LOVE FM

Sugar Rumblings: Who Is Behind It? Ortega Claims Innocence
Yesterday we told you about a major development within the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association that had caused concern to its directors and membership. The issue on the table is that on January 27, the existing association was registered as a company limited by guarantees. But what was of major concern was the articles of association, article two specifically. Articles two explains that on the day the association was registered as a company, an interim committee of management takes over. This was received with grave concern by the directors because they got word that the five subscribers who petitioned the changed in organization status were planning to take over the administration of the BSCFA. When we spoke yesterday with BSCFA’s chairman Esequiel Cansino, he said they were investigating the matter. Today Cansino us told based on their investigation, the committee of management believes former chairman of the association Alfredo Fred Ortega is behind it. In a late evening interview, Ortega defended the accusations when he spoke with Love News.

Mek Mi Rich Game: Whose Idea Was It?
There is controversy brewing in relation to the recently created game show, “Mek Mi Rich.” Curtis Dale Swasey has filed a lawsuit against Belize Telemedia Limited and MMR Productions Limited. According to Swasey’s attorney, Kareem Musa, Swasey, developed the idea of a lottery game show involving cell phone texting. Swasey says he took his idea to BTL, worked with them for two years; teaching the technicians the ropes of the software and other highly technical matter. In August 2014, he received a letter from BTL informing him that his idea was not in line with the company’s goals and as such, was rejected. A few months after, the game show “Mek Mi Rich” premiered on national television. Musa told the media that Swasey had signed a non disclosure agreement with BTL on January 13, 2012 referred to as the Information Exchange Agreement.

Private Prosecution Against Penner on Life Support
In July of last year, the private prosecution brought against former Minister of State, Elvin Penner, was thrown out by Belmopan Magistrate, Aretha Ford. The private prosecution was brought by Citizen Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, in the persons of Geovanni Bracket and Nedal McLaren. Penner was being accused of facilitating a passport for South Korean criminal boss, Wong Hong Kim. However, the case was struck out on the basis that the prosecution did not have first hand evidence. However the decision of Magistrate Ford was appealed and case is schedule before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin on Friday. It has now been close to 7 months since the case was dismissed but COLA’s attorney, Kareem Musa, says that the ship has not sail on this matter.

Bradley Responds to Schakron’s Questions on Legal Expenditure
Yesterday we told you that the People’s United Party had launched their manifesto this past Saturday for the Belize City slate. During the launch, the aspiring Belize City Mayor, Yolanda Schakron, spoke on and questioned the legal expenditure of the Belize City Council for the year 2013/2014. Today, Mayor Bradley responded to Schakron’s concerns and broke down how the one point three million dollars were spent as stated in the audit. MAYOR DARRELL BRADLEY “Let me be abundantly clear, the City council has never spent 1.3 million dollars on legal fees. What I did was, I asked our Financial Director to print me a report which shows how that line entry in the audit report was expended and essentially what it was, was 1.2 million dollars for the judgment that was paid to Waste Control. It was listed under legal fees because it was paid through Young’s Law Firm, which we did not pay. The City Council has never paid Young’s Law Firm any legal services but it’s listed as legal fees because the payment to Waste Control went from us to Young’s Law Firm to Fred Lumor who is the Attorney for Waste Control to satisfy the million dollar judgment.

More Lawsuits: Deputy PM vs OW North Area Rep
On November 5, a damning and sensational allegation was made on national airwaves against Deputy Prime Minister and Area Representative of Orange Walk North, Gaspar Vega. We will not repeat the allegations but we will say that it had to do with the Cervantes family in Orange Walk, a tape recording and the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping and murder of Ramon Cervantes Sr. ….Vega quickly released a statement denouncing the allegations and demanding a retraction and apology from the Cervantes family. Neither the retraction nor the apologies was forthcoming and so Vega instructed his attorney, Rodwell Williams, to file a lawsuit against Cervantes Jr. The case management of the case was held this morning and the media spoke with Cervantes Jr., and his attorney, Said Musa. SAID MUSA “The court made what they call Case Management Orders for disclosure by all the parties and for witness statements to be filed on both sides, actually on three sides because there is a third party involved as well; a radio station.”

PlusTV

“Mek Mi Rich” producers sued in court
On Monday evening,  PLUS News  broke the story of the lawsuit in the Supreme Court against MMR Belize Limited, producers of the popular television game show “Mek Mi Rich”, and Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) by computer programmer and former BAHA quarantine inspector Curtis Swasey. Two years ago, M...

Ramon Cervantes Jr. begins defense of Gaspar Vega libel suit
In the aftermath of the kidnapping and  brutal murder of Orange Walk resident Ramon Cervantes Sr. in July of 2014, questions arose as to why anyone would target the older man...

COLA back in court for Penner appeal
On Friday Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin is to hear a rare Inferior Court Appeal between Geovannie Brackett, president of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), and advisor Nedal ‘Jihad’ McLaren, and Cayo Northeast area representative and former Minister of State for Immigration and N...

Jeremiah Pott given seven years for manslaughter
A labourer of Bermudian Landing, Belize District, accused of murder pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the lesser charge of manslaughter and was handed a sentence of twelve years’ imprisonment, but will actually serve seven years on the order of Justice Adolph Lucas. Jeremiah Pott, 54, was accused of caus...

