that the bill contains variation from the draft that was circulated and previously reviewed in 2010. Chamber Chief Executive Officer, Kim Aikman, told Love News what are the key areas that need revision. Kim Aikman “There are certain areas that need to be taken care of; we have the ergonomics area where chairs and tables need to be at specific heights and then we have in the construction industry, the helmets and the steel toe shoes and all that and as I said before, workers need to be protected and even without legislation, we have most of our members doing exactly what they need to be doing; we have members who insist on hard hats, members who insists on steel toe boots and we have safety measures in place by a lot of our big business.

Internal Audit at Corozal Town Council; How Much Money Went Missing?
In January we told you that the revenue department at the Corozal Town Council has been put on hold after it was discovered that thousands of dollars have been allegedly misappropriated from the revenue department. Three employees have not reported to work since the discovery and at the moment an internal audit is being conducted so that it can be verified the exact amount of monies missing and who is to blame. This evening when we attempted to get in contact with Corozal Town Mayor, Hilberto Campus, we were told he was meeting with the Council’s Administrator. An internal audit is currently ongoing and we were told that Mayor Campus would give a comment until the investigation concludes which at this point; no one knows when that will be. We’ll keep following this story.

Former Dean Files Lawsuit Against University of Belize
This afternoon Justice Courtney Ashton Abel heard the application by former Dean of the University of Belize, Abigial Mckay who is seeking permission to bring judicial review proceeding against the University for not renewing or extending her three year contract for two more years. Mckay claims she was wrongfully not extended for two years. Mckay’s contract ended on September 30, 2013 and her attorney, Audrey Matura Shepherd filed for a leave of application exactly three months after. Today we got both sides of the case including that of the defendants’ through their attorney, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow who used the University’s Staff and Faculty Handbook to have the application dismissed. AUDREY MATURA SHEPHERD “What happened is that Dr. McKay was hired under a five year contract, after three years it can be renewed; at the time, she was under the impression that based on the handbook, the very same handbook that they are saying has no value; the handbook states on page thirteen is that it is mandatory that Deans have a contract for five years but I just told you, the argument is that the handbook has no value. So, based on that, she has a legitimate expectation that she should come before the court and that she should have been given the opportunity to serve out her five years unless she resigned or they asked her to leave with good cause and she was never given any good time to leave.”

Contract for Road Project Awarded to Cisco Construction
A construction contract valued at almost four million dollars was signed earlier today, granting Cisco Construction the job to carry out part three of a four-phase road project in the Cayo District. Part three of the project involved the construction of a new high-embankment by-pass that will span across the Macal River near the Branch Mouth area to the north end of Joseph Andrews Drive in San Ignacio Town. The announcement came this evening from Belmopan, explaining that the scope of works under this contract includes the setting out of the new alignment, the clearing of existing vegetation and other obstacles from within the new reserve as well as the importation and compaction of suitable material, and the construction of a granular pavement layer. The project, which is divided into four phases and is being financed through a loan from the Caribbean development Bank, will also involve the excavation of a flood relief channel and the construction of reinforced concrete lined drains along the road alignment. Cisco Construction was awarded the contract as the company was reported to be the lowest evaluated bidder.

Closing Season for Lobster Draws Near
The Fisheries Department today announced that the close of the lobster season is drawing near which means that all the fishers who have their lobster traps in place under waters are obligated to collect them and put them on storage for next four months. Closing date for this season is Saturday, February 15 with a reopening scheduled for June 15, 2014. Any fishing for lobsters during this period will be deemed illegal and has a consequence for prosecution inside the courts under regulation 3 (1) (b) of the Fisheries Regulations, Chapter 210 of the subsidiary laws of Belize R.E. 2003. According to the Fisheries Department, their Enforcement Unit will be vigilant in ensuring that fishers comply with this order.


PUP Challenges the Government to Fix the Money Laundering and Terrorism Act
The Fire Arm Amendment Act (2008), which was instituted in effect to a surge in gun related crimes in the country, will return to the drawing board for revision. Such law is argued to go far-reaching legislation that runs the risk to impose great severity to law-abiding citizens. But...

Mr. Penner Talks to the Media First Time After the Scandal Broke up
Today, reports surfaced that Cayo North East Area Representative, Elvin Penner attended a meeting this afternoon, with the Prime Minister at his Whitfield Tower Office in Belize City. The ousted Minister of State has been seen out and about town regularly, but has declined media requests for interviews. Today,...

“He Missed the Point” Hon. Fonseca says About Minister Castro
Today at a press briefing, the leader of the Opposition spoke on Hon. Edmund Castor’s explanation of his personal use of public funds at yesterday’s House meeting. Today, the PUP leader said Castro got it wrong when he suggested that he was being blamed for the 76 cheques...

Evidence Found of Illegal Rosewood Cutting in the South
Yesterday at around 2:00 p.m. Rangers of SATIIM (Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management) discovered that about three miles from the mouth of the Sarstoon River and into a little area called Black Creek, a large quantity of Rosewood was being illegally extracted. We spoke with Greg Ch’oc, Executive...

Integrity Commission Formally Appointed
In an effort to combat Ministerial or official wrong doing, the Barrow Administration, with consultation with the Leader of the Opposition has constituted an Integrity Commission. The Integrity Commission, which has conceivably been lying dormant, is charged with requesting and overseeing the financial disclosures, this includes their finances, income,...

Firey Exchange Erupts in Assembly Over Various Corruption Allegations
Yesterday at the Sitting of the House of Representatives, all seemed to be going rather calmly; so much so that the leader of the opposition even mentioned that he received a text congratulating the House on the civility of the proceedings. But that calm would only last for a...

PUP Meets to Appeal for Two Major Amendments to the Law
The People’s United Party (PUP) presented some proposals for amendments to both the Firearms and Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act at a press briefing today in Belize City, in addition to some mentioned during the House meeting. Attorney and Party Communications Director Kareem Musa focused on the bail...

Not Easy to Make Guadalupe Park Public Says Lands Commissioner
Last week, a land dispute in Orange Walk Town was resolved amicably. The parcel of land in question was the Guadalupe Park and the two lots beside it which also belonged to the community. However, in 2012 the land was somehow privatized under the son of UDP standard bearer...

Minister Joy Grant’s House Burglarized
The home of Minister Joy Grant was burglarized and the thief or thieves made off with over $6000 worth of goods. The caretaker of the house which is located at Noralez Extension in Independence Village made the report that he went to check the home yesterday February 5th and...

Hon. Faber’s Back and Forths with the BNTU is Not Over
The back and forth between the BNTU and the Minister of Education is still not over. As discussions over salary adjustments continue, there continues to be apparent misunderstandings between the negotiating parties. In an interview given by the Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber to Love FM on Tuesday...

The Chamber of Commerce Explain Their Sight of the OSH Bill
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, today released its position on the Occupational Safety and Health Bill. Such Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives in January and seeks to secure the welfare of workers on the job site, as well as persons other than workers against...

USA and UB Students Take Joint Initiative to Train for Better Health
The University of Belize hosted a health fair today. The initiative was that of the Faculty of Nursing which collaborated with a team from the United States. The team of medical professionals and university lecturers and students offered information on diet, diseases, and other health related issues to those...

The Guardian

The end of Offshore Banking Sector
“We can kick and scream, ultimately we have to comply.” - PM Hon. Dean Barrow That was Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s assessment of the Bills which were passed at the National Assembly on Wednesday February 5th in order for Belize to be compliant with international standards and regulations as it relates to the offshore banking industry. The amendments to become compliant came in the form of Bills which went through their three readings at the National Assembly and are as follows: | (1) A bill to amend the companies act chapter 250 of the substantive laws of Belize revised edition 2000-2003 to make provisions for the mandatory registration of beneficial owners of registered companies. (2) A bill to amend the domestic banks and financial institutions act number 11 of 2012 to make provisions for the prohibitions against licensing shell banks, remove reference to currency transaction reporting, enhance information gathering powers of the Central Bank. (3) A bill for an act to amend the Financial Intelligence Unit act chapter 138 (02) to provide for measures to ensure compliance with international standards on operational independence.

Audrey eats Crow
Audrey Matura Shepherd has had to retract her statements and apologized to UDP Belize Rural Central hopeful, Beverly Castillo. The exact text of her apology is as follows: PRESS RELEASE From Audrey Matura Shepherd Belize City, On 30 and 31 December 2013 I made certain statements on Channel 5 news and in the Amandala. In these statements I implied that Mrs. Beverly Castillo abused her office as CEO in the Ministry of Natural Resources in order to facilitate title to a specific property for her mother and son. These statements were unfounded and Mrs. Castillo has consistently denied that she abused her office in the manner that I implied and I fully accept her denial. I retract the statements made and apologise to her for the harm done to her name and reputation as a result of my statements.

Gino Peck sets a precedent
Corporal Gino Peck, the officer who was charged and convicted of firearm offenses, has escaped jail time, and in the wake of that decision, there is the fear that a vacuum in the Firearms Act now appears to exist. Peck was convicted in a trial before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith, in a case prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecution, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal on Monday, January 27, 2014. Readers may remember that on January 21, 2012, the Gang Suppression Unit searched his house and found 8 live rounds of .45 ammunition, 29 live rounds of 9mm ammunition, 21 twelve-gauge cartridges, 4 live rounds of .38 ammunition, and 2 empty Glock magazines. Because of the discovery, the GSU charged him with 2 counts of keeping unlicensed ammunition, and 1 count of keeping prohibited ammunition. He was tried and convicted, which caused outrage amongst the rank and file of the Police Department and the general public. Many believe that he should not have been charged as a civilian because he was exempted under the law, while others say that because of his track record and reputation as a good officer, his version of the events should have been accepted. Peck has never denied having possession of the items; his defence was that he was keeping them for operational purposes, in case the department called for his services on short notice. There were also rumours circulating that Peck supposedly was targeted by Superintendent Marco Vidal, the commander of the GSU, in some personal vendetta for a past grievance.

Aragon secures the OW East
Orange Walk East is returning to the United Democratic Party; that was proven on Sunday February 2nd when 2,384 residents of that constituency came out to cast their votes to select a new Standard Bearer for that division. When the convention came to a conclusion, Elodio Aragon Jr. had emerged victorious, he had secured 1,327 votes while David Constanza received 1,033 votes. There were 24 spoilt ballots. Immediately after the ballots were counted, UDP Party Chairman, Alberto August made the announcement to a throng of supporters of both Aragon and Constanza as they waited outside the Louisiana Government School to hear the outcome. Shortly thereafter, Aragon was sworn in as the Standard Bearer and Constanza spoke to the UDP supporters. He thanked them for coming out and explained that he stands ready to work with Aragon to bring the East back to the UDP. For his part, Aragon extended the request that the campaigners, voters and Constanza to now join him in the work to secure a victory for the UDP in the constituency.

Palacio, Why Isn’t It about SALARY ADJUSTMENTS?
Whenever the leaders of the country’s biggest unions meet with Prime Minister Barrow, the Financial Secretary opens all the books. They get to know exactly how the economy is doing and they get the latest information on Government revenues. The last meeting with union leaders and Prime Minister Barrow was Thursday, January 30th, and once again they were updated on the performance of the economy and revenue collection. We are told that there was positive reaction to the numbers revealed. According to someone with knowledge of the event, the only friction was a request for a “floor” by a representative from the Belize National Teachers Union. A request which Prime Minister Barrow could not grant since there is too much outstanding data to make a commitment before the financial year ends. Bottom line is; teachers and public officers have a lot to be happy about. At the House meeting held on Wednesday, PM Barrow noted that the public officers and teachers will get no less than a 6% salary increase, 2% by way of the yearly salary adjustment and the 4% from revenues collected. The BNTU executives do not want the public to know of the great fortune coming their way. Truth be told, the fabulous news they received in the most recent meeting with Prime Minister Barrow has not even been relayed to the majority of Belize’s teachers. Why hasn’t it?

Gaining Perspective
A visitor to Belize listening to the chatter of talk shows and other media may get the impression that corruption is at an all time high in Belize when in fact the corruption “scandals” that are at the heart of the chatter are fairly low level. What is at a high level is decisive action from the very top to deal with any instances that immerge. Most of the instances are examples of long standing practices that jar because the UDP is held to higher standards than the PUP. They actually present an opportunity to clean up these practices through institutional change but for that to happen we must deal with the root causes. The issuance of a passport is a case in point. It is common knowledge that passports have been illegally issued for many years whilst Penner was only made a Junior Minister recently. It therefore stands to reason that he was not the mastermind behind the latest “Citizen Kim” incident and did not force public officers to actually produce the illegal document. Penner must face the legal and other consequences of a relatively minor infraction of falsely claiming to know Kim but the public officers who actually produced the false documents cannot escape culpability for their far more serious actions.

Coast Guard Boat collision claims Life
Benjamin Jerome Gentle Jr., a 20 year-old resident of Crooked Tree Village, died in an accident between 2 Coast Guard boats which injured 10 others on January 31. The Boats were ferrying people across the flooded causeway as has been happening for weeks since it became flooded from the excess rains affecting the country last year. Ladyville police found his body at around 6:30 a.m., inside one of the boats with huge chop wounds to his shoulder, under his right arm, and the right side of his lower back. The preliminary finding suggests that he got sliced to death from the propeller blade of the other boat engine when the two vessels collided. From what police have been able to piece together, at around 5:30 a.m. the two boats were ferrying people across the lagoon, and one of the drivers lost control of his vessel, causing it to slam into the other boat. The force of the larger boat caused it to ride over the side of the smaller boat, where Benjamin Gentle and the other 10 students were. That’s when the propeller came close enough to slice Gentle to death. Commander Elton Bennett, the Vice-Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard has told the media that the two drivers of the Coast Guard Boats were approaching each other to make an exchange, and while they were close enough, one of the boats suffered an engine malfunction which cause the driver to lose control, and that’s when the accident happened. He added that he finds it questionable that they were trying to do a transfer while en route and not at a drop off point, which is not normal operating procedure. At this time, the matter is being investigated by the Belize Port Authority, the Police Department as well as the Coast Guard.

Alrick Smith Convicted of Shooting at a Police Officer
On Tuesday, February 4th, 29-year-old Ladyville resident Alrick Smith was sentenced to serve 6 months in prison after he was convicted of aggravated assault upon a police officer. On May 11th, 2011 Smith was accused along with two others of stealing cattle from a farm in Isabella Bank. Police Officer Norman Anthony was assigned to respond to the crime in progress around 2 p.m. that day. He met a van in the May Pen area that fit the description of the one the cattle thieves were in. As it approached he ordered the driver to stop and come out. The driver refused; instead, he reversed the van and headed back towards Isabella Bank. Anthony fired a warning shot with his 12 gauge shot gun towards the van then set chase after. Anthony caught up with the van at the Flowers Bank junction and fired a shot which punctured the rear driver’s side wheel. The van came to stop and the driver, who Anthony recognized as Smith, ran into the bushes. Anthony says that Smith pulled out a black firearm from his left pants pocket and fired a shot towards him. Anthony took cover and Smith managed to escape but was later arrested and charged for shooting at the officer. In Court Smith was unrepresented. He implicated himself at the scene but claims it was not him who fired any shot at the officer. He said he was sitting in the passenger side of the van and there was no way Anthony could have seen any firearm in his hand. According to PC Anthony, he had known Smith for two years prior to the shooting incident and he had seen him earlier that day.

Aragon secures the OW East
Orange Walk East is returning to the United Democratic Party; that was proven on Sunday February 2nd when 2,384 residents of that constituency came out to cast their votes to select a new Standard Bearer for that division. When the convention came to a conclusion, Elodio Aragon Jr. had emerged victorious, he had secured 1,327 votes while David Constanza received 1,033 votes. There were 24 spoilt ballots. Immediately after the ballots were counted, UDP Party Chairman, Alberto August made the announcement to a throng of supporters of both Aragon and Constanza as they waited outside the Louisiana Government School to hear the outcome. Shortly thereafter, Aragon was sworn in as the Standard Bearer and Constanza spoke to the UDP supporters. He thanked them for coming out and explained that he stands ready to work with Aragon to bring the East back to the UDP. For his part, Aragon extended the request that the campaigners, voters and Constanza to now join him in the work to secure a victory for the UDP in the constituency. This latest convention has been the largest one on record this year for the UDP. On Saturday February 8th, an endorsement convention will be held for Juan De Dios Moguel to be the Standard Bearer of Orange Walk South in August Pine Ride and on Sunday there will be a convention to select a Standard Bearer in Toledo West in San Antonio Village.

Palacio, Why Isn’t It about SALARY ADJUSTMENTS?
Whenever the leaders of the country’s biggest unions meet with Prime Minister Barrow, the Financial Secretary opens all the books. They get to know exactly how the economy is doing and they get the latest information on Government revenues. The last meeting with union leaders and Prime Minister Barrow was Thursday, January 30th, and once again they were updated on the performance of the economy and revenue collection. We are told that there was positive reaction to the numbers revealed. According to someone with knowledge of the event, the only friction was a request for a “floor” by a representative from the Belize National Teachers Union. A request which Prime Minister Barrow could not grant since there is too much outstanding data to make a commitment before the financial year ends. Bottom line is; teachers and public officers have a lot to be happy about. At the House meeting held on Wednesday, PM Barrow noted that the public officers and teachers will get no less than a 6% salary increase, 2% by way of the yearly salary adjustment and the 4% from revenues collected. The BNTU executives do not want the public to know of the great fortune coming their way. Truth be told, the fabulous news they received in the most recent meeting with Prime Minister Barrow has not even been relayed to the majority of Belize’s teachers. Why hasn’t it?

Security personnel will receive full benefits and other jobs says Mayor Darrell Bradley
In late December of last year, the Belize City Council took the decision that it would be outsourcing the security section of the council that is currently being done internally. That meant that 26 persons would have to find another job. Last week Friday, January 31 was the deadline but before the terminations could be executed the Christian Workers Union who claims to represent the employees intervened. They were asking for fair treatment of the employees. Speaking to the media on Monday, February 3rd, Mayor Darrell Bradley gave his assurances that employees would be fairly treated. They would receive all their entitlements and any miscalculation by the council would be rectified and they would be paid off in full. More than that, he assured that 20 of the 26 security guards will be taken on by the new contractor who will be offering the services to the council. The other six will either be absorbed into other areas of service in the council or they would not be taken on because of discipline issues that they have with the council.

Citrus Industry ruffled - farmers not being paid
The shamelessly embattled citrus industry, which has had years of disputes between the Citrus Growers Association and Banks Holdings, or the CGA and Henry Canton, is once again having difficulties. Farmers are not being paid for their weekly delivery of their oranges, since the beginning of this crop season, which began a few weeks ago. The CGA held an emergency General Meeting on Saturday, February 2, where about almost 200 growers showed up to get an update from the executive what the problem is for them to be paid on a timely basis. It turns out that the problem is that there are audit reports to be done for the Citrus Products of Belize Limited, the company which buys the growers' oranges and produces the juices, and so the company's bankers have refused to release funds, which would then be used to pay the farmers to time. The main speakers at the meeting were Eccleston Irving, the Chairman of the CGA; Henry Anderson, the CEO of the CGA, who also sits on the Board of Directors of the CPBL, and Denzil Jenkins, the Chairman of the Belize Citrus Growers Investment Company Limited, the growers' company which has a 51% majority shareholdings in CPBL.

Police and Minister Elrington Hold Computer Classes for Mahogany Area Women
The Mahogany Police Sub Precinct is teaming up with Hon. Wilfred Elrington and the Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence to provide computer literacy training for mothers from the Mahogany Street area. The project is the brain child of Sergeant Brent Hamilton, Head of the Mahogany Street Police Precinct. Sgt. Hamilton hosts a Cadet Corps for young boys in the area. He says that parents of his cadets have visited the station numerous times to ask for assistance with homework assignments that must be completed on the computer. In many cases, the visits were made not because the parents do not have access to computers but simply because they do not know how to use them. Hamilton says that some parents have even purchased computers but cannot operate them. These were the factors that drove him to look for partners to provide computer literacy classes for mothers of his cadets and other women from the area.

Get moving Belize
On Monday February 3rd, the Belize City Council officially launched a fitness program called "Get Moving Belize". According to Mayor Darrell Bradley, the program will see a partnering between Body 2000, the Belize Diabetes Association and the Belize City Council to promote healthy lifestyles for Belize city residents through exercise. Every morning from Monday to Thursday for the next three months, residents are encouraged to come out to the Battlefield Park, the Memorial Park and the Maud Williams high school basketball court from 5 to 6 in the morning to exercise. Mayor Bradley says the purpose is two fold: to promote healthy lifestyles as well as to encourage the use of public spaces in Belize City. "We are going to have zumba classes; we are going to be doing a weigh in, so that people can actually monitor their progress. We are going to be working with the Diabetes Association to provide continuous diabetes, pressure and sugar testing, so that we are actually tracing individuals and their making improvement," "We are talking about building a better city and important to that is building better citizens and building positive values and building a sense of wellness and welfare," stated the mayor.

Illegal Waste Dumping Announcement from the Belize Solid Waste Management Authority
The Belize Solid Waste Management Authority (BSWaMA) hereby informs the general public that the Belize City Transfer Station located at Mile 3 on the George Price Highway is now fully operational. Note that the main entrance to the Transfer Station is located adjacent to the Belize Waste Control compound. The opening hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday to Friday, and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. The Belize Solid Waste Management Authority and the Belize City Council hereby ask the public to refrain from dumping garbage at the entrance of the old dump site that has now been closed. Anyone caught dumping garbage at the said location will be issued a fine of $2,000.00. We take this opportunity to ask motorists and commuters not to litter the highways. Keep any garbage in your vehicles or public transportation and dispose of it properly upon arrival at the final destination. There is only one Belize so do your part and help us to keep it clean.

Diabetes on the Rise
President of the Belize Diabetes Association, Anthony Castillo, told a gathering at the Battlefield Park on the occasion of the Belize City Council's launch of their 'Get Moving Belize' campaign, that diabetes is on the rise in Belize. According to Castillo, since last year November 14th, the International Diabetes Federation brought out worldwide statistics including statistics for Belize in which it pointed out at 15.8% of the adult population of Belize between the ages of 20 and 79 is affected by diabetes. "This is alarming for us, with more people suffering from diabetes it means that there are less people to form part of the work force and we need healthy people to develop the country," stated Castillo. Diabetes is a debilitating disease that more than causing serious health complications that can eventually lead to death if it goes untreated, is also a very expensive disease to treat. People are predisposed to it via heredity or acquire it through lifestyle choices. Castillo says that the Diabetes Association's goal as a support group is to educate the public about the disease to prevent people from acquiring it and to help those with the disease to learn to live with it.

For all the marbles this coming Saturday
The 2013 Opening Season of the Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup will come to an end on Saturday February 8, 2014, out at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in the City of Belmopan. This is the second and final game in the championship series between the Belmopan Bandits and FC Belize and this one is for all the marbles, as the winner will be crowned the champions and the loser will have to play the brides-maid roll. On Sunday February 2, 2014, at the MCC Grounds, the visiting Belmopan Bandits and the host team FC Belize played to a 1-1 draw. The visiting Belmopan Bandits were the first to get onto the scoreboard when Deon McCaulay scored his team’s only goal of the game in the 5th minute of play to give it a 1-0 lead. The first half of the game ended 1-0 in favour of the Belmopan Bandits. At the start of the second half of the game, the Belmopan Bandits enjoyed a 1-0 lead and its defence did a decent job of protecting its goal. However, the offence of FC Belize was finally able to penetrate the Belmopan Bandits defence and got into the Belmopan goal area where Mark “Kello” Leslie was able to score the equalising goal for his team in the 62nd minute of play for a 1-1 draw. At the end of the long whistle, game one in the championship series had indeed ended in a 1-1 draw.

Albert Constituency youth basketball tourney to start
The Albert UDP Committee will be hosting a Youth Basketball Competition for boys living in the Albert Constituency and are between the ages of 11 – 15 years old. The competition is scheduled to commence on February 15, 2014 and teams are quickly forming. Boys living in the Albert constituency that are interested in participating in the competition can pick up application forms from Ms. Mary Guzman at the Youth for the Future Secretariat on Regent Street (Old Hotel Mopan) and at the National Sports Council Office at Rogers Stadium. The Youth Tournament will be played only on Saturdays and is being sponsored by the Hon. Herman Longsworth, Area Representative for the Albert Constituency and the Minister of State will direct responsibility for Youth and Sports.

Elite Basketball competition to commence this Saturday
The National Elite Basketball League is pleased to announce that the 2014 competition is scheduled to commence on Friday February 7 at 9:00pm at the Bird’s Isle in Belize City. According to the Commissioner of the Elite League a short Opening Ceremony will take place before tipoff time at Bird’s Isle. The teams that will participate in this year’s competition are, Belize City No Limit, San Pedro Tigersharks, Belmopan Bandits, Orange Walk Running Rebels, Corozal Heats, Cayo Western Ballaz, Dangriga Warriors and Toledo Diplomats. The games are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays and will be played at prime venues across the country. On Friday February 9, in game one Belize City No Limit will go up against San Pedro Tigersharks at Bird’s Isle and at the UB Gymnasium in Belmopan at 9:00 pm it will be the Belmopan Bandits against the Orange Walk running Rebels. The competition will then continue on Saturday February 8 with two more games on the schedule. In game one out at the Andres Campus civic Centre at 9:00 pm it will be Corozal Heats against Cayo Western Ballaz and at the Why-Not Island in Dangriga Town, it will be the Dangriga Warriors against the Toledo Diplomats.

Manzanero charged for Murder
Wanted fugitive, 30 year-old Kevin “Migit” Manzanero, who police were seeking for about 6 weeks, has finally been arrested and charged with murder for the shooting death of 56 year-old Freddy Lopez Sr. Manzanero is one of the 2 suspects who police wanted to question in relation to the shooting death of the San Ignacio Resident who was killed in front of his wife, daughter-in-law, and 2 grand-daughters on December 23, 2013. Readers may remember that on that day, Lopez was escorting his family home in the Kontiki Area of San Ignacio when they were approached by 2 men. One of them was armed with a handgun, and they tried to rob the family. Fredy Lopez Sr. picked up a rock because his family was in danger, especially his wife who was being physically restrained by the other unarmed man. The man with the firearm saw what he intended to do, and that man shot Lopez in the chest, and they immediately ran off. Lopez died in the presence of his family on the spot.

Free Education for the Needy on the Horizon - MOE to Standardize High School Fees and Pay for CXCs
Now that the teachers have concluded their series of rallies, the Ministry of Education hopes to turn the page and focus on much needed education reform. On Tuesday morning, February 4th, the Ministry held a breakfast briefing with the press to discuss the next phases in the roll out of the Secondary School Finance Reform as well as new initiatives such as the capping and standardization of secondary school fees and subsidizing of CSEC/CXC examinations. The Secondary School Finance Reform is being phased out over a seven year period. The measure is expected to level the playing field for secondary education institutions in the country by allocating government funds to schools based on student enrollment rather than number of teachers. Schools will receive a set amount of money per student. They will receive more if they accept students with less financial resources. They will also receive more if they enroll students who need more academic assistance. Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education, David Leacock, says sometimes equality is not justice. He says, “There are some people who need more help than others.” Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, says, “We are saying to the schools; if you take students from poor economic background and if you take students who have been struggling with academics then we will give you more because they need more help.”

Opening New Markets of Trade for Belize
A national consultation on measures to improve Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures SPS in Belize was held last week Thursday at the George Price Center for Peace and Development. A team working out of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture IICA Office in Barbados took to the podium to make a presentation on a special Caribbean Project, which seeks to benefit Belize and other countries in the Caribbean. The Project, ‘Support to the Caribbean Forum of ACP States in the Implementation of Commitments Undertaken Under the Economic Partnership Agreement for Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures,’ hereafter referred to as the SPS Project, was signed into effect by IICA and the European Union EU on August 24, 2013. This 42 month project comes at a cost of Euro 11.7 million and is to benefit CARIFORUM Countries. Three of the main components of the SPS Project are Legislation, Coordination mechanisms and capacity building, which are greatly needed to improve both sanitary and phytosanitary measures. These CARIFORUM countries are comprised of Belize, Antigua & Barbuda, The Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, the Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago.

Oil Money opens opportunities for Belizean Students
The Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust signed a cooperation agreement on Monday of this week with the La Immaculada Credit Union at the Belize Natural Energy main office in Belmopan. With the signing of documents by the General Manager of the La Immaculada Credit Union, Yolanda Gomez, followed by other leaders of the Credit Union based in Orange Walk, a total of 1.5 Million dollars will be made available as part of a second round of funds to be released to students aspiring for higher education at secondary, junior college and even university levels in Belize. This brings to a total of 2.5 million dollars that the Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust has invested in Credit Unions around the Country since the inception of a program that is preparing students and “unlocking potential.” A release from the Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust states that the further expansion of its National Student Loan Program is a partnership with local Credit Unions that started as a pilot initiative in April 2009 when the trust placed an initial investment of one million dollars. This pilot yielded loan facilities to over 600 Belizean students, pursuing secondary and tertiary education at local institutions throughout Belize.

PUC Rejects BWS Request for 16% Rate Increase
On December 31st the Belize Water Services Limited submitted a request to the Public Utilities Commission for a 16.25 percent increase in water rates for the Annual Tariff Review covering the period April 1st, 2014 to March 31st, 2015. The Public Utilities Commission has rejected that request, opting to instead approve a 6.4 percent increase. The 6.4 percent rate increase approved by the Commission is an initial decision. Rudolph Williams Jr., Director of the Water and Waste Water Sector in the PUC, explained the Commission’s decision on Monday, February 3rd. Williams said the Belize Water Services Limited presented an investment plan for $25.679 million in the 2014-2015 period. He said, “The Commission felt that some of the investments could be delayed to the next full tariff period and some of them were not necessary at all.” Therefore, the Commission approved an investment plan of $14.3 million. Williams said, “Based on our assessment, we believe the rates and investment plan approved by the Commission is a realistic one and B.W.S. will be able to execute it in the next tariff period.”

Remembrance of Consie Locke
1. Imagine this. Cons is standing outside -- where she can talk -- looking on, as this Remembrance is about to be given. She turns to you, standing beside her and opens up those big, bold eyes. She flashes her familiar, mischievous smile and says: “mek ah yer weh fool dis one he wan seh”! That is Cons! 2. Although her favourite singer was Jim Reeves it is Matt Monro or Ray Conniff, among the artists of her generation, who comes to mind in remembering Cons. They come to mind for the evocation in the title of the hit song “Love is a many splendoured thing.” Because there was such splendour in the abundant love that Cons gave to so many persons and things. Hers was not a contained or subdued love. It was a robust, earthy, expressive, supportive and brilliant love. 3. Her greatest love was for her family: her late husband, Ray, and daughters Barbara, Phyllis, Sandra and Diana. And her big sister, Sister Elma. They meant so much to her and she was fiercely protective and caring for them. Her family returned that love in equal measure and intensity. It was truly wonderful to see the way that Cons and her husband and children continuously bonded. They shared life.

Belize National History Association Formed
A Belize National History Association BHA was recently formed in Belmopan. It is an attempt to gather Belize’s collective memory and to encompass as many people as possible. To begin that process, several members of BHA have been elected to the Executive Board at the George Price Center for Peace and Development. Having evolved from a National History Commission, the BHA has now gained the services of Francis Humphreys as Chairman, Gian Vasquez as Vice Chairman, Myrna Manzanares as Senior Member and Ifasina Efunyemi as Junior Member. Also elected to the Executive of the BHA was Fred Hunter as a Senior Member. The new Executive Board to the Belize History Association is now tasked as a semi-autonomous body to chart the way forward to improve the scholarship of Belizean History and come up with a strategic plan by April of this year, which will guide their collective work during the next two years. Meanwhile; the long term plan of BHA is to put together and write a general History of Belize.

Sol Releases New Oils for Older and High Mileage Vehicles
If you have a vehicle that is more than nine years old or has more than 75,000 miles on the dashboard then Sol Belize has a lubricant made especially for you. The new Shell Helix High Mileage motor vehicle lubricants promise to extend the engine life of older and high mileage vehicles. On Wednesday, February 5th, Sol Belize launched the Shell Helix HX7, HX5 and HX3 high mileage lubricants. Michael Merritt, Lubricant Technical Advisor for the Sol Group, held a familiarity session with Sol employees and lubricant wholesalers and retailers. Merritt says the Shell Helix high mileage line was created because “in this global economy people cannot afford to just be changing vehicles.” He says, “The automotive industry expects that after 75,000 miles a vehicle will start experiencing the effects of aging.”

Wesley College and Gwen Lizarraga in the finals of Central Region Football competition
The Central Region Secondary Schools Football Competition is fast winding down at the MCC Grounds with the commencement of the championship round. On Monday February 3, in the first game of the female competition, Wesley College and Gwen Lizarraga High School played to a 0-0 draw. In the first male game, Wesley College and Gwen Lizarraga High School played to a 1-1 draw. The goal for Wesley College was scored by Kenyon Lewis while the goal for Gwen Lizarraga High was scored by Clinton Dawson. On Friday January 31, in the female semi-final game, Gwen Lizarraga High School eliminated St. Catherine Academy by the score of 2-0. The goals for Gwen Lizarraga High School were scored by Tyra Moreira and Kishay Bevans. In the male semi-final game, Gwen Lizarraga High School eliminated Anglican Cathedral College by the score of 3-0. The goals for Gwen Lizarraga were scored by Albert Davis, Clinton Dawson and Allan Castillo.

Wesley College girls and boys leads in Central Region high schools softball competition
The 2013-2014 Central Region Secondary Schools Softball Competition commenced on Tuesday January 28, 2014, at Rogers Stadium. In the game played in the male competition, Wesley College blasted Gwen Lizarraga High School by the score of 23-11. The winning pitcher was Keeron Young and the losing pitcher was Devontae Middleton. In the first of two female games played on Wednesday January 29, Ladyville Technical High School edged Gwen Lizarraga High School by the score of 5-4. The winning pitcher was Amber Wade and the losing pitcher was Ashley Lucas. In the second game, St. Catherine Academy won over Excelsior High School via the default route. On Thursday January 30, in the male competition, Ladyville Technical High School won a lopsided game over Anglican Cathedral College by a score of 24-12. The winning pitcher was Issac Dominguez and the losing pitcher was Keyvon Evans.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Stolen Boat
Sea Prowler was stolen last night from Tsunami dock in Caye Caulker. Any one knowing the whereabouts or seen this vessel kindly contact Neno Rosado as urgently as possible at 610-3151


Caye Coffee, Construction and $1 Cotton Candy in San Pedro, Belize
I’m a giant fan of coffee. And, after visiting a coffee finca (plantation) in the mountains of Colombia (how very Juan Valdez of me, don’t you think?), spending some serious time in the Rum, Cigar and Coffee House in downtown San Pedro and in Starbucks around the world, I fancy myself quite the know-it-all on the subject. Robusto. Arabica. Elevations. A “coffee nose”. I’ve got the terminology down pat. So what if I like my coffee with EXTRA powdered non-dairy creamer and lots of sugar? To completely switch subjects now…I took a walk up the beach yesterday evening and noticed two construction projects. One is a sea wall being built right in the middle of town where BC’s Bar used to be… Sigh…I guess the big condo project has officially started. Here is what we are going to get smack dab in the middle of town. ALSO, Sandbar (formerly bar & restaurant) has been closed for a few months now and is working slowly to remodel as a hostel. Total change of plans! Here is what it looks like so far.

Iron like a lion in Zion – Belize says Happy Birthday Bob “Nesta” Marley!
Bob Marley was born Robert Nesta Marley on Feb. 6, 1945 in Saint Ann, Jamaica. His father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a white Englishman and his mother, Cedelia Booker, was a black Jamaican. Bob Marley died of cancer in Miami, FL on May 11, 1981. Marley had 12 children, four by his wife Rita, and was a devout Rastafarian. Bob Marley’s father died when he was 10 years old, and his mother moved with him to Kingston’s Trenchtown neighborhood after his death. As a young teen, he befriended Bunny Wailer, and they learned to play music together. At 14, Marley dropped out of school to learn the welding trade, and spent his spare time jamming with Bunny Wailer and ska musician Joe Higgs. One of the 20th century’s most charismatic and challenging performers, Bob Marley’s renown now transcends the role of reggae luminary: he is regarded as a cultural icon who implored his people to know their history “coming from the root of King David, through the line of Solomon,” as he sang on “Blackman Redemption”; Bob urged his listeners to check out the “Real Situation” and to rebel against the vampiric “Babylon System”.

Belize forecast – bikini weather
If votes had been cast and decisions made based on today’s weather, Belize could have made the 10 Countries With Perfect Climates list. Perfect weather, hot and sunny with a few fluffy clouds and no real wind. When I got the email from my Helena Montana Weather man this morning telling me he was suffering -27 temperatures and wishing he was in San Pedro, I could not resist writing him back and mentioning the Belize forecast was bikini weather how amazing our weather was. I decided to send him the photo collage below from a few recent stock pics and and a promise to unchain myself from my desk for a break and go enjoy some sunshine and a cocktail in his honor. Plus I wanted to snap a few more pictures for today’s post.

Exploring new development in rural Small Businesses
A capacity building workshop, is being executed by SBDCBelize Beltraide with approved funds from Compete Caribbean, is taking place in the Placencia Village in collaboration with the Placencia Village Council, from Feb 3 – 7, 2014. In light of upcoming investment developments to the south of Belize, these workshops were geared towards targeting new and existing entrepreneurs in order to enhance their business skills, professional services and standards. Participants, who comprised of entrepreneurs and businesspeople from Placencia and the surrounding area, spent one week learning various business centered topics. These topics included: Entrepreneurship; Basic Business Plan Development; Costing and Pricing; Record Keeping; Developing Customer Service; Logistics; and Marketing and Sales.

San Pedro’s Best Food Spots
San Pedro has the best restaurants in Belize, period. This is due to the fact that Ambergris Caye is Belize’s most popular tourist destination and it has been that way for many, many, many years. There are two other main factors that support their food scene, one, they have a large expat community (see: why retire in Belize) and two, compared to the other locations, the standard of living is much higher for the locals (San Pedranos). But enough socio-economic drama, let me introduce my recommendations for the best food spots in San Pedro.

