FOR TODAY'S BELIZE WEATHER, CLICK HERE
Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.
Specials and Events
Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
The San Pedro Sun
Doctor Love: No bachelor party for MY fiance!
Dear Doctor, My fiancé is planning his bachelor party and it is making me very uneasy. He told me about the last bachelor party he went to and I thought that the things that went on were absolutely disgusting. Last week I told him that I want his party to be one where any of [...]
Recognizing and Healing Dangerousness
Adam, who recently committed mass killings at the elementary school in Newton, Connecticut, USA lived in two worlds, one real and the other make-believe. His mind, a rather brilliant mind, switched back and forth making him believe that he belonged fully to neither world. He distanced himself. He believed and cared for no one. Fantasy was rich. Adam spent an inordinate amount of time playing video games. He had a factious relationship with his mother and often pictured her dead. She was a gun enthusiast, had introduced him to guns, and provided him easy access to firearms. So, she was the first person he shot and killed. Then, he went to school. He had already made a premeditated decision to kill en masse. Determined and obsessive, he shot and killed more than two dozen people, mostly children. His conscience was clear. There was no sense of guilt, remorse or shame, and certainly no compassion. His heart of stone was moved as much as if he were swatting flies, but the high was infectious, a dizzying thrill, like that of an arsonist watching his fire. When the police closed in on him, the fog in his brain began to lift. He, suddenly, felt self-conscious and overwhelming self-pity. Cornered, he was in a different world, too real for comfort. Reality testing flickered through his mind and told him that he will pay dearly for these killings. At that moment, Adam was very frightened. He felt a chill rush through his spine. “There is one way to escape this reality,” he thought. So, Adam shot himself, bringing the total number of deaths to twenty-eight.
Wolfe’s Woofers: Cheap Hotel
“Where to, boss?” the taxi driver asked. “I just missed the last flight back to San Pedro,” I said. “I need to find a good hotel here in Corozal.” “That’s not going to happen,” he told me. “All the good hotels are full because of the holidays. I took some people around two hours ago [...]
Misc Belizean Sources
ACES Holiday Fundraiser for Wildlife
Glad we survived the "end of the world." Due to the current economic conditions, the Directors of BEEDFund have voted to dissolve the charity effective January 2013.
Don't worry, We will be obtaining our own NGO status in Belize this January as well!
So BEEDFund is having one last fundraiser to help "Save San Pedro's Wildlife." Our goal is $8,500 to complete a small wildlife refuge in San Mateo. The final goal is by 2014 to have a full time Belize Wildlife Officer stationed there. If you cannot donate at this time, please share with your family and friends. Maybe they know someone who can help the animals being displaced by development.
May all you dreams come true this holiday season! Cherie & Vince
CLICK HERE TO MAKE A SECURE ONLINE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION NOW!
Cherie & Vince Rose
Research Biologist & Wildlife Behaviorist
ACES/American Crocodile Education Sanctuary
Modern Mayan villages awash in celebration as calendar cycle resets
Caana, or Sky Temple, at Caracol archaeological site in western Belize, is one of the largest, most impressive pyramids in the Maya world. Even more than a thousand years after it was built, it remains the tallest manmade structure in all of Belize, a tiny country in Central America with both ancient Maya ruins and modern Maya communities.
Caracol is located at the end of a long, red-clay road near the Guatemalan border. On Dec. 21, 2012, the Belize Institute of Archaeology issued special camping permits and off-hours access to travelers. The reason? 13 b’aktun: the completion of the Maya Long Count calendar.
“Feliz b’aktun!” That's how people in western Belize are greeting each other this week, wishing each other happiness and cheer as the Long Count completes a major cycle.
Of the numerous ways that the ancient Maya measured time, the most complex, far-reaching is the Long Count, developed some 1500 years ago. It's a cycle of 13 b’aktuns — each b’aktun is 144,000 days. Thirteen of them equals 1,872,000 days, or 5,125 years.
