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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

BTB releases 2013 Tourism Statistics
BTB's Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, Alyssa Carnegie, says that these numbers are a reason for everyone to celebrate, "We are very happy that 2013 was an outstanding year for Belize's tourism industry. We congratulate each and every one working in the tourism sector, because this is a direct result of the hard work that we have all put in. As we enjoy the highs of 2013, we anticipate that this year we will see even more growth, not just in the tourist arrivals, but also in the development and investments in Belize. As we move forward, the BTB stands

Creating a friendlier environment at the San Pedro Police Department
A decision has been taken to remove the unsightly broken down police vehicle from in front of the San Pedro Police Station. Luis Castellanos, Officer in Charge informed the media that the image of the vehicle parked in front of the station was certainly an eye sore to the public and visiting tourists. "On numerous occasions, tourists would take pictures and even visit the station asking if the vehicle was for sale. San Pedro is a major tourism destination, and as such, it was kind of embarrassing to have the vehicle be a negative showcase to our department and country. Our aim is to make the San Pedro Police Department's image friendlier and more professional to the public," said OC Castellanos.

A reunion 23 years in the making: Susana and Danny
For over 23 years Mrs. Susana Eiley has been involved with family matters through the help of Social Workers that work along with legal practitioners. She has rescued many children from unfit living conditions housing them until their families could maintain them or they are placed them in fit homes. She's done this quietly, never once seeking attention, preferring to do her works in relative privacy. However, today we share with you one of her beautiful stories. Upon coming home one morning 23 years ago, Susana's attention turned to the house of her neighbor, a young woman who had become a family friend. Susana felt that something was not right and, following her intuition she headed into the home. A sad sight greeted her: the young lady had delivered a baby, way before the date expected! Weak from delivery, the mother had tears in her eyes, as she sat limber in a corner, no baby in sight. She merely pointed to the corner, where a tiny bundle lay wrapped, explaining to Susana that the baby did not make it. Rushing over to inspect, Susana unwrapped the bundle. Before her was a pair of eyes begging for survival; the premature baby boy was fighting for his life.

Deon McCaulay faces dilemma as Belmopan Bandits refuse to release him from contract
Deon McCaulay, Belize's top football player who recently got the opportunity to play with the Silverbacks of Atlanta is facing major dilemma that can derail the advancement of his career. That is because the Belmopan Bandits has not given the green light for his release from the football club as required by the US. McCaulay confirmed to The San Pedro Sun that not only has the Bandits refused to release him, but it has to do with money that the Belmopan Bandits wants for his release. On the Krem Radio morning show, President of FFB Ruperto Vicente said that the reason Bandits has refused to give the release is because the Belmopan based club wanted to negotiate directly with Silverbacks. When asked if the negotiation entails money, US$25,000.00 as has been alleged, Vicente said that he was unaware what it entails but said that such type of negotiations between two clubs are common in football. Vicente explained that McCaulay did not allow for proper negotiations between the two clubs prior to him leaving to Atlanta to join the Silverbacks.

Sunshine Scholarship Foundation hosts first Fundraiser at Corona del Mar
On Saturday, February 22nd a generous crowd gathered at Corona Del Mar Hotel to support the Sunshine Scholarship Foundation. The event, designed as a party, saw locals and tourist alike sparing quite a bit of change for a worthy cause. Their generosity was obvious at the final tally when organizers announced that a grand total of $6,351had been raised at the foundation's first event. The monies will allow deserving students of Isla Bonita Elementary School to complete their primary education with paid tuition scholarships. From 3PM until late in the evening, the event featured live music and finger-licking BBQ. Patrons enjoyed delicious food along with refreshing cocktails at Happy-Hour prices. Throughout the event, people were urged to participate in the silent auction of great items, including paintings, hotel packages and even snorkeling trips.

And the winner of Reina Del Carnaval is...
Leonor Rosado!!!!

Ambergris Today

Ministry of Health Delegation Attend Drug Abuse Program in the United States
A delegation of six Belizeans, through the National Drug Abuse Control Council (NDACC), Ministry of Health, returned to Belize over the weekend from the Training and Certification Program (PROCCER) Regional Training of Trainers Workshop with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, Organization of American States (CICAD/OAS). The objective of the program was to share new methods that can be adapted to improve the quality of care in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug abuse and dependence and drug-related violence. In this approach, the program works with both governmental and non-governmental front line organizations that provide drug abuse and violence prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for persons suffering from drug abuse and/or dependence and their families, as well as other high-risk populations.

Belize Happily Reports Impressive Tourism Arrivals for 2013
The final figures for the 2013 tourism year are in, and we are happy to report that Belize's Overnight and Cruise arrivals are up! Last year Belize recorded 223,510 in PGIA arrivals. March 2013 saw the highest tourist arrivals at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) with 28,623 visitors; this is a 10.2% increase in comparison to March 2012. The month with the largest increase in 2013 was August, with a 10.5% increase when compared to August 2012. While there were 3% decreases for April and September, overall PGIA arrivals are up 5.5%.

Misc Belizean Sources

Dollar politics
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. ~ 1 Timothy 6:10 A recent political convention in Cayo South has shown exactly what politics in Belize is all about. A couple of months ago, a relatively unknown Taiwanese businessman began spreading money around the thirteen villages that comprise Cayo South. Few people took notice and no one would have thought, that given the extreme bad taste that the still ebullient immigration scandal has left in the mouths of Belizeans, that this just-come economic citizen would have even half of a chance. Who would have thought that any political party would have even dared to present another extraneous contender for standard bearer and possible parliamentarian? Boy did we ever misjudge the audacity of this crowd! Belizeans are still grappling with the fact that the first Mennonite and the first Asian born persons elected to our government took extreme liberties with our hospitality and trust. Working in tandem, the two secured a Belizean passport in a record one day and delivered it to a South Korean fugitive who was at the time, sitting in a Taiwanese prison. There was an initial hullabaloo and many felt that somehow from somewhere, heads would roll.

New Belize Board of Teacher Education (BBTE) inaugurated
New Belize Board of Teacher Education (BBTE) inaugurated for the term 2014-2016... Photos show the minister and the new Board, JBTE rep Dr. Marcia Stewart, TEDS head Mrs Cecilia Smith, and newly appointed chair Mrs Alma Eiley.

FISHING REPORT: Week of February 22 - March 1st , 2014
Week's Summary: It was really nice to see Jay and Debra enjoying their good friends Steve and Chris here at El Pescador. They fished and enjoyed a fabulous shore lunch with Captain Jr. It was also wonderful to see the Krause brothers here with their amazing dad, Hal. Thanks for visiting Hal! Patty and Jim were here for their annual visit. They don't fish, but they sure do love the wild life here! Steve started calling them, "the lagoon people!" They left with their annual deep dark tan to the snow of the north. There was a great feeling in the lodge this week. Beautiful weather, good friends and outstanding fishing. And once again we are reminded that fishing is a beautiful universal language. We are always grateful. Thank you!

Placencia Tour Guide Cooperative supports cruise tourism in Southern Belize
The formation of the Placencia Tour Guide Cooperative (PTGC) was actuated by the first cruise proposal that was to be developed at the point of Placencia Village. We realize we will not stop development in Belize, and we shouldn't, however we acknowledge that we need to guide development and most of all, we need to organize ourselves as local native Placencians and Southern Belizeans, to benefit from these developments. Thus the formation of the PTGC. The PTGC has gone thru the entire training process to become an official chartered Cooperative. We currently have a fully functioning Board of Directors - 7 people - and a present membership of 16 active members. The main function and roll of the cooperative is the allocation, organization and utilization of the resources and expertise of local tour guides and operators. We want to protect each other from being out competed by foreign entities. We want to increase the value and quality of the services we offer, and to properly market our tours and destination to the world as a unified destination and tour operating cooperative. This will put us in a position to be the go-to tour operating organization in Southern Belize, and will allow us better control over who operate in our area, thus allowing better protection of the PTGC membership, whom, on their own, would be easily outcompeted and disenfranchised.

The Belmopan Bandits FC takes this opportunity to state its official position with respect to the international transfer of Deon McCauley
who is under contract with the Belmopan Bandits FC until the end of July 2014. First to clarify that under FIFA rules, any club (the interested club) that is interested in acquiring the services of a player who is under contract with another club (the original club), must contact and negotiate with the original club holding such contract for the player of interest. The interested club must also disclose the terms and conditions of any contract it wishes to sign with the player of interest and must lodge a copy of that contract with the Federation of the original club. The first effort by the interested club Atlanta Silverbacks to contact Bandits FC was on Thursday February 28, 2014 with the first contact eventually being made this morning with Bandits FC Manager Kenneth Budna. This being several days after the interested club had gone ahead and signed a contract with Deon McCauley. This is a clear violation of FIFA rules for which the Atlanta Silverbacks could be sanctioned by FIFA at the request of the Football Federation of Belize on behalf of Bandits FC.

