Amandala: The headlines for the first half of 2011 were dominated, as they were the year before, by heart-wrenching stories of the all too frequent murders that have put the Old Capital under a state of virtual siege. At roughly 120 so far this year, the murder rate is almost eclipsing the 129 cases reported in 2011—although there is optimism in some quarters that 2011 will perhaps see a slight reprieve from the brutal killings of the year past.
Murder conviction rates continue to be dismal; however, the period, January to June, saw some notable murder convictions. In a high-profile murder case for a quadruple murder that occurred in 2002, for which Leslie Pipersburgh and Patrick Robateau were charged, life sentences were handed down for two of the four killings, those of KBH security guards, Kevin Alvarez and Fidel Mai, whereas for the killings of Cherry Tucker and David Flowers, which had occurred that same night and for which the duo had also been charged but not convicted, the two have gone unpunished.
The men were first sentenced to hanging when the matter was heard in 2004 in the Supreme Court, but there were subsequent proceedings, which ensued up to the Privy Council level, where a retrial was ordered. This year’s ruling came subsequent to that retrial.
In another case, Orlando Wade was convicted and sentenced to life for the gruesome murder of Dorla Pitterson, which occurred in Sandhill in 2008.
Then, on March 1, 2011, a jury of six women and three men declared their guilty verdict on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. The men arraigned were Honduran Miguel Mayorga, 45, a painter; Belizean Cesar Junior Aldana, 25, a construction worker of Belize City; and Guatemalans Eswin Rosalez, 19, Carlos Juarez, 20, and Jose Ismael Cordova, 19, all masons. Days later, it was reported that they had been sentenced to 14 years for the first charge and 10 years for the second.
In May, former Belize Defence Force soldier and security guard Glenford “Bucket” Bermudez, 40, was sentenced to life for the murder of his wife, Raquel Requeña-Bermudez, 41, on November 22, 2007.
In another set of convictions, two Dangriga men, charged separately, received extensive sentences for rape. Cedric Casimiro, 42, got 75 years for raping an 8-year-old girl, and Fidel Williams, 41, got 80 years for raping a young woman.
For the pitiless murder of Nigerian taxi driver, Francis Chukwu, over the December holidays, three persons were arraigned in January: Egbert Daly, 19, and Jermaine Zuniga, 31, both of Antelope Street Extension; and a 17-year-old minor of Iguana Street.
The first murder victim for the year, 2011, was Michael Malic. On the evening of Sunday, January 9, the youth was shot 13 times while standing in front of a store on Bagdad Street, where he had reportedly gone to purchase cigarettes.
Among the murder victims between January and June were Raymond “Killa” Gentle, Trevor “Sargy” Trapp, Devon Reynolds, Jerome Jason Wade, Samuel Price (brother of George Price, who passed later in the year), Trevor Neal, Kenyon Plunkett, and Errol Ferguson.
The April murders of Yan Yin Chen and Fei Lan Wu, both Chinese women who were living in Belize, sparked public protest by the Chinese community, which called upon Government to reinstitute the death penalty.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow had told our newspaper, however, that this was not for the government to act upon—it would depend on whether the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is amenable to upholding death sentences. The Privy Council, which the CCJ has replaced, had been blamed for overturning death sentences granted in the lower courts. Belize has not seen an execution since Kent Bowers in 1985.
Instead of pushing for the resumption of the death penalty, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in the wake of the Chinese protest, announced a suite of crime measures, including trial without jury, anonymous witnesses, and the more controversial preventative detention (PD) proposals which contemplated detentions for up to 21 days. Those PD proposals had first been proposed in 2008, but were later withdrawn when they faced fierce opposition; but the opposition was just as fierce—if not more so—when they were reintroduced in 2011. Barrow consequently announced that he would abandon those proposals, but the move to institute trial without jury did succeed and took effect via an amendment to the laws in August.
The Government also introduced legislation to ban heavy tint on vehicle windows, claiming that this would improve road safety while aiding law enforcement on the roads.
The nationalizations of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), and the proposed 9th Amendment Bill, which became the 8th Amendment to the Belize Constitution, dominated the media for the latter part of the 6-month period. Beginning in early June, Prime Minister Dean Barrow and former BEL CEO Lynn Young were engaged in a back and forth over BEL’s financial woes, which resulted in the government having to prepay its light bill to help the company stay afloat.
BEL had been in a dispute with the Public Utilities Commission since 2008, and amid the negotiations with Central Government over the possible buy-back of the company, the PUC threatened to cancel BEL’s license over a million dollars plus in arrears to the regulator.
On June 20, 2011, the Government executed the BEL takeover, installing Jeffrey Locke as the company’s new CEO after taking over the majority stake held by Fortis Inc of Canada. The former BEL executives were terminated by the former management and paid nearly $3 million before their departure.
After the Government took control of BEL, it began negotiations with Mexico, from which Belize purchases some of its power, for a more favorable credit arrangement with improved rates, in the hope that electricity rates could be reduced for Belizean consumers in 2012. An application for a rate decrease of about 4% is pending before the PUC.
