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Amandala

JOBLESS MOTHER OF 4, HOMELESS
The single mother who last November took to downtown Belize City with a placard which said that she needed a job so badly she would even work for food, visited our newspaper today with her four children, dressed so smartly in their school uniforms that you would not even know by looking at them that they had nothing to eat for breakfast. “We less fortunate people are the ones suffering. We are not getting the crumbs falling off the table,” Juanita Paulino said. The latest labor force survey published in December indicated that women have an unemployment rate of 22% – double that of their male counterparts. The survey also had found that while the unemployment rate for men had fallen from 11.9% to 9.6%, it remained steady at 22 percent for women, which means that women like Paulino who were seeking gainful employment were having a harder time finding jobs than their male counterparts. The dire consequence of this is that for poverty-stricken, single mothers struggling to find a job, they are unable to meet the basic needs of their children: food, clothing, shelter, education, and healthcare.

TEACHERS WILL “FLEX” IN BELMOPAN
Despite a notice from the Ministry of Education that the salary of teachers who will participate in Friday’s march on Belmopan will be docked for three days, the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) is still pressing ahead with plans to hold a rally and demonstration at the steps of the National Assembly tomorrow, when Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow is expected to read the national budget. Barrow had announced that the new budget includes an additional $22 million to finance a 5% salary adjustment for teachers and public officers. However, the BNTU said that it’s not all about the money – and there are pressing national issues—such as corruption—which the Government has failed to address. BNTU estimates that it has around 6,000 members, but we are told that the announcement from the Ministry, that the pay of teachers who participate in tomorrow’s demonstration will be docked, has dampened the drive to get teachers onboard. “We are very disappointed in this move to intimidate the teachers of this country,” said Luke Palacio, BNTU’s national president, in a statement issued Wednesday.

JEFFREY EILEY, 30, GUNNED DOWN ON BARRIER REEF DRIVE
The Eiley and Arceo families of San Pedro are mourning the death of Jeffrey Eiley, 30, who was shot multiple times on Barrier Reef Drive in San Pedro at about 1:30 this morning, Thursday. Eiley was rushed to the San Pedro Poly Clinic, where he was declared dead on arrival. Residents of Barrier Reef Drive reported that they were awakened from their sleep by multiple explosive bursts of gunfire. Four gunshots were heard first, and a few seconds later, about six more shots were fired. Shortly after, they heard someone crying out for help. They went out to see what was happening and that was when they saw Jeffrey Eiley, a tour guide of Marina Drive who was well known to them, and who was the nephew of Patty Arceo, bleeding and wounded. Police responded quickly and took him to the San Pedro Poly Clinic, where he was declared dead on arrival. He was then taken to the morgue at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

13 Bowen and Bowen employees sacked
Late yesterday evening, 13 employees who did not show up to work for two days in protest of an adjustment in their terms of employment that was recently implemented by their employer, Bowen & Bowen Ltd., were laid off by the company. The group of workers – primarily deliverymen— were reluctant to sign the new work contracts issued by the company, believing that their eligibility for holiday pay, commission and benefits would be severely cut. Apparently, the company concluded, after the employees were absent for two days that those workers had abandoned their posts without proper notification, and so they were replaced and presented with termination letters which informed them that their services were no longer required. Today, Amandala met some of the affected employees at the Labour Department in Belize City, where they had initially gone to contest the terms of the new work contract. Kevin Garbutt, who said that he has worked at the beverage company for 8 years, told us that they were given a new contract to sign, but they refused to do so. He said, “We didn’t sign because they were not going to pay us overtime and for holidays, which is due by law, so we got together and took it to management, but they refused to hear from us and decided to terminate us even though we have our doctor papers.”

KREM will be on the river for this year’s La Ruta Maya River Challenge
The yearly spectacle of canoes and paddlers which has become known as the Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge will come to pass this coming weekend, and for the first time, an all-female coverage team representing KREM Radio will be bringing live play-by-play coverage of the event to radio listeners across the country for the entire 4-day duration of the canoe race. Scores of paddlers and fans will converge on the banks of the Macal River in San Ignacio this Friday to either participate in, or witness the start of the event, and the KREM team promises to broadcast all the thrills and spills that occur along the way. The event will be a 4-day, 180-mile race, in which 300 male and female paddlers of different ages in 100 canoes will compete. One of the Belize Defence Force’s military nurses, Venice Lambert, will also be a part of the KREM team. She spoke about her role in providing the coverage. “We will be providing facts along with interviews so that radio listeners feel like they are there on the spot with us”, she said.

CATHOLIC BISHOP OPPOSES “20,000 STRONG” MARCH
Plans for an unprecedented “20,000 Strong” march for women—in commemoration of Women’s Month observed every March—were met with resounding opposition from the most powerful church in Belize, the Roman Catholic Church, which issued a rare caution to its membership about the event, on suspicion that the move to have women rally behind the women’s empowerment banner is part of a wider agenda to get them onboard with changing gender norms, including the promotion of abortion and same-sex relations. The march is one of the highlights of Women’s Month, which Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, said, in a printed message in commemoration of the celebration, is “a time to pause to celebrate the achievements of women in their quest for gender equality.” Before the controversial 2013 Gender Policy came into effect, such a statement would not have elicited a strong response, but against the backdrop of a new gender policy which makes clear provisions to accommodate genders other than male and female, and which acknowledges the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transsexual (LGBT) community and rights for which they have been lobbying, the temperature of the conversation has changed.

