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The San Pedro Sun

SP Mayor Daniel Guerrero returns from working visit to Taiwan
The Mayor of San Pedro Town Daniel Guerrero is back on the island after leading a Belizean delegation to Taiwan on a 10-day working visit. Forming a part of the Belize delegation were Herbert Haylock, President of Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), Israel Marin of Belize Diesel and Equipment Company Limited, Khub Chand Vanjani, a Director at the Corozal Free Zone and Marilyn Suzette Pinelo from the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The visit was an invitation from the Taiwanese government coordinated through the Central America Trade Office (CATO) in Taiwan. The delegation of five departed Belize on Friday April 19th and returned on Sunday April 28th. Speaking with The San Pedro Sun following his visit, Mayor Guerrero said that trip was a learning experience and one that can yield good results. “I can see Belize benefiting from several things that the Taiwanese are doing. They are far more developed than we are but I am certain that in the area of investment, Belize can do more to attract some into the country. Recycling is another area we can learn from and capitalize. We are not good at recycling and if you look at Taiwan, they try to recycle as much as they can to reduce garbage. Tourism is another area we should try to invest more into,” said Guerrero.

SPHS presents Science and Business Fair 2013
Across the country, schools host Science and Business Fairs to showcase the students’ creativity and potential. It is a great opportunity for students to showcase their best efforts. On Friday, April 26th and Saturday, April 27th several groups composed of San Pedro High School (SPHS) alumni displayed their work to be judged and critiqued at their annual Science and Business Fair. The entire community of San Pedro was invited to the Angel Nuñez Auditorium to witness the ingenuity of the bright minds over at SPHS. Since the beginning of the new school year, students have been investigating, planning, and experimenting in order to produce the final result which was on display during the Science Fair and Business Fair.The event lasted two days, with science experiments being showcased on Friday and the business projects presented on Saturday.

Managers of world’s two largest barrier reefs team up to protect biodiversity
Australia and Belize might seem worlds apart, but when it comes to coral reefs there is much in common. A key challenge faced by both countries is how to encourage economic development in ways that don’t reduce marine biodiversity. This is the focus of a three-day workshop in Belize City 7-9 May. Coral reef managers, scientists and policymakers will come together to review best-practice approaches to biodiversity offsetting, which can help developers and regulators design projects that deliver social and economic benefits while ensuring no overall loss of biodiversity. “Biodiversity offsets are emerging as an important strategy internationally, but most of the work to date has focused on land-based biodiversity”, explains Minister Lisel Alamila, Minister with responsibility for the environment. “This workshop will not only help chart a more sustainable path for Belize, but will also make a valuable contribution to international best practice. “We are currently tackling similar issues in Australia”, says Dr Paul Marshall from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. “It is a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and collaborate on a issue of such importance to the future of coral reefs and coastal communities.”

Ambergris Today

Groundbreaking Ceremony of Maya House of Cacao and Chocolate Museum for Belize
The Toledo District will benefit from significant a significant economic investment which will create educational and job opportunities for its residents. The investment will come through the construction of the Maya House of Cacao and Chocolate Museum for which the groundbreaking ceremony took place on Friday, April 25, 2013 at the San Antonio Highway. The project is being led by the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) which has received a grant of €500,000 or BZ$1,250,000 through the Belize Rural Development Project II, funded by the European Union and the Government of Belize. The European Union will contribute BZ$1,000, 000 to the project which aims to reduce poverty in the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts. This will be achieved through increasing employment, and household income opportunities by further developing the cacao industry through agro processing and eco-tourism opportunities.

Misc Belizean Sources

Miriam - Belize Top Model of The Week - Behind The Scenes Video
Belize's Top Model is selected Weekly and shot on location at various sites in and around the beautiful travel destination of Belize. Models are selected bas...

