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Specials and Events
Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, West Vision (Cayo) and CTV 3. Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, Rise and Shine Morning Show, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
The San Pedro Sun
Children are the spotlight at Belize’s Health Outreach
On Sunday March 6th, local doctors and nurses, along with affiliates from ‘Friends of Pediatrics Belize’ (FOP) and ‘Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters’ (CHKD) of Virginia USA, coordinated ‘Belize Outreach’ for the fifth consecutive year at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II. Over the years, physicians from CHKD and pediatricians of FOP have actively volunteered in child-centered care. Their commitment in Belize has directed them to embark upon rural areas as they offer their improved and convenient pediatric medical services. The accessibility of the outreach’s pediatric services had vast numbers of participants from all neighboring communities attending this event. The clinic’s building was full of patients from infants to twenty-one year olds benefiting from an assortment of medical screenings and treatment. Pediatricians and volunteers worked around the clock tending to all patients presents, the Belize Outreach 2016 accommodated everyone with quality assistance and was once again, a success.
Dean Barrow receives ‘Right Honorable’ Title
The Prime Minister of Belize now carries the title of ‘Right Honorable’, as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed Dean Barrow as a Member of the Privy Council. Right Honorable Dean Barrow was appointed on Tuesday, March 1st and is the fourth Belizean to receive this distinction. The Privy Council is the mechanism through which interdepartmental agreements are reached on those items of government business which, for historical or other reasons, fall to Ministers as Privy Counsellors rather than as Departmental Ministers.
Another loss for the San Pedro Tiger Sharks
Week seven of the National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) 2016 Season brought much disappointment to San Pedro Tiger Sharks’ fans as the home team lost their match to the Cayo Western Ballaz. The Tiger Sharks faced off against the Ballaz on Saturday, March 5th at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium ending in a 61-58 defeat that sees them sliding down the tournament ladder from second to fourth place. However, there is still enough time in the season for the San Pedro Tiger Sharks to make their comeback and take the NEBL Championship for the third consecutive year.
The latest round of games started on Friday, March 4th. In the first game, Belize City No Limit traveled up north to take on Orange Walk Running Rebels at the Orange Walk Multi-Purpose Complex. Both teams struggled as the game began, ending the first quarter even at 10 points apiece. Belize City No Limit led 32 – 31 at the end of second quarter, maintaining the one point lead going into the fourth quarter, 52 – 51. However, the Orange Walk Running Rebels was able to record their first home win of the season, 81 – 74 when the final buzzer sounded.
Ministry of Human Development confirms one persons fired in regard to Youth Hostel Fire
In Issue 47 Volume 25 of The San Pedro Sun, news was reported of a fire incident at the Princess Royal Youth Hostel located on Mile 21 of the George Price Highway, which claimed the lives of three teen-aged girls who were in solitary confinement. More than three months later, the Ministery of Human Development has finally completed their investigation and has confirmed that one employee has been fired as a result, and several others are facing disciplinary actions. And, while the lives of the three girls cannot be returned, the Ministry hopes that steps will be implemented to ensure a tragedy such as this never occurs again.
According to Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Human Development, Judith Alpuche, protocol was breached when the girls were locked in a room without immediate supervision. “The investigation that we did was internal to us, because we needed to understand what went wrong and for our own clarity and for us to take the necessary actions as well. The processes that we’re talking about, are processes that have to do with disciplinary procedure. In our case, one person has been terminated because that was within the purview of the Ministry to do that. But there are other people who have to go through the public service process because they come in the domain of the Public Service. The report is completed, but we have been advised that there are certain processes that are still on going in terms of disciplinary actions that need to be taken, etc,” explained Alpuche. She explained that the Ministry of Human Development will be issuing a full report on the finding of the investigation and the names of those implicated in the near future.
Pic of the Week - Congratulations to Ruta Maya River Challenge Winners
It was a race against 60 other paddling teams who were in it for the glory of the first place trophy. But there was also over 180 miles of river terrain to cover before reaching the finish line. After four days of competition team Koop Sheet Metal took the coveted first place trophy in what has become the biggest sporting event in the country. La Ruta Maya River Challenge took place over the long holiday weekend and culminated on Monday, March 7, 2016. It is an amazing event to witness and even more so, participate. Congratulation Koop Sheet Metal and all the participants who crossed the finish line.
