Today's Belize News: December 8, 2012
12/08/12 08:52 AM
12/08/12 08:52 AM
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Specials and Events
Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
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The San Pedro Sun
Minister Heredia requested Corporal Young’s transfer and offers no apologies; PUP and NTUCB condemn Heredia’s actions
The San Pedro Sun first reported on November 29th about an incident in which 43 year old nurse Lisa Marie Merz, US National of Syracuse New York, was arrested, charged and found guilty for several offences while vacationing on Ambergris Caye. The arresting officer was the Head of the Tourism Police Unite in San Pedro, Corporal Sharmane Young. Following the incident involving the tourist, Young was arbitrary and coincidentally transferred without a reason, believed to have been caused by political interference.
According to San Pedro Police, both the Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia Jr and the Commissioner of Police David Henderson became involved in the arrest of Merz, eventually securing a police bail the day of her arrest. Since The San Pedro Sun first broke the story, the transfer of Young has the subject of national discussion prompting the Heredia Jr. to speak about the issue. Heredia told the media on Wednesday December 5th that he indeed became involved in the incident and had in fact has requested the transfer of Young months prior to the incident. Heredia said that the reason he became involved after being informed of Merz’s arrest was because she has been bringing tourists to the country for over 15 years.
Dominican Republic announces full integration into SITCA
The Dominican Republic has officially integrated itself into the Central American Tourism Integration System (SITCA) the tourism arm of Central American Integration System (SICA). The announcement was made by the representative of island’s republic during a SICA Tourism meeting on Ambergris Caye on Thursday November 29th. The country has been an observer to SICA for many years and is now fully integrated, which had the support of other SICA Tourism Ministers from the region.
At the end of the SICA Tourism meeting the Deputy Minister of International Affairs of Dominican Republic Luis Simo Maceo announced the country’s full integration into Central America Tourism Integration System and officially moved away from having a special observer’s status. Maceo told The San Pedro Sun that Minister of Tourism of the Dominican Republic Franciso Javier Garcia has already extended an official invitation to his Central American tourism counterparts to a working and technical visit where they will get to see what is being done in the more developed part of the country. “We want the Central American Tourism stakeholders to visit us and be able to evaluate and see what are some of the advantages of developing tourism destination that has worked in the Dominican Republic and in one way or the other contribute to the development of tourism in Central America,” said Deputy Minister Maceo.
San Pedro local football competition moves to semi-final rounds
After seven weeks of competition, four teams have moved to the semi final leg of the Football Federation of Belize’s San Pedro competition. The semi finals will start this Sunday at the Ambergris Stadium. Moving onto the Semi Finals were, based on placement: United FC in first place; Captain Shark’s Veterans in second place; Los Catrachos in third and taking fourth place was Suga Boys Juventus.
The semi final games will be played in a home and away format. This means that each game will be played twice to the teams that will go up in the finals for first and second place. The two top teams will be chosen to represent the island in the Inter-District competition slated to commence early 2013.
The games begin at 1:30pm on Sunday with Los Catrachos going up against Captain Shark’s Veterans. The second game is scheduled for 3:30PM when United FC goes up against Suga Boys Juventus. The finals have been scheduled for Sunday December 23rd. Ambergris Stadium is the place to be this Sunday for the Semi Finals of the FFB’s San Pedro tournament.
Saga Humane Society – how you can help!
San Pedro PUP Asks for Minister Heredia’s Resignation
The People's United Party (PUP) sent out a press release to the Belize media on Thursday, December 6, 2012, in which it states that the political party strongly condemns the gross insensitivity, negligence and abuse being shown towards women and children as displayed in two instances that have come to national attention in recent days.
The first is the case of apparent medical negligence and malpractice at the Northern Regional Hospital within the past three months. There are a minimum of nine incidents in which both mothers and babies have either sustained severe injuries or have died; the most recent being two days ago in which baby Harmony died.
The second is the matter of Police Corporal Sharmane Young serving at San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, who has been suddenly and arbitrarily transferred primarily due to the arrest of a tourist. The Corporal was carrying out her duties as the Tourist involved in the incident was found guilty of assaulting her by a court of law.
In an email sent out by the San Pedro PUP, it further demands “that Hon Manuel Heredia resign from his post as Minister of Tourism and that Corporal Young not to be transferd for doing her job and Officer in Charge for the San Pedro Branch be given an apology from Manuel Heredia for doing her job.”
Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism and Area Representative of Belize Rural South, is under a lot of scrutiny on his actions after the arrest case of Liza Marie Mertz on November 24, 2012. Female Police Corporal Sharmane Young is being removed from the San Pedro Police Unit after she arrested and charged US tourist Liza Mertz who reportedly cursed and manhandled the officer. Syracuse resident Liza Marie Mertz apparently interrupted and yelled obscenities at Police Corporal Sharmane Young whilst Young was searching a man who was allegedly selling drugs.
Mexico Trains Belizean Forensic Ballistic Analysts
Two Belizeans have just returned from Mexico after receiving specialized training in the science of Forensic Ballistics.
The two Belizeans underwent an intensive five-day crash-course in various aspects of Forensic Ballistics, including the use of the Integrated Ballistics Imaging System (IBIS). The training course was conducted in Mexico City from November 22 to 26 through the Mexican Program for International Cooperation for Development.
With the training received the Belizean forensic ballistic analysts will be able to operate the IBIS TRAX 3D System recently donated to Belize by Canada, which is being set up within the National Forensic Science Service headquartered in Ladyville.
Misc Belizean Sources
PM Barrow Travels To Miami-Florida On Official Trip
The Office of the Prime Minister informs that the Hon. Dean Barrow departs the country today, Friday, 7th December 2012, for Miami, Florida where he will participate in scheduled official meetings over the weekend.
Prime Minister Barrow is expected to return to the country on Sunday, 9th December, 2012.
During Prime Minister Barrow’s absence, the Hon. Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize will act as Prime Minister.
CCA Christmas Play
The Cayo Christian Academy is doing their Christmas play, 'A Walk Thru D Life of Christ,' tonight and tomorrow. It starts at 7pm both nights, and is free.
"Put it on your calendar! On December 7 & 8, CCA presents "A Walk Thru The Life of Christ" featuring a live cast of 200 persons! Don't miss it! It is a FREE EVENT so bring the entire family!
Donations are welcomed! GATE OPENS 7 PM."
Mistah Geeh's New Mix on Soundcloud
Mistah Geeh mixed at the Stork Club with Cloud 9 and DJ Ritchis last weekend for New Exchange Magazine's Luscious party. Danny Chung was there to capture the moment.
Mistah Geeh has a new DJ Mix that you can download for free, entitled 'This is What I Call Music.' It's very well done, with a wide variety of 90's groups on it, and it gives you a feeling for why he's so passionate about music. If you want a great mix that will keep you smiling for an hour, definitely check it out.
Mix Grade: A- (due only to a few too many self promos in the beginning)
VIDEO: POLICE TRANSFER
In his own words ... Minister Manuel Heredia asked for Corporal Sharmane Young to be booted out of San Pedro.
Survey on Police Transfer
The recent incident in San Pedro town resulting int he transfer of a police officer has sparked a lot of discussion. What is your thoughts on the issue? Please vote in our survey.
Killing Beside Church, In Front Of City School
It had been almost two weeks since there was a murder in Belize City - but this afternoon, a killer struck with ruthless precision right beside a church and in front of a primary school.
7News arrived at the same time as the police - and Daniel Ortiz reports:..
Daniel Ortiz reporting
29 year-old Marvin Nunez met his end right outside the main entrance of Saint Ignatius Primary School.
7news got there a few minutes after and the blood spot marks where he fell, just a few feet away from the entrance.
Right across the street, the Saint Ignatius Church was deep in service for a funeral in remembrance of a dead loved one; the people in attendance were oblivious to another loss of life happening right outside.
It is one of the biggest schools Belize City, and about around the time when the school bell rang signaling the end of afternoon break, a gunman ambushed him. The assailant shot him dead execution style, 3 bullets to the head and one to the shoulder.
It didn't matter that there were innocent school children in the area, and other parents who were also outside dropping off their children. The assailant waited patiently, and attacked just as Nunez's girlfriend went onto the compound.
