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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Sir Barry Bowen Bridge reopens after urgent repairs
The Sir Barry Bowen Bridge in the Boca del Rio Area of San Pedro Town has been officially reopened after being damaged by the excessive rains. Water had infiltrated the foundation at the northern foot of the bridge, forcing authorities to close off a section to conduct urgent repairs. Those repairs were done by Medina's Construction, and after eight days, the bridge was re-opened on Thursday January 16th. The urgent repairs included the reinforcement of the basement with concrete material, making it difficult to be washed away in the future. The work to have the bridge fixed, which linked the north and south of island, cost approximately $13,000. According to Mayor Guerrero, in the slow tourism season, the council will be reinforcing the ramps leading to the bridge on both sides with layers of concrete to make it even stronger.

San Pedro Art Group hosts annual benefit art show
Last weekend on January 11th and 12th The San Pedro Art Group hosted their annual "Women in Need" art show to benefit the community. For the last six years the event has been held at different venues, ranging from the Sunbreeze Hotel, Sunset Grill and Tropic Air Guest Lobby, with the last two years being held at Xanadu Resort. This year the group of very talented (and generous) women artists included Rose Escalante, Judy Sheinbaum, Donna Richmond, Carolyn Price, Violet Henderson, Susan Lala and Samantha Alcuin. Art aficionados were treated an array of beautiful water colors, glass jewelry, hand painted cushion covers, greeting cards and more. Proceeds from the art sale will go to women who are in need on the island, with funds discreetly issued to those who are most disadvantaged. The weekend show was a fantastic opportunity for residents and visitors alike to purchase lovely artwork while supporting a community program and The San Pedro Sun applauds these charitable artisans.

Ministry of Works and Transport Holds quarterly Technical Staff Meeting
DSCN5856On Thursday, January 16, 2014, the Ministry of Works and Transport held its quarterly Technical Staff Meeting. Present were Honourable Rene Montero, Minister of Works and Transport, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Errol Gentle, Chief Engineer, Mr. Lennox Bradley, Engineers, District Technical Supervisors (DTS), Assistant Technical Supervisors (ATS), other Technical Staff as well as Senior Staff from the Administrative and Accounts Sections. The Minister commended the staff for work well done during 2013, but emphatically mentioned the projected works in the pipeline to deal with civil works in the North to mitigate the effects of the recent rains as well as other "Hot Spots" countrywide. Making reports were Zone Engineers, DTS's, PEU (Project Execution Units) Flood Mitigation and the Accounts Section. - Current projects are being carried out by the PEU handling the E.U. Funds in the North and South of the country. - The Flood Mitigation Project in Belize City (IDB Funds) - The National Infrastructure Project funded by Government of Belize.

The Belize Athletics Association Cross Country Trials
The Belize Athletics Association will be holding a training session for persons wishing to become officials in the sport of athletics. This training will take place at ITVET campus in Belize City from 9AM on Saturday, January 18th. Training will be given for theory and practical lessons .Persons wishing to participate in this training can register on the day of the training or contact Hugh Staine at phone number 623-1335 in advance. The Belize Athletics Association will also be having a Cross Country Trials on Saturday, January 18th in the surroundings of the GG Field at 1PM. This event will be held to select athletes to represent Belize at the CADICA Central America Cross Country Championships to be held in February 2014 at Costa Rica. The categories that are needed to be occupied are: Distance Category 2k Infant A female 2k Infant A male 2k Jr C female 4k Jr C male 4k Jr B female 6k Jr B male 6k Jr A female 8k Jr A male 8k Open female 12k Open male Persons wishing to participate can register on the day of the event or with any member of The Belize Athletics Association.

Increase in Liquid Petroleum Gas Prices
The Supplies Control Unit in the Ministry of Trade, Private Sector, Development and Consumer Protection is hereby informing the general public that effective January 17, 2014 the Government of Belize has approved the following controlled prices of Liquid Petroleum Gas Prices.

Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge
Its location gives the name away quite easily. The silhouette etched from mountains and standing starkly against the sky can make you believe that giants do exist. Sure it's made of a grouping of large trees and thick forest creeping up on massive mounds/mountains, but when nature forms into a familiar forehead, nose, lips, chin, neck and even chest, it is easy to accept that it is in fact, a giant slumbering into oblivion. And nestled at a distance, primed to take in those breathtaking views is Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge. A deliciously luxurious resort designed to showcase the mountains and surrounding flora to full advantage, Sleeping Giant is a fabulous retreat. Taking full advantage of a spring fed creek running through the property, the main building and casitas have been built around its sound and path. Modern amenities are juxtaposed with the rustic charm of the jungle: a gourmet meal served to you on the deck of your casita overlooks the flowing stream that bubbles and gurgles along to the cacophony of birdsong and rustle of leaves overhead.

Ambergris Today

Denque-carrying Mosquito is Host to Another Disease Spreading in Caribbean
In August 2013 San Pedro, Ambergris Caye had an outbreak of dengue and the Health Department and San Pedro Town Council worked arduously and quickly in providing intervention methods such as ultra-low volume (ULV) spraying, thermal spraying of houses, premises inspections, spraying of drains and issuing of bed nets to homes in high-risk areas for dengue. Just as the Dengue scare passed us, the Belize Ministry of Health, confirmed that a 29-year-old female has died from the H1N1 Influenza A virus in the country. And now the Caribbean countries including Belize are being warned of the outbreak of the disease known as Chikungunya. Chikungunya is a viral disease, carried mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and causes a dengue-like sickness. Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya than with dengue. The symptoms appear between four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of clinical signs and symptoms last three to 10 days, but joint pain may persist longer. Severe cases requiring hospitalization are rare.

Misc Belizean Sources

The "WOW" Factor
13th Annual Tourism Industry Presentation shows growing trends - hosted in Corozal. On Wednesday January 15th for the first time, Corozal hosted the 13th Annual Tourism Industry Presentation sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board. With the growing trends in the industry, other achievements and past performances were celebrated. The Ministry of Tourism announced that it has just secured an eleven million Belize dollar loan for infrastructural development through Taiwan's International Cooperation for Development Fund (TICDF). A conglomerate of stakeholders in the Tourism Industry, the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia Jr. officials from the Belize Tourist Board and Belize Tourism Industry Association met at Tony's Hotel where they discussed past performances and the way forward with the Tourism Master Plan.

Santa Elena Teen Splash
Maximum Radio is having their Teen Splash fun day today at the Santa Elena basketball court, starting at 2:00pm. Bring out the entire family for some fun and games.

Rotary Scholarship Recipient Interview
The Rotary Club of San Ignacio provides many scholarships for needy students, and they've uploaded the video from their interview with Henry Guererro. Henry is currently enrolled at Sacred Heart Junior College, and he's doing great. Thanks, Rotary, and best of luck, Henry. "Our main focus is 'Educate our Youth.' Watch this video and see how Rotary can change the life of a student."

Health PSA 1
The Ministry of Health has released a series of Public Health Announcements designed to give information to the public on preventing illnesses such as the flu. Here is one of the PSA's

British tourist attacked in Consejo, Corozal
A British woman who lives in Consejo village, Corozal was the victim of an assault and attempted robbery on Thursday. Deborah Thomson reported to police that she was riding her bicycle about two miles from Corozal Town when she was approached from behind by a man of Hispanic descent on a bicycle. Thomson says that the man poked her with a stick and tried to grab her purse which she had in the basket of her bicycle and run her off the road. Thomson fought off her attacker and pedaled faster, yelling for her husband. The woman says that the attacker she fought off was later joined by another man as they pursued her, but fortunately her husband came to her aid just as the duo was about to catch up to her. The intervention of Thomson's husband caused the attackers to flee into nearby bushes leaving behind their bicycles.

My Body is Precious - Girl Empowerment Campaign
The Special Envoy Belize kicked off the "My Body is Precious - Girl Empowerment Campaign" at 2:00 pm at the UB Gymnasium yesterday. Let's join in the campaign to remind our girls that they are Beautiful Flowers!

The Chamber supports the Teachers in their demand for a wage adjustment that better reflects the increased cost of living experienced by all Belizeans and the importance of the teaching profession for our country. While we understand Government's financial position, we believe that a wage adjustment can be afforded if it is responsibly phased in over a number of years. As we have said in the past, the Chamber believes that smarter and more efficient government spending, along with a serious effort at the elimination of waste and corruption could provide the financial savings that would cushion wage adjustments and result in improved government services.

Who wouldn't want to camp out in Belize?
It was our first night in Belize and things were not starting out well. "You didn't tell me we were camping!" exclaimed my 16-year-old daughter Kelsey. "I would never have agreed to come if I had known we were camping." She had a point. I hadn't used the word "camping," because to me camping means a sleeping bag on the floor of a tent. We were in a comfortable wooden cabana with beds, mattresses, pillows and sheets. There was electricity and a central shower area with running water and flush toilets. This wasn't really camping. I suspected the underlying problem was really a slight case of nomophobia, or fear of being out of cellphone contact. With no cellphone signal and no Wi-Fi, the cabanas were practically prehistoric - in a teenager's mind, anyways. When I booked the trip with Island Expeditions, I had hoped that a few days away from technology on a mother-daughter adventure trip would be good for both of us.

