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The San Pedro Sun

Wolfe's Woofers: The Collar
I was sitting at a table on the deck of the Holiday Hotel when I heard someone say, "Hey, Grandpa." When I turned around it was Davin, with Melody close behind him. "Oh, I'm so glad I found you here," Melody said. "Can you take care of Davin while I go to the doctor for [�]

Kelly McGuire is back and he sang for Saga!
On Tuesday February 11th Kelly McGuire was back at Fido's and once again singing to raise funds for The Saga Humane Society. The palapa was packed as McGuire fans and patrons enjoyed delicious food and cold drinks as Kelly stroked up his infamous tunes including our island favorite, Boat in Belize. In addition to the cool Kelly McGuire gear that was available for fans to purchase, Saga also held an auction on fabulous prizes such as gift baskets, stone arts, bar tabs, fishing trips and tours. The various winners were announced throughout the night.

Doctor Love: Self Conscious and Shyness
Readers, please send your letters. They can be emails, formal letters or handwritten notes. They are edited solely for grammar and spelling. Also, they are sometimes edited for length. Dear Doctor Love, I am almost thirty and I am in a very stable relationship. One thing I have always wanted is to have breast implants. [�]

Misc Belizean Sources

Alice Margaret Craig...honored with the James Waight Award for her work as a founding director of the Belize Audubon Society and so much more...
Alice M. (Meg) Craig, sister of Lydia Waight, is a founding member of the Belize Audubon Society. She served on the BAS Board of Directors as Vice President from 1970 to 1987 and as a member of the Cockscomb and Education Committees. In the early years of BAS, Meg was very active in all of the Society's outdoor activities and programs. She participated in all the Society's field trips to protected areas, even before they were officially declared protected areas. Meg was chief recorder for all these trips. After the Sunday Field trips, she meticulously catalogued all the birds, flowering plants and mammals seen and sent her report over to Ms. Lydia early the following morning. She, along with other founding members, visited Half Moon Caye as early as 1969 and helped to pave the way for the declaration of this beautiful island Belize's first Protected Area. "It all started with the Boobies!" Meg also attended all the Christmas Bird counts, year after year, working the Belize Rural Area with Fr. Dieckman. When the Belmopan Bird Count started in 1975, Meg was a diligent participant until the mid-1990s. But Meg's involvement with BAS was only a part of the volume of work she has done to preserve her beloved Belize's environment, natural history, and culture. While the history of the very early inhabitants of Belize was well documented, Meg researched tirelessly to fill the information void of the culture of the early settlement. One of her many treasures is her priceless and immaculately curated photo collection from that period of our nation's history.

Mexico Presents Harp Recital
The Embassy of Mexico had a couple of harp recitals by Ada Tzab, a young harpist from Mexico. She played the recital entitled 'Around the World in 36 Strings' in Belize City and Belmopan. "Ada Tzab is a young artist from Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. She holds a degree in Musical Arts from the Yucatan Advanced School of Music and has participated as invited harpist in prestigious orchestras in Mexico."

Valentine's Cycling Classic
The 19th annual Valentine's Day Cycling Classic was today. Congratulations, Angel Tzib, for winning in the open elite category. The Cycling Federation of Belize posted 100's of race pictures, and they have pictures of the stats too.

Inside the Jaguar Cage at Belize Zoo
Awesome video of the day. A fan of the Belize Zoo, the Best Little Zoo in the World, posted a video of a jaguar that was having some fun.

BWRC Looks Back at 2013
While Cayo's Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic has huge goals for 2014 and beyond, like trying to raise $5 million to keep the Central American Corridor that runs right down through Belize protected, they had an amazingly busy 2013, and they wrote all about it in their latest article. Thank you, BWRC, for all you've done in the last year. They have detailed numbers here: "To recap the wild animals stories: at this point we have hopes that all 3 monkeys can be re-released back into the wild! Of course none of this would be possible without the amazing organization Wildtracks and the dedication of its directors Paul and Zoe Walker who are providing years of rehabilitation care for each individual monkey in their care. So I would like to end with a highlight on our amazing partners at Wildtracks who give imperiled wildlife in several species a chance at returning to their wild home."

Dance the Night Away Fundraiser
The Dance the Night Away fundraiser for Mr. Rolando Torres, will be on Friday, February 28th, at JJ's Bar and Grill. All profits will go towards Mr. Torres' medical expenses. "Dance The Night Away : Support A Worthy Cause. With DJ Lance ( From Belmopan) Entrance: $10.00 Place: JJ's (beside Cayo Twist) Date: Feb 28, 2014 Starts: 9:00 PM All Entrance Funds Will Go Towards Assisting Mr.Rolando Torres for his medical expenses abroad." more...

