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Today's Belize News: January 30, 2014 #484587
01/30/14 05:09 AM
01/30/14 05:09 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,073
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP


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The San Pedro Sun

Belize Hotels dominate in the 2014 TripAdvisor Awards
Belize continues to rise in the ranks of coveted tourism destinations, capturing several international awards, and 2014 brings in even more accolades! Dominating in 2014’s TripAdvisor Awards, Belize’s hotels and resorts earned 37 distinguished mentions. TripAdvisor Awards are determined through the comments and ratings that visitors post about their vacation and serve as a means of publicity for a destination. As Belize’s top tourist destination, Ambergris Caye hosted its fair share of awards. A total of four island resorts placed in the Top 25 Hotels in Central America, with Grand Caribe Belize Resort taking the 2nd spot, Coco Beach Resort taking the 11th place, Victoria House Resort ranking 12th and Las Terrazas Resort taking 24th place. Grand Caribe Belize Resort also placed 4th in the Top 25 Hotels for Families in Central America. In the Top 25 Small Hotels in Central America, Belize took 11 spots including the top three: Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort (Stann Creek) 1st, The Phoenix Resort 2nd, Pelican Reef Villas Resort 3rd, Coco Plum Island Resort (Stann Creek) 6th, Xanadu Island Resort 7th, Chabil Mar (Stann Creek) 14th, Athens Gate 16th, Turneffe Island Resort 20th, Sleeping Giant Lodge (Cayo) 22ndand Ka’ana Boutique Resort and Spa (Cayo) 23rd. Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort also placed 8th in the Top 25 Small Hotels in the World.

Jerry Jeff Walker Passes the Hat for Saga Humane Society
Long time clients of Pampered Paws, Jerry Jeff Walker and his wife, Susan Walker passed the hat for Saga Humane Society at the Camp Belize concert on Friday, January 24th inside Fido’s Restaurant and Bar. The hat came back full with a grand total of $1,625 raised for the Operation SNIP (spay and neuter) campaign. Being an animal lover himself, Walker has always supported Saga, even seeking opportunities to raise funds however he can. At his concert, Walker shared the information on Operation Snip, the importance of Saga and their mission to find every pet a home, and even had special guests Kathy Marin and Judy Schreiner of Saga attend the concert themselves. Of course Walker sang a song about dogs, (it may have been about his own beloved Bear)while his hat was passed around to his generous audience that was more than happy to donate to a worthy cause. According to Saga, the money received will be used to spay/neuter 30 dogs or cats free of charge during February to celebrate Spay/Neuter Awareness Month and World Spay Day that will be held on Tuesday, February 25th. They would like to thank Jerry Jeff Walker, Susan Walker, their loving dog Bear and all participants of Camp Belize for the continued support and generous donations.

20 years of success for Robin McCutcheon of The Added Touch!
How does a Microbiology professor end up with a business like The Added Touch? From microscopes, cells and laboratories to soaps and wineglasses, sunblock, linens, postcards and more – there could only be one reason for this success. That reason is Robin McCutcheon. She’s no mad scientist – all of her experiments are a winner! But just how did she end up in this business? We asked her during a fabulous meeting in person at her store, and she explained: After a year of teaching microbiology at the University of Belize, Robin took a hiatus, stepping in to help some friends in their store located in Belize City’s downtown area. Customers (hoteliers and gift shop people) were constantly coming by, expressing their frustrations at not being able to find items that should be readily available for their resorts and restaurants. This was a time when anyone who didn’t live within access roads was especially frustrated. “Keep in mind that at that time the Placencia road wasn’t paved, nor was the Hummingbird Highway,” said Robin. “We called Pine Ridge the Outback!” Because getting to that area was tough, and those who had settled in there couldn’t provide their customers with basic items. Friends of Robin then invited her to attend a hotel show in Cancun, Mexico, and according to Robin, that’s where it clicked.

Ambergris Today

Belize Tourism Board and Olson Win Top Honors at In2 SABRE Awards
Belize took Best in Show honors at the In2 SABRE Awards for its ‘Breaking Bad’s Trip to Belize” campaign. The Belize Tourism Board and Olson Engage were recipients of three honors at the awards show that took place last week at the Four Seasons San Francisco. The marketing campaign won the awards for best marketing buzz and digital influence as well as the best in show for turning a potential negative publicity to a great opportunity to promote Belize. If you recall, the hit AMC show “Breaking Bad” used the phrase taking a “trip to Belize” as a euphemism for killing someone. But the Belize Tourism Board and the marketing team at Olson turned things around by posting humorous and light-hearted tweets at the show’s actors. The BTB even sent a letter to the cast of Breaking Bad inviting them on a free vacation to Belize.

Measuring Entrepreneurship in Belize
Belize joins the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), through the execution of a Compete Caribbean project in Belize to strengthen the Economic Development Council (EDC) [BL-CC2037] and improve the business climate and entrepreneurship; Belize, for the first time, has joined the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Three members of Belize’s National GEM team are attending the annual meeting of GEM national teams in Santiago, Chile. Other team members for Belize are representatives from the Ministry of Economic Development, the Directorate of Foreign Trade, and the Belize Agro-productive Sector (BAS Group). This national team will be the coordinating body for the two entrepreneurship measurement tools, the Adult Population Survey (APS) and the National Expert Survey (NES).

Misc Belizean Sources

BWSL Project Consultation
Dillon Consulting Ltd. will be conducting a consultation at the Lion’s Den on Thursday, January 30th in the evening at 7:00 p.m. The consultation by Mr. Frederick Sandiford of Belize Water Ltd. will bring awareness to the general public and provide a general overview in regards to the project that will be conducted on the north side of Ambergris Caye by BWS. Any questions or concerns can be addressed at the consultation.

BV Belize’s conservation Christmas cracker
A couple of weeks before Christmas the weh di gwan (agenda) board in Bachalar Chico Dive Camp announced that while others are doing data entry and dives, Santa’s fellow-countrymen Kaisa and neighbour Siim (me) are to start the preparation for a Christmas themed conservation party for the children of Sartaneja. It was a getaway from doing data entry and after a couple of hours brainstorming in the warm Caribbean breeze provided a theme and a plan. There was yet more brainstorming and preparation leading up to the party as there were going to be approximately 20-30 children attending the event. The staff and volunteers were organized into workgroups and a board was created that contained all the information about the party – who is responsible for what and where. However, everyone was always welcome to do things and come up with ideas that weren’t marked down for them – for example when one of the volunteers Emily was visiting Corozal Bay she bought candy cane instead of planned lollipops. Plans for the party were to create informal yet informative (and fun) presentations, boards, pictures and a huge 150 x 250cm² paper-board with a reef drawn on it so children could draw fishes and other sea creatures on it. Volunteers and staff also had to prepare cookies for cookie-decorating, Permit Jack shaped medals also had to be handmade. The Blue Ventures (BV) staff house had to be prepared for the party. But the flyers and posters for the party were done in time and with a smile!

Donations for Softball team of the Holy Cross Anglican School
Councilor Gaby Nuñez on behalf of the San Pedro Town Council and the San Pedro Sports Council, presented the softball team of the Holy Cross Anglican School with softball equipment such as mitts, bats, balls and catching gear. The kids were very enthusiastic as they enjoy the sport.

