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Today's Belize News: February 15, 2014 #485944
02/15/14 05:28 AM
02/15/14 05:28 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,169
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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

2014′s Valentine Poetry Contest Winners
Grand Prize WinnerValentines-Day-background_main Mother Reef by Bradley Haylock, Most Romanticvalentines-2 Unseen Valentine by Kyran Garbutt, Ode to a Lobster by Sharon Matcalfe and Cassidy Brown, Funny Valentine My Beautiful Valentine by LN Garbutt, The Anti-Valentinedevil heart Go Ahead, Be My Valentine by Marea, Island Love Secrets to be Discovered on our Ambergris Caye by Luis Joe Gamez, Spanish Submissionvalentines-day-wallpaper-14 Perdoname, por favor by Vernon Tillett.

The San Pedro Sports Committee Football Tournament officially kicks off
With the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk Project near completion, the Saca Chispas Field finally saw some football action with the first ever San Pedro Sports Committee Football Tournament. The tournament kicked off on Saturday, February 8th and continued on Sunday, February 9th. Football players and fans were happy to be back to the original field, which was closed for over 18 months. Saturday saw two games played in the evening. Dorados and CostaBlu faced off in the first match of the tournament. Eager to make a statement on the new field, both teams gave their all and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. The second game was between Joker FC and Victoria House. The well-seasoned Joker FC was prepared for a battle and secured themselves an easy 6-1 win.

Launch of ICCPR National Report Consultations
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to announce the formal launch of national consultations on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1966, and which came into force in March 1976. Belize signed and ratified this Convention in 1996 and is therefore bound to submit a comprehensive report on the measures it has adopted to give effect to the rights recognized in the ICCPR. The Government of Belize invites all interested stakeholders to actively participate in the consultation process which will inform Belize’s ICCPR report. The launch will be held on February 14th, 2014 at the George Price Center for Peace and Development, Belmopan from 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Announcing the Reina del Carnaval 2014 pageant!
Just when you thought Carnaval couldn’t be more fun, one very clever Comparsas group has decided to up the ante in their fundraising efforts and bring to you Reina del Carnaval 2014. That’s right! Flora’s Carnaval Group has undertaken the big task of hosting a pageant in an effort to raise funds for their costumes and expenses as a group. On Friday, February 28th, at 7:30PM at the Rafael A. Nuñez Auditorium, six fun, bubbly, and talented ladies will be vying for the title of Carnaval queen. They are: Leonor Rosado, Shelly Huber, Mel Spain, Edilma Leal, Sherlette Belisle and Zeida Chan. All six beautiful women will be modeling sportswear, perform talents, and of course, shine in their most elegant of evening gowns before braving a Question and Answer segment.

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge races for Belize’s biodiversity
The race to raise awareness and save Belize’s biodiversity started today Thursday February 13th at the foot of the Cahal Pech Resort in the Cayo District. The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge (MMAC) is organized by American Adventure Sports with the assistance of various organizations in Belize. 50 participants from around the globe will put to test their stamina, survival skills and endurance over a course of three days in a non-stop competition. The MMAC will take the 16 teams through a 200 mile journey across various types of terrain including the Maya Mountains and the Chiquibul National Park. The racers will bike, rappel, canoe and trek utilizing their orienteering skills with the limited use of a compass and a map to finish the race. “This particular race is three days and is just under 200 miles. It is non-stop and completely non-supportive. The race just keeps going through the night and day until they cross the finish line. They will face a lot of challenges along their way. It does not only test them on the course but also the elements, eat and sleep deprivation. It is a difficult challenge but very rewarding in the end,” said MMAC Challenge Director Julia Pollock.

Belize and Mexico agencies discuss transnational crime along borderline
Belize is considered a major transnational route for drugs entering into Mexico that eventually make their way into the United States. In fact, the US estimates that annually as much as ten metric tons of cocaine, with an estimated street value of over half a billion US dollars, passes through Belize’s porous borderline and maritime areas. For that reason Belize and its regional counterparts, including Mexico to the north, have been fine-tuning and strengthening measures to fight transnational crime, including illegal narcotic activities. On Friday February 7th, Mexican and Belizean senior operational officers met on Ambergris Caye to discuss ways to improve their strategy to fight transnational crime, especially drug related activities. In 2013, the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), the US Department of State annual report to Congress, indicated that “Belize is a major transshipment country for cocaine and precursor chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs. Due to its position along the Central American isthmus, Belize is susceptible to the transshipment of cocaine between drug producing countries in South America and the United States, as well as chemicals bound for processing into finished drugs in Mexico.”

Renewal of Sea Cucumber License dates announced
The Fisheries Department hereby informs sea cucumber fishermen that renewal of licenses for 2014 will run from 10th February to 28th February 2014. Fishers who complied in 2013 with the conditions of their license are advised that they must present the following documents when applying:

Melanie Paz wins Ladies’ Single Darts Category in local tournament
Darts enthusiasts from around the country travelled to the island village of Caye Caulker on Sunday February 9th to compete in a local darts tournament organized by the Belize Darts Federation. The competition took place at the Caye Caulker Community Center and was hosted by the Isla Cariñosa darts players. The competitors came from as far as the western part of the country to the neighboring island of Ambergris Caye and participated in three different categories. Nine females competed in the Ladies’ Singles category in a best of three rounds. After the first round of competition, four participants advanced to the next round to secure one of two spots in the finals. Taking those spots were Melanie Paz of the San Pedro team and Emerita Marin of Cayo. It was a clean and easy win for Paz, who took the two of the three rounds and captured the first place for the San Pedro Team in the Ladies’ Single Category.

Bert Oliva – Making it Happen in Belize
RESTORE Belize and Chamberlain Consulting will be hosting the world-renowned motivational speaker, Bert Oliva for the “Motivational Missionaries Tour 2014” throughout Belize. The tour starts on Tuesday, February 11th at Old Belize. This activity is part of the “I AM Belize” Public Education Campaign, which promotes national pride and a positive cultural identity amongst Belizeans. This is Oliva’s third tour in Belize. During the period of February 11 through February 19, he will be reaching over 7,500 Belizeans in a series of motivational concerts nationwide, inspiring and energizing young Belizeans to reach their highest potential, with his trademark message “Make it happen!”

Art and Jewelry, oh my! Belizean Arts has something for everyone!
One place that contains a wide array of all these wonderfully beautiful things is Belizean Arts. Nestled inside Fido’s Courtyard, Belizean Arts carries original artwork by Belizean artists from across the country. Owner Lindsey Hackston also has an excellent eye for jewelry and gifts that are unique – you certainly won’t be wearing the same thing as everyone else! Whatever your desire, whatever your budget; be it a Valentine present, a souvenir, or anniversary, birthday, or Christmas, or just because, Belizean Arts is sure to have something for you.

Ambergris Today

Grant to Help Belize's Shrimp Industry's Product Quality and Marketing
Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise development activities in the Caribbean region. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Projects in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The specific objective of the project will be to improve the capacity of the cluster, to better serve selected niche markets in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Certification by ASC will give the Belize’s shrimp farmers access to these high-valued markets, from which they would otherwise be excluded. Importantly, the global demand for ASC certified shrimp is expected to lead to long-term supply agreements with certified farms.

Coral Beach Realty Donates Towards Island Road Infrastructure
On Thursday, February 13, 2014, Mr. Bob Hamilton of Century 21 – Coral Beach Realty presented to Mayor Daniel Guerrero a donation of $10,000 on behalf of Mr. Denny Elkins and Tammy Elkins to go towards road improvements north of the bridge. Denny and Tammy are owners of a condo at Grand Caribe Resort and they are aware of the poor road conditions that locals and tourists encounter when commuting on North Ambergris Caye. It is with this in mind that they decided to make this donation and help the San Pedro Town Council.

First Ever Mrs. Reina Del Carnaval 2014 to be Held in San Pedro
San Pedro’s Carnival is right around corner and to add more fun to the three days of painting and live comparsas (street dancing) the first ever Reina del Carnaval will be held prior to the celebrations. Older women challenge the stage as the pageant is not for the ‘Miss’, but they promise to prove that beauty comes in all ages. One thing for sure, the organizers promise a night filled with fun and entertainment. The Reina del Carnaval Pageant will be held on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 7:30p.m. at the Angel Nunez Auditorium. Proud contestants are Mrs. Leonor Rosado, Mrs. Shelly Huber, Mrs. Mel Spain, Mrs. Edilma Leal, Mrs. Sherlette Belisle and Mrs. Zeida Chan. These lovely ladies will compete in sportswear, talent, evening wear and the question and answer segments. This is a pageant you don’t want to miss so mark your calendars and head out to the Angel Nuñez Auditorium on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Entrance fee: $10 Adults and $5 Children (Regular Seating) and $15 Adults and $10 Children (Reserved Seating).

Global Fantasies Website Promoting Belize as Hedonistic Sex Haven
It’s a website that had gotten Belizean residents very upset, but although many still do not know about it yet, those who have seen it are angry at how Belize is being represented and have urged the Belize Tourism Board to take action immediately. The website, Global Fantasies, is marketing Belize as a premium erotic destination for guests to enjoy the company and services of exotic women all while enjoying the best accommodations, locations and tours the country has to offer. It’s promoting hedonism, or sex tourism, complete with a picture list of scantily clad women to choose from and packages that include all-inclusive treats such as multiple companions at locations that include Turneffe Island. Well, those residents who have been aware of the site want none of that for our beautiful country and were quick to report it to the Belize Toursim Board, which in turn sent out the following press release late last afternoon, February 12, 2014:

Misc Belizean Sources

FISHING REPORT: Week of February 2nd– February 8th, 2014
We had lots of talented anglers at the lodge thanks to Reel Women’s group and Fanny Krieger’s Golden West Womens Flyfishers. Thanks to both groups for sharing their week with us, I learned a lot.

Commentary: The sad state of governance and justice in Belize. By Frank Edward Paco Smith, Jr. JP Recently, in Belize, there was the case of Belize Police Corporal Gino Peck, a well-respected officer, who was charged with the possession of unlicensed ammunition. It is both a peculiar, yet enlightening case in that it demonstrated: (1) the crass nature of amendments to the Firearms Act of 2008 and 2010 and its appropriateness, (2) the manner in which this act can conceivably be used as a tool of oppression, (3) the vulnerability of citizens involving this abominable piece of legislation and (4) the existence of a variety of other-relevant issues. In the case of Corporal Peck, his home was searched and yielded an amount of ammunition and a firearm, for which he had no documentation. The matter culminated last week with the case going to trial. The outcome came in the form of what I deem, from a layman's standpoint, a good example of temperance concerning the matter, the law and mitigating circumstances. In effect, the Chief Magistrate used discretion afforded her by way of a section of the law, a summary jurisdiction procedure act, which created the latitude to impose a fine versus that of the mandatory jail sentence which is called for in the Firearms Act

By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez PUDP is keeping the citizens hostage By engaging in so much wastage This country should at advance stages With its citizens benefiting from all sorts of advantage With better wages and advance drainage Now the IDB is recommending that GoB increase the percentage Of the citizens who have not yet received proper sewage This nonsense makes me cringe People still di empty chamber pot under Belcan Bridge And waste control still di pick up feces in garbage Prisoners are still carrying out night soil Buoy these things make my blood boil! Two weeks ago at a teachers rally Hector Silva made recommendations to GoB On how they could save much needed money To pay teachers their increase in salaries With experience in assisting in preparing eighteen annual budgets Experience no one in the UDP has yet

Garbage Collection Schedule:
The San Pedro Town council hereby advises the general public that garbage collection days are as follows:

Mr. Bob Hamilton donates
Mayor Daniel Guerrero was presented with a cheque of $10,000 by Mr. Bob Hamilton on behalf of Mr. Denny and Mrs. Tammy Elkins. The Elkins are proud owners of a condo in San Pedro and generously made this donation to the San Pedro Town Council to be used towards the road improvements north of the bridge. Mr. Denny and Mrs. Tammy challenge other condo owners north of the bridge to follow their lead and make donations for the road. The San Pedro Town Council highly appreciates this donation that will be used towards the road improvements on North, Ambergris Caye. THANK YOU!

San Pedro Town Council presentes a cheque to the San Pedro Cancer Society
Mayor Daniel Guerrero, on behalf of the San Pedro Town Council presented a cheque to the President of the San Pedro Cancer Society, Miguel Perez. The money will be used to attend a program in Introduction in Counseling at the University of the West Indies in Belize City

DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT: Tirsa Alberta Quiroz nee Pacheco
It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of Tirsa Alberta Quiroz nee Pacheco, age 77 of San Ignacio town. She was a loving mother and grandmother, aunt and friend who was exemplary for her peaceful and loving ways. She was a long-serving lay minister of the Roman Catholic Church and active member of the church’s charismatic movement in Belize. She was the mother of: Ramon Quiroz, Mauro Ismael Quiroz, Dora Cal, Cruzita Quiroz, Miriam Estella Aleman, Cesario Quiroz, Velia Castellanos and Teresa Torres. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren, host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Funeral Services for the Late Tirsa Alberta Quiroz Nee Pacheco will be held on Sunday, February 16th, 2014.

Belize and the United States Partner to Protect the Rights of Belizean Workers in the United States
The Ambassador of Belize in the United States, H.E. Nestor Mendez, and the US Secretary of Labor, the Hon. Thomas E. Perez, signed a Joint Declaration by which Belize and the United States agree to work together to improve the awareness of Belizean workers in the United States regarding their rights as workers regardless of their migration status. In addition to the Joint Declaration, Letters of Arrangement with The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labour and with The Occupational and Safety and Health Administration were also signed by Belize with the respective heads of department. Under the new initiatives, the Embassy of Belize and its network of Consular Representations in the United States will work together with the US National and State level labour authorities to inform Belizean workers in the United States regarding their workplace rights, including information about hourly wages and occupational safety regulations that are in place to protect them.

Things to do in Belize City
There aren’t many attractions in downtown Belize City, but there’s plenty of things to do nearby. After numerous emails, I’ve decided to make a list of activities for one-day cruise passengers and business trip travelers who are staying in the city for the weekend or a few days. Tour the city Your guide will take you on a short scenic tour of downtown Belize City and discuss Belize’s culture, economics and architecture. You will be able to grab lunch at a local restaurant or market and view some historical buildings. This activity can be done on a van or horse and carriage. The Belize Zoo This is a perfect activity for animal lovers and families. The Belize Zoo isn’t your ordinary zoo, here you will only find rescued animals that are native to Belize and they roam “free” in large enclosures that replicate their natural environment. The zoo focuses on conservation education and wildlife rehabilitation and protection. It is known as “the best little zoo in the world.”

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge Progresses
The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge is in its second day now, and the teams are traversing mountains in Mountain Pine Ridge. You can follow some of the teams via their tracking systems. Everyone's doing well so far. The YogaSlackers came in first yesterday. You can read one of the team's pre-race report here:

Belize Cancer Society Grand Fundraiser
The Belize Cancer Society is having a big fundraiser today, Saturday the 15th, at the Cayo Welcome Center. Lucio and the New Generation will be entertaining. They'll have informational booths, and food and drinks. Have a great Valentine's Day weekend.

Hot Mama's Hot Website
Hot Mama's, hot sauce made in Cayo, got a new website. It looks smooth, and the flames the appear when you navigate are a great touch. Well done, Belize Internet Marketing and Website Design. "Typical Belizean hot pepper sauce – only with a twist (blended instead of chopped). Belizeans love their hot pepper sauce and they have it with every meal. Walk into any home or restaurant and it is readily available right there on the table. Made with fresh vegetables such as carrots, onions, garlic, selected red habanero peppers, and mixed with the right combination of lime juice and vinegar. Hot Mama's is sure there is a hot sauce with the correct amount of heat just for you! Most importantly to note ---- no preservatives!"

Big Rock Trail Improvement Project Video
Daniel Velazquez put together a video of the Big Rock Trail Improvement Project. You can see how the improved trail was planned, and hear why it was done the way it was. It's a great mix between video and pictures, allowing you to see the trail planners and many of the SHJC students that volunteered to assist the project. Well done!

Cayo International Film Festival
Cayo is getting its own International Film Festival. About time! It'll be April 28th and 29th, and will be held at the Cayo Welcome Center, with the after parties being at the Soul Project.

Farewell Gomez
Goodbye Gomez. Gomez was the star of the Green Iguana Conservation Project for 16 years. They've uploaded some nice shots of him.

Belize Ruins, Rivers, and Reefs
Here's a video a tourist took with a Go Pro while touring Belize. Cayo is on there first, and they have great footage of Caracol, Rio On Pools, Ian Anderson's Caves Branch, and the Waterfall Cave. The music really goes with the video. Well done. "We tackled the muddy roads, steep stairs, deep caves, and coral reefs of San Ignacio, Caracol, Caves Branch, Caye Caulker, and Ambergris Caye."

SI United Picture Montage
The San Ignacio United have released a picture montage video from the last 2 years. It's pretty cool, and Bob Marley is perfect as the audio track. "2012-2013 picture montage of San Ignacio United FC. Looking forward in having many more years with you wonderful fans. Enjoy!!"

Martz Farm Adventures
The Martz Farm, located just south of Benque, got a great write up. They put up a lot of great pictures from the farm, and from the pontoon boat ride on Lake Benque. Sounds like they have some superb food there too. "We chose to stay at the farm because we had heard great reviews about Miriam, Joe and the extended Martinez family but reading online reviews is one thing and experiencing the magic is altogether different. Over the course of the 4 days we relaxed on the hammocks in the main house, we took a hike to the vaca reserve and went on a boat ride to pristine waterfalls. The kids enjoyed horseback riding to caves and we generally enjoyed around the farm with the family."

BAY Announces Slogan Winners
The Belmopan Active Youth club had a poster and slogan competition recently. Luis Guevara from Our Lady of Guadelupe High School won with the slogan 'Count on Me to be Drug Free.' Egner Oscal, from Belmopan Comprehensive High School, won the poster competition. Congratulations, Luis and Egner! In related news,The Belmopan Active Youths (BAY) Cruise on the Bay fundraiser is this Saturday.

Western Ballaz Opening Ceremony
The Western Ballaz are having their first home game on February 22nd, at their base, the Sacred Heart College auditorium. It'll be a huge night for basketball in Cayo. The opening game will be SHJC vs. SHC. The opening ceremony for the Ballaz will be at 7:45pm, where the team will be introduced. The Western Ballaz will then play the Dangriga Warriors. The after party will be at Meluchi's. Come out and support the best team in the Elite League. "Share the flyer on your page. Let the world know about Western Ballaz first home game!!!"

National Youth Council Video
The National Youth Council of Belize has an informational video out about their purpose, mission, goals, and how to contact them. The DYS has been doing an outstanding job organizing events all over Belize. "For more information on the process-visit the Department of Youth Services office in your area. Get informed about the process."

Dedicated To A Star In Reptile Conservation: Gomez
Gomez, the iguana ambassador for Cayo, and Belize, has sadly passed away. He was the alpha male of the Iguana Hatchery for 16 years. The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is renaming their scholarship to the Gomez Scholarship Fund in his honor. "It is with great sadness the San Ignacio Resort Hotel announces the death of our beloved alpha male Gomez from the Green Iguana Conservation Project. For 16 years, Gomez had been the Star of the educational program and interacted with an approximate of 50,000 visitors from across the globe—instilling admiration in many, turning emotions from fear and hatred to appreciation and care."

Belikin Sports Commercial
Belikin released a great new commercial that encompasses many of the sports you see played regularly here. Great timing, with the Belmopan Bandits winning the PLB, the new Elite Basketball league having just started, and La Ruta Maya under a month away. In fact, it has the start of what looks to be last year's La Ruta Maya in it, and you can clearly see the Hawkesworth Bridge. "There is always some sport happening in Belize and Belikin beer is always a part of the celebration. Belikin, the beer of Belize."

Rotary Paints Belmopan Hospital
The Rotary Club of Belmopan rallied the community together to paint the Belmpan hospital. The finished corridors really look great. It's awesome to see all the youth getting involved with community service projects. Thanks, Rotary! "This is the type of project that touches on much of what Rotary is all about – serving the community, developing human capacity and increasing fellowship. There were many people involved in this project – hospital staff, club members, Rotaractors, spouses, children and friends – really to many to name individually. We would like to thank everyone that was involved!! Everyone contributed to the successful completion of this effort. Also, a special thanks goes out to Builder’s Hardware for helping to contribute the paint for the effort – their continual support for efforts like this is much appreciated!! Finally, of all the things that came out of this, it was the involvement of many children that was the most rewarding. Hopefully, it will help them develop a desire for developing lives of service that will stick with them throughout their lives." They've a short video too.