Most (but not all) Maya scholars acknowledge that the Maya Long Count does indeed have an end-date that correlates to Dec. 21, 2012. Except that it's not an “end-date” in a doomsday sort of way — the Maya never said anything about a 2012 apocalypse. So while the rest of the world joked and obsessed about “the end of the world,” the Maya region is still observing the cycle change.
This week, across the "Mundo Maya" — swaths of territory once ruled by the indigenous group in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of El Salvador and Honduras — modern Maya villages, as well as the archaeological sites are awash in celebration and ceremony.
Belize reaches agreement with bond creditors
Belize has reached an agreement in principle with creditors to restructure about half of its unpaid debt after "long and arduous" talks, allowing the country to avoid default, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said on Friday.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
Barrow told a press conference that he would release details of the restructuring of the $544 million bond at a later date.
"The agreement is comprehensive and it is sustainable," he said.
Mark Espat, leader of Belize's negotiating team on the debt restructuring, explained that details of the deal could not be made public until they were explained to all of Belize's creditors.
Belize missed an August 20, 2012, US$23 million coupon payment on the country’s US dollar Step-Up Bonds due 2029, although in September it made an $11.7 million interest payment, which was only about half of what it owed but enough to avoid full-blown default.
The Step-Up Bond represents approximately one-half of Belize’s total recorded public indebtedness.
VIDEO: Save Me (Acoustic)
Merv Douglas performed 'Save Me' at Mic Night in Belmopan
The Garifuna of Belize
VIDEO: Making Cassava
VIDEO: A Quick History of the Garifuna
VIDEO: Drum Making
VIDEO: The Jankunu Dance
13 B’aktun Roundup: Maya calendar cycle celebrated throughout Central America
It’s been exciting yet tranquilo here in my little corner of the Maya world. You can see me in the blue shirt in the photo above, atop Caana, Sky Temple (PHOTO BY JOSH BROWN). Celebrations are continuing throughout the region. Here is a quick round-up of reports by yours truly and a few friends:
GlobalPost: “Maya calendar cycle celebrated throughout Central America” by Joshua Berman: This week, across the “Mundo Maya” — swaths of territory once ruled by the indigenous group in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of El Salvador and Honduras — modern Maya villages, as well as the archaeological sites are awash in celebration and ceremony….
Snarky Tofu: “One Era Ends, Another Begins (Apocalypse No Show)” by Joshua Brown (Lonely Planet Superstar): Maya were present, and holy people led both the opening and closing ceremonies. I saw from my vantage point on the ground great leaping bonfires being lit, and heard bursts of sacred music throughout the long night [be sure to watch the videos]….
Grand Junction Free Press: “12.21.12: Welcoming a new age to Grand Junction & the world” by Caitlin Row, with numerous quotes and excerpts by Joshua Berman: the end-date of the Mayan calendar, arrived today in the cold, early morning of the Winter Solstice…
The Great Snarky One: Josh Brown, Lonely Planet author and screenplay writer, pushes through the pain to witness the b’aktun:
Birdwatching Guide to Belize
With a turn of the dial on the binoculars, the magnificent red bird comes into focus: nearly three feet long (the glorious tail plumage more than half this length), with slender scarlet feathers tinged in royal blue, so bright they almost glow in the morning sun. Its cerulean and yellow-tipped plumes look like an artist took a paintbrush to them. This is the endangered scarlet macaw, only one of nearly 600 bird species to see while birdwatching in Belize.
Belize is a hotbed of avian activity. For comparison’s sake, there are about 700 bird species in all of North America, while Belize (a country roughly the size of Massachusetts) has 560 feathered friends. Well-traveled birders visit Belize to see species they’ve been waiting for all their birdwatching lives. The protected rainforests of Belize provide safe homes for the world’s rarest birds such as the keel-billed motmot, a species commonly spotted in the Caracol Archaeological Reserve. Other exotic species frequently seen on birding tours in Belize include the great curassow, crested guan, jabiru stork, yellow-headed parrot, boat-billed heron, orange-breasted falcon, rufous-capped warbler, white-crowned pigeon, red-footed booby and the scarlet macaw. Everyone – from experienced birders to first-timers – can appreciate the unique songs and colorful plumage of the birds of Belize.
