The Guardian

Belizean reclaims Cross Country Garland
After riding 140 miles, Belizean American Justin Williams has won the 87th Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. 107 riders signed up for the 2015 race at the BTL Park on the morning of April 4, and at around 6 a.m., they took off for the ceremonial ride through the City. Just past the Faber’s Road Junction, the race began in earnest, and from about mile 18, the race started to take shape. A group of 7 elite riders separated themselves from the main peloton. Among those riders were Justin Williams, and his brother Corey, who were riding for Team Bel Cal. The way that these riders managed to escape so early was by cooperating with each other, taking turns on the pace while everyone stayed on their wheel. Just before the Belmopan Junction, 4 chasers managed to catch them, and so that group of 7 became a group of 11. They travelled all the way to Cayo and back enjoying leads of between 3 minutes and 5 minutes ahead of the main peloton. Just before Deadman’s Curve, two riders from the main group of eleven were left behind. As the miles kept going by, others started falling behind, unable to keep up with the pace and the gap increased to almost 6 minutes.

Ashcroft’s Minions attempting to derail Petro-Caribe
The Anti-Barrow regime, which calls itself the “Rod of Correction”, is a collection of self proclaimed independent thinkers who have been trying desperately to turn the Belizean people against the Dean Barrow Administration. Having been approved by Lord Michael Ashcroft, Audrey Matura Shepherd has become the Leader of this faction of society. This regime has thrown everything they could think of at the television screen hoping that something sticks in the minds of Belizean voters. Now their focus is on Government’s transformation catalyst, Petro-Caribe. Over the last week and a half, the Rod of Correction has rallied the troops to launch war on the Petro-Caribe program. The smoking gun they have pointed to is the Petro-Caribe Bill passed by the National Assembly after the budget debate. They claim that the bill gives Prime Minister Barrow dictatorial power to spend as much money as he wants without accounting for how the money was spent. This is simply not true. They also claim that the bill removes Petro-Caribe spending from being subject to the Finance and Audit Act. This also is simply not true.

Is Matura trying to oust Davis and replace him in the Senate
On Wednesday April 1, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize met to basically read the riot act to Ray Davis after he, as the union representative in the Senate, chose to abstain from voting for or against the Petro Caribe Bill. The vote nonetheless went 6 to 5 in favor of it passing. It would appear that Davis’ decision was prefaced by the fact that, by their own admission, he was never given any instruction on how to vote in the Senate. He therefore did the honorable thing and abstained after all he was neither told to vote for or against it. Now the NTUCB president, Marvin Mora and its Vice President, Audrey Matura summoned Davis for him to answer. We do not know what happened in the meeting but needless to say, there are now moves afoot to replace Davis.

Hotmixing of Jaguar Paw road commences
In February of this year the Government of Belize signed on to a contract for the paving of 9 kilometers of highway in Frank’s Eddy Village that leads to the Jaguar Paw cave system. Since the signing road works by Belize Roadway construction Ltd. have been moving expeditiously and already hotmix is being placed on With the investment of $4,864,644.92 on the road, it means that residents of the area as well as tour guides will see significant benefits. Already there are reports that a trip that would have taken 1/2 hour to make is being made in 15 minutes. Tour operators in particular are very pleased at the development as not only time is being cut in half but the wear and tear that their vehicles used to suffer is also being minimized. Additionally, the paving of the road with hot mix will open the area to new investment.

Cristina Coc, what about the other cultures?
The Q'eqchi’s claim of customary and indigenous right to Belize is wrong, especially when we consider all the evidence and history. The Q'eqchi's claim is an injustice to the Creole that came here along with the British. It is also an injustice to the Garifuna who came here in 1802, 4 years after the battle of St. George's Cay, and the East Indians who came here in southern Belize in 1870 from India. This is 7 years before the Guatemalan congress passed a decree abolishing the Q'eqchi communal land in Guatemala. Joining the two groups of Mayas under MLA is a worthless scam When Cristina Coc and others in the alliances know that truly only the Mopan can claim customary indigenous rights to Belize. Cristina Coc, your Claim for indigenous rights for the Q'eqchi can only be made in the Supreme Court of Guatemala. Stop your scam! The Q'eqchi' have a long history of political conflict. Even before the Spanish Conquest, which began in earnest in 1529, Guatemala was known as Tezulutlan, or "the land of war." The combined factors of military resistance and the dispersal of the Q'eqchi' population for agricultural reasons made centralized governmental control by the Spanish highly difficult. For this reason, Friar Bartolomé de las Casas was given permission to attempt to pacify the Q'eqchi' through religious conversion. Although the church was never able to gain complete control, its actions did have a strong influence on the Q'eqchi' people. The church's attempts to protect the Q'eqchi' led to an isolated Q'eqchi' enclave that was not part of the economic growth of Spanish-colonial Guatemala. Once the church lost its ability to govern the Q'eqchi', the people were open to exploitation from outside sources.