Misc Belizean Sources
Atlantic Bank Notice
1. The official rate of 1.9825 will apply to the purchase (deposits) of all USD denominated checks. This will apply to both BZD and USD denominated accounts and also will apply to all credit card, loan, and another payments using USD denomination checks. 2. The official rate of 1.900 will apply to the purchase (deposits) of all USD currency notes whether deposited to BZD denominated accounts or to USD denominated accounts. This will apply to all credit card, loan at other payments using USD denominated currency notes. 3. Incoming wire transfers will be at the official rate of 1.9825 except those for credit to USD denominated accounts which will be at the rate of 1:1. Outgoing wire transfers: Those originating from BZD accounts: charges will increase from BZD$110.00 to BZD$150.00. Those originating from USD accounts: if destination is within USA, charges will increase from USD$70 to USD$90. If destination is outside the USA charges will increase from USD$80 to USD$100. Reactivation of business online tokens will now carry a fee of $40.
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi is hiring!
VACANT POST: 2 porters and 1 Deckhand
LOCATION: Caye Caulker
REQUIREMENTS: Must be over 21, bilingual, willing to work flexible hours.
NOTE: (Porters must be able to lift heavy objects, must possess excellent communication skill)
( Deckhand must have previous experience as deckhand,basic CPR certification and ability to swim is a plus)
submit your application letter, resume, 2 recent reference, police record or in lieu, a receipt of payment for police record. to the main office located at 111 North Front Street Belize City or email email@example.com
Deadline for submission is March 31-2016
In celebration of Women's Month, the San Pedro House of Culture is proud to present an exhibition by female photographer KAREN BRODIE entitled "Celebrating Women." You are invited to the launch of the exhibition on Thursday, March 10th at 7:00 pm.
BELTRAIDE ORGANIZES FIRST TRADE CLINIC FOR BUSINESSPERSONS IN ORANGE WALK
Over 50 producers from Orange Walk Town and surrounding villages met at La Inmaculada Credit Union Conference room on Friday, 4th March to obtain crucial information that will assist them to improve their services and raise the bar to compete globally.
The meeting was in the form of a Trade Clinic, which was the first of its kind organized by EXPORTBelize, a unit of BELTRAIDE, with the aim to sensitize the private sector on regulations, requirements, export procedures and documentations and opportunities that exist under trade agreements in order to do business in the local and international market.
The Trade Clinic included presentations from the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS), the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA), the Customs & Excise Department and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. Topics included: Standards (labeling, CODEX, metrology, etc), Export Procedures, Trade Agreement Opportunities and Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary Measures among many others.
In honour of National Heroes and Benefactors Day
Here a few photos from the wreath laying ceremony that took place on Monday, March 7th at the Baron Bliss Lighthouse in Belize City.
Government of Belize Press Office
--Meeting of the Senate - Friday, March 11th
--Meeting of the Finance and Economic Development Committee - Monday, March 14th
--Meeting of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee - Monday, March 14th
Ambassador Moreno Out and About
Ambassador Moreno recently met with director of Wildtracks, Paul Walker. Wildtracks is a non-profit manatee and primate rehabilitation centre. Paul took the Ambassador on a tour of their facility. In the background are a group of howler monkeys who are getting ready for release into the wild!
Circle of Life
Dolphin washes up on shore in Dangriga.
Benque HoC Lenten Events
Tnight, the Benque House of Culture is launching the 'Lenten Season - A Benque Tradition' exhibit. The Women in Art Fiesta is Saturday, March 12th, in Centennial Park.
"Lenten Season - A Benque Tradition, join us for a learning and interactive forum followed by the opening of the Lenten Collective Photography Exhibition 2016.
