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Twenty year Henry Cornejo, a resident of Plues Street, was charged with the murder of 29 year old Marvin Nunez when he appeared in Court today. No plea was taken because the offence is indictable. Neither could the court offer him bail. He was remanded into custody. Nunez was shot four...
Estranged Lover Guilty of Attempted Murder on Woman and Unborn Child
A jury of eight women and one man deliberated for almost three hours today before it found 22 year Henry Patnett guilty of attempted murder, child destruction and wounding. The jury’s verdict was unanimous. Patnett asked the trial judge Justice Adolph Lucas to sentence him today ...
Separate Road Accidents Leave One Dead and Another Injured
A man from the Corozal district was killed and another seriously injured in a road traffic incident last night on the Phillip Goldson highway. The victim has been identified as forty one year old Jenaro Gaspar Sanchez. According to police reports Sanchez was northbound arou...
Twelve Days of Christmas Kicks off on Love FM and Love Television
Love FM’s twelve Days of Christmas kicks off tomorrow and there are many novelties coming with the show this year. First of all, this year, the show changes its venue and it will be taken five miles up the George Price Highway to the Old Belize Museum where everyone will be...
Agenda Presented To Decrease New Cases of HIV-AIDS
Discrimination and stigma towards people living with HIV/AIDS has been a common practice by people in general, but an agenda to decrease the number of new cases, create better networking to stomp out the stigmatization, and including more publicity on the positive lives that people liv...
Newborn Suffers From Rare Disease; Parents Appeal for Help
At this time of year everyone is making their wish list of things they want to receive this Christmas. But all that one family from Forest Home Village, Toledo would really like to have is to spend their first Christmas at home with their newborn baby. The problem is that b...
Woman Stabs Lover In Bar
Police in San Ignacio town have arrested and charged businesswoman, forty three year old Rosalilia Castillo for the crime of murder. Castillo, also known as Lilly, is accused of fatally stabbing her partner, thirty four year old Pamela Perez on Saturday night inside the Las Palom...
Accident on George Price Highway that leaves a little girl dead
The family of four year old Sherika Gentle is reeling from her sudden death on Sunday when she was knocked down on the George Price Highway. The incident happened as fifty year old Israel Gonzalez was driving his pick-up truck at around three-twenty on Sunday afternoon from Cayo towards Belmopan. Gonzalez told the police that as he reached Teakettle Village, he saw a vehicle parked on the right hand side of the George Price Highway facing San Ignacio Town just moments before the tragedy occurred.
Meanwhile, Gareth Gentle, the father of the four year old, told Love News that the grief is overwhelming because he was very close to his little girl. He said that his daughter followed her aunt across the highway when she was killed.
Police have detained Israel Gonzalez pending the outcome of their investigations
Tourism Police Unit Corporal gets transfer from San Pedro
The saga of the transfer of the head of the Tourism Police Unit Corporal Sharmane Young from San Pedro town continues to generate much discussion. Area representative and Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia Junior has been soundly condemned and criticized for interfering in the police’s. Today, the officer in charge of Eastern Division, Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon, Junior told reporters that, yes, he did get a telephone call from the minister.
And while much of the public discourse have centered in the impending transfer of Corporal Young, today ACP Aragon confirmed that the officer in charge of the San Pedro police station Mrs. Robinson is also being moved from her post.
The whole uproar over the transfer of the officers exploded onto the national scene last week when it was reported that Corporal Yong had arrested and charged a United States national for various offences. The woman, identified as forty three year old Marie Merz has since been found guilty of the charges.
Police anti-crime Chirstmas initiative underway
The Police’s Anti-Crime continues in full force and officials of the department’s high command are positively upbeat about the results so far. ACP Elodio Aragon is the head of Easter Division.
ACP Aragon says that good old common sense can go a long way in public safety this Christmas.
And for persons who have a slot of socializing on their calendar this Christmas, the police say they will also target those who break the law in their time of merry-making.