Belize’s diverse landscape offers visitors tremendous variety in birdwatching locations, ranging from broadleaf forests to wetlands, pine forests to mangroves, and savannahs to rainforests. Home to 16 birds on the endangered species list, Belize protects these ecosystems in its numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. What’s good for the bird is good for the birdwatcher! We glanced through our binoculars at some of Belize’s protected areas to brief you on what to look for at the best birdwatching spots in Belize:
A special Christmas wish
There is no doubt that party politics play an important part in the way our country is structured and governed.
The result is that political interference has virtually crippled every decision making process in this nation and rendered those who are supposed to rightfully make the decisions, powerless.
As a people we have pretty much succumbed to the idea that the political establishments have total rule over most aspects of lives for the five years that they are in power. Yet we fail to realize that power can only be lost if a population is if forcefully or wilfully given up – so it is impossible for those who have harnessed all the power to be totally blamed.
The people of Belize must be held equally accountable for the actions of their elected leaders, because we are the ones who allow them to behave in the manner that they do. Whenever we change our attitude from that of complaining to one of action, we will be able to get out of this deep sleep that we have fallen into. But unlike the case of Snow White who had a rescuer, there is no knight in shining armor to come to our rescue.
The Public Service is the professional arm of the government and is tasked with the day to day affairs of the people and the nation of Belize in accordance with the mandate set by the ruling administration.
Simply put, the administration in power sets a mandate and the people of Belize elect them based on the mandate that is set. The Public Service then steps in to execute this mandate within the scope of the constitution of the nation and the laws, rules and regulations which govern the Public Service.
It must be noted however, that elected official and government ministers are not a part of the Public Service. However like any other democratically elected government, any ruling administration will have political appointees, whose task it is to work hand in hand with the Public Service in order to accomplish common goals and objectives.
BDF High Command denies talk of higher incidences of rape/sexual harassment on camp
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Ortega is poised to be Second in Command of the Belize Defense Force next February when Brigadier General Dario Tapia retires, giving way to Colonel David Jones as the incoming General.
Already, however, it appears that Lt. Col. Ortega will have a lot to address since the Force has been hit by a series of embarrassing reports of rape and sexual harassment occurring on the BDF campus at Price Barracks.
An email circulated by one of the women soldiers alleges that she was a victim of sexual harassment. She provides names of the perpetrators and lists specific incidents.
One of the incidents involves two senior officers, one of whom the e-mail states is known to be HIV positive.
The victim of the rape has not reported to work in more than a month since the incident .
It is a disturbing complaint that Lt. Col. Ortega, who is currently the BDF’s Chief of Staff, must deal with.
This week, Ortega told Love FM/TV reporter, Marion Ali, that he is aware of only one case that goes back a couple years ago and which is now under police investigation.
Ortega also said that as Force Adjutant, he is responsible for any report of sexual harassment or rape. He said he knew nothing of the allegations because no formal complaints have been made so far.
He did say, however, that he knows “of the name of the person that is mention in there (referring to the e-mail) of being HIV positive. I know that person.”
Patrick Faber’s campaign for UDP Deputy Leader gathers momentum
United Democratic Party (UDP) Chairman Patrick Faber, the area representative for the Collet constituency of Belize City, who is also the Minister of Education, gathered momentum in his bid to become U.D.P. Deputy Party Leader when he hosted the delegates from all 13 Belize District constituencies at the House of Culture last Saturday night, December 15
The banquet was a massive success with a full turnout from 11 of the 13 constituencies; and Faber’s aunt, former Collet area representative 1993-98 Hon. Faith Babb, fully endorsed his candidacy when she addressed the gathering.