Minors detained in San Pedro Shooting
Two minors have been detained in connection to a shooting incident that occurred on Monday night on the island of Ambergris Caye.  According to police reports, on February 9, sometime around 8:30p.m., 32-year-old  Kareem Eagan of San Pedrito Area, San Pedro Town, was shot to the foot...

Missing persons from Toledo
A 16 year old boy has been reported missing by his father. On Sunday February 8, 53-year-old Pedro Ical, a Belizean farmer of Jalacte Village, Toledo District, reported that on Wednesday February 4, he was at home with his son 16-year-old  Juan Ical...

Punta Gorda man arrested for drug trafficking
On February 7, police was conducting a search at the residence of 18-year-old Denroy Nicholas on Toucan Street, Punta Gorda, when Denroy ran out of a wooden structure holding a camouflage jacket and a back pack. He was pursued, caught and escorted to his residence, where police searched the camoufla...

Special Envoy for Women and Children address Area Representative’s charges for sexual assault of minors
In light of the grave allegations made against Orange Walk East Area Representative, Dr. Tulio Mendez, the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, issued a statement in which she urges “all persons involved to ensure that this highly sensitive issue is handled with the best interests of the affected children as the priority.” The release also says that “ This is an opportunity to rise above political lines and raise awareness on a serious issue that continues to be seen as taboo.”

PUP leader discusses Marco Tulio Mendez and John Briceno
Last week saw back to back appearances in court of prominent politicians for the People’s United Party in Orange Walk. Former leader John Briceno, area representative for Orange Walk Central, faces three traffic offense charges related to an alleged run-in with Christopher Hendricks, the driver for Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega. PUP leader Francis Fonseca dismissed the allegations against Mr Briceno as political mischief. r “ That’s complete absolute nonsense. It’s absolutely political mischief by Mr. Vega and his driver, acting on his instructions. That’s not even worth discussing, really. We know what it is. The Belizean people see it for what it is.

Anthony Sylvestre named Queen’s Square Standard Bearer
Senator and legal adviser for the People’s United Party, Anthony Sylvestre, is challenging Prime Minister Dean Barrow in his stronghold of Queen’s Square for the third time. He was endorsed on Saturday during the launch of the Manifesto. Anthony Sylvestre has twice lost by heavy margins, but he tells us that things will be different this time because he plans to highlight a major imbalance between the representative and his constituents. “One of the certain points in terms of representation of the people is that every single person counts, and so that the situation in Queen Square [that] has evolved over the years, where it is quite clear particularly those who physically live in the division that the current Area Representative clearly has no regard for them, and is not properly representing them.

PUP launches Belize City Municipal Manifesto
The People’s United Party (PUP) released its manifesto for Belize City on Saturday afternoon. The manifesto comes after weeks of campaigning on the ground and meeting with residents who have addressed to them a number of concerns, mostly centering around the neglect of poorer areas of Belize City by the current City Council led by Mayor Darrell Bradley who is seeking a second term. Mayoral candidate Yolanda Schakron describes the chief concerns “The two main concerns that we have heard is the drainage problem. Many people who have gotten cement streets, because of the drainage problems. their houses have become flooded. In the Southside, people don’t have good streets. The streets are in terrible condition. [In] the Southside of Belize City, we have heard a lot about the playgrounds. There are no playgrounds and no sporting facilities. That’s the main problem in the Southside.

Trial date set for Julius Espat PetroCaribe suit
Last year member of the House of Representatives for Cayo South, Honorable Julius Espat, sued Prime Minister Dean Barrow in his capacity as Minister of Finance and Economic Development, for deciding to delay a bill authorizing the spending of funds, including monies gained through the PetroCaribe program. Julius Espat, who also chairs the House’s Public Accounts Committee, says that the agreement entered into by Government in with ALBA PetroCaribe Belize Energy Limited is not enforceable as approval was not sought from the National Assembly, and without such approval any loans gained cannot be paid from the public purse.

Training youth to train youth on Road Safety
The Belize Youth and Road Safety Capacity Building Project known as YOURS saw 19 young men and women graduate in June 2014 from a two week training program. Since then these youths have been reaching out to other youths in the country through sensitization workshops on road safety strategies. This week the director of Youths for Road Safety, Floor Lieshout, is in the country to evaluate their progress and joined their workshop at the police training academy today. “In June 2014, we trained 19 youth leaders from Belize to design and to implement Road Safely Workshops with their peers. Since then they have trained over a thousand young people in the communities of Belize.

Teenager charged with burglary
Nineteen year old Gregory shepherd, an auto mechanic of Belize City, allegedly entered as a trespasser the dwelling house of his aunt and stole several household items. He was subsequently charged with burglary when he appeared on Monday before Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser, where he pled not guilty to the charge. He was offered a bail of $5,000 and his case adjourned until April 20. The incident occurred on January 30, 2015. Gregory Shepherd’s aunt, Jolie Sanchez, reported to police that she left her home and she went to work. She said that when she arrived at her work , she realized that she had forgotten something and went back home. That is when she found her nephew in her house.