Sustainable Tourism Program II
The Sustainable Tourism Program II kicked off yesterday. The program will support the improvement of the Las Cuevas archaeological site located at the Las Cuevas Research Station. We expect soon to have the appropriate guidelines in place with the Institute of Archaeology. FCD, however, is experimenting now the feasibility for visit to the immense caverns of the Chiquibul Cave System.
Gaspar Vega Resigns As Deputy Party Leader
We have received word from trusted sources that the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, Gaspar Vega, has sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow, requesting that the Prime Minister approves his resignation as Deputy Party Leader of the United Democratic Party. Sources claim that Vega also stated in the letter that he will not be seeking re-election as Area Representative for Orange Walk North. There is no word as of yet but it is expected that the Prime Minister will strip Vega of his postion as Deputy Prime Minister as well. Second Deputy Party Leader, Erwin Contreras, is expected to be promoted to Deputy Party Leader and possibly Deputy Prime Minister of Belize. There is no word as to why Vega has suddenly decided to resign.
OAS offering scholarship opportunities to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
The Organization of American States (OAS), through the Department of Human Development, Education and Employment (DHDEE) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), through the OAS Partnerships Program for Education and Training (PAEC), are offering scholarships to qualified candidates of the Americas to participate in select masters degree programs.
Close to 1,500 residents of Maskall Village in Belize District Will Soon Have Easy Access to Quality Potable Water
A ground-breaking ceremony to kick-off Maskall Rehabilitated Rudimentary Water System Upgrade was held in Maskall Village today, Wednesday March 9, 2016.
The implementation of the water project represents the unwavering commitment of the Government of Belize to address the basic needs of Belizeans, in the areas of water, sanitation and health.
The water project is being financed by the Government of Belize at a cost of $999,494.96 through a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank; so that residents of Maskall are provided with continuous supply of reliable quality potable water to meet their daily needs such as drinking, washing, bathing and cooking.
The water project will entail the construction of a water tank with a 40,000 gallon capacity, a 10’ x 10’ pump house, installation of transmission and distribution lines.
Hon. Gaspar Vega Attends 34th United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Regional Conference
he Deputy Prime Minister Honourable Gaspar Vega in his capacity as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry led a delegation to the 34th United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Mexico City from February 29th to March 3rd, 2016. The Conference which was opened by the President of Mexico, H.E. Enrique Peña Nieto focused on the challenges and prospects for food and nutrition security in the region and reviewed the measures that led to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to the challenges faced towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
At the hemispheric conference Deputy Prime Minister Vega served as a panellist discussing the theme of “Challenges for Transforming the Rural Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean: Rural Territorial Development, Family Farming, Social and Economic Inclusion and Innovation”. Deputy Prime Minister Vega presented on the core issues from the Caribbean perspective with emphasis on Belize’s experience.
Bandits Celebrity Basketball
Pictures from the Celebrity Basketball Rematch.
"Highlight of Bandits Celebrity Match 2016. It was a night of laughter, sportmanship and entertainment! Team Coca Cola vs Team Finesse !!!!! "
Listening to breaking news on
This weekend’s confrontation
That lead to the discover of Conorquie’s gun
I call on
Other than Sedi Elrington
‘Son of a gun’
Now that poachers were found
With what is believed to be Conorquei’s gun
After the shoot out with BDF patrol
It’s clear to see this matter is out of PUDP control
Elrington was not sure it was a Guatemalan
This he said on national television
Despite the tense situation
Described in Inspector Hall’s letter to Police High command
For upgrade in equipment and personnel in this situation
For better precaution
The report Elrigngton gave did not take this into consideration
Nor did it correspond
With that given by General Raymond
Elrington's response was to appease Guatemala with his fork tongue
Paradise Theater playing this weekend:
In the Heart of the Sea.
Breakup In Barrow-Country: Is Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega Stepping Down?
Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega is stepping down. Reliable reports from within the UDP tell us that Vega has communicated with the Prime Minister that he is stepping down as Deputy PM, and he has also reportedly written to the Party Secretariat saying that he will not offer himself as First Deputy Party Leader when the party has its convention in 11 days. Now, we stress: these are just reports and there is no confirmation from either Prime Minister Dean Barrow – who did not respond to our question via text message, or the Party Chairman Alberto August who is at a meeting in the UK, and told us he’s heard no such thing. Vega could not be reached for comment.