The Creoles are losing power but they have not collapsed yet
I read an article written by the owner and publisher of the Amandala, Evan X Hyde, several times and I disagree with him that the Creoles have collapsed. It is more accurate to say that they are losing power. The Creoles are in the position that they are in due to the ethnic, economic, historical and political transformation that has been taking place in our country over the years. The indigenous people of our country are the Mayas and they were there for centuries before the Spanish and the British came to this part of the world. Both the Spanish and the British governments implemented many inhumane policies to deprive these people of their native land and eradicate their culture but failed. In the neighboring countries of Mexico, Guatemala and other countries in Central America, the native Mayas are still treated as third class citizens.

Belmopan vs. BDF
The Belmopan Bandits play the BDF tomorrow night at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in the first round of the semi-finals of the PLB. The game starts at 7:30pm. "PLB Belikin Semi-final Game Belmopan Bandits FC vs BDF Saturday January 18, 2014"

Channel 7

Teachers "Raise-a-pay" Rally, City Style
Today thousands of primary and secondary scholars got a holiday, as their teachers took a day off to rally for a buffet of social causes, but mostly their own: they are demanding a raise, which they'll get, but they're also demanding that the Prime Minister commit to a minimum increase, which he has refused to do. So, they're throwing that on the fire, along with many other issues that are out there, to strike up the most organized union machinery in the country. The second week of rallies brought them today to downtown Belize City, and 7News was at the front row to hear what they had to say, and to count the numbers. Here's how it looked:... Daniel Ortiz reporting Approximately 350 teachers moved off from Constitution Park at around 8:30 this morning, ready for the day's rally, taking over Cemetery Road, and the main downtown area, and by the time they got to the Battlefield Park, the stragglers who arrived late boosted the numbers to about 410.

Chamber Supports Teachers
And today the teachers' cause got support from an unlikely place: the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We say unlikely because the chamber has always espoused merit based increases and careful public spending, but today the Chamber said the teachers deserve a raise. A statement issued this morning says quote, "The Chamber supports the Teachers in their demand for a wage adjustment that better reflects the increased cost of living experienced by all Belizeans and the importance of the teaching profession for our country." It adds that, quote, "we believe that a wage adjustment can be afforded if it is responsibly phased in over a number of years�smarter and more efficient government spending, along with a serious effort at the elimination of waste and corruption could provide the financial savings that would cushion wage adjustments and result in improved government services."

Teachers Says They Will Support Immigration Officers Who've Been Recommended For Termination
Today Immigration Minister Godwin Hulse confirmed that Immigration Director Maria Marin has recommended the termination of three Immigration Officers who produced the Citizen Kim passport. Hulse explained that hers is only a recommendation and the public services commission will now have to decide if it will grant a hearing for termination - at which point the officers would be allowed to defend their actions and have union representation. So they are a long way from termination, but Hulse told us that the Director had no choice because two of the officers in questions are data entry clerks, and they had the responsibility to make sure the person applying for the passport was there sitting in front of them in September of 2013 when the Citizen Kim passport was issued. Of course, he could not have been there because he was in a Taiwanese jail. Instead they used an old picture from his South Korean passport, and superimposed it into the Belize passport. Now, much has been made of the fact that they have been recommended for termination, while Penner is still a member of the House with all the pay and perks. But, Hulse says that Penner was fired from Cabinet - which was the most that can be done.

Sugar Season Delayed Again
Earlier this week we told you that cane deliveries should start next week Monday at 10. Well, tonight, the latest information is that those deliveries won't start until next week Friday, January 24. The decision came out of a meeting between BSI, BSCFA, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Works, which happened today. Contracts have been signed, but the works on the sugar roads, which are in a very bad condition, have been very slow, and all parties believe that they will not be passable on Monday. They have delayed it for another 4 days to give the contractors more time. Estimates from the experts are that for every week that the season is delayed under the amended scheduled, that's about 3 million dollars in production that is lost.

Magistrate: Extradite Deon Bruce
Yesterday, Rhett Fuller escaped extradition - but today Belizean Deon Bruce wasn't so lucky. Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith ruled that he must be extradited to the US to face charges of murder and attempted murder. Bruce is charged for allegedly shooting at Aaron Carter and Bryan Rodgers in Chicago on July 28, 2010. After hearing arguments from his attorney, Godfrey Smith, in December of last year, the Chief Magistrate deliberated for over a month, and today she ruled that Bruce must be sent to the US. Bruce was visibly shaken when he exited the court today, and he has only 15 days to apply to the Supreme Court to appeal the decision of the Chief Magistrate, or that decision becomes final. Today, 7News spoke to his attorney, and he told us that he will meet with the family next week to decide whether or not they will appeal. Judging from his physical reaction today, it is very likely that Bruce will not let the decision of the Chief Magistrate stand without challenging it.

Big Tom Targetted By GSU
Kenneth Big Tom Flowers�.he was deported from the USA in November of 2013 after getting off a murder rap. The 36 year old told us that he was making a change in his life, that he was ready to forgive and move on. But he did confess that his past might catch up to him in Belize, and, it seems, so it has. The GSU today charged Flowers for a little used offence: associating with a criminal gang in violation of his compliance letter as a deportee. He was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. The matter was adjourned for March and he was released on bail. It turns out Flowers was arrested for the same offence on December 18 where he also pleaded not guilty and that matter is set for trial on Feb 21, 2014.

The Pressure Builds For The Palencia And Its Cargo
Tonight, makes it exactly one week since the international cargo vessel, the CFS Palencia has been under arrest, anchored and held in Belizean waters. Michael Young today confirmed that he has been retained as attorney for the ship owner, but he could not comment beyond that. But, from what we've been able to determine, there's been no progress in the standoff between Government, which has detained the ship and the owners. Caught in the middle are the Belizean importers and exporters, who depend on the ship's weekly route to and from Jamaica to move their shipments. The ones feeling the pinch most acutely right now are the Belizean exporters who have 20 containers on board - not the eight we reported last night. Those 20 contain citrus concentrate, shrimps, corn, cornmeal and black-eyed peas. Almost half of the containers, 9 of them to be exact are being exported by a Mennonite cooperative out of Spanish Lookout, named Bel-Car. CEO Otto Friesen told us that the products they have on the ship are valued at seven hundred thousand dollars. He says his company's buyers are getting impatient, and feed mills in Surinam and Guyana which depend on his corn to feed poultry operations are about to run out of feed. He says if his corn shipment doesn't go through, he'll lose the business. Friesen says if their shipments earn a reputation as being unreliable, his company stands to lose 5 million dollars in sales over the next six months.

Ms. Cunna Says Remand Of Her Son Is Police Acting Personal
The last time we told you about 33 year-old Darrell Henry, he had been forced to spend the Christmas holidays in prison after he was charged with firearm offences. As we had told you, he was charged with possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, and failure to provide a specimen. Those charges were dismissed by Magistrate Dale Cayetano who upheld a no-case submission from his attorney, Dickie Bradley. As he was exiting the courtroom, he was immediately rearrested and charged with keeping an unlicensed firearm, keeping unlicensed ammunition, handling stolen goods, and possession of a false document. The firearm charges are an automatic remand, so when it was brought to court, even though his attorney argued that the decision was an abuse of process, he still had to be arraigned and remanded. Despite Bradley's submission that Henry had basically just been acquitted on the same charges, Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer had no choice in the matter. Today, after 24 days n remand, his case came up, and Henry's family was very hopeful that he would be granted bail. Senior Magistrate Frazer told him however, that the matter has to be heard in the Supreme Court, and she had to remand him to a further date until that bail application goes through. We spoke to his mother, the well-known "Miss Cuna", and she told us that her family believes that a personal grudge is at play:

Teenager Mauled, Stabbed, Survives
A 15 year old boy was stabbed yesterday in front of a Panades shop in the Lake Independence area. Yesterday afternoon at around 2:00, Christian Martinez was riding home when three males pulled up, got out of a car and stoned him in the back with a maul. He fell to the ground and they then stabbed him multiple times in the left shoulder. He was taken to the KHMH where he was still admitted today with non life threatening injuries.

US State Department Shows Respect To "Prince Joe"
Sadly, dozens of young men are killed in Belize annually, but 18 year old Joseph Sanchez is the very first to have his passing noted by the US State Department. A highly unusual release issued from the US Embassy in Belmopan today says, quote, "The Department of State condemns the brutal killing of transgender teenager Joseph Sanchez in Belize on January 12. We send our condolences to Joseph's friends and family and the entire LGBT community in Belize." It concludes, "No one should be subjected to violence because of who they are or who they love." Sanchez was we have reported was a young man with a transgender orientation who was killed last week Sunday morning on Elston Kerr street. Police say it was a robbery; LBGT activists say it was a hate crime.

Belize's Artifacts On the Move, Carefully
Last month, we took you to St. Paul Minnesota to show you the very impressive Mayan exhibit called Hidden World Revealed crafted by the Science Museum of Minnesota. It's news here because artifacts and research from Belize feature very prominently in the show. And now after 7 months on display in St Paul at the Science Museum of Minnesota, the exhibit is on the move to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. And going along with it are 160 pieces of precious Mayan artifacts from Belize. They have to travel about 900 miles by road to Denver, the end of a two week process of taking all the pieces down form their displays and packaging them with multiple layer of protection,. NICH"S Sherilyne Jones who oversees the entire process to make sure utmost care is taken. Today we spoke to her in Minnesota where she has braved subzero temperatures for weeks. First we spoke to conservator Rececca Newberry: Rebecca Newberry, conservator - SMM "We really put a lot of care into all of the travelling; all of the things that are going on the tour." Sherilyne L. Jones, Director, Museum of Belize & Houses of Culture "The detail planning that went into moving the objects and packing the objects was on par. I have never seen such detailed planning and preparation."

