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The San Pedro Sun

Presentation of the exhibition "The Alignment" by Nelson Young
The Embassy of Mexico hosted on Tuesday, December 17th at 6:30 pm, at the gallery of the Institute of Mexico in Belize City, the opening of the exhibition "The Alignment" with works by the Belizean artist Nelson Young. The exhibition contains the most recent production that the Belizean artist has not shared with the public. The work of Mr. Young is characterized by the strength and brightness of the colors, in this exhibition the artist departs somewhat from figuration and transports us into a world inspired by the Mayan glyphs symbols, he describes the show as: "an exhibition of indigenous art symbolic, where prophetically modern, contemporary and future Belizean art looms."

Sea Cucumber License
The Fisheries Department hereby informs the PUBLIC that no Sea Cucumber fishing license or Sea Cucumber export license will be issued since the Sea Cucumber fishery will remain closed until further notice. The public is reminded that it is illegal to fish without a license and that the fisheries laws will be applied to persons caught fishing illegally. Your cooperation is vital to secure the sustainability of the resource.

The Great Blue Hole is amazing from above!
There is something so exciting about waiting to board a plane to fly over one of Belize's greatest wonders: the Great Blue Hole. Thanks to Amigos Jungle Tours, that feeling can be experienced by anyone. That's right, aerial excursions are now available for those who want to enjoy the beauty of Belize's marine formation and Caribbean Sea without actually getting in the water. With a little help from the trusty pilots at Maya Island Air, anyone can get a bird's eye view - and many would argue that there is no better vantage point than from high up in the sky. My excitement builds from the moment I board the plane. I am anxious to see beautiful coral formations and atolls, and being the 'patient' person I am, I keep wishing the plane would go faster! We do eventually arrive to our destination, The Great Blue Hole, but along the way, there are some great views to enjoy. You will certainly love the breathtaking views of the magnificent Caribbean Sea and the world's second longest barrier reef. And don't forget the panoramic views of Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Half Moon Caye, Turneffe Atoll and the Blue Hole.

Ambergris Today

IDB Announces New Country Strategy with Belize for 2013-2017
On Wednesday, December 18, 2013, The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a new Country Strategy with Belize, affirming its commitment to partner with the Government of Belize on the country's development. The strategy will support Belize in addressing its development challenges in four priority areas: education, tourism, transport, and trade and tax policy. "The IDB's new strategy with Belize will help the government address the country's needs by supporting greater efficiency in public spending and improving the conditions for sustainable, export-led growth through institutional strengthening and infrastructure investments in key sectors of the economy", said Anneke Jessen, IDB Representative in Belize. In the education sector, the Bank will support the design and implementation of a quality assurance system with clear standards for student learning and school management, as well as improvements in the qualifications of both in-service and future teachers, strengthening the quality of education as well as sector governance. The aim is to improve results in education relative to spending.

First Belizean with Disability obtains Doctors Degree
It is with great pride, joy and tons of admiration that the University of the West Indies (UWI), Open Campus, Belize joins our sister campus, the UWI at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago in congratulating Dr. Einstein Bodden as he relishes in taking his oath as a Medical Doctor. All Belizeans at home and abroad should share in this great accomplishment for a person with diverse abilities who has not let the wheelchair, to which he has been confined for the better part of his life (from the tender age of two years old), restrict him from pursuing his dream of becoming a medical doctor. Dr. Einstein Bodden hails from Corozal Town and he commenced his medical studies with the UWI at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. He was home-schooled by his mother (now deceased), a home maker, until he was eight years old because she was determined that he would have an education. At his insistence to experience the formal school setting, his parents agreed for him to attend St. Paul's Primary School in Corozal where his father, an auto mechanic, took him by car back and forth daily so that he could attend school. It was his siblings with whom he shares a special bond and in particular his younger brother, Elson, who were truly Einstein's "keepers" an

Castillo's Hardware Awards Four Outstanding Workers
On Friday, December 20, 2013, not only did Castillo's Do it Best Hardware carry out its annual Christmas Raffle but also celebrated the hard work of four dedicated staff members. Awarded with certificates of appreciation were Ricardo Verde, Miriam Chi, Raul Mendez and Benigno Castillo. They received awards for their hard work and dedication for over 10 years of service to Castillo's Hardware Co. Ltd. Congratulations to all!

Island Style Christmas Tree in Caye Caulker, Belize
Christmas has come and gone but what's left are the creative decorations that fill us up with joy. All over the world a Christmas tree is the most important part of Christmas; it is where all the personal ornaments go on and of course the presents. On this week's Picture of the Week we feature a very creative Christmas tree on the island of Caye Caulker made out of lobster traps. Kudos to the Caye Caulker Village Council on a job well done.

Education in Belize: End of Year Notes
As we approach the end of 2013 I would like to thank readers of and my Guidance Counselor column for their loyalty and participation/comments, or sharing my articles. I am thrilled to note that, this year, readers from Belize as well as 32 other countries in six continents read my blog and Guidance Counselor articles; many readers, including Belizeans, expressed their concerns (via blog, email, and various media outlets) regarding Education in Belize as well as in other countries. Despite the fact that the Belize Education System classifies me as a "retired" educator, I still look forward to tackling and discussing many more challenging topics on Education, including some that many powerful people would prefer not to discuss publicly.

Misc Belizean Sources

Benque Viejo Neighborhood Watch Boxing Day Bash
The children and families of Benque Viejo were treated to the 6th Annual Boxing Day Bash held by the Zone 4 Neighborhood Watch. This annual event was hosted and coordinated by Zone 4 Captain Samuel Bruce and was held in the spacious Sam's Community Park. Located on his private land, Mr. Bruce has developed and made this park with a large all weather community center available for local residents throughout the year with community policing & neighborhood watch activities. Held annually on Boxing Day, this popular event enhances Christmas by providing gifts for all the children and brings the community together strengthening the effectiveness of the Neighborhood Watch Program. Deplorable road conditions and rainy weather did not dampen the spirits for this highly anticipated event that was attended by over 500 children and adults. Many fathers were unable to attend, as they were required to travel to other parts of the country to report for work the following day but were there in spirit. Corporal McCoy of the Benque Community Policing Unit represented the Police Department and stressed to all the importance of everyone working together to report and stop crime. This attitude of corporation is one of the reasons that Benque has the lowest crime rate in the country and still practices civil society from children through adults.