But, multiple sources close to Vega confirm that he will step down – and plans only to serve out his term, meaning he would not contest his Orange Walk North seat where he is a three term representative.
If there reports are accurate – and assuming it’s not some kind of ploy to gain some leverage internally – it would suggest a profound rift in the UDP and the Barrow Cabinet. Vega was effectively demoted when the UDP won its third term. He lost the all-powerful Ministry of Natural Resources, and was left only with the Ministry of Agriculture. We’ll keep following the story of what at this time remains an unconfirmed report.
Cruise Tourists Held Up In Altun Ha
An armed robbery in Altun Ha has authorities scrambling to find the culprits before the holdup turns into another tourist black eye. Why? The victims were a pair of cruise tourists and their guide, as we later found out from the officer in command of Belize Eastern Rural, the tourism police officers were lax in carrying out their duties. When the last tourist bus left, so did the tourism police, although the site had not been closed. According to police, two tourists were then robbed of items including 1 gold necklace and about $450 US Dollars in different denominations. They were on a private tour with one Clifford Hoare Belizean Tour Guide of Hattieville Village when the men accosted the tourists and tour guide. Assistant Commissioner Broaster told us more:
"We received a report of a robbery at 110 in the Altun Ha site area where our police officers were dispatches. At this time initial investigation is revealing that there was a tour of 8 tourers, 6 of whom along with the tour guide went on a trail where they pick medicinal trees that leads to a pond near to Rockstone Pond when two dark skinned male persons came out and accosted them one with what appears to be a black 9 millimetre handgun and a machete. They were all relieved of their valuables and the two culprits made good their escape."
Did Omar Kill Christie Or Was He Acting In Self Defence?
5 years ago it made major news when 21 year-old Christie Carrasco, a resident of Orange Walk Town, was stabbed to death. Her common-law husband, Osmar Sabido, who is now 30 years-old has been in jail awaiting trial all that time.
Investigators believed that he did it while in the throes of a jealous rage, and the family of the deceased accused him of actually intending to go as far as to burn the house down with her body in it. Today, he finally got his first day in court where he plans to plead self-defence.
Justice Herbert Lord presided over the opening of his trial without jury where the prosecution called their first two witnesses to testify: Deon Faber and Handa Cambranes. Both told the court in great detail how they responded to the stabbing on the night of February 28, 2011. Cambranes gave the very emotional testimony of how she tried to keep Carrasco alive at the back of the police mobile while they rushed her to the Northern Regional Hospital. Faber told the court that he saw Sabido make a stabbing motion once in Carrasco’s direction, during the domestic incident.
Charges Upgraded Against Guate’s
Last night, we told you about the 2 Guatemalan men that the BDF exchanged gunfire with in the Cebada area of the Chiqubuil National Park. Well, these men are now facing additional charges more serious than the immigration offence they were remanded for.
56 year-old Luis Dias Alballeros - seen here - was charged along with 51 year-old Francisco Torres Sucup have been additionally charged with 1 count each of keeping an unlicensed firearm, and keeping unlicensed ammunition. The BDF claim that Sucup came charging out of a hut armed with a 9mm pistol and fired at the BDF and FCD rangers. They shot him in the leg to subdue him. His companion, Luis Alballeros rushed out right after with a 12-gauge pump action shotgun, ready to fire on the patrol, but he realized that he was outnumbered, and surrounded, and so he surrendered without incident.
For firing at the BDF soldiers, Francisco Sucup will face the additional charge of aggravated assault, and these men will be taken back to Magistrate’s Court for a second arraignment and a further prison remand date.