PUP launches 2014 Women’s Agenda
The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) launched its 2014 Women’s Agenda, “Charting Greater Pathways for Belizean Women as Nation Builders,” to coincide with Women’s Month on Wednesday, at its Independence Hall headquarters. Senator Lisa Shoman said that this is the fifth Women’s Agenda that the PUP has launched. It is written by women and based on consultation with the women of the PUP, which also plans to incorporate it as part of the party’s manifesto. The six-point Women’s Agenda is focused on Education and Skills Training; Health and Wellness; Socio-cultural/Political; Economic Empowerment; Land, Housing and Property Rights; and a Legal section. In its Education and Skills Training section, the agenda sets out a seven-point objective which includes bringing about parity for girls and women from pre-school through tertiary education, including in technical and vocational programs. The PUP also wants girls and women to have equal access to education and employment and to expand and sustain relevant skills training for girls and women in the rural communities.

Beverly Castillo wins big in UDP’s Belize Rural Central Convention
The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) held a convention to select its standard bearer for the Belize Rural Central constituency on Sunday, March 2. After the ballots were counted, newcomer Beverly Castillo, the former Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources, emerged as the winner, edging out Michael Hutchinson and three other candidates in the five-way race to become the UDP Belize Rural Central standard bearer. Castillo, who ran a sophisticated campaign with media advertisements, posters, and hordes of workers projecting her message on T-shirts, garnered 961 votes, while Michael Hutchinson, a former UDP Minister of State who appears to have fallen from grace with the UDP’s top brass, was a distant second with 502 votes; City Councilor Dean Samuels managed to capture the third spot with 353 votes, while Emroy Castillo picked up 152 votes, and John Lizama finished the race with 19 votes.

CitCo presents mid-term progress reports
The current City Council administration – led by Mayor Darrell Bradley – has arguably been making tangible strides to improve the ambiance, and develop the infrastructure of the Old Capital, and this morning, the Belize City Council (CitCo) presented their report card encompassing recent accomplishments within the last year and future plans for further infrastructure works and policy implementations across the evolving city of Belize. In his presentation, the Mayor proceeded to update the public on what CitCo has been up to, while boasting that all city residents can see that the city is moving forward. “Significant efforts have been made to ensure that City Hall is run in a way that comports with the highest level of ethics and accountability”, Bradley stated. He told the audience of three core areas of development on which the council is focused, which are infrastructure, governance and economic development.

PUP give ComPol Friday 2 p.m. deadline
Attorney Edwin Flowers, S.C., the lead attorney for Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca, who steered a judicial review through the Supreme Court, resulting in the court’s granting of a writ of mandamus directed to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie to “continue, accelerate and conclude criminal investigations against Elvin Penner and others for their role in the illegal issuance of a Belize passport and nationality certificate”, has written to the Commissioner requesting an update on the investigation by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, March 7. Flowers’ letter, dated today, March 6, reminds Commissioner Whylie that: “Of course you are also aware that willful disobedience of the orders of the court makes you liable to contempt proceedings.” On Monday, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin issued the Supreme Court’s prerogative writ of mandamus to the Commissioner of Police, whom the court found had acted “unreasonable, irrational and unlawful”, in the handling of the Penner passport scandal.

Weed and white supremacy
When the anti-colonial movement began in British Honduras in 1950, the dominant presence in the local economy was that of the Belize Estate and Produce Company, Limited, known to us here as “BEC.” BEC owned incredible amounts of prime real estate and raw land all over the colony, and it was really as if they were the business extension of the colonial administration the British Empire ran from Government House. Because of the fact that they were working partners with Government House and because BEC had grown out of the rule of the Baymen in the settlement of Belize, Belizeans hardly thought of BEC as “foreign direct investors.” But, technically, BEC would have to be categorized as such by modern PUDP politicians and their economists. Those of us in the resistance movement, on the other hand, would describe BEC as a predator organization, because they brought little investment into Belize, and they exported all their profits to Britain. In fact, the British peer who came here in 1985 was quite similar to BEC: he brought little investment and exported all of his profits. For decades, however, he was dubbed as a “foreign direct investor.” And, he was favored by both the PUP and the UDP.

FROM THE PUBLISHER
This has been an unprecedented post-general election period in Belize’s modern political history, in the sense that it has seemed as if campaigning continued and has not stopped since the March 2012 general election. One of the reasons for the highly energetic politics from then till now was the narrowness of the UDP victory back then. Another reason was the need for the new Opposition PUP Leader, Hon. Francis Fonseca, to consolidate the gains in prestige he had achieved with his party’s 14-seat performance in the 2012 generals. Remember, Mr. Fonseca had been defeated by Hon. John Briceño in the PUP leadership convention in March of 2008. Then, when Mr. Briceño resigned, under some financial duress, in October of 2011, Hon. Mark Espat had been the PUP Interim Leader for 11 days, and in fact endorsed for the substantive leadership by 30 of the 31 PUP constituencies. It was not as if Mr. Francis entered the leadership like a conquering hero after Espat declined the PUP leadership offer: it was more like emergency surgery. The surgery was successful. The PUP came within 60 or 70 votes of winning the general election. It was a stunning performance, and Mr. Fonseca welcomed and deserved his party’s accolades.