Diaspora Representation!
By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez I am sick and tired of this marginalization Inadequate Diaspora representation is killing this nation How can we stop any Belizean From full participation in the development of this nation? We claim we suffer from a brain drain This is totally insane, our solutions are disdain Have we no respect for the opportunity That our Belizeans abroad have gained This reminds me of the anarchists in 1936 Spain Where did this power the oligarchs obtain? Hurricane Hattie was not anyone's fault It opened up the vault As matter of fact no one in Belize knew what a hurricane was Once again Belize is putting itself through great pain The UN has gone through great strain Their policies ordained I take the stance that a Belizean is Belizean Whether expatriate or a resident in state Who are we to stop them from being a part of the Cabinet, House of Representative or the Senate? Opportunities they have taken to educate themselves and their families To come back home with newly obtained strategies and remedies To make their contribution Belize is one nation a part of the Caribbean The wider Diaspora can only make life better

San Pedro Town Council New Years hours
Closing 2pm today, resume Jan 2

CTGA Visits San Antonio
The Cayo Tour Guide Association wrote about how tour guides often guide on Christmas, yet still have a great, and in this case unique, time. Cruz Cambranes got a great video showing how they create vases on a pottery wheel. "After making our way to San Antonio, we got an introduction by Mrs. Timotella Mesh who is part of the women's group which has been around for the past twelve years, since 2001. The group consists of nine women that do embroidery, clay pots, figurines, and beaded necklesses to sell at their little giftshop. The project had several young people working on it, but over the years, the group seeked training and they all have gotten jobs in the tourist industry or some have received scholarships to continue studying. This shows that the Women's Group is working hard, guiding and inspiring the youth. "

Emmeth Young at Chaya Garden Ashram
Emmeth Young and the Talla Walla Vibrations visited Cayo on Boxing Day, and played through the night at the Chaya Garden Ashram. The best drummers in Central America impressed, as usual. "We made a show on the 26th of December 2013 at the yoga ashram in Belize. We like it when everything is natural and organic, including the beats These are supplied by Talla Walla Vibrations from Punta Gorda, Belize. Chaya Garden Ashram puts on a good show."

Police shuts down one of fire victim's fundraising activity
The family of Therese Maddision was today ordered to discontinue their fund raising activity in front of their house that burned down in Blackman eddy village on Christmas Day. According to a family member, the officer Commanding San Ignacio police was passing by the area this morning and stopped his vehicle long enough to order them to immediately stop what they were doing or risk being arrested. The family member says that since the officer told them that what they were doing is illegal, she tried to ask him what was the procedure they need to follow in order to continue raising funds; but she said, the officer just said that said he did not want to hear about any procedure and that they should immediately stop or he would call for officers to come arrest them.

13 Year Runs Away From Home
13 year old girl from Bullet Tree Falls village in the Cayo district has reportedly ran away from home. The child is Merdith Staine. Her mother Ruth Bardalez told police that on Sunday evening around 6 o'clock, she went to a nearby store in the village and left Merdith in the company of her aunt. The mother says that when she returned from the shop, she saw Merdith with a Hispanic man in a nearby orchard. When the mother began scolding Merdith, the man reportedly took off running and then Merdith ran off behind the man. She has not been seen or heard from since.

Police Release Autopsy Report Goivanni August
Police have released the results of a post mortem examination on the body of a man found floating in the river in Santa Familia village, Cayo. According to the findings of the doctor who conducted the autopsy, Giovanni August, 31, died as a result of "bronchi aspiration and alcoholic liver disease." August was last seen alive by his mother on Christmas night when, according to police, he went to her house in San Ignacio town asking for money. The mother told police that she gave him the money and he left. Giovanni August's body was found floating in the river in Santa Familia village on Saturday evening.

Sunday Morning Shooting Leaves Two Injured
A shooting incident on sunday morning in Belize had left two people injured. The victime have been identified as Paul Sambula Jr,18 and Roy Bennett,26. Bennett was injured to the right side while Sambula was shot to the back and right hand. According to a police report Sambula and Bennett went to a shop at the corner of Fabers Road and Nurse Finsley Cresent where they were approached by two men of dark complection on seperate bicycles. One of the assailants reportedly used a black hand gun to fire several shots at Sambula ans Bennett injuring them. Both of the victims are admitted at ward at the KHMH in stable condition.

Channel 7

City's First Murder in 7 Weeks
There is a Belize City murder to report tonight. We hadn't had one of those since the first week in November, but recently there's been a spike in violence in the PIV/Ghost Town areas of Lake Independence and Pickstock Divisions. And on Sunday night, a 28 year old working man got killed, while a school warden was grazed. But, while it is in a gang area, the family of the victim, Leon Giovanni Smith says police can't just chalk this one up as another gang related statistic. Daniel Ortiz found out why:.. Daniel Ortiz reporting 28 year-old Leon Geovanni Smith met his end at the corner of Sittee and Ebony Streets last night at around 7:30. Smith, who was running an errand, was ambushed by an assailant who gunned him down. Patricia Petillo - Mother of Deceased "He left my house to take food for my son because I have a son who live in that area and he was there waiting for his bicycle because he had loan it to one of the family member in the yard. I understand that was the time the young man brought back the bicycle and he (Leon) was leaving the yard when he got shot."

City Shooting On A Sunday Morning
And there was another serious shooting in the city on Sunday. At 11:40 am, Two men were shot on Faber's Road near the corner with Nurse Findlay Crescent. It's an area that has seen a number of shootings and even murders over the years, and this time the victim was a member of the ill-fated Felix family, 26 year old Roy Bennett. He was shot in his right side, along with 18 year old Paul Sambula Jr. who was shot to the back and right hand. The two men were at a shop located at the corner of Faber's Road and Nurse Finley Crescent - a shop where the proprietor was killed two years ago. That's where two men on separate bicycles rode up, and one of them pulled out a black handgun and fired several shots at them. They ran to seek shelter in a nearby house and were rushed to the K.H.M.H. Both men are reported in a stable condition.

Missing Canadian's Man Son Comes To Belize To Find Him
Last week, we told you about the Canadian Brian Townsend, who has been missing since Christmas Day. He'd been living in the Valley of Peace Village in the Cayo District for 9 years, and but suddenly on Christmas Eve he disappeared. Police found signs of a struggle at his house when his cook reported him missing on Christmas day, and the suspicion is that he was abducted. His family are hoping for the best, and his son, Kory Townsend, has flown into Belize to monitor the progress of the search while in Valley of Peace. He spoke to CTV News in Canada on Friday before he left and here's that story:

Forensic Examiner Says 15 Year Old Choked To Death
On Friday we told you about mysterious sudden death of Stephan Ovado. The 15 year old - who was three days from his 16th birthday - collapsed and died when he was running from police on Christmas Day - which also happened to be his father's birthday. Well, the post mortem on the teenager was conducted yesterday and it was determined that he died from broncho-aspiration - basically he choked on food that came up from his stomach. The Doctor explained to the family that Stephan had a blackout, and was on his back when he collapsed, and that's what caused him to choke. His funeral will be held tomorrow.

