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Today's Belize News: March 29, 2014 #488753
03/29/14 04:03 AM
03/29/14 04:03 AM
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Specials and Events

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

The San Pedro Sun

Special Operation “cleans up” San Pedro
On Thursday, March 20th a contingency of law enforcement agencies consisting of members of Belize Police Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) and the Belize Defense Force (BDF) descended on the island to tackle the current surge in crime. The team consisted of 47 personnel, mostly from the Eastern Police Division which is the police jurisdiction that includes the islands. The operation ran from Thursday, March 20th through Saturday, March 22nd, during which time the officers confiscated a large quantity of drugs and a firearm. Large amounts of illegal drugs were seized during the three-day operation. Drugs found included 1,215.4 grams of cocaine and 1,097.3 grams of cannabis. Other items seized by the police included: one 4.5 inch long crack pipe, one marijuana plant measuring 1.5 feet, one 9mm Luger CZ 110 firearm with a magazine containing three live rounds of 9mm ammunition, one liter Teachers Whisky, three liters Bacardi White Rum, one liter Label 5 Whisky.

Guest Editorial: People of San Pedro, Enough Is Enough: ARISE!
Submitted by Corry McDermott My brother Jerry McDermott and I tried over 12 years ago to help give better living conditions for the police force on this island. We gave a house and lumber to them and nothing happened. You ask, “Why hasn’t the local and federal or national government helped us. Partly, I believe that hasn’t happened for the last 28 years I have lived here, and worked and enjoyed this beautiful island and its people, not the PUP or the UDP have ever given more than $69,000BZ yearly to us these past 28 years to San Pedro. Instead, the politicians have taken millions from this island and they have talked, and talked about helping with our very much needed infrastructure, but little has happened. Unbelievable, when I do believe we give the most millions to the national government than anyone. When I talked to our leaders years ago they wanted to raise the hotel tax from 6% to 7% and they would give us the 1% to stay here to help better our falling down infrastructure. That never happened, when I believe the hotel tax is now 9% and still we haven’t received even half of the one percent, but after seeing we have been recently named twice in a row the number one island in the world is us, Ambergris Caye and you would think the government would want our infrastructure to be the best so our visiting tourists would want to come back over and over and as I told George Price in the 80’s that the tourists couldn’t hurt us. They wouldn’t take jobs from our Belizeans but create more jobs for them by leaving their money when they left. He agreed and at that point tourism became the main source of income for all of Belize.

New south cemetery may be relocated
Residents of the Mosquito Coast Area of San Pedro Town are not happy after they received word that the south cemetery is being relocated into their neighborhood. The cemetery that is currently on the dump site road was opened in 2013 after it was determined that there was no more burial space at the old downtown cemetery at end of Barrier Reef Drive. Mayor of San Pedro Town Daniel Guerrero would not go into details, but did indicate that there is a possibility that the cemetery may be relocated. According to Mosquito Coast residents, the area in which the council is planning to relocate the cemetery is residential. They protested that not only is it not the most pleasant sight to have to live with, but such a relocation will decrease the value of their properties. In addition, neighbors claim that the area in question is swamp land, which is also not fit for burial purposes. The Mayor did not say in which area of Mosquito Coast they are contemplating to move but residents are claiming that it is directly across from Marin’s Store. Mayor Guerrero stated that the possible relocation of the cemetery is in discussion but has not finalized. He further explained that the current land on which the new cemetery sits on has not been fully acquired by the Government of Belize and the process may take a very long time to be completed. Guerrero said the five-acre land being proposed for the relocation of the cemetery is being given to the San Pedro Town Council.

Diamante Beachfront Suites breaks ground
The official groundbreaking for Diamante Beachfront Suites was held on March 27, 2014 at the beautiful beachfront location of the newest development on Ambergris Caye. Invited guests were witness to the ceremonial digging of the sand by owner Lisa McCorkle-Guerrero, Sales Director Kristian Guerrero, business partner Phil Keuber, Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr. and Mayor Daniel Guerrero. It was a brief affair that highlighted the dream of Lisa and her late husband Miguel’s vision to develop this prime property into an exemplary complex. Designed with luxury in mind, and being built with utmost attention to structural integrity and energy efficiency, Diamante will feature five standalone buildings comprised of 2- and 3-bedroom condos with private balconies, high-end appliances, 10 foot ceilings and high end finishes throughout. Prospective homeowners will have an opportunity to purchase a full strata condominium in the heart of town, with direct views of the gorgeous Caribbean sea and Belize’s spectacular barrier reef.

Ambergris Today

Groundbreaking of Diamante Luxury Beachfront Development
Local island developer Lisa McCorkle Guerrero, officially broke ground to one of the island’s most luxurious and prestigious beachfront developments to date. She, along with her partners and associates, took to the shovels and officially commenced construction of the Diamante Beachfront Suites on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Diamante Beachfront Suites is a luxury beachfront development that boasts a classic and contemporary feel in building and design. It offers prospective homeowners an opportunity to purchase a full strata condominium in perfect proximity to all the town of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize has to offer.

San Pedro Belize Red Cross Holds Successful Blood Drive
There is been a some talk about people being turned away from giving blood in San Pedro although they were able to in their native country. This article is to help everyone understand the challenges the San Pedro Belize Red Cross (SPBRC) is facing in regards to building a healthy supply of blood for Ambergris Caye. Consider the fact that Belize is a developing country and has neither the technology nor the resources to spin and clean blood. The screening standards currently being utilized in Belize date back to 1991 and any changes to those standards would have to be done country wide. The SPBRC hopes to get some educational assistance on the current standards from the American Red Cross and Canadian Blood Services to help in this area. In the interim, we will still set our goal of (50) pints at the next blood drive in June: Aside from building a strong base of regular donors, the San Pedro Branch hopes to do this by encouraging more young adults to donate. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, the San Pedro Branch was able to collect 30 pints of blood last Saturday. Adding that to the current stock, gives Ambergris Caye for a grand total of 72 pints on reserve. So far 7 pints have been used by 2 different people.

Misc Belizean Sources

Dara feeding program receives donation
Joel “Dara” Robinson has been feeding school children in Belize City out of pocket for seven years now, and his humanitarian efforts have earned him wide acclaim. But that does not always translate to the money he needs to keep the program going. He estimates that he spends upwards of $1,300 per month, the majority on food supplies. To help out, the Social Security Board today handed over $5,000 worth of kitchen appliances, including a brand new stove, refrigerator, cake mixer, microwave oven, freezer and blender, and promised to pay out $500 per month to help Dara meet his program budget. Social Security’s Belize City administrator Shawn Stuart says this is the Board’s way of recognizing its origins as a collector of contributions from working Belizeans which pay for employment and other benefits and promoting the children as the future.

Cancer Society opens dialogue with media on non-communicable diseases
The Belize Cancer Society today hosted the press in an information and strategy session to address the issues of portrayal of non-communicable diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes and especially cancer in print and on the airwaves. These diseases are recognized as a leading cause of death in Belize. From 2007 to 2011 there were 857 deaths caused by cancer in Belize: 421 women and 436 men. For women, cervical cancer caused 23% of all deaths; prostate and lung cancer are leaders among men. According to Cancer Society president Laura Longsworth, Belizeans must begin to change their lifestyles and eating habits and make regular visits to the doctor, getting over their shyness with regard to medical procedures. She pointed out that health services are available to all Belizeans, even under NHI (National Health Insurance), but few take advantage, especially men.

Toledo farmers get equipment for seed production project
A bold new community initiative was officially launched on Thursday in Silver Creek village in the Toledo district. The Nim La Ha Chutamil Cooperative Society Limited was officially presented and a seed production facility for the new community group received much needed start-up equipment. It’s a community initiative where people from a small community have come together to help themselves and by extension their neighbors. The Seeds for Development” project is intended to provide farmers from Silver Creek and surrounding communities to be able to produce quality grains at a minimal cost.

Ladyville police investigate alleged rape report
A 51 year old man is accused of raping a 26 year old woman early this morning in Ladyville village, Belize district. Police say that acting upon information received, they visited an area near mile 10 ½ miles on the Phillip Goldson Highway where they encountered a man who was apparently holding a woman against her will. Police say when they arrived at the swampy, overgrown area about ten feet away from the roadside, they noticed that the man had his hands over the woman’s mouth and she was struggling to escape. Police say they ordered both the man and the woman out of the swamp at which time the woman immediately told them that she had been raped.

PACT Gives Radios to FCD
This week, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust gave the Friends of Conservation and Development a set of radios to help with communicating while they monitor and protect the Chiquibul National Forest and Chiquibul Cave System. Thanks, PACT!

Orquidea Negra at Maya Festival
The Orquidea Negra Dance Company went down to Toledo with a bunch of fans to celebrate Maya Day. Here are some high quality stills from their performance. "Our own Orquidea Negra Dance Company performing at the Maya Day at Tumul K'in Learning Center, Blue Creek, Toledo District. Proud of them... Photographs courtesy of Subrata Basu"

DPP clarifies her role in the Penner private prosecution
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal today broke her silence with regard to the case against Elvin Penner brought by Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA). After Thursday’s drama and spectacle of which she was a small part, Belize’s chief prosecutor felt the need to clarify her role, which essentially is that of an observer. Having met with the group on Wednesday, she made clear that while private prosecutions are an avenue of bringing a matter to the court, the ultimate responsibility for prosecution of a crime once the tests of sufficient evidence and level of public interest are satisfied, rests in the office of the DPP. She points out that while her office has not been satisfied to lay charges based on what has been presented by police, that investigation has not yet concluded and the directives given by the office three Fridays ago have not been met, and if she is not in a position at this time to lay such charges, then she cannot assume control of any prosecution brought by anyone else.