2010-12 forest cover changes
If your internet connection can stand it - here are the full stats for the 2010-12 forest cover changes. Guatemala is horrific - and Belize is beginning to look that way in places. You can see exactly where the Mennonites live... Sad that we are just sitting back and watching this happen. these forests don't grow back overnight and the critters we are killing off will never recover. :-(


Article Suggests There Was A Shift In Cabinet
A published blog article with the headlines "Barrow shuffles to save his corruption infested administration" has gone viral on Social Media and making its rounds in many media houses today. Our news center picked up the story based on the substance in the content. The article, published by NBZLive, says credible sources have confirmed that Area Representative for Belmopan and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar has been removed from his post and replaced by recently elected UDP standard bearer for Orange Walk East, and former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Elodio Aragon Jr. The article also suggests that put out to pasture was Senator elevated to Minister of Public Service and Election and Boundaries, Charles Gibson. Elodio Aragon Jr. will then be sworn in as Senator and elevated to take Saldivar's spot while Saldivar scoots over to Public Service.

Negotiations On Payment Of Bagasse Continues
Yesterday the negotiating team of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association met with Representatives of BSI to begin the discussions surrounding the revenue sharing on bagasse. We spoke with Alfredo Ortega Who Told us more about the meeting. Alfredo Ortega-Vice Chairman, BSCFA, COM "You will be a presentation from us as regards our proposal for bagasse in Which They Were Given another copy Relating d our proposal and That They Were going to review it and will give us a counter proposal When we get together Within the next three weeks. " Dalila Ical - Reporter "The points are presented to them the same again?" Alfredo Ortega-Vice Chairman, BSCFA, COM "There are some points yes we had Noted Earlier When We Began trading in the month of June we mutually Agreed and some who stayed to talk and then agree atra went yesterday and instead of them and there are points we agree and others who left to follow reviewing and Malthus have a better understanding of it since we had our lawyer and consult with us and BSI Also had his share of them and Their lawyer are asking Both sides agree That it has more informal terms, legal For Both parties but if we can Their Responsibility understand and share in the agreement. "

Abbas Khan Freed Of Escape Charge
Thirty Nine year old Abbas Khan, a Corozal resident who vanished from Orange Walk Police custody in early March of last year is free tonight from the charge of escape. Abbas Khan, a Naturalized Belizean businessman who at the time of his arrest worked in the Corozal Freezone, had allegedly in his possession 5 Indian passports that he could not account for. And in yesterday's hearing in Belmopan, the prosecution called 6 police officers as witnesses to the stand but none of them could explain how Khan allegedly escaped from their custody. After hearing all the evidence, Magistrate Merlene Moody found that the prosecution could not establish that Khan was in lawful custody so the charge of escape was dismissed.

Bovine Tuberculosis Confirmed In Belize
Bovine Tuberculosis has been confirmed in a cattle farm in Belize. That's the news coming out of BAHA tonight. In a release issued today states that the Belize Agricultural Health Authority has further strengthened its standard disease control measures upon receiving confirmation from the Central Regional Laboratory in Merida that cattle specimens submitted for routine testing have tested positive for Bovine Tuberculosis on bacteriological culture. It is important to note that it is not the first time that Bovine Tuberculosis is being reported in Belize. The last outbreak occurred in 1991. Through the Belize National Sanitary Cattle Plan Project (BNSCPP), the Belize Agricultural Health Authority has been methodically identifying cattle farms and cattle, testing all cattle for Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis, and implementing movement controls. The testing of 90,000 cattle has given negative results for these diseases except for one positive case that is being reported. Cattle producers are asked to assume their responsibility of having their farms registered, their cattle identified and obtaining the movement permits for any movement of cattle out of their farms.

BMHS Holds Business Expo
The students at Bishop Martin High School were out of class today and quite engaged in entertaining and above all educating the public and other visiting students about various topics including business and culture. This was because they held their annual business exposition at the high school grounds and we stopped by to see what they had prepared for the public this year. Screen_Shot_2014-02-14_at_7.59.50_PMDalila Ical - Reporting It was a sea of red today as students, parents and teachers in several schools dressed for the occasion - Valentine's Day. But for these students at Bishop Martin High School there was additional reason to dress up and more people to impress as they hosted young and old at their annual business fair. The event is held to showcase the business ideas and entrepreneurial skills of the junior and senior students currently majoring in business at the institution. Many groups were making big and small scale sales of candy, food and beverage. Yahira Campos and her team were serving up some Hawaiian Ice.