Press Release

Million Dollar Lawsuit against Businesses in Corozal Free Zone
At least one hundred companies at the Corozal Commercial Free Zone are being taken to court on piracy charges. That is what the Mexican press is reporting. Accordingly, international big brands like Nike, Converse and Chanel have already filed a series of million dollar lawsuits at the Supreme Court in Corozal against these companies for selling imitations and marketing these items internationally. Reports add that these trademark companies have sent their lawyers who are in Belize for a week now and continue to check on the businesses at the Free Zone. Reports add that Nike alone has sued one company for the sum of eight million dollars for the time they have been selling pirated copies of their product.

Commentary: Time to address the issue of political conventions in Belize
By Wellington C. Ramos In Belize, like most other countries, it is left to the political parties to decide what type of rules they want to formulate in their party constitutions to conduct party conventions. In some of the political parties' constitutions there are no clearly defined rules as to how to go about conducting conventions to select candidates on behalf of their parties to run for public office. The leaders of the parties then set discretionary rules from time to time depending on the candidates and the circumstances they face. In the 1970s, when I was a young man growing up in Dangriga Town, our representative was minister of works, Alan Arthurs Sr. This is a man that I know well because I used to be close to the Lopez family who lived right across the street from his house on Lemon Street. His wife and her children disliked the Garifuna people and there were many times when they would refer to my people as "Kerobie". The people of Dangriga got tired of Alan Arthurs and wanted a new representative. The then mayor of Dangriga Town Simeon Joseph was their choice to replace him at the upcoming PUP convention.

Galen Eagles vs. San Pedro Exhibition Game
The Galen Eagles had an exhibition game against the San Pedro Tiger Sharks yesterday at the Sacred Heart College auditorium. San Pedro played a great game, and won the match. In related news, the Western Ballaz are travelling to Orange Walk tomorrow to play the Orange Walk Running Rebels.

Woman of the Year Award
The U.S. Embassy, in honor of Women's History Month, is accepting submissions for Woman of the Year 2014. If you want to nominate someone, you have until the end of February to submit. "The U.S. Embassy is searching for Phenomenal Women in Belize. Send your nominations today for the U.S. Embassy Belize Woman of the Year 2014 Competition! More info here: DEADLINE: February 28, 2014"

San Pedro Town Council member with drugs?
Reports from Belize City say that an employee of the San Pedro Town Council was found with suspected illegal drugs in his vehicle tonight. More details on this developing story as they are confirmed

Body of Valley of Peace man being returned to Belize
The body of Raul Balona, the Valley of Peace resident who was murdered in Arenal, Guatemala is being brought back to Belize this evening. Information received says that Balona’s body, with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is transported via road and is expected to arrive at the Belize Western Border at 6 o’clock this evening. Raul Balona, 21, is the second son of Martita Requena to be killed in as many months. Marlon Flores, 19, was killed earlier this year and his body found near La Gracia village.

Channel 7

Government/CGA Mull Citrus Buyout
Today the board of the Citrus Growers' Association had an emergency meeting in Belize City. It was held at the Maya Airlines conference room before an 11:00 am meeting with the Prime Minister at his Belize City Office. As we have reported, there is a standoff between the CGA and the Citrus Products of Belize Limited -the company which buys their product and in which they are the majority shareholder. At an emergency general membership meeting two weeks ago, the CGA resolved to investigate the possibility of buying out Banks Holdings which is the minority shareholder. The CGA says Banks is the problem, but they would need tens of millions of dollars to buy them out. And that's what led to today's meeting at the Prime Minister's office. Best information says the CGA is looking at the possibility of a government backed buyout. We caught the Prime Minister today after that meeting and he would only speak in very general terms but made it clear that moves are afoot:..

Police Bust Weed On Sarteneja Bus
Belize City police from precincts 3 and 4 were on point today when they stopped a northbound bus at mile two on the Phillip Goldson Highway. Acting on intelligence, they came up with two packs of what looks to be high grade weed. ASP Tzib told us more:.. ASP Oscar Tzib, Precinct 4 "We have personnel from Precinct 3 and 4 intercepted a Sarteneja passenger bus that was traveling from Belize City to Sarteneja. Based on the information we pull off the bus on Chetumal Street where the Quick Response Team conducted a search of passengers, their luggage and inside the bus they abandoned a knapsack which the police search and they found two parcels of suspected cannabis. Nobody claim ownership and as a result the cannabis was confiscated and will be labeled as found property." Jules Vasquez "Is there an indication that there were people in Sarteneja who were expecting this package, based on how it was packed and the other things found in the bag?"

Yohnny Rosado In Trouble With the Law And The BTB
Yhony Rosado, by now, you may consider him a staple on this newscast. He's often appeared as one of the fiery personalities from FECTAB, always fighting one battle or the next to try to protect their cruise tourism interest. But, 7News has confirmed that a simple charge of disorderly conduct, brought against him by his competitor, may be the undoing of his entire multi-million dollar cruise tourism operation. You may remember the name Vitalino Reyes Jr.. He is the man who accused Rosado 2 years ago of pulling a gun on him. Last year, after a lengthy legal battle - which saw Rosado spend one night in jail, he was acquitted of all charges related to that incident. Rosado was able to prove in court that the statement Reyes made was a fabrication. But now, Rosado, is being accused by Vitalino Reyes Sr., his father, of allegedly punching him in the face in brawl that supposedly happened in the Belize City Tourism Village on Boxing Day, December 26, of last year. Reyes claims that while in Fort George Tourism Zone, Rosado attacked him and they had a fight. The incident reportedly happened almost 2 months ago, but police finally arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct. He was arraigned today before the Chief Magistrate, where he pleaded not guilty, and was granted bail of $500. He must return to court on March 25, his next court date.

Ferguson Gets 22 Years For Manslaughter
Last week we told you about how the jury acquitted 29 year-old Glenford Ferguson Jr. of murder, but found him guilty of manslaughter. As we told you, in his trial Ferguson admitted to stabbing 27 year-old Koffi Beeks to death in February of 2017. Today, he and his attorney, Bryan Neal, were allowed to present a mitigation plea on his behalf for Justice Troadio Gonzalez to consider while deciding his sentence. They called 4 character witnesses who testified in court about his life and personality before that incident. After careful consideration, Justice Gonzalez sentenced him to 22 years in jail, but subtracted the 7 years he's been behind bars awaiting trial. So, he will only spend 15.

Mass Drug Destruction In Georgeville
Belmopan police destroyed a large amount of illegal drugs on Wednesday. The independent media was not invited to witness it, but an the press office was and an official release says that between 8:30am and 10:50am, Belmopan Police destroyed 1,261 lbs of Cannabis and 225grams of Cocaine at George Ville Village, in Cayo. Witnessing the destruction were Magistrate Mrs. Griffith, from Forensics Mrs. Leal, Justice of the Peace Abadi, Officer Commanding Belmopan Police Station ASP Mr. Sinquest Martinez, and the police exhibit keeper.

Man Convicted Of Incest
A 44 year-old father has been convicted in the Supreme Court before Justice Troadio Gonzalez of having sexual intercourse with daughter who was 10 years old at the time. To protect the child's identity, we can't give you names or show you his face, but, he had been standing trial where girl testified that he abused her in 2009. He was initially charged with 3 sexual offences, but one of them was withdrawn. The child said that on 2 separate occasions, he sexually abused her. In his defence, he declared his innocence saying that the entire case against him was a fabrication. The jury didn't accept his version of events, and late yesterday evening, they found him guilty after a little more than 3 hours of deliberation.

Man Accused Of Incest With 8 Year Old Niece
And in the case we told you about earlier this month in the South, Independence Police have picked up the man they believe to have abused his 8 year-old niece. As we told you the child reported to police on Saturday, February 1, she went to her aunt's house to get some food to eat. She that while she was there, the uncle arrived and force her to have intercourse against her will. Well after an intense manhunt in the south, the man handed himself over to Independence Police, and he was charged with carnal knowledge, rape, and unnatural crime - suggesting that he also sodomized the small child. He will be arraigned at the earliest convenience.

Registrar Of Hotels Warns About Sex Tourism
Global - that's the website which has caused such widespread outrage in Belize. It offers what it calls a sex paradise in Belize - and offers to host its clients at resorts al across Belize with Belizean females of their choice. When we called the operation's number in Los Angeles yesterday, the person manning the phone assured us that female companionship was included in the package. He told us this could be arranged at any number of resorts across Belize. The Tourism Board sent out a generic disclaimer, but strengthened that today with a letter from the registrar of Hotels. The letter says that quote, "Though we have no reason to believe this is a legitimate service we take this matter very seriously." The letter goes on to caution hotel and tour owners and operators that it is an offence to use any licensed place of accommodation for sex tourism. The letter reminds operators and owners that a registrar can close a hotel if there is a violation.

Jamaican Architecture Students Visit Belize
We all know about the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica, but few have heard of the Caribbean School of Architecture - which is under the University of Technology also in Jamaica. It's an internationally accredited school of architecture, and every year, students travel to Caribbean cities to make studies of various urban landscapes, studying the physical environment and how architecture has unfolded around it. They have been in Belize for the past two weeks making architectural cities of the city buildings, its waterways, its land use and its planning, or lack thereof. Today, they held their review and found that the city often baffles with more questions than answers:..

Cattle Tested Positive For Tuberculosis
Ninety-thousand cattle have been tested in Belize, and one has come back positive for bovine tuberculosis. BAHA reported today that they've gotten confirmation from the Central Regional Laboratory in Merida that cattle specimens submitted for routine testing have tested positive for Bovine Tuberculosis. It's a consequence of the cattle sweep where authorities have methodically tested all cattle for Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis. According to an official release, quote, "The testing of 90,000 cattle has given negative results for these diseases except for one positive case that is being reported." The release adds that this is not the first time that Bovine Tuberculosis is being reported in Belize. The last outbreak occurred in 1991. BAHA says it is confident that Belize can declare itself free of Bovine Tuberculosis or as a country with low prevalence and that the detection of one infected farm does not affect this status.

Security Workers Leave CITCO On A Bad Note
Today was the day when 26 security guards were supposed to be terminated after the City Council made the decision that their posts were redundant. By all accounts, the plan outlined to transition 20 of the 26 into a newly formed private security firm was going well. Both Mayor Darrell Bradley and CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd told the media this week that the labour dispute was resolved in principle. But what about the workers? Well, we found a few of them upset that up to 2 p.m., their severance cheques, which were supposed to be ready at that time, had still not been delivered. This afternoon a few of them spoke to us and said that the council can talk all they want about processing and it's breakdown why the cheques weren't ready, but bill collectors and their hungry children aren't very patient: Jamie Yearwood "People out there are following the news. They know that today we are supposed to get our cheque and they told us 2pm. Now it's 3:15pm, today is Friday, when will we get this cheque. Nobody can tell us at what time or whatever. If you all say at 2pm, which means the cheque should have been ready." Frank Gladden "When it comes to getting our monies, the people inside keep saying that they are working on it. It's not making any sense to me at all. I am bearing patience with these people throughout this whole thing, but now I am losing it."

Not Paying Social Security Costs Employers
By law, all employers are obliged to pay their employees' social security contributions, but today 2 business owners were taken to court not doing so. 41 year old Jignesh Painter, the owner of Miami Shop on Euphrates Avenue and 57 year old Alice Neal, the owner of 3 Star Guest House, located at 11 Meighan Avenue, were charged with failure to pay social security contributions 14 days after each month when they appeared today before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton. They pled guilty to the charge and they were each fined $500.Neal was ordered to pay the fine by April 15. If she defaults on payment she will serve 6 months. Painter was ordered to pay by March 14. If he defaults on payment he will serve 6 months. Painter did not pay the contribution on time from October to December 2013. Neal did not pay the contribution on time from September to December 2013.

Looking Back, 20 Years?
Twenty years ago, February 14th fell on a Monday, and that's the day we picked for the first broadcast of 7News. Channel 7 had been on the air since 1981, but the news started 13 years later. It would be impossible to compile or even estimate how many stories we've aired since then, but what really counts isn't the numbers, hopefully it's the difference we've made to our viewers who we hope have been enlightened, inspired, tickled, and yes, saddened and outraged too. And while we can look back at a quite vast body of work, reflecting on it today, Jules Vasquez recalls that it was almost a failed experiment. He's been the news director since then, while Audrey Matura Shepherd was the first news producer. We asked them both for some light reflections today:.. Jules Vasquez, 7 News Director, 1994 - Present "February 12th 1994 was a day of utter chaos. I recall extremely well that I was alone in the control room because nobody there knew anything about what we were doing and I had it all in my mind which is not a good place to have anything if you ever worked in a newsroom. So, it was a completely misconceived mishandled misadventure and it as I recall I don't think went very well as a virgin flight."

Jury: Paul Jex Didn't Kill Aubrey
In last night's newscast, we told you about Paul Jex, the man who was on trial for the murder of 30 year-old Aubrey Lopez, the son of Belmopan Mayor Simeon Lopez. As we told you, Lopez was murdered on May 12, 2010 when a group of men carjacked him. A gunman inside the vehicle, shot him in the head and threw him out to die on Prince Street. Police later spotted the car and after a high speed chase, allegedly caught Jex inside the vehicle with a weapon believed to have been used in the murder. That's the case that Jex was facing after almost 4 years on remand. Coupled with the fact that police had a witness who gave a written statement that fingered Jex as the gunman, he had quite a lot of defending to do in the 3 week trial. The Jury delivered the judgement last night at 9:30, and 7News was there. Daniel Ortiz reports: Daniel Ortiz reporting At a little bit before 9, well past the 4 hour mark for deliberations, interested parties started to file back into Justice Adolph Lucas' courtroom.?

Mayor Lopez Says Verdict Pains His Family
As you saw, Mayor Simeon Lopez and his family declined an initial interview, and as they left the court their physical reaction suggested that they were disappointed after attending every day since Jex was at Magistrate's Court, all the way through the Supreme Court trial. Today, Lopez was much more responsive, and he gave the media a revealing sit-down interview where he explained the entire situation from his and his family's perspective. Here's what he had to say about the case, how it played out, and about their reaction to the verdict: Simeon Lopez, Mayor - Belmopan City "I tried to be as normal. I try to take it as manly as I could. My wife sort of broke down after the verdict and so my emotion did come up a little bit, so I escorted her out of the courtroom along with my daughter. That was the only emotion I had because of how my wife reacted to the verdict. Besides that I try to be strong in support of the family." "Aubrey was the last of child; he was the baby of the family. He has a widow now and a young son of 12 years old who is preparing to his primary school exam and hopefully go to high school in August/September of this year. Since he lives in Belmopan, I am like the father figure to him. He is a very nice, courteous and respectful little guy."

6 Weeks Later, Man Charged For Shooting
22 year-old Eric Tillett is at prison tonight after he was taken to court for a city shooting which occurred a couple days before Christmas. Viewers may remember a shooting incident which occurred shortly before 6 p.m. on December 23, 2013.The victim, 30 year-old auto mechanic Delton Flowers, reported to the police that he had just left his home at the corner of Peter Seco and Consuelo Streets and was riding his bicycle. That's when he was approached by a man wearing a red shirt who shot him in the leg. The police reported that they recovered one 9 millimetre expended shell from the scene. Well, police investigated for 1 and a half months, and they charged Tillett with attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm. He was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate who remanded him to prison until April 7, 2013.

CWU and City Hall Final Compromise: Workers Redundant But Get Better Hourly Rate Under New Employer
After two weeks of delays, tomorrow the city council will make 26 security workers redundant. That is after the Christian Workers Union and the City Council hammered out a three page agreement this afternoon. It's a win and a compromise for both sides. At a press briefing two hours ago Matura-Shepherd outlined the details:.. Audrey Matura Shepherd, President - CWU "We still feel that as a result of the process 4 workers remain sort of casualty to the process. When you consider that there were 30 people who were being affected and 26 have been given better benefits, then we have to be able to explain why and there are always people who make sacrifices more than others," "The first good news is that we were able to get the council to retain some of the workers. So out of the 30 that would have been adversely affected, we got 5 to remain. They will remain as park wardens. We were able to persuade the council that there were 3 workers who really got ill on the job; one of them suffered a stroke, one has high blood pressure and has nose bleeding and the other one has severe arthritis. What has happen is that the council will retain them as employees for now until they appear before a medical board. Once the medical board certifies them invalid or not then they will know what their options are. If they are invalid then they will go off and get invalidity benefits and if they are not then they will just become redundant and get all the benefit all the others got, so that the other god news and good for them because they really wanted that because of their health condition."

Police, No Leads On Who Killed Kuylen
Orange Walk Police continue to investigate the execution style murder of 31 year-old Stephen Kuylen Jr., and news tonight is that they are no closer to figuring out why the gunmen killed him. As we reported, at around 9:30 on Tuesday night, Kuylen stepped out of his house on 6th street in the Pasadita area, and that's when 2 men ambushed and shot him at close range in the head. They stole his cellular phone and licensed 9mm weapon, before disappearing into the night. We spoke to Inspector Julius Cantun via phone tonight, and he told us that investigators are hard at work trying to gather intelligence, but so far, they've not unearthed any significant lead which they can pursue.

Sex Tourism Offered in Belize?
The ugly and little discussed underside of tourism in the developing world is sex tourism. From the Dominican Republic and Cuba, to Honduras and Costa Rica, American and European men travel all across the world to have a good time with female escorts. And that's the kind of service being advertised by a site named global The site says it offers quote, "Belize Fantasy Adult Sex Vacations" at exotic locations. The idea is that for a premium price, the outfit provides resorts and female companionship. We called the number in Los Angeles and they say they do offer such a service at resorts throughout Belize. The menu shows a listing of dozens of girls up for the offering - and while it looks very much like random image cut and paste from other sites, those we spoke to say they do recognize some of the ladies. The Tourism Board sent out a release yesterday saying quote, "The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) is in no way affiliated with this group nor does it condone its actions, as this is a human rights issue. The Ministry of Human Development, the Human Rights Commission, and the Belize Police Department have been notified and will be handling the resulting investigation." End quote.

Abbas Khan, Nutton Noh Goh Soh
In March of last year, much was made of the case of 39 year-old Abbas Khan, the Naturalized Belizean businessman who works in the Corozal Freezone, who allegedly had 5 Indian passports that he couldn't account for. The story was that he supposedly escaped from police custody in Orange Walk. Well, today, we confirmed that Khan was completely cleared of all charges in relation to that case, and at this time, he is trying to clear his name. The prosecution called 6 witnesses in the case yesterday and none of them could explain how Khan allegedly escaped from their custody. After hearing all the evidence, the Magistrate discharged him from the charge of escape. Just before news time tonight, he came to our studios to explain personally his version of events. He said that in March of last year, 2 off-duty police officers came to his business place in the Corozal Free Zone, where they explained that there was a bench warrant in Orange Walk for an outstanding debt that he owed. He said that the officers never actually took him officially into custody. He said that he complied with their request where he was taken to a conference hall-type area in the police station for several hours. According to Khan, he made arrangements for that debt that he owed to be paid in full, and on March 4, 2 police officers took him from Orange Walk to Corozal to explain the origin of properties that they were investigating, but they never properly explained to Orange Walk Police that they took over his custody.

Harpist Makes Heavenly Music
Tonight at 7:00 at the Belize-Mexico Institute here in the city, a young Mexican harpist named Ada Tzab will have her first concert in Belize. It's a small setting for the Meridian - and we caught her as she was warming up this afternoon:... 23 year old Ada Tzab from Yucatan Mexico has been playing the harp for four years. She says she chose it because she was curious: Ada Tzab, Harpist "It was because of curiosity to explore the instrument because it was unknown for me. So I wanted to meet the instrument," More than meet it, she's gotten to know it. She like the reaction it elicits from listeners: Ada Tzab, Harpist "I really love when I look at the faces of people even before they listen to the instrument, they just watching the instrument. When they listen, they say its heaven."

Altun-Ha and Nine Other Sites Getting EU Sponsored Upgrades
Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites, it's a project spearheaded by the European Union And The Government Of Belize - and it is being implemented at 9 sites across Belize. The idea is that the facilities will be upgraded to benefit Artisans Groups, Women's Groups and other small community entities. This week, the Head of Delegation for the European Union to Belize, Ambassador Paola Amadei is visiting and she got to attend an official groundbreaking ceremony at the Altun Ha site. She explained the importance:.. Construction works are to commence immediately at Altun Ha and the first item to be finished will be the existing Visitor's Centre. The programme also includes training and marketing and the sites to be impacted are: Xunantunich, Nohoch Che'en, Altun Ha, Nim Li Punit, Barton Creek, Lubaantun, Actun Tunichil Muknal, Lamanai and Blue Creek.

Europeans Sponsor Northern Micro-Enterprises
And the European Ambassador was busy yesterday; she went from Altun Ha to the La Immaculada Credit Union in Orange Walk. That's where the European Union is funding the accompanying measures for sugar. It's a kind of export substitution as the guaranteed European Market for sugar from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries is eventually eliminated, or to use the first world term, "liberalized." So the EU is making low cost credit available to fund small businesses that diversify the earnings potential of northern residents. The Project Coordinator explained.. The Credit Union recently won an award for excellence in microfinance at the 2nd Annual Citi Micro entrepreneurship Awards.