Magistrate wins judicial review of residency application
The Immigration Department has been ordered to receive and process the application of Jamaican magistrate Narda Morgan to receive Belizean permanent residency, after Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel ruled in favour of Morgan in an application for judicial review. Morgan represented herself as she sought to overturn the decision of Director of the Department, Maria Marin, to refuse her application and deny her request to state the reasons for such rejection in writing. Morgan was hired by the Government in 2011 in the local Magistracy and holds a CARICOM Special Skills Certificate. She tried to apply for permanent residency sometime thereafter, but was refused. Attorney for the Department, Crown Counsel Herbert Panton, was unable to convince Judge Abel that the Treaty of Chaguaramas which established the Caribbean Community and guaranteed freedom of movement for all Caribbean citizens, did not apply to citizenship of any territory.

Staff and management problems pop up at St. Ignatius High School
Tensions are running high between management and the staff of the St. Ignatius High School in Santa Elena town, Cayo district. Late payment of salary and arbitrary reassignment of job description to faculty members are just two of the list of complaints which surfaced today. According to veteran trade unionist and former General Secretary of the Belize National Teachers Union, George Frazer, its time for the issued raised by the staff of the High School be addressed seriously. Following classes today, the teacher met with BNTU officials to fully air their grievances. Today’s meeting with the staff of St. Ignatius High School was in advance of a planned Monday morning meeting involving Ministry of Education officials, the Board of Governors of the High School and the BNTU.

Small fire in Punta Gorda town
The Punta Gorda branch of the National Fire Service was today called upon to put out a small fire in town. It is not certain how the fire got started behind a restaurant in the vicinity of the PG Central Park. People in the area started to see the smoke which soon started to affect visibility for motorists and pedestrians alike. After putting out the fire, officials of the National Fire Service appealed to PG residents to take precautions with fire especially during this dry season to minimize dangers to lives and property. No one was hurt in today’s incident in Punta Gorda town and there were no structural damage.

3rd Annual Reading Fair
Over 10 primary school were invited to visit the the third Annual Reading Fair hosted by the Language Arts Department of St. John’s College High School in Belize City. The children expressed great interest in journalism and the importance of writing and reading.

Flash Mob in San Ignacio
There was a flash mob in Cayo! The San Ignacio Public Library, along with the Canadian Rotary, teamed up with some Sacred Heart primary school students to head to the Cayo Welcome Center for the performance. The SIPL also teamed up with tourism students at SHJC for the Art in the Park day. "Sacred Heart school participates in flash mob to encourage reading to keep literacy alive. thanks canadian rotary and SHPS in making the library a part of this event."

Earth Hour Tomorrow
Earth Day is coming, and tonight contains Earth Hour. There will be a celebration at Governor General Field in Belmopan starting at 8:00pm. Switch off your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 to celebrate. Panerrifix will be playing.

Validation Session for the Development of an Investor’s Guide for Mitigation and Carbon Markets and a Mitigation Project Portfolio
Government of Belize Press Office

Hundreds of Pre-schoolers, parents and teachers marched today through the principal streets of Corozal
Hundreds of Pre-schoolers, parents and teachers marched today through the principal streets of Corozal to celebrate the conclusion of Pre-School Stimulation month. Kudos to the Ministry of Education, schools, teachers, parents and the many volunteers for their tireless work and efforts in this successful endeavor. Corozal is certainly proud of its future young leaders. Power to the people of Corozal. Will share more photos on Monday.

Participants with display boots at the Caribbean ICT Road Show underway at the Corozal Communty College Sports Campus Auditorium.
BELTRAIDE - Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Energy, Science & Technology and Public Utilities, Centro Escolar Mexico Junior College, Corozal Community College, Stellar Links Corozal, Fultec Systems, BTL, Belize Police Department.

Grand Belize Casino Hotel to open in Santa Elena, Belize
The Grand Belize Entertainment Group has been granted a gaming license and secured the location to operate the former Golden Princess Casino in Santa Elena, Belize. Grand Belize Casino Hotel plans to operate approximately 500 slot machines, 20 table games, a brand new 50-room hotel, over 20,000 square feet of events space, and multiple first class food & beverage offerings. The location that the Grand Belize Casino Hotel sits sees over one million visitors per year and is known for its popular duty-free shopping. Michael Glauser, chief operating officer of The Grand Belize Entertainment Group, said, “We are excited to step in and operate in this location. Although there are still plans for a larger casino resort, opening in this current location allows the Grand Belize brand to place a foothold in the market. We look forward to making a positive impact on the local community, as well as Belize as a whole.”

US Capital Energy And Government Of Belize Taunt Supreme Court - SATIIM File For Injunction
On October 23rd, 2013, arguments ended in the case between SATIIM and the indigenous communities, and the Government of Belize. Justice Arana reserved judgment. One would expect that a law-abiding and socially responsible company would suspend its activities out of respect for the Belizean justice system until a judgement was delivered. Not so with US Capital Energy. In fact, they continue to conduct themselves as though there are no claims before the Supreme Court of Belize. US Capital Energy, most likely with the blessing of the Government of Belize, has been working around the clock engaging in pre-drilling activities, which are part-and-parcel of exploratory drilling operations. These activities, from our view, continue to violate the National Parks System Act and the Rights of the Indigenous Communities. SATIIM adjourned the injunction it filed in July 2013. This was because US Capital informed SATIIM and the Court that they would not drill until December 2013. As a consequence of letters to the parties associated with the oil contract requesting for information on the activities in the park, the Attorney General’s Ministry, in a letter dated February 10, 2014, informed the Court and SATIIM’s legal Counsels that no drilling will happen before March, 2014. The Attorney General was acting on behalf of the defendants named in SATIIM’s claim, including US Capital Energy.

What You Need to Know About Traveling to Central America
Central America is part of North America, but it is often grouped as a political collective, sometimes with the Caribbean, but usually by itself. The region is composed of seven nations: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Mexico is to its north, Columbia is to its south while its west and east flanks are bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea respectively. Of the seven nations, only Belize has a primary official language that is not Spanish. It is English. Belize was formerly known as British Honduras before receiving its independence in 1973. The country, however, is also claimed by Guatemala which considers the land its 23rd department or state. No worries — it is a peaceful dispute, at least for now. Getting There and Getting Around To get to Central America, several airlines serve its major cities. American, United, and Delta all fly to points due south. Also serving the area are Copa Airlines, TACA, and Avianca. Some people visit Central America via cruise line. Very few travel by car, particularly from the United States. It is possible to do so via the Pan American Highway.

Video: Razing the Roof: Acts of Purposeful Destruction in and around the Belize River Valley
17 min. Annual Maya Symposium - Sarah Kurnick Voices of the Past: Maya Research Scholars, first-time visitors, enthusiasts, and lovers of all things Maya are invited to take part in a full day of special Maya-related programming. Guests hear from experts, including Curator Richard Leventhal and Associate Curator and Keeper Simon Martin, one of the world's leading scholars on ancient Maya glyph writing—both of the Penn Museum's American Section—as well as scholars and students specializing in a variety of pre-Columbian disciplines. Topics of discussion range from ancient environmental issues, to historic excavation sites, to the future of Maya heritage.

Savannah Ecosystem Assessment Belize, 2009 - 2012

Video: 1. Overview of the Darwin Savanna Project.

Video: 2. How the scientific findings are now used in Belize.
How the scientific findings are now used in Belize. (Elma Kay, Pat Ashworth, Kamela Palma).

Video: 3. How the new Savanna mapping is being used in Belize.
How the new Savanna mapping is being used in Belize. (Jan Meerman & Edilberto Romero).

Video: 4. Benefits of the botanical research for Belize.
Benefits of the botanical research for Belize (Elma Kay, Jan Meerman and Rudi Aguilar).

Video: 5. The re-curation of the national herbarium.
The re-curation of the national herbarium (Dave Harris, Elma Kay, German Lopez).

Video: 6. Wider beneficiaries of the project throughout Belize.
Wider beneficiaries of the project throughout Belize. (Judy DuPlooy & Sharon Matola).

Video: Belize 1
8min, scuba diving

Video: Belize media clip
Chiquibul rainforest is rich in diversity

32min. From Spanish colonial Antigua to the Mayan temples towering above the jungle

Video: Belize Adventure!
4min. We tackled the muddy roads, steep stairs, deep caves, and coral reefs of San Ignacio, Caracol, Caves Branch, Caye Caulker, and Ambergris Caye.

Channel 7

Wild Shootout and Chase in City
Mahogany Street is one of the most trafficked thoroughfares in Belize City - but this afternoon pedestrians ran for cover and drivers ducked behind their steering wheels, as dozens of shots were fired in a high speed chase. It played out at around 1:40 - when multiple police units were pursuing a private van. Most of it played out on Mahogany street where a red Van was seen firing shots near the complex building. Police came behind, firing after the van, and as it sped away east on Mahogany Street. That's where a GSU Patrol was waiting. The van was heading right for them as the GSU let off gunshots - but they didn't shoot out the tyres and the van darted down a side street. The GSU followed, but the van eluded them, and re-emerged unto Mahogany Street where another police vehicle set chase, gunshots firing the whole time. But the van got away from them both - and while they shot the van, it kept going. Incredible, under chase from at least three police vehicles, the driver of the van got to his home on Santa Barbara Street which is two blocks from Mahogany street. That's where police caught him.