The Police’s Christmas Anti-Crime initiative has been in effect since early November.
39 year old man chopped in the Buena Vista
Thirty-nine year old Jose Ramon Sabala is slowly recuperating in the Western Regional Hospital after he was chopped in the head and beaten unconscious at around three-fifteen on Saturday morning.
Sabala told Love News from his hospital bed that he was with friends at a house in the centre of the village. He said that he went outside on the dirt road to show off his skills with a motorcycle and returned to the house. That was when he became embroiled in a physical fight with one of his friends at the house. It was during the fist fight that Sabala claimed he was hacked in the head and rendered unconscious. Doctors at the hospital have treated him for a large chop wound to the forehead and left hand and bruises to his body. Sabala remains in a serious condition as police wrap up their investigations into the incident.
Women’s Political movement gaining ground in Belize
Belize as a developing nation has a long way to go as it relates to the political empowerment of women. Articles of..
Government workers evacuate building because of electrical problem
Government workers evacuate Old complex building. This afternoon sometime around 12:15pm fire department officials ..
Assistant Commissioner of Police promises a safe and secure Christmas
Crime has reached a record high in certain respects this year. And with the onset of December there more than likel..
Minister of National Security answers questions about Police Transfers
Minister of Tourism the Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. and Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon have come under ..
Red Cross hosts climate change session in Belize City
Climate Change is perhaps one of the largest singular environmental issues. That is because some scientists predict..
YWCA opens entrepreneurship market outlet
The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) yesterday held the official opening for its new entrepreneurship mar..
Inspirational singer releases Christmas CD
The CD is entitled “Christmas Holy Bible” and the artist is well known Hattieville gospel singer Duane Everry Ysagu..
Boy found begging for food is placed with host family
Christmas is the time of Glad Tiding and Goodwill... but there is one little boy was not experiencing glad tidings...
A giant asteroid is headed to pass earth
A giant asteroid is headed to pass earth. The near earth asteroid called 4179 Toutatis will be making its flyby of ......
UB students teach Primary School pupils about Environmental Awareness
An Environmental Awareness Competition was held this morning (Dec 11) at the University of Belize Auditorium here i......
Cane farmer killed in Road Traffic Collision
A cane farmer from Santa Clara Village has died after the pick-up he was driving was struck by a bus on the Philip ..
Response to job openings in Canada has been overwhelming
The response to job openings in Canada has been overwhelming as a surge of people waited for hours at the Radisson,..
SCHOOL CHILDREN WITNESS AFTERNOON MURDER
Father of five shot down in front of school at 1:08 p.m.
Marvin Nunez, 29, a father of 5 children and resident of Miller Street in Lake I, died after he was shot three times by a gunman who ambushed him in front of St. Ignatius Primary School on Euphrates Avenue on Friday, December 7, 2012, at about 1:08 p.m.
Witnesses said that Nunez and his girlfriend brought two children to school, and as he stood by the gate, and the mother and children went into the schoolyard to the children’s classrooms, a man who was behind him bent down as if to tie his shoes, then fired a shot into the back of Nunez’s head.
When Nunez fell, the gunman fired more shots into his head and his shoulder. The killer then rode away on his bicycle as if nothing happened, and escaped into the surrounding area.
There was confusion in the schoolyard as the children who were just going into their classes became alarmed by the gunfire just outside their gate.
Police reports are that they went to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where they saw Marvin Nunez, 29, with 3 gunshot wounds. Nunez succumbed to his injuries at 1:25 p.m.
FEMALE CUSTOMER STABBED IN CLUB; DIED AT LOMA LUZ
Pamela Perez, 34, a businesswoman of George Price Avenue, Santa Elena, is dead after she was stabbed in her neck and throat during an altercation in the Las Palomas Del Norte Bar on Carrillo Puerto Avenue in Santa Elena. The incident occurred around 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, December 8.
A report to Amandala is that Perez went into the bar and was having some drinks, during which time she engaged a female bar worker in an extended conversation.