Incidentally, days after Government nationalized BEL, the Court of Appeal overturned a Supreme Court ruling that favored the Government’s 2009 nationalization of BTL. The Government surrendered control of BTL back to the Ashcroft group, but only for a few hours before it reversed its stance and decided that a clear court order had not been given to return the company to the former owners. Government took back physical control of BTL and subsequently (in July) moved to renationalize BTL, later amending the Constitution in a fashion it had argued would make both the nationalization of BTL and BEL “unchallengeable.” As things now stand, both nationalizations are being challenged before the courts.
Two of Belize’s leading agricultural industries continued to face major troubles in 2011. Firstly, sugar in the north saw the shutdown of the milling facility for several weeks due to mechanical trouble with the steam turbines; whereas citrus continued to suffer from the war between rival camps of citrus growers in the south. Both industries have been afflicted with major financial challenges during the course of the year. BSI, whose troubles were relieved by a credit extension agreement from its overseas banker, is still looking for a strategic investor to pump money into the factory and help improve its debt profile, and farmers have been working to negotiate a buy-in on the production side of the industry.
The transport industry saw its share of troubles also, with a restructuring of the bus routes. On Friday, May 27, before the break of dawn, operators blocked portions of both the northern and western arteries into Belize City, in protest of concessions granted to West Line which slashed the runs of BBOC – the Belize Bus Owners Cooperative. Government reconfigured some of the runs and the protests were quelled.
The year 2011 also saw protests over the petroleum industry, as well as protests over the handling of the Chetumal Street squatters by the Belize security forces. Early in June, police and Ministry of Works personnel demolished the homes of squatters in Chetumal Street Extension, off the Western Highway, and removed the remaining families, some of whom were identified as Hispanic migrants with Belizean residency.
The squatters were mobilized by activists to take their plight to the Belcan Bridge, which they blocked in protest of their ouster from the area.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that the squatters had been previously asked not to build on the land, because Government had intentions to use it. Media reports have indicated that the site is to be used for a bus terminal and a sporting complex.
We would be remiss to end this installment of our Year in Review without mentioning the big butane scam exposed by Channel 7 News in January 2011. 7 News Director Jules Vasquez and businessman Lascelle Arnold demonstrated how Belizeans were being given much less butane than they were being charged for, being short in one test by as much as 30 cents on the dollar. There were allegations of deliberately rigged meters, and the Government later stepped in with regulations. Vasquez and Arnold later said that their lives had been threatened because of the public revelation. Several months later, it was reported that the butane standards were still not being complied with, and there are concerns today that consumers are still being shortchanged.
On a matter of national security, the raping of the Chiquibul Forest by Guatemalans illegally crossing the border to harvest xate palm, cut logs, burn and farm inside Belize, poach macaws, and even loot archaeological artifacts and Belizean gold continued to be kept in the spotlight all through 2011. We will discuss this topic more in the second installment of our Year In Review, along with Government’s commitments to increase security presence on the ground in the most trampled parts of Belize’s western jungles.
Government’s legal defeat in the case of the 2009 nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), and its defiant stance, refusing to let go of the company in the face of the court’s ruling of unconstitutionality, led to the dramatic renationalization of the company in the second half of 2011. Just a few weeks ago, BTL declared $15 million in dividends to shareholders—the bulk of which went to the Government of Belize, which will apparently await the court’s ruling on how much it needs to pay former shareholders for the company.
The July 4, 2011, renationalization of BTL led to the grand debate over the proposed 9th Amendment to the Belize Constitution, which actually became the 8th Amendment. Government’s stated reason for making the changes to the Constitution was “putting beyond dispute the ownership” of BTL. At the same time, however, the dialogue broadened to probe the wider effect of the 9th Amendment – including what legal minds argued was a broader move to make Parliament supreme, even above the Constitution. The churches, the private sector and civil society, as well as the wider Belizean public, had their say through the media and at public consultations over the matter. Government eventually agreed on a compromise to amend the language of the bill to allay concerns, and later passed what is now the 8th Amendment.
What was originally the 8th Amendment to the Belize Constitution was quashed, principally because of public outcry over the Government’s preventative detention proposals, which could have created room for detentions without charge for up to 21 days. However, the Government proceeded on August 1 to abolish trial by jury for murder and murder-related cases, as well as cases where either party can successfully argue for a non-jury trial. The Government also introduced provisions for anonymous witnesses in special instances.
These measures, according to the Government, were intended as a part of a suite of measures announced following a defiant protest by the Chinese community over the senseless killing of two Chinese women in Belize City. Hundreds strong, they demanded the reinstitution of the death penalty —a matter which Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said is really in the hands of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which would now have the final say on whether a sentence of death can survive its journey up the rungs of Belize’s judicial system. Previously, the Privy Council was blamed for quashing death sentences.
Belize’s economy continued to face challenges in 2011, and the country’s largest bank, the Belize Bank, recorded its largest annual loss on record—$33 million—at the end of the 2010-2011 financial year, due to a large pool of non-performing loans.