Escuela Mexico in Belize celebrates its 31st Anniversary
The “Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico” (ESTM), in San Roman Village, Corozal District, completes today its 31st Anniversary. The Official Ceremony was headed by its Principal, Mr. Carlos Castillo, and the Mexican Ambassador to Belize, Mario Velazquez. More than 800 people attended, including school officials, teachers, students and their families. The Escuela México is a technical/vocational high school that was built and donated in 1982 by the Mexican government as a friendly symbol of recognition of the Independence of Belize. In January 1983, formal classes began with an enrollment of sixty-eight (68) students and a small staff of five teachers. Since its establishment, the student population has grown considerably. The enrollment now stands over 680 students.

Cayo Quality Honey Producers Cooperative
Cayo Quality Honey Producers Cooperative (CQHPC) is pleased to announce that it has embarked on a process of expansion and education programs of its membershp that was made possible through a grant awaded by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP). CQHPC has been operating since 2006 and is recognized in Belize for the quality of its honey and its focus on sustainable environment practices. CQHPC is now looking for energeic, bold, responsible and committed persons (in particular young men and women) over 16 years of age for its expansion. The program includes a four-month training program in basic beekeeping to be carried out during weekends (Friday to Sunday). Applicants should have a good deal of reading comprehension and be committed to attend the training sessions. Interested persons may call Mr. Max Garcia 662-9880 or Mr. Sandy Perez at 625-6448. You can also e-mail us at [email protected]

University of Belize distributes micro propagated planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector
The University of Belize, as a catalyst for change to enable socio-economic transformation and sustainable development in Belize, is producing quality planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector. Its current focus, at its micro propagation laboratory Central Farm Campus, is Belize’s sugarcane industry. To date, the University, in collaboration with the Sugar Industry Research & Development Institute (SIRDI), the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) and individual cane farmers of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), has distributed close to 30,000 micro propagated plants to the sugar industry to establish demonstration plots in the Corozal and Orange Walk areas. Such plots are to be used by these organizations as trial nurseries to produce quality cane seed for farmers.

The effect of salinity on callus formation and organogenesis of Red Kidney Beans
The University of Belize research findings on the effect of salinity on callus formation and organogenesis of Red Kidney Beans published in international research journal Red Kidney Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), a major staple food source in Latin America and particularly in Belize plays a significant role in the cultural and economic activities of Belize. The legume, high in protein content and considered to be on the daily menu across Belize is faced with on-going challenges due to increased soil salinity, global warming and its effect. “The experiment was carried out in an effort to develop a salinity resistant variety of red kidney beans,” said Associate Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Belize, Dr Thippi Thiagarajan. “It was carried out to test the ability of Red Kidney Beans to form callus and undergo organogenesis under in vitro saline conditions.”

Belize's Ecotourism and Its Greatest Challenge Yet
Nestled on the Northeastern coast of Central America, below Quintanaroo, Mexico, sitting between a beach on a small island and on top of the Maya Mountain range, is Belize -- the 'land of the free by the Carib sea' as our National Anthem reminds the world. Here, the largest industry that is taxed is the oil industry and following that is tourism as the nation's largest producer of foreign exchange. Ecotourism, for arguments sake, since 1960, has been the galvanizing force and still is the spinal wall that keeps tourism upright and standing tall -- as tall as our national tree, the Mahogany. There are those who are strongly in support of an ecotourism product and there are those who want to subscribe to the "new" Cruise Tourism "streets of gold bandwagon". Personally, we prefer ecotourism. However, we must state that coming from the Western part of the country (San Ignacio, Cayo), within the last 15 years we have immersed ourselves in the ecotourism industry as entrepreneurs. Joe for example has been teaching adventure and ecotourism since 2005 and a couple other tourism courses for the local junior college in San Ignacio, Sacred Heart Junior College. Larry has been marketing the entire country since 2008 online via the different social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and different travel blogs.

BRRI Volunteer Opportunities
The Belize Raptor Research Institute has 5 volunteer opportunities this year. Some come with stipends for food and lodging. If you know of anyone who'd be interested, please pass the information to them. The first two listed will take place in Mountain Pine Ridge, and the other three are in Punta Gorda. Solitary Eagle Project Field Technician Solitary Eagle Project Field Assistant Internship Raptor Watch Project Coordinator Raptor Watch Project Compiler Raptor Watch Project Field Assistant Internship In related news, they are doing their Raptor Watch in August. Find out more here.

COBEC Librarian RDA Workshop
The Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation is having their Librarian Resource Description and Access Workshop Preconferences in Belmopan. They will go until next Wednesday. Next Thursday, COBEC is having their Winter Conference in Dangriga.

Screen on the Green Starts Today
The U.S. Embassy, along with the George Price Centre, is starting their Screen on the Green movie nights today. They'll have a movie every month, and it'll be at the Governor General's Field. Tomorrow, the movie they'll show is The Great Debaters, with Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. It's free, and it's a great movie. "Belize Screen on the Green will be showing the movie, 'The Great Debaters' on Thursday, January 30th!! Please join us as we launch our monthly movie series with this great film."

Big Rock Trail Progress
Sacred Heart Junior College students are making good progress with the Big Rock Trail improvement. They are half way through their 10 nights there. Check out the pictures so far at "The Big Rock Trail Improvement Project is underway. 8 SHJC NRM students, 6 SHJC volunteers, 4 trail builders from New York and team leader Chad Burrow braved rain and cool weather this weekend kicking off the project. They'll work and camp in Belize's Mountain Pine Ridge for 10 nights volunteering their time to make one of Belize's premier destinations safer and more accessible. Belize Trails, Blancaneaux Lodge, the Cayo Tour Guides Association and SHJC's NRM department are proud sponsors of this outstanding effort!"

Police Department comes out in support of veteran police officer
Over one hundred new policemen and women joined the ranks of the Belize Police Department today; but their graduation has been overshadowed by the stunning conviction of career police officer Corporal Gino Peck, 42. Corporal Peck was found guilty of charges of keeping ammunition without a gun license and keeping prohibited ammunition. There has been near unanimous support for the veteran police officer from virtually every sector of the community. And today, more support came in, this time from no less than the Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie himself. A statement put out by the police press officer announced that the police department will be bearing the full cost of appealing Corporal Peck’s conviction.

Cold front brings changes in the weather in Belize
There will be some changes in the good weather we have been experiencing the last couple of days. That is because the proximity of a cold front near to the Yucatan Peninsula is supporting a slight increase in moisture over Belize heading towards the weekend. The general forecast for Belize and her coastal waters is for mostly cloudy skies with a few showers or periods of rain mostly over northern and inland areas of the country. Winds over the open sea and along the coast will be westerly to northwesterly at 5 to 15 knots, producing light chop to choppy sea conditions.

Economic data shows unemployment is down
The Statistical Institute of Belize is responsible for the collection and presentation of up-to-date economic and social data for the country. Today they released a veritable avalanche of it – the consumer price index (CPI), which measures year to year changes in prices and inflation; the trade balance and how much Belize sells, and to whom; and finally the Labour Force survey, measuring the unemployment rate and who is working and where. Belize’s official unemployment rate is now 14.2%, down nearly two points from the all-time high of 16.1%. The figure comes from the twice-yearly Labour Force Survey carried out in September 2013. SIB Deputy Director-General Dr. Leopold Perriott said that from 2012 to 2013, there are 3 unemployed women for every two unemployed men; percentages stand at 21.5% for females and males 9.6%. The total labour force – all persons of working age, that is, 14 years of age and older, and who are not students, housewives, retired or disabled persons is over 149,000, of Belize’s total estimated population of 351,600, and 128,000 of these are employed – that is, they work for themselves, for others, or even just “ketch and kill.”