SHJC Fundraiser for Cancer Society
The students of Sacred Heart Junior College had a series of events - bake sales, ribbon sales, poster painting, and hair coloring - to raise money for the Cayo Cancer Society. The raised $1,000 over 3 days. Thanks, SHJC! "SHJC had 3 days of fundraising for the Belize Cancer Society - San Ignacio Branch. They had bake sales and ribbon sales. It culminated in the students making a banner, and the cancer society giving a presenation."

Heineken Nights at Wing Stop
The Wing Stop, Cayo's newest hot spot on Burns avenue, is hosting Heineken Nights for the next 3 Saturdays. They'll have Mistah Geeh mixing, Javier Gutierrez MC'ing, and people singing, karaoke, that is. They'll be having a karaoke competition, and the winner will get $500. They'll have specials on Heineken, and merchandise give-aways. "Cayo get ready !!! The Wing Stop - San Ignacio and flavas restaurant present heinekin night !!! big karaoke competition hosted by Javier Gutierrez .... with lots of giveaways and cash prizes !! music afterwards by Mistah Geeh it starts on saturday march 1 and finishes march 15th !!!!"

BAY Health Fair
The Belmopan Active Youths will be having a health fair tomorrow in Belmpan at the Governor General's Field. It goes from 9:00am until 3:00pm. Stay healthy!

Wading in the Lagoon
As of late we have been noticing visitors using the lagoon for leisure activities including wading in chest deep for fishing. Please advise anyone you see in and around the pond/lagoon, or your own visitors, that this lagoon is the home to crocodiles and it is not advisable to enter the water. This lagoon is locally known as the Croc Pond.

SISE Development Plan
The SISE Town Council has released the first 3 chapters of the Municipal Development Project. It's extensive. Great to see well thought out planning. "This document contains the draft first three chapters of the Municipal Development Project. It is the result of several months of work by the San Ignacio/Santa Elena (SISE) Local Planning Working Group (LPWG), a committee made of residents, business owners, professionals and council representatives that are appointed by the council as the technical body for this project."

BHS Blues Revue
The Belmopan Humane Society is having a fun fundraiser tonight at Scotchies Restaurant. The Feed the Dog Band will be there. "'BLUES REVUE' Jimmy Thackery in Belize Belmopan Humane Society biggest fund raiser of the year!! Limited number of Advance tickets $50 come out for a great meal, Lasagna (meat or Veggie) salad, rolls and dessert PLUS listen to some incredible Live BLUES TICKETS AVAILABLE at CORKERS Restaurant and Wine Bar in Bmp, CHEERS Restaurant Mile 31 Western Hwy., MARENCO'S Fast Food in front of UB Belmopan. Or call 602 7947 to reserve."

Morotcyclist hit by moving house.
A man from Orange Walk was knocked off his motorcycle this morning on the Phillip Goldson Highway. Anthony Bartley sustained injuries to the head and scrapes to his back when he was flung to the pavement as he was clipped by a house that was being carried on the back of a truck. It happened just before 10 o'clock this morning between miles 48 and 49 on the Phillip Goldson Highway in Carmelita village. The driver of the truck is telling police an oncoming bus caused him to hit Bartley, who sustained a large cut wound to the back of his head.

CitCo to begin concreting 35 streets
The second phase of a city-wide infrastructure project in the old Capital begins next week and by September of this year, one in every three streets in Belize City will have been concreted. The list of selected streets include significant arteries and according to Mayor Darrell Bradley, were selected for their importance as bridges of connectivity to move traffic and goods around the Old Capital. The total cost of the project is $9.7 million including drainage. The first phase of works was funded with a $20 million municipal bond floated by the Council and saw 102 streets concreted, some of which are in their final stages of completion.

Channel 7

COMPOL Called to Court For Mandamus Hearing, Dodges Media Questions
Tonight, the PUP is one step close to knowing whether the Supreme Court will make the Commissioner of Police investigate Elvin Penner for immigration fraud. Today Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, heard the PUP's arguments on why he should issue Writ of Mandamus to compel the Commissioner of Police to commence a criminal investigation against Elvin Penner for his role in the Citizen Kim affair. The Opposition Party is trying to force a criminal investigation before the 6-month statute bar is up. Kim's passport was fraudulently obtained, by Penner in early September. Penner told the media in an email that he is the one who, quote, "personally went with (Kim) to the passport office to see to it that he would get proper attention and would get his passport the same day."

Private Prosecution On Penner Filed In Belmopan
And while the Leader of Opposition was making his full-court press against Elvin Penner in the Belize City Supreme Court, COLA went to the Belmopan Magistrate's Court to file their claim for private prosecution of the former minister of state. The media was there, when the grassroots organization lodged the documents for the court book, and we spoke to President Geovanni Brackett. Here's what he told us: Geovanni Brackett - President, COLA "Three of us: myself, Jihad McLaren and Rufus, we came up here to file a private persecution against Elvin Penner for 2 alleged accounts of criminal offence; one for making a statement which he knew to be false in a material particular in a nationality certificate for the purpose of procuring the issue of a passport to a South Korean national Won Hong Kim contrary to section 22 of the Belize nationality act chapter 161 of the laws of Belize and the second offence is for vouching the fitness of an applicant Won Hong Kim to receiving a Belizean passport contrary to section 31H of the passport act chapter 164 of the laws of Belize revised edition. This morning we paid and got a receipt for $5 and the court date is set for the 27th March at 9am here in Belmopan."

All Sides Agree On A Way Forward For Citrus
For three weeks, the government has been trying to stabilize the citrus industry which ahs been crippled by a cash flow crisis at Citrus Products of Belize Limited. The company's bank First Caribbean froze their account because their board couldn't reach a decision on a new auditor. 11 Days ago, government announced its decision to step in decisively and bail out the industry by buying out its 15 million dollar First Caribbean Loan and fronting another 4 million dollars to ease the cash flow crisis. But even with that, it took days and days of meetings for all sides to agree on a way forward. That was done yesterday when all sides, the CGA, BHL, FCIB, GOB, SSB and the whole alphabet soup of the citrus equation finally signed an MOU. The details of that were shared at a prime ministerial press conference this morning at the Biltmore in Belize city and 7News was there:.. Jules Vasquez reporting The MOU was signed on Thursday - it provides principally for a restructured governance structure for the Citrus Products of Belize Limited.

Striker Deon's Dreams Derailed?
Earlier this week, we told you the good news about Deon Mcauley. Belize's premier striker had signed a contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks, a second division professional football team in the US. But, he might not get to play there after all. And that's because his team in Belize, the Belmopan Bandits don't want to release him - not without getting paid, that is. We contacted McAuley at his hotel in Atlanta today and he told us the Bandits want $10,000 US for his release:.. Jules Vasquez "How much is the Bandits asking for, for your release?" Deon McAuley, striker "Well, right now they are asking for US$10,000 - that is where we stand with that. But now the situation is that they want to put me on loan to this team and the thing is about it I sign my contract with Bandits in March of last year, so now the season had already started about 3 weeks and now they are showing me a contract that says June 29th - that has to be a bogus contract. I should be release at the end of February. This is nothing new to the managers and owners of the Bandits. Nobody is not making money off of this deal; even I am not making any money off this deal. But they feel like they invested so much in me that I suppose to give them the opportunity to negotiate for me and say we want this amount of your money. At the end of the day I might end up right back in Belize - this is where these people wants to see me - in Belize with them because it looks like it is hurting them that I am out here and they feel like I am making the world of money or something that they can't give me what I am asking them for."

Maimed Girlfriend, Benguche got Off In First Trial, Jailed In Second
In 2008 we first told you the story of Christina Zetina. The Ladyville resident was shot in the leg by Lenny Bennett in a wild and jealous rage. Christina lost her leg but in 2010, Bennett was acquitted. He was re-tried and convicted last week Friday. And tonight, he's spending the first night of a 10 year jail sentence. That's the decision that Justice Troadio Gonzalez handed him today after hearing his mitigation plea, and that 10 years starts counting from today's date. On January 29, 2008, he shot Christina Zetina while she was on Clother Avenue with her new boyfriend. One of the bullets struck her in the left leg, and due to a life-threatening infection, doctors had to amputate her from the knee down.