UDP party whip, Mesopotamia area representative Michael Finnegan also threw the weight of his division behind Faber, and two-time former Prime Minister Sir Manuel Esquivel and the first UDP party leader Dean Lindo also added their support.
The Port Loyola and Queen Square delegates were conspicuously absent. Faber said he had been unable to get the invitations out to the Queen Square delegates in time.
Court convicts man, 55, of carnal knowledge of girl, 14
Winston “Manan” Dennison, 55, a Belize City woodcarver charged with three counts of carnal knowledge, was found guilty on Monday, December 17, in the Supreme Court of Justice John Gonzalez.
The jury of five men and four women deliberated for three hours and twenty minutes, before returning with an unanimous verdict of guilty on all three indictments
More care needed for older persons Doctors without Boundaries insist
Posted by admin on Dec 24, 2012 in Health | 0 comments
Experts from the humanitarian organizations Doctors without Borders and Help Age International say emergency aid has failed to address the needs of older people in dire situations and are calling on donors and humanitarian agencies to ensure that this vulnerable group is included in any emergency response.
Belmopan Comprehensive boys win National Basketball Championship
The boys of Belmopan Comprehensive School won their first ever national high schools basketball championship, in the tournament organized by the National Secondary Schools Sports Association and hosted by Independence High School at the new IHS auditorium on Friday and Saturday, December 14-15.
MVP Akeem Watters led the Belmopan boys’ attack with 17 pts as they romped to a 62-49 victory over the Southern Regional champions, the boys of Stann Creek Ecumenical College, in the championship finals on Saturday afternoon.
Nelson Middleton scored eight points as the Belmopan boys led 13-10 in the first quarter. With Kevin Brown hitting two 3-pointers to add 15 pts, they led 29-19 at intermission.
Ecumenical’s Quinton Bowen top-scored the game with 24 pts, but Christopher Enriquez scored 12 pts for Belmopan, while Felix Requeña and Daine Hewlett scored four points each to lead 45-30 at the end of the third quarter.
Ecumenical’s team captain Hubert Usher scored the first basket, and Leslie Williams added 10 pts, Brandon Castillo tossed in nine, while Frank Williams and D’andre Reynolds scored a basket each to keep them in the game.
Belmopan qualified for the finals by a surprise upset of three-times defending national champions, the boys of Sadie Vernon Technical High School on Friday evening. The Sadie Vernon boys had repeated as the Central Division champions on Monday, December 10. Akeem Watters shot the highest individual score of the tournament: 28 pts, as he led the Belmopan boys to a 45-43 victory.
The Sadie Vernon boys entered the game perhaps a bit overconfident as they dominated the first two quarters.
SCA girls win National Basketball Xhampionship
The girls of St Catherine’s Academy successfully defended their national title to repeat as national high schools basketball champions in the tournament organized by the National Secondary Schools Sports Association and hosted by Independence High School at the new IHS auditorium on Friday and Saturday, December 14-15.
SCA’s most valuable player, Gilda Estrada, scored 14 pts as she led her team to a 23-21 victory over the southern regional champions, the girls of Delille Academy of Dangriga, in the championship finals on Saturday afternoon. With Indie Dixon scoring two jump shots and a free throw for five points, the SCA girls led 11-3 in the first quarter.
Shayana Caliz led the Delille Academy girls with seven points, but SCA led 13-7 at intermission, and with baskets from Halle Spence and Balika Meighan, SCA continued to lead 17-11 at the end of the third quarter. The Delille Academy out-scored SCA 10-6 in the fourth quarter; as Moesha Enriquez added eight points and Naomi Gamboa and Melanie Castillo scored a basket each to tie the score 21-21. Gilda Estrada scored the winning basket for SCA: 23-21.