While the Belize Bank was able to keep its doors open, despite the reported loss, fire forced the closure of business for Raul Magaña. In June, Raul’s Rose Garden, a half-a-million-dollar brothel established for 30 years, went up in flames. No one was hurt.
Meanwhile, the year saw a number of disturbing deaths by violence, including a slew of gruesome murders not related to gang activities. On July 2, a Jalacte man saw a dog dragging a dead newborn girl, who had a left arm and a left leg missing. The mother was accused of concealment of birth.
Murder convictions scored in the second half of 2011 include the prominent cases against two women: Viola Pook and Kimberly McLaughlin (also known as Brannon), who both received life sentences.
In July, housewife Viola Pook, 54, was declared guilty of the 2008 murder of her common-law husband of 23 years, Orlando Vasquez, 48 (also known as Orlando Mai), which reportedly happened at their home in Rancho Dolores Village, Belize District.
McLaughlin was convicted of the murder of Anthony “Antics” Herrera, 42, a race jockey and caretaker of the Castleton Race Track in Burrell Boom, Belize District, who was chopped in the side of his neck in December 2008. The woman alleged that Herrera harassed and abused her sexually. In court, she alleged that police had coerced her into incriminating herself.
The year 2011 saw a number of sexual molestation cases, but one which had a quite interesting outcome was that of an accused sexual predator, 62, of Plues Street, Belize City, who allegedly tried to rape a 14-year-old boy in San Jose Succotz. Village residents beat Reginald Roy Cumberbatch badly before they handed him over to police for formal charges and arraignment for aggravated assault.
2011 also saw the emergence of a constitutional challenge to Belize’s statutes which outlaw sodomy. The church community joined the Government of Belize in the case filed by Caleb Orozco and the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) against the Attorney General of Belize. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama issued a memo last month, directed also at overseas agencies, declaring that the US will act as defender against human rights abuses perpetrated against those in the community of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals – called LGBT. Prime Minister Dean Barrow told us that Belize will, nonetheless, defend its laws in court.
Belizeans, plagued by diabetes as the leading cause of death, endured a sugar shortage for several months in 2011. In a nation which has exported roughly $100 million worth of sugar this year, sugar could scarcely be found on supermarket shelves, and consumers were often told that they could get sugar only when they bought other items from the same store—an illegal practice which persisted despite declarations from the Government that consumers must be sold the sugar whenever they request it, as long as the store has it in stock.
In the wider scheme of things, the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) continues to grapple with financial challenges, as it continues to explore options for a strategic investor to revitalize the sugar industry. Saddled with over BZ$120 million in foreign debt, BSI has been grappling with major financial difficulties at least since 2010, and official reports had indicated that unless it was able to get a bailout by the end of September to settle its debts with ING, a foreign banker, it would face foreclosure. ING has since given BSI an extension to 2012.
The security forces reported a shameful case of missing military guns in October. On October 12, officials had reported that twenty-two M16 A1 rifles, two M4 Colt Commando rifles, eleven 9mm Beretta pistols and seven M4 Carbine rifles had been taken from their storage facility in Ladyville. On the heels of that report came the report of a burglary at the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB), which reported the theft of four laptop computers.
Much happened in national politics this year, and both of the mass parties say that their crews of 31 standard bearers are ready for early elections, which may happen before the end of 2012, which would shorten this term of the ruling United Democratic Party by about a year. That gives the Belize Unity Alliance, made up principally by the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) and the People’s National Party, much less time to get their machinery in motion—but they remain optimistic that voters, tired of both “the red” and “the blue,” will withdraw their support from those mass parties.
Municipal elections are slated for March 2012, and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage hopes that it can also get the Government to hold a referendum on offshore drilling on the date of the municipals.
The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) is entering this electoral race with a new leader, in the person of Freetown area representative Francis Fonseca. Fonseca took over the reins of the PUP after the controversial resignation of former leader Johnny Briceño, who challenged the “big boys” in the PUP to bring back the millions which they had allegedly hidden overseas: He asked “...where are those millionaires, those people that made millions of dollars over the 10 years when we were in government? Where are those people that benefited?”, and called on them to bring back the money for the party’s coffers.
This year, Friends for Conservation and Development was persistent in putting the Chiquibul in the national spotlight, as it bravely continued its conservation efforts to protect Belize’s most prized forest from continuous raping by illegal Guatemalans, who have been encroaching and intruding on protected areas principally in the south and west of Belize.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed to our newspaper that the Government has agreed to a recommendation, first made by FCD, to increase its security presence on the ground by expanding the number of operational observation posts out west. FCD had reported the loss of an estimated $15 million worth of logs – cedar and mahogany, millions in xate leaves, as well as undetermined losses due to poaching of the scarlet macaw and illegal farming in that area. Over 40 illegal migrants continue to be settled there, including inside the Chiquibul National Park, which has strict protective status. There is no official word yet on the relocation of those migrants to Guatemala.
Meanwhile, the Organization of American States (OAS) announced late November that Belize and Guatemala would pursue the process to take the case of Guatemala’s unfounded claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and that the parties are on track to hold simultaneous national referenda, on the question of whether the case should go to the ICJ or not, by the end of 2013.