Homemade Waffles
2 c. white whole wheet flour ˝ c. all-purrpus flour 1 ˝ Tbsp. bakyun' powd'r Ľ tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. flaxseet meal 2 Tbsp. finelee groun walnuts 1 tsp. cinnamon 3 egg yolks 2 2/3 c. skim milk ˝ c. canola earl 1 tsp. vanilla 3 egg whites Method: 1. N' a large bowl mix togeth'r white whole wheet flour, all-purrpus flour, bakyun' powd'r, salt, flaxseet meal, groun walnuts, an' cinnamon.

Biscuit Mix Rolls (Cinnamon Er Pizza)
Wit Valantines a'kummin up I berrowet un idee frum my daught'r-n'-law ta shape t'rolls like heerts. Y'all a'ken use t'same recipe ta roll 'um up like reglar cinnamon buns. Click here fer t'large biscuit mix recipe. Ingredyints: 3 cups biscuit mix 1 cup milk 2 Tbsp soft butt'r fer spreddin 1/2 cup brown sugar an' 1 tsp cinnamon fer spreddin 1/2 cup icyun' sugar mixet wit 1 1/2 Tbsp milk fer drizzle

International Sources

Nearly 20% Of Seats On US Flights Are Empty
It may feel like every flight these days is packed to the gills — and that's certainly the way airlines want it — but nearly 20% of seats on American domestic flights go unfilled. According to newly published numbers from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the passenger load factor for flights in the U.S. is 83.8%. While lower than you may expect, that makes U.S. flights the most crowded in the world. China isn't far behind with a load factor of 80.3%, Brazil climbed from 71.8% in 2012 to 76.% in 2013, and Japan reported by far the lowest figure, just 64.3%. The global rate for the domestic market is 79.9%.

Spirit carries only 1 percent of U.S. fliers, yet has significant name recognition thanks to provocative advertising. Baldanza has increased the number of lines on Spirit's route map by 73 since 2010, while doubling the size of Spirit's fleet. He undercuts other airlines on base ticket prices, but turns a profit by packing more passengers into planes and then charging them extra for almost everything, except the cabin air. It's a strategy that consistently produces one of the best profit margins in the industry. Passengers don't necessarily trust Spirit either. They are attracted by low fares but then compelled to play a game of dodging fees. Some drive to the airport to avoid paying up to $16.99 extra each way to book online. Customer service is notoriously lacking, something Baldanza attributes to keeping costs low so tickets are affordable. Each boarding pass printed by an agent at the ticket counter costs $10. A bottle of water, free on most airlines, costs $3. Spirit has 24 different types of baggage fees, including ones for placing a carry-on bag in the overhead bin. So, it's not surprising that Baldanza sees revenue opportunity where others see controversy. Would he allow in-flight cellphone conversations if the government lifts its prohibition? "Sure," he says without hesitation. "If we can make money at it."

USA official will visit Guatemala and Honduras
Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) William R. Brownfield will visit Guatemala and Honduras February 9-12. In Guatemala, he is expected to meet with President Otto Perez Molina and several members of his cabinet to discuss citizen security cooperation under the Department of State’s Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). As part of the U.S. commitment to support Guatemala’s efforts to strengthen the rule of law, Assistant Secretary Brownfield will also meet with Commissioner Ivan Velazquez of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and announce additional U.S. assistance.

Locals travel to Belize for birding
Alas, we enjoy the tune only for a few warm months before the thrush heads south again. This year, I got to see one in January — but it was in Belize in Central America. On Jan. 11, five of us traveled to Belize. Not only did we experience the rich diversity of bird species, but we also spent time with local Audubon members conducting bird surveys, providing eBird data collection training and discussing ideas for signage at their wildlife sanctuaries. Upon our arrival at Black Orchid Resort, we were greeted by a pileated-like lineated woodpecker and knew immediately this was a great spot to begin our adventure. Early next morning, we were in a boat on the Belize River. Accompanied by Matt Jeffery of International Alliances, we watched red-lored parrots and Montezuma oropendolas fly overhead, while raucous groove-billed anis, colorful black-cowled orioles and other tropical species foraging along the shore. For most of us, these were previously unseen “life” birds. Many more were to come.

Ignacio volunteers serve abroad in Belize and Jamaica during Christmas break
Thirty-seven Loyola University New Orleans students and staff went to Kingston, Jamaica to work with elderly and children with disabilities, while others traveled to the Mayan villages of Belize, to serve others for 10 days without electricity or running water. Their efforts over the Christmas break are a part of Loyola’s Ignacio Volunteer Program. “This Belizean adventure urges me to not take any of my fortunes for granted and to evaluate my misfortunes with a wider lens,” said Loyola sophomore Eddy Schneider. “The Belizean village was so unique and amazing in its own way. In particular what stood out to me was the way that the people in the village all worked together to make the village a better place.” In the village of San Jose, six student-athletes from the Loyola baseball team, along with their coach Doug Faust, shared their baseball skills with young Mayan children whose first-ever experience with baseball was when Loyola baseball players taught them last winter. Bringing bats, gloves, baseballs and other equipment that was donated by the team for the entire camp of more than 130 children, each afternoon was spent playing tee ball and trying to catch fly balls and grounders.

Former Crestview pastor's Belize mission makes a difference
When the Rev. Heath Burchett announced in 2008 he'd been called to another church, First United Methodist Church members were heartbroken. However, loss of the church's young youth minister and associate pastor and his energetic wife, Amanda, was another ministry's gain. Since leaving Crestview, the Burchetts have been building a mission the couple founded in Belize City, Belize.

The grand tour of Central America
It is exciting coming over to Central America, not knowing much about the region. It has been a steep learning curve though, taking a tour group to places I had never been before. They knew it was my first tour and were very understanding. It has been really exciting, like leading an expedition. My favourite place so far has been Caye Caulker in Belize. There are no cars, just golf buggies, and the roads are paved with sand. It is the most laid-back place I have ever been. We spent Christmas in Mérida, an old colonial Spanish city on the Yucatán peninsula. There was very little open so I organised take-away pizza on the rooftop of the hotel, overlooking the city.

February 6, 2014


Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

San Pedro Dance Academy host free dance show
On Saturday, February 1st, the San Pedro Dance Academy held a free dance concert at Central Park. The show was a repeat performance of The Tropical Nutcracker. The purpose of the program was to allow those who missed the original show, which was a paid show, held on December 15, 2013. The audience was delighted to the see the colorful costumes and the well-choreographed routines. Proud family members and friends applauded the dancers at the end of the show which was a combination of tropical songs and Christmas carols. The dancers were clearly in their element doing what they love.

The San Pedro Cancer Society raises awareness as part of World Cancer Day
The San Pedro Cancer Society (SPCS) conducted two activities to commemorate World Cancer Awareness Day. Their first activity was a food and pastry sale held on Saturday, February 1st. The second event was the Annual World Cancer Awareness Day Candle Walk on Tuesday February 4th. The food sale was held next to BOAZ Golf Cart Rentals, and was aimed to raise funds to assist patients battling cancer on the island. With the help of generous donors, the organization had a variety of cakes, cupcakes and pies to choose from, and even hot tamales on sale. The fundraiser was certainly a success, raising a grand total of $1,105.85.

Reading My Beautiful Belize in Jamaica!
A long overdue vacation to Jamaica was just what Santa ordered for our dear friend Andrea Polanco. Whilst in one of her favorite places, she visited the Bob Marley Museum with friend Lackeisha Ellis, who was introduced to My Beautiful Belize. The ladies had quite a bit of fun while immersing themselves in the wonderful world of the iconic Reggae master.

Ambergris Today

San Pedro AIDS Commission Releases 2013 Expense Report
The San Pedro AIDS Commission is one of the most active groups on the island and since its inception they have been working really hard to creating more awareness about HIV/AIDS on the island. The San Pedro Aids Commission would like to present the public its financial report from January to December 2013. Below is a detailed report about their expenditures which totaled to $8,020.73. The group is once again pleased to make public its most recent details on how they are spending the funds raised and distributing assistance to those in need. San Pedro Aids Commission Expenses as of January 1st to December 31st, 2013: *Donations to AIDS Patients - $4,499.83 - majority of the funds raised goes towards monetary donations for HIV positive patients. Stipends are delivered to these patients depending on their needs and specific cases.

San Pedro Shows Support at Cancer Walk 2014
It is not only during the annual San Pedro Cancer Walk that residents of Ambergris Caye show their support towards the non-profit organization. But it’s at the Walk that they come together on World Cancer Day, February 4, to show their solidarity to the community and share their common experiences with cancer. The San Pedro Cancer Society once again organized the Cancer Walk this year to show the community that there is a strong group of people who are assisting cancer patients, supporting families affected by cancer and spreading information about cancer and treatment for the disease.

Dorian’s Angels Try Wild Hibiscus Flowers at CG Esthetics
By Sofia Muńoz - Carole Goudreau of CG Esthetics is popularly known for her fine services offered at her beauty salon and Dorian’s Angels have been invited by Carole to get all dolled up on previous occasions. This time around Carole invited the Angels over to her salon, not to get pampered, but to try one of her newest products that she is offering her clients; and it is one that is becoming very popular. The product Carole is offering is not for your skin or hair; it’s a premier product that she offers to her customers for weddings or other events along with champagne – it’s Wild Hibiscus Flowers. What are Wild Hibiscus Flowers you might ask? Well it’s a sweet, delicious and unique garnish for food and cocktails.

Misc Belizean Sources

National Elite Basketball League (NEBL)
The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) opens its 2014 regular season with its first week of competition this weekend with two games on Friday February 7 and two games on Saturday February 8. The games are as follows; Friday Feb-7-2014 9:00pm @ Bird's Isle in Belize City Belize City (Smart) No Limit vs San Pedro Tiger Sharks 9:00pm @ UB Gymnasium in Belmopan City Belmopan Bandits vs Orange Walk Running Rebels Saturday Feb-8-2014 9:00pm @ Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal Town Corozal Heats vs Cayo Western Ballaz 9:00pm @ Y-Not Island in Dangriga Town Dangriga Warriors vs Toledo Diplomats An opening ceremony will be held @ Bird's Isle in Belize City before tip-off.

NICK OLMEDO passes away
THE BELMOPAN COMMUNITY MOURNS THE LOSS OF NICK OLMEDO, RENOWN FOR HIS HUMOR. To all whose lives he touched: You don't get over it, you just get through it. You don't get by it, because you can't get around it. It doesn't 'get better'; it just gets different. Everyday... Grief puts on a new face. Condolences to his family.

Weekend weather
Any idea what's expected for this weekend? I'm moving from Corozal to San Ignacio and hoping for no rain. Our present type of Caribbean Easterly winds, with influences from the North, such as cold fronts, South Tropical weather and the prevailing SW high level air stream, it can be hard to see that far ahead. But the indications I am seeing are that we are at last moving away from that long period of problematic rains.

3rd Annual Sailing Regatta
This weekend, come out and support the Corozal Bay Sailing Club (CBSC) as they compete with other Belizean youths in the 3rd Annual Sailing Regatta in front of Jam Rock this Saturday and Sunday. A great weekend to be out and having fun along the bay.

Dream for Belize Essays
The U.S. Embassy visited some Belmopan high schools, presented on MLK's 'I Have a Dream Speech,' and are doing a junior essay competition. Don't forget that the 'I Have a Dream for Belize' essay competition ends on the 9th. The winner gets a tablet, and has their essay published in the papers. "On Monday, the Embassy's Public Affairs Officer, met with students from two different local high schools in Belmopan to discuss the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s, 'I Have a Dream Speech.' The students will participate in a JUNIOR essay competition, much like the current essay competition we are offering to the Belizean public. Just a reminder that submissions are due on February 9th. That's just FOUR days away!!!"

Belize Tourism Board invites to meeting in Corozal
The Belize Tourism Industry Association cordially invites all stakeholders (tour operators, water taxi operators, hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi operators, airline operators, tour guides, industry developers, land developers) and everyone concerned to a meeting to be held on Monday February 10, 2014 at 4:00 P.M. at Tony’s Inn and Beach Resort to update industry stakeholders on current and future plans for the industry and the Northern Districts, including Corozal.

Lost macaw
I've lost Dino. He's a big red Scarlet macaw in Corozal. I lost him near the block factory on an Andeas road. If you see him, please call Gary: 6327190

Tropic Air introduces their new flight Merida – Belize
Starting on March 3rd, you will be able to get to Belize in less than 2 hours, since the Belizean company Tropic Air is now offering 3 weekly direct flights from Mérida, Yucatan to Belize, according to the Tourism Promotion Secretary. Tropic Air is the largest and most experienced airline in Belize. Since its opening flight 34 years ago, Tropic Air has always been a forerunner in the promotion of the tourism industry within Belize and flies to 15 destinations within the Central America country, two in Guatemala, Cancun in Mexico, and San Pedro Sula in Honduras. They also offer charters to more remote and exotic places throughout Belize.

Western Ballaz vs. Galen Exposition Game
The Western Ballaz just played an exposition game against the Galen Eagles at the Sacred Heart College auditorium. It was a great game, and the Ballaz had 19 unanswered points in the first half. Galen was able to rally in the second half, and they won 71-60. The Western Ballaz will travel to Corozal to play against the Corozal Heat on Saturday.

Monica Gallardo's Little Pink Photo Contest
It's Valentine season, and Monica Gallardo, one of Belize's best photographers, is having a photo competition to celebrate the occasion. The winner gets a free photo shoot. Just send her a picture of you in pink to enter. If you want to see some of her great shots, they have a wall dedicated to her at Fuego Bar and Grill. Good luck! "Oh yes we have reached the month were we can wear lots of pink and no one can say anything! And whether you’ll be spending a romantic evening with your boo or enjoying a drink and sharing some laughs with your girls, I've whipped up a little game it for all the ladies and brave gents! Send me a picture of your best looks in Pink and share the link! That's it! Send your pictures to: or post on my FB page and on the 10th of February I will announce the winner. The best dressed will receive a Photo shoot Package! It can be used for family, couples or even photos with your best gals ;)"

Jan 26 - Feb 1 2014 Fishing Report
Our Orvis Flats seminar ended with a bang with the nice tarpon from Mike with Capt. Cesar. Thanks again to Orvis for sending such a great group of folks. We have new friends forever. Kim and Doreen deserve some praise for their permit prowess.

Channel 7

Hon. King’s Secret Recording Could Have Proved Pivotal At Today’s House Meeting
Today tension was high at the start of the House Meeting in Belmopan – and that's because of a major event that passed completely under the radar. Remember last night how we told you about the conversation with Minister of State Edmund Castro and businessman Kareem Berges that fellow Minister of State Mark King secretly recorded? Well we heard it was about questionable activity that would implicate Castro and King passed it on directly to the Prime Minister. But today we have information which says the conversation –secretly recorded after Castro had had a few drinks – was about Castro's loyalty to the PM and whether he would be attending today's house meeting. Why is that of any importance? Well, first, remember that the UDP government has a 17 – 14 majority in the house. And then factor in that Minister of Housing Michael Finnegan is out of the country getting back surgery – and he'll be out for a while. So he was not available for today's meeting. So that leaves the UDP side with 16 votes, but with Elvin Penner stripped of his house committee chairmanship and his vehicle last week, he can't necessarily be counted on for a vote – which brings it down to 15 – with Castro – which is a one person majority over the PUP's 14.

PM Going Through "Dark Night Of The Soul" With Misbehaving Ministers
And if that candor wasn't startling enough, the PM also spoke about the political difficulties within his own party. When asked whether he's spending time focussing on the opposition, or on internal problems in the UDP – the PM said it's the latter, and gave the clear impression that he's going through a kind of dark night of the soul: Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize "There are times when indeed I feel that my troubles are being caused more by the difficulties that the behaviour or the actions of some of my ministers, the difficulties, that sort of behaviour has resulted in. I am very worried indeed because I am absolutely convinced that the Government is doing a phenomenal job, with respect to the kind of public spending that I've told you about, with respect to the improvement in the quality of life, with respect to employment creation, with respect to the success against crime, with respect to being able to solve the huge issues of the day, ASR/BSI/BSCFA, the Superbond, matters that are extremely weighty and critical in terms of the national interests. And on that basis, I would have felt that notwithstanding the well-known difficulties of anybody trying to get a third term, and which would have to be present in any case. I would have felt that at this early juncture, we would have been able to feel pretty good about where we are, delivering goods and services, making sure that people can see tangible improvements. But, there is no doubt at all in my mind, that the scandals have threatened to swamp us, that they have threatened to cause us to come undone, and natural that is a source of great regret because to some extent, it is self-inflicted.

Teachers Will Get 4% Raise, Costing The Public Purse 28 Million
But it was like a tale of two polticial fortunes today. While the PM confessed grime foreboding about his party's political future, he also promised to hold all the UDP town councils in the next municipal election. And he also disclosed what the teacher's wouldn't say yesterday: how much their raise and that of public officers is working out to be: Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize "Based on the numbers that we're looking at, they're likely to get something like a 4% salary increase. They cannot get 10%, and you, Said, know better than anybody else, man. That would be irresponsible. Look, Mr. Speaker, it is not just that they're getting a something like a 4% increase, you know. You look and see what's happening around us. In Barbados, 3,000 public officers are being laid off, in Grenada, a 3-year wage freeze. Notwithstanding that, this Government, is giving teachers and public officers - the way it appears now; caution, the final calculations aren't in - something like 24 million dollars in salary increases. And remember, when we do that in July for this fiscal year, that's locked in forever. So whatever happens with the recurrent revenue next year and the year after, it doesn't matter. The 4% will continue forever and ever amen."

Compre Girls Suspended As Facebook Fight Goes Viral
Tonight, the public embarrassment is mounting for 2 female high school students from Belmopan Comprehensive following a fist fight that has gone viral on Facebook. The students, who we are reliably informed are normally friends, got into a disagreement which escalated into a fight. There was another student who had a camera phone recording the entire scene, and he caught the fight blow by blow – even as a teacher tried in vain to break it up. That video ended up on Facebook, and by the end of the day, it had hundreds of views. It has caused considerable embarrassment for the girls, and for their school. Today, the Principal declined comment saying they are investigating. The girls have been suspended for two weeks pending the outcome of the investigation.

House Of Representatives Turns Into Madhouse As Orange Walk Representatives Run Amok
And it almost came to blows today in the House of Representatives. Debate turned to diatribe today when Orange Walk south Representative Jose Mai spoke on the adjournment about corruption in the Ministry of Natural Resources. Mai cited specific cases and urged that something be done about – and that started a string of recriminations: Hon. Jose Mai - Area Representative, Orange Walk South "But this cannot continue. Corruption then, and corruption now is now different. Corruption at a galloping pace, or at a trotting pace is corruption. Sin is sin. If you don't believe me, ask Denny Grijalva. Sin is sin." Hon. Gaspar Vega - Minister of Natural Resources/Area. Representative, Orange Walk North "Mr. Speaker, who is the Representative from Orange Walk South to talk. Let me tell you, yes." Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Speaker of the House "Members, members, why are you all embarrassing yourselves." Hon. Gaspar Vega "You are the one who was caught red handed contrabanding beers. You are the one who your own party members were upset." Hon. Michael Peyrefitte "Members! Please sit down. Why are you doing this to yourselves? This is the last person to speak for the day and this is what you do? Come on, man. I am talking to two of them. When we behave like this, this is what we inspire."

Castro Defends Himself
That happened almost at the very end of the House Meeting. Before that, PUP Representative from Toledo West Oscar Requena made a statement alleging that his colleague Edmund Castro had violated the provisions of the prevention of corruption in public life law. He said it is actionable by the DPP – and that Castro had committed a crime: Hon. Oscar Requena - Area Representative, Toledo West "The member has broken the law. Mr. Speaker, this is not simply wrong or merely distasteful, as the Prime Minister has characterized it. It is absolutely corrupt and illegal." Hon. Edmond Castro - Area Representative, Belize Rural North "I've been accused of corruption. The accusation is coming from the Opposition, the Media, the Unions and other members in the public. The allegation is not that the Board of Directors of Belize Airport Authority wrote a number of cheques in my name or on my behalf. The Belize Airport Authority was under my portfolio. It is those circumstances which, according to my critics, constitute corruption. I readily accept and admit that BAA wrote a cheque to help me to defray some of the expenses associated with the death and burial of my mother. This is no corruption, Mr. Speaker.

PUP Suggests, UDP Agrees, To Re-visit Draconian Gun Laws
But it wasn't all bickering in the House today – there were a few things both sides could agree on. One of them was that the severe gun laws need to be revisited. The issue is in sharp focus presently because of the Gino Peck case and the Reynaldo Verde situation. The Leader of the Opposition urged the government to do something about it, and government appears ready to listen: Hon. Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition "I am no fan of guns, Mr. Speaker, but it is clear that the laws as they presently stand, are leading to injustice and inequity. And I think that we in this Honourable House have a duty and an obligation to review when the citizens of the country are concerned and we these matters playing out nationally. We have a duty to pause and say, 'Let us review the legislation, and if necessary, let us revise it to take account of these concerns of the Belizean people.'" Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security/Area Representative, Belmopan "My government will be looking very carefully having now gotten the reprieve from the crime situation. We will be looking more carefully to see how we can revise the firearm and other related law to make them fairer, as you would say, and review them with a view to satisfying the clamours of the Belizean citizenry with respect to these laws. Only yesterday, and again today, I met with the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as the Solicitor General, and we have begun a review of these pertinent laws with a view - like I said - to find some fair and less draconian laws. We are indeed looking at the jurisdiction of the Magistrate with respect to this current law, and looking at perhaps returning to the Magistrate the jurisdiction of deciding on bail matters."

Bi-partisan Agreement On Banking Laws, Both Sides Agree To Comply While Complaining
But it wasn't all bickering in the House today – there were a few things both sides could agree on. One of them was that the severe gun laws need to be revisited. The issue is in sharp focus presently because of the Gino Peck case and the Reynaldo Verde situation. The Leader of the Opposition urged the government to do something about it, and government appears ready to listen: Hon. Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition "I am no fan of guns, Mr. Speaker, but it is clear that the laws as they presently stand, are leading to injustice and inequity. And I think that we in this Honourable House have a duty and an obligation to review when the citizens of the country are concerned and we these matters playing out nationally. We have a duty to pause and say, 'Let us review the legislation, and if necessary, let us revise it to take account of these concerns of the Belizean people.'" Hon. John Saldivar - Minister of National Security/Area Representative, Belmopan "My government will be looking very carefully having now gotten the reprieve from the crime situation. We will be looking more carefully to see how we can revise the firearm and other related law to make them fairer, as you would say, and review them with a view to satisfying the clamours of the Belizean citizenry with respect to these laws. Only yesterday, and again today, I met with the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as the Solicitor General, and we have begun a review of these pertinent laws with a view - like I said - to find some fair and less draconian laws. We are indeed looking at the jurisdiction of the Magistrate with respect to this current law, and looking at perhaps returning to the Magistrate the jurisdiction of deciding on bail matters."

$10k Fine For Trafficking
29 year-old Donald Gaskin, a resident of Kraal Road is out tonight and he must come up with $10,000 for a drug trafficking fine, or else he will serve 3 years in prison. Viewers may remember that the police were on mobile patrol on April 5, 2013, when they saw him coming out of a yard on Faber’s Road with a knapsack in his hand acting suspiciously. When Gaskin saw them he went into a nearby Chinese grocery shop and tried to push the knapsack through the bars of the Chinese Shop. The shopkeeper saw what he was doing, and so, she shoved it back at him, and that’s when the police detained him. When they searched it, they found 433 grams – or just under a pound – of cannabis on him, so they charged him with drug trafficking. The officers testified to this, and after the trial concluded, Magistrate Dale Cayetano found him guilty of the offence. Gaskin was sentenced to pay $10,000 by May 30, and if he defaults he will serve 3 years in prison."¨

Belmopan Police Search For Escaped Prisoner
Tonight, Belmopan Police continue their third night of searching for the escaped prisoner, 29 year-old Edwin Paula, who escaped on Monday evening while in transit from the Belize Central Prison to the Belmopan Police Station. 7News has confirmed that Paula and the 3 other men he was jointly charged with were being transported to Belmopan where they would be held in custody to be taken to court for their adjourned hearing. At this time, it is unclear how he managed it, but when the police van he was in slowed down at a bump in Cotton Tree, he jumped out and ran off. Police immediately set chase, but he managed to escape. At this time, the manhunt continues. Paula was jointly charged with 19 year old Manuel Hernandez, 18 year old Rudy Santos and Rasheed Crespo with 3 counts of Robbery and 1 count of Murder, for the shooting death of Salvadoran Isabel Antonio Ballona. They were also charged with 9 counts of aggravated burglary for the brazen armed robbery of students at the UB Dormitory last year. The other 3 defendants were taken to court yesterday, and their case was adjourned to a further date.

UB's PR Man Resigns
UB President Dr. Cary Frazer is on the way out, and now the Director of Office of Public Information, Selwyn King is also leaving the University. 7News confirmed with King before news time that he has indeed tendered his resignation to the University, and he is going to remain in office until the end of the month to provide enough time for the university to find a suitable replacement. And while rumours are circulating around as to why he has suddenly made the decision, he told us that he is grateful for the opportunity to have served the university from since 2010 until now. He said that he has entered another chapter in his life.

High Speed Gang Chase On Canal Side
There was a high-speed chase this afternoon on East Collet Canal – which neighbours said involved a red jeep of George Street boys and a white car allegedly driven by a relative of a municipal politician. From what we understand, the incident happened just before 2 this afternoon. Eyewitnesses say they saw both vehicles reversing at high speed on East Colet Canal. Luckily for the man being pursued, the red jeep lost control and crashed into a nearby fruit stand- giving him enough time to escape on South Street. A gunman was seen running away from the red jeep. No one was injured in the incident.

Fired At A Cop, Goes To Jail
29 year-old Alrick Smith is spending his second night of a 6 month jail sentence after he was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm on Police Constable Norman Anthony for opening fire on the officer while trying to escape. Anthony testified in the case that on May 11, 2011, Smith was accused of stealing cattle in Bermudian Landing. He received information that a van matching the description of vehicle used a cattle heist was located in the May Pen village, and he responded accordingly. He said that when he got there, he saw Smith in the vehicle after a police chase, and he managed to corner him. Anthony says that when Smith realized that he couldn't escape, he pulled a firearm and fired a shot at him. When Anthony took cover, Smith escaped, but he was later captured and charged.

Two More Years For Denfield
35 year-old Denfield Lemott, who is serving 5 years in prison for burglary had 2 more years added on to his jail time after he was convicted of a second burglary where he broke into a nurse's office at the Cleopatra White Health Center. Pauline Griffith testified in the trial before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith that on January 13, 2013, she left her office for a few minutes and when she returned she found Lemott in the office area by himself. When she questioned him, he said that he was waiting there, and she told him to leave, she saw her wallet, which contained $100 in cash in his back pocket. Lemott was detained by a security guard who was alerted, and when the wallet was taken away from him, she confirmed that it belonged to her. Lemoth was then charged with theft.

DPP's Full Take On How Gino Got Free
As we showed you in our last segment, the gun law came up in the House of Representatives, and there appears to be bi partisan consensus to move forward with reform. But, the Leader of the Opposition confessed that he doesn't know how Gino Peck's mandatory Prison sentence became a 600 dollar fine. The Prime Minister's body language when he said that seemed to suggest that he felt the same way. Well, for clarification, we go back to Monday's statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal. Here now are her exact comments from Monday, unedited to properly reflect her position. She said quote, "I also want to take this opportunity to address the issue of Section 54 of the Summary Jurisdiction (Procedure) Act which was invoked by the defence in Peck's sentencing hearing on Friday, as I have been asked about it by all and sundry today; I heard Senior Counsel's interview in which he mentioned that I had drawn it to his attention and I also heard it being characterized as a "surrender".

Full Integrity Will Be Appointed Tomorrow
The long delayed Integrity Commission will be properly appointed tomorrow by the Senate. It is comprised of chairman Marilyn Williams, accountant Breth Feinstein, Armeid Gabourel, Wilmot Simmons and opposition appointees who are both lawyers Phillip Zuniga and Kevin Arthurs.

Changing For Climate Change
Today, representatives of Government of Belize hosted a consultation workshop with the United Nations Development Program, the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance, and the Global Environment Facility on an assessment of the country's vulnerability to climate change. They're assessing the country's resilience to the effects on the agriculture, tourism, water, coastal development health, and fisheries sectors. Minister Lisel Alamilla was opening speaker at the workshop, and here's an excerpt of her comments to the local and international climate change and environmental experts present:

Giving the Gift Of Life
The Gift of Life programme for medical assistance to children across the country has been in existence since 1977, and the international doctors have since assessed over 1,000 Belizean children. An American Paediatric Cardiologist has been in Belize since Monday, and he managed to provide urgent medical attention to 2 very sick children. We caught up with him at the KHMH today assisting needy parents to see if their children are sick, and he told us more:

UDP Constanza Resigns After Convention Loss
At the very top of the newscast, you heard the Prime Minister's candid comments on the worrying state of his party. Part of his answer was in response to a question about the state of his party after the convention season has started. The UDP has had large turnouts at their conventions but managing the aftermath has proven difficult. That's especially true in Orange Walk East where Elodio Aragon beat David Constanza. He has posted a statement on FACEBOOK saying that he is resigning from the party. The statement says, "I ran under the UDP, not because I approved of the party but because I knew it needed change."ť After that, he says, "On Sunday, I did not go up against a candidate but against an institution many, many times more powerful than what I stood for. It is because of what I represent and because of the injustice and corruption that my supporters witnessed on Sunday that I would like to state publicly that I have, since Monday, resigned from the United Democratic Party. To all my supporters: we could not accomplish the change that we sought but at least we gave it a good try."ť Today, before we had seen that Facebook post, the Prime Minister alluded to the ill wind blowing from Orange Walk East.

Channel 5

Prime Minister gets candid on corruption in his administration
The House of Representatives had a full agenda for its special sitting today. It is the second sitting since the start of the new year convened primarily to avoid blacklisting [...]

Barrow says scandals can topple his government
In recent months, the Elvin Penner passport scandal followed by the visa hustle, the Castro Airports Authority cheques and the “hotbed of corruption” in the land departments, among others, have [...]

Castro gives lengthy explanation on BAA cheques scandal
While the Prime Minister was short on details outside the House, Minister of State Edmond Castro was long on prose as he rose for the first time since the BAA [...]

PM says there is a recording involving Castro made by Minister King
All sittings are generally ‘special’ in nature, and this one was no exception. It offered a little good, some bad and more than the usual ugly. There’s a whole lot [...]

U.D.P. Conventions: David Constanza resigns from the party after Sunday’s convention
The United Democratic Party is in the middle of conventions to select what they refer to as caretakers in the fourteen constituencies where that party does not have an area [...]

The fiery exchanges inside the House between Orange Walk members
There’s a lot of hard news out of the House of Representatives, but there was also a prolonged exchange, which has become a trademark of every sitting. That was provided [...]

The members of the integrity commission
Last Tuesday, former FIU director Marilyn Williams was appointed as the new chair of the Integrity Commission, after approximately four years of the agency being defunct.  The Prime Minister told [...]

4% – the salary adjustments for teachers
Throughout the month of January, the unions took to the streets calling for an end to corruption and salary adjustments. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Barrow announced that based on [...]

Firearm Act to be revisited
While the issues outside the House after the proceedings took center stage, there were several important matters raised inside the House. Premier among those has to be the Firearms Act, [...]

Bill passed to address threat by Caribbean Financial Action Task Force
Seven bills were passed today in the house. But the real purpose of today’s House Sitting had to do with a threat by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.  In [...]

Very disturbing cases of sexual assault involving minors
There are two very disturbing cases of sexual assault involving minors to report on tonight. The first reportedly happened in Bullet Tree Falls, Cayo, on Tuesday evening where the mother [...]

Principal Public Health Inspector says PG Hospital followed proper procedures
On Tuesday, we reported on a garbage situation at the Punta Gorda Hospital involving the accumulation of medical waste inside the storage facility.  The incinerator which is used to consume [...]

The Gift of Life; Rotary’s program for children chronic heart problems
The Rotary Club of Belize’s annual Gift of Life Program is underway at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Since Monday, the visiting doctors have been attending to a growing number [...]

“Every Rose has Thorns,” the annual fundraiser for Rotary
To help raise the much needed funds to keep the Gift of Life Program alive, the Belize Rotary Club is putting off its annual production…a play entitled Every Rose has [...]


SIB's Report On Unemployment And Inflation Discussed At The House
It was only a few days ago that we reported on the Statistical Institute of Belize’s report on unemployment. In today’s sitting of the House of Representative, Orange Walk Central Area representative John Briceno addressed those statistics. Briceno mentioned that the information gathered may not have been very consistent. According to Briceno, during the survey conducted by the Statistical Institute of Belize, once a person is working even if for only an hour they were recorded as being employed. Briceno adds that this process makes the report far from accurate. John Briceno – Orange Walk Central Area Representative “Underemployment continues to rise because we have a weak economy, a dismal economy Mr. Speaker, actually it was reported that the economy in the past nine months of last year only grew 0.4% which is nowhere close to the 2.5% of GDP growth that was projected in the budget debate last year and certainly it is a far cry from the 5% growth that the UDP government promised the Belizean people, but it would rather interesting to know the underemployment rate Mr. Speaker or may perhaps we are ashamed to know that we are a par time nation or seasonal nation that we only work during when the crop is on or worst yet a catch and kill nation Mr. speaker, so how can we say that there is lower unemployment when the economy is not expanding, a meagre 0.4% expansion of the economy cannot give you a 2% decline of unemployment, the number certainly does not add up. While the government maybe blotting that the unemployment wen down last year it is still a lot worse than when it was in 2008 because in 2008 when they got into government the unemployment rate was at 8.5% and the records are there 8.5% Mr. speaker.”

UDP Agrees To Review Fire Arms And Ammunition Act
There has been much debate and clamour from both politicians and the public on the stringent laws surrounding firearms and ammunition. This continues to be of national importance to the People’s United Party and Party Leader Francis Fonseca today once again spoke on the matter. Fonseca says that several sections of the laws under the Firearms Act are unconstitutional and as such, the opposition suggests three principal amendments to the act. Francis Fonseca – Leader of the Opposition “Section sixty of act which deems these various clauses of persons automatically in possession must be repealed because it infringes a citizen constitutional right under section (5) to only be deprived of their liberty upon reasonable suspicion upon having committed or being about to commit a criminal offense, it also infringes a person’s section (6) of constitutional right to presumption of innocent because it requires those clauses of persons to be in possession of the firearm and ammunition and as we point it out in the CCJ case they held that such a provision infringe the constitutional right to the equal protection of the law.”

David Constanza Resigns From The UDP
While the fireworks at the House of Representatives did not go off until nearly the end of the sitting, here in the north, specifically Orange Walk, the first flayer went up around 10:00 this morning when David Israel Constanza announced that he was resigning from the United Democratic Party. Now, this is the same David Constanza that was campaigning under the UDP ticket just a few days ago for the convention in Orange Walk East for Standard Bearer of the party. The same David Constanza, that ran, and lost against former Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon Jr. If you are a voter of Orange Walk East then you might already know that the convention was dressed up in allegations of corruption as the Aragon camp was accused of buying the election. The convention was spoken about widely in the social media with David Constanza being placed as the man who went up against a party and not a contender. During the convention it was more than obvious that Aragon Junior had the support of the big wigs of the UDP, including Mayor Darrel Bradley, and Minister John Saldivar. Constanza on the other hand stood all alone with only the support of his followers.

Dirty Laundry Aired In The House Of Representatives
The sitting of the House of Representatives today saw the second and third readings into an number of bills including the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, the Companies amendment bill, the Money Laundering and Terrorism prevention amendment bill to name a few. That part of the morning flowed with relative ease, but tensions ran high, quickly shortly after the Prime Minister called for an adjournment of the sitting. Sparks started flying shortly after the Orange Walk South Area Representative Abelardo Mai stood and spoke on corruption within the Lands Department. There was mention of more land grabbing in Orange Walk East and what we can tell you is that this time the land where the former East Polyclinic is located is in question as reports are that it is in the process of being awarded to a UDP stalwart working at the Lands Department in Corozal. We will have more on that story in our subsequent newscast.

Will Constanza's Resignation Affect The UDP In The General Elections?
Now, this begs the question, what effects will Constanza’s resignation from the UDP have on Elodio Aragon Junior and the party itself come General Elections? Guess we’ll find out for sure when the Prime Minister calls elections. What we can tell you though is that one should bear in mind that Constanza only lost to Aragon by 294 votes. A total of 2384 votes were casted, 1327 in favor of Aragon Jr. and 1033 in favor of Constanza. Now, while political pundits say the convention on Sunday saw one of the largest turnouts in Orange Walk East, our records show different. In 2010 when the UDP convention for Standard Bearer for Orange Walk East was held there was a larger turnout. At that time, the convention was contested by Orlando Landy Burns, Marcel Cardona and Denny Grijalva. Two thousand eight hundred and twenty votes were casted out of which Cardona received 621, Grijlva 797 and Burns 1377 more than what Aragon Junior received in Sunday’s convention.

Ministry Of Education Launches Financial Aid Program For Secondary Schools
With a high rate of high school drop outs and cash-strapped families unable to put their child through High School, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation are launching a financial aid program for students enrolled in secondary schools. Following an extensive review of the education sector, the Secondary Education Finance Reform program is incentive-based, according to Minister of Education Patrick Faber. According to Faber, potential beneficiaries of financial assistance are being screened based on performance, as well as socioeconomic needs. Patrick Faber– Minister of Education "This initiative which is phased over 7 years and seeks to level the playing field of secondary education financing by allocating public resources to secondary schools on a per student basis and including compensation component of additional funding for students identified as having academic or socio economic need. Related to this secondary education finance reform we are currently engaged in negotiating with secondary schools a restructuring and capping of secondary school fees. This we proposed to include waivers of fees for students identified as having socio economic need. All of you know that secondary schools charge fees and these fees vary widely from school to school program to program. If you are a student or parent, you will know that these fees can be exorbitantly high and even if you are not a student or a parent you know that. Such high fees can result in socio economic exclusion of many within our society who cannot afford to pay. Second, it's in preparation of our efforts of establishing a national qualification framework which we hope to include a national secondary certification which may include a minimal number of passes in key CXC subjects therefore no matter how you acquire these passes whether though formal or non-formal schooling, you would be considered to have high school equivalency."