BTIA-Placencia continues to fight Norwegian Cruise Line
“It’s a done deal!” “You can’t win against a big rich company like NCL!” “You can’t fight the Government!” We have all heard these words before, both in Belize and around the world. They are the words of people who are counting on average citizens to shut down their brains, shut up their mouths and bow down to their masters. At tonight’s public consultation these same people—Norwegian Cruise Line and their paid agents—will try to impress you with a large crowd and a lot of noise. Why? Because that’s what you have to do when you don’t have the facts on your side. All we ask from the Department of the Environment, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee and those citizens attending this consultation is to look at the facts behind the Harvest Caye cruise port and decide for yourselves whether it will make life better for you, your children and your grandchildren. It’s all about jobs. At least that’s what they will tell you. The fact is that every time they talk about jobs it’s always a different number. Laura Esquivel Frampton and Tracy Taegar of the Ministry of Tourism claimed 800-1000 direct jobs…but the EIA from NCL says only 250 jobs including both the caye and Malacate on the mainland. With NCL having a ship in port at most only 150 days per year are these jobs full or part time? Year round or seasonal? Salaries? If the cruise line can give a number the must know exactly what the jobs are. For example, how many bartenders? How many cooks? How many landscapers? Security guards? Secretaries? And what about the 25% of employees that NCL has told Government will be filled by foreigners? Presumably they will get the highest paying jobs so where does that leave Belizeans? Please NCL, show us the jobs, the hours and the pay scales.

Eric Chang absent from City Hall
Former Deputy Mayor of Belize City Eric Chang is reported to be out of the country attending to family business in Taiwan. Last September Chang went to Taiwan right around the time that South Korean businessman and fugitive Won-Hong Kim received a passport through former Minister of State Elvin Penner. Chang stayed for nearly three months, until November of 2013, and lost his portfolios and positions as a result. Chang, the first Taiwanese-Belizean in elected political office, has steadfastly refused to offer an explanation for his activities in Taiwan, and today Mayor Bradley told reporters that even he is not sure about his colleague’s innocence.

Belize It Or Not: Rainy Days and Changing Plans
After spending what felt like forever in Mexico, my favorite new place in the world, we were on a whirlwind through Belize. My family was super excited about starting the next part of our trip, but as I’ve come to see during my new traveling life, things don’t always go according to plan. First off, there was the day we left Mexico for Belize. My Family had planned on getting up first thing in the morning, as early as the sun. Instead, we stayed up super late the night before with some new friends, and ended up getting a slow start on our border crossing day. This caused the smell of stress to fill the big truck, leaving me shifting around nervously on Victoria’s lap. The trip to the border of Belize and Mexico was super quick, and we got out of the country exactly as My Family thought we would. The interesting part started once we got to the Belize side of things. I knew there might be trouble, because all My Family had been talking about for the past two days was the fact that we didn’t exactly have my papers in order. I guess Belize doesn’t like new dogs so much, or they’re nervous about making sure everyone is healthy. Given all of the lonely, sick dogs I saw wandering around, I didn’t understand what sort of harm I could do. But they required My Family to ‘import me’, with all sorts of applications. We hadn’t received a peep back that our application was ready, and as Victoria had feared, the nice health officer had no paperwork on me.

I have a Dream for Belize Essay Contest
The US Embassy is hosting an essay contest to honor the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King. Belizean citizens may enter by 9 Feb to win a tablet computer device. In honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month, the U.S. Embassy Belmopan is hosting an essay contest in Belize. Submission: Drawing on the format from the famous I Have a Dream speech by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, tell us, in no more than 300 words, what your dream is for people and the future of Belize. Who may enter: Open to Belizean citizens between the ages of 16 and 30. How to enter: Send submissions to [email protected] Deadline: February 9, 2014. Prize: First place winner will receive a tablet computer device and their essay will be published in the local paper.

Channel 7

Police Dept Issues Extraordinary Statement Against Peck Conviction
Tonight the anger in the rank and file of the police department is growing and resentment is simmering over the incarceration of Corporal 259 Gino Peck. As we have reported Corporal Peck is in jail awaiting sentencing after he was convicted for possession of ammunition on Monday. It is a stunner because Peck is known as an upstanding officer, and a good many police have told us it is not unusual for police to have a few loose rounds in their residences at any given time. But Peck has been convicted as if he were a civilian – and that has provoked outrage, anger and disappointment in many police officers. Well, tonight, the real shocker is that the senior command apparently feels the same way. The Police Press office issued an extraordinary statement today saying, quote: “The Commissioner of police with the support of the Ministry of National Security hereby informs the public that the department will be supporting Corporal Peck fully, including payment of all legal fees in his appeal to his conviction on keeping unlicensed and prohibited ammunition.”

Commissioner Says Verde Case Has Not Gone By the Wayside
And while the police department laments the fate that has befallen one of its upstanding officers in the court, this stands in sharp distinction to the Reynaldo Verde case. Peck, a police officer was charged for old, dusty, job related rounds found in his house while the senior sales tax officer was never charged for an unlicensed Glock 380 pistol found in his house in earlier this month. Verde’s case is still on the DPP’s desk, while Peck must throw himself on the mercy of the courts. We asked the Commissioner about this contrast in cases: Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "That matter concerning Mr. Verde, I was assured that the statements have been submitted - or the file has been submitted to the DPP's Office. So, it is not to say that Mr. Verde will not be charged, if the DPP so directs. But, I gathered that there were other circumstances that the officers who were dealing with his matter did not feel comfortable about charging. That is why we have reviews done by the DPP."

And What Of Anwar Zetina? Commish Clueless!
And who can forget Belmopan resident Anwar Zetina? He got away with driving his car recklessly on December 20, even though he was busted by police without a valid driver’s license driving an unlicensed vehicle. He was detained, and even though charge sheets were prepared for reckless driving, driving without a valid driver’s license, driving an unlicensed motor vehicle, and using insulting words – the charges were never lodged in court. It is believed that due to his UDP political connections, those charges got buried. In the context of Gino Peck and Reynaldo Verde, we asked the Commissioner to comment on that case, and he told us he wasn’t quite informed on that one: Daniel Ortiz "This ties right in with another case Mr. Anwar Zetina, who is believed to political ties in the UDP, where he was supposed to be charge for wreckless driving and driving without a license. The charge sheets were prepared but that case was buried. So, it's another case where it seems as if though uneven treatment under the law is being applied. Can you comment on that aspect?"

Can Police Assure Even Application Of Law
So, after reviewing these 3 different cases, the logical conclusion which comes to mind is that the law is not being evenly applied. Gino Peck, a career lawman, with a sterling reputation, gets prosecuted to the full extent and the letter of the law. Renaldo Verde the flipside to that coin, gets a pass after senior officers accept his explanation that he was being framed. And Finally, Anwar Zetina gets a free pass, even though it was clear that he had violated the law. We asked Commissioner Whylie today about the perception that deferential treatment is clear to outside observers, and here’s how he responded: Daniel Ortiz "At the helm of the police department, are you concerned about appearances uneven treatment under the law, where you have the case of Mr. Anwar Zetina, then there is Mr. Renaldo Verde, and then you have Mr. Corporal Gino Peck who has been sort of given the full hammer blow in this particular instance? How address the public who says that there is a perception that uneven treatment under the law exists, and these are three examples of which that has happened?"

