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El Pescador Fishing Report, Week of June 3 – June 12th, 2012
Epic wind was tough to ignore. We toasted our guests this week because they have been such great sports about making the best out of “not so perfect fishing conditions.” Everyone fished in the rain and howling wind and came back to the dock smiling. I think the most common sentence I said this week, “ Let’s take a look at the weather in the morning and discuss a plan with your guide.” I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make a plan with your guide at the beginning of the day and adjust as needed. Just because someone landed a tarpon in one spot today, does not mean that spot will be good tomorrow. Things change and often. Our guides are first and second generation San Pedrano guides who have lived in and around this water all their lives. They have great pride in their work and want to make it happen for you. A successful day on the water can be so much more than a ton of fish or a big one. I know Mike learned so much from Kechu this week. And Mac told me how much he appreciated Cesar taking time in the day for a planned casting lesson practicing casting into the wind. So from a “not so perfect fishing week,” I think anglers will leave here better fly fishermen. And that confidence will keep them casting to their dreams.
Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
The San Pedro Sun
Join a Neighbourhood Watch and help fight crime
The island Neighbourhood Watch groups are gathering support and members as the residents have now declared that they will fight back against the plague of burglary that has become a daily event in all areas of the community. Have you joined your local neighbourhood watch group? If you are not sure of which group to join then please fill in the following information sheet and drop off at the San Pedro Book Shop which is located in the Vilma Linda Plaza (The Purple building) upstairs on the 2nd level. Or email it to: email@example.com. Your contact information will be forwarded to the relevant coordinator for your area. The first line of defense is knowing your neighbours and protecting your property. Your neighbourhood watch group will provide you with tips on how to keep yourself and property safer from criminals. Help us take a bite out of crime. Take the first step and get involved, take care of yourself and your friends and neighbours.
Tanairi Arana places 6th countrywide in 2012 PSE
San Pedro RC School made it to the top ten in the Belize National Primary School Examination PSE once again. SPRCS student, Taniari Arana placed 6th overall in the country, with a score of 382 out of 400, or 95.5 percentile. A total of 6,983 students sat the PSE this year from the registered 7135, a 2.4% increase in the number of test candidates registered over 2011.
In a press release by the Ministry of Education, this year’s performance is said to have been noticeably higher than in previous years with the strengths being Science and Social Studies with average score being A (80-100%). Math appeared to have been the hardest with the average score being a D (50-59%) while the average score in the English is C (60-69%).
The PSE marks the end of the students’ tenure at primary school institutions across the country and is used as a base for many schools when considering acceptance and placing of students into the secondary institutions. The PSE assesses achievement of curriculum content and skills in the four (4) areas of English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science of the National Primary School Curriculum. The examination is criterion-referenced meaning that performance of “each individual is compared with a preset standard for acceptable achievement…The performance of other examinees is irrelevant.” In this way, the examination seeks not to rank students in comparison to other students but to report what each student has achieved for individual skills. This is expressed as a percentage score. The results of the examination are intended to be used for two main purposes:
Winners of traffic safety poster and essay competition announced
The San Pedro Transport Department on Sunday June 10th announced the winners of the traffic safety poster and essay competition at the SP Lion’s Den. The competition was held under the auspices of San Pedro Town Councilor Kenrick Bracket under the theme “The importance of Traffic Safety.” The SP Transport Department joined forces and conducted the event with the assistance of The San Pedro Sun, The Reef Radio and Ambergris Today.
The poster contest was for primary school students and was divided into three different grade groups. Group one consisted of Infant I and II, group two included Standard I, II and III while group three included Standard IV, V and VI. The students designed posters that include the various traffic signs such as pedestrian crossing, stop, yield and roundabout and some explained what the traffic signs meant. The colorful and unique posters were designed by hand and were presented on standard sized Bristol/poster board. Winners for the poster competition are as follows
1st Place – Javier Gongora – San Pedro Roman Catholic (SPRC) – Infant II
2nd Place – Alisha Lima – SPRCS-Infant II
3rd Place – Luis Muñoz – SPRCS-Infant II
1st Place – Gaven Zapata – Isla Bonita Elementary School-Standard III
2nd Place – Urielly Soto – SPRCS Standard- I
3rd Place – William Gonzalez – SPRCS Standard-III
1st Place – Erwin Caliz – SPRCS Standard-VI
2nd Place – Yosselin Lara – Holy Cross Anglican School Standard-V
3rd Place – Laisha Gamez – Holy Cross Anglican School Standard-V
Actress Kate Walsh joins Oceana in raising awareness on Belize’s Marine Heritage
Actress and passionate Oceana supporter Kate Walsh was in Belize this past weekend to join Oceana in its efforts to promote global awareness. Walsh arrived on Friday, June 8th, World Oceans Day, to spread awareness about the marine biodiversity in Belize, especially its most stunning ecologically important places: Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Lighthouse Reef Atoll and the Great Blue Hole.
Walsh had the opportunity to enjoy the underwater world at Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley on a snorkel expedition. Photographing and filming her underwater was renowned Belizean photographer Tony Rath. At a cocktail reception held at the Blue Water Grill on Saturday June 9th Walsh commented to those in attendance how amazing her experience was. While snorkeling these renowned areas the actress enjoyed an up close and personal experience with some of her most beloved underwater creatures, including her favorite, the sea turtle. In 2009, Walsh filmed a Public Service Announcemet for Oceana entitled “Getting Sea Turtles off the Hook”, raising awareness of the threats sea turtles face from destructive fishing gear. In welcoming Walsh to the island and to the event, Deputy Mayor Severo Guerrero quoted an oft-uttered phrase, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors: we borrow it from our children.” He joined everyone in attendance in thanking Walsh for her support of Oceana’s fight to protect our precious marine system for the future generations of Belize.