Cayo Teachers Call In the Union On Their Principal
This morning, word went out that the teachers of Saint Ignatius High School in Santa Elena Town, in Cayo, went on a type of “go slow” with the threat of striking. It’s a situation that has been brewing at the school, we are told, for several days now, where the teachers say that the interim Principal, Vanessa Neal, has been making personnel decisions and transfers they don’t agree with, and which they say put their jobs at risk.

May Bush Gets 13 Years For Killing Man
54 year-old Cayo Resident May Bush will spend 13 years in prison for killing 29 year-old David Guerra. That was the sentence that Temporary Supreme Court Justice Antoinette Moore handed her today in the Belmopan Magistrate's Court. As we reported, in February, Bush stood trial without a jury before Justice Moore, where evidence was presented that on June 18, 2011, she stabbed Guerra, who was the boyfriend of her daughter, with a pen knife after they had a been drinking at restaurant. The incident reportedly happened after Guerra and Bush's common-law husband ended up in a bar brawl. In the trial, Bush denied the crime, but the prosecution presented evidence that police found her on the scene shortly after Guerra's stabbing, with the bloody 7 inch knife which was used to commit the crime.

DPP Sees No Case For Criminal Charges Yet
Yesterday, we told you all about the private prosecution against former Minister of State Elvin Penner. Well today the Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Lynn Vidal made her position clear in a detailed letter to the press. She stresses that she's an interested observer in the COLA matter, but, she has not taken over their private prosecution, especially since her office has not even launched a public prosecution. And her office hasn't done that because as she explains, quote, "I have not yet reached the stage where I am satisfied, on what has been presented to me by the police, that I can properly direct that charges be laid." The investigation is ongoing and the DPP says "the directives given (to police) 3 Fridays ago have not all yet been complied with." So she concludes, "If I am not in a position, at this time, to direct that charges be laid, then I am certainly not in any position to assume control of any prosecution brought by anyone else." In that regard, we stress that the DPP was not in court yesterday. She adds that she "has not joined COLA", or "is appearing on behalf of COLA" because if she did, it would be a public prosecution, and it is not that, not at this point.

Alleged Scotia Bank Robber Gets Off (again) In Nolle Pros Case
It made national headlines when armed robbers targeted the Scotia Bank Branch in Spanish Lookout, killed 32 year-old Steven Lopez, the on-duty security guard, and made off with over 300 thousand dollars. Well the news tonight, that 25 year-old Frank Edwards, the man who was accused and acquitted of being the gunman who shot Lopez to death, is now virtually free of the robbery itself. His trial before Temporary Justice Antoinette Moore began on Tuesday before a jury of 9 was empaneled to hear the first prosecution witness called by, Senior Crown Counsel Cecil Ramirez. But he didn't get too far with his case. That's because, Edwards' attorney, Dickie Bradley, indicated to the court that he was going to challenge a caution statement police say that he gave, which they intend to use to secure a conviction against him. In a trial within this trial, Bradley contented that in Edwards' murder trial almost exactly 2 years ago, the prosecution tried to use this very same statement against him. It was challenged then, and Justice Troadio Gonzalez threw it out ruling that it was improperly obtained by police investigators.

18 Year Old’s Family Discuss Accident
On Wednesday we told you that Erin Davis had died. The 18 year old Belize City resident was in that March ninth traffic fatality that killed 20 year old Linsbert Tucker and 3 year old Ashley Silva. Well Erin Davis was sitting beside Tucker when he crashed into the oncoming vehicle. He was hospitalized for 17 days, and died on Wednesday. His mother who works in the hospital monitored her son throughout, from he was brought into the emergency room. Today, she told Monica Bodden what she saw:…

Youth Thanks KHMH Doc’s For Saving His Life
And, keeping it at the KHMH – our next story involving a teenaged patient has a much happier ending. Remember in January when we were reporting on all those worrying h1n1 cases? Well, we told you about a 14 year old who wa sin grave condition – possible from h1n1 - and had to be put into an induced coma. Well, he stayed under that for a month, but he survived! And today – still recovering - he went back to the KHMH to say thanks for saving his life. Monica Bodden was there:..

Court Tells Immigration Dept to Make Jamaican Magistrate A Resident
Two weeks ago, San Ignacio Magistrate Nardia Morgan made the news after an allegation emerged against her that she inexplicably reversed a ruling she had made to be more lenient to a convicted Guatemalan drug trafficker. Well tonight, she's back in the news because the Jamaican National is challenging Belizean authorities to grant her citizenship here. She applied to the Immigration Department to gain permanent resident status, but her application was refused by Acting Director Maria Marin. She didn't accept that as the final decision, and with her attorney, she applied to the Supreme Court for Judicial review of Marin's decision. Her claim was that she had met all the requirements for permanent residency, but her application was unfairly refused.

El Salvadoran President-Elect In Belize
The President-elect of El Salvador is in Belize tonight. Former Guerilla Commander, Salvador Sanchez Ceren arrived in Belize this morning three weeks after a razor thin victory at the polls. Reports say the 69 year old paid courtesy calls on the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister today - but that cannot be confirmed. He is expected to be at UB in Belmopan tomorrow - again unconfirmed. And all this is unconfirmed because the local press was not told about or invited to cover his visit. We are told it was classified because of security risks to the President elect. What we do know for sure is that his contingent staying at the Radisson which is beefed up with security and that he leaves tomorrow.

Dara Gets Institutional Backative
Very many times on this newscast, we’ve covered the grassroots philanthropy of Dar Robinson. His feeding programme feeds 40 - 50 school children per day, and he does it all out of his small home. It’s his life’s work, no one pays him to do it, and, generally, he only gets the thanks of the children he feeds. But Dara never asks for anything other than contributions to his very worthy cause, and the Social security Board came through nicely for him today with a donation of five thousand dollars’ worth of kitchen appliances, and a commitment to give him 500 dollars monthly to buy groceries. They did this at his home in Belize City and we were there:…

SATIIM Calls Peyrefitte Remarks Offensive
Last night on the news, you heard the attorney for US Capital Energy Mike Peyrefitte putting down the Mayan Leaders who have negotiated with the oil company. He characterized them as greedy and caring most about money and least about the environment. Today SATIIM sent out a release challenging his bald accusations. The release calls his comments "uninformed and offensive." The statement adds, quote, "For a corporation, it is always about money, so of course negotiations with them include discussions about money." SATIIM says that "When the Maya people say land rights, the oil company hears money; When they as for consultation, the oil company hears money; and when they talk about their culture, and environment, the oil company hears nothing.

Youths Are Tops In Table Tennis
The third Dutch Lady Primary School Table Tennis championship was held today at Belize Elementary School. Youth players from 7 primary schools got to play on a major spread in a full tournament setting. President of the Belize Table Tennis Association Tux Vasquez who organized the event told us more:... On Monday, we'll tell you who the winners were.

Ce’Cile Sweets Up Belize
Reggae songstress Ce'cile is back in Belize tonight. The internationally known vocalist and hit maker is her for a concert in Dangriga that is also a fundraiser. She told us about the event called upgrade: The concert is tomorrow night in Dangriga Town.

Tonight's I AM Belize Profile, featuring inspirational teachers and their influence on students, tells the story of Annette Cooper. She started learning the skills she uses to teach by learning from a technician who fully assembled computers from their parts out of the box. Her fascination with the hands-on approach to technology led to individuals observing her progress, that she had the potential to be an educator because she had the ability to show observers in a step-by-step basis. Here's her story:

Channel 5

Mahogany Street shooting; police on hot pursuit fire shots at fleeing vehicle
Around one-thirty this afternoon, there was a dangerous shooting on Mahogany Street; it was all caught by our camera. Here’s how it unfolded…Police and GSU officers were responding to a [...]

St. Ignatius teachers revolt against decisions of high school management
In the west, there is growing dissention tonight among the faculty and staff of St. Ignatius High School in Santa Elena Town, following a series of unsanctioned decisions reportedly being [...]

Valley of Peace farmers receive some good news
Green Tropics, a Spanish company involved in sugar cane cultivation, is accused of conducting aerial spraying in the Valley of Peace community which is the main supplier of vegetables in [...]

Frank Edwards beat murder rap and now walks from robbery in Scotia Bank heist
Frank Edwards beat a murder charge back in 2011 before Justice Troadio Gonzalez but he was in the Belmopan Supreme Court this week on a robbery charge. Edwards was accused [...]

Fifty-one year old sentenced to thirteen years for manslaughter
Fifty-one year old May Bush, convicted of the June 2011 stabbing death of David Guerra, has been sentenced to thirteen years for manslaughter.  On March seventh, a jury of twelve [...]

Supreme Court says Jamaican magistrate qualifies for permanent residency
A written judgement is yet to follow, but a decision was verbally handed down in the case of Magistrate of San Ignacio, Nardia Morgan. Morgan defended herself in trial this [...]

Road Safety Program sees infrastructural road works on highways
Anybody travelling on the George Price Highway recently would see a massive program of infrastructure works in effect. It’s all part of a wider Road Safety Program, and the primary [...]