Water Rate Going Up
The Public Utilities Commission has made an initial decision to approve the Belize Water Services Limited’s proposed increase in water rates for the country. That is the outcome of an Annual Review Proceeding by the Public Utilities Commission and on Monday the Commission’s Director for Water, Rudolph Williams explained that while BWSL asked for a 16 percent increase, they gave them 6 percent and explained why in a press conference at the Radisson. Rudolph Williams– Director for Water "We looked at the proposals that were made for the capital expenditure and we believe that some of those proposals could be deferred to the full tariff period and some of them we believe were not necessarily required at this time. The BWS has always had problems with funding their investments and to allow them to do that now; we have not seen anywhere where they will be able to source the funds that they are asking for."

Salvadorans Living In Belize Experience Opposition To Vote In Their Country
The fact that Salvadoran Nationals living in Belize were transported to El Salvador by the Salvadoran Embassy here in Belize on Saturday to vote for the elections on Sunday is causing quite a stir in the Central American Country. We understand that the Embassy transported 226 Salvadorans to their country of birth free of cost under the condition that they vote for the FMNL Party. Each member of the group received free transportation, accommodation, food and $300 for pocket expenses. Reports suggest that Salvador’s Ambassador to Belize Rolando Brizuela Ramos traveled along with the group. According to reports submitted by (El, the group was promised to receive assistance in Belize should the FMNL Party win the elections.


Minister Castro Defines Corruption and Says It Would Have to Be Proven That He is Guilty of Such
Belize Rural North area representative Edmund Castro has finally responded to the allegations of corruption. As has been reported there have been numerous questions following the revelation that a number of cheques issued by the Belize Airports Authority were issued to the area representative or people within his inner circle. HON. EDMOND CASTRO “Mr. Speaker, I have been accused of corruption; the accusations are coming from the unions, the opposition, the media and other members in the public. The allegation is not that the Board of Directors of Belize Airport Authority wrote a number of cheques in my name or on my behalf. The BAA was under my portfolio; it is those circumstances which according to my critics constitute corruption. Well, Mr. Speaker, before I answer my critics, I went to the dictionary to find out the real meaning of corruption. Corruption as defined in my dictionary as follows: (a) impairment of integrity, inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means as bribery or departure from the origin or from what is pursued to be correct. Based upon that definition it would have to be proven that I have done something wrong or immoral or to be guilty of corruption but the only thing that is being said is that the Board of Directors of BAA has issued a number of cheques in my name or on my behalf or to persons associated to me. There is no suggestion that the Board did not have the lawful authority to issue cheques nor is there any suggestion or evidence that I had any influence over the board by any improper means to issue cheques. There is no suggestion that I had forced the Board to issue cheques or that I had extorted cheques from the BAA’s office or the Board.”

Opposition Supports Stake Bank Project
The Opposition also expressed its support for the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “We wish to offer our support for this project and in arriving at that offer of support; we looked at essentially four criteria: (1) is this project good for the economy of Belize? We believe so that it will be good for Belize; we thing that it will be critically important to the future of the cruise tourism industry which is obviously directly related to the economic development of Belize (2) have all the environmental clearances been met? Have all the technical people signed off on the project and given their approval on the environmental side? My understanding is that has been done and finally, the developer, Mr. Feinstein and stake bank team are Belizeans who, I think, have a consistent history of investing in Belize and putting their money back in the country and so, in offering our support, we looked at that criteria and we simply want to place that on the record.”

Police Seeks Uncle For Rape of Minor
Police are on the lookout for a man of the Stann Creek District following the rape of a minor. The 8-year-old victim, in the company of her aunt went to the police station and reported that on Saturday, February 1 at around 5pm, she visited her aunt’s home in Bella Vista Village in the Stann Creek District to get some food but when she got inside the house, her uncle came and began kissing her and had sexual intercourse with her against her will. A medical examination was conducted on the child and it was certified that she has been carnally known. Up to news time, the uncle remains on the run.

Minor Sexually Assaults Toddler
A minor of Bullet Tree Falls Village in the Cayo District is in police custody following the sexual assault of a three year old girl. Investigators report that on Tuesday, February 5, the little girl’s mother, a Guatemalan national, went to the San Ignacio Police Station and told them that on February 4 at around 5pm, a young boy who lives next door came over to her house to visit. She says that while she was in the room to get some clothes, her 3-year-old daughter came walking towards her and she noticed that the child was not wearing her underwear and was bleeding. The little girl told her mother that the young boy assaulted her with his finger. A medical officer has certified that the child was assaulted. Investigations continue.

Caye Chapel Goes Back on The Market
In August 2013 news surfaced that a conditional agreement was signed between the BCB Holdings and Yumi Limited for the sale of Caye Chapel Resort Island, located just twelve miles from Belize City. The agreement was for thirty million US dollars but recent reports gotten from a London-based news agency are that the deal with Yumi Limited, a British Virgin Islands company fell through and so, the 265-acre property is back on the market. According to the report, while BCB Holdings issued a statement confirming the drop-through of the deal, no reason was given but the company did say that they are engaging with potential buyers for the resort island. The Caye Chapel Resort Island which boasts a private airstrip, golf course, marina and five beach front luxury estates is currently the property of BCB Holdings, the parent company of financial institutions operating in Belize and owned by Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Government and Opposition Agree on Issues Regarding Caribbean Action Task Force
Today’s House of Representatives meeting saw the government side and the Opposition side agree on a number of issues as Belize tries to comply with the Caribbean Action Task Force. On November 20, 2013 the CATF identified Belize and Guyana as countries in the Caribbean region that fell short in the fight against money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regimes. Prime Minister Dean Barrow said the group will be meeting in Paris on Monday and it was imperative that everything be in place to ensure that the country does not get blacklisted. In rising to support the bills, Opposition leader Francis Fonseca said the passage of the bills can lead to the undermining of the offshore banking sector. RT. HON. DEAN BARROW “This is the first of the raft of bills that we are seeking to pass today in order to register our full compliance with the requirements of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Action Task Force. This one is fairly straight forward, Mr. Speaker, they are trying to ensure that there is no concealment of beneficial owners of registered companies since they see concealment or non-disclosure of ownership as a possible device of hanky-panky, for hp.”

Kraal Road Resident Fined 10K for Drug Trafficking
Twenty-nine year old Donald Gaskin, a resident of Kraal Road charged with drug trafficking for 433 grams of cannabis, changed his plea from not guilty to guilty when he appeared today before Magistrate Dale Cayetano. Gaskin asked for leniency and Magistrate Cayetano did not give him a custodial sentence. He fined Gaskin $10,000 and gave him until May 30 to pay. If Gaskin defaults on payment he will serve 3 years. Gaskin was busted around 11:20 a.m. on April 5, 2013. The police were on mobile patrol on Faber’s Road when they saw Gaskin coming out of a yard with a knapsack in his hand. When Gaskin saw the police he went to a Chinese shop nearby and pushed the knapsack through one of the bars of the shop. The shopkeeper, however, pushed back the knapsack and when the police retrieved it and opened it they found the cannabis inside. As a result, Gaskin was arrested and charged.

US Military Personnel Deployed to Belize for New Horizons 2014
Deployed military personnel from the United States have begun arriving in Belize for year-2 of the New Horizons initiative. This initiative of the US Southern Command gears at enhancing the skills and readiness of its military members through the humanitarian assistance activities. In 2013, the US personnel, during their stay in Belize had constructed community centres, medical clinics and schools around the country. The Belize Defense Force is currently working with the participants of New Horizons 2014 preparing medical and construction sites as construction equipment and materials as well as the remainder of this year’s team are expected to arrive in Belize next month. As part of this initiative, teams of American, Canadian and Belizean medical doctors and specialists will be providing medical treatments to the local population while civil engineers will construct a ward at the hospital in Belmopan. In addition, three schools will be built in Belize City as well as one in Hattieville Village in the Belize District. The US Southern Command has been partnering with Belize’s military over the last twenty years. The New Horizons headquarters is based at Price Barracks in Ladyville Village, Belize District.

UB’s PR Officer Says It Is Time To Move On
Last night we gave you the latest update on the status of Dr. Carey Fraser and his resignation as the President of the University of Belize. We understand that Dr. Fraser is still on leave and Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, said yesterday that Dr. Wilma Wright is the Acting President. Faber told us that he does not micro manage the university and any other questions must be forwarded to the Office of the Prime Minister. But the latest news coming out of the University tonight is that Public Relations Officer for the University, Selwyn King, has handed in his letter of resignation. We were made aware of this yesterday but it was not until this morning that King confirmed this piece of information to us. King handed his resignation a couple of days ago and told us that quote, “It’s time to move on; move on to another chapter of my life,” end of quote. King did not provide reason for his resignation.

Hattieville Resident Slapped with Three Charges After Assaulting Spouse
Robert Mejia, a resident of Hattieville who allegedly assaulted his common-law wife, was charged with 3 offences when he appeared today before the Chief magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. The charges were aggravated assault, wounding and using threatening words. Mejia pled not guilty to the charges and he was released on a bail of $500. He is to return to court on April 3. The incident occurred on December 13, 2013. The complainant, Rhondine Gillett, reported to police that Mejia attacked her with a knife and caused a wound to her. She also said that Mejia threatened her.

Separate Finds of Cannabis Reported
Members of the San Ignacio Quick Response, Team Two rid the town of three hundred and forty two grams of suspected cannabis during a search conducted on Tuesday, February 4 at around 9:30pm. According to police the team visited an open lot on Blue Bird Street in that municipality and during the search they came across a black plastic bag hidden under a pile of dried grass. At the time of the find, no one was in the area; therefore the drug was labeled and deposited as found property. Joint operations conducted between members of the Mobile Interdiction Team (MIT) and the K9 units have resulted in the discovery of one thousand four hundred and eighty four grams of suspected cannabis. Reports indicate that the team was doing searches in the Alta Vista Village in the Stann Creek District when they came across a black garbage bag containing the drug in an abandoned lot. The drug was labeled as found property as no one was found in the area at the time of the search.

Minister of National Security Says Gun Laws Will Be Revised
Speaking on the adjournment Opposition leader Francis Fonseca spoke of the need for the review and revisions of the firearm act. He went on to list cases of what he termed “honest, hardworking Belizeans” which the gun law has pulled into the criminal system. In response Minister of National Security John Saldivar said it is important to recall the environment in which the amendments came into being, he said they are looking carefully to see how the laws can be revised to make them fairer. HON. JOHN SALDIVAR “Having now gotten the reprieve from the crime situation, we will be looking more carefully to see how we can revise the firearm and other related law to make them more fair, as you would say, and review them with a view to satisfying the clamors of the Belizean citizenry in respect to these laws. We respect the draconian nature of these laws but we respectfully submit that they have been most instrumental in assisting the police in its fight against crime. Only yesterday and again today, I met with the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the Solicitor General and we have begun a review of these pertinent laws with a view, like I said, to find some more fair and less draconian laws that will not restrict or reduce the ability of the police to deal with criminals but certainly, with respect with the wide net that has been cast by these laws.


Prime Minister: Possible 4% increase is Quite Generous
The Prime Minister also gave an update on the salary negotiations for public servants and teachers. Last week Thursday, the PM met with 7 Union Leader from the Belize National Teacher’s Union, the Public Service Union and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers. The purpose of the meeting...

Minor Under Police Custody for Sexually Assaulting a Three Year old
A minor is today in police custody for sexually assaulting a three year old. A Guatemalan mother living in Bullet Tree Falls Village, Cayo District visited the police station on Tuesday, February 2nd. According to the mother, while at home, she was visited by a male minor who is...

Church Burglarized and Vandalized
A church was burglarized and vandalized. Between the hours of 9:00 pm on Monday, February 1st and 5:15 a.m. on Tuesday, February 2nd, someone entered the San Jose Catholic Church and stole American Brand Speakers that were valued at two hundred dollars Belize ($200). However, the burglar did not...

Minister Castro Makes Public Plea, says He’s Just a Poor Man
The Area Representatives met at the House today, and as always, we bring you highlights of the day’s event. To start it all off, Hon. Elvin Penner did not show up at today’s House meeting. However, his colleague the Hon. Edmund Castro, who was missing at the last House...

Mark King Records Private Conversation With Castro
Minister’s Castro’s woes don’t end in the House today. Thanks to his UDP colleague the (KING PIC) Hon. Mark King, a recording of Castro having a candid conversation, allegedly on corruption involving Castro, has found its way into the hands of the Prime Minister. The conversation, it is reported,...

Government Pledges to Revisit Gun Laws
For the past few weeks, various sectors of the public have been lobbying for Government to modify the Firearms Amendment Act of 2008. It is argued that provisions within the legislation, allow for the criminalizing of law-abiding and blameless citizens. The civic outcry surrounding this matter has been enormous,...

P.M. Barrow Says He’s Distraught By Government Scandals
The United Democratic Party has entered its third year in office, since the last General Elections in March of 2012. There is no disputing that the Barrow Administration has made significant strides in the governing of the country. But with high points, has also comes lows. The Government has...

Oil Exploration in Residential Area of Belmopan
Plus News has learned that rights have been granted for BCH International Belize to conduct oil and gas exploration on a parcel of land in Belmopan. The exploratory Seismic Program will be carried out at a lot on Brown Street. BCH International Belize has contracted Discoveries Geophysical Services Ltd....

Man Charged Over Faked Job Letter
A Belize City resident who tried to deceive Immigration authorities while helping a friend finds himself somewhat lighter in the pocket as a result. 24 year old Dyron Galvez was charged today in the Magistrate’s court with assisting a person to use a false document. On December 3, 2013,...

Suspected Human Trafficker to Go Home
On Tuesday we told you that 40 year old Blanca Garay Rodriguez from Honduras had been nabbed in Belize and jailed for failing to comply with the conditions of her visitor’s permit. Tonight, we understand that Ms. Rodriguez, named by INTERPOL and Honduran authorities as suspected to be involved in...

Alleged Rapist of Minor, Wanted by the Belizean Law Enforcement
A three year old girl wasn’t the only one to get sexually assaulted in the last three days. An 8 year old minor from Bella Vista Village, Stann Creek District accompanied by her aunt, reported that on Saturday February 1st at around 5:00 p.m. she visited her aunt’s home...

Why Hon. Julius Espat of PAC Seems Silent for Now?
Little has been heard of Julius Espat concerning the Public Accounts Committee. PAC is a body that had been relatively stagnant for some time before Espat, the chairman of the Belize Public Accounts Committee (PAC), lobbied for changes within the system that would see more oversight of the social...

Seven Bills Passed In The House
While Hon. Julius Espat is out of the country on important matters, we bring you back to the House, where a total of seven bills were passed. The bills that were passed on the house today are the “Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill”, the “Widow’s and Children’s...

Minister Alamilla Issues Findings on Climate Change
Belizeans must be wondering where all our recent weather extremes – hot sun, heavy rain, biting cold – are coming from. The National Meteorological Service says last year’s rainy season, particularly November, was the wettest on record, but is there more to come? Back in September we told you...


Kelly McGuire Packs Fido’s: SUPER Fun Crowd Dances & Sings for Three Hours
I’ve written about Texas artist, Kelly McGuire a few times in my blog. He is now visiting San Pedro 2 – 3 times a year and February is his biggest set of shows. 1. Because it’s one of the busiest months on the island. Just look at the crowd that he drew last night… And 2. because it’s his BIRTHDAY and he always does a big birthday bash on Ambergris Caye. I arrived early for the 6pm show. A good 15 minutes early (which in Belize is like arriving the day before) and saw Kelly unloading his equipment from a taxi. This guy needs roadies! I caught up with Kelly and Brian, the General Manager of Fido’s, while they were setting up.

Do you know of Belize Consumer Price Index

Job Vacancy for Sustainable Energy Project Officer (SEPO)
Kindly click on the link to view the available post for a Sustainable Energy Project Officer (SEPO) for the CARICOM-GIZ Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) Project based at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.

“More, More, More” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Well, it’s been a while since the last edition so (once again) there’s some catching up to do for those of you that find this blog either interesting, informative, amusing, irritating (I could go on but will not for fear of adding ‘boring’ to the list!). Or just have some time to fill-up. So, where do I start. Well on Sunday I enjoyed a relatively easy, ‘don’t do too much’, type of day. For a start I got up later than usual, not rousing from the bed until around 06.15 hours. I then enjoyed my quality ‘ me time’ on the veranda. I don’t have to think about what I have to do. I’m on auto-pilot. Mug of coffee ((for new or erstwhile readers the coffee is instant (I don’t profess to have ‘taste’ where coffee is concerned), black with no sugar)) and the iPad and straight to the veranda. The one on the first floor on the western (lagoon facing) side of the house.

International Sources

Dark Side of International Retirement
You have probably seen the ads with the alluring promises – live in luxury on your Social Security income, kick back while a maid and gardener toil away for just a few dollars a week, enjoy great food and fresh fruit, and experience wonderful medical care complete with inexpensive house calls. While all that might be true in some instances, there is a darker side of international retirement that the ads aren’t going to tell you about. This article will show you the other side of the coin, so you can make a more educated decision. International Retirement Is Great for Some Folks For some people an international retirement is a terrific idea. These are the folks who spent time abroad in the Peace Corps, armed services, or live for the thrill of international travel. They know what to expect – and what they aren’t going to get – when they retire abroad. Most of these people are going to be very happy living abroad after their working days, and they will usually live much better than they would have in the U.S. or northern Europe. We celebrate their choices and wish them well.

Modest Growth in Euro Tourism to Central America
CENTRAL AMERICA SEES ONLY MODEST GROWTH IN EUROPEAN TRAVELERS IN 2013; SURPRISINGLY BRITS DON'T FLOCK TO ENGLISH-SPEAKING BELIZE About 648,000 Europeans visited Central America from January through September 2013, according to data from the Central America Tourism Agency as reported by a UK magazine, Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings.That was a modest increase of 1% from the same period a year earlier. Travelers from Spain were the #1 source of European visitors, followed by Germany, the U.K., France and Italy. Costa Rica was the first choice of Euro travelers in Central America, with Panama seeing the greatest growth (14%) in European visitors. Europeans made up about 7% of all 9.4 million international visitors to Central America during the nine-month period in 2013. Even though Belize is the only country in Central America with English as the official language, it was next to last in the number of visitors from the U.K. British travelers chose Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama as their top destinations. Costa Rica had about 28,000 U.K. visitors. In Central America, only El Salvador got fewer British visitors than Belize, about 1,700 versus around 7,000 Brits coming to Belize.

Alloway resident visits Belize, brings home special message
An Alloway resident and Salem Community College student recently adventured in Belize, in Central America, to give to those in need. Jessie S. Keen will graduate in May with an associate’s degree in health science. Keen was sponsored by her church and led by Jack and Sue Fosbenner of Ranch Hope as she traveled to Belize in November. “I look at life in a completely different way and appreciate the little things more often. As we were delivering food boxes, we went to many different homes with poor living conditions,” Keen said. Keen was one of 21 members to spend eight days in Belize City, the country’s largest city with a population of 70,000. More than 600 children and teens were reached out to during the trip. Keen said that she hopes to return to Belize this next November to continue helping residents. “I feel as if it’s my home away from home,” Keen said.

Get me a Belikin
My wife and I are just back from exotic Belize, where, in the heavy rain, at a jungle wildlife sanctuary, we saw wild howler monkeys, close enough to touch, if you want to get bit. There would be a lot less crowding among us humans, I think, if we bit like howler monkeys do. The monkeys were unperturbed by the rain. Their long, black fur sheds water like the roof of thatched palm leaves over a palapa. If you have water repellent fur, you don't need a palapa. I had hoped the monkeys would fling feces at us, something I had heard about and wanted to see, but alas, there was none of that. Neither was there any of the masturbation for which monkeys are well known. There were one or two instances of urination from on high, but it was more casual than malicious, and quickly rinsed away by the rain. We also did some diving in Belize, where the coral reefs are teeming with exotic undersea life. Among other things we saw dolphins, sharks, stingrays galore and a cranky moray eel that, if it could speak, would have said, "Hey, you kids! Get off of my lawn!" What I want tell you about today, however, are the resident pelicans of Belize. You have to be careful talking about pelicans down there because "pelican" sounds a lot like "Belikin," the excellent local beer. If you are in a bar, say, and you mention pelicans, you are likely to get another round, especially if your speech already is a little slurred.

Help! My Spouse Doesn't Want To Retire Overseas
A spouse who's not in favor of discovering what life might be like somewhere else can be a deal-breaker for the idea altogether. You can't very well pack your better half's suitcase for him (or her), take him by the hand, and lead him out the door (as we did with our then 8-year-old daughter when she made it clear, on the eve of our planned departure for Ireland years ago, that she was not on board with the whole moving-to-a-new-country thing). No, a significant other who insists he wants to stay put is a way bigger challenge than a child who's opposed to a move. Years ago, walking down the street in Paris, a colleague remarked, out of the blue, "You and your husband sure are lucky. You both seem to have the same ideas about how you want to live and where you want to spend your time.

Cave Tubing in Belize for Cruisers: Tips, Tours, and Charlie’s Cave Tubing Review
Cave tubing tours popular attraction in Belize, particularly among cruisers, but not all cave tube tours are created equal. Here’s a guide to what you need, what you need to know, and who you need to choose as your cave tubing guide. The Basics: Wait, I Need a Tour? The tubing caves are owned by the National Park and cannot be accessed without a licensed guide. In other words, you must book some kind of tour and can’t go it on your own. Tours can be booked through the cruise line, with a local company, or on an independent basis. Be aware that not all tour companies offer the same type of tour or level of service with their tour. Be sure to do your homework and know what you want to make the experience memorable. Tours are weather dependent and can be closed if the water in the cave is too high. Be sure to check with your tour company to ensure that you have other options if the cave is closed, particularly in the rainy season (June-November). All tours begin by crossing the river at a low point and ascending into the jungle. From that point it is slightly less than a one mile hike to mouth of the cave where you will put in and use the current to propel you through the cave. It is not an overly strenuous activity, but there are stairs and some stamina involved.

February 5, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Holy Cross Anglican Primary School receives softball equipment
On Wednesday, January 29th, the San Pedro Sports Council (SPSC), in conjunction with the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), donated softball equipment to the Holy Cross Anglican Primary School. The donations are in an effort to continue promoting sports as a healthy youth recreational activity. Presenting the donation to the happy softball team along with their coach and teacher, Brandon Bood, was Councilor Gaby Nuńez and SPSC member Kent “Bob” Gabourel. 06 Softball donation for Holy CrossAccording to Bood, the equipment is much needed by the school. “These children love playing softball and they are good at it. We are thankful for the donation, it will really help our team better themselves,” said Bood. The donation included two softball bats, three softball balls, ten softball mitts and a complete set of the catcher’s protective gear.

Car accident causes major damage to utility pole
On Sunday, Febuary 2nd, the San Pedro Police Department and the San Pedro Traffic Department responded to reports of a car accident at the corner of Seagrape Drive and Mar del Tumbo Drive at around 4AM. Upon arriving at the scene, officers noted that the car had slammed into a utility pole located in the intersection of the street and then crashed into the fence of a corner lot in the area. The lower part of the utility pole was completely detached for the upper part, leaving the portion in mid-air, sustained only by the utility wires and cables. The repair cost for the utility pole is estimated to be between $4,000 to $5,000. No charges were brought against Nuńez.

Superbowl Parties Island Style
While American Football is not a sport typically played in Belize, over the years it sure has gained a devoted following in the country, especially on Ambergris Caye! Joining in the tradition of Superbowl Sunday which took place on February 2nd, many local businesses hosted parties as patrons and NFL fans visiting the island came out to get in on the NFL action as the Denver Broncos took on the Seattle Seahawks. In addition to serving up the ice cold drinks, some businesses even pulled out the jumbo screens and turned on the BBQ grills. Take a look at all the parties that took place around Ambergris Caye as fans watched the Seattle Seahawks’ ‘Legion of Doom’ dominate the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl XLVIII 43-8!

Validation Session on Climate Change Assessment
The Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development (MFFSD), on behalf of the Government of Belize, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, and with funding from the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU GCCA) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is holding a two day consultative workshop on the Integrated Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (V&A) for the following six sectors: agriculture, tourism, water, coastal development, health and fisheries. Targeted participants from the media, academia, research institutions, and relevant Ministries and Government departments have been invited to attend the presentation of the V&A Assessment on Wednesday, February 5th and Thursday, February 6th, 2014, from 8:30 am- 4pm at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. The purpose of the workshop is to discuss the findings relating to the vulnerabilities of each sector to Climate Change and the sector specific adaptation measures that can be implemented to facilitate resilience.

Plastic Recycling
When you throw these plastic bottles away not only are you adding to the landfill but you are pitching .5/bottle. This photo equals .25 cents! You can take them to your local Bowen & Bowen distributor.

Ambergris Today

25 Years Ago: Children Pranks in the Old Days of San Pedro
I am sure every generation has its pranks and mostly children do it for innocent fun. Well, years ago in San Pedro was no different and here are some I vividly remember. How about the Tinta Tintera? How many of you today know this little animal quietly laying on the sand near the warm water of the beach and generally considered a sea slug (California Sea Hare –aplysiidae). Well, you ought to know that if you step on it, it will release an intense reddish purple ink. When we found one of these, we used to hurl it on someone just to have him or her turn purple as seen only during carnival days. It usually caused a lot of fun and laughter seeing the victims trying to rub off this intense dye or coloring that the innocent little creature uses to camouflage itself. That was the fun of Tinta Tintera.

Oceana Belize Instagram Photo Competiton
The Belize Barrier Reef is a source of wonder, enjoyment, food, employment, and above all, pride. We are truly “people of the reef”! To celebrate Reef Week 2014, Oceana Belize is embarking on a photo-competition via Instagram. The theme is ‘My Reef’. Each photo should highlight what the reef represents to you. The photographs are not limited to underwater shots. They should simply illustrate the personal connection between you and Belize’s magnificent Barrier Reef. A panel of judges will select the entries to be printed and exhibited during Reef Week 2014.

San Pedro High Has Special Guest Speaker Opening Career Week
Having recently graduated from the UWI at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, Belizean born Dr. Einstein Bodden was invited by San Pedro High School to be their guest speaker at the opening of the school’s Career Week. Dr. Bodden addressed the student body on Monday, February 3, 2014, during morning assembly. What makes Dr. Bodden’s case so special is that he has overcome a disability that has him bound to a wheelchair. Through very hard work, dedication and surpassing many obstacles, he and his family were able to send him to school in Belize and then through medical school abroad. Dr. Bodden has already come back home to Belize to practice medicine, but yesterday morning he addressed the students of San Pedro High School to share his incredible story and challenges that he encountered in his pursuit of his medical degree.

BEL Launches 2014 Golden Citizen Electricity Bill Pay Program
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) presented awards to recipients of its 2014 Golden Citizens Electricity Bill Pay Award during a ceremony held on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, at the Company’s Corporate Headquarters in Belize City. The 20 Golden Citizens awarded represent only a portion of the approximately 160 randomly selected senior citizens countrywide, whose monthly electricity bill will be paid by BEL for an entire year. BEL’s Golden Citizens Bill Pay Program is one of several initiatives through which the Company fulfills its new Mission “to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost, stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize.” The remaining 140 awardees from across the country will be visited and presented with certificates at their homes during the next week. Awardees are selected by BEL based on the following criteria: *Must be 65 years of age or older and registered as a Golden Citizen with BEL. *Must hold only one active account with BEL which is billed under the Social Rate Category.

Pic of the Week: Man at Work, Please Disturb
Every now and then you will bump into local artist Terryl (Man at Work) Godoy on the side of the street working on his next painting. He loves to paint the ‘City Scapes’ of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and does an excellent job at capturing the essence of island life. Terryl is very friendly and does not mind if you stop to talk to him while he is at work; so don’t be afraid to approach him the next time you bump into him.

Flashbacks: Expats Partook In Early Carnabal
Carnabal is perhaps as old as San Pedro or at least over one hundred years ago for sure. This is a historic flashback moment as it takes us back to one of the first expatriates to Ambergris Caye. We are referring to Mr. Vernon Hamman who took this photo and who settled on Ambergris Caye in the middle of the 1950’s. Featured here is Holly Hammon who lived in San Pedro on and off with her parents. Of course, a beautiful clear skinned blonde with blue eyes was very noticeable among a Mestizo population as is Neria Arceo, Tavo Arceo and Elena Graniel Ayuso who were dressed as Indians for this Carnabal dance of 1957 or 58. Holly is well remembered by her peers at the time as a joyful, friendly, beautiful white girl who was very privileged by San Pedro standards. However, at the time she was just an ordinary Sanpedrana who is remembered very fondly up to this day. Flashback salutes Holly and thanks her for this photo from the album or rather from the boxes of Mr. Vernon and Terry Hammon.

Misc Belizean Sources

Bob Marley Tribute!
Saturday Feb. 8th

Validation Session on Climate Change Assessment
The Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development (MFFSD), on behalf of the Government of Belize, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, and with funding from the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU GCCA) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is holding a two day consultative workshop on the Integrated Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (V&A) for the following six sectors: agriculture, tourism, water, coastal development, health and fisheries. Targeted participants from the media, academia, research institutions, and relevant Ministries and Government departments have been invited to attend the presentation of the V&A Assessment on Wednesday, February 5th and Thursday, February 6th, 2014, from 8:30 am- 4pm at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. The purpose of the workshop is to discuss the findings relating to the vulnerabilities of each sector to Climate Change and the sector specific adaptation measures that can be implemented to facilitate resilience. This approach would ensure that each sector’s input is taken into consideration for the final Report, which will be done by Dr. Bhawan Singh, Climatologist-Consultant and Honorary Professor from the University of Montreal, Canada. The workshop is being carried out as a follow up to the Integrated Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment held in Belize City workshop in September 2013, and is a major component of two (2) projects carried out by the National Climate Change Office (NCCO):

FFB Youth Development Program
The Football Federation of Belize had their Youth Development Program at Norman Broaster last week, and it culminated in the Football Festival on Saturday. Thanks, FFB, for providing this for our youth. "The Football Federation of Belize (FFB) continues the launching of its Youth Development Programs across the country. This Wednesday 29/1/2014 the launching of the programs is in San Ignacio and continues thru to Saturday 1/2/2014 when it culminates with a Football Festival. The FFB and the Cayo Football Association encourages footballers to attend the launchings at the Broaster Stadium between the hours of 4 – 6 on Thursday for the U-15 & Friday for U-17 players."

Illegal Waste Dumping Announcement from the Belize Solid Waste Management Authority
The Belize City Transfer Station located at Mile 3 on theGeorge Price Highway is now fully operational.

Looking for scholarship or training opportunities?
Then you should visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website. Just follow the instructions on the photo below.

Coconut Macaroons
6 egg whites Pinch salt 2/3 cup honey (run your honey under some hot water if it has crystallized, it needs to be liquid) 2 1/2 cups shredded coconut Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets with coconut oil. Beat egg whites until almost stiff peaks form. Add salt. Slowly pour in honey while whipping the eggs. Fold in the shredded coconut with a spatula until it's thoroughly mixed. Be gentle, you don't want to deflate the eggs. Using a large cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheets spacing about 1 inch apart.

Intercitidina Video for Rotaract Club of the Year
The Rotaract Club of San Ignacio, which won the Club of the Year, has a great video of all the events they did last year. Inspire you it will. Great high-energy soundtrack too. Thanks, Rotaract, for all the amazing projects you undertake in Cayo. "This video is a compilation of the work done in the Cayo Areas that the Rotaract Club of San Ignacio is responsible for. The work shown begins from Intercitadina 2013 to the start of Intercitadina 2014. We hope this video inspires you and gives you all an insight of the works we do. San Ignacio won the award: Club of the Year for the Country of Belize, 2014!"

Metal Haven at Soul Project
Metal Haven Acoustica is coming to the Soul Project! It'll be on May 10th, and tickets are only $5.

BNE Charitable Trust Expands Student Loan Program
Feelgood news of the day. The BNE Charitable Trust is expanding the Student Loan Program considerably. Thanks, BNE! "The Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust announces the expansion of its national Student Loan Program. The Student Loan Program is a partnership with local credit unions and started as a pilot initiative in April 2009 when the Trust seeded an initial investment of $1 million dollars. This pilot has yielded loan facilities to over 600 Belizean students pursuing secondary and tertiary education at local institutions throughout the country. Today, the Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust is pleased to announce an additional investment of $1.5 million dollars to scale up and expand the program, thereby bringing its total investment to $2.5 million."

Benque Market Positions
If you want a stall in the Benque Market, they are accepting applications. Contact the Benque Viejo Town Council for more information. "Applications for Benque Market NOW AVAILABLE Aplicaciones para el Mercado YA DISPONIBLE For more information, please visit Benque town hall."

Buy and Sell Classifieds 3-Feb
Buy and Sell Weekly has a new issue out. Read all about the benefits of massage and the sights in Mountain Pine Ridge in this one.

Nowhere to Fly at Gwen Lizarraga
Nowhere to fly is a production that involves (dance, theatre, etc) that discusses the effects of gang involvement on our young population. It aims to spark a national dialogue (first starting in Belize City) in a constructive debate about gangs in the face of increasing efforts to suppress gang activity with police presence through GSU and Precinct Policing. Two of five scheduled performances have already taken place at Central American Boulevard and the Gwen Lizarraga High School. The next production will be held February 22 on Albert Street as part of the 2014 Street Art Festival. During the auditions Artistic Director Joseph Stamp-Romero, who also wrote the piece, stated that individuals who had already been witnesses to gang related violence were sought to play the characters. One person looking at the play at Gwen Liz remarked that the performers did not seem to be acting as much as retelling their stories; a testament to the quality of the actors' craft and the auditioning process.

"Nowhere to Fly" Gwen Lizarraga edition (24 photos)
Taken at Gwen Lizarraga High School

IMPORTATION/EXPORTATION of goods between Belize and Mexico suspended.
Today the Corozal Daily was at the Mexican border and Belizean businessmen continue to be agitated over a sensitive temporary halt of goods over the Mexican border that are the core economic activities in the area. The only custom Broker agency – SERVICIOS ADUANEROS INTEGRADOS, S.C. (SAI) for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border, has been suspended since Friday 24th. Goods and merchandise cannot be transported into Mexico, or from Mexico into Belize since the license for SAI has been and remains suspended. The reason for the suspension by the Mexican authorities, or when it will be lifted, is not yet known. Marcelino Miranda of the Mexican Embassy in Belize has stated to the media that SAI, the custom broker agency on the Mexican territory, is a private company and has nothing to do with the Mexican Government.

Channel 7

Wanted Honduran Human Trafficker In Belize
40 year-old Honduran Blanca Garay Rodriguez is in the custody of the Belize Immigration Department tonight. She is waiting to be handed over to the authorities of her home country following a warrant for her arrests as a suspected facilitator for a human trafficking ring in that country. Yesterday, immigration officers got a tip that there was a woman wanted by Interpol living in the Mile 8 Community on the Western Highway. They responded and detained Rodriguez, and a check of her documents revealed that she was a Honduran national who was granted a permit to enter into the country and stay here until last week Tuesday. The immigration documents also showed that she entered the country 3 weeks ago, and that she failed to comply with the terms of her visitor's permit.

Teachers Give Themselves An A+
On January 6th, the Belize National Teachers Union said its members would raise their voice in 2014 - and they have. The Union successfully staged six rallies across the country in 21 days - showing impressive machinery and muscle. Success was assured because the main thing that drove them to rally was already assured: their raise of pay was in pocket, but the teachers wanted to broaden their voice on a range of national issues - and these days, if it's scandal you're looking for there's no shortage of that. Today, the union assessed itself, and not surprisingly, the teachers gave themselves an A+ - but like concerned parents, we wanted to know what was really behind that report card. Here's what we found out at a rally wrap-up press conference:.. Jules Vasquez reporting Today, union leaders from the districts came to BNTU headquarters in Belize City for a victory lap. Their rallies are over, and they are claiming success: Kathleen Flowers, Belize District President "Were we not successful? Yes we dare say we were. We brought a level of success in that we got the nation thinking about the issues."

Education Minister Says It's Not Personal With Union
And while that's the Report that the BNTU gave to the media today, the Minister of Education also had a few comments to share about their rallies. He held a breakfast meeting with the press this morning, where he unveiled new social justice programs for needy students under his ministry, and when he was asked about the rallies, he said that whatever the Union Executives said on the Rostrums for these 6 different rallies - up to an including calling him a "lee bwai", he doesn't take it personally: Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education "The ministry remains committed to working with the BNTU. I know that that is something that you have as great concern. A lot has been said by union officials on the rostrum and the podiums of these rallies. Let me assure you that as minister and as head of the ship of the Ministry of Education and I don't take any of it personal, that in fact as I think Winston Churchill once advised that when there are these kinds of events, of course he was talking about war, I am not talking about war, that you don't get distracted by all of this noise and trying to defend. Although some will accuse me of that, but from now we are on track and we are hoping that sharing these initiatives with you this morning will help us to move forward because we waste time defending and defending and we are distracted from where we want to go. This ministry is focused. This ministry has a plan."

Ex Commish Henderson Rebuts Vidal
Last night, we showed you the statement from the Commander of the Gang Suppression Unit, Superintendent Marco Vidal, who said that at the then Commissioner of Police, David Henderson sanctioned the search and charging of Corporal Gino Peck. Well, Henderson, who is now the Director of the National Forensic Science Service, says that Vidal statement does not properly reflect his involvement in that case. Via Telephone, Henderson told us that yes indeed, he was informed of the search, and will not deny that, but he says he didn't sanction any criminal charges against Peck. According to Henderson, he was not informed that there was any intent to bring criminal charges against Peck, until after it was done, and he adds that from the time he was informed that a search was conducted, he had been trying to intervene for the GSU to bring disciplinary charges. He said that he had made it quite clear that he would have preferred that disciplinary action was taken against Peck.