Princess Gold Pays Up Terminated Workers
Today makes one week since those employees were from Golden Princess Casino in the Corozal Free Zone were abruptly terminated en masse. Well, the news tonight is that they have finally been finally paid their severance packages. It happened this morning, when they were called by the Human Resources Department, and after it was cleared by the Labour office, those cheques were finally handed over. Our colleagues at CTV3 News waited the entire morning to try to try to talk with the employees but they declined interviews. They also tried to speak with the Managers of the Casino, but they were told that executives would be in an all-day meeting. It would have been a good opportunity to set the record straight since the actual number of employees who were terminated is still unconfirmed. Our best information says that approximately 130 employees got the axe. We've also made numerous attempts, but the managers are always unavailable.

Siarsha Improving, Father Moving Shuttling Back With $$ For Medical Bills
We've been receiving lots of calls and emails form folks who want to help the family of Siarsha Amri Alvarez, the 3 year old with that rare skin disorder called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Well, first off, her father Simeon Alvarez came back to Belize last night and is already back in Merida. He got a flight out courtesy of Belize Natural Energy and he told us he had to rush back because he had pay ten thousand dollars in medical bills by tonight or her treatments at the Clinica De Merida will be discontinued. AS for Siarsha, he got word from her mother that she smiled today - which is encouraging. He also told us she has opened up her eyes, which is another good sign. Those wanting to help can contribute to the account of Simeon Selwin Alvarez at Scotia Bank Belize account number 87 34 347. He's unavailable by phone in Merida, but If you want to link him you can do so at his facebook page under the name Bunzy Simeon, that's B-U-N-Z-Y Simeon.

Citizen Kim In Korean Court
In the first segment, we told you how the Citizen Kim scandal is playing out here in Belize. But meanwhile the man himself, Won Hong Kim is in Korea before that country's Supreme Court. He's been indicted to stand trial for a massive, multi-million dollar embezzlement case involving the SK Group, country's third largest conglomerate. Chairman for the SK Group Chey Tae-Won, and Vice-Chairman Chey Jae-Won, who are brothers, say that Won Hong Kim, as their "mentor" advised them on how to proceed with investments which amounted to embezzlement of 42.2 million U.S. dollars from the SK Group, including SK Telecom, the country's largest mobile telephone carrier.

Final Figures In: 2013 Was a Very Good Year For Tourism
The final tourism figures for 2013 are in, and Belize's Overnight and Cruise Arrivals were up. Last year, Belize recorded 2 hundred and twenty three thousand, five hundred and ten persons passing through the Phillip Goldson International Airport. That represents a 5.5% increase over 2012. Total overnight arrivals for 2013 saw a 6.1% increase with two hundred and ninety four thousand, one hundred and seventy-seven visitors. In the Cruise Tourism sector, six hundred seventy-seven thousand, three hundred and fifty cruise passengers visited the country last year. That's an increase over the past 2 years where there had been a decline. Overall, there was a 5.7% increase when compared to 2011 and 2012.

Traffic Fatalities Were Down In 2013
And there are other statistics to report tonight, thankfully these ones are going down. It's the number of traffic fatalities for 2013. Figures compiled by the road safety unit show that these were down by 20% from 64 to 51. December was the worst month in both years with 9 fatalities. January 2014, had one few fatalities than 2012 and 2013.

High Court Will Hear Abigail McKay's Suit Against UB
At the top of the news, we told you about a PUP's Mandamus hearing, but that was not the only case up for judicial review today. This morning, Justice Courtney Ashton Abel delivered his decision that he will hear the case of Dr. Abigail McKay whose contract the University of Belize refused to renew or extend. She claims that the going by the UB's Faculty and Staff Handbook, she qualified for that extension, but the Board of Trustees, according to her, unlawfully rejected it. And after hearing from attorneys for both sides, Justice Abel ruled that he will hear the full case and decide on its merits. Today, McKay's attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, updated the media: Audrey Matura-Shepherd, attorney "The good news for my client today is that the court ruled in her favor that permission is given for judicial review. Those 5 points were not accepted and as such now we are set for trial for the 20th May.

Another Snake In Our 'Hood
Anyone who watches 7News knows all about that nasty nest of snakes we found in a corner of our office in July. Well, one of our neighbors two blocks away on Berkley street called us today because she found a massive boa constrictor in her house - and she's worried because two more are lurking around. "Miss Jud" - as she is called told us that she found the big snake in her bathroom on Monday, and this morning, she found two more in her kitchen! The news today was that the big snake had been cvaught and beheaded by a neighbor:.. When we checked back this evening to see if she had smoked out her other two unwanted guests, Judith wasn't at home.

Mayor Celebrates Two Years In Style with Senior Citizens
As part of celebrating their 2nd anniversary in office, the Belize City Council hosted a 'Day Out" for the residents of the Sister Cecelia Home for the elderly. It was held at the BTL Park this morning and Monica Bodden was there: Monica Bodden reporting Recognizing and appreciating the importance of giving back to the elderly - That was what Mayor Darrell Bradley told us this morning's event was all about. Despite the heat, the senior citizens from the Sister Cecilia's Home sat under a huge tent out at the BTL Park this morning to enjoy a well-planned out event. It included dancing, board games, slow walk race, kite flying and much more. Mayor Darrell Bradley "We are partnering with Sister Cecilia's Home, they had written us a letter last year when we had marked our one year anniversary in office, we went to Sister Cecelia's Home and we had a luncheon, we spent some time fellowshipping with aged and it was a good experience and so this year coming on to our 2 years in office we decided to do something similar and so we were very happy that they had written us again and we are partnering with them and we decided what better way to do it and it was really the organizers from Sister Cecilia who had the idea to say well BTL Park was renovated and why not bring the residence of Sister Cecilia Home out to BTL Park for a morning of music, food and enjoyment and fellowship.

Taurus Riley Ready to Thrill Belize
Regularly on the news we tell you about reggae artists visiting Belize to perform, but Taurus Riley is a cut above. He's not your average reggae artist, because he's had some of the most well-known crossover hits of the last 7 years, from "She's Royal" to "Sorry" to "Gimme Likkle one Drop." Well tonight, one of the smoothest and hit-making performers in reggae is in Belize. It's actually his second time her, and he was shown nothing but love when he arrived at the PGIA. Apart from the media, a handful of his fans were there to welcome him to the jewel. He spoke to Monica:.. The concert is on Saturday night at the Hour Bar and the promoters just called us to say that one dollar from every ticket sale is going to Siarsha Alvarez, the 3 year old with the rare skin disorder�

The Buffest and Most Beautiful In Belize, But Just "OK" In Ohio
Belize's best male and female bodybuilders Rigo Vellos and Cricel Castillo have participated in the 2014 Arnold Classic, which is being held in Columbus, Ohio. Though they performed admirably and were well-trained, their first - and by extension, the country's first - appearance in the bodybuilding competition was short-lived. As we've told you they're up against the elite in their sport from around the world. Cricel competed last night, but she was unable to qualify. Rigo, did a bit better, but he wasn't able to get past the second round. They will remain at the tournament to try to learn from the world-class athletes as a learning experience, so that they can perform better when they make a second appearance.

Channel 5

ComPol Whylie appears before CJ for writ of mandamus hearing
The pressure to have the man who apparently masterminded the Won Hong Kim passport fraud criminally investigated and charged refuses to go away, despite government's best efforts. And it is [...]

Immigration forms prove Elvin Penner falsified information on Won Hong Kim
We reported on Thursday night that we have a dossier of the immigration scandal, as it relates to the issuance of a passport to Won Hong Kim in September 2013. [...]

ComPol decided that there be no criminal investigation into Penner
We've presented to you the judicial review hearing in a nutshell, but there was much more of interest coming out of today's proceedings. Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie was missing [...]

�But was that decision based on instructions from his political bosses?
The Commissioner of Police decided that there would be no criminal investigation of Elvin Penner. That's what the Court was told today by his attorney. But, did Whylie make that [...]

M.O.U. signed by G.O.B. and Citrus Industry stakeholders
After two weeks of carefully ironing out the details on the proposed way forward in the embattled citrus industry, Prime Minister Dean Barrow held a press conference this morning, where [...]

2 men charged for daylight robbery in Corozal Free Zone
Four persons have been charged in connection with the daring robbery at the Corozal Free Zone. The crime happened in the parking lot of the Fabrica de Mayoreo this past [...]

Ryan "Lippo" Alvarez charged for pulling gun on his uncle
Tonight, Ryan Alvarez, a resident of Supal Street, is on remand after he was accused of pulling a gun on his own uncle.� This morning, Ryan, who was unrepresented, appeared [...]