Costa Maya Fest 2012 Presents Miss El Salvador
The Costa Maya Festival is proud to present Nathaly Jazmin Mena Arauz (Miss El Salvador), the 19 year old who will be vying for the title of Reina de la Costa Maya 2012 along with seven other Central American beauties.
Nathaly is 5 ‘ 7?, has brown eyes, brown hair and a bronzed complexion. Her first language is Spanish but knows basic English.
She will join seven other contestants from around the Mundo Maya countries, including Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica, at the Miss Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant (August 3, 2012) that will take place during the San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival taking place from August 2 to August 5, 2012.
Buenos Dias San Pedro
Poem by Dorian Nunez
Caye Caulker Lobster Fest Schedule of Events
Pageant fever is high on Caye Caulker right now, and the Pageant committee is in full swing with their preparations for this year’s Miss Lobster Fest 2012. Five daring and vivacious young ladies are vying for the title this year and are already in training for what promises to be one of the best pageants yet.
The Miss Lobster Fest pageant committee is once again looking forward in working with local national designers. Starting off the show, the ladies will be wearing dresses made by Mr. Emil Alvarez of Emil Alvarez House of Couture, followed by Mr. Gabriel Garcia’s Costume designs. The outfit designs and concepts themselves are going to be setting the stage ablaze – just as well as the girls that are going to be wearing them.
Actress Kate Walsh Visits Great Blue Hole, Raises Awareness on Belize's Sea Heritage
On Friday, June 8, 2012, Belize joined the world in observing World Oceans Day with the main focus of getting young people involved in the global effort to conserve the oceans. Oceana Belize is one of the organizations that has been very active and in the forefront of ocean conservation in the country and with this year’s theme of “Youth: the next wave for Change” it got working in inviting the youth to learn more about the conservation of the ocean.
Joining Oceana Belize in their efforts for the entire weekend was American actress and Oceana supporter, Kate Walsh, currently known for her role as Dr. Addison Montgomery on ABC’s network drama ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Private Practice’. She visited Belize during World Ocean’s Day activities to help raise awareness on both of Belize’s majestic Barrier Reef and fragile marine ecosystem, as well as Oceana’s call to protect it by having offshore exploration and drilling banned from Belize’s Seas.
SP Roman Catholic School has Top PSE Scores in San Pedro
Tanairi Arana places 6th countrywide in 2012 PSE - The Primary School Examination results are out and the students from San Pedro Town did an excellent job! The top scorers this year were Tanairi Aranda (95.5% - 382/400 points), Yasir Roberts (92% - 368/400 points) and Jerdon F. Anderson (91.75% - 3367/400 points), all three of San Pedro RC School.
San Pedro RC School made it to the top ten in the Belize National Primary School Examination PSE . SPRCS student, Taniari Arana placed 6th overall in the country and she also scored a perfect 100% in Mathematics and Science.
Misc Belizean Sources
Central American Foreign Born Population in Belize, by district, 1991, with totals for 1970 and 1980
ADO bus ride: Belize City to Merida
Ever since it was introduced, I had longed for an experience of the ADO bus ride to either Cancun or Merida. For the past few months, there has been express service to those cities, two of Mexico’s more popular destinations. I would have preferred a pleasure trip but as fate would have it this one was a medical necessity. Belize has no trained rheumatologist and more than one person had raved about results received from their visit to Merida. I must say that while I am feeling a bit better than I was, I have not yet realized the miracle result that I was hoping for. Given the cost of the entire experience, I was hoping for a much more immediate relief but I remain hopeful.
Cayo Mentioned in 2 'Top' Lists
Cayo just got mentioned in a couple of 'top' lists. Joshua Berman has Cayo on his 'Top 5 places to watch it all go down' list, in honour of 2012. He says that Cayo 'also boasts the best selection of jungle lodges anywhere in Central America, including many small, off-grid eco-resorts on the upper Macal,' and mentions the Lodge at Chaa Creek, and their special tours for 2012. He then says that 'there is a large event planned for Dec. 21, 2012 at Xunantunich archaeological site, and special solstice camping permits are being issued at Caracol.'
Travel Agent Central has Cayo's tree houses at number 6 of the top 10 Summer 2012 destinations. They say that Belize is 'offering caving and kayaking, snorkeling and diving, tours of ancient ruins and zipline tours, naturalist eco tours, and journeys on horseback,' most of which are also in Cayo, and specifically mentions Caves Branch.
NFOA Cayo District Highlights
The Benque House of Culture has uploaded the best pictures from the National Festival of Arts that feature Cayo performers.
Free Female Self Defense Classes
Free Female Self Defense Classes will be this Sunday, June the 17th. Renee Wentz, UB Counselor, will lead the 2 free classes in female self defense.
The first will be from 8:30 until noon, in Georgeville, at the Georgeville Community Center. The second will be from 1:30pm until 5:00pm, in Cayo, under Meluchi's palapa.
8 Must Do's in Downtown San Ignacio, Cayo
There are a lot of must do's in downtown Cayo. Here's a top ten list, without our suggestions to the author of 'Walking the Hawkesworth' and 'Hitting Midas' Pool' which should both be on there. Mr. Greedy's, known for their amazing happy hour, and Meluchi's, famous for their Graveyard Lounge, are mentioned under Cayo Nightlife. Iguanas - the picture is from the Green Iguana Conservation Project - milk shakes, and sweets are also highlighted.