In one of the saddest cases of violent deaths to be reported in the media this year, Castula Westby, 68, passed away following a vicious attack perpetrated against her in her bed where she slept - she was stabbed several times. The incident happened at around 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 27, when her attacker climbed through her window.
In early September, the Government, led by chairman of the National Security Council, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, brokered a truce with Belize’s major gangs. Barrow said that as a result, gang-related murders have virtually ceased. The Government has been spending a hefty sum to pay many of those engaged in the truce, for work along with government projects, such as the Belize City infrastructure works. We are still awaiting a response to our question to the Prime Minister to specify exactly how much is paid from government funds to sustain the gang truce.
Meanwhile, out-district murders continue to be a serious concern. Although the December holidays did not see the same spike in murders as last December, things have not been all peaceful. Lorne Lisbey is dead, in a case of apparent murder-suicide, after he reportedly attempted to take the life of his ex-common-law-wife, Judith Rhaburn, 31, and in the process killed Rhaburn’s mother, Anacleta Pech, 50, and her sister, Ana Julia Clarita Cortez, 30, in Carmelita, Orange Walk, last Thursday, December 22. His body was discovered not too far away from where the killings happened. He had a bullet wound in the back of his head.
There has admittedly been a visible reduction in gang-related violence. And if current trends hold true, the murder rate for 2011 will be lower than 2012. We pray! Amandala’s Aaron Humes, who tracks the murder stats for our newsroom, estimates the murder count at 122 to date, versus 129 reported by the Police Department for last year 2010.
At the close of the year, Belize still has no Integrity Commission. As we reported back in July, that body, which has jurisdiction to carry out its work under the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act, has been inactive since its former chair, B.Q. Pitts, became Attorney General in June 2010. Politicians are supposed to make regular filings of their assets to the Integrity Commission. VIP has raised concerns that politicians have not been complying with the requirement.
Meanwhile, the second half of 2011 saw the appointment of a New Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin of Guyana; a new Chief Magistrate, Ann-Marie Smith of Jamaica; a new Auditor General, Dorothy Bradley; and a new Chief Elections Officer, Josephine Tamai.
And we end this pre-New Year's newscast as we have for the past 15 years, with a review of the images that made news in the past 12 months.
To be sure, 2011 has been a very active year for the news - probably the most active since the turbulent 2005. Just looking at the broad outline - it was the year that saw Government take over BEL, and then lose BTL just a few days later, only to take it back just hours later!
It was also the year that saw the uproar over the ninth amendment. That one is done and now the battle is about UNIBAM and Belize's buggery laws.
And while those things happened at the state and judicial level: in May and June there were the fiery bus protests and the Chetumal Street South Squatters.
And who could forget the butane issue, or the fake land documents issue, those mystery PUP millionaires, and a new leader of the opposition.
And, of course, the gang truce, which is still holding, and has the year ending with a decline in murders. All of that and much more happened in 2011 - and for the past week, our video editors Paul Munnings and Victor Noble have been going through the archives looking for the best stuff.
They have distilled it to its finest essence in a packed ten minutes - and here's how it looks:..
For a full review of our favourite and most news-making stories of 2011 - you can tune into Channel 7 on Sunday night at 7:00 pm. And with that we close this final newscast for 2011. We appreciate the support you've shown us throughout the year. And, we're sure you know, we'll be right here for you next year.
As we come to the close of a new year, it is expected that there will be personal reflections of the good, the bad, and the ugly occurrences of the year. As a nation, Belize has certainly had an interesting year in terms of what made the news and dominated the morning talk shows. Here’s a quick highlight of some of the most talked about stories of 2011.
Shasta Wade, PlusTV Journalist In January of this year, the country of Belize was still reeling from the news of a drug plane that was found in December 2010 resulting in the country’s largest drug bust ever. But that was the previous year’s news and the new year had many more shocking news to reveal and crime seemed to be the largest news maker of 2011. By January 10, the first murder for the year was recorded, claiming the life of 19 year old Michael Orlando Malic. That would be the first of many unfortunately. In fact, the most disturbing cases involved the murder of innocent children, beginning only three days later with the discovery of the body of twelve year old Janessa Jones of Ladyville which was found floating in the Belize. Crime seemed to have reached a new level of insanity this year. Remember the Raylene Dyer case ? Accused of killing a woman to steal her baby? And the home invasions? In the cayo area, we reported on numerous home invasions, the latest one happening just a couple of days before Christmas and ending in the death of a beloved member of the Santa Elena Community. But besides the issue of crime, there were some triumphs, albeit ladled with controversy as well. A gang truce later this year had slowed down the senseless Belize City murders. The Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association rose up this year and made a place for itself in its struggle for land. BIGYEA managed to acquire thirteen thousand acres for the establishment of Harmonyville, an accomplishment that has been cheered by many grassroots Belizeans. By the end of January 2011, the news spotlight was on Belizean Tender Operators and Carnival Cruise Ships. In fact, in January, negotiations had gone so bad that Carnival cancelled calls to Belize and the country lost out on over 10 thousand passengers.