Lenny Benguche sentenced to 10 years for maim
Twenty-seven year old Lenny Bennett Benguche, who was freed of attempted murder in 2010, was today sentenced to ten years in prison.� Benguche was found guilty of maim last Friday [...]

US Fugitive caught in Belize
A wanted American fugitive, who is believed to have skipped out of the United States while being on parole in Hawaii, was caught in Belize on Thursday.� The wanted man [...]

U.D.P. Convention; "Hutchy" says party has left him out in the cold
On Sunday, the United Democratic Party will hold one of its final constituency conventions in Belize Rural Central, and it promises to be hotly contested. Michael Hutchinson has been in [...]

Inaugural sickle cell clinic held at the K.H.M.H.
Today, an inaugural sickle cell clinic was held at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Sickle cell is a disease of the blood which can result in a lot of pain [...]

Sister Cecelia’s Fun Day-Outing at B.T.L. Park
The Sister Cecilia Home is a place for seenagers and has among its numbers retired public servants, world war veterans and elderly naturalized Belizeans. But it is rare that these [...]

Miss Fitness Belize makes Belize proud at Arnold Classic Bodybuilding Tournament
Belize has so far done exceedingly well in the Arnold Classic Bodybuilding Tournament. On Tuesday, Mister Belize, Rigo Vellos, and Miss Belize Fitness, Cricel Castillo, traveled to Columbus, Ohio to [...]

Leaked memo from the D.P.P.; Penner was protected in immigration investigation
It is almost six months since former Minister of State with responsibility for Immigration Elvin Penner was removed from Cabinet for his role in the illegal issuance of a passport [...]


2013 Records an Increase In Tourism In Belize
The final figures for the 2013 tourism year are in and indicate that Belize's Overnight and Cruise arrivals are up. Last year, Belize recorded 223,510 in PGIA arrivals. March 2013 saw the highest tourist arrivals at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) with 28,623 visitors; this is a 10.2% increase in comparison to March 2012. The month with the largest increase in 2013 was August, with a 10.5% increase when compared to August 2012. While there were 3% decreases for April and September, overall PGIA arrivals are up 5.5%. Preceded by a decrease in cruise arrivals in 2011 and 2012, 2013 saw an increase in cruise visitors to Belize. Overall, Cruise passenger arrivals grew by 5.7%. August 2013 saw the largest increase in cruise arrivals, with a 30.2% increase over August 2012. Belize recorded the highest cruise arrivals in January 2013 with 102,871 visitors, which is a 19.4% increase over January 2012. In 2013, a total of 677, 350 cruise passengers visited Belize.

Former Employees Of Golden Princess To Receive Pay On Friday
Former employees of the Golden Princess Casino who were laid off on Friday can anticipate their last pay check from their managers as they were informed that payment will be forwarded to them tomorrow. As we've been reporting, On Friday February 21st, a number of employees were laid off from their duties after the owners of the Casino decided to close down their operations due to insufficient funds to carry on with the business. Our news crew will be on the lookout for tomorrow's outcome and report on our subsequent newscast.


COLA Files a Private Prosecution Against
Mr. Geovanni Bracket, President of COLA (Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action), was today in Belmopan along with two other executive members of the organization. Their sole purpose was to to file a private prosecution against Elvin Penner as was Prime Minister Barrow's suggested option for Belizeans frustrated with...

PUP Leader Comments About Alleged Stagnant Investigation Against Mr. Penner
Today was hearing day for the People's United Party (PUP) as it sought to force Police Commissioner Allen Whylie to investigate former Minister of State Elvin Penner for alleged violations of the Passport and Nationality Acts. The Commissioner has ignored a request by letter from the PUP to proceed...

Footballer McCauley Overrides Contract With Bandits FC to Play Overseas
Many congratulations have gone out to Deon McCauly over his opportunity to play with the Atlanta Silverbacks but there is trouble afoot. It appears that McCauley jumped ship without going through the proper procedures with the team he is currently signed with. Today, President of FFB Ruperto Vicente called...

First Suspect of Free Zone Robbery Falls Prey to the Police
Police have made an arrest in the case of the Corozal Free Zone robbery of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which took place on Monday. No one has been charged for the actual robbery but 21-year-old Benigno Loria, a Belizean Laborer of San Andres Village, Corozal District, has been charged...

Prime Minister Barrow Explains his Position Over the Venezuelan Conflict
Events in Caracas, Venezuela, where opponents of the government of President Nicolas Maduro have taken to the streets resulting in as many as eleven deaths, are reaching back to Belize, a partner in the Petrocaribe initiative to sell low-cost oil for national development. Prime Minister Dean Barrow told reporters on...

Mayor Bradley and PM Explain on More Coming Infrastructure Projects
At Thursday's press conference, Mayor of Belize City Darrell Bradley announced the rationale and schedule of works to take place under Phase II of the Belize City infrastructure project. Here he outlines the six streets to immediately receive improvements. Mr. Darrell Bradley- Mayor of Belize City "We will, under...

JICA Takes Belizean to Tour and Train Abroad for Development
Today, PLUS News toured two key installations in Belmopan and on the George Price Highway with representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The organization is an arm of the Japanese Government tasked with promoting bilateral cooperation with developing countries like Belize. Since 1986 some 173 Belizeans have gone...

'Spelling Bee' Zone Winners of Belmopan Share Their Success
The Coca Cola national spelling bee 2014 is well on its way with zone eliminations being held across the country. One Belmopan school dropped by to show off their top two winners for their zone. Those two students of The Shepherd's Academy in Belmopan are Standard 5 student Michael...

Fatal traffic accident on the Hummingbird highway
There was a fatal traffic accident on Thursday afternoon between miles 43 and 44 on the Hummingbird highway. The victim was 29 year old Arnolfo Jose Flamenco of mile 28 Humming bird Highway. Arnolfo Flamenco was heading home in the direction of Dangriga on his...

Father Appeals for Hit and Run Driver to Come Forward
A 13 year old boy was the victim of a hit and run accident in the Belize District. The incident happened on Sunday February 23rd in the Burrel Boom area. The father of the child, Earl Flores Sr, told police that he gave his son permission to go to...

Illegal Logging of Rosewood Continues
Illegal logging of Rosewood continues in the southern district and not only by Guatemalan loggers. On Wednesday, February 26, Independence Police visited an area in the Maya Mountain Forest Nature Reserve where five male persons were detained for Unlawful Possession of Forest Product. They were in a Ford Tractor...

Teachers and Public Officers Get 5% Increase
$22 million over three years. That is how much more teachers and public officers will be paid, guaranteed, by the Government of Belize, an increase of 5 per cent, the minimum floor they asked for, and that is without taking into account the standard 2.5% annual increment. Speaking after...

Cola Plans to Press Charges Against Ex-Minister of State Elvin Penner
They announced it via press release late Wednesday and confirmed it on Thursday: Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) is taking Elvin Penner to court. Following the suggestion of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the organization intends to file two charges against the ex-Minister of State in Belmopan for...

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In the Supreme Court yesterday, Wednesday, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin granted the Leader of the Opposition People's United Party (PUP) leave to file for a judicial review seeking a writ of mandamus against the Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie for his failure to investigate, and, if necessary, arrest and charge the former Minister of State for Immigration, Elvin Penner. After submissions were made by the PUP's lead attorney, Edwin Flowers, S.C., Chief Justice Benjamin declared: "Permission is granted for the applicant to seek judicial review." Benjamin gave the PUP until 4:00 p.m. yesterday to file its judicial review papers, and the party had until 4:00 p.m. today, Thursday, to serve the court papers on ComPol Whylie. Anthony Sylvestre, the PUP's legal adviser, told Amandala today that the papers were served on ComPol Whylie this morning at 10 o'clock in his Belmopan office. Sylvestre also told us that Whylie must appear in court tomorrow, Friday, at 10: 00 a.m.

The unforgiving streets of the Old Capital claimed the tender life of yet another promising youth when Ryan Arnold, 25, unfortunately succumbed to gunshot injuries he sustained while standing with about five persons in a yard near the Wesley Upper Primary School in Southside Belize City yesterday evening. The incident - which has been labeled by witnesses as a retaliatory murder - occurred at around 5:30 p.m. yesterday, Tuesday, while the group of young men were socializing on Armadillo Street, which happens to be one block away from the Racoon Street Police Station. According to police, a lone perpetrator of dark complexion who was wielding a gun and wearing a black T-shirt rode up to the unsuspecting victims and released a barrage of bullets, injuring two of the men. Arnold, a resident of Euphrates Avenue in Belize City, was hit in the lower back and abdomen, while a 15-year old minor was shot in the right thigh and left arm.