Audrey Accused Former Lands CEO Turned UDP Aspirant of Nepotism
Beverly Castillo is the former CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources, and as we've reported, she resigned from the post to enter into politics. She's offering herself for UDP standard bearer in Belize Rural Central. But, tonight, Audrey Matura Shepherd says that before she left office, Castillo secured a prime piece of land for her family. The land is in Belama at the corner of Albert Hoy and Chetumal Streets - which happens to be right across from Matura-Shepherd's office and residence. The Pickwood family is claiming they have a lease to the piece of land for over 10 years now, and that was unfairly taken away from them - under Castillo's hand - without any notice from the Lands Department. The allegation is that in November, when Castillo was still the CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the lease was cancelled without due notice, and it was transferred to Castillo's family - specifically her mother Maud Williams and her son. The Pickwood family says that they've made investments on the land, such as paying their property taxes, and making a loan to the Belize Bank.

Tunkie Caught With A Toke
On Sunday, police searched a yard at #1 Faber's Road where they found 161 grams of cannabis tucked between the fence and another 0.6 grammes in the house. The residents, 23 year old Cardinal Welch, known as Tunkie was taken to court today along with his 23 year old girlfriend Shenel Brown. They were charged for drug trafficking the 161 grammes and drug possession of the .6 grammes. The couple pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking and guilty to possession of a controlled drug. They were ordered to pay a fine of $250 each and offered bail of $3,000 for drug trafficking.

Teenager Arrested For Shooting Mechanic
One week ago, we reported on a late evening shooting in the Lake Independence area where 30 year old mechanic Denton Flowers was shot. Fortunately, he was only grazed but police were quick to make an arrest. Today Nineteen year old Keithon Arana, a maintenance worker of Lavender Street, was arraigned for the shooting. He was charged with grievous harm and abetment to grievous harm. Arana pled not guilty to the charges. But because a firearm was involved, he was denied bail and remanded into custody until February 28, 2014. Flowers told police that he was getting unto his bicycle at his house when two persons rode up on one bicycle and the one on the handlebar fired several shots at him. One of the bullets struck him in his right leg.

Police Stop Cyclist Without Helmet, Discover Motorbike Stolen
A woman who was stopped for riding a motorbike without a helmet - ended up being charged for riding a stolen motorbike! At 1:30 am, on Saturday morning, police saw 22 year old Felicia Richardson a domestic worker of Far West Street, driving a Meilun motor scooter on East Canal without a helmet. Police stopped her and noted that the scooter matched the description of one that had been reported stolen 10 days earlier on December 18th form a home on the same East Canal. The bike is valued at $1,749 and today in court she was charged for handling stolen goods. Richardson pled not guilty to the charge and was offered a bail of $2,000 and her case was adjourned until March 3, 2014.

Daring Spanish Sailor Arrives In Belize
If you've studied European history, you'll know the name of the 16th century explorer Vasco Nunez De Balboa. Now, five centuries later progressive thought in the America's may cast him as just another one of those old pirates who came to rob native people's, but one modern day Spanish sailor is hoping to create a more positive association for the Balboa name. If you've studied European history, you'll know the name of the 16th century explorer Vasco Nunez De Balboa. Now progressive through in the America's may cast him as just another one of those old pirates who came to rob native peoples, but one Spanish sailor is hoping to create a more positive association for the Balboa name. Alvaro de Marichalar is going from US to Panama where he hopes to do as Balboa did in the 1500's - when he became the first European to set foot in the pacific ocean - which is on the Western coast of the Panama isthmus. That journey is being done world record style - on water scooter and Alvaro arrived in Belize on Sunday - from Havana Cuba. That's a lot of miles - and he did it all standing up. 7news was there to meet him:

BEL Backs Off On Rate Objection
On Friday night we told you about the press release from Belize Electricity Limited weighing in on the proposed new light rates proposed by Public Utilities Commission. A release said, quote, "(BEL) is objecting to the proposed tariff basket, which would further erode BEL's operating margins." The release adds, "This would significantly impact the Company's ability to finance its operations and the quality of service delivered to customers." Well today the company seemed to backpedal somewhat from that objection and dire prognostication. A senior manager told us that they just had to run the figures on the new rate structure - and everything should work out alright. Here's how he put it:... Sean Fuller, Senior Manager BEL - Information and Communication Systems/Customer Care "We will be able to operate efficiently throughout the year with these new rates in place. We are happy to know that consumers will be able to enjoy at least 4 cents per kilowatt hour reduction in their electricity bills." The new rates take effect on January first, 2014.

Channel 5

Chetumal Street property in dispute: lease is cancelled and given to family of former Lands C.E.O.
Land disputes are featured regularly in our newscast but tonight there is one that strikes pretty close to home at the Ministry of Natural Resources. It involves prime real estate [...]

A murder in the city, does it involve the gangs?
The murder count was down during the year in Belize City but 2013 is ending violently and it is suspected that gang violence has sparked up, resulting in the latest [...]

A third attempt at the life of Ryan "Cash" Bennett
  Three years ago, on July fifteenth 2010, twenty-four year old Ryan "Cash" Bennett, who also goes by the name Roy Felix, was shot at the corner of Faber’s Road [...]

Desperate search for a missing Canadian
Sixty-four year old Brian Townsend was declared officially missing on Christmas Day. But the Police Department and residents of the community believe that he was attacked in his home at [...]

Were you better off in 2013?
And our question for tonight is: Were you better off in 2013? Yes or No. Send your comments and responses using your SMART phones to 8686 or post your vote [...]

B.E.L. and P.U.C. haggle over a one cent reduction in electricity rates
When we last reported on Belize Electricity Limited it was because there was an announcement on a reduction on electricity rates for the fiscal year, 2014. That was after B.E.L. [...]

B.E.L. says reduction will set back company by $5 Million
According to B.E.L.'s Senior Manager of Information and Communication Systems, Sean Fuller, the company supports the decision of the PUC, but it will impact operating margins.� That proposed rate reduction [...]

Still no leads in the rape of a San Ignacio resident
San Ignacio Police continue to hunt for three men wanted in connection with a rape on Boxing Day in San Ignacio. As is the case with most rape investigations where [...]

Manhunt continues in San Ignacio: Kevin manzanero and Alex Reid still at large
San Ignacio resident Fredy Lopez was brutally gunned down in front of his family on Christmas Eve, as he walked his daughter-in-law home. That sparked a massive manhunt by Police [...]

Man sentenced to 3 years for molesting a 5 year old child
A twenty-six year old man was convicted in court today for molesting a five year-old child in the city. Ian McNab appeared to be a bit disturbed but showed no [...]

19 year old charged for the shooting of Denton Flowers
A week ago, Denton Flowers was shot and police believe they have now cracked the case with the arrest of one of two suspects. For that shooting, nineteen year old [...]

Spanish adventurer makes landfall in Belize
�lvaro de Marichalar is putting off yet another adventure on which he is sailing to ten countries, from Florida, U.S.A. along the Central American coast and ending in Panama. Marichalar [...]