PASMO Holds Awareness Campaign In Corozal
In Central America Belize is considered to have one of the highest rates of HIV. In addition, several organizations have conducted outreach campaigns to the general public with the aim of bringing awareness of the HIV/AIDS program in an effort to decrease the risk and impact of STI/HIV/AIDS through the delivery of efficient and effective health services in Belize. With that in mind in, PASMO organized an outreach program in Corozal to reach out to the public servants and to the general public. When we spoke with officials from PASMO we were made to understand the importance of the outreach. Talima Lima - Director "Today we are here in Corozal Town conducting a HIV testing in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and USAID which is a combination prevention program. We are offering HIV testing and educational support to the police station department, the fire department, and the border taxi union at this moment we are at the police station and then we will getting over to the terminal to do testing to the taxi men, for us everybody should know their status and there shouldn't be a single person prohibited to that and that is why we are doing this outreach specially to males at risks there is a big population target here in Belize and that is our main target population."

Article Suggests There Was A Shift In Cabinet
A published blog article with the headlines "Barrow shuffles to save his corruption infested administration" has gone viral on Social Media and making its rounds in many media houses today. Our news center picked up the story based on the substance in the content. The article, published by NBZLive, says credible sources have confirmed that Area Representative for Belmopan and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar has been removed from his post and replaced by recently elected UDP standard bearer for Orange Walk East, and former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Elodio Aragon Jr. The article also suggests that put out to pasture was Senator elevated to Minister of Public Service and Election and Boundaries, Charles Gibson. Elodio Aragon Jr. will then be sworn in as Senator and elevated to take Saldivar's spot while Saldivar scoots over to Public Service. The article says that the decision was taken during cabinet meeting yesterday and was reportedly unanimously supported by cabinet. Aragon was vigorously supported for ministerial post by Deputy Prime Minister Margarito Gaspar Vega, according to the article. What prompted the move by Prime Minister Barrow, well, according to article, it is alleged that the move had to do with allegations brought against Minister John Saldivar and Charles Gibson regarding the ensuing passport/visa scandal.

Onion Farmers Prepare For New Harvest
After farmers faced one of the largest onion--losses in production due to bad weather conditions last year, major defenses and methods are being put in place in order to protect This Year's production. Reporter Victor Castillo Travelled to the village of Xaibe with OFFICIALS from the Ministry of Agriculture in Corozal today to find out what methods are and filed Those Following the report. -02-14_at_7.59.22_PM Screen_Shot_2014Victor Castillo - Reporting Over 840 plants of onions are spread out on this 7 acre lot at the end of this harvest Which Should generate an approximate 280,000 pounds of onion. Demetrio Cano, who has dedicated more than 13 years into the production of onion, is the owner of this plantation. I is one of the many farmers who took a great hit when yo have almost lost his crop due to Entire inclement weather conditions the past. But today a new dawn has Settled and Cano is once again setting up shop for production as his farm is being used as a module to educate other farmers on how to double Their production. Demetrio Cano - Onion Farmer "That Showed fertilizer Sergio there and we're pulling right now why is raising the onion and when to we started working at the beginning was the other and it Seems to not work very well and right now we are using that's Ferti-Reigo That the Most will give pretty good and is giving production and we are seeing if we go ahead With This fertilizer. "

Have You Seen 23 Year Old Enrique Moreno?
A mother of a Santa Familia Street address in Orange Walk Town is concerned about her son's safety as he has been missing for almost two weeks. Marcela Moreno has turned to the media to make a plea to the public for their assistance in locating twenty three year old Luis Enrique Moreno. She says he last visited her house last Wednesday and has not seen him since. Marcela Moreno "In the morning early he come eat and bathe and we were running jokes and thing and he told me what are you worrying about I soon will death he told me and I told him no say that not even in a joke no say that, and he said anyway hold on my birth paper and then I going out so and I tell him mine yourself I tell him like that and before he gone he said watch my birth paper good and my next daughter tell me that she was fifteen when I had him and I tell her yes I was fifteen and I was young but the she said on the side of your dad on the birth paper blank so I tell her no worry about that I am your mother and your father together so you no have to worry about that and then he said mother I love you he said I tell him I love you too but just take care of yourself and don't get into problem because you know how them police stand as they see you, you are the black sheep and blame you for any little thing so just keep out of their hands I tell him like that because long time they don't lock up him and I felt proud because long time they no lock him up because when he missing right there they have him so I wasn't worry but I said two days done pass through, three days pass and I don't see him so I said this is too much my son don't go too long and don't tell me or don't come around and I start to worry and I done use to every morning he coming to bather or ask me if I got something to eat and I see he don't come."

BTB Disassociates Itself From Global
Also causing quite a stir on the social media platform and media houses countrywide is the developing world of sex tourism being promoted by a Los Angeles California website named Global From Cuba, to the Dominican Republic 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. 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. The menu shows a listing of dozens of girls up for the offering. But we all know that famous saying that says "sex sells", and with that in mind, we were left wondering if the site is legitimate or it is using this tactic as a marketing strategy to get their services known.