A magazine on Belize Fashion + Arts + Anything Contemporary. Having collaborated with many artists in fashion, modeling, the arts and music, I have always had the idea of doing a magazine that tells their story. This is the beginning of that journey. I am pleased to introduce STRIDES Magazine.. a publication on Belize Fashion + Arts and Anything Contemporary. We are working hard to get the first issue off the ground real soon.. here is a little teaser of some of the stories we are working on. Stay tuned, and if you know anyone that is making great STRIDES in what they do and you feel they should be featured, let us know! Demian Solano Publisher

Open Letter to OAS Secretary General
Ambassador Insulza: We write on behalf of a cross-section of Belizeans and true friends of Belize, worldwide, who acknowledge and hold in the highest regard, the sovereignty and territorial integrity achieved by the nation of Belize on 21st September 1981 via joining the brotherhood of independent nations courtesy of the United Nations. This correspondence shall bring to your attention a number of issues, under the aegis of the Special Agreement, involving the Organisation of American States (OAS)’s handling of critical concerns, arising from Guatemala’s unfounded claim to Belize. We understand that within the scope of the Compromis signed in 2008, by the two governments, that the OAS shall act as an impartial arbiter, toward bringing to a definitive solution, Guatemala’s unfounded claim on Belize’s sovereign territory. As you are aware on Monday, 22nd April 2013, the Government of Guatemala announced that it will no longer adhere to the agreed upon date scheduled for the simultaneous referendum. This determination is, undoubtedly inauspicious concerning the aforementioned Special Agreement between the two governments. Yet even prior to this development, due to the continued intransigence of the Government of Guatemala, the process was held in a state of stasis.

Generation of Fire Youth Retreat
The Generation of Fire Youth Group had a retreat over the weekend with the theme 'Breaking the Pattern.' "GOFAR2013 Youth Retreat was carried out under the Theme: 'Breaking the Pattern; Entering His Glory'. This Retreat was Unforgettable! The Glory of God filled the Retreat Facility! The Fire of God was there! The Prescence of God broke every pattern the world has established and established the mindset of God! There was and Extravagant, in Spirit and Truth Praise and Worship that saturated the atmosphere and penetrated Heaven. It was Amazing! God Suprised us with His Above and Beyond! It was an Awesome time as Over 50 Youths Gathered to make their hearts the habitation of God's Glory. It was an awesome time as Our Youths from Generation of Fire Youth Group, Youths from Generacion Belize, and from Spanish Lookout all together Sought the Face of God with all our hearts."

SHJC Tourism Students at Caracol
The Sacred Heart Junior College Tourism students had the trip of a lifetime, and were lucky enough to spend the night at one of the best Mayan archaeological sites: Caracol. Joe Awe's Eco and Adventure Tourism class had a lot of fun during the amazing learning experience. "Tourism Students from SHJC had a unique experience when they camped overnight at Caracol."

Photo of the month
This month we want to say thank you to our beautiful ‘Ragga Queen’ – she has tirelessly and effortlessly traveled up and down Belize’s reef gifting the perfect adventure for all those that ride her. She for many years has been our largest boat, our most comfortable ride as she was brought on to take us to the ‘next level’. As of the end of May she will come 2nd in line to Ragga Empress, our new catamaran which will once again give our overnight customers the comfort and class that they very much deserve but in the fanfare we may forget our Queen! Fear not, Queen will not be put up to pasture but may spend more time around Caye Caulker, undertaking the Hol Chan day snorkeling tour!!


Felicia Chen Is Suffering From Chronic Depression
Saturday’s triple murder of three year old Thomas Edilberto Teul, four year old Triana Elica Teul, and one year old Trinaya Felicia Teul at the hands of their mother, 22 year old Felicia Chen, has the left the country of Belize in shock. And as family members of the three young children including their father, recover from the dreadful ordeal; a post mortem examination has certified their cause of death to be Immersion Syndrome. Chen, who has been charged with three counts of murder, was taken back to court today where it was revealed that she is suffering from Chronic Depression and is in urgent need of therapy and will be held under observation for the next fourteen days at a mental health hospital after which it will be determined whether she will remain there or if she will stand trial. As for six year old Trinaya Felicia Teul, who managed to escape death, she is also receiving psychiatric assistance.