�his mission: an awareness Campaign to End Polio Now
The End Polio Now Campaign is being carried out by mariners and Rotarians as well as by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The campaign is designed to bring awareness [...]

The perks of studying at the Belize Medical College
Earlier this month, a group of fifty Indian nationals arrived in Belize to pursue medical studies at the Central American Health Science University.� Their entrance into the country, in the [...]

Veteran sportscaster, James Adderley recaps the weekend in sports
Good evening, I'm James Adderley and this is Sports Monday.   The final schedule in the Belikin Cup for the year 2013 found Police United in action against Paradise Freedom [...]


Police Recovers Stolen Motorcycle
A 22 year old woman who was allegedly caught by police with a stolen motorcycle was charged with handling stolen goods when she appeared today before Magistrate Dale Cayetano. She is Felicia Richardson, of Far West Street. Richardson pled not guilty to the charge. She was offered a bail of two thousand dollars and her case was adjourned until March 3, 2014. The police reported that at about 1:30 a.m. on December 28, they were on mobile patrol on East Collet Canal Street when they saw Richardson driving a black Meilun Scooter without a helmet. They said that when they intercepted the motorcycle they noticed that it resembled one that was reported stolen. As a result, they detained Richardson and took the motorcycle to the station. They reported their investigation revealed that the motorcycle was stolen from Gregorio Gutierrez, an auto mechanic of East Collet Canal Street. Gutierrez reported to the police that at about 2 p.m. on December 19, he and his wife left home to go to Princess Hotel and Casino and before they left he secured his motorcycle in his yard with chain link fence. He told police that when they returned home later that day he discovered that his motorcycle was missing. He said they motorcycle has a value of one thousand seven hundred and forty nine dollars.

Mentally Challenged Worker Fondles 5-Year-Old
Twenty-six year old Ian Mcnab, an employee of Salvation Army who appeared to be mentally challenged, was sentenced to three years today by Magistrate Dale Cayetano after he pled guilty to aggravated assault of an indecent nature on a female child five years old. The father of the child reported to the police that at about 3:30 p.m. on December 23, his daughter was outside playing when Mcnab stopped by and put his hand into her black shorts and fondled her. He said Macnab ran when Mcnab saw him approaching. Mcnab was later apprehended by the police and charged. When Magistrate Cayetano asked Mcnab if he had anything to say before sentence is passed, Mcnab muttered something incoherent and appeared as if he did not understand. Members of Mcnab's family say he was a student of Stella Maris School he needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Police Finds Drugs in Couple's Home
A common-law couple, 23 year old Cardinal Welch and 23 year old Shenel Brown, were charged with drug trafficking and possession of a controlled drug when they appeared today before Magistrate Dale Cayetano. They pled not guilty to drug trafficking but guilty to possession of a controlled drug. They were ordered to pay a fine of 250 dollars each by February 28, 2014. If they default on payment they will serve six months. For the charge of drug trafficking they were each offered a bail of $3,000 and their case was adjourned until February 25, 2014. The bust occurred yesterday. Acting on information they received, the police went to the couple's residence on Faber's Road and executed a search. The police reported that when they searched the yard they found a black plastic bag containing 161 grams of cannabis. The police also reported that when they searched the house they found point six grams of cannabis in a white hand bag.

Teenager Remanded to Central Prison Following Shooting Incident
Nineteen year old Keithon Arana, a maintenance worker of Lavender Street, became an inmate of Belize Central Prison today when he appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano and was arraigned on charges of grievous harm and abetment to grievous harm. Arana pled not guilty to the charges. He was denied bail and was remanded into custody until February 28 because a firearm was involved. The incident occurred around 5:55 p.m. on December 23. The complainant, 30 year old Denton Flowers reported to the police that he was at home and was about to get on his bicycle when two persons approached him riding on one bicycle. Flowers said the person on the handlebar fired several shots at him and one of the bullets struck him in his right leg. He identified Arana as the person who was pedaling the bicycle. The police say they are still searching for the shooter. Flowers was admitted to ward at KHMH where his condition is reported to be stable.


Massive Turnout at First Annual Harlem Toy Drive
A small community in Dangriga, saw a major outpour of support for a local Christmas toy drive. The first annual Harlem Toy Drive was organized and hosted by past and present young residents of the Harlem area. It was held an on December 31st, and saw a turnout of...

Another Body Found Floating
And another body was found floating . The body of 67 year old Arturo Alvarez of Punta Gorda Town, was found in the Caribbean Sea, about three feet from shore. Initial investigations revealed that at about 8pm on December 27th, Alvarez left home to an unknown destination. It is...

Alcohol Drinking Kills Two More Victims
Excessive alcohol drinking is believed to have led to the sudden death of two men. The incidents are isolated; one occurred in Cayo and the other in Toledo. On Christmas Day, 31 year old Giovanni August, who resides along the George Price Highway, visited his mother's home in San...

Accused of Molesting a Child Sentenced to Jail
A 26-year-old man convicted himself in court today after he was accused of molesting a 5-year-old child in the city. Ian McNab, who was unrepresented in court, appeared to be a bit disturbed but showed no remorse and had nothing to say on his behalf only that he was...

Another Cyclist Knocked Bown from Bike
On Christmas Eve in San Joaquin, 22 year old Armin Rodriguez of Calcutta was knocked off his beach cruiser bicycle while riding on the left side of the Philip Goldson Highway from Libertad toward Corozal Town, between miles 79 and 80. This happened after he made a U-turn across...

Two More Accidents Thicken the List of Tragedies
There were two other accidents. In the very early morning of Christmas, four police officers from Belmopan attached to the Special Patrol Unit were driving up from Belize City when they came upon a blue Toyota van off the left side of the George Price Highway facing Hattieville, apparently...

Massive Accident Kills Four on Philip Goldson Highway
The Christmas holidays were relatively quiet in terms of violence, but there was no shortage of vehicular violence on the nation's highways. In the span of less than 16 hours between Christmas Eve night and Christmas afternoon, there were three accidents on the Philip Goldson and George Price Highways,...

Search Continues for Missing Canadian National
The search continues for a Canadian national who has been missing since Christmas Eve. 64 year old Brian Townsend is a popular missionary who has been residing in the Valley of Peace area since 2001. Townsend is known to have contributed significantly to the community, lending a hand to...

Leon Smith Murdered at Aunt's Home
With news of a 50% reduction in murders in Belize City this year, many residents may be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, there is, hopefully, one last flare up of violence to report on the Belize City streets for 2013. Around 7:30 on Sunday night, December...

Police Advice to the Public
Since the weekend, we have been reporting on a number of crimes but Belize has had a relatively good year in relation to the crime rate. Over the past few years, the crime rate has spiked somewhat around the Christmas season and the police say they have taken extra...

