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The San Pedro Sun

Taiwanese draftee develops app for Belizean farmers
An Android app designed to calculate the exact amount of fertilizer needed to be applied to crops has been invented by a Taiwanese national who is performing his alternative military service with a technical mission in Belize. Lai Chun-fa, who graduated from the Department of Information Management at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, said Tuesday that the idea was inspired by Cheng Kun-mu, a technician with a Taiwanese agricultural technical mission who has been helping local farmers in the Central American nation for several years.

Ocean Pedal Challenge watercraft found off the coast of Ambergris Caye
Fisheries Department employees, attached to the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve on northern Ambergris Caye, found a British race craft vessel on the evening of Thursday August 23rd while patrolling north of the Rocky Point. At first the vessel was believed to be a submarine but after closer inspection it was thought to be a submersible race craft vessel. According to Lieutenant Commander of the Belize Coast Guard Elton Bennett, the Anti Drugs Unit of the Belize Police Department was called to inspect if the craft was used for transporting drugs. "After inspection it was determined that the race craft could not be a drug vessel because of its size and small space. We are convinced of that," said Bennett. The Belize Coast Guard official told The San Pedro Sun that the fisheries officers took the craft to the Bacalar Chico Outpost after which they were notified. The water craft is believed to be one that was being used in the Ocean Pedal Challenge by a team who were attempting to pedal across the Atlantic and aiming to raise £50,000 and awareness for CHUF the Children's Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. The Ocean Pedal Challenge team were a collection friends from Whitehaven, Cumbria consisting of Kieran Sweeney, brother Shaun Sweeney, Callum McDonald and Stuart Quinn. Keiran's name is still clearly visible on the vessel. The boat, named Lydia Rose, was said to be entirely self-sufficient with solar panels and water filtration systems, however on the challenge website it states that due to safety concerns they had to abandon the attempt. It is unknown how the vessel ended up in Belizean waters, and the investigation continues.

Chief Justice rules in favor of Oceana
In the Belize Supreme Court today, Justice Legall struck down the Government of Belize's (G.O.B.) application to strike out the claim brought by Oceana, the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage and the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) which challenges the legality of the Production Sharing Agreements between the Government of Belize and six offshore oil exploration companies. Although the Supreme Court of Belize is formally in recess until September 15, 2012, Justice Oswald Legall continues to hold and hear court cases. According to Belize tradition, two justices, one civil and one criminal, remain to hear urgent and arising matters, and may even hear continuing matters while their colleagues take a six-week "summer" break. The tradition of a summer break (and a two-week Christmas break, and a three-week Easter break) is a holdover from colonial times and pre-air conditioning days when the sweltering August heat forced much of the public service bureaucracy and schools to seek cooler parts of the country to wait it out. This morning in Justice Legal's court, attorneys for the GOB argued that he should agree to their application to have case #810 of 2011, filed on December 21, 2011, struck out. Crown Counsel Herbert Panton from the Solicitor General's Office argued, using an almost similar example case, that last month's decision by the Belize Court of Appeal in the case 'Gilharry's Bus Line versus Transport Board and Others,' applied only to Judicial Review and that the Claimants had failed to stay within the Limitation period required for them to pursue any legal claim.

SPHS celebrates Freshman Day 2012
Some 500 students gathered at the Angel Nu�ez Auditorium this morning, Friday August 24th in welcoming the approximately 180 students that make up the new freshman class at the San Pedro High School (SPHS). The new students come from the various primary schools across the island and will now make the SPHS their home for the next four years. The day is filled with interactive activities between all classes that started at 8AM until 1PM. The activities give the newcomers the opportunity to interact with and get to know the other members of their newly found family in fun ways. Activities for the day included games such as: musical chairs, goal kick, Fruit Loops relay, orange pass relay, mummy wrap, dress your baby, lime and spoon, pigtail bottle, pig and ring out, soda biscuit and whistle, and male and female arm-wrestling among many others. The students were separated by their various classes. This year, the SPHS has a total of 17 classes from which six were formed by freshmen students at the high school. Adding to the excitement of the day is the fact that the winning class gets to take one day off during the first semester.

No bluff, no bluster, no bravado: Belize lays out its case
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hon. Dean Barrow tried on Wednesday, August 22nd to end months of uncertainty and speculation regarding his government's attempt to re-structure the so-called "Superbond". Speaking to an assembly of some of his Cabinet ministers and their entourages, and reporters, and flanked by his debt negotiating team comprised of Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse, Ambassador Mark Espat and Central Bank Governor Glenn Ysaguirre, he said that he had called today's press conference to not only "provide all information possible" but also "to seek support, to rally the country behind" the re-structuring effort. The $1.1Billion bond accounts for almost a third of the country's national debt, and almost 40% of its foreign debt. Barrow noted in his introduction that he had announced the re-structuring exercise before the March 7 general election and his administration had started on it almost immediately thereafter but following the recent publication of three proposed "indicative restructuring scenarios" and last week's announcement that Belize would not be making a scheduled $46 million payment, interest had intensified. Interest on the bond had stepped up 6% from to 8.5% this year as part of the original terms reached with investors in 2007, and the Barrow administration had estimated that its fiscal deficit will climb to 2.5% of GDP this year from 1.1% last year. He blames an anemic recovery from the world economic crisis of 2008, declining oil production and what he called "the unavoidable intervention in the public utilities sector leading to the acquisition of BTL and BEL" as the main reasons why they could not continue to meet the debt re-payment schedule.

Service Learning Inspires Ole Miss Graduates to Begin Teaching Careers in Belize
What began as a week of service learning in Belize has turned into a career-starting event for two recent education graduates at the University of Mississippi. Claire Kennedy and Alexandra Phares, both of whom received master's degrees in education in May, recently moved to Belize, where they will lead classrooms at the Island Academy in San Pedro. "We both decided we wanted to leave our comfort zones after graduation," said Phares, a Pass Christian native. "The teachers don't have the comforts that we have; they have to be resourceful." As part of a service-learning course last spring, both women spent a week in the country providing academic enrichment to children at the Lion's Club building in San Pedro and the Holy Cross Anglican Primary School in San Mateo, a poverty-stricken community literally built atop a contaminated lagoon. Ole Miss students from a variety of departments have volunteered in the community since 2008. Phares and Kennedy were taken aback by the challenges and resourcefulness of teachers at the Anglican school, including how they pulled lessons together without traditional textbooks, worksheets and teaching tools. They were shocked but inspired.