The bar owner, who reportedly became angry at the conversation between her “close friend” and the female bar worker, told police that four men entered and assaulted Perez, stabbing her, before they then ran off.
The bar owner reportedly took Perez to the Loma Luz Hospital in Santa Elena, and then drove away from the hospital.
Police reports are that they were called by hospital authorities to the La Loma Luz Hospital, where they saw the body of Pamela Perez, 34, a Honduran businesswoman of George Price Avenue, with a stab wounds to the neck, bruises on both arms and a cut wound to the right arm.
HECTOR ROMERO JIMENEZ FOUND GUILTY A SECOND TIME OF RAPING 12-YEAR-OLD
Naturalized Belizean Hector Romero Jimenez, 52, of San Joaquin Village, Corozal, has been given a 12-year jail sentence by the Supreme Court in Orange Walk after he was found guilty for the second time of raping a girl, 12.
The sentence was handed down yesterday by Justice Herbert Lord. Jimenez was found guilty on Wednesday, November 14, at the end of his retrial that began on Tuesday, November 6, in the Northern Session of the Supreme Court at the Orange Walk Court building.
After he was found guilty, his sentence was deferred until Thursday, December 6.
Police contend that on July, 13, 2008, Romero Jimenez went to the home of the little girl in San Joaquin to seek a relative, but as he entered the house he attacked the child, who had just come into the house from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her.
Reports are that he forced her into the bedroom, tied her hands, pushed her down on the bed and raped her. When the ordeal ended, he walked out of the house and yard. Police later arrested and charged him with carnal knowledge.
SADIE VERNON BOYS: BASKETBALL ROYALTY
Sadie Vernon High School boys tonight won their third straight Belize City high school basketball championship – their fourth championship in five years. They defeated Gwen Lizarraga High in the decisive Game 3 of the finals at Birds Isle tonight, 56-49. Sadie Vernon was led by their explosive national team point guard, Lincey Lopez.
The game was close throughout, with the first half ending 26-25 in favor of Sadie Vernon. Gwen Liz was led by their versatile forward, Aleem Richardson. He finished with a game high 20 points, but Sadie Vernon’s Big Three proved too much for the much taller Gwen Liz team.
Lincey Lopez, who finished with 17 points, was ably assisted by Jamal Augustine who dropped 15 points and Jay “Bobby G” Palacio, who added 12 points.
Gwen Liz had won Game 1 last Thursday by 2 points, but Sadie Vernon rebounded in Game 2 the following night to win by nearly 20 points.
BZ$100,000 ROSEWOOD BUST IN BOOM CREEK, TOLEDO
The Forest Department, along with police and military personnel, made a substantial rosewood bust last night in the vicinity of Boom Creek Village, Toledo. As a result of the operation, the officials confiscated more than 2,000 board feet of the prized hardwood, valued at US$26 a square foot on the world market.
Indications are that although this find is valued only about BZ$100,000, it points to a much larger illegal operation in the south – despite a moratorium on rosewood harvesting declared by Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla 9 months ago.
The find confirms that a substantial amount of rosewood is still being extracted from Toledo, and with the prime market being China, questions are now being raised as to whether such a substantial export of rosewood could be sustained without inside help or collusion.
According to Wil Maheia of PGTV, the Forest Department confirmed the bust today, noting that it was the result of a joint operation, but no arrests have been made since no one was found in the area when the bust occurred last night.
Amandala tried to reach Forest Department officials this afternoon for comment, but they were unavailable.
Maheia said that the exporters may have been trying to get the rosewood to either the Commercial Free Zone in Corozal or to the Belize City port, but he also indicated the possibility of the wood being trucked through the Belize-Guatemala border, near Jalacte.
POLICE DEPT. CALLS FOR COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY IN REDUCING CRIME
Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon said in a press conference today Monday, December 12, at the Racoon Street Police Station, that the police department is requesting the assistance of the general public in carrying out their Christmas anti-crime operation.