Rare Mayan Mural In NW Bze
And the new research on the maya just keeps coming. The publication Popular Archaeology reports a find at a little known site in northwestern Belize which is called Tulix Mu. From the road it looks like just an area of overgrowth, but it is an ancient Early Classic Maya site that contains evidence of at least two standing vaulted rooms. That's nothing to exciting, but beneath the plaster in one of the rooms, researches have found evidence of a polychrome, fine-line mural. The magazine says the mural style appeared generally similar to that found years before by other archaeologists at San Bartolo in Guatemala. There are only a few other known Maya murals found in Central America.

These Kids Are Winners�.
Today, the National Sport Council sport the 2014 Primary School Football Championships at the MCC Grounds and the Raccoon Street Police Station Football Field. It was an all-day tournament, where a male and a female team from each of the 6 districts competed against each other to determine who would be the national champs. After 10 games, the girls from Richard Quinn RC School in the Stann Creek District emerged as the champions defeating Santa Elena Primary of the Cayo District final match which ended with a score of 2 to 1 in a penalty shoot-out after. The most valuable player chosen was Renisha Requena who scored 5 goals in the tournament including the winning penalty. In the boys category, Trial Farm Government School won their first national championship after defeating Santa Elena Primary from the Cayo District after a very close game which went to a penalty shoot-out. The final score was 5 to 4. The most valuable player was chosen as Johnny Cawich, who scored for goals for his team. Trial Farm won the match after their goalkeeper, stopped Cayo's fifth penalty shot.

Channel 5

The damning nationality report on Won Hong Kim….the details
There is confirmation by Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse of a story we broke on Wednesday that Director of Immigration Maria Marin has recommended the termination of three passport officers [...]

Belize City teachers take to the streets
The unions have promised that 2014 will be the year of the worker, and agitation has been ramped up since the beginning of the New Year. The Belize National Teachers [...]

B.N.T.U. pledges support for suspended immigration officers
As we told you earlier in our newscast, it has been reported that three public officers - Sharon Neal, Omar Phillips and Erwin Robinson are on the chopping block based [...]

�.And lashes out at Minister of Education, Patrick Faber
The Minister of Education Patrick Faber came under fire from the teachers for criticizing the industrial action, the union and them. Faber is often outspoken, and defends his comments as [...]

Another delay to the beginning of the crop season
Following the signing of an interim agreement between B.S.I. and the B.S.C.F.A. early this week, the 2013 - 2014 sugar cane crop was to have gotten underway on Monday, January [...]

Family devastated when Darrell Henry could not get bail
A family in Belize City was devastated today by the news that their loved one would not be coming home from court with them. Thirty-three year old Darrell Henry has [...]

Extradition request for Deon Bruce is granted
In July of last year, twenty-eight-year-old Deon Bruce was arrested by Belize City police and held in detention at the Queen Street Precinct pending what his family believed would have [...]

U.S. issues a statement on the murder of cross-dresser, Joseph Sanchez
Eighteen-year-old Joseph Sanchez was fatally stabbed by two men at about two o'clock on Sunday morning while en route to a party.� The teenager was dressed as a woman, clad [...]

Belize Chamber of Commerce comes out in support of B.N.T.U.
While a throng of teachers from the Belize District converged on Battlefield Park this morning to make known their demand for a salary adjustment, its social partner, the Belize Chamber [...]

S.S.B. investigating identity theft cases
There are two reported incidences by the Social Security Board of identity theft under the names Carmen Cantun and David Cruz.� The S.S.B. said today that the cases remain under [...]

Fifteen year old viciously attacked by three men
Fifteen-year-old Christian Martinez, a resident of Balan Street in Lake Independence, remains hospitalized tonight, following a vicious attack on Thursday evening during which he was stabbed multiple times to the [...]

B.D.F. soldier charged for the manslaughter of Staff Sergeant Abimael Carrillo
On December twelfth, 2013, B.D.F. Soldier Abimael Carrillo, who had been serving the Belize Defence Force for almost two decades, was killed in a traffic mishap. Today, one of his [...]

An art exhibit by Inga Woods
Meet twenty-one year old Inga Woods�.she's a painter, poet, jewelry designer and does almost anything during her spare time to create impressive pieces. And tonight at the Bliss Center for [...]

A Good Samaritan on a mission to assist women affected by violence
Rayford Benguche, a Belize City resident turned Good Samaritan, is on a mission to assist women who are experiencing hardships because their loved ones have been caught in the vicious [...]

The winners of the National Primary School Football Championships
Junior female and male ballers converged on the MCC grounds today to kick off the national school football championships. Before the start of the one day competition, the students heard [...]


LPG Price Sky-rockets
At midnight tonight, the first increase in butane gas for the year 2014 will come in effect, and it's by a whopping $5.00. According to the Supplies Control Unit in the Ministry of Trade, Private Sector Development and Consumer Protection, the new controlled price for a hundred pound cylinder of Liquid Petroleum Gas imported from Mexico is as follows: Belize City $125.00, Belmopan & San Ignacio $127.00, Benque Viejo Del Carmen $128.00, Orange Walk $126.00, Corozal $125.00, Dangriga and Punta Gorda, $129.00 and $130.00 respectively. The price for the hundred pound cylinder of butane imported from Central America will stand as follows: Belize $121.00, Belmopan & San Ignacio $123.00, Benque Viejo Del Carmen $124.00, Orange Walk $122.00, Corozal $121.00, Dangriga $125.00 and Punta Gorda $126.00.

PUP Says Gun Law Is Counter Productive
Yesterday we reported on the Launching of the Peoples United Party's Social Justice Agenda, which seeks equal rights and opportunities for all Belizean citizens. And while there are many uneven, even outdated laws that need amending, one such law which has been brought to the spotlight is the Gun Law where any gun related charges is an automatic prison sentence. The media asked PUP Party Leader, Francis Fonseca to give his view on the issue and here is what he told us. "Anyone who looks at the record would know that at the time they introduce that gun law, the People's United Party in the National Assembly opposed that particular section of the law and in fact made some very strong statements, we made recommendations for improving that law and we remain consistent with that position we have consistently said to the government that we believe that law is being applied unfairly, we understand that there are dangerous people on the streets and we need to deal with them and we need to get out guns out of the hands of dangerous people but we do not need at the same time to use those laws to penalize those law abiding citizens who are trying to protect themselves, their families and their businesses and a lot of that is happening, a lot of innocent people are being caught up in this web that has been thrown and so we need to look at that law and other laws to make sure that they are being effective and that in fact they are not having a counterproductive effect on the innocent people of our country."

MOA Also To Assist Cane Farmers
The assistance rendered to farmers and cattle producer's ranges somewhere around eight hundred thousand dollars. Another big sector of the agriculture industry that is being gravely affected by the bad weather is sugar cane. In this area alone, farmers in the Orange Walk and Corozal Districts are being affected by flooded fields and the heavy rains have also further damaged sugar roads making it difficult for farmers to access their crop. Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Gaspar Vega says that government is also rendering the assistance needed in helping to alleviate the negative impact the rains are having in this particular industry by allocating at least 2.5 million dollars in the rehabilitation of sugar roads. Honorable Gaspar Vega - Deputy Prime Minister of Belize "Again we're going have to wait and see how far that will go because at the beginning the Prime Minister had allocated 2 million dollars for them but we know that it was not enough and we have increase just of lately just like a past few days a 2.5 million dollars."

Peace Work International Donates Much Needed Equipment To Schools
A few days ago, we told you about the US volunteer team, Peace Work International, who arrived in Belize to conduct some work and training in horticulture, Information Technology and nursing with several groups across the country. The team has been visiting Belize for two years and this time, before departing, they made a significant contribution to under resourced schools. Today, we caught up with the Field Director of the group and the recipients of the contributions made. Jess Falla - Field Director, PeaceWork "There are a number of laptops as well as projectors that came from Gateway Technical College students from Wisconsin and the computer and laptops are being donated to various schools here in Orange Walk. We have been working with Ms. Karla Alvares to figure out which schools were the most in need so some of these schools that are getting laptops do not have any laptops until now, we wanted to make sure that the resources were fairly distributed so she was able to identify which schools really were in need of computer and laptops."

Man Charged For Communicating With Prisoner
In the Orange Walk Magistrates Court today, one man was charged for communicating with a prisoner. Yesterday, about 8:30am, Officer Commanding the Corozal Police Formation, Superintendent Andrew Ramirez, was in his office located on the south end of the police department, close to the cell block area, when he heard someone talking. He made physical checks and noticed that a male person was talking to one of the prisoners, namely Francis Flowers. The person talking to the prisoner identified himself as Marvin Rancharan. Ramirez cautioned the man that he was committing the offence of communicating with a prisoner, and placed him under arrest. The individual then confessed that his real name was Jason Jonathan Espinosa, 20 year old Belizean jockey of South End, Corozal Town. Espinosa was then charged for communicating with a prisoner and mischievous act. He was brought to the Orange Walk Magistrate's Court where he pled guilty on both charges and fined $100.00 on each count. The public is reminded that it is an offence to communicate with a prisoner without authority.