In fact, she heard the gunshots and ran out only to find her boyfriend dying on the street. His family told us off-camera, what they knew so far:
McAfee May Spend Christmas In Guatemala
John McAfee has been getting all the attention he craves in the past two days - but tonight, he is back in an Immigration holding center in Guatemala City.
And while the international press has made much of his supposed pair of heart attacks - according to best information, Doctors say he the most he may have had was an irregular heart rhythm.
He was released from a Police Hospital last night in good health. Doctors said his heart rhythm and blood pressure were normal. Now, his attorney Telesforo Guerra has mounted multiple legal challenges in the Guatemalan courts. First, he is asking the constitutional court to seek a review of the foreign ministry's decision to deny McAfee political asylum. He will argue that his client's human rights are not being addressed.
And then, there's also the legal challenge in the Guatemalan Supreme Court which seeks to overturn an expulsion order issued by Guatemalan Immigration.
With all that ahead - seasoned observers say that McAfee may well end up spending Christmas in Guatemala.
But rather than Feliz Navidad, he's trying to drop the bomb on the Belizean government - releasing what he calls The Corruption Files on his blog. The first rather unremarkable posting - which was also posted weeks ago - seeks to implicate a villager from Carmelita who McAfee fired. It compiles about 20 minutes of surreptitious audio chatter of what appears to be bar-room talk between men plotting the undoing of their former boss.
PM Met With IDB VP
And while McAfee's trying to get Prime Minister Dean Barrow's attention - we'd wager that he'll have to do slightly better than that. Yesterday the PM led a meeting with visiting IDB officials - the first reconciliation after the PM and Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno, had a famous falling out. That episode involved a partial guarantee of Belize debt restructuring and when Moreno backed off because the US Treasury was opposed to the loan, the PM publicly - and privately - accused Moreno of perpetrating quote, "a crass act of cowardice."
But, both sides are turning the page, and the IDB Vice President Roberto Vellutini met in Belize City yesterday with the PM, accompanied by his Minister of State Santino Castillo, Financial Secretary Joe Waight, Economic Ambassador Mark Espat.
A government release says the meeting was to quote, "discuss the future of their partnership and strategies to advance the country's social and economic agenda," unquote.
The release adds that Belize intends to remain an active member of the IDB.
The release adds that, quote "the Bank and Government will continue to explore alternatives to help Belize to surpass its development challenges and achieve its national development goals."
In related news, the Prime Minister left the country today, for Miami, where - a release from his office says - he will participate in scheduled official meetings over the weekend. It doesn't say what the meetings are about, but they are believed to be related to Superbond negotiations.
Tourism Minister Roundly Condemned For Moving Cop
On Wednesday, you hear Tourism Minister Manuel Juniour Herredia defend his position on why he asked for Corporal Sharmane Young to be transferred from San Pedro.
This is after Young arrested and charged an unruly tourist, Lisa Marie Merz - who ended up pleading guilty to a number of the charges. Well, since his staunch public defence of his action, Herredia has been roundly condemned.
Today the NTUCB issued a statement saying that quote, "this type of political mis-step will not be tolerated," end quote. They demand that the transfer be immediately rescinded.
The PUP also issued a release yesterday saying that quote, "The PUP decries the political meddling and high handedness of a government Minister in Police work."
And while those are official positions, we've been called by townspeople - including UDP friendly one's - in San Pedro who are also unhappy about their Representative's actions - and are talking about mounting a protest.
Xate: the Toll Taken
Ten years ago, most of us didn't even know what the word "Xate" referred to. But since then Xate has gone mainstream - and by now - after dozens of news stories - most of us know it is an ornamental leaf that grows plentifully in Belizean forests - and is highly sought after by Guatemalan poachers.
Now, the Friends For Conservation and Development, which co-manages the Chiquibul National Park has quantified exactly how many leaves have been taken - and how many remain in the Chiquibul.
After over a year of field work and in house analysis - they presented their report today in Belmopan at the Convention Hotel. 7news was there.
Jules Vasquez reporting
In an exhaustive - and no doubt exhausting survey of the Xate plants in the Chiquibul forest, for eight months - six persons surveyed 60 plots of the forest - each plot about half a hectare:
Boris Arrevalo, Biologist & Research Coordinator, FCD
"Within those plots we counted all the Xate plants. We counted them, identify them, how many leaves they had, how many have been extracted, how many commercial leaves and how many leaves had evidence that they had been eaten by animals."
Another Guatemalan In Chiquibul
And while Xate extraction is experiencing resurgence, other encroachments in Chiquibul remain constant.
Yesterday, Park Rangers found 36 year old Guatemalan Eliseo Coc in Chiquibul hunting with a loaded shotgun.
The Melchor resident was detained and taken into the San Ignaico police station where he was charged for Possession of Unlicensed Firearm and Ammunition - which means he has been remanded to prison.
Woman Charged For Drug Trafficking
Tonight, 35 year-old Tricia Stephanie Jeffries Dominguez is out on bail after police say that she was busted with over 2 pounds of marijuana.
According to police, acting on information, they conducted a search at her home at #37 Santa Barbara Street.
Dominguez was present when police allegedly found 2 white buckets which contained 5 small plastic bags, one garbage back and a transparent plastic bag, all containing about two and a half pounds of weed.
She was charged with drug trafficking, and arraigned before Magistrate Adolph Lucas today. She pleaded not guilty, and was granted bail of $5,000, which she met.
She is to return to court on February 7, 2013.
Dominguez is the niece of the former Commissioner of Police - now Commissioner of Transport Crispin Jeffries.
Weed Found In Yard, Eleven Charged For Drug Traffic
Tonight, a group of 11 including family and friends are facing drug trafficking charges after they were busted in a home with weed last night.
Police conducted a search at around 7:30 at #57 Iguana Street Extension, which had 3 houses on the property.
Present at the time were 20 year-old Aaron Gordon, 22 year-old Kendall Sanchez, 20 year-old Lindon Hinds, 36 year-old Luis Matthews, 19 year-old Andrea Buller, a 16 year-old male minor, 29 year-old Juanita Hinds, 28 year-old Claudia Hinds, 18 year-old Kevin Buller, 56 year-old Gloria Buller, and a 15 year-old male minor.
Police found 2 black plastic bags underneath one of the houses, which contained 179 grams of weed. As a result, they were all charged jointly with drug trafficking, and they were arraigned today before Magistrate Adolph Lucas. Lindon Hinds pleaded guilty to the charge, and due to the fact that this was his first conviction, he was sentenced to pay a fine of $10,000 by July 31, 2012, or he will spend 3 years in prison if he defaults.
The Real Oscar Coigny
On Wednesday we told you about Owen Parham - who was wanted for a string of burglaries in Corozal.
One of his aliases is Oscar Coigny - but the real Oscar Coigny - who is Parham's cousin called us to say he's in no way involved.
Coigny now lives in Switzerland and says his cousin had done the same thing with his name a few years ago. He calls it identity theft - and says the embarrassment has forced him to cancel a trip he was planning to Belize.
Yhony Denies Involvement In Gun Business
Yoni Rosado - is the owner of Cavetubing.com and one of the first to open the cave tubing business in Belize over 20 years ago. You've seen him on the news before as a firebrand frontline member of FECTAB, but tonight his freedom is on the line.
Last Thursday Rosado was picked up in the village of Blackman Eddy at his worksite by Belmopan police. He was taken to Belmopan police station pending investigation for firing his licensed weapon indiscriminately- supposedly in a dispute with someone else from the industry.
Despite the report that a number of persons made statements against him, he hasn't been arrested and charged for firearm offence - which carries an automatic remand.
He is free tonight but his freedom depends on what the DPP decides. Today in an interview with 7news, he told us when police picked him up and locked him down; he had no idea what he was being detained for:
Yoni Rosado, Cavetubing.com
"It happened the previous Thursday - I was doing my job like everything else. I am a tour operator and I had to meet my guest at the Tourism Village and I had to go to the caves to make sure that they get their tubes and everything, so I was doing my job when about 1pm the police came looking for me in the village of Frank's Eddy. When they came and pick me up, they ask me my name and I told them Yoni Rosado, then they told me to get in the truck because they had information to arrest you. I ask the officer can I know for what because I know I haven't done anything wrong other than being on TV and fighting for our rights in the tube business. No information was given, they put me in the back of the truck and they drove me very fast."