The Belize Times

PUP to ComPol: Prosecute Penner or Else!! - Former SolGen lays out criminal case for prosecution
The Opposition Leader Hon. Francis Fonseca through an attorney has written the Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie advising him that if there is no move by the Police to prosecute corrupt UDP Area Representative Elvin Penner by Tuesday February 18th, the People's United Party will immediately seek the Court's intervention in order to force the ComPol to do his job! On behalf of the Opposition Leader, former Solicitor General Senior Counsel Edwin Flowers wrote the ComPol on February 7th, laying out an entire case as to why Penner should be criminally prosecuted. Flowers indicated that the ComPol's inaction would be detrimental to justice, as the six month statute bar for criminal charges in Penner's case would come to an end in March. ComPol Whylie has refused to act despite clear evidence that Elvin Penner committed a very serious offence under the Passport Act. In September of last year, the scandal broke that Penner had provided Belizean nationality and a passport to a South Korean national, the notorious Won Hong Kim, who was at the time in a prison in Taiwan.

Customs Broker Slain in Orange Walk
Another young life was lost in the deadly wave of violence that has gripped our country into fear. 33 year old Stephen Kuylen, a customs broker, was killed around 8:30 on Tuesday night outside his house located in the Pasadita Area of Orange Walk Town. Kuylen was found lying motionless in a pool of blood by neighbors who had heard several gunshots moments earlier. When they came neared his front yard, they saw him on the ground next to his house. The Police believe Kuylen was lured outside of his house by the killers, who they strongly suspect were persons he knew.

CitCo Tax Suckers! - New $10 vehicle inspect fee angers city residents
The UDP Belize City Council is hell bent on making life much harder for city residents. Without serving notice, the Council has begun to charge a $10.00 fee when going for a vehicle inspection which is a requirement to license a vehicle. The Council has not explained why there is a new fee, while the service has not improved and remains below average. The service is offered from a one man booth, left abandoned on a street side. There is no proper parking and the Council took extraordinarily long to provide a simple latrine for the workers or customers to use in case they needed to. Clients must form lines under the sun or rain. It is terrible. While city residents must now cough up an extra $10.00 before paying the license fees, taxi drivers must pay an additional $10.00 to the council monthly.

Barrow predicts UDP defeat! Barrow predicts UDP defeat!
Like a cold and ageing man sensing his solemn hour, Dean Barrow has been speaking of the UDP's future in the bleakest ways. Just days after his Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader Gaspar Vega predicted that the PUP under the leadership of Francis Fonseca would be "going back" into office in the next three years (the next general elections is due in 2017), PM Barrow has begun to sing the same tune. Last Wednesday February 5, 2014, after yet another House Sitting in which the UDP had to defend more acts of corruption and embrace the likes of disgraced Edmond Castro and Elvin Penner, Dean Barrow limped out of the national assembly to admit to reporters that he felt that his administration was crumbling apart. Very early in his second term, Barrow has had to deal with a slew of scandals including the KHMH baby deaths scandal, Penner Passport scandal, the Visa Hustling scandal, the Castro Sex/Taiwan scandal, the SIF hustling scandal, and the Castro/BAA fleecing scandal. This is after surviving scandal after scandal in their short first term (4 years) which included the KHMH pharmaceutical hustling scandal, the Castro land hustling scandal, the Social Security insider trading scandal, the Human Trafficking scandal involving high Government officials (which continues), and the Vega land scandal.

While the nation is being sidetracked by Edmund Castro's abuse of BAA funds and Elvin Penner's attempt to escape the criminal justice system, PM Barrow is sitting at the top of the pyramid looking down at all the corruption in his administration and thankful that his dirty little secrets are not being exposed. But all that is about to change. The BELIZE TIMES has received reliable information that Denys Barrow, the brother of the Prime Minister, has once again received another million dollar payment in legal fees from the public coffers. Just last week the Minister of Gangs and Princess Casino's public enemy number 1, Mark King, recorded his fellow Minister, Edmund Castro, lambasting the Prime Minister for being so pious, when he is the most nepotistic Prime Minister Belize has ever had.

Think About It
In the United States of America, black Americans treat the month of February as a period to promote and discuss their history, their journeys from slavery days to where they are today as a people, and their collective achievements. Television and the movies increase the number of shows featuring black Americans or African Americans as black people are officially referred to. In Belize, September is the month of patriotism but little if any patriotism is manifested. Although black Belizeans are heavily influenced by their counterparts, the black Americans in the U.S.A., there is no black history month in our country. This highlights a mystery of sorts. A failure of black Belizeans to learn their history in Belize and to sort through its lessons, if any, and to discuss their achievements - if any. Black Belizean are of two tribes or ethnic groups. The Garinagu and the Creoles. The Garinagua are closer to Africa in their language, clothing, drums and other cultural manifestations. The Creoles have had their cultural traditions diluted to the point where it has almost been erased. Even their color has gone from black shades to "dark" and brown.