Traffic Accident Claims Life Of A Taxi Driver
A 28 year old taxi driver from Concepcion Village in the Corozal District lost his life in a road traffic accident last night. Authorities in that municipality say speeding may have been the contributing factor to his demise. Reporter Victor Castillo followed that story today and filed the following report. Victor Castillo - Reporting It was after 8:00pm when Pedro Mendez, uncle of the now deceased Marcelo Damien Aguillar, received a call from a friend only known as Santiago, informing him of the dreadful and deadly accident. Pedro Mendez - Uncle "Llamaron eso como de las ocho y cuarto en que �l hab�a chocado con un cami�n pero el que me llamo el no confirmo si �l estaba muerto y porque �l no estaba en el puesto de los danos todav�a, cuando el llego en el puesto el me llamo que ya estaba muerto en que choco con u cabezal en la llanta de atr�s y lo mando encima de un pickup."

Mother Nature Continues To Attack Farmers MOA Assists
The sporadic weather continues to increase losses to farmers across the country. Here in the north, vegetable farmers are experiencing significant losses as some have been unable to plant while those who did, have no crop to harvest due to overly saturated soil. The constant rains have provoked hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of loss in the agriculture sector. Government conducted a damage assessment late last year but as the weather pattern fails to improve, farmers continue to lose their crop. Given the national impact the rains are having, the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is providing some assistance to farmers across the country. This morning farmers congregated in Orange Walk Town to receive the much needed assistance. Dalila Ical reports. Farmers from the Belize, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts today received seeds, fertilizers and food coupons from the government in an effort of easing the financial loss they have sustained due to continuous rains. Present for the ceremony was Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Gaspar Vega. Honorable Gaspar Vega - Deputy Prime Minister "En esta zona como dije se produce como el 70% de toda la cebolla, producimos un poquito m�s del 50% de todos los vegetales que se produce en el pa�s. En el distrito de Orange Walk se produce un poquito m�s del 50% de todas las carnes que se produce en Belice, todo el ganado, as� es de que ustedes son gente muy especial, muy importante para la econom�a de Belice."

British National Escapes The Wrath Of Criminals
A British tourist residing in Consejo Village, Corozal, is tonight recuperating from a frightful ordeal after she was nearly attacked by two men. On Wednesday, Deborah Jayne Thomson was heading back to the Village of Consejo on bicycle when she was approached from behind by a male person of Hispanic descent who was also on a bicycle. The individual, who was dressed in a bright red shirt, got in Thomson's way trying to make her swerve off the road into some bushes. The individual then tried to grab her purse which she had in the basket of her bicycle. Thompson, though; managed to hit the male person causing him to stay behind and she rode faster while calling her husband. As she turned around she saw that the same male person was right behind her.

Wild Tracks Assists In The Illegal Pet Trade
When humans and wildlife share the same area, problems are often bound to happen. Unfortunately it is often the wildlife that has to suffer the consequences. And with a specially designed program, that is where Wildtracks, a rehab center for primates and manatees, comes in. The center provides a temporary sanctuary for monkeys and other wildlife casualties that have been taken out of the wild and kept in captivity or are being used as pets. Belize is home to two species of primate - the Yucat�n black howler monkey and Geoffroy's spider monkey. Both are considered globally endangered, and Belize's populations are being pressured by increasing tropical forest clearance, and capture of young animals for the illegal wildlife trade. It is common knowledge that wild animal species do not make good household pets. And tonight, Reporter Maria Novelo takes a look at how the Wildtracks rehabilitation center plays an important role in helping to alleviate a great deal of this problem, by providing the much needed service to the abused animal wildlife, the communities, public and Government at large.


US State Department Applauds Belize for Swift Investigation
Earlier this week we told you about the murder of eighteen year old Joseph Sanchez which UNIBAM described as a hate crime. Sanchez, who is a member of the LGBT community in Belize, was stabbed to his chest. Police believe that Sanchez was a victim of a robbery that turned fatal. UNIBAM's Executive President, Caleb Orozco, told Love News that Sanchez was target because of his lifestlye. Today the Department of State of the US sent out a comment in which it states that the Department, quote, "condemns the brutal killing of transgender teenager Joseph Sanchez in Belize on January 12″end of quote. The Department concludes its statement by saying that the Department is encouraged by the Belizean authorities' swift investigation into the killing, and echoes the government's commitment to ensure that all citizens, without exception, enjoy the full protection of the law. No one should be subjected to violence because of who they are or who they love," end of quote. Sanchez's family told the media that Joseph Sanchez quit school because he was receiving death threats. They believe that he was lured to his death. Hours after Sanchez's body was discovered, a Facebook Profile under the name of John Young appeared. The user of the profile shared Sanchez's profile picture and captioned it as "one by one uno wah dead".

Attorney General Makes Observation on Judiciary
Rhett Fuller legal fight from extradition to the United States was done over a course of fifteen years; one of the longest in Belize. Fuller became a free man yesterday after Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, decided that for the best interest of Belize and Fuller's family, that he be not extradited. Today Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith ruled that Deon Bruce be extradited to the U.S. where he is wanted for murder and attempted murder. However, his attorney Godfrey Smith plans to appeal the decision which may lead Bruce to years of years of fighting not to be extradited like Rhett Fuller. According to Elrington the long course of legal battle is caused by the attorneys and the Judiciary's inadequate resources. HON. WILFRED ELRINGTON "In every part of the world, it seems that the lawyers and the practitioners find a way to make the courts work slowly. Courts need to work swiftly and efficiently but for that you have to have people who work very hard and you need to have very smart people and who work conscientiously. It is only when you have that combination of people that you can move things through the courts expeditiously, swiftly but even when you have that combination of people, the lawyers do everything in their power to stall the process and so, the court cases are now dragging and taking much longer time to go through the process than when I started to practice thirty years ago.

Teachers Rally on Battlefield
This was the tone set sometime after nine this morning when members of the Belize National Teachers Union's filed into the Battlefield Park in downtown Belize City, for the third in a series of weekly rallies to amplify its demand of the Government. The teachers, led by their National President, Luke Palacio, want their salary adjustment, which they say has not been upgraded since 2005. By our own estimate, the assembly numbered between five and 600 at its peak of a total of 720 members, inclusive of retired teachers, in Belize City. It was a turnout with which Palacio said he was pleased. LUKE PALACIO, President, BNTU "The majority of our membership is out here and again, like we said, those who are not out here would be the ones who would answer why they are not out here. We've only had two rallies so far, the one in Orange Walk and the one in Corozal and we are satisfied with the turnout." While that was the picture in Belize City today, in the other districts, the eye-catching green T-shirts marked, "Teachers Got Yoh Back", were also a part of the day's activities.

Chamber of Commerce Increase in Wages Should Be Based on Performance and Productivity
When the Belize National Teachers Union had their rally in Orange Walk they saw the support of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and today the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed support for the teachers. In a release the Chamber says that it supports the teachers in their demand for a wage adjustment. While the Chamber understand the GOB's financial constraints, in it release it says that the wage adjustment can be afforded if it is responsibly phased in over a number of years. The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports the notion that any increase in Public Sector wages should be done in an objective and reasonable manner based on evaluated and measurable performance and productivity. The Chamber emphasizes the link between responsible public spending and just compensation for our public officers, by the absolute need to provide an improved oversight to public finances. The Chamber has called and continues to call for the appointment of the 13th senator and a more autonomous Public Accounts Committee.

Social Security Board Investigates Identity Theft
The recent story of identity theft hit the news earlier this week when Police issued a report of a Tanzania woman, Teena Isaac attempting to get a Belizean passport with a fake birth certificate and social security card. Today the Social Security Board issued a release to say the incident along with others is under investigation. The release says preliminary findings suggest the birth certificates presented to their office for registration purposes were obtained under misrepresentation as the photographs presented were certified by Justices of Peace. The SSB release says that they do take these cases of identity theft quite seriously. Currently, Belizeans can obtain a social security card by presenting the original birth certificate with a photo ID or a passport while foreigners are required to present documents verifying their legal status in Belize such as a work permit, nationality certificate or a CSME certificate. It is to be noted that recently, there have been several attempts to register fraudulently with Social Security and the offices countrywide have been placed on alert especially with new applications.

Police News
A fifteen year old minor of a Balan Street address in presently undergoing treatment at the Karl Huesnor Memorial Hospital after he was stabbed multiple times. Police say that it happened yesterday at about 2:00pm when the teenage boy was riding his bicycle on Balan Street. According to police say that the minor was accosted by three male persons of dark complexion who exited a vehicle and threw a maul which hit him on his back and one of the men inflicted the injuries with an ice pick. The attackers sped off and the 15 year old was rushed to the KHMH for treatment. Police are investigating. A security guard from AAA Security Firm in Belize City reported to police that while he was performing his duties at the Inspiration Center yesterday at about 12:00, he was approached by two dark complexion male persons from behind, who jumped over the fence of the center and placed a short firearm to the right side of his head. The other then took his chrome with black handle .38 revolver containing (5) .38 rounds and (1) hand held radio belonging to the said security firm. Also taken was his grey Samsung brand smart cellular phone valued at eighty five dollars. Then assailants then hit him to his head with the firearm and then made good their escape. Police investigations continue.

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400 Belize District Teachers Rally in the Old Capital
The BTL Constitution Park this morning was filled with teachers of the Old Capital and bused in from the River Valley and cayes. It was part two of the Belize National Teachers' Union (BNTU)'s efforts to raise awareness on key national issues and also to make their case for...

Chambers Support Teachers' Call for Wage Adjustment
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce has expressed its support to the Teachers in their demand for a wage adjustment. The Chamber says while they "�understand Government's financial position, believe that a wage adjustment can be afforded if it is responsibly phased in over a number of years." The...

Deon Bruce to be Extradited to U.S.
American authorities lost a high-profile target yesterday in Rhett Fuller, who dodged extradition to Miami, Florida after a decision was made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington not to take him away from his family. But 28 year old Deon Bruce lost the first hurdle of his...