Triple Seven Concert pictures
Triple Seven, Musiko, and many Belizean Gospel artists played at the UB gymnasium for the Revival 2012 tour. The Generation of Fire Youth Group was there in force, and they got some great pictures.
The Making of 2012: Kurse a di Xtabai
Trailer for the documentary about the making of 2012: Kurse a di Xtabai. Spooky. The perfectly fitting music is from a local artist, Rick Calvez, who goes by 'The Nudist." Daniel Velazquez has done quite a few documentaries in Belize, so while the movie is good, the documentary will be spectacular.
An Execution In Orange Walk
The recent spate of killings and crime has been concentrated in the Belize and Cayo Districts, but last night Orange Walk Town witnessed a stunning murder: the execution of an Indian shop-owner.
It happened in the downtown area - where a businessman was killed with ruthless precision.
Monica Bodden has the story:
Monica Bodden Reporting
The shooting of 44 year old Sunil Punjabi happened inside his store on Guadalupe Street.
He was shot once to the face- and managed to make his way to the side door of his store - where he collapsed.
It was an execution style murder - no robbery was involved. The businessman seemed to have been the precise target.
At the time of the incident, Punjabi was behind his counter serving the only customer inside the store- when a gunman, dressed in full black, entered.
The man pushed the customer out the way and fired the one fatal head shot at Punjabi. The gunman then rode off on a bicycle.
Neighbors say they heard one gunshot rang off around 7:45 last night -
Voice of: Neighbor
"It was about 8. It was raining hard and thundering, and we suddenly heard a sound but it was different from the thundering. We wondered what it was, but we eventually realized that it was the sound of a gun. We came downstairs and saw what happened, and we saw that Mr. Punjabi was lying down and blood was on the floor."
Two More Women Shot In City; Four Females In Four Days
And while that was Orange Walk - the violence in the city did not abate last night - as two women were shot - becoming the third and fourth females to be shot in four days.
The shootings happened a few hours apart on separate ends of Vernon Street.
We start with the second shooting, where 18 year-old Kenesha Humes was shot in the right leg just above the knee joint.
We caught up to her this evening and she told us about how the incident unfolded.
According to her, at around 11:55 p.m., 2 masked gunmen rode up and fired a barrage of gunshots at her friends who were socializing - as they usually do - in front of her house, which is located at #4542 Vernon Street.
Here's how she explained it:
Voice of: Kenesha Humes - Shooting Victim
"2 boys were coming down the street with rags on their face, and when the pulled out the guns, that's when we ran."
"Tell me, how did you get shot?"
Voice of: Kenesha Humes
"I got shot when I got up and ran."
"But you don't believe that you were the intended target."
Voice of: Kenesha Humes
"Have you ever had anything like this happen to you before?"
Voice of: Kenesha Humes
"About what time was this?"
Voice of: Kenesha Humes
"After 11 o'clock."
"What were you guys doing?"
Voice of: Kenesha Humes
"We were just talking out there."
Police Say: We'll Catch Burglar Who Was Bangled Until We Bungled
Yesterday we told you about the Cayo Police Department's embarrassing misadventure with a burglary suspect.
19 year old Guatemalan Wilbert Alfredo Vasquez, was caught by Georgeville villagers after he tried to break into Anna Myvette's house. They gave him a proper beatdown and handed him over to police who took him to the hospital. But the officer, who was left to guard the suspect, wasn't paying any attention and Vasquez slipped away.
Tonight the Melchor resident remains at large but Cayo police are confident they will catch him. They say Vasquez lives in the Belmopan area - and they have embarked on efforts to track him down. They are also asking the public to assist with information.
Vasquez is 4 feet ten inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds. Anyone seeing him is asked to call 911 or 0-800-922-tips.
PM Dean Says 2012-2013 Budget Will Be Lean And Mean
Prime Minister Dean Barrow held the first Press Conference of his second term today. It comes at nearly the 100 day mark for the second term - but there's not much to celebrate.
That's because Oil revenues are expected to go down sharply in the coming fiscal year - making the long delayed budget, a difficult one.
He opened up with that explanation:
Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister Of Belize
"There is no doubt that this will be a difficult budget. Reason 1 is what is happening with global oil prices. Their steep drop is good news for consumers at the pump, but our country's export earnings are being hammered, and Government will experience a $30 million fall- off in tax revenue, as a result of this, the far lower oil prices, and also as a result of declining BNE production. Oil is, of course, a finite resource, and we are already beginning to see production trailing off. We need to find more oil. So, the trick now will be to manage operationally with far less by way of Government influx. The challenge and the pre-occupation is how to reign in local expenditure without compromising our signature pro-poor programs. Let there be no doubt that we will do this, and we will do it while absolutely refusing to implement any growth stifling tax increases on the Belizean people. There is no way we're going to raise taxes. Clearly, something has to give, so we will have to curb expenditure. I am glad you're asking this question. My colleagues are here this morning, and they've heard me say this over and over again. Since tomorrow is the day in which the exercise will be done that will have to result in the expenditure curbs, they will know that the gravity and the absolutely imperative nature of doing that, is being highlighted here."
The Budget will be presented on June 29th, not the 22nd as was previously projected.
The good news is though that Tourism is expected to have another record year and sugar had the best year in memory, with over 1 million tonnes delivered, and 115 tonnes of sugar milled.
A State Sponsored Write-off For Lean Times
And if that isn't enough feel-good juice, the Prime Minister also unveiled another round of loan write-off's today.