BEL Debenture Offer Oversubscribed, Closes Early
We've reported extensively on the success of the first tranche of the city Council's Municipal Bond Offering - which sold like hotcakes. And while that bond instrument was mopping up some of the excess liquidity in the banking system, quietly BEL's Series 5 Debenture was doing just the same.
The $25 million dollar Offer attracted almost 40 million dollars in subscription requests! And with that robust market response, BEL closed it off yesterday, eleven days before the scheduled closing date.
The Series 5 Debenture offer a fixed interest rate of 7 per cent and matures in 12 years. Each debenture cost $100 dollars. BEL is now considering offer another series of debentures in 2013 to meet the excess demand for financial instruments with an attractive interest yield - since the commercial banks are offering very low interest rates on savings - and in fact turning away many large depositors.
The Cycling Back And Forth Continues
Last night, 7News told you about the trump card that current President of Belize Cycling Association Emil Moreno pulled in his effort to resist that vote of no-confidence being put together by Deputy Mayor Dion Leslie, who wants to be the next president.
He presented a letter written by the President of the Pan-American Cycling Federation, Jose Manuel Palaez Rodriguez, who stated explicitly that his organization and the International Cycling Union currently only recognize Moreno's executive as the ruling body over the BCA.
Well, the Minister of State with responsibility for Sports, Herman Longsworth, has responded to Rodriguez's letter. He explains that the Sports Council is the only governing body in Belize which has the authority to recognize the executives of any sport - or to rescind that recognition.
According to Longsworth, the current BCA constitution that the Sports Council has on file is the only one being recognized - and we must note that is not the one on record with the Pan-American Cycling Federation.
Longsworth added that here is another general meeting scheduled for tomorrow where the membership will decide on which constitution they will run the BCA elections by.
"New Thing" For Neonates
Tonight the KHMH has a new device, called a radiant infant warmer.
It was donated by Alan and Colleen Spring in memory of their son Thomas Spring.
Like incubators, the radiant infant warmer will be used to regulate body temperature in newborn infants, humidify the air and add extra oxygen. The Director of Medical Services explained:..
Dr. Adrian Coye
"This morning is a very special because through the generosity of Alan and Colleen the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Special Care Nursery is the beneficiary of this excellent donation which is an infant warmer. This has been a labor of love from them and a labor also of patience because the offer has been there for quite a while. We've been finally able to connect and they'd able to deliver this very important medical equipment."
"It will be used in the Special Care Nursery and the in fact warmer has the purpose of keeping the temperature of newborn infant at a certain level and also for nursing care. Babies are at risk of losing insensible heat loss very quickly and it affects how they recover and respond to treatment and we are very glad for their generosity."
NICH Makes It Official
Last night we told you about the cancellation of the December 21st international concert at the Xunantunich Mayan Site.
Well, in what we take to be a face-saving maneuver, NICH sheepishly announced today that it is quote "being postponed as a result of logistical difficulties and time constraints."
An e-mail from the international promoter Eyezzon Productions says vaguely that it quote, "remains committed to global preservation efforts and sustainable economic growth."
But there's lots of internet chatter that doesn't place the concert cancellation in such a favorable light. We've received multiple emails suggesting that the entire venture was shady.
Digicell Says, Believe The Hype
But one concert that doesn't have any taint of that is the Digicell 10th. Anniversary event planned for next week Friday.
It's got a long list of reggae stars participating - and the marketing machine has already been cranked up to tell everyone that they can believe the hype, headliner, Beenie man and a cast of stars are coming.
We spoke with two of the promoters and two of the performers via telephone from Jamaica today.
Thalia Myvette, Promoter
"It all starts next week Thursday actually at the launch of Envy Magazine. We are actually going to have an autograph night at the Tropicana Lounge where we are going to have some of the artists that will be performing at the concert there to do their appearance."
"We are going to have 6 international artists; Beenie Man, Babycham, Leftside "Dr. Evil," Chan Dizzy, Trever Off Key and we are also going to have 4 Belizean artists. We will have about 6 hours of international artists, so it's not going to be a 20 minute show at 2 in the morning and it's over. You are going to get your money's worth."
"If we have to charter a private jet - they will be here."
Tickets for the concert event are 70 dollars - and the red carpet pre broadcast will be aired live on Channel 7.
Ministry Of Works Orange Walk Terminates Two Employees Terminated
In March of this year, shortly after the general and municipal elections, a letter written by the then Administrative Officer of the Ministry of Works Alfredo Cruz, was published, and exposed Minister of Works and Transport, Honorable Rene Montero’s plan to fire seven employees of the Ministry of Works here in Orange Walk. The plan was partially executed as Adrian Wade and Cirilio Teul were fired one week after the publishing of the letter. Then, there were five. But to add insult to injury, a few weeks later, three more employees of the Ministry of Works in Orange Walk were given their walking papers. Steve Leiva, Cesar Cal and Cornelio Leiva, who were also on the list of seven, were fired without given a valid reason. Note that four of the five former employees, had been working with the ministry for more than ten years. There were several assumptions as to why the terminations occurred; the most likely reason was due to political affiliation.
Out of the list of seven, only Cecilio Carballo and Shelma Herbert remained as employees of the Ministry of Works that is until yesterday. With only 20 days away from Christmas, Carballo and Herbert found themselves jobless as they were handed their termination letters yesterday evening after working at the ministry of works for 24 years and 8 years respectively.
The reason for their termination is still unknown to us as we have been unable to speak with both former employees. We’ll have more on this story in tomorrow’s newscast.
He Committed The Crime Now He'll Do The Time
After three weeks of being convicted for the crime of carnal knowledge at the northern session of the Supreme Court, today 67 year old Romero Jimenez, Naturalized Belizean of San Joaquin Village in the Corozal District, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. It’s the minimum sentence for carnal knowledge and it was handed down by Justice Herbert Lord at the Supreme Court this morning.
An expressionless Romero was escorted to the court room and as he stood before Judge Herbert Lord waiting for sentencing, you could have heard a pin drop. The moment was tense as his family, including his children, waited for the sentencing to be read. And just before noon Justice Herbert Lord sentenced Romero to 12 years in prison after a jury of his peers found him guilty of carnal knowledge on November 8th 2012. This morning when we spoke to Romero’s Attorney Simeon Sampson, he disclosed that his client will appeal sentencing.
Simeon Sampson- Attorney
“I took it to the court of appeal and the court of appeal ruled in our favour and ordered a re-trial but unfortunately the found him guilty during the re-trial. Four weeks ago a majority of the jury 7-2 found him guilty again and so we may appeal and see where we can go from there we plan to appeal again and again forever.”
Cane Farmers Receive Fuel Assistance
More than one week has transitioned into the new crop season and as usual cane farmers are anxiously waiting for the disbursement of their fuel tickets and with the price of fuel so high, who wouldn’t. The good news is that the tickets, which automatically award cane farmers a less payment for a gallon of diesel, are now in the hands of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association.
Alfredo Ortega- Chair BSCFA
“Caneros que entregaron cana desde el primer día de zafra y también aquellos que han entregado esta semana que cerro esta semana el Martes pueden llegar al Sugar Board a buscar sus boletos. Estos boletos van a reflejar $2.46 por gallón de combustible, de diesel, el canero tiene que pagar $0.07 por cada gallón por conseguir este boleto en el Sugar Board y ya desde mañana pueden llega a conseguir estos boletos.”
Last year cane farmers paid $2.11 cents less for a gallon of fuel. This year they received a reduction of $2.46 cents per gallon. Chairman of the BSCFA Committee of Management, Alfredo Ortega, also urges all farmers who have not licensed their trucks or tractors to do so immediately in order to dismiss any challenges with the rules and regulations of the transport department.
Guatemala Rejects McAfee Asylum Request
John McAfee has been on the run from Belizean authorities for over three weeks now and yesterday, the anti-virus pioneer confirmed that he was seeking asylum in Guatemala after Vice Magazine accidentally uploaded a picture which revealed his location. His initial intentions were to seek refuge in Guatemala, but last night, in a turn of events, McAfee was detained in Guatemala City at the Intercontinental Hotel for illegal entry into the country. As seen in the video, he was taken away by Guatemalan authorities with the help of Interpol.