Aragon said that the operation commenced on November 13, 2012, as a crime reduction initiative by the Eastern Division of the Belize City Police Department and the operation has so far been productive.
“Since the operation commenced in November we have seen a marked reduction in crime,” he said. “I want to assure the public that this Christmas we are working quite diligently to ensure that they have a safe Christmas,” he went on to say.
Aragon said the presence of police officers in certain areas in the city and the numbers of available police officers from different divisions participating in the operation have contributed to the impact of the operation. He said he wants to assure the public that the police department is doing their part in looking after the public’s safety, but the department also needs the cooperation of the general public to ensure their security.
“The police department can only do so much when it comes to us putting out our officers in the areas we have identified that there is a lot of business taking place,” Aragon said. “But I would like to speak out to the general public because the police cannot do it alone. We need the support of the public until the end of the year, especially during the Christmas time,” he added.
BANDITS CLIP ASSASSINS, POLICE EDGE BDF IN GAME 1 OF PLB SEMIFINALS
The two Zones, North and South, collided over the weekend in Game 1 of the semifinals in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) Opening Season 2012-2013 tournament. North Zone #1 seed Belmopan Bandits clashed with #2 seed from the South Zone, defending champions Placencia Assassins; and the South Zone #1 seed Police United FC collided with the #2 seed from the North Zone, Belize Defence Force (BDF).
There were 12 teams in this PLB tournament, 6 in each group or zone. With a double round-robin in each zone, that gave 10 games per team. In addition, there were 4 “out-of-zone” meetings, where each team from the North played 4 additional games, 1 each against different teams from the South; and vice versa. Therefore, not all the teams had a chance of meeting; and this has been a concern for fans from certain teams, who saw their schedule as being harder than that for other teams, because of the teams selected for them to meet in the “out-of-zone” meetings. As tight as the race was for 2 playoff spots per Zone, some teams felt they were dealt an unfair “hand.”
Bygones are bygones, but one notable result of that scenario is that in these semifinals, the meeting between Belmopan Bandits and Placencia Assassins was the first meeting between them for this season; they did not clash in “out-of-zone” games. But Police United FC and Belize Defence Force did meet before in “out-of-zone,” and in that meeting on Sunday, October 28, at the Norman Broaster Stadium, it was BDF, 3-1, over Police.
The semifinals are home-and-away series; and the #1 seed has the choice of whether their “home” game will be Game 1 or Game 2. In these semifinals, both #1 seeds chose to play Game 1 “on the road,” so they will both end their series at home with Game 2 this weekend.
BEL GETS $40 MILLION IN OFFERS FOR $25 MILLION IN DEBENTURES
Company considers raising more debentures in 2013.
The Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) announced that it is closing the series 5 debenture offer for BZ$25 million, launched on November 15, 2012, eleven days early, because it has been fully subscribed. BEL reported that “as of today, these subscriptions are for over $14 million in excess of the $25 million offer.”
The series 5 debenture offer, which pledges a fixed interest rate of 7% to mature in 12 years on December 31, 2024, is being sold in multiples of $100. The offer was not due to close until December 17.
The Belize Social Security Board (SSB) is purchasing $5 million worth of debentures, in addition to $10 million in preference shares from the government-owned utility company.
BEL, understandably, is happy about the outcome of the debenture offering. BEL’s Senior Manager Finance & Human Resources, Betty Tam, said in a statement, “We appreciate the high interest in our offer and thank all subscribers to the series 5 debentures. We stand on a strong record as we have consistently paid interest on time to holders of our series 1, 2, 3 and 4 debentures. Holders of our series 5 debentures can expect the same consistency from us going forward.”
The proceeds of the series 5 debentures will come just in time for BEL to pay those who had subscribed to its first debentures, due at the end of December 2012.