Ammunition removed from Belize City streets
Police have removed ammunition form the streets in Belize City. On January 8, police visited an area by the corner of Lakeview and Vernon Street behind the Lodge Building, and found a black plastic bag containing 12 live rounds of .9mm ammunition. The following day, they also searched visited an area on Pregnant Alley, and found a Plastic bag containing 15 live rounds of .9mm ammunition.

Watch out for counterfeit bills!
Business owners and vendors are being advised to be on the lookout for counterfeit currency. On Friday February 6, police visited the Michael Finnegan Market located at the Corner of Cemetery Road and West Collet Canal, and spoke to several fruit vendors who handed over seven 20 dollar bills having the same serial number. Also, on Monday February 9, police visited the Belize Bank located on Albert Street, Belize, where the teller handed over a counterfeit $50.00 bill. All notes have been confirmed to be counterfeit.

Amandala

Laborer, 38, crushed by steel plate in Spanish Lookout
A laborer who had recently been employed by a steel company in Spanish Lookout, Cayo District, met a bizarre and untimely death today after being crushed to death by a 4,000-pound metal plate while on the job. Officer Commanding San Ignacio Police, Superintendent Dinsdale Thompson, told Amandala that the tragedy occurred at about 9:45 this morning at Midwest Steel Company in the Spanish Lookout community. According to Superintendent Thompson, Roman Ku, 38, of August Pine Ridge, Orange Walk District, was standing on top of some 8’x20’metal plates that were being conveyed on a forklift when he suddenly fell of the plates, after which one of the plates also fell, and landed on his upper chest area.

Ralphie’s $37 million “nonsense”: Ralph Fonseca
Former PUP Minister of Home Affairs and Budget Planning, Ralph Fonseca, told Amandala this evening that remarks aired in an interview with Eugene “Fatback” Webster, a former employee of his son, the late Ralph “Ralphie” Fonseca, Jr., were “ridiculous and pure fabrication.” Webster, more popularly known as “Fatback,” who worked as personal bodyguard to Fonseca, Jr., up to the time of his death in a freak accident, gave an interview to talk show host Alfonso Noble for his Fus Ting Da Morning show aired this morning, Monday, on WAVE Radio and Television. The interview, however, which was obviously pre-recorded, was posted on Noble’s Facebook page yesterday, Sunday.

Belize Musicians Past and Present celebrates 20th anniversary
Belize Musicians Past and Present, a show aired on KREM Radio that features music produced by local musicians, is celebrating its 20th anniversary today, Monday, February 9. The show is produced to promote Belizean artists nationally and internationally, and provides a medium for artists to tell their story, and get media exposure. The show was first aired on February 9, 1995, and is produced by Tony Wright assisted by JC Arzu, both of KREM Radio. In an interview with Amandala, Wright said that prior to the airing of Belize Musicians Past and Present, there was no other show, or outlet, besides the Amandala, by means of which artists could go and tell their stories, and demonstrate their art.

2 killed in early morning Hummingbird accident
Two men died in an early morning road traffic accident involving a motorcycle and a car, which occurred on the Hummingbird Highway near Belmopan in the early hours of this past Saturday morning. Police said that at about 1:50 a.m. on Saturday, February 7, Leonardo Ramos, 26, of #15 Calle Las America Street, Salvapan, Belmopan, and Rigoberto Leon Cabrera, 18, of Saint Andrew’s Street, San Martin, Belmopan, were traveling on a blue SKYGO motorcycle between Miles 54 and 55 on the Hummingbird Highway when they collided with a black Mitsubishi Galant car driven by Daniel Cunil, 24, of #22 Nargusta Street, Belmopan, that was going in the opposite direction.

Beware: new batch of counterfeit dollars
Police warn the public to be on the lookout for counterfeit Belize currency notes that are being circulated in Belize City. So far, seven $20 notes have been recovered, along with a $50 note. Six of the $20 notes which have been recovered bear the same serial number, DL 287655, while a seventh $20 note bore the serial number DL183156. Also at about 1:00 p.m. today, police went to the Belize Bank on Albert Street, where a teller handed over a $50 note with serial number DJ792434. All notes have been confirmed to be counterfeit.

Shane Bennett, 28, charged with abduction, rape, aggravated assault and robbery
The search for Shane Bennett, 28, of Dangriga, whom police were seeking in connection with the raping of a woman and the robbery of a vehicle belonging to her male friend, ended, after he was on the run for ten days — since January 25. Police believe that it was the pressure of the manhunt and the stress on the fugitive that flushed him out of hiding. On Wednesday, February 4, Bennett went to the Independence Police Station and surrendered himself. He was then taken to the Dangriga Police Station, where he was formally arrested and charged with robbery, 2 counts of abduction, 2 counts of aggravated assault and rape.