SATIIM continues to monitor illegal harvesting activity
The perennial issue of rosewood extraction, despite an existing moratorium, remains a thorn in the sides of conservationists across the south.  Illegal logging operations continue throughout Toledo, from Trio in [...]

Rape in Ladyville; aggressor was caught in the act
There is also a case of rape to report tonight where the aggressor was caught in the act.  Early this morning at about two-thirty, Ladyville police were tipped about a [...]

Armed hold-up at the Oasis Water Plant in Corozal
Up north, police have detained an alleged robber and are looking for another.  At about seven-twenty on Thursday morning, there was an armed hold-up at the Oasis Water Plant located [...]

Budget Wrap Up – a revisit of the fireworks in the House
The annual budget debate 2014, held on Monday and Tuesday, has been widely described as anticlimactic, primarily because majority of the arguments in the Honorable House revolved around the many [...]

Kids Talk News
The International Children’s Day of Broadcasting was launched by UNICEF in 1991 in order to encourage broadcasters worldwide to create awareness for children issues. ICDB, is a day when broadcasters [...]

3rd Annual Primary School Table Tennis Tournament
The third annual primary school table tennis competition was held today at the Belize Elementary School Auditorium. Seven schools, sixty-four athletes and two hundred and fifty-six games later, the top [...]


Barrow Says EU Needs to Get Its Act Together
In other issues that made the news this week, Love News managed to question the Prime Minister on these including the European Union’s ban on Belize’s fishing imports. It is an issue, we thought was crucial as we have brought reports to you on several initiatives that the Government had been undertaking in order to avoid such a decision by the EU….but according to Barrow, it’s not something to put much stock into. RT. HON. DEAN BARROW “I’m not especially worried except, I think the EU does need to get its act together. You can’t send a team down here, you can’t have an understanding reached; you can’t offer assurances by way of that team that certain things will happen or not happen and then within a couple of weeks, you go back on your word. But the practical effect of what has been done is not of a kind of consequence that unduly worries me. You are talking about a small number of ships, part of the fishing fleet, that can’t now access European Ports. In the larger scheme of things, really it is not something to be especially concerned about.”

Barrow on Esquivels’ Resignations: “….what it is, is what it is.”
In the early part of March, the Director for Belize Tourism Board was ousted from the organization after several managers filed complaints of no-confidence in her management. On the heels of that announcement, Lady Kathy Esquivel who served as the Director of the National AIDS Commission and Sir Manuel Esquivel, former Prime Minister also tendered his resignation as a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister. It was a triple move that surprised many and left many questions unanswered. Today, Love News spoke to the Prime Minister today and got his feedback on the matter. RT. HON. DEAN BARROW “I wrote to both Sir Manuel and Lady Kathy; I thanked both of them for their stellar service with respect to the last positions they held. I went on in the case of Sir Manuel to make the point that this was of course just part of a large trajectory – a larger historical background that fixes him firmly in the national consciousness as an exemplary public servant, as an exemplary politician and exemplary Prime Minister. I expressed my regret at his departure but made clear that in the circumstances I understood.”

EU’s Belize Ambassador on Working Visit in Country
Head of Delegation of the European Union to Belize Ambassador Paola Amadei is on a working visit to Belize. The Ambassador’s visit is to participate in the first political dialogue with the Government of Belize under article 8 of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. British High Commissioner Peter Hughes will address issues of mutual interest for Belize and the European Union related to national security, human rights, regional integration, climate change and natural disasters. The dialogue will also cover recent developments in Belize and the European Union in the political and economic sphere. As part of the dialogue, Ambassador Amadei and other officials will take part in a high level visit to the Guatemala border being organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the security and environmental concerns between Belize and Guatemala, including illegal logging and gold panning , will be examined. Ambassador Amadei will hold meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development in charge of EU development cooperation, and participate in a special tour to the Toledo Cacao Growers Association and the Maya House of Cacao in Southern Belize which have received funding under the EU supported Belize Rural Development Program. Ambassador Amadei will leave Belize on Sunday.

Nat’l Security CEO Says Police Officers Will Get Paid ASAP
Complaints were coming out of the Police Department about two weeks ago regarding payments that were not forthcoming for duties worked some months ago. Colonel Lovell assured the media that this matter is being addressed. COLONEL GEORGE LOVELL “Extraneous duties, as we refer to them, is something that is issued after the fact, the one that is done in the December period is usually issued around the March time frame. March is the period when we look at our finances and there is a period of time when the Ministry of Finance will close all budget activities. This unfortunately happened and a few of the extraneous duties which the Ministry has approved for some reason did not make it through the Human Resource Management System that we have at the Ministry of Public Service.


Our Lady of Guadalupe Launches 3rd Annual Science and Business Fair
Our Lady of Guadalupe R.C. in Belmopan held its third annual Science and Business Fair. Emanuel Pech visited the high school this morning and has the story. Emanuel Pech- Reporter for Plus News Science and Business Fair- an all day event that gives students an opportunity to lay down...

Ladyville Woman Found Apparently Being Raped
A woman says she was raped early this morning in Ladyville. Police say that acting upon information received, they visited an area near mile 10 ½ miles on the Phillip Goldson Highway. There they met a man who was apparently holding a woman against her will. According to...

Placencia Claims Another Rape Incident and a Robbery
There is another rape incident to report on. Plus News has learned that a tourist has been raped and robbed in the village of Placencia. Information is sketchy at this time as Police have not sent out any release on this latest crime against tourists. However, we understand that...

DPP Clarifies her Role in Lawsuit Against Mr. Penner
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal today broke her silence with regard to the case against Elvin Penner brought by Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA). After Thursday’s drama and spectacle of which she was a small part, Belize’s chief prosecutor felt the need to clarify her role,...

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Maranco tries to tap 50 million barrels of dense oil in Orange Walk
During Tuesday’s budget debate, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow announced a major oil find—an estimated 50 million barrels—in northern Belize. Today, Amandala got some details of the find from Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Dr. Colin Young, who told us that while the company, Maranco, has estimated that the crude oil reserve within a 2,500 to 3,000-acre chunk of northwestern Orange Walk could total 50 million barrels, preliminary indications are that the oil will be difficult and more expensive to extract than the crude at Spanish Lookout, which is a lighter crude. “50 million barrels in the ground does not translate into recoverable crude,” said CEO Young. Amandala readers will recall that recoverable reserves at Spanish Lookout were estimated at 10 to 14 million barrels of oil. Young said that Maranco made the find after assessing the South Canal Bank #3 site, but the oil is 16 api (a unit of measure used by the American Petroleum Institute). This contrasts sharply with the crude that Belize Natural Energy found at Spanish Lookout, which Young said is 38-40 api crude.

Judge orders elections for Belize Ex-Services League
Mckesson Garrett, head of the Belize City branch of the Belize Ex-Services League, told Amandala today that a decision handed down by Supreme Court Justice Courtenay Abel, mandating the Belize Ex-Services League to hold elections which would include the general membership from the various branches across the country, rather than two representatives per branch, could restore stability to the organization and bring the kind of unity that they have not enjoyed for over a decade. Garrett said that in advance of that biennial meeting, due to be held next month, at which members should vote to elect “fresh blood” to govern the organization, the Belize City branch will host a meeting of its 60 or so members. That meeting is due to be held at Canada House on Princess Margaret Drive in Belize City at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 30. The Belize City branch and the executive management of the League have been locked in a bitter dispute for years.

Erin Davis, 18, who was involved in a tragic road accident on Sunday, March 9, in Burrell Boom, in which two persons were killed, died 17 days after the incident due to the massive head injuries he suffered as a result. He went into a coma after being injured, and did not recover. The Davis family of Administration Drive, Belize City, is devastated and is mourning the death of Erin, who died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) at about 2:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon. Police reports are that at about 5:15 Sunday evening, March 9, they went to the scene of a reported traffic collision in the Burrell Boom area near the riverside, where they saw two vehicles with the front portions extensively damaged. Their investigations revealed that Lindbergh Tucker, 20, the driver of a white Honda SUV, was driving out of the Boom Road when he collided with a white KIA Sportage coming from the opposite direction, driven by Karim Silva, 31, who was accompanied at the time by his daughter, Ashley Silva, 3.

One hundred and eighty-nine days after Prime Minister Dean Barrow fired Minister of State Elvin Penner on September 19, 2013, for his issuance of a Belize passport and nationality paper for an unqualified South Korean criminal, Won Hong Kim, the Cayo North East area representative was arraigned this morning in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court on two criminal charges filed in a private lawsuit by the grassroots activist organization Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA). The COLA case against Penner comes after months of at least three government investigations that have yielded no results. Although it appeared that immigration laws had been broken, the Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration, told the nation that their internal investigations dealt only with public officers of the department, and Penner was not going to be questioned because he did not fall under the rules of the public service. There have been an Auditor General investigation, an internal Ministry of Immigration investigation and an investigation by the Financial Intelligence Unit, all of which produced nothing.