Concerned Belizeans have long advocated for young people to be granted greater access to education, and now, young people who are unable to afford a conventional education or who have fallen by the wayside because of their inability to complete their secondary school education do not just have a second chance at their dream - they can also be a part of history in the making by enrolling in Belize's first online high school. Ethnelda Paulino and Alberita Enriquez, the co-founders of Kaina Online High School, told Amandala Wednesday that the online high school will offer everything mainstream high schools do - except that students won't have to worry about uniforms, books, lunch money, bus money, and all the other expenses that are usually required. "Their rags will always be glad you know! You can be in pajamas and work," Paulino said. For a $25 application fee and $300 a semester, students can learn online - with as little as three to four hours a day on the web - and work towards attaining a certified diploma. Practical training is also integrated into the curriculum. For example, those who choose agriculture will do a backyard garden.

Just as the country is reporting some gains in the unemployment rate, nearly 200 workers in northern Belize have been terminated due to economic hardships. Last week, our newspaper reported on the termination of workers at the Golden Princess Casino in Corozal; this week, we regret to report that roughly 100 workers have lost their jobs in the papaya industry. Gilberto Vivas, Fruta Bomba's general manager, told Amandala this afternoon that their parent company, Brooks Tropical of Florida, has decided to release 95 workers: 44 of them from Fruta Bomba and 51 from Belize Fruit Packers. Fruta Bomba has retained 300 workers and Belize Fruit Packers 90-plus workers.

BTB says 2013 tourist arrivals spiked 10%
According to the Belize Tourism Board (BTB)'s final figures for the last calendar year 2013, Belize's overnight arrivals were up 6.1% and cruise tourist arrivals by 5.7%. In a press release issued today, the BTB reported that there were a total of 223,510 recorded tourist arrivals at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) in 2013 - an increase of 5.5% over the previous year. Airport arrivals peaked in March, when 28,623 visitors flew to Belize. According to the BTB, this represents a 10.2% increase over March 2012. The month with the largest increase of airport arrivals in 2013, though, was August, which recorded a 10.5 percent increase when compared to August 2012. BTB's Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, Alyssa Carnegie, says: "As we enjoy the highs of 2013, we anticipate that this year we will see even more growth, not just in the tourist arrivals, but also in the development and investments in Belize."

Stolen iPhone 5's "Find My iPhone" app uses Google Maps to pinpoint thief
A Belize City man who robbed a woman at knifepoint and made off with her expensive bag which contained her iPhone 5 was convicted of robbery and sentenced to 10 years in prison after Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith found him guilty. As Ashton Grant, 23, was being led out of the courtroom to the court's holding cell, he was visibly upset and yelled out: "10 years?" Grant's trouble began almost immediately after he held up Tanya McNab in the vicinity of George Street on December 30, 2012. Although she struggled with him at first, eventually he got the upper hand and ended up riding away with her $2000 bag, which contained her $2,500 iPhone 5, credit card, passport and other identification documents. But what Grant did not know was that the iPhone has a software called "Find My iPhone," that could be activated through Apple Inc's iCloud, where it is stored and can be activated by the owner of the phone. Immediately after she was robbed, McNab logged into iCloud and activated the software, which used Google Maps to track the location of the phone.

Will the Bandits release Deon?
A very concerned father, David "Manu" McCaulay visited our sports desk this afternoon. Amid all the hoopla and celebration with reports of his son, Deon McCaulay's signing a contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks in the North American Soccer League (NASL), there is still a major hurdle that has not yet been crossed; and it is causing a lot of stress and anxiety for Manu and other members of Deon's family, said his dad. Following FIFA international player transfer requirements, the Belmopan Bandits would have to first sign official release forms before Deon's transfer to the Atlanta Silverbacks can be legitimized and he can be allowed to perform in their League. In these modern days, Belizeans know that we often do not get what we deserve for our products on the international market - e.g. oil and rosewood. And we know it will take some time before Deon can be in a position to demand top dollar in the international football arena. We understand that we sometimes "have to creep before we walk."

Cycling - Upcoming Test Race Events
In a press release on Monday of this week, the Cycling Federation of Belize (CFB) announced two upcoming events on Saturday and Sunday of this weekend. The events are part of the Test Race Events towards selecting a National Team. ITT on Boom Road on March 1 On Saturday, March 1, an Individual Time Trial (ITT) will be held on the Boom Road, starting at CDS Service Station at 6:30 a.m. Open Elite/U3/Masters will do 15 miles; while the Female/Junior/Youth will do 9 miles.

FFB appoints
It has been an eventful few days in the football world, but it looks like, where there were dark clouds looming with the postponement of the PLB Closing Season, there now appears a silver lining, with the announcement today that the season kicks off next weekend, and it still has the sponsorship of Belikin. League President "hands over PLB to FFB" As we reported in our mid-week issue page 21 article, "PLB Closing Season delayed; owners 'rocking the boat' on Executive," a meeting of PLB owners had made some stern requests on the PLB Executive, along with a decision to postpone the start of the new Closing Season. In response to the letter on February 20 from the owners, PLB President Jaime "Myito" Perdomo penned his response on Tuesday, February 25, where he expressed his "disappointment with the meeting and the contents of the letter," and declared that the "decision has been reach to turn over the administration of the PLB to the Football Federation of Belize effective today February 25, 2014 base on article 41- 2 of the PLB Statutes. (FFB shall have jurisdiction on internal national dispute i.e. dispute between parties belonging to FFB and PLB)."

NEBL basketball highlights
The inaugural National Elite Basketball League tournament continued over the weekend with all 8 teams seeing action; and only one, Cayo Western Ballers remains undefeated after 3 exciting weeks of Elite League basketball. Here in Belize City on Friday night at Bird's Isle, Belize City's Smart No Limit pulled out all stops against the Orange Walk Running Rebels, beating them by a comfortable 83-59 margin. Top scorers for No Limit were J. Enriquez 16 pts 3 rebs, Brian White 15 pts 14 rebs, Greg "Chippy" Rudon 14 pts 9 rebs 7 assts, Andrew "Bynum" Ortiz 11 pts 10 rebs 3 blks, and Matthew Young 5 pts 11 rebs; while the Running Rebels had Randy Usher 16 pts 5 rebs, but he suffered 7 turnovers, O. Tesecum 12 pts 6 rebs, and R. Sutherland 9 pts 4 rebs.

Dangriga sports stats
Here are the results from the 5th Annual Mr. T. Birthday Classic that took place on Sunday, February 23, and started (and finished) in front of Wadani Shed and headed on to the Southern Highway to Sittee River junction and back. First place went to Sherman Thomas from Roaring Creek; 2nd was Rizden Flowers from Mullins River; 3rd Ashton Mobutu from Dangriga; and 4th Charles Bruce from Mullins River. The Dangriga Amateur Cycling Association would like to thank all those who assisted in any way to make the Mr. T. Cyling Classic a success.

Dear Editor, Political parties are not regulated in Belize. That fact shakes the foundation of our Belizean democracy. Parties are organizations composed of members who want to democratically govern their country. Is it not disturbing, then, that these organizations may themselves be undemocratic? How can Belizeans expect these members to represent their interests when they are elected if they are entirely unregulated prior to elections? The two major parties, People's United Party and the United Democratic Party, are not even registered institutions, because they do not have to be. These parties are viewed as private institutions instead of public utilities. As such, they have no accountability to the people they desire to represent.

Dear Editor, Your article last week illustrated the ongoing misappropriation of public assets into private hands. During the twenties the Barracks was large enough to land an airplane, demonstrated by Charles Lindbergh, founder of Pan Am Airways, once celebrated by a small palapa bar decorated with photos of the event, which was witnessed by crowds of excited citizens. Since then we have seen, first the Ramada Princess, then Marina Towers, both in contravention of the 66 ft. reserve for public access to the foreshore, and now more recently the newly built form of the refurbished BTL Park, which continues to impede public access to the natural heritage of the sea.

A man who was involved in a brawl in Rancho Dolores, Belize District, and whose entry into Belize remains unverifiable by the Immigration Department, was ordered to pay $1,000 forthwith or spend six months in jail, after which he will be removed from Belize as a prohibited immigrant. Rolando Ramirez, 43, a Guatemalan national, appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, who imposed the fine and signed the Immigration Department's removal order after Ramirez pleaded guilty to entering Belize illegally. In his brief mitigation plea, he told the court that he is asking for forgiveness, because he has a family here, which includes a son who was born in Belize. At last report, Ramirez had not paid.