Prime Minister Lack For Words When Questioned About GIV Enterprises
Governments 19 days controversial Rosewood Amnesty came to an end on April 26th with much discussion. Yesterday, during his first quarterly press conference, the Prime Minister of Belize touched basis on the issue for the first time by stating that he completely understands the public’s outcry. Honorable Dean Barrow Prime Minister of Belize "I cannot be disrespectful of public opinion but I still think that that was a legitimate, simple and practical way to go. Look there's talk of principals that were involved and connection to the UDP. While those that do the actual exports are limited in number - the people who cut the rosewood and sell to the brokers and exporters are regular folk in Toledo. That is why I said according maximum respect to those that almost violently disagree with the government's position - I would appeal for them to join us in drawing a line in the past. And we’re saying freely to this issue and moving forward now in a sustainable way with respect to the harvesting of this most precious natural resource." But what does the Prime Minister think of the fact that GIV Enterprises, the company owned by German Ignacio Vega, brother of Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, is the sole exporter of all of government’s confiscated rosewood? Well, unlike the Prime Minister, he lacked for words.

Combating The Dreadful Frog Hopper
A few years ago the Sugar Industry and the livelihoods of thousands of cane farmers came under threat by a heavy outbreak of the frog hopper insect. The tiny insect sucks the leaf of the cane and dries up the plant, eventually destroying it. The froghopper insect becomes a problem for sugar cane when it exists in very high numbers, which escalate especially in hot, humid conditions. With this in mind, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, with funding from the World Wild Life Fund, set up a laboratory in Corozal which is used to identify the egg count of frog hoppers in each cane field in order to work towards its eradication. Here is how the process works. Elmer Cornejo – Reporting The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association established the Frog Hopper Egg Monitoring Laboratory in Corozal Town in 2011 with funding obtained from the World Wildlife Fund in efforts of controlling the spread of the frog hopper, a small insect that is considered deadly to the Sugar Industry if not dealt with in time.

VOIP Accessible In Belize
Forming part of the “United Democratic Party’s” manifesto promise back in 2008 was the introduction of the Voice Over the Internet Protocol better known as VOIP. Years past and government was unable to fulfill on that promise. That is until yesterday when the Prime Minster Barrow announced that effective today April 30th VOIP will be readily available for Belizeans. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize “B.T.L. will enable full and open access to VOIP based services and applications in Belize. This will mean the use of B.T.L.’s high speed internet service including DSL, wireless internet and mobile internet and will mean that there will be no restriction whatsoever on Voice Over Internet Protocol. B.T.L. says this will immediately allow over two hundred thousand Belizeans currently with B.T.L.’s residential internet and with internet on Digicell Mobile Services, to gain immediate access to the many other VOIP based applications and services that are not currently available. Of course this ability to now freely access VOIP will further harness the power of the internet and allow Belizeans to enhance many facets of their lives; particular in areas of long distance learning with video conferencing capabilities, computer to computer conversations with families and friends abroad and even internet based television. Now this of course will affect B.T.L.’s revenues from its voice traffic tremendously. We thinking that of seven million dollars are being lost in the first year.” So now, Belizeans are left with the question; how will Government fill that 7 million dollars lost in revenue? That’s a question that’s left to be answered.

A Different Look For This Years NATS
This weekend all roads lead to Capital City Belmopan for the National Agricultural and Trade Show scheduled to take place on May 3rd and 4th. According to Eugene Waight, Chair of the National Trade Show and Agricultural Committee, the weekend promises to be one filled with entertainment and the recent changes made to the show ground itself will make the event more interesting. Eugene Waight- Chair, National Trade Show and Agricultural Committee. “The biggest and brightest show comes on this weekend starting on Friday at four, we have the opening ceremony and then the two days of show Saturday and Sunday. I would like to highlight that we have done large investment in infrastructure, we now have a new welcome and ticketing area, very nice and we put on some metal signs and it brings a new look to the show grounds and to Belmopan, the welcome signed was sponsored by BTL and the government invested in a new main stage, it is a much larger building 60 x 100 feet very cool, w also invested in a Rodeo Pavilion that was sponsored by Bowen and Bowen so we got a lot of sponsorship this year, besides that we have made a lot of secondary roads across the show grounds to try to relief that congestion that we had in the past where everybody wants to be on the main road so we have a lot of secondary roads and lots of stalls and booths will be on those secondary roads.”