The St Catherine’s girls had romped to a 31-22 victory over the Western regional champions, the girls of Belmopan Comprehensive School, in the opening game of the tournament on Friday evening. Jada Jones scored SCA’s first basket and Gilda Estrada led the attack with 15 pts, as SCA led 8-5 in the first quarter and 10-7 at intermission.
Another newborn dies at the Northern Regional Hospital
There is another report of alleged inadequate treatment at the Northern Regional Hospital Maternity Ward which has resulted in the death of a newborn infant this past weekend.
The hospital’s Maternity Ward has come under public scrutiny, since a number of medical malpractice lawsuit has been filed by women who have gone there to give birth, but have ended up scarred and traumatized.
So far, at least nine maternity ward patients and their newborn babies have been affected by the hospital’s care. Four of the women have reportedly taken out lawsuits against the hospital.
In the latest tragic news to come out of the hospital’s maternity ward, the infant died and its mother also suffered a severely damaged uterus.
Headi Chable, 26, a resident of San Jose Village, went to deliver her baby at the hospital and was going through induced labor.
According to Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez, a drug, oxytoxin, was used to induce Chable’s labor pains.
Dr. Mendez said that from what he has gathered about the case, Chable was overdosed through the IV administering of the drug.
High-handed UB Board of trustees? Faculty Association wants iinvestigation!
Discontent is once again brewing on the campus of the University of Belize, where the Faculty and Staff Association has expressed “grave concern” about certain members of the Board of Trustees who seem to have taken over the powers of the Board
The F & Staff Association has listed nineteen decisions which were made not by the Board of Trustees meeting in regular sessions, but by individuals on the Board who decide among themselves.
Among the complaints the association calls attention to are hiring practices, changes in the status of employment, the creation of new posts, changes in salary benefits for employees on approved study leave, board members over-staying their allotted time as trustees, arbitrary changes in sick leave policy and changes in tuition remission benefits.
Association members also complain about unequal treatment, and conflicts of interest.
Oceana referendum case struck out!
Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana on Wednesday struck out Oceana’s application for judicial review.
Oceana sought to indict Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai for rejecting 8,047 signatures on the NGO’s petition for an offshore oil drilling referendum.
Justice Arana upheld a submission made by the government’s attorney, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, who argued that Oceana had filed its application after the 14-day deadline for such applications had expired.
Barrow submitted that the NGO should have filed for judicial review no later than July 4; not days late. The time is based on when Arana gave her verbal permission on June 20, for the case to proceed.
Oceana, however, began its count on June 26, the day when the court perfected the written order.
Audrey Marie Bradley, Thomas Greenwood and Oceana in Belize had filed the case (Claim No. 225 for 2012) earlier this year, asking the Supreme Court for to review whether or not the signatures were improperly disallowed.
According to a Wednesday afternoon Oceana press release, Arana’s decision “brings to an end any legal attempt to hold the Government accountable for denying the Belizean people a choice to voice on whether or not there should be offshore oil drilling in Belizeans waters.”
COLA says Belize should part ways with Organization of American States (OAS)
Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) has taken it’s “No to ICJ” campaign to new frontiers when it released it’s position paper outlining possible resolutions for the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute, including severing ties with the Organization of American States (OAS).
COLA has described the OAS as having “failed to adequately pursue a final solution agreeable to both our nations,” and calls for Belize to “end long-standing membership in the OAS forthwith…”
In addition to leaving out the OAS as a part of the overall solution COLA recommends that Belize call upon the United Nations to reaffirm the resolution of 1980, and work with NGO’s and other neutral groups to increase and maintain a strong presence at the western boarder to prevent Guatemalan incursions.
The Reporter spoke with COLA President Giovanni Brackett, who explained that while the educational campaign is ongoing COLA would be working to ensure that all information presented to the public is thoroughly scrutinized.