McAfee was put in jail; however, it seems that he was certainly enjoying the comfort of the Guatemalan prison as he continued to update his blog. In a recent post he wrote, “I asked for a computer and one magically appeared. The coffee is also excellent.”
Word was that the eccentric millionaire was to be extradited to Belize and he would arrive at the Philip Goldson International Airport around ten this morning where he would be handed over to Belizean Authorities.
But that never happened as McAfee’s attorney, Former Guatemalan attorney general Telesforo Guerra, applied for an injunction at the Guatemalan Court. The papers were reviewed by the judge and around 2:00 this afternoon the injunction was denied. But, McAfee is not giving up soon. Today he was found lying on the floor of his prison cell, unresponsively. He was taken to the Guatemalan City hospital after possibly suffering two minor heart attacks. Upon his arrival at the hospital, he was wheeled in on a gurney and when nurses began taking off his clothes, he miraculously became responsive and said “Please, not in front of the press.” McAfee is now pleading to the people of Guatemala to email the President in order to show their support and influence the president to grant him permission to seek the political asylum he is requesting, which according to Guatemala's Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros has been rejected. So has McAfee’s time run out? That’s left to be seen.
Krismar Espinosa Acquitted Of One Murder
On September 17th 2007, the badly decomposed body of twenty-four year old Rachel Cicely Chun was removed from an unfinished concrete house on Santa Familia Street here in Orange Walk Town. At the crime scene, a bloody cement block, which was believed to be the murder weapon, was also found. That same day, Krismar Espinosa, an Orange Walk resident, who was only seventeen years old at the time, was arrested since he was the last person Chun was seen with and due to the conversations he had following the murder. Espinosa was remanded to the Belize Central Prison. Two years later, on December 24th 2009, Keon Swasey, who was on remand for a number of charges, was stabbed to death in a prison cell at the Belize Central Prison. Krismar Espinosa immediately became a suspect since he was taking a phone call around the same area the stabbing took place, and because it was believed that there was an old beef between the two inmates. After being handed over to the Criminal Investigative Branch, Espinosa was processed and charged for the murder of twenty one year old Keon Swasey.
Espinosa’s murder trial began on November 26th 2012 and yesterday he was acquitted of the murder of Swasey after Justice Troadio Gonzalez upheld a no case submission made by Espinosa’s attorney Rachel Montejo. The jury of four women and eight men were directed to acquit him of the charge on the basis that the crown council’s two main witnesses, prison officers Floyd Neal, and Punciano Cowo, provided no evidence that Espinosa indeed committed the murder and further more were unable to identify him as the person who committed the killing. A total of 10 witnesses were called to the stand. While Espinosa was acquitted of the charges levied against him for the murder of Keon Swasey, he was not set free since he is still awaiting trial in the Northern Session of the Supreme Court for the 2007 murder of Rachel Cicely Chun.
It's That Time Of Giving
Christmas is fast approaching and there are many families who don’t know where the gifts and food will come from. This year, Centro Escolar Junior College is steadfast on making a difference. This afternoon students, accompanied by teachers, made the holidays a little brighter for those less fortunate as they visited several families in the neighboring villages of San Roman Corozal, and surprised them with food baskets. The idea to give back to the community was conceived by Agriculture Lecturer Gaspar Cordova.
Hugo Gonzales-Dean CEMJC
“It was an initiative which was brought my attention, one of my agriculture lecturer Mr. Gaspari Cordova who came up with the idea to ask our students including teachers, staff, administration that we should come together and donate small items in order for us to make some hampers and take out our people that live in our neighboring communities that are in need, so what we did today is to put up quite a number of hampers and went to various families who are in need to share in the Christmas spirit and to show them that CEMJC is not only about education but we also manage a very healthy outreach program and that we want them to feel bless and loved and cared for this Christmas.”
In order for the Christmas project to be a success, the families were selected by a group of teachers and students.
Re: Today's Belize News: December 8, 2012
12/08/12 08:52 AM
12/08/12 08:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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A resident of Jane Usher Boulevard 36 year Karel Galvez Sr is now a resident of Kolbe Foundation. Galvez was sent t...
Belize City resident is found with a large amount of cannabis
A Belize City resident is found with a large amount of cannabis in her home. Acting on information, a team of Beliz...
Two men arraigned for allegedly shooting a man in Ladyville
Raheem Crawford and Mason Patnett have been remanded to prison. They were arraigned for allegedly shooting a man in...
PUP claim apparent medical negligence and malpractice at the Northern Regional Hospital
The People's United Party has issued a release condemning the gross insensitivity, negligence and abuse being shown...
Three Ambassadors presented their Letters of Credence
Three Ambassadors today presented their Letters of Credence to the Governor-General of Belize, His Excellency, Sir ...
The closure of Xunantunich to stage a concert has been cancelled
The closure of Xunantunich for two weeks to stage a major international concert has been cancelled. The concert was...
Guatemalan national charged for Possession of Unlicensed Firearm
A Guatemalan national has been charged for Possession of Unlicensed Firearm and Ammunition. Last night just before ...
Police in San Ignacio investigate an armed robbery
Police in San Ignacio are looking for a man as they investigate an armed robbery. Lloyd Molina a 22 years-old Pharm...
Armed robbers get away with goods worth $860
Armed robbers get away with goods worth $860 from a Belize City business. Carlos Williams a 38 years-old Artist of ...
BEL Debenture Offer has been fully subscribed.
In a press release Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) has confirmed that its $25 million Series 5 Debenture Offer has...
KHMH receives donation of a radiant infant warmer
KHMH receives generous donation from the Spring Family. Alan and Colleen Spring of Table Rock Jungle Lodge in the C...
“MILD” HEART ATTACK IN JAIL – ANOTHER JOHN MCAFEE TRICK?
The wily American antivirus pioneer has managed to evade Belize authorities and flee to Guatemala, where authorities arrested him
John McAfee, 67, of McAfee Antivirus fame, has managed to elude Belize police one more time, even though Police Press Officer Rafael Martinez told Amandala that they don’t want to “arrest” him; they just want to “talk to him.”
McAfee has been on the run from Belizean authorities since the murder of fellow American Gregory Faull, his neighbor in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, on Sunday, November 11, 2012, over three weeks ago.
McAfee, whose sanity Prime Minister Dean Barrow has publicly called into question, fled San Pedro, then Belize, all the while keeping in touch with different media houses, some in-country, some abroad, airing his side of the story.
While blogging on the run, McAfee’s reports of his tricks in successfully avoiding Belize police have sounded somewhat “Indiana Jones-ish.”
Apart from denying that he killed Faull, McAfee’s main themes are that Belize police will kill him if they lay hands on him; the government is corrupt; and that the plot against him in the murder of Faull stems from his refusal to donate money to a politician in the north of the country.
On Tuesday, Reuters news agency had reported that McAfee had managed to cross into Guatemala and was asking for asylum there, quoting the aforesaid “plot against his life and corruption of the government” as his excuse.
McAfee reportedly spoke with Reuters by telephone from Guatemala’s Supreme Court, and with him was his Belizean girlfriend, Samantha Vanegas, 20, and his lawyer, former Guatemalan attorney general, Telesforo Guerra.
ILLEGAL XATE HARVESTING BY GUATEMALANS “AN ACUTE PROBLEM”
“…xaté populations in the Chiquibul Forest are under stress, and if adequate management and conservation measures are not set in place, the species may face commercial to local extinction.”
Whereas recent reports of illegal activities inside the Chiquibul Forest have been shining the light on illegal logging and gold panning, illegal xaté harvesting activities by Guatemalans inside Belizean territory, reported since the 1970’s, has been picking up again, according to Boris Arevalo, researcher at Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD).
FCD describes illegal xaté harvesting as “an acute problem,” and in January 2010, FCD had warned of the potential decimation of the native palm sold as a pricey exotic species on the foreign market.
According to Arevalo, Belize has lost an estimated BZ$1.2 million worth of xaté from illegal harvesting activities inside the Chiquibul Forest, including the Chiquibul National Park and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve.
