LATE NEWS OF BELIZE AND THE CARIBBEAN COAST
News Briefs from Belize, August 2001
CHANTAL CAUSES FLOODING IN THE NORTH OF BELIZE BUT LITTLE DAMAGE AND NO LOSS OF LIFE Tropical storm Chantal, briefly nearing hurricane strength, caused flooding in northern Belize and a little beach erosion on the cayes, but otherwise did little damage as it swept across Belize into the Yucatán in mid-August. Some roads were closed for a short time due to flooding. There was no loss of life. As a precaution, as the storm approached tourists on Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker were evacuated to the mainland. The evacuation went without incident, although a few hotel owners and visitors complained that tourists arriving at the international airport, with their onward flights to the cayes canceled, were not given any information about where to go or what to do.
FORMER PLACENCIA RESORT OWNER KIDNAPPED AND KILLED IN HONDURAS Tom Giblin, the former owner and operator of Serenity Resort in Placencia, in August was kidnapped and killed near Puerto Cortes, Honduras, where he was constructing a seafront home. Giblin had moved to Puerto Cortes earlier this year, after selling his interest in his Placencia properties. Honduras police have arrested five Hondurans, four of them reportedly employees of Giblin, in connection with the murder. Friends of Giblin in Placencia, where he had lived for about 12 years since moving to Belize from Connecticut, expressed regret and sadness. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson in Honduras called Honduras “a high-risk country in which to live or invest.” The spokesperson said that on average a U.S. citizen is killed in the country every two months, adding that the killings of at least 11 U.S. citizens over the past three years are unresolved. Six U.S. citizens were killed in Honduras last year. About 12,000 Americans are thought to live in the country.
MIAMI PHYSICIAN DIES IN BLUE HOLE DIVING ACCIDENT Dr. Reuben Delgado, a 43-year-old Miami cardiologist, was believed drowned in a diving accident at the Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef August 5. The physician was separated from the rest of the diving party as the divers surfaced from about 130 feet. Despite searches by a mini-submarine, the body has not been recovered. Dr. Delgado is believed to be the fifth diver to have perished in the famed Blue Hole over the past 25 years.
CROC KILLS BOY IN BELIZE CITY CANAL Jamaal Swift, 13, was killed August 7 by a crocodile which attacked the youth while he was swimming in a canal off Haulover Creek. The boy was bitten and pulled underwater by an 8 or 9-foot American Saltwater crocodile.
TOLEDO MAN DIES FROM FER-DE-LANCE BITE A 50-year-old farmer, Monico Cho, died August 5 as a result of a bite from a fer-de-lance or Yellow Jawed Tommy Goff as the deadly snakes are known in Belize. The man was bitten as he walked to his farm near Mafredi village and died before reaching the Punta Gorda hospital.
MACLEAN”S RUNS CRITICAL ARTICLE ON CHALILLO DAM Maclean’s, one of Canada’s leading magazines, ran a lengthy and critical article on the Chilillo, the controversial dam that is set to be built on the Macal River. The article, by writer Tavia Grant, begins this way: “The dense jungle of the Macal River Valley in western Belize is among the most ecologically diverse on the planet. It is home to the tapir, the floppy-nosed ancient relative of the horse, and the rare scarlet macaw, one of the largest and noisiest members of the parrot family. The Macal River also sustains the 800 villagers of Cristo Rey, who fish and drink its waters. But now, they fear the river is about to be destroyed -- and they blame a Canadian company, which, with Ottawa's help, is planning to dam the Macal, a project that would submerge two ancient Mayan settlements -- and a way of life. ‘It's just a pity,’ says Robert Bateman, the renowned Canadian artist and naturalist who has twice visited the region. ‘To think that a Canadian company would be involved in this dam.’ Bateman is not alone. Other international celebrities, including actor Harrison Ford, are also lending their voices to the growing opposition to the $50-million dam, which will stand 35 m high and stretch nearly 350 m in length. Proponents of the project, including St. John's, Nfld.-based Fortis Inc., which in 1999 bought Belize's electrical
utility and plans to finance and build the dam, say the power it would generate could help alleviate poverty, attract foreign investment and reduce the country's dependence on imported oil from neighbouring Mexico. But Bateman dismisses those arguments, claiming dams are no longer a panacea for economic growth.”
FIRST COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO RETIRING, LIVING AND INVESTING IN BELIZE PUBLISHED Adapter Kit: Belize, a comprehensive guide for those considering buying property, working, retiring or living in Belize, has been published by Avalon Travel, the California company which also publishes the Moon Handbook travel guides. The author is Lan Sluder, editor and publisher of Belize First Magazine and the author or co-author of four other books on Belize. Subtitled “A Traveler’s Tools for Living Like a Local,” the new book is also for those who just want to experience the authentic Belize rather than to have a purely tourist experience. Sluder says he interviewed more than 100 people, mostly expat residents in Belize, for the book. At 262 pages, with many maps and photographs, Adapter Kit: Belize is available in bookstores worldwide for US$17.95. Sluder’s book is one in a new series for Avalon. Other Adapter Kit titles focus on France, Mexico, Ireland and other population retirement and relocation destinations around the world.
WATER OUT FOR NEARLY FOUR DAYS ON AMBERGRIS CAYE The municipal water supply was out for nearly four days on Ambergris Caye in early August, due to a problem at the Belize Water Services pumping plant. Residents say the water “smelled like diesel fuel” before it was turned off. Businesses, hotels and residents with wells or cisterns reconnected their old lines to provide a temporary source of water. Belize Water Services is a private company that provides water on the island.
BELIZE TOURIST BOARD PUBLISHES TOURISM STATISTICS BOOKLET The BTB has published a booklet, Belize Travel and Tourism Statistics, which presents data on Belize tourism for the year 2000. The stat book includes information on hotel occupancy rates, attendance at selected attractions, tourist arrivals and other information. It costs US$7.50 and is available from the BTB.
ANOTHER TOURIST INCIDENT IN CAYO In early August, shots were fired at three Americans and their Belizean driver in a taxi en route from San Antonio village to San Ignacio. A man described as Hispanic attempted to stop the taxi. When the driver refused to stop, the bandit fired two shots, hitting the driver and Bob Perez, 50, from San Jose, California. Neither were seriously injured. Police say the crime is similar to others committed in Cayo District by Guatemalans who routinely move back and forth across the border. Earlier this summer, tourists in a Lodge at Chaa Creek van were stopped and robbed by a band of masked bandits west of San Ignacio. Local lodge and hotel operators say they aren’t worried about the spillover of crime from Guatemala, but observers say the situation poses a threat to tourism in western Belize.
CHAA CREEK WINS ECO AWARD The Lodge at Chaa Creek has won the Islands Magazine-Caribbean Tourism Organization Sustainable Tourism Award. The resort was honored for its focus on the environment, commitment to local culture and products, a recycling program and educational outreach.
STUDY SUGGESTS CATNIP BEATS DEET FOR MOZZIES Ever seen a Belize mosquito bite a cat? Could be because skeeters hate catnip, according to scientists at Iowa State University. Preliminary research suggests that oil of catnip is up to 10 times more effective than DEET in keeping mosquitoes at bay. But tests on human subjects are needed before scientists can be sure that catnip actually works.
Belize News Briefs Provided as a Free Service of Belize First Magazine, http://www.belizefirst.com/