Brackett also explained that COLA would be making full use of every possible medium to ensure that the relevant facts on the ICJ issue are presented to the Belizean people to explain why the ICJ is not a viable option for Belize. He went on to say that the position paper, which was launched on Sunday December 16, is the result of extensive research and legal consultation.
Obama taps Biden to craft new policies to curb gun violence in wake of shooting
President Obama on Wednesday tapped Vice President Biden to lead an administration-wide effort looking at gun control and other measures in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting last week.
“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said.
The move marks the first concrete step by the White House toward crafting new firearms restrictions. The president did not announce any major policy decision on Wednesday, but said the task force of Cabinet officials and outside organizations led by Biden would submit legislative proposals to him no later than January.
Some lawmakers, in the wake of the tragedy, have called for a broad-based response, looking at everything from mental health to school security to American culture. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., in a call soon joined by others, proposed a national commission examining the entertainment industry and particularly video games.
Obama and top administration officials suggest the response to the Newtown, Conn., mass murder could include a range of recommendations. But the focus, given the debate that has accelerated on Capitol Hill in recent days, is likely to be gun control.
The president said Wednesday that he chose Biden to lead the task force in part because of his role in crafting the 1994 assault-weapons ban. Obama spoke favorably of the ban, as well as proposals to strengthen background checks and ban high-capacity magazines. The president tried to walk a line between assuring Americans that gun rights would largely be protected, while making the case for some new restrictions.
“The fact is the vast majority of gun ow
EU plans tougher tobacco health warnings
Cigarette packs sold in the EU will have to have bigger health warnings in text and pictures, under new proposals from the EU Commission.
The draft directive would require 75% of the packet to be covered – front and back – with the warnings. But company branding would not be banned.
It would also ban strong flavours such as menthol or vanilla, which can mask the bitter tobacco taste.
The revisions to the EU’s 2001 tobacco directive could become law in 2014.
“Tobacco products should look and taste like tobacco products,” said EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, presenting the proposals.
The current requirement for health warnings on packets is 30% minimum coverage on one side and 40% on the other.
The new packaging requirements would also apply to roll-your-own tobacco.
The legislation would allow member states the option of plain, non-branded packaging “in duly justified cases”.
Standard pack sizes
Words like “light”, “mild” and “low tar” are deemed to be misleading and would be banned.
The Commission says packets must be big enough to ensure full visibility for the health warnings, so the recommendation is at least 20 cigarettes per pack.
MELT Brings Some Seriously Delicious Comfort Food to San Pedro, Belize
Based on my possibly problematic addiction to the Food Network and the Travel Channel, it seems like that food-wise, the last few years have been all about fancifying classic American comfort food. Over-the-top sliders, gourmet hot dogs, craft peanut butter sandwich boutiques, upscale sausage places (I think they are called charcuteries now...they are that fancy)...
Well now the trend has moved to San Pedro and an "artisan grilled cheese shop" just opened at Exotic Caye Resort called MELT. I stopped in on Friday for their "soft opening" and to try TONS of samples. Let me tell you this...they are not serving the Kraft singles and white bread versions that my mom used to make. These sandwiches are delicious.
I tried so many slices that I became a bit cheese delirious so let me focus and try to get the details right.
The inside and the back patio look totally cute. Completely refurbished since it was Miss Sarah's Kitchen and Monkey Bites before that...
They opened up this whole back room...
I sat down and had a cucumber water. I'm guessing it is quite simple to make. But who knew it was so good?
Their menu will include salads, soups, breakfast and then...the grilled cheese.
When Sunday Comes
Been so busy writing about our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize that I had forgotten to mention that,in my opinion, Rose has a very creative side to her (apologies for going off subject but some of the women readers might find this of interest).
She has a talent for turning what for someone else might be rubbish into something of use or beauty, or both.
When our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize is completed the tools and materials that she uses for her various handicraft interests will join us but in the meantime she employs her creative mind to make do with what is available.