A Blessing or a Curse?
By G. Michael Reid Never has the difference between Belize's two major political parties been more evident than at last Wednesday's special sitting of the House of Representatives. For the first time in recent history, all bills presented to the House were passed with bi-partisan support. There were many times during the past administration when fairly basic and commonsense bills were presented only to be met with stern and unreasonable opposition. The classic example was when there was the need for a two thirds majority to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), our final court of appeal. The PUP was the government at the time and needed the support of the UDP who was then in Opposition. This same Dean Barrow blocked the bill and refused to sign. Ironically enough, shortly after assuming office, this very same Dean Barrow immediately pushed through a bill establishing the CCJ as Belize's final court of appeal. For the PUP, the interest of the country has always been more important than the interest of the party. For the UDP, it is all about party and sometimes, all about person!

Ahhh, the irony in a name: Belmopan Bandits. It's almost as though John Saldivar was taking us for cunu munu when he decided to come up with such a name for his football team, rubbing it in our faces and giving us a gentle reminder that the people we have chosen to represent us in Belmopan are, in fact, Bandits. According to the Thesaurus, a Bandit is an outlaw, a crook, a robber, a thief and a thug. How fitting. Was John thinking about his fellow Ministers, Castro and Penner, when he came up with this name? The irony of the whole situation is that last week, the Belmopan Bandits (football team) won the Belikin Cup; and, in the next few weeks the real Belmopan Bandit (Elvin Penner) will, if Dean Barrow has his way, escape the long arms of the law. This week, the Attorneys for the People's United Party issued a formal demand to the Commissioner of Police to immediately investigate, arrest and charge Elvin Penner for what many Belizeans see as clear and uncontroverted evidence that Penner committed grave criminal acts against our nation.

Nazarene boys lead high school softball
The Belmopan Bandits are the 2013-14 Belikin Cup football champions, blasting FC Belize 5-1 in the finals played at the FFB stadium on Saturday night. Deon Macaulay scored 4 goals as he led the Bandits to victory with Denmark Casey also scoring the 2nd goal. Macaulay's 1st goal came in the 37th minute when he recovered a rebound from FC Belize goalie Glenford Chimilio, and despite FC Belize's protests that David Trapp had fouled the ball, Macaulay's shot into the net gave the Bandits a 1-zip lead. FC Belize counterattacked furiously and Michael "Soup" Hernandez set table perfectly for Mark "Kelo" Leslie to drive in the equalizer in the 9th minute. In the 45th minute of the 1st half, Denmark Casey's right-away kick put the finish on a pass from Tyrone Pandy for the Bandits to take a 2-1 lead to the locker room at the half.

Joel Borland wins Smart Boom circuit race
Team Telemedia's Joel Borland clocked 2:09:00 to win the SMART - Cassasola 54-mile circuit race from Leslie's Imports via the Boom bypass to the Data Pro junction and back on Saturday. Top Ten Finishers 2nd Gregory Lovell - Team Telemedia 3rd Brandon Cattouse - Team C-Ray 4th Brandon Morgan - Benny's Megabytes 5th Giovanni Lovell - Team Telemedia 6th Tariq Cano - Capital City Cycling Club 7th Allen Castillo - Benny's Megabytes 8th Mark Staine - Benny's Megabytes 9th Rafael Choto - Cayo High Road Cycling Team 10th Herman "Hijo" Requena - Team SMART The Cycling Federation of Belize will hold the 19th annual Digicel Valentine's Day Classic on Sunday, February 16. Elite and Masters riders will ride 90 miles from Leslie's Imports to the Hector Silva airstrip on the outskirts of Belmopan and back; while the females and juniors will ride a 50 mile circuit to mile 26 on the George Price Highway and back.

Belmopan Bandits are Belikin Cup football champs
The Nazarene High School boys are leading the Belize District high school softball competition with a 3-0 record. Nazarene's pitcher Jerome Carr struck out 8 in their 10-6 win against Wesley College at the Roger's Stadium on Saturday. They also outlasted the St. John's College boys 6-4 last Friday evening. The SJC boys enjoyed a 12-2 mercy rule win against the Gwen Lizarraga High School boys on Saturday, with SJC's pitcher Dillon Snagg striking out 6 batters; only Raheem Brooks and Raheem Trumbach scored for Gwen Liz.