What About The Dental Bill, BAA?
Tonight the aftershocks of Cabinet’s executive thunderclap are still being felt. The Belize Airports Authority Board of Directors is preparing to resign, and, we are informed, so is the General Manager of the BAA Kenworth Tillett, who has been given that option to demit office in an orderly fashion. And, as the Board accepts Cabinet’s invitation to resign, we know that at least one of them is leaving a little further ahead than when she took office. That board member got the BAA to pay her daughter’s hefty dentist bill – and was supposed to pay it back out of her monthly Director’s stipend. Outgoing board member Lindsey Garbutt explained how that worked out: Jules Vasquez "Now, you have one here for the Dental Center $2,040. I understand that it was to assist a board member with a dentist bill for child, for her daughter. Explain to me, what went into making that decision."

Unemployment Down From Record High
The Statistical Institute of Belize – they’re the folks who generate the numbers on everything from the population to the inflation rate. And this year, the SIB - which usually just sends out press releases – is taking a higher profile. They held a press conference today to release the latest figures on unemployment, the trade imbalance and the inflation rate for 2013. First to the unemployment figures. Those come from the September 2013 Labour Force Survey – an annual exercise. Those figures show that unemployment is down form the record high of 16.1% in September 2012. It’s down to 14.2% which is still very high – but it means that 1,500 more people are working. Deputy Director General Leopold Perriot explained this morning: Leopold Perriott – Deputy Director General, Statistical Institute of Belize “The number of unemployed persons is twenty-one thousand three hundred persons in all. That’s the entire country, that’s the estimate for September, mid-September 2013. An unemployed person is a person that is fourteen years or old without a job, looking and able. Of that, we have males are almost nine thousand, eight thousand seven hundred and seventy-six of the unemployed are males and the females dwarf them, twelve thousand five hundred and twenty-four females and unemployed.

SIB: Trade Balance in 2013 Was Highest, Inflation Was Low
The other figures released today were for the consumer price index and the external trade ratio. As the Director General explained, the trade imbalance was higher than ever: Jules Vasquez Reporting Glen Avilez - Director General, SIB "At the top you have 2 lines, the blue one and the red one. The blue one represents all imports, and the red one represents all imports excluding the Corozal Free Zone. You'll see that there is a huge difference between what we import, and what we export. In fact, it seems that we import almost 3 times what we export as a country. In 2013, we imported a total of 1.3 billion dollars' worth of goods from the rest of the world. This is an increase of 8%, or roughly 133 million dollars. I want to highlight 2 of the categories that combine for 106 million dollars of this 133 million dollars that I spoke to you about. Machinery and transport equipment, up by 51 million dollars in 2013. For the 10-year period between 2003 and 2013, imports were growing at an average annual rate of 5.3%. In 2013 that rate accelerated to 8%." And while imports were at a record high - exports were down by 51 million dollars: Glen Avilez "The decrease in our export revenues were largely due to lower oil and citrus receipts. In fact, these 2 products combine for 90 million dollars less revenues."

New Cops For The Street
Today, 127 recruits from squad intake #89 passed out to become full police officers. They’ve been training for the last 16 weeks. At their graduation, their Police Minister, John Saldivar, welcomed them to the Department, and after the ceremony, we asked Commissioner Whylie about this infusion, and where they will go. Here’s what he told us: Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "It's amongst the largest indeed. I think the last squad 88, they were 130 recruit. This one is 127 recruits, so it’s amongst the largest indeed." Daniel Ortiz "Where will these officers be posted? We understand that majority of them will be assigned to Belize City." Allen Whylie "Yes, Belize City continues to be our area of focus. And so, the majority of the officers will be posted within Belize City, Eastern Division. I have tried to look at the situation in terms of the needs, and try to measure that quite carefully. As a result, other officers are also going to be posted in every formation across this country. So, every formation will be getting a few officers. I am certain they'll say that they needed and deserved more, but there is only so much we can give. So, I've tried to assist every formation."

New Equipment for Regional Hospitals
Yesterday, the Northern and Western Regional Hospitals received $311,000 worth of medical equipment which was handed over at a short ceremony. Since the neonatal tragedies at the KHMH last year, the country has been working to improve neonatal and maternal care at all the major hospitals. This donation is part of the Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project, and its Quality Improvement Project Manager hosted the handing over jointly with the Minister of Health. Here’s what he told our colleagues at Plus TV about the importance of the equipment that is now in the hands of the Northern and Western Health Regions: The Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project is five year health initiative aimed at improving primary healthcare services in maternal and infant, child and reproductive health in vulnerable communities.

Security CEO In Road Accident
CEO in the Ministry of National Security George Lovell was in an accident on the George Price Highway today but luckily he was not seriously hurt. Lovell – who drives a Volkswagen Jetta with private plates - told us that between miles 39 and 40 his driver was trying to overtake a vehicle that also started to overtake. The Jetta had to take for the soft shoulder where the vehicle flipped once and landed back on its wheels. Lovell says he was not hurt, and his driver only received a small cut from the windshield.

Owning Dean Street
Dean Street is Channel 7’s home base – so forgive us if we take a victory lap now that it’s finally gotten paved. In the past few weeks, we’ve gotten a chance to see the process up close – and come to know the guys who work on the street. Now that it’s finished we asked them what they feel about it: Juliet Soberanis Street from Albert Hoy Street to the Phillip Goldson International Highway will become a one- way street for the life of this contract.

Tacos Vendor Works 12 Hours x 7 Days: Says She Loves Job More Than Huzzy
Tacos – it’s the breakfast of choice across Belize where the low cost, high protein food is a staple for people on all kinds of budgets. And even as the price of everything has gone up, form chicken to the price of a pound of tortilla, for decades the price of tacos has remained stable: 3 for a dollar whether you buy it in Corozal or Punta Gorda. But if you really want grade-a tacos – you know you have to go to Orange Walk. We passed through recently and took a slice of life from one hard working vendor:

IDB's 4 Year Plan For Belize
Belize has been a member country of the Inter-Development Bank since 1997, and to date, the country has made around 190 million dollars in loans from the bank. As one of the largest donors to the country, the IDB has been working closely with different government administrations, and in December, it gave the green light on a country strategy to be implemented for the next 4 years. The Financial Secretary and the IDB’s country representative explained its significance: The country strategy’s main goals are to assist in education, tourism, transport, trade, and tax policy.

Highway Works Are First Up
And that spending on transport was in evidence today when the IDB and GOB signed a grant agreement for five hundred and forty thousand US dollars to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway. That is between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The agreement was signed in Belize City by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Gina Montiel, Manager of the IDB’s Country Department for Central America. Here are their remarks. An official statement says, the grant will support the preparation of an investment program to finance the infrastructure works needed to upgrade and absorb growing traffic volumes on the highway. The IDB is also supporting the development of a national transportation master plan to address existing bottlenecks in the country’s roads, ports, air travel and transit systems. If they have the courage, we’d encourage them to take a look at the bus system.