Hon. King Pressed "Record" Again?
7news has confirmed that there is major tension in the Barrow administration tonight, and Ministers of State Mark King and Edmund Castro are at the center of it. Last Friday, the pair had a meeting with businessman and former UDP National Campaign Manager Karim Barges. Our information says the talking was very frank - and in it, certain allegations of corruption against Castro were discussed plainly with him. And our reports say that while all this was unfolding Mark King was recording the conversation. Our information says that shortly after the meeting was finished, he forwarded the conversation to the Prime Minister Dean Barrow to implicate Castro. That's where it lies tonight, like a slide in a slide projector just waiting for someone to turn on the light. As far as we know only King and the Prime Minister presently have copies of the conversation. King has a past history of recording conversations with his party Officials.

CWU Pres Audrey Says Security Workers Are OK
Yesterday, 7News showed you the testy back and forth between Mayor Darrell Bradley and the media about the ongoing dispute surrounding imminent termination the 26 security workers, whose jobs are being made redundant. While that conversation between the Bradley and the reporters got heated, CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd says that her meeting with him and the Labour Commissioner was very cordial. She hosted a press conference this evening, and gave the media an update on that meeting from yesterday: Audrey Matura Shepherd, President - CWU "We know that for now the mayor has agreed that the terminations will not take effect until this Friday. We are in negotiations; we are telling him Friday is not enough to negotiate with him. The other update is that that of Couse information came to us because we had a meeting with the mayor yesterday with the councilor responsible for security Mr. Willoughby and 2 members of staff Ms. Nunez and Ms. Ursela. Both of them are administrators; one is the human resource officer and one is her assistant."

Ministry Makes Secondary Funding More Needs - Based
On the Prime Minister's New Year's Day address, PM Barrow promised that his government would engage in initiatives to lessen the burden of parents with graduating high school students by paying for CXC examinations. Well, the government's intervention is more far reaching than that. They've been working with the schools for their Secondary Education Finance Reform Initiative. It's a program where the Ministry is seeking to assist all students and their parents to make education more affordable. At a breakfast event today, Minister of Education Patrick Faber unveiled how this program will work where his ministry of cooperating with the Ministry of Human Development, Poverty Alleviation, and Social Transformation. Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education "This initiative which is phased over 7 years and seeks to level the playing field of secondary education financing by allocating public resources to secondary schools on a per student basis and including compensation component of additional funding for students identified as having academic or socio economic need. Related to this secondary education finance reform we are currently engaged in negotiating with secondary schools a restructuring and capping of secondary school fees. This we proposed to include waivers of fees for students identified as having socio economic need."

Unions Not Happy with Hon. Faber
And as you might expect the teachers union is not too happy with the proposal. But it's not the proposal itself, it's the process of getting there - and what they say is a lack of consultation. The President explains:.. Luke Palacio, BNTU National President "We are looking at the secondary schools finance reform right now that is affecting our teachers. Again, it's a done deal. We are called to a meeting and say this is what is going to happen in education. Where was the research done? Who was to do the research, was it the teachers or the ministry? Inviting the teachers to come and let us research this matter and then decide that this is the best remedy or the best way to address it." The minister of education told us this evening that the finance reform was undertaken in 2010 in which the union's former president was intimately involved. He added that everything that is done, the joint staff relations council is a part of it and the union is represented on that.

Incinerator "Brukdown," Infectious Waste Stored In PG Morgue
There is a health concern coming out of Punta Gorda tonight. Our colleagues at PGTV report that toxic medical waste in red bags is being stored in the PG Morgue. Red bag waste is the most sensitive type of medical waste and it is bagged like that to denote potentially infectious material or a biohazard. But the bags have nowhere else to go because the incinerator at that facility broke down, and then so did the one at the Southern Regional Hospital! So, the waste had to be disposed of by burial, but the earth was too wet for heavy equipment to operator. With that it had to be stored in the morgue and the incinerator room. As bad as it looks to the public eye, today a senior health inspector told us the waste does not pose a public health risk:.. John Bodden, Senior Public Health Inspector "Currently they are being kept under good condition. They are being properly managed. Its just that we've had difficulty in terms of the disposal of the red waste from the hospital." Jules Vasquez "Okay, but sir is this safe having these red bags in the morgue? We know that red bags are the most toxic sort of medical waste."

Gun In Bar
Caye Caulker police collected an illegal weapon when they searched a bar. It happened on Saturday 1st February 2014 at 12 when checks were made at a Bar located in the village and whilst there one of the officers heard a loud noise as if something heavy dropped on the tiles. He then made checks by the area where he found a .38 revolver without rounds bearing a serial number on the floor. The firearm was taken to the police station and labeled as found property.

The Burning Bus Was Borrowed Goods
Remember the burning bus we showed you last night? Well, it's owner Linsdale Blease is mighty ticked off because he rented it to Gregory Duran, who then rented it to Richard Arnold - who was in charge when it caught on fire. The bus was seen at mile 25 where some was streaming from all corners. No one was hurt.

"Midgit" Manzanero For Murder
Tonight, 27 year-old Kevin "Midget" Manzanero is spending his second night at the Belize Central prison after he was charged and arraigned for the murder of 57 year-old Freddy Lopez Sr. Viewers may remember on December 23, Lopez was shot and killed in front of his wife, daughter-in-law, and his 2 grand-daughters in San Ignacio. Well, after 6 weeks, police have finally charged one of the two men they believe to have been his killers. Via phone, The Deputy Officer Commanding San Ignacio Police explained the circumstances surrounding Manzanero's arrest: Insp. Reymundo Reyes "Yesterday morning we got a directive from the office of the director of public persecutions that we could proceed with charges of murder, conspiracy to commit robbery against Mr. Manzanero - the charges for the death of Mr. Freddy Lopez - because he constituted to that of a robbery which ended up in a murder. That why he was given the other charge of conspiracy to commit robbery also."

Community Computer Literacy
The Samuel Haynes Center on Mahogany street is the home base for many successful pilot programmes, and now they have another - computer literacy for the community. Sargeant Brent Hamilton who is in charge of community policing explained how it came about:.. Sgt. Brent Hamilton "The program got stated in having our cadets on Tuesdays, Mondays, Wednesdays and myself and Mr. Jenkins and some of the parents came in and ask for the help for their kids. I told Mr. Jenkins that the community that I work in - no matter where they come from; red, blue, yellow, green - this is about people. That's where my passion is - people. We need to do something for our community when it comes to technology. I thought myself but I want a better way forward for someone to teach these mothers and we look up at the ceiling in my office right behind us here and said where will the computers come from? Where the expert will come from? Who will finance it and so I knocked on my door behind me and I look and I saw Mr. Elrington one day walking in the compound and I said ahhhhh."

Channel 5

An international fugitive, wanted for human trafficking, is caught in Belize
A Honduran woman is the latest international fugitive to be caught in Belize.  Forty year old Blanca Garay Rodriguez was on the run since early January; she was picked up [...]

The B.N.T.U. rallies; union says the numbers don’t lie
Fresh off a series of rallies and marches, the Belize National Teachers Union took stock today of a series of industrial actions held throughout the month of January. The final [...]

Minister of Education extends an olive branch to the union
At the height of the recent demonstrations, there were heated exchanges between the Belize National Teachers Union and the government. The prime minister called B.N.T.U. President, Luke Palacio, a windup [...]

The CWU versus the Belize City Mayor
Since last week the fate of security workers declared redundant by the City Council has been under much scrutiny. Those workers received their layoff letters on January twenty-third, and the [...]

CWU President says it needs at least 2 weeks to settle issue of fired workers
Matura-Shepherd says that by only asking for two weeks, she is showing extreme goodwill, since the union could demand its month notice. That request has been formally submitted to Mayor [...]

Should the gun laws be revised?
And our question for tonight is: Do you think the gun laws should be revised? Yes or No. Send your comments and responses using your SMART phones to 8686 or [...]

B.D.F. Soldier, Cpl. Norman Rodriguez, in need of medical assistance
In 2007, B.D.F. Corporal Norman Rodriguez was diagnosed with a condition called arterio-venous malformation on the brain. It’s not a tumor, but it is something like a growth…an abnormal connection [...]

…He says he has been let him down, but the B.D.F. says not so
Corporal Rodriguez feels that the B.D.F. has let him down, and feels that he is being given the runaround. Today News Five was in Price Barracks, where we discovered that [...]

Accused Murderer, Edwin Paula, escapes and is on the run
On June fifth, four persons were formally arraigned for murder and attempted murder after a brazen robbery attempt at a bar in Belmopan. Three of them were fourth form students [...]

Kevin ‘Midget’ Manzanero finally arraigned for murder of Fredy Lopez
On January nineteenth, a month long police manhunt for Kevin ‘Midget’ Manzanero ended when the wanted man was chopped as he allegedly attempted to enter a home in the Chapel [...]

Hazardous waste stockpiling at Punta Gorda Hospital
There are allegations of a harmful situation brewing at the Punta Gorda Hospital tonight.  News Five understands that hazardous waste, including expended hypodermic needles, as well as other biological refuse, [...]

Ministry of Education launches financial aid program for high school students
With the teachers rallies now concluded, the Ministry of Education is launching a financial aid program for students enrolled in secondary schools.  Following an extensive review of the sector, the [...]

Attorney calls Firearms Act unconstitutional
The recent arrest, trail and conviction of Corporal Gino Peck have brought the Firearms Act into sharp focus. But the truth is that since the Act was amended in 2008 [...]

A literacy program for residents of St. Martin De Porres
Residents of the St. Martin de Porres area are benefiting from computer literacy thanks to a program spearheaded by the Belize Police Department with assistance from the Samuel Haynes Institute [...]

Diabetes – a silent, but most deadly disease
The Belize City Council, in association with Body 2000 and the Diabetes Association, launched its Get Moving Belize program on Monday. It’s an initiative created to get citizens more aware [...]

World Cancer Day
Today is recognized globally as World Cancer Day and for the rest of the week a campaign will take place to increase cancer knowledge and eliminate misconceptions about the deadly [...]

The Recall and Order parody; a belly full of laughter
Last December, the Elections and Boundaries commission said no to a recall petition for the Cayo Northeast Constituency. Elvin Penner, the disgraced former minister of state, was found to have [...]


Importation And Exportation Problem At The Belize/Mexico Border Solved
Fifteen days that’s how long the importation and exportation at the Northern Border was put on halt due to the suspension of the license of the only Agencia Aduanal “SAI” at the Mexican Border in Supteniente Lopez. Tonight, the good news is that another broker agency has begun operations and is working tirelessly to release all cargo trucks that have been stranded for days. Reporter Victor Castillo has been following the story since last week and today he was once again at the Mexican border and filed the following report. Over the past days we have been reporting on the ongoing situation at the Belize/Mexico Border where products were not being allowed to be exported or imported to and from Belize and Mexico due to the suspension of license for the Agencia Aduanal, “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados,” which is the only broker agency for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border in Subeniente Lopez. After sitting at the border for fifteen days, these containers, filled with a number of products including cement, steel and vegetables are finally being released for importation to Belize. The problem was solved with the opening of a new broker agency which started its operations on Friday last. With the importation and exportation of goods returning to normality we managed to speak with Jesus Miguel Lara the director of the new agency, “Alfonso Bello Juarez”. Lara explained to us more in detail the entire operation.

Thousands Of Dollars Lost due To Importation/Exportation At The Border
While the problem of importation and exportation of goods at the Northern Border is finally resolved, the damage has been done and truth of the fact is it will take days before all the containers have been released. The 15 days interruption has caused a trickle effect on the economy of Belize with its rippling effects being felt by distributors down to the layman. Reporter Maria Novelo followed the story and filed this report. Maria Novelo – Reporting An unexpected shortage of cement has stunned the construction industry in the northern districts, delaying many projects; from small to large scale. And the present embargo is being blamed on the freezing of importing and exporting cargo trucks at the Mexican Border; where we understand, the license for trade of the broker agency, “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados,” has been suspended. It’s a suspension going on for fifteen days and today, the effects are being felt from the distributors to the average construction men, who are either unable to supply the cement or can’t build due to the shortage.

BMDC Manages To Salvage Shipment Of Onion At The Border
The unusual impasse on importations into Belize from the Santa Elena Border in the north has been resolved since late Friday evening. As we reported, the license to the only broker in the Subteniente Lopez area, Chetumal Mexico was cancelled preventing all shipments from entering Belize. One of these shipments belonged to the Belize Marketing Development Cooperation, BMDC. Contrary to reports, that shipment was salvaged and today we spoke with a representative of the BMDC who clarified the situation. Reporter Dalila Ical has that story! Dalila Ical – Reporting Reports on the media have been varied in regards to the Santa Elena Border situation but Administrator at the Belize Marketing Development Cooperation Sylverio Marin says that contrary to reports, the BMDC has not lost any of its onions being imported from Mexico. One shipment that was stalled had been brought across. That container was stocked with six hundred bags of two varieties, white and red onions.

BTIA Chapter Vandalized
There have been sporadic campaigns to encourage civic pride among Belizeans countrywide. This is even encouraged in various schools and by environmentally conscious civilians. However, there is that part of our communities that make the efforts all the more challenging and every so often members of the public have to endure unpleasant sceneries of pollution and defaced buildings. This is the case of members and executives of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, Orange Walk Chapter. Tourism Information Officer, Jasmine Zetina, contacted our offices to bring their contention to public notice for one reason only – to reiterate the importance of community consciousness and pride. According to Zetina, members of the BTIA chapter had only repainted the BTIA office building last Wednesday in an effort to cover areas that had graffiti. It was a small project that took some time to fund but only days after the wall was once again defaced. Jasmine Zetina – Tourism Information Officer, BTIA, OW “Sunday afternoon when I came here at the office I was angered and appalled at the same time sadden at the fact that the back wall of the centre once again has been graffiti and this around it has been done even worst, the persons went ahead and graffiti the post and did their art work and as well as on the sign here where we have the BTIA Orange Walk sign. The BTIA Orange Walk members have decided to stand and say you know what enough, we actually have had enough of this and we are trying very hard to get our Orange Walk community, our town beautified and moving forward. We are not going to give up we still going to continue strive for it and we can only move forward with it in orange Walk with the help of the community and we are trying together with the community to make Orange Walk a better place to visit and a better place to live in.”

BNE And LICU Extend Access To Students Loan Program
The Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust in conjunction with the la Inmaculada Credit Union has expanded a program that seeks to help Belizeans access student loans. The program, the National Student Loan Program’s first phase was started in 2009 and made small loans accessible to high school, tertiary and university students across the country. That part of the project has been concluded and yesterday both parties signed a new agreement that sees to increasing the amount of funding to the LICU for student loans. Credit Manager at the LICU Reynaldo Novelo elaborates on the criteria for obtaining a loan. Reynaldo Novelo – Credit manager, LICU “Generally, what would be required is that the student must forward a letter of acceptance from the institution they will be studying, they will need to become a member of the Credit Union if they are not one of them but if they are member they can participate in the program and also in terms of their grade point average, they must at least a 2.5 from the feeder institution from where they are coming from and during the course of the program then we will develop a cost estimate whereby we will see that the applicant will be in a position where they can finance at least 20% of the studies that they are involved in and the institution will finance the 80%, also during the course of their studies they must maintain a GPA of 2.5. We will disperse the monies by semester and each semester the student will be required to furnish to the Credit Union a list of the expenses that they had incurred through the semester and then we will be disbursing the monies for the semester.”

PUP Orange Walk East Committee Issue Release In Support For OWTC Land Acquisition
The People’s United Party Orange Walk East Executive Committee today issued a lengthy release on a resolution to support the Town Council’s lease application to the Ministry of Natural resources for the acquisition of parcels 2215, 2218 and 2219 for the Community Park and playground under the municipal jurisdiction meaning the East Sports Center and Guadalupe Park. On the night of January 28th, the East Executive body met to discuss the motion and unanimously voted in favor of four points which include: For parcel 2215 to be used as originally planned for the designated Guadalupe Park, 2. For parcels 2218 and 2219 to be obtained and used as sports playground, 3. That community parks and playgrounds be the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Orang Walk Town Council and 4. That the Orange Walk East Executive Committee supports the notion that the Town Council is best fit to operate at a local level for development as per their mandate.

Former Assistant Commissioner Elodio Aragon Jr. Wins Convention In O/W East
The General Elections are three years away but with both major political parties already setting the stage by holding conventions to elect their Standard Bearers it would seem that elections are not that far. Over the weekend the ruling party held convention in the Orange Walk East Constituency where two candidates, who already have a political back ground, threw in their hat in the political ring. Backed up by his father, former Minister Elodio Aragon, Elodio Aragon Junior, Former Deputy Police Commissioner went head to head against former UDP Town Councilor and teacher David Constanza. It was in deed a tight race that at the end even prompted allegations that the winner bought over the election. Our news team was there to capture the highlights and filed the following report. Flamboyant Street in Orange Walk Town was closed off to a sea of red shirts and populated with tents - it looked like a political festival had come to town. But inside on Zericote Street, at the entrance to Louisiana Government School, it was intense and competitive despite it being a UDP Convention. Former Deputy Police Commissioner, dubbed ‘Son of the East’ Elodio Aragon Junior went head to head against former UDP Town Councilor and six form teacher David Contanza who was looking to enhance his political carrier by contending the title of Standard Bearer for the Orange Walk East Constituency. Both candidates felt extremely confident in what would be a close race for the east.

Bus Loaded With Tourist Ignited By Fire, No One Is Hurt
A group of tourist received the fright of their lives this afternoon as the bus they were traveling in burst into flames near mile 25 of the George Price Highway. Images we received show the bus completely engulfed in flames and fire fighters doing their best to dose off the inferno. We have been unable to confirm what caused the bus to catch fire but we can tell you is that luckily, no one was injured.

BTB Holds Consultation On National Classification System
The Belize Tourism Board’s quality Assurance team was in the Orange Walk District today to conduct consultations with stakeholder on improving the quality standards of their services. It is all about providing a good night’s rest to customers. Compliance Officer of the Quality Assurance Department, Shola Babb says the team has completed the National Classification system for accommodations and is now conducting its second round of work by meeting with the stakeholders. “Last year the compliance team for the quality assurance department went around the country to do our standards check on all properties and now we are back again to go around with our second round of audits. We came back to Orange Walk to speak to them about what they find out, because they all received reports, so we talking to them about what they received in their reports and how they feel about the different ideas that we gave them and about the legislation that we put in place.”

BTIA O/W Chapter Discusses Issues Affecting Industry
The Orange Walk Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association held a forum over the weekend to share updates on issues affecting the industry stakeholders. The event saw the participation of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP). Chairperson of the BTIA, OW Chapter, Yvette Torres, told us more. “The Belize Cane Farmers having lately with BSI/ASR position of the cane farming of the bagasse. We can say what they were trying to come in agreement with and so basically it is for them to share with us their status at this point in time and also we had the VIP’s which is the anti-corruption movement from Belmopan, they just appraised us with their vision and their existence and what is their way forward in this movement. So it was BTIA decision that me wanted for us to have a better understanding with what is really happening in our community and with our national issues and how we can engage in these types of forums with them.”

Preparing Future Professional Football Players
Primary School students do not only score some of the best academic achievements in Orange Walk. There are those students who become some of the best sports athletes as well, and one school in town may very well be honing the skills of some of the best football players the district has known. How so, you ask? Well through friendly football matches amongst classes. Here is a look at the initiative at the La Inmaculada Primary School. Today was a great day for a football match! The morning sun was bright and warm. The teams were dressed and ready to play ball and parents were present to cheer their favourite team on. The players – male and female teams from room six and seven of the La Inmaculada Infant division.

Philip Alvarez Park Gets Facelift
Last week we reported on a group comprised of teachers and students from Mills Christian School in Edmonton Alberta, Canada who are carrying out community service projects throughout urban and rural areas of Orange Walk Town. This weekend, the group’s efforts were turned to the Philip Alvarez Park, a favorite recreational spot for many residents of Union Town. We caught up with the team and asked of their efforts, which are nearing completion. no-photoDavid Calbert– Group Leader, Mills Christian School “Our school actually sends teams to a few different countries; we have been to Mexico, right now we have one team at the Dominican and we have another one in southern Belize and two in Jamaica right now so they are doing some of the projects, working in some villages, doing house builds and things like that. We ended up coming down to Belize a few years ago with a different organizations that had some inroads and so and when we got here we just got in love with it so we were just trying to find ways of building into the community and in finding ways to be practical help and to also be practical application of what we think our faith is about.”

Philip Goldson Highway Records Another Fatality
This afternoon, shortly after midday, the Philip Goldson Highway registered its 2nd fatal traffic accident when it claimed the life of a 47 year old man from the Village of San Joaquin in the Corozal District. While police are still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together all indications are that the victim was under the influence of alcohol when the accident and that might have contributed to the fatality. Reporter Victor Castillo was at the scene of the traffic accident and filed the following. Tonight the remains of 47 year old Ricardo Eustacio Castellanos lies at the Corozal Community Hospital’s Morgue tonight while his family members prepare to lay him to rest. Castellanos’ life was cut short shortly after midday today when he was knocked down between miles 73 and 74 on the Philip Goldson Highway in the Village of Louisville in the Corozal District. When we arrived in the area police was already processing the scene but the body of the deceased still stretched on the highway in a pool of blood.

13 Year Old Drowns In Dug Out Pond
A teenager lost his life on Sunday after an outing with friends turned deadly. The 13 year old drowned in dug out pond located in a marl pit near the Village of Chan Pine Ridge in the Orange Walk District. While authorities in Orange Walk Town are still investigating the drowning our news team headed out to the area today and filed the following report. At first glance, this dug out maul pit seemingly looks like a refreshing dip on a windy Sunday afternoon, but little did a trio of friends know, the outing would end in tragedy. Thirteen year old Luis Uh, better known as ‘Paisita’ of a Mahogany Street Address, Orange Walk Town and two other friends decided to visit this area, a maul pit, located some two miles off the Chan Pine Ridge road near the dumpsite. But the afternoon outing turned deadly after 3:00pm. Orange Walk Police was informed of the suspected drowning a little before 4:00pm and dispatched a team from the CIB and Crime Scene Branch to the secluded area.


Belizean Importers Delayed at Mexican Border
Several importers of Mexican goods are stuck at the northern border unable to enter Belize since Friday last week. Arturo Cantún has the details. ARTURO CANTUN REPORTING “Approximately 50 cargo trucks filled with Mexican goods are parked at the northern border on the Mexican side. These include trucks with goods destined to Belize as well as Guatemala and Honduras. Since Friday, importers and exporters have been unable to get clearance for their goods as the license for the only custom brokers at the border on the Mexican side has been suspended by the Mexican’s Ministry of Finance. We spoke about the situation with Belize’s Honorary Consul in Chetumal, Licenciado Jorge Valencia. JORGE VALENCIA “The situation at the Mexican border is that the Customs Brokers’ licenses were revoked and since they are revoked, they cannot do any type of documentation either for importation or exportation because the system won’t accept the number they have as their license. So, until their licenses are placed in order again, they won’t be able to work. I spoke to some people earlier this morning at the Mexican customs and they are working to resolve it. What happened is that on Monday, it was a holiday in Mexico and this took place on Friday evening and since today is their first working day, they are seeing if they can resolve this as soon as possible. It is affecting Belizean importers because they cannot export from Mexico to Belize; all their goods are stuck at the border because there is a lack of customs brokers. I believe and I hope that it should be resolved by the end of the day or first thing in the morning.”

Police News: Escaped Prisoner, Stolen Vehicle
A Belizean laborer has reported to the authorities that his green and black Suzuki Side-Kick vehicle was stolen between the hours of one and five o’clock on Monday, February 3, 2014. The Belize City resident, 38-year-old, Syrus Welch told police that his vehicle, with license plate C-62886 was parked at the taxi stand on the George Price Highway. Investigations are on-going. A bus rented to Richard Arnold caught fire on the George Price Highway near mile twenty five yesterday at around 1:40pm. Police along with the Belize Fire Department responded to the scene and efforts were made to extinguish the fire. Reports are that the bus belongs to Linsdale Blease who had rented it to his stepson, Gregory Duran who in-turn rented it to Richard Arnold. The cause of the fire is still unknown and investigations continue.

Interpol Leads Immigration Officers to Alleged International Human Trafficker
Alleged international human trafficker Blanca Rodriguez, a 40 year old Honduran national who is wanted in Honduras for human trafficking, was fined one thousand dollars today by Magistrate Leslie Hamilton after she pled guilty to failure to comply with the conditions of her visitor’s permit. She was ordered to pay the fine forthwith, in default six months imprisonment. She was unable to pay so she was taken to prison. At the end of her term she will be deported to Honduras. Immigration officers, acting on information they received from Interpol, went to a house at Sunset Park yesterday and picked up Rodriguez. She arrived in Belize about three weeks ago via the western border and she was given a permit to stay in Belize for four days and because she had violated the conditions of her permit she was arrested and charged.

Taxi Driver Fined for Facilitating Honduran with False Document
Twenty-four year old Belizean national Dyron Galves, a businessman and taxi driver of Castle Street who tried to help a Honduran woman to get a Belizean visa by using a false document, was fined one thousand dollars today by Magistrate Hettie Mae Stuart after he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty to a charge of assisting a person to use a falsified document. Galves was ordered to pay three hundred dollars forthwith and the balance by March 4, in default six months imprisonment. Galves paid the three hundred dollars and he was released. On December 3,2013, Galves and Honduran national Rebecca Garmendia went to immigration office in Belize City with her passport and a job letter from Galves which claimed that he worked for Chinese businessman Zen Hui Yan at a peanuts supermarket on Kelly Street. When immigration officers checked they found that Galves did not work for Yan. When they went to Tang’s Supermarket, owned by Yan and they interviewed Yan he told then that he did not sign any job letter and he did not give anybody permission to use his name.

BNTU Says it Is Not About the Salary
The Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU, today held a post-rally press conference at its Belize City headquarters. The event was to give a report card on the support the Union received at its rallies and to unveil its plan for the next two months on issues it deems of national importance to which it feels the Government should give urgent attention. In all instances, the Union reports at least a 90 percent turnout of its branch memberships in the respective municipalities where the rallies were held. Its President, Luke Palacio, underscored that teachers did not hold the rallies solely to get their salary adjustments, but also to get the government to address issues such as corruption and classroom hazards. Another sticking point for the Union is the social security coverage for people traveling to and from work, which National President, Luke Palacio, said needs clarification. LUKE PALACIO “In terms of the social security, the to and from work, we know that a couple weeks ago in the Amandala newspaper, the Social Security did put a release in there where they were talking about coverage of our employment injury to and from work and we feel that the release seems to be somewhat contradictory.

Corozal Police Puzzled by An Apparent Suicide in Corozal
The body of a Hispanic man was collected off the Philip Goldson Highway between miles seventy three and seventy four by Police officers in Corozal. Reports coming out of the Corozal Town Police Station indicate that on Monday, February 3, 2014, Police were called out to the area at around 12:15pm when they encountered the man later identified as 46-year-old, Ricardo Eustacio Castellanos, an unemployed resident of San Joaquin Village in the Corozal District. Upon arrival at the scene, police also encountered a green Toyota Corolla sedan parked about four hundred feet into the road side. Investigations revealed that the taxi, bearing license plates CZL-D-1913 was being driven by 56-year-old, taxi driver, Giovanni Correa also of San Joaquin Village heading in the direction to Orange Walk when the deceased reportedly threw himself onto the highway in the path of the oncoming taxi. The impact caused severe injuries to his head and face and killed him on the spot. The scene of the incident was processed by the investigators and Police noted that there were no damages to the car. Castellanos was taken to the Corozal Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at around 2:22pm. The taxi driver was issued with a notice of intended prosecution and the body of deceased awaits a post mortem examination as the matter remains under investigation.


Manhunt is on After Escaped Prisoner
Authorities are on a man hunt for an escaped prisoner. The prisoner escaped on Monday around 4:30pm, while Police were transporting inmates from the Belize Central Prison. When the police van reached the Cotton Tree pedestrian ramp, 29 year old prisoner Edwin Paula jumped out and escaped. Police are now...

BNTU Declares Rallies a Success
This morning representatives of the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) met with the press in Belize City. The Union has been rallying its membership across the country in the month of January to the delight of some and the chagrin of others, especially the Government. But according to Belize...

BNTU Keeps Pressure on Government Corruption
The Union’s key message, apart from its fight for a salary adjustment, is prodding the Government to adequately address key national issues especially corruption. Today, Mr. Luke Palacio touched on some of the Government’s responses, beginning with the Occupational Health and Safety Bill. Mr. Luke Palacio- President of the...

Ministry of Education Discusses Financial Reform
This morning the Belize City press sat down with officials of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports including Minister Patrick Faber to review latest developments in education. This included proposals to revise and streamline fee schemes in high schools, school subsidies and grants and payment of examination fees...

Alleged Human Trafficker to Serve Jail Term
40 year old Blanca Rodriguez, said to be wanted by INTERPOL for alleged involvement in human trafficking, was today read a charge of failure to comply with conditions of a visitor’s permit in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court. Rodriguez pleaded guilty and began a six-month jail term after being...

San Joaquin Resident Knocked Down and Killed
A 46 year old resident of San Joaquin Village lost his life in a vehicle accident yesterday. The incident occurred at about noon, near miles 73 and 74 on the Philip Goldson Highway. According to Police, a 1996 Toyota Corolla driven by 56 year old cab driver, Geovanni Correa,...

Mexican Border Traders Gets Stucked on Their Side
Since Friday of last week, importers and exporters had been prohibited from crossing the Mexican border with Belize. This caused some 50 cargo trucks, destined for Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, to be backed up at the border. According to Mexican media, the license granted to the customs brokers were...

Salvadoran-Belizeans Denied Voting Rights at Their General Elections
Last Week Friday we aired an exclusive interview with the Ambassador of El Salvador to Belize, H.E. Ambassador Rolando Ramos, who we caught up with as he was about to leave for El Salvador with a score of five buses full of Salvadorans who live in Belize. They were...

Waste Control Issues at Punta Gorda Hospital
It is a Hospitals responsibility to ensure they implement the best sanitation policies and that those policies are enforced. However, Plus News has received credible information, that the Punta Gorda Hospital is undergoing a garbage crisis. We have received Allegations regarding sanitary neglect that contaminated garbage is being to...


The atmosphere at the Magistrate’s Court on Friday appeared surreal, as the sound of voices from an impromptu, illegal protest filtered inside the courtroom where the sentencing fate of Corporal Gino Peck, who had been found guilty of having illegal ammunition in his possession, would be determined. “Free Corporal Peck now,” the crowd chanted. Inside the courtroom, no one in authority made any attempt to quiet the protesters, as Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith accepted a submission suggested to Gino Peck’s defense attorney by Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, and imposed a fine of $600 for Peck’s three ammunition convictions. For the mitigation hearing, Peck was represented by his attorney Simeon Sampson, Senior Counsel, who was joined by Ellis Arnold, Senior Counsel. But it was the DPP’s assistance to the defense that averted the up to eight-year prison sentence that Peck’s conviction under the Fire Arms Act had mandated.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced at a press conference held at the Radisson Fort George Hotel this afternoon that water rates are due to increase in April by 6.4%—that’s an average increase of $1.04 on every 1,000 gallons a customer consumes, or $6.40 for every $100 worth of water consumed from the Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL). The existing rate is $16.24 per 1,000 gallons, and the increase would take the rate up to $17.28 per 1,000 gallons. The new rates would apply until March 31, 2015; but the public has 15 days to comment on the preliminary PUC decision. On December 31, 2013, BWSL had applied for a rate increase of 16.25%, in line with their business plan which calls for $25.679 million worth of capital investments; however, the PUC said that after reviewing BWSL’s proposal and considering the company’s past performance and its ability to fund investments, the PUC has reduced the capital investments by $11.35 million, to $14.326 million.

The Gentle family of Crooked Tree Village is today mourning the death of their son, Benjamin, Jr., 20, who was killed in a two-boat collision at about 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning in the Crooked Tree Lagoon. Benjamin was travelling with nine high school students, who are attending various high schools in Belize City and Ladyville, on a Coast Guard boat shuttle from Crooked Tree to the causeway for onward travel to Belize City and other areas, when they were hit almost broadside by another Coast Guard boat. The Coast Guard was assisting over 500 villagers daily to access the road because floods, for the last three months, have devastated the causeway linking Crooked Tree to a road leading to the Northern Highway. The boats also assisted in transporting goods and other necessities for the village. In addition to suffering huge chop wounds to his shoulder, under his right arm and on the right side of his lower back, Gentle sustained massive injury to his midsection and died almost immediately. Gentle was declared dead on arrival at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

While the sugar industry is scrambling to recover significant losses that were incurred due to an 11-week delay in the start of the season, there is huge uncertainty within the citrus industry, which happens to be another vital industry that supports the Belizean economy. As we had reported earlier this week, this predicament has arisen due to the fact that payments to local citrus growers for orange and grapefruit deliveries that have been made to the processing plant, belonging to the Citrus Products of Belize Ltd. (CPBL), have been repetitively lagging since last October when the 2013/2014 citrus crop season commenced. In order to address the very serious matter, an emergency meeting was called by the executives of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), which represents the interests of the citrus farmers. That meeting – which was initially set for last Saturday, January 25 – was held today at the CGA’s headquarters, located at Mile 9 on the Stann Creek Valley Road.

The governing United Democratic Party (UDP) held a standard-bearer convention for the Orange Walk East division on Sunday at the Louisiana Government School. After the ballots were tallied, Elodio Aragon, Jr., emerged as the new UDP candidate for Orange Walk East. Some 2,384 votes were cast, with Aragon obtaining 1,327, defeating David Constanza, who received 1,033 votes. There were 24 spoilt ballots. Aragon, who resigned from his public service job as Deputy Commissioner of Police to enter the political arena, told Amandala that he wanted to thank the UDP voters of Orange Walk East for supporting his candidacy. “I am looking forward to serving the people of the Orange Walk East constituency. We want to make Orange Walk East the pride of Orange Walk Town,” Aragon said. In reference to his opponent, Aragon added, “he is a good candidate and it was a great race.”

Quite a number of vehicle owners have fallen victim to car thieves, and today, one such victim came to Amandala, frantically trying to locate her SUV, which had been stolen over the weekend. Khadijah Castillo, who lives in the Ladyville area, told us that last Saturday, February 1, she was at the annual BDF Day Fair, where her vehicle keys got misplaced during the day, and this led to her vehicle being subsequently stolen later that night. Castillo – who was visibly distraught – said that she was attending the dance that was being held on Saturday night in Price Barracks when her vehicle was stolen from the parking lot between 12:00 midnight and 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. She explained, “Initially, earlier in the day, the keys were misplaced on the BDF campus, after which we got the spare keys to remove the vehicle from the compound. Later in the night, I went back out to the dance, and when I was leaving to go home, I discovered that the vehicle was missing. It’s a black 2005 GMC Envoy with license plate number BZ C-44411.

EDITORIAL: The gun law
“One military arena in which some of the traditional hierarchies remain intact is arms sales – at least of the traditional kind. The same dominant suppliers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany, Italy – still account for the overwhelming majority of arms deals, in a top tier that has held intact for decades.” - pg. 144, The End of Power, Moisés Naím, Basic Books, 2013 It is fair to say that the legal minds of Belize have failed us where this gun law is concerned. We have to point the finger of accusation at the Bar Association, which is the organized body of lawyers, attorneys, barristers, and so on in this country. Where was the Bar Association when the gun law was being contemplated, when it was drafted, when it was debated, and when it was being implemented so drastically as to imprison great grandparents and minor children in its unconstitutional net? The people of Belize became horrified by the explosion of violent crime in the early 1990s, and they turned desperately to the dormant death penalty. The Belizean people were told by the politicians, however, that the European Union was very much opposed to our proposed hanging of convicted murderers, because this was something the Europeans considered inhumane and dreadful. The Belizean people were told that the Europeans were being friendly to us in various trade and other arrangements, and that the Europeans would become hostile and break off these trade arrangements if we began to hang convicted murderers.

I ran into a very successful businessman on Friday afternoon when both of us went to look for the same person. This gentleman is from the generation of Belizeans before mine, and one of the aspects in which his story is a great one is that he never got the opportunity to attend high school, whereas all of his close childhood friends did. Over the years, the gentleman and I have spoken briefly on several occasions, but it may be that Friday was the occasion for our longest conversation ever. Almost certainly, it was our most probing, perhaps actually challenging. I would say that he is not bitter about his tough childhood, but it is for sure that he is triumphant in his adult success, which is spectacular. Before our time, there were stories like this. I don’t think Isaiah Morter, our first native millionaire, attended any kind of high school. Bob Turton dropped out of primary school when he was nine years old. It is possible to do business without being educated, but on Wall Street today the business leaders are educated to very high levels. They all have Master’s degrees in business administration at a minimum, and some will have degrees in law and accounting besides.

The last of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) nationwide rallies was held in the Toledo District today. This morning, teachers from the Punta Gorda and Toledo Rural branches assembled at the Toledo Sports Complex before marching toward the Toledo Central Park, where there were a host of presentations from the BNTU Punta Gorda branch president, Hilton Garbutt, as well as Toledo Rural branch president Steven Cho, and the fiery BNTU national president Luke Palacio. There was also a presentation by the Leader of the People’s National Party (PNP), Wil Maheia. In his address, Palacio updated his membership on Thursday’s meeting with Prime Minister Dean Barrow. In that meeting, seven union leaders from the Belize National Teacher’s Union, the Public Service Union (PSU), and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM) sat with the Prime Minister, to discuss a projection on revenue collection and a floor for the salary adjustment which was promised to the teachers. The floor is defined as the minimum increase that Government can commit to.

Relatives and friends are currently mourning the death of a beloved mother, grandmother and housewife who died of natural causes on Friday, January 31, 2014, at the age of 81. Ms. Constance May Locke nee Olivera was born on November 26, 1932, and lived on Bocotora Street in the Queen’s Square division in Belize City. She is described as a very active and outspoken mother of four daughters, who was good with her hands, and used to do sewing and crafts. According to her relatives, she was also a caterer and a very good cook who used to make pastries such as lemon pie, as well as other niceties such as meat pies and panades. They told Amandala that she will be remembered mostly for her outspokenness.

The Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) plans to hold a press conference tomorrow morning, at which it will update the media and the general public on its plans to step up the momentum of its national activism leading up to the reading of the next national budget in just a few months. Representatives of the BNTU and the Public Service Union met last Thursday with Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow to advance talks about the promised salary adjustment for teachers and public officers. Kathleen Flowers, BNTU’s 2nd national vice president, who is also head of the Belize District branch, told Amandala today that the BNTU executives also met over the weekend. “We are looking at continuing to advance this cause. It is not a one-off thing. We will try to sustain this until [the] reading of the budget,” Flowers told us.

On December 30 and 31, 2013, I made certain statements on Channel 5 news and in the Amandala. In these statements I implied that Mrs. Beverly Castillo abused her office as CEO in the Ministry of Natural Resources in order to facilitate title to a specific property for her mother and son. These statements were unfounded and Mrs. Castillo has consistently denied that she abused her office in the manner that I implied, and I fully accept her denial. I retract the statements made and apologize to her for the harm done to her name and reputation as a result of my statements.

Death in Cristo Rey, San Ignacio; police declare suicide
Police said that Cesar Antonio Tzib, 49, a resident of Cristo Rey, San Ignacio, committed suicide by hanging himself by the neck in an unfinished concrete building in the village on the Cristo Rey Road. They took him down and took him to the San Ignacio Hospital. The gruesome discovery was made on Thursday. Police said that they responded to a report of a suicide in Cristo Rey Village. On their arrival, they saw Tzib in a kneeling position, with a hammock wrapped around his neck. He was immediately released from the hammock and taken to the San Ignacio Hospital, where Doctor Chen of the San Ignacio Hospital, declared him dead on arrival.

Labour Commissioner intervenes on behalf of 36 terminated security officers
The Christian Workers Union (CWU), which has come to the aid of the 36 security officers of the Belize City Council’s Security Department who got their walking papers from the council in a meeting held on January 21, 2014, had some “good news” to report this afternoon. In a press conference held today by president of the CWU, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, she declared that the Labor Commissioner, Ivan Williams, has intervened on behalf of the workers who have been laid off. Matura-Shepherd stated, “The Labour Commissioner called the CWU office this morning and informed us that he had gotten all the correspondence. He was apparently out of office for a while, but he assured us that he would intervene because, based on what he was seeing, the Belize City Council had not complied with their statutory obligations to give all the notices they should. We had even inquired if he had gotten any notice as the Labour Commissioner, and we found out that [actually] he did not get any notice.

Man, 40, sexually abused his daughter, 14
The 40-year-old father of a girl, 14, is in police custody pending charges of multiple counts of incest against his child, under the age of 15, and indecent assault upon on a female child. The daughter, 14, told police that her father had sex with her regularly, against her will. The child charged that he has been taking advantage of her since 2011, the acts being committed when her mother was not at home. In September of 2011, he took her to a house in the village and raped her, the girl said. She reported that in 2012 and 2013, he engaged in sex with her frequently. Last week, on Thursday, January 30, she was at home sleeping in her bed when her father came into her room, awakened her and raped her, the girl reported.

The Mexican State Police of Chetumal, Mexico, have brought into use a Filter Review System to capture individuals for whom arrest warrants have been issued, guns, ammunition, drugs and stolen vehicles, by installing surveillance cameras and maintaining database stations on the federal highway between Chetumal and Bacalar, to the village of Huay Pix in the Chetumal area. The systems were installed yesterday. Police operate a checkpoint where vehicles travelling on the highway must stop and the names of the occupants of the vehicles are loaded into a database to make checks on their identity before clearing them. A camera also scans the vehicles for illegal and contraband goods. According to Diario De Chetumal, the database has been used to clear over 300 vehicles and 400 people since it was put into operation yesterday.

Dear Sir, On Thursday, January 23, the last container load of merchandise was allowed by the Mexican authorities to be exported from Mexico into Belize. It is not until Tuesday, February 4, that we might know when another will be allowed. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect something like this to happen in a great country like Mexico, and for so long. I know that the amount of exports to Belize is insignificant to their whole picture but man, this is unbelievable, when the whole world knows that exports are super important to a country’s economy. There are millions of pesos lost in sales, extra costs to merchandise stuck at the border, plus orders put on hold because of this situation. The Belize government has also lost millions in revenue.

PLB Belikin Cup
Game 1 in the Finals of the Premier League of Belize’s Belikin Cup Opening Season 2013-2014, between home standing #4 seed FC Belize and visiting #1 seed Belmopan Bandits FC, ended in a 1-1 stalemate yesterday evening at the MCC Grounds. In front of a massive crowd with vuvuzela horns blowing, the Bandits took the lead early on a 5th minute strike from Deon McCaulay, kicking into the southern “ragamuffin” goal, from off a centering pass from the right side by midfielder David Trapp. The FC Belize defence appeared unsettled early in the game, and they hesitated just long enough for Deon to grab the opportunity and send a sharp grounder that caromed off the inside of the right goal post, past a diving Glenford Chimilio in goal for FC Belize. The equalizer for FC Belize came at the 17th minute of second half (62’), off a similar play, as it was FC Belize’s Stephen “Breds” Baizer serving the center across goal from the right goal line for an advancing Mark “Kelo” Leslie to slap in the equalizer past the Bandits’ Woodrow West from point blank range.

Inter-District Semifinals
Game 2 in the home-and-away semifinals series were played over the weekend in the FFB (Open) Inter-District Football Tournament 2013-2014. On Saturday night, February1, at the Michael Ashcroft Stadium in Independence, it was the home team, MnM Steelers grabbing the 2-0 win over Progresso FC with goals coming from Dion Burgess (34’) and Gilbert Rivars (90+’). The victory gave MnM Steelers a spot in the Finals, because their previous meeting had resulted in a 2-1 win for Progresso; thus the Steelers prevailed in the series by an aggregate score of 3-2.

Police said that at about 5:30 Thursday evening, they were on mobile patrol in the Jane Usher Boulevard area when they saw a man whom they recognized. He was stopped and police conducted a random search on him for drugs, weapons or ammunition. They found a 9 mm pistol on him. The gun was loaded with a magazine containing 7 live rounds. Police demanded a license for the gun and ammunition, but the man was not able to provide one. He was immediately arrested.

Man stabbed in San Martin, Belmopan
A man is being treated at the Belmopan Hospital after he was stabbed in the left side of the chest, in the left arm, and sliced across the left cheek. Benjamin Guerra, 43, a mason of Mexico Street, Belmopan, told police that he was at home at about 10:45 Saturday night when he got into an argument with his nephew, 25, who stabbed him multiple times. Guerra was rushed to the Belmopan Hospital, and is reportedly in a critical but stable condition. His nephew has fled the house and has since gone into hiding.

More burglaries in Belize City and San Pedro
Burglaries were reported by police in Belize City and San Pedro. The second report of burglary was made by Jose Paz, a businessman of Boca Del Rio Drive in San Pedro, who told police that at about 5:30 Wednesday, January 29, he locked up his business, Milo International of Pescador Drive. He said that at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, he received a call informing him that his business had been burglarized. He rushed to his business place and saw a hole, measuring about 2 feet by 1 foot, in the center of the back room of the building. He then found that an assortment of electronic items and furniture had been stolen. Police continue their investigation.


Zen Arcade. Why not take a Yoga vacation in Belize?
Aside from flying the coup on cold weather, for many, a vacation is often taken to recharge their batteries and rejuvenate themselves. After all who isn’t ready to feel refreshed and inspired? Whether you live here or are visiting, why not take a Yoga vacation in Belize at Zen Arcade the new ‘vacation yoga’ hot spot in San Pedro town? Enjoy a group class or private session at the tropical tree top Yoga studio. There is also a private poolside relaxing option and The Chaya Cafe will be a forming an alliance with world famous Rojo Lounge . This is scheduled to open in late Feb and will provide reasonably priced, delicious healthy food options created by Chef Jeff and his team. Rojo is known for wraps, salads, noodles, yogurts, granola, and smoothies. [We so need this, I can't wait :)] Chaya Cafe will also be offering beer and wine as well as a few other signature cocktails. Zen Arcade phone number is is 226-3177 and their web site which will be live soon is Zen Arcade Belize. Located behind the old Belikin distributor across from Island Academy near the big pink grocery store south of town. Every First Sunday of the month Yoga class is free for everyone. Zen arcade is child friendly and Private Classes Available in house or out-call. Space is limited, first come basis.

“Butts Up! Butts Up!” yelled a park ranger in a neon green t-shirt. Unfortunately, being in the front of our group, his warning came too late for me. My butt slammed into the large rock just beneath the surface of the water. I thought to myself, that’s going to leave a bruise! We’d come to this small Central American country on a cruise for the holidays with Laura’s mom and sister. In doing some research, Laura discovered cave tubing in Belize. We’d been to caves in Turkey, but we’d never been cave tubing before, so this seemed like the perfect way to spend the day! In the Mayan hills, about half-way from Belize City to the Guatemalan border, the limestone rock underground has been eroded by water to form massive caves. In one area, a tributary of the Sibun River called the Caves Branch River flows through these limestone caves – today this area is known as the Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve (or the locals call it the Caves Branch).

Video: Wildlife in the rainforest of Belize
Wildlife footage from a nature reserve in the rainforest of northern Belize: capturing Spider monkeys’ intimidation techniques and the infamous Royal Rat. The 260,000 acre reserve is reputed to have the healthiest and most plentiful population of jaguars in all of Central America. To support the reserve’s ongoing conservation, Programme for Belize run two eco-tourism sites offering accommodation in the heart of the forest for guided or independent hiking, wildlife spotting, and exploration of an ancient Mayan archaeological site.

First dive of the month – 65 lionfish!
Continuing our great work at removing the invasive lionfish, February has started with A BANG!! Tracy Allen, our Marine Scientist and PADI Instructor,, managed to remove a record breaking 65 lionfish in one dive, on Monday 3rd February!! Excellent work Tracy, and Lionfish, be scared, be very scared!!

International Sources

VIDEO: Evolutionist Bill Nye the Science Guy and Creationist Ken Ham debate at Creation Museum
Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era? Leading creation apologist and bestselling Christian author Ken Ham is joined at the Creation Museum by Emmy Award-winning science educator and CEO of the Planetary Society Bill Nye.

Top Ten Extraordinary Weather Videos of 2013
The year 2013 was another extraordinary one for weather extremes, with a world-record 41 billion-dollar weather disasters. With the rise of smart phones and YouTube, we now have an amazing capability to document and make available videos of disasters like these, and I present here my pick for the top ten most remarkable weather videos of 2013.

AFSOUTH prepares to execute New Horizons '14 in Belize
Members of Air Forces Southern have begun to trickle into Belize in preparation for New Horizons '14, a U.S. Southern Command exercise focusing on improving the joint training readiness of U.S. military members, partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities. This will be the second year in a row that the New Horizons exercise has taken place in Belize. Last year, members of the Belize Defence Force, contractors throughout Belize and Airmen, soldiers, and Marines worked side-by-side to build community centers, medical clinics and schools. "We are thrilled that the Belizean people have been gracious enough to invite us to conduct the New Horizons Exercise in their country for a second year in a row," said Col. Daniel Pepper, New Horizons '14 Air Expeditionary Task Force commander. "Our friendships and partnerships with the Belizean people have grown tremendously over the past two years and we look forward to strengthening our great relationship during this year's exercise."

50 degrees to the south
When I leave Toronto, the temperature is hovering at 20 below zero. When I land in Belize City, it is hugging 30. Driving in to the city on the Northern Highway, the hot breeze styling my hair, I wonder what the body thinks of all of this. I am not sure if we are constructed with materials that can tolerate the addition of 50 degrees in the course of the length of time it takes to eat our oatmeal, shovel the driveway, start the car, salt the steps and slither in to work. But despite the climate change, I still feel, oddly, at home. Formerly the British Honduras, Belize achieved independence in 1981. It is a young country, the only English-speaking entity in Central America. It boasts the second-largest coral reef in the world (after Australia) along with rainforests, sugar plantations, marine treasures, Mayan temples, fertile fields of fruit and more cultural diversity than is common for this part of the world. But regardless of the difference in the environment, there are similarities to NL, beyond the history as a British colony. I note that they have a very broad view of the use of condensed milk, adding it to tea and historically using it as baby formula (among other things). Both places have a term – a “boil up.” Except that here it is a dish of boiled eggs, fish or pigtails and sweet potatoes and plantains. Rather than tea and Vienna sausage in the bush.

A Peek into the Famed Mexican Cuisine
North American state of Mexico is known for its rich history, heritage, culture and cuisine. With the social media providing numerous avenues of publicity Mexican cuisine is riding on the wave of popularity the world over. Even before my five week sojourn in Mexico during Christmas and new year season I was aware of the varied flavors of Mexican cuisine, its famed chilly and variety of spices that gives an appealing taste to Mexican food. Being a foodie I was eagerly looking forward to feel the popular maize-based dishes and other cuisine popular in different regions of Mexico. From reasonable street food eateries to traditional restaurants and cafes Mexico is filled with eateries everywhere. One can find people eating on the streets, parks, on trains, cars, market places and almost everywhere. There are markets lined up with food stalls offering an array of dishes filling and satisfying both the hunger and craving for food. Mexico offers one of the best street food cultures in South America. Mexican food is enormously varied, with myriad regional differences and full of surprises. Not surprisingly UNESCO has named Mexican cuisine as an intangible cultural heritage of mankind.

Just recently, I was traveling in South America…well, Uruguay to be precise. This wasn’t my first time either…it was my third. It was the first time for my partner, and our first REAL vacation out of Mexico (trips home to visit family in Canada do not count). For him, it was a real eye opener, as his career doesn’t require him to travel around a lot, so all his understanding on “Latin American Culture” is based on what he has experienced thru living in Merida, Yucatan. Upon arriving in Montevideo, we took time to explore shops, talk to locals and take in the sights. As some of you may know, Uruguay is famous for its Meat and Wines, and to properly enjoy them, you have to go to a local’s house or one of the famous Parillada’s in town. Both of us were (as I have been on both previous trips) totally amazed at the level of care and attentiveness the service crews took at each restaurant we went to. They listened, understood, repeated orders to confirm, and brought you what you asked for without any mistakes. Just to be clear here, we ate at only 1 touristy place, and these experiences were shared through several restaurants of varying levels of quality. La Passiva and Don Pepperone (compared to Viejo Molina or VIPs or Chili’s) considered in Uruguay as the lower end spots, up to an upscale traditional Parillada in Punta Carretas Neighborhood (compared to being in Alta Brisa Neighborhood), all delivered the same level of care, not just to us, but to all their clients.

5 don't-miss spots in Belize
Protected rainforests, Maya ruins, Caribbean beaches and the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. Add English as the official language and the widely accepted U.S. dollar, and you can get a great vacation on easy mode in Belize. Still, with so much to do, it can become a lot of work to fit it all in. Travelzoo editor Andrew Young recommends taking on just a little bit of this country in the heart of Central America at a time, and offers this list of his five top spots to get you started.

11 Travel Photos from Belize
Next up in the series of travel photos from Central America is this gallery from Belize…

Doing business or investing in Belize
Any Canadian interested in doing business or investing in Belize should first complete a thorough process of due diligence and investigate potential partners using a variety of information sources. Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service in Guatemala is aware of several cases of fraud. Any newcomer to the market should know that legal and administrative processes can involve many delays and challenges. There have also been legal and constitutional changes in 2012, such as the 9th amendment to the Constitution of Belize, that have had important impacts on the country’s telecommunications and energy-distribution sectors. Although there is no Belize - Canada Chamber of Commerce, many members of the Canadian and British business communities have joined the American Chamber of Commerce. First time business travelers to Belize should consider this source of information.

5 Travel Photography Tips For Great Composition
Outlined below are five secrets for creating a great composition in a photo, which is particularly useful for taking shots of wildlife and nature when you are traveling. 1. Read it like a book We are taught from an early age that in order to read we move our eyes from left to right in order for the words and sentences to make sense. When something is learnt at such a tender time in our lives, it becomes second nature. Because our brains are programmed in this way, we tend to use this habit in most things we do. This is the same when looking at a picture, the human brain will automatically ‘read’ the image from left to right.

February 4, 2014


Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Milo’s Center burglarized
Police on Ambergris Caye is asking the public’s assistance in solving a burglary case on the island. The incident occurred on Thursday January 30th at an establishment located on Pescador Drive belonging to well known Belizean businessman, Jose “Milo” Paz. Initial investigation reveals that access to the building was gained through a hole was observed on the floor approximately two feet by one foot in size. The hole was made at the rear end of the building. An assortment of electronic items and furniture were missing, all to a total value of $3,000.00. Police are investigating the matter, and anyone with information that can assist the police can call 206-2022.

The San Pedro Cancer Society holds first fundraiser for 2014
The San Pedro Cancer Society (SPCS) has commenced their awareness initiative for 2014 and on Saturday, February 1st, they held their first fundraiser of the year. The food and pastry sale was held next to BOAZ Golf Cart Rentals, and was aimed to raise funds to assist patients battling cancer on the island. SP Cancer Society Fundraiser-7The fundraiser was certainly a success and raising a grand total of $1,105.85. Supporters had a variety of cakes, cupcakes and pies to choose from, and even hot tamales were on sale.

Bella Italia-Pastas and Pizzas in Paradise
Ambergris Caye has a whole lot to offer when it comes to the dining scene. While some of our island favorites are fresh seafood and flavorful ceviches, or Belizean favorites like Rice and Beans, there’s a whole lot more awaiting your palate! Just travel with us on Barrier Reef Drive as we take you to this little gem that has us coming back time and time again: Bella Italia. If ever you are craving a taste of Italy while in the Caribbean, Bella Italia can give you the best of both worlds. Experience authentic Italian flavors in every bite of Aladdin’s delicious pastas and pizzas! (Yes, the owner and chef is named Aladdin! Talk about a treasure!) Along the way, we learned a few key phrases in Italian.

Ambergris Today

Tropic Air Announces Service To Merida, Mexico
Tropic Air announced today, Monday, February 3, 2014, that it will inaugurate non-stop service to Merida, Mexico on March 3, 2014. With the launching of this service, Tropic will be the only airline to operate non-stop scheduled flights between Belize City and Merida. Initially, Tropic will fly (BZE) to Merida (MMMD) three times weekly. Tickets are available for sale at a special introductory price thru February. This new service will allow for the expansion of trade and tourism between the two countries and serve to further grow the historical ties between Belize and Merida. It will also allow the people of Merida to make easy connections to Roatan, San Pedro Sula, Flores, and 11 destinations within Belize,.

Isla Bonita Elementary Students Pay Tribute to Belizean Culture
On Friday, January 31, 2014, the Isla Bonita Elementary School held a cultural fair where students paid tribute to the different ethnic groups that make up the beautiful country of Belize. Arriving at the fair, I immediately felt the cheerful spirit of the Belizean people which consisted of Mestizos, East Indians, Mennonites, Creoles, Garifunas, Arabs and Chinese. I was surrounded and impressed by the colorful booths made up of informative posters and delicious food. Each student was designated a specific ethnic group for them to give visitors a glimpse into their cultural lifestyle. Belize truly is a melting pot of many unique cultures and I am happy to be part of it. It was amazing to walk around the fair and learn so much about the different cultures. Each booth had their charm, but there was one that caught everybody's attention because of their loud festive music and that was the Garifunas. Believe me, I'm a music lover; so I definitely rushed over there. I immediately sat down for some drumming lessons. Unfortunately, I'll stick to dancing and leave the drumming to the professionals.

Traffic Accident Leaves Utility Pole Dangling in Mid Air
Reports from the San Pedro Traffic Department indicate that a young male person lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the utility pole on the corner of Seagrape Drive and Mar de Tumbo Drive. Luckily the vehicle’s air bag deployed on impact allowing the driver to walk away from the accident unscathed, except for minor cuts and bruises. Luck was on the side of the driver as it is also reported that the utility pole was also dry rotten, lessening the severity of the impact. Both the San Pedro Traffic Department and San Pedro Police were on hand at the scene of the accident but no official police report has been sent out. It is unknown what charges the person will receive. More information will be posted as it becomes available from the proper authorities.

Misc Belizean Sources

By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez In the land down under Gangsters are informers Working for minister and for the mafia Making connection, picking up wet drops Cocaine packs Cooking drug in pots Drug planes being guided, protected and off loaded by cops Smuggling drugs in crops trying to avoid mishaps When gangster starts selling at Finnegan marketplace This what the police should di investigate But then again they contented di participate

Belmopan Property Fees Incentive package
Property owners in Belmopan are eligible to participate in the following discount packages:

A US based medical team shall be providing free medical and eye services to the entire UB community. Services shall include but not limited to: a. Medical cases (Hypertension, Diabetes, infections, pains, etc) b. Eye screening and provision of prescription glasses. All medications, screening and glasses shall be provided free of charge. Surgical cases shall NOT be attended to, however, dental services are available at the team's facility at Body & Soul in Roaring creek Faculty and staff family members are also welcome. Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014 Venue: UB Wellness center Time Starting: 9:00 a.m.. An initiative of Faculty of Nursing, Allied Health and Social Works in collaboration with Belmopan Campus Student Government.

Henry C. Fairweather “The Mahogany Man"
Henry C. Fairweather “The Mahogany Man" started planting mahogany trees in 1982 and has planted over one-hundred thousand trees, surpassing his dream of planting a thousand trees for each year of his life. In 1998, he joined forces with a community-based project, the Belize River Valley Development Program (BELRIV), to continue planting Belize's mahogany and to plant his knowledge into poor communities in the Belize River Valley. He argues passionately that with an enabling environment, extensive cultivation of mahogany will lay the base for the economic transformation of Belize in the 21st Century.

Belize Screen on the Green is BACK for February!
Please join the US Embassy Belize on Governor General Field in Belmopan on February 13th for a screening of the movie, 42, The Jackie Robinson Story. This screening is in honor of Black History Month in the U.S. and highlights the amazing achievements and obstacles baseball legend Jackie Robinson overcame to achieve great success in the sport of baseball.

The Belize Archives and Records Service will be closed on Friday, February 7, 2014.
The closure is necessary to carry out fumigation of the premises, an undertaking that is required for the proper care of our collections. The Department will re-open on Monday 10th February 2014. We regret any inconvenience caused to our patrons.

George Price Highway Grant
The IDB is giving Belize a grant of over a million dollars to help with feasibility studies for improving the George Price Highway. It might take a long time to finish, but it's a start. Thanks, IDB! This is part of the short term strategy Belize has, targeting four main areas: education, tourism, transport, and trade and tax policy. "IDB provides US$540,000 Grant to Belize for George Price Highway Project Preparation Studies. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Belize today signed a grant agreement for US$540,000 to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen."

Rotaract Club of the Year
Congratulations to the Rotaract Club of San Ignacio for being named 'Club of the Year!' Well deserved. Their Intercitidina was this last weekend, and around 60 Rotaractors from around Belize made it to the event, which was hosted here in Cayo. "We are extremely happy to report that the Rotaract Club San Ignacio received the national award for Club of the Year at Intercitidina 2014! We are very proud of all out members & the efforts they made in making this Rotaract year a success."

UB Graduation Video
The University of Belize put together a feelgood video from their graduation. It's worth a watch, especially to see some of the speech from Ms. Kay Menzies. Congratulations, graduates! "'Keep moving forward. And if you fail, take the lesson from the failure. But keep moving forward. Remain positive and become deaf in the presence of the negative. Do not stop moving forward. Whatever else you do, never give up. Above all, as you leave this room today, as you start the next chapter of your adventure, resolve to enjoy yourselves, enjoy everything life has to offer you, even...or maybe especially...the challenges. You go forward armed with an education that no one can take away, and you will learn much more along the way. Remember that it takes fire to temper steel. And I will guarantee you this: the experience you gain will make the journey endlessly interesting and absolutely worthwhile.' Ms. Kay Menzies, Guest Speaker at UB's Eighteenth Commencement Exercises."

Big Rock Falls Trail Improvements
The first phase of the Big Rock Falls Trail Improvement has finished, and the SHJC students and volunteers did a great job. A big thanks to all the great volunteers that spent their time and effort on this project. Time to go see Big Rock.

Teakettle man accused of sex with his daughter
Sick does not begin to describe the crime that a man from Teakettle village is being accused of committing. A 14 year old girl reported to Belmopan police on Sunday that her father has been having sexual intercourse with her since 2011. Police reports say they girl recounted no less than six times, the last sexual assault being on Saturday night.

Channel 7

Media Badgers Mayor; Bradley Bristles, Blows His Cool
Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley is a man under pressure - being attacked from all sides on matters small and large, from potholes to security workers. And it seems the pressure is starting to get to him - mainly because we suspect he feels that after paving over 100 streets in a year, and creating two superb parks - he shouldn't have to face such sustained criticism. But, in public life these days, the expectations never stop rising - and today that seemed to raise the mayor's ire; simply put, it got to him. It happened during a 25 minute impromptu question and answer session at the Battlefield park. The mayor was there to launch a new fitness programme, but all the media wanted to know about was the 26 security workers that the city council intends to terminate. That subject took up 21 minutes of the 25 minute interview, and in the 18th minute, he cracked and let the media have it. The issue is that he gave 20 of the 26 workers his word that they would be re-hired, but his word wasn't enough - and he feels it should have been. Here's how he explained it:..

Cpl Gino’s Justice: Does It Create A Gaping Gun Law Loophole?
Here at 7News we've reported on numerous cases of persons getting convicted of firearm offences. Our archive is littered with stories of these convictions where the defendants, who are ordinary Belizeans, are sent automatically to jail for a mandatory minimum of 5 years for keeping an unlicensed firearm or ammunition or 3 years keeping prohibited firearm or ammunition. Since Amendments to the Firearms Act were passed in the House in 2008, and then 2010, the discretion of the Magistrate was believed to have been taken away and replaced with a mandatory prison sentence. But that's not what happened on Friday afternoon, with Corporal Gino Peck. His attorney, Simeon Sampson, invoked Section 54 of the Summary Jurisdiction Procedure Act in which, on the face of it, seems to give back discretion to the Magistrate. This act says that even if a law says that a mandatory prison sentence is the only penalty for convicted offenders, the Magistrate can impose a fine if the justice in the case requires it.

Crooked Tree’s Plan B For The Causeway
The Port Authority is now investigating the boat accident in the Crooked Tree Lagoon that caused 20 year old Ben Gentle Jr's death. The Coast Guard has handed over the investigation to that body - but in the meantime, the police department sent out a report listing the report under "manslaughter by negligence." But, as we understand it that is misplaced, there is no police investigation - it is a boating accident and the agency that investigates those matters it is the Port Authority. A post mortem conducted today indicates that Gentle Jr was killed by massive trauma most likely by a propeller blade to his midsection. But the two boats that were in the accident have been recalled from the Lagoon, and so, since the weekend the Coast Guard has deployed a heavy truck to traverse the causeway which is still covered by 15 to 17 inches of water. That was going okay until this morning, when someone called the radio station to say that wasn't gonna work. Today in Crooked Tree, villager Steve Anthony explained the needless fuss and how it was resolved:..

Ruthless Robbers Kicked Vendor’s Small Child
There was an armed robbery in broad daylight in Belize City today. A vegetable stall across from #1 Supermarket on Central American Boulevard was robbed at knifepoint by two young men. It happened at around 1:00 pm - and still shaken up, one of the vendors told us that they grabbed her and kicked her daughter. She asked to appear off camera:.. Voice of Owner "They came to rob us. They grab us; my sister and I and they choke us. They beat up my sister and stand on her baby and they threw him down. Afterwards they grab my child as if he was nothing and they throw his at me. I ask them to please give me my baby and they can have the money." Giovanni Brackett, reporter "How old are the two children that they were pulling apart?" Voice of Owner "One is 4 and the other is 2 today; today is his birthday." Giovanni Brackett, reporter "The 4 year old - they had their feet on the 4 year old?" Voice of Owner "They stand on him and they threw him to the ground and then my child ran outside and cries and come to me."

GSU Making Weed Scarce With Busts
In our last segment, 7News told you about the Gang Suppression Unit's bold response to the controversy surrounding the Gino Peck case. Well, they are also making the news tonight for making major drug discoveries. On Friday morning at around 11:30, the GSU were on an operation, on the Faber's Road Extension. They searched the Dyke area, and found 5 black plastic bags which contained a total of 871 grams - or almost 2 pounds - or marijuana. No one was in the area, and so the drugs, which the GSU believes is the property of a drug peddler from that area, was labelled as found property. On Saturday afternoon at around 1:30, the GSU were in operation on Linda Vista Street in the Lake Independence area. They searched an abandoned lot and found 233 grams - or 8.2 ounces - of marijuana inside a black plastic bag hidden among some plantain trees. No one was in the area, and so the drugs were labelled as found property. The GSU believes that it belongs to a reputed drug peddler who operates in the area and resides nearby to the abandoned lot.

City Launches Slimming Proposal
This morning the Belize City Council launched its "Get Moving Belize Fitness program. The council has partnered with the Belize Diabetes Association and Body 2000 to promote healthy living around the city. This new daily exercise program will start at 5am to 6am every Monday through Thursday for the next three months at 4 different locations around the city. Here is how it works and how you can get involved. Mayor Darrell Bradley "What we are doing with the city - we are moving. It's called "get moving Belize" and it's a project which we have partnered with the Diabetes Association and Body 2000 and what we are going to do is we thought about a way that we can enhance usage of the public spaces; Battlefield Park, Memorial Park and Maud Williams basketball court will be used in the morning at 5:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and we are going to have aerobics in these places. We are going to have zumba classes; we are going to be doing a weigh in, so that people can actually monitor their progress. We are going to be working with the Diabetes Association to provide continuous diabetes, pressure and sugar testing, so that we are actually tracing individuals and their making improvement."

Shuttle Bus Explodes Into Flames
A small passenger bus burst into flames on the Western Highway at mile 24 today. This video provided to us by a passerby who captured it on his phone around 1:30 pm, shows the shuttle type bus being devoured by flame, with black smoke streaming out from all sides. As bad as it looks, best information says no one was hurt. There are reports that it was shuttling tourists from a cruise ship, but Officer in charge of Belize Rural Superintendent Chris Noble told us that his scenes of crime team just went to check it out around 6:00 this evening.

Your Water Rate Is Going Up…
Your water bill will probably be going up soon - but be consoled, it's probably not going to be as much as it might have been. Bottom line? BWSL asked for 16% and the Public Utilities Commission gave them 6%. That's the outcome of an Annual Review Proceeding by the Public Utilities Commission. Today at a press conference at the Radisson, the PUC's Director for Water Rudolph Williams explained that the PUC got the proposed increase down by reducing capital investments from 25.6 million to 14.3 million. Williams explained why:.. Rudolph Williams, Director for Water - PUC "We looked at the proposals that were made for the capital expenditure and we believe that some of those proposals could be deferred to the full tariff period and some of them we believe were not necessarily required at this time. The BWS has always had problems with funding their investments and to allow them to do that now; we have not seen anywhere where they will be able to source the funds that they are asking for."

CGA Wants Their Money From CPBL
Over the years, we've told you quite t a lot about the on-going dispute in the Citrus Industry. It has always been the Citrus Growers Association against Banks Holdings, or against Henry Canton. Well, the recent financial troubles facing the growers have been laid at the feet of Banks Holdings. The 2014 season started earlier this month, but the farmers haven't been paid to time for the deliveries of their oranges. The CGA executives say that CPBL is reporting that they don't know when they will be able to pay the farmers. According to the CGA, CBPL is delaying because there is an outstanding audit and no auditor secured to look at the books, so, the banks have frozen their accounts. No accounts mean no money to pay the growers, and it may continue like that indefinitely. With the assistance of our Colleagues from KREM News, we bring you coverage of this weekend's emergency general membership meeting of the CGA. Daniel Ortiz Reports: Daniel Ortiz reporting About 200 farmers gathered at the CGA compound outside of Dangriga Town for an emergency General Membership Meeting. It was to discuss the fact that CPBL was not was not paying growers for their oranges. The CGA executive said that the farmers were owed around 1 million dollars, which at this point stands to increase at a weekly basis.

FFB Championship Better Than Superbowl
The Superbowl may have been playing in New York last night, but that game was a bust. If you wanted to see a quality competition ands real football, you didn't have to look any further than the MCC Grounds, or Channel 7, where FC Belize welcomed the Belmopan Bandits in game one of the Premier League Belikin Cup Final. The stands were full and the game atmosphere was hype as Belize City fans came out in large numbers to cheer on the home team. In contrast to last week's embarrassment at the Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo, Sunday afternoon at the MCC was well played with excellent field conditions. The Bandits shocked the home team when they scored in the fifth minute. Belize's best striker Deon McAuley explained how he did it - and Mark Kelo Leslie of FC Belize explained how he equalized in the second half:..

Marvella’s Miracle
Last week we told you about 8 year old Maravella Che - the standard one student who was knocked down in front of her home in Tambran Village in the Toledo District. It was a hit and run incident that has left Maravella with a fractured skull, a broken leg and a broken arm. Today makes one week since the accident and little Maravella has been showing s signs of progress. According to nurses, she has at least 2 more weeks in the hospital before she can be discharged. Today Monica Bodden visited her in the paediatric ward at the KHMH. Monica Bodden "How are you feeling?" Maravella Che, Hit and Run Victim "Hot miss." Monica Bodden "Tell me what part of your body hurts the most?" Maravella Che, Hit and Run Victim "My hands." Monica Bodden "And apart from that, your legs?" Maravella Che, Hit and Run Victim "Yes."

Aragon Will Run!
Elodio Aragon Jr. has successfully transitioned from the number 2 cop to number one for the UDP in Orange Walk East. At the UDP Convention held this weekend in the Orange Walk East, Aragon squared off against David Constanza. At the close of polls, the votes were tallied, and the results were that Aragon defeated Constanza, 1327 votes to 1,033 in a large convention. He was officially installed as the UDP Standard Bearer following the announcement of his victory.

Fabrigas Standards Time
In May 2011, 7News took you inside the operation of Fabrigas Belize, one of the few companies which maintains international standards when it comes to product safety. Well, they now have paper to prove that they maintain those high standards, now respected by the Central American community. The International Organization for Standardization has been working with the company for the last few months, and today, the ISO handed over a certificate which says that Fabrigas meets its highest standards. We're talking about 17 months of training, upgrading works and just over a million dollars in expenditure to comply, so today, the company invited the media and the Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards to note its significance. The company's quality manager explained all that went into earning the certification:

Mayor In Mexico
At the top of the news you saw how the mayor was fed up with the media. But, really, he shouldn't have been, after all, he'd probably just been kicking back with some cervezas last week when he made an official visit to the Mexican City of Queretaro. (KERE-TARO) Bradley and Councillor Dion Leslie returned to Belize on Saturday. He was invited there to speak on a panel at organized an international youth conference. Present were over 500 participants from 22 countries, and speaking alongside Bradley were the former President of Costa Rica, representatives from the Apple Corporation, and from the UN Agencies. Mayor Bradley and Councillor Leslie met with the mayor of the City of Queretaro, which has the record of as the cleanest and safest city in Mexico.

Channel 5

Belize City Mayor says there is no going back for the security guards fired from City Hall
Mayor Darrell Bradley is back in town and let’s just say he is not ecstatic about insinuations that his Council treated employees of the Security Department unfairly. The posts of [...]

Canadian national is chopped multiple times in Benque Viejo
A Canadian businessman was chopped multiple times as he and his two year old daughter headed to his business in Benque Viejo del Carmen. He is the third Canadian to [...]

Gino Peck is back on the job; talks about his experience in jail
On Friday Corporal Gino Peck, long-time intelligence cop assigned to Precinct Two, was sentenced to fines totaling six hundred and fifty dollars. Peck was convicted last Monday of possessing prohibited [...]

GSU Head, Marco Vidal, speaks on Peck’s sentencing
GSU boss, Marco Vidal, has come under scrutiny during and after the trial and sentencing of Corporal Gino Peck. The search on the home of Peck on January twenty-first 2012 [...]

D.P.P. says Section 54 used to fine Peck is arguable
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Lyn Vidal has also responded to queries into the Peck case following trial and sentencing. Following mitigation pleas on his behalf, Peck was fined for [...]

Victims of boating accident in Crooked Tree need assistance
Last Friday, a tragic boat accident on the Crooked Tree Lagoon, involving two Coast Guard boats, claimed the life of twenty year old Benjamin Gentle Junior. Eight others, all high [...]

Burning vehicle on the George Price Highway
The charred vestiges of a passenger van near mile twenty-five on the George Price Highway was a spectacle for onlookers traveling the stretch of road around two o’clock this afternoon.  [...]

Benque Viejo still without an ambulance
Benque Viejo del Carmen has been without the service of an ambulance for several months now, reportedly because the vehicle which was donated to the clinic by the embassy of [...]

2 persons detained for the rape and murder of Sittee River mother
Forty-three-year-old Ana Foster, a domestic of Sittee River, was murdered near the outskirts of the village at the start of the weekend.  On Thursday morning, Foster set out on bicycle [...]

Man pleads guilty to wounding ex common-law-wife
A Belize City man pleaded guilty to Wounding before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith after he allegedly beat up his ex-common-law wife.  Sixty year-old Wilbert Humes admitted to causing injuries [...]

2 Guatemalan men charged with immigration offences
Two Guatemalans nationals, thirty seven year old Cristobal Jesus Marroquin and twenty-nine year old Mauricio Garcia Bolo were detained over the past weekend for illegal entry. They were caught after [...]

Fabrigas gets internationally certified by the ISO
The Occupational Safety and Health Bill has gone through a first reading in the House and still has some way to go, including public consultations, before it is approved and [...]

The National Elite Basketball Tournament: Meet Belize City’s No Limit
Basketball will be back this coming Friday and we will be carrying it live on this station. The series is dubbed the National Elite Basketball Tournament and will feature eight [...]