Corozal Free Zone heist; over $208,000 stolen
Police are looking for two thieves who, armed with a knife and a hammer, held up and robbed a Mexican businessman in the Corozal Free Zone, stealing over $1,250,000 pesos, or BZ$208,000. Ricardo Villasenior, 48, of Las Flores Manzana 23, Quintana Roo, Mexico, told police that at about 10:00 Tuesday morning he was at the loading area at the rear of the North American Store in the Corozal Free Zone, taking out two bags of money out of his car trunk to take into the store to pay for purchases when two men came up behind him. One of them was armed with a knife, and the other with a hammer, Villasenior told police. The man with the knife put the weapon to his side, while the man with the hammer stood ready to bash in his skull, he said. According to Villasenior, the knifeman ordered him to give them the money, or else he would be killed. Villasenior reported that he became fearful and he allowed the thieves to take the two bags of money, which had a combined total of $1,250.000 pesos.

Rosewood still hot: 5 busted!
Police today reported on yet another rosewood bust - this time it was four locals and a Guatemalan who were nabbed in an operation in which they were hauling a tractor-trailer loaded with rosewood, despite a moratorium which has been in effect since 2012. The problem is one which under-resourced Belizean authorities have been ineffective at checking. "It's bigger than us," Chief Forest Officer Wilber Sabido told Amandala today, adding that these appear to be very organized operations. Sabido said that the latest bust solidifies their suspicion that there is a clandestine operation to illegally harvest rosewood and smuggle it to Guatemala, destined for the China market, where the prized wood fetches a premium price. Today, police in Independence Village, Stann Creek District, reported that they had visited an area in the Maya Mountain Forest Nature Reserve, where five men were detained for unlawful possession of a forest product.

Hit-and-run driver leaves boy, 13, to die on Buttercup Road
A boy is seriously hurt and is presently admitted to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in a critical condition after he was hit by a vehicle at about 1:00 Sunday afternoon and left to die on the road in Buttercup, which is an area in Burrell Boom. Earl Flores, Jr., 13, a standard 4 student of Burrell Boom Methodist School, was found by his family near the roadside about 200 feet from his home in an unconscious state. He had suffered injuries to his forehead, upper lip, nose, and also to his left eye. An ambulance rushed him to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where his condition was declared critical and he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit, where he is receiving treatment. Earl Flores, Sr., the boy's father, told police that at about 12:30 Sunday afternoon, his son asked him for permission to go to his cousin's house, which is about 150 feet from their home, and he told him he could go.

Taxi union trouble in Corozal
The Corozal United Taxi Operators (CUTO) told Amandala yesterday that they are losing money and customers to a rival taxi group, the Corozal Rural, Town and Village Taxi Union (CRTVTU). The rival taxi group, they say, is conducting unfair competition practices by undercharging customers and not following the rules and regulations of the taxi trade. The situation is seriously impacting their livelihoods, and a violent confrontation is foreseen, CUTO told the newspaper. CUTO, led by Victor Arcurio, has been in existence for over 30 years and is the biggest taxi association in Corozal, while the rival CRTVTU, which began operations in January, is led by Luis Alcoser. Arcurio told Amandala that the taxi fare has been set at $2.50 from Corozal Town to the northern border, a distance of about 9 miles, but the rival union is now only charging $2.00. Arcurio said that his operators cannot afford to undertake the 18-mile journey to and from the northern border for $4 due to the high cost of living, and the high cost of fuel.

Police Dept: Road traffic collisions down 20%
Fatal road traffic accidents - such as the one which occurred this past Saturday and tragically took the life of a well-known biker - brings into perspective the realistic dangers of speeding, as well as an urgent need for enforcement as it relates to road safety regulations on the highways and bi-ways of Belize. Today though, the Project Management Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development released statistics - compiled by the Belize Police Department - which illustrate that the total amount of fatal road traffic collisions have actually declined over the past two years. In their release today, the department stated that 2013 recorded a twenty-percent decrease in road traffic fatalities as compared to 2012 - with a total of 64 in 2012 as opposed to 51 in 2013. In 2012, there were seven months that recorded five or more fatal road accidents, while in 2013 there were only three months which saw five or more fatalities due to road collisions.

FECTAB and COLA defend Yhony Rosado
Popular cruise tourism personality and proprietor of, Yhony Rosado, has been thrust into another battle against those at the helm of the tourism industry in Belize - only this time, the stakes are higher because Rosado suspects that there is collusion within elements in the tourism sector who are hell-bent on tarnishing his reputation and putting his multi-million dollar cruise tourism operation out of business. Last Friday, February 14, Rosado was arraigned in the Magistrate's Court on a charge of disorderly conduct after he and a rival tour operator, Vitalino Reyes, Sr., allegedly got into an altercation last Boxing Day 2013 at the Fort Street Tourism Village. Reyes alleged that while in the Belize City Tourism Zone on that day, Rosado attacked him and supposedly punched him in the face in a brawl that ensued afterwards. In court, Rosado pleaded not guilty to the charges, was granted bail of $500 and must return to court on March 25, his next court date.

Citrus MOU to be signed this Friday
While the unveiling of a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be held this Friday, February 28, by the stakeholders in Belize's hemorrhaging citrus industry might be a hint of good news, the indispensable agroindustry is still faced with lingering predicaments which continue to threaten its welfare - problems they hope a newly restructured board of directors of the exporting company, the Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL), can fix. Amandala headed out to the Pomona Valley today to get a sense of the difficulties being suffered by those who have been agitating for the betterment of the industry over the past few years, since sour relations between the two main shareholders of CPBL - the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) and Banks Holdings Ltd. of Barbados - deteriorated even further, causing gridlock at the board level.

Jose Flamenco, 29, dies - his motorcycle hit a van
Jose Flamenco, 29, of the Mile 28 Hummingbird Highway community, was killed in a tragic road traffic collision that occurred about 11:00 this morning between Miles 43 and 44 on the Hummingbird Highway. Flamenco was travelling on his motorcycle from Belmopan to his home when he lost control of the bike and slammed into the side of a van that was travelling to Belmopan in the opposite direction. Flamenco, a laborer, was hurled violently onto the pavement and died immediately due to the impact of the crash. He was taken to the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Citrus greening threatens to disintegrate citrus industry
The present crisis involving the fallout of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) and Banks Holdings Ltd. has certainly taken a toll on the besieged citrus industry; however, there is also a very real, ever-increasing threat to the industry which makes a resolution to the Citrus Products of Belize (CPBL) current cash flow crunch even more urgent. Citrus greening disease, also known by its Chinese name HuangLongBing (HLB) or Yellow Dragon Disease, has been labeled as the worst disease to afflict citrus, especially since there is no cure and groves of trees have been known to decline within 1 to 10 years of being infected.

BCB Holdings reports US$4.8m net loss
BCB Holdings Limited (BCBHL), the parent company of the Belize Bank - the largest, full-service commercial and retail banking operation, today reported a net loss from operations of US$4.8 million for the nine months ended December 31, 2013, contrasting with net income of US$4.7 million for the same period of 2012. Consequently, the company reported a net loss per ordinary share of US$0.05, contrasting with net income of US$0.05 per share in 2012. BCBHL also reported a net loss from operations of US$2.7 million for the three months ended December 31, 2013, while it reported US$2.1 million net income for the same time in 2012. This has meant a loss of US$0.03 per ordinary share for the last three months. For the last three months of 2012, BCB Holdings reported net income per share of US$0.02.

Siarsha, 3, struggling to survive Stevens-Johnson syndrome
The adorable Siarsha Amri Alvarez, 3, is struggling for her life at Clinica de Merida, after she developed a rare syndrome in reaction to an antibiotic she took when she fell ill last week, her grandmother, Bernadine Menzies, told Amandala today. Siarsha, a student of Stepping Stones Preschool in Belize City, had developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a life-threatening disorder in which the skin and mucous membranes react severely to a medication or infection. After having been administered antibiotics last week, Siarsha's fever worsened, and then blisters started breaking out on her tongue. "That was the first time I realized that something was wrong," her grandmother said, noting that this occurred towards the end of last week. "It spread really rapidly," she said, adding that Siarsha was in a lot of pain due to the serious inflammation that resulted from the syndrome. Amandala was unable to ascertain which antibiotic caused the syndrome.