Europeans Focus On Maternal/Child Health
And while that was yesterday, today the Ambassador's tour of the north continued at the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk today where the focus was maternal and neonatal health as well as the control of dengue and malaria. The ambassador explained the EU input:.. The EU says that in 2013 alone it disbursed €13.2 million Euros or just under $36 million Belize dollars.

Valentine's, The Busiest Day Of The Year For Florists
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and no one knows that better than Belize's florists for whom Valentine's is their busiest day of the year. Today Monica Bodden visited two florists, an up and comer and a veteran to find out how crazy business gets when love is in the air:.. Monica Bodden reporting Selflorals Design first opened its doors for business in September of last year and since then the small scale floral store has been blooming with business. It is owned by this lovely couple - Celbert Butler and Claudia Zetina. Zetina had been a florist for the last 16 years before venturing off into her own business. Monica Bodden "I understand that you have been a florist for quite a while. Tell me why you decided to open your own floral store?" Claudia Zetina - Owner, Selflorals Design "Because I know that it is time for it. I have worked for 16-18 years for other floral shops, so it's time to open my own." Celbert Butler - Owner Selfloras "I always believe that you need to go on your own and I realize that she is an excellent florist. I could safely say without patting my hand on my back that she is one of the best florists. If you look at those arrangements, it clearly tells that we are in a different league because for this valentines we decide that we don't want to make the conventional stuff, we make a little bit of those but we need to take it up another notch. As you look around we have teddy bears, we have dogs from flowers, we have baskets, we have things for male, for female, for every single person's needs. You can get a rose for $10, say I love you with a rose for $10 from Selflorals. You could get something for $35, $45, $55 - you get a dozen roses wrap nicely for $100. You can get something with a nice vase for $125. You could actually bring your stuff to this shop and we will wrap it for you and we will just charge you a nice fee. If you have wine, chocolates and you want to set with a rose, just bring it and we will do it for you."

Re: Today's Belize News: February 15, 2014 [Re: Marty] #485945
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Lovers Of Cycling Also Have A Reason To Celebrate
And while Valentine's is for lover's it's also for cyclists. This weekend, the Valentine's Classic is back after an unofficial two year hiatus. That was due to lack of sponsorship, but Digicell is back in the saddle and Kwame Scott explained why the race matters:.. Kwame Scott "This race traditionally runs from the San Ignacio Hotel to the Benque border and back to Belize City, but due to road conditions between Belmopan and Cayo we've been forced to re-route so to speak. On Sunday we leave at 8am from in front of Leslie's Imports travel the Western Highway all the way to the Hector Silva Airstrip and then we turn back finish at Leslie's Imports." "Most of these races at this time of the year - the terrain and mileage are geared towards the training for our cross country which is the big one comes up on the 19th April. With that in mind, this race will be approximately 90 miles. I would also like to mention that this race has been dormant for the last 2 years basically because of financial reasons but thanks to Digicell, this year we are back on the road. We are pleased to say that we are expecting more than 70 riders in the elite big race including foreigners and we have 14 juniors and 5 females which is a victory at this time. I believe on Sunday we will have a very competitive race, there will be fireworks out there on the George Price Highway, so come on out."

Spelling Bee In Its 20th Year
Over the last 20 years, the Coca-Cola Spelling Bee has become a staple in Belizean culture: hundreds of primary school students HAVE competed for the opportunity to become the best spellers amongst their peers. To note the importance of the competition, Bowen and Bowen, and their corporate sponsors held a press briefing today. The Ministry of Education explained the positive impact that the Spelling Bee has had on learning: This year, BTL is sponsoring $35,000 worth of prizes to the winners. Those include a full BTL scholarship with mentor-ship, fees, and tuition. The telecommunications company is also donating 12 net books and 12 my-fi dongles.

Duane Stephenson In Belize
Right now, the Belize City Council is making final preparations for their opening of the newly renovated BTL Park. They're doing so with a Valentine Concert, and they've brought in international reggae star, Duane Stephenson. Today, Stephenson dropped by 7News to explain why you should support the launch, and come to see him in concert: Duane Stephenson "I am here to perform at the BTL official opening of the park and valentines concert - it's a family event. I stress on family because that's what they stress on - on getting me here for the show. We want as much people come out as possible just to support it, just come with your family and just be a part of a great evening. It's going to be a great experience. It starts at 5pm with the kids and of course it works it way up to us the older people, but definitely a good family vibe, great entertainment." Daniel Ortiz "Sir, tell us what you fans here in Belize expect from you and is this your first time performing in Belize?" Duane Stephenson "It's my second time here and definitely I plan to make it the best time here because you never know where you will end up and if you get a chance to come back and you want to leave the best impression as possible and I believe in that and of course I always try to perform at the highest level, put on a great concert and just have people enjoy themselves and you can leave the concert and go to church the next morning and you won't feel like you have sin the night before."

Channel 5

Final cheques for 26 security officers late and short
On Thursday when the Christian Workers Union gave its update on the conclusion of negotiations with City Hall and the Labour Commissioner, it was mostly positive. Most of the workers [...]

CWU says it is disappointed by Belize City Mayor
When we got to City Hall this evening, most of the workers had rushed off. We understand they all got their checks too late to take to the bank, so [...]

An alleged confession statement in the murders of Brian Townsend and Isidoro Bonilla
There is much more to report tonight in what might be four recent murders that are linked. Belmopan Police have detained a nineteen year old Benque Viejo resident. They say [...]

Father found guilty of 2 counts of incest
In the Belize City Supreme Court, the conviction of a forty-eight year old father was secured on Thursday evening before Justice Troadio Gonzalez for sexually abusing his young daughter.  A jury [...]

Man formally arrested and charged for rape of 8 year old
On February fifth, News Five reported a very disturbing and appalling sexual crime against a small child. The child, an eight year old female, visited the Independence Police Station with [...]

B.T.B. warns hoteliers against the sale of sex
On Wednesday, we told you about Global Fantasies, an online site advertising Belize as a sex paradise.  The website features fifteen worldwide destinations where the images of well-known Belizean women [...]

Police launch a manhunt for escaped murder suspect
Belmopan Police say that they are closing in on twenty-nine year old Edwin Paula, an inmate at the Belize Central Prison who escaped while being transported to Belmopan for a [...]

22 years in jail for man guilty of manslaughter
In court today, a Belize City man reappeared before Justice Troadio Gonzalez to learn his fate following his conviction last Thursday. Twenty-eight year old Glenford Ferguson Jr. was sentenced to [...]

Bovine tuberculosis present in Belize
There is confirmation tonight from the Belize Agricultural Health Authority of the presence of bovine tuberculosis in the country.  Bovine TB is a chronic infectious disease which affects cattle and [...]

UNESCO sends out warning on artifacts in the global market
The increase in the smuggling of historical artifacts worldwide has prompted a warning by UNESCO. The UN agency has written to the President of the National Institute Diane Haylock, indicating [...]

Love is in the air….greetings of love to that special someone
Love is in the air….February fourteen is celebrated every year as the day of love, Valentine’s Day. Throughout the day, florists had a long list of orders and jewelry stores [...]

Athletes to take to the George Price Highway for the Valentine Cycling Classic
The annual Valentine’s Cycling Classic is less than two days away and riders from across the country, in various categories, will be participating in the tournament.  The race is the [...]

Orange Walk versus Cayo in the Elite Basketball Tournament
And on the basketball courts, a second run of competition takes place over the weekend. The National Elite Basketball League is hosting several regular season games with participating teams visiting [...]

Smoothies for Dara; a fund raising effort to assist feeding program
Ras Dara’s feeding program has gotten assistance from a number of corporate sponsors since opening his kitchen to needy children across Belize City over the years.  On Sunday, the well-known [...]

B.T.L. Park opens tonight with a bang
While vendors at Mr. Ham’s are busy trying to realize their sales target, officials from the Belize City Council were on hand at BTL Park this afternoon to oversee the [...]

Mother of the murdered Balona brothers fears entire family will be killed
Valley of Peace resident, Martita Requeña, has lost two of her sons in less than a month, both of them murdered. The two brothers, Marlon Flores and Raul Balona, were [...]

…Investigation launched by Ombudsman Office
The family is running scared and, obviously afraid to go to the Police Department, have turned to the Ombudsman for help. When they first went to the office in Belize [...]

Paul Jex freed of murder; Mayor Simeon Lopez reflects on the trial
A jury deliberated for about five hours and when the panel emerged just before nine o’clock on Wednesday night, they found that the suspect in the murder of the popular [...]

CWU reaches agreement for security officers fired from City Hall
After weeks of tension between Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley and Christian Workers Union President Audrey Matura-Shepherd, an agreement has been reached on behalf of security officers deemed redundant.  The [...]

Union to speak with new security company, Ranger Security
The CWU will be meeting with Hiram Longsworth of Ranger Security on Friday to discuss terms and conditions under which they will be employed. They will be looking at overtime, [...]

Bagasse negotiation begin in earnest
Today, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmer Association and Belize Sugar Industries met in Orange Walk Town for the first round of intensive discussions on the new sugar-cane purchasing agreement, of [...]

20 years of the Coca Cola Spelling Bee
The Spelling Bee is perhaps one of the most anticipated competitions on the primary school calendar. In the yearly event, schools from across the country compete round after round until [...]

Martita Requeña says they are being forced out of Valley of Peace
Earlier we showed you the grief-stricken family of two murdered men. They have sought assistance and protection from the Office of the Ombudsman because they feel threatened. That’s bad enough, [...]

Gun stolen from safe in San Pedro apartment
A resident of San Pedro is reporting that his licensed firearm was stolen from his home on Barrier Reef Drive. Thirty-five year old tour operator Eric Andrews reported to police [...]

Amputee sentenced to 1 year in prison for weed
An amputee of La Democracia Village will be spending the first of a one year jail term tonight behind bars for a drug possession conviction. Sixty-six year old John Ramos [...]

Abbas Khan acquitted of escape charge
Abbas Khan, a Pakistani national with Belizean citizenship appeared in the Belmopan Magistrate Court this past Wednesday. Khan was on trial for a charge of Escape from the Orange Walk [...]

Merida harpist solo debut at the Mexican Institute
Just at about this time at the Mexican Institute in Belize City, Harpist Ada Tzab from Merida is presenting a solo recital. The twenty-three year old musician has been studying [...]

Duane Stephenson arrives for opening concert of B.T.L. Park
A huge concert to mark the official opening of the B.T.L. Park is set for Valentine’s Day, this Friday. City Hall is planning a grand opening that will see a [...]

Dental visits; Healthy Living tells you why they are necessary
Very few people enjoy going to the dentist but good oral hygiene is one way of ensuring good overall health. The mouth, including teeth and gums, is an organ in [...]


Employers Taken To Court for Social Security Contributions
Two employers, 41 year old Jignesh Painter, the owner of Miami Shop on Euphrates Avenue and 57 year old Alice Neal, the owner of Three Star Guest House located on Meighan Avenue, were charged with failure to pay social security contributions 14 days after each month, when they appeared today before Magistrate, Leslie Hamilton. They pled guilty to the charge and they were fined five hundred dollars each. Painter was given until March 14 to pay. If he defaults on payment he will serve six months. Neal was given until April 15 to pay. If she defaults on payment she will serve six months. Painter had failed to make contributions on time from October to December 2013. Neal had failed to pay on time from September to December 2013.

Duo Charged With Drug Trafficking
Two persons, 28 year old Sandra Thompson and 46 year old Reginald Hamilton, were charged with drug trafficking when they appeared today before Chief magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. They pled not guilty to the charge and they were released on bails of five hundred dollars. Their case was adjourned until April 3. The bust occurred around 12:p.m. yesterday. The police from zone 2 reported that they were on mobile patrol on Faber’s road when they saw a taxi car on the side of the road and a woman near to it. The police intercepted the car and they informed the driver who was Hamilton that they were going to conduct a search. The police said that when they searched the car they found a black plastic bag containing 107 grams of cannabis on the back seat. As a result, Hamilton and Thompson were arrested and charged.

Case of 2007 Murder Wraps Up in Court
Twenty-nine year old Glenford Ferguson Jr. who was convicted of manslaughter last week, was sentenced to 15 years today by Justice John Gonzalez. Justice Gonzalez said that the sentence would have been 22 years but he subtracted seven years, the time that Ferguson was remanded into custody. Before he decided on the sentence, Justice Gonzalez heard pleas for mitigation from Ferguson, his father, Glenford Ferguson Sr and three women, Grace Augustine, Anna Franklin and Mary Gusman. Ferguson was convicted of manslaughter for the fatal stabbing of Kofi Beeks which occurred in 2007 in front of Mel’s Bar in Ladyville. Ferguson was represented by attorney Bryan Neal while the Crown was represented by Crown Counsel Sheneiza Smith.

Bovine Tuberculosis Confirmed in Belize; Health Authorities Say It’s Contained
Results from the Central Regional Laboratory in Merida, Yucatan have indicated the presence of bovine tuberculosis on bacteriological culture sent to them by the Belize Agricultural health Authority (BAHA). In a release issued today, BAHA has assured the stakeholders of the agriculture sector and the public in general that they have further strengthened its standard disease control measures. It adds that through the Belize National Sanitary Cattle Plan Project, BAHA has been identifying cattle farms and cattle in Belize while ensuring that tests for the bovine tuberculosis and bovine brucellosis are conducted. Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic disease of animals caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium bovis which is closely related to the bacteria that causes human and avian tuberculosis. So far, over ninety thousand cattle have been tested and all results have proven negative with the exception of the one case that was positive. But before you get alarmed, it is noteworthy that this is not the first time this disease has been in Belize as there was an outbreak in 1991. While the bovine tuberculosis outbreak is considered contained and the risk to animals and humans is insignificant, as part of its precautionary measures, The Ministry of Health and BAHA are reminding producers that it is their responsibility to ensure that their farms are registered, their cattle identified and that they acquire the necessary documents and permits for any movements of their cattle from their farms. For further information you can contact the BAHA helpline at 605-2100 or at 824-4899.

Police News: Drugs, Stolen Firearm and Shooting Incident
Several persons stood witness yesterday as one thousand two hundred and sixty one pounds of cannabis were destroyed along with two hundred and twenty five grams of cocaine. The destruction of these drugs took place in Georgeville Village in the Cayo District between the hours of eight thirty and eleven o’clock in the morning. Among the witnesses were Magistrate Griffith, Assistant Superintendent Sinquest Martinez, a Justice of the Peace and media personnel. Members of the Special Branch, Criminal Investigations Branch and the K-9 Unit of the Belize Police Department were on an anti-drug operation on Wednesday in the early afternoon in San Ignacio Town where they conducted searches on five houses, eighteen individuals and two vehicles. During a search at an open lot on Second Street they uncovered point two grams of cocaine hidden under a drum; thirty point three grams of cannabis in a brown paper bag and four hundred and ninety five grams of cannabis in a pink sack. At another location, this time in Santa Elena Town, they found ten point five grams of hydro cannabis. At both locations, there was no one in the area and therefore the drugs were taken into custody and labeled as found property.

More Jobs for Belizeans in the BPO Industry
A United States firm, Golden Gate BPO Solutions is collaborating with Transparent BPO in Belize City for the opening of a centre that will be accommodating at least five hundred agents thus creating employment opportunities for Belizeans. According to an article on the web, the Belize City office will handle inbound customer service and sales support calls that originate in the US. The release further added that Belize was the chosen location since English is our country’s first language and is the educational hub of the country, offering a refined and well-trained work force. Presently, the BPO industry is still fresh, has an estimated two thousand agents working in its industry and has become the location being looked at by other firms around the world.

Alleged Murder Goes to Central Prison
Twenty-two year old Eric Tillett was charged with attempted murder when he appeared today before The Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. Tillett was also charged with grievous harm and use of deadly means of harm. He was remanded into custody until April 7. The charges arose from a shooting incident which occurred shortly before 6 p.m. on December 23, 2013. The victim 30 year old auto mechanic Delton Flowers, reported to the police that he had just left his home at the corner of Peter Seco Street and Consuelo Street and was riding his bicycle when he was approached by a man wearing a red shirt who pulled out a firearm a fired a single shot which struck him in his right leg. Flowers was taken to Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where his condition was described as not serious. In December last year another man Keithon Arana, was charged in connection with the same incident.

Suspected Murderers Murdered
It was an alert that sent authorities and a community in western Belize in search of 64-year-old, Brian Townsend who had been residing in the Cayo District. The search resulted in mourning as the missing Canadian national was found dead on Guatemalan territory on December 27, 2013. Benque Police did their investigations and set search for two brothers, Marlon and Raulito Balona who they believed were responsible for the murder of Townsend….but the brothers eluded the authorities, that is, until January 19, when Police were called on to investigate the death of Marlon, who was beaten up and strangled in the La Gracia Village in the Cayo District. It is an investigation that is still open and one that has been compounded with the recent murder of his brother, Raulito Balona who was shot and killed in Arenal Village, Guatemala this past Tuesday. The murder victim, who had retired to Belize, was residing in western Belize for some years doing humanitarian works for his community but on Christmas Eve last year he went missing. The authorities with the assistance of the nearby community went in-search of Townsend but it had proven fruitless. A few days later, authorities in Guatemala found Townsend’s body floating in a river.

Senior Citizen Gets Ninth Conviction for Marijuana
Sixty-six year old John Ramos aka “Sadman”, who only has one leg, was sentenced to 1 year today by Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser after he pled guilty to possession of a controlled drug for 29 grams of cannabis. It was Ramos’ ninth conviction for the offence. Police busted Ramos yesterday when they saw him pedal his cart to the back of the Commercial Center on Regent Street. Police intercepted him and when they searched him the found the cannabis tucked in the waist of his pants.


Confessed Thieves Enrolled in Apprenticeship Program
On Monday of this week, Mr. Anthony Ortiz, 30, and a 17 year old male minor, were remanded to prison by Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith after pleading guilty to theft for shoplifting fifteen dollars’ worth of M&M chocolates and Snickers bars from the Puma Gas Station on Freetown Road on...

15 More Years of Jail for Mr. Glenford Ferguson, Jr.
Mr. Glennford Ferguson, Jr., and his supporters had expected him to leave the Supreme Court of Justice Troadio Gonzalez a free man today. He was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder last Thursday by a jury in the February 2007 death of Koffi Beeks in Ladyville and spent...

Belmopan Woman Gets Mauled by Pitbulls, ‘Black Chiney’ Comes to the Rescue
It is said that dog is man’s best friend, but yesterday evening in Belmopan, it turned into man’s worst enemy when two pit-bulls ravaged a young woman, leaving her hospitalized. We warn you, the images in this story are disturbing, for which viewer discretion is advised. A relatively peaceful...

Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Focus on Human Rights
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, today launched its national consultations on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 1966, and came into force in March 1976. The ICCPR ensures the protection...

Belizean Women Featured on the Globalfantasies Tourism Website, Speak Out
Earlier this week, we told you about a website advertises itself as being “…the world’s leading premier erotic adult sex vacation company advertising and features Belize as one of the those hotspots. purports to be selling sex with women, men and even groups. The insulting website is offering...

BDF Corporal, Suffering with a Malformation on the Brain
Mr. Norman Rodriguez looks like your typical 32 year old, he has served in the Belize Defense Force for 13 years and is currently a corporal within the armed institution. Rodriguez’s story though, is far from average, he is battling with an arterio-venous malformation on the brain. When AVM...

Jamaican Artist DJ Nicholas is Back in the Jewel
Today in Belize City we caught up with a Jamaican Christian DJ, Nicholas Eccleston who goes by the stage name DJ Nicholas. Nicholas, who is stranger to Belize, was invited to minister across the country. He tells us about his visit.. DJ Nicholas:- Christian Musician and Singer “Yeah, well...

Accused Murderer of Belmopan Mayor’s Son is Found Not Guilty
Mr. Paul Jex, charged with the murder of the son of Mayor Simeon Lopez, in 2010, was acquitted last night. On Wednesday, February 13th, a Jury of 5 men and 7 women went into the deliberating room from 4:10 pm after Justice Adolph Lucas summarized the details of the case...

Man Charged for Attempted Rape
While one accused murderer walked free, another man accused of attempted murder made an appearance at court this morning . 22 year old Mr. Eric Tillett, is the second suspect charged and remanded for the December 23, 2013 attempt on the life life of Mr. Denton Flowers. Back in...

BTL and Phone Retailers in Negotiations on Network Upgrade
In an update to story unfolding, involving the Belize Telecommunications Limited and its network upgrade. As we told you earlier this week, the company is rolling out a modification in its network, where international phones such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint will not be able to register on the...