BTL, Moving "Anward" or Backward?
The sudden resignation of Karen Bevans, the Chief Operations Officer at Government-owned and managed Belize Telemedia Limited, is the latest sign of grave instability at the once reputable telecommunications company. Ever since Prime Minister Dean Barrow took over BTL from its private owners, the company has been shriveling slowly as the persons placed at the helm have been pushing an agenda that is bad for the company but, politically, good for the UDP administration. The most flagrant decision began with the appointment of the Prime Minister's son, Anwar Barrow, as a BTL Board member. Anwar suddenly rose in status and was eventually appointed to a specially created Executive Committee formed by the political bosses for him and the outgoing Executive Chairman, Nestor Vasquez.

Audrey hog-ties Darrell Bradley Audrey hog-ties Darrell Bradley
The Mayor of Belize City won't admit it but Audrey Matura-Shepherd beat him up, hog tied him and ate him up for supper as she stood for workers' rights. In fact, late Monday it was Audrey who was telling the media that the Mayor had caved in with a reasonable deal. What is important here is that the Mayor was looking to fire 36 workers who were hired at City Hall as part of their payback for supporting the UDP in the past election. The Mayor said his Council would not be a higher bed for political persons, but he refused to say what he would do with his dad who is a major political crony employed by him at City Hall. The Mayor was also found flip-flopping. He talks about ending the sanitation privatization with BML yet supports the privatization of the security department. This is pure hogwash! How come the Mayor thinks privatization is bad in one aspect, but could in the other? The truth is the Mayor just doesn't know how else to explain the unfair firing of the workers.

AMAZING GRACE - Chocolates, Teddy Bears, Hearts and Eros
Once again, Valentine's Day has descended on Belize with its whirlwind of color and great romantic expressions of love. The boutiques take down their regular wares and put in their places red blouses, pants, and dresses. Candy stores order wholesale heart-shaped candies and chocolates. The florist businesses hope to keep up with the consumers' demand for roses and orchids. Even teddy bears, during this season, become about as scarce to purchase as eggs during Christmas. The hustle and bustle to find the perfect gift for that special someone produces enough energy to crackle the air with excitement and expectation. Ah, February, the month of love. Few will stop to think, however, about the kind of love that Valentine's Day is promoting. With my teenage daughter's permission, I share the following story. Every year around the month of February, several schools would get the students involved in a cupcake exchange. The gist of the program was to purchase cupcakes that would be sent to a special friend or loved one in another high school or even in the same school. The exchange soon became a way for the teens to purchase extravagant bouquets or cakes for their boyfriends or girlfriends to tug around for the day as badges of honor, declaring how much they were cared for. One day, my little baby came home in tears. She had received no cupcakes that year not even from her friends, and she felt that her value and self-worth mirrored the number of cupcakes she had received: zero. I had a hard time convincing her that cupcakes had absolutely no influence on how special and beautiful she was.

HOME ECONOMICS - National Productivity & Pay Raise
One of the issues of highest priority to Belizeans at this time� is the reality that the cost of living is growing much more rapidly than their incomes� hence there is an increasing difficulty with which individuals and businesses are able to make ends meet. There is thus much agitation for salary adjustments among the unions, to seek to compensate for this reality. This suggests that REAL INCOMES are in decline� that the "improvements" seen from the last salary adjustments negotiated in 2005 were eroded since 2011. This suggests that productivity growth and competitiveness are also in decline� or that the benefits of increased productivity and competitiveness accrued to a small minority or a combination of both, when the cumulative performance of each sector is analyzed. Without this vital information� upon what basis can one demand higher pay rates? Or another deny it? National productivity and competitiveness is the sum total of public and private sector performance. Gains in public sector performance can be neutralized by losses in private sector performance, resulting in no net gain to the country� or perhaps even a net loss (as is evidently the case). But we know that BOTH sides have been having a hard time making ends meet (if our roads and private sector default rates do not reflect that, then nothing else will. Thus the challenge of productivity and competitiveness is a systemic one. It is due to our structural faults created laws, policies and practices that have been failing us for a very long time and which we refuse to fix�.because our governments, since Independence, have steadfastly acted in the best interest of the status quo establishment that benefit greatly from this structure rather than in the best interest of Belize and ALL its people.