Tourism was not the only industry in the middle of controversy this year, however. The agriculture industry has been in the news perhaps second only to crime; sugar, onion, Gm corn seeds, rice, and citrus. There were many other issues this year including constitutional amendments, illegal logging, Unibam, and nationalization. One of great significance was the death of the father of the nation, Hon. George Cadle Price who was laid to rest days after the countries Independence celebrations this year. We can’t look at all the issues of 2011 but we can certainly thank God that we made it through 2011 and look forward to 2012.
It's a vestige of the colonial era, but The Queen's New Year's Honours - announced every year at New Year's still make modern news.
Getting this year's top honour, a CBE is Attorney General, BQ Pitts. He will be an Ordinary Commander of the British Empire. He is being recognized for services to the Law and Public Service.
MBE's, Ordinary Members of the British Empire - are being awarded to Dr. Anne Gillett-Elrington, A Belizean American, for services to the Belizean Diaspora and Medicine.
Louise Bridget Lewis is getting her MBE for services to Education and Community Development. Belmopan Mayor Simeon Lopez is getting his award for services to Education and Public Service.
Same for Enelda Regina Rosado, for services to Education and Community Development. And, world class prize-fighter of the 50's, Ludwig Lightburn is getting his OBE for services to Sports and the Community.
Now, you may not know who he is, but he is among the greatest Belizean sportsmen ever. Lightburn was a world class prizefighter - a light welterweight who was a top ranked title contender.
We discovered him in 2009 - when KREM TV got a video recording of one of his fights - and at that time we spoke to some of his family members.
Here now is the story of the world class boxer from British Honduras:
If you are younger than 50, you probably don’t know the name
Ludwig Lightburn – but tonight you’ll find out why he was one of
the greatest Belizean sportsmen ever. Lightburn was a world class prizefighter
– a light welterweight who was a top ranked title contender. But apart
from local anecdotes and stories of the radio days when his fights were broadcast
on armed forces radio, in Belize there is no substantial documentary record
of Ludwig Lightburn’s accomplishments.
And that’s because we don’t even really know the man.
He rose to prominence in the analog era, before the everywhere electronic media
– and unlike, say, the Belizean national football or basketball
teams that have an entire media entourage wherever they play, whether it’s
in Houston, Honduras or Cancun, in those days – 50 years ago - even a
telephone call to New York was unheard of. But now, there’s a remarkable
new portal into the sporting life of Ludwig Lightburn as KREM television has
obtained a recording of one of his fights from 1956.
It is considered a gem, because to out knowledge none of his fights
have ever been shown in Belize – and the only people who saw him fight
saw it live at one of the venues in Belize City. So the vintage video is a breakthrough.
We got a little slice of it as a preview form our friends at KREM and it spurred
Jules Vasquez to try and get behind the enduring mystery of Ludwig
[Announcer on Fight Tape: ‘And his opponent from British Honduras,
wearing black trunks with white stripes and at 138 and a half pounds Ludwig
Jules Vasquez Reporting
Who is Ludwig Lightburn? A Belize City boy born British Honduras 1934, May 20th.
But who is this man, this prizefighter, the only British Honduran to ever do
battle in Madison Square Garden? Here his right jab connects across the nose
of Algerian Hocine Khlafi, in a ninth March 1956 bout at Madison Square Garden.
Lightburn – 21 years old at the time - won the fight, a unanimous decision. It was his third appearance in the garden – he would have nine in his
career. His cousins Clinton and James Lightburn came to our studios to reminiscence
about their cousin. James who is three years older grew up with Ludwig, or as
he calls him, Ludrick. He tells us that this famed prizefighter learned how
to box from his older sister.
James Lightburn, Cousin “I know him as when his uncle used to train him and his sister because
it is Ludrick and his Horstense. Hortense used to train Ludrick because she
was the older girl and it started with their father. So the father used to put
the two of them to box each other.”
He was undefeated in Belize and at the age of 16 went unto Mexico where he
started his international career, his record: 4 wins and 3 losses in 6 months.
From there, it was unto the United States where by 1953 at just 19 years old
only his second fight in the States, he was fighting at Madison Square Garden
– here he is seen in preflight checks with Cuban opponent Orlando Zulueta
before an August 1956 rematch which Lightburn won in a unanimous decision.
“Were you all amazed that your cousin who you used to see fight right
here, Palace in Belize City…”
Clinton Pulu Lightburn, Cousin “No it was the Lightburn yard right at the back of Holy Redeemer by the canal side.”
“…is now fighting at Madison Square Garden?”
James Lightburn, “We were surprised. I am telling you the truth. We were surprised
and we were happy about it.”
His promoter Kid Broaster would inform his family in Belize when he was fighting.
James Lightburn, “Kid Broaster would notify the public when he was going to fight so
everybody had known exactly what month or what date.”
They listened to the fights on Armed Forces radio.
James Lightburn, “Everybody deh round the radio, everybody is listening to the fight
because when they lightening Lightburn how he is moving and so and how he is
defending himself, you know the feeling we had.”