CCJ Hears Janae Matute Suit Appeal
On Wednesday, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) heard the final appeal of the case between 12-year-old Janae Matute of Roaring Creek, Cayo, her mother Georgia, and former attendant physician Dr. Raju Meenavalli, in person at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Georgia Matute gave birth to Janae prematurely but because...

Making Tourism Benefit Communities
Thursday saw the ground breaking ceremony to mark infrastructure improvements under a European Union supported project titled “Making Tourism Benefit Communities Adjacent to Archaeological Sites.” It’s an initiative to afford infrastructure development along with other training and marketing activities at nine archaeological sites: Xunantunich, Nohoch Che’en (Caves Branch), Altun...

Lawsuit for Counterfeit Merchandise in the Corozal Freezone
Last year October, three containers were discovered at the Customs Department’s Warehouse in Belize city containing thousands of fake Nike, Converse and Chanel merchandise. The Importing company was Pacific Ocean International LTD, a Chinese owned company operating in the Corozal Free Zone. The containers were found to carry more...

Man shot in San Pedro
A man was shot in San Pedro Town on Tuesday. 19 year old Florentino Velasquez reported that on Tuesday February 11 at about 3:40pm, he wase riding his bicycle on the beach front in Boca del Rio Area. After passing the High School he heard a loud bang and felt...

Drug Busts In The West
Belmopan Police made a sizable drug bust on Wednesday. The drugs 1,261 lbs of Cannabis and 225 grams of Cocaine, were discovered at Georgeville, located in the Cayo District. The drugs destroyed by authorities between of 8:30am and 10:50am that morning. Among personnel witnessing the destruction were Magistrate Mrs....

Music and Streets Works in the Twin Towns
At end of last week, residents in San Ignacio were entertained by a group of Jazz players from Canada. The trip was orchestrated by the Mayor of the twin towns and San Ignacio and Santa Elena, John August, in conjunction with the Missoula Rotary Club in Devon Alberta. Our...

FIFA Congratulates Belmopan Bandits on Championship Win
The Belmopan Bandits received a resounding applause from Belize for their victory this past weekend. However, their victory is also being recognized not only locally but also internationally. Yesterday the 8th and current President of FIFA Joseph Sepp Blatter sent a letter to the President of FFB, Mr. Ruperto Vicente...

The Guardian

National Bank Rolls out Financing - 229 New Home Owners benefit so far
In September the National Bank of Belize opened its doors with the Prime Minister declaring that it was a bank that would be driven by the mantra of service to the people and not necessarily by profits. After it opened its doors, the bank has been living up to its billing. The Guardian sat with the bank's general manager, Jose Marin, he explained that the bank is performing very well. As at the end of January, 229 mortgage applications had been approved by the bank. Of those applications 51% were public officers, 16% were teachers, and 33% were applications by the general public. On average the mortgage size is 75 thousand dollars. The loan limit is 175 thousand dollars and it applies for both new construction as well as refinancing mortgages held by other banks. So far almost 4 million dollars have been approved for home construction with approximately 1.6million dollars having been drawn down so far. A slowing down in the drawdown process has been the rains which has not allowed for construction to take place. Nonetheless Marin says that with improving weather conditions that is expected to change.

Cayo Bridge Project Pushes on
On Thursday February 6th, the Ministry of Works signed on to a contract with CISCO construction limited in the sum of $3,873,059.43 for the third lot of the project to construct a bridge that will span the Macal River to connect San Ignacio and Santa Elena. The 3rd Lot of the project will be the construction of an elevated by-pass road to connect the North end of Joseph Andrews Drive to the Western approach of the proposed new bridge over the Macal that will have one end in the Branch Mouth Road. The work to be done in this lot will be the alignment of the road, clearing of vegetation and other obstacles from the road reserve area, the importation and compaction of fill material and the paving of the road with chip and seal. This portion of the project will also see the excavation of a flood relief channel and the construction of reinforced concrete lining of drains along the road. The entire project is divided into four phases: (Lot 1) the upgrading of Loma Luz Boulevard; (Lot 2) a new bridge crossing of the Macal River; (Lot 3) the construction of a new high-embankment by-pass; and (Lot 4) the rehabilitation of Joseph Andrews Drive to the point it re-connects to the George Price Highway.

Paul Jex not Guilty - Main witness refuses to testify
25-year-old Paul Jex, who has been on remand for the murder of well-known basketball star and educator, Aubrey Lopez, walked out of court a free man at 9 p.m. Wednesday, February 12, after almost 4 years on remand. A jury of 12 acquitted him of the charge after just over 4 hours of deliberation. Since January 28, Jex had been standing trial before Justice Adolph Lucas in which Crown Counsel Kayshia Grant called 14 witnesses to testify against him. Her main witness, who was supposed to have seen the entire crime unfold, took the stand and refused to testify telling the court, while in tears, that he feared for his life. He told the court that his life was threatened. His exact words were “They said that they would kill me”. During a trial within this trial, which the jury did not witness, evidence came out that in 2011, 2 men wearing masks shot at him while he was at his house. The bullets missed him but struck his friend who was with him that time. He said that in 2013, a man rode up on a bike and told him that if he testified, he would be killed. In the end, the court had to test his written statement which he gave to police in 2012, and it was admitted as evidence that the jury could consider. In that written statement, Jex was fingered as the shooter who took 30 year-old basket baller and E. P. Yorke teacher, Aubrey Lopez’s life. The victim was socializing at one of the school’s functions on the night of May 12, 2010. Jex and a group of men managed to get control of Lopez and his vehicle. They shot him in the back of the head, threw him out of the vehicle, and left him to die on Prince Street.

Opening Market Access for Belize
Sanitary and Phytosanitary SPS Agreements have been made by World Trade Organization Members to protect the human, animal and plant health within their territories from certain risks, and which may affect international trade. The risk to animal life comes from the entry of pests, disease carrying organisms, additives and contaminants. Meanwhile; the risks to humans come from additives, contaminants and disease carrying organisms in food or beverages. Therefore; the importation of food, plants and animals are three of the main risk pathways. Increasing volumes of international trade in these products means that quarantine procedures must be able to adeptly deal with the potential pathways for pests and diseases. Globally there is an increased demand for fish, meat and vegetables; meaning that there will be an increase in the regional international trade of such foods. Already, the CARIFORUM countries which includes all fourteen Caribbean Community Countries CARICOM plus The Dominican Republic are responding to this increase in trade by seeking to improve their Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures to open access not only to European Markets but to markets around the World that subscribe to SPS Measures. “SPS Measures relate directly to your ability to access markets and relate directly to your ability to protect your domestic markets from risks,” says Dr. Robert Ahern, Manager of the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture IICA Health and Food Safety Program, who was in Belize a few days ago to gauge Sanitary and Phytosanitary measure practices.

Willoughby in Albert
Over the past couple of weeks there has been an increased political presence in the Albert Constituency as Phillip Willougby has now expressed his intention to contest a convention in that constituency when the decision is made. While that may be a ways off, Willougby is trying to establish his presence in the constituency. He has been assisting with all manner of services from free gas tanks to road works, even community meetings and assistance with home repairs. On Wednesday February 12th he was at it again as he delivered fill material to a number of resident in the division. He says that so far he has issued out about 20 loads of clay to the residents who are very appreciative with the assistance since some of them have been living in yards that get flooded during the rainy days. Willoughby told the Guardian that he is trying to assist in whichever way possible and while it may be small, he knows that the residents appreciate his involvement in the division.

BWSL Steps to the Plate 4M invested in water upgrades in Belize City
Mayor Darrell Bradley has undertaken to concrete some 130 streets in Belize City by May of this year and he is working very much apace to achieve this goal. While Mayor Bradley has been able to execute his vision in record time, the one utility company which is bearing a large portion of the workload in order for the pace to be kept is the Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL). On Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer of BWSL , Alvan Hyanes and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company, Alberto August were on Princess Margaret drive as the company was doing work to upgrade the underground water mains on that stretch of road from the Hour Bar to in front of Nazarene High School. Speaking to Haynes, he explained that the extent of work that is being carried out by BWSL was not anticipated and so far the company has invested 4 million dollars in upgrades across the city. By the end of the project which is being promoted by the concreting of streets, the company would have spent 7 million dollars. According to Haynes the company by itself would not have been able to finance the works so it looked at the major shareholder, the Government of Belize which relieved the company from paying 3.1 million dollars in debt to the Caribbean Development Bank. That freed up the debt burden of the company allowing it to proceed with works.

More Coast Guard Seals
Two coast guard officers out of the 23 in the second batch who signed up for the SEAL training have made it past the 5th week of training. If they make it to the end of the training, they will join the first 8 officers who became SEAL officers. The SEAL program is a training regime which was envisioned and planned with the assistance of the US Southern Command and the Special Operations Command. Readers may know that the United States Navy SEALS is the elite force within the military which the White House reported as the unit which conducted the covert operation to capture or kill Saudi Terrorist Osama Bin Laden. The unit carried out the operation and killed Bin Laden in May 2011. That mission is hailed as the greatest military victory of the 21st Century, so for the Belize Coast Guard to carry the name in one of its units, it has to measure up to the excellence and reputation of the Navy SEALS. As such, the training is rigorous where the officers going through it are tested mentally and physically with rigorous, extreme and harsh activity designed to simulate the toughest battle conditions. It culminates at week 5 called “Hell Week” where the physical torment is heightened to see how the officers respond.

Juan Coy is Toledo West Standard Bearer
The United Democratic Party conducted the largest convention so far as it is going about the process of selecting Standard Bearers for various constituencies across the country. On Sunday February 2nd, Juan Coy was elected as the Standard Bearer for the Toledo West constituency. With a total of 2,416 ballots cast, this was the largest convention yet. The polling was an energetic one that saw a constant stream of voters coming to San Antonio Village from all over the division to cast their vote at the Luis Rey School. Despite intermittent showers, the voters were undeterred and followed through to cast their votes. Polling started at 10 in the morning and ended at 5 in the evening. At the end of polling, Juan Coy had secured 1,498 votes securing a victory in that division over Macario Coy who received 762 votes and Luis Cucul who received 132 votes and Jose Antonio Braddick who received 16 votes. There were 10 rejected ballots.

Credit Union in San Ignacio launches expanded service center and Youth Month
Ribbons were cut to a much expanded client center at the Saint Martin Credit Union’s Zimmerman Building at the Corner of Eve and Church Street in San Ignacio Town on Wednesday morning of this week. Present to do the cutting was Dr. John Morris, President of the SMCU as Ronald Hulse, General Manager of the 65 year old financial institution looked on to savour the moments. The significance of the ceremonies is that SMCU can now have up to five teller stations open on Saturdays and pay days, serving many more customers at the same time, with its low interest loans. SMCU also took the opportunity Wednesday to declaring the Month of February as Youth Month, with an intention to offering financial education to young people. The inauguration of spacious offices involved the participation of SMCU’s various partners in development. It was also an opportunity for the many partners, such as Heritage Bank and the Belize Credit Union League, to learn about the special history of the SMCU.

Bert Oliva Motivates a New Army of Young Belizean PIMPs
World famous motivational speaker Bert Oliva is in Belize once again to share his inspiring message to thousands of Belizean students. This is the third consecutive year that Oliva is offering his service for free and his only request to the students at the rallies is that they all leave as PIMPs, Positively Influential Motivated Persons. Restore Belize is partnering with Chamberlain Consulting firm to host Oliva’s “Motivational Missionaries Tour 2014”. From Tuesday, February 11th, to Wednesday, February 19th, Oliva will be speaking to business owners, students, prisoners and other Belizeans in the Central and Southern parts of the country. Bert Oliva migrated from Cuba to the United States when he was just eleven months old and grew up in the Little Havana area of Miami. Instead of partaking in illicit activities like his friends, he grew up responsibly and took a job at Xerox in his early twenties. He specializes in growing large corporations by focusing on the human potential. Oliva believes in mind over matter and his message to his audience is “the only person that can prevent you from realizing your dreams is yourself”. In 2012, Oliva and his team addressed over 4,000 students in San Pedro, San Ignacio and Belize City. In 2013 Oliva returned and held rallies with over 6,000 students in Belize City, Orange Walk and Corozal. This year, Restore Belize is expecting over 7,500 students to attend Oliva’s rallies. New locations included in the tour are Benque Viejo, Independence and Punta Gorda.

Penner on my mind
Infatuation, fixation, fascination, even mania is what the PUP have developed over Elvin Penner. And this week they, through their attorney Edwin Flowers, wrote an epilogue as to why Penner should be charged by police. They end claiming that they will take the matter to court if there is no response within seven days. It is now painfully obvious that the PUP are scratching at the Penner sore but they are simply not getting enough blood out of it as the Belizean people are now more interested in the development that is taking place across the country. Never before has the country experienced the amount of development on a national scale as it is doing right now and the distractionary measures that the PUP have tried to employ have failed miserably. They try to beat at everything that is being done. But like Lisa Shoman trying to beat on the BTL Park, the Elvin Penner matter simply has no traction. Then they tried to get the BNTU to rile up its members; that too failed miserably. Then the BSCFA was being used to try to instigate the cane farmers- that too was NADA. The PUP simply have nothing to go on and at the end of it all, that is what they will end up with... Nothing.

Roger Espejo - 1 with the People
"And 1!", - that was the celebratory roar this past Saturday on the Pink's Alley Basketball Court where Roger Espejo held yet another successful and peaceful sporting event. The event was held as a part of Roger Espejo's relentless movement to uplift the constituency in his position as caretaker. Recently the UDP Caretaker held 'Jungle Jam', a sporting and health event, in the Victoria St. area and pledged to take it to other pockets of the constituency. So said - so done: the 'Majestic' Alley youths overwhelmingly embraced the event and fought their hearts out on the court for first, second and third place cash prizes in a 3-on-3 tournament where 5 teams participated. Roger Espejo goes to a constituency convention at the end of this month in Fort George where he has gained significant popularity by working steadfastly with the communities for the past 20 months - a mission that many party leaders have commended him for and are sure to support him for. Having been religiously 'on the ground' through several projects Espejo's campaign slogan, naturally, has become: '1 with the people'.

Re: Today's Belize News: February 15, 2014 [Re: Marty] #485946
02/15/14 05:31 AM
02/15/14 05:31 AM
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Protection for Belizean workers in the U.S.
Belizean Ambassador to the US, Nestor Mendez has signed an agreement with the United States Government which should provide benefits to Belizeans working in that country, regardless of their immigration status. It’s called the Consular Partnership Agreement which will allow the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division to work with the embassy and consulates of Belize to provide Belizeans working in the United States and their U.S. employers with information about U.S. health, safety and wage laws. Belizean Consular Representatives will now have the means to make representation to US Labour authorities on behalf of Belizean workers, whose rights are being violated.

Estella Gonzalez Additionally Charged with Human Trafficking of 15 yr. old minor
On Friday, February 7th, 62-year-old Temptation bar Manager Estella Gonzalez was charged with ten counts of “employing a person not in possession of a work permit”. The charges came after a raid of Temptation Bar on Thursday, February 6th, by police and immigration officials. Gonzalez pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined $10,000. Further investigation by the authorities led to an additional charge against Gonzalez. Gonzalez appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Monday, February 10th, to answer to a charge of human trafficking. Allegations are that between August 19th, 2013 and September 7th, 2013 she harboured a 15-year-old minor for the purpose of exploiting her as a prostitute. Since the matter is an indictable offense, no plea was taken. Court prosecutor, Sgt. Egbert Castillo, had no objection to bail and bail was granted in the sum of $2,000 plus one surety of the same amount. Gonzalez is set to reappear in court on March 12th.

Justin Faber remanded for Robbery
Justin Faber, 21-year-old Hattieville resident is in jail after he was accused of robbing a man at gun point. According to police, Faber held up Randolph Herbert at gunpoint on Saturday, February 8th, and stole his bank card. On Monday, February 10th, Faber appeared unrepresented before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith where he was charged with one count of robbery with a firearm upon Randolph Herbert. Faber pleaded not guilty to the charge but due to the nature of the offense he could not be granted bail and was remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court appearance on April 3rd.

Immigration Police Intercepts Six Salvadorans Heading North
After police and immigration officers intercepted and prosecuted six illegal immigrants on Sunday, February 9th, they are now focusing on a man they believe is part of a larger smuggling ring. Police detained a 29-year-old man after he was caught trying to board a North bound bus with two Salvadorans who were in Belize illegally. At about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Immigration officials received information that made them visit the Belize City bus terminal where they intercepted four Salvadoran nationals who had just exited a bus from Western Belize. They then proceeded to grab two more Salvadorans at the Palotti bus stop along with the man they believe is the smuggler. The authorities believe the men entered into Belize through the Mopan River and were heading North into Mexico.

Mexican Zurisaday Mendez Granted Supreme Court Bail
Mexican national Zurisaday Mendez who was busted in October of 2012 with firearms, ammunitions and drugs was granted Supreme Court bail in the sum of $75,000 on Monday, February 11th, 2014. In October, 2012 police conducted a search of two rooms and several vehicles linked to Mendez at the Las Vegas Hotel. During the search they found two A-K 47s, two 9 mm pistols, one .40 mm pistol, one .38 Auto brand pistol and one Colt Super Auto pistols. There was also a huge number of ammunition, communication devices, and supply of cannabis, cocaine and alcoholic beverages. Police arrested and charged Mendez with 1 count of keeping a prohibited firearm, 2 counts of keeping prohibited ammunition, 3 counts of keeping an unlicensed firearm, 4 counts of keeping unlicensed ammunition, 5 counts of drug trafficking, and 6 counts of possession of controlled drugs.

Pedro Trujeque Remanded for Rape Charge
A 25-year-old woman has accused 49-year-old Pedro Lewis Trujeque of rape. The details of the case have not been released as yet but during arraignment we learnt that the alleged incident occurred on February 9th of this year when the two were on Long Caye. Trujeque appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Wednesday, February 12th, where he was read a single charge of rape. He was unrepresented in court and since the matter is an indictable offense no plea was taken and bail could not be granted at the Magistrate Court level until 90 days after arraignment. However, Chief magistrate Smith informed Trujeque that he can apply for bail at the Supreme Court within the next 14 days. Pedro Lewis Trujeque was ordered to be remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court appearance on April 2nd.

“Sabe” in Jail for stealing Potatoes
Sebastian Alexander Nunez, aka Sabe, was sent to Prison after he appeared in the Magistrate Court to face a charge of theft. Sabe is being accused of stealing two sacks of potatoes on Saturday, February 8th. According to police delivery man Manuelito Pech called in to report a theft at the Michael Finnegan Market. Pech told police that he parked his white van near the market and left it open as he went to deliver onions. When he returned he learnt that two sacks of potatoes had been removed and that they could be found in a green Rodeo parked on West Collect Canal. Police later located the green Rodeo and spoke with the owner, Harley Chan, who told them that he had just purchased the sacks of potatoes from a man known to him as Sabe. Chan told police he purchased the sacks of potatoes for $100. Sabe was arrested and charged with theft. He was unrepresented when he appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano on Tuesday, February 11th, and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Bail was offered at $1,000 but court record shows that Nunez already owes the court $1,800 for previous convictions. It was ordered by the court that Nunez pay his outstanding fines before he can go home on bail. He was unable to do so and was escorted to the Belize Central Prison in default of payment.

Cops Appear in Court for Alleged Shake Down of Thyrel Hyde
Police officers 42-year-old Reymundo Requena and 30-year-old Joslyn Gill appeared in the Belize City Magistrate Court on Tuesday, February 11th, to face charges for the alleged shake down of Thyrell Hyde. Edgar Teul, who is the third police officer to have allegedly participated in the crime, did not show up to court. Hyde claims that on the night of September 8th, 2013 he was in a vehicle in the Buttonwood Bay area when police came to search. According to Hyde, the search turned into a shakedown as officers took away cash he had in his pocket as well $1,500 he had in an envelope. He alleges that the officers then took him to an ATM where he was forced to use his card to withdraw money - $260. The officers then let him go. The ATM transaction was captured on tape with police officers supervising Hyde’s actions. The video evidence was enough for arrests to be made and the three officers were arraigned in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court in December, 2013.

Belmopan Bandits National Football Champions
The Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup 2013 Opening Season came to an end on Saturday February 8, 2014 at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan where the second and final game in the championship series between the Belmopan Bandits and FC Belize where the Bandits handed FC Belize a 5-1 defeat to regain the National Championship. The home team Belmopan Bandits were the first to get unto the scoreboard when Deon McCaulay scored the 1st of his 4 goals in the 37th minute of play to give his team a 1-0 lead. However, that lead was short lived as Mark “Kello” Leslie scored the equalising goal for FC Belize in the 39th minute of play to tie the score at 1-1. The Belmopan Bandits on the offence was able to untie the score in the closing minutes of the first half of the game when Denmark Casey Jr. scored his team’s 2nd goal of the game in the 45th minute of play for a 2-1 lead.

