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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
‘Spay-ghetti No Balls Dinner’ fundraiser is Saga’s best yet
Saga Humane Society supporters were delighted to attend the first ever “Spay-ghetti No Balls” Dinner. Hosted at Stella’s Smile in Tres Cocos on Wednesday, April 20th, the event was another successful fundraiser for Saga’s Spay/Neuter Initiative Program (SNIP) Campaign. The activity had an excellent turnout with great music and raffles keeping supporters well entertained.
For a contribution of $40, attendees sampled one of the best spaghetti dinners in town. The buffet-style dinner comprised of fresh green salad, spaghetti with marinara sauce and freshly baked garlic bread. Gourmet meat balls were also available for an additional $5 each. Stella’s fabulous sangria simply added to the fun. According to Saga’s Dawn LoCascio, the event was a bit different from the usual monthly cook-off. She indicated that it was also held to commemorate the visit of two veterinarians that frequently visit the island- Dr. Donald Tummons and Dr. Suzanne Stack. They have been coming to the island for many years to spend their vacation, and during their visit they always seek ways to contribute to the community through their profession. During their visit this time, they offered free surgeries through the SNIP program at Saga from Tuesday, April 19th through Thursday, April 21st.
Another fun weekend of Five-a-Side football action
The San Pedro High School (SPHS) and Island Citizen Sporting Club (ICSP) Five-a-side Football Tournament continued this past weekend. With just four weeks remaining in the regular season, the tournament has seen a good turnout of fans supporting their teams. The matches played Sunday, April 17th at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium saw different teams under three categories competing on the pitch. The football action continues this weekend with games set for Sunday, April24th at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium. For the schedule of the matches, refer to the table.
Innovative ideas showcased at SPHS 2016 Business Fair
The junior and senior business students of San Pedro High School (SPHS) displayed their entrepreneurship skills at the 2016 SPHS business fair. On Saturday, April 16th, students showcased business ideas at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium. The event is aimed at developing businesses that can benefit Ambergris Caye, and students were tasked to form their businesses and products with the responsibility to prove that their projects could benefit the local economy. According to Alex Nuñez, Dean of Discipline and fair organizer, students were responsible for identifying a product, creating a business, identifying a location, securing funds, preparing a business plan and marketing their product. Judges would then take this criteria into consideration when evaluating each project. “The students definitely let their creativity flow in their unique projects,” said Nuñez. “I believe it is a good idea to do this event every year. It creates awareness for the residents to come and see the students from our community showcasing the different business ideas they have.
SPTC acquires new garbage compactor
A new garbage compactor has been added to the San Pedro Sanitation Department fleet. It is the first of four garbage compactors that the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is acquiring as it attempts to keep up with the increasing garbage being produced on the island. It is expected that with the addition of the compactors the sanitation department can be more effective.
On Tuesday, April 19th, Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Deputy Mayor Gary Greif were on hand for the unveiling and handing over of the first compactor. Top authorities at the SPTC indicated that it would be put to use immediately.
Misc Belizean Sources
IT'S A HIT!
San Pedro's first Farmer's Market.
2 hour emergency power interruption, entire Corozal District
Commencing around 10:00am Saturday, April 23, to replace broken utility pole carrying high voltage lines caused by traffic accident in Vivas Layout, Corozal Town.
Usama Zaid: Rising Belizean-American Basketball Star!
The expose on the rising young Belizean-American College basketball star, Usama Zaid, is taken from the newspaper, the Torch, which is the independent student newspaper of Lane Community College for March 2, 2016.
Get to know the Hol Chan staff
Mr. Killian Azueta is the most senior Ranger on staff with more than 8yrs working for the Reserve. Killian is always cheerful and ready to bring a smile to those he meet. Keep up the good work Killian!!!!
Sweep visiting households in San Pedro with parrots
Guats deploy Kaibiles to Belize border
As we go to press tonight, the Guatemalan military has announced that it has dispatched its most dangerous special forces, the Kaibiles, partly trained by the U.S., to Belize’s western border in an unprecedented military mobilization by Guatemala, which appears to have begun soon after that country’s president, Jimmy Moralez, issued a public statement protesting the killing of a Guatemalan, 13, accused of illegal farming inside Belize. Morales, in a video message which went viral today, called for “a strict protection exercise over the sovereignty of the Sarstoon River and the entire adjacency line…” and the recall of that country’s Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Manuel Roldan Barillas, back to Guatemala.
Several posts appearing on the Twitter feed of the Guatemalan military/Ministry of National Defence over the past few hours show snapshots of that mobilization, which includes detachments to the Sarstoon River, Belize’s southern border, as well as the western border, bounded by the Petén, where troops were photographed moving in armored military vehicles towards the border with Belize, presumably on orders by their military commander. Prensa Libre says 3,000 troops have been sent as reinforcement to the Sarstoon area and Belize’s western border, citing their defense minister, Williams Mancilla.
$24,000 for destroying ancient Mayan temple Noh Mul
Denny Grijalva, his wife Emelda Grijalva and Javier Nunez, the manager of their company, De Mars Stone Company, along with their attorney, Bryan Neal, appeared in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court this morning for a sentencing hearing after the three were found guilty on two charges for the destruction of the ancient Mayan temple of Noh Mul, located in San Pablo, Orange Walk District.
The Chief Magistrate imposed the maximum penalty for the two offences for which the three were convicted under the current law. All together, the Grijalvas, their company and their company’s manager were fined a total of $24,000.
Before imposing the sentence on the three convicted persons and the company, however, the court heard an impact assessment testimony from Dr. John Morris, the Director of the Institute of Archeology, who explained to the court the implication of the destruction of Noh Mul.