Clinton Pulu Lightburn, “At that time one out of every one hundred person had a radio which
could have ketch Armed Forces. So that was a big event because in the yard of
everybody who had a radio, it was like a fete the go on and drink and eat and
heng out and party to listen to the fight.”
James Lightburn, “And then from then we used to hear how they call him the Lightening
Lightburn. So anytime we heard the Lightening Lightburn, we know Ludrick will
fight and when we listened, bam, Ludrick win this one. Ludrick could fight again
and win the other one.”
They weren’t all wins. In his career he lost 12 bouts. This rare video
shows him on the left side of your screen – then ranked the number nine contender in one of those losses fighting fifth ranked Kenny Lane in Miami on
September 19, 1956.
Announcer:“Ludwig Lightburn is the favourite here
against Kenny Lane. One of his recent improvements has been better use of that
right hand, not only to jab with it which he always could do but he has developed
it into a pretty good work… Lightburn, the faster and more clever boxer
of the two…two right hands to the stomach of Kenny Lane.”
These cousins say they know why he lost this and other fights.
James Lightburn, “My grandfather used to say but this bwoy is fighting too fast. He
is fighting too close. He fought his fight too close. The bruising….”
Clinton Pulu Lightburn, “The body nuh have time to recover.”
James Lightburn, “So if he tek some punishment, those bruises don’t come out.
In a month’s time those bruises nuh come out. So why is he fighting so
fast? It is because they are pushing him to fight. And they are pushing him
so fast and they are going to let him wreck and that’s what happened.”
Indeed his record shows that in his prime years, 1953, 54 and 55, he fought 26 fights, that’s an average of one fight every five weeks. They say it’s
because of one bad decision.
“When he was fighting here, did you all know that he was something so
special that eventually one day he would fight, well he fought a total of eight
times in Madison Square Garden, which is the Mecca of boxing?”
James Lightburn, “His father no doubt and so he was trying to coach him to go and fight
through England and then he would have a better chance of fighting rather than
go direct to America to fight. But he was hasty of getting into this boxing
business and he know he was very good so he went with the same guy.”
Clinton Pulu Lightburn, “He was convinced by Kid Broaster to go to the US. If he had listened
to my father he would have been the world champion because he was the number one contender in the Commonwealth and he was number three in America and the
Commonwealth protected its fighters while in the United States the mob, like
you said this guy, what was his name, Genovese, they were the ones running the
boxing industry and what they did, instead of give Ludrick a crack after the
lightweight championship, because he was the best lightweight in the world,
they used him to pad their welter weights record.”
Ludwig Lightburn retired in 1961 at the age of 26 with an eye injury. Cousin
Jimmy recalls that years later when he came home for his father’s funeral,
his eyesight was poor.
James Lightburn, “When he came to Belize the last time…”
“When was that?”
James Lightburn, “To see his father's burial.”
“And what year was that sir?”
James Lightburn, “That is what I am trying to remember.”
Clinton Pulu Lightburn, “About twenty years. He had to use bifocals, those big glasses.”
James Lightburn, “Because he used to stumble because he walked with us and he then
he told me I am seeing so good as once.”
Lightburn was never a world champion, but he was a contender, a world class
prizefighter, who fought on the greatest stage in the world in nationally televised
bouts. But in Belize, he is hardly known and little recognized.
Clinton Pulu Lightburn, “It has been overlooked but I don’t think purposely. It is just
that we don’t have a lot of our history documented when it comes to our
athletes because as far as I am concerned, somebody like Ludwig Lightburn, before
he dead, they should put one of those ropes around his neck. Not the one which
hangs you, the one like which the Prime Minister puts around your neck. Because
I see all kind of people get one and as far as I am concerned, he is our greatest
athlete in the history of Belize whe born and grow and develop in a di home
The 75 year old Lightburn lives in New Jersey where in 2008 he was recently
inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.
The now 77 year old Lightburn lives in New Jersey. It is not known if he will be able to travel for the Honours ceremony - the date which has not yet been announced.
In a press release from Belize House in Belmopan, the Office of the Governor-General issued a list of six of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second’s 2012 appointment to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The Order of the British Empire CBE to be ordinary commander of the civil division of the said most excellent order of the British Empire is being bestowed upon Honorable Bernard Quentin Augustus Pitts, for services to the Law and Public Service. MBE to be Ordinary Members of the Civil Division of the Said Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to be bestowed upon Anne Gillett-Elrington MD, PhD for her services to the Belizean Diaspora and Medicine; Louise Bridget Lewis, for services to Education and Community Development; His Worship, Simeon Lopez JP, for services to Education and Public Service; Ludwig Lightburn, for services to Sports and the Community and Enelda Regina Rosado, for services to Education and Community Development.
No. 1535, Ministry of Local Government and Social Development, Belmopan, 16th December, 1971.
BELIZE CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS 1971. The results of the elections held on the 8th December, 1971, for members of the Belize City Council are published for general information.