In February, we reported that Karen Bevans had resigned from her post as Chief Operations Officer of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) after 25 years of service at the company, but Amandala has confirmed from an official source that the Office of the Prime Minister has been in negotiations with Bevans to have her fill the recently vacated post of director of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). Laura Esquivel-Frampton resigned from that position earlier this month, after seven of BTB’s managers complained to Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia, Jr., about her leadership and penned their signature to a vote of no-confidence. Furthermore, our newspaper had received reports that the BTB came out of 2013, which saw healthy tourism growth in both the cruise and overnight sector, being millions of dollars in the red. Amandala understands Bevans met with Heredia and Prime Minister Dean Barrow yesterday to discuss the terms of reference for the BTB post, but at news time tonight, we were told that she had given no indication what her final decision is.

Greg Ch’oc, executive director of the Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management (SATIIM), said that the NGO and the Maya communities of Toledo which have joined them to challenge a decision by the Government of Belize to grant a petroleum concession over what they insist is their ancestral lands. “…will not stop until we achieve [our] rights guaranteed by the Constitution.” In a case lodged before the Supreme Court last year, SATIIM led a claim against the Government of Belize and US Capital Energy, challenging the decision to permit the company to drill in the Sarstoon National Park and to furthermore grant a concession to the company without the free, prior, informed consent of the Maya – as specified in the Maya land rights ruling by former Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh. However, Michael Peyrefitte, the attorney for US Capital, told the media today that the Maya want the company to drill, and Peyrefitte said that the only reason the Maya have gone to court is that they want a bigger share of the pie that other Belizean landowners would get from petroleum production. “It’s about money,” insisted Peyrefitte, who also sits as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Introducing Belize
A relative sent us some information today along with an SMU (Southern Methodist University) website link on a young man who has made some major strides toward his dream of playing professional football in the U.S. There are many youth with Belizean parentage in the U.S., and it is always refreshing when we hear of their success academically or in the sporting arena, especially if they show appreciation for their Belizean roots. And it could be a great inspiration for our youth back home in the Jewel. According to information on the team roster, #26 Deshawon Nembhard is a 6’1″ 170 lb Freshman defender/midfielder on the SMU men’s soccer team in Dallas, Texas. Below we print a brief extract from an article appearing recently on the team’s weekly web page, followed by some information on Deshawon provided by his uncle, Derrick Morgan.

At this newspaper, we try to be careful with words. Indeed, we have to be careful with words, because our newspaper words do not just quickly blow away into the wind: our words are printed in black and white, and they will last for generations. The words we use are there for us to be judged by, and so our words bring a weighty responsibility along with them. We have a phrase we have been using at Amandala for decades, which is, of course, “power to the people.” It was used by the Black Panther Party founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California in the late 1960s. But it was a Belizean who was visiting Belize from that said city of Oakland, California in the spring/summer of 1969, who introduced the young UBAD cultural movement to the South African word Amandla. (This Belizean was Bert Simon, who soon returned to the United States and converted to the Nation of Islam. He is now Nuri Muhammad.) Our understanding of Amandla at the time was that it translated roughly in English to “power to the people.” Over the years, we have come to understand that Amandla is part of a call-and-response ritual in South Africa where the speaker cries Amandla, or power, and the people respond, Ngawethu, which means roughly, the power belongs to the people. (In that summer of 1969, we chose to call our newspaper Amandala, adding an extra “a” to make the word more easily pronounceable.)

The anti-British colonialism vibes of the nationalist revolution in Belize were also pro-American vibes. Belizeans who travelled to Panama to work during the 1930s/1940s had been struck by the grand nature of American planning and construction in Panama. The Americans did not do things in the cheap, niggardly way in which the British had always operated in Belize. Belizeans became impressed with America, and even more disappointed with Britain. George Price’s boss in old Belize City, Bob Turton, sold his chicle to P. K. Wrigley in Chicago, and our sources say Mr. Turton and Mr. Price travelled together to New Orleans often, to transact banking business there or on their way to Chicago, where Wrigley’s chewing gum headquarters were located, or to New York City and Boston, where Mr. Turton was doing some of his mahogany business. Mr. Turton’s chief business rival in British Honduras was the Belize Estate and Produce Company (BEC), and BEC was, of course, always favored by the British colonial establishment in Belize. Bob Turton, the illegitimate son of a British army officer and a Creole lady, had to quit school at the age of 9 and fend for himself. He became British Honduras’ second native multimillionaire, after Isaiah Morter, who had made his fortune in coconuts.

Exports down, imports “continue to swell,” inflation up
The 2013 trend of declining receipts from Belize’s major exports has continued into February 2014, according to information just released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). “Belize export receipts for February 2014 stood at $49.5 million. This represents a decrease of approximately $12 million or 20 percent over the same month last year,” the SIB said. It added that export receipts for all major exports, except marine products, declined. “The largest fall in earnings occurred in the export of sugar, which fell by roughly one-half to $7.7 million,” the report said. Poor weather conditions and the delayed opening of the sugar factory was the cause of declining sugar revenues, the SIB said. However, it noted that the 2014 forecast for sugar production was generally good. Crude oil receipts were also down, despite an increase in world market prices. According to the SIB, this is because Belize exported slightly less crude oil in the month, resulting in a $2 million reduction in revenues.

Bagasse negotiations continue between BSCFA and BSI
The second in a series of intensive discussions to resolve a quantum payment for the multifaceted sugar cane byproduct known as bagasse was held this past Tuesday, March 25, at 2:00 p.m. at the BSI Staff Club in Orange Walk. Representatives of the two major stakeholders in the sugar industry, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and the mill operators Belize Sugar Industries (BSI)/ American Sugar Refineries (ASR), convened once again to hopefully hammer out a new sugar cane purchasing agreement since the infamous 2-month impasse in which cañeros refused to deliver cane to the mills unless they were given a percentage of the profits that BSI/ASR hauls annually from the sale of bagasse. Today, vice chairman of the BSCFA’s Committee of Management, Alfredo Ortega, spoke to Amandala about the developments in the negotiations and explained that the sugar compromise is being worked out under a positive light. Ortega told us that the meeting went well and just as they expected. He stated that BSI provided their counterproposal to the cane farmers, in which the company presented a proposed formula they derived for apportioning payment to the farmers for the bagasse, in addition to the most practical and feasible sum of money they are able to disburse in exchange for bagasse.

Sex, murder, mayhem and confessions
It is said that ignorance of the law is no defense and thus the assumption of our Common Law legal system is that every citizen knows the laws and as such cannot plea ignorance of it. Along with this assumption is that our people are equally “educated” and for me education is beyond being book smart – it’s about being aware, knowledgeable and competent to engage in sober well informed discussions. The whole premise of a democracy is likewise under the understanding that citizens of a democratic society are “educated” or enlightened. So when we keep our people ignorant, uninformed and “uneducated” we cannot expect that the socio-political system we operate under will ever be as functioning as it should be. I read and heard some very damning comments about our judicial system and while some are so true, lots are based on ignorance of our system and our people not realizing that they too have a role. Now, let me say up front that I am in no way saying all is well with our system and that it should remain as it is, but we first appreciate it before we constructively dialogue about what to change.

From the swamps to the hills, and back! …
This newspaper is 34 years old, and over the years we have written many editorials about the Cross Country race, the Holy Saturday cycling race which is so much a part of our collective Belizean psyche. Next Saturday’s race will be the 75th race in the history of British Honduras/Belize, and things have changed. Nowadays it is the norm that foreign riders win the race. On Holy Saturday 2003, if there are 10 riders coming back through Hattieville, 7 or 8 will be foreigners; and if there are 5 riders coming back, 3 or 4 will be non-Belizeans; if there are 3 riders coming back, 2 will be from outside. This has become the pattern. The Mexicans had been coming, from Chetumal and Cancún and Ciudad del Carmen, from as far back as we can remember, from the 1950’s, and only one ever won – Pablo Calderon in 1971. And though Pablo was a threat again in 1972, a threat turned back in 1972 by Anthony “The Tank” Hutchinson in his thunderous ride through the Cayo hills, it was the “team concept” which really began foreign domination in the late 1980’s.

Belizean rum receives international recognition
Distilled products manufactured by Traveller’s Liquors Ltd. have been on the shelves of Belizean merchants for over 60 years, and today the company exhibited superiority in the world of spirits yet again as another one of their products – this time Traveller’s Classic White Rum – was rated, for its flavor, at the top of the list of white rums from around the world. The – raters of the globe’s finest wines and spirits – recently hosted a White Rum Tasting competition in New York, where 20 contenders were evaluated for the distinguished “Best White Rum” awards for 2014, and Traveller’s Classic White Rum of Belize emerged as the victor. The product was awarded a gold medal, and today the proprietors of Traveller’s Liquors invited the media to the Heritage Museum at Mile 2 on the Philip Goldson Highway where they delightedly made the announcement. General Manager of Traveller’s Liquors Ltd., Amanda Perdomo, said, “In 2013, we won 2 awards in London; the 5 Barrel [aged rum] won gold in the Masters Spirits competition, and the 1 Barrel won silver. This year, we submitted the Traveller’s Classic White rum to for a tasting competition, and out of 20 rums, we got a gold award, so we’re very proud of this rum.”

Two armed Guatemalans who illegally entered Belize through the Chiquibul National Park were met by a Belizean composite patrol, who promptly arrested them. The two persons have been taken into custody at the San Ignacio Police Station and were charged with keeping firearms and ammunition without a gun license. The men, Jose Sub Coc, 21, a Guatemalan farmer of Cah Bom, Alta Vera Paz, and Pedro Lopez Ica, 36, a Guatemala farmer of Monte Los Olivos, were both taken to the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court today, where they were arraigned on the firearm possession charges. They have since been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until May 30, when they will be returned to court. The incident occurred about 9:00 a.m. Monday morning in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. The patrol reported that they saw two Guatemalans, who were armed with a .22 automatic rifle and a 9mm pistol.