19th Annual Digicell Valentine Cycling Classic
The 19th Annual Digicell Valentine Cycling Classic is scheduled to take place on Sunday February 16, 2014. The race will commence for Elite/Open/Master riders at 8:00 am and it will start from in front of Leslie’s Imports on the George Price Highway to Mile 46 (in front of Belmopan Airstrip) and then back to Leslie’s Imports for the finish. This will cover a distance of 90 miles. The Female/Juniors/Youth will commence their journey at 8:30 am from in front of Leslie’s Imports to Mile 26 and then back to Leslie’s Imports for the finish. This race will cover a total distance of 26 miles. The registration fee for this event is $20.00 and the deadline for registration is set for Thursday February 13, 2014. According to the Cycling Federation of Belize, no late registration will be accepted after 3:00 pm on Friday February 14, 2014. There will also be a late registration fee of $20.00 and this must be paid prior to the event.

National Elite Basketball Competition opens
The 2014 National Elite Basketball League competition opened on Friday February 7 with a number of games played across the country. In the game played out at Bird’s Isle here in Belize City, the San Pedro Tigersharks defeated the Belize City based “No Limits” by the score of 83-78. The top scorers for the San Pedro Tigersharks were Winston Pratt with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, Jamal Kelly with 14 points, Tyrone Edwards with 12 points, 2 rebounds, and 7 assists and a steal and Ashton Edwards with 12 points. Meanwhile, the top scorers for the Belize City No Limit Team were Andrew Ortiz with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 2 steals, Brandon Rogers with 15 points and 2 rebounds and Gregory Rudon with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal. At the University of Belize Gymnasium in Belmopan, it was the Belmopan Bandits that defeated the Orange Walk Running Rebels by the score of 79-69.

New senior female softball team forming
A new senior female softball team is currently forming to participate in the 2014 Belize City Senior Female Competition. The team will be headed by a veteran softball coach who has a number of senior softball championships under his belt. The Head Coach also served for many years as an assistant coach of the National Women’s Softball Team of Belize. The Head coach will be assisted by an up- coming coach who has been actively involved in the discipline of softball. Female players between the ages of 14-30 who are disciplined enough to commit to the task at hand are encouraged to become members of this dynamic new team. Application forms can be picked up from Shane Williams at the Guardian Newspaper or from the Offices of the National Sports Council during normal working hours.

Nazarene High School girls lead in high school softball
The Central Region Secondary Schools Softball Competition continues at Rogers Stadium with a number of games on the schedule. On Tuesday February 11 in the male competition, St. John’s College edged Wesley College by the score of 12-11. The winning pitcher was Dillan Snaggs and the losing pitcher was Keeron Young. In the female competition game played on Monday February 10, Nazarene High School continued on its winning path when it defeated Ladyville Technical High School by the score of 5-4. The winning pitcher was Elma Wade and the losing pitcher was Amber Wade. On Saturday February 9, in the first of two female games played, Anglican Cathedral College defeated St. Catherine Academy by the score of 24-9. The winning pitcher was Ashley Alarcon and the losing pitcher was Jacqueline Alas. In the second female game, Gwen Lizarraga High defeated Pallotti High School by the score of 19-4. The winning pitcher was Jerlene Bowden and the losing pitcher was Jinnelle Flowers.

Belize City Primary Schools Softball competition opens
The 2013-2014 Belize City Primary Schools Softball Competition opened on Monday February 10, 2014 at Rogers Stadium. In the game played in the girls’ competition, Holy Redeemer School defeated Wesley Upper School by the score of 11-3. The winning pitcher was Zaria Jenkins and the losing pitcher was Erica Cadogan. In the boys’ game, Holy Redeemer School also defeated Wesley Upper School by the score of 12-2. The winning pitcher was Jasheed Guerrero and the losing pitcher was Andy Alford. The competition continued on Wednesday February 12, with two more games on the schedule. In the girls’ game, Calvary Temple School defeated St. John’s Primary School by the score of 9-8. The winning pitcher was Pauline Jex and the losing pitcher was Kayja Budran.

Progress brings problems!!! Increase the number of outlets or construct an elevated causeway
There has been much discussion about the Coast Guard boating incident that caused the death of one and injury to some residents of Cooked Tree Village. First of all my sympathies to families that were affected by this incident. The construction of the earthen causeway has allowed Belizeans to move to and from Crooked tree Village more easily. Nevertheless the earthen causeway is in effect a dam across the Northern Lagoon. But Progress Brings Problems!!! The earthen causeway (dam) became impassable due to flooding consequent of the record rainfall that occurred in the 2013. All Belizeans can attest to the unusual rains and the National Meteorological Service can confirm, if they so desire, that there was record setting rainfall in 2013. As is the case, record setting rainfall will result in record setting flooding events, as was the case with the most recent Crooked Tree Lagoon flooding event. The Hydrology Unit can confirm, if they so desire, that the duration of this most recent Crooked Tree Lagoon flooding event was also a record setting event. Briefly, the earthen causeway (dam) across the Northern (Crooked Tree) Lagoon links the Philip Goldson Highway and Crooked Tree Village. Northern Lagoon is part of one of the Belize River’s Storage Complexes that includes the Revenge, Northern, and Southern lagoons, and the Western Lagoon that is connected to Spanish and Governor Creeks. Runoff from the Mopan and Macal Branches of the Belize River flow through Benque Viejo and San Ignacio Towns, pass Roaring Creek Village, thereafter joined by the Labouring Creek Branch before entering into the “Belize River Valley”. When there is normal flow, runoff makes its way through the “Belize River Valley” and under the Haulover Creek Bridge and “Big Bridge” into the Caribbean Sea. During extreme rainfall and extreme flood events the flood water makes its way via ephemeral streams and Southern Lagoon into the Lagoon complex. This flood water would, absent storage in the lagoon complex, flood the lower and coastal portions of the watershed, which includes Belize City. When flood levels recede on the Belize River the Lagoon Storage Complex then releases water via Black Creek into the Belize River near McKenzie Run.

FCD organizing mountain bike races
Friends for Conservation and Development is cognizant that Belize has so much to offer especially to nature enthusiasts. The Chiquibul-Maya Mountains where we operate has so much in hidden secrets. The richness yet abounds and we must bring the natural and cultural richness more closer to home, and to do this we must give a sense of exploration, sense of passion and a sense of love for the land. It is a true fact that this forest is under peril and by opening it to the world to see, can we generate enthusiasm and interest to maintain it. One can only protect something, if we appreciate it and to appreciate it we must know it. Based on this philosophy, FCD has partnered with the American Adventure Sport to launch the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge. This epic race will start in San Ignacio, where some 50 athletes will engage on a three day and three night multi-discipline race encompassing canoeing, biking, hiking, orienteering, spelunking and navigation across the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains including the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, the Chiquibul National Park, Caracol Archaeological Reserve and the Vaca Forest Reserve. The race will start on the 13th of February at 12:01 a.m. and will be open for four days. Competitors include world class athletes, representing 17 teams, from the United States, Ecuador and Denmark. Belize will be represented by three teams. Two are from the Belize Defence Force and one comprised by FCD’s Ranger team, known as the Chiquibul Grisons.

Belizean Tops Negotiation competition in England
In a rapidly changing legal climate, negotiation is a skill that is vital to any career in law. The need and desire to reach settlements outside of court has never been greater than it is in the modern day. Participants in negotiation competitions are given a common set of facts, known by all the parties, and confidential information that will only be known to the participants representing a particular side. The overarching aim is for an agreement to be reached that would be suitable for both parties. Participants receive credit for teamwork, concession management, observation of ethics and the eventual outcome. Even for those who do not eventually pursue a career in law, negotiation can be an invaluable skill. Business, finance and management careers will draw upon the skills required by a good negotiator.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

WWF and partners to hold consultation…
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in partnership with CARIBSAVE, Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI), Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and the Belize Environmental Research Institute (ERI) will be carrying out a series of community consultations on the project ‘Identifying Opportunities for Climate-compatible Tourism Development in Belize’. This project is of great importance given the fact that coral reefs, mangroves and beaches are the cornerstone of the tourism industry in Belize and coastal communities rely on mangrove and reef-based fisheries for food security and income. Growth of the tourism industry is viewed as inherent to economic development in Belize but is often accompanied by habitat degradation that directly threatens the resources upon which the industry depends. The challenge faced is how best to move forward with tourism development whilst maintaining healthy, functional ecosystems that support the tourism industry, sustain livelihoods and provide resilience to climate change. The ‘Identifying Opportunities for Climate-compatible Tourism Development’ project will help to inform this process by assessing the vulnerability of Belize’s tourism system to climate change, including the coastal ecosystems on which it depends, and assessing how current policies facilitate or hinder climate-compatible tourism development based on healthy coastal ecosystems. We are also exploring the policy reforms and adaptation strategies required to enhance ecosystem resilience to climate change and foster tourism development, at a local and national scale.

Notice for sea cucumber fishermen…
The Fisheries Department hereby informs sea cucumber fishermen that renewal of licenses for 2014 will run from 10th February to 28th February 2014. Fishers who complied in 2013 with the conditions of their license are advised that they must present the following documents when applying: (a) Valid Commercial License (b) Receipts of sale of product (c) Catch logs (d) One (1) valid passport picture For additional information you can contact the Fisheries Department at telephone numbers: 224-4552.

Caye Caulker Sailing Club’s Corozal Regatta Weekend Recap
On February 8th & 9th 2014, the Caye Caulker Sailing Club attended its first regatta of 2014. We survived our first regatta. It wasn’t easy since we had no clue what to do but it seemed to go OK and the kids just let it flow and that’s all that really matters. Starting with congratulations … the 44 kids that competed really deserve it all. In less than favorable conditions they all patiently waited for Mother Nature to wake up and turn on the wind machine. Finally, 4 hours later, enough wind started to blow out of the east and the races were on and we managed to get in 3 races on Saturday. Sunday was a bit better with steady 10-12 mph winds so we finished the other 3 races. Blanca from San Pedro Junior Sailing Club deserves an individual pat on the back for winning it all and the San Pedro Junior Sailing Club in total for finishing in the top 5 spots. Honorable mention to our sailors Harrison, Alanis, Malik, Angel and Ricky because that’s our team! But it’s not just about winning, it’s about competing small and all of the kids hung in there and finished every race regardless of their position. Each kid deserved the medal they received at the end of the competition!

Caye Caulker Native/Penn House Volunteer Helps People Move Toward Self Sufficiency
Leila Novelo (right) is the daughter of Cindy and Jim Novelo. Leila is the sister of Luna Novelo who won the Bikini and won first place in the Novice Class A in the NPC Natural Colorado Open Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, Bikini & Physique Championships last year. “If you could wave a magic wand, what would your life be like now? If you have dreams on the back burner, what are they?” Leila Novelo asks each guest who sinks wearily into the chair by her desk at Penn House. Usually, they are people who have had to put a lot of their dreams on the back burner, because every day is a fight for survival. They are battling things like unemployment or underemployment, struggling with how to feed and clothe their families, figuring out how to battle health problems in a constantly changing but always confusing health care system. Dreams may seem like things other people have time for, not them.

Re: Today's Belize News: February 15, 2014 [Re: Marty] #485947
02/15/14 05:32 AM
02/15/14 05:32 AM
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The remains of a murdered Canadian missionary, Brian Townsend, 68, was discovered by Guatemalans on December 27, 2013, in Arenal, a village that straddles Belize’s border with Guatemala (part in Belize and part in Guatemala), and now, authorities on this side of the border have confirmed that the two suspects in that murder case have both shared the same fate. According to Benque Viejo police, Raulito Balona, 21, was found shot to death in the western village of Arenal sometime over the past weekend, which is the same village where the decomposed body of the missionary was found. The discovery of Raulito Balona’s corpse has occurred less than a month after his elder brother was killed. Although Amandala understands that the police are still gathering the pertinent information surrounding the Balona brothers’ murder, the Officer Commanding the Benque Viejo Police Formation, Assistant Superintendent of Police Dinsdale Thompson, today told us that they are contemplating the fact that both of the main suspects in Townsend’s murder are now deceased, although it would be premature to believe that there was actually a connection between the murders of the two suspects at this juncture.

Back in 2008 there was outrage over online postings on of explicit nude photos of Belizean women—photos which at least one woman believed had been stolen from her hard drive when her computer was taken to a shop for repairs. This week the shocking revelation was made that the photos of Belizean women—among them prominent beauty queens—were being used to sell Belize as a sex tourism destination. The exploitation of people—especially females and minors—for prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism is said to be a multi-billion-dollar trade, featuring transnational agents. Amandala did some investigation and found out that the website hosting the photos is registered with Llc of Scottsdale, Arizona, in the United States. No one answered the company’s line when we called to question them about the website. Furthermore, the entity which registered the website remains anonymous online. Of note, though, is that the website, which goes by the name Global Fantasies—since it features at least 15 jurisdictions across the world—has other parallel websites, such as Universal Fantasies and Global Fantasy Girls, advertising hundreds of women, grouped by their nationalities. Women said to be from Amsterdam, Colombia, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Thailand, and the USA are some examples.

Stephen Kuylen, Jr., 31, a customs broker of the Pasadita area of Orange Walk Town, was shot to death at about 8:50 last night in his yard on 6th Street in Pasadita, where he lives with his girlfriend. He was shot in the head, cheek and chest, and reportedly in the back, by one of two gunmen who attacked him shortly after he arrived home that night. Kuylen, originally from Corozal Town, had gone into his house, but shortly after, he was called out by two men who came to his gate. When Kuylen went to the gate to see what the men wanted, one of them fired several shots at him, hitting him in the chest, upper back and temple. The two men then escaped into the night. Police responded to a report of the shooting, but could not find the killers. Kuylen was taken to the Northern Regional Hospital in Orange Walk Town, where he was declared dead on arrival. Police said that last night about 9:15 they visited the scene of the crime, where they saw a Hispanic man lying dead in a pool of blood, with gunshot wounds to the left cheek, left temple area and lower back. He was identified as Stephen Kuylen, Jr, 31, a customs broker.

Paul Jex, 26, the man accused of killing Belmopan mayor Simeon Lopez’s son, Aubrey Lopez, 30, almost four years ago, walked out of the Supreme Court in jubilation. Family members quickly embraced him, and wasted no time in steering him away from reporters and the court area, even as he was muttering, “I got to speak to my lawyers.” Jex regained his freedom after a jury of five men and seven women deliberated for four hours and thirty-five minutes before returning into the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas at 8:44 p.m., announcing a not guilty verdict on the murder indictment. Belmopan mayor Simeon Lopez, his wife and other family members who have been in daily attendance at the trial since its beginning on January 28, exited the courtroom moments after Jex and his family had left, and like Jex and his family, they avoided speaking to reporters. On the night of May 12, 2010, Aubrey Lopez, a teacher at Edward P. Yorke High School and a local basketball icon, left his school compound in a blue Mitsubishi Galant car, and dropped off a woman friend on Armadillo Street around 9:00 p.m. She would never see him alive again.

John “Sad Man” Ramos, 66, an amputee and resident of La Democracia Village, Belize District, was sentenced to one year in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled drug in the court of Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer. Ramos is no stranger to the courts for that particular offence, having had eight previous convictions for marijuana possession. When he was convicted for his last offense, he was fined $750, plus $5 cost of court. He paid $730, leaving a $20 balance. According to the police statement, Ramos was in the area of the Commercial Centre when police decided to search him. They found 29 grams of marijuana, which Ramos had stashed under the waist of his pants.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has reserved judgment in the case of Georgia Matute and her daughter Janae against Dr. Raju Meenavalli, who has appealed to the CCJ to overturn a $2.13 million lawsuit awarded to the Matute’s in a decade-old medical malpractice lawsuit. The CCJ heard from attorneys from both sides on Wednesday, February 12. Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith told the court that if Dr. Raju’s appeal to the CCJ—the country’s final appellate court—is not successful, the costs should be borne by the state, since the doctor provided services to Georgia Matute as an agent of the state, During the course of the CCJ appeal, Smith tried to persuade the court that it had not been established that his client was truly responsible for harming Janae, who allegedly developed cerebral palsy as a consequence of complications she experienced at birth. Georgia Matute delivered Janae 13 years ago, on December 20. It is alleged that the doctor miscalculated Matute’s due date and delivered the child too prematurely via C-section without the customary steroid treatment needed to prepare her lung for early delivery.

A man was shot in the leg while riding his bicycle in San Pedro by an unknown shooter. Florentino Velasquez, 19, of Boca Del Rio, San Pedro, was taken to the San Pedro Polyclinic and treated for the gunshot injury. The incident occurred about 3:40 Tuesday afternoon, on the beachfront in the Boca Del Rio area. Velasquez told police that he was riding his bicycle when he heard a gunshot, after which he felt a burning in the lower part of his right foot, and it began to bleed. He then realized that he had been shot. He immediately went to the police who took him to the polyclinic, where he was treated. Police went to the area and have begun an investigation into the shooting.

The “Penner Passport Scandal,” with all its implications, is anything but over, and the public’s desire to know exactly what were the circumstances behind the scenes that led up to this gross violation of Belize’s nationalization procedures remains. So far, the public has not been provided with any substantial updates on the administrative investigations that are taking place at the Immigration Department; however, Amandala understands that two internal reports have been concluded to date – one for the Passport Section, and another for the Nationality Section of the department. In the wake of the recent passport scandal, which became public last September, three staffers from the Immigration Department – namely data entry clerks Omar Phillips, Erwin Robinson and the head of the Passport section of the Immigration Department, Sharon Neal-Flowers – have all been placed on suspension pending the outcome of the subsequent investigations that were launched in order to determine who were the persons responsible for the fraudulent issuance of a Belizean passport and nationality to a South Korean fugitive by the name of Won Hong Kim.

On Monday, the law firm of Musa and Balderamos, acting on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Francis Fonseca, wrote Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie a detailed letter, informing him that if he did not act against disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner and charge him in connection with the “Penner Passport Scandal,” the law firm was instructed to take the matter to the Supreme Court to ask for a writ of mandamus, in which the court would instruct the Commissioner to criminally charge Penner. The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) says there is enough evidence against Penner to warrant criminal prosecution for the Won Hong Kim passport scandal that cost him his Cabinet seat. Amandala tried to get comment from the Commissioner of Police on Monday, with no success, and today, Thursday, we tried again, and again, with no success. We have tried speaking with Prime Minister Dean Barrow, but again, with no success. Citing violations of the Belize Passport Act, the Belize Nationality Act and the Electronic Evidence Act, the letter, signed by Senior Counsel Edwin Flowers, urged Commissioner Whylie to conclude the police’s investigation and bring criminal charges against Hon. Elvin Penner, the Cayo North East area representative.

In certain disciplines, what formal education sometimes appears to involve is learning how to make simple things become complicated. At this newspaper, on the contrary, what we try to do is figure out how to make complicated things become easier to understand. This is how we seek to empower our Belizean people, by enabling a greater understanding of the relevant issues. The process that led to the establishment of the settlement we call Belize involved crimes against two sections of humanity. The British committed crimes against West African people which had to do with the enslavement, transportation, and captive labor of our ancestors. The Spanish committed crimes against the Maya people which involved the violent conquest of the Maya, the seizure of Maya lands, and the forced labor of Maya people for the enrichment of Spanish rulers. In Belize, the British also committed crimes against the Maya, while the Spanish, in their fight against the British for regional hegemony, offered freedom to African slaves fleeing from Belize.

As a Belizean of mixed ancestry, I have ancestors who were slaves and ancestors who were slavemasters. Previous to the UBAD revolution of 1969, most families in Belize of mixed African and European ancestry sought to position themselves as near to their European side as they possibly could. The most dramatic of such “positioning themselves” involved parents’ promoting lighter-skinned mate choices for their children. “Lightening yu color” was a really big deal. In our daily lives in British Honduras, we tried not to talk “broad”: we wanted our speech to be as clipped and British as possible. This is how we were taught in school. Where literature, music, dress, and so on were concerned, again it was all about aiming at European ideals, British ideals. The British here, and European colonialists all over Africa and the Americas and the Caribbean, had convinced our people that we were descended from savages and cannibals. As a result of this programming, some of us began to hate ourselves. We despised those of our characteristics which were not European-like and which identified us as having African genetics.