CWU President lies about Petro-Caribe spending
Without prior authorization from its members, the Christian Workers Union issued a press release on Tuesday, March 31, condemning Governments desire to access Petro-Caribe funds without prior authorization from the National Assembly. The release was loaded with opinions, propaganda and lies. It is written like something a reader can expect out of the Belize Times, not from a labour union. The most blatant lie is in the lead sentence of the fourth paragraph of the release: “Already some Bz $286,166,698.78 dollars has been spent from September 2012 to February 2015.” The truth is that not even half of this amount has been spent. Using funds available through the Petro-Caribe Agreement, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has committed just over $160 million to development projects up to February of 2015. The National Bank of Belize opened its doors with $20 million in startup capital. Due to a great demand for affordable financing, the Government of Belize injected additional capital in the Bank in the sum of $10 million. Using Petro-Caribe funds, the Government has spent or had committed just more than $67 million to roads and streets countrywide.

Vice President of FFB returns to Belize after serving time in U.S. prison
Twenty one months after being held in custody and serving time in prison in the US, Rawell Pelayo, the Senior Vice President of the Football Federation of Belize is back in the country. Pelayo who was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency, is back after being deported. It made national headlines when he was detained before being able to follow the Belize National Team to Portland in July of 2013. At the time Pelayo was supposed to be part of the official FFB entourage which was to escort the National Team to Portland for the country’s first ever appearance in the Gold Cup. He was intercepted by immigration authorities in Houston before he could properly enter the country, and he was then escorted to the Southern District of New York to stand trial for conspiracy to import narcotics into that country. The US law enforcement personnel say that he facilitated at least 500 grams of cocaine to be imported into New York.

International Garifuna Summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
An International Garifuna Summit organized by the Garifuna Heritage Foundation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was held on 8th-15th March, 2015 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The theme of the Summit was “The Garifuna, a Nation Displaced-Cultural Rights, Economic Survival and Reparations.” It consisted of several events including Workshops, Conferences, Tours, Cultural Extravaganza, a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Garifuna Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer Monument on St. Vincent and Grenadines Heroes Day, March 14th. A pilgrimage to Balliceaux was done on Sunday March 15. Balliceaux is an inhospitable off-shore island where the Garinagu were sent in July 1796 before being exiled from their homeland. More than fifty percent of those sent to Balliceaux died before the exile.

The Kaibil’s First Mission – Recover Belize
In 1975, the then president of Guatemala, Kjell Eugenio Laugerud had a plan: he wanted to recover Belize which he deemed was Guatemalan territory. To that end he created a super elite military unit which he named the Kaibil. If everything went according to plan, he was to make a pronouncement on the 7th July, 1977 when his elite unit was ready that Guatemala will seek to recover 11,030 kilometers of Belizean soil which he said belonged to Guatemala as a result of the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty of 1959. The plan was to train a unit outside the scopes of conventional warfare whose sole objective was to invade Belize and claim it as Guatemalan territory. As a result on the 28th April, 1975, 24 young Cadets arrived in the village of Infierno (Hell) located close to the border line. At this exact time on the Belize side of the border line, a Battalion of 700 Gurkas had just set up camp. The Gurkas are fierce warriors belonging to the Nepalese Military which serve alongside British Soldiers in Commonwealth Countries and British Colonies.