LETTERS: WAR ON WEED HAS FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS
Like, where is the compelling governmental interest? Dear Editor, I looked at a recent eye-opener, the case of the one-legged man receiving six months for 1/10 of a gram of cannabis. Yeah, I know he had committed similar violations of the law in the past and still owed money. Last I recall, the courts had fined him $10,000 for a past similar violation. How does a one-legged man pay such a fine? This is only one example of casualties in this war on the people. With all that said and understood, what are we looking at here? What is the cost in time and money in just this one case? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you the cost of the cannabis involved. Let’s see what 1/10 of a gram of cannabis is, in the material world – pretty much $35.00 an ounce in most places in rural Belize. OK, 28.3 grams in an ounce, $35.00 divided by 28.3 grams in an ounce = $1.24 per gram. 1/10 of a gram is twelve and one half cents.

LETTERS: City females’ backbreaking work for an honest living
Dear Editor, I write to say congratulations to the 12 young ladies, many of them single mothers, who have accepted work digging trenches through rocks in the hot sun in Belize City to earn an honest living. Digging trenches through rocks with spade and pickax in the sun is backbreaking work, best suitable for men. Given the choice no parents would want to see their daughter or other female relatives doing that type of manual work, that could result in birth problems or other serious effects on their bodies down the road. The fact that females have to accept that type of employment, speaks of the massive unemployment in the country or the huge difficulty in getting a job, especially among single mothers, who don’t have the benefit of a high school education. By accepting backbreaking construction work to earn an honest living, the ladies on the Southside of the city have also struck a severe blow to an often repeated lie against them. The lie is: that Southside women,who are marginalized, are satisfied with a little $20.00 or $30.00 from a Minister once per week and have no interest in decent steady employment to care for their families.

LETTERS: Belize’s major alcohol problem
Gentlemen, Thank you so much for inviting me to participate at the liquor licensing regulations meeting. I believe it was very worthwhile to get input from so many different levels and sources that will help craft a better piece of legislation. I have two issues, obviously requiring more evaluation, before consideration of legislation. They are as follows: a. Consider creating “jurisdictions” and putting a maximum number of licenses based on population, with ­­­­­­distance limitations from schools, churches, residential area and add appropriate zoning. This accomplishes two things (probably not popular with local Councils): (i) it prevents discretionary granting of licenses. This is a country that needs to do all it can to curb corruption and a fixed number of licenses for defined areas is simply that, fixed. (ii) it also adds value to the license, which, barring violations that would render the license invalid, has a financial value. People who have that license, and knowing that there are not others readily available, would be much more concerned to follow rules and regulations. They will follow the rules on closing, they will follow the rules on noise abatement, because they don’t want to lose that license!

SPORTS IN BELIZE – PRIVILEGE OR OPPORTUNITY?
It is difficult to discuss sports in Belize without provoking emotional responses from various quarters, but we hope that in this essay we can provide clarification and background instead of sparking controversy. The recent announcement of the new appointments to the National Sports Council suggests to us that power has returned to those who see sports as privilege, rather than opportunity. All children, even handicapped ones, love sporting competition, and we can view sports as an actual human right. So no reasonable person would want to deny Belizean children the right to play sports. The problem is that we are a poor country, with limited facilities. It has happened, most notably in the case of the Belize City Center, that there are disagreements between those who see sports as privilege, and we generally refer to such peoples as “amateurists,” and those who see sports as opportunity, and those are the people who support professionalism in sports.

Ideas and Opinions – Coconut Grove
Some ideas are more valuable than silver or gold. Most people spend their whole lives without conceiving one such idea. But a precious few are blessed to have more than one. I first heard of the idea that the establishment of a national bank by the government could transform our economy, from Dr. Leroy Taegar and Bill Lindo, at about the same time. They were associates, so they might have conferred. Bill went further; he has been studying the subject for the past fifteen years, read the books of, and corresponded with one of the foremost experts in, the field of national banking. It took a long time till a government saw merit in the idea and had the courage to take action. It is to the credit of our present government that our national bank is a reality. The government is advised by people it considers experts, but Bill is saying that they are making some mistakes which might be avoided. If they listen to what Mr. Lindo has to say, it might be less expensive.

Madness and mandamus
There is an eerie feeling in the air over this nation and only those with a sense of discernment can detect it… others are oblivious of the forces at work. It makes me think of the old Biblical days when literally offerings were burnt to God and so the smoke of the burnt offering permeated the atmosphere. But those offerings greatly depended on the heart of the “offeror.” So we are not “burning” offerings, but our individual conduct and acts and especially those of our leaders set the tone of what is out there, the “smoke-screen” in the public domain. It’s like madness going on and people being allowed to get away with madness! The tone on many things are set by our leaders, be it political leaders, church leaders, youth leaders, women leaders, social leaders, sports leaders, just leaders on a whole. Union’s right to rally An interesting power play took place the past week and I wrote about it in last week’s edition of this column and this week I sat back and saw the power play but did not anticipate that such a gigantic player as the Catholic Church would step in. From this writer’s corner I was looking at the duplicitous nature of the Ministry of Education under the leadership of Patrick Faber and several things came to mind.