Seek God for Wisdom
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference - The Serenity Prayer (Reinhold Niebuhr) People might be surprised to learn that the best time for me to write is at 3 o'clock in the morning. I love the stillness of the day. It is quiet, and I believe I get spiritual direction and insight that best works for me at this special time. I seek the advice of God before I write each article. Anytime an idea comes to mind, I sit quietly to ask God for guidance on how to prepare my thoughts and on the direction He would like me to pursue. Sometimes I begin an article and I become stuck within my thought process. Sometimes, I silently hear to continue the article later, because it was not the message He would like me to transmit. I have never questioned God's final decision because His message is clear in speaking to His children. God's counsel of wisdom is timely and strong. It is He who guides me. I have no doubt or worry with His message, and His decisions are final. This week's message is simple. When you are faced with a challenge, seek God for wisdom. Being spiritually centered has allowed me to sit quietly for His messages. For example, each time I wrote about child sexual abuse and its impact on our children, He wanted me to tell everyone to protect our children. The recent increase in sexual abuse crimes has angered many, but it is because more children have come forward to report cases. We can only imagine the amount of pain young victims experienced, so we must strongly support our children during difficult moments. If we fail to offer support, we will have a nation of damaged children who grow up to become broken adults.

Mayor suffers black eye for BTL Park nepotism - Councillor Michael Theus claims "feelings are hurt"
The wave of negative public reaction towards shady dealings at the UDP Belize City Council heightened since the BELIZE TIMES exposed the scandal about City Councillors personally benefitting from the new BTL Park. City Hall stinks of Nepotism to high heaven!! The Mayor's father is employed by City Hall and given special privileges because he is a political crony. The Mayor's law firm is paid by City Hall to handle legal matters involving City Hall. The Mayor's mother in law has a contract with the City Council to operate a business in the park. Councillor Michael Theus, who is no stranger to conflicts of interest, was given permission to open a business too. And one more Councillor, a former Deputy Mayor, is opening a bar in the park with a person of notorious fame fronting for him. Mayor Bradley has defended the awarding of these special business licenses to his family and close political friends, employees of the Council. Thinking city residents are fools, the Mayor claimed that he was not aware that his own mother in law's business at the park. But the Mayor didn't claim ignorance in the cases of the two Councillors. He said he fully supports their exploitation of the park.

The events of the week of January 26, 2014 which saw the conviction and sentencing of Police Cpl. Gino Peck brought to the fore the fiery debate that has been brewing for some time now in respect of the perceived harshness and inequity of Belize's Gun Laws. At the time these laws were passed, the PUP strongly objected to the amendments proposed and warned that they would indeed lead to abuse, inequity, and injustice. And so it has come to past. Serious concerns have been raised by social advocacy groups like COLA and by individual citizens about the provisions of the FIREARMS ACT AND THE CRIME CONTROL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT affecting the right to bail, the stripping of the constitutional right of presumption of innocence, and the imposition of a harsh mandatory minimum five year sentence.

Rotten from Top to Bottom
The Prime Minister has finally decided to activate the Integrity Commission after this body has laid dormant and inactive during the entire first term of the UDP administration and after two years into their second term. One of the persons appointed by Mr. Barrow to sit on ...

Someone PLEASE stone Castro!
Respect Mr. Editor, When I heard Edmond "Clear the checks" Castro say that he who is without sin should cast the first stone, I just wished one of our representatives would have stoned him. The reason being is that Castro's misdeeds are in the category of outrageous; an abomination and very ...

Nepotism, Favouritism & Corruption
Dear Editor, I saw an article in the BELIZE TIMES last week about nepotism at City Hall and had to add to it. Mrs. Barbara Miller who was asked to resign from the Belize Airport Authority because of questionable checks written to Minister of State Edmund Castro, is the mother of ...

Give the Teachers a Raise of Pay No Matter What!
Dear Editor, Teachers lay the foundation upon which the educational system and our society stand. Teachers work unceasingly, spend extra hours preparing teaching plans, checking papers and preparing assignments at late hours in the night, giving extra classes to children when needed, even spending their own money to educate our children, ...

First Corruption, now PM Barrow redefines Integrity?
Dear Editor, UDP Leader Dean Barrow has been heard attempting to redefine the word "Corruption" for disgraced UDP politicians Elvin Penner and Edmond Castro, and now he seems to want to redefine "Integrity" for a UDP crony who he wants to have as a member of the esteemed Integrity Commission. After ignoring ...


Barrow shuffles to save his corruption infested administration
Credible sources have confirmed that Area Representative for Belmopan and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar has been removed from his post and replaced by recently elected UDP standard bearer for Orange Walk East, and former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Elodio Aragon Jr. Also put out to pasture was Senator elevated to Minister of Public Service and Election and Boundaries, Charles Gibson. Elodio Aragon Jr. will then be sworn in as Senator and elevated to take Saldivar's spot while Saldivar scoots over to Public Service. The decision was taken during cabinet meeting yesterday and was reportedly unanimously supported by cabinet. Aragon was vigorously supported for ministerial post by Deputy Prime Minister Margarito Gaspar Vega. What prompted the move by Prime Minister Barrow, sources were allegations brought against now former National Security Minister, John Saldivar and Charles Gibson regarding the ensuing passport/visa scandal. That however has not been confirmed. As National Security Minister, Saldivar failed to activate investigation into what occurred at the Immigration and Nationality Department which resulted in a jailed South Korean in Taiwan expeditiously receiving a Belizean passport and citizenship without setting foot in Belize. Saldivar's sister Candelaria is CEO in the Ministry of Immigration.