Dear Editor, The Amandala article entitled “Bay snook mercury risk in Macal: BELPO” (Wednesday, February 12, 2014) covered the high levels of mercury in the fish in the Macal River as well as issues of water quality. The article reported that the “Amandala was made to understand from an official of the DoE that since the Chalillo project is more than five years old, data reports on mercury levels are now provided once annually. The most recent data we have seen dates back to May 2013, and indicates that indeed, the mercury level of the snook is above normal.” This is not accurate. The Environmental Compliance Plan for the Chalillo project states that: To prevent potential health effects to fish consumers, a risk management program will be put in place during the period of elevated mercury levels (i.e., for five years or until background levels are achieved). [emphasis added]

Dear Sir, Everything is supposed to be back to normal at the Santa Elena Border on trading with Mexico: lamentably it is not. There is a new Mexican broker agency but the speed of dispatching is way below par. Some trucks are still waiting from last week Tuesday. This is very expensive for Belizean businessmen since we have to foot the bill. Even the customs officers on our side are complaining about how poor the revenue stream is. This will definitely affect government’s financials. The former broker agency who could get all trucks going in one day is trying hard to restart his business but Mexico is not Belize and we can cry as much as we want but will have to wait until these new ones learn the ropes.

Dear Editor, The report on the proposed National Occupational Safety and Health (NOSH) Act 2014 published in the Amandala newspaper of January 29, 2014 needs the full and immediate attention of all Belizeans; especially small businesses in the service and fabrication sectors. While the passage of this law is intended to enhance workers’ safety at the job-site, it will have other effects and may bring unintended consequences to the workplace of all business owners, including small repair shops, agricultural producers, fabricators and others. Every employer or employee needs to become educated and engaged in the discussion of this far-reaching proposed law. Essentially, the proposed law seeks to establish in Belize, recognized rules, regulations and practices that many other countries have standardized to increase workers’ safety. That is a good thing. And most reasonable people will agree that improved worker safety at dangerous places such as construction sites are long overdue. Those of us with reasonable logic will also agree this is another step forward for our manufactured products and services to become internationally compliant and competitive. It is a noble effort spearheaded by the National Trade Union Congress.

Dear Editor: With all the recent chatter of alleged unethical behavior of our politicians, I am reminded of the description my neighbor once gave me regarding one of her relatives, who held public office in Belize City during the 70s. Lloyd Coffin was from the Mesopotamia area. He was the great-grandson of William Hugh Coffin, the first Speaker of House (circa 1853), and Mayor of Belize City in 1971. He was a tailor by trade and during his era City Council workers only received a stipend, so Mr. Coffin continued to work as a tailor, at times even sewing the PUP party flag at his home on a Singer Treadle Sewing Machine. He would sit at that machine with his foot on the treadle and that machine created stitches as if though it was powered by electricity. My neighbor said that Mr. Coffin was an honest politician and that neither friend, family, nor foe benefited from his holding public office. He did not enrich himself. He never acquired acres of land, never drove a fancy car, never lived in a McMansion, nor did he have a large bank account. His family members never received any preferential treatment or government scholarships; well, one did, but as soon as it was discovered the person’s family was not PUP, the scholarship was rescinded.

It’s been years since the Integrity Commission has been active, and one was finally appointed by the Senate last week, but the Office of the Prime Minister announced on Monday that two of the appointees – Belize City banker Stephen Duncan and businessman Brett Feinstein – had declined their appointments because the recent passage of legislation to ensure compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) would mean that they would be regarded as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and would, consequently, be subject to “onerous disclosure obligations.” Speaking on The Adele Ramos Show on KREM Tuesday night, Duncan, the managing director of Heritage Bank, said that while he agrees that the Integrity Commission needs to be revived, and he would have been very honored to serve, the overriding factor for declining the appointment is that although he is not a politician, as a member of the Commission, he would be required to make a public declaration, as well. Duncan said that he would have been faced with a situation where in today’s environment, the information would become public and would be seen not only by people with good intentions.

The Standard 6 social studies class of the Sister Clara Muhammad Muslim School, in celebrating Black History Month, visited the Dr. Leroy Taegar Institute of Learning, formerly the Library of African and Indian Studies, managed by the UBAD Educational Foundation. Marva Garcia, the teacher who headed the class, said that in class they discussed many topics—including the culture of our indigenous ancestors and how they got to this part of the world, and they visited the institute to delve deeper into this subject matter. The class was given a lecture on the Africans who later became slaves, and how they came to Belize. The teacher noted that the children were very enthusiastic and engaged, and asked questions. The lectures were very educational and she also learnt many things in the process, she said.

Primary school students from different parts of the city flocked to the interior of the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts this morning, to be participants in the launch of a children’s DVD known as It’s Story Time. The initiative – which is the brainchild of Bel-Caribe Communications – is slated to engage young students in reading and comprehension through a variety of short stories which will provide primary school children with the opportunity to hear the reading of a text, while encouraging their ability to listen to stories. The executive producer of the project is Sandra Mahler, and she told us that the DVD of children’s stories – which took six months to compile – will play a special role in drawing in young, reluctant readers to be more receptive to what books can offer. She explained, “It’s a DVD consisting of children stories taken from the Ministry of Education’s curriculum. It has taken us roughly six months to produce because most of the times we had to do it on weekends when the children were out of school. All the children on the DVD are from local primary schools still presently engaged in school. It was difficult, but it was a learning experience for the children and for ourselves because while working with these children, we were able to bring out talent that these children didn’t know they had within and at the same time, they learnt from us and we learnt from them.”

Last week I was so busy dealing with ensuring that the security officers being made redundant by the Belize City Council would be given a fair chance before the law and that there be compassion for them, that I never got around to writing my weekly column. I hope this does not become the norm for me as I love writing and I don’t like disappointing my readers. I did get the many messages asking me what happened…so sorry, but my busy life happened. That said, the situation I had to deal with brought me face to face with two nasty realities in this country that we are yet to confront and solve. The first is that the poorer, less fortunate material-wise are ALWAYS being taken advantage of. The second is that those in power seem to have become too intoxicated with it: they do not recognize the arrogance and high-handedness in their conduct and decisions.

The changing landscape of Belize’s financial sector—due to amendments to Belize’s laws coming amid pressure from the international community for Belize to implement measures, said to be designed to counter terrorism and money laundering—has necessitated a change in the way banks do business with their customers. Christopher Coye, president of the Belize Association of Offshore Practitioners, told Amandala last week that the revision in the laws do not just affect the offshore sector, but onshore transactions as well, because obligations that have now been created become more onerous on everyone—and especially those who have bank accounts and who will be subject to more procedures, more monitoring and more requirements. Belizeans, said Coye, will experience the changes on a very personal level. (See article captioned, “NEW FINANCIAL LAWS CAST WIDE NET!” published in the midweek issue of Amandala.) Stephen Duncan, managing director of Heritage Bank in Belize, said today that bankers are still trying to come to grips with the latest amendment.

Days ago, parliament passed a raft of legislation which elected officials said were being tabled to avoid financial sanctions which could be recommended against Belize by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) when it meets in Paris, France on Monday, February 10. Parliamentarians expressed the view that the legislation, sparked by recommendations coming to Belize from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, means the imminent demise of Belize’s offshore sector, and while the emphasis of their concerns was on the offshore enterprises, less emphasis was placed on how the legislation would impact the wider Belizean community – most of whom don’t do business in the offshore sector. Speaking with Amandala on Friday evening, Christopher Coye, president of the Belize Association of Offshore Practitioners, said that while the raft of new legislation would indeed have an impact on the offshore industry, the sector has gone through challenges before and it has not only survived, but prospered.

The 2014 Eco-Audit just released today by Healthy Reefs and PricewaterhouseCoopers (Costa Rica) announces that Belize has maintained the top-ranked position with a score of 3.2 out of a possible 5.0, which it also scored in the last 2011 eco-audit. That equates to a “C” – fair but not good enough. Dr. Melanie McField , Director of Healthy Reefs Initiative, said that Belize improved in only 1 of the 28 line items on which it was assessed – an indication that “we need to crack the whip” and “get off our ‘tush’” – as the pace of putting into place measures to protect the barrier reef needs to be picked up. What is an eco-audit? A brochure detailing the assessment—which also includes our immediate neighbors: Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras—says it scored Belize and the other countries on the basis of seven themes, 28 indicators and over 300 supporting documents. It is a systematic review by a group of countries to see how well they are performing when it comes to putting in place measures to improve the management of the reef. McField told Amandala that the eco-audit is distinct from the report card on the state of the reef. The last report card said that most of the reef was in a “poor” state, but early indications are that the health of the reef is rebounding.

Their boots have been stomping the Belize City streets for over the past two decades in an effort to curb the raging urban warfare which had been taking a toll, especially in the crime-ridden and gang-affiliated neighborhoods of the “Old Capital;” but now, the Belize Defence Force (BDF) plans to gradually reduce the number of soldiers who are presently deployed in the environs of the city. The soldiers – who have been working in tandem with the Belize Police Department – are scheduled to be taken “off the beat” at the end of this month, which would be two weeks away. As we understand it, the move has been partially prompted by the recent increase in the ranks of the Police Department, who added 120 new officers to their regiment just two weeks ago, which brought the tally of police officers in the country to somewhere around 1,500. Secondly, the reduction in the incidences of violent crime over the past year – in which there was a record decrease in the murder rate – as opposed to the previous year which saw the highest records of murders and violent crimes in Belize’s history, is believed to have contributed significantly to the withdrawal of the soldiers.

This weekend the University of Belize will honor Mr. David L. McKoy in ceremonies to be held in Dangriga. Mr. McKoy is the first real benefactor the university can identify. About 7 or so years ago, when all we had was the University College of Belize, Mr. McKoy donated some prime real estate, which has become an endowment of the University of Belize, established in August of the year 2000. For a man who was a Cabinet Minister through the 1960’s and 1970’s, representing the constituency of Stann Creek Rural (which became Stann Creek West in 1984), Mr. McKoy is not well known nationally. He came out of the trade union movement in Stann Creek in the 1950’s. As I write, I am wondering if Mr. McKoy ever lost in a general election. (My subsequent research shows that David McKoy won the “Stann Creek” seat in the 1957 national elections in British Honduras. He won “Stann Creek Rural” in 1961; 1965; 1969; 1974; and 1979. He won, then, seven straight times, and never lost.) [NOTE: The statistics, as are almost all this newspaper’s election stats, are from Myrtle Palacio’s WHO AND WHAT IN BELIZEAN ELECTIONS 1954 TO 1993, published by Glessima Research in 1993.]

The president of the Christian Workers Union (CWU) – who has taken up the cause of 26 security guards who have been declared redundant by the Belize City Council (CitCo) – today reported a breakthrough in negotiations over the impending layoff of those security officers. According to the union’s president, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, in a one-on-one meeting with the Mayor of Belize City, Darrell Bradley, sometime this afternoon, several commitments were made in principle. Thereafter, both teams met at City Hall where five proposals were discussed. Although she was not able to comment on the details of what was agreed in the meeting, since she had not yet informed the security officers, she did say that the agreements are welcoming news for those who will be affected.

The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) are today on an expedition to the Columbia River Forest Reserve—a tropical rainforest covering 103,000 acres and said to be one of the largest tracts of undisturbed rainforest in Central America—after reports of increasing incursions by Guatemalans believed to be engaged in illegal logging of mahogany, rosewood and cedar in the south. At the Chiquibul Symposium held last July, Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla said in her presentation that Belize is being threatened from north to south, within coastal and marine areas as well as on land. She cited difficulties being experienced with the protection of the Columbia River Forest Reserve, which, she said, “nobody manages.” “It is supposed to be managed by the Forestry Department, but we don’t have the money to manage it,” Alamilla said, pointing to concerns that the incursions are being made even further inland, and affecting the Bladen Nature Reserve – which she described as “the Crown Jewel of Belize’s protected areas.” But today, BTV’s focus is on the Columbia River Forest Reserve – that largely unwatched forest that is now the subject of increased pillaging.

Over 40 million cigarettes were destroyed by incineration on Tuesday in Chetumal by the Mexican authorities, including the Tax Administration Service and the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris), who said that the cigarettes had been smuggled into the country from Belize, Vietnam, India, China, Canada, Paraguay and the United States. They were confiscated in areas of Yucatan, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo. According to El Diario de Chetumal, the cigarettes were seized in 2013 through 15 procedures, because the products were not in compliance with General Law for the Control of Snuff and Regulations, which requires, among other features, the inclusion of legends, pictographs, pictures, health messages, labeling, and warnings, in the packaging of the cigarettes.

Ashley Perez,15, reported missing from the Belmopan Marla’s House of Hope since 5:00 Friday evening, February 7, has still not been found. She was last seen at the home that Friday, but when checks were made by Theresita Bethran, caregiver at Marla’s House of Hope about 5:00 Friday evening on taking over duties, Ashley Perez and Franchesca August were found to be missing from the home. The alarm was raised; August returned, but to date, Perez has not yet returned, and her whereabouts are unknown. Ashley Perez is described as of having fair complexion, slimly built, short, and has long black hair Anyone who sees or knows the whereabouts of Ashley Perez is urged to contact the nearest police station, or 0800- 922 – TIPS. The members and staff of Marla’s House of Hope are very worried about her and want her to return to the home.

Six Salvadoran men who were picked up by immigration officers on Sunday, February 9, after they entered Belize illegally, were arraigned before Magistrate Leslie Hamilton late Monday evening. They all pleaded guilty to the immigration charge of illegal entry. The six men are Victor Manuel Gonzalez Juarez, Carlos Adalberto Alvarado Valdezon, Santos de Jesus Aleman, Miguel Angel Azmito Cea, Celso Antonio Aleman Valle and Victor Manuel Rivera Valle. Hamilton imposed the mandatory fine of $1,000 each, payable forthwith, in default of which the men will each have to serve six months in prison. He also signed a removal order for them to be deported back to their native Salvador, after they either pay the court fine or serve time in prison.

It has been reported that Belizeans who travel to the shops and businesses in the villages on the Mexican side of the Rio Hondo River, bordering Belize, to make purchases and conduct transactions, account for over 70% of these stores’ sales revenue, despite the approval of a 16% Value Added Tax on the goods. According to El Diario De Chetumal, 70% of the profits of the stores come from Belizean shoppers who cross the river from Mennonite communities to La Union, which is only about 20 meters away in some cases, because the Mexican goods are cheaper, and accessible. However in the interior, there has been a decline in business activity. Forty percent of the 500 businesses that were operating in the area have folded. In an interview with Diario De Chetumal, Israel Oliver Castillo, Secretary of the National Chamber of Commerce, said that the 16% VAT caused a crisis for the stores in the interior, while those in the La Union area that are facing the border remain strong and profitable due to the regular and consistent business activity generated by Belizean shoppers.

There is no better time to “play big” than in a championship game, and Belize’s CONCACAF hero Deon McCaulay proved that “there is only one #1” when he took the FFB Stadium by storm on Saturday night in the decisive Game 2 of the Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup Finals, blasting 4 of his team’s 5 goals, on their way to a whopping 5-1 victory over FC Belize for the championship. According to Bandits’ statistician Allen “Johnny” Martinez, it had been all of 3 years since the Bandits had last beaten FC Belize, and few expected such a big score, after their 1-1 stalemate in Game 1 of the championship series last week at the MCC rounds in Belize City. The Bandits had ended their regular season run with two scoreless draws against BDF and Verdes FC, and only entered the semifinal playoffs in the #3 seed position, ahead of #4 seed FC Belize. FC Belize promptly eliminated #1 seed Verdes in an eventful and somewhat controversial overtime win at the Marshalleck Stadium, where Verdes had not lost a match during the whole regular season; but there was nothing controversial about the way the Bandits disposed of #2 seed BDF, trouncing them 3-nil at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, where Deon came to life with 2 goals, and ending it at the Carl Ramos with a 1-1 draw, where Deon was again on the scoreboard with his team’s only goal.

The long awaited return of semipro basketball took place on Friday night, Feburary 7, in the form of the National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) tournament opening night with Week 1 games being played at 3 different venues across the country – Bird’s Isle in Belize City, UB gymnasium in Belmopan and the Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal. The game scheduled for Ecumenical High School court in Dangriga was postponed due to rain. Tigersharks 83 -78 No Limit Following official ceremonies at Bird’s Isle in Belize City, the San Pedro Tigersharks took on home standing Belize City (Smart) No Limit in an intense contest that saw No Limit out-rebounding Tigersharks, 56-34; but the Tigersharks still managed the upper hand in fast break points, 26-10, and totally embarrassed the home squad from the free throw line, where the Tigersharks scored 23 of 33 (70%) to No Limit’s dismal 19 of 48 (40%). No Limit sported a 1-point lead, 20-19, to end the first quarter; but thereafter the Tigersharks maintained the lead, 38-35, at the half; 59-52 to end the third quarter, and the final score, 83-78, to claim their first victory of the season.

Baggy sails on the first day of the 2014 Corozal Bay Regatta hosted by the Corozal Bay Sailing Club caused the regatta start to be pushed back until after noon. Eventually, the wind came in to make 3 races possible on the first day of racing last Saturday, February 8. On Sunday, winds shifted to the east and picked up enough to make the race interesting, and Blanca Velasquez of San Pedro Junior Sailing Club (SPJSC) made a big statement for the first regatta of 2014, taking first place in a fleet of 44 competing Optimist Class boats. Other top finishers included younger brother Kevin Velasquez (SPJSC) in 2nd place; 3rd was Faith Noel (SPJSC); 4th Jerdon Anderson (SPJSC); 5th Davin Puc (SPJSC); 6th Trent Hardwick of Belize Sea Scouts; 7th Christian Trejo (SPJSC); 8th Antonio Ricardez, Jr. of Belize City Sailing Club; 9th Jazmin Campos of the Corozal Bay Sailing Club; and Sal Scott of Placencia Sailing Club rounding off the 10th spot. Newcomers, the Caye Caulker Sailing Club also tested the waters in their first national ranking regatta.

The Football Federation of Belize (FFB) continues the launching of its youth development program. This week, it’s in Belize City at the MCC Grounds, starting today February 12 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. with children ages 6-12 years; Wednesday, February 13, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. with children ages 13-14 years; Friday, February 14, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. with children ages 15-16 years; and Saturday, February 15, from 9:00 – 12:00 noon for all ages from 6-16 years, male and female. Members of the Belize District coaches are asked to come out and assist the program. Parents are asked to bring your children each day of the program, and team managers can check with Ms. Helen Flowers and Stanley “Jordan” Reneau for information on the U-15 and U-17 male and female competition which will start on March 1.

Reliable reports reaching our sports desk tonight say that former national team coach Leroy Sherrier Lewis responded to a text question while on the Sports Zone show on Plus TV tonight. Asked if he would consider coaching the Belize National Team again, Sherrier Lewis reportedly said that he harbors no hard feelings toward anyone, and as long as the people in charge have the same passion and love for the game as Saldivar does (Min. John Saldivar is owner of recently crowned national champions, Belmopan Bandits. Saldivar brought in Sherrier Lewis in mid-season to take over the coaching of the Bandits.), then he would be open to coaching the national side again. Food for thought, FFB. Of course, Saldivar is not likely to release Sherrier Lewis until after the upcoming PLB Closing Season run-up to the CONCACAF Champions League; but it would be a smooth transition for Sherrier Lewis, as the Bandits presently include a number of former national team players.

The case of three police officers, who have been accused of a brazen theft from Belmopan businessman Thyrell Hyde that was caught on an Atlantic Bank surveillance camera, was brought before Magistrate Dale Cayetano today. Corporal Reymundo Requeña, 42, and Police Constable Joslyn Gill, appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, who adjourned their case to April 17. The third cop, PC Edgar Teul, was a no-show. The three lawmen are accused of the September 8, 2013 shakedown of Hyde, who told police that the cops took to him to his Atlantic Bank ATM machine and helped themselves to money from his account, after a routine police search of the young man. The allegation against the policemen is that after they searched Hyde and his vehicle in the Buttonwood Bay area, they put him in a police mobile unit and drove him to his bank, where they took his ATM card and helped themselves to monies from his account. Before this happened, Hyde alleged that one of the officers took a manila envelope containing $1,500 from out of the glove compartment of Hyde’s car. After finding his ATM card in his wallet, from which they allegedly took $70, they took him to the bank and withdrew $260 from his account.

A senior citizen of San Roman, Corozal, was assaulted with a knife by a man whom he knows, who had a disagreement with his son over cattle. Bruno Chulin, 77, a cane farmer, suffered a cut wound to his arm and middle finger, and the man who allegedly stabbed him is Victor Lanza, 25, a fellow resident of the village. The incident occurred on Friday, February 7. Lanza was taken to the Corozal Magistrate’s Court yesterday, Monday, where he was offered bail of $3,000 and ordered to return to court on Tuesday, April 8. Chulin was taken to the Corozal Hospital, where he was treated for the cut wounds and later released.