SATIIM’s former Finance Officer charged for embezzlement
A 40-year old villager of Forest Home Village, who was formerly employed as the finance officer for the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), located in southern Belize, was today charged for a portion of funds that were reportedly embezzled from the organization over a 15-month period. Between January 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, David Duncan – who held the post of administrator and finance officer at SATIIM – allegedly forged, deposited and cashed several cheques belonging to the environmental organization, which amounted to approximately $110,000. Some 10 months ago, in May of 2013, the report was initially made by SATIIM’s Executive Director, Greg Ch’oc. At the time, Ch’oc was reluctant to comment on the matter because he said that it was in the hands of police, who were doing their pertinent investigations.

Blazin’ Reggae Showdown at Bird’s Isle this Sunday
Community members and reggae lovers in particular are being invited out to Bird’s Isle this Sunday, March 9, to support a worthy cause, while enjoying a variety of reggae music from 4:00 p.m. until midnight. The event, dubbed “Blazin’ Reggae Sunday”, will feature a host of local deejays who will be providing the audience with a mixture of both old and new reggae songs, and the subsequent proceeds will be used to assist in the administration of some much-needed feeding programs which are conducted to help disadvantaged schoolchildren in Belize City. Today, Amandala spoke with two of the organizers, Anthony “Tony G” Grant and Deon “Ras Pitta” Pitter, who told us about the show and about their intent to make it a monthly event. “We are putting together a show called Blazin’ Reggae Sunday and it’s a kickback from my show on KREM called ‘Blazin’ Reggae Vibes’ which is aired from Monday through Thursday from 5:00 a.m. until 6:30 a.m.”, Grant said.

2 DEAD AFTER FATAL TOLEDO ACCIDENT
Two men from the Toledo district are dead following a fatal traffic accident in Trio in the Toledo District, while a female police constable and two motorists were seriously hurt in separate traffic mishaps in the Belize district. Police reported that at 7:05 p.m. on Sunday, March 2, 2014, they visited an area in front of the primary school in Trio, where they saw a white pickup truck overturned in a drain. However, no one was seen in the vehicle at the time. Police said that they then visited the Independence Polyclinic, where they saw the bodies of 25-year-old Wilfredo Jaime, a farmer of Independence, and Antonio Mejia (age unknown). Police also observed 19-year-old Christopher Gutierrez, another farmer of Independence, who appeared to be in a state of shock. Gutierrez was transported to the Southern Regional Hospital, where he was later admitted.

Brother and sister die 28 hours apart
Double tragedy has struck the Garbutt family of Corozal – with the deaths of two siblings of the family occurring within 24 hours of each other. Special Constable Loneth Ferguson died first at about 1:30 Monday morning after a bout of illness at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, and then her brother, Lennox Garbutt, 43, according to reports, died at about 1:30 Tuesday morning at the scene of an accident he had – he was travelling from Corozal to Belize City to make preparations for her funeral and make other arrangements in connection with her death. The traffic collision in which Garbutt was involved took place between Miles 6 and 7 on the Philip Goldson Highway. He was officially declared dead at about 5:30 a.m., at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Garbutt was driving his Toyota Corolla car with L/P CZL-C- 027302, in which Gary Williams, 34, a laborer of 11- 6th Street, Corozal Town was a passenger, when a head-on collision occurred between the Corolla and a Sebring Touring car, being driven at the time by Steven Wade, 23, an employee of the Ministry of Health, who resides on Water Lane in Belize City. As a result, Garbutt suffered massive injuries to his left foot, chest, right arm and hip.

COROZAL HEAT
Last Friday night at the Corozal Civic Center, the Corozal Heats (1-3) whipped the Belmopan Point Bandits (2-2) with a score of 67-54 and secured their first win of the season in the National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) tournament. The first quarter was well played by both teams, with very few turnovers committed by either side. As a result, the lead was volleyed from one team to the other. At the end of the first quarter, Belmopan was up 17-14. The teams’ evident scoring drives made the second quarter very interesting. Corozal had the upper hand in regards to their three-point shooting which was, by far, much better than Belmopan’s; however, Corozal had many more turnovers. Unfortunately for Belmopan, the Bandits failed to capitalize on those turnovers. By the end of the second quarter, the Corozal Heats had taken the lead, 35-27. The third quarter saw the Heats trample the Point Bandits, as their lead grew to 12 points, mainly through the hands of Jason Daly and Kenroy Roca. Roca was on fire, sinking 4 three-pointers from 6 attempts. The third quarter ended 53-41 in favor of Corozal.