Re: Today's Belize News: January 30, 2014 [Re: Marty] #484588
01/30/14 05:10 AM
01/30/14 05:10 AM
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Channel 5

Police Department put their full support behind Convicted Cop, Gino Peck
wenty-three year veteran of the Belize Police Department, Corporal Gino Peck, will stand in court on Friday to have sentence imposed upon him. On Monday, he was found guilty of [...]

Peck’s family braces for sentencing set for Friday

Gino Peck clearly enjoys the solidarity of the police force and this Friday it is known that their presence will be felt when he is brought to court to learn [...]

ComPol says Reynaldo Verde is not home free
he conviction of a Police Officer and his sentencing on Friday for ammunition found in his home has brought new attention to the Reynaldo Verde case. An unlicensed weapon was [...]

Statistical Institute of Belize Report: Imports are up, exports down
he Statistical Institute of Belize today hosted a press briefing to provide an update on comparative unemployment, inflation and external trade statistics for 2013. Traditionally the institute is accessed only [...]

Unemployment rate down since 2012
he figure for unemployment was also released by the S.I.B.  But first, the largest employer is the private sector, no surprise here; it employs fifty-eight percent of the work force [...]

C.E.O. in Ministry of National Security in a traffic accident
At about three-thirty today, as he headed back to Belize City from the Police Passing-Out Ceremony, C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Security, George Lovell, was involved in a relatively [...]

Meeting of National Environmental Appraisal Committee postponed
oday there was to have been a meeting of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee to consider the EIA on the Norwegian Cruise Line tourism project, but it was postponed. Information [...]

James Gibson escapes confinement for drug trafficking conviction
he mandatory jail term for drug trafficking conviction is usually a fine along with confinement. But today, forty-eight year old James Gibson escaped the full weight of the law because [...]

Public weighs in on Peck’s conviction
here is growing outrage among the ranks of the police force on the conviction of Gino Peck, a long serving officer of the force. But while his colleagues are standing [...]

Police Passing Out Ceremony: A historic number of women join the police force
oday, the top brass and rank and file of the Belize Police Department, along with family, friends and supporters joined to welcome the eighty-ninth recruit squad…the men and women who [...]

IDB and G.O.B. sign agreement to rehabilitate 32 miles of George Price Highway

Government announced in November 2013 that it will be spending seventy-six million dollars on infrastructure works across the country. This morning, the Inter-American Development Bank signed an agreement with G.O.B. [...]


Students Involved In Bus Accident Tell Their Story
Today a special Thanks Giving ceremony was held at the Belize Adventist College Auditorium where recognition was given to those students who were involved in a traffic mishap last week Thursday in the Corozal District. The event saw the participation of the student body, teachers and invited guests from the Ministry of Education. It was a spirited event as it saw testimonials from the students involved in the accident and included prayer segments. CTV3 News spoke with Pamela Herron, Teacher and Counselor of the school who told us more on the day’s event. Pamela Herron– Teacher/Counselor “We are doing this in the acknowledgement that that protected us during that accident with the children, we can see that it could have been worst but we are grateful to God so today we are having special people like Mr. Magana from Scotia Bank who was the only person that stop and helped out the students that needed to go to the hospital and then we have Mrs. Alvares, she is from the ministry of education, she was there with us for the whole entire day, she even brought lunch for us and each student toady will get a purple ribbon thanking God for their bravery and we know this is a dramatic experience but we have seen how God has Secured your life.”

Annual Primary School Softball Tournament Gets Underway
The annual Primary School Softball Tournament officially kicked off today at the San Andres Civic Center in Corozal Town. Coordinator of the tournament Carlos Acosta told us more on this year’s tournament. Carlos Acosta – C.S.C “It’s the beginning of the district primary school softball tournament 2014 and we have eight schools participating and four females and eight males participating in this tournament which will take about six weeks to eight weeks of tournament before we go the national tournament for softball for primary schools.” Victor Castillo – Reporter “Is this a rural or an urban competition?” Carlos Acosta – C.S.C “It is a district competition and we have schools from Chan Chen, Ranchito, Xaibe and the Town schools, and it is eight schools that will participate this year.” Victor Castillo – Reporter “At the end of the tournament, will these teams represent Corozal?” Carlos Acosta – C.S.C “The winner in the male division and the male division will represent Corozal at the national championship games to be held in Belize City and it should be in April of this year.”

Central American Cup TO Be Played In The U.S
Since the inception of the Central American Cup in 1991, the United States, will for the first time, be hosting this year’s tournament. This was announced by the Central American Football Union. The Central American Cup will be held in September, and will be played in three offices: Washington, Houston and Los Angeles. It was also confirmed that Panama is part of group B, with selections from the United States, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. While the group A teams is comprised of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize. It is of note that Copa Centroamericana gives five seats to the Gold Cup.

Orange Walk Town Council To Apply For Land In O/W East
The issue on ownership of the Guadalupe Park on Aurora Street in Orange Walk East was put to rest on Monday, or so we thought. The matter continues to be of concern this time for the Orange Walk Town Council which is now trying to obtain the land under their control. The council met last Friday and passed a resolution to reclaim the land and thus return it to the people, according to Mayor Kevin Bernard. Now that the land has been reverted back to government, the council is looking at applying for it and according to the Mayor, they started that process today. Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town “This afternoon we will be continuing that process in ensuring that we get that application. I am also being encouraged by my family members to take out a petition drive for the residence to sign on behalf of the people of Orange Walk in support of the council in ensuring that that land is returned to the people of Orange Walk. The only best way that that can go to, is by giving it, like I said it doesn’t have to be a title, it can go as a lease land to the municipality or it can be written their documents that it ought to be vested in the town council for and on behalf of the people of Orange Walk.”

Statistics Show Unemployment Rate Is Down
The Statistical Institute of Belize has released its latest report on Unemployment, Inflation, and External Trade. In its latest report on the Labour Force Survey, which measures employment, and which is conducted twice annually – in April and September – unemployment decreased by nearly two points. Since September 2013 the unemployment rate stood at 14.2%, down from 16.1% in September 2012. To be more specific, the number of employed persons increased by 1,500 in September 2013 compared with September 2012 and the median monthly income was $900. Figures for those without a job show that there are 3 unemployed women for every two unemployed men; percentages stand at 21.5% for females and males 9.6%. Unemployment among persons aged 14 to 24 was 25.3%. Those aged 25 to 34 accounts for half that figure while only about ten percent of people over fifty-five years are unemployed. Belize’s labour force, which is measured from persons fourteen years and older, stands at 149,000.

SIB Report Shows Prices In Goods Have Gone Up
The Statistical Institute of Belize also reported on the consumer price index and the news remains the same for the public. Prices have gone up, but according to the report, it is not by much. In its report, the SIB shows that it researched 260 products in all the municipalities except for Benque and San Pedro, and found that on average, Belizeans are paying just over a cent more for basic goods, or 1.5% more for food staples like ground beef, red kidney beans, eggs, milk and vegetables. The prices are less in regards to alcohol and cigarettes, clothing and footwear, house furnishings, recreation, but remain more or less the same for housing and utilities, communication and transport. Gas and fuel has stabilized somewhat and butane is actually down on average from year to year. The report adds that in other sectors the price index has gone down. The national inflation is at 0.5%. The highest average inflation is registered in Belmopan at 1.4%.