This time it's the DFC. He explained how the write-off's will work:
Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister Of Belize
"We will be going to the House to seek approval for our DFC Write-off Program. And this is a program that will offer relief to holders, both of housing loans and student loans. In the first category, loans - this is for small loan holders - in the first category, loans in an original amount of $20,000 and less will be completely forgiven, provided, that the borrowers have already paid off 20% of their loan debt. And in the second category, all student loans of $6,000 and less will also be completely forgiven, also provided that the borrowers have already reduced their loans by 20%. With respect to Mahogany Heights, Government will write off all those loans with no conditionalities. It is an effort to avoid the charge of promoting moral hazard, that we have made the other write-offs dependent on some of degree of prior loan repayment. There is a crucial difference with Mahogany Heights, though. And that difference is that you will all remember that the then-administration paid money for the land on which that housing site was located to a crony. It later turned out that this crony was not the true owner of the land, so Government did not get a proper title. The result is that in turn, the title of the home-owners at Mahogany Heights is also dubious. This administration, in fairness and in equity, cannot see asking people to continue to pay for properties, to which Government cannot now - and for the foreseeable future, guarantee undisputed ownership."
The PM says the write-off won't affect Government's present cash flow because the cost is being offset against a DFC debt due to gob in the year 2018.
Belizeans Will See Fuel Savings, Not At The Pump, But in the Public Purse
And while consumers should expect some relief at the gas pump as world oil prices go down - relief may also come in a different way.
That's because Esso is selling over its operation in Belize to a company called PUMA, which is a subsidiary of another multinational called Trafigura.
But unlike Esso, PUMA is interested in fuel from Venezuela under the Petrocaribe agreement.
That initiative has long been inactive, but now PUMA is willing to explore it along with the Government.
It could be beneficial for the public purse, because while the Venezuelan gas is not cheaper than world market prices, Government gets to defer a portion of the cost on long-term, low interest credit from Venezuela. That money can then be routed towards social programmes.
The Prime Minister explained: Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"The bulk of our country's fuel imports used to run through Esso, and they refused to deal with Venezuela. They had their own supply sources in the US. The difference now, is that PUMA, which took over the sort of wholesale supply of fuel - if you will - in this country from Esso, PUMA is prepared to source all they fuel for Belize out of Venezuela. If now all our fuel can be imported from Venezuela, then you can see how the amount that the importer pays to us, which we in turn pay to Venezuela - or that amount that we are able to retain as a long-term loan - will increase exponentially, and it is going to be borrowed money, but it will be money that we can use in terms of programs to benefit the people of this country. I can tell you that we are looking at - in terms of when last I saw the figures - we're looking at the possibility of well in excess of $100 million per year, that we would be able to obtain by way of the Petro Caribe arrangements if we can stitch the steel together."
PM Says Minister's Fancy Rides Are Co-Pay
And even in austere times for government - a good many gallons of that gas will go into government vehicles. No question, Ministers love to sport fancy rides, many of them beefy, eight cylinder gas guzzlers.
So, we asked the Prime Minister, in austere times for the public purse, can such extravagance be afforded?
Here's what he said:
"Will there be a cap on what the poet might call, mocking symbols of wealth - these luxury SUV's, which we see ministers in?"
Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"Certainly, I will not change any vehicle. I have not known of - well, let me put it this way. Ministers that have come in; there is a cap on how much is spent for their vehicles. So anybody who gets a luxury Land Cruiser paid the difference between what Government is prepared to spend, and what it costs. And this has happened. The last administration, the Deputy Prime Minister Lexus; he paid the difference. He gets - the spending on his vehicle is a little more than for other ministers because he is the deputy. But if you want more than the Government is prepared to afford, then you must find the difference. I think that the cap is something like $70,000 duty free. So if you want anything better than that, you pay."
In other news coming out of the Press conference, the Prime Minister today announced that Foreign Trade Ambassador Bert Tucker has been reassigned and will now be the Prime Minister's Press Secretary. It was also announced that Amparo Masson has been hired to act as Government's liaison with the Private Sector.
Burnin' Vernon's Containers
For months now, we've been following the story of those six containers imported by UDP friend Vernon Cuthkelvin.
As we've reported, the containers were supposed to contain fertilizer - but it turns out they had something else inside: precursor chemicals that could be used for the production of the drug called Crystal Meth - how much Crystal Meth? According to US authorities: 10 Billion Dollars Worth.
Cuthkelvin managed to avoid being charged for making a false declaration - by stating that they sent him the wrong chemical.
Add in a few tens of thousands of dollars lost in product and shipping costs - and that, publicly, was the end of it for him. But then, the very valuable containers full of precursors remained on the customs compound.
US authorities remained most interested in their destruction - and along with customs, they arranged an operation to destroy the chemicals.
That process - which was conducted at a secret location - involved burying the contents of all six containers plus one more which was not claimed. That's over three thousand sacks buried in two huge holes - and then mixed with water - thereby destroying the chemicals which are al soluble.
The process started yesterday when four containers were destroyed and continued today when the last three were finished off.
Independent media was not invited to witness it - but we understand the process was very closely overseen by US Authorities.
City Hall Asks Residents for Help With Municipal Bond
As we told you last night - the City Council held a press conference yesterday to discuss the progress with the pledges made for its first 100 days in office.
As we told you, the Council earned a B average - which isn't bad - considering that no elected body has ever held itself accountable in quote such a fashion.
Tonight we look more closely at what they did and didn't do:
Jules Vasquez Reporting
Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"When we looked at the 100-day plan, the idea with it was to set out things which are measurable that we could tick off, and members of the public could hold us accountable."