VIP Party Says No To The ICJ
Yesterday we told you about the educative session on the issue of the unfounded Guatemala Claim carried out here in Orange Walk Town by the Referendum Unit. During the sensitization campaign, representatives of the Referendum Committee spoke about the pros and cons of taking the existing territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. As mentioned last night, the Vision Inspired by the People Party also addressed those in attendance. While the United Democratic Party’s central executive and the national party council is saying yes to the ICJ, the Peoples United Party is yet to take a stance. But when it comes to the VIP party, they are saying no to ICJ. Paul Morgan, VIP “Our first hurdle in at the ICJ which we are not hearing about is to convince the court that Guatemala must recognize the 1859 treaty and that will be a hurdle. People if we lose that case, if they are smart enough to maneuverer their way around that case then our case is dead, forget it, so we are saying this because our position is no, somebody say it better than I, you gamble pity pat don’t gamble your country. Article 59 speaks to precedence on and this is something I would like you to tell the Government to ask the ICJ the decisions of the court have no binding in force except between the parties and in respect of the particular case, that is what they are saying about precedents, any case that the ICJ tries has to do with this thing called International Customs, customs in Belize and Guatemala are different that custom in Nigeria and Chad, they different than customs in Europe, so that is why the ICJ cannot have precedence from one to the other, they can’t apply a judgment from Nicaragua and Colombia to Belize and Guatemala, we have different customs, different relationships.


Happy Labor Day Belize

April 21, 2013 - April 27, 2013 Fishing Report
A week of perfect fishing weather finally settled in opening up all the flats throughout the area. Lots of permit were fooled with tarpon fishing making a big appearance. The migratory tarpon are right around the corner.

International Sources

Playboy Belize Feature
The April issue of Playboy Mag Travel features a full page spread on Belize. Writer Mickey Rapkin gives great overview of the scuba diving and snorkeling of Belize’s fantastic Barrier Reef. The article says the country is not overrun by tourists – yet. He recommends as the ultimate picnic catching a speedboat to the microscopic Silk Cayes (islands), catch some snapper and have your tour guide grill it on the beach and chase down with ice-cold beer. Rapkin also reveals that Director Francis Ford Coppola who owns a resort here, has a secret stash of 50-year old pirate-worthy rum that he sometimes shares if you ask nicely. But we are a little puzzled about the Melon Lady. Perhaps the author took the Maya legend of Th Xtabai as his inspiration.

BTL drops VoIP restrictions
Belize’s full-service telco Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) has confirmed that the company will provide unrestricted access to Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), effective from 30 April 2013, and the service will be open to all BTL subscribers using DSL, fixed-wireless broadband, CDMA and EDGE/3G mobile internet services. Belize’s prime minister Dean Barrow initially reported the state-owned company had agreed to lift restrictions on VoIP in his first quarterly press conference for 2013. According to BTL chief operations officer Karen Bevans, cable companies who resell BTL’s internet services will also automatically have VoIP services opened to their customers. The company is currently looking at providing more services and applications to make up for the revenue lost as a result of the liberalisation of VoIP, estimated at around USD7 million in the first year of unrestricted VoIP access.

Belize Government To Launch National Bank
The Belize government is to launch a national bank that Prime Minister Dean Barrow said should place pressure on commercial banks to reduce lending rates to consumers in the future. Barrow said the National Bank of Belize Limited will have a start-up capital of BDZ$20 million (one Belize dollar = US$0.50 cents) that will come from PetroCaribe funds. "The mission of the bank is principally to make residential mortgage and other consumer loans available to lower to middle income Belizeans and in particular to public officers and teachers at cheaper rates than are being offered in the market at this time," he told reporters. Directly intervening Barrow said the government is "directly intervening in the market to cut down costs in a sector that for too long has given little back to those on whose backs the profits are made in the first place." He added that "the whole idea is to put pressure, downward pressure, on the lending rates of the commercial banks." The prime minister said the National Bank expects to lend to consumers at an interest rate of approximately 6.5 per cent on average. He said that since the bulk of the monies will be loaned to teachers and public officers it was expected that there will be a minimum non-performing element in terms of those loans. Barrow said the board of directors and a managing director have already been named and the idea is to turn the national bank into a full bore facility with all the services.