San Pedro's Volleyball Team makes it to the Semi-finals!
The San Pedro Volleyball team has earned their spot in the semi-finals of the Orange Walk Volleyball Tournament. On August 11th the team placed in the 4�4 category of the tournament. San Pedro played two qualifying games, winning one and losing one. In the first game, the San Pedro team went up against Sounder Barrio Boys of Blue Creek and won the first two sets. In the first set, San Pedro gave Sounder Boys a whopping 25-6 defeat, and didn't let up on the punishment when they took the second set with a defining 25-11 win. In the second game, team San Pedro went up against Bad News1 from Orange Walk, pushing hard through three sets. They won their first set with a score of 25-22, but lost the next two sets by two (24-26) and three points (22-25) respectively. The Semi-finals are scheduled for this Saturday, August 25th at the Complex Building in Orange Walk. At the Semi-finals, San Pedro will go up against Hard Core Juniors from Corozal. Because of their loss against Bad News1, winning or losing means the difference between advancing and being knocked out of the competition. San Pedro's team member Gustavo Morataya assured The San Pedro Sun that the game is a definite win for San Pedro. Team San Pedro players are Armando Escalon, Guillermo Rivero, Eric Santizo, Ricky Luna and Gustavo Morataya. The team takes this opportunity to thank contributors to their BBQ sale: Miss Ilna Nu�ez, Neri Rivero, Virjilio Rivero, Don Aldo "Duck", Rosela Guerrero, Shelby Leiva, The San Pedro Town Board, Gricel Graniel of Mata Chica for buying most of the BBQ and Fido's. Special thanks to sponsors: Cholo's Golf Cart Rentals and Bar, Caye Caulker Water Taxi, Suya Tours, Coral Cable Vision, Caribe�a Fuels, Captain Sharks, Councilors Carlos Perez-Barrientos and Gabriel Nu�ez, as well as friends that gave their kind donations.

Ambergris Today

Oceana Wins Strike Out Case Against GOB
In the Belize Supreme Court today, Justice Legall struck down the Government of Belize's (G.O.B.) application to strike out the claim brought by Oceana, the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage and the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) which challenges the legality of the Production Sharing Agreements between the Government of Belize and six offshore oil exploration companies. The learnt Justice agreed that the Court of Appeal's July 2012 decision in the case 'Gilharry's Bus Line v. Transport Board and Others, which was introduced by the Claimant's Senior Counsel, Godfrey Smith indeed bore precedence in the trio's case against the government, reiterating that the Public Authorities Protection Act is confined to private law matters and, as such, there is no limitation period for parties seeking action against the Government in matters of public law. The Supreme court equally did not agree to the argument brought by Crown Counsel, Herbert Panton that Oceana et'al's failure to seek permission for judicial review was detrimental to their request asking for certiori (quashing an act) as a possible relief should their case be successful. Justice Legall, citing a 2007 ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the case Watson v. Hernandez stated that Courts exist to deliver Justice and quoted from the noted CCJ case that, "Justice is not served by depriving the parties of the ability to have their cases decided on the merits because of a purely technical procedural breach."

San Pedro Embarcadero Torn Down as Work Commences on Sunset Boardwalk
Many residents are having mixed feelings as they see a part of the old San Pedro village go while a new modern aspect of San Pedro Town starts taking its place. The old Embarcadero (or lagoon docks) behind the San Pedro Old football field is being dismantled to make way for the new Sunset Boardwalk which will bring a more modern ambiance to the area as well as more amenities. While some may disagree with the project completely and are really upset to see just another aspect of the old San Pedro Village disappear, others have mixed feelings as they understand that the area had been looking more dilapidated lately and that the new multi-million dollar project will enhance the area tremendously. Although the project will displace some businesses and local fishermen, areas for them have been reserved once the project is complete.

Misc Belizean Sources

Hickatee Turtles
HERE is Dr. Rainwater's latest research paper on endangered Hicatee turtles in Belize. Dr. Rainwater stayed at ACES in Punta Gorda just months prior to the arson during his research in the south. Dr. Rainwater states, "Thanks to you and Vince for all your help and hospitality during the project. Being able to use your place (ACES) at Forest Home as a base of operations in the south made all the difference for us." ACES and The San Pedro Sun are thanked in the Acknowledgments. We're very proud to play a small part in turtle conservation. ACES Recent countrywide survey of Dermatemys mawii in Belize (2012)

No Argentina-style default, says Belize PM
Although Belize has retained the same law firm that advised Argentina on its two debt restructurings, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said he does not want to get to the same point as Argentina. "We really don't want things to get to that point," Barrow said in an interview in Belize City on Wednesday when asked about the possibility of facing lawsuits and being blocked from international credit markets, as Argentina has been since 2001. Barrow was seeking to assuage the concerns of holders of $544 million in bonds after it missed an August 20 coupon payment. His administration is open to all restructuring proposals put forward by investors as long as they lead to "sustainable" debt payments for the $1.4 billion Central American economy, he said in a national address. The premier has sent a team of finance officials to Washington to meet with representatives of the US Treasury Department, the International Monetary Fund and Inter-American Development Bank to discuss funding options after missing the $23 million coupon payment. Belize says it can't afford to pay its debt after the coupon on the securities jumped to 8.5 percent from 6 percent as part of an accord reached with bondholders in 2007. Barrow, speaking to reporters in Belize City in his first national address since the missed payment, said restructuring scenarios the government published August 8 "are intended to serve as a basis for detailed discussions" with creditors that have yet to take place. He said that his government isn't prioritizing payments to holders of the nationalized telecommunication and electricity companies over bondholders.

Save Lucky Boy Shirts
Lucky Boy has his own line of shirts now. Yes, you can show your support, and help Lucky Boy out at the same time by purchasing a Save Lucky Boy shirt. 100% of the profit will go towards the Belize Zoo, which is the best little zoo in the world. "You'll find unique merchandise with an important message. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the Belize Zoo. Funds raised will support the ongoing effort to permenently home the newest member of the Belize Zoo: LUCKY BOY! The Belize Zoo recently rescued a starving jaguar found in an abandoned resort that was left for dead. The Zoo needs help in the rehabilitation and care of this endangered animal. The Belize Zoo is NOT supported by the government; donations sustain this zoo."

September Celebrations Schedule
The September Celebrations are right around the corner. Here's the link to the schedule for all activities at this point. Cayo, Benque, and Belmopan have quite a few events scheduled. The Queen of the West pageant starts it all off tomorrow night at the Novelo's Convention Center.