PM Says GOB Will Build Another Conservation Post
And increasingly, Guatemalans are encroaching upon that Cebada area. But they are being unintentionally funnelled there by Conservation Posts that the Government of Belize has put up in other areas along the border between Guatemala and Chiquibul. The Prime Minister explained to the house yesterday that it has forced his government to find money to put up more conservation posts:…
"The way they operate is this, they have moved to another area so while in the area where we have the conservation post, there has been dramatic decrease in the way our forest cover is being utterly prejudiced. In the new area where the concentration of incursions is the situation has deteriorated. We were to have put a conservation post in that area as well; the problem is it’s inaccessible. So to get there we have to hack some sort of a road through the jungle that may cost as much as quarter of a million dollars in addition to the conservation post. But I'm here to tell you Mr. Speaker it’s not in the budget minister but I will find that quarter of a million dollars to build that third conservation post."
Mayor Defends Bhojwani Promenade
The mayor of Belize City apparently has a lot of making up to do to city benefactor Hans Bhojwani. Bhojwani donated two bandstands during the Zenaida Moya years. One was in Battlefield Park, the other in BTL Park. But, as is now well known Moya’s successor Darrell Bradley completely renovated those parks and rubbished the two bandstands. You might think that would be the end of it – right? Gift received, briefly used, and then refused, and reduced to rubble. But, it’s not that simple. As you might be able to tell while driving around Belize City, Hans Bhojwani likes to see his name in big letters – so for years now, he’s been demanding compensation from the city.
Well, the mayor has conceded to putting up two signs on the Marine Parade re-naming the sidewalk the Bhojwani Promenade. We say “re-naming” because Moya first gave it that name, and then the Bradley council undid it. But now Bradley ahs to re-do it. The mayor told us today it was simply a good gesture to avoid a lawsuit:..
"We were written to by his attorney, we were in communication with them for a period of going now on to two years. Communications went back and forth, I met with the attorney on several occasions and the accommodation that was finally decided on is that, we have no issue in relation to the removal of the band stand because we understand that there was no personal reason for the removal but it had to do with the technical requirements of the various projects but in relation to the promenade itself; okay then you can put up two signs on either side of the promenade. The signs have a certain length, it is being supervised in terms of the work but you did make a contribution to the city at that time and we're trying to promote the involvement of the private sector to try to encourage private public sector partnerships; so if we could have a settlement where we put your name on a promenade then so be it."
Declining Fortunes At Freezone
For the next budgetary year, the Government is forecasting only moderate GDP growth due to a downturn in agriculture and oil production. But, there’s also a sharp downturn in business at the Corozal Free Zone. And that’s because tobacco sales have plummeted. As we have reported, a significant part of the business in the zone was importing dozens of containers of Chinese cigarettes and then smuggling them over to Mexico. But the Mexicans have been cracking down, and the man who ran the racket, Ernesto Alonso De Miguel, known as “El Espanol” was executed. Those events, and other factors have led to a downturn in Free Zone business, and simultaneously, banks have been forced to close their accounts with these cigarette importers. Yesterday, the Prime Minister said it was lamentable but inevitable:
"We're all aware of the allegations, the charges that have been made in terms of contra-banding and the illegal export of the cigarettes to Mexico and the illegal importation of what supposed to be coming from let’s say China but according to various sources knock offs of the big boys. It is perfectly understandable thought that the banks would say, look we're going to bank anybody who is in the cigarette trade. It is a matter of the banks having the individual commercial banks, having to make sure that nobody with whom they are trying to do correspondent businesses will be able to say but you're infrastructure is faulty or you're business model or some of the people that you're banking immediately set off alarm bells ringing."
Barrow Bristles At US Money Laundering Report
And the US rang the alarm on Belize and a whole bunch of Central American and Caribbean countries last week when they released the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. Belize and 10 other countries in the region were listed as countries of primary concern on the major money-laundering list. Yesterday, the Prime Minister bristled at the report’s conclusions:…
"They say that, look as though this a demerit, this is a fault, government is encouraging the offshore sector, government in encouraging offshore banking; well they pretty much killed off the offshore banking with their withdrawal of correspondence services but what the hell is wrong with encouraging the offshore sector? You know these people after they do all sort of things to us, control commodity prices, and they tell you, you need to diversify. When you try to diversify in terms of services in terms of something like the offshore jurisdictions with trust, no matter how much you attempt to be squeaky clean, no matter legislatively try to set up all sort of; they just don't want you do to it. You go to the states and they tell you about bear shares but you can set up companies in Wilmington, I'm afraid there is a level of hypocrisy that is very upsetting but they're the big boys, they control and we just have to try our best. Ultimately they may well succeed in killing off the offshore sector as well but we are certainly not going to say uncle and certainly not Uncle Sam."