The Get Moving Belize Fitness Program
The Belize City Council will be teaming up with the Body 2000 Fitness Club and the Belize Diabetes Association to get citizens in shape. It’s an initiative which gets underway [...]

Football, karate and basketball in Sports
Good evening I’m James Adderley and this is Sports Monday. The Belikin Cup finals blasted off inside the MCC Grounds yesterday as FC Belize hosted Belmopan Bandits to kick off [...]


Police News: Incest, Missing Person, Drugs
A minor residing in Teakettle Village in the Cayo District has reported to the Police that her father has been engaging in sexual intercourse with her. According to the 14-year-old, her father began having sex with her in 2011 at their home. The act continued in the years 2012 and 2013 on several occasions. The minor, in her report dated February 2, 2014, stated that her father had sex with her as recent as January 30, 2014 and February 1, 2014 when she was asleep in her bed and was awoken by her father for sex. Police in Belmopan have detained the young girl’s father pending charges of incest Police in the Cayo District are appealing to the public to be on the lookout for a teenager that has been reported missing. Reports indicate that Ashley Perez and another young girl, both fifteen years of age went missing from the Marla’s House of Hope. According to one of the caregivers, 41-year-old, Theresita Bethran, she had gone to make checks on the girls on January 31 at around 5pm when she noticed that the two young girls were missing. One of the girls has since returned to the home but Ashley Perez remains unaccounted for. She has fair complexion, long black hair and is slim built. Anyone knowing where Ashley Perez may be is asked to notify the nearest police station.

PUC Approves Hike in Water Rates
Recently, consumers breathed a sigh relief at the news that the rates for electricity had been decreased but that relief seems short lived as now consumers will have to find an extra few dollars to pay their water bills. The Public Utilities Commission announced today that they have approved an increase in water rates as was requested by the Belize Water Services Limited. Love News spoke with the Director for Water and Waste Water Sector of the PUC, Rudolph Williams who explained how they came about the six point four percent increase. RUDOLPH WILLIAMS “BWS requested a sixteen point two five percent increase in the existing water tariffs for Belize. The Commission approved a six point four increase. The commission looked at the progress of the current business plan, looked at the projections for the remainder of the business plan; this is three months into 2014 and then 2014 into 2015. Then they looked at the capital expenditure, they looked at the projections for the amount of the water that is expected to be produced and consumed by the public and they looked at the projections for the number of customers that is expected to come online; when we looked at it we said, the capital expenditure – we don’t believe that they would be able to spend that amount of money. We looked at the projection for water consumption and we didn’t think it would go that way and so we recalculated it and we said the RAV would be less and so the rate would be less. The way we set rate is the regulated asset value (RAV) that we apply a rate of return on and if the RAV remains the same that means you will get the same amount of return.

Midget Arraigned for Murder in Western Belize
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has directed San Ignacio Police to levy the charge of murder against 30-year-old, Kevin “Midget” Manzanero. Inspector Reymundo Reyes updated the media on the case. INSPECTOR REYMUNDO REYES “Today, based on directives from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kevin Manzanero was formally arrested and charged for the crime of murder in respect to the date of Mr. Freddy Lopez’ murder that happened on the twenty third of December, 2013.” The charge against Manzanero is the result of an incident that occurred on December 23, 2013 where 57-year-old, Freddy Lopez lost his life. The murder occurred in the Kontiki area in San Ignacio while Lopez was walking with his wife, children and grandchildren. Police reports indicate that they believe it was a robbery gone wrong. Lopez and his family were reportedly approached by two men who demanded them to hand over their properties. As Lopez bent down to pick up a stone, he was shot in the right side of his chest by one of the robbers. The bullet exited through the lower back. The two men then escaped into the bushes and nothing was taken from the family. Police had identified the two men as Kevin ‘Midget’ Manzanero and Alex Reid.

Vidal Says Peck’s Incident Was Sanctioned by Compol and Not Personal
The case of Gino Peck, the Police Corporal whose home was searched on January 21, 2012 by the Gang Suppression Unit of the Belize Police Department received much publicity and attention from the public over the last week as he was found guilty of the firearm and ammunition charges. But while Peck was spared a sentence of confinement, there have been talks on the street that Peck was targeted by personnel in the department, particularly by members of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU). In response to those talks, a release was issued by the head of the unit, Marco Vidal, in an effort to clear up the misconceptions that the public is having. The release says, “The search conducted at the residence of Gino Peck on the 21st January 2012 was an intelligence-led operation which had been discussed with, and then sanctioned by, the then Commissioner of Police. The charges that were laid as a result were also initially sanctioned by that Commissioner. It was only after those charges had been laid that a directive was given to abort the proceedings. By that time the matter was out of our hands. The suggestion that the case against Peck was motivated by some personal vendetta is preposterous. My interaction with Peck during the course of our careers has been at best, minimal. This, however, seems, of late, to be the cry of anyone who finds himself on the wrong end of the law, regardless of how remote or incredible the association.

GSU Operations Yield Substantial Results
Operations conducted over the weekend in Belize City by the Gang Suppression Unit yielded over a kilo of marijuana on the south side. Members of the GSU conducted operations on Friday, January 31 that led them to the Faber’s Road Extension at around 11:30am where a search was conducted in the Dyke Area. The search resulted in the uncovering of five black plastic bags containing cannabis weighing 871 grams. The drug was labelled as found property as no one was in the area at the time of the search. According to the GSU, the drug they found in this area is believed to be for a reputed drug peddler who operates from that area. The operations continue over the weekend as 233 grams of marijuana was uncovered in the Lake Independence Area. On Saturday, February 1 at around 1:13pm, the GSU went to Linda Vista Street and searched an abandoned lot where they uncovered a black plastic bag between some plantain trees. This too was labelled as found property as no one was in the area at the time of the search. And while these two finds amount to a significant volume of cannabis taken off the streets, the GSU made an even bigger bust on Sunday, February 12 at around 11:45 in the morning.

Police Retrieves Young Boy’s Body From Deep Pond
Orange Walk police were called out to a marl pit three miles south of Chan Pine Ridge Village in Orange Walk where they saw the lifeless body of 13 year old Luis Armando Uh. Uh and some friends went to the area to swim as the pits are filled with water following recent rains. Uh reportedly drowned as he was swimming in the deep pond. Police retrieved the body just before six o’clock on Sunday evening. The body was transported to the Orange Walk Morgue.

Estranged Spouse Attacks Woman at Workplace
Sixty year old Wilbert Humes, who beat his ex-common-law wife, was not given a custodial sentence when he appeared today before Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith and pled guilty to a charge of wounding. Humes was ordered to pay 200 dollars in compensation to his ex-common-law wife by February 28 and a fine of 100 dollars forthwith. If he defaults on payment of the fine he will serve two months. So far, Humes has not paid the fine. The incident occurred on January 20. Humes’ ex-common-law wife, reported to the police that while she was at her work place, Humes went there and threw kool aid in her face and punched her several times in her mouth which caused a wound to her upper lip. As a result, Humes, a laborer of Mayflower Street, was arrested and charged.

BNE Announces More Money For Education Loans
The Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust has expanded its National Student Loan Program. The Student Loan Program is a partnership with local credit unions and started as a pilot initiative in April 2009 when the Trust seeded an initial investment of one million dollars. Over 600 Belizean students pursuing secondary and tertiary education at local institutions throughout the country have benefitted from the program. Today, the Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust announced an additional investment of one point five million dollars to scale up and expand the program. Today representatives of BNE Trust and La Inmaculada Credit Union signed a cooperation agreement. It is expected that similar agreements will be signed with other credit unions shortly.

Canadian National Assaulted in Western Belize
A Canadian national residing on Riverside Street in Benque Viejo del Carmen Town in the Cayo District was assaulted in front of her two year old daughter. Reports are that 45-year-old, Steven Reichert was walking in the Chapel Hill Area heading towards the Amin Hegar Football Field when he was approached by a Hispanic man. The man, Genaro Hob was armed with a machete and an axe and had reportedly swung the machete in the direction of the child but he missed. In an effort to protect the little girl, Reichert picked up his daughter and began running away from the assailant but he was pursued and his attacker caught up with him and swung the machete at him causing Reichert to suffer a swollen left forearm and abrasions. On another attempt to further injure Reichert, Hob swung the machete and inflicted a chop wound with the machete to the left side of the neck. According to Police in Benque Viejo, the men had done some business together and the confrontation was a result of unresolved money issues. Investigation continues.


Mr. Verde’s Attempted Murder Charge Dropped According to DPP
This evening Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal responded to our remaining queries from Friday with regard to Reynaldo Verde, the tax supervisor who alleged he was framed by someone planting a firearm in his yard. While that case is being reviewed by her office, she has confirmed that the case...

Man Charged for Killing Elderly Man in Front of his Family
Today, Kevin Manzanero was arraigned for the murder of a man gunned down in front of his family, two days before Christmas. Police believe that on the night of December 23rd, sometime around 9:30 p.m., Mr. Manzanero, along with accomplice, Mr. Alex Reid, approached 56 year old Freddy Lopez Sr....

GSU Commander Speaks Out on the Gino Peck Case
The arrest and conviction of 22 year veteran Police Corporal Gino Peck, has loaned much public scrutiny on the Gang Suppression Unit. It was the GSU in January of 2012 that conducted a search at Peck’s home, which led to the discovery of a number of unlicensed and prohibited ammunition....

Mayor Defends Security Privatization
This morning, following the launch of a fitness program being carried out by the Belize City Council, the Mayor got plenty verbal exercise as he bobbed and weaved through the media’s questions on the recently publicized decision to privatize the Council’s security. According to the Mayor, the decision was...

CGA to Negotiate New Auditor for CPBL
The Citrus Growers Association is pursuing negotiations with auditing firm Baker Tilly Hulse to succeed PKF Belize in auditing Citrus Products of Belize Limited. This news came out of a consultation meeting with growers held on Saturday at the CGA headquarters in Stann Creek District. The man leading the...

Is Nelson Young’s Tribunal Report Complete?
On Friday we reported on the case of Nelson Young, sent home more than 9 years ago by employers BTL, then owned by Michael Ashcroft. He told his story to an Essential Services Tribunal convened to look into the case, but it has been almost a year and there is...

Roaring Creek Police Substation Gets Upgraded
Who can forget the eerie months September and October of last year that rocked the village of Roaring Creek in Cayo with heinous acts of murder and attempted murder. Furthermore, the police statistics for the year 2013 noted an increase in the level of crime in the rural areas...

NEMO Establishes Partnership in Rural Communities
We usually hear about the NEMO in times of natural disasters, but the emergency management organization works throughout the year on programs geared at educating and equipping the public to better cope with everyday circumstances. One such program is presently being developed in rural communities in Belmopan, in conjunction...

The Guardian

Caye Caulker Chronicles

On Saturday, February 1st our Caye Caulker Kids Alanis Badillo, Malik Jones, Ricky Enriquez, Angel Pol and Harrison Cadle Jr. joined the kids of the San Pedro Junior Sailing Club in an endurance challenge sailing from San Pedro to Caye Caulker. This challenge also served as a practice for the upcoming regatta that will be held in Corozal on February 8th and 9th 2014. This will be our kids first official regatta. On all sailing practices and regattas, rescue boats are required. The kids were accompanied by Commodore Jimmy Jones of the Caye Caulker Sailing Club, Bob Greaves, member of the Caye Caulker Sailing Club, Randy, Agustin-the Argentinian trainer and Tammy Peterson of the San Pedro Junior Sailing Club, and Neil Bradley President of the Caye Caulker Sailing Club.


Preview of Zen Arcade: Wellness DOES Include Yoga, a Bit of Wine & Maybe Botox
The Wellness Center, Zen Arcade, has been in the planning and building stages for quite some time now. But it’s not surprising. The chosen building (located just around the bend from Island Supermarket and the Old Belikin Distributor just south of town) was an apartment complex…and needed to be totally gutted and totally re-done. Noele and Tara had a plan. Both ladies have lived in San Pedro for a few years (at least). Noele worked up at the beautiful Azul/Rojo Lounge and then was co-owner of the busy bar Wahoo’s Lounge (Home of the famous Chicken Drop) but all that time she loved, practised and taught yoga. Tara is a fantastic yoga teacher who did great classes – they even had me going! – at Exotic Caye.

Vegetarian Chili Beans
Although, I'm not vegetarian, I love beans. I love chili with meat and I love it with beans and I also love plain chili beans. This recipe is very simple and can be done in the slow cooker.

Cooking with Flavors of Belize & Chef Sean Kuylen - Fry Jack
On the latest episode of Cooking with Flavors of Belize & Chef Sean Kuylen, our team tackles a classic Belizean recipe - Fry Jacks. A Breakfast staple for any Belizean family or home across cultures; Chef Sean prepares a breakfast that's both mouthwatering and easy to recreate.

Manslaughter By Negligence - But No Notice Of Intended Prosecution
On Friday, Jan 31, 2014 at about 6:25 a.m. based on information received of a fatal boat accident in Crooked Tree Village, Ladyville Police visited Crooked Tree Village. About two miles from the junction with the Philip Goldson Highway, three young ladies were seen receiving medical attention; police then visited an area through a channel where two boats belonging to the Belize Coast Guard were seen tied together. Inside one of the boats was the motionless body of a male person lying face down with apparent huge chop wounds to his shoulder, under his right arm and the right side of his lower back. His was identified as 20 year old Benjamin Jerome Gentle, laborer of Crooked Tree Village. Investigation reveals that on the said date about 05:30 a.m. the two boats belonging to the Belize Coast Guard driven by personnel of the Belize Coast Guard were assisting the Villagers of Crooked Tree Village in crossing the lagoon when they crashed into each other, resulting in the death of Benjamin Jerome Gentle. The smaller boat had in it Jerome Gentle and ten students who all suffered varying degrees of injuries and were later transported to the KHMH.

International Sources

25 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Belize
1. It's the only English speaking country in Central America: Belize was occupied by the British, making it unique among its neighbors. 2. It was the center of the Mundo Maya: The Mayan once occupied Belize, as evidenced by the dozen or more protected archeological sites. Practically every buried mound you spot is a piece of history. 3. Most Belizeans are trilingual: They speak Kriol, Spanish and English. Some also speak additional languages, such as Garifuna, Mayan dialects, and German. 4. You can have a plate of coconut rice n' beans: Proof of Caribbean culture? Coconut rice and beans is sold on every corner, alongside a tasty stew of your choice. 5. You can eat African fufu and cassava: The Garinagu people, descendants from West Africa, settled along Belize's southern coast and brought with them their plantains and cassava. The result? Dishes like hudut--mashed plantains, also known as "fufu" in West Africa, served with a fish stew.

10 Caribbean souvenirs worth the suitcase space
It's no secret Caribbean cruise ship passengers love to shop — just watch the flow of the crowd when you visit a port of call. This is a shopping mecca, where you can find refrigerator magnets, Christmas ornaments, t-shirts and other typical tourist fare at every port. Plus, there's plenty of opportunities to buy duty-free jewelry and electronics, sometimes even at bargain prices. But should you want something a little more authentic to show off once you get home, there are also products actually made in the Caribbean. Here are 10 souvenirs worth the suitcase space: Woodcarvings: Look for local artists, such as Carl Henry in Antigua, who creates everything from turtles to miniature sailboats using local Caribbean wood such as mahogany and eucalyptus. A fun buy in this category is handcrafted masks like Puerto Rico's colorful caretas — which depict evil spirits and look great hung on a wall. Hot sauce: Using locally grown peppers, hot sauce (also called pepper sauce) is a big obsession on many Caribbean islands. Great selections can be found at Spicy Caribbee in Old San Juan, Sunny Caribbee Spice Shop & Art Gallery in Road Town, Tortola and Pure Caribbean Specialty in Nassau, among other places. If your cruise includes Belize, look for Marie Sharp's hot sauce.

With the beginning of 2014 well underway, travel industry leaders such as TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and reputable newspapers have begun to leave clues on their recommended travel trends for 2014. The accessibility, shorter flight times and beautiful climate found in Central America has made it a popular and rising star in the eyes of traveling North Americans. In response to these recent travel trends as well as meeting consumer demands, Class Adventure Travel released a new luxury travel collection to Central America. A mix of highlight and exclusive destinations in Belize, Costa Rica and Guatemala have been chosen as Class Adventure Travel looks set to continue providing travelers with an unparalleled travel experience. Due to its proximity to the United States, travelers can leave their houses in the morning and by early afternoon be sat on a beautiful Belizean beach, exploring the ruins of Tikal in Guatemala or, zip-lining their way through the Costa Rican jungle. One thing is for sure, Central America is set to announce its presence in the 2014 world travel market! The figures from Belize’s Tourism Board show that in 2012 the country recorded 26,872 more travelers than in 2011, with 277,135 travelers enjoying Belize’s beauty. Of these an impressive 63.7% were Americans and a further 8.7% Canadians. Statistics released in 2013 told a similar story and pattern and in January 2013, the number of travelers increased by 17.2% compared to the 2012 figures. North American travelers also favor Costa Rica and in 2012 it was the most popular destination in Latin America with 1,139,624 visitors throughout 2012.

Greg and Motion Guest Hiker, Shiloh Janes explore the beauty of Belize beyond the beaches and crowded resorts.

Video Post: Snorkel Adventures in Belize
In this Video Post You Will Discover: Exotic & Dangerous Stingrays Beautiful Coral Invasive Lionfish Delicate Mangroves And Tons More! If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know that last December I spent a week exploring Belize’s southern barrier reef. We kayaked through Southwater Cayes Marine Reserve, stopping to snorkel at every opportunity. I’m pretty sure I spent more time beneath the water than above it — I so love snorkelling. And Belize offers some of the world’s finest. Care to see for yourself? I shot this video for Explore Magazine (my day job). Enable full-screen mode, sit back, relax and get ready to spend the next 4:46 in the warm, vibrant and impossibly vital waters of Belize:

Mexiko – Guatemala – Belize: 3 Länder in 4 Tagen (Teil 2)
Gerade noch im Dschungel von Guatemala und noch immer überwältigt von den mit der Natur verwachsenen Maya-Tempel, geht es jetzt weiter nach Belize. Wie schon in den letzten Tagen versuchen wir wieder, alles in möglichst kurzer Zeit zu schaffen und nehmen also wieder eine „Abkürzung“: Statt nach Flores zurückzufahren, um von dort zur Grenze zu Belize zu kommen, lassen wir uns vom Tourbus auf halber Strecke bei einer Kreuzung absetzen. Nach einer Bushaltestelle suchen wir hier vergeblich, aber Einheimische versichern uns, dass hier die Busse zur Grenze vorbeifahren… und tatsächlich können wir uns eine halbe Stunde später in einen kleinen Camion quetschen. Gerade rechtzeitig, um den plötzlichen und heftigen Regenguss nicht mehr abzubekommen.

It’s Time to Swap Your Snow Shovel for a Hammock
Some years ago a man I know visited Florida and asked a retiree why he moved there. “You don’t have to shovel the humidity,” the retiree merrily responded. This month my friend’s mother is in Florida…wrapped up in sweaters. Times are changing. Even down south, the climate isn’t what it used to be. East coast cities are like freezers. And the Mid-West is more tightly in the grip of Jack Frost’s icy fingers than it used to be. If ever you needed an incentive to move overseas, this current cold snap is surely it. So how are the New Year Resolutions holding up? Did you promise yourself on New Year’s Day to start planning your move abroad? I know…it’s not easy to stay motivated about future goals when your energies are all going into surviving, is it? That’s why we created Incomes Abroad…to bring you stories of people who were once where you are now. But today they’re not bracing themselves against the cold. No, they live in shorts and sandals…watch the sun set on the beach…enjoy good health care and great property deals. Where do they live…? Oh, places like Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize, with great coastlines, modern cities, and jungle getaways.

February 3, 2014


Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Wolfe’s Woofers: At The Clinic
“A visit to the clinic yields a little bit more information than expected.

Mesoamerican Health Project Donates Medical Equipment
Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project handed over medical equipment – valued at approximately BZ $311,000 – to the Northern and Western Health Regions yesterday during a ceremony held at the grounds of Western Health Regional in Belmopan. The short ceremony included welcome remarks from Mrs. Martha Woodye, Quality Improvement Project Manager for the Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project. She spoke of the purpose of the donation which is to primarily improve the neonatal care capacity and expand coverage of reproductive health services in health care centers of both regions.

Doctor Love: Opening a bottle of champagne
That pesky cork popping..bubbles fizzing out half of the goods - 1 reader wants to know, how can we pop champagne bottles without losing the precious goods?!

Misc Belizean Sources

New Study Abroad Facility in Belize
La Primavera Wildlife Observation Station is 15 min. From San Ignacio, Belize. We offer bunk room lodging and camping to student groups and backpackers. We can also arrange programs, transportation, and meals. Check us out at La Primavera Wildlife Observation Station on Facebook.

Belmopan Temperature and Rainfall Records
I am copying out my Temperature and Rainfall Records for Belmopan here, because we have now completed another full year. The early Temperature records are not daily, so not so accurate, but by 2008, they are daily Maximum and Minimum temperatures, show by the thin Red line and thin Blue line.. . . . .It is hard to properly see the general temperatures, so the heavy Brown and dark Blue show the 31 day running Averages. . .. .. . The heavy Green is simply a smoothed Median between the max and min. . . .It can't be an Average, because the max could have been only for a few hours during the day and the min could have been for many hours at night. . ..So it is only a Guide, being a Median. What is very clear is that each year has been very different. There really were some very high maximum temperatures in 2003 and 2005 ( not shown here at 106°F ) not seen in recent years. There have been some long periods of Cold in earlier years, but you can't go by the graph for 2003 - 2008 to see how long any period might have been, only showing the extremes.

Steven Reichert, a Canadian national and Belize Permanent Resident investor of Benque Viejo Del Carmen and his two year old Belize born daughter were viciously attacked by a man armed with a machete and axe in the Chapel Hill area of Benque Viejo Del Carmen. This brutal attack, amounting to attempted murder, occurred on Friday, January 31 at about 11:30 AM while Mr. Reichert and his daughter were walking on the street returning home after working on some property in the area. This attack occurred with no provocation and it appears by his actions that the attacker intended to kill both Mr. Reichert and his infant daughter in a most brutal fashion. Mr. Reichert is a happily married upstanding member of the community who has promoted Benque as a place to invest. Mr. Reichert has never been in trouble with the police and is a Lieutenant in the Zone 4 Neighborhood Watch. The motive for this attack has yet to be determined.

Armed robbery reported in Belize City
There are reports of a brazen, broad daylight armed hold up at a gas station in Belize City on Sunday afternoon. Reports are that the incident happened just before 2 o’clock this afternoon at a gas station on Freetown Road. Information received say that three men, described as being well-dressed accosted two pump attendants and demanded money. The pump attendants, fearing for their lives, reportedly handed over an undisclosed amount of money after which the gunmen walked away from the scene. A part of the police investigation should include a review of the gas station’s closed circuit video surveillance recordings.


A Life Is Lost In A Boat Collision At Crooked Tree Village
The residents of Crooked Tree Village are still reeling in from the tragic boat collision that occurred early this morning that resulted in the death of one young man and several others injured. The accident being referred to by many as a freak incident is under a full investigation by police, National Coast Guard Service and the Belize Port Authority. Whether the collision was the result of human error or mechanical failure is yet to be known. In the meantime an entire community is outraged as they believe it could have been prevented. Reporter Dalila Ical and Video Journalist Jesus Melgar filed the following report. Dalila Ical – Reporting At least three ambulances responded to the boat collision along the Crooked Tree causeway. The accident occurred about midway along a two mile water route that the Belize Coast Guard boats access to ferry residents to and from Crooked Tree Village. Chiarman Darrel Tillett was among the first responders. Darrell Tillett – Chairman “We saw people help people stretching on the side of the cross way and a lot of people crying for him and for their family.”

No Jail Time For Gino Pech But Fined For Firearm Conviction
With the full-fledged support from family, friends and activists, tonight Corporal 259 Gino Peck has been spared a prison sentence. That is the verdict handed down by chief Magistrate Anne-Marie Smith at the Magistrates Court today. As we’ve reported, charges were brought by one of the Police Departments’ elite units, the controversial GSU - which led the search on Peck's home. During the search, Peck was found in possession of keeping an unlicensed firearm, keeping unlicensed ammunition, and keeping prohibited ammunition. And while the strict gun laws would require automatic prison time, Peck was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years for some of the ammunition and 5 years for the others - with the sentences to run concurrently. Today after the verdict was passed down; Peck and his wife were bombarded by the media to get their response on the outcome. Corporal Gino Peck: “I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart, including my department, my family and my friends. When you do honorable things on earth, it will always pay at the end." Reporter: “How is everything with you and your family? Do you plan to continue as a police officer given the fact?”

Short Delay At Sugar Factory
Early this morning, the Belize sugar factory suffered a small hiccup that caused a delay in the delivery of cane to the mill. Factory manager, John Gillete told us over the phone that they have been working out the kinks on a new piece of equipment that was commissioned. John Gillette - Factory Manager “We are almost over that problem right now, and that is what I was working all morning.” Maria Novelo – Reporter “Ok so we soon shall see the normal flow of deliveries coming in again?” John Gillette - Factory Manager “But we are getting normal flow, what is holding up the delivery is that we far too many truck with straps, those trucks that come with straps we have to use the dumping table and the dumping table can only fill the mill directly, so if the trucks would bring chain and this we will say it again the truck that bring chain we could offload the cane and they get it in pier but it is 7400 tons, the reason why we overlap a little bit is because they have too many straps and not many chains which they could pack in the yard.”

Land Department Rejected Application For Parcel 2215 From OWTC
The Orange Walk Town Council has proceeded with its application to the Lands Department for the parcel 2215 known as the Guadalupe Park. Today, representatives of the council attempted to enter that application at the department here in Orange Walk but according to Mayor Kevin Bernard, they were rejected. Kevind Bernad – Mayor of Orange Walk Town “What happen is that it was submitted today but apparently some Mr. Espejo told them that they cannot accept the application and that it has to be submitted personally to the lands commissioner and such they did not accept our application here in Orange Walk Town.” Dalila Ical – Reporter “Is that standard procedure, were you informed, did you ask, how does that work?” Kevind Bernad – Mayor of Orange Walk Town “That is never standard procedures, because as far as I am concern any land application once it is for the Orange Walk jurisdiction goes to the lands department here and they must receive it and then forward it to the ministry in Belmopan and from there they proceed.”

Residence Blame Area Representative And Government For Crooked Tree Accident
But the early morning tragedy has also raised the ire of many Crooked Tree residents. This stems from the conditions of the causeway and the conditions in which villagers have had to commute to and from the village for over three months. Among those who responded to the accident were the politicians and Belize Rural North Area Representative Edmund Castro was among that part of the crowd. The blame for this morning’s tragedy was placed squarely on Belize Rural North Area Representative Edmund Castro and the government by villagers. The causeway has been in need of repair for several years. The water still sits on a section of the causeway. The deepest point is presently seventeen inches and from the villagers’ calculations, this is receding about one inch per day. However, villagers clamour that they have repeatedly asked for the repairs to be done.It seems now that following this morning’s incident those works will now be forthcoming at a faster pace. Edmund Castro – Area Representative "Ministry of Works’ engineers will come out here and do the assessment to make sure that we don't have any gap in the approach for the bridge; the two bridges on the cause-way and then see how soon we could get commuting of the bigger busses to go back and forth and move people. However we still have approximately some 15-17 inches on water on the cross-way so it is almost impossible for us and it wouldn’t be wise for us to try to dump material on the cross way at this time in water."

The Belize Times

UDP hangs on by a thread!! – Power Hungry Barrow fires BAA Board but not Castro
Prime Minister Dean Barrow finds himself in a very peculiar position politically. With only a razor thin majority in the House of Representatives, with the UDP holding 17 seats and the PUP holding 14, Barrow has had to constantly defend and embrace political vultures, Elvin Penner and Edmund Castro, who are lingering like a rotten carcass in the UDP Government. Barrow’s thirst and addiction to power will not allow him to disavow any of the two UDP politicians, no matter how wrong, distasteful, illegal, corrupt or anti-Belizean their actions are. This is the reason why “Passport” Penner is still a UDP area representative collecting a hefty salary and is still driving around a Government-assigned vehicle. This is also why “Clear the Cheques” Castro is also still a Minister of State in Barrow’s Cabinet, even know the Opposition Leader Hon. Francis Fonseca exposed the corrupt abuse of funds at the Belize Airport Authority.

No Love for Barrow & Faber – “…Grow Up! Patrick”… “You da lee bwoy”, says George Frazer
Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow’s belated removal of some well-paid flunkeys at the Belize Airports Authority was his only recourse after almost all 720 members of the Belize National Teachers ...

Pablo Marin abuses authority!! – Police ordered to detain Corozal man for showing middle finger to UDP Minister
Pablo Marin must be turning into the next tin-pot dictator. Over the weekend, the UDP Corozal Bay area representative ordered Corozal Police Officers to detain a man for allegedly showed him the middle ...

Think About It
In January 2012 the G.S.U. raided the home of Police Corporal Gino Peck. They found a firearm and several different rounds of ammunition. They arrested the Corporal and his wife. The matter made news so reports leaked out that the Police Commissioner saw no need to bring criminal charges ...

The Injustice Continues!
By G. Michael Reid Given the innumerable reports of corrupt practices, in particular from elected officials and public officers, we need to ensure that those who betray the public trust are brought to justice. If we do not demand it now, then what we will get from every future government is ...

Some refer to him as Mugabe, the baldhead man, 666, pain and sorrow Barrow, Ali Baba; even his close friends and allies behind the zinc took a slight jab at him last week when they referred to him as the naked emperor. What a ghastly sight that must be. It ...

Belikin Cup football finals – FC Belize vs. Bandits!!!
FC Belize will challenge the defending champs, the Belmopan Bandits in the Belikin Cup football championship finals which start at the MCC Grounds in Belize City on Sunday. FC ...

Wesley girls remains unbeaten in football playoff
The Wesley College girls are leading the high school football playoffs without having lost a single match. The Wesley girls struggled to an uneasy 0-0 draw with the ...

Belize Bank Bulldogs win canoe race
The Belize Bank Bulldogs paddled by Armin Lopez, brothers Amado and Daniel Cruz won the RF&G Insurance Ltd. Haulover Bridge to Burrell Boom canoe race in a time of 2 hours, ...

Airport Authority Board Members Gone Rogue
The credibility of Prime Minister Dean Barrow is at an all-time low. His very late decision to require the members of the Belize Airport Authority board of directors to resign cannot disguise his ill-advised lawyer-style defense of the very same Board members at last week’s House ...

AMAZING GRACE – The Mutations of Lies and Swine Flu
A recent health scare has skyrocketed national health awareness in Belize. This awareness, I’m certain, is spanning the globe. At the root of the fear and extensive cautionary warnings and efforts is the new strain of the influenza virus. Scientists have dubbed the strain: “Novel Influenza A (H1N1)”, but it is ...

The Deficit, Competitiveness & Productivity
By Richard Harrison Belize's deficit continue to grow each year. In the year 2000, Belize’s visible imports were $1.048B (Billion) and exports were $0.42B. In 2005, imports were $1.185B and exports $0.425B (this was before petroleum was found). By 2011, imports were $1.662B and exports were $0.682B (including $0.29B in petroleum. ...

Valuing Friendships
By Dr. Angela Banner-Joseph “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”  Aristotle A few days ago, I was asked this question "What is a friend?" I reflected on the question, and this is what I believe a friend is. I will share a few thoughts about my ...

Hon. Jose Mai awards 8-a-Side Football Winners Hon. Jose Mai awards 8-a-Side Football Winners
On Sunday January 26th, the Hon Jose Mai Orange Walk South Female Eight-a-Side Tournament came to a thunderous finale! Hundreds of football fans convened in San Lazaro Village to witness the two exciting games between Carmelita ...

The Imperial Prime Minister’s credibility gap widens
“The Financial Secretary suffered a mild case of amnesia.” FINANCIAL SECRETARY: “The Prime Minister made a slip of the tongue.” THERE is an infinite distance between the Prime Minister’s self-delusion and reality. That gap continues to widen ad infinitum. He can no longer seduce the National Teachers ...

Dara raises funds for feeding program with Bob Marley concerts
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” – Bob Marley, It is through the teachings ...

Full Basket Belize offers high school scholarships
The non-profit organization Full Basket Belize has begun its annual process of looking for deserving secondary students to receive scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year. Each scholarship is worth up to $1,000 BZ and covers tuition, books, fees, and uniforms. The first step in this process ...

Mayor fires 36 workers – CitCo privatizes security department
36 workers employed under the Belize City Council’s Security Department will be terminated on Friday January 31st. The workers received letters on Wednesday, January 22nd, dated January 16th, informing them that the Council has made their positions ...

By Francis W. Fonseca Patrick Faber’s emotional and irrational attacks on our nation’s teachers must stop. Indeed, as Minister of Education, Faber has a duty and obligation to speak out on issues affecting our Education system, and to defend and protect the interests of all stakeholders in that system:- students, management, parents, ...

The curious cases of Gino Peck and Reynaldo Verde
Before grabbing the public spotlight, Gino Peck, a police officer, and Reynaldo Verde, a GST officer, were for all intents and purposes “normal” Belizeans. That is until they came before the courts on gun charges, which these ...

Not happy with CitCo Parks
Dear Editor: I am very disappointed in the outcome of BTL, Memorial Park and Central Park, the way how they have it redesigned. First of all, I don't see much shade for seating area. Only a few benches are scattered about. What the place seems like is more a market hustle ...

KHMH: Where are your priorities?
Dear Editor I write to express my dismay and disgust with the lack of priorities in improving patient care at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. In December of 2013, the hospital took out a loan from a commercial bank, the Belize Bank, for over $250,000 to repair and convert the parking ...


A GORGEOUS Day to Stop by The Split in Caye Caulker, Belize & A Bit More
Yesterday, some friends and I went over to Caye Caulker for just a few hours. It’s something you MUST do if you are visiting Ambergris Caye. I still think the best way to do it is a catamaran sail all-day trip (Seaduced does some amazing ones – take a look at the posts below) but, like I did, you can just take the water taxi over for a few hours. Do it. Here’s a different view – flying over the island. It’s the best way to see “The Split” in the island. The story of the split is that the great (great as in large not very good) Hurricane Hattie cut the island in two in 1961. She hit close to Belize City with sustained winds of about 140mph. 307 people were killed in Belize. Hattie also damaged up to 70% of the buildings in Belize City and left 10,000 people homeless. The damage was so severe that the capital city was relocated inland from Belize City to Belmopan.

International Sources

Deficiencies In Belize And Guyana AML Compliance Highlighted
Deficiencies in anti-money laundering compliance in Belize and Guyana have been highlighted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) regulator. CFATF, the regional supervisor for anti-money laundering compliance, on 20 November 2013 issued a public statement identifying countries in the Caribbean Region that were deficient in their anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regimes (AML / CFT). Belize and Guyana were named in the Statement. Dominica, having been previously identified as deficient, was the only country identified as having made significant improvement. The BVI regulator, the Financial Services Commission, further highlighted the CFATF's announcement in a public statement issued on 14 January 2014. Jurisdictions not mentioned in this note remain unaffected. Following minimal progress from an initial round of supervision in November 2011, the CFATF in May 2013 established action plans with deadlines designed to strengthen the AML / CFT regimes in both Belize and Guyana. In summary, the Belize plan required the country to: (1) address deficiencies with the obligations on conducting customer due diligence, (2) fully implement the CFT framework, (3) extend the AML / CFT framework to designated non-financial businesses and professions, (4) address deficiencies with the operational independence of the Financial Intelligence Unit and (5) prohibit dealings with shell banks.

Clean Energy Policy
In 2012, another Caribbean country, Belize, which currently generates 63 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, announced plans for a National Energy Policy and a Sustainable Energy Strategy. “We have ambitious targets. We have set ourselves to change from fossil fuel to renewable energy and at the same time decrease our energy intensity,” Energy Minister Joy Grant told IPS. “We are pursuing all types of renewable energy – hydro, bio energy, solar, ocean, thermal and wind and waste-to-energy,” Grant added. But like all other small developing countries, Grant said Belize’s efforts in renewable energy were constrained by the high cost of renewable technologies; the lack of domestic capacity; inappropriate frameworks to incentivise the private sector to invest in renewable energy; and small population size.

Mexican 'Miracle Man of the Pacific Ocean' gives his first account of how he survived 13 months adrift before washing up 8,000 miles away
Across a crackling radio transmission, the 'Miracle Man of the Pacific Ocean' told for the first time today how his incredible 16 months adrift in a small boat had left him 'desperate and exhausted.' Speaking briefly to MailOnline through an interpreter as he was carried by boat from a tiny atoll to the main port in the isolated Marshall Islands, Jose Ivan told of his anxiety to be reunited with his family. 'I just want to get back home to Mexico, but I don't even know where I am,' he said, his voice filled with emotion. During what he said was more than a year drifting helplessly through the treacherous waters of the Pacific after his small boat broke down when he and a fisherman colleague had set out from the Mexican coast, Jose said he was 'tired and sad.' Ivan's companion had died at sea several months ago, he added. Despite earlier reports that he had left his port in September 2012 to sail to El Salvador, he said over the crackly radio transmission from ship-to-ship today that he had in fact set out to sea December 25 of that year, more than 13 months ago. 'We set off to go shark fishing,' he told a Mexican interpreter on a yacht moored in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Island.

VIDEO: Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Belize
Belize is considered to be some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world, so I was really excited to get to spend some time in the Caribbean there this past January. I brought along my GoPro and got some footage from the Great Blue Hole, Half Moon Caye, and Aquarium dive sites as well as Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley and a few other random reefs while snorkeling.

VIDEO: Lionfish spearing in Southern Belize
Removing the invasive Lionfish, very sustainable and delicious to eat!!!