Gwen Liz girls, Wesley boys win
In the NSSSA Central Division High School Softball playoff games today at Rogers Stadium in Belize City, the girls’ team of Gwen Lizarraga High School and the boys’ team from Wesley High School were both victorious in their matches. In the first game, the #3 seed Gwen Lizarraga female team trumped the #4 seed Wesley girls’ team by a score of 15 to 4. The winning pitcher was Ashley Lucas, and the losing pitcher was Brianna Meighan. The second game was much more competitive, as the #3 seed Wesley boys’ team edged out the #4 seed Gwen Liz males by 1 run, the game ending with a 16-15 score. The winning pitcher in that game was Devon Tillett of Wesley College, while the losing pitcher was Devonte Middleton of Gwen Lizarraga School.

Tennis news
This past Saturday, March 2, twenty-two children ranging from ages 4 to13 years participated in a tennis tournament hosted by the Belize Tennis Association at the Belize Pickwick Club Tennis Courts. There were three different categories: green/advanced, orange/intermediate, and red/beginners. The advanced and intermediate category played doubles. In the green/advanced category, Harnadar Tut and Gavin Riveroll took the 1st place, with Adrian Marshalleck and Jonathan Smith taking 2nd place. In the orange/intermediate category, which had the most participants, the competition was tight; but in the end, Jayda Smith and Devesh Hukmani took 1st place, and Sofia Solano and Marianna Diaz took the 2nd place medals. In the red/beginners category, Daniel Musa came out on top, with John Paul Jaramillo taking the runner up position. Both Daniel and John Paul are extremely promising players, and they held the longest rallies of the entire tournament, impressing all parents and fans present!

Dangriga sports stats
Classic Gold Mayor’s Cup The Classic Gold Mayor’s Cup football tournament, sponsored by Traveller’s and Belikin, will get under way this Sunday, March 9, at the Carl Ramos Stadium with a Grand Marathon, commencing at 10:30 a.m. Teams taking part are: Benguche, New Site, Silk Grass, Wagiya, Wagierale, Green Gold Hope Creek, Hopkins, Southside, Riverside, and Conquerors. All teams are asked to please be on time. First place for the Marathon will be $1,000.00, second $500.00, third $300.00. Registration per team for the Marathon is $75.00. The regular season begins the following weekend with 2 games on Friday and 2 games on Sunday. This will be a short season, so teams have to be fully prepared both mentally and physically. BDF hosts PLB season opener The Premier League of Belize (PLB) will kick off its Closing Season tournament throughout the country of Belize this weekend; and here inside Dangriga’s Carl Ramos Stadium this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. will be the “southern derby” battle, as home team BDF will see action against their worst foundation rivals, Punta Gorda’s Paradise/Freedom Fighters.

Gwen Liz girls overpower Nazarene High
Gwen Lizarraga High girls softball team coach Keith Madril was worried about “making team,” but otherwise exuded confidence going into this evening’s clash with regular season #1 seed Nazarene High. In Monday’s playoff first round, Nazarene High had gotten their first taste of defeat, when they fell to #2 seed Ladyville Technical, 6-5; and it was older sister Amber Wade on the mound for Ladyville Tech who took the victory over baby sister Elma, pitching for Nazarene. #3 seed Gwen Liz girls had made light work of #4 seed Wesley on Tuesday, crushing them 15-4, so today they got their chance against Nazarene to earn a spot in the finals on Friday against Ladyville Technical. Gwen Liz coach Madril confessed that his team lost to both Ladyville Tech and Nazarene in regular season games because he made some tough decisions with problem players, whom he promptly benched for coming to games late or not showing up at all. His biggest worry was having power pitcher Ashley Lucas protected by her reliable battery-mate Tyra Moreira.

EX-SPECIAL CONSTABLE BUSTED TRYING TO SMUGGLE WEED INTO PRISON
A former Belize City Council Special Constable was busted on Wednesday when she went to the Kolbe-managed Belize Central Prison to visit her boyfriend and was found in possession of 0.3 grams of cannabis. The former Special Constable, Natalie Hamilton, 31, a resident of Periwinkle Street, appeared before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton, who arraigned her on the drug possession charge. Hamilton pleaded not guilty and was released on $500 bail plus one surety in the same amount. Hamilton had gone to visit Gyon Bernard, a remanded prisoner who has a number of cases pending in court, including two counts of attempted murder.

Raymond “Killa” Gentle’s accused killer, Corwin Bennett, walks
Earlier this week, we reported on a shooting which had taken place in Burrell Boom whilewherewhen a mob of villagers were in pursuit of a thief or thieves who had burglarized the home of Chad Gillett. Based on information we had received at the time, we were told that it was a fellow resident of Burrell Boom who was shot; however, Amandala understands that the shooting victim was 43-year-old Belize City resident, Giovanni Berry. Berry was reportedly in the village working on a newly built house and had decided to bunk for the overnight, but he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was caught in the middle of a horrifying ordeal and woke up to the nightmare of a hail of gunfire in his direction, allegedly by a vigilante group.

“Weedy” wanted to chop security guard
A security guard of Discount Superstore escaped being “chopped up” at the supermarket by a man who chased him with a machete in the store. The storeowner quickly called police and the machete-wielding man ran out of the store and drove away in a taxi. The incident occurred about 7:40 Monday morning at the store on Mahogany Street Extension. Christian Ramirez told police that at about 7:37 Monday morning, while at work, a man whom he knows as “Weedy,” who was armed with a machete, approached him and attempted to chop him. He ran into the store, and the man chased him inside the supermarket.