BDF Charged in Connection to a Fatal Accident That Killed his Colleague
Staff Sergeant Abimael Carrillo, had been serving the Belize Defense force for almost 2 decades before he lost his life on a traffic mishap dating back to December 12, 2013. This morning 43 year old Juan Tuyub (a BDF soldier and Carillo's colleague) was arraigned at the Belize City...

15 Year old Stabbed Multiple Times
A 15 year old is presently undergoing treatment at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after he was stabbed multiple times. Reports to PlusNews is that yesterday, at about two in the afternoon, the minor was riding his bicycle on Balan Street in Belize City when he was accosted by...

Elderly Man Found Hanging from a Tree at Dangriga Cemetery
Police are treating the death of a 71 year old who was found hanging from a tree, as suicide. On the 10 of this month, at about 4:00 pm, the deceased Hubert Alexander Belezair, left his residence in Belmopan in a cab, en route to the Belmopan bus terminal....

Security Guard Robbed of Firearm
A security guard was assaulted and robbed of his firearm while on duty last night. The 27 year old Haitian guard, attached to the AAA Security Firm told Police that he was performing security duties at the Inspiration Center, when around midnight, two men approached him from behind. The...

British National Chased by Robbers on Bicycles
A British national residing in Consejo Village, located in the Corozal District, had a bizarre, yet frightening encounter with would-be robbers. The woman told Police that on Wednesday, the incident occurred while riding her bicycle about 2 miles from Corozal Town. She was approached from behind by a Hispanic...

US Department of State Comments on Death of Belizean Cross-dresser
Yesterday, on the 16th of January, a webpage called the US Department of State (mobile)" commented on the recent death of Belizean cross-dresser Joseph Sanchez. it stated, and we quote, "The Department of State condemns the brutal killing of transgender teenager Joseph Sanchez in Belize on January 12. We...

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Taiwan Scholarships Available
The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is pleased to announce that on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 at 10:30AM at the Chateau Caribbean Hotel, Belize City, this Embassy and Belize-Taiwan ICDF Alumni Society in Belize will host the 2014 Scholarships Programs Briefings for this year's scholarship applicants. Started from 2002 and 2004 respectively, this Embassy has accepted and recommended hundreds of applicants to apply for the Taiwan Scholarship and Taiwan ICDF Scholarship annually to pursue their degrees from Bachelor, Master to Ph.D programs in Taiwan in various fields such as public health, agriculture, business administration, engineering and information and communication technology. Until 2013, there are a total of 232 recipients accepted and around 100 persons had finished their study and returned to Belize to contribute their learning to this country.

Island Flyboard Day Postponed
Reefwater Sports is postponing the Island Flyboard Day to Saturday, January 25th 2014 due to the weather conditions.


The Belize City Council (CITCO), specifically Mayor Darrell Bradley, and the Lands Department are caught in a bitter back-and-forth which has gone public over a prime seafront property located on Seashore Drive in the Caribbean Shores area in the suburbs on the outskirts of Belize City. In April of 2013, the City Council was verbally informed that the property in question - parcel #3820 -would be issued to a private individual, Giovanni Blease. Upon receiving the information, the Council immediately lodged a caution on the property in that same month. In November of last year, however, the Belize City Council received a letter from the Commissioner of Lands, Wilbert Vallejos, notifying City Hall that Blease is requesting a court hearing to remove the caution on the land. The reason that CITCO is in opposition to the transfer of Parcel Number 3820 is that, according to Belize City's Mayor Darrell Bradley, the Belize City Council has always maintained that the entire section of seafront along Seashore Drive is reserved for public use. That use, however, has already been limited by three mansions and a high-fenced mooring area.

Marcelo Damien Aguilar, 28, a taxi driver of Concepcion, Corozal, died after he suffered massive head and body injuries as a result of a 3-way collision between a van, a pick-up truck and a 10-wheeler truck, which occurred between Miles 87 and 88 on the Philip Goldson Highway at about 8:00 last night. Aguilar was declared dead on the scene. The other persons involved in the collision are Servando Salazar, 44, of Orange Walk Town, the driver of the 10-wheeler truck; Gabriel Pott and his wife Elodia Pott, who were traveling in the pickup; and Francisco Hernandez, 16, and Nelson Pech, 21, both of Concepcion, who were travelling with Aguilar. Police said that Aguilar was heading from the northern border to Corozal; Servando Salazar was driving the 10-wheeler truck to the Northern Border from Corozal, and travelling behind him in their pickup truck were Gabriel Pott and his wife. According to police reports, upon arriving between Miles 87 and 88 near the Chan Chen junction with the Philip Goldson Highway, Aguilar lost control of his van and slammed head-on into the 10-wheeler, causing Salazar to lose control of the truck, which ran off the road and overturned - landing with its 10 wheels in the air, on the right side of the road.

Russell Roberts-the activist who last week emerged to publicly challenge an existing gun law which has seen a pregnant mother, a reputable teacher, and a grandmother, among scores of other persons, unjustly slapped with gun or ammunition possession charges-said that attorneys are now looking at the possibility of lodging a class action suit in the Supreme Court of Belize. Roberts is furthermore leading a campaign to get affected persons to document their experiences, so that a case can be made to Prime Minister Dean Barrow for the revisiting of the law, which, some say, violates Belizeans' constitutional right to freedom, as well as the judicial presumption that they are innocent until proven guilty. Roberts said that they are aiming to get 100 to 200 names, which would be submitted to the Prime Minister, to demonstrate the need to give ear to the concerns. This morning Roberts was joined by the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) at a Radisson Fort George Hotel press conference at which COLA announced that it won't let Roberts go out there alone to fight what the COLA president, Geovannie Brackett, describes as a "barbaric law" which "has to be done away with�" because, according to Jihad McLaren, another COLA official, "�it makes every person in this country a possible criminal."

It's been 17 weeks since the Penner Passport Scandal broke in September 2013, and today a group of concerned Belizeans called a press conference to decry reports that three immigration officers-who they contend are now sacrificial lambs to be offered instead of former Minister of State in the Ministry of Immigration, Elvin Penner-are facing termination, while the Minister who held the reins over the passport portfolio has still not faced any major repercussions apart from his ouster from Cabinet. "If the average citizen was caught up in that scenario, they would have long been thrown in jail�," said Geovannie Brackett, president of the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA). Brackett told the media today that it is "appalling" that, "the big fish gets to walk, but the little fishes now will feel the brunt of it�" COLA's Rufus X said that Government is now sacrificing three for one, and if this pattern persists, Belize is doomed! "If those three public officers are terminated, we will go to the streets and we call on the Public Service Union [PSU] to find the testicular fortitude to defend your members. Those are not members of COLA, but we are going to defend them. Where is the NTUCB [National Trade Union Congress of Belize] in this regard? How many public officers, how many members of the union should be disrespected before we hit the streets?" Brackett questioned.

Today, businessman Rhett Fuller, 42, who was fighting extradition for 15 years on proceedings initiated by the United States of America, and his family experienced long-awaited ecstasy when Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred "Sedi" Elrington, announced that he did not see it fit to send Fuller to the US to answer to charges of homicide in that country. The US had asked for Fuller's extradition on charges of first degree murder in connection with the death of Larry Miller, which occurred during a robbery in the southern state of Florida back in 1990. The Government of the United States initially requested his extradition almost 16 years ago, in 1998; and the then Chief Magistrate gave the order to proceed with it in 1999; however, it was appealed in 2002. At the time, his original attorney, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, argued that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who signed the extradition warrant, did not have the power to do so. With the appeal pending, nothing happened and Fuller went back to having a regular, productive life in Belize. But 6 years later - in 2008 - the appeal finally came up and Rhett Fuller was back in court fighting extradition to the United States for a crime he was accused of 18 years before.

Back in July 2009, the Ministry of Health in Belize reported that there had been 23 laboratory-confirmed cases of swine flu, caused by the H1N1 strain of the influenza "A" virus in Belize-a virus which medical experts now reveal had caused deaths way back in 1918, around the time of World War I, and again in the 1960s, as confirmed by Dr. Federico Gerardo de Cosio, WHO Representative in Belize. Belize and the rest of the world panicked when reports surfaced four years ago that the virus was spreading again and causing multiple fatalities. Director of Health Services Michael Pitts said at a press conference held in Belize City today that in 2010 and 2011, the country saw mild cases of H1N1 - never severe ones - and since October 2013, they have been seeing increased cases of H1N1 flu in the region. Today, however, he reported that they have confirmed Belize's first death due to the swine flu. Currently, medical authorities are treating a 14-year-old who arrived at the hospital with severe respiratory illness, and has been manifesting that condition over the last 36 hours.

Population-wise, Belize is a small place, but Belize is much larger in land and sea territory than CARICOM powerhouses like Jamaica and Barbados. Belize has always had a lot of development potential, but that development potential, we here submit, has been secondary in importance to Belize's strategic location in the nationalist, post-World War II era. The largest market in the world in the post-World War II era has been the United States of America, and Belize was just 600 miles away from America, from Florida, to be precise. Cuba was only 90 miles away from Florida, but Belize, compared to Cuba, had lived a protected life because of Belize's status as a British colony. Cuba's pains in the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, ended up contributing to the gains of Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, a revolution which has achieved great social, educational, and technological advances for the Cuban people. Cuba has gone through different experiences from Belize's, and has suffered from a cruel economic embargo enforced by the aforementioned United States of America for more than a half century. (Castro's revolution became communist, whereupon the former ruling classes of Cuba migrated to America, and have been plotting to overthrow him ever since.)