Belmopan City Council Mundialito
The Belmopan Football Association (BFA) held Week 3 games in the Belmopan City Council Mundialito Youth Cup 2014 on Sunday, March 23, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium. In game 1 at 10:00 a.m., YWAM-Netherlands shut out Piccini-France, 4-0, with goals from Naim Wilson (37’ & 51’), Zachariah Zimmerman (67’) and Adrian Waight (83’). Game 2 saw Armenia-Portugal registering a 3-1 win over Mountain View-Italy, with Carlos Gonzalez netting a hat trick (34’, 60’ & 80’) for the winners, while Marlon Jones (71’) scored for Mountain View. It was target practice in game 3, as Valley of Peace-Korea bombarded Maya Mopan-Chile, 13-nil, with goals from Savier Sanchez (5’, 9’ & 54’), William Flores (14’), Elvin Umana (34’), Henry Sanchez (39’ & 42’), Jose Delgado (63’), Ector Gomez (70’), William Perez (46’), Jason Sanchez (45’) and Nelson Martinez (60’ & 71’). And in game 4, it was Central Site-England, 2-1, over San Martin-Mexico, with a goal apiece from Ajani Banner (35’) and Jamal Tejada (38’), while the lone goal for San Martin was by Jonathan Lopez (47’).

Belize City’s No Limit Soldiers defeat the Culture Warriors in Dangriga
The Belize City (Smart) No Limit Soldiers made the journey to the Y-Not Island in Dangriga to take on the hometown Culture Warriors. The Soldiers made the trip along with some No Limit fans early Saturday afternoon, as they departed from Belize City around 2:30 p.m. The team managers made it a priority to have the Soldiers in Dangriga early, so they could have sufficient time to stretch and warm up properly for the game. This was definitely necessary, because in past road games the Soldiers would often struggle in the 1st half, before hitting their stride in the 2nd. On this day, however, the Soldiers were early, so early, in fact, that they had time to walk around and soak in the culture capital of the country. The people of Dangriga welcomed the No Limit Soldiers, and were very hospitable to the visiting team for the duration of their stay. The Dangriga Culture Warriors are a very young, athletic and exciting team to watch, and it’s because of that the Soldiers made every effort to slow down the game to negate the speed of the young Warriors. As a result of the game being slowed down, the score was slightly lower than what the Belize City No Limit Soldiers would normally produce. They were very much in control through the 40 minutes of action, as the team continues to improve their shooting. Team No Limit shot 21 for 36 (58%) from the charity stripe, and even shot a better percentage from behind the arc than they did on 2-point field goal attempts, as they hit 50% of their shots from the land of 3 and only 34% on 2-pointers.

“Ladies” is ready for Holy Saturday Half-Marathon
A dedicated long distance Masters runner, 53-year-old Anthony “Ladies” Flores visited the sports desk this morning to serve notice that he is ready for this year’s annual Holy Saturday Half-Marathon race. “In my Masters category, I expect to have strong competition this year from Louis Haulze and Michael ‘Big Wire’ Lewis,” asserted Ladies. “Big Wire” is better known for his cycling achievements, having won all the major cycle races, including the Cross Country; but Ladies says he saw Big Mike training for the foot race, and expects good competition from him on Holy Saturday. The annual Half-Marathon (approximately 13 miles) will take off shortly after the start of the Cross Country Classic on Holy Saturday morning, and will journey from Leslie’s Imports to Mile 8 on the George Price (Western) Highway and back to Leslie’s Imports.

Junior Cross Country
This Sunday, March 30, will see the 15th running of the Annual Junior Cross Country Cycling Classic, which will take off from the Succotz Ferry at 9:00 a.m. and travel on the George Price (Western) Highway to finish in front of Leslie’s Imports on the outskirts of Belize City, approximately 72 miles. The Cycling Federation of Belize will hold its Technical Meeting for the event tomorrow, Friday, March 28, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the NOC Conference Room upstairs of Doony’s on Albert Street. Deadline for registration is today, Thursday, for Youth riders (14-16 yrs) and Junior riders (16-18 yrs). Last year’s race was a photo finish, with the victory going to Zamir Guerra in 3:34:38. There was a tie for 2nd place between Michael Wagner and Tarique Flowers, who both also clocked 3:34:38.

Traffic accidents prevalent in rural Belize
A disturbing number of traffic accidents have occurred within the jurisdiction of the rural Belize District over the past few weeks, and this past weekend the phenomenon continued, as there were a jaw-dropping four more road traffic accidents in that municipality, leaving at least three more individuals in critical condition at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH). One of the most serious of the incidents happened on Sunday evening after two employees of Bowen and Bowen Ltd. had left from a company function in Ladyville. Upon reaching the curve before the Burrell Boom cutoff, the grey Jeep Cherokee that they were traveling in reportedly ran off the road and overturned several times. The victims were 38-year-old Ian Nunez of Poinsetta Street in Belize City, and 35-year-old Deon Geban of Fabers Road, also in Belize City. Nunez suffered a broken pelvis, spine, hand and foot; while Geban was injured in the back, shoulder and foot.

Stann Creek fishermen protest dredging at South Water Caye Marine Reserve
The Stann Creek Fishermen Association (SCFA) this week sounded the alarm that a company is dredging inside the South Water Caye Marine Reserve – even as fishermen from the community have been locked out for years from fishing in the protected area, after having been told that they could not continue their usual fishing activities inside the reserve. The association said that they are exhorting the Minister responsible for fisheries to call an emergency meeting on this. Earlier this week, Amandala consulted authorities at the Department of the Environment (DOE) on the reported dredging inside the protected area, and we were told that the DOE knew nothing of it. We tried contacting the CEO responsible for fisheries, as well as authorities at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, but no one was available to speak with us.

Police anti-crime operations impact San Pedro
A 2-day police operation called Operation Ambergris Caye was conducted by the Eastern Division Police on San Pedro in response to a spate of crimes that was disturbing the peace of the island. The operation began Thursday morning and concluded Sunday morning. Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster, commander of the operation, said that the purpose of the operation was to address the increasing number of shooting incidents and other crimes being committed on the island town and to ensure that San Pedro returns to being the tranquil place it has been known to be – a place where both residents and tourists can feel secure. As part of the operation, officers searched 250 persons, 20 premises, and 20 known drug bases. Ten suspected vehicles were stopped and checked; and 8 persons were arrested on various offenses, including immigration. Of those arrested, one person was detained for immigration offenses; another person was arrested for possession of a crack pipe, and a deportee was detained for failing to report to the proper authorities.

Protruding plough on towhead causes traffic accident; 5 injured
A truck driver’s alleged indiscretion almost cost the lives of roughly 18 to 20 passengers who were on board a James Bus on the way to Belize City last night after a projecting heavy duty farm tractor’s rake ripped open the left side of the bus like a tin can. Around 7:15 p.m. last night, near Mile 44 on the George Price Highway, a passenger bus belonging to James Bus Line from Punta Gorda was on its final route to Belize City when it was raked in the side by a protruding piece of a farming machine that was being carried on a towhead that was coming from the opposite direction. Luckily, there were no casualties, but five people, including Oscar Cal, a resident of Colombia, Toledo, who was the driver of the James Bus, sustained injuries. Cal and four of his passengers suffered various degrees of injuries and were rushed to the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan, while the others were taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City.

Traffic collision again in San Pedro
A three-way collision occurred at about 9:00 Friday night on Barrier Reef Drive in San Pedro, and two persons are hurt as a result. The collision occurred when a motorcycle hit a bicycle, after which it slammed into a golf cart in which four people was travelling. The person riding the bicycle was hurt, and three persons from the golf cart were thrown out, causing one of the passengers to be knocked unconscious. Harold Arthurs, office assistant at Cart Belize Golf Cart Rentals San Pedro Town, told police that he was driving a company golf cart, and three persons were with him, including his cousin, Ericka Castro, 20. Just after they passed Crazy Canucks Restaurant’s entrance, Arthurs saw a motorcycle coming from the opposite direction, which knocked down a young boy who was riding on a bicycle. The motorcycle driver lost control of the motorcycle after that, and then the motorcycle hit the golf cart.

5 persons missing: 3 from Belmopan, 1 from Toledo and 1 from Belize City
Five persons have been reported missing — three from Belmopan, one from Mafredi, Toledo, and one from Belize City. Missing from Belmopan are Touri Conorque, 13, a student who failed to return home from school yesterday; Izidoro Zacharias, 52, who went out on Friday and failed to return, and Ami Polanco, 15, a student who left home to go to school about 7:00 yesterday morning and has not yet returned. Missing from Mafredi, Toledo, is Rosas Tobar, whose 15-year-old daughter reported her missing to police. In Belize City, Alex Myers remains missing since Wednesday, March 12. About 4:30 this afternoon, Markeisha Thomas of Sapodilla Street, Belmopan, told police that her daughter, Touri Conorque, 13, did not return from school at the time she usually does. She has not been seen nor heard from since. Conorque is of brown complexion, is 5 feet 5 inches in height and weighs 110 pounds; she is slimly built, has brown eyes and was last seen wearing her school uniform, which is a light brown blouse and khaki brown jumper. At about 5:30 yesterday evening, Maribel Bolon of Garza Street, Belmopan , went to police and reported that her brother, Izidoro Zacharias, 52, left home about 5:00 Friday evening and since then, she has not seen nor heard from him. Zacharias is a resident of Brazil Street, Salvapan. He is of fair complexion, is 5 feet 6 inches tall, is slimly built, has dark eyes, and his top front teeth are missing.