Exportation And Importation To And From Mexico Prohibited For The Time Being
Tonight, there are reports coming from Subteniente Lopez at the Santa Elena Border that products are not being allowed to be exported or imported to and from Belize and Mexico. So, what’s the rationale behind this? Well, turns out the license for the Agencia Aduanal, “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados,” which is the only broker agency for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border in Subteniente Lopez, has been suspended since Friday of last week until further notice. CTV3 News understands that the agency was suspended for no apparent reason. But the true question is, how does this affect commercial trade here in Belize? The brokers and businesspersons we spoke to today state that millions of money is being lost as they cannot carry their products, much less sell it when the trucks have been stationed at the border.

Sugar Crop Looks Promising
Without a doubt the progress of the Sugar Industry is one of interest to all Belizeans especially Northenos. This is based on the fact that when the industry catches a cold the trickle effect is felt especially here in the north. But all indications are that the 2013/2014 crop season, despite some minor hiccups, has gotten off on the right foot. Since the start of the crop on January 24th, to date, the factory has milled 18,400 tons of cane producing 1,702 tons of sugar. It’s much less than last year when the factory milled 53,305 tons producing 4,908 tons of sugar. The good news is though, that compared to last year, less mud is being extracted from the cane. Moving on to a very important figure, TCTS, or tons cane per ton sugar, stands at 10.81.This, according to BSI/ASR is very encouraging. Last year during the same time frame TCTS stood at 10.69. We here at CTV3 News will keep our viewers informed on the progress of the crop through our weekly crop review scheduled to commence next week.

NRH Gets New Equipment
The Ministry of Health Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project was launched in 2013 with the aim of improving access, usage and quality of maternal, infant, child and reproductive health in northern and western Belize The regional health initiative is being carried out by the Inter-American Development Bank with funding from a number of charitable organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And from all indications Government is doing its part. Yesterday the Ministry of Health handed over medical equipment valued at approximately BZ $311,000 to the Northern and Western Health Regions during a ceremony held at the grounds of the Western Health Regional in Belmopan. The equipment’s, which include incubators, operating theatre tables, resuscitators and basinets, were handed over to Western Regional Health Manager Pearl Ellis and Northern Regional Health Manager Guadalupe Longsworth by Minister Pablo Marin and Quality Improvement Project Manager for the Mesoamerican Health 2015 Martha Woodye.


Fonseca Says Penner Is Getting Slaps on the Wrists
Yesterday, Cabinet sent out a release in regards to the Elvin Penner Immigration scandal and the Edmund Castro BAA cheques corruption. The Directors of the Belize Airports Authority have been asked to resign following numerous media reports that the Board had issued a number of cheques to Belize Rural North area representative Edmund Castro. The Prime Minister has called the action “wrongdoing” however he said it is not corruption. The portfolio of Civil Aviation, which includes the Belize Airports Authority and over which Castro exercised day to day jurisdiction, will be removed from the Ministry of Transport and placed with the Ministry of Tourism. Leader of the Opposition, People’s United Party, Francis Fonseca says that the action taken against Castro is not enough. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “It’s good that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet have recognized that there is need for them to take action regarding this matter given the outcry across the country. It is good and I give them credit in recognizing that it is necessary for the Government to take action but to remove the Department of Civil Aviation from the Ministry of Transport and to move that to the Ministry of Tourism is clearly not the answer.

Opposition Leader Says Recent Statistics are Misleading
As you heard, the latest unemployment figure is at twenty one thousand three hundred, a decrease. The report presented by the Statistical Institute of Belize also indicates that inflation in Belize decreased to zero point five percent. For the Leader of the PUP, Francis Fonseca, the figures are misleading. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “Certainly, that doesn’t, in my view, reflect the reality of life in Belize today. The reality of life in Belize today is that more and more people are losing their jobs, there is higher unemployment particularly among young people and our women, there are thousands of young people coming out of school who have no jobs; yes, they have created some jobs on the streets with street construction programs but that target a particular sector of our society. The reality is that the vast majority of our young people who are graduating from school can’t find meaningful employment and that is the reality. In terms of cost of living, you only have to go into the store and you will know that everything has gone up since this government came into office in the last six years. The price of goods and services has gone up; I think that is very misleading, like I said I haven’t seen the press conference and so I don’t want to be too harsh in my comments but it certainly does not correspond with the reality of life today.”

International Bank Grants Belize A Million Dollars for Highway Project
Belize will receive over a million dollars in grant from the Inter-American Development Bank for a preparation study on a George Price Highway Project. Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the Bank’s Country Department Manager for Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, Gina Montiel, signed a grant agreement for 540 thousand US dollars to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments. These are for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The grant will be invested in the preparation of a program needed for the upgrade of the highway to meet growing traffic volumes. Transport is one of the four priority areas of the IDB’s new country strategy with Belize, which was approved in December. The other areas are education, tourism, and trade and tax policy. The Bank will focus its support in the transport sector on the rehabilitation of roads that promote trade and integration and improved access to major tourism sites. The IDB is also supporting the development of a national transportation master plan to address existing bottlenecks in the country’s roads, ports, air travel and transit systems.

Statistics Show Unemployment Rate is Down and Imports Are Up
The unemployment rate has gone down from 16.1 percent in September of 2012 to 14.2 percent in September of 2013. Those figures were released this morning at a news conference that the Statistical Institute of Belize held. At that rate, Deputy Director General of the Institute, Dr. Leopold Perriott, said that the number of unemployed persons in September of 2013 amounted to 21 thousand 300 persons. DR. LEOPOLD PERRIOTT “Estimates at mid-September 2013, the number that we estimated was about 351,600 persons in the country of Belize and of that almost precisely two thirds, sixty six point six per cent or 234.300 persons were of working age, meaning they were fourteen years or older. The employment rate is the number of unemployed persons divided by the number of persons in the labour force. It is the percentage of unemployed persons in the labour force and countrywide is fourteen point two percent. The number of unemployed persons decreased evidently.” The Institute also reported that the annual inflation rate for 2013 was point zero five percent as Director, Glenn Avilez shared.

Police Department Rallies Behind Convicted Cop
On Monday 40-year-old police corporal Gino Peck was found guilty of two counts of kept ammunition without a gun license and one count of kept prohibited ammunition. Peck was charged on January 21, 2012 when Police went to his house on Curassow Street and found a dusty kit bag which contained twenty-two 12 gauge cartridges, five .38 rounds and one .45 caliber bullet. Peck, who had been a police officer for 22 years, was assigned to Special Branch. Ever since Peck was arrested, he has had the support of most of his colleagues and the public who believe he was not treated fairly. A number of people have called in to the various talk shows to make their displeasure known. Today the Police Department issued a release stating that the department is fully supporting Corporal Teck as was reaffirmed by the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE “Myself as the Commissioner is deeply saddened at the turn of events and I am certain that the members of the Belize Police Department are also saddened and disappointed at the result. I want to say that the department will be fully supporting Corporal Peck during this period; we will be funding the entire fees for him for his legal appeal of his conviction. I believe that the matter could have been handled differently; it’s a matter that was before my term when I took up post but as I said, we are deeply saddened and we will be assisting him in his appeal.”