And we did that. This is the list of 100 pledges that the council made - and we went through them one by one at yesterday's Press Conference. They fully achieved 82 of the hundred, which is not bad at all, but it's not perfect:
"Other aspects that you raised, I think that we could have done better on, and one of the areas that I've indicated was really the legislation, and I've begun to realize that it's very difficult to get that consensus from the public. We wanted to do the vagrancy, and I still mean to ensure that we deal with this issue, but as I spoke about that, people called and called, and said that we can't do this and that. That causes a delay."
One of the toughest areas was cutting expenditure by 20%:
Cops Will Crackdown On quality Of Life Crimes
And coming on the heels of the Council's efforts is the Police Department which has announced that it is embarking on the Quality of Life Campaign - which will mean a major change of life, or lifestyle for some Belizeans.
The advisory issued yesterday says that Public drinking, loitering, littering, riding up-stop, double riding and other such offenses are against the law, and after warnings, fines will be issued to all offenders.
The police department is asking the cooperation of all citizens to ensure the campaign's success.
The Quality of Life Campaign will be effected immediately.
After things sliding so far for so long in so many directions, we'll see how it goes...
Police "Eena" Penitentiary
Police Corporal #1023 Mark Roches is spending his first night behind bars after he was convicted of theft in the courtroom of Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith.
Inspector Fitzroy Yearwood, the officer who caught the man in the act, testified for the prosecution this evening that on November 20, at around 2:15 p.m., he was in the compound of the Raccoon Street Police Station.
He said that he spotted PC Roches removing a battery from the back of a black Lifan scooter, which was parked in the compound.
Yearwood continued further that PC Roches then took the battery behind the police station, and that's when he was reported.
With the strength of Yearwood's testimony, Chief Magistrate Smith found Roches guilty of the charge because the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Roches will spend 9 months for this conviction.
Does Marsha Have Anger Management Issues?
A week ago, 7News told you about 32 year-old Marsha Bood, a resident of Antelope Street, who was remanded for arson after she allegedly set fire to a man's door. Well today, she was brought back to court for a stabbing incident from last year.
According to police, on November 29, 2011, they visited the KHMH when they saw 24 year-old Alexia Olivera suffering from 2 stab wounds in her back.
The police conducted their investigation into the matter, and as a result, they began looking for Bood, who could not be located at her Antelope Street home.
Since then, she has been wanted by police, and when she was caught last week in relation to the arson, police also charged her with attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and grievous for the stabbing.
Because of the nature of the offense, she couldn't be offered bail, and as a result, she was remanded until July 26, when she will be brought back for her next court date.
Brothers Accused Of Rape
23 year-old Jermaine Stevens and his 29 year-old brother, Austin are at prison tonight after they were arraigned to Magistrate's Court today in connection with the alleged rape of a Belize City woman.
The victim reported to police that on March 20, 2012, at about 12:30 p.m., she went to the Stevens' Jane Usher Boulevard home to look for a friend.
According to the woman, while she was there, she went to use the bathroom, and when she came out, she was confronted by both brothers.
Jermaine and Austin Stevens allegedly grabbed her, and placed her on a bed where Jermaine Stevens allegedly raped her while Austin Stevens watched.
Jermaine Stevens was charged with rape, while his brother Austin was charged with abetment to commit rape.
In court today, the prosecutor made several objections to bail, and Chief Magistrate Smith remanded them to prison until July 25.
Inside The PSE Results
Earlier this week we told you the 2012 results of Primary School Examinations. The grades have improved across-the-board, but to shed some light on whether this is a trend or what the statisticians call an outlier, we spoke to the woman who designs the exam, Yvonne Davis of the Examinations Unit.
She told us that this year's record breaking PSE results are a little bit of both.
Yvonne Davis - P.S.E. Examiner
"This year, the overall performance is at the C level, and I think that this is almost a record for us because this is saying that most students earned a C overall on the exam. We have seen almost a steady flow of incremental increase in English and Math. And those seemed - to me - to be the more steady subjects. But in Social Studies and Science, over the years, we've had a few spikes. This year, we have a huge spike in Science at 74.4%. This is the highest that we have ever achieved in any of the subjects. This is the first year that we have had performance at the B level in any of the subjects, and this is shown in the Science scores this year. So I am pretty sure that the children were very well-prepared this year for the Science exam. That may have been one of the major contributors to the spike that we see this year. We would like to see that in all of the other subject areas as well. There is evidence of text writing still. I remember the supervisors coming to me to say they're still getting a number of text language influencing the writing. What we need to say to the teachers and the students as they prepare for the national exam, these incomplete spelling of words, this counts against them in terms of how their papers are marked. If everybody is now abbreviating all of these sight words, we wouldn't for sure whether they know to spell them correctly or to use them in the proper context. This year, we have had a few of the violent themes - not as many as we have seen in some recent years - but I know that some of these scripts were brought to me indicating violent themes. We have a number of very sad stories, students talking about their loneliness. I've seen one, but there is no - nothing stands out."
Minister Says All PSE Takers Have a High School Place Waiting
That point was doubly underscored by education Minister Patrick Faber when we got into it with him today.
The hard truth is that while it was a good year, most of the seven thousand students who took this test have nothing to celebrate.
They performed poorly - which is mostly the fault of a system failing at every level.
We asked the Minister, why does that failing system insist on demoralizing 12, 13 and 14 year olds - by telling them that they are the ones failing? Here's what he said:
"However, you will agree that for a 12, 13 or 14 year-old, it thoroughly demoralizing to fail this exam that your entire education sylabus. Why don't we just scrap the exam, stop fulling ourselves as adults, stop demoralizing and penalizing for an education that has failed them?"
Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"Well because, Jules, we don't believe that this is the purpose of the exams. You're right that it demoralizing to students, but there are some serious indicators that come out with the scores of the PSE. And that helps us to make sure that we understand what what is really happening in our education system. These are test scores are serious indicators of the quality of education that is being provided in our country. We need to face that reality, and we need to do what is necessary to be done in order to improve the quality."
"Sir, I do not want to be glib or argumentative, but how about for an initial measure, we pay all the administrators, your chief education officer, your CEO - not yourself, you have a mandate - but all of them the percentage of their salary that is national mean score, which is about 58%. If we did that I bet you that the grades would go up."
Kids Learn How To Use Recycled Material
And our next story is also about children - these ones are getting an education in craft making.
Yesterday morning an exhibit was held at the image factory to showcase bags and books made from recyclable materials. It was part of a competition for high school students that lasted 8 months. The students had to create a 1 minute radio ad, a shopping bag from recycled materials, booklets for primary school kids, and develop a more environmentally friendly campus for their schools.
Well the bags and booklets were such a success that they were put up in an exhibit. Organizer Stephanie Lupp told us more:
Stephanie Lupp - Managing Director, Aldebaran Marine Research
"This is our second project. The first was Clean Up Belize, with all the districts, and it was very successful. So we learned that the young people are excited to something for the country. And then, we came up with the idea to work with all the high schools together. We have participation from nearly 50 persons. It was fantastic. We visited the schools 2 times. We went all over the country and looked at how they worked, and they were good partners. When we saw the outcomes of the shopping bags and the booklets, we decided to present it to the public. Everybody has to see how talented the young people in Belize are, and what potential they have. And if you look at the shopping bags, they are so professional and you can sell them immediately. They are so professional; they are like the ones in the shops. The civic pride is open your eyes; open your mind; open yourself. I know how it is. You live your life, and if nobody tells you what's going on in world, what's going on with your lifestyle, you do not notice it. And so, with this campaign, they learned a lot about climate change, the environment, and about the country. And they really want to do something the country. They want to change. So I saw that they learned, and they want to learn more."
PM Says Gang Truce Is Working even In Face Of Gang Warfare
For the past few weeks, we've been reporting on the situation with the Gang Truce work programme. In spite of a massive outbreak of gang violence, it continues to pay gang affiliated males to work four days a week, on the understanding that once they get paid, they'll have no good reason to be causing trouble on the streets.
Today we asked the Prime Minister why the programme continues, even as it appears that it is not working:
"The gang truce - the program - I just heard the OCED explain to us that there is more or less full out gang warfare. So obviously the truce remains only a tissue of a fantasy. However, the program remains that people are being paid. Will this be continued, and if so, to what end?"
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Yes man, and you see again, this business of setting up a premise from which then all the criticisms and the emotive, colorful and very expressive language - I must commend you - from which that follows is not fair. To say that the gang truce is only now the tissue of a fantasy is a very nice sound byte, but it is absolutely inaccurate. A lot of what is happening is being caused by people who were never in the gang truce. The gang truce never pretended to encompass every last single individual who is in criminal gang activity, and that was clear from the beginning. A number of gangs weren't included in the truce, and a number of members that were included in the truce always refused to participate. Current position, there are still some gang members that are working with the truce, and that are behaving themselves. Long story short, those that prove - demonstrate - that they are prepared to work walk the straight and narrow, will continue to be employed for so long as they keep the peace, in so far as we can determine that. And the others, some of whom have always been outside the truce; some of whom have been in the truce but have now left - will simply have to be dealt with by the security forces."
P.M. says expect austerity measures in budget
Brace up for austerity. Speaking at a press conference this morning, the Prime Minister sounded the alarm that a gaping thirty million dollar hole is expected in the new and delayed budget that will be presented to the House on June twenty-ninth. It means that government will be spending less and that cuts and tougher [...]
Gang War in the midst of real gang truce
Crime is a number one concern throughout the country. Over a dozen people have been shot since last Friday night; most of the violence took place in the city and have been labeled by the Police Department as gang related. The gang war had an upsurge of shots on Tuesday night when at least two [...]
No foreign police commissioner for Belize
The man charged with ushering the Belize City gangs into a life of peace without bloodshed is Belmopan resident and National Security Minister John Saldivar. Prime Minister Barrow says that Saldivar has expressed his belief that a local police commissioner would be better for the job rather than a foreigner. Dean Barrow “The fight, [...]
Compensation only for Telemedia and B.E.L.
The court ruled on Monday for a second time that the acquisition of Belize Telemedia Limited was null and void, but fell short of ordering consequential relief. So it’s possible that the government may need to reacquire the company for a third time. Attorneys for the former owners of Telemedia as well as the government [...]
Poll says crime and violence most critical matter
The country is currently battling with increasing crime and violence as well as an economic downturn. So in our last poll, we asked viewers which issue they believe is more pressing. Seventy-seven percent voted that crime and violence is the most critical matter while the remaining twenty-three percent say the economic problems are more urgent. [...]
Orange Walk Businessman murdered. A hit?
The past weekend was the bloodiest since the beginning of the year and there was no relief on Monday when another murder took place in the crime ridden City. Then on Tuesday night in Orange Walk Town, a store owner was killed as he tended to customers in his grocery shop. The family of Sunil [...]
Meth precursor being destroyed
The destruction of six containers of methylamine hydrochloride is taking place incrementally by the Customs Department in cooperation with the US. Between Tuesday and today, the containers carrying three thousand sacks of the chemicals were transported under heavy police escort along the western highway. News Five has learnt that the destruction is taking place along [...]