GOB pumps $10 million into phase two of City infrastructure project
Central government is partnering with the Belize City Council for phase two of the city's infrastructure project, which will see the continued rehabilitation and concreting of at least 40 more streets from 10 million dollars of assistance being provided by Government. The announcement was made today at a press conference hosted by Prime Minister Dean O. Barrow and Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley. Prime Minister Barrow said that the torrential rains have "done a number" on the streets of Belize City, and it is on that basis that the central government has allocated 10 million dollars for repair of the city. Barrow had high praise for Mayor Bradley and the City Council for coming up "on their own with the municipal bond," which saw the beginning of the concreting of Belize City streets.

In God we trust
I was looking the other day at a TV documentary about the US justice system and amazingly in many of the shots I saw on the buildings inscriptions about God and justice and the like. I was taken aback because when I think about the democracy of America I think of a nation that pushed God out of the door and man tried to take his place. Imagine, a basic thing we take for granted, like praying in school, became a legal challenge in the USA and the courts ruled it was unconstitutional to keep prayers in public schools. So out it went and now only denominational schools can justify prayers as part of their curriculum. Ironically, the US currency has behind the bills inscribed "In God We Trust," which has not been removed like prayers in schools.

National Security gets ready to put firearms law to consultations
Whereas the public call for a revision of Belize's sweeping firearm laws-which have at times resulted in the mandatory remand of upstanding innocent citizens-continues unabated, it is evident that those revisions won't be implemented as quickly as some might have hoped. Amandala spoke today with the chairman of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, Collet area representative Patrick Faber, who told us that there are several stages that the law revision must go through before it even gets to Parliament. At the time of our conversation, Faber was in the company of National Security Minister John Saldivar, who indicated that his ministry would start the first round of consultations at the time the bill is being prepared. Afterwards, the draft bill must be taken to Cabinet before it is tabled in Parliament, where it would be presented for the first reading.

Respect, Baron Bliss
Very little is known about the early life of Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss. He was an Englishman born on 16th February, 1869. Before leaving England, he lived at Quarry Court, Marlow, in the County of Buckingham, England. He was an engineer by profession and was married to Ethel Alice Baroness Bliss, to whom he had left a settlement before travelling abroad. Nothing is known about how Baron Bliss acquired his wealth of almost a million pounds, whether through his profession, business, or inheritance, or all three. At the time of his death, he had, besides his properties, a large amount of securities and shares. He must have been community-minded, as he was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

Ideas and Opinions - To build a nation
"In building a nation, too much discipline is better than too little, and in preparing a child for citizenship, strictness is better than indulgence." The opening lines of this essay are uncredited but, that does not matter. There is a dictum which says, "The importance of a thing when said is not what is said but by whom it is said." I beg to differ. The importance of a thing when said, is what is said. It is the song and not the singer. Our poet, philosopher, politician, George Price said, "Building is a task for giants; little men tried and turned away." Is it that we have produced only little men or that our giants have been engaged in other pursuits, why we are at the place where service to the nation is not the first priority of our political leaders; or is it that we have failed to recognize and to use the building blocks which are essential to construct a strong nation.

From The Publisher
There are some UDP people who said and still say that it was necessary for those who were opposed to Hon. George Price and the People's United Party (PUP) to replace Hon. Philip Goldson as the Leader of the Opposition because the PUP would have remained in power forever if Mr. Goldson had not been removed as Opposition Leader. Then, there were people inside the PUP itself who were saying that it was important that Mr. Goldson win his Albert constituency seat so that the appearance of democracy remained in the Belize House of Representatives. For those of you who don't know, the PUP won all 18 seats in the House in 1961; they won 16 out of 18 in 1965; and they won 17 out of 18 in 1969. Mr. Goldson was one of two Opposition National Independence Party (NIP) members in the 1965 House, and he was the only Opposition member in the 1969 House. (The party which contested the 1969 election was a coalition between the NIP and a party called the People's Development Movement {PDM}. The coalition was known as the NIPDM.)

EDITORIAL: Law and power in 2014 Belize
The purpose of this editorial is not to discuss the legal intricacies of what the Opposition People's United Party (PUP) is attempting to do in the Supreme Court with this Commissioner of Police mandamus business. You and I know that what the PUP really wants to do is to replace the United Democratic Party (UDP) in power. They are using this writ of mandamus against the ComPol as a form of legal pressure on the executive power apparatus of government. Ultimately, then, this mandamus is law as politics. In March of 2012, the UDP and the PUP competed in a general election to see which of the two parties would win the majority of the 31 constituency seats in the Belize House of Representatives. In that general election the UDP won 17 seats, and the PUP 14. The Governor-General of Belize then invited the Leader of the UDP to form a government, of which that UDP Leader would be in charge.

On February 17, Prime Minister Dean Barrow suggested that the Opposition PUP, if they feel so strongly about the Penner passport scandal, could launch a private prosecution. That suggestion has gained traction, not from the Opposition, but from the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), which announced that they will file a private prosecution in the Belmopan Magistrate's Court on Friday. COLA made the announcement at a press briefing today, Thursday, at the Radisson Fort George Hotel. COLA'S move to initiate private prosecution against Elvin Penner for his role in securing a Belize passport and nationality document for the imprisoned South Korean Won Hong Kim, would be a first for Belize's judiciary, if the information and complaint form that they have filled out succeeds in making it to a court hearing.

Shane Budram, 37, beats ammunition rap
Shane Budram, 37, a resident of Wagner's Lane who was charged with one count of keeping ammunition without a gun license, walked out of Magistrate Dale Cayetano's courtroom free of the charge, after his attorney, Dickie Bradley, made a no-case-to-answer submission. When Bradley had finished with his no-case submission, Magistrate Cayetano remarked, "The evidence does not make any sense�" Cayetano added, "If you have bullets, for example in the case of Budram, and you saw the police from a 20 to 25-yards distance, the normal man would have either thrown them away or disposed of them in some way." The Magistrate also noted that only one police officer came to testify that he had found the bullets. Why was his evidence not corroborated by another police officer, the magistrate questioned, before he accepted the no-case submission.

Girl, 15, told police that father began raping her from age 11
The father of a girl, 15, of Corozal, has been detained by police, pending charges of incest at the direction of the Office of the Public Prosecutions. The girl reported that her father had been taking sexual advantage of her since she was 11 years old, and that he had been raping her on a frequent basis. The girl was taken to the Corozal Hospital, where doctors who examined her certified that she had been carnally known. The father was immediately arrested. The girl and her mother went to the police, where the girl reported that she had been facing constant threats from her father that if she told her mother what was happening, he would kill her and her mother.

Stephan Anderson, 23, charged for shooting Andrew Augustine, 21
A Belize City man who allegedly shot another man in his neck was remanded to prison after he was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith on Tuesday. Police charged Stephan Anderson, 23, a laborer and resident of 7 Ebony Street, with attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm and dangerous harm for the February 23 shooting, which left Andrew Augustine, 21, suffering from a gunshot wound to his neck. Anderson could not be granted bail because of the nature of the offenses for which he is charged. Also, no plea was required from him, since the charge of attempted murder is an indictable offence. He was therefore remanded into custody until his next court appearance date, April 15.

Couple charged for 8.59 pounds of weed
A Belize City man was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $5,000 forthwith after he pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking in the courtroom of Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith. Barry Lee Wade, 34, an unemployed, and his common-law wife, Elizabeth Ann Linarez, 37, a domestic, residing at 9159 Mahogany Street Extension, appeared before Chief Magistrate Smith. After Wade pleaded guilty to the charge, the court withdrew the charge against Linarez.

Raymond "Killa" Gentle's accused murderer, awaits judge's decision
The murder trial of Cowin Bennett, 20, accused of executing the reputed boss of the Kraal Road Gang, Raymond "Killa" Gentle, ended in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas today. Justice Lucas has set March 5 as the date he will deliver his ruling, after the almost two-week trial by judge without a jury. Bennett was represented by Legal Aid attorneys Baja Shoman and Michelle Trapp-Zuniga, while the Crown's case was presented by Crown Counsels Shanice Lovell and Prosha Staine. In the late afternoon of January 12, 2011, Raymond "Killa" Gentle was on Kraal Road supervising the construction of a house, a job he was doing for the then Minister of Works, Anthony "Boots" Martinez.

Man shot in the neck in St. Martin area
A man is recovering at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after he was shot in the neck while walking on Jasmine Street in the St. Martin De Porres area of Lake I at about 10:15 Saturday night. Andrew Augustine, 23, of Jasmine Street, told police that he was walking on the street when a man on a bicycle rode up, pointed a gun in his direction and fired a shot at him, hitting him in the neck.

Police seek thief who beat and robbed woman on Mahogany Street
The level of crime being carried out by thieves knows no limits. Even women are now attacked, beaten and robbed by thieves, and police are looking for one such man. A woman of Cet Site Street in the Gungulung Area of Lake I told police that at about 4:40 Friday morning, she was walking on Mahogany Street Extension, towards the Central American Boulevard, when she was attacked from behind by a man who was armed with a knife.