"And Jesus answered and said unto them: 'Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.'" - MATTHEW 24: 4, 5, and 6 There was once a man in Belize who was living two lives. He was living one life by day, and another life at night. On one violent occasion, it appears that these two lives intersected, and the upshot of that intersection was that one of his family members was killed. I was editor of the newspaper at the time, and, try as I might, I couldn't figure out the violent incident. I did not know how totally contradictory his two lives were. The years went by, and then the gentleman himself was killed. I am not sure if I had become aware of the violent contradiction between his two lives before he himself was killed, but I did become aware of the individual's two lives at some point. The story has haunted me through the years, because of several reasons. One of these reasons is the fact that this individual must have been tortured by some terrible demons, but one could not gather this just by looking at him. Another reason is that there were innocent human beings involved with the tragedies in his life. And another reason is that this case taught me that there are secrets buried so deep within the social realities of Belize that one must never feel that he or she knows everything there is to know about this society.

Independence police have arrested and charged Manuel Ernesto Urguia Mencias, 51, a Honduran manager of Green Gold Banana Farm in the Stann Creek District, in connection with the killing of Maria Domotila Perez-the second murder to have occurred in the new year. On Monday, Mencias was taken to the Independence Magistrate's Court, where he was arraigned on the charge of murder and remanded to the Belize Central Prison until April 30, when he will be returned to court. Police charged that Mencias was the man who chopped up and almost severed the head of his lover, Perez, 41, a Honduran businesswoman of Benque Viejo, over money that she allegedly stole from him. The incident occurred at about 10:00 Saturday night, January 4, in the Green Gold Farm area. The Commander of Independence police, Assistant Superintendent Alton Alvarez, told Amandala that their investigation revealed that Perez, who lived in Benque Viejo, travelled to the Green Gold Banana Farm where she met her lover, Mencias, and went to his home. While at the house, Mencias went to the bathroom, and on his return, Perez and his money had disappeared.

When I first learnt about the entire country of Belize being leased to oil companies I felt a rage towards the People's United Party, because they were the ones who signed the contracts without public knowledge and without competitive public bidding. Then when I read the contents of the contracts, called production sharing agreements (PSA), the rage multiplied ten fold upon ten fold. I could not understand how any leader of this country could agree to terms that are basically a sell-out of our patrimony and a sellout of our natural heritage. This land is our birthright. The moment we are conceived in our mother's womb we become an inheritor and the moment we pop out of her womb we become a shareholder. No one has to write a will to give us an interest in the bounty of our land and we do not need for anyone to die, to pass us this "legacy." No matter where you go, once you are born in Belize, your homeland you not only inherit, but you have a God-given obligation to protect your inheritance. So when a leader, by contract or conduct, agrees to terms that amount to a giveaway of this, our birthright or inheritance, to someone else, especially a non-Belizean, this giveaway of what is ours, comes off as them selling us out, because they underestimate our value and true worth. To begin with, there is no price that can be placed on what is our natural bounty. And there is no price that can replace our forests, wetlands, reefs, atolls, rivers, mountains, flora and fauna. Oil companies must destroy some of these to first investigate if there is even oil, through seismic testing, and then destroy even more through extraction, and then transportation out of Belize. So leaders need to consider this before proceeding to sign their names on the dotted lines of any oil contract.

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) this morning announced a new initiative being undertaken in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin for a two-year residency program to train Belize's emergency response personnel, under the Belize Emergency Development Program. KHMH spokesperson Niall Gillett told Amandala that the training-which should bolster the country's trauma response-is especially needed since the country of Belize has been seeing an upsurge in shootings and killings. He said that the capacity-building project is being developed through the University of Wisconsin, whose chief liaison is Dr. Mark Bruce, who has been collaborating with them since 2005. The Belize Ministry of Health is also partnering in the initiative.

Double-speak� "It has not failed, but it has not worked" is the best we can say of the Westminster system of government after 30 years of apprenticeship (17 years of self-governing status) and 13 years of "running ourselves". It obviously "has not failed" because in all its glorious inefficiencies and incompetencies, it keeps lumbering on like a 19th century locomotive. "It has not failed" because those who have paid the price of slander, gossip, rumor-mongering, character assassination, who have survived the insults to their persons and families, broken marriages and families, suffered financial distress, once elected know they will get their chance to pay back; they will get their opportunity to drink at the people's trough. They will be able to live their wildest fantasies, touring the world, hobnobbing with presidents and queens, posturing before international meetings, rhetoricizing about this and that, knowing all the while that one of the giants need but sneeze, and the country is blown about like a feather in a hurricane. "It has not failed" because these brave few, having sacrificed their consciousness and souls to the paramountcy of the party, rationalize these sacrifices by apologizing for their inability to lead by "all over the world this is happening", "everywhere there is escalating crime and unemployment", "increasing teen pregnancy", "there is a breakdown of the family unit," "our products are subject to market forces beyond our control", ad infinitum, all the while enjoying the perks of the successful candidate, legislating with perfect aplomb the statement of Bill Vaughn, "the tax collector must love poor people - he is creating so many of them."

In an effort to highlight the triumphs and challenges of Belize's tourism industry in 2013, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), as well as other relevant stakeholders, convened at the Tony's Inn Beach Resort in Corozal Town today, where they not only looked back at the previous year, but they also looked forward to the oncoming year in tourism. After a cultural presentation by a group of traditionally dressed Mestizo dancers, the Chairman of the BTB Board of Directors, Einer Gomez, reflected on the role of tourism in Belize and the advantages that it has brought to the country. Thereafter, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hon. Manual Heredia, Jr., remarked on the 2013 tourism season, and described it as another "groundbreaking" year for tourism in Belize. He cited unprecedented records of tourist arrivals in 2013, amounting to 7% growth compared to 2012. In addition, the Minister informed the gathering of a 5.7% rebound of cruise tourist arrivals which was categorized as an "above average" trend for the industry. Also of note is that in 2013, there was a 21.2% increase in the number of tour guide licenses that were issued, along with an 8.4% increase in the granting of hotel licenses.

The death penalty in the Americas was the subject of a debate held today by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) at its headquarters in Washington, DC, USA. Belize is not among the thirteen countries in the Americas which have acceded to the OAS Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, which binds states parties to an agreement to "not apply the death penalty in their territory to any person subject to their jurisdiction." According to a release from the OAS, "Numerous permanent Council representatives took the floor to explain the different positions of their countries on the death penalty, ranging from absolute opposition to those who consider the death penalty as the result of a democratic process and a debate that in many cases remains open." Mexico has been a frontline country promoting the debate. Emilio Rabasa, the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS, reported that his mission called for the inclusion of the issue of the death penalty on the agenda, because for his country the matter, "from the perspective of promoting and protecting human rights, should be listed as a priority issue on the agenda of our Organization, its highest political authorities and its bodies and specialized mechanisms."

A 16-year-old girl from Selena Village, Cayo District, has been reported missing. Kathryn Illeana Medrano, a Belizean student, was at home throughout the day yesterday, Monday, but at about 5:30 in the evening, she ran away to areas unknown, and has not contacted her family since. Kathryn's mother, Mayra Corina Ramirez, a domestic, told police that Kathryn is slim-built, about 4 1/2 feet tall, has a fair complexion, and weighs about 120 pounds. She has long black hair, and there is a mole near her left eye. She was last seen wearing a red blouse with a brown skirt and black shoes. Anyone who sees Kathryn Illeana Medrano or knows her whereabouts is urged to contact the nearest police station, or 0800- 922 - TIPS. Her mother is very worried about her and wants her to return home quickly.

A grandmother and her grandson suffered burn injuries when their concrete home on Giles Street, in the Junesville area of Lake I, caught fire at about 9:00 Friday night, January 10. Yvonne Michaels, the house owner and grandmother, suffered burns to her face and forehead, while her grandson, Ryon Martinez, 8, suffered 2nd degree burns to his face, hands and body, and was admitted for treatment at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) after he was rescued from the burning house on Friday night. As a result of the fire, ten people - four adults and six children- are now homeless. The house was completely destroyed, along with all household appliances, furniture and furnishings. The family said that nothing was saved. The estimated loss to the family is about $80,000.

A corporal of the Belize Defence Force (BDF), who is suffering with a brain tumor and needs a brain surgery that must be carried out at a medical institution abroad, is getting the runaround from the higher-ups in the BDF and the Ministry of Defence. Corporal Norman Rodriguez said that he was diagnosed with the condition two years ago and an order was made for him to go abroad to receive the needed surgery to remove the tumor - a procedure which reportedly costs $75,000, but he has not been able to access the assistance that he needs to go away to get the necessary treatment. When he checked on the status of his request for assistance, he was told that the documents which had been submitted were being looked at by the defence ministry and BDF officials. Rodriguez, who has been a soldier for the past 13 years, said that he is being let down by the army, and that he is suffering from depression and seizures as a result.