Ninth Natural Resource Management Symposium held in Belmopan
The ninth Natural Resource Management Symposium organized by the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation MSBC was held on Wednesday March 25 at the George Price Center for Peace and Development in the Nation’s Capital. It was an opportunity for some 20 specialists to review their findings on different natural resources management areas, within just an eight hour period; offering a revealing assessment of the status of marine and terrestrial habitats in both Belize and neighboring countries. According to Roberto Pott, President of the MSBC, the one day event was intended to try and bridge the gap across borders that would facilitate the exchange of technical information as it relates to biodiversity and conservation. “The primary objective is to get our researchers to present information…a lot of times data and reports stay on desks and on shelves and this is an opportunity to at least get the abstract that is then published widely,” says Roberto Pott. Presenting information on climate and land use change on Belize’s water resources was Dr. Elma Kay, Science Director for the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Belize. Dr. Elma Kay referred to the 16 watersheds that exist in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico and examined the potential effects of erosion and runoff patterns.

Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow attends Summit of the Americas
The Office of the Prime Minister informs the general public that the Hon. Dean Barrow departed the country on Tuesday, 7th April, 2015, for an official visit to Panama City, Panama, to attend the Summit of the Americas from 10th - 11th April, 2015. On 9th April, the Prime Minister makes a presentation to the II CEO Summit under the theme “Bridging the Americas: Productive Integration for Inclusive Development”, which precedes the actual summit. While in Panama, the Prime Minister will also be participating in a SICA-US Summit. The Office of the Prime Minister would also like to inform that the Hon. Wilfred Elrington will be representing Prime Minister Barrow in a CARICOM-US Summit in Jamaica on 8th April 2015. Thereafter, Hon. Elrington will be travelling to Panama to join Prime Minister Barrow at the Summit of the Americas.

Municipal Fair opens in San Ignacio Town
The 66th Annual Municipal Fair for San Ignacio and Santa Elena Towns was officially opened on Friday night of last week at the Macal River Park in San Ignacio Town. Opening the three day fair was Earl Trapp, the Mayor of the Twin Towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Also present at this opening was the Deputy Mayor Bernadette Fernandez as well as members of the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town Council. Thousands of Belizeans from all over Belize came to the Macal River Park to experience the mechanical rides and a variety of foods that were being offered. What makes the fair especially popular on Saturdays is that it was held just after the passing of the Cross Country Cycling Classic through San Ignacio Town, which brought even more Belizeans and tourists into Town. When the first fair was held decades ago, some $1,400.00 was raised to build the present Columbus Park; still standing in front of the San Ignacio Police Station. Funds from subsequent fairs were also used for community development and the offering of scholarships to students.

Accused of grabbing Chinese grocer’s breast
Sheffield Brown, 39, a resident of Welch Street, Belize City spent the Easter weekend at the Belize Central Prison on remand for allegedly grabbing a Chinese grocer’s breast. According to the victim, she was driving her vehicle on Antelope Street when Brown jumped in front of her causing her to stop. He then approached the vehicle and grabbed her breast. The woman reported the incident to police and Brown was later picked up and charged with sexual assault.

Charged for arson at Youth Hostel
Three young girls have been charged for setting the fire that destroyed the girls’ dormitory of the Princess Royal Youth Hostel on Tuesday, March 31. The alleged ring leader is 18-year-old resident, Erlene Baizar. Baizar appeared in the Belize City Magistrates Court along with two accomplices, ages 12 and 13, on Thursday, April 2. The girls appeared before recently appointed Magistrate Ladonna John where they were read charges of arson and damage to property. According to a police report, just after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, the three females lit a mattress on fire which then caused the entire dormitory to be engulfed in flames. The entire female dormitory cement structure with zinc roofing measuring 30 by 54 feet is valued at $250,000 was destroyed. Also destroyed were a 42 inch Toshiba flat screen television, valued $1,200, two sofa sets, valued $2,400, 11 metal bunk beds, value $11,000, 23 twin size foam mattresses, valued $3,500, one Mahogany desk, valued $700, one wooden six seater table, valued $300, four padded chairs, valued $600, seven standing fans, valued $665, 23 assorted bed sheets, valued $700 and one BTL telephone system, valued $9,416. The total value of the structure and items destroyed is estimated to be more than $280,400.

