BELIZE NEWS UPDATE
By Lan Sluder
Belize First www.belizefirst.com
BELIZEANS AND TOURISTS VICTIMS OF ANOTHER MASS JACKING NEAR EL PILAR: AMERICAN WOMAN RAPED Another mass carjacking has taken place near El Pilar Maya ruins in western Cayo District, near the Guatemala border, but this time at least one and possibly two women were raped, according to early reports from Belize authorities and media. On the afternoon of Sunday, September 1, as many as six to eight vehicles were stopped at gunpoint by masked bandits on the road from Bullet Tree village to El Pilar, about 1 1/2 miles from Bullet Tree, say sources in Belize. Occupants of the cars were tied up and forced to lie on the ground. The bandits then took money, valuables and cell phones from them and their vehicles. It is believed the carjacking incident took place over as long as two to two and a half hours. One, or possibly two women, were raped. Initial reports from authorities say an American woman was raped repeatedly. A second woman may also have been raped but apparently did not make a report to authorities, at least not initially. According to one eyewitness and victim, Raymond Cox, a City Councillor in Belize City, as reported on Channel 5 TV, the bandits were four men who carried .22 caliber rifles and machetes and who spoke Spanish. However, at least one of the bandits also spoke a Belizean-style Creole, according to Cox, which suggests that one or more Belizeans may be involved in the crime. Several other recent incidents in Cayo have been blamed on Guatemalans crossing the border. In this case, there is speculation that Guatemalans crossed the border on horseback, with help from a Belizean, or someone living in Belize and familiar with Belizean language and customs, with a car. On an earlier Sunday afternoon this year, May 19, two groups of tourists and a local farmer were stopped and robbed by a masked gang as they approached El Pilar ruins in their vehicles. Several other armed hijackings or hijacking attempts in Cayo have occurred over the past year.
NEW PRIVATE HOSPITAL OPENS IN BELIZE CITY Universal Health Services Medical Arts and Surgicenter in the West Landivar area of Belize City. The new private hospital, operated by Universal Health Services Ltd. plans to offer diagnostic and treatment services in pediatrics, orthopedics, neurology, obstetrics, radiology and other areas. This is the third private hospital in Belize. Belize Medical Associates is another private hospital in Belize City. It is affiliated with a hospital in Miami, and La Loma Luz, a Seventh Day Adventist-affiliated hospital, is in Santa Elena, Cayo.
DENGUE SWEEPS ACROSS CENTRAL AMERICA; FEW CASES IN BELIZE Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador have reported serious outbreaks of dengue fever. Only about 20 cases have been reported in Belize, but the country is as risk due to cross-border traffic from Guatemala and Honduras. Belize, working with Mexico, has launched a massive mosquito spraying program which, it is hoped, will stop the spread of disease. There are two basic types of dengue: classical dengue causes mainly flu-like symptoms. Hemorrhagic dengue is more serious and can be fatal. So far this year, Guatemala has reported more than 1,500 cases of classical dengue and a few cases of hemorrhagic fever. Honduras has had more than 16,000 cases of classical dengue and nearly 500 cases of hemmorrhagic fever, with at least nine deaths. Costa Rica has had almost 6,000 cases this year and recently hundreds of cases have been reported each week. El Salvador has reported eight deaths from dengue. Belize, with the help of Mexican authorities, plans to conduct spraying programs against mosquitoes in high-risk areas which include parts of Benque Viejo, Belmopan and all of Stann Creek district. There is at present no vaccine or other preventative for dengue, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Treatment of classical dengue usually involves bed rest and taking non-aspirin pain relievers (aspirin can exacerbate internal bleeding associated with dengue). For hemorrhagic dengue, hospitalization may be necessary.
HUGH PARKEY DEAD OF HEART ATTACK Hugh Parkey of Hugh Parkey’s Belize Dive Connection and one of the best-known dive operators in the country, died of a massive heart attack July 13 while on a trip to Cancun, following a shallow-water dive. Parkey, 56, an American who had lived in Belize for many years, had planned to move to Placencia later this year where he was to run the Turtle Inn dive operation. With his wife, Teresa, now GM of the Biltmore Plaza, he operated the Fort Street Guesthouse for many years. Following cremation, his ashes were scattered on his beloved Turneffe Atoll.
Besides Parkey, a number of noted pioneers of Belize tourism have died recently. Among them: Ken duPlooy who established duPlooy’s Lodge in Cayo, of heart failure; Skip White, who started Turtle Inn in Placencia, of cancer, in Chicago; Tom Giblin, who built Serenity hotel in Placencia, murdered in Puerto Cortes, Honduras; and Logan Gentry, who helped revitalize El Pescador fishing lodge on North Ambergris Caye and who also helped develop a new fishing lodge in Toledo district, in a boating accident near San Pedro.