“With the proceeds from this debenture offer, the company will in whole or in part refinance its $16.9 million series 1 debentures currently bearing interest at 12% and maturing on December 31, 2012; as well as help fund the company’s medium-term needs,” BEL had previously explained.
TURMOIL IN CYCLING – VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN BCA EXECUTIVE
There is turmoil in cycling again. Last Wednesday, December 5, our sports desk received a copy of a letter dated November 28 and signed by close to fifty cyclists from a dozen prominent cycling teams, addressed to “Mr. Patrick L. Henry, Director, National Sports Council” and copied to the President, UCI; President COPACI; Hon. Herman Longsworth, Minister of Sports; Mr. Ned Pitts, President Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association; and Mr. Trevor Bradley, President Caribbean Cycling Federation.
The letter declares a “Vote of no-confidence in the B.C.A. and its current executive,” and lists 6 grounds upon which it has made that declaration. The letter requests the assistance of the Sports Director to “remove the current President and his Executive and to oversee a smooth transition to free and fair elections.” And it ends by stating that, “Our request is urgent as the new cycling season is to start in December.”
We waited to hear a response from the Ministry, and that response came on Friday, in the form of a strong letter, dated December 7, signed by Hon. Herman Longsworth, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and addressed to the President of COPACI, Mr. Jose Manuel Palaez Rodriguez. The letter is copied to UCI President, Mr. Pat McQuaid and BCA President, Emil Moreno, as well as the Belize Olympic Committee.
The Minister’s letter begins by making reference to “your correspondence dated November 26, 2012, and addressed to the Hon. Patrick Faber in which you expressed your concern about ‘the situation that is presently taking place with the Belize Cycling Association.’” The Minister then lays out the position of Government and the National Sports Council regarding “the situation” and, while the letter declares that “neither the Government of Belize nor the National Sports Council (NSC) has any interest in running the everyday activities of any sport discipline in Belize,” it nevertheless listed some points describing how it views the present crisis in the BCA. It then goes further and lays out “the final position” of the Ministry “on this matter.”
FROM THE PUBLISHER
“In the Belizean context, some of those who professed to be socialist in fact turned out to be enemies of the workers, as witnessed more recently by that singular political incursion on the executive body of the Teachers Union which led to the undermining of the people’s protest in March of 2005 but nevertheless resulted in the electoral defeat of the Musa administration.”
- David Gibson, pg. 40, Amandala, Sunday, December 9, 2012
There is a very important article by David Gibson on page 40 of last weekend’s Amandala. In honoring the memory of his deceased colleague, “comrade and friend,” David Price, Mr. Gibson has commented publicly for the first time on a couple notable events in Belize’s modern history. One is the 1975 reform initiative on the Belize City waterfront organized by the aforementioned Gibson and Price, and the second is the Assad Shoman initiative in February of 2005 in support of the Said Musa government.
All indications were that there was substantial intellectual ferment on the campuses of the University of the West Indies (UWI) during the 1970s. It may be said that such ferment began with the work of the Guyanese historian, Walter Rodney, on the UWI’s Mona, Jamaica campus in the late 1960s. There was, in fact, a landmark rebellion on the Jamaica campus when the Hugh Shearer government refused to allow Rodney back into Jamaica for the 1968/1969 school year.
Around the same time when the pro-Rodney rebellion took place in Kingston in late 1968, the Mexican military and police slaughtered hundreds of Mexican students in Mexico City just before the opening of the 1968 Olympics there. 1968 was an unprecedented year in the history of international student protest. In Belize, our mini-version of Jamaica and Mexico involved the organizing in late 1968 of a demonstration to begin on New Year’s night – January 1, 1969. The lead organizers were Assad Shoman and Said Musa, and the target was an American propaganda movie extolling the United States war effort in Vietnam.