Shane Bennett hands himself in to police
On Sunday night, January 25, a woman lived her worst nightmare when she was abducted, tied up, raped and sodomized by two men. The woman had been heading to her home in the Benguche area of Dangriga Town in a car being driven by her friend at about 8:00 that night when they were held up by two men who were armed with a knife and a gun. The woman was tied up in the vehicle and a knife was put at her neck, while her friend was ordered at gunpoint to drive the vehicle to the beach near the cemetery. At the beach, the assailants tied up the driver, then took turns raping and sodomizing the woman. When they were done, they evicted both their victims from the vehicle, and drove away in the car. The man and the woman managed to free themselves from the knots that restrained them and went to the police, where they made a report.

3’s run wild in Week 2 of PLB Closing Season 2014-2015
Verdes FC is the only team with a perfect (2-0) record at Week 2 of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2014-2015 Closing Season, with only 1 game, Saturday night’s, producing a draw this past weekend, while 3 others on Sunday ended in decisive victory margins. In the only Saturday night game, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, home standing Police United FC led 3-2 late in second half until the veteran Norman “Tilliman” Nunez unleashed a right foot blast from 25 yards out that tightened the net in the left pigeon hole to knot things up at 3-3 for his visiting Placencia Texmar Assassins. After two early take-downs inside the Police eighteen, referee Amir Castillas signaled the penalty spot, and Placencia’s Luis “Baaka” Torres drilled it to the left of Keith Allen, who got only a finger tip on it. But Police came roaring back a few minutes later, as Devon Makin’s center from the right side saw advancing Harrison “Cafu” Roches in perfect position for the close range side-volley, to tie the score at 1 apiece.

Cricket Corner – Excellence, winner of the T/20
The T/20 finals were held over the weekend, with Excellence as the winner in the first game. Western Eagles defeated Easy Does It with 101 all out to 102 with 8 wickets to spare. Easy Does It went to bat first and batted 101. Warren Anthony top scored with 44 runs, followed by Sherman Smith with 22. Western Eagles made 102 with 8 spare wickets. Conway Young top scored for Western Eagles with 51 runs, followed by Andrew Banner with 27. In second and final game, Western Eagles lost to Excellence 137 to 55 all out. Excellence took to bat first and scored 137 runs. Keenan Flowers top scored with 39 runs and Orson Flowers 21. Kevi Flowers and Jermaine Look took 5 and 3 wickets, respectively for Western Eagles. For Western Eagles, they scored 55 runs only. Dirk Sutherland top scored with 19 runs. Percy Flowers took 3 wickets for Excellence.

Orange Walk 5-A-Side semifinals results
The semifinals date had finally arrived, with the top seeded teams from the Interoffice and Open Divisions looking to qualify to the finals. Congratulations to all teams who made it so far, as they surely provided the fans an evening full of 5-A-Side football excitement on Tuesday, February 3, at the People’s Stadium. The officiating team was Freddie Gonzalez and Percival Gideon. 1st Game (Interoffice) – Odette’s 4:2 Cuello’s. The newcomers Odette’s Home Center came out with a game plan and quickly got on the score board, as Nelson Estrada (1) found the back of the net. The undefeated Cuello’s team quickly responded with a goal by Robbie Cuello (1). However, Mauricio Estrada (3) then registered his hat trick for the game, shocking the Cuello’s Team. A late goal by Cuello’s Leo Corado (1) was not enough, and it was the first upset of the night, as the #1 seeded team will have to witness the finals from the bleachers.

Editorial: Matura’s mistake
Less than a week after being elected second vice-president of the powerful National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), activist attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd decided, on her own, to accept an invitation to breakfast Friday morning at the Radisson Hotel with the British billionaire, Lord Michael Ashcroft. In this age of instant electronic communications, word of the sensational breakfast meet was quickly sent to the radio and television stations of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) which were broadcasting their Friday morning propaganda talk show with Joe Bradley and Alfonso Noble as hosts, and UDP chairman Alberto August as their guest. Noble immediately broke the news to the WAVE Radio and TV audiences, and alerted his television viewers to look out for a photograph to follow shortly. According to Matura-Shepherd, who appeared on KREM Radio/TV’s Sunday Morning Review to expand on the damage control she had initiated on Friday afternoon with an explanatory letter to the NTUCB leadership, the photograph of herself, Lord Ashcroft, and one of her sons which made a stunning appearance on WAVE TV was taken by Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s wife, Kim Simplis-Barrow. But on Friday morning going for 9:30, it didn’t matter to Belizeans who took the photo: the great Matura-Shepherd appeared to be in a compromising situation.

From the Publisher
The family of Galento X Neal asked me to say a few words at his funeral services, held on Friday afternoon at the masjid of the Islamic Mission of Belize. I spoke briefly on three subjects – gender, religion, and racism, with respect to my late, great, beloved brother’s life. In this column I will consider the matter of gender. Time brings increased insight to a man, and I had come to realize how important Galento’s sisters were for him – especially his oldest sister, the one we called “Rofel.” In Belize City, which was an African-based culture when I was growing up, it seemed to me that women were the powerhouses, but they ran things in a discreet manner. Men were allowed to puff up their chests and “show themselves” in different ways, but the real power belonged to Belizean ladies.