February 2, 2014


Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Police Report
* On Thursday, January 23rd at about 9:30AM, Teressa Weller, and American businesswoman presently staying at a resort on North Ambergris Caye, reported to the San Pedro Police that on Sunday, January 19th at about 10PM she noticed that the windshield of her rented golf cart was missing. The golf cart was parked Barrier Reef Drive while she went out for dinner. Weller stated that she had rented the golf cart earlier in the day from Cholo’s Golf Cart Rental. The golf cart bears license plate number SP-C-1690 and is labeled with company’s logo and the number 4. The windshield is valued at $425. Rafael Cowo, 54 years of age, was arrested as suspect to the crime. Complainant has requested court action.

IDB provides US$540,000 Grant to Belize for George Price Highway Project Preparation Studies
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Belize today signed a grant agreement for US$540,000 to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The agreement was signed in Belize City by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Gina Montiel, Manager of the IDB’s Country Department for Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. “We are pleased to support Belize in its efforts to expand and rehabilitate its road network, which is so crucial to the country’s development”, said Gina Montiel. The grant will support the preparation of an investment program to finance the infrastructure works needed to upgrade and absorb growing traffic volumes on the highway.

Two fishermen of San Pedro Town accused of having sex with a female minor
Police on Ambergris Caye have arrested and charged two fishermen of a San Pedrito Area of San Pedro Town after being accused of having sex with a female minor. One of the accused, a 16 year old minor, was charged for unlawful carnal knowledge, while 21-year-old Rolando Espat was charged for rape and grievous harm. According to police, on the 17th of December 2013, at about 2:55PM a 16 year old female student of Orange Walk Town visited the San Ignacio Police Station accompanied by her mother. She reported to police that on the 14th of June, 2012, at about 10:00PM, she went to San Pedro Town and stayed at a residence in the San Pedrito Area. She reported that the male minor, who was 14 years old at the time, invited her to his house, where they engaged in sexual intercourse. The female minor, who was also 14 at the time, further reported that on the 15th of December 2012, she went back to San Pedro Town whereby the young man took her to his room and they engaged in sexual intercourse again. The minor further stated that on January 3rd, she returned to San Pedro Town and went to the same young man’s house and while there, Rolando Espat, went inside the room and forced himself upon her without her consent.

Ambergris Today

Funtastic Island Tubing Tour at Caye Caulker, Belize
Most of us have been or heard of cave tubing in Belize, right? Hop on an inner tube at the mouth of the Crystal Cave and let the river’s currents take you through the Mayan underworld. But have you heard of Island Tubing? It is one of the newest adventure tours available at Caye Caulker by Anda De Wata Tours. You will love it! The concept is simple, string eight inflatable tubes behind a skiff and drag along a party through the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and enjoy island life at its best. Anda De Wata Tours invites you to take a break from looking at the beautiful corals and snorkeling with exotic marine life and just snug yourself inside an inflatable tube while they tug you along the front and back shoreline of the island.

Misc Belizean Sources

Buena Vista Resource Center Launch
Feelgood news of the day. Japan constructed a resource center for Buena Vista Village. It has a library, a computer lab, and a multipurpose area for the community to use. Thanks, Japan! "On Wednesday, we asked you to name the place we visited; if you guessed BUENA VISTA VILLAGE, CAYO DISTRICT, you were right! The residents of Buena Vista Village were the recipients of a newly constructed resource center. The 26 x 80 feet structure houses a furnished computer lab and library along with a multipurpose section. Funding for the project, which totalled BZ$245,852.00, was provided by the Government of Japan via its Grassroots and Human Security Grants Project (GHGP)."

Biggy and Binjaz Red Fusion 4.0
Biggy and Binjaz birthday celebration at Meluchi's was a wild event, and Danny Chung was there to get some great pictures. Hope it's a great year.

Belize Zoo Honored as 'Bright Spot'
"The Belize Zoo had the extraordinary honour of being selected as a 'Bright Spot' by the Caribbean Leadership Project hosted by UWI's Cave Hill School of Business. Through the project's module 'Serving Our People, Country, and Region,' the Zoo was highlighted as one of the 'bright spots' in Belize that exhibits successful leadership and citizen focused services, for its 30 years of contributions to education and wildlife conservation in our country. A group of CEOs and Permanent Secretaries from around the Caribbean (including Belize!) graced TBZ with their presence, as Founding Director Sharon Matola shared the history, mission and vision of 'the best little zoo in the world.' Rose the crocodile then made an appearance at the end of discussions, along with 'Miss Belize' the tapir mascot, displaying a perfect summary of the Zoo's approach to wildlife conservation through interactive education. TBZ thanks our colleagues for such an honoured visit, and looks forward to another 30 years of putting Belizeans in touch with their natural heritage, so we can save it for generations to come!"

VIDEO: Historian Dr. Joseph Palacio talks about celebration of Punta Gorda becoming a town over a century ago.

The name of the Toledo district was derived from a man named Felipe Toledo. Felipe Toledo was a Central American man from whom some American ex-Confederates bought land in the area of Forest Home village. Initially the land that was bought was named Toledo Settlement. From there the name was adopted for the district.

PG Day celebrations underway
Residents of Toledo, including surrounding villages are today celebrating Punta Gorda Day. PG day is being celebrated with the theme: “One Town, One People – Celebrating 119 years of culture dreams and prosperity.”

Condolences to the Gentle family of Crooked Tree village
Benjamin Gentle Junior, 20. Benjamin died early on Friday morning in a boat collision on the flooded Crooked Tree Lagoon. Initial investigations indicate that a mechanical malfunction caused a larger Belize National Coast Guard boat to crash into a smaller vessel in which a number of persons were traveling. Eight persons sustained varying degrees of injuries. Some were treated at the scene, others were taken to hospitals in Orange Walk and in Belize City.

Phillip Goldson – Belize’s first true Black Leader
By: Abdulmajeed K. Nunez. They are saying Dean Barrow is the first black Prime Minister in Belize History They need to go back and check their story In 1961 when the governor abandoned his post Goldson stepped up when we needed him the most This is not talked about by most folks The Queen declared martial law over Belize Goldson was appointed to charge with ease Making him Belize’s first black leader in Belize He was a man with a vision To build a Nation In the state of emergency the Premier Or the Prime Minister is no longer in power The power is vested in the Governor In those days there was not a Governor General Walter Hasting was the governor at the time and was absent Her majesty over the country’s management

Belize vs Jamaica vs Trinidad and Tobago
Comparisons on Key Facts, Legislative Details, Leaders, Other Positions

Education in Belize: Next Steps?
We have tried to identify Who’s the Enemy in our Education Systems in Belize and open our eyes to why so many of us live desensitized to daily life in this new global and digital age. Now, it’s time to move on to the next stage. Are we ready and willing? Mega-sized problems that continue to plague our nation everyday lie not only in areas of Education but in other key areas that prevent us from improving our standards of living. Quality health care is not available or affordable to everyone throughout Belize’s cities, towns, and rural areas. Employment for professionals is not available on a competitive basis, but rather only to the few who (whose families) are lucky enough to have the right “political connections”. The fact remains, though, that even if our Education systems do not meet all the challenges that confront an Independent nation, teachers in Belize remain grossly underpaid, undervalued, and unappreciated by too many. I extend kudos to BNTU and to all educators who are bravely fighting (the government) and trying to improve this unjustifiable and unfair condition.

Tourism Industry Presentation
An overview of Belize's Tourism Industry accomplishments over the last year, presented by the Belize Tourism Board. this video wraps up most of BTB driven projects in 2013.


Career Day at Our Lady of Guadalupe R.C. High School
Today was career day at Our Lady of Guadalupe R.C. High School in Belmopan. It is annual event for most High Schools as they expose students to the world of work outside the gates of their institution. Our reporter, visited the High School grounds and has the following report: There was an excitement Our lady of Guadalupe R.C. School today. Why? Two words, Career Day. An entire day set aside for 2nd Form students who are choosing a final two years to follow in the pursuit of their individual careers outside the guidance of this institution, I spoke to Ms. Evita Palma, head of the Business Department. She also teaches 3rd and 4th Forms. As one of the key coordinators, I asked Ms. Palma for details of the day’s event: Ms. Evita Palma- Coordination Member “The career day is basically where we get the 2nd Form and 4th Form in Career choices with presenters from different career paths from all over Belmopan. 2nd Formers choose which department they are going to. The 4th Fromers are actually exiting. So, they chose what theirs already spending two years, now the may change into a different professional path, like a teacher, a doctor; so they have options available. For this, we are basically opening their minds for the available careers in the country”.


Placencia, Belize Has a Serious Food Scene: Dragonfly Moon and Mojo Lounge
In my last post about the DELICIOUS food in Placencia, I raved about Rumfish y Vino…YUM and the gorgeous gelato at Tutti Frutti. (For all the restaurants and cafes in Placencia that I’ve tested, click here.) I actually gained 4lbs in 4 days with my massive amount of eating but who cares! It can’t be helped. I love trying new foods (and revisiting old delicious ones) and well…it’s my job. It absolutely must be done. The first night I was in Placencia, I visited the newest “hot spot”, Dragonfly Moon. This restaurant has actually been in the village for a while as more of a classic Belizean-Chinese restaurant. Amy (also Chinese-Belizean) and her parents own the place. Last year, Amy Chen wanted to try something new….something more updated than Lo Mein and fried chicken. She hired a restaurant consultant who has worked with many of the hot spots around Belize like Rumfish in Placencia and Fuego in San Ignacio…

“Never Too Much” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
With this haphazard publishing frequency that I’ve drifted in to ((well I am retired, I am doing it for a bit of fun after all (for me, if not you) and I’ve never promised to publish daily)) I’m finding it increasingly difficult to remember what I last told you about. Yes, I know that I could look at the last edition and all would be revealed but that would make it a bit like work. More professional. And I don’t have to be professional anymore. I’m retired. I can be quirky. Idiosyncratic even. And if I wrote about it well in the first place then perhaps you might like reading it again. Or not. But if I am repeating myself you will at least know that your memory is working! So, with this forewarning ‘out of the way’ I will start today’s edition. Weather over the last few days has been somewhat variable/changeable. Clear, bright, sunny and warm days swiftly followed by a day with overcast skies, little to no sun and a temperature drop. We have also had sprinkles of rain. None of this has greatly affected my ‘me time’ on the veranda early in the morning. Of course not. I’ve still ventured ((really don’t know why I chose that word because it’s somewhat inappropriate. It is only a short distance from the kitchen (where the mug of black coffee comes from)) to the veranda. Making a slight detour on the way to grab hold of my iPad.

Black History Month Kick-Off
Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Harriet Ross; 1820 - March 10, 1913) was an African American abolitionist, humanitarian and Union spy during the American Civil War. Once the Civil War began, she worked for the Union in many different capacities, including cook, and nurse. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made more than nineteen missions to rescue more than 300 slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Harriet was often referred to as "Moses," and her track record was impeccable. She was never caught, and never failed one her "passengers." She would often disguise herself and her fellow fugitives on their journey to safety in the north.

International Sources

Security Concerns on a Honduran Island
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, but the country’s idyllic Bay Islands have long been considered a safe haven, largely immune from the drug-fueled violence that has plagued the Honduran mainland. However, a string of recent crimes on Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands, has prompted outrage, with some residents calling for greater autonomy and more effective policing for the islands. Roatán made international headlines on Dec. 22 when Nedenia Post Dye, the great-granddaughter of the General Foods heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, was found stabbed to death in her luxury spa on the island. A local singer whom she was reportedly trying to help has been charged with her murder; he claims the two were romantically linked. “People let their guard down here because it’s beautiful and relaxing,” said Aaron Etches, a longtime resident of Roatán who founded a Facebook group called Roatán Crime Watch about a year ago in the wake of several high-profile crimes as a way to help fight crime on the island.

February 1, 2014


Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Guatemalan incursion is a major threat to Belize’s pristine forests
Illegal incursions by Guatemalans into Belize’s pristine forests continue unabated and create a great challenge to conservation efforts, especially in the Chiquibul National Park. In fact there has been a shift from the illegal extraction of Xate palm leaves and logging to a more lucrative business, the illegal panning for gold. Not only are the incursions illegal, but their activities are posing a major threat to the degradation of the ecosystem. In late 2010, Ceibo Chico Outpost in the southern portion of the Chiquibul National Park was set up to help tackle illegal logging and first evidence of illegal gold panning. But since then, the Guatemalans have been moving further into the country as far as 14 kilometers into Belize’s Chiquibul National Park. It’s a major challenge, and according to Rafael Manzanero, the Executive Director ofthe Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), it is making conservation efforts more difficult. “People have become aware that there may be some gold deposits in the southern part of the Chiquibul Area. As a result, there has been a spiral of movement into the zone. We started going into the area in 2010 and at the time we already had a lot of people illegally operating in that area. At the time it was concentrated in Ceibo Chico area and they operated in groups. Now we are finding these groups have disbursed and they are going in small groups into the highland, which makes it even more difficult to contain and patrol,” explained Manzanero who runs the non-governmental organization (NGO).

Occupational Safety and Health bill introduced and goes for nationwide consultation
For months the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) has been demanding that Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow, table the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Act for passage at the National Assembly. Members of the NTUCB were ejected from the chambers of the National Assembly Building during the last sitting of 2013, after they shouted at the PM to bring the proposed act to the house. They even went in length to warn that 2014 would be the year of the workers and would fight tooth and nail to see the proposal tabled and passed through all it stages. On Wednesday January 22nd, PM Barrow heeded to the demands and introduced the proposal as a bill for first reading.

The passion of football in San Pedro
Yup, football takes more than just the bare minimum. I have seen children playing football for hours; I even have some friends that wake up at 5AM just to practice football. If that isn’t love for the sport, I don’t know what is! Not even sprains, fractures and broken bones can keep a true footballer away the sport! Up to this, Jorge still bears the injuries from playing football, but that doesn’t diminish his love; it’s just strengthened it. “I have suffered several sprained ankles form playing football and have even broken my knee cap. Today I still suffer knee problems, that is one of the reasons I stopped playing, but I still love the game and any chance I have to play, I take it.” Now that’s passion! What may sound painful to you and I is a joy to others Football has even take him to new countries, playing in places like Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Cuba and Guatemala. So whether you like to be on the field kicking the ball or simply watching a game, beer in hand, football is the sport in San Pedro. Encourage children to get active and play. You never know, we just might have the next Beckham in our midst!

Konrad Gonzalez wins 2013 Rookie of the Year at the Belize City Softball Competition
For the past few months, 19 year old Konrad Gonzalez has been representing San Pedro Town in the 2013 Belize City Male Softball Competition sponsored by Smart. At the end of the competition, Konrad took the 2013 Rookie of the Year award after pitching for the Oceana Strikers, who placed second at the end of the tournament. The tournament saw a series of games by four softball teams from the Belize District, playing for a chance to represent the Belize District in the National Softball Tournament. The tournament began on August 9, 2013 and by December 2013 the championship matches were on.Fighting for the first place trophy in a best-out-of-five tournament was the Oceana Strikers and Guardian Bombers.

Tropic Air Announces Service to Merida, Mexico
Tropic Air announced today, January 31, 2014, that it will inaugurate non-stop service to Merida, Mexico on March 3, 2014. With the launching of this service, Tropic will be the only airline to operate non-stop scheduled flights between Belize City and Merida. Initially, Tropic will fly (BZE) to Merida (MMMD) three times weekly. Tickets are available for sale at a special introductory price thru February.

Wanted US man picked up in San Pedro
On Friday, January 31st, around 3:30PM, the San Pedro Police Department Special Branch assisted the United States of America (USA) Embassy in the capture of a wanted man. He was identified as 46-year-old Grant Kenneth Ice, and is wanted in the city of Los Angeles, California for financial fraud. Ice was residing at Sun Street, Boca del Rio area and was well-known on the island as Grant Bill Guy. US Authorities escorted Ice to Belize City on the 4PM flight, and officials stated that he would be transported to Belmopan and taken to the US Embassy. Ice is scheduled to be handed over to US Marshalls on Saturday, February 1st and will be flown out to Los Angeles, where he will face charges before Los Angeles police.

Yeah team Denmark won the big BINGO game at the Lions Den! Welcome to La Isla!

Ambergris Today

Medical Equipment to Improve Maternal and Child Health Services in Belize
The Ministry of Health Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project handed over medical equipment - valued at approximately BZ $311,000 - to the Northern and Western Health Regions on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, during a ceremony held at the grounds of Western Health Regional in Belmopan. The short ceremony included welcome remarks from Mrs. Martha Woodye, Quality Improvement Project Manager for the Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project. She spoke of the purpose of the donation which is to primarily improve the neonatal care capacity and expand coverage of reproductive health services in healthcare centers of both regions. Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin gave the keynote address in which he congratulated the health teams of both regions for their dedication and commitment in light of Belize’s recognition in the region for once again achieving a maternal mortality rate of zero for 2013.

Belize Receives Grant to Improve George Price Highway
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Belize today signed a grant agreement for US$540,000 to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The agreement was signed in Belize City by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Gina Montiel, Manager of the IDB’s Country Department for Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. “We are pleased to support Belize in its efforts to expand and rehabilitate its road network, which is so crucial to the country’s development”, said Gina Montiel. The grant will support the preparation of an investment program to finance the infrastructure works needed to upgrade and absorb growing traffic volumes on the highway.

Misc Belizean Sources

2 boat collision
There was a 2 boat collision transporting students from Crooked Tree early this morning as apparently they are still experiencing untrafficable roads due to flood. Reports indicate there has been one fatality, several students were severely injured and some were given medical attention. At least 5 were transported to the hospital with serious injuries! Please render prayers for all these families.

Dream for Belize Essay Competition
The U.S. Embassy is hosting an essay competition in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King and Black History month. The theme is 'I Have a Dream for Belize,' the deadline for submission is February 9th, and the essay should be 300 words or less. The first place winner will receive a tablet computer, and their essay will be published locally. Belizeans between the ages of 16 and 30 are eligible to submit, and the email to send it to is "Tell us your dream for the people and future of Belize. Submissions are due February 9, 2014."

Fatal boat collision on the Crooked Tree Lagoon
Emergency personnel and the police are at the scene of a boat crash on the Crooked Tree Lagoon. Two vessels, reportedly belonging to the Belize National Coast Guard, collided this morning as they were transporting students and workers across the flooded lagoon. The cause of the fatal incident is not yet known, but early indications are that the engine on one of the boats may have stalled and the driver of the other did not realize it in time to avoid a collision. The victim of this morning’s boat crash on the Crooked Tree Lagoon has been identified as Ben Gentle, 17. In our previous reports we had said it was a primary school boy who had perished. A resident of Crooked Tree village says that Gentle was enroute to work in Belize City when the incident happened early this morning. Other occupants of the crashed boats were also injured, although the extent of those injuries is not yet known.

Ambergris Caye Elementary school
Ambergris Caye Elementary school is currently heading a campaign to help raise funds to maintain long term sustainability for the school. It's so simple. If just 500 people would donate $25.00 per month on a recurring basis Ambergris Caye Elementary School could be fully sustainable! Then we could offer free schooling to any child in need! This is more than most of us spend on coffee in a week! I know if I can do it and never miss the money anyone can! Set it up through our Global Giving site and forget it! We now have 4 recurring donations just 496 to go! Do it now, and it's done! Many thanks to everyone who supports us in so many different ways! The GlobalGiving Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization (EIN: 30-0108263).All your donations are fully tax deductible. Children are the future! Education is the path to a better tomorrow, make a difference in the life of a child! Thank you for your generous support of these projects:

Kitesurfing - Azul Resort, Ambergris Caye
This video is of Kitesurfing from Azul Resort, Ambergris Caye.

Buena Vista Village Resource Center
On Wednesday, we asked you to name the place we visited; if you guessed BUENA VISTA VILLAGE, CAYO DISTRICT, you were right! The residents of Buena Vista Village were the recipients of a newly-constructed resource center. The 26 x 80 feet structure houses a furnished computer lab and library along with a multipurpose section. Funding for the project, which totalled BZ$245,852.00, was provided by the Government of Japan via its Grassroots and Human Security Grants Project (GHGP). (16 photos)

Moombah Tong at Soul Project
The Soul Project will be the EDM capital tonight when DJ Check My Move mixes some Mombah Tong and some house together. In related news, the Soul Project did their Open Mic night last night. It's always a great time at the Soul Project, Cayo's Cultural Hub.

Mr. & Ms. SHC Pageant
Sacred Heart College has started the preliminaries of the Mr. and Ms. SHC Pageant. At this point, they are in the popular vote stage, where you can like the contestants pictures on fb. Check out their event page, and scroll down to see all the contestants, and like the one(s) you want to vote for. Spoiler: one contestant already has over 1300 likes! The pageant takes place on Friday, the 28th of March. Best of luck to all.

Rotaract Intercitidina After Party
Rotaract is having their Intercitidina starting yesterday, and tonight they're having an after party at Meluchi's. "Official Rotaract Intercitadina After Party happening this Saturday 1st February. We always do it big. Hypest Sounds in CAYO! Lots of giveaways from Cuellos Distillery! Prizes for Lap Dance competition & One Drop competition winners! Don't Miss Out! You know Rotaract always has the best parties! Everyone is invited to Meluchi's."

COLA support Gino Peck and family
The civil group Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, today issued a press release in support of Corporal Gino Peck, who it says is the victim of vindictiveness and double standards by the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) and Director of Public Prosecutions who convicted him on Monday. They say they will support Peck’s family monetarily and legal assistance, pro bono, from attorneys they have contacted. And a new organization, Fighting in the Streets Together (FIST) has been organized to fight for changes to the Firearms Act. The nascent organization is separate from COLA and continues to develop and organize. Meanwhile, when we spoke today with Peck’s wife Loretta, she first expressed thanks to the Department for their support, saying that “it’s good to know that they are behind my husband 110%.” She specifically thanked the Police Association for its assistance.

City Council releases 36 security officers
The Belize City Council plans to privatize and reorganize its security department under one of its trusted employees, but today the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) objected, saying that neither it nor the workers was properly informed of the circumstances. Workers were told last Tuesday that they were being made redundant for reasons of increasing productivity, but were promised – though not officially – that they were to be hired by the new company. Today CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd said that while the Labour Act does allow for redundancy, any mass event like that which the City Council is planning requires at least one month’s notice to the Labour Department and or the bargaining unit for the workers, conditions she says were not fulfilled.

BNTU countrywide rally tour stops in Dangriga
Over 400 teachers of the Stann Creek district took to the main streets of Dangriga town today in a rally as part of a series of peaceful industrial action by the Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU. The theme of the rally was “teechaz gat yu bak.” President of the Stann Creek branch of the BNTU Troy Coleman explained that today’s rally sought to address three main themes, those being the anti corruption message; Social Security and Income Tax reforms. The rally got started around 9 am at the Princess Royal Park and made its way through the main streets of Dangriga, with the teachers singing and chanting along the way. The teachers were joined in solidarity by the Southern Workers Union.

Channel 7

Crooked Tree Calamity!: Coast Guard Collision Causes One Lost Life
Good evening, and welcome to 7news – there’s a lot of big stories ahead tonight – but just to get you started, we’ll tell you straight off that Corporal Gino Peck is at home this evening: he didn’t get sent to jail – even though there’s a mandatory minimum sentence. We’ll tell you how he escaped that later on in the news, plus we’ll have the scene from the courthouse where the DPP was booed. But, first, to the story of the deadly boat accident in the Crooked Tree Lagoon.

Gino Peck Fined And Not Confined: But How?
Corporal, Gino Peck, who was in danger of being sent to prison for firearm offences is at home tonight, much to the delight of his family, friends and supporters. Instead of getting 3 years for keeping prohibited ammunition, and 5 years for keeping unlicensed ammunition, Peck was sentenced to pay a fine of $600.

7Peck’s Attorney Explains
The illegal protest continued like that for just over an hour while the sentencing hearing was postponed. And that’s because today was also the day that DPP Cheryl-Lynn Vidal was to be elevated to Senior Counsel. It in an odd and slightly surreal twist, Vidal was robed and introduced as a new senior counsel by no other than Simeon Sampson, Peck’s attorney, and she invited Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie as her guest of honour at the ceremony, which was also attended by Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, the sitting magistrate in Peck’s case.

Why Was GSU Commander Vidal At Court?
The police department and the Peck family intends to see Gino Peck through an appeal of the Magistrate’s Court conviction because as you heard in our interview, it jeopardizes Peck’s eligibility for pension, his gratuity, and his 22-year tenure of service.

City Security Workers Get A Reprieve From Termination
Last night on the news – you saw the security guards from the city council speaking out because the city had decided to give security duties over to a private contractor. Today would have been the last day at work for 36 of them – and promises were made that the old staff would be hired by the new company – but no written undertakings were given, so many of the workers refused to cross over into an uncertain future.

Matura Shepherd Back-pedals On Bev Cas Accusation
And while Matura Shepherd made meaningful progress on that case, she's had to back-pedal on another. As has been widely reported, she's the attorney for the Pickwoad family, who is challenging the title to a parcel of land held by Marvin Castillo and Maud Williams. They happen to be the son and mother of Beverly Castillo, the recently resigned CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources - and in media interviews Matura Shepherd had accused Castillo of using her official position to swing a parcel of land into her family's possession.

NTUCB Angry Again, This Time It’s Immigration
The National Trade Union Congress has become known in media circles for its dramatic, over the top releases - and today it issued another. This one is about the Immigration scandal and the NTUCB says it is disturbed about the failure of the recall mechanism, demanding that the immigration audit be released, and perturbed at what it calls stall tactics. The release closes by saying it calls on the nation to quote, "Wake up and rise up!"

The Future For Corporal Peck
In our last segment, we told you all about GINO Peck’s stay of execution at the mitigation hearing. To our memory, it is the first time –that a person convicted of firearm offences is not sent automatically to jail. But, while he dodged that bullet, Peck and his family are compelled to appeal the conviction because he has a lot at risk. Whenever an officer is convicted of criminal offences, the practice is that his retirement benefits are stripped of him, and that’s after that officer is fired.

BDF’s New Recruits Take Their Turn On Parade Square
Today, the BDF’s recruit intake #57 had its passing out to coincide with the Force’s 36th anniversary. The 81 new soldiers did their thing proudly on the parade square at the Price Barracks and the Minister of National security welcomed them to the fold in his keynote address. Here’s an excerpt of his remarks:…

Castro Blames It On The Rain
It hasn't been the best two weeks for Belize Rural North Area Representative Edmund Castro. He was absent from the house last week when the Leader of The Opposition pounced on his alleged abuse of Belize Airport Authority Funds. Since then, the Prime Minister has called those acts wrong and distasteful, and the BAA has been moved away from Castro's ministry of transport. And today, he had to face the music in the wake of a calamity on the Crooked Tree Lagoon that cost the loss of a life. Really, what happened was a most unfortunate accident - and one Castro had nothing to do with but when we went there today - many fingers were pointing at him. Why? Well, they say he should have built up the causeway and that would have pre-empted this extended use of the Coast guard vessels and the exposure to associated hazards.

Channel 5

B.N.T.U. shows muscle in the Culture Capital
The Belize National Teachers Union showed muscle today in Dangriga. The teachers of the south want their salary adjustment…they want to be respected…they want better working conditions and they want [...]

B.N.T.U. National President says salary adjustments and increment are different things
As we told you, Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the joint union negotiating team in Belmopan today. Since he has already said as much in an unofficial but public [...]

Leader of the Opposition supports and respects teachers
As you heard, the message of the teachers was trumpeted in Dangriga. And if there is strength in numbers, then the teachers showed muscle today. There is also support for [...]

COLA comes out support of Convicted Cop, Gino Peck
Police officer Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday and his attorney Simeon Sampson is preparing to immediately mount an appeal to his sentence for ammunition offenses. Peck has the [...]

Francis Fonseca speaks on the divide between Police Dept., GSU & Office of D.P.P.
The introduction of the Firearm Act back in June 2008 attracted opposition in many quarters because it was considered draconian. The legislation says that anyone found in a house or [...]

City Hall lets go thirty-six security workers; the CWU takes up their cause
In mid-December, firebrand attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd was named President of the controversial Christian Workers Union, and little over a month after she is facing her first challenge. That’s because the [...]

Opposition says government is in crisis and it is ready for elections
The Leader of the Opposition touched on a number of issues of national importance when we spoke with him this morning. Francis Fonseca minced no words as it pertains to [...]

Trial on the murder of Aubrey Lopez before the courts
On May twelfth 2010 popular basket-baller Aubrey Lopez was abducted and then brutally murdered, shot in the head and then pushed from his own car in Belize City. Five days [...]

Works on Dangriga marketplace to resume using monies for road works
In September 2013, the Dangriga Market, a significant part of the Municipal Development Plan, was brought to a screeching halt by the combination of an allegedly incompetent contractor and corruption [...]

A new chair of the Integrity Commission after 4 years
There has not been a functioning Integrity Commission for years even though by law, the government must establish a Commission. In fact, the last recorded meeting of the Commission was [...]

Opposition Leader calls for an independent audit of Airports Authority accounts
The Board of the Belize Airport Authority has been asked to resign en masse by Cabinet in the wake of the Castro cheque scandal and from what we know at [...]

Corruption; teachers say they want real reform…
This morning teachers marched in Dangriga, and they say the march is also against corruption in government. That particular topic has grown wings lately with the revelations coming out of [...]

…While Opposition Leader says government action is a slap on the wrist
The P.U.P. leader also maintains that the actions which have so far been taken against disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner are lukewarm and not real. And the reason [...]

The gripping story of the Peck family
As we said earlier, Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday morning for ammunition charges. On the eve of his sentencing, his wife, Loretta, made a compelling case on his [...]

Healthy Living addresses a common skin infection
It’s one of the more unsightly and uncomfortable skin infections that you can encounter. Let’s face it: Boils can be a literal pain. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we get some [...]


Police Woman Recovers and Back on The Beat
A woman Police Officer is back at work after a near death experience last year while on the line of duty. Arturo Cantún reports: ARTURO CANTUN REPORTING “On December 5, 2013, Woman Police Constable Marilyn Pate attached to the Orange Walk Police Formation was attacked with a machete by a man that was being investigated by police and the Human Development Department. WPC Pate received serious injuries to her head and left arm. It’s been less than a week that has been back to work and we spoke with her about her recovery from a near death experience while on the line of duty.” WPC MARILYN PATE “Basically, my recuperation has been good; these last two or three days I have been experiencing light headaches that come and go during the day.” ARTURO CANTUN “WPC Pate had accompanied two officers from the Human Development Department as they were investigating a report of carnal knowledge made against one Oscar Perez Hernandez. Pate told us she did not expect the events to unfold the way they did that afternoon.”

Early Morning Boat Accident Kills One and Injures Several
An early morning boating accident on the Crooked Tree Lagoon has left a 20 year old resident of the village dead and nine high school students suffering from head and body injuries. Reporter Linette Canto travelled to Crooked Tree this morning and has the story in the following report:

Police Investigate Home and Office Burglaries
A bank employee has reported to Police that her home was burglarized on December 5, 2013 between the hours of 10:25am and 12:47pm. The complainant, 25-year-old, Angela Reneau of a Belama Phase address in Belize City was robbed of an assortment of electronics, jewellery and home appliances, all valuing just under twelve thousand dollars. Meanwhile out east, San Pedro Police is investigating a burglary incident where businessman, Jose Paz says he had left his office closed and secured at Milo’s International on Pescador Drive on January 29 at around 5:50pm and about thirteen hours later he was informed that the establishment had been burglarized. When he got to his office, he found that a hole had been made in the floor measuring an estimated two feet by one foot at the rear of the building. An assortment of electronic items and furniture was missing having a total value of three thousand Belize dollars. Police investigations are ongoing into the two incidents.

DPP Says Section 33 Did Not Apply for Peck
Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl Lynn Vidal says it is the position of her office that Peck committed a criminal act. Vidal says Section 33 of the Firearms Act which exempts police officers from the general requirements of the Act did not apply in this case. She goes on to say this case was not about an officer being assigned ammunition and simply taking it home at the end of his daily tour but rather about an officer stockpiling ammunition; an officer being assigned resources of the State, a decade and a half before, ceasing to use it in the performance of his duties and then storing it; an officer finding prohibited ammunition and instead of following procedure, taking it home and stashing it. This conduct according to Vidal does not fall within the parameters of the exemption contained in the Firearms Act. Vidal said she read with great dismay the Commissioner’s release which suggested that her Office acted improperly in pursuing criminal charges in accordance with its mandate and that this matter could have been dealt with through disciplinary action.

Mobile Patrol Scores Unlicensed Weapon and Ammunition
Officers on mobile patrol in Belize City uncovered a nine millimeter pistol with serial number 14078607 along with a magazine containing seven nine millimeter live rounds and one nine millimeter round loaded in the chamber. During the patrol on Thursday, January 30, police spotted 20-year-old, Allan Moody of a JR Street address and upon a search of his person, the firearm and ammunition were found. Moody was unable to produce a license for either and was subsequently cautioned, detained and escorted to Precinct Three where he was charged for the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.”

81 New Defense Soldiers for Belize
Today the Belize Defense Force welcomed eighty one new soldiers in their ranks. This afternoon, the BDF held ceremonies for the thirty sixth anniversary and the Passing Out of Recruit Intake Number Fifty Seven. Love News spoke to the Commandant of the Belize Defense Force, Brigadier General David Jones who spoke of what it takes to be a soldier. DAVID JONES “We started out with about one hundred and fifty recruits and we ended up with only about eighty one who were able to go through the intense training and stresses of becoming a soldier in the Belize Defense Force. The training included field craft which means that they need to be very good in the jungle or any conventional terrain; it also includes marksmanship where the soldiers are able to learn everything about the weapon, how to strip it, how to assemble and how to fire it accurately in order to defeat their enemy. They also learned medical and so, they are able to do first aid not only here on the base but also on operations in the jungle if someone gets hurt, they are able to render first aid to their comrades.

Woman Found Bruised and Dead in Southern Belize
Police in Dangriga have two persons detained for questioning in connection with the murder of a woman from Sittee River. 44-year-old Ann Foster reportedly left her home in the village on Thursday to visit her son in Silk Grass Village. Foster’s son became concerned when his mother did not show up. Residents of Sittee River formed a search party but were unable to locate the missing woman. The search resumed this morning and just after eight o’clock this morning Foster’s body was found. According to the Police the body was found about a mile in from the Southern Highway on the Sittee River Road. A number of bruises were observed on her body and head. Police investigations continue.

Police Awaits Post Mortem Results on An Apparent Suicide
The body of a Hispanic man was found in a kneeling position with a hammock wrapped around his neck in an unfinished concrete building on the Cristo Rey Road in the Cayo District. Police made the discovery on Thursday, January 30 and has since identified the person as 49-year-old, Cesar Antonio Tzib. Tzib was taken to the San Ignacio community Hospital where Dr. Chen pronounced him dead on arrival. Investigators have tentatively ruled the case as suicide and are awaiting the results of a post mortem examination.

Communities, Police Officers and Families Rally At The Court for Peck’s Freedom
Gino Peck, the Police Corporal who was found guilty earlier this week in the Magistrate’s court for having in his possession prohibited ammunition, was today fined a total of 600 dollars. Today’s proceedings, presided over by Chief Magistrate, Ann Marie Smith, included mitigation pleas from three character witnesses on Peck’s behalf. At the start of the process at 11:17 am, Chief Magistrate Smith cautioned the packed courtroom that there would be no clapping no whispering and no cellphone usage. The Defense Attorney, Senior Counsel, Simeon Sampson, called Minister of the Nazarene Church, Retired Reverend Oliver Ottley, first to the witness stand. Reverend Ottley told the court that Peck is an active member of the King’s Park Church of the Nazarene and that he deems Peck as a man of integrity that quote, “would not deliberately do anything contrary to the law which he represents”, unquote. The next character witness was the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie, whose department placed its full support behind Peck after his guilty verdict on Monday.


Corporal Gino Peck Given Fine for Ammunition Charges
42 year old Police Corporal Gino Peck is home free tonight, escaping a jail sentence on charges of possession of unlicensed and prohibited ammunition. The father of five and 22-year law enforcement veteran can be thankful for the legal generosity of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions...

DPP Comments on Peck and Verde Cases
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal this evening issued a public statement on the recent cases of Gino Peck and Reynaldo Verde. With regard to the Peck case, the Director maintained that Peck committed a criminal act by “stockpiling ammunition” and storing and stashing ammunition that was resources of...

COLA/FIST Lead Protests
Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) led a crowd of approximately 200 vocal protesters outside the Magistrate’s Court. After the sentencing hearing we spoke with three members of COLA and support organization Fighting In the Streets Together (FIST). First, here is COLA President Giovanni Brackett’s reaction to the...

PUP Shows Support to the Peck Family
Yesterday, the People’s United Party leader addressed the controversy with Corporal Gino Peck, convicted on Monday of ammunition charges. Hon. Francis Fonseca- Leader of the People’s United Party “What is troubling to me as the Leader of the Opposition is that there does seem to be an erosion in the...

DPP and Attorneys Elevated to Senior Counsel
It will perhaps be tainted by events outside her control, but Friday was nonetheless a memorable day for Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, who along with attorneys Jacqueline Marshalleck and Magali Marin-Young was elevated to Senior Counsel of the Bar. The ceremony took place before Chief Justice Kenneth...

21 Year old Student Loses his Life in a Boat Accident
A family is tonight trying to come to grips with the untimely death of a 21 year old student, while the Belize Coast Guard is investigating the circumstances that led to the two boat collision in the Crooked Tree Lagoon this morning. The accident occurred some time around 6:00...

BNTU Marched on the Final Leg of Rallies in Toledo
The final leg of the BNTU’s nationwide rallies was hosted in the Toledo District today. Teachers from the Punta Gorda and Toledo Rural branches congregated at the Toldeo Sports Complex and marched toward the Toledo Central Park for a morning of presentations from, BNTU Punta Gorda Branch President Hilton...

Land Lease Complainant Says Rivals Even Broke Down his House
Earlier this week, we told you of the initiative headed by Rise and Shine to host free legal advice to members of the public who are experiencing land dilemmas. The consultations held over the weekend was made possible through the partnership of five attorneys who volunteered their time to...

PUP Pushes More Reforms for Senate, Integrity Commission
Yesterday, in our interview with Leader of the Opposition Honorable Francis Fonseca, he spoke about reforms for the Senate and the integrity commission. The Government’s plans to reestablish the Integrity Commission are on pace with the installation of former Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Marilyn Williams. The...