THE OLD CAPITAL – HISTORY AND HYPE
A columnist in last weekend’s issue of our newspaper competitor expressed dissatisfaction with what he called “the distribution of power.” Specifically, he was dissatisfied with what he referred to as “the domination of Belize City over the rest of the country.” He declared, “Belize City has virtually become the center of the universe in Belize.” He goes on, “What the rest of the country cannot understand is why most of the financial resources always have a tendency to go to the one place that contributes the least towards the national coffers. In other words, we continue to subsidize Belize City. To add insult to injury, Belize City continues to have a disproportionate representation in the House of Representatives.” The columnist’s end game is to “reduce the number of seats from Belize City in the House.”
Presently, Belize City has 10 seats in a 31-member House of Representatives. From 1961 to 1979, Belize City had 6 seats in an 18-member House of Representatives. The overall seats were increased to 28 for the 1984 general elections, and Belize City then held 10 of the 28 seats. The seats were increased to 29 for the 1993 general elections, and subsequently to 31.
The significance of Belize City’s 10 seats was never greater than in this year’s general elections, when the ruling UDP won 8 of the 10 Belize City seats, almost half of the 17 seats which comprised their winning total. Of the Opposition PUP’s 14 seats, 12 came from outside Belize City. It is possible to view the present government, then, as a Belize City government, which is what the columnist appears to have done.
DOYLE’S DELIGHT SUMMIT
My name is Petter Kragset from Norway. I am a collector of the highest point of every country in the world. My climbing friend and I are leaving in December for three months to Central America and the Caribbean. We are trying to reach the highest point of 22 countries, including Doyle’s Delight in Belize.
Most of these countries highest points are reachable for us except Doyle’s Delight in Belize. This mountain has no direct route for the summit, but as we understand, we need to maneuver through virgin jungle. It looks to me that this mountain could be even harder to reach than Everest!
I understand also through reading and research on the internet that two expeditions have made the summit. An expedition in 2008, led by Christian Rodríguez from Guatemala, started from San Jorge Town and made the summit with help from two Maya Indians, Alfredo and Emilino (as they are two of the few who know the route to the summit through virgin jungle, without trails).
On a later expedition, Alfredo and Emilino tried to guide a third group to the Doyle’s Delight, and on the first day of hiking, they were attacked with guns. They survived, but sincerely have doubts if they want to go back again.
Our problem is that we need information or contacts that could be helpful to us in trying to make the summit of Doyle’s Delight. We are willing to spend money on the necessary help (military?).
FILMMAKERS NEEDED FOR “ONE DAY ON EARTH”
My name is Sharon Weaver and I am part of the team of “One Day on Earth.” I am coordinating the participation of Central America in the project. Our next event is on December 12th, 2012.
A little more about our project: ”One Day on Earth” is an online community of filmmakers who collectively create global works of participatory media. Our first project was a documentary film made from footage shot in every country of the world.
We’ll be shooting our last global one-day effort on December 12, 2012.
I am writing to see if through your newspaper you could give us some support by connecting us with filmmakers or filmmaking organizations in Belize, people who may be interested in joining us to film this December 12. Unfortunately, we have not heard back from Belize so far, and we are hoping you could help us. We want the voice of the Belize to be heard!
The interested parties can join us at www.onedayonearth.org.
+1(321) 947-8168; Skype: sharonpy2
A Guide: Travelling from Cancun, Mexico to Belize for Many Budgets
This is one of my most frequently asked questions and my post on the trip from Belize City to Cancun on the overnight bus is one of my most read.
It's just a fact. Flying into Cancun is usually so much cheaper than flying to Belize City. There are so many more direct flights, the airport probably has 100x the traffic.
If you have time, it's a great way to save money on your trip to Belize. I usually suggest it to someone that is coming to Belize for at least 8 days. Depending on the times of your flights to and from Cancun, you will probably have a travel day on either side of your trip.
One quick suggestion for saving money: If you don't want to travel to and from Cancun, try booking a "multi-city flight". Mix it up. Flying into Cancun and out of Belize City or the other way around. You can often save a few hundred dollars hat way.
Okay. Let's break it down by how expensive the option is. And the more money always means the fastest.