Puzzling Placencia fish kill
Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria told Amandala today that the Department of the Environment (DOE) will continue to investigate the cause of a fish kill reported in Placencia last week. The DOE says that on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, it received reports of a fish kill occurring in the Placencia Lagoon, Stann Creek District, and it also received pictures of the fish kill showing the dead fish and numerous birds in the area. The DOE reported, however, that it visited the area in question but did not observe any evidence of the fish kill, and it added that its officers conducted onsite water quality assessments, which determined that the water quality of the marshland was normal. DOE personnel collected water samples to conduct testing on the nutrients level of the marshland waters, since higher levels of certain nutrients could lower the amount of oxygen available to organisms, thus resulting in a fish kill. The results of those tests are pending.

Fake red potatoes found across Belize
Chief Agricultural Officer, Roberto Harrison, told Amandala today that the Agriculture Department has been confiscating supplies of fake red potatoes from major vendors across the country, and these potatoes, imported from Mexico but dyed to look like local red potatoes, have been found in all locations except the northern districts. Harrison said that the dyed potatoes may have been in those districts at smaller mom and pop establishments which they would not have visited, and so they may still be on the market in those districts. Last week, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture issued a warning, advising consumers not to purchase the brightly-colored potatoes, since they are not genuine red potatoes and they may pose a health risk.

BSCFA re-registered; directors up in arms
Tensions are brewing once again within the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) after it was revealed that the 55-year-old association had recently been re-registered at the Belize Companies Registry as a “private company limited by guarantee”, reportedly without the knowledge of its Committee of Management (CoM). The apparently secretive move was reportedly carried out two weeks ago on Tuesday, January 27 – one day after the delayed 2014/2015 sugarcane crop season was declared open following the signing of a hotly-debated new commercial purchasing agreement between the sugar millers, Belize Sugar Industries (BSI)/American Sugar Refineries (ASR), and the three cane farmers associations, two of which were recently incorporated into the sugar industry. Although information regarding the new development has so far been sketchy, Amandala understands that the change was initiated by five members of the BSCFA, and may have been led by individuals from the same faction that had previously opposed the signing of the present agreement, citing what they termed as partiality in its terms.

US Capital Energy closing shop?
US Capital Energy has packed up its drill rig and shipped it back to Mexico, but Alistair King, the representative of US Capital Energy in Belize, told Amandala today that “it’s not over until it’s over!” and they intend to import other equipment that would allow them to drill a bit further, as well as perform the kind of appraisal tests they wish to undertake in the months ahead. US Capital Energy commenced drilling in the latter half of 2014, but to date it has not declared a commercial oil find. Director of Geology and Petroleum, Andre Cho, told our newspaper today that US Capital wants to go deeper to check out the geological formations, and that they are being allowed to bring in new equipment from Mexico to undertake further exploratory works.

Patrick JonesPJ

One woman dies in road traffic accident in Corozal
One person died in a road traffic accident tonight on the Phillip Goldson Highway in Corozal. The name of the victim has not yet been confirmed, but we can say that a 23 year old woman perished in the crash involving a pickup truck and a car. It happened around […]

Jeremiah Pott given seven years in jail for manslaughter
A labourer of Bermudian Landing, Belize District, accused of murder pleaded guilty today to the lesser charge of manslaughter and was handed a sentence of twelve years’ imprisonment, but will actually serve seven years on the order of Justice Adolph Lucas. Jeremiah Pott, 54, was accused of causing […]

COLA appeal of Penner case in court Friday
On Friday Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin is to hear a rare Inferior Court Appeal between Geovannie Brackett, president of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) and advisor Nedal ‘Jihad’ McLaren, and Cayo Northeast area representative and former Minister of State for Immigration and Nationality Elvin Penner. In […]

Mek Mi Rich and BTL sued over creation of game show
On Monday afternoon a case management conference took place between Curtis Dale Swasey, a computer programmer and former employee of the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), and Belize Telemedia Limited and MMR Belize Limited, producers of the television game show “Mek Mi Rich.” Swasey claims that in 2012 […]

Ramon Cervantes, Jr. defends libel suit brought by Gaspar Vega
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Gaspar Vega has filed a lawsuit charging libel against his political rival in Orange Walk North, Ramon Cervantes, Jr., and RSV Media Centre, proprietors of radio station LOVE FM. The claim against the radio station is that the airing of a […]

Toledo man dies, reportedly after drinking herbicide
A family from San Antonio village in the Toledo district is mourning the death of their loved one. On Sunday morning, Primetico Coc, 63, was found in his yard gasping for air. Police say Coc was found by his daughter when she arrived at their home around 9:30 am on Sunday. Police say a bottle of Gramaxzone was found beside Coc and his daughter believes that he may have swallowed the herbicide.

Roaring Creek man murdered on his way home
A man was shot and killed on Monday night in Roaring Creek village, Cayo. The victim has been identified as 61 year old John Alexander Smith. Police say Smith was walking towards his Young Street home around 6:55 pm when he was accosted by a lone gunman. A single shot was fired at Smith, fatally wounding him to the left side of the face.