Southern Woman Found Dead and Apparently Raped
Meanwhile, Police in the Stann Creek District, are investigating the murder and apparent rape of a woman. We understand that, yesterday, the 44 year old resident of Sittee River, left for Silk Grass to drop off clothing items for her son. However, she never made it to the village....

PUC Approves Increase to 6.4% on Price for Water Supply,due April
This evening, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) said it has approved an average rate increase of 6.4% of Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) in their application for the 2014 annual review proceeding (ARP). The water company had sought an increase of more than 16% on average, a total cost...

Mr. Nelson Young Vs. BTL Laboural Case Still to be Resolved
Nine years ago Thursday, former employee of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), Nelson Young, was fired at the height of civil unrest in 2005 by the Ashcroft regime then in charge, soon to be followed by their union representative Christine Perriott, who later won judgment in the Supreme Court for...

Traffic Accident Reported in Belize City
Police are investigating a traffic accident occurring near downtown Belize City this morning. Around 7:00 a.m., the black Mitsubishi pickup was parked behind the red Toyota 4 Runner, on North Front Street in the vicinity of Marelco Limited when its driver tried to come out of the parking space...


Last Friday, January 24, a total of 36 security officers were terminated by the Belize City Council (BCC) because Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley, is supposedly privatizing the Council’s security needs. The contract to provide security services has now been awarded to the Council’s Security Manager, Hiram Longsworth, and a verbal promise was made, at the time the termination notices were issued, for all the terminated employees to be re-hired by Longsworth. In an interview with LOVE FM this past Tuesday, Bradley declared that discussions to privatize the security services began late last year when it was decided that the service could be outsourced. It was not said how the security services came to be “outsourced” to an employee of the same City Council. The former CitCo employees claim that they were not properly informed about the resolution, and therefore they must now find other ways to “put bread on the table,” since they have been abruptly terminated.

This Saturday, February 1, Belizean musicians, their enthusiasts, and the public in general will have the opportunity to see local artists get rewarded for their hard work and dedication, as KREM Television will be hosting its 2nd Annual “Shoa Wi Self” Awards at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts in Belize City. The award show – which starts at 7:00 p.m. – promises to have a full range of entertainment, and will be featuring stellar performances by a variety of popular local artists, such as Tanya Carter, Denise Castillo, TR Shine and Positive Vibez. Today, Amandala spoke with Evan “Mose” Hyde, KREM Television’s general manager, who told us more about the show and its purpose. Hyde said, “Basically, it’s our night of looking back at all the performers who excelled [during the past year], or between that time who – in our opinion – deserve to be highlighted. This is our way of honoring these people, and we are pleased that we [KREM TV] are able to recognize the excellence of Belizean creativity.”

A Belize City man who pleaded guilty to possession of 0.1 gram of marijuana in the courtroom of Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith was sentenced to six months in prison on Monday. According to court records, on Friday, January 24, police on mobile patrol spotted Gill tossing something out of his hand, when he saw the police vehicle approaching him. Police recovered the small amount of marijuana, 0.1 gram, which is less than a fully rolled joint. Lyndon Gill Sr., 33, a resident of #29 Rose Lane, did not have to wait too long to learn his fate after he entered a guilty plea to possession of a controlled drug. Court records revealed that Gill has three previous convictions for marijuana possession, for which he was fined. The records, however, indicated that he had not paid any of those fines the court had imposed upon him.

Corporal Geno Peck’s conviction on Monday in the Magistrate’s Court for possession of unlicensed ammunition has opened a new chapter in the debate on the Firearms Act and the harsh penalties it stipulates. Corporal Peck has been remanded to prison and is awaiting sentencing tomorrow, Friday. Under the provisions of the law, he can be sentenced to up to eight years in prison for keeping unlicensed ammunition and prohibited ammunition – the charges for which he was convicted. Peck, a veteran police officer for 22 years and reportedly a sterling family man, sent word to his wife Loretta, via a text message, that he had been found guilty. The guilty verdict has hit the family hard. Loretta Peck told 7 News: “In the text he said, ‘Love, they found me guilty; please don’t cry – God is on our side.’”

During yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, the Government of Belize (GOB) sought to carry out “damage control,” mainly in light of escalating public criticism arising from an ongoing scandal involving the disbursement of checks from the operating account of the Belize Airports Authority (BAA), which were made out either personally to Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Hon. Edmond Castro, or on behalf of him. In an effort to quell some of the public’s indignation over this and other government scandals, Cabinet has made the decision to take several steps to address the allegations of wrongdoing and to, in some respects, dole out punitive measures for the erring ministers of government. Late Tuesday evening, Cabinet issued a press release, indicating that it had received an informal report from the Belize Airports Authority concerning the issuance of checks to, or on behalf of, Hon. Castro.

The fifth in a series of nationwide rallies organized by the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) was held today in Dangriga, and the teachers from the southern part of the country made sure that their voices were clearly heard as they continuously raged on about current national issues and condemned the Barrow administration for what they call “rampant corruption” within the Government. Before the rally, the seemingly jubilant teachers – led by the Stann Creek Branch of the BNTU – marched and chanted through the main street of Dangriga to the beating sounds of Garifuna drums, heartily singing their union theme songs. The sequence of rallies has arguably peeved the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, and the Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, who have both received the brunt of the teachers’ furor. Faber has publicly said that he cannot comprehend why the teachers are rallying, since according to him, the negotiations for their salary increase – which is a part of the reason for the rallies – had not broken down.

On Tuesday of this week, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet made a few moves with respect to the disciplinary problems involving Cayo North East area representative, Elvin Penner, and Belize Rural North area representative, Edmond Castro. (The details of the moves are being reported elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper.) There are two immediate things to note about the Penner and Castro situations. One is that the Penner violations are more serious, and in fact constitute a crime against the nation of Belize. And the second thing to note is that Penner is much weaker politically in his constituency than Castro is. Many Belizeans have the view that the elected politicians in their particular constituency, when that politician’s political party is also elected to government and he or she becomes a Cabinet Minister, should find ways to use the system so that the constituency and the constituents can gain benefits. If, in acquiring those benefits for the constituency and the constituents, the elected politician also feathers his own nest, many voters will not normally hold that against him. That is how it appears. In the specific case of Mr. Castro, he defended his Belize Rural North seat with a huge margin of victory in 2012, even after the Prime Minister had removed him from Cabinet in his first term because of a misdeed.

Special Branch is what the British called that section of the Police Force which did secret service work. Special Branch spied on Belizeans, especially those who were active in groups like trade unions and activist organizations and political parties. Special Branch gathered information, then, on any one who, or any group which, could be considered any kind of threat to the colonial order of things. In 1964, British Honduras became a self-governing colony, and this meant that the same man who would have been considered a dangerous security threat by the British in 1954 (Sharpe Inquiry), and in 1957 (expulsion from London), and in 1958 (sedition trial), became the First Minister, and then Premier. This was the Rt. Hon. George Price. So what happened to the Special Branch files on him when Mr. Price himself became, ultimately, responsible for Special Branch? Likewise, what happened to the Special Branch files when Mr. Esquivel replaced Mr. Price as Prime Minister in 1984? Special Branch had been working for Mr. Price for twenty years, providing him with weekly information on his enemies, which would have included Mr. Esquivel. One morning Special Branch were working for Mr. Price, and the following morning, after the votes were counted, they were working for Mr. Esquivel.

In mid-May of 1981, while Belize was under a state of emergency, a blind guy by the name of Gilberto Rivero, if I remember his name correctly, brought a copy of a Mexican magazine, Presencia, to the old Amandala building. It appears he also took copies of that magazine to The Reporter and The Beacon, which was the newspaper organ of the Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) at the time. All three newspapers re-produced an article in the magazine which said that a Mexican marijuana cultivator and trafficker, reportedly shot dead in Houston, had claimed that the Belize Premier, Hon. George Price, was his partner. The Mexican was known to use Belize diplomatic licence plates on his Mercedes-Benz and to cross the border frequently back-and-forth between Chetumal and Belize. Mr. Price demanded an apology from the three newspapers. His lawyers, Derek Courtenay and Glenn Godfrey, did not demand an apology from the Mexican magazine which was the source of the article. When the Belizean newspapers did not apologize, they were sued for libel.

Dear Editor, Mayor Bradley’s infrastructural accomplishments in Belize City demonstrate that political leaders can achieve remarkable things for the people they serve. Despite what remains to be done, city residents are grateful and for the first time in decades are expressing some level of optimism for the city’s future. Bradley’s approach deserves to be studied and the results shared with the “body politic”, if only for good measure. However, lips are whispering that Bradley is thinking of ascending to higher heights. If true, he probably believes that he has proven his worth in Belize City and is now ready to make a more profound impact as a member of the Cabinet. Unsuspectingly, this will prove too much a challenge because the stakes are higher and the dynamics of political power and control are harsh at that level. Check out Godwin H. Once there, Bradley will eventually find himself “falling into line”, isolated or at worst prematurely exiting the political arena in frustration. But that is a topic for another time.

J. C. Arzu’s ideas for better governance
Dear Editor, It’s observed that: The unity of Land and Labor yields Capital. The unity of Land, Labor and Capital yields Profits. In a true democracy, men and women are citizens. And, all are equal before the law. In a monarchy, men and women are subjects. And, not all are equal before the law. Furthermore, in a true democracy a citizen can aspire to rise to the office of Head of State and his wife named First Lady. When a female rises to Head of State her husband is named First Gentleman or, First Bloke. On the other hand, in a monarchy the monarch inherits his/her office. No subject is eligible to rise to the office of Head of State, except through revolution. In republics, Prime Ministers are generally Chief of Staff. In monarchies, Prime Ministers are Head of Government; such is the case across the British Commonwealth.

In Belize we seem not to want to understand what is corruption, abuse of office, conflict of interest and all the situations where people in public office act in their best interest rather than the interest of those they represent. This is bad, because it means that we keep on calibrating our moral and ethical compass to justify a situation. This is especially dangerous when the leader of this country moves his goal post to defend the wrong of Ali Baba’s forty thieves. The recent revelation by the media of some 70 plus cheques written out by the BAA for the non-BAA use is unacceptable. Even more unacceptable is the fact that Minister Edmund Castro is again at the center of the storm, with him having received directly or indirectly the benefit of some 30% of the money. But BAA Board members also benefitted, and so did many others who we are told received money for “education assistance.” But no matter how you spin it, the Board, in my honest view, acted beyond its power and legal authority in using BAA money for purposes not stated in the Belize Airport Authority Act, Chapter 238, which clearly sets out what can and cannot be done as a Board and an Authority. Section 17 set out the functions of the BAA:

PAC finds anomalies with Venezuela grant
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by pro-tempore chairman John Saldivar, met this week and reviewed the Special Report on the 2007 Venezuelan Grant Programme, as well as the 2007-2008 Government audit. The monthly meetings are being held to clear a backlog of reports which the PAC will continue to review until February 2014. During the course of Monday’s proceedings, the PAC reviewed the money trail for the $10 million Venezuela grant, which was wired to London and converted into pounds sterling before being sent over to Belize, shrouding the source of the funds. Saldivar told Plus TV after this Monday’s meeting that, “…the Auditor General indicated that invoices were not provided for how the money was spent. Some of it—about $1.5 million—were put in commercial bank accounts and then disbursed to recipients, which was contrary to financial orders and that sort of stuff.”

United Black Association for Development (UBAD) was a cultural, activist, and political organization which was conceived on February 9, 1969, in Belize City, Belize, Central America. This marked a period of enlightenment of African Belizeans with a focus upon positive and accurate facts about Africans locally, and globally. UBAD’s desire to inform and motivate African Belizeans about their African heritage, culture, and history was welcomed, considering it filled a void that was created by the colonial system. Under President Evan X Hyde’s leadership, UBAD spearheaded a breakfast program and operated a bakery. The Amandala newspaper was one of the most effective organs of communication for UBAD. Following internal conflict, UBAD was formally dissolved in 1974.

Check your change before leaving the counter!
A family is claiming that they have been cheated of over $30 after their daughter came home with change for $20 instead of $50, which the mother says she gave the girl to make a purchase at a Chinese store in the Lake Independence area this morning at about 7:30. The girl returned to the store 7:30 this evening, 12 hours after the purchase, to request the remainder of the money, but the storeowner was adamant that she had been paid with $20, and that she had given change for that amount. Police were called by the irate mother in an effort to recover the remainder of her money, but the effort failed. The police said that the family must accept the loss, if indeed they had taken $50, instead of $20, to the store—which could not be confirmed since the serial number of the money is not known and thus could not be pinpointed.

Importation/exportation of goods between Belize and Mexico suspended
Businessmen at the Mexican border of the country are agitated over a temporary halt to the importation and exportation of goods over the border that are the core economic activities in the area. Goods from Belize cannot be transported into Mexico, or from Mexico into Belize because the license of the Agencia Aduanal “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados” (The Integrated Customs Service), the only broker agency for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border, has been suspended since Friday. The reason for the suspension by the Mexican authorities, or when it will be lifted, is not yet known. In an interview with Amandala today, Marcelino Miranda, the Public Relations Officer at the Mexican Embassy in Belize City, said that the Integrated Customs Service, on the Mexican side of the border, is a private company and has nothing to do with the Mexican government. There are other customs brokers who can do similar duties in the area, or a company from Belize can step up to offer the same duties on the Belize side of the border, he said, adding that the Mexican Embassy can be approached for assistance if no customs broker is found.

Integrity Commission resurrected – Marilyn Williams to take lead
Marilyn Williams, former head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), has confirmed to Amandala that she has, without hesitation, accepted an offer from Prime Minister Dean Barrow to become the new head of the Integrity Commission – a body established in 1994, but which has been non-functional for most of its existence. The last publicly visible chairman of the commission was Chris Coye, former president of the Bar Association of Belize. Coye served under the former People’s United Party administration, and publicly expressed his frustration with the ineffectiveness of the commission. Back in July 2009, Government announced that B.Q. Pitts was the new head of the Integrity Commission, but the languishing Commission, appointed for a two-year term only, has been dormant since. Pitts became Attorney General in July 2010, vacating that office, and no new commission was sworn in.

Three Dangriga men charged with murder for the gruesome death of Honduran national Rodolfo Villatoro walked down the steps of the courthouse building in Dangriga yesterday, free men after they were found not guilty of the charge in the Supreme Court Southern Session. The men are Nicodemus Rodriguez, Gilbert Lamb and Guillermo Martinez, who had been in custody since April 2009.The trial judge was Justice Denis S. Hanomansingh. Police reports are that around midday on April 9, 2009, the body of Rudolfo Villatoro, who was living on Samwood Street, Dangriga, was found in the outdoor latrine in his yard, which is behind Habet Hardware in Dangriga Town. His head had been decapitated, his right arm chopped off and his two feet also severed and thrown into the latrine pit. The scent of rotting flesh had been tormenting the neighborhood.

Several students were hurt when an SUV collided with a bus carrying students to school, at about 7:35 yesterday morning at an area between Miles 69 and 70 on the Philip Goldson Highway in Corozal. The driver of the SUV, Eusebio Urbina, 58, of San Roman, also suffered injuries. Urbina was travelling in a Jeep Cherokee from Santa Clara to Buena Vista in the Corozal District, when he lost control of his vehicle between Miles 69 and 70 on the Northern Highway, and slammed into the left front side of an oncoming school bus, being driven at the time by Lawrence Tillett, 55, of Belize-Corozal Road in Orange Walk, carrying students to the Belize Adventist College in Calcutta.

In case of disputed Belama lot, Supreme Court injunction remains in effect
The injunction on construction upon a disputed lot in Belama, which Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin had granted last December to Bernadette Pickwood against the family of former Ministry of Natural Resources CEO Beverly Castillo, remains in effect, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. Pickwood applied for the injunction to stop Maud Williams and Mervin Castillo, the mother and son of Beverly Castillo, from continuing construction on the lot at the corner of Chetumal and Albert Hoy Streets, after she learned that her lease had been canceled and the lot given to them. Audrey Matura-Shepherd, the attorney for the Pickwood family, told reporters after she emerged from the hearing in the Chief Justice’s chamber that the injunction would remain.

Major municipalities show 7.4% decline in business registration
Data supplied on The Adele Ramos Show by the CEO of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) indicates that roughly 7.4% fewer businesses were registered for 2013 in four important municipalities for which information was available. Those municipalities are Punta Gorda, Dangriga, Belize City and Belmopan. The data indicate that whereas 229 new businesses were registered in 2013, a total of 246 did not renew their registration.

Legal gold extraction exceeds BZ$6 mil
The problem of illegal harvesting of gold by Guatemalans inside the Chiquibul forest is a growing concern for Belize, and Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) recently reported escalating illegal activities further inland from the Belize-Guatemala border, with gold panners coming from distant departments in Guatemala and trying more innovative techniques to search for gold. What is drawing them to Belize is millions of dollars’ worth of precious gold. Michelle Alvarez, Geologist & Inspector of Mines, of the Mining Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, has informed Amandala that between the years 2000 – 2013, the volume of gold extracted from the Chiquibul under approved mineral rights was 2,538.4 ounces. Using the formula provided to our newspaper, we were able to calculate the value of the unprocessed gold at roughly BZ$6.2 million. According to Alvarez, this has yielded BZ$233,348.77 in royalty payments (calculated at 5% of the unprocessed value) to the Government of Belize, apart from annual administrative fees and rentals, which are dependent on the area held under mineral right.

Finnegan to US for spinal surgery
Mesopotamia area representative Hon. Michael Finnegan, who is also the Minister of Housing, left Belize this week to undergo what his wife, Diane Finnegan, has described as a “very delicate” spinal surgery in Los Angeles, California. She told us that Finnegan is being accompanied by Director of Health Services Michael Pitts, and he is currently being prepared for surgery. Mrs. Finnegan is asking for prayers for her husband during this very challenging time. She leaves Belize next Monday to join her husband, whose surgery is scheduled for Thursday. February 6, 2014.

Unfinished business
Their first meeting in Week 1 of the PLB Belikin Cup Opening Season 2013-2014 regular season was a 0-0 draw at the MCC Grounds on September 29. Their second meeting on November 16, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, sparked a bit of controversy, after FC Belize pulled out a 3-2 victory, and the Bandits management proceeded to protest the match on the grounds of some unpaid fees for yellow cards. The protest was unsuccessful. Except a gross violation of game rules, where there is a perceived unfairness in competition, fans generally prefer to see a victory on the field of play. After the loss to FC Belize, the Bandits had also dropped a game to San Ignacio United. Things were looking a bit troublesome for a while, and some Bandits fans tried to rehash the protest talk, but to no avail. Coach Edmund “Buzzard” Pandy appeared to have righted things after a victory over Verdes, but the playoff race already looked tight, and the Bandits ownership was taking no chances, going for “heavier guns” in the person of former national team coach LeRoy Sherrier Lewis.

Boxing in Cayo
Cayo Lions Den manager Frank Martinez informed our sports desk this morning that his gym is planning a boxing event for Saturday, February 15, at the Sacred Heart Auditorium in San Ignacio. Some young boxers are being invited from Dangriga, where they are under the tutelage of former boxing star, now trainer, George Swazo. Along with the young boxers from the Cayo Lions Den (trainer, Frank Martinez) and the Ladyville Lions Den (trainer, Clinton Tucker) gyms, Martinez said he is also hoping to have a good turnout of young boxers from the Leopold Smart Gym in Belize City. “The youths are hungry for the chance to test their skills,” said Martinez, “and it is up to the different gyms to make the effort to give them that opportunity to compete and to interact with other youths from across the country.” The biggest obstacle in staging a boxing card is covering the cost of the logistics, said Martinez, and he said he met with Boxing Federation President Moses Sulph to discuss the importance of seeking support for these initiatives, and to encourage all the boxing gyms to support each other by participating when events are planned.

BBF announces tryouts
The Belize Basketball Federation (BBF) is seeking players to form National Under 16 and National Under 15 boys’ basketball teams to play in the U16 COCABA Championship tournament in Mexico in June 2014, and the U15 championship tournament in Honduras in March 2014. Players from across the country who were born in 1998 or after, and who wish to become a member of the Belize national basketball team can try out for the teams on Saturday, February 1, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Bird’s Isle in Belize City. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children for the tryouts. Please contact National Team Coach Matthew Smiling at 600-4480 or Coach Fred Gabourel at 602-7876 for more information.

2014 – SJC Table Tennis
The Belize Table Tennis Association (BTTA) hosted the 3rd Annual SJC Table Tennis Tournament on Saturday, January 25, at the BES auditorium in Belize City. Over thirty players competed in three categories. Here are the winners: Beginners – 1st Harsh Khatwani; 2nd Daryl Palacio; 3rd Daniel Pickwoad; 4th Cohen Kang. Intermediate – 1st Ashar Arthurs; 2nd Mathew Usher; 3rd Trevon Brown; 4th Christopher Gongora. Advanced – 1st Fabio Carballo; 2nd Harim Ochaeta; 3rd Gian Lisbey; 4th Mishek Musa.

4th UpStream
Having rained heavily the day before, Saturday, January 25 turned out to be a beautiful day for our 4th UpStream: Haulover Bridge to Boom, part sponsored by RF&G Insurance. Twelve teams, in seven categories, lined up under the Haulover Bridge and took off at around 9:15 a.m. when the horn sounded. The race was slow, given the high river conditions with strong current which the teams had to paddle against. The maximum speed reached was 5 mph, taken off GPS readings from onboard the Joseph & Taylor STEELers’ canoe. The station prize in front of Manatee Lookout, dinner for 3, was won by the Belize Bank Bulldogs, being the first canoe to reach and pass the location, which was marked by a buoy. Completing the race in 2:23:14 was the Belize Bank Bulldogs (Armin Lopez, Amado Cruz and Daniel Lopez), to capture 1st Male and overall winner. They were followed closely behind by Westrac’s Erwin Cruz, Hener Cruz and Jerry Cante, to take 2nd place Male in a time of 2:34:27. Third place went to Joseph & Taylor STEELers (Jerry Rhaburn, Francis Codd and Chris Guydis). They finished in 2:36:53. The Belize Coast Guard’s “BELIZE” (brothers Godfrey, Jonathan and Jack Alford) took 4th Male and 7th overall, finishing in 2:42:57.

Ryan Jones, 25, of Ranchito, Corozal, has been charged by police with murder today after his father, Hensley Nick Jones, 56, a businessman of Ranchito, died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital 25 days after he allegedly was shot 3 times in the head by Ryan. The incident occurred about 10:30 New Year’s Day night at their home in Ranchito. Jones will answer to the charges in court tomorrow, Wednesday. Police said that Ryan was at home in the kitchen with his father, when for unknown reasons, he shot him and then fled the house in his vehicle, leaving his father bleeding and wounded in the house.

A resident of Boston, Belize District, pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking and was fined $10,000, when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, on Wednesday. James Gibson, 49, had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge, but changed his plea to guilty today. Gibson, in his mitigation plea, begged Magistrate Frazer to show leniency. He explained that he is a single father of five children and that he would mortgage his house or sell off a piece of land to raise the money to pay the court fine. He told the court that in 2013, when he was remanded to prison for the drug trafficking charge (he later got bail), it had a serious impact on his life and tore his family apart.

Convicted rapist, Leroy Gomez, 26, beats escape rap
A jury of six women and three men deliberated for 1 hour and 18 minutes, on Monday, before they returned with a not guilty verdict in the trial of Leroy Gomez, 26, a convicted rapist, who was indicted on a charge of escape from lawful custody. Leroy Gomez, who is serving a 15-year sentence for a rape conviction, was undefended by an attorney, in the trial for escape before Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas. Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell argued the prosecution’s case. According to police, on August 27, 2011, Gomez was arrested and taken to the Mahogany Street Police Station, after a rape report was made against him.

Paul Jex, accused murderer of Aubrey Lopez, on trial
Paul Jex, 25, the man accused of killing local basketball icon and teacher, Aubrey Lopez, 30, is on trial for murder in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas. The trial began on Monday, and three witnesses have already testified. Jex is being defended by attorney Tricia Pitts-Anderson, who is being assisted by Bernard Q.A. Pitts, and the case is being prosecuted by Crown Counsel Kaysha Grant, who is being assisted by Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell. The prosecution intends to call about 16 witnesses. Aubrey Lopez was found dead on Prince Street around 11:20 p.m. on May 12, 2010. He had a single gunshot wound to his head.

Son slammed with murder charge for shooting death of father
Ryan Jones, 25, of Ranchito, Corozal, has been charged by police with murder today after his father, Hensley Nick Jones, 56, a businessman of Ranchito, died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital 25 days after he allegedly was shot 3 times in the head by Ryan. The incident occurred about 10:30 New Year’s Day night at their home in Ranchito. Jones will answer to the charges in court tomorrow, Wednesday. Police said that Ryan was at home in the kitchen with his father, when for unknown reasons, he shot him and then fled the house in his vehicle, leaving his father bleeding and wounded in the house.

The Reporter

Guardian Bombers win SMART men’s softball championship
The Guardian Bombers won the 2013 SMART men’s softball championship by an 11-3 mercy rule victory over the Oceana Strikers in the third game of the finals. The Belize City competition concluded at Roger’s Stadium last Wednesday night, January 22. The Bombers led 3-1 when the […] Wesley girls & SJC boys lead in high school football

Wesley girls & SJC boys lead in high school football
William Ysaguirre Feelance Reporter The undefeated girls of Wesley College and the boys of St. John’s College are the top seeded teams entering the playoffs of the Belize City High Schools Football Competition organized by the Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) which concluded its regular season at the M.C.C. […]

Positioning ourselves to gain from trade
“If we do not take action, those who have the most reason to be dissatisfied with our present rate of growth will be tempted to seek short-sighted and narrow solutions—to resist automation, to reduce the work week to 35 hours or even lower, to shut out imports. … But these […]

Penner stripped of government vehicle
Ex-deputy minister Elvin Penner has been stripped of his government-provided SUV as well as his position as the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transport and Communications. The decision was made at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. The move is part of the government’s […]

Belize gets new chair for Integrity Commission
Former Financial Intelligence Unit Director, Marilyn Williams, has been chosen to be the new Chair of the Integrity Commission. According to a Cabinet press release issued this week, Williams will be formally assigned the role at next month’s sitting of the Senate. Williams spoke to […]

IDB: Belize needs to expand sewerage coverage
A technical note released by the Inter-American Development Bank last month revealed that in Belize only 11 per cent of Belize’s population, in Belize, Belmopan and San Pedro, have access to sanitary sewerage services. The report examined the conditions of wastewater collection and treatment […]

Son charged for killing his own father
Thirty-year-old Hensleigh Ryan Jones appeared at the Corozal Magistrates Court where he was formally charged for Murder for the death of his father, 53-year-old Hensley “Nick” Jones. Nick Jones was the proprietor of Nick’s Waste Management in Corozal Town. The charge of attempted murder was upgraded to murder when Hensley […]

Girl, 16 raped by boyfriend’s brother
A 16-year-old girl reported to police that she was raped by her boyfriend’s brother. The victim, a student, along with her mother reported to the San Ignacio Police that on January 3 she was at her 16-year-old boyfriends’s house in San Pedro Town, where his […]

Define Corruption
Just when Belizean felt that a new party and therefore a new administration got into power, that things would begin to actually change, it only got worse. The most recent scandal (and they seem now to surface weekly), involving Minister Edmond ‘Clear the Land’ Castro and the […]

Mayor says absent Eric Chang should answer to immigration scandal charges
Former Deputy Mayor Eric Chang should publicly reply to charges that he was allegedly involved in getting an unearned Belize passport to a jailed businessman in Taiwan, Mayor Darrell Bradley told reporters on Tuesday. The Mayor said that the cloud surrounding Chang is affecting his relationships […]

Guatemalans logging in Caracol archaeological reserve
By The government of Belize needs to allocate more resources, human and material, to protect Belize’s natural resources in the Caracol Archaeological reserve and the Chiquibul forest reserve and nature preserve, Rafael Manzanero, the director of the Friends for Conservation and Development said last Friday. Speaking […]

What is the OSH Bill?
By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter The Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2014, is a proposed legislation that would establish regulatory principles for big and small employers and their employees, and would carry stiff penalties for non-compliant persons. The recently tabled bill was lobbied for by the National Trade Union […]

Panoply; or all about the Money?
By Louis Wade The teachers are marching, again. The last time they took to the streets was last year January 2013 when government said there was no money for a salary adjustment. Before that, it was way back in 2005 when teachers were tired of the corruption under the then […]

Woman pregnant with womb she once occupied?
It sounds like a futuristic medical miracle: A woman born without a womb gets a shot at giving birth to a baby after undergoing a womb transplant (with her own mother serving as the donor) followed by a successful embryo transfer. But it’s actually happened. Now, if a pregnancy results, […]

Good cholesterol can turn nasty and clog arteries
Good cholesterol also has a nasty side that can increase the risk of heart attacks, according to US doctors. “Good”, or HDL, cholesterol normally helps to keep arteries clear and is good for heart health. But the team at the Cleveland Clinic showed it can become abnormal and lead to […]

36 fired – CWU to the rescue!
The Christian Workers Union (CWU) held a press conference on Thursday morning to publicly raise the issue of 36 security officers whose jobs have been terminated by the City Council and whose futures remain uncertain. According to CWU President, Audrey Matura Shepherd and six of the terminated security officers, the […]

Police, family rally behind Cpl. Gino Peck!
Twenty-two-year Belize Police Department veteran Corporal Gino Peck, 42, will learn his fate on Friday morning, January 31, when Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith will deliver sentence on convictions for two counts of keeping ammunition without a license and one count of keeping prohibited ammunition. Corporal […]

Castro disciplined, BAA board fired!
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter This week Cabinet fired the entire board of directors of the Belize Airport Authority, and stripped Minister of State Edmond Castro of his Civil Aviation portfolio. Responding to the This week Cabinet fired the entire board of directors of the Belize Airport Authority, and stripped […]

14% unemployment, low inflation says SIB
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter Unemployment has gone down by almost two percent, and inflation stands at zero point five percent, the Statistical Institute of Belize reported Wednesday, at The SIB held a press conference on Wednesday to release the data on Unemployment, Inflation and External Trade Statistics. The SIB’s […]


Chabil Mar Villas, Placencia, Belize: I NEVER Wanted To Leave
I had two nights planned in Placencia Village staying on the low budget end of thing. First night at Lydia’s Guesthouse where I shared two bathrooms with a handful of guests. $45bzd a night. Second night at Julia’s Cabanas on the beach where I had a large room with my own front porch and hammock for $80bzd. I was also right next to the very popular Barefoot Bar and found that I can easily fall asleep to loud reggae music. Both perfectly fine and centrally located. I’ll be staying at Julia’s again when I return in February for the Sidewalk Arts & Music Festival. I had a fantastic time, fell in love with Placencia all over again and was ready to hop a bus back to San Pedro (well…a few boats are also involved). And then I got a chance to stay one more night at Chabil Mar Villas. The boutique resort that I’ve heard quite a bit about. I’d seen the gates from the road but was very curious to see the resort…and…I was not disappointed at all. I’m not sure how they pulled this off but Chabil Mar is the most peaceful relaxing 24 hours I’ve spent in Belize. Bliss. Seriously. Like when you are meditating (WHAT! I meditated once!) and they tell you to “picture your happy place” bliss.

What you need to know about The Year of the Horse and its ties to Belize
You don’t need to be Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year, and here at Chaa Creek we want to wish all of our many friends around the world a very auspicious Year of the Horse. In multicultural Belize, the Chinese community plays an important role in making our country the diverse, harmonious nation that it is. We couldn’t imagine Belize without the Chinese community, and this is a good time to recognise their achievements and many contributions to modern day Belize. So here’s to the Year of the Horse! It’s no secret that we really love horses here. Check out the Chaa Creek stables and you’ll see some of the finest examples of equestrian excellence in all of Belize. Our miles of beautiful secure jungle trails make for an amazing day out, and we’ve always maintained that there’s no better way to experience the rainforest than from the back of a horse, taking in the sounds and barely disturbing the abundant wildlife to be found. But enough about us – here’s what we’re told the Horse symbolises in the Chinese horoscope, and see if you can find any similarities in people you know born during the years of the horse, or maybe find clues in what lies ahead this year.

Pizza Rolls
Another easy recipe for your Super Bowl party. Pizza rolls are very simple to make. No yeast involved. Only a few ingredients needed. Ready in 30 minutes

Your company and social media.
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, oil giant BP experienced a backlash via social media, becoming a victim of “brandhacking”. A source unaffiliated with the multinational company created the Twitter handle @BPGlobalPR, gathering more than 137,000 followers while sending out satirical tweets about the multi-billion-dollar disaster, such as “Catastrophe is a strong word, let’s all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy.” The account is still in existence and has almost double the followers of the actual corporate BP account. Even the world’s savviest corporate executives can be caught off-guard by the power regular consumers wield when it comes to expressing their thoughts on social media, said Paul Armstrong, founder of UK-based Digital Orange Consulting, who has worked with giants like Google and Mindshare. “Many brands are simply not prepared for the worst-case scenarios,” he added. Only 12% of the 2,100 global companies interviewed in a 2010 Harvard Business Review survey said they were using it effectively, but two-thirds of those companies say their social media use will grow.

Things to do in Belize – Friday night Trivia at Crazy Canucks
There is no shortage of things to do in Belize and often too they all end up happening at the same time :) Tonight is regular Friday night at Think and Drink Trivia held at Crazy Canucks beach bar. Since it is the last Friday of the month, part of the proceeds go to San Pedro Belize Red Cross. Come on out and wear a Red Shirt in support of the San Pedro Red Cross. Trivia is always packed and lots of fun. Rob the host does a great job of seeing that the leading team does not get to much of an edge by getting shots at the end of the round and settling tie breakers with drinking challenges. This weekend one of those times where there will be too many things to do in Belize, so many great Superbowl parties going on all over the island. know Feliz and Carlo and Ernie’s Runway bar are doing squares, Lola’s and Canucks has great live rock and roll music with the Coverups and the does not even include the hot private parties that will be happening. A bunch of us are doing Intentional Jam at Catamaran beach bar and then watching the game on the big screen tv set up under a tent on the beach. I will be bringing my hula hoops and I am hoping the two pro hoopers get mack to me and say they will come out to play. I did 69 minutes straight today that is my longest ever.

Consultancy Opportunity
Policy Analyst GOB

Valentine's Day, the most romantic day of the year, is coming up. With V-Day falling on a Friday, it's the perfect opportunity to plan a romantic getaway. What better way to show your love than to spice things up for not one, but three whole days? If you need help finding somewhere to go, here are our suggestions for five romantic Belize getaways. 1. GAIA RIVERLODGE, MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE 2. HOPKINS BAY RESORT, HOPKINS 3. GRAND COLONY ISLAND VILLAS, AMBERGRIS CAYE 4. KOKOMO BEACH SUITES, CAYE CAULKER 5. MAMA NOOTS ECO RESORT, POMONA

Deadly Belize Coast Guard Boat Accident in Crooked Tree Village
A young man lost his life in a Belize Coast Guard boating accident on the Crooked Tree Lagoon early this morning. A village resident I spoke with said that teenager, Ben Gentle, Jr. died of blunt force from the collision of two coast guard boats. Five other students were seriously injured. The Belize Coast Guard boats have been in the village to shuttle high school children and villagers across the Crooked Tree Lagoon since October 31 of 2013. Crooked Tree Village has been cut off from road access due to continuous rains that caused serious flooding in and around the Belize River Valley area. This was supposed to be a short boat ride and today was supposed to be the last day that the coast guard were performing their duties. The village council had an award dinner planned in their honor tomorrow night in the village to thank them for their tireless work and professionalism.

International Sources

This mesmerizing timelapse shows an entire year's worth of weather
(Use full screen. Listen to the narrator closely as he points out some interesting weather phenomena.)

40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World
If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that. Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.

Dear America, I Saw You Naked. And yes, we were laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA agent
Each day I had to look into the eyes of passengers in niqabs and thawbs undergoing full-body pat-downs, having been guilty of nothing besides holding passports from the wrong nations. As the son of a German-American mother and an African-American father who was born in the Jim Crow South, I can pass for Middle Eastern, so the glares directed at me felt particularly accusatory. The thought nagged at me that I was enabling the same government-sanctioned bigotry my father had fought so hard to escape. Most of us knew the directives were questionable, but orders were orders. And in practice, officers with common sense were able to cut corners on the most absurd rules, provided supervisors or managers weren’t looking. Then a man tried to destroy a plane with an underwear bomb, and everything changed. We knew the full-body scanners didn’t work before they were even installed. Not long after the Underwear Bomber incident, all TSA officers at O’Hare were informed that training for the Rapiscan Systems full-body scanners would soon begin. The machines cost about $150,000 a pop.

Software guru McAfee says he lost everything in Belize
After a wild year during which he dodged police in Belize, landed in the slammer in Guatemala and was deported to the United States, antivirus pioneer John McAfee says he’s broke. The electronics guru made the claim in an interview with CNN following the news that Intel, the firm that bought McAfee's antivirus company in 2010, had decided to scrap the McAfee name and rebrand it Intel Security. The Scottish-born American citizen told CNNMoney that he's lost everything. Only a fraction of his one-time US$100 million net worth survived the 2008 market crash. But his fortunes really took a hit in 2012 when he fled Belize police who wanted him for questioning on the death of his neighbour. According to the CNN report, the government raided his jungle compound and seized everything inside. The buildings on McAfee's property later burned down under suspicious circumstances. "Everything I owned was in Belize. I left with nothing in my pocket," he said.

Belize, Bonaire and Bulgaria: the 3 hottest travel spots
A must for every traveler’s tick list, the Great Blue Hole is Belize’s top tourist attraction. This massive sinkhole is carved out from natural limestone formations leading deep below the water’s surface. You can find this hidden wonder near the center of the Lighthouse reef, about 70km away from the mainland. The further you dive, the clearer the water gets, allowing adventurists to soak in the stunning marine scenery. So get ready to swim with the sharks – literally! However, not everyone is a fan of creeping sea creatures, so you may want to turn your attention to the historical Mayan landmarks.

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