Corozal police carry out new initiatives to combat crime
The Corozal police have embarked on new initiatives to combat crimes in the district. Superintendent Andrew Ramirez, Commander of Corozal District police, said that the initiatives began yesterday. A two-man motorcycle team will now patrol the business and residential areas. The patrol will carry out stop-and-search operations, and random searches of suspicious persons in the area will be done. The initiatives will be for an indefinite period, and will be carried out from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening, from Monday to Friday. Commander Ramirez said that two officers have been assigned to carry out the initiative. Since the beginning of the exercise yesterday, the stop-and-search effort has already confiscated four grams of weed and two persons were arrested as a result. Ramirez said that the initiatives boost the ones presently in place, so that there are always ongoing security patrols in the town.

Plane destroyed by fire after it crashed in remote Spanish Lookout area
A six-seater Cessna plane believed to have been used to transport cocaine has been destroyed by fire in a remote area of Spanish Lookout. It was found abandoned on a feeder road Tuesday morning by law enforcement authorities. At the time of the discovery, there was no one around, and the cargo was nowhere to be found. Police believed that the plane crash-landed and unnamed persons deliberately set it on fire. Police strongly believed that the plane was used to transport cocaine. An investigation, in collaboration with Aviation authorities, has been launched by police, but so far, no one has been detained.

Motorbike slams into car turning left across highway
A motorcyclist is fortunate to have only received minor injuries after he collided into a car which was reportedly turning into a lane on the Philip Goldson Highway yesterday morning. The incident took place at Mile 4 near the Benny’s Apartments where, according to eyewitnesses, the motorcyclist – who was driving a white and burgundy motorbike – suffered serious abrasions to his body after making a failed attempt to overtake the car – a silver Nissan Altima, which was in the process of making a left turn, across the opposite lane. The front portion of the driver’s side of the car was subsequently damaged, while the cyclist –identified as Noel Leal, Jr., 29, of Buttonwood Bay in Belize City – was violently hurled into the air, reportedly landing some 30 feet away. Both drivers were apparently heading into Belize City, and eyewitnesses claim that the female driver of the car – who was unhurt – had put on her signal to indicate that she would be going left. However, the cyclist, who was allegedly traveling at a high speed, apparently did not notice the signal, and so slammed into the turning car.

It was neither my wish nor intent to diminish the image of Rt. Hon. George Price in our history with my view on Sir Manuel’s role in same. I was just stating what was backed up by the “Tribute to Falo Fonseca” in the Amandala of the same date. Both Mr. Price and Mr. Esquivel have their magnificent roles in our history but like the Marco Antonio Solis song says, “Hombre perfecto no hay”. We all are humans and no one is perfect, except “Jesus, the Christ”. Mr. Price had a vision of a politically independent Belize, which he achieved, but it took Esquivel to straighten up the finances of that dream come true. It cost them both. Mr. Evan X Hyde also has a huge role in our history. He is the revolutionary who publishes the truth. That is why Amandala remains the best newspaper in Belize. He may take sides but will always publish the truth. He feuded with both Prime Ministers because that is his role in our history, to “Fight the Power”.

Gabino Garnett, Jr., 23, a laborer of San Ignacio who was wanted on murder charges in San Ignacio and has been on the run from police, was arrested today and charged for the death of Earl Baizar, 19, of Dangriga. Garnett was arraigned today at the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court on the murder charge, and has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison. Baizar was stabbed in the chest on Saturday, March 8, in front of the Atlantic Bank in San Ignacio during an altercation with a man who later was identified as Garnett. Police said that Garnett stabbed Baizar four times in different part of the body — the left side of the chest, the left hand, his left underarm and his right thigh — during an altercation on March 8.

Drug smuggler escapes from police, but over 5 pounds of weed confiscated
Benque Viejo police confiscated over five pounds of compressed cannabis which was abandoned by a drug smuggler who escaped from police officers when they tried to arrest him. The drug has been labeled “found property” and [...]

Best Man won’t make it to the wedding, because he’s remanded to prison
A Belize City man who was supposed to be the best man at his brother’s wedding will not be attending, unless he can get special permission from the authorities at the Belize Central Prison, where he [...]

Belize City man arraigned for month-old robbery of high-tech cellphone
A Belize City man was arrested and charged for the robbery of a high-tech cellphone that occurred a little over a month ago. Kadeem Olivera, 19, a construction worker of 76 Neal Pen Road, pleaded not [...]

Woman escapes rape in Punta Gorda
A woman, 24, who is a German national visiting Punta Gorda, escaped being raped by a man who attacked her while she was swimming in the sea. The man tried to hold her down and take [...]

5 men and minor arrested for 104.5 grams of cannabis
The men allege that they were badly beaten by police Five men and a 16-year-old minor were arraigned on Tuesday morning before Magistrate Dale Cayetano on a single count of drug trafficking, for 104.5 grams of [...]

Lucius Myers, 33, found guilty of keeping unlicensed ammunition
He was sentenced to 5 years Lucius Myers, 33, who the Gang Suppression Unit believe is an affiliate of the Ghost Town Crips Gang, was found guilty of “kept ammunition without a gun license” and sentenced [...]

Stolen car recovered
A Nissan Sentra car, the property of Michael Jorgenson, a taxi driver and resident of La Croix Boulevard, valued at about $5,000, which was reported stolen from in front of his house sometime between 12:30 to [...]

Money changers robbed on the Western border
Two money changers who work at Belize’s western border with Guatemala were robbed by two men, believed to be Guatemalans, who stole over $2,700 from the money changers, after which the robbers fired shots in the [...]Two San Pedro tour guides attempted to bribe Superintendent Broaster

Two San Pedro tour guides attempted to bribe Superintendent Broaster
Two San Pedro tour guides who were arrested for possession of a small quantity of cannabis, for which they pleaded guilty and were fined $200, are still not yet out of the woods, as far as [...]

Facey robber captured in San Pedro and remanded
Eulalio Witz, 59, a mason of the San Pablo area, San Pedro Town, has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison after he was taken to the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court on charges of aggravated robbery, possession of stolen goods, 3 counts of forgery and 3 counts of claiming upon a false document. He was remanded until May 17. Police said that about 1:30 Monday afternoon, a businesswoman, the co-owner of a store on Northern San Pedro, was robbed by Witz at knifepoint of her purse, which contained her chequebook, cash and her personal documents. The businesswoman, who lives in the Northern San Pedro area, was giving Witz a ride from the center of the town to the north of San Pedro Town and upon passing Lost Encantos, Witz, also known as “Hector,” pulled out a knife, put it at her side and took away her purse, which contained the cash and other items, and ran away. The woman promptly alerted her husband. Shortly after, at about 6:50 that same Monday evening, according to police, they responded to reports of a fight behind the RC Primary School in Northern San Pedro and on their arrival, the husband of the businesswoman who was robbed by Witz handed over Witz to them. The businessman had hunted him down, captured and beat him.

The Reporter

Penner charged, out on bail!
Former Minister of State Elvin Penner, the man at the center of the seven-month long “Citizen Kim” scandal, was charged Thursday with two counts “making a false statement” in the Belmopan Magistrate court. Penner pleaded not guilty to both charges, and was granted and met bail of $2,000 plus one surety in the same amount. The charges were brought under Sections 3 (A) of the Passports Act and under Section 22 of the Belize Nationality Act, through a private prosecution case initiated by activists, Geovanni Brackett, the president of the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, and Nedal Jihad McClaren of the Commoners Movement. Brackett’s and McClaren’s attorney, Kareem Musa, who represent the men pro-bono, spoke to reporters following the court proceedings. He commended McLaren and COLA for being the ones to press forward with the charges against Penner “at a time when nobody else wanted to step up. “There are many other ministers who feel as they are abnormal. They need to face the courts as well,” Musa added.

Oil found in Northern Belize! But how to extract 50 million barrels of thick crude !
Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced this week that some 50 million barrels of thick crude oil have been found in Orange Walk. However more testing needs to be done to determine if it can be extracted commercially. He said that because of the complexity of the rock formation in the area, Maranco Energy Belize Limited will not be able to determine its commercial value without further testing and without financial and technical assistance from abroad. Barrow, speaking at the end of the National Budget Debate, said that the company reported the test results of South Canal Bank #3 exploration well on Monday. He added that the test results determined that the oil is located at between 4009 and 4026 feet deep under the surface, with a size of between 2500 to 3500 acres. Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy, Dr. Colin Young, explained that Maranco cannot determine if the find has commercial value without testing exactly how much oil the rocks can hold (porosity), and the space available between the rocks for the oil to pass through (permeability).