Medical authorities find blade inside man in Cayo
Medical personnel examining a man at the San Ignacio Hospital during an X-Ray examination have found a knife blade inside of him. Melvin Budna had been rushed to the San Ignacio Hospital on Saturday night of this past weekend, after having been involved in an altercation at the Blue Angels Night Club on Hudson Street in San Ignacio Town. On finding the blade, San Ignacio hospital authorities immediately transported Melvin Budna to the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan City in an unconscious state for further surgery and medical treatment. While at the Belmopan Hospital, surgeons were able to remove the blade from inside of him and he is now in stable condition.

Cayo man recovering after a hit and run
Well know sports enthusiast and self-employed Bernard McLaren remains at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City after being hit by a driver on March 29th. The driver of a white vehicle had refused to render assistance and fled the scene. As he would do almost daily, the 50 year old had just visited his three kids in Santa Elena and was heading to another house when he was hit by the vehicle. His wife Dawnette Elijio tells us that Bernard McLaren was suffering from a blood clot in the brain, internal injuries and a collapsed lung. Elijio also reports that the staff and doctors at the KHMH have rendered her husband great service, with Cat Scans, X-Rays and Ultrasound having been performed so far. While earlier on McLaren had been placed on life support, he is now off the ventilator and is breathing on his own.

Brothers chop two men in Cayo
On Sunday of this past weekend, at about 10:30 am, a man of Hispanic descent identified as Steven Cruz ended with multiple machete chop wounds whist he was at the corner of Blue Bird Street and 23rd Back Street in San Igancio Town. Twenty year old Steven Cruz was socializing at the residence of Alejandro Galvez when he got into an altercation with brothers Daniel Bennet and Dean Bennet. Daniel Bennet then left the property saying “all a unu wan get it.” Both Daniel and Dean Bennet returned ten minutes later to approach Alejandro Galvez and Steven Cruz, who were sitting on the verandah of the house. Daniel Bennet then began lashing Alejandro Galvez. But Dean Bennet was more aggressive and began swinging his machete towards Steven Cruz, causing wounds to the back of his head, right wrist and right lower foot.

Female Coast Guard attempts to kill another coast guard while on duty
A veteran female Coast Guard Officer has been accused of shooting another officer in the back of the head. She is now at the Belize Central Prison, and the victim, has been hospitalized for the injury. It happened on Monday, April 6, when a joint law enforcement team consisting of police officers, Coast Guard officers, Port Authority, and Belize Defence Force Soldiers were returning from an operation at sea. About 100 yards from docking at the Belize City, base, the officers on board the Coast Guard Vessel "CG14" heard a gunshot at around 9:42 a.m. When the officers checked, they found Pettie Officer First Class Kurt Hyde, who was the captain of the vessel lying on the deck. He suffered a gunshot injury to the back of the head which exited his left cheek. The officers also observed 24 Year-old Coast Guard Officer Keyren Tzib with her service issue M4 Carbine in her hand, and a 5.56 expended shell was found on the deck.

Stepfather hacks step son to death
A Belize City man is accused of chopping his stepson to death, currently, he’s at the Belize Central Prison after being criminally charged by the police for that incident. The confrontation happened at around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1. Forty-two year-old Patrick Castillo Sr. was at home on Kut Avenue with his family, which included his biological children and his stepchildren. That’s when his stepson, 20 year-old Guatemalan Jose Maderos, reportedly stepped on his sister’s toe. That caused Castillo to get involved as a parent, and he started to discipline Maderos. Within familial circles, the two men were known to a have a confrontational relationship in which Maderos did not get along very well with his stepfather. Police investigations indicate that this episode between stepfather and stepson escalated to a physical altercation, and an enraged Castillo allegedly pulled a machete and chopped his stepson to death. The entire incident was witnessed by other young children in the family, and it has reportedly caused the children to suffer trauma.

Police investigate two murders
Police are investigating two very recent murders one, which happened in Seine Bight Village in the South, and another in Belize City. The latest incident happened just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8. 24 year-old Mark “Judas” Rhamdas was walking in an alley near to his home when he was shot by an unknown gunman, who reportedly fired at least 5 bullets at him. He then ran out of the alley unto Albert Street West, with his hand on his abdomen, begging for assistance and informing those around that he had been shot. He collapsed right in front of Southside Meats on Albert Street, and was rushed to the KHMH shortly after. Unfortunately, he did not make it in time, and was pronounced dead on arrival.