Youth with a Mission's DTS
YMAM had their first Discipleship Training School National Outreach recently. Youths came from all over Belize, and they even had one from Honduras and one from the U.S. Awesome news! YMAM Banana Bank Base's website:

SHJC's Orientation
Sacred Heart Junior College had their orientation last Friday. New students got to meet the staff, find out about the JC, ask questions, and even win prizes. "New Students Orientation, Student Assistant Workshops, Welcome Days with giveaways... all took place the first week of the Aug 2012 semester"

Channel 7

GOB Lays Off 200, 450 More Likely To Follow
Tonight 200 people who worked with Government's Southside Rejuvenation Project are jobless. It had been rumored from earlier in the week - but today it was confirmed by the Minister of State with responsibility for the Gang Truce, Mark King. This morning, he held a remarkable press conference at the NCFC conference room this morning. We say remarkable because it's a very special public figure who can announce that 200 people are being fired, and - worse than that - warn that another 640 employed in the gang truce and CYDP will likely be sent home by October - because the budget is busted. It left our heads spinning, but not Mark King, he was cool, calm and collected as he delivered a deathblow that would make even the most hardened critic of those programmes wince. Here's how the press conference went:... Hon. Mark King "Effective August 10th 2012 the 2.29 million dollars allocated to these programs has been exhausted and the wages for the week of August 13th was paid through supplemental funds. Therefore effective today Friday August 24 we will be scaling back with 200 members from the south side rejuvenation project. These persons will be paid full salaries and severance which should last them through to October where we will then exhaust our energies to find projects for them to have a more robust employment."

The Butane Depot Fire That Could Have Been A Catastrophe
Today things were back to normal at mile four and a half on the Western Highway after a fire at an LPG or Butane Gas terminal that could have been catastrophic. And that is no exaggeration: 40 thousand gallons of butane gas were exposed to naked flames. But, thankfully, there was no disaster, no one was hurt and there was no major damage to property. In fact - after all that excitement - we can say that it was a very minor blaze. But, it could have been so much worse! Monica Bodden looked back at the fire - and found out what caused it today. She got first hand amateur video from the first responder, Jorge Orellana of Belize MARINE AND MOORING SERVICES - who is building a house across the street from the scene of the blaze: Monica Bodden reporting At 4:55 Jorge Orellana and his staff were on the waterfront near his tugboats, where in the background beyond his home he saw a fire starting at Western Gas which is directly in front of his property. He and his workers ran towards the fire and saw all the Western Energy workers running away. Jorge Orellana - Businessman "I was the first one who saw the tanks burning. Looks like the workers were not well trained because they ran away instead of minimized the damages, they just ran away. My workers are the ones who came and help the first truck from the firefighters who came to the scene. The fire started in a small house next to the tanks and instead of minimizing - they should have extinguishers just to minimize the damages but instead of trying to avoid that they just ran way and left the fire."

Third Former Murdered In Belmopan
A sixteen year old was stabbed to death last night and a 19 year old student is responsible for her murder. It happened around 8:40 last night in the San Martin Area of Belmopan. According to reports, a female got into a fight with 19 year old Jesus Enrique Flores - her neighbor. The female's brother third form student at Belmopan comprehensive 16 year old Yasmani Mejia stepped in to defend his sister - that's when Flores stabbed HIM to the right side of his chest. Thus far, the 19 year old has not been charged.

Police Says Plues Street Crackdown Was Necessary
Yesterday, 7News told you about the robbery in progress on Cemetery Road, which ended in a police showdown inside a home at the corner of Plues and Prince Street. Today, the men who police say did the robbery, were all arraigned in Magistrate's Court today. But, you heard the upset resident vent his frustration about how the police did their job, alleging brutality. It all started yesterday at around 2:20 p.m. when Paula Chen was at her business place, Paula Store. While she was attending to a customer, three men, all of whom were armed with firearms, entered her store. One of the assailants then walked towards her and pointed the gun at her face while demanding money. He then went behind the counter and stole an undisclosed amount of cash, while the other assailants robbed her customers of their personal belongings. Quick police response led the officers to a house at #32 Plues Street, Belize City which led to the discovery of a cell phone, $494.65Bcy in cash, an unlicensed .38 Special revolver containing 4 rounds of .38 Special ammunition, and a .357 pistol containing 6 rounds of .38 Special rounds of ammunition. Present at the time were 23 year-old Aaron Bailey, 27 year-old Jarreth Gault, 21 year-old Inmar Welch, and 22 year-old Jeffrey McDougal, 24 year-old Teresita Vivas, and her mother, 47 year-old Carol Vivas.

Fudge-man to Jail For Weed
54 year-old Godfrey Rowland, a well-known fudge vendor, was convicted of drug trafficking today in the Magistrate's Court, and he is spending his first night of a 5-year sentence. On December 21, 2011 police searched the trunk of a car he occupied and found a sack stuffed with 26.4 pounds, or 11.9 kilos of marijuana. They charged him with drug trafficking and he has been convicted. In his defense, Rowland testified to the court that he was not the driver of the vehicle. He said that he hitched a ride, and when he got to the checkpoint, the driver went to a nearby shop. That's when the police arrived and searched the vehicle making the discovery. Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith did not accept his explanation of the events, and as a result, she found him guilty. Because he had 2 previous convictions for the same offence, Chief Magistrate Smith handed him a strict sentence of 5 years in prison.

BSI: Not Ready Yet For final Agreement With Strategic Investor
"Not Ready Yet!" That's the status of the final investment agreement between BSI and American Sugar Refining, Inc. - which proposes to be its new majority shareholder. Because public restlessness is building, a release from BSI today says discussions are quote, "advancing well and in accordance with the target timetable." The release adds that agreement on all commercial matters between BSI and ASR has now been reached. They signed what's known as a Subscription Deed yesterday and it is expected to be completed in a month. The Prime Minister disclosed earlier this week that one delay has been a Settlement Deed that government has to sign - which would agree to certain concessions from Government. The PM says he has given authorization.