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The Guardian

Light Bill Going DOWN Again!!!!
On January 1st electricity rates will be reduced by as much as eight percent. This is the second consecutive tariff review procedure in which electricity rates will be reduced. On April 2 of this year the Belize Electricity Limited submitted an application to the Public Utilities Commission requesting a reduction in the Mean Electricity Rate (MER) of approximately 1 cent per kilowatt hour. That meant that residential customers' rates decreased from approximately 49 cents per kilowatt hour to 48 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity. This reduction was necessary in order to "reflect the actual Cost of Power since January 2013 compared to the projected cost submitted to PUC in December of 2012". Since that tariff review proceeding was executed, cost of power continued to decrease and B.E.L. has now applied to the P.U.C. requesting an even greater rate reduction for the 2014 Annual Tariff Review Proceedings. On December 10th, the Belize Electricity Limited submitted an application to the Public Utilities Commission requesting a decrease of three cents per kilowatt hour in the Mean Electricity Rates, which is currently set at 48.65 cents per kilowatt hour. After the P.U.C. reviewed the actual cost of power from July to December of this year, it decided that a four cents decrease would be more fair to customers. Derrick Davis, Electrical Engineer at P.U.C., said the commission took a number of things into factor before deciding on the rates. One is that cost of power from Mexico's Commision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) returned to pre 2012 level at around 30 cents per kilowatt hour instead of the 37 cents averaged in 2012. Secondly, hydroelectric production has increased due to heavy rainfall in the region resulting in greater power generation by BECOL. Davis also explained, "Prime Minister and Minister Grant and our team negotiated a 10% reduction from CFE Mexico. So, that will impact the rates of next year."

Quadruple Christmas Day Tragedy
Three families are grieving the loss of 4 promising young people in the aftermath of one of the most violent traffic accidents this year. It happened on Christmas Day at around 4:30p.m. between miles 7 and 8 on the Philip Goldson Highway. 22 year-old Hector Daniel Gongora was driving his father's red Isuzu D-Max pickup, and in the vehicle with him were 20 year-old Henry Gabourel Reyes, 17 year-old Dulce Yanira Cobb, and 23 year-old Shakir Shamir Monima. He was heading back to his Lake Garden home in Ladyville when he lost control of the vehicle. It veered off into the opposite lane, and it slammed into 2 trees; the evidence police found suggests that the vehicle was launched into the tree. The force of the impact collapsed the roof of the cabin onto all four young persons, crushing them to death. Rescue teams from the military, police, and the airport all responded to assist the victims, but their severe head and bodily injuries caused all 4 to die on the spot.

PM New Year's Message - GOB to pay for CXC's , NHI expands to Corozal
My Fellow Belizeans: The various periods of relentless rains in the last quarter of 2013, including the prolonged spells in December, played havoc with our road and street infrastructure, our agricultural crops, and in many cases our homes and livelihoods. We were, of course, spared the full force of any hurricane. But the flooding, the water damage, the marooning of entire villages that even now remain cut off from road access, at times appeared nearly as bad. God, however, never takes us to a place from which He can't bring us back. And the troubles caused by mudslides and rivers and lagoons bursting their banks, by the loss of corn and beans and cattle, brought once again to the fore the resilience of the Belizean spirit. In the affected areas Government and people came together to manage calamity: to replace destroyed household items; to find alternative means of transportation; to provide the wherewithal for replanting; to repair bridges and highways; to pick up the pieces. In any case, it is not as though the rains meant unrelieved gloom. Indeed, throughout the year, including the final stanzas, much was happening that was good. For one thing, crime and violence were contained and the murder rate dropped dramatically. This came after five years of tough sledding, as well as constant slogging. And it no doubt had a lot to do, as the Security Forces readily acknowledge, with Government's employment creation. The growth in jobs came principally as a result of this Administration's vaunted infrastructure drive. It is a drive that saw rapid acceleration in the last three months of the year, with the start of the Lake Independence Boulevard and Civic Centre projects in Belize City, and countrywide work on streets, drains and roadways in villages and towns.

Year in Review 2013
2013 is a year that the nation has seen its fair share of good and of what's not so good, but through all the adversities Belize can truly say that it is like the phoenix, that great mythical creature that rose from out of ashes. Belize indeed is rebounding and 2013 set a perfect platform for great dividends to exponentially bear fruit. However, before those dividends could be realized, the country had to learn some important lessons. January One of those challenges was the bringing down of the national crime rate. The resolving of this social problem was ever more galvanized when, at the start of the year, four gang leaders were slaughtered in their homes. At the time, there were two going theories and one of those widely-held notions was that the killings of these men were state commissioned. Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow - even in the face of criticism - decided to take the bull by the horns and began the process of explaining how it is important to know the truth. On January 9, the Prime Minister updated the nation on the probe into the deaths of the four known affiliates of the George Street Gang. The bodies of 40-year-old Keino Quallo, 30-year-old Leonard Myers, 28-year-old Anthony Perez and 19-year-old Albert Fuentes were found at an apartment building at the corner of Plues and Dean Streets on January 8. Following the deaths of these four, the PM held a meeting with leaders of the George Street Gang in an effort to placate high tensions that had begun to escalate in the neighborhood. Coming out of the meeting was the bad news that the George Street gang was convinced that the killings had been executed by the police, more specifically the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU). This allegation stated the Prime Minister was, "utterly unfounded" and it constituted a serious allegation against the integrity of the GSU, the Security Forces and the Government of Belize.

Roger brings Christmas Cheer to Fort George
Over two hundred children from the Fort George division were treated to Christmas treats courtesy the division's UDP caretaker, Roger Espejo. The children were treated to light refreshments, gifts and even pinatas. The treat was the second consecutive year that Espejo has done it. He said it was a last hour decision to throw the party, but it was well worth it as the children enjoyed themselves dancing, breaking the pinata and receiving their gifts from the UDP caretaker.

Denny does it big in Orange Walk Central
Orange Walk Central residents, children and adults, even the elderly were treated to a massive Christmas bonanza on Saturday, December 21st, at the People's Stadium, thanks to Denny Grijalva, UDP Caretaker for that constituency. Denny prepared a virtual feast of gift giving for the constituents of the division. He had a massive spread of gifts and treats for both children and adults. There was even Santa Claus and a clown to cheer up the children. They were also treated to apples, and other fruits along with their gifts. For the adults they got opportunities to win hundreds of prizes which included irons, blenders, gas tanks, a refrigerator, a stove, food hampers, hams and many other gifts. The names of the residents of the constituency were placed in a barrel and they were randomly selected to be winners. According to Denny, for him this is the greatest show of appreciation that he can do for the constituents of Orange Walk Central. He added that he will continue to help the people in the area in as many ways as he possibly can, especially because the current area representative is virtually absent from the division.