Justin Williams captures 87th Cross Country Title
The Cycling Federation of Belize sponsored its 87th Annual Cross Country Cycling Classic on Saturday 4 April, 2015. The 142 miles event attracted some 94 riders from the Elite, U-23 and Masters Category. The event officially started from the Fabers Road Junction with the George Price Highway at 6:00 am. The first separation in the riders came around Mile 18 when a group of 7 separated itself from the main peloton. It was not until at mile 27 that the original breakaway group of 7 merged with the chase group of 4 riders. At that point in time the lead group consisted of Shane Vasquez of Western Spirits, Scottie Weisse of Team Starlight, Erwin Middleton of Benny’s Megabytes, Richard Santiago of Team Digicell, Justin and Corey Williams of Team Bel-Cal, Mexican Yayir Jimenez-Godinez of Team Cancun, David Henderson of Smart Zoom, Leroy Cassasola of Team Santino’s, Peter Choto and Aiden Juan of Team C-Ray. The station prize at the Belmopan Junction was captured by David Henderson of Team Smart Zoom. At that point in time of the race, the lead was over some 3 minutes.

Belize Softball Federation holds Tryout for U-19 players in Independence Village
The Belize Softball Federation will be holding Open Tryouts for softball players 19 years and under in both the female and male categories on Saturday 11 April, 2015, in Independence Village in the Stann Creek District. The National Training Team will be at the Independence High School in Independence Village at 10:15 to conduct the Open Try-outs for the players. The Belize Softball Federation is asking all players to bring along an identification that can be used for age verifications. The National Junior Female and National Junior Male teams will represent Belize at the Central American Junior Championships in El Salvador and Nicaragua respectively.

Amandala

Patrick JonesPJ

Albert Vaughan loitering case draws to close
Last August, PUP activist and reporter Albert Vaughan was charged with loitering in a public place during the riots by then-workers of Belize Maintenance Limited (BML) against the Belize City Council. The workers stood against reports that some 50 of them would be temporarily terminated due to “hard […]

Belize History Association unveils logo; awards winners
It was established last year to promote the gathering and preservation of Belize’s history, and the Belize History Association (BHA) is moving full steam ahead in that goal. Today it presented its new logo, the combined creation of the two winners of its logo design competition held earlier […]

BREAKING: Murder Victim Found in San Ignacio is Aurelio Montero
The murder victim who was found around 1:27am on Holy Saturday in San Ignacio Town has been identified as Aurelio Montero from Bullet Tree Village. Belize Media Group has been informed that Montero is an officer at the Belize Coast Guard and was known by many people as “Nene”. More […]

Belize City man murdered in front of family
25 year old Mark Anthony Rhamdas Jr., also known as “Judas,” became the latest target of murder in Belize City. In the last two weeks there have been three shooting incidents in the general vicinity of Albert Street West, Berkeley Street and East Canal, centered around an alley […]

BREAKING: Prisoner Escapes from Police
Authorities in Orange Walk are currently actively seeking a wanted prisoner who escaped from their grasp as they were being transported to the Central Prison this afternoon. The escapee has been identified as 37 year old Angel Torres of a Cabbage Street address in the Louisiana Area of Orange Walk […]

Belize Bank BullDogs Win Second Place in the Sittee River Canoe Race
The Belize Bank BullDogs Canoe team, sponsored by Belize Bank Limited, finished a close second in the recent Sittee River Easter Monday Race held on April 6, 2015. The BullDogs came in just behind an excellent Guydis Canoes Team who finished the race in 1:19:21 with the BullDogs finishing with […]

Bush fires break out in August Pine Ridge Villag
Chairman of the August Pine Ridge Village, Ismael Blanco has been receiving calls since Sunday about bush fires that are rampaging through acres upon acres of land in that rural area. According to Blanco, bush fires are a natural phenomena during this time every year but this year, he believes […]

This Heritage Reshape, Not Just Hold
By Valentino Shal “The State is nothing other than the effect, the outline, the moving cross section of a perpetual process of State formation, or perpetual processes of State formation … The State is nothing other than the changing effect of a multiple regime of governmentalities” – Michel Foucault, French Philosopher. The Caribbean Court of […]