OCEANA Gets Interim Win
On Wednesday's newscast, we told you about the impending judgment from Justice Legall about Oceana challenge to several off-shore oil drilling contracts. As we told you, the Government Crown Counsels made a submission to strike out the matter, but the court had to decide on whether the Froyland Gilharry Appeal case applied to this particular one. This would bind the court to rule in Oceana's favor on the strike out application. Today, Justice Legall ruled that the Gilharry case did apply and the strike out application was refused. The media spoke to both side on the importance of this judgment. Here's what they told us: Audrey Matura-Shepherd - VP, Oceana Belize "I think what was most important about the ruling is that once and for all we've answered the question whether or not the decision of Gilharry - the principle stated in that case that the public authorities act and by extension the limitations act which is saying that you can put a limit on claims being brought against government in terms of time. This case now says conclusively that that decisions with Gilharry applies to not only judicial review but to all administrative law and just so that people know administrative law is any case where you bring an action against the state where you a citizen or a group and it is a way that democracies work because they want to know that no government could act high handed and do whatever they want without accounting to the people."

Southside And Success
While the Government is letting go 200 persons employed under the southside rejuvenation programme on one hand, on the other, they today launched Southside Youth Success and Drop-in Center. This is another second-chance program which ensures that at-risk young men between the ages of 14-17, who are living on the Southside of Belize are given a chance to become productive citizens, instead of turning to crime. Today, the Drop-in Center, which is located at the second floor of the Commercial Center, was officially opened, and the media were invited to partake in the event. 7News attended, and here's what the guest speakers told the gathering: H.E. Vinai Thummalapally, United States Ambassador to Belize "This CARSI sponsored UNDP project focuses on mentoring, skills training and job placements for at risks youth In Belize City. What is the key to the success of this project? One may ask - Its collaboration and cooperation and I am particularly fond of this project because not only it represents cooperation between government agencies - this project is also an example of government and the private sector collaborating to maximize benefits. We are all aware of the statistics about the economic and citizen security difficulties affecting our friends and neighbors every day in Belize City. We all know the realities and while they are important statistics and numbers about economic and security issues in Belize City - statistics and numbers will not solve hood problem." "Statistics and numbers will not by themselves change any realities. The reality unfortunately is quite simple and quite tragic - young people are killing each other."

KHMH: Another Breakthrough Surgery
Six weeks ago, the first open heart surgery in Belize was performed the KHMH. Today they celebrated another first: the first surgery for Scoliosis. If you don't know what that is we didn't either. But we found out today when the KHMH held a press conference with their international partners who made the surgery possible. Dr. Joel Cervantez - Nuero/Spine Surgeon "To be part of this historic moment is something that you are going to cherish for the rest of your life." Jules Vasquez reporting He's talking about the first Scoliosis procedure to repair a curved spine: Dr. Joel Cervantez "Scoliosis is no easy task, it is something that when it affects our young children or growing adolescence they suffers, it means a lot of pain and socially speaking it means many times a lot of shame."

An Odd Vessel On Northern Ambergris
Authorities are trying to determine the origin of an odd vessel that was found on northern Ambergris Caye. According to the San Pedro Sun, so far, the Coast Guard has determined that it is a British racing vessel. The find was made on evening of Thursday August 23rd north of Rocky Point while Fisheries Department employees, attached to the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve on northern Ambergris Caye found it. At first the vessel was believed to be a submersible craft - and the location suggested that it may have been used in drug trafficking. But the Sun quotes Lieutenant Commander of the Belize Coast Guard Elton Bennett, as saying that the Anti-Drug Unit determined that the race craft was not could not be a drug vessel because of its size and the small cargo space. The name and identification numbers are on the craft, which officials hope can help to establish where it came from. It remains in possession the Belize Port Authority.

Li'l Miss Independence
The 4th annual - Independence Day Junior Miss- Pageant will be held this weekend at the Bliss. The pageant is organized by a group of ladies - who call themselves "Concerned Belizean Women" and through this event they have been able to fundraise and donate to numerous organizations and charities in Belize. 7news caught up with the 7 contestants today - who told us what they will be "representing" on pageant night. Karen Vernon, Theatre Director - NICH "Independence Day junior Miss 2012 is our 4th annual Independence Day junior Miss pageant and it takes place this Sunday at 6pm at the Bliss Center. We have 7 contestant vying for this title and there will be different segments; they first come out introducing themselves and do a little dance and then they move on to the district. Each contestant will be representing a district and giving a platform statement about that district and then there is the talent section which is a new section in this competition. Last but not least is visual poet where they come out in their evening gown and strut their stuff."

Scholarships For Restore Bze
60 high school students will benefit from the "I AM BELIZE Scholarship Club" after a cheque was handed over to Restore Belize by the BNE Trust. The handing over ceremony was held yesterday evening. The cheque of four hundred thousand dollars will assist these underprivileged children with the chance to get a high school education. Sharon Ramclam, General manager - BNE Trust "We decided that the trust to support the "I am Belize scholarship program." There were 60 students that were enroll in the program up until July of this year and the trust decided to essentially adopt these 60 students and the partnership really is to see these students graduate through to 4th form. They are in various forms and so we are very excited to have been able to support the education of these 60 kids." "There are features of the partnership that requires commitment from the students and we feel that this is a very indebt 3 way partnership between the Trust, RESTORE Belize and the kids where it's not only providing financial support for their educational advancement but it's also allowing for them to also commit and be responsible for their own development as well."

Channel 5

200 Southside Rejuvenation Workers fired!
Minister Mark King stood alone before the press this morning. He did not want to use the word firing but the government sent home two hundred men employed with the South Side Rejuvenation project. That's only the tip of what is to come because hundreds more in other projects will soon be sent home. The [...]

Gang Truce Workers may be next to be unemployed
A few weeks ago we told you how the Gang Truce was renamed "Peace in Progress," well, we don't know for how long that will remain in place and it seems neither does the Minister tasked with that responsibility. Today Mark King said that the cut of two hundred workers from the Southside Rejuvenation Program [...]

Belmopan Comprehensive student murdered
The Belize City streets have been relatively free from bloodshed for a few days. But an argument in the capital has left one teen dead. Tragedy struck a family in the Salvapan Area of the Capital when a sixteen year old student of Belmopan Comprehensive School died after he was stabbed once to the chest [...]

Cops imply Plues Street victims cried crocodile tears
Four men at a residence on Plues Street in the Old Capital reported to the media that they were allegedly beaten by the police. The men said they were shocked by tasers, beaten and then taken to the Queen Street Police Station. The residents were outraged by what they called an excessive use of force [...]

Price of premium and regular gas going up
Butane prices went up two weeks ago and this was followed by a hike in the price of chicken which went up by as much as twelve cents per pound this week. If that hurt your pocket, hurry to the gas pump because the price of fuel will take a sharp increase on Sunday. Premium [...]