The FCD, working in partnership with El Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) and the FAO/FLEGT Support Programme, undertook a study between January and November 2012 to determine how much xaté is still in the Chiquibul Forest, to estimate its productive capacity, and to estimate the gross economic value of illegally harvested and available xaté stocks in the forest.
“Illegal harvesters have managed to extract over 14 million leaves of C. ernesti-augusti [xaté] worth US$624,592.00…,” said the report, “US$309,211.00 for the Chiquibul Forest Reserve alone.”
A formal presentation of the study, “An assessment of xaté populations and the effect of habitat complexity on xaté stocks in the Chiquibul Forest, Belize,” will take place at the Belmopan Convention Hotel at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, December 7, 2012.
MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN’S VISIT TO BELIZE POSTPONED
The Minister had to be taken back to the US because of health issues
News was received yesterday, Wednesday, that the visit to Belize of the leader of the Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan, who was scheduled to be in Belize today, Thursday, had to be postponed until further notice due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding Minister Farrakhan’s health.
Sources close to the Minister said that Farrakhan was suffering from dehydration and had to abort his Caribbean tour, in which Belize was to be the next stop on the charismatic leader’s agenda.
Preparations had already been made by the organizers of the event to host Minister Farrakhan, and planned activities had included meetings with Belizean heads of state and civil society, an interview on KREM radio, a youth rally, a public address, and a meeting with Amandala publisher Evan X Hyde.
Sources in the Nation of Islam say that the decision was made in Saint Croix, Virgin Islands, as Minister Farrakhan was scheduled to speak, and that the Minister experienced a change in his health and had to be taken back to the United States for medical attention.
TWO BELIZEANS HONOURED BY THE QUEEN
Two prominent Belizeans were today honoured by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. They are Sister Maria Caritas Lawrence, RSM, EDD; and Right Reverend Philip Wright B.A. (Hons) M.A. who were bestowed with the insignia of the Order of the British Empire.
The Governor-General of Belize, His Excellency Sir Colville Young, pinned the emblematic medals on them, reciting a short biography of each for the benefit of a number of distinguished invitees to the occasion.
Bishop Wright currently sits on the Board of Governors of the University of Belize, is a member of the Council of Churches, and works with a number of NGO groups within the church in the Province of the West Indies; and now is the third most Senior Diocesan Bishop in the Province.
Today, Bishop Wright was honoured by the Queen for his outstanding services to Belize in the field of religion. Bishop Wright is married to Mrs. Carla Suite-Wright.
Sister Maria Caritas Lawrence is the eighth of ten children born to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lawrence. Her career as an educator spans forty-six years, with forty-three of those years dedicated in loving service to the people of her beloved Belize.
Sister Caritas holds a Doctorate in Leadership Education.
Today Sister Caritas, as she is affectionately called, was honoured by the Queen for her years of outstanding accomplishments and service in the field of religion and education.
UNIBAM HOMOSEXUAL RIGHTS CASE SLATED FOR MAY 7-10
The landmark case of the government of Belize and the churches versus UNIBAM continued this week as the defense and the prosecution made new statements in court.
It is believed by some UNIBAM supporters that Justice Michelle Arana, in addressing the position of UNIBAM’s preliminary filing of the case, struck out its claim for individual rights but did recognise them as an organization that can claim human rights under the law.
UNIBAM representative, Caleb Orozco, stated that he feels positive about the December 5, 2012 court decision, and that Justice Arana’s ruling in pushing the full hearing of the case to May 7-10 of 2013 has given them time to prepare for the next stage, where they will be able to submit extensions by February 18, 2013. He reiterated that UNIBAM is relentless in its struggle for what he called, “fundamental rights and freedom.”
But critics are noting an attempt by UNIBAM to exploit the recent statement made by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that governments like Belize must do everything in their jurisdiction to modify their laws to protect people who are transgender or who are engaged in same-sex relations.
Pastor Scott Stirm, a spokesperson representing the Belizean churches, still felt that the churches have made some inroads on the case and expressed deep support of the church’s position to stand its ground.
“UNIBAM is trying to use the preamble of the constitution to push a lifestyle in Belize that is unacceptable,” he stated, “They are trying to push this issue as a human rights issue. And there is an international/global agenda that is pushing homosexuality and abortion.”
CHINESE WOMAN ROBBED – THIEVES ESCAPED WITH OVER $65,000
Dangriga police, laudably, offer free escort services to the bank, but Hong Mai Chen did not ask for it
A Chinese business woman, Hong Mai Chen, 39, a nationalized Belizean, owner and manager of the Grigalizean Supermarket on George Price Drive, Dangriga, was attacked and robbed while she was going to the bank to deposit her money, and the thieves got away with about $65,000.
Mai Chen told police that at about 9:30 a.m. yesterday, she was going to the Belize Bank to make a deposit. She had pulled up on Oak Street just a short distance from the bank, and as she was getting out of her vehicle, two men approached and attacked her.
One of the men punched her in her face and the other beat her on the shoulder, causing her to almost lose consciousness. One of the robbers then grabbed her money bag off her shoulder.
She tried to struggle, but one of the men beat her in the back of her head, and she fell down. The two thieves then ran away with her money bag.
Police came quickly and searched the area, but the thieves were nowhere to be found. Police are now looking for two persons known to them.
BELIZE BILLIARDS PLAYERS DOMINATE IN GUATEMALA CITY
The Belize Billiards Sports Federation (BBSF) is happy to share that the players who went to participate in an individual shoot-out at Estadio Mateo Flores, Guatemala City, on December 1 and 2, dominated, as they won seven out of twelve medals. We congratulate and thank the guys who represented the Jewel and gained maximum respect from the players who participated from Guatemala and Salvador. Here are the rankings:
In 8-Ball – Mark Reyes of Orange Walk ranked 1st place, while Jevon Parham of Toledo ranked 4th. Muy bien, mi amigos! 2nd and 3rd place went to the Guatemalans.
In 9-Ball – A Guatemalan ranked 1st, but thereafter, the Belizeans rounded-up the top 4, as Elder “Small Chino” Paredes of Belmopan ranked 2nd, Leroy Jacobs of Orange Walk ranked 3rd, and Jevon Parham again of Toledo ranked 4th. Mucho respecto!!
In 10-Ball – Yes, 10-Ball. Well, we don’t play this game in Belize; but after a crash course on the rules, our boys decided to compete for the first time in this game. And they sure enough embarrassed some Guatemalans on their game and their home table, as Jevon Parham ranked 3rd and Mark Reyes ranked 4th, while the Guatemalans took 1st place and Salvador took 2nd.
It was a long ride to the Guatemala City, but the players showed that they’ve got skills and the ability to represent their country on the international table.
We truly appreciate the efforts and the medals earned. You guys are champs, and we take our hats off to you. Special thanks extended to Rapidito Loan of Corozal, Panifipadora La Popular Bakery of Orange Walk, Price Premier Products of Belize City, and Mr. Isaias Lima, President of the BBSF, who accompanied the team and assisted in making the trip a reality. Much thanks also to the Billiards Federation of Guatemala who hosted the tournament and provided hotel accommodation and food.
Congrats again, guys! You are considered BIG GUNS in Belize Billiards.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
“At the dock of the big port of Antwerp he sees his company’s ships arriving filled to the hatch covers with valuable cargoes of rubber and ivory. But when they cast off their hawsers to steam back to the Congo, while military bands play on the pier and eager young men in uniform line the ships’ rails, what they carry is mostly army officers, firearms, and ammunition. There is no trade going on here. Little or nothing is being exchanged for the rubber and ivory. As Morel watches these riches streaming to Europe with almost no goods being sent to Africa to pay for them, he realizes that there can be only one explanation for their source: slave labor.”
- pg. 2, KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST, Adam Hochschild, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1999
“I began to read more. The further I explored, the more it was clear that the Congo of a century ago had indeed seen a death toll of Holocaust dimensions.”
- pgs. 3, 4, ibid.
“Underlying much of Europe’s excitement was the hope that Africa would be a source of raw materials to feed the Industrial Revolution, just as the search for raw materials – slaves – for the colonial plantation economy had driven most of Europe’s earlier dealings with Africa. Expectations quickened dramatically after prospectors discovered diamonds in South Africa in 1867 and gold some two decades later. But Europeans liked to think of themselves as having higher motives. The British, in particular, fervently believed in bringing ‘civilisation’ and Christianity to the natives; they were curious about what lay in the continent’s unknown interior, and they were filled with righteousness about combating slavery.