John & Dawn's Incredible Wedding Weekend - Good Times With Great People
I have so many pictures of the past few days that I need to make the story short. And it's fitting. The couple met, became engaged in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and now wed in just about 6 months! Love in Belize. John Kennedy and Dawn Dartez met last year in San Pedro, Belize. Both fun, smart expats with big personalities living on a small island�they were bound to get together. I've known John for a couple years now - we met on a bus in Mexico. And I wasn't going to miss Scooping his wedding for anything. Here are the basics. John and Dawn were taking about 30 of their friends, from the States and from the cayes to the mainland, the Cahal Pech Resort in San Ignacio, Belize. For their wedding at the Cahal Pech Maya site and a reception at the beautiful San Ignacio Resort. Many of us took the water taxi from Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker to Belize City to kick off the journey. Bride to be Dawn donned her appropriately rose colored glasses for the trip. (Let's not make this about me�but it's also a kinda cool selfie!)

Another Enviable High Ranking for Belize
One of the things that make a country an attractive place to live, visit and do business in is freedom of the press, and Belize has just ranked very high in this area. Even higher than the United States of America, whose freedom of expression we hold in high regard. According to the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the well respected international organisation Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières). Belize ranks in the top 15% of the 180 countries it listed and as the second highest in the Caribbean and Central America. In fact, Belize gets special mention in the organisation's website: "This year's index covers 180 countries, one more than last year. The new entry, Belize, has been assigned an enviable position (29th)." Pretty cool.huh? An unhindered press and freedom of expression says a lot about a country and its people. It means that citizens aren't afraid to speak their minds, and government isn't afraid of people airing their views. A free press is the cornerstone of democracy and a good indicator of a vibrant, confident country.

"Everything Is Awesome" in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Before moving here and a hell of a lot more since I have been asked "Why Belize?" And, when we lived in the UK it was, more often than not, prefaced or followed by " Where is Belize exactly?". Answering the second question, unsurprisingly, never took a lot of time but the first one? Now that did take some time. So, why Belize, I sense you thinking. Well I don't really but I've got to 'say' this otherwise I've got very little to write about today. So bare with me. Give me a little slack or today's edition ends here. Great. And thanks. Where do I start? In 1991, that's when and with a younger brother who just loved to travel. Most of us read books and he read too. But the difference was that he spent most of his time studying an atlas, finding somewhere that appealed to him and then setting off to visit it. Belize 'grabbed' his attention and got him curious so with a friend he travelled to Belize, stopping off first for some time in Costa Rica.

Dreaming of Sun, Sand and Beaches - A Belize Family Vacation Travel Series 1
Warmth. Beach. Sun. Blue sky. It was if my fingers had minds of their own! When I was supposed to be searching my photo inventory for our last snowy adventure, my fingers diverted to photos of beaches, sunny days, and an oh-so-fun family vacation to Belize one January not so long ago. So hey, I'm going with that today! I think we could all enjoy a little bit of sunshine and warmth, right? Join me as I reminisce about balmy days gone by in beautiful Belize. Belize has something to offer nearly every level of adventurer. Vacationers to Belize can explore Mayan ruins, snorkel or scuba dive along coral reefs, build sand castles on sun warmed beaches, kayak along the ocean shore, hike through rainforests, cave tube through Mayan ruins or zipline above the tree tops. Perhaps even meet a local resident monkey or two along the way. And often all within the same day.

International Sources

Cuba shuts down US travel visas
The government of Cuba announced late Friday that it will no longer process visas for U.S. travel to Cuba. Cuba said travel will end until a new U.S. bank can be found to process visa fees that are collected and routed to Cuba. Cuba's decision means only humanitarian travel will be permitted to the island nation from the United States, and that the "people-to-people" visas and other educational travel will be shut off. Cuba said it would cut off "family visits, academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports" and other exchanges. The decision is a blow to the goals of the Obama administration, which sought to expand travel opportunities to the island. It will also have an immediate impact on Cuba's access to hard currency, on which many of its citizens rely. M&T Bank of Buffalo, New York, had long handled these transactions, but decided last year to terminate all of its embassy accounts. M&T had said it would continue processing visa deposits for Cuba until next Monday. Last summer, M&T's decision set off a mad scramble at the State Department to find a new bank. But while State had reached out to dozens of banks - including some in Miami - no bank has yet stepped up to handle the processing duties. As a result, Cuba pulled the plug on travel Friday night.