A Regulatory Framework for GMOs
A meeting was recently held on Agro-biotechnology and Bio-safety in Belmopan. It was at this meeting that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) was fully discussed. (A GMO is any altered organism as a result of modern bio-engineering. A GMO is created when the genome of an organism is altered. The first GMOs were bacteria in 1973. GM mice were generated in 1974. Insulin producing bacteria were commercialized in 1982 and the genetically modified food has been sold since 1994.) Coming out from that meeting held earlier this month in Belmopan was a consensus by those in favor and against the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Belize, that regulatory mechanisms must first firmly be in place before its use. Thus far; efforts to further discuss the GMO issue has involved many persons. "There is a Bio-Safety council, this Bio-Safety Council will have to analyze what are the threats, what are the safeguards, make good consultation with all the stakeholders in the public and private sector, with the population, and make sure to also look at the experiences regionally," says Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim, the main representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) in Belize. Indeed; the Government of Belize appointed a National Bio-safety Committee in 2002, which later became the National Bio-safety Council. This body is chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and has been working on a National Bio-safety Policy for Belize that has involved wide public consultation and approved by Cabinet in 2009.

Storeowner kills robber
Ajlan Raheem Requena, 21, was shot to death on Saturday, December 21, by a storeowner who claims that he tried to rob him. The owner, his wife and his son were inside their business place, W & W Convenience Store, located in the DFC area on San Pedro Town when 2 men, with their shirts over their faces pulled up on bicycles and rushed in. One of the men pulled out a .38 revolver and pointed it at the storeowner's wife, while the other jumped over the counter to grab the cash. Their 14 year-old old son alerted his father who pulled out his licensed 9mm pistol and fired a warning shot. There was an exchange of gunfire when the armed robber fired back, and that's when Requena, the man who tried to grab the cash, was shot. Both men tried to flee, but Requena didn't get far; he fell dead in a drain in the back. He was found with the shirt still over his face. San Pedro Police have found evidence which all suggests that Requena was killed in self-defence. Nevertheless, it will be forwarded to the DPP for her directives.

Traffic accident claims Woman's life
Independence Village resident 42-year-old Victoria Bol died as a consequence of an accident which happened just outside of Belmopan City on the morning of Saturday, December 21, before 1. Bol was a passenger in a black 2003 GMC Sierra pickup which had a head-on collision with an unmarked police van filled with off-duty police officers, some of whom are attached to the Belmopan Police Station. The force of the impact caused the pick up to flip over completely, and Bol was trapped inside. The authorities responded and rescued her from the wreckage, but she died while undergoing treatment at the Western Regional Hospital. Belmopan police have served each driver, including the officer who was driving the van, with a notice of intended prosecution. Bol's brother told the media that based on the information he was given by the first responders, he believes that his sister's life could have been saved had the Western Regional Hospital's ambulance responded in time. He says that from his information, the ambulance was not working, and so Victoria Bol had to be transported to the Western Regional Hospital later, when critical minutes had passed.

Canadian National killed in Buena Vista
George Hyde, 38, a resident of Buena Vista Village in the Cayo District, has been charged for the murder of 68 year old Canadian Keith Haslam Dawson. Dawson was chopped to death and dumped in a farm some 6 miles outside of the village. Hyde's brother, Nelson, was hosting Dawson and his wife Ruth Jones as guest at his house last week for about 3 days. On last Friday morning, he woke up and discovered that Dawson, George Hyde and Ruth Jones were all missing. He immediately tried to call his phone, but couldn't get through to him, and when he searched around the area, he found a wad of hair, suspected to Dawson's. Nelson Hyde, wanting to ensure that he was being responsible, reported Dawson missing to San Ignacio Police, and they began investigating. Investigators searched the entire village thoroughly, but couldn't locate any of the 3 people, and it was not until George Hyde called his brother that police were able to figure out where he was hiding. With Nelson Hyde's help, George was detained along with Ruth Jones by police, and when he was questioned about the Canadian retiree's location, he reportedly confessed that he killed the elderly man. Police took a caution statement from him, and afterwards, he led them to the dumping area some 6 miles outside of Buena Vista, where police found Dawson's body. He suffered multiple chop wounds, and because of the state of decomposition, an on-site autopsy had to be conducted in which the medical examiner certified that the Canadian man died of asphyxia as a consequence of a chop wound to the wind pipe. Under police questioning, George Hyde admitted that he was having an affair with Ruth Jones, and he killed the Canadian man out of jealousy.

Young Cyclist knocked down while training
22 year-old Belmopan cyclist Geon Hanson is being treated at the KHMH after he was knocked down early on Tuesday, December 24th, by a bus while he was training. At around 6:15, in an area between Miles 36 and 37, Hanson was doing his road workout when a J and J bus, eastbound suddenly struck him sending him to the shoulder of the road. The driver of the bus, Saul Castellanos, reported to police that the high beams of an oncoming vehicle blinded him for a few moments, and when he lowered his beam, he saw Hanson in his lane. He said that he tried to avoid the accident, but due to the wet condition of the road, he could not. He claims that it happened so quickly, that there was nothing he could have done. Hanson has since endured 2 major surgeries, where his damaged spleen had to be removed. He also suffered a collapsed, and punctured lung, in addition to his other bodily injuries. The doctors at the KHMH have worked hard to keep giving him life-saving treatment, and his family thanks those who rendered aid to get him to the Western Regional Hospital immediately after the accident. Hanson is a well-known cycling talent and in the 2013 Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic, he took the Belmopan Airstrip station prize zooming past that location in the lead.

Santa Elena Man killed days before his birthday
Santa Elena Resident, 56-year-old, Fredy Lopez Sr. was killed on Monday, December 23rd, in a robbery which happened in front of his family just 2 days before Christmas, which would have been his 57th birthday. Lopez was walking in the Kontiki area with his wife, his daughter-in-law, his 10 year-old granddaughter, and his 6 year-old granddaughter at around 9:30 that night. He was taking his grandchildren and their mother home when he was approached by 2 men, one of whom was armed. The men demanded money, but they didn't have any on them. One of them grabbed Lopez's wife from behind, and when he bent down to pick up a rock, one of the robbers shot him in the chest. Both men ran off, leaving him to die in his family's embrace. They are devastated because they were already making holiday preparations, which would have included his birthday celebration. His son told the media that Christmas day will never be the same at their house because of the tragedy. San Ignacio police have released the names and photographs of 2 main suspects, 27 year old Kevin "Midget" Manzanero, 25 year old Alex "Cat" Reid. They are wanted in connection with this murder, as well as 8 other robberies in the twin towns and surrounding areas which happened over the past month. The most recent one before the Lopez murder happened in the Succotz area where 2 men attacked one of the buses moving through the area. One of the assailants fired a .45 caliber pistol, and its recovered expended shell matches the same one used to kill Fredy Lopez Sr. Investigators say that the descriptions given in 4 of those robberies match these men.