Names of Candidates
No. of Votes
DAKERS, George Oscar Osborne (PUP)
COFFIN, William Elijah (PUP)
LIZARRAGA, Adolfo (PUP)
PRINCE, Doyle Andy Ewell (PUP)
ROGERS, James Leopold (PUP)
CHAVANNES, Brian Norris (PUP)
THOMAS, Peter Alexander (PUP)
USHER, Michael Ashton (PUP)
GULLAP, Iris (PUP)
HYDE, Evan Anthony (UBAD)
BERRY, Rita (NIP)
BURGESS, Melbourne Elwin (NIP)
BELISLE, Benzie W. (NIP)
SHABAZZ, Ismail Omar (UBAD)
LESLIE, Clifford Liston (UBAD)
GARDINER, Walter Hubert (NIP)
ABRAHAM, Thomas (NIP)
MEIGHAN, Anthony F. (INDEPENDENT)
BROOKS, Reginald (INDEPENDENT)
At Amandala, our Man of The Year 2011 is Toledo’s Wil Maheia. We honor Wil Maheia because of his continuing efforts to preserve Belize’s territorial integrity, his crusade to protect the cleanliness of the land, sea and air in the south of our nation, and his innovative campaigns to educate the people of Toledo where sustainable development and intelligent economic choices are concerned.
Wil Maheia is also the Leader of a Toledo-based political party (PNP), which has recently become more closely involved with the Belmopan-based Vision Inspired by the People (VIP). At Kremandala, our policy has been to have our communications facilities open and available for the PNP and the VIP so that they can reach the Belizean people. These organizations are considered “third parties,” and because of Belize’s so-called first-past-the-post electoral system, leaders and supporters of the two dominant political parties, the UDP and the PUP, have traditionally been in a position to treat third party campaigning and candidacies with skepticism, even disrespect.
This is so simply because of the fact that our political system is first-past-the-post. Were our political system to become proportional representation, then the two major parties would have to solicit the support of the smaller parties when they tried to form a government. In Great Britain last year, you saw that the Conservative Party had to forge a coalition with a “third party” – the Liberals, in order to form a government, because, even though the British system is not considered one of classic proportional representation, as is the case in Italy and Israel, for example, still there is a minimum amount of Parliamentary seats a party must have in order to form the British government, which is why the Conservatives had to make a deal with the Liberals.
Proportional representation is a more pure form of democracy, in that more citizens are actually, directly involved in the electoral process, and minority viewpoints have importance. In first-past-the-post, what you will see is that special agenda minorities, such as the Oceana/environmental protection lobby, can find themselves being drawn under the umbrella of one of the major parties, where their views will be ignored once the major party forms the government. We saw an example of that in 1993, when the “third party” NABR helped the UDP to form the government, but the UDP ignored NABR after forming the government and reneged on its pre-election promise to NABR to revoke the Maritime Areas Act.
We are explaining all this so that you understand that we are not honoring Wil Maheia because we are involved with his electoral politics. Wil’s electoral politics constitute an uphill battle because of the first-past-the-post system. At Kremandala, we have personal experience with Belize’s political system, because the UBAD Party (1970-1974), on the foundation of which Kremandala was constructed, was a “third party” which participated in two elections – the 1971 Belize City Council elections, in which the UBAD Party was a junior partner in coalition with the NIP, and the 1974 general elections, in which the UBAD Party offered a single candidate, Evan X Hyde, in the Collet constituency, one of 18 electoral divisions.
Leaders and supporters of the UDP and the PUP still seek to portray the UBAD movement as irrelevant, but the reality of the Guatemalan claim to Belize remains, and it was the ethnic underpinnings of that claim which made UBAD relevant in its time. Today, those ethnic underpinnings of the Guatemalan claim are not as big an issue, but the fact that Guatemala is 40 times larger and more powerful than Belize, remains a real issue. In 1969, when the UBAD movement was born, Belize was about 65 percent black. These were the descendants of slaves who had been forcibly brought here from West Africa by British slavemasters to work in the forests of the Belize settlement. By 1969, the Belize forests had been depleted, and the British wanted to give up responsibility for Belize. The majority black population of Belize was fearful for their future in a scenario where Belize would be dominated by Guatemala. This was the reason for the uprisings in 1966 and 1968 in Belize, and, ultimately, the reason for the birth of UBAD in 1969.
Today, the majority population of Belize is Mestizo. But Mestizo Belizeans seemingly have not been the majority long enough where they are comfortable with asserting themselves, so that the population/culture flavor of Belize has become a cosmopolitan one. Belize is now Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, Maya, Chinese, Arab, Indian, American, German Mennonite, etc. etc. You can see where special interest groups, like the Mennonites and the Chinese, have recently sought a defined place in the major political parties. But, what about the environmentalists, the various cultural nationalists, the trade unions, and other special interest groups in Belize? As it stands, and as it has stood for decades, they are subsumed under the heading of the two-headed monster – the PUDP.
In frustration, the people of Belize began to change political parties after independence. Every general election, they would put the Opposition party in power. The big, big issue back then was the selling of passports. Every Opposition party promised to stop the sale of passports, and every time the Opposition became the government, passport sales continued.