Belize: Warm, Dry Weather with Isolated Showers Will Continue Through the Weekend
The National Meteorological Service of Belize is predicting, fair, warm, and dry conditions with isolated showers dominating our weather for the rest of the weekend. Winds will blow to the East at 10 to 20 knots and the sea state will be moderate. High temperatures are expected to be around […]

We Should Re-Think Our Education System
In May 2013 the Inter-American Development Bank released a report named – “Challenges and Opportunities in the Belize Education Sector”. The report stated – “Belize is paying a lot for education but getting little. More youth are outside the school system than in it and many fail to make the transition to […]

Blogs

An Update: Mahogany Bay Village Really IS The Largest Development on Ambergris Caye
Almost a year ago now, I followed the signs just south of town to Rum+Bean coffee shop and the beginning development called Mahogany Bay Village. (You can see exactly what I saw here – it was June 2014.) The coffee shop was open but not much else. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing pictures on Facebook…of delicious coffee drinks and Key Lime Pie in a mason jar and I decided to go down there again. And I found changes…LOTS of changes. And impressive ones. Overwhelming plans. I think I was more shocked by this progress than by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Blackadore plans. And that’s saying something. Perhaps because it is in “my backyard”. Here’s what I saw and what I learned. The entrance is just past this sign. Let’s just say that this population number is about to change.

Positive thoughts...Gia provides her thoughts on working with manatee calves
Hi, I’m Georgia and I work with the two manatee calves here at Wildtracks. I have always desired to be a helpful person, to make a true and definitive difference with my life. Being at Wildtracks for the past two months I have felt the impacts of my work in a more real way than I ever have before. Yesterday we weighed Mitch and Lucky, the two youngest manatees at Wildtracks, and over the past two months they have both gained over 30 pounds. When the numbers appeared on the screen I cannot explain the joy that I felt. Every day my good friend Julie and I wake up before the sunrise and go to bed long after it has set, in order to feed these two calves. Their care, along with Elliot and Athena – a pair of howler monkeys that I feed, consumes all of my energy both physical and mental every day. Yet every day I wake up refreshed. When my alarm goes off I think about Mitch, Lucky, Elliot, and Athena and about what today has in store for us, what challenges, triumphs, and whatever may come. The responsibility entrusted to me to safeguard these animals inspires me to do my absolute best for them, and in turn this experience has been immensely rewarding. From having Lucky sleep on my chest after finishing his bottle, to playing with Elliot and hearing his chuckle for the first time, rehabilitating these animals replenishes my soul, washes away all of the minor and superficial stresses that nag me, and reminds me of what is truly important.

International Sourcesizz

Updated 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecasts Have Been Released By Tropical Storm Risk & Colorado State – My Thoughts On Both Forecasts
Updated forecasts for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season have been issued by Colorado State University and Tropical Storm Risk. I want to briefly go over both forecasts with you and then give you my latest thoughts on what the 2015 Hurricane Season may have in store. Before I get into everything, PLEASE PREPARE for this hurricane season the same way you would for any other season, no matter how many storms are forecast. It only takes one tropical storm or hurricane to make a season very bad for any one person. Find out about your evacuation zone, go out and get shutters to protect your home, go out and go shopping to get hurricane supplies, go to your insurance agent and make sure you are insured properly. So, let’s take a look briefly at both forecasts: Colorado State University’s Updated April 9th Forecast: http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts/2015/apr2015/apr2015.pdf – The biggest item of note in their forecast is that they are expecting one of the least active seasons in quite some time and that at least a moderate El Niño will be in place during much of the hurricane season. As for numbers, the forecast from Colorado State University is calling for 7 named storms, 3 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 1 of those hurricanes becoming a major hurricane. One item of important note is that a El Niño does not impact the Gulf of Mexico storms and is mainly a impact for the Caribbean and the part of the Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and the western coast of Africa. This is important and will be discussed more later on in this update.