Military veterinarians gain experience, help community in Belize
The 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services team based in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, provided free veterinary care to livestock as part of a readiness training exercise in San Jose, Belize, in mid-April. The exercise is designed to provide vaccinations to animals in several communities while helping improve the skills of U.S. military medical forces. Photos courtesy of U.S. Army Central Public Affairs. In this photo, a Belizean man ropes a calf for vaccinations during a veterinary readiness training exercise in San Jose, Belize, April 19, 2013. Medical professionals from the U.S. are providing free veterinary treatment at multiple veterinary readiness training exercises throughout Belize as part of an exercise known as New Horizons.

Moody's: Debt overhang will continue to constrain Belize's sovereign rating
Belize's Caa2 government bond rating will likely remain in the Caa range for the next two to four years, given persistently high debt ratios and two defaults in the past seven years, says Moody's Investors Service in its latest report on Belize. Two default events reveal the country's low debt tolerance and signal diminished institutional willingness and ability to service external debt, according the report "Credit Analysis: Belize, Government of." Moody's says government debt on the order of 70% of GDP, coupled with limited fiscal and foreign exchange buffers, impairs Belize's credit outlook and leaves the country vulnerable to adverse shocks that can materially impact government creditworthiness. Debt servicing capacity is likely to decline as Belize exhausts its limited oil reserves. At the current rate of extraction, oil exports are set to decline to around 1% to 2% of GDP by the middle of the decade, from a high of 11% of GDP in 2011, impairing both fiscal revenues and foreign exchange earnings, says Moody's. Compensation claims arising from the nationalization of two utilities during 2009 - 2011 - Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) -- could pose significant credit risks. Currently in litigation, the materialization of sizeable BEL/BTL liabilities would significantly increase the likelihood of another external debt restructuring, says Moody's. Contingent liabilities could also stem from a weak banking sector, as poor credit quality and under-provisioning for impaired loans has led to a marked deterioration in capital adequacy ratios and profitability indicators.

New Horizons dental team brings smiles to Belize
U.S. and Canadian military medical personnel partnered to provide comprehensive dental services at the Punta Gorda Hospital annex here during a dental readiness training exercise scheduled from April 22 through May 2. The 11-day medical mission, part of an ongoing exercise called New Horizons, provides dental services consisting of oral hygiene education, teeth cleanings, fillings, root canals and extractions. The team also has the capability to provide partial dentures, known as teeth restorations. Senior Airman William Cochran, dental laboratory technician from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., found job satisfaction during his first deployment despite the increased responsibilities. "Even though the workload is crazy fast and working at two and a half times what I would be working at back home, I am loving it,” said Cochran. “People come to the clinic with no teeth and I am able to give them their life back essentially. I help give them a brand new smile."

More people enjoying Belize than ever
The number of people visiting Belize in the first quarter of 2013 was at a record high with a total of 92,991 tourists travelling to the country between January and March. That is an increase of 13 per cent on visits during the same period in 2012, highlighting the lure of Belize's Caribbean coast and the locals' reputation for being friendly and laidback. In March alone the country saw the number of tourists top 35,000 for the first time ever. Those wishing to follow in the footsteps of their fellow travellers will find that it has lush rainforests, the ruins of Maya temples and world-class diving opportunities. The biggest barrier reef anywhere in the western hemisphere is located off the coast of Belize, making this underwater world a must-see for divers.

WFN Delivers Three New Shows As Part Of Its May Programming Lineup
Watch a talented group of anglers spend 13 days at the world's second largest reef fishing for tarpon, bonefish, wahoo, tuna, barracuda and permit on another WFN original production, Belize Outdoors. Locals, travelers, experts and beginners - everyone comes away with a catch in the tropical paradise of Belize starting Saturday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Belize Tourism Off to Record Start in 2013
Tourism in Belize is at an all-time high for the first quarter of 2013, according to a report from the Belize Tourism Board. Airport arrivals increased by 7.58 percent in January, by 6 percent in February and by 10.1 percent in March, all compared to the same periods in 2012. In March, Belize recorded 28,623 tourist arrivals, the most the country has received in any single month in its history. It was also the 19th consecutive month of annual growth. Overall, arrivals were up 8.1 percent in the first quarter compared to the first three months of 2012.