Minor kills minor in Cayo
Instead of preparing for Christmas Eve, the family of the 15 year-old Cayo resident, Alexander Vasquez Aguilar, had to make preparations for his funeral after he was stabbed to death by a 17 year-old minor. Just before 11 p.m. on Saturday, Aguilar got into an argument with the minor in front of Venus Hotel in San Ignacio Town, and it escalated into a confrontation. That's where the minor allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed Aguilar in the chest. Aguilar went down, and bystanders tried their best to assist him until the ambulance came to take him to the San Ignacio Hospital. Unfortunately, he died on the way there. The minor then went home and allegedly confessed what he had done to his father, claiming that it was self-defence. Police detained him, and his statement was taken. He told investigators, that he and Aguilar have had a longstanding quarrel, information which they also got from secondary sources. He claims that he was forced to stab Aguilar. His statement, along with all evidence have been forwarded to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to get her advice on how to proceed with the case.

San Ignacio Police conduct operations to find two men
San Ignacio Police continued another operation on Friday of this week to find two men wanted for a string of robberies and at least one recent serious crime. Police say that 27 year old Kevin "Migit" Manzanero and 25 year old Alex "Cat" Reid are now operating in the Police Boulevard Area, Maya Vista, Kontiki and Shawville as well as in San Ignacio Town itself and Bullet Tree Falls Village. Both persons are armed and considered extremely dangerous. From the testimonies of at least nine victims, Police were able to attest that Kevin Manzanero and Alex Reid are operating in the same modus operandi. Victims have been able to describe to Police the particular dress and behavior of these two men as they preyed on them. Based on these witness accounts, Police also now want both Kevin Manzanero and Alex Reid to answer questions in connection with the shooting death of 56 year old Freddy Lopez, which occurred on Monday of this week.

Giovannie Lovell captures pre-Christmas race
The 2nd Annual Leslie's Imports and Belize City Council Pre-Christmas race was held on Sunday, December 22, 2013. In the Open Elite category, first place went to Giovannie Lovell of Telemedia Cycling Team and he completed the course in a time of 3:21:03. The second rider to cross the finish line was Byron Pope of Benny's Megabytes, while David Henderson Jr. also of Benny's Megabytes was the third rider to cross the finish line. In the Masters 4/5 category, first place went to Nehru Gilharry of Ride to Victory and he completed the course in a time of 2:25, second place went to Daniel Cano of Digicell 4G, while third place went to George Abraham Sr. of BECAL. In the Masters Category, first place went to Jose Choto of Cayo High Road Elite Team and second place went to Orson Butler, who is unattached. In the Female category, fist place went to Alicia Thompson of Belize Bank Swoosh and she completed the course in a time of 2:57:03, second place went to Marinette Flowers who is unattached and third place went to Patricia Chavarria of BECOL. In the Junior Category, first place went to Delawn Abraham of Benny's Megabytes and he completed the event in a time of 2:35:16, second place went to Delon Gentle of BELCOL Uprising while third place went to Josslyn Chavarria Jr. also of BELCOL. And in the Youth Category, fist place went to Darien Anderson who is unattached in a time of 2:56:09.

Cycling Association prepares for 2014 Season
As we start the 2014 Cycling Season, we would like to inform that all personnel, who forms part of the race caravan, must be a registered member of the Belize Cycling Association. In addition, we ask that all teams bring with them, a copy of the driver's license for your technical vehicle driver and a copy of the vehicle license and insurance. A reminder that the Technical Meeting for the 24th Annual KREM New Year's Day Cycling Classic is this Monday, December 30th at 7:00 p.m. at the University of the West Indies on Princess Margaret Drive. The deadline for cyclists to register for this event is Friday, December 27th. Any registration after this date will incur a late fee penalty. Registration can be done at the Belize Cycling Association Office on the second floor of the Commercial Centre. Opening hours are 9 - 11 and 2 - 4.

FC Belize takes over lead in Belikin Cup Tournament
The Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup Tournament continued over the weekend of December 21-22, 2013, with three games across the country. On Saturday, December 21, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, the home team who is also the defending champions Police United and the visiting Belmopan Bandits played to a 1-1 draw. The first half of the game ended in a 0-0 draw. It was not until the second half of the game that the visiting Belmopan Bandits who was the first to get onto the scoreboard unlocked the 0-0 tie, when Davis Trapp scored his team's only goal of the game in the 64th minute of play for a short lived 1-0 lead. Meanwhile, Police United got unto the scoreboard when Clifton West scored his team's equalising goal in the 72nd minute of play for a 1-1- draw. On Sunday, December 22, at the Toledo Union Field in Punta Gorda Town, the visiting Verdes FC blanked the host team Paradise/Freedom Fighters by the score of 1-0. The only goal of the game was scored by Marlon Meza in the 58th minute of play. Meanwhile, at the MCC Grounds, the current leaders in this year's competition, FC Belize, edged the Belize Defence Force by the score of 2-1. The Belize Defence Force was the first to reach onto the scoreboard when John King scored in the 49th minute of play to give his team a temporary lead. It was well into the second half of the game that the FC Belize offence was able to break through the defence of the BDF and lodged itself unto the scoreboard. FC Belize's first goal was scored by Jarrett Davis in the 60th minute of play to equalise the score at 1-1, and then he scored again in the 76th minute of play to give his team the 2-1 victory and sole possession of first place in the competition.

McNab Beating Cancer and Spreading Christmas Cheer
The Mcnab Family has a lot to be thankful for this Christmas. Less than three years ago Mrs. Rosalee Gomez Mcnab was diagnosed with stage four uterus cancer. She had recently thrown a party for children from across Belize City in 2011 when she returned home to Los Angeles and had to visit the doctor to have fluids drained from her back. She then had to make a second visit three days later to have fluids drained from her back again. Three pints of fluids was drained from her back in that three day span and further tests showed she had cancer and the tumor was pressing against her lungs. There were no previous signs of illness before she was diagnosed with stage four uterus cancer. Rosalee's husband, Densfield, daughter, Barbara McNab Grinage, and the rest of her family were not about to give up on her. She had been in the United States for over 25 years and Densfield had retired from working with the phone company Pacific Bell after 30 years. Therefore, the couple had Medicare benefits and great health insurance. Rosalee had a lung operation, hysterectomy and six months of chemotherapy. She was cared for by five specialists and a private doctor. Though there were times when she was so down that she didn't even have strength to pick up a phone, Rosalee's spirit was always lifted by the kind words sent from friends in Belize and the prayers she knew was going up on her behalf. Rosalee remembers the time she started regaining her strength and her serious craving for "pepitos and tamales from home". She has been cancer free for a year and a half now and says during the tough times all you can do is "have faith and pray". As she regained strength Rosalee felt the urge to continue her favourite family tradition, bringing smiles to less fortunate children in Belize City.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Caye Caulker: One end to the other by bike
Video. This is taken riding a bike from The Split at the north end to the airport, which is almost at the south end, of Caye Caulker Belize.