Belize, the Maya and Indiana Jones – a 2012 Saga
“With everyone from filmmakers, video game producers and even actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd making money from the Crystal Skull, with nothing going to the Maya or Belize, it’s easy to understand the frustration,” Mr Young said.
Dr Awe, who is also Director of the Institute of Archaeology of Belize, is suing the producers of the 2008 film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” for use without permission of one of Belize’s most iconic images, the Crystal Skull.
The legal action also includes LucasFilm, the Walt Disney Co. and Paramount Pictures who released the Steven Spielberg film.
The December 5 2012 suit is part of a legal action to recover the Crystal Skull, which was allegedly stolen from Belize in 1930 by F.A. Mitchell-Hedges, an adventurer who claimed his daughter found the artefact on her birthday at the Maya archaeological site of Lubaantun in Belize.
The Mitchell-Hedges said that they then took the skull from Belize and exhibited it in the United States and other countries, and action that would have been in violation of the law at that time. It is currently said to be housed in Canada.
Dr Awe’s complaint cites a 1928 “Antiquities Ordinance” which expressly prohibited the removal of artefacts from Belize without government permission. Such laws continue to be current in Belize.
The Maya collapsed - could we?
On December 21, 2012, our calendar will align with the Maya date 184.108.40.206.0, completing a great Maya cycle of time.
There's been a lot of hoopla that we are about to face a doomsday -- better known as the Maya apocalypse. There are television specials and panic buying of disaster supplies in Russia, a reminder of the stockpiling that took place for Y2K back in 1999.
While the Maya date will coincide with the solstice, the shortest day of the year, will it also coincide with the end of the world? I'm no seer, but I am confident that December 22 will see the dawn. The ancient Maya of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras were close keepers of time. They charted every day, organizing them into 20- and 400-year periods. Using a base-20 counting system (ours is base 10) and zero, they easily calculated thousands of dates, some noting the existence of millions of years.
Why we're fascinated with the apocalypse
During the height of their civilization in the 8th century, the Maya recorded dates and deeds at dozens of city-states, from births and battles to the triumphant wrenching of trophies from enemies. Artists inscribed their signatures on painted pots and stone sculptures. Stucco inscriptions adorned monumental pyramids that crested over the rainforest canopy.
But to continue building ever grander structures, the Maya needed resources. Most of all, they needed timber to burn limestone in order to make cement. By the late 8th century, the rainforest was in retreat, fuel was scarce and recurrent drought led to desperation. Eventually, there was chronic warfare as well.
And so one of the most extraordinary civilizations came to a crushing halt. Small groups of desperate dwellers in some cities held out behind hastily thrown-up palisades. Elsewhere, foes burned enemy cities to the ground and smashed monuments, leaving them scattered across the surface to be found in recent times. Scrub jungle overtook what had been sparkling white plazas. Compact ball courts that had seen raucous competition of a team sport played like soccer went silent. Wildlife scavenged lavish furnishings for their nests and dens.
The reasons were many, and the outcome was shocking. The Maya civilization collapsed in most of its southern lowlands, leaving only abandoned pyramids in silent cities. This was the true face of apocalypse.
Did they see it coming?
Belize paper evaluates value of currency peg
Belize's currency peg to the US dollar has supported export growth and the economy's openness during the past 30 years, according to a working paper published by the Central Bank of Belize.
The Belize dollar has been pegged to the US dollar since 1976, at an exchange rate of 2:1, and the paper's author, Ydahlia Metzgen, weighs up the benefits and costs the regime has entailed.
Metzgen finds the country has – broadly – retained its competitiveness. Between June 2008 and March 2010, the real effective exchange rate appreciated by 3.5% as the US dollar strengthened, but this followed depreciation of 10.2% in the preceding decade.
The paper attributes the depreciation to low domestic inflation in comparison with Belize's trading partners. Indeed, it notes inflation in Belize has not exceeded 7% for more than 20 years. Metzgen says Belize's exchange rate policies have been supportive of export growth and increased openness, which he says is important given its dependence on international trade.