There has been a lot of behind the scenes grumbling in the Premier League of Belize during the current Belikin Cup 2013-2014 Opening Season competition. In a previous competition just over a year ago, the Police United team was the beneficiary of a very controversial league decision regarding the fielding of a Placencia Assassins player who was supposed to have served a suspension, according to the tournament rules regarding red and yellow cards. The thing is, the suspension was supposed to have been served in a scheduled game against FC Belize; but the then short-staffed Assassins decided on still fielding the player, and still lost the game, 1-0, on Sunday, March 24, 2013. In their subsequent mid-week Thursday night game, on March 28, against Police, the Police management insisted that the said Placencia player should then serve the suspension; Placencia was adamant that the suspension had only applied to the previous game, and persisted in fielding the player. They promptly defeated Police, 3-0, in that game, which was also at the MCC, then Police's home field. Police lodged a protest, and the League decided to award the 3 points to Police, which resulted in Police taking Placencia's spot in the playoffs and going on to the championship. The disgruntled Placencia Assassins did not participate in the subsequent PLB Opening Season 2013-2014.

With the Civic Center demolished, the only venue in Belize City half-way suitable for holding top level basketball is Bird's Isle, and, according to latest reports, a marathon is planned for next Saturday, January 25, to launch the new BBF Elite Basketball League, which will fealture teams from Orange Walk, San Ignacio, Belmopan, Dangriga, Toledo, Corozal, San Pedro and Belize City. We expect to hear more about the long awaited return of "semipro" basketball in the days ahead. Team names we are hearing include, Orange Walk Runnnin Rebels, San Ignacio Western Ballers, Belmopan Bandits, Dangriga Culture Warriors and San Pedro Tiger Sharks. No names have been announced yet for the teams out of Toledo and Corozal, but we have been reliably informed, not to our delight, that the name being proposed for the Belize City franchise is "No Limit." A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Are you ready to jump on board, city fans? The start date of the inaugural season of the Elite Basketball League is reported to be on Friday night, February 7, when the official opening ceremony will be held at Bird's Isle. Competition games will be played at the home courts of all the different teams, according to a home-and-away schedule.

Dangriga sports stats
The Dangriga Zone secondary school football tournament started on Sunday, January 13, at the Carl Ramos Stadium with Ecumenical and Delille Academy meeting in both male and female. In the female game, Delille Academy won over Ecumenical, 2-nil; both goals were scored by Quinaya Caliz. In the male game, it was again Delille Academy over Ecumenical, this time by a 2-1 score. Clint Logan and Brandon Flores shook the net for Delille, while Kyle Valerio scored for Ecumenical. The tournament was scheduled to continue yesterday, Wednesday, with Anri vs Ecumenical in both male and female, but the games were postponed due to weather conditions. These will be back matches. The tournament will now follow its normal schedule on Friday, January 17, at 2:30 p.m. with Delille Academy vs ANRI, the female game being at 2:30 p.m., followed by the males. On Monday, January 20, it is back to the high school rivalry in the second round of the tournament, as it will be Delille Academy vs Ecumenical in both male and female.

A spirited and energized boxing veteran, in the person of Henry "Boxer" Gill, visited our sports desk this morning to inform us of encouraging news in his quest to realize his dream of operating his own boxing gym in the Lake Independence area of Belize City, where he presently resides. (We last reported on Boxer's plans in our issue of Sunday, October 20, under the caption, "Boxer raring to go, needs a spot for a gym in Lake-I.") After an approximately 30-year sojourn in the U.S.A., Boxer has settled down in his old hometown for the past few years and has nurtured a vision of providing training for wayward youths, thus putting them on a positive path in life, at his own boxing gym. Today, Gill likened the recent positive news to a good round in a boxing bout. "I feel like I just put in some good work, you know, some body blows on my opponent; and his head will soon be dropping lower down, so I can catch him with my left hook in the later rounds." Boxer was referring to the news that a friend, tour guide Michael Pollard has offered him the available space in his yard to use for his boxing gym. "It's only walking distance from my home on Electric Avenue," declared Boxer, "and it has enough space to build a decent sized structure for the gym."

City fans are joyful and thankful that, by the slimmest of margins, FC Belize has made it to the post season playoffs in this, the most hotly contested "semipro" season ever. The good news will certainly be well received by FC Belize owner Lionel Welch who is recovering from illness in the U.S. Best wishes to 'Nel for a speedy recovery from all of us in the Jewel.

James Elijio, 29, a mentally challenged man who resides at the corner of Flamboyant and Poinsettia Streets, is recovering at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) after he was shot in the neck at about 10:30 last night in his yard. Elijio had come out of the house through a side exit to urinate in the yard when two men walked up from the direction of Casuarina Street and fired at him, hitting him in the neck. The gunmen then escaped in the direction of Black Orchid Street. Police from the nearby Mahogany Street Police Station responded quickly and took Elijio to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted in a critical but stable condition, and is recovering in the Emergency Care Unit.

Four persons of Orange Walk were released on bail yesterday by the Orange Walk Magistrate's Court after being charged with robbery, aggravated burglary, wounding, and taking a conveyance without authority. Ronald Bruhier, 21, of San Jose Nuevo Palmar, Orange Walk District, and one minor, 17, of Savannah Street, were offered bail of $2,000, while Anthony George Tillett, 19, of Juventud Street and another minor, 14, were charged with the same offences, but were additionally charged with harm. They were offered bail of $5,000. They were all ordered to return to the Orange Walk Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, March 5. Tillett was arrested at his home on Tuesday after he escaped from police Saturday morning.

Corozal police are seeking two thieves who stole a bag containing over $2,200 worth of items from a woman and her son, who were sitting under a bus stop in front of the Libertad Clinic. The incident occurred about 6:00 yesterday evening. Janice Gurney, 55, a Canadian artist of Corozal Town, told police that she and her son, Mitchell Duke, 18, were waiting for a bus at the bus stop when two young men on bicycles approached. One of them - who was reportedly of medium build, and had braids on both side of his head- grabbed her multi-color canvas sling bag from off the cement seat where she was sitting. The bag contained her white iPhone in a green plastic case, which has an estimated value of $1,600; a small pink camera, valued at $170; and a brown wallet containing a 20 pesos note, $450 in cash, two bank cards, her driver's license and other documents, all totaling $1,873 in value. After grabbing the bag, the robber left the scene on his bicycle.

A 9mm pistol with serial number A2802 valued at $2,000 is in the hand of criminals after the owner of the gun and his friend were held up and robbed in their office on Racoon Street Extension in Belize City. Berrisford Bowen, 48, a contractor and resident of Marage Road, Ladyville, Belize District, told police that about 3:30 Tuesday evening while inside his office with Leonard Wright, two men with firearms entered the office. One of the bandits was of dark complexion, slimly built, and about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a narrow face; the other had a brown complexion, was medium built, and was about 5 feet 8 inches tall. The robber of dark complexion reportedly searched Bowen and stole his gold Cuban link chain with an elephant medal valued at $2,000 from around his neck, a gold bracelet with a metal plate in the middle of it that bore the letters B.R.B engraved on the top of it, valued at $1,000; a gold Lodge ring with a Lodge symbol on it in gold, valued at $350, and Bowen's black 9mm Luger pistol.

A 51-year old teacher is presently remanded at the Belize Central Prison after he was accused of sexually assaulting his 12-year-old stepdaughter. The child, accompanied by her mother, went to the Belama Precinct Four last Wednesday, January 8, to make the report. The 12-year-old minor reported to police that while she was living with her mother, her stepfather, 51, who is a schoolteacher, sexually assaulted her. Police investigated the matter and on Saturday, January 11, the schoolteacher was arrested and charged with seven criminal offenses, including carnal knowledge and aggravated assault of an indecent nature.

Three of four men who were pulled over by police during a search for four bandits who held up and robbed two women at their home in Orange Walk and escaped in their vehicle, have been remanded to the Belize Central Prison on charges of keeping a prohibited firearm and ammunition. Jamal Tablada and Jareth Usher, both residents of Belize City, and a minor, 17, who was with them, were taken to the Orange Walk Magistrate's Court yesterday, Tuesday, where they were remanded to prison until March 18. According to CTV 3 News, on Saturday night, police were on mobile patrol in response to a robbery that had occurred earlier Saturday evening in Orange Walk. They were on the Philip Goldson Highway in a search for the robbers, who had escaped in a vehicle belonging to the victims, when around 12:30 a.m. they saw an SUV parked. Police drove up to the vehicle and saw three persons in the vehicle, one of whom they recognized as a George Street gang member.

Independence police have arrested and charged Manuel Ernesto Urguia Mencias, 51, a Honduran manager of Green Gold Banana Farm in the Stann Creek District, in connection with the killing of Maria Domotila Perez-the second murder to have occurred in the new year. On Monday, Mencias was taken to the Independence Magistrate's Court, where he was arraigned on the charge of murder and remanded to the Belize Central Prison until April 30, when he will be returned to court. Police charged that Mencias was the man who chopped up and almost severed the head of his lover, Perez, 41, a Honduran businesswoman of Benque Viejo, over money that she allegedly stole from him. The incident occurred at about 10:00 Saturday night, January 4, in the Green Gold Farm area. The Commander of Independence police, Assistant Superintendent Alton Alvarez, told Amandala that their investigation revealed that Perez, who lived in Benque Viejo, travelled to the Green Gold Banana Farm where she met her lover, Mencias, and went to his home. While at the house, Mencias went to the bathroom, and on his return, Perez and his money had disappeared.