She has already made a couple of blouses and skirts with cloths purchased relatively inexpensively on the trips we have made to Belize City when visiting for my dental treatment ( see earlier posts for the gory details). For these she used the sewing machine that I bought her as a present for her birthday in October.
This week, however, she has turned her attention, and her creativity, to making jewellery predominantly with recycled material.
Using paper, permanent marker pens and some clasps that she brought with her she has made what I think are some lovely pieces ( I know it makes a lot of sense for me to say this whatever they look like but I truly believe it).
John McAfee’s Last Stand
“Maybe what happened didn’t actually happen,” John McAfee told Wired contributing editor Joshua Davis in Belize. Twelve weeks before the murder, John McAfee flicks open the cylinder of his Smith & Wesson revolver and empties the bullets, letting them clatter onto the table between us. A few tumble to the floor. McAfee is 66, lean and fit, with veins bulging out of his forearms. His hair is bleached blond in patches, like a cheetah, and tattoos wrap around his arms and shoulders.
More than 25 years ago, he formed McAfee Associates, a maker of antivirus software that went on to become immensely popular and was acquired by Intel in 2010 for $7.68 billion. Now he’s holed up in a bungalow on his island estate, about 15 miles off the coast of mainland Belize. The shades are drawn so I can see only a sliver of the white sand beach and turquoise water outside. The table is piled with boxes of ammunition, fake IDs bearing his photo, Frontiersman bear deterrent, and a single blue baby pacifier.
Belize announces agreement with creditors
The Belize government says it has reached an agreement with its creditors on restructuring the country’s US$544m foreign debt, also known as the super bond. Prime Minister Dean Barrow told a news conference late Thursday night that while agreement has been reached “in principle,” the details of the agreement, including the payment schedule will be worked out in the coming weeks. He said he expect that the formal agreement will be presented in early January.
“This agreement is comprehensive, it is sustainable, and it will provide well in excess of US$150 million in relief to Belize,” Barrow said, adding he could not give further details. Prime Minister Barrow thanked the speaker of the House of Representatives Michael Peyrifitte and the renegotiating team headed by Ambassador Mark Espat for the “tireless work” they put in to achieve the agreement.
Earlier this month, bondholders rejected an offer from the small Central American country’s government on restructuring the debt and said they had hired lawyers after the expiry of a reprieve on legal action. Belize’s revised proposal includes a 40-year par bond with no principal reduction, a mortgage-style repayment, a ten-year grace period and a coupon that pays 2.75 per cent during the first five years and 4.5 per cent thereafter.
Also on the table is a 30-year discount bond with a 33 per cent principal reduction, a mortgage-style repayment, a five-year grace period and a coupon that pays 4.5 per cent for the first five years and 6.75 per cent thereafter. In late November, the creditors urged Belize to reconsider its restructuring proposals, noting that the bondgholders had offered US$150m-plus in debt relief over the next ten years versus the existing 2029s and have provided the government with enough flexibility to refinance at a later stage.
New Rules Target Offshore Funds
Regulations are prompting some financial advisers to urge their clients to bring money back to the U.S. Owning a portfolio of offshore holdings is about to get much riskier, thanks to new U.S. tax-reporting rules, financial advisers say. As a result, some advisers are urging clients to shift money back to the U.S. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as Fatca, will require both U.S. citizens and foreigners living in the U.S. to make extensive disclosures about overseas holdings on their tax returns or risk harsh penalties. Foreign financial institutions also will be required to report more detailed information on income earned by their U.S. account holders, or face possible U.S. tax penalties.
The rules start to take effect this year, with additional requirements set to be phased in over the next several years.
Proceed With Caution
The implementation of Fatca is one of the latest turns in a three-year campaign by Washington to combat offshore tax evasion. In a 2009 settlement, Swiss bank UBS AG agreed to turn over to the U.S. the names of more than 4,000 U.S. taxpayers with secret accounts.