Oceana's wave of success, another courtroom win
A breakthrough decision in a claim brought before the Supreme Court, whereby Oceana is challenging the validity of six oil concessions granted by the Government of Belize in 2007, was handed down in the chamber of Justice Oswell Legall this morning. The ruling went in favor of Oceana and it is the organization's second legal [...]

What caused the fire at the butane depot?
A fire at the Western Gas Depot was brought under control at about seven o'clock on Thursday night. It was a dangerous operation that risked the lives of the firemen because it involved liquid petroleum gas. The blaze started from a gas leak in the compressor room. Neighbors say the fire started after five o'clock. [...]

Counseling to be offered to 16 year old student
Earlier in the week, News Five spoke to Reverend Ruperto Vicente about Norman Willacey, the high ranking pastor of the Baptist Association of Belize, who was allegedly involved in a sexual relationship with a sixteen year old student. Vicente was very candid and made it clear that the association acted as soon as it became [...]

1st spinal surgery in Belize, success at the K.H.M.H.
The Belize Spine Program is supplemented by a U.S. based team that currently travels to the country twice a year. On Wednesday the team along with Belizean counterparts completed the first scoliosis surgery in the Jewel. The surgery to rehabilitate the twisted spine of thirteen year old Corozal resident Valerie Sosa, took place at the [...]

U.S. doctors donate medical equipment to K.H.M.H.
According to the K.H.M.H., the team has donated a cell-saver machine that allows the collection and return of a patient's blood, which would come in very handy in the Emergency Room. This machine valued at forty thousand U.S. dollars was used in the scoliosis case. A company called Amedica also donated instruments and implants valued [...]

Real-Time marketing for Tourism Industry stakeholders
The Belize Tourism Industry Association's (B.T.I.A.) Real-time Marketing Master Class Marketing & P.R. Summit was launched to a crowded Queen's Room at the Princess Hotel on Thursday. David Meerman Scott, the renowned speaker, has presented in over thirty four countries and he was today's featured guest at the event which was co-sponsored by the Belize [...]


Trio Detained Regarding High School Burglary in Belmopan
Belmopan Police reportedly have three men detained following the report of an apparent burglary at the Baptist High School in the Banana Bank area on the Western Highway just out of Belmopan. Reports are that sometime between four thirty yesterday evening and eight thirty this mo...

Senior Citizen Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Misconduct on a Minor
Sixty-six year old Venustiano Pacheco, a Mexican national was sentenced to three years yesterday after he was found guilty of aggravated assault of an indecent nature on an eight year old girl. The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on February 25, 2011 in Scotland Half Moon Village. T...

Conference for Belize Police Southern Formation Takes Place
A conference for senior police officers of the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts was held yesterday in Punta Gorda. Correspondent Paul Mahung reports. PAUL MAHUNG Toledo Correspondent Love FM "Discussions and planning not only focused on the issue ...

Bill for Municipal Bond Passes in the House of Representatives
The House of Representatives met today in Belmopan. It was a short agenda which featured a short list of five amendment bills, among them three that dealt with the banking sector. The passage of the bills now sends them to the upper house of parliament where they are expect...

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Crystal Water's Volleyball Tourney held August 18-19, 2012!!
This past weekend, August 18-19, 2012, the Belize Volleyball Association along with Crystal Water and the Lazy Lizard Bar sponsored and male and female volleyball 2X2 tournament at the Split Beach. With the utmost perfect weather being enjoyed, it turned out to be a huge success and new winners crowned. The male tournament was held on Saturday while the female tourney was held on Sunday. Six male teams consisting of Team 1: Gustavo Morataya from San Pedro, Abby Godoy from Orange Walk, Team 2: Tico and Luis Requena from Caye Caulker, Team 3: Elton Moore from Punta Gorda and Jason Cabral from San Pedro, Team 4: Errol Patt and Henry Lopez of Caye Caulker, Team 5: John (Chico) Marin of Caye Caulker and Ernest Broaster of Belize City, while Team 6 had Sheldon Arnold of Belmopan and Tireck Campbell of Belize City. Teams played against each other until teams were eliminated three sets each. End result for male 3rd place went to Jason Cabral and Elton Moore. 2nd place went to Tico Requena and Luis Requena. First place went to Juan "Chico" Marin and Ernest Broaster. Female Teams were Team 1: Seni Smith of Caye Caulker and Yemeri Reyes (Belize City), Team 2 were: Hazel and Kaylee (Orange Walk), Team 3 were: Jani Salazar and Michelle Moore (Belmopan) and Team 4 were Irma Alonzo and Evita Quiroz from Caye Caulker on Sunday. They played a double elemination game which means teams must loose 2 times in order to get knocked out. Results for third place went to Seni and Yemeri, second place went to Jani Salazar and Michelle Moore (Belmopan) and First place to Hazel and Kaylee (Orange Walk). Winners took home bragging rights, 400, 150, 50 dollars for first second and third respectively, for each male and female teams. Along with cases of Crystal Juices and Crystal Shirts courtesy of the sponsors, Crystal, Coca Cola and Crystal Real Fruit Beverages and also Trophies for both first second and third courtesy of the venue holder, The The Lazy Lizard Grill and Bar.


Buttonwood Bay Regatta re-sail results & invitation to Battle Regatta 2012 on Sunday, September 2
The intrepid sailors and members of the Corozal Bay Sailing Club braved the flooded Consejo Road, in their quest for success at the Buttonwood Bay Regatta on Saturday, August 18. Their efforts were rewarded! The young sailors met up with their friends and challengers from the Belize Sailing Association (BzSA) and its member clubs on the beautiful waters of Buttonwood Bay in Belize City. The sailors from Liberty Children's Home, the Sea Scouts and the Belize Sailing Cub had the privilege of being coached during the Regatta by the internationally renowned Jorge Santiago from Puerto Rico. Mr. Santiago spent 8 days in Belize providing several days of intense sailing courses to the young sailors and to the Instructors of the BzSA Clubs. Sponsored by the IODA (International Optimist Dinghy Association), the world governing body for dinghy class crafts, these sessions proved to be invaluable, as the sailors and coaches applied and demonstrated their newly acquired skills. Sailing into top honours were: 1st Place - Antonio Ricardez, Jr. (Buttonwood Bay Nazarene Primary School) 2nd Place - Trent Hardwick (Sea Scouts) 3rd Place - Darwin Velasquez (Corozal Bay Sailing Club)

"Dirty old man," 66, sentenced to 3 years for sexually assaulting child, 8
Venustiano Pacheco, 66, a Mexican charged with aggravated assault of an indecent nature on a female child 8 years old, was sentenced to 3 years yesterday by the Chief Magistrate, Ann Marie Smith, after he was found guilty of the charge. The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on February 25, 2011, at Scotland Halfmoon Village. The child, a standard I student, testified in camera. She said she was taking a bath outdoor behind her house when Pacheco came and knelt in front of her and sexually assaulted her. The child's aunt testified that she saw Pacheco doing the dirty act on her niece. She said she was speaking with Pacheco downstairs in her house and she left him there and went upstairs.