Barrow Can’t Complain About Judge’s Decision Re: Human Traffic
But that’s not the only report the US has blacklisted Belize on. We’re also listed as “Tier 3” country for human trafficking – one of 23 countries in that tier. That’s the absolute lowest rating and denotes countries whose governments aren’t making significant efforts to comply with minimum human traffic standards. And that’s why government was applauding from the sidelines when Estella Gonzalez was convicted of human trafficking in February. But after that instead of being sent to jail, the judge fined the 64 year old instead of confining her to jail. It caused public outcry, and a big headache for government which wanted a custodial sentence. But still, the Prime Minister told us that he can’t question the judge’s decision:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister:
"Well I'm happy there was a conviction because the Americans are always complaining about the lack of convictions. In terms of the sentence, I get the sense that the general populous feels that the sentence ought to have been far more severe. We have to respect the judge, there is and can be no suggestion that the leniency was provoked by anything other than his judicial consideration of all the circumstances. So I too would have wished is the sentence had been a little more punitive but I respect the judge."
Correspondent Bank Coming Through, Slowly
And “respect” is just what the Prime Minister and his Finance Team tried to get when they went to Washington and spoke to the US Treasury Department at the end of January. Strict US banking regulations have forced the top banks in the US to cut correspondent banking ties with three of the four major commercial banks in Belize. The Prime Minister and his team got a commitment from one major US Bank that they would be willing to open a correspondent portal with Belize’s Banks – but since then there hasn’t been much visible progress. He gave us an update yesterday:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister:
"We are in touch and just had an update from certainly the one bank that we were able to get the regulators in Washington to speak to and it would appear that they are certainly prepared to engage perhaps not full scale. It appears there might want to start small and then grow but it seems to me that we're making some progress."
Central Bank Reviewing Heritage Bank Loan To CPBL
One of the banks that is in a holding pattern for that correspondent connection is Heritage Bank. And they’ve also got Citrus Products of Belize Limited doing the same as that company waits for 5 million dollars in bridge financing to pay off farmers. The debts to the farmers have been mounting, and CPBL is well past due with payments. The Prime Minister explained yesterday that Heritage Bank has approved the loan, but the Central Bank has not.
"The meeting is now is set for tomorrow as I understand it where it is absolutely certain that the board will have a forum and I think that the additional documentation that is required from Heritage by the Central Bank would have certainly be forth coming by the time the board meets tomorrow. I therefore hope and believe that the Central Bank will be able to approve the balance of the amount in terms of what CPBL originally applied for but which already has seen 3 and a half million dollars given over to CPBL."
Cordel, Come Een
Yesterday may have been budget day in Belmopan, but the most anticipated “reveal” was not the Prime Minister’s dollars and cents, it was how the PUP deck would be shuffled. We’re talking about the seating arrangements on the opposition bench which were re-arranged after the election of a new leader and executive.
As we told you last week, the big stunner was that four-term Lake Independence Representative Cordel Hyde who holds no executive post was brought up to the number two spot, shoulder to shoulder with the party leader. We asked Briceno about it, and here’s how he explained the upgrade:
"What we are attempting to do is we are trying to bring our best talent to the front and we all know that Cordel Hyde is one of them, he has a lot of talent and as you mention he's a 4 term representative. He along with Hon. Francis Fonseca and myself were in the front, the 3 of us ran to be the leader of this party on March 31st and as such I think that we need to give him that respect. We expect a lot from him and that is why we put him to the front."
Gaspar, Gong, Going, Going, Gone?
At the top of the news we told you about the unconfirmed report that Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega will be stepping down. Since then, we’ve been called by people in his camp who are confirming the report – but no one we spoke to had gotten it directly from Vega – who apparently is not taking calls.