Corozal Free Zone robbers captured
On Tuesday, February 25, a Mexican businessman, Ricardo Villasenior, 43, of Las Flores Manzoni, Calle Alcatraz, Quintana Roo, Mexico, was robbed at gunpoint in the Corozal Free Zone. The thieves got away with $1,250,000.00 pesos in different denominations, which is the equivalent of BZ$208,000, and then, after further taking Villasenior’s cellphone and an additional 800 pesos out of his pocket, locked him up in his car trunk. Police have arrested Benigno Loria, 21, of San Andres, Corozal, who is a former employee of North American Store where Villasenior was robbed; Israel Rancharan, 22, a laborer of Venezuelan Site, Corozal Town; Hector Kelly, 26, a laborer of Halls Layout, Corozal Town; and Zandon Myers, 18, a laborer of 4th Avenue, Corozal Town.

Court of Appeal orders retrial for Edward Buller, convicted of manslaughter
The Court of Appeal has quashed the 16-year sentence of Edward Buller, 55, and ordered a new trial. Buller was convicted of manslaughter for the June 20, 2009 death of Ella Mae Bennett, 41, a Honduran national whose body was discovered in an abandoned house on Central American Boulevard. The trial judge had failed to direct the jury on a caution statement that Buller had given to police, the court found. Buller had contended that the statement was taken from him by force, and this was the legal lynchpin which resulted in the appeal justices ruling to overturn the conviction. At his trial, Buller denied being at the crime scene. He told the court that he was at home watching television. In June 2011, Buller was tried on a murder indictment, but after deliberating for over four hours, a jury of six men and six women returned into the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas with a not guilty of murder verdict, but a verdict of guilty for the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Man shot in the face in Burrell Boom was Belize City resident
Earlier this week, we reported on a shooting which had taken place in Burrell Boom whilewherewhen a mob of villagers were in pursuit of a thief or thieves who had burglarized the home of Chad Gillett. Based on information we had received at the time, we were told that it was a fellow resident of Burrell Boom who was shot; however, Amandala understands that the shooting victim was 43-year-old Belize City resident, Giovanni Berry. Berry was reportedly in the village working on a newly built house and had decided to bunk for the overnight, but he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was caught in the middle of a horrifying ordeal and woke up to the nightmare of a hail of gunfire in his direction, allegedly by a vigilante group.

BUS DRIVER AVERTS COLLISION WITH LOWBOY
At about 9:00 last night on the Philip Goldson Highway in Biscayne, an alert and quick-thinking driver of a BBOC passenger bus averted a collision with a tandem truck, probably saving the lives of his passengers and preventing untold damage to his bus. The bus driver told police that about 9:00 last night he was traveling in his BBOC bus from Orange Walk to Belize City, when upon arrival at Biscayne he saw a lowboy swerving across the road and coming towards his bus. He immediately took evasive action and drove off the road to avoid a collision. He reported the matter, and police say that a vehicle checkpoint was set up at the Burrell Boom junction where, around 9:30 p.m., a blue International towhead truck with license plates L/P A-2825 that was towing a red trailer with license plate TO199 coming from the direction of Orange Walk toward Ladyville, was stopped.

The Reporter

Bandits Release McCaulay to Atlanta Silverbacks; Reportedly Signed Contract with US team from January
The Belmopan Bandits released their key striker, Deon McCaulay, to the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday, March 1st, effectively ending McCaulay’s contract with the team. McCaulay, 26, who entered the contract with Bandits in February 2013, was in limbo since the news broke that he […] Nazarene & Ladyville Tech girls lead high schools softball

Nazarene & Ladyville Tech girls lead high schools softball
William Ysaguirre Freelance Reporter The girls of Nazarene High School and Ladyville Technical High School are leading the Belize City High Schools Softball Competition and will face off against each other when the playoffs under the Paige system begin at Rogers Stadium in Belize City on Monday, March 3. The […]

Nazarene & St John College boys lead high schools softball
WIlliam Ysaguirre Freelance Reporter The boys of Nazarene High School and St John’s College are leading the Belize City high school softball competition and will face off against each other when the playoffs under the Paige system begin at the Rogers Stadium in Belize City on Monday, March 3. The […] New clinic offers diabetic patients hope

New clinic offers diabetic patients hope
Orange Walk is now home to the first Diabetic Clinic in the country. Opened on Saturday, March 1, the clinic is the brainchild of Drs. Vladimir and Perlita Sarrión. The clinic named “Nueva Esperanza,” translates to “New Hope” in English. And true to its name, the clinic offers new hope […]

Domestic violence wake-up call issued by UK watchdog
Devoted dog owners Doctors and nurses should receive special training so they can recognise the signs of domestic violence and ask questions, the health watchdog says. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is publishing new guidance to raise awareness among those coming into contact with victims. NICE […]

Passport case exposes malfunctioning system
If there is any one thing that the “Citizen Kim” passport scandal has done, it has re-emphasized the extent to which Belize’s oversight mechanisms are indeed malfunctioning. Since last September, We, the Belizean people, have watched in real time the true manipulative powers of the One-Party Government. We’ve watched it […]