Women victims in City Shootings
In the Old Capital, there were three shootings in six hours and two women fell victims to the gun violence. Just before midnight eighteen year old Kenesha Humes was socializing with friends in front her residence on Vernon Street when three men on separate bicycles rode by and fired several shots hitting Humes on the [...]
After 5 years locked up, 2 men freed of murder charge
In the courts, two men who were on remand for almost five years have been freed of Murder charges. Thomas Caretella and William Padgett were accused of fatally shooting Santa Elena Taxi driver, fifty-one year old Leopold Austin Waight, on August thirty-first, 2007. But after three and a half hours of deliberation, a jury of [...]
Senior citizen busted for molesting 5 year old
A fifty-one year old man was today convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for molesting a five year old girl. Belize City resident, Chester Smith, maintained that he was innocent saying that he is being framed by the child’s mother. But despite his denial of the crime, Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith believed the [...]
Brothers face rape charge
In another case of sexual abuse, two brothers were accused of raping a Belize City female. According to the alleged victim, she visited the home of Austin Stevens to meet a friend when she was attacked by twenty-nine year old Austin and his younger brother, twenty-five year old Jermaine Stevens. The woman alleges that she [...]
Territorial Referendum? Yes. Oceana Referendum? Maybe not
The Belize/Guatemala territorial dispute is subject to a simultaneous referendum on October sixth, 2013. If the people of Belize and Guatemala agree, the dispute can finally be settled at the International Court of Justice. Oceana Belize is also hoping to get a referendum on the issue of offshore drilling. But the Prime Minister indicated that [...]
City Hall move illegal vendors again
We have covered this story many times before and this certainly won’t be the last; it’s about the never ending problems between market vendors and City Hall. For two days, small vendors selling their wares on the sidewalk at West Collet Canal have been moved at the instructions of City Hall. The vendors say they [...]
Councilor says he will look at allegations against constable
The City Councilor with responsibility for Markets, Kevin Singh says that while he understands everyone is trying to survive, the vendors must abide by the rules. According to Singh, they have been at odds with the sidewalk vendors for years and even after moving them on several occasions and putting up signs barring vending in [...]
City Council to implement new system to collect outstanding taxes
On Tuesday, the Belize City Council held a press conference to update the city on their progress in the first hundred days since assuming office at City Hall. Along with the infrastructure works and sanitation plans, Mayor Darrell Bradley says the council will institute a system to collect outstanding taxes. Bradley says that things have [...]
Kate Walsh at our Blue Hole swimming in Hollywood Conservation Message
Kate Walsh, the famous Doctor Addison Montgomery on the hit series, Grey’s Anatomy, was in Belize over the past weekend. But she wasn’t here on vacation, she was here as an Oceana activist. Walsh, whose visit was to raise awareness on Belize’s Barrier Reef and the fragile ecosystem, met with local journalists for a one [...]
STANN CREEK DISTRICT EMERGENCY COMMITTEE HOLDS DISASTER RISK REDUCTION JEOPARDY GAME
We now join Correspondent Harry Arzu for a report from the Stann Creek District. HARRY ARZU, Reporter “The Stann Creek District Emergency Committee held an official Disaster Risk Reduction jeopardy game awards ceremony on Wednesday, June 13th for primary school students w...
BELMOPAN COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL RECEIVE DONATION FROM THE LION'S CLUB
The Belmopan Comprehensive College today received a monetary donation from the Lions Club of Belmopan. The cheque was handed over this morning during the school’s last assembly for this academic year. FEM CRUZ, Reporter “The Lion’s Club...
LOUISIANA GOVERNMENT SCHOOL SHINES ONCE AGAIN IN PSE
The Primary School Examination results were released earlier this week and one school in Orange Walk has reason to celebrate. Dalila Ical filed this story yesterday. DALILA CAL, Reporter “The Louisiana Government School for the fourth consecutive year has captu...
CYST ON THE BRAIN NEEDS URGENT REMOVAL
For 8 years Nicolee Ramirez has suffered from extreme headaches. Doctors told Ramirez she has cysts swelling in her brain. NICOLEE RAMIREZ “For the past eight years and change now every day I get up I am in pain. Nothing but pain all day every day an...
BELIZE CANCER CENTER RECEIVE FUND FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD
The Belize Cancer Center in Dangriga has been playing a critical role in the treatment of Cancer patients in our country, more specifically by providing chemotherapy. Today, the staff and patients at the Cancer Center have become the joyous recipients of a grant by the Belize Social Se...
MURDER IN SAINT MARTIN DE PORRES AREA
There was another murder in Belize City on Monday evening. It happened in the Saint Martin de Porres area and claimed the life of twenty four year old Keith Lewis. It happened at around six-thirty on Monday evening on Miller Street. Residents of the area told Love New...
TWO BROTHERS CHARGE WITH MURDER
Two brothers, 25-year-old Linton Gentle and 23-year-old Jody Gentle, charged with the murder of Alpheus Smith Jr. were acquitted of the charge today in the court of Justice Adolph Lucas. Justice Lucas directed the jury of 10 women and two men to return a formal verdict of not gui...
PUP HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE
The March seventh General and Municipal elections are now in the history books, but the government’s and municipals’ terms in office are now approaching the 100 day mark. Keenly watching their performance is the opposition People’s United Party, who today held a...