Pastor Norman Willacey, 53, resigns from Baptist Church!
The weight of the sex scandal with student, 16, was apparently too much to bear. The Belmopan Baptist High School has been in turmoil because its principal, pastor and school counselor, Norman Willacey, 53, has been publicly revealed as having had an improper but not illegal relationship with a 16-year-old female student of the school. Willacey himself had inadvertently sent a text message to a media house admitting that he had been "fooling around" with the female. Tonight, however, it is not clear what, if any, punishment can be meted out to the errant principal/pastor/counselor, because he has reportedly resigned from his church, according to a credible, late report tonight. The mother of the girl had gone public, accusing Willacey of having a very adult romantic relationship with her daughter while she was a student in his care. She said that she has proof of the sexually charged messages exchanged between Willacey and her daughter between March and July of this year.

Sex offenders in education should be marked for life: Education Minister
In the recent weeks, the nation has been faced with shocking reports of sexual abuses against young people, including the case of a 14-year-old from Guatemala who had been held against her will by a businesswoman, who was slapped with a mere $10,000 fine after being convicted on human trafficking charges, here in Belize for literally enslaving the girl for sexual exploitation by grown men. On adjournment of the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives this afternoon, Belize Rural Central area representative for the Opposition People's United Party, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, spoke out against sexual predators who exploit children here in Belize, and also spoke out about allegations that have come to the fore against the Baptist preacher and principal, Norman Willacey. In response to her comments, Prime Minister Dean Barrow informed that the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Bill is due to be introduced in Parliament in the next two weeks or so. Balderamos-Garcia agreed that measures for the prevention of commercial sex exploitation of children are extremely important. She also condemned the Baptist management for taking too long to act on the Willacey case, underscoring that "�we can't afford any kind of delay or foot dragging on such issues."

Editorial: "Yes, Minister"
In recent weeks, the United Kingdom (UK) government has commissioned a think tank to come up with ways to reform the British civil service, particularly to make the service more responsive to the political directorate. Primary among the recommendations is an expected change from the Permanent Secretary (PS) system to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) model. Under the former, career public officers, steeped in the tradition of the public service and the crème de la crème of the service, rise to the top and serve in the highly coveted PS position. In addition to providing policy advice to the minister, the PS is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Ministry; that person is the top manager - the chief accounting officer where the public's cheese is concerned. In the new model, the CEO model, the top managers are appointed by the ministers on a fixed-contract basis, usually for the life of the newly elected government. In the model contemplated, the UK will drastically increase the number of political appointees in the civil service. Policy advisors, senior press officers and private secretaries will be appointed by the minister for whom they work. In Belize we call them contract officers.

GSU brutalizes Crooked Tree youth in search of "Gaza gang"
Victims say they were "tasered, beaten, kicked and choked" by GSU officers. The Police Department has commissioned an investigation into another alleged abuse of police authority by officers in the controversial Gang Suppression Unit (GSU). This time, GSU officers are being accused of disrupting a basketball practice session on the village court in Crooked Tree on Monday night around 8:30, using pepper spray and tazers on as many as 10 youth lying face down and defenseless on the ground, catching and assaulting other youth elsewhere in the village, and re-aggravating injuries sustained by 30-year-old Devin Swasey, aka 'D-Bud,' who was recently in the news after miraculously surviving an attack by a crocodile in the Crooked Tree Lagoon. In all, some 20 young men were allegedly assaulted by GSU officers, including 2 minors. Swasey said he was on the court with other male village residents practicing basketball for the village's weekly tournament when the officers arrived and told him and nine other youth to lie on the ground, then asked their names and ages.

From The Publisher
When the Opposition People's United Party (PUP) decided to blame Mark Espat (and Cordel Hyde, perhaps to a lesser extent) for their defeat in the March 2012 general elections, PUP propagandists went into a virtual anti-Mark frenzy on their radio station and in their newspaper. Personally, I was immediately reminded of how vicious were the attacks upon myself when the United Democratic Party (UDP) chose, quite cynically, to make yours truly the scapegoat for their defeat in the October 1974 general elections. As a matter of fact, I believe that it was in the aftermath of those elections and those attacks that this column originated in late 1974: it was a desperate attempt to plead my case to the people of Belize. I've watched Mark refuse to respond to the PUP attacks, though these attacks have to take their toll. His position is substantially different from mine was 38 years ago, because Mark Espat had been a major success story as a Ramada Hotel chief executive at a very young age, and had followed that up by winning three consecutive general elections as PUP standard bearer in the Albert constituency. He won those elections in spectacular fashion and was considered a dominant force in that previously NIP/UDP division. He was, by extension, a star in the PUP, so much so that in late October of 2011 Mark Espat became the Interim Leader of the PUP and saw his brief leadership publicly endorsed by 30 of the PUP's 31 electoral constituencies. Just 11 days after becoming Interim Leader, Mark Espat, who had previously been a Deputy Leader of the PUP, announced that he would not accept the leadership on a permanent basis. The PUP began to prepare for a national convention to choose a new Leader. Belize Rural North's Arthur Saldivar was already a leadership candidate; this was why there was the one division, the said Belize Rural North, which had not supported Mark Espat. Toledo East standard bearer Mike Espat and Cayo South standard bearer Julius Espat quickly threw their hats into the PUP leadership ring.