A New Lord for Belize?
His name appeared almost as a blip on Channel 5 News in July of 2013: Lord Neil B Gibson, of LNBG, LLC. But after the win of the now UDP standard bearer for Cayo South, Ralph Huang, the name is back in the public domain, and with […]

Finally free! Court of Appeal exonerates Coye family
By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter BELIZE CITY, Tues. Mar. 4, 2014 Court of Appeal Justices Dennis Morrison, Douglas Mendes and Samuel Awich on Tuesday acquitted Melonie Coye; her late father, Michael; employees Atlee Matute and Dietrich Kingston; and the family owned Money Exchange International Limited, ending a five-year odyssey for […] Corwin Bennett, 20, not guilty of Raymond Gentle murder

Corwin Bennett, 20, not guilty of Raymond Gentle murder
By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter A Belize City youth was acquitted of murder charges for the death of a reformed gang boss three years ago. The verdict came on Wednesday morning in the Supreme Court. Justice Adolph Lucas told Corwin Bennett, 20, that he was not guilty of the January […]

Belize’s fading oil industry
The Statistical Institute of Belize’s latest data reveals that Belize’s Petroleum industry is in steady decline, but the Ministry of Energy says that companies are working to address problem. The SIB’s data revealed that crude oil production fell as much as 23 percent when compared […]

National Budget includes 5% Salary Adjustment for Public Officers
Teachers and public officers will get a 5% salary adjustment and the 2014-2015 National Budget calls for no new taxes, but teachers will still march on Independence Hill on Friday during the presentation of the Budget. Their decision to demonstrate is grounded in their […]

Forms with Function – Can we do more to encourage startups?
An enabling environment consists of the set of conditions that allow something to grow and thrive -or keep it from doing so. In agriculture, these conditions include weather, irrigation, fertilizer, and the other factors required to have a particular crop grow in abundance. In the case of business, such conditions […]

Controversy over 20,000 woman rally
The Special Envoy for Women and Children Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow said that while she is disappointed at the religious groups who didn’t endorse her office’s 20,000 Women rally, she stands ready to work with churches for women upliftment. “It is very disappointing that the […]

Belize and Guatemala hold first meeting eight years after agreement is signed
Belize and Guatemala have recently formed an initiative to promote amicable relations between the two countries. Representatives from both countries signed on to the Belize-Guatemala Administrative Commission at an inaugural ceremony held at the George Price Center meeting last Friday. The commission will serve as […]

VIP calls for COMPOL resignation
The Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) has called for Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie to resign. The VIP said that they are “of the opinion that the current Commissioner of Police is unable to carry out and execute under his command, a true, […]

NCL’s EIA sparks controversy
Unconfirmed reports say that the National Environmental Appraisal Committee has reviewed Norwegian Cruise Line’s amended Environmental Impact Assessment and approved the project despite unanimous public disapproval, Michael Heusner, NEAC Belize Tourism Industry Association representative, said. Heusner confirmed to The Reporter that NEAC met Tuesday, […]

MOE threatens to dock teacher’s pay. BNTU not scared
The Ministry of Education has threatened to dock the pay of teachers who attend the Belize National Teachers Union rally scheduled for Friday, but the BNTU says that its rally will proceed as planned. Minister of Education Hon. Patrick Faber told the media this week […] Women’s Rally for empowerment garners fair numbers

Women’s Rally for empowerment garners fair numbers
Women from all walks of life in the Belizean society from across the country marched and rallied from the Memorial Park to the Marion Jones Stadium in Belize City today as part of a movement for greater empowerment and to celebrate their cause as […]

Blogs

Merida, Mexico: I Love So Many Things About this City
I DO LOVE A CITY. Especially one with fabulous museums, music, art, FOOD, cafes, culture, parks, history, shopping, nightlife, very low crime and options, options & more options. And Merida has all of that. SO MUCH OF IT. The gorgeous view flying on Tropic Air from Belize City to Merida. Low enough so that you can see the beautiful and mostly empty landscape. From chalky ocean to the sprawling White City of Merida. Gorgeous homes, hotels, gardens, pools and restaurants “hiding” behind cement walls and facades in the Centro or city center. An impressive boulevard constructed during Merida’s hey day as one of the richest cities IN THE WORLD. Mansions as private homes, banks and office buildings, crumbling facades and some…used for more practical things.

Belize Tourism Statistics 2013
The Belize tourism statistics for 2013 are in and I must say I am impressed with the numbers. Compared to other countries, 294,000 tourist arrivals (roughly) in a year may sound meagre but for a country with a population of 330,000 it makes a huge impact to the local economy. I believe that three out of every five people are directly impacted by tourism and indirectly, everyone profits. From the taxi driver to the local farmer, everyone benefits!