Blogs

CAN’T YOU SMELL THAT SMELL?
Well, one thing is for sure! You’ll never run out of food choices on this island! Every where you turn, there are insurmountable options for a very satisfying meal. There are several fantastic restaurants, local street food vendors and a plethora of local recipes to be made at home with ingredients that I’ve never heard of before. (We will elaborate on all of these different food options from time to time during the year.) As we headed out for our morning walk, the smells around town were torturous! Barbecue was in the air! You will find stands like this one all over the island, however, this guy (I think his name is Tino) is about 45 steps from our house. He grills up chicken, pork and sausage and serves it with baked beans and coleslaw. Sounds and smells amazing! Is this a good or bad thing having him within such close proximity? Not sure yet. Look at the line he has going here! We assume, at this point, that he has some really good barbecue. But, we trod on and kept walking, hoping to achieve the feeling of looser fitting clothes. Soon!

SETTIN’ UP SHOP AND GETTIN’ SOME GRUB!
After we successfully unpacked our 400+lbs of luggage, we took inventory of what, if anything, was missing from our new home that would make it more “suitable” for living and cooking. I had packed my favorite cookware items, housewares, knives, etc. that I use on a regular basis and, after inspection, found that our landlord’s kitchen was pretty well equipped. The only thing missing was FOOD! (And basic spices to make it taste better!) Off to the market! It was a beautiful day to go shopping! We haven’t decided on whether or not to purchase/rent a golf cart yet, so we are hoofin’ it everywhere. We walked the 2 blocks into town and discovered that we are close to everything we need! Little did we know that shopping for one meal would include visits to several different markets! First stop, Richie’s Supermarket! Simply put, this place is a very organized “mess”. More emphasis on “organized” than “mess”.

Secrets of Success in San Pedro
We all know event planning can be a total crap shoot in San Pedro and no matter where you live. You just never know what speed bumps will pop up along the way or who will show no matter how much you get the word out and where. I always say the right people show up at the party :) Recently appointed Sue Barkhouse and Joann Reilly as co-leaders of the San Pedro Red Cross Health Committee rolled with the punches as they organized their first events for 2015 and survived baptism by fire ha ha. Both Sue and Joann did a wonderful job from start to finish. Sue is in charge of our quarterly blood drives and Joann will be handling the First Aid/CPR training program and monthly courses. The San Pedro Red Cross, especially Shirlee and I are very excited to have them volunteering in lead positions – it is a big step forward for our organization.

Monday On The GORGEOUS Leeward Side of Ambergris Caye
Everyone who visits Ambergris Caye sees the barrier reef that lines the eastern side of the island. And the BEAUTIFUL sea… Over 25 miles long and about 5 miles wide, the opposite side of the caye is a whole different and very sparsely populated world. Just getting across the caye is an adventure – the road to Grand Belizean estates (5 miles up) is the only non-boat thoroughfare. And there is a not so “secret beach” up there that people love. Especially on Sunday. This side of the island is gorgeous…and yesterday, I got a pick up and was taken to one of the sand bars that form on the southern end of the many cayes back there. Note: It’s not only gorgeous but a very delicate environment…this whole inner lagoon and its surroundings were set to be part of the larger national protected area of Hol Chan Marine reserve until it died on someone’s desk. Most are still hoping, with fingers crossed, that the years of efforts finally pay off and this area get the protection it deserves.

Vacation Planner Alert – Belize Whale Sharks
Whale sharks, those tranquil behemoths of the sea, are already planning their annual migration to Belize. And if you’re looking for a truly remarkable adventure, you should consider joining them. It only happens once a year, and only in a handful of lucky spots on Earth, with Belize, for our money, being at the top of a very exclusive list. Sure, you can see whale sharks in Madagascar, South Africa, Australia, Mozambique, Indonesia and the Yucatan, but Belize’s Gladden Spit is an amazingly accessible and stunningly beautiful spot to see and even swim and snorkel with these incredible creatures. Measuring over 40 feet (or over 12 metres) and weighing in at more than 79,000 lb (some 36 tonnes) these guys are the world’s largest fish, and indeed some of the biggest animals to ever inhabit the planet. They’re also some of the oldest, having remained relatively unchanged over the last 60 million years.

New finding at Caracol
“Everyone moved into the various huts and situated themselves while Diane and I went to the top of Structure A13 and photographed the new monument with an elaborate flash setting. The resultant photograph was remarkably crisp and revealed a lot of detail on the new altar. The iconographic scene is one of two seated individuals facing each other, with the one on the right making a gesture of submission or alliance; both are named in the accompanying hieroglyphic text.” PhD Arlen Chase The story coming in of this new finding at the ancient site of Caracol is still very vague and downright sketchy if you ask me but I tell you as I heard it. We know that the BDF Belize Defense Force are situated at the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve and the Chiquibul National Park specifically in Douglas Da Silva Forestation and Tapir camp. Everyday or whenever they have a working vehicle members of the BDF will accompany tour groups heading to Caracol. One one such day a member of the BDF had climbed on top of structure A13 possibly to get a higher vantage point such tactics can also me observed at the site of Xunantunich. While also cleaning in the same area a caretaker of the site climbed to the top of A13 and noticed that the BDF was observing an exposed stone the caretaker later commented that he had always climbed above to clean and had never given the stone any importance.