Letters: The Clovis culture in Central America
Dear Sir, I'm a doctor in archaeology of the University of Paris 1 (Panth�on-Sorbonne) and researcher associated with the Center for Mexican and Central American Studies of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (CEMCA). With the support of CEMCA, I'm currently undertaking an investigation on the archaeological remains attributed to the Clovis culture in Central America (between the Mexican State of Chiapas and Panama). Clovis is one of the first cultures of the New World. It flourished between 13,300 and 12,800 years ago, from southern Canada to northern Venezuela. In Belize, to date, three projectile points have been attributed to the Clovis tradition. Apart from my scientific activities, I contribute to several newspapers, especially Prensa Libre (Guatemala), El Diario de Hoy (El Salvador) and El Nuevo Herald (Florida), in the field of archaeology. Hereby, I wish to submit to you an article on "the first Americans", for its publication in Amandala (as a free contribution, of course). I hope that this theme will interest you. In advance, thank you for your attention. Best regards, S�bastien Perrot-Minnot, Ph. D. CEMCA French Embassy in Guatemala

Farewell to the "Frogman," Ruperto Alvarez
If you love "di bola," you understood Puerto, or Perto, as many called him. To me he was always "Puerto," a fellow "ball per," who in his veteran years spent many a moment of anguish at the criminal acts perpetrated against our beloved sport by those who proclaimed to love football. But we knew different. All those who truly love football know who are the real 'ballers, and who are the selfish, sanctimonious Pharisees, taking communion on Sunday morning, and murdering the game the rest of the week. Ever since I knew him back in the early 1970's, Ruperto Alvarez was always a dedicated football player, who invested many a waking hour practicing his craft, working on his ball control skills, and gladly teaming up with anyone who was inclined to juggle the ball or play small sided games. Puerto was not tall, and he was not fast. In fact, except for the spring in his legs and good reflexes, which helped to make him a formidable goalkeeper and earned him the "Frogman" nickname, he was not very athletically gifted. But hard work and love of the game made Puerto develop his ball playing abilities to such an extent that he could always "ketch team" with some of the other top players of his time. And his skill was not limited to minding goal, but he could play out effectively in various positions. He could control the ball, and he could kick with both feet, as well as expertly head the ball. In other words, Puerto had developed himself into a complete football player.

Ideas and Opinions Features
Great minds A great mind has to have the capacity to simplify things. What things? The things it understands fully. The following three narratives explain what I mean. Columbus and the egg I will recount again the story of Columbus and the egg. After his New World discoveries and the fame he began to enjoy as a result, his fellow mariners became jealous and, they started to spread the word that anybody who sailed due west from Europe would eventually encounter the islands and, then, the main of North America. Columbus decided to teach them a lesson. He told them he could make an egg stand on an end, and they couldn't. He was challenged and it was agreed to settle the argument by a wager on a certain day. On the appointed day, they wanted Columbus to go first but, he refused, saying that if he succeeded, everyone would know how to do it. They all tried and failed, as expected, because, an egg in its normal state will always topple over when set on an end. Then, Columbus took the egg and gently tapped the larger end on a table till small cracks appeared, which was enough to change the shape of that end from round to flattish, and the egg stood without toppling over. The other mariners objected, saying that anybody could do the same but, Columbus said, "Of course, anybody can do it, now that I have showed you how.


Cuba: A Haven for Foodies
The natural richness of Cuba is ready to be explored and savored for its incredible diversity of fauna, flora, festivals and of course food! It is home to salsa dancing and the rumba rhythm. The word 'rumba' derives from the verb 'rumbear', which basically means to have fun in the extreme by dancing, singing and committed having fun. That pretty much sums up the Cuban experience and travelers booking Cuba holidays are guaranteed to be inspired by the celebratory spirit. Add to this the magnificence of a 3,570 mile stretch of stunning coastline, majestic mountains, incredible coral reefs and the ultimate in mouth-watering cuisine and it's easy to understand Cuba's rapidly growing popularity as a tourist destination. Whether you spend your days basking on one of Cuba's breath-taking beaches, getting up close and personal with the marine life that teems beneath those azure waters or touring the many historical sites in this diversely influenced land, your Cuban nights will be filled with rhythmic and culinary delights that will bring out every sultry ounce of your being and almost hypnotically cause an overindulgence of the senses. Cubans love pork which is usually spit roasted, but they are equally adept at preparing such a wide array of aromatic dishes, including Western, that there is something to be savored by everyone. Beef and seafood also feature prominently in most restaurants, including the relatively new advent of Paladares, which are local houses that have been converted into small, intimate, family-run diners that usually seat no more than 12. They may be small, but they are certainly not short on the festive ambiance that permeates the larger establishments. The most popular drink is, of course, rum and few cocktails escape a healthy sampling of this traditional alcohol. The Daiquiri was invented here along with the ever-popular Mojitos, which consist of powdered sugar, lime juice, mint, club soda and Havana Club white rum.

The World Is Buzzing About Long Time Belize Favorites "Hot Cheetos and Takis"
A few weeks ago a group of kid's at a Minneapolis YMCA music program produced and released a rap video about their favorite snack foods. Currently, that video has over 1.5 million views. The YouTube video, the kick-ass song and the kids are being talked about all over the internet. First, it was the bloggers and now the mainstream media (from the Washington Post to NPR). Rolling Stone magazine (you may have heard of them) call Hot Cheetos and Takis possibly the "summer's final truly great jam". I am not here to review or rehash information about this video. (Though I do love it. I've watched it about 15 times. This little diddy will be stuck in your head... Just try to stop singing "You can catch me and my crew eating hot Cheetos and Takis".) What does this have to do with beautiful Belize... Beautiful Tranquility Bay Resort on Ambergris Caye or my site, SanPedroScoop? Well...strangely, over 5000 viewers have found my blog over the last few weeks googling the word "Takis". I included a mention of these little snacks in a truly bland post about a year ago. And, as you can see by looking at the right hand column of my blog, it is now my third most read post of all time. I hate to leave people hanging... So, if you have stumbled upon my blog looking for real information on Takis, here's a bit about how they are much loved in Belize. Takis are a Mexican corn snack (similar to a Frito) but coated in pure red hot powder. They are sold in pretty much every store in Belize. Usually they are placed right next to their counterpart, the Flaming Hot Cheetos. A once tasty unassuming snack that has been coated in a similar fiery red hotness. Here are mini Takis FUEGO. The flame on the package says it all. One quick question for those that have had this product. Do Takis come in full sized bags? I've only seen them in snack size. Both of these foods are hugely popular with the kids of San Pedro. Despite the fact that they are RED HOT, kids eat them like candy. (These are kids that grow up eating Habanero sauce on just about everything.) My blandy-bland gringa taste buds can hardly eat either without watering eyes and a runny nose. Plus, I can't STAND the red dyed fingers that you are left with after consuming a bag. (Or as the kids say in the song you get "hands red like Elmo".) Ick.