“Britain, of course, had only a dubious right to the high moral view of slavery. British ships had long dominated the slave trade, and only in 1838 had slavery’s vestiges been abolished in the British Empire. But the English quickly forgot all this, just as they forgot that there had been slave revolts in the West Indies and that economic factors had hastened slavery’s end by making it less profitable. In their opinion, slavery had come to an end throughout most of the world for one reason only: British virtue. When London’s Albert Memorial was built in 1872, one of its statues showed a young black African, naked except for some leaves over his loins. The memorial’s inaugural handbook explained that he was a ‘representative of the uncivilised
races’ listening to a European womans teaching, and that the ‘broken chains at his feet refer to the part taken by Great Britain in the emancipation of slavery.’”
BIGGEST DRUG BUST SUSPECTS FOUND NOT GUILTY
Six men who were charged with drug trafficking and aiding in landing a plane that brought 2 tons of cocaine into the country have been freed of the charges by the Supreme Court in Dangriga yesterday, December 4, bringing the case to a close.
The case began on Monday, November 12, and 36 witnesses testified for the prosecution. The six men, five of whom are policemen, are Renel Grant, Lawrence Humes, Jacinto Roches, Mark Middleton, Harold Usher and a civilian, Victor Logan.
Although they were released from police custody, the five policemen still have a “possession of unlicensed ammunition” charge before the court, to which they must still answer.
However, police said that they had already been granted bail for that charge, and they were free to leave the court.
Richard “Dickey” Bradley, the lead defense attorney for the men, said that the defense made a no-case submission due to the insufficient evidence. The prosecution had not been able to link any of the men to the plane or the drug, and Justice Denis Hanomansingh upheld the no-case submission and directed the jury to find the six accused not guilty of drug trafficking.
1ST ANNUAL PRIMARY SCHOOLS TABLE TENNIS TOURNAMENT
The 2012 1st Annual Primary Schools Table Tennis Tournament, sponsored by Santiago Castillo Limited, took place last Friday, November 30, at the Belize Elementary School Auditorium.
Competing in this inaugural year event were 5 of the main primary schools in Belize City – St. Mary’s Primary, Wesley Upper, Trinity Methodist, St Joseph Primary, and host Belize Elementary.
With some 40 students participating, the tournament began with a Round Robin competition in which the students were separated into 8 groups of 5. The top 2 from each group would advance to the FINAL-16 Double Elimination competition.
Making it to the Final-16 round were: Matthew Usher, Wayne Parham, Amiri Hoare, Latrel Solis, Jaylen Nicholson, Lynn Augustine, Zack Ortiz, Rohan Gillett, Tyrone Brown, Alexis Tun, Cuison Wong, Mario Galindo, Idelfonso Cu, Kristian Swasey, Luis Bardalez, and Edwin Quan.
And taking the top four positions were: 1st – Matthew Usher (Belize Elementary); 2nd – Tyrone Brown (St. Joseph Primary); 3rd – Kristian Swasey (Belize Elementary); and 4th – Rohan Gillett (St. Joseph Primary).
PLB REGULAR SEASON OVER, SEMIFINALS SATURDAY & SUNDAY: ASSASSINS VS BANDITS; BDF VS POLICE
First, here are the official Week 14 game stats as released by the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Secretariat:
Saturday, December 1 – Verdes FC (Julio Ayala 17’; Julian Maldonado 68’; Walter Chinchillas 88’) 3:2 Paradise/Freedom Fighters (Eduardo Martinez 31’; Delroy Flores 90’+) at the Michael Ashcroft Stadium. Belmopan Bandits (Jeremy James 44’) 1:1 Belize Defense Force (Victor Nunez 86’) at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium.
Sunday, December 2 – Police United FC (Evan Mariano 12’; Daniel Jimenez 41’ & 79’; Lennox Castillo 90’+) 4:2 San Ignacio United FC (Rosny Martinez 22’; Joel Guzman 87’). F.C. Belize (John King 24’, 37’, 70’, 76’ & 88’; Francisco Briceno 77’; David Ramos 80’; Christian Perez 82’ PK) 8:0 FC San Felipe Barcelona at San Felipe Football Field. Placencia Assassins (Ernie Whyte 60’; Brent Whyte 71’; Dalton Eiley 75’ PK) 3:0 R.G. City Boys United at MCC Grounds. San Pedro Sea Dogs (3:0) by default over Juventus FC at Ambergris Stadium).
It was a decisive weekend for 5 teams in contention for playoff spots (Bmp Bandits were already into the semifinals), and points total was not enough to determine 2 of the 3 remaining spots in the semifinal playoffs.
In the South, Police clinched their semifinal berth with a 4-2 win, giving them 30 points to lead their group. Both Verdes and Placencia Assassins also won their games, but, tied in points at 29, the nod went to the Assassins who were ahead in the Goal Difference column.
Editorial: UMOJA – THE PRINCIPLE OF UNITY
For quite a few years now, the ladies of the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF) on Partridge Street have organized the celebration of the Kwanzaa ceremonies around Christmas time. Kwanzaa, which features some beautiful, traditional African concepts, was introduced by Dr. Ron Maulana Karenga in 1966, which was, incidentally, the year when the black power phenomenon first swept across the United States. So then, Kwanzaa will be 46 years old this Christmas.
One of the UEF ladies asked us to provide some editorial ideas on the concept of unity (umoja), which is the very first concept of Kwanzaa. Umoja calls for unity in the family, the community, the race, and the nation. It sounds really good, but life is really real. Sounds are one thing: life is something else.
The most important thing to understand about unity in any group is that those who are enemies of that group will make it their priority to divide the said group. If the enemies of your group are more powerful than your group is, then you will have a difficult time achieving unity.
During the processes of slavery and colonialism, those who were opposed to unity amongst us Belizeans were basically white men from Great Britain. But, even if there had been only black and brown people in this territory, without the dominant British, unity would still have been a difficult goal to achieve. Why is that?
Unity in a group is a difficult goal to achieve because unity requires, it presupposes leadership. The absolute importance of leadership has to do with decision making. There are occasions when critical decisions have to be made. There are times when decisions have to be made quickly, under substantial pressure. These are the occasions and these are the times when good leadership, honest leadership, tried and proven leadership, strong leadership, is at a premium.
IDEAS AND OPINIONS – MANY THINGS
“The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things.” – Alice in Wonderland –
An object lesson
I would like to tell you a story about a businessman, who lived in San Ignacio. His name is Escandar Bedran. It will be a short story. In fact, it will be only a glimpse into the mind of the man.
Escandar embarked on many business ventures and all of them were successful. Was he lucky? What was the secret of his success?
“No secret, at all,” said my good friend Telford Vernon, who was, also, one of Escandar’s many friends. He made friends very easily because, he had an angelic disposition and, was the soul of courtesy.
Telford told me that there were two things he observed about Escandar. He cultivated the people whose minds he respected, and he picked their brains. He had a habit of beginning a conversation asking, “Bwai, weh yu tink bout….” Then, he would give his friend the bare bones of the scheme he was contemplating. Escandar was a good listener. He already had his basic plans, now he would refine them, based on the valuable information, provided by his friend.
There was no secret to Escandar Bedran’s success. It started with his having a good mind for business. Then, he prepared himself by seeking and obtaining knowledge and information about the project. He tried to find out as much as he could about his undertaking, before he made his move.
Come to think about it, this is a good object lesson for all of us. Perhaps, some of the initiatives undertaken by those in high places would have been more effective, if there were wider consultations.
Espat to bondholders: “GoB will not reconsider”
The Government of Belize will not reconsider its rejection of Belize Coordinating Committee’s proposals, Leader of the Debt Review Team, Mark Espat, said Tuesday.
On Tuesday this week, the Committee issued a press release in which it said GoB’s rejection of the three counter-proposals, which the creditors sent on November 21, has jeopardized an opportunity for a timely resolution to the re-negotiation talks for Belize’s U.S. Dollar Step-Up Bond due in 2029 (superbond).