Burglary in Corozal - $1,290 in goods stolen
Corozal Police are seeking a thief or thieves who burglarized the home of Brigida Paulina Patt, 33, of Rainbow Town area, Corozal Town, sometimes between 8:30 Saturday night and 5:00 Sunday morning, February 23. Patt reported that she found her house burglarized Sunday morning. Thieves had stolen a pink Hurricane Nankon bicycle valued at $230, a pink "Go"-brand tablet valued at $300, a "Women of Earth" perfume valued at $55, a "Forever" brand perfume valued at $55, an "Adorise" brand perfume valued at $145, a "Sex in the City" perfume set valued at $200, and a pink and purple checkered Jansport school bag, valued at $55.


Gorgeous Mile Walk on South Ambergris Caye That Ends in a Coconut Sculpture Garden
Finding a place on the island to stay can be tricky for sure. If you've never visited it might seen overwhelming (and I get LOTS of emails from the overwhelmed)�North Ambergris known for the larger resorts and beautiful sandy beaches or San Pedro Town with so many bars, restaurants and events or the area that I hear least about�South of town. Or as I like to call it, my neighborhood. For those not familiar with this area, I think it's just gorgeous. And no matter where you stay, one worth exploring. Let me propose a two mile walk (one mile there and back) along this beautiful stretch of beach. If the idea of exercise on vacation makes you feel queasy, call it a pub crawl. Golf carts are excellent and a great way to get around quick (well "island time" quick) but beach walking is the way to go. Breezier, prettier and you never know when you are going to run into something awesome. Like these guys amusing their wives that I ran into a few days ago.

Need More Good Reasons for Enjoying Springtime in Belize? Look no further!
There are many reasons to be in Belize during springtime and a rare opportunity to get close to the world's largest fish is certainly one of them, the Belizean eco lodge's Natural History Centre manager said. According to naturalist Brion Young, travellers wishing to experience the spectacular annual whale shark migration to Belize had better begin preparing now if they want to make the most of this once-a-year chance. And, as an added bonus, spring is also highlighted by the annual neo tropical bird migrations and the nationwide Easter celebrations, he said. Long known in Belize as "Sapodilla Tom" due to locals seeing whale sharks each year at the Sapodilla Cayes and Gladden Spit during their annual feeding and breeding season, the whale shark is the world's largest fish and the third largest animal on the plane with a recorded length of 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) and weight of over 36 tonnes (79,000 lb). In Belize, the annual whale shark season begins in March and continues some years even further into the summer. Best seen during and around the full moon, usual prime viewing times are mid-to -late March, April, May and June.

Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) urges the regions private sector to take advantage of the funds made available under the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme facilitated by the Agency as part of of the Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). Firms can apply for grants of up to �30,000 providing firms meet the eligibility criteria, their applications are accepted and they are exporting or demonstrate the potential to export goods and services.

"Rescue Me" in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Up around 05.10 hours yesterday and out on the veranda with the mug of black coffee and iPad not much more than five minutes later. That's the thing about instant coffee, it virtually is. Instant, that is. Even though it was early and the sun hadn't risen for the day it felt to me that it was going to be a hot and sunny one. I'm now starting to get a sense of what a day's weather will be like from my 'me time' on the veranda in the early morning. A perfect day for washing to dry, so in to the laundry room I went and loaded up the washing machine. When I was working for a living I didn't 'do' that type of stuff. But now? Well, parity prevails!

Maiden of the Rock: Xunantunich Maya Ruins
Just fifteen minutes from Ka'ana, on a journey over the river and through the woods, lies another world. A world of ceremonial temples, ancient artisans and stunning rainforest views. Perfectly situated on top of a natural limestone ridge, the views from the ruins at Xunantunich are unparalleled. From the top of the largest pyramid, El Castillo, you can take in a stunning 360-degree panorama of jungle-covered countryside and small villages, stretching all the way in to Guatemala.

International Sources

Belize: Gone fishing
Lloyd Nunez doesn't speak much. The 46-year-old man has work-hardened hands with spoon-shaped nails. The son of an offshore lobsterman who describes his upbringing as "very lucky," he's a quiet fly-fishing guide, gently directing his clients to the fish through hand gestures and near whispers. His approach is stealthy, which is logical considering we were searching for permit, tarpon and bonefish, three of the most skittish gamefish that live on the reefs off the coast of Belize. Nunez literally grew up on the reef on South Water Cay, a 15-acre island 14 miles offshore from the coastal town of Hopkins. His home was a shack that's since been renovated to become part of a diving resort. Back then it, and the entire island, was without electricity or a sewage system. A cistern provided the only water. It was there that he learned how to fish. South Water is part of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding protected marine preserve. The island pokes out of the second largest living reef in the world, rich with giant heads of coral and schools of vibrant reef fish. Our target species lay not there, but in the shallows and coves that tightly ring these islands as well those of Glover's Reef. Glover's sits 30 miles offshore. Beyond it, the water rolls out into the open ocean, not to be interrupted again for hundreds of miles.

Robert J. "Bob" Whipple
Bob Whipple age 72, of Drain, Oregon, passed away on Wednesday, February 12, 2014. Bob was born January 29, 1942, in Cottage Grove, OR, to Jim S. Whipple and Mildred Wilcox Whipple. He graduated from Drain High School in 1960, and went on to study accounting, earning his B.S. in Business from the University of Oregon. He married Louise Goe in 1964, and together they had four children: Terry, Anne, Scott, and J.B. In 2003 he married Kyle Morgan, spending the last years of his life together with her. They enjoyed traveling together, especially their annual trek to Belize. Music was a great love in Bob's life. He frequently attended live performances and had an extensive home music collection. Bob greatly enjoyed spending time at his ranch hunting, fishing, and playing on the Umpqua River with family and friends.

Caribbean countries with fixed currencies should not entertain devaluation
Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr. Delisle Worrell is urging Caribbean countries with fixed currencies, not to entertain the thought of any devaluation as a means of restoring stability to their economies. Worrell told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that his recommendation does not only apply to Barbados, where the local dollar is fixed at US$0.50 cents, but also to those of the Eastern Caribbean, the Bahamas, Belize, and other stable currencies in the region. "There is no point in changing the exchange rate, for the only value of the Barbados dollar for instance, is the fact that it is a US dollar by another name," Worrell said. "So in a sense I feel that all independent currencies of countries that are as small as our, need to be run by Central Banks, which will provide bank supervision, and other responsibilities that fall under the Central Bank." Worrell said that these countries should not be entertaining monetary policy which funds government operations resulting in a decline in reserves and threaten the value of the dollar.

"Walking the Amazon", Book Review
If there were a contest for "DO NOT ATTEMPT" extreme-adventure books, Ed Stafford's account of "Walking the Amazon" would take top prize. His achievement of being "the first man to ever walk the entire length of the Amazon Basin" is monumental. Yet, by his own admission, he suffered from depression over much of the 860 days it took to complete the journey. Consequently, he devoted little time or energy to seeing the Amazon watershed as more than something to be conquered. He only delivers tidbits of information about the vastly different environments he covered, and even less about the cultures he encountered. But if it's adventure you want, "Walking the Amazon" has plenty! Stafford has a peculiar mind, one that can focus on the finish line, no matter what obstacles block his path. In 2007, he worked for Trekforce, a British organization specializing in "conservation expeditions." After a night of drinking in Belize City, Stafford and Luke Collyer, another expedition leader, decided they wanted to accomplish a feat most of their colleagues would call "impossible." Others had kayaked down the Amazon River, but they would hike the length of the Amazon Basin, 4,800 miles from the Pacific coast of Peru to the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil. To be enthroned in the "Guinness Book of World Records," every inch must be walked: no riding donkeys, hitching rides or floating down parts of the river.

Caribbean Development Bank optimistic about 2014
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) recently delivered an economic overview of its nineteen regional Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs), estimating overall growth of 1.5% in 2013, up from 1.2% in 2012. The commodity exporters grew at a relatively faster pace than those dependent on services, despite softer commodity prices. Output in Guyana, Suriname and Haiti expanded by 4-6%, while Belize and Trinidad and Tobago grew less rapidly, based on lower energy sector output. None of the service-based economies saw growth over 3%, and Anguilla and Barbados experienced their sixth consecutive year of "economic stagnation". St. Lucia is estimated to have contracted in 2013, based on declines in construction and financial sector activity, which were not fully mitigated by the uptick in tourism activity.

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