From Attempted Murder to Murder
The charge of attempted murder against 30-year-old Hensley Ryan Jones of Ranchito Village in the Corozal District was upgraded to murder this morning in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court. Jones faced the attempted murder charge on January 4, 2014 following a shooting incident on New Year’s Day that left his father hospitalized, later succumbing to his injuries on January 25, 2014. Police reports say that the son had allegedly shot his fifty three year old father, Hensley Jones, also known as Nick Jones in the head multiple times on New Year’s Day. The authorities say that when they arrived at his home the elder Jones approached them with blood running down his head. He was taken to the Corozal Community Hospital and then to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

Western and Northern Health Regions Benefit From Health Project
Medical equipment valued at an estimated three hundred and eleven thousand Belize dollars has been handed over to the northern and the western health regions. The equipment geared at improving the services of maternal and child health care in vulnerable communities, ranged from incubators to operating theatre tables, resuscitators and basinets. The donation comes as part of the five year initiative dubbed, ‘The Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project”. Minister of Health, Pablo Marin handed over the equipment on Tuesday, January 28 during a brief ceremony at the Western Health Regional in the City of Belmopan. Marin, during his keynote address, commended the dedication of the health workers in both the northern and western regions as Belize had been recognized for achieving a maternal mortality rate of zero in 2013. On hand to receive the donation were Pearl Ellis of the Western Health Region and Guadalupe Longsworth of the Northern Health Region.

Matura-Shepherd Says Mayor Bradley Lied
Yesterday we told you about Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley decision to privatize the council security services. Mayor Bradley says that is an effort to reduce staff and cost. The contract to provide the council security services has been given to the current Security Manager at the council, Hiram Longworth, through his company, Rangers Security. More than thirty security officers have been given their walking papers but Mayor Bradley says that they will be immediately hired by Rangers Security. The Christian Workers Union which is the recognized bargaining unit for the workers is concerned. The CWU says that the Belize City Council failed to comply with section 45 sub-section 3 paragraph A of the Labor Amendment Act number 3 of 2011 which mandatorily requires the Council to quote, “inform as early as possible but no later than one month from the date of the existence of any circumstances,” end of quote. In a letter sent to the Labour Commissioner, Ivan Williams, the Christian Workers Union is requesting the Labour Department to ask the City Council to reconsider the implementation of their redundancy program until after consultation with the Union. The Christian Workers Union is also requesting that the Labour Department intervene to mandate the consultations and to have the Belize City Council postpone its date of termination slated for January 31st. President for the Christian Workers Union, Audrey Matura Shepherd, spoke to Love News.

Compol Says Verde May Still Be Charged
And while Peck is awaiting his sentence, Commissioner of Police has commented on a similar case involving firearm that did create quite a stir among the Belizean populace. On January 3, 2014, a senior supervisor at the General Sales Tax office in Belize City got off on a firearm charge after a search by Police at his home uncovered an unlicensed weapon. But the find was not what made the news, but rather, the news became how the charge against Verde was handled. For the average citizen, once an unlicensed firearm or ammunition is uncovered it would end up in an automatic remand or a minimum of fifteen days in jail but that didn’t happen for Verde. At around 6 o’clock on the morning of January 3, 2014, Police had gone to Verde’s home just off Faber’s Road in Belize City and conducted a search where they uncovered a Glock 380 pistol in the washroom of his home. Verde was unable to produce a gun license for the weapon and was taken to station…and… up to this point that would be the norm but then it all went awry as while it was mandatory for him to be remanded as stipulated in the gun laws; he was set free and never spent any time in jail. Police Commissioner commented on the way this case was handled and assured the public that Verde may still be charged.


Statistical Institute Survey says Unemployment Went Down!
Belize’s official unemployment rate is 14.2%, down nearly two points from the all-time high of 16.1%. That is the major news development coming out of a press conference hosted today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the country’s primary provider of economic and other statistical data. The figure...

Improving Maternal and Child Health Care Services
A significant step toward improving Maternal and Child Health Care Services in the Northern and Western Health Regions of the country was taken yesterday. The Ministry of Health, through the initiative of the ‘Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize” Project, donated medical equipment valuing approximately BZ $311,000, at a ceremony held...

What the Heck Happened to Peck
In January of 2012 the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) conducted a search at the residence of a 40 year old Police Constable Gino Peck. As a result, Corporal Peck was busted and charged with possession of unlicensed firearm, unlicensed ammunition and prohibited ammunition. In his defense, Mr. Peck claimed that...

San Ignacio Residents Complained of Polluted Water
Residents in the Burns Avenue area of San Ignacio are complaining of contaminated water in their taps for the past week. Construction is currently taking place on a street in the neighborhood, which is believed to have led to pollution of the water system. Mr. Kent Pandy, a local,...

Commissioner Wiley Discusses Reynaldo Verde Case
Earlier, we told you about Corporal Gino Peck and the fact that he was convicted on ammunition and firearm charges. We also told you that the police department says it is supporting Peck. After speaking to the about Peck’s conviction and his possibly facing a sentence of five years,...

Belize Buying More, at Home and Abroad
The Statistical Institute of Belize today called reporters to a press conference in Belize City to release the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures the cost of living in the Jewel, as well as to report on Belize’s trade balance and performance in the year gone. As most...


Finally some Fabulous San Pedro Weather
Our fabulous San Pedro Weather combined with a too long to do list have been keeping me from writing. It has been perfect beach and walking weather so I have taken advantage of that since Saturday afternoon when I went to go see Yancey De Veer play at Wayo’s. What a great show and the highlight was when Yancey and Cowboy Doug hijacked two Spanish musicians that were riding down the beach road and got them up on stage to jam for a bit. Later I took out the hula hoops and about 8 of us hooped for a long while. Now for the do to list – we are aiming to do 4 First Aid classes in February and there is a lot to be done. The first one will be at Friday Feb 7th at Casa Picasso, they are getting all 7 of their staff trained. Also sending staff to that class are Corona Del Mar Hotel, Caribbean Villas and Pedro’s Hotel. Feb 8th will be 15 people from the wildlife conservation group upstairs at El Divino.

A Quick Look Around Independence, Belize Or Is it Mango Creek?
The town of Independence is not a tourist hotspot (YET – the cruise ships are coming!) but its well known in the country for other reasons. 1. It’s the home of Big Creek, the deep water port that is the hub of the oil and fruit industries. Here is the home of the Banana Growers Association at the Big Creek port. Fenced in CLEARLY so you can not take a picture on top of it. The colonial style housing for those who manage the port. 2. It’s a stop for every bus headed south even the express buses stop at Belmopan –> Dangriga –> Independence –> Punta Gorda. It’s a good sized village…population somewhere around 3000. And 3. Many tourists go through Independence to get to the much more touristy town of Placencia. This bus to Independence/Mango Creek runs with much more frequency than the direct bus to Placencia…and is often faster. It’s a quick hop across the lagoon from Independence to Placencia. 10 minutes, $10bzd on the Hokey Pokey ferry.

Chili With Beans
In one of my prior videos I made Chili (no beans). This dish is a variation on the Chili with the addition of Red Kidney Beans. This dish can be a whole meal or can be used a dip.

Time to leave GDP behind!
Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success.