“We are surprised that the GOB has rejected the Committee’s proposal and only inched forward, when a timely agreement would be in the interests of all,” A.J Mediratta, of Greylock Capital Management, Co-Chair of the Committee, said.
Mediratta urged GOB to reconsider their proposals, and elucidated that “the debt relief at levels sought by GOB could only be justified with more tangible and objective signs of the country’s stated distress, such as the acceptance of an IMF [International Monetary Fund] program.”
Espat said, “The [Committee]’s premise that further debt relief can only be justified by greater fiscal consolidation or an IMF program is patently disingenuous.”
He said that were GoB to seek to increase its primary budget surplus projections from two to four percent as the Committee suggests, it would “entail retrenchment and tax hikes,” neither of which are options the government is willing to explore.
House of Representatives recommends new Ombudsman
Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced in the House of Representatives last Friday that they have finally recommended a new Ombudsman: Mr. Lionel Arzu, a teacher at Julian Cho Technical High school.
Arzu, who has a Masters of Science in International Commerce and Policy and a Bachelor degree in Management and Computer Science, will serve as the Ombudsman for three years, 2013 to 2016.
He also has a wealth of experience in both public and private sectors dating as far back as the late 1980’s.
He has worked as an adjunct Economics and International Business lecturer at the University of Belize, an extension officer with the Department of Agriculture, and more.
On Friday, Barrow said that after reviewing Arzu’s curriculum vitae, the House feels that he is a “fit and proper person to be appointed as Ombudsman” and recommended him to the Governor General.
By law the functions of the Ombudsman are to investigate incidences in which authorities abuse their authority or engage in any other form of corruption or wrong doing.
Mr. Arzu replaces former Ombudsman, Cynthia Pitts, whose contract expired in December 2011, and was not renewed because of a technicality.
While Part 2 section 7.1 of the Ombudsman Act, Chapter 5 of the Laws of Belize, makes provisions for a temporary Ombudsman to be appointed on recommendation to the Governor General, no such recommendation was made and Belize was 11 months without an Ombudsman to serve the people.
John McAfee seeking asylum in Guatemala, but gets arrested!
The anti virus software tycoon, John McAfee, 67, who has been on the run from San Pedro Police since last month, was arrested in Guatemala City at the Intercontinental Hotel on Thursday, December 6.
McAfee, who was reportedly seeking asylum in Guatemala, was arrested with the help of Interpol, after he illegally crossed into Guatemala from Belize on Monday, December 3.
Live footage of his arrest was posted on the Internet by Vice Magazine, a Mexican publication that has sent a journalist and videographer to document McAfee’s flight to freedom from Belize.
But on Thursday afternoon, reports coming out of Guatemala City indicate that McAfee was transported by ambulance from the detention center to a hospital, after he was found unresponsive in his cell. Earlier during the day, he had complained of chest pains.
It is unclear if he had indeed suffered a heart attack, or if his complaint of “chest pains” is another of his elaborate hoaxes to avoid being sent back to Belize. He was scheduled to be returned to Belize on Thursday, and would have been handed over to the Belize Police.
In Guatemala, McAfee has hired a former attorney general, Telesforo Guerra, as his attorney. Guerra is said to be an uncle of McAfee twenty-year-old girlfriend, Samantha Venegas.
McAfee has continued to echo his irrational fears that Belize authorities want to summarily execute him, because he has exposed official corruption and has refused to donate money to the political party in power.
His request for asylum in Guatemala was turned down on Thursday, but his attorney has indicated that he will appeal the decision.
McAfee has been named as a person of interest in the murder investigation of his neighbour, retired American businessman Gregory Faull, who was found in his home on northern Ambergris Caye with a bullet to the back of his head in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 11.
Belize City gets Sir Barry Bowen Municipal Airport
The Ministry of Works is inviting bids for the expansion of the Belize City Municipal Airstrip. Work will begin in January on the new expanded facility which will be renamed the Sir Barry Bowen Municipal Airport.
The Belize Airports Authority has borrowed $9.5 million from the Social Security Board for the project, signing a loan agreement with the SSB on Wednesday, December 5. After this BAA General Manager Kenworth Tillett broke ground for the expansion project at the municipal airstrip. A $5.00 rider fee has been added to the price of tickets on every flight landing or departing from the Municipal to repay the SSB loan.
Belize’s tourism industry has grown tremendously since the airstrip was first built in the 60’s, and the airstrip is now handling 120 flights per day, making it the second busiest airport in the region.
Tillett explained that the project will double the size of the airport, as it will now have brand landing strip, equipped with landing lights to accommodate night flights. The new runaway will be built on 16 acres of land acquired from the Landivar campus of St. John’s College.
The project also calls for a new approach and exit road to the airport with a proper office building for the Belize Airports Authority, which is presently accommodated in a small wooden bungalow.
The project has been more than 20 years in the planning, but with sea erosion and rising sea levels threatening the existing landing surface, the need for expansion has become urgent.
Mexico swears in president amid violent protests
Enrique Peña Nieto took the oath of office as Mexico’s new president Saturday vowing to restore peace and security and take on the vested interests that have hindered economic prosperity.
As several hundred protesters threw fire bombs at police and smashed plate glass windows, Peña Nieto marked the return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, with a 13-point plan heavy on old-party populist handouts but with reforms designed to boost the economy and modernize the education and justice systems.
Inaugural events were marred all day by protesters opposed to the return of the PRI after a 12-year hiatus.
Inside and outside the congressional chambers where he took the oath of office, his opponents called his inauguration an “imposition” of a party that ruled for 71 years using a mix of handouts, graft and rigged elections.
At least 76 people were treated for injuries, including 29 who hospitalized, as the result of clashes between protesters and tear-gas firing police, the Red Cross said. City officials said 103 people were detained, including 11 minors.
Vandals smashed windows of stores, banks and a hotel and made bonfires of furniture dragged into the streets. One downtown bank office where all the windows were broken had the words “Welcome Peña” painted across the facade in green.
Women’s groups call for EU-wide sex pay ban
More than 200 women’s rights groups are calling for laws to make paying for sex a crime across the European Union.
Campaigners will present key policy recommendations for legislation to MEPs in Brussels on Wednesday.
But opponents say the move is likely to drive the prostitution industry further underground.
The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), which leads the campaign, wants EU member states to implement six key policies, including the criminalisation of all forms of procuring, and the creation of effective exit programmes for sex workers.
“The most important thing to understand about prostitution is that imposing sexual intercourse with money is a form of violence that shouldn’t be accepted,” said EWL spokeswoman Pierrette Pape.
“If we understand that, we can then put comprehensive policies into place that will change mentalities and respect gender equality between women and men.”
EWL cites Sweden as a successful example, saying that street prostitution had halved there since paying for sex was outlawed a decade ago.
In contrast, there has been no significant improvement of the conditions of sex workers in the Netherlands where the sector has been legalised, Ms Pape said.
She said the issue now needs regulating on an international level, beyond country-specific laws.
So far 36 European MEPs are already supporting the proposal, Ms Pape said.
GingerScoop Reports: 2nd Annual Ladies’ Luncheon At Casa Picasso
This past Tuesday was the Ladies’ luncheon held at Casa Picasso in honor of the San Pedro PolyClinic. (For the 1st Lunch last year, click here.)
All of the proceeds were donated directly to the clinic to assist in supplies that are in need.
The event consisted of lunch and drinks with friends, a raffle of prizes, and an ornament exchange.
Casa Picasso was definitely in the holiday spirit, with stockings hung and the Christmas tree twinkling.
Who doesn’t love Christmas tunes in the tropics?
The main attraction, to my surprise, was the array of Poly Dollies. What are Poly Dollies? Check it out.
There were over 80 dolls, each with a name tag that included what she enjoyed to do. They were definitely the hit of the party. I think I went through and read each and every one. I was happy I arrived early to have the time to pick one out for myself. Carnita, she was drawn to me. Who doesn’t love to make tacos? And her hair, my favorite!
Here are a few others that caught my eye. I think this one was made for SanPedroScoop, but I didn’t grab it in time….she was already gone.