Exploring the ATM Caves in Belize: A Most Excellent Adventure
The ancient Mayan sacrificial caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize invoke a rare sense of discovery on the often worn out tourist trail. The genuine feeling of exploration makes the ATM caves one of the most exciting and worthwhile adventures we’ve experienced during our travels, and we couldn’t recommend it enough. We arrive at the park entrance early, grab our gear and take off on the hike to the cave. Along the way our guide Luis tells us stories of jungle jaguars, saving lost hikers and Mayan history. After crossing through three rivers and walking for an hour we get to the cave entrance. From here it’s goodbye to the bags, and our cameras. They have enforced a strong ‘no gear’ policy in an attempt to preserve the caves. If you’re claustrophobic you don’t need to worry too much. The cave itself is spacious, and only rarely are you stuck in tight spots. The cave twists, turns and has a number of different levels. For the more adventurous type there are a few challenges if you’re up to it, but ask your guide before wandering off. After 45mins we hit the end of the wet chamber and arrive at the dry chamber, where we climb up a rock and into an upper shelf of the cave.

PENNER ABSCONDS
Reliable information is that infamous former Minister of Immigration, Elvin Penner has absconded! NBZLive has been reliably informed that following word that police were going to pick him up before the weekend was out – Penner boarded a Guatemalan tour bus and headed to Mexico. On Monday, March 3, 2014, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin issued an order of mandamus ordering reticent Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie to conduct an investigation into circumstances which resulted in jailed in Taiwan, South Korean citizen, Won Hong Kim, procuring a Belizean passport and citizenship. The document was signed by the disgraced former Minister, Elvin Penner. The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) has refused to conduct investigations into the matter that has outraged Belizeans at home and abroad.

International Sources

The State of Sexual and Reproductive Health in Belize
When picturing Belize, many people imagine beaches, snorkeling, and Mayan ruins. The Caribbean country is about the same size as the state of Massachusetts, and has a population of just over 324,000. The people who live in Belize are as diverse as its environmental attractions. Because of its natural beauty, Belize has become a popular tourist destination. Despite its riches of natural and cultural diversity, Belize is not a paradise for all. Women face many unique challenges. According to the World Economic Forum’s measure of gender equality—which is based on women’s economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment—Belize was ranked 102nd out of the 135 countries in 2012. It falls second to last among the Latin American and Caribbean countries. The National Gender Policy in Belize states that women are recruited for jobs and promoted at lower rates than men, and they receive lower salaries and fewer employee benefits then men who hold the same positions. The lack of opportunities for women means they often find themselves financially dependent on their male partners.

Latin America and the Caribbean Host 30 Percent of World's Murders
Latin America and the Caribbean, it seems, are two of the most blood-wrought regions on the planet. Statistics indicate that 30 percent of the world's homicides occur in the Latin American and Caribbean region. World Bank Citizen Security Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean Rodrigo Serrano-Berthet revealed in a World Bank report that despite Latin American and Caribbean region having only 9 percent of the world's population, almost one of every three murders globally are committed there. Berthet also states that out of 50 cities around the world with the highest homicide rates, 42 are in Latin America, including the top 16. "Other areas of concern to Latin Americans, such as inflation, poverty and unemployment, have improved. By contrast, the incidence of crime and violence has not changed in recent decades, and remains at very high levels, much higher than in other regions," Serrano-Berthet said.

Mexico: Dismantling the Sinaloa cartel’s financial structure
To dismantle the Sinaloa cartel once and for all, officials must attack its finances and networks of business and political accomplices that aided Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera during his 13 years as a fugitive. “The arrest of ‘El Chapo’ means nothing more than a change in leadership for the criminal organization,” said José Reveles, a security analyst and author of El Cártel Incómodo (The Uncomfortable Cartel). “To ensure the group is actually destroyed, we cannot leave intact the organization’s financial capacity or the political protection at the state and local levels that gave it impunity.” The arrest of Guzmán on Feb. 22 in Mazatlán must lead to an intensive effort by money-laundering investigation units to locate funds and companies the Sinaloa cartel allegedly uses to acquire weapons and bribe officials, Reveles added.

Fortis Inc. Recommends Shareholders Reject TRC Capital Corporation's "Mini-Tender" Offer
Fortis does not endorse this unsolicited mini-tender offer and recommends that shareholders reject the offer and do not tender their shares in response to the offer. The Corporation's recommendation is based upon the fact that this offer is at a price below the market price for Fortis common shares (4.51% less than yesterday's TSX closing price of $30.63) and is subject to numerous conditions. TRC Capital's offer states that it may terminate the offer if, among other things, the market price of Fortis common shares declines from the close of business on March 4, 2014, or if it is unable to enter into a credit facility satisfactory to it to obtain the financing necessary to consummate the offer.

Record year for Central America with nearly 13 million visitors in 2013
Nearly 13 million visitors in 2013 The final visitor figures for 2013 released by the Ministries of Tourism of the seven Central American countries - Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama - show that tourism to the region continued to grow last year, with a total of 12,959,843 visitors, 3.83% more than in 2012. The region also continued to grow in popularity amongst European visitors, with a total of 890,821 European travellers in 2013, an increase of 3.44% compared to the previous year. Spain (172,529 visitors) and Germany (128,770 visitors) remain the main source markets in Europe, followed by the UK (104,810 visitors). Costa Rica and Panama were the two countries that experienced the greatest increase in the number of European visitors, 5.6% and 18.5% up respectively.