Faculty and Students Travel to Belize to Study Tropical Environments
The 12 students enrolled in this year’s Coasts in Transition 360° joined Bryn Mawr faculty members Thomas Mozdzer (Biology), Maja Šešelj (Anthropology), and Don Barber (Geology) on a spring break trip to Belize where they examined tropical environments and conducted marine ecology research. While in Belize, the group was immersed in two distinct tropical ecosystems – a rain forest and a barrier reef – as they studied each region’s flora, fauna, geology, history, and culture. First, in the remote village of Blue Creek in the Belizean rain forest, students learned about the flora and fauna from local guides who provided lessons in ethnobotany (the relationships between plants and people). Students also toured the tropical rainforest canopy, swam through a cave to learn about carbonate geology, made hot chocolate and tortillas with local villagers, and encountered iguanas and howler monkeys in their natural habitat. En route to South Water Caye, a tropical marine reserve about 20 kilometers off the coast of Belize in the world’s second largest barrier reef, students visited the Late Classic Maya site of Lubaantun, where they learned about Mayan history and civilization. This was followed by drumming lessons to experience the local Garifuna culture.

Investors Sue Over Belizean Property Dispute
Investors claim a Florida lawyer-turned-felon and his cohorts bilked them out of their savings twice over using a Belizean real estate scheme. The investors, sixteen all told, sued ex-attorney Kenneth Dunn and his associates in Palm Beach County Court for allegedly duping them into financing Dreamscapes, a residential development project in Belize. They claim the money they contributed to the project was siphoned off to "fund [the] personal lifestyles" of Dunn, project head Cliff Goodrich, and Dreamscapes officer Colm King, all of whom are named as defendants. According to the lawsuit, the grift began after the investors requested information about Dreamscapes on a website and were contacted by Dreamscapes' agents. The Dreamscapes marketing team, at the direction of Dunn and Goodrich, told the investors the project would turn Goodrich's plot of undeveloped Belizean land into a residential complex with a police and fire station, marina, club house and golf course, the lawsuit claims.

I'm a soldier - get me out of here!
Day one: Mention Belize to anyone and the first thing they warn you of is the size of the spiders. Trust me. They are huge. Day one started with an early alarm call before checking in at London Heathrow airport. It was a chance to meet some of the team who we would be sharing camp with, battling the thick foliage alongside and watching our soldiers train in some of the most difficult conditions. Conversation on the flight was mostly about the size of the creepy crawlies, but also how young some of 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment are. Many of them left school and signed up straight away, while others moved into the regular army after passing out from Harrogate’s training college. These are 18-year-old men who quickly find themselves in a very grown up world.

Obama applauds LGBT advocate during Jamaica speech
President Obama on Thursday applauded a prominent Jamaican LGBT rights advocate as he spoke during a town hall meeting in the country’s capital. Angeline Jackson, executive director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica, a group that advocates on behalf of lesbian and bisexual women and transgender Jamaicans, was among those in the audience at University of the West Indies in Kingston when Obama described her as one of the island’s “remarkable young leaders.” Obama during his speech noted that Jackson founded Quality of Citizenship Jamaica after she and a friend were kidnapped, held at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. “As a woman and as a lesbian, justice and society weren’t always on her side,” said the president. “But instead of remaining silent she chose to speak out and started her own organization to advocate for women like her, get them treatment and get them justice and push back against stereotypes and give them some sense of their own power. And she became a global activist.”

Nacogdoches FUMC youth group putting on huge garage sale for mission trips
Spring is the traditional garage sale season, but some sales are larger than others. The First United Methodist Church, Nacogdoches Youth Garage Sale is one of those. There are enough items to fill a basketball gymnasium. It's going on through Saturday to raise money to send the youth on summer mission trips. “We've got a group that is going to Belize to serve by building onto a Christian high school,” said Jeff Campbell, FUMC's director of youth ministries. “And then we have a group of younger high school who are going down to Navasota for those that are in need. And then we have a junior high group that will just be going to Longview and working in Gregg County area for widows and single moms and older folks."

Sabra Recalls 30,000 Cases Of Hummus Over Fears Of Listeria Contamination
Belize's Ministry of Health has not released a warning yet, but we know that these products are on the shelves of local shops in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Please read and be aware - Sabra Hummus products recalled. Sabra Dipping Co., which makes the country’s top-selling hummus, voluntarily recalled approximately 30,000 cases due to a possible listeria contamination, the company announced on Wednesday. The potential for contamination was discovered when a routine, random sample –collected from a retail location in Michigan on March 30 – tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The company was made aware of the possible contamination on April 7.

WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Nuttin' but love for Obama in Jamaica
President Barack Obama's supporters often shout at him, "I love you!" But Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller didn't have to raise her voice Thursday. She had prime seating beside Obama from which to declare her and her country's love for him after they met privately during his first presidential visit to her island nation. "I just want to say to you, you might not know, but you are very loved in this country," Simpson Miller said, before describing how many Jamaicans mistakenly had lined the route they thought his motorcade would take after he arrived Wednesday evening. "So I just wanted to say you're well-loved in Jamaica," she said. "Well, first of all I can say to you publicly, 'I love you.'"

Joe Biden makes case for $1 billion investment in Central America
While President Obama focuses on domestic spending, the vice president is turning his attention to our southern neighbors. In a New York Times op-ed published late Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden explains why Obama intends to ask Congress to spend in 2015 “almost three times what we generally have provided to Central America.” “As we were reminded last summer when thousands of unaccompanied children showed up on our southwestern border,” Biden begins, “the security and prosperity of Central America are inextricably linked with our own.” Specifically, Biden says that the “economies of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras remain bogged down as the rest of the Americas surge forward. Inadequate education, institutional corruption, rampant crime and a lack of investment are holding these countries back.” “Toward that end,” Biden explains, “on Monday, President Obama will request from Congress $1 billion to help Central America’s leaders make the difficult reforms and investments required to address the region’s interlocking security, governance and economic challenges.”

PHOTO OF THE WEEK 199: BELIZE
Greetings from Belize! This post is coming out a little late this week, but I have a good excuse — I just couldn’t stand to be on my computer any more than necessary for the nine beautiful days my family was here! (All the other posts you’ve read recently were written and scheduled long before their arrival.) Exploring Belize with my mom, little sister and cousin was a highlight of my time in Central America and a trip I know we’ll cherish for years. Our first stop was the coastal Garifuna village of Hopkins, where we snorkeled, biked, and swam our way through every minute of sunshine. Next we moved inland to the beautiful jungles of San Ignacio, where we climbed ancient ruins, yoga-ed our hearts out and took a traditional Mayan cooking class. Finally, we made our way out to the Cayes, where I’ll be reporting from next week. I’m already giddy to share more about all these experiences with you in the future. But for now, a little preview in the form of Photo of the Week…

Videos

  • artWork, 3min. Made a lil music video of new painting, at Central Farm studio, Belize Central America.

  • Dual Survival - Belize, 11min. Cave diving documentary

  • Belize Sugar Industries, 8min.

  • Belize 2015 , min. COrnell College goes to San Pedro!

  • Spring Break 2015: Caye Caulker, Belize, min.

  • International Severice Learning: Belize 2015, 2.5min. hotos from my spring break medical service trip in Corozal, Belize

  • Someday is NOW!, 8min. The Mesoamerican Reef is Belize's crown jewel and a major economic engine for the country. As the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, it provides this Central American nation with thriving lobster, conch and reef fish fisheries, a strong cultural icon, and a magnet for hundreds of thousands of tourists who come each year to enjoy its outstanding diving, snorkeling and fishing opportunities. This incredible resource is in peril. Unplanned development of coastal areas -- including dredging and filling of critical mangrove forests, contamination, and overfishing -- all threaten the reef and Belizean livelihoods. In Someday is NOW!, the people of Belize speak out, demanding a coastal zone management plan and a responsible path for development.

  • 4 the World Volunteer Video, 4min. The 4 the World team that came down last month to distribute school supplies in Calla Creek, refurbish one of the Mary Open Doors houses, and give classes in female self defense and yoga, made a video of their experience here. The video shows how much fun they had while helping out. Great video. Enjoy!

  • Belize Turtle, 1.5min.

  • SAN PEDRO, BELIZE, 3.5min. VIAJE A SAN PEDRO, BELIZE, CON 4 AMIGOS.

  • MVCC Marine Bio Belize 2016, 9min.

  • Jungle Ziplining in Belize, 2min.

  • Sharks, Stingrays, and Turtles Scuba Diving Belize, 2min. Diving and snorkeling off the coast of San Pedro, Belize. Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

  • Belize Vlog Part 1, 16min. Hello Friends, So about a month ago me and my friend Sophia went on a one week vacation to my home country of BELIZE!