VIDEO: The New Fly Fisher at El Pescador
Bonus, Tom Rosenbauer from Orvis is along on the trip as The New Fly Fisher heads to El Pescador in Belize.
US, Belizean governments prepare for major exercise
U.S. embassy and military personnel conducted final site surveys in the Central American country of Belize last week for a major exercise that will test U.S. military members' ability to deploy while building partnerships with host-nation medical and civil engineering experts.
The exercise, called New Horizons, is an annual civil engineering and medical event overseen by U.S. Southern Command, and planned and executed by its air arm, Air Forces Southern.
This year's exercise is slated to begin in April and will entail several construction projects to add new classrooms and buildings to existing schools with manpower provided by both U.S. and Belizean military engineers. In addition, combined U.S. and Belizean medical teams will conduct multiple medical events to provide medical, dental, surgical and veterinary services for rural Belizeans.
Although the exercise won't begin until the spring, preparations have been going on for months.
"Our first survey took place in June and the things we're finalizing during this trip include talking with potential contractors for pre-exercise site work, materials and solidifying timelines for construction and medical projects," said Capt. Richard Hallon, one of the lead planners for the exercise. "The work we're doing now will set us up for success during the exercise itself."
Archaeologist sues over use of artifact likeness in Indiana Jones crystal skull
A Belize archaeologist is suing the makers of a blockbuster ‘Indiana Jones’ film for using a likeness of a so-called Crystal Skull, which he says is a stolen national treasure.
Dr. Jaime Awe claims the skull was stolen from Belize 88 years ago, and that filmmakers had no right to use a model of it in 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
In a lawsuit filed in Illinois this week, Awe is demanding the return of the Crystal Skull, which he says is a national treasure, from a treasure-hunting family who allegedly stole it, said the industry journal Friday.
But the legal action also targets Lucasfilm, its new owner the Walt Disney and Paramount Pictures which released the film by Steven Spielberg, for allegedly using a replica "likeness" of the skull.
Awe, head of the Institute of Archaeology of Belize, claims that the skull was found by the daughter of an adventurer named F.A. Mitchell-Hedges under a collapsed altar in temple ruins in Belize, and taken to the US in 1930.
The family is said to have made money exhibiting the skull, described as five inches high, seve inches long and five inches wide, which Awe says was used as a model for the Indiana Jones movie.
"LucasFilm never sought, nor was given permission to utilise the Mitchell-Hedges Skull or its likeness in the film," says the lawsuit, a copy of which was published by the Hollywood Reporter.
Creditors and Belize square off on restructuring agreement
Belize is now unlikely to reach a restructuring agreement with holders of its US$544m 2029 "superbond" after a 60-day standstill period expired with the country and its creditors still some distance apart.
Creditors last week urged Belize to reconsider their restructuring proposals, noting that they have offered US$150m-plus in debt relief over the next 10 years versus the existing 2029s and have provided the government with enough flexibility to refinance at a later stage.
This came in response to the country's broad rejection of creditors' counter-proposal to the sovereign's own new plan to restructure its debt.
Belize's revised proposal includes a 40-year par bond with no principal reduction, a mortgage-style repayment, a 10-year grace period and a coupon that pays 2.75% during the first five years and 4.5% thereafter.
Also on the table is a 30-year discount bond with a 33% principal reduction, a mortgage-style repayment, a five-year grace period and a coupon that pays 4.5% for the first five years and 6.75% thereafter.
"While these improved on the scenarios presented in August, which asked for near-unprecedented levels of debt relief, the committee believes they are not yet close to acceptable burden-sharing or Belize's own long-term interest," the creditor committee said in a statement.
McAfee wins stay of deportation from Guatemala
A judge in Guatemala has granted a stay of the deportation of John McAfee to Belize, where authorities want to question him about the killing of a neighbor, an attorney for the internet software pioneer said Friday.
Under the order, McAfee will remain in Guatemala until his immigration case is heard in court, which may be more than a month, Telesforo Guerra told CNN.
McAfee remains in an immigration detention center in Guatemala City but could be released as early as next week, the lawyer said.
Authorities in Belize want to talk to him about the November 11 killing of his neighbor, American businessman Gregory Faull.
The judicial victory came a day after McAfee's bid for asylum was rejected. Also Thursday, the 67-year-old was taken to a police hospital, where he was treated for cardiovascular problems, his legal team said.
Later, attorney Guerra said McAfee had suffered a nervous breakdown and that tests had shown he did not have heart problems.
McAfee was feeling better Friday, Guerra said.
Standing outside the police hospital, attorney Karla Paz said officials had rejected McAfee's petition without weighing the evidence. Due process has been violated," she said. "The right to defense has not been respected."
Four hours with John McAfee
Exclusive interview with multi-millionaire creator of antivirus software, who went on the run from his Belize home last month
Belize City bus station is a small building set on a dusty street in the downtown area of the capital. Its only entrance gives on to a long and narrow waiting room with a spine of wooden benches set back to back and two-tone walls on either side – wheat-coloured to the thigh and yellow from there up.
A crisp breeze was blowing through the terminal, which on this Saturday morning was full of Belizeans wrapped in coats and even scarves as they waited for their ride – former US school buses now in their final phase of life – to different corners of this tiny Central American country.
I noticed all of this because I had time on my hands – about an hour, according to the deep, oaky, American voice that had called my mobile a while earlier and told me to wait exactly where I was.
The voice belonged to John McAfee, mathematician, multimillionaire, creator of the ubiquitous McAfee antivirus software, alpha male. Except that in Belize, the country of about 350,000 people to which he had moved four years ago, he was now the focus of a nationwide manhunt – a “person of interest” in an investigation into the recent murder of Gregory Faull, a US citizen and a neighbour of McAfee’s on the picture-postcard island of Ambergris Caye. In other words, McAfee was on the run.
My people-gazing stopped suddenly when I realised that a perfect stranger – middle-aged, medium height, plain clothes – was looking right at me. “A mutual friend would like to see you,” he said with an outstretched hand to take my bag.
The next half an hour was a movie reel of Belizean side streets, back alleys, highways and byways – anything and everything to shake off potential tails. We pulled over and waited for a couple of minutes. A check in the rear-view mirror and we were moving again, zigzagging our way through a string of neighbourhoods – middle-class but only just. And then, just as it all began to seem routine, we stopped again. “Step out of the car, you’re going to cross the road and then keep walking. Somebody will meet you.”
One hundred yards later, a figure rounded a corner and started walking in my direction. He was white, about 6ft, in a black short-sleeved shirt, black baseball cap, black shorts and those Vibram five-toe shoes popularised by “barefoot” ultra-marathon runners. Only this man was no athlete: he was dragging his right foot, kicking up dust as it trailed behind him. His right arm was bent up, tight like a cooked chicken wing, and his fingers were twisted into a claw. “Follow me, please, sir,” he said. It was McAfee, the most wanted man in the country.
Girls, guns and yoga: John McAfee's odd life in "pirate haven"
To the many people who crossed his path on a tropical island in Belize, it was apparent John McAfee's life had taken some bizarre turns in the past few years.
The anti-virus software guru, who started McAfee Associates in 1989, has been in hiding since police said they wanted to question him about the weekend murder of his neighbor, fellow American Gregory Faull, with whom McAfee had quarreled.
Despite his disappearance, McAfee, 67, has remained in contact with the media, providing a stream of colorful bulletins over his predicament, state of mind and his claim that Belize's authorities want to kill him.
Residents of the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye and others who know him paint the picture of an eccentric, impulsive man who gave up a career as a successful entrepreneur in the United States for a life of semi-seclusion in the former pirate haven of Belize, surrounded by bodyguards and young women.
"Never mind the dog, beware of owner," counsels a small sign, embellished with a sketched hand gripping a large pistol, tacked to the fence separating McAfee's beachfront swimming pool from the pier that cuts into the azure sea.
McAfee, a yoga fan who has lived on the island for about four years, often moves around with bodyguards, wearing pistols in his belt. Since going into hiding, he has compared his lot to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is battling extradition from Britain from inside the Ecuadorean Embassy.
Officials suspect McAfee used designer drugs, and neighbors say he tried to chase them off the public beach in front of his house. Inside his home, a blue-roofed cottage complex, he kept a small arsenal of shotguns and scope-fitted rifles.
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