Two murders committed in the Independence area in January have been solved by the Independence police under the direction of Assistant Superintendent Alton Alvarez and his team of investigators. In the first case, the man accused of the chopping death of Rene Arturo Perez, 28, a banana farm supervisor originally from Carrizal Gualan, Guatemala, which occurred on January 3, has been arrested. Jose Donaldo Sosa Madrid, 23, a Honduran laborer of Trio Village, was arraigned on the charge of murder on Friday at the Independence Magistrate’s Court, and he has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until April 30. Police reports are that at about 8:30 Friday morning, January 3, they went to the Felix Paz Guevara farm located five miles east of the Trio Junction with the Southern Highway, where they saw the body of Perez with multiple chop wounds on the upper right side of the neck, the lower right side of the neck, the right shoulder blade, the right hand and the left side of the neck.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m. yesterday morning, authorities in the West destroyed a small marijuana “plantation” after a search was conducted at a residence in More Tomorrow. According to police reports, the officers searched the residence at about 8:25 a.m., but nothing illegal was found inside the home. In the yard, however, police discovered 16 small marijuana plants about seven feet away from the house. The plants were reportedly found inside the base of a rusty rim. Police report that the homeowner and two minors were present at the time of the search.

Thieves burglarized a farm in Western Pines and stole over $14,400 worth of goods and equipment. William Ordonez, 50, a plumber of Pelican Street, Belize City, who is the caretaker for the Ordonez family farm, situated about one mile northwest of Western Pines, which is in Western Paradise, reported that at about 5:00 Sunday evening, January 26, he secured the family farm and left. Ordonez said that when he returned to the farm yesterday, Sunday, at about 1:00, he found that the farmhouse had been broken into and that an assortment of items totaling $14,490.00 in value had been stolen.

A destruction of drugs was carried out by the Belmopan police in Georgeville at about 10:30 yesterday morning. Over 1,260 pounds of ganja and 225 grams of cocaine were destroyed by fire. The drug was from “found property” and confiscation by the courts. Witnesses to the destruction were Assistant Superintendent Sinquest Martinez, Commander of Belmopan police; a magistrate; personnel from the Forensic Unit; a Justice of the Peace; and the exhibit keeper from the Belmopan Police Headquarters.

Two robbers escaped empty-handed after they tried to rob a delivery truck with a gun that malfunctioned. The incident occurred at about 11:00 Friday morning on Central American Boulevard. Juan Francisco Alamina, 42, a driver/salesman for Bowen & Bowen, told police that while he and two assistants were making a delivery at the Southside Store on Central American Boulevard, they were approached by two men, one of whom was armed with a gun. The armed thief pointed the gun at the head of one of the workers and demanded money. The worker reportedly remained calm, and seeing that the robber was having a problem with the gun, he ran from the gunman.

A Belize City man was remanded to prison after he was arraigned on a single count of rape when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, who remanded him to prison until his next scheduled court appearance on April 2. Pedro Lewis Trujeque, 49, who was unrepresented in court, did not have to enter a plea after the Chief Magistrate read the charge of rape to him, because the matter is an indictable offense and will be heard in the Supreme Court after a preliminary inquiry is completed at the Magistrate’s Court. The allegation against Trujeque is that on February 9, he raped a 25-year-old woman on Long Caye. According to police, the woman reported that on Sunday, she was walking on the wharf with Trujeque when it started to rain, and as a result, they turned back and headed to the house on the island. In the house, she alleged to police, Trujeque threw her on a mattress and raped her.

The families of Felipa Sanchez, 84, of Douglas, who died 20 years ago and was buried in the Douglas Village Cemetery, are still devastated and angry after thieves robbed her grave and stole her skeletal remains. Police, however, are not conducting an investigation into the grave robbery, to recover the bones of the senior citizen. So far, the bones have not yet been found. The grave was robbed sometime during the night of Saturday, February 8. People in the area who came to the cemetery that Sunday morning found the tomb broken open, with the dress that Sanchez was buried in outside of the tomb, and pieces of the coffin on the ground. A search of the area found a jawbone and a leg bone in a crocus sack, but no other remains of the grandmother was found. In an interview with Amandala, the Deputy Commander of the Orange Walk Police, Inspector Julius Cantun, said that no investigation was being carried out to recover the bones.

Re: Today's Belize News: February 15, 2014 [Re: Marty] #485948
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The Reporter

GSU seizes over 100 pounds in weed bust
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Human remains robbed from grave
The skeletal remains of a woman were stolen last weekend from her tomb in Douglas Village, located in the Orange Walk District. The bizarre incident has shocked the entire community and instead of receiving answers, they have been left questions as to who is responsible and more importantly why it […]

Priest Robbed of Sunday Mass Collections in Churchyard
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BTL makes tough decision to improve service
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Harley Davidson Bikes Coast through Belize
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Gary Seawell challenges extradition to U.S.
By Aaron Humes Freelance Reporter Gary Seawell, 39, will return to court on March 18, where he hopes to convince Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana that he should not be extradited to the U.S. State of Ohio to face drug trafficking charges. Seawell’s attorney, Arthur Saldivar, explained that Tuesday’s hearing, […]

CWU and CitCo make breakthrough in negotiations
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Butane prices up again
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European Union will double funding for Belize Projects
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Bandits win Belikin Cup football championship
By William Ysaguirre freelance Reporter The Belmopan Bandits repeat as champion of the opening season Belikin Cup Football Tournament, blowing away sub-champions FC Belize: 5-1 in the second game of the finals at the FIFA Goal Project Stadium in Belmopan on Saturday night, February 8. Belize’s top goal-scorer of the […]

Joel Borland wins Smart BCA 54-ml race
By William Ysaguirre Freelance Reporter Joel Borland of the Telemedia Cycling Team won the SMART- Leroy Cassasola 54-mile circuit race organized by the Belize Cycling Association on Saturday, February 8. Borland clocked 2:09:00 from Leslie’s Imports on the George Price Highway to the Hattieville roundabout, via the Boom By-pass to […]

Is This Love That I am Feeling?
By Louis Wade Bob Marley’s question, “Is this love, is this love, is this love that I’m feeling?” is a relevant question for today. My father used to joke that “love is a feeling that you feel when you feel a feeling”; and because Love is a feeling, people use […]

How to respond to a hacker attack
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Indian woman and baby burned alive for dowry, police say
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Can you die from drinking too much soda?
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Execution Style Murder Stephen Kuylen, 31, was shot at close range
Thirty-one-year old customs broker Stephen Kuylen was executed Tuesday night in his yard at Sixth Street, in the Pasadita Area of Orange Walk Town. Kuylen, who was originally from Corozal Town and whose execution-style killing is the northern district’s first murder for the year, […]

CitCo and CWU settle dispute
The Christian Workers Union and Belize City Council have finally reached a settlement in the case of the security workers being made redundant by the BCC. “We believe that the union has been able to make great inroads for the workers,” CWU President, Audrey […]

Teen confesses to killing Brian Townsend
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Navigator of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Belize City
We were up bright and early today, 6am to be exact, to be ready for our day in Belize City. We ordered room service for the room for 6:30am but at about 6:08am room service called to tell us the food was on its way. I didn't need to sleep those extra 20 minutes anyway, right? We ordered the usual assortment of room service breakfast and it wasn't anything I'd write home about. Mass-produced eggs never turn out well and this was more of the same. The hasbrowns and toast were fine but we needed something to eat to get us going and quick so it worked. You may be asking why we got up so very early and the reason is Belize is a tender port, which means we have to take ferries from Navigator of the Seas to the port. Complicating things is the port is about a 20 minute ride away, which is long for a tender. I had also read horror stories about the lines for tenders in the morning and we were concerned about making our excursion on time. So by 7:30, we were walking down to deck 2 to get in line. When we got there (about an hour before first tender was estimated to leave), there was just one couple ahead of us. The line started to build slowly but surely and by about 8:00, the line started snaking back up to deck 3 and beyond.

Dr Lerida Rodriquez ordered bed rest and more tests
Cost of doctors and medical in Belize is an area that many people are interested in when they are researching the possibility of living here. Just like anywhere, it can vary greatly depending who you see and what is wrong. Overall I have been satisfied with my medical care here and thankfully have not required anything major. It started over the weekend with mild discomfort and progressed pretty quick to where I felt like I had a full out war going on inside me. I made an appointment with Dr Lerida Rodriquez for her earliest available time Monday aft. Thankfuly Shirlee was at our place working with me on Belize Red Cross stuff and I scored a ride. Dr Lerida agreed something was not right and immediately ordered me for lab tests and gave me some pills – cost $95 bzd.

Tech free day and Our first stay on Ambergris Caye
I had been planning to blog Amy’s first trip to Belize mini review below but with the power being off for much of the morning yesterday, I decided to make it a “tech free” Sunday for the most part (no computer, no phone). It’s always nice to hear the story of how someone has fallen for Ambergris Caye as so many do after their first trip, just like we did 8 years ago. Wow Wow Wow….We traveled with our teenager. Had an amazing experience. It was an eye opener of how people live. The resorts, the staff, the food was impeccable! I would love to go back for longer then just a week and without the teenager (eeek). We explored, snorkeled, and ate our way thru the island. The nicest people. Can’t wait to go back. If you ever get the chance to go on vacation and your looking to check out another country, Belize is un~BELIZE~able…You better BELIZE we will go back to …Time of our life. AMY FORDYCE/Grover Beach, California

A Stay at Tropical Paradise Resort in Caye Caulker and Belize’s Best Fried “Fry Chicken” Confirmed
So…last weekend I motored over to Caye Caulker, Belize with the Kelly McGuire group. Those guys were headed back on this big boat at the end of the dock… I had booked a room at the Tropical Paradise Resort that IS the end of Caye Caulker’s Front Street. Lazy Lizard Bar & the Split is at one end of Front street. You can go no farther on this small island… And some of the best swimming on Caye Caulker…

Come to Belize, Marry A Garifuna Drummer: An Expat in Punta Gorda
I met Ruth and her husband Ray at one of my favorite spots, Hickatee Cottages in Punta Gorda, Belize. Every Wednesday night, the owners of the cottages, Ian and Kate, invite Ray to teach traditional Garifuna drumming to the guests. I was a little bit scared. My lack of rhythm borders on sad and this guy is quite famous…one of the very best in the country. But Ray is amazingly talented as well as very easy going. He actually makes the truly clueless feel like they are getting it. Not an easy thing to do. Here is his wife Ruth’s story visiting Belize and then moving to Punta Gorda and starting the Warasa Drum School. I came to Belize for four months. That was seventy-eight months ago. So what happened in the interim? I met this Garifuna drummer…

Getting Artsy Again. This Time Mosaic Tiles on Ambergris Caye
You can’t say that I don’t cover a wide variety of topics. Bikers, a Belikin beer domino tournament and now art and getting crafty. My friend Tami makes beautiful mosaic tiled pieces. Garden ornaments, plates, teapots, tables, posts, SKULLS… this piece is at Belizean Arts shop in Fido’s Courtyard in San Pedro. She has also donated some amazing art to the SAGA Humane Society for our fundraisers with Kelly McGuire. For the big show tonight, she has donated this AWESOME heart. Valentines perfection for a lucky (and generous) bidder.

Belikin Stout 2014 Dominoes Championship Is Way More Exciting Than I Imagined
Hmmm…dominoes. Something I played as a kid. Either lining up and knocking down or matching number to number. Never very exciting. But dominoes in Belize is an exciting game. Intense. In the past, I have driven passed people playing in Belize City…I was invited to this match in Punta Gorda last year. And then I saw this. Watch this short Belikin commercial about dominoes. DOMINOES are exciting!

The growth of Belize’s Global Reputation – A true life Cinderella Story
Belize Boats, Big Bodacious Seagoing Beauty Why are we excited about the success and social cache that Belize Motoryachts holds in nautical circles? After all, Belize Motor yachts are not made in Belize; an Australian Company in Taiwan produces them. So you’d be forgiven for asking why they appear on a blog originating in the rainforest of Belize. We find the news interesting because when The Lodge at Chaa Creek started out as Chaa Creek Cottages, with one little thatched roof cottage and a menu consisting of rice and bean with stew chicken and a bar boasting a selection of rums – Caribbean or One Barrel, and Belkin Beer, it seemed like hardly anyone knew that Belize existed. When we went overseas and people asked where we were coming from, it usually went something like, “Where are you from?” “Belize…” “Where’s that?”

Flying to Belize just got easier thanks to Delta
While perusing the February 9 edition of the LA Times, we came across apiece highlighting the news that Delta now offers nonstop service to Belize City from Los Angeles. While this is old news to us (that most welcome service began last year), it did serve as reminder of how easy it is for our west coast visitors, and those members of Belize’s huge diaspora, to get to Belize and Chaa Creek. Now, you can hop one easy flight from LAX, arrive in Belize City, and jump the Tropic Air flight to Maya Flats at our front door. That means missing the scenic drive in our comfy vans that we use to transport our guests from Belize’s International Airport to Chaa Creek, but it is amazingly quick and easy – wake up in your bed on the west coast of the US, and that evening go to sleep in one of ours surrounded by pristine rainforest. Not so long ago such convenience would have been unthinkable. Really. When Chaa Creek first opened over thirty years ago, just getting from Belize City to here was an all day affair.

The First International Belizean Harley Davidson Biker’s Rally
The first of what is expected to be an annual motorcycle rally was held in Belize over the weekend of February 7 – 9, with some of the riders having made a six-day, 3,200-mile open road sojourn to attend. And by all appearances the “Meeting in the Middle”, or “Encuentro al Media Camino” to use the rally’s Spanish title, looked like a lot of fun – and not just for those astride some of the awesome rides. With Harleys as well as Ducatis, Yamahas, BMWs and even head-turning three wheel Cam Am Spyders in attendance, the Belize Bikers rally was a feast for aficionados of (usually) two wheel road machines. And if you’re thinking of scenes from “The Wild Ones”, that Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin epic film about motorcycle mayhem in a small town besieged by bikers, forget it. This was a very civilised, even family friendly affair, showing that most open road enthusiasts are the sort of people a small, friendly country like Belize welcomes.

The Importance of Capacity Building and How to Get Started
Capacity building is the term used frequently by foundations and nonprofit leadership to ascertain the ability of an organization to effectively achieve it s mission. This article describes capacity building, and why it is important in addition to offering a starting point for engaging in capacity building. DEFINITION OF CAPACITY BUILDING Capacity building is defined as the ability of an organization to achieve their mission in an effective manner. It can also be described as the strategies or actions that an organization takes to ensure that it has the resources needed to succeed. These actions can include: resource development, financial management (diversification of funding sources), organizational learning, leadership development and other activities. In other words, capacity building is any set of actions that an organization takes to improve its ability to perform successful in its chosen area.

Building Bridges in Belize
Partnerships are invaluable to development. In fact, in Belize they are at the center of a new initiative that will help at-risk youth from marginal areas have a chance to learn new job skills and train to become small business entrepreneurs. A few days ago, we launched the Youth Engagement Services (YES!) program, a brand new project that will give 53 local youths, ages 18-24, the essential technical training and business advice they will need to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive local labor market. To do this, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is bringing together key local partners—the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), the Conscious Youth Development Program (CYDP) under RESTORE Belize, Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence, and the Women’s Issues Network (WIN) Belize—to ensure that we provide these young people the best possible environment to succeed.

World Consumer Rights Day Travelling Booth Display Schedule
The Consumer Protection Unit of the Belize Bureau of Standards will be hosting booth displays at several location throughout February and March 2014 in celebration of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD). WCRD is celebrated annually on 15th March, this year the theme is, “Fix Our Phone Rights!” We urge the general public to look for your location in the schedule and come out and learn about Consumer Protection in Belize.

PRESS RElEASE: CARICOM Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Barbados elects new Chairman and Vice Chairman.

“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Just to show that I don’t just ‘cut and paste’ the opening section of an edition ( because Im sure that on occasions it may seem that way) I’m starting today’s one differently with the view from today’s starting position ‘work station’. Yes, you’ve guessed it, at Estel’s. For those of you that have had the pleasure of having a meal there (and for those of you that unfortunately haven’t ) I took the table in the south-west corner. To be honest (pointless being anything else really) I could have chosen virtually any table because when I got there just before 07.30 hours it was virtually empty. I meant to mention in the previous edition that Rose and I spent a fair bit of time at the back end of last week generally tidying up and making ready the self-contained apartment on our ground floor. Why? Well, because at the weekend it got its first use as a place to stay by someone other than us (we spent around a week in it when our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize was nearing completion). Our guests? Frank our friend serving as a member of BATSUB and his dog Ziggy.

The February 2014 - April 2014 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online.
Click HERE to download the PDF

This Issue's Stories:

  • Issues, Challenges and Options for Belize’s Agricultural Sector: Agriculture plays an important role in Belize’s economy, contributing almost 14% to GDP, about 50% to export earnings and provides a significant base for employment and income generation in the rural areas. In the last decade (2003 – 2012), the growth of the agricultural sector averaged over 4% per year but there was negative growth in five years during the decade. In 2012, both the economy and the agricultural sector recovered significantly, expanding by more than 5% and 15% respectively. A review of policies and strategies and the many studies done on Belize’s agriculture during the last 25 years indicate that there is no shortage of recommendations on what needs to be done to facilitate the long term growth of the sector. The first comprehensive policy document for agriculture was prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1986. This was followed by three other initiatives in the last 15 years to provide a policy and strategic direction for the sector. Previous Challenges and Recommendations Since the early 1990s, recommendations on policy options and a strategic direction for the sector emphasized five major areas: (1) a market-led approach; (2) the need to make the sector more competitive in both the domestic and export markets; (3) diversification; (4) incorporation of the issues of sustainability in agricultural production, management and use of the environment and natural resource base; and (5) strengthening of inter-sectoral linkages.
  • TO THE EDITOR Response to Development of Corn, Issue 23 page 17: Dear Editor, In his article titled, “The Development of Corn”, Mr. O’Brien states, “In the field of agriculture, hybrid corn is one of the greatest marketing success stories of all time.” I agree with this statement and I think that if he were still alive, the late soil scientist, William Albrecht, Ph.D, would also agree with this statement. In studying Albrecht’s papers, however, the reader would find that Albrecht explained how simply measuring yield does not take into account the nutritional value of the crop. In Volume II of his papers, Chapter 4, “THE LOW QUALITY AS NUTRITION AND HIGH YIELD OF BULK DEMONSTRATE THEIR MATHEMATICALLY CLOSE RELATION”, Albrecht reports that this mathematical relationship was worked out by O. W. Wilcox and published in June, 1956 as an article titled, Inverse Yield—Nitrogen Law of Nature. This relationship ties increasing yield per acre of dry matter to the production of more carbohydrates but less protein. Albrecht explains that the introduction of hybrid corn is an example. The increased yield of hybrid corn reduced the protein content while the starch and fodder yields have increased. Albrecht concludes, “By this manipulation, we have pushed this crop’s production of protein nearly down and out for growing young animals.”
  • Fertilizers: What & How They Work By Bill Lindo: Most everyone thinks of fertilizers as some chemicals made in a factory and used by farmers and gardeners to feed plants and crops. This is what we call a half-truth. There are many kinds of fertilizers and their use is varied. Some are natural, meaning we mined them from nature and use them as such, or mankind, using different manufacturing processes, refines and concentrates the natural, mined fertilizer into a product with more value added. The by-products of humans and animals as well as plants are also used as fertilizers by farmers, and have been used for over 10,000 years since the dawn of agriculture. In addition, there are slow-release fertilizers and instant – soluble —fertilizers. But, really, what is a fertilizer? It is a concentrated source of energy for plants. Plants grow by energy. They need water, carbon, air (nitrogen & oxygen), sunlight, good tilth soil, and energy to grow and feed humans and animals. Science (Dr. Maynard Murray) has shown that at least eighty or more of the elements in Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of elements are necessary for optimum human health. The farmer is a person who has knowledge of chemistry, biology, physics, mechanics, weather, computers, economics, and some business principles. The farmer knows that agriculture is the only thing on God’s earth that gives one something from almost nothing. He/she puts a bag of 60,000 corn seeds in the soil and 3 months later gets back some 16.5 million seeds – for every pound of corn seeds he/she gets some 275 pounds of seeds – the potential of corn (op) is some 500:1.
  • Milestone Project Handover TTM to MNRA Thank You, ROC Taiwan: After an impressive list of assistance to Belize, the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) signed over three important projects including the assets associated with them to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA). In his speech at the signing ceremony on November 27, 2013, the ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. David Wu, reported 472 families directly benefitted from TTM’s projects; 175 families assisted with training and loans; 24 farmers graduated in November, 2013 from their formal training in food safety and good pesticide use; 700 farmers trained in horticulture practices to improve quality and reduce costs produced over $1.3 million of vegetables and fruit; 517 women’s groups helped; and other noteworthy results of the efforts of TTM. According to MNRA statistician, Philip Tate, Belize used to import rice in 1987 but now, after 450 farmers received training in rice production Belize can supply the local market. The three projects that were signed over by written agreement are the Rice Seed Project (begun in 1991), the Horticulture Training and Demonstration Project (begun in 1992), and the Agro-Processing Project (begun in 1999). To assist MNRA personnel now in charge of continuing these projects, TTM also signed over all the assets, approximately BZ$790,000 worth of vehicles, farm equipment, food-processing equipment, buildings, and documentation such as training and operating manuals.
  • BEYOND THE BACKYARD: Just Kidding: “High on the hill was a lonely goat herd..” A very, happy, catchy song that got me wondering why we do not see more goats. It is claimed that goat is one of the most eaten meats in the world yet we hardly ever see one here, let alone find someone who has ever tasted it. We see a lot of those long legged unkempt Barbados black bellies roaming freely in villages and I believe some Dorper in Cayo. Those are sheep and come with a distinct indicator: the tail hangs down. Goats have a perky tail pointing up, unless sick or in distress. Most sheep have wooly fleece although some tropical breeds have hair not wool; goats have hairy coats. My friend was raising ADGA Nubian goats for milk production. One successful farmer suggests a cross of Boer and Kiko goats for making excellent meat and recommends goat rearing as a profitable business. Goat is a popular meat in other Caribbean locations and many may have sampled delicious Jamaican curried goat. Once only in ethnic markets, it has now found its way to menus with fancier cuisine carrying a label that sounds more palatable. So perhaps on your travels you have tried chevon, cabrito, or capretto and not pictured its curiously intelligent visage. My goat rearing friend says that they are very humanlike in their family rearing and behaviour. She found that sheep and goats do not communicate and stick to their own herds. They are a different species.
  • Pesticide Control Board (PCB) Celebrates 25th Anniversary: The impetus for the establishment of the PCB was the export of bananas as a result of an exportation act adopted by the government in 1985. Although 14 members were to comprise the board, it as not until 1988 that funding allowed the hiring of a staff for its administration. Annual funding of $500,000 is supplemented by license fees and a 2% importation fee of all pesticides. Licensing, which began in 1989, used to be by ingredient but by 1995, it was switched to brand. The board still has 14 members: 4 come from Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), Ministry of Health, Department of The Environment and Belize Agriculture and Health Authority (BAHA); 4 from large agro-producer/grower associations such as citrus (CGA), bananas (BGA), sugar cane (BSCFA), and vegetables; and 6 from other stakeholders: labour, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Prossers, Brodies, and an independent member appointed by the minister of MNRA.
  • Addicted to Round Up: Globally, the use of pesticides and herbicides has become commonplace. Alarmingly, the usage is doubling every five years exponentially. In 1990, 35 million liters of pesticides were sprayed on fields in the US alone; this past year (2013) over 300 million liters were sprayed! In an article from the 5th October 2013 Amandala, “Trade Gap Expands”: “$1 of each $5 dollars of imports is attributed to consumer goods, the largest expense in this category being pesticides, medicines, cigarettes and vitamin supplements”. Chemicals are often applied by spray (e.g., from backpacks or airplanes), where aerosol can be dispersed by wind or overspray can runoff into aquatic ecosystems. Sprayed chemicals enter the transpiration cycle and are taken up high into the atmosphere into the clouds and may be carried long distances from the original point of spraying, later coming to earth in rainfall. The use of these chemicals and their overspray has given rise to a multitude of studies of the toxicological effects of pesticides on non-target species, as well as the impact of pesticide drift into freshwater ecosystems.
  • Sustainable Harvest International- Belize (SHIB) Agricultural Training in Toledo and South Stann Creek: After an extensive 5 year training program, 15 Toledo and Stann Creek farmers were awarded certificates of completion at the Organic Fair in Punta Gorda in October, 2013. Although the core training, based on principles of environment, agroecology, food sovereignty, improvement of livelihood and learning capacity, is the same, the farmers receive customized training based on their needs. For example, families have a work plan that focuses on the first two phases of work, with focus on family nutrition, sustainable and holistic farming (includes soil conservation, reduction or elimination of external inputs), diversification, improved ecosystems, and sustainable livelihoods. SHIB’s mission is to provide farming families in Belize with the training and tools to preserve our planet’s tropical forests while overcoming poverty. Here’s an interview with Yasmin Ramirez, SHIB Marketing Officer who explained the SHIB training program: 1. Who does the training? Training is done by SHIB field officers and Country Director. They are all Belizeans. The field officers hold associate degrees in natural resources management and have additional agronomy training received in Honduras and Nicaragua. All of them are registered organic inspectors. The country director is a renowned agronomist in Belize.
  • Spanish Lookout’s Expanding Rice Industry Belize Ag Report visits with Tropical Country Rice: Tropical Country Rice (TCR), the company behind the rice label of the same name, supplies about 40% of the domestic rice market. Their milling facility is based in Spanish Lookout, with rice fields located within that Mennonite farming community and other lands in Cayo District. Two other Mennonite communities, Blue Creek and Ship Yard, both in the Orange Walk District, grow and handle a bit more of the market share and the remainder of rice production is cultivated for most part by smaller farmers in Toledo District. Total domestic rice consumption in Belize is estimated to be approximately 1.8M lbs/month (21.6M lbs/ year). Overview About 4,500 acres of rice are grown by approximately 30 farmers who utilize TCR to mill and market their rice. Average yield varies between 3,500 to 5,000 lbs. per acre. That yield figure is for ‘paddy rice’ or un-milled rice. Paddy rice mills out from as low as 45% to as high as 70% in milled white rice, depending on the quality of the paddy rice. About 600 acres are flooded fields, and approximately 625 acres are irrigated by pivot (mobile pipe irrigation, see cover photo). Flooded fields give the highest yield but fields that are flooded can be used for only one crop per year. Under pivot, the same fields can grow rice in the summer and beans in the winter. Each pivot irrigation rig can service about 125 acres, and there are 5 of them currently in use for rice in Cayo.
  • A GOOD FUNGUS?: Many are familiar with the potato blights of Ireland and France that wiped out the potato harvests, rotting the tubers close to harvest, which changed the course of history drastically. PHTOPTHERA by name, which means PLANT DESTROYER, was the fungal villain causing those famines. Does a good fungus exist, one that can help plants? Yes, absolutely yes. In the news of late, we read of ‘good bacteria’ located in our stomachs and intestines, being responsible for people’s immune system – some credit up to 90% of our body’s ability to fight off diseases, being related to these gut bacteria. Similarly, we also read of plants’ abilities to fight off diseases, protected by elements in the soil. As with the bacteria – also not visible to the naked eye, both fungus and bacteria have been overlooked and misunderstood. Many notice during the hardest parts of the dry season here, along the edges of row crop fields, when the crops themselves might be wilted for lack of water, that the weeds along the edges appear to be green and vibrant, standing tall and strong. We wonder, ‘interesting these weeds don’t need as much water as those crops.’ In fact, those weeds often do need water but have access to water that the crops do not. How can that be? Think of snakes here in Belize: most of us know that the black snakes (colubridae) will fight off and actually eat baby fer-de-lance (tommy goffs) snakes. If one kills off the ‘good’ snakes, that might almost be an invitation to more venomous snakes, such as fer-de-lances, asking them to come move in. A similar situation exists with fungus.
  • Consortia - The Coming Secret for Success of Small Businesses in Belize: Many small business owners in Belize have become curious, having heard about the success of consortia in other countries. An export consortium is a voluntary alliance of businesses (or other) operating under an agreed set of rules, the first of which could be that members bring all their produce to the organization, a move intended to dissuade opportunistic behaviour. Notwithstanding, the main purpose for this kind of consortium is to promote and export goods and services into the foreign market. This umbrella group requires that members such as small farmers share the huge costs associated with marketing goods, while allowing them to keep their individual profits. As well, members find a consortium attractive because it does not require them to divulge company secrets to the group, such as negotiated prices and contract terms with their individual clients. Apparently, a number of small farmers have determined not to wait for the government to bell this cat. After all, the government of the day has already created the enabling environment and is doing a lot for businesses broadly through initiatives like Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE). Furthermore, consortia require a lot of attention and day to day management which BELTRAIDE, by design, may not be intended to provide. BELTRAIDE’s focus is probably more outward, bringing investment into the country. This creates business opportunity for a local agency to serve as a repository for consortia, helping businesses with common products form into groups and assisting them as they go through the stages (as the saying goes) of forming, storming, norming and performing.
  • Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) Holds 20th AGM: Cacao producers from 42 Villages in Toledo and Stann Creek Districts gathered on Saturday January 18th, 2013 for TCGA’s 20th AGM held at the Julian Cho Technical High School auditorium in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District. From the Industry Report During 2013, production decreased by 53.5%, (2012 having been an all time high producing year for TCGA at over 54MT and 2013 production was 26MT. Multiple factors caused this decrease including cyclical production, farm rehabilitation, and the challenges of Moniliasis (fungal disease). Nevertheless TCGA remains very positive as they move toward sustainability and improved product quality and increased quantities. During 2013, 10 satellite drying facilities and 3 centralized fermenters were built and over 50 training sessions were held. About 300 acres of cacao were rehabilitated. Report was given on the Maya House of Cacao & Chocolate Museum, located at mile 18 on the San Antonio Rd. This is a joint project of TCGA and the European Union and should be open to the public before the end of 2014. Facilitating cacao field rehabilitation, Caribbean experts assisted in the training/ employment of 20-25 youths to use power tools which they used over 6 -9 months while rehabilitating approximately 200 acres of cacao.
  • GlutenFree – To Be or Not to Be?: For a long time I thought the gluten-free diet was just another fad or only for people with Celiac Disease. After I read a book called “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health,” by William Davis, MD., I decided to drop wheat from my diet. The results are remarkable enough to share, so others can enjoy this simple trick for feeling better, enjoying decreased joint pain, increased energy, and yes, weight loss without much effort. The wheat we eat today is a far cry from the original product. “Einkorn wheat, ancestor of all modern wheat, harvested by hunter-gatherers in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago is a 14-chromosome wild grain. Emmer wheat, of Biblical times, bore 28 chromosomes. Modern wheat has 42 chromosomes and has been changed (hybridized, genetically modified) more times than any other grain. What other changes occurred deep within the gene structure of the plant? The truth is that little testing was done on the effects of these hybridized or modified plants on the human body. The testing that was done and modifications made were to increase yield and profits without concern for how it changed the nutritive value of the product. Have you ever wondered why there are so many more obese people today than there used to be? Why do so many more children have autism than they did 30 years ago? Why are so many suffering with joint paint and arthritis?
  • Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA) An Organization on the Way Up: After several years of semi-stagnation and lack of enthusiasm in the cattle industry, there is a revival taking place, thanks in no small part to the Cattle Sweep taking place within Belize. It is no coincidence that almost to the day when all the agreements were signed and it became clear that the much talked about and anticipated Cattle Sweep was actually going to happen, the price of Belizean cattle started to rise and rise quickly, from around 95c/lb. up to a high of around $2.15 in the middle of last year. Currently the price stands at around $1.85/lb. and will hopefully hit the same highs as last year depending on supply and demand throughout the course of the coming year. One thing is for certain: if we can keep the momentum going with the Cattle Sweep, complete this massive project and become certified free and clear for TB and brucellosis, we will not be visiting those dark old days of 95c/lb. again anytime soon. The sweep, as we write, has almost completed round 1 and has already started up north with the second sweep, the Blue Creek farmers blazing the trail and now patiently awaiting round 3! Once the few stragglers that are proving to be very elusive and difficult to catch and test are completed in the south, all the vet teams will be moving back up north to help out up there and things will again move forward at a reasonable pace. It looks as though the original estimates of around the 100,000 head of cattle in the country will be very close to the mark and it is expected that very close to that figure will have been tested by the time all is said and done. The few that are left are mainly because of logistical problems of actually catching these wild animals in the bush in certain areas, being unable to reach animals on the wrong side of flooded creeks and rivers and also due to several farmers actually hiding their animals to avoid taking part!
  • National Conference on Agro- Biotechnology and Biosafety in Belize: Mr Anil Sinha participated in the National Conference on Agro- Biotechnology and Biosafety which was held on 10 December 2013 at George Price Centre, Belmopan. It was organized with the support of IICA, FAO and CARDI. The objectives of the National Conference were (i) to provide scientific information on the topic of biotechnology and biosafety, and (ii) to support the interest of the Belizean government to develop a platform for discussion among the key stakeholders to develop and inform Belize’s strategy as it relates to biotechnology and biosafety. The conference was attended by a total of 83 participants from a wide cross section of agricultural stakeholders from the public and private sectors and international development agencies and civil society which included farmers, industry leaders and representatives of producer associations, concerned citizens, academia, government technicians and policy makers, the media among others. Dr Pedro Rocha, Coordinator, Area of Biotechnology and Biosafety, IICA, Costa Rica and Dr Juan Izquierdo Fernanadez, Consultant, FAO made key scientific presentations on the topics. Mr Francisco Gutierrez, Director of Plant Health, BAHA made presentation on “Drivers and lessons learnt in the development of the current National Biosafety Policy in Belize. Mr Hugh O’Brien, Representative, Grain Growers Association in Belize made presentation on the perspective of benefits of use of biotechnology in Belize while Mrs Miriam DeShield, Representative, Concerned Citizen made presentation on the perspective that some biotechnology in Belize is not beneficial.
  • Belize’s National Agriculture and Food Policy: In early December, 2013 major stakeholders came together at the George Price Center in Belmopan to provide input for the development of a national policy and strategy for creating an enabling business environment for agriculture. Sponsored by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), International Institute of Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the attendees were divided into 5 groups to discuss the challenges and opportunities and provide recommendations for the national policy. The common themes that emerged were (1) the need for more information flow and dialog between farmers and government agencies to identify market niches, agricultural barriers to increased production, high quality products, and eco-friendly practices and (2) the effects of price controls and tariffs on agricultural production. Agriculture contributes approximately 11% to GDP and provides a base of employment and income for over 75% of the population of Belize. The MNRA recognizes the potential of the agriculture sector on the local, regional and global levels and is actively seeking to develop the means to assist farmers, cooperatives, and businesses to be proactive in achieving supply/demand successes.
  • Seed Toxins And The Purpose Of Life: The purpose of life for any organism, animal or vegetable, is to achieve immortality by producing offspring; that is, reproduction ensures the continuation of the species through the perpetuation of its genes. Natural selection determines that the more successful survival strategies result in gradual evolutionary development. For an animal, this might entail being the fastest runner, having the sharpest teeth or the most intelligence, all of which enable the creature to stay alive long enough to mate, hopefully repeatedly. But what does this mean for a plant that can’t run, fight or think its way out of danger? Plants have also evolved a range of self-defense strategies to increase the probability of reproduction. One of the most creative of these is to produce substances that are noxious to predators that might otherwise consume, digest and obliterate the all-important regenerative seed. These poisons or toxins, including fear-inducing ricin and cyanide, are present in some of our most common and seemingly innocuous human foodstuffs. Apple seeds, for example, as well as the pits of many other fruit contain the substance amygdalin. (You may recognize ‘amygdalin’ from the Greek for almond ‘amygdalē’, which also gives its name to the amygdala, the almond-shaped structure in the brain).
  • Home Production and Use of Cassava Flour: Much information is available on the cultivation of cassava, an important tropical staple food. This article will focus on a less-well-known and underexploited use for cassava; the versatile flour which can be made from this root crop. We have heard that there used to be a factory in Belize that produced cassava flour for sale. Families in Upper Barton Creek and daughter settlements have been producing cassava flour for home use for over 40 years. Drying cassava for flour takes effort, but it’s an enjoyable job the whole family can help with. It’s a good way to spend time together while producing a useful food! Cassava flour can be used successfully to make pancakes, muffins, cakes, cookies, corn bread and other quick-rise baked goods. Its by-product, cassava starch, also has many uses. To make cassava flour, we dry cassava in the dry season when we have dependably sunny weather. January and February are the best months. The mature cassava roots are first harvested and peeled. To make full use of a sunny day, this job can be done the day before and the peeled roots left overnight in tubs, completely covered with water. The next step is to shred or chop up the roots finely.
  • Mighty Moringa The Miracle ‘Tree Of Life’: This article is the first of a series on leguminous trees that grow in Belize. A leguminous tree is defined as a tree belonging to or relating to the Fabaceae family of flowering plants that bear pods. Botanist Linnaeus initially classified moringa as a leguminous tree and it has since been reclassified. Not until 2002 has moringa been properly confirmed the sole genus of the flowering Moringaceae of the thirteen species of moringa. It is being included in this series as moringa has similar properties to leguminous trees and is an amazing, highly nutritious, versatile tree. Moringa oleifora, also known as widow’s tree, drumstick tree, clarifier tree, benzoil tree, mother’s best friend or miracle tree, is native to northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains and parts of Africa and Asia. Moringa trees thrive and are now widely cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates around the world. Moringa was utilized by ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Thanks to several horticulture projects during the past decade, including The Australian High Commission and Belize-Michigan Partners, moringa is becoming a common and popular tree in Belize. (see Belize Ag Report, July/ August 2009 issue p.17).
  • : Local and Regional Fuel Prices
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$: Find local and some international commodity prices on our Agriculture Prices at a Glance section.
  • Ag Briefs
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

International Sources

Virus Advances Through East Caribbean
A painful mosquito-borne virus common in Africa and Asia has advanced quickly throughout the eastern Caribbean in the past two months, raising the prospect that a once-distant illness will become entrenched throughout the region, public health experts say. Chikungunya fever, a viral disease similar to dengue, was first spotted in December on the French side of St. Martin and has now spread to seven other countries, the authorities said. About 3,700 people are confirmed or suspected of having contracted it. It was the first time the malady was locally acquired in the Western Hemisphere. Experts say conditions are ripe for the illness to spread to Central and South America, but they say it is unlikely to affect the United States.
Tracking Outbreaks
Reports of locally acquired Chikungunya virus as of January 2014
Click map for larger version
Click map for larger version

6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Really Learn Spanish
We've read the arguments for learning French, but let's be honest: Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, or any other language with growing global importance would be a better choice. Spanish may be the best choice of all for a second language, which is why its popularity in schools is soaring worldwide. Here are some reasons why you should estudiar. 1. Spanish isn't a foreign language anymore. In the U.S., Spanish is rising ahead of any other non-English language at a rapid pace, with a steady flow of new immigrants from Latin America and growth in the already large Hispanic population. According to a Pew Research Center report, an estimated 37.6 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish as their first language and analysts predict the Latino population will reach approximately 128.8 million by 2060, likely making it the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. Proportionally, Hispanics will rise from around 16% of the U.S. population in 2010 to 30% by 2050. There are countless reasons for wanting to improve communications with such a big portion of the country, including things as simple as expanding your dating pool. 2. Learning Spanish will help your career.

Ben & Jerry's to go GMO-free this year
“It's a lot of work, but our team stays focused on the larger picture — on the farmers in Belize who are getting a fair wage for their sugar cane; on the farmers in ...

Caribbean: Economic Growth Might Reach 2.3 Percent in 2014
The Caribbean might register a standard economic growth of 2.3 percent this year, said the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Thursday. According to the CDB the zone experimented an economic growth of 1.5 percent in 2013, a modest increase, compared to the 1.2 percent in 2012. "We hope the recovery in regional tourism strenghtens and the expectations of air transport improve, and the costs of the fuels coming from new decreases in the prices of raw materials will help us to the economic growth," the CDB said. CDB, an entity based in Barbados, said that the rise of the incomes and the job generation in the bigger economies, together with the renovation of direct foreign investments, have contributed to the solid growth of the constructive activity and the restoration of tourism in many parts of the Caribbean.

2014 Race for UDB Party Leader is on
The race for Deputy Party Leader of the United Democratic Party is soon to enter the home stretch leg with the finish line set for February 17th. Two of the ruling UDP Ministers have entered their names contesting the seat of Deputy Party Leader, the second most powerful seat within the party’s hierarchy. It is widely known that the one that holds the DPL’s seat is the chosen one to also be the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Belize. Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Party Leader of the UDP Gaspar Vega has been challenged by Minister of Education Patrick Faber. Both men have been canvasing the 31 constituencies and visiting with the delegates in efforts to garner support for their candidacy. Faber has publicly gone on record stating that he believes he can do a much better job at the post of Deputy Party Leader than the current holder. Well, in what has been dubbed as the game changer, Prime Minister of Belize and Leader of the UDP went on record stating that he does not support Minister of Education Patrick Faber. Barrow said and we quote, “I have said that while Minister Faber is, I think, an extremely well-qualified and able minister, while I think that he has a glorious leadership future in the United Democratic Party, at this time, and for this contest, I do not support him, end of story.” And that’s also the end of the quote.

The Reefs Of Belize
A video overview of my 2013 trip to Belize with ReefCI.

Stunning Snapshots From San Pedro, Belize
I returned home from San Pedro, Belize a little over a month ago. I fell in love pretty hard- 23 reasons why to be exact. This tiny blip of land in the ocean is surely one I will never forget. After perusing through my 1,000+ photos, I narrowed it down to about 20 or so. The island's immense beauty made this a particularly tough task.

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