Colonialism and the Colonial Mentality
“On Baron Bliss Day, 9th March, 1928, the writer journeyed on his bicycle from Belize to the Pine Ridge near Freetown on the Old River, about ten miles, to witness a cricket match. On arrival he found quite a large number of people from Belize, including thirty or forty bicycles and four motor cars. On returning the idea came to him or organizing an expedition from Belize to Cayo on bicycles. At first the subject was dismissed as impossible. But, like a recurring decimal sum, the thought came back again and again.” - pg. 11, BLAZING TRAILS, by Monrad S. Metzgen, BRC Printing, 2002, edited by Emory King Colonialism in British Honduras for native schoolchildren meant that they sang “God save the Queen” twice a day. When citizens of this colony traveled abroad, their passports said, “British subjects.” The tariff structure was such that we imported almost all our manufactured goods from the colonial motherland – Great Britain. Where infrastructure was concerned, such as roads and bridges, these were built for immediate utility.

Belize, still in the squalid shadow of British colonialism, reminds us of the value of independence
Stumbling on-line I found this insightful article that actually made me mad; not mad at the person writing it, but mad at us. YES, mad at US, WE have allowed ourselves to be this way; for what reason? I have no idea. I know many will read this article and start to say negative things about the author, but I ask that instead of doing that, sit back and ponder on what the message is saying about us. THAT is what we look like to the world. Do we want to remain that image or do we want to change? Now ask yourself this question and try to answer it honestly.. What am I willing to do to ensure that our nation changes for the better and that future generations of Belizeans will not have to live and be seen by the world the way we are today.

My favourite Belize blog posts of 2013
Although John McAfee’s media attention dominated the beginning of 2013, I won’t include any of those articles in my top Belize blog posts of 2013, haha. But thinking about it, maybe I should, McAfee’s ludicrous behaviour and the international media’s love for him (his actions/ thoughts), brought Belize the most attention it has EVER received. I hope the BTB sent him a thank you Christmas card, because even if the publicity was considered negative, it did more good than bad. Here are the top posts, in no specific order.

International Sources

TAMUK athlete represented Belize in 2012
When one thinks of the Olympics, one would never imagine that one of those athletes would go to school at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK), but meet Kaina Martinez. Martinez is a freshman from the Central American country of Belize and competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games running in the 100-meter race and the 200-meter race. Martinez was raised in southern Belize by a single mother of three. Belize is the only country in Central America that speaks English as a first language, and with a population of 324,060, Martinez said the country has a family feel. “I’m honored to say I grew up in a little village in southern Belize. It’s very orientated; your neighbor is like another mother, father, sister or brother,” she said. As a child, she loved reading books and would travel to different countries through the stories she read. Martinez started to venture into athletics her last year in elementary school.

Central American national teams could hold Copa Centroamericana tourney in US
The Copa Centroamericana – the championship of Central American national teams and a qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF Gold Cup – could be held in the United States in fall 2014 or January 2015, according to and reports from Prensa Libre in Guatemala and Prensa Grafica in El Salvador from UNCAF meetings this month. The tournament, held in January in recent years, would mark the 25th anniversary of UNCAF, the governing body of the seven Central American national associations, if held in 2015. The idea of hosting the tournament in the United States was raised publicly at UNCAF meetings in Costa Rica last month, but discussions have evolved this week with the suggestion that El Salvador is bidding to host. Officials are also considering moving the tournament to the autumn months of 2014. If the tournament is held in the United States, possible sites include Washington, Dallas, Houston, and multiple cities in California.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $53 Million to Save the Oceans
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s throwing his philanthropic weight behind saving the oceans and the decimation of fish species worldwide. His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has committed $53 million dollars over the next five years to reform fisheries and increase sustainable populations through the Vibrant Oceans Initiative, a partnership between three groups, Oceana, Rare and EKO Asset Management. “It’s a big day for the oceans and for Oceana. We’re so happy about it,” Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This is the first ocean grant that the philanthropy has made.” Bloomberg isn’t the first big name to team up with Oceana, the international advocacy organization which works to protect and restore the world's oceans. How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders and Parks and Recreation's Rashida Jones have traveled with the organization to Belize to learn about protecting the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Miranda Cosgrove (Despicable Me) will soon launch a public service announcement in partnership with Oceana about protecting dolphins.

Manatee Death Toll Is At An All Time High, And Nobody Knows Why
Sea cows, mermaids of the sea, gentle giants, whatever you want to call them -- manatees are in trouble. The economy of Crystal Rivers, Florida is dependent on a healthy manatee population. It is the only place, outside of Belize, where people can legally swim with the manatees, and tourists come from far-and-wide to get close to these aquatic mammals that can weigh over 1,000 pounds. Last year, however, something unusual happened to the manatee population -- there were 829 known deaths, the highest annual death toll ever recorded. Though there are many contributing factors to why manatees are endangered (boat strikes, cold temperatures, disease, infant mortality), scientists are stumped by what killed the record number in 2013. It is known that 276 manatees were killed in southwestern Florida by a red tide -- toxic algae eaten and breathed in by the animals in fatal quantities. But according to National Geographic, nobody knows what killed the manatees in the Indian River area of east-central Florida. "It started out pretty baffling, and to this point they still have no clue," Bob Bonde, a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told NatGeo.

Caribbean walks the talk on clean energy policy
Despite having an abundance of wind and sunshine, Caribbean countries have found that going green is requiring significant shifts in policy, and most importantly, significant financing. But despite these challenges, they are not daunted. Barbados, for instance, which spends an estimated 400 million dollars annually on fossil fuel imports, has announced plans for a wind, gas and solar energy programme that requires almost one billion dollars in investments. "Plans for the area include a 680-million-dollar waste-to-energy plant; a leachate treatment plant costing about 31.9 million dollars; a landfill gas-to-energy project to cost 9.4 million dollars; a solar project costing 120 million dollars; and a wind-to-energy facility projected to cost 24 million dollars," said Environment Minister Dr. Denis Lowe.

My outfit with shorts and sandals in San Pedro Town, Belize
La ciudad de San Pedro (Belize) es un entorno de postal. Las pequeñas casas pintadas de colores junto a las calles de arena que desembocan al mar turquesa, las palmeras de coco y los bungalows hacen que sea el lugar perfecto para pasar unos días en shorts y sandalias, disfrutando de algo único.

In Pictures: The Main Islands of Belize
Belize has about 200 islands off its coast. Most of these are in fact small cayes scattered throughout the shallow waters, used as hideaways by 17th-century pirates after they plundered Spanish gold. But Belize’s two main islands are Ambergris Caye and its little sister, Caye Caulker. Ambergris Caye and the islands that surround it are quaint and pretty. If you’re looking for ocean sports during the day and partying at night, Ambergris won’t disappoint. Whiz from beach to bar with a golf cart, the favorite means of transportation on the island. Arguably more beautiful and less developed, Caye Caulker offers a more relaxed lifestyle than Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker makes you feel as if you really are away from it all. Reveling in its no shirt, no shoes lifestyle, Caye Caulker is a tiny, laid back island known to attract backpackers from around the world.

Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
Maruba Beach Klub and Spa is the premiere Secret Beach spa and restaurant located on the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea at the center of Secret Beach, Belize
First Class Accommodations for the Budget Traveler
First Class Accommodations for the Budget Traveler

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White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We handle all aspects of the purchase of your Real Estate in Belize. From in depth property searches to your final closing.
Click for Ian Anderson's Caves Branch, Welcome to a World of Adventure
Lil Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
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Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
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