Grill of my dreams: Bring on those ribs!
The fourth annual BBQ Cookoff at Estel’s Dine by the Sea is history and 120 rib-loving customers have spoken: Rick Saager of Oregon — a frequent visitor to Ambergris Caye — is the People’s Choice among the six talented barbecue chefs. For those of you keeping score, Rick’s ribs were the ones with the orange stick in them. There were six chefs in all. The cook-off is a fundraiser for the two-year-old Sunshine Scholarship Foundation which is dedicated to giving the island’s neediest children a fighting chance at an education. This past year, six children were helped and Isla Bonita School got 20 portable computers according to Eve Dirnback, co-founder of the organization with Joy Flowers. Last year, fresh to the island, Rose and I stumbled upon the cook-off. Too late to buy tickets we none-the-less had a great time soaking in the atmosphere and listening to a pick-up band of some of the island’s finest musicians. This year, we were ready for the ribs.

International Sourcesizz

Has The Great 20-40 Year Flip In The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) Occurred Or Is It An Anomaly?
The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) which is the long duration changes in sea surface temperatures across the Atlantic Ocean. The AMO cycle goes through natural 20-40 year warm and cold phases. The AMO is important in terms of tropical cyclones as it in part regulates active and inactive periods of activity across the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. When there is a warm cycle of the AMO, there is normally a 20-40 year period of increased tropical cyclone activity. On the opposite end, when the AMO cycle in a cold phase, the activity across the Atlantic goes through a 20-40 year period of near average to below average activity. Since about 1995, the AMO has been in a warm cycle which has led to a marked increase in tropical cyclone activity across the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Now, the latest data indicates that the AMO is at its lowest levels since the period between 1983 and 1994 when we had the last cold cycle. So, this raises the question, has the AMO flipped to a cold phase which if true would last for the next 20 to 40 years or is this negative AMO index just a anomaly. To be honest, I’m not sure as there is conflicting data that suggests either scenario is possible, although my initial thoughts are that it is an anomaly.

Marijuana in Jamaica: Possession of up to two ounces decriminalised on Bob Marley's birthday
Possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use has been decriminalised in Jamaica after a drugs law that was passed on Friday was debated by senators for five hours. Having up to two ounces (around 56 grams) will only be punishable by a fixed penalty ticket, instead of a criminal charge. The amendment of the law happens to have been passed on the birthday of reggae legend Bob Marley, who died of cancer aged 36 in 1981. He is well-known to have praised weed as “the healing of a nation.” The new penalty will cost, or if it would be a criminal offence to not pay the amount, is not yet known. The old Dangerous Drugs Act stipulated that possession of cannabis carried a sentence up to five years and a penalty fine of up to $100 (around £57) per ounce, or up to three years in prison and a fine.

Environment and development in coastal regions and in small islands
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF URBAN AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT A case history: Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico By Peter V. Wiese, retired exploration geologist Executive Summary Before its development, Cancún Island was a barrier island, 17 km long and 100-400 m wide. It faced the Caribbean Sea and enclosed a shallow lagoon and was an important nesting site for seabirds and sea turtles. There were several openings to the mangrove lined lagoon in which there was a variety of marine life. In order to create a tax base for the newly created state of Quintana Roo (1973), it was decided to create an upscale resort for the wealthy. First, farmers were brought in from other states to set up the agricultural infrastructure on land to the west of the lagoon. However, poor soils resulted in these farmers becoming subsistence farmers, and most food is brought in from other parts of Mexico.

Mystery of Cynk Stock Jump Endures as SEC Sues Belize Brokerages
A U.S. probe into alleged penny-stock scams has again led to the Belize office building that was home to Cynk Technology Corp., the company that enthralled Wall Street last year by surging 36,000 percent. The Securities and Exchange Commission last week sued two Belize-based brokerages, as well as three firms in the Cayman Islands and Panama, saying they generated more than $75 million by dumping worthless shares of shell companies. While the case doesn’t mention Cynk, the SEC said one of the defendants, Clear Water Securities Inc., was run by Phil Kueber -- one of the people tied to Cynk, which said it planned to run a social network but had no assets, no revenue and, for one hour in July, a market value of more than $6 billion. The other Belize firm, Legacy Global Markets SA, lists its address as the fourth floor of Belize City’s Matalon building, which Cynk also called home.

John McAfee prepares for his 'last stand'
We were somewhere near the Georgia border, riding shotgun with John McAfee in a tricked-out monster truck along Interstate 85, when things got spectacularly weird. We'd been on the road since 5:30 a.m., subsisting on caffeine and cough drops, when the mercurial McAfee nonchalantly drops a bombshell. Days earlier, someone affixed a mysterious box near the gas tank of the truck that is hurtling down the highway at 85 mph. "Yes, I believe the device was an explosive meant to do me great harm," he says. "Oh, don't panic. It was removed from the vehicle and is being investigated by the FBI." The FBI had no comment. After spending the better part of 2014 on the run from, he says, assassins sent from Belize, McAfee and his wife, Janice, are living in plain sight in a house in Lexington, Tenn. He fled the country and initially moved to Portland, Ore., before settling in Tennessee. According to reports, his fortune, once more than $100 million, has dwindled to a few million dollars — possibly less. McAfee declined to discuss his personal finances. Along the way, McAfee's outsize ambitions — and tales — made for riveting entertainment. As mind-bending as they may be, the stories required a note of skepticism.