But, the reports consistently say that he will not seek re-election as Deputy Party Leader, and neither will he seek re-election as the Representative for Orange Walk North. The matter of Deputy Prime Minister is pretty much automatic for the Deputy Party Leader, as in – you can’t have one without the other.
If the reports are accurate it’s indicative of a substantial rift in the Barrow Cabinet – the first public one since he took office in 2008, and we’ll keep following the story.
One of A Kind One Man Show
If you have taken an African American Literature or History class you’ve probably heard of Paul Robeson. He was a stellar athlete, actor and singer and he was also a civil rights activist – one of the leading voices during the Harlem Renaissance. Well, American actor and comedian Stogie Kenyatta celebrates Robeson’s life and creative spirit in his one man show entitled “The World is my Home: The Life of Paul Robeson.” And Kenyatta has brought that show here to Belize for the first time. Today we stopped in for his performance at the Bliss.
Kenyatta has been touring this show for 15 years. He has traveled all around the world and played in London, Tokyo and several cities in the Caribbean. If you want to see the show you can catch it on Friday night at 6:00 at UB in Belmopan, or on Saturday night at 8 at the Bliss.
Maskall Making Strides For Water
Residents of the Maskall, mostly primary school children, today gathered at the grounds of what will soon become the site for the construction of the new village Water pump- an initiative that has been long overdue. Works have already begun but the ground breaking ceremony that was held today made official the commencement of this three part project. Present during the ceremony were executives of Social Investment Fund, and Government officials, including Area Representative Hon. Edmond Castro, who lives in the community, and Hugo Patt, the Minister of Rural Development.
The Hon. Hugo Patt - Minister of State in the Ministry of Natural Resources:
"I come from a village as well, I come from the village of Pachakan and I can certainly recall back in 2008 when we inaugurated the water system that we have there. Many of us, we would not realise the importance of how much we need the water. I have been hearing from Mr. King and the response of the children of what it is they need the water for. Many of us who have the privilege of have the necessary utilities in terms or water, in terms of light, in terms of having access to infrastructure; we would underestimate the importance of having water. I could recall going with my bucket to the closest stream to try to get some water. Many of time we stop and reflect and we look at how we've been growing and when we look at a government that is serious about the development of a particular community, that is serious about the development of its country and which care about its people, these are the type of development that we have to look at."
PUC Says BEL Can’t Get All
In a few months, the electricity rates you’re currently paying will increase by one or 2 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s because the Public Utilities Commission has approved a rate increase in their Full Tariff Review Proceeding.
The last Mean Electricity Rate that the PUC approved was 35 cents per kilowatt hour. This time around it has approved a mean rate of 36.43 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s a 4.08% increase.
Today, the Chairman of the PUC held a press conference to speak in detail about the justifications for the rate increase. It’s a bit technical, but here’s John Avery simplifying it so that you can understand that BEL must be allowed to continue making a reasonable profit:
"They recommended a rate of 39.04 cents. The PUC approved a rate of 36.43 cents that is the mean electricity rate. As you will see from that, everyone doesn't pay the same rate. So based on that mean electricity rate the current rates they you're paying, the mean electricity rate is at 35 cents. So the 36.43 is a 4.08% increase on that; that is the situation. You will understand that 35 cents, the real reason for that 35 cents rate, a lot of that had to do with the fact that in previous years, we had overestimated the cost of power. In 2012 for example, he had some serious droughts and we had minimum production from BECOL. When BECOL produces less power, we lose our purchasing less power at their lowest rates. So when we have to purchase less from them, we pay effectively a higher rate. At that same year June the drought that was affecting Belize, affected Mexico so we had a higher rate for them also. That year we had to increase rates to 48.86 cents so that BEL could pay its bills. So based on what happened that year, we were kind of conservative in the estimates from the next couple years and so what happened is that last year, we realised that in the previous two years BEL received a lot more for the cost of power than what was actually spent."