Finally, the people gave the PUP two consecutive terms, from 1998 to 2008. That did not work very well, so the people voted out the PUP in 2008. The point is that while the first-past-the-post system puts strong, almost impregnable governments in power for five-year terms, there is an almost guaranteed dissatisfaction built into the system. The time has come for proportional representation.
One of the reasons that time has come is Wil Maheia. We can no longer keep Wil Maheia out of the mainstream of Belizean public affairs. Toledo is now our most important district. The stone which the builders rejected, has become the cornerstone. The PUDP will ignore the call for proportional representation. Fine, but because of Wil Maheia and others like him, we can assume that whichever major party is elected in 2012 or 2013, there will continue to be serious agitation in the nation. We Belizeans are seeking to protect our patrimony, and Wil Maheia is one of our leaders.
Highlights of the most talked about stories of 2011
Beginning a new year, there is much to look forward to. It is an election year this year and the country is gearing up for that. But looking back on 2011, we have seen many significant occurrences, many of them dominating news broadcasts and morning talk shows. Here’s our quick highlight of the most talked about 2011 stories.
Shasta Wade, PlusTV Journalist In January of this year, the country of Belize was still reeling from the news of a drug plane that was found in December 2010 resulting in the country’s largest drug bust ever. But that was the previous year’s news and the new year had many more shocking news to reveal and crime seemed to be the largest news maker of 2011. By January 10, the first murder for the year was recorded, claiming the life of 19 year old Michael Orlando Malic. That would be the first of many unfortunately. In fact, the most disturbing cases involved the murder of innocent children, beginning only three days later with the discovery of the body of twelve year old Janessa Jones of Ladyville which was found floating in the Belize. Crime seemed to have reached a new level of insanity this year. Remember the Raylene Dyer case ? Accused of killing a woman to steal her baby? And the home invasions? In the cayo area, we reported on numerous home invasions, the latest one happening just a couple of days before Christmas and ending in the death of a beloved member of the Santa Elena Community. But besides the issue of crime, there were some triumphs, albeit ladled with controversy as well. A gang truce later this year had slowed down the senseless Belize City murders. The Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association rose up this year and made a place for itself in its struggle for land. BIGYEA managed to acquire thirteen thousand acres for the establishment of Harmonyville, an accomplishment that has been cheered by many grassroots Belizeans. By the end of January 2011, the news spotlight was on Belizean Tender Operators and Carnival Cruise Ships. In fact, in January, negotiations had gone so bad that Carnival cancelled calls to Belize and the country lost out on over 10 thousand passengers. Tourism was not the only industry in the middle of controversy this year, however. The agriculture industry has been in the news perhaps second only to crime. On February 8th, the Belize Sugar Industries had announced that it would have to shut down for three weeks because of a faulty turbine. There were sugar shortage reports off and on, and the controversy regarding the possible buy over of BSI by Banco Atlantida or Belize Sugar cane farmers association. In April, onion farmers were also complaining of rotting onions, blaming the marketing board for over saturating the marketing with imported onions from Holland. Corn also made the news, GM corn seeds to be specific. The Ministry of Agriculture ended up destroying the controversial GM corn seeds that were brought into the country with the permission of BAHA. There was quick backtracking which led to the destruction of the seeds. Rice and citrus weren’t left out of the bouts of controversies either for 2011 but we need to move on to the Forestry department. Complaints about the management of the Pine Ridge and the destruction of acres of the Ridge due to fire and logging practices. Of course, there is also the Rosewood issue, which has led to the depletion of the Rosewood trees in the south due to the overharvesting and lack of management. Another industry that blew up the news scene this year is the butane industry. In February of this year, channel 7 did an expose on butane consumers being cheated with less gas in their tanks than they paid for. The uproar from the Belizean community led the Bureau of Standards to bring in an expert on the matter, freeze butane prices, and implement regulations for selling butane with proper scales. Discussion on constitutional amendments was also a major part of 2011. The 8th amendment was introduced as part of government’s anti crime prevention. Public outcry regarding that bill caused the PM to withdraw the bill from the house. That was done to make way for another controversial amendment, the 9th amendment. BEL, BTL, and BWS, are now all owned by the government and people of Belize and that ownership was constitutionalised via the 9th amendment. On April 20th, UNIBAM filed a case to have the law against sodomy in removed, arguing that it is a violation of their human rights. The war of words over that issue has been played out in the media since then. In an unprecedented move, the church in Belize organized itself and joined the government in fighting the law suite. In May of this year, the country witnessed images of burning tires as buses blocked highways due to the rescheduling of bus routes proposed by the Ministry of Transport. Those dramatic images were followed a few weeks later by another demonstration; this time by squatters of Chetumal Street area in Belize city. Those squatters took to the Belcan bridge in demonstration after being evicted from the land.
As we said, we cannot look at all the issues and there were many more. One of the most impacting stories of course was the death of Hon. George Cadle Price, who died just before this year’s independence day and was buried at a state funeral that was well attended.