R.I.P. Neima Rosado
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Rosado and Smith families of Caye Caulker on the loss of their family member, Neima Rosado. We wish the family every comfort in this time of grief and mourning.

Spotlight: Caye Caulker Bakery

All hail Caye Caulker's "Cake Lady"


San Pedro Scoop: My Best of 2013 - Part FIVE, It's a Wrap
Finally! And just in time�who knew that a "Best Of" would turn into five different parts. ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR�let's wrap this up. I mean SERIOUSLY. Who does this person think she is? Just back from Roatan and Punta Gorda (and their beautiful Mayan culture and the MayaBags�) On Ambergris Caye, I drove past "The Hotel" less than one mile north of the bridge. Such an odd spot. About a year and a half ago, it was a posh hotel about to celebrate a grand opening. Now it's all boarded up. Kelly McGuire visited San Pedro and had an huge fundraiser at Fido's for the SAGA Humane Society.

Year Ends on High Note for Belize Ecotourism
Ecotourism and environmental sustainability in Belize are thriving as 2013 comes to an end, according to The Lodge at Chaa Creek and tourism industry statistics. Roberto Harrison, Chaa Creek's marketing administrator, said that 2013 was one of the Belize tourism industry's best, and that he feels confident about the industry's prospects for 2014. "Tourism, and especially true Eco-Tourism, is a very volatile market, but even with all the ups and downs the industry faced last year, we came out with great results, and that bodes well for eco-tourism in general," Mr Harrison said. "The really good news is that people are responding positively to the message and philosophy of ecotourism and responsible travel," he added. According to Belize's "San Pedro Sun", the Belize Tourism Board reported that, while it was still awaiting border control figures, "2013 started off with exceptional overnight arrivals. January, February, and March of this year saw 17.2%, 14.3%, and 13.0% increases, respectively, when compared to last year's overnight arrivals. Overall, the period of January - August 2013 saw roughly 17,228 more visitors than 2012.

Our friends, guests and family literally circle the globe these days, so we're grateful for the power of the web to reach out as we attempt to pass on our wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year to as many of you as possible. We don't know why exactly, but we're really looking forward to 2014 and seeing what it has in store for us. Sure, there will be trials and tribulations, but there will also be amazing new discoveries, experiences, unexpected gifts and those all-important random acts of kindness that makes it all worth it. We also want to take this time to say thank you to all or our friends and supporters out there, and our guests, past, present and future, who have made Chaa Creek what it is today. We have truly become a local global meeting place for so many people, and we do feel blessed to share our beautiful natural surroundings with so many interesting individuals each year.

"Come Fly with Me" to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Yesterday started much the same way for me as any other day. Up at 06.15 hours. OK a little later than normal but I needed the extra sleep given the 'exertions' (or was it the Belikins I had drunk?) the previous night on the Poker Run. I chose the western veranda on the first floor (I think this is likely to be my usual 'venue' of choice) to savour my first mug of black coffee of the day and catch up on the news via The Sunday Times online. I moved inside just before 07.30 hours (having unlocked the store room/garage at 07.00 hours for Rubio and Mike so that they could get their tools)to watch Newcastle United play Arsenal. Not the most exciting of games. In fact it wouldn't be unkind to describe it as dour. But I didn't care. Why? Because Arsenal secured a win, courtesy of a headed goal by Oliver Giroud. That's three games undefeated since we got our TV. I think The Arsenal may have found a new, lucky charm. The power of TV! I hope the unbeaten run lasts as long as the TV although out here that might not be too long!

International Sources

Spared Winter Freeze, Florida's Mangroves Are Marching North
Much of the Florida shoreline was once too cold for the tropical trees called mangroves, but the plants are now spreading northward at a rapid clip, scientists reported Monday. That finding is the latest indication that global warming, though still in its early stages, is already leading to ecological changes so large they can be seen from space. Along a 50-mile stretch of the central Florida coast south of St. Augustine, the amount of mangrove forest doubled between 1984 and 2011, the scientists found after analyzing satellite images. They said the hard winter freezes that once kept mangroves in check had essentially disappeared in that region, allowing the plants to displace marsh grasses that are more tolerant of cold weather. In one respect, the situation resembles the change in climate that has allowed beetles to ravage millions of acres of pine trees in the American West and Canada, and more recently to gain a foothold in New Jersey. In both the beetle and mangrove cases, scientists have found that it is not the small rise in average temperatures that matters, nor the increase in heat waves. Rather, it is the disappearance of bitter winter nights that once controlled the growth of cold-sensitive organisms.

The Coolest Views From Airplanes
We've always been known to hold a special place in our heart for the views out of airplane windows. Whether you're arriving home after time away or landing some place for the very first time, there's nothing really quite like looking out the window and taking in the scenery below. Here are some of our favorite recent shots posted to Instagram, followed by some classic faves below.

Drone Use Soars in Latin America, Remains Widely Unregulated
Over the last decade, drones have made headlines as tools for covert bombing campaigns in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Yet remote-controlled warfare is just one of many functions Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can provide as non-lethal models become less expensive and more accessible to countries around the world. From aerial surveillance to three-dimensional geographic modeling of rugged terrains and even speedy pizza delivery service, manufacturers have begun to promote the infinite capabilities of domestic drones. At the same time, they are specifically targeting developing markets in Latin America for the martial use of drones in law enforcement and military operations. In response, human rights groups have been raising concerns over these fast-evolving technologies, citing the potential for abuse by various state agencies. Recent advancements have allowed governments to adopt and, in some cases, begin building their own UAV fleets, but regulation on domestic drone use remains non-existent throughout the Americas aside from preliminary laws adopted in Brazil, Canada and the United States.

Belizean Honey Buns Bare Pantry Style
Honey Buns were a staple for me when growing up in Belize in the 1970's. Throughout the years, the recipe has changed so much that it's hardly recognizable now. Joe helped me figure out the recipe to make a the Honey Buns of the past. These buns are moist and sweet and very delicious like I remember.

10 Things to Do in Belize in 2014
The year 2013 is finally coming to an end which means that many people the world over have started to write their New Year's resolutions. Because I am passionate and super pumped about promoting Belize online, one of my resolutions for 2014 is to get more people from all over the world to visit Belize. Since there are so many great things you can do on a Belize vacation, I decided to share with the world the top best things to do in Belize. Dive the Great Blue Hole of Belize The world famous Blue Hole is an incomparable natural wonder in Belize. It is located at the center of Lighthouse Reef and measures 1000 feet across and 412 feet deep. Giant stalactites, dripstone sheets and columns, and fascinating marine life are the enchanting geological wonders that draw divers to this site. Jacques-Yves Coustea, the popular naval officer and ocean explorer revealed the secrets of the Blue Hole to millions of viewers in 1971 through the television serious The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Coustea.

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