Belmopan Bandits bomb FC Belize 2-0 in Belikin football
By William Ysaguirre Freelance Reporter Defending champions, the Belmopan Bandits posted their first victory in four outings in the Belikin Cup closing the season competition organized by the Premiere League of Belize: 2-0 over FC Belize at the MCC grounds on Belize City on Sunday, March 23. The game was […]

Barney Brown, Andrew Vasquez & John Borland win Weekend Warrior cycle race C
Barney Brown of Scotiabank Cycling Team won the “A’ Division when the Weekend Warriors Cycling Club held its fifth in a series of races, this time from Cotton Tree on the George Price Highway to finish at Leslie’s Imports in Belize City on Sunday, March […] Inspiration Center officially launched

Inspiration Center officially launched
The Inspiration Center for children with diverse abilities was officially launched on Thursday with overwhelming support from a variety of contributors that helped to make the Center a reality. Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow, said to the gathering at the inaugural […]

Kidneys highlighted in the month of April
Failure to care for any vital organ can result in death and kidneys fall into this category. Hoping to raise awareness of this organ’s importance, the Kidney Association of Belize (KAB) has chosen the month of April to launch an education campaign and fundraising effort. A Kidney Walk is the […]

Reading a novel triggers lasting changes in the brain
Lovers of literature can rejoice. A new study combines the humanities and neuroscience to take a look at what effects reading a novel can have on the brain. Researchers say exploring a book can not only change your perspective, but also it can change your mind – at least for […]

Cahueque, 21, walks free of murder
Aracely Cahueque, 21, the woman accused of being the mastermind of the October 2010 murder of Raylene Dyer, 18, walked out of court free of the charge, thanking God and those who prayed for her but saying nothing to the family of the deceased. […]

Vinnie Garbutt arraigned for murder of Kayla Burgess
A San Ignacio man has been remanded to prison for the murder of his girlfriend, 24-year-old Kayla Burgess. Twenty-one-year- old Vinnie Garbutt was arraigned before Magistrate Nardia Morgan on Monday on a single charge of murder. Due to the nature of the charge, no […]

Guats suspected in armed robbery at western border
Two Belizean money changers stationed at the Benque Border Management Compound were robbed at gunpoint at around 5:30 p.m. last Friday. The victims were at a small booth assigned to money changers and taxi drivers at the Belize/Guatemala border, reports say, when two men […]

Russia kicked out of G8
President Barack Obama and other world leaders have decided to end Russia’s role in the group of leading industrialized nations, the White House said Monday. The move to suspend Russia’s membership in the G8 is the latest direct response from major countries allied against Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. “International […]

Japan agrees to hand over nuclear material to USA
Japan and the United States have co-signed an agreement to remove and dispose of hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium from the Asian nation. The fissile material will be transported from the Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) in Japan […]

Oceana offers assistance to GOB on EU fishery ban
Oceana has reached out to the Government of Belize to assist in removing Belize from the European Union’s (EU) blacklist for not acting promptly against illegal fishing. Oceana Vice President for Belize Janelle Chanona told The Reporter that Oceana stands ready to assist the […]

The Esquivel’s Decision
The critics of the Esquivels have not been as loud or as vocal as those extolling other UDP’s scandals, but nevertheless there have been harsh ones. And while these critics have been crucifying the Esquivels for being sour grapes, placed in the same situation I would dare […]

What do President Barak Obama of the United States, Secretary Xi Jinping of China, the United Nations and the International Red Cross have in common? They are all motivated by a desire to reduce soaring world population growth. The world population has exploded from 6 billion at the turn of […]


Construction on the Caye: The Ground Breaking of Diamante Residences, The Opening of a New Beach Bar, A New Crossfit Gym & More
Yesterday was the ground breaking of one of the biggest projects on the island – the Diamante development. Those who have visited will know the land. For the past 10 years or so, it has been the site of the very popular BC’s Beach Bar… BC’s has been dismantled (perhaps to be moved elsewhere) and Diamante is being built in its place. The project is being managed/run and sold by the McCorkle/Guerrero family and many in town were there for the ceremony including the Mayor Danny Guerrero and the Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. Construction has actually started and it’s happening fast! A sea wall, lots and lots and lots of really fine sand and more… Favorite Blue Water Grill is on one side. And Hurricane Ceviche Bar is off to the other. You can not say that the amenities won’t be available. This spot really is the HEART of town.

Chaa Creek Hails The Rise of Healthcare in Belize
A novel new initiative between the US Military medical officers and their Belizean counterparts is good news for everyone living in or visiting Belize, according to Chaa Creek safety officer Emil Bradley. Mr Bradley said a report by the US military’s Defence Video and Imagery Distribution Service (DVIDS) that Government of Belize and US military met 24 March 2014 to discuss final arrangements to prepare for the upcoming New Horizons medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, in the Corozal region in Belize is excellent news for the people of Belize. “Each year we see improvements to medical care in Belize that are keeping pace with population growth, the rise of ecotourism and the increase of people moving to Belize to retire, and this is great news. “After all, superior medical care is the cornerstone to quality of life, and it’s heartening to see that health remains a priority in Belize,” he said. According to the DVIDS report, initially, Belizean and military medical providers will use the MEDRETES as an opportunity to learn from one another as they provide medical care to residents out of schools in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.

Exploring Mayan Masterpieces – Belize Family Travel Series
The time had come. Our biggest adventure yet was about to begin. The crown jewel of our week in Belize, and an adventure we still talk about today. We were about to embark upon an adventure that would find us up close and personal with an ancient civilization. Step back in time with us as we spend our final day exploring two Mayan masterpieces buried deep in the jungles of Belize - Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. Welcome to Xunantunich, where Mayan royalty once performed ancient rituals high up on ceremonial platforms. Where, at it’s peak, nearly 200,000 Mayans lived beneath the shadows of a towering pyramid called El Castillo. Welcome to an adventure sure to intrigue and mystify the whole family.

International Sources

Encouraging lion onto Caribbean menus
A NEW project is underway to encourage Caribbean fishermen to include the deadly lionfish as part of their daily catch in an attempt to protect the world’s second-largest coral reef. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve World Heritage Site is 116,148 hectares and comprises seven marine protected areas. The second largest barrier reef system in the world, it is Belize’s number one tourist spot and crucial to the country’s fishing industry. However, the barrier’s diverse ecosystem is under serious threat from the invasive lionfish, a native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that was introduced to the Florida waters in the 1990s. There is a growing concern that the predominance of the fish poses a serious threat to the very existence of indigenous fish species, including the grouper and spiny lobster.

Fortis Inc. Announces Pricing of US$500 Million of Senior Unsecured Notes
Fortis Inc. ("Fortis" or the "Corporation") (TSX:FTS) announced today that it has priced a private placement to US-based institutional investors of US$500 million in Senior Unsecured Notes (the "Notes"). The Notes will be issued in multiple tranches with terms to maturity ranging from five years to 30 years and coupon rates ranging from 2.92% to 5.03%. The weighted average term to maturity is approximately 11 years and the weighted average coupon rate is 3.85%. Subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, US$213 million of Notes will be issued on June 30, 2014 and US$287 million of Notes will be issued on September 15, 2014. Net proceeds from the sale of the Notes will be used to refinance existing indebtedness, including the US$150 million 5.74% Senior Unsecured Notes of Fortis maturing on October 30, 2014 and C$125 million 5.56% Unsecured Debentures of a subsidiary maturing on September 15, 2014, and for general corporate purposes, including repayment of US-dollar drawings on the Corporation's committed credit facility. The Notes will not be registered under the Securities Act of 1933 (the "Securities Act"), as amended, nor will they be registered under any state securities laws. Unless so registered, the Notes may not be offered or sold except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the Securities Act and applicable state securities laws.

Costa Rica Hosts First Meeting Of Lat Am CELAC Community
Costa Rica hosted the first meeting of the Quartet of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Foreign Ministry said. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers Enrique Castillo (Costa Rica), Bruno Rodriguez (Cuba), and Ricardo Patino (Ecuador), and the Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Celia A. Prince, representing the Caribbean. Costa Rica currently holds the pro tempore presidency of CELAC; Cuba fulfilled that responsibility last year and Ecuador will assume that mandate in the coming period, while the Caribbean is part of the quartet of the forum. In a press conference held at Casa Amarilla, headquarters of the Foreign Ministry, Castillo reiterated the commitment of the current President Pro Tempore of contributing to strengthening political dialogue and CELAC consensus. CELAC is composed of Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Granada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Wild Belize
There is no better place to reflect on my adventure in Belize than here on the go-slow Caribbean island Caye Caulker. Serenaded by the morning chorus of seabirds as I squat at the end of a wooden pier stretching out over crystal clear waters, I chuckle at the UK weather. Under the surface an eagle ray investigates the shallows, swiftly darting a barracuda before it returns to the depths. One of my favourite days in Belize started with a boat ride over turquoise seas accompanied by a pod of dolphins. I was to dive into the Great Blue Hole, with its stunning contrast between light and dark blue waters. As I descended, I observed the walls studded with stalactites, overhangs and limestone formations originally developed as an Ice Age cave. Then, a rather large shadow appeared in the corner of my eye, leaving me overcome by a small moment of panic as I scanned the cuts with which I was afflicted while in the jungle. I took my leave of the black tipped reef shark and ascended to explore the outer reef. This was quite simply a scene from Finding Nemo: an underworld paradise with explosions of colour dispersed by exotic marine life and arty coral formations. Fascinated by an exceptionally bulbous fish inhaling and exhaling, I prepared to take a stunning photo; but, greeted by a curious moray eel, I politely allowed it right of way and retreated towards a nonchalant turtle seeming to watch life go by.

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