The Reporter

PUP introduces Social Justice Agenda
On what would have been George Price's 95th birthday, the People's United Party (PUP) launched its 10-point Social Justice Agenda. Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca introduced the new Social Justice Agenda at Independence Hall on Wednesday morning, following a short wreath-laying ceremony at [�]

Supreme Court opens new legal year
By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter Amidst the pomp and ceremony of the opening of a new legal year, there was a greater sense of the importance Belizeans place on the Judiciary to dispense justice, despite heightened challenges and limited resources. "2014 must be a year of action," declared President of [�]

Cane harvest begins
The 2014 sugar cane harvest will begin at 10 o'clock Monday morning, January 20, according to the terms of an interim agreement which the Belizean Farmers Association signed with representatives of Belize Sugar Industries Ltd at BSI Staff Club in Orange Walk Town late Monday evening, January 13. BSI undertook [�]

O.Walk & Corozal teachers rally for 5% pay hike
Students in Orange Walk and Corozal districts got a free day from school last Friday, January 10, as their teachers turned out en masse for the first of a month-long series of nationwide rallies. Chief among the teachers' demands is the case for a minimum five-percent pay increase by July. [�]

Independent parties say "No confidence" in Belize/Guatemala negotiations
The Peoples National Party and the Vision Inspired by the People have stated that they have "no confidence" in Government's latest attempt at negotiations with Guatemala. PNP leader, Will Maheia, said Monday that last Thursday's meeting between Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington and his [�]

Verdes lead Belikin Cup football
BY William Ysaguirre Verdes FC of Benque Viejo del Carmen won through to the playoffs of the Belikin Cup football tournament as the top-ranked seed, finishing the regular season with 20 pts, despite a dismal showing in a scoreless draw when they hosted the second-ranked Belmopan Bandits at the Marshalleck [�]

NICH canoe wins Boom to Manatee Lodge race
BY William Ysaguirre The N.I.C.H. team of Oscar Cordon, Felix and Efrain Cruz won the first canoe race of the New Year, organized by the Belize Canoe Association in preparation for the annual Ruta Maya, in a 1:14;14 paddle from the Black Orchid Resort in Burrell Boom to the Manatee [�]

Belize's billion dollar industry? Cornerstone to Belize's Development part two
In the last Our Economy, we looked briefly at the Private Sector Assessment Report and some of the more key points highlighted, including the role of innovation in terms of private sector development. Picking up on where we left off, let's refer to the work of 1987 Nobel Prize winner, [�]

The Re-Indianization of the East Indians of Belize
By: Dorian Barrow, Ph.D. Florida State University Descendants of Asian Indians comprise approximately 3% of the population of Belize, which, as you know, is the most culturally diverse nation in Central America. We consider ourselves to be both a part of the Caribbean and Central American, even though we have [�]

Teacher remanded for having sex with stepdaughter
Fifty-one-year-old teacher, Verden Samuel Blease, was remanded to prison on Monday, for unlawful carnal knowledge of his step daughter. According to police, the 12-year-old victim, along with her mother, reported to Belama police on January 9th that Blease had been having sexual relations with her [�]

Teen cross dresser killed
An eighteen-year-old member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, Joseph Sanchez, was killed early Sunday morning and his body was discovered on Elston Kerr Street before 2:00 a.m. Sanchez was found dead on the sidewalk wearing a white sleeveless blouse and a [�]

CITCO provides online driver's license renewal service
Belize City has around 15,000 drivers and of that amount those who wish not to endure the long lines at the Traffic Department to renew their licenses don't have to do so any more. That's because the Belize City Council this week unveiled its online driver's license application and renewal [�]

Butane prices going up
A country-wide price increase for liquid petroleum gas will take effect on Friday, January 17. According to the report from the Belize Bureau of Standards, the cost of a hundred pound cylinder of 60 percent butane to 40 percent propane distributed by Belize Gas Limited and Western Gas will increase [�]

Asthma: Altering diet may ease symptoms
Fruits, vegetables and whole-grains might be an unlikely treatment for asthma according to animal studies. Tests on mice, published in the journal Nature Medicine, showed that a high-fibre diet could reduce inflammation in the lungs. The extra fibre changed the nutrients being absorbed from the gut, which in turn altered [�]

Vitamin D boosts child muscles
Higher levels of maternal vitamin D during pregnancy have been linked to better muscle development in children, say researchers. The study on 678 children, published in Endocrine Research, showed vitamin D levels in the womb were linked to grip strength at the age of four. The team at the University [�]

Nigeria bans same-sex marriage
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has signed into law a ban on same-sex marriage in Africa's most populous nation. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the decision Monday. "Beyond even prohibiting same-sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians," he said in a [�]

Violence fears in Thailand rise
Rights groups and others have called on Thai authorities and anti-government protesters to respect human rights and avoid violence during mass demonstrations in Thailand's capital, Bangkok. The People's Democratic Reform Committee protest group - which hopes to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office - launched its "Bangkok shutdown," intended [�]

It appears that the leaders of the People's United Party knew of the duplicate and triplicate names which formed part of the recall petition which was submitted to the Governor General in last year. The petition to recall the elected representative of Cayo Northeast was the first step of the [�]

Free at last! 24-year-old legal battle over for Rhett Fuller ends
At the order of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Attorney General Wilfred Elrington, businessman and father of three, Rhett Allen Fuller, 45, is at home with his family. Elrington's ten-page decision, released Thursday, is the final straw in a 24-year saga that began with the death of Larry Miller in [�]

Beware! H1N1 endemic in Belize
A woman, 29, died of atypical pneumonia caused by the H1N1 influenza virus at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital last Monday, January 6, Dr. Marvin Manzanero announced at a press conference in the K.H.M.H. conference room on Wednesday, January 15. Dr. Franz Murray, the National [�]

COLA lobbies for change to gun law
Activist Russell Roberts has garnered support of several groups to amend Belize's gun laws, and is now seeking signatures to trigger an audience with the Prime Minister. Roberts held a press conference on Thursday, informing that he has consulted with attorneys on the sections of [�]


Importance of Bilingual Speakers in the Workplace
The importance of having bilingual speakers in the workplace has grown as the number of people who speak languages other than English has increased. Businesses that take advantage of adding bilingual speakers to their payrolls can benefit extensively because of the larger market of clients and customers they can capture. Over the past 30 years, the number of people who speak a language other than English has grown exponentially. Estimates place the percentage of this group at about 20 percent of the U.S. population. According to ORC Networks, the percentage of people who spoke non-English languages by 2007 had grown 140 percent, while the nation's overall population grew by 34 percent.

Amish Bakd Oatmeel
So Thishere is whut oatmeel is spozed ta taste like! Thishere is a lil bit o'culinree Heeve ta start off yer monin', an' trust me - oncet y'all've had thishere, y'all'll nev'r go back ta whut y'all've becum accustomet ta callin "oatmeel" agin. T' recipe at I deecided ta try allows y'all ta mix up all o't' ingredyints t'nite befor, an' let everthang sit n' t'frigidairy overniite (thishere allows t'oatmeel ta becum nice an' soft). T' nex monin', y'all jes take it out, stir it up, an' bake it. Let everyone add thar favert toppings, an' enjoy! If'n y'all have inny leftovers, thay a'ken be refrigeratid an' heetid up n' t'microwave lat'r un n' t'week.

A Look Around the Fort Street Cruiseship Village in Belize City
Yesterday was THE most beautiful day to visit Belize City. Bright warm sun, but cool in the shade. I was wearing my long sleeved shirt and North Face windbreaker, visitors, bikini tops and shorts. I took the 830am San Pedro Express Water Taxi from San Pedro to the city. One hour and 15 minutes. To visit the cruise ship village on its most busy day, Thursday. A three ship day in the harbor day. (You can see one of them in this picture below�off behind the fishing boats.) Ft. George Village is the first stop for all visitors that are getting off the cruise ships in Belize. So technically, it is the most visited place in Belize. By far! So how can I write a blog about Belize without visiting this hot spot? This hub? Makes no sense. In fact, I'm starting to get more and more questions from cruise ship visitors. Time to get in and take a look around.

International Sources

US condemns killing of transgender teenager in Belize
The United States has condemned the "brutal killing" of a transgender teenager in Belize. "The Department of State condemns the brutal killing of transgender teenager Joseph Sanchez in Belize on January 12," US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said. "We send our condolences to Joseph's friends and family and the entire LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community in Belize," she said, urging Belizean authorities to swiftly investigate the killing. "And we echo the government's commitment to ensure that all citizens, without exception, enjoy the full protection of the law. No one should be subjected to violence because of who they are or who they love." Media reports in Belize said that Sanchez, who identified with a transgender orientation, was found dead on Sunday. He had been stabbed and dumped on the side of a street.

Why Botflies Love Your Scalp and Face
The life cycle of the botfly is a special one. An adult fly, full of eggs and joie de vivre, lands on a mosquito. What results is something that looks like a brutal mugging, but instead of taking anything, our ladyfly leaves a gift for our blood-sucking victim. She leaves her eggs. The hapless mosquito, violated and confused, eventually recovers from the attack and does that special thing that mosquitos do: it feeds on the blood of mammals. Once the mosquito has had its dinner, the botfly eggs fall into the little hole created by the mosquito's proboscis. Once inside, well, you know the story by now. It feeds on your body, turning human flesh to fly flesh, and emerges for another generation of carnage.

Excuse me while I go to Belize to taunt monkeys, for research
Please don't hate me for this, but I am leaving this morning for Belize, a tropical paradise where palm trees sway and rum is said to be cheaper than Coke. This will be my first visit to Central America. It also is my first visit to a country where monkeys reside. To me, monkeys are as exotic as wildlife can be. I hope they throw feces at me. I will wear it as a badge of honour. "What's that on your shirt?" "It's monkey feces, actually." What I really want to see is how they throw feces. Do they whip it overhand like a baseball pitcher or do they have some other way of throwing? The answer could shed light on human evolution.

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