Belize: Learn the rich art of making coffee, from field to cup
Discover the secret life of coffee in a master class held at Belcampo Belize, a farm and rain forest preserve in the coastal hills of southern Belize. James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee teaches guests the fine points of coffee-making -- not in a pot, but from field to cup.
Five days are spent examining coffee's plant cycle, learning roasting practices and tasting different blends in the quest to become a "master barista." It all takes place at Belcampo, where a new 12-room lodge has been built in this remote and lush setting. While not in class, participants may canoe the Rio Grande or go snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef.
(In case coffee isn't your thing, this farm retreat that accents sustainability and conservation offers other teachable moments on cacao, the culture and history of rum and a chocolate master course. Check class options and dates on the website.)
When: The coffee course runs from Jan. 21 to 26.
Price: $4,961 (single course participant) to $6,086 (two course participants) per person, double occupancy. It includes transfers from the airstrip at Punta Gorda, lodgings, meals and daily guided coffee tours and tastings. International airfare is extra.
Things you should know before traveling to Belize
Belize is quickly becoming a major destination in Central America because of its unique mixture of Caribbean crystal clear blue waters, best diving and snorkeling on the second largest barrier reef in the world, Mayan ruins, caving and tropical jungles. Personally, I feel everyone should give Belize a shot and visit it. So if you're on board, here's some fun info and advice to make your trip so much fun!
A FEW HISTORICAL FACTS TO GET YOU GOING:
1. The territory that now belongs to Belize was also home to a couple of different ancient Mayan Cities and Cultures. Right next to the Guatemalan border, in the heart of the jungle, you'll find these ruins.
LAWYER: GUATEMALA JUDGE ORDERS MCAFEE RELEASED
A lawyer for John McAfee said Tuesday that a judge has ordered the software company founder released from a Guatemalan detention center where he has been fighting being returned to Belize.
Attorney Telesforo Guerra said the judge notified him verbally of the ruling, but added that it might take a day for formal written notification to win McAfee's release, possibly as soon as Wednesday.
Judge Judith Secaida did not immediately return phone calls seeking to confirm the ruling.
Guerra said Secaida ruled that McAfee's detention was illegal, ordered him released, and gave him 10 days to put his immigration situation in order. It was not immediately clear if McAfee could get some kind of temporary or transit visa to allow him to leave Guatemala.
McAfee has said he wants to return to the United States with his 20-year-old Belizean girlfriend. Guerra said that would be his client's best option.
"For me, it's best that McAfee go to the United States, that's definitely the country where he will be safest," Guerra said. "In Guatemala, he runs the risk that anything could happen to him."
Antivirus firm founder John McAfee, who recently fled from Belize to Guatemala to avoid questioning as part of a murder investigation, has sold his life story to Montreal-based Impact Future Media.
The 67-year-old's life story is tentatively titled -- wait for it -- Running in the Background: The True Story of John McAfee. The deal was announced in a statement released by Impact Future Media, which described McAfee as both a "famed antivirus software pioneer and human rights advocate." "We are very excited about working with John McAfee on this initiative," said Francois Garcia, CEO of Impact Future Media, in the statement. "Mr. McAfee has entrusted us with his life story, and that is a responsibility we take very seriously. We will work tirelessly to make certain that his story is shared with the proper industry partners." Impact Future Media said it could develop the story itself, but was also open to licensing the story to others.
"My most heartfelt thank you goes to Impact Future Media and CartoonMonkey Studio," said McAfee in a statement. "Their dedication to the truth is very uncommon in the world we Impact Future Media live in today (sic). I am now, and will always be grateful to their organizations." The news led renowned ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick to ask via Twitter who might best play McAfee. As of press time, recommendations included Gary Busey, Gary Oldman, Billy Bob Thornton, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sacha Baron Cohen.