The Caribbean Reports Record Number of Tourists and Spending in 2014
A record 26.3 million people traveled to the Caribbean last year and spent an unprecedented amount of money in what is considered the world’s most tourism-dependent region, officials said Tuesday. It is the fifth consecutive year that the Caribbean has reported an increase in tourists following an economic crisis that forced resorts to shut down and caused a drop in visitors and spending. Hugh Riley, the Caribbean Tourism Organization‘s secretary general, said Caribbean tourism rose by 5.3 percent, while the worldwide tourism growth rate was 4.7 percent. Officials attributed the increase in part to improvements at airports around the region, the opening of new hotel chains and an increase in direct flights and airline seat capacity.

SUNY Cortland Study Abroad Scholarships Presented
SUNY Cortland recently awarded more than $54,000 in scholarships and exchange awards to help 64 students expand their educational horizons through study in Chile, Turkey, India, Germany and many other countries. Three winter 2015 OAP recipients traveled abroad for fieldwork related to a course in Belize: History, Arts and Culture: • Dylan Ferrier, a senior history major from Middletown, N.Y.; • Kelli Grossmann, a sophomore art and art history major from Miller Place, N.Y.; and, • Amanda Sacca, a junior speech and hearing science major from Latham, N.Y.

This is the Fastest-Growing Caribbean Destination for Europeans
No destination in the Caribbean saw more growth from the European source market than the Cayman Islands in 2014, according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization. The British Overseas Territory received a total of 36,405 tourists from Europe last year, a 30.9 percent increase in European tourism compared to 2013. That was the fastest growth of any Caribbean destination, with Grenada coming in second with 21.5 percent growth from Europe and Belize at third with a 20.8 percent improvement.

Caribbean delegates discussing new climate change tools
A three-day workshop aimed at exposing senior Caribbean technocrats to a suite of tools developed under the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) project began here on Tuesday. The Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) said the workshop is being supported by the Caribbean Weather Impact Group (CARIWIG) project involved in risk-based decision-making in the region. The delegates are being exposed to the Caribbean Assessment Regional Drought (CARiDRO) initiative that was designed to facilitate drought assessment in the context of the Caribbean and Central America. “It is a flexible system that should accommodate the requirements of different users. The online tool is composed of two main sections: a descriptive one where the user can find information on how to use the tool as well as terms and concepts that are useful,” the CCCCC said.

Caribbean enjoys fifth year of tourism growth
Tourism to the Caribbean saw its fifth year of growth in 2014 with a record number of visitors and spend. A new report from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) found there was a record 26.3 million tourists to the islands in 2014, up 1.3m on 2013. UK numbers were up 12%, helped by increased air routes to the region and more confidence in the economy. Overall European numbers to the region were up 4.6% to 5m, the first time numbers from the region surpassed the mark in six years. The growth is faster than the region had anticipated, and also came along with record spend of US$29.5 billion, up 5%.

Videos

  • 5 DAYS FOR THE PAINTING AND COMPARSAS TO BEGIN!, 5.5min.
  • Mount Carmel High School Video, 5min. Filmed in beautiful, Belize, Central America, this video reveals Mt. Carmel High School (MCHS) and its academic excellence. MCHS was founded and is served by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen. SOLT encourages young adults to apply for teaching or other staff positions at the school.
  • Belize to Honduras by Boat, 15min. I take the weekly boat from Placencia (Belize) across the Caribbean to Puerto Cortes (Honduras) and then share a taxi to San Pedro Sula Airport to fly to the USA SHOW MORE
  • MVNU M2540 Belize Student Scholarships, 3min. February is MVNU's M2540 Belize Student Scholarship month. During this month, we will raise support and awareness of the need of education in rural villages in Belize. $35 will pay for the school fees for a child for an entire year! Our goal is to scholarship 100 children.
  • Rapping Food wheel cart vendor in Belize, 1min.
  • KHMH Hosts Belize Spinal Team, 4min.
  • International Hot Sauce Taste Test, 2.5min. Check out Belize's very own Marie Sharp's "Belizean Heat" Pepper Sauce being compared to other international hot sauces in this fun video by BuzzFeed - Would you attempt this taste test?
  • Belize, 4min. Fishing, scuba diving
  • 2 weeks in Belize 2014 | GoPro 3, 5min. In June 2014, my 3 girlfriends and I stayed in Belize for two weeks. We rented a car and drove along the coast in that period, staying in a mix of hostels, cabanas and hotels. Here is footage from our adventures!
  • Anywhere With You: Belize 2014 - 2015, 15min.
  • Belize 2015 - Pete and Tanya engagement!, 5min. Pete proposed to Tanya on Friday, February 6, 2015, on the island of Caye Caulker in Belize.
  • Bike rally in Caye caulker, Belize 2015, 4min. Serucho dance contest. We gave $100 to the winner. Good job Kate! Good times.
  • Belize 2014, 4min. Our trip to Caye Caulker in Nov 2014!!
  • Belize (Trip the Light), 5min. Wedding adventure for Helena Lamb and Annie Weber.