Last edited by Marty; 11/17/12 09:53 AM.
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Renowned Author Stunned that Belizeans Still Use the Yellow Pages
Yesterday I attended the BTIA's (Belize Tourism Industry Association) 2012 Marketing Summit at the Princess Hotel and Casino in Belize City. It was my first "real" Belize industry event about topics near and dear to my heart: Social Media, Real Time Marketing and Public Relations. And I'll just put it all out there. I wore a skirt and real shoes and now have no skin on the back of either ankle. See what I endure for "my craft"? Back to my trusty shorts and flip-flops today. For all of you thinking "where are the pretty pictures of the Belize beach?", I'll keep it brief and be back to that by tomorrow at the LATEST. (And if you really can't hold out, I'll post some beach pictures all day on my SanPedroScoop facebook page. Promise.) Initially I went to support my friend who is a professional blogger (aka My Hero). She was on two of the panels. That's Erin below with San Pedro's Dorian of Ambergris Today. But the more I read about the presentations, the more intrigued I was. The keynote speaker was David Meerman Scott, a power house in the marketing world, writer of a pretty slick blog, author of many best selling books like "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" and "Cashing in With Content". He also happened to start out as a bond trader just like me. This could be interesting...helpful. And I certainly wasn't the only one thinking that. The huge conference room at the Princess was filled with a few hundred people from all walks of the Belizean tourism industry...from the Mayor of Orange Walk to the Tropic Air marketing team to staff from hotels and tour companies of every size.

Introducing the Garifuna Dugu
"...When in the summer months of July and August, people from young to old are seen walking the streets of Dangriga or Punta Gorda or Hopkins or any Garifuna community for that matter in Garifuna attire oftentimes in identical outfits, they are likely going to participate in a great celebration in honor of Ancestors. This celebration is called adugurahani or dugu (doo-goo) for short and it is a very elaborate and sacred event. ..."

International Sources

Belize Creditors Meet With IMF Present
Investors holding Belize bonds met in Washington, D.C., on Friday with officials from the International Monetary Fund to weigh their options amid a proposed restructuring of the sovereign's $543.8 million in debt. One of the people present at the meeting said the creditors were on a "fact-finding" mission about the condition of Belize's finances, after the country skipped an interest payment on a bond Monday. Joseph Waight, Belize's finance secretary, also was in Washington, according to an assistant, and couldn't be reached. The purpose of his visit couldn't be determined. An IMF spokeswoman said Friday the fund hadn't received a request for financial help from Belize and the creditors had asked to meet with IMF staffers to present their views on Belize's requested restructuring. She said the IMF staffers " did not provide any commentary or information" and "agreed to the meeting only to listen." On Monday, Belize failed to make a nominal interest payment on a bond due 2029, setting in motion a 30-day grace period before it would be in default, without curing the lapse before Sept. 19. Earlier this month, it proposed three options for a restructuring, two of which would see creditors writing down 45 cents on the dollar of what they are owed. Creditors to Belize include GE Asset Management, Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo & Co. and Greylock Capital Management LLC. A partner at Greylock, A.J. Mediratta, is co-chair of the committee, which represents more than half of holders--or $300 million--of the 2029 bond, the country's only bond. It is unclear if Friday's talks helped the creditors progress in their evaluation of the country's financial distress, but one person familiar with the matter said some key sticking points remain. These include the creditors wanting more details on the companies Belize nationalized and the components making up its fiscal projections. Belize bonds due 2029 traded around 38 cents on the dollar late Friday, in line with a week ago, according to Markit data. Standard & Poor's cut the country's credit ratings to "D" for default on Tuesday.

Creditors dig in for Battle of Belize
The restructuring of Belize's 2029 "superbond" may become a drawn-out battle as creditors keep the country waiting for a formal response to its proposals that could see them take a haircut of up to 80% on the net present value of their holdings. "We are working through our analysis and expect to share our views with the government within two to three weeks," said Mike Gerrard, managing director of BroadSpan Capital, which is advising a committee of creditors that claims to have a majority interest in the US$544m instrument. A US$23m coupon payment was missed last Monday, days after the prime minister, Dean Barrow, had said the country "simply cannot afford [it]". That comment suggests the sum will not be honoured during the grace period, which expires on September 19. It is also unlikely an acceptable offer will be put to creditors by that date. "We still have hopes it will be a 2012 restructuring but that will need accommodation from each side," said Sebastian Espinosa, managing director of White Oak Advisory, which is advising the government. At the moment, the two sides appear to be far apart. The situation is exacerbated by additional liabilities, estimated by the government at US$300m, in the form of compensation due to former shareholders of Belize's national electricity and telecoms companies, which were compulsorily nationalised between 2009 and 2011. No settlement has yet been reached with these claimants, and the government wants to roll their claims into a wider debt restructuring. Some progress had been made with Fortis, which used to own 70% of Belize Electricity. However, negotiations with former shareholders of Belize Telemedia, mostly connected to Lord Michael Ashcroft, are more drawn-out.

Local missionaries return from Belize
Local missionaries returned from Punta Gorda, Belize, after spending a week there doing many activities. There were 34 missionaries from seven churches that took on the challenge. They included the states of Tennessee, Massachusetts, Washington and Oregon. "They struggled not to be they ugly American and succeeded," said Pastor John Gunden of River's Edge in Caseville. While in Belize, the team did a work project that involved a lot of physical labor. The main project was to build a foundation for a multi-purpose building that will be used for a hurricane and earthquake shelter, a youth center, a vo-tech center and a worship center. The team used 250 bags of cement for the foundation that was made with two portable mixers. Along with the missionaries, there were 12 volunteers from the Belizean Army, and eight hired professionals. Another project included painting a local church. "The group that went were all such blessings to work with," said missionary Jessica Badgerow. "The work was hard at times, but so rewarding in the end." During two days of the trip, Vacation Bible Schools were held for the Belizean children. There were four different VBSs with 195 kids in attendance. "My favorite part of the trip was helping with Vacation Bible School," Badgerow said. "It definitely brought joy to my heart to be able to work with them and see so many give their hearts to the Lord." Through street witnessing, passing out tracts, preaching, and Vacation Bible School, 95 commitments were made throughout the trip. Many of the missionaries were able to share their testimonies which was a great opportunity. Guest speaker, Pastor Michael Turay of Sierra Leone, Africa, also was on the trip. "I had the best experience there and learned a lot about missions that I never knew before," said missionary Johanna Davis. "The people of Belize were blessed by our help and very thankful," Gunden said.

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