Chan Pine Culture
The Village of Chan Pine Ridge in the Orange Walk District held its annual Agriculture and Trade Fair over the weekend. Residents of Chan Pine Ridge Village put up displays and made presentations depicting several aspects of their culture and of course agriculture. Area Representative Elodio Aragon said the fair is s staging ground for both culture and agriculture.
The community has been hosting this event for the past 50 years.
Is Gaspar Vega Stepping Down?
Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega was not at Tuesday’s Budget Presentation in the House. And there is word that the DPM has dropped a bombshell. News Five has been reliably [...]
Tourists Jacked at Altun Ha
Eight tourists who came in on a cruise ship today and opted to visit the very popular Altun Ha Archaeological Site off the Old Northern Highway are probably regretting that [...]
‘Bounty’ Shot by the Police
Popular DVD salesman Jamal Young, better known as ‘Bounty’, remains hospitalized at the K.H.M.H., following an incident over the weekend during which he was allegedly shot in the foot by [...]
Family Mourns Murdered Bartender
Family and friends are grieving the untimely death of twenty-nine year old Edwin Ixpatac, a Cayo resident who was brutally beaten to the head and abdomen while in police detention. [...]
APB Issued for Two Suspects in Independence Murder
An all points bulletin has been issued by the Belize Police Department for two men who are on the run, following the weekend murder of a Mango Creek businessman. Independence [...]
Free Zone Cigarette Traders on the Hot Seat
Atlantic Bank International has reportedly met with cigarette traders operating out of the Free Zone and has informed them that effective March fifteenth, their accounts will be closed. It’s a [...]
Is There a Light At the End of the Correspondent Banking Tunnel?
Where the dreaded loss of correspondent banking relationships is concerned, PM Barrow says there is little to report following the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting held in Placencia recently. Coming [...]
PM Barrow Says the US is Hypocritical
The derisking phenomenon is an offshoot of continued pressure from the U.S. to crack down on money laundering and other financial improprieties, real or perceived. The superpower feels that illegal [...]
Is Your Electricity Bill Going Up?
Is your electricity bill going up again in the months ahead? This afternoon, the Public Utilities Commission held a press conference to make public its initial decision to increase the [...]
Consumers Will Get Benefits at Next Tariff Review
B.E.L.’s submission included a proposed increase in the Mean Electricity Rate from thirty-five cents per kilowatt hour to thirty-nine cents. John Avery, Chairman, Public Utilities Commission “So at the [...]
Vanson Charged $10,000 for Drug Trafficking
In the court, Miguel Vanson, a first time offender, was imposed a mandatory non-custodial fine for drug trafficking of one hundred and sixty-two grams of cannabis which were found hidden [...]
Jane Usher Resident Arraigned for Burglary and Wounding
A resident of Jane Usher Boulevard, Belize City, was also before the court today for two criminal offenses. Thirty-seven year old Eldon Bevans was charged for burglary and wounding after [...]
P.U.P. Deputy Leader Julius Espat Says NO to the ICJ
Where does the People’s United Party stand on going to the International Court of Justice? It hasn’t been exactly clear. There are those who are obviously in favor of resolution [...]
P.U.P. Leader Explains New Seating Arrangements in the House
It didn’t make it into Tuesday’s news, since the 2016/2017 Budget took center stage, but was a significant political change on the Opposition side of the gallery. The expected change [...]
Immigration Minister of State Will Sign Passport Documents
Against the backdrop of the Budget, bills were passed which may have flown below the radar of first scrutiny, but they are significant. For example, one piece of Immigration legislation [...]
PM Barrow Says New Title is Okay, But He Didn’t Ask for It
And finally for political news tonight, we asked Prime Minister Dean Barrow about his new title of Right Honorable conferred on him recently. Generally it’s offered to government leaders in [...]
Maskall Residents Get New Water System
About fifteen hundred residents of Maskall Village, located on the old Northern Highway, will within a year have access to reliable potable water. The million dollar project will be funded [...]
IDB/BCC Conduct Citywide Survey
Latin America and the Caribbean is the second-most urbanized region in the world with eight out of ten people living in cities. During the last sixty-four years, the region has [...]