Villager subdued alleged burglar; but he escapes from police custody
A family from Georgeville village in the Cayo district is worried for their safety following an incident this morning. Reports to the RSV Media Centre are that around nine o’clock this morning, a man broke into the home of the former chairlady of the village Anna Myvette. Myvette’s fifteen year old son was apparently asleep in his room when he heard a noise and got up to investigate. Reports are that when the teenage boy came out of his bedroom, he saw a clear complexion man coming in through a window. He yelled at the intruder who quickly ran off. Sources tell Love News that the teenage boy chased after the intruder who ran through the village. Reports are the villagers set chase and they were able to catch up with the would-be burglar near the village’s football field. The villagers reportedly administered a beating on the unidentified man, tied him up and held him until police arrive. Because of the beating that was administered to him, Love News understands that the suspect was taken to the San Ignacio hospital by the police. It is not certain what transpired but shortly after arriving at the San Ignacio hospital, the suspect somehow managed to escape police custody. Now the victim of the break in, is fearful for the safety of herself and her children, with the escape of the suspect from custody. Our attempts to get information from the police have so far been unsuccessful; but we will continue to follow up on this story.
PUP holds press conference
The March seventh General and Municipal elections are now in the history books, but the government’s and municipals’ terms in office are now approaching the 100 day mark. Keenly watching their performance is the opposition People’s United Party, who today held a news conference at its Queen Street headquarters to call them out on what the PUP says is a less than acceptable job so far. First up was PUP party leader, Francis Fonseca, who before he blasted the government, expressed solidarity with the Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his wife, Kim Simplis Barrow, as Kim battles with breast cancer. Not missing a beat, Fonseca went straight to business, disapproving of what he says is a lack of direction and vision, 97 days into government.
Fonseca went on to warn the government that the opposition will refuse to cooperate with the government if unelected party operatives continue to influence government decisions.
While Fonseca appealed to Prime Minister Barrow to give public officers their salary increases, Cayo South Area Representative, Julius Espat, criticized the government for not creating economic opportunities for more Belizeans.
One of the salient issues that the opposition speakers dealt with is crime and Senator Karen Bodden called on the BNTU and other bodies to break their silence on the level of crime against the Belizean society.
Other speakers included Area Representatives, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Rodwell Ferguson, Florencio Marin, Mike Espat, Marco Mensez, Oscar Requena, and Senator Lisa Shoman.
Education officer assesses PSE results
Over seven thousand standard six students over the country sat the Primary School Examinations this year, which showed a two point four percent increase from last year’s numbers. One point sixty six percent of this number were private candidates and students who attend alternative schools. The much anticipated results of the PSE exam were released yesterday. The Principal Education Officer for National Exams, Yvonne Davis told Love News what these results look like.
Deputy Chief Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Dr. Carol Babb spoke on some of the tactics the Government is working on to improve performance especially in Math.
She also explained some tactics that are currently been looked at to better the performances on the weaker districts.
First place over all was a tie between Rhiki Alegria from Hummingbird Elementary School and Jasmine Betancourt from Bernice Yorke Institute of Learning, we had a chance to speak with them and share in their excitement.
Around fifty-five students with special needs were accommodated to sit the PSE exam this year and Love News spoke today with Rowan Garel, a visually impaired young man who got a score of 93 on his examination.
Udumii Ejike from Solid Rock Christian School placed second place while third place went to Eric Hunter who also hails from Bernice Yorke, in fact Bernice Yorke produced a number of top scorers this year like Darren Alvarez who ranged in at number four.
According to Davis, students attending private schools scored the highest followed by those attending Roman Catholic Schools and the least scores were seen in the Methodist and Seventh Day Adventist schools.
Police launch Quality of Life Campaign
The police department today announced the immediate launch of what is being called: “the Quality of Life Campaign.” In announcing the new initiative, the police press officer noted that the public is warned that offenses such as Public Drinking, loitering and littering are against the law. The police department is calling on cyclists to be aware that riding up-stop is an offense and so is the practice of carrying someone on the crossbar of a bicycle. Both persons caught in such an instance could face charges. In the initial goings, the police announcement says that warnings will be given, after which fines will be levied against all offenders. This will be an ongoing campaign and the police Department is asking for the public’s support in cooperating with the police in their effort to make the community a safer place.
Murder in the St. Martin de Porres area
There was another murder in Belize City on Monday evening. It happened in the Saint Martin de Porres area and claimed the life of twenty four year old Keith Lewis. It happened at around six-thirty on Monday evening on Miller Street. Residents of the area told Love News that they heard the shots coming from Miller Street and that after he was shot, Lewis evidently ran from there onto the adjoining Rochez Street and in a yard behind a house where he collapsed and died. His body, however, was not discovered until this morning when residents came out and saw him lying face down in the overgrown swamp. Police say that they observed gunshot wounds to Lewis’ left upper chest, left upper back, left upper leg and right upper leg. Their version of events is also slightly different from what residents told us. Lewis, police say, was standing in a yard on Roches Street when a man approached them from the direction of McKay Boulevard and opened fire. Police say they are looking for a person of interest in connection with this investigation.
Woman seeks medical help for brain ailment
For eight years Nicolee Ramirez has suffered from extreme headaches. Doctors told Ramirez she has cysts swelling in her brain.
Ramirez is looking for any help the community may be able to give her. The only way she can receive proper treatment with the qualified surgeons is if she can afford to go to a hospital outside of Belize.
31-year-old Ramirez says she hopes with treatment she can finally show her children who she really is. To help Ramirez please contact her grandmother’s phone number at 207-8038 or send assistance to her home address at number 4348 Fabers Road Extension.
NEMO officials visit Toledo flooded areas
Members of NEMO-Toledo district emergency coordinating team have been visiting flooded areas in Toledo. Correspondent Paul Mahung reports.