Minutes after Belize FOB opened, Guatemalan spy drone passed over base
The top-ranking members of the Belize National Security apparatus, the Minister of National Security, the Coast Guard Commander and the Belize Defence Force Commander, all stood powerless just minutes after they had declared open the Forward Operating Base (FOB) on the northern bank of the Sarstoon River when a Guatemalan drone flew overhead, presumably on a video intelligence-gathering flight from across the Guatemalan base on the south side of the river.
In December, when the ground-breaking ceremonies for the construction of the FOB were held, a similar incident of Guatemalan violation of Belize airspace occurred, involving a Guatemalan drone flying over the FOB.
That first fly-over, however, was longer than today’s, which only lasted for approximately five minutes, and that could have been because the Guatemalans saw the Belize Coast Guard Commander take a rifle from one of his men on the dock, so the drone quickly went back and landed on its Guatemalan base.
Guatemalans continue the destruction of Chiquibul Forest Reserve
Guatemala illegally claims the entire Sarstoon River, in direct contravention of the 1859 Treaty that clearly defines the border between the two countries as being in the mid-channel of the Sarstoon and a direct line out to sea, and now, Guatemala farmers and poachers continue to impact the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, in the Cayo District, by clearing plots for farming as far as 45 kilometers into Belizean territory.
The Guatemalans are boldly pushing forward in activities involving illegal logging and wildlife depletion, as well as the looting of cultural artifacts, all of which are negatively impacting the Chiquibul.
Persistent reports to us are that presently, large areas of the forests are cleared for milpa farming, by fire, and that the practice is destroying the habitats of many plants and animals, and thus threatening the ecosystem within the forest. About 27 milpa farms were located in the Chiquibul in 2015, and about 3,126 hectares of tropical forest have disappeared. The financial loss for Belize as a result of this, is estimated at about $1 million annually.
OAS says it will investigate Belize-Guatemala border killing
In a statement issued today, the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) said that it “repudiates the death of a Guatemalan minor [Julio Alvarado, 13] at the hands of a Belizean patrol, and urges both sides to redouble efforts to establish a lasting peace in the [border] between the two countries.”
Although the OAS press release did not mention the fact that Guatemala has announced that it has dispatched a further 3,000 troops to its borders with Belize, including its most dangerous shooters — the Kaibiles — it said that it “calls on the governments of Belize and Guatemala to avoid an escalation of tensions, and to renew their efforts to establish a lasting peace.”
Meanwhile, Guatemala’s Defence Ministry released photos of its minister patrolling the Sarstoon boundary today, and yesterday the Guatemalan military publicized its military deployments to the Belize border by posting several photos on social media.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro snubs Belizean reporters
The first visit to Belize by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, has come to a close with little opportunity for the Belizean public to engage him in dialogue about the OAS’ controversial role in Belize.
During his visit, limited mostly to meetings with government officials, Almagro again announced the OAS’s unequivocal support for going to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to get a ruling on Guatemala’s territorial claim to portions of Belize. The fact that the OAS refers to the ICJ as a “top priority these days,” despite the lack of community consultation or a referendum on the issue, begs the question if the OAS is truly, in a democratic fashion, addressing the desires of the majority.
The OAS visit seems to have been one in which only officials were addressed. No meetings were scheduled with unionists or community organizations that reject the ICJ as the path to peace. Perhaps more alarming was the time officially allotted for the Secretary General to meet the press, which was ultimately less than 15 minutes despite the crucial importance of the press in informing the public.
Tennis News – Samron Pott is U-16 Tennis Champion
This past Saturday, U-16 juniors were working the Belize Pickwick Club tennis courts, as they competed in the U-16 Singles tennis tournament. In the round-robin, Samron Pott, Harnadar Tut, Stefan Sosa and Noor Tut were the top four with the highest points, who then went on to the semifinals. Although Adrian Marshalleck, Gavin Riveroll and Jonathan Smith did not make the top four, their game has noticeably improved, and they are viable competitors, having lost in the round-robin by only very small margins!
In the first semifinal, Samron Pott edged out Noor Tut, 6-4; and Stefan Sosa defeated Harnadar Tut, 6-4.
The final was an epic marathon between Samron Pott and Stefan Sosa, proving that the sport of tennis encourages perseverance, endurance, mental toughness, agility, strength, and all round discipline. Stefan Sosa’s power game and impressive ground strokes won him the first set, 6-2; but Samron Pott fought hard and never gave up after losing the first set, adjusting his game to a defensive one, since his offensive game was not working.
Belize is the best!!
Hello, cricket fans! After four days of record heat in Lords Bank, the very first Central American Easter Cup Cricket Competition came to a close on Sunday. Five (5) teams participated: Belize Senior and Under 19 teams; Panama “A” and “B” teams; and Costa Rica.
Games started on Thursday, April 14, where both Belize Senior and U-19 teams won their respective games.
On Friday, Belize’s two teams lost to Panama and Costa Rica, respectively.
On Saturday, Belize Senior Team won, and the U-19 lost.
Because Panama “A” Team and Belize Senior Team won equal number of games, it was decided that on Sunday these two teams would play for first and second place.
2016 – 4th Annual Don Omario’s Top 32 18Under Cup
The 2016 – 4th Annual Don Omario’s Top 32-18Under Cup took place on Saturday, April 16, at the BES Auditorium, ”the home of table tennis”.
The Top 32 best 18Under junior players started out in a double-elimination format event, with defending Champion and #1 ranked junior, Latrell Solis; 2015 Junior Player of the Year, Taye Parkinson; and 2016 Primary School Finalist, Terry Su all included in the list of participants…
Latrell Solis managed to make it to the quarter finals of the loser’s bracket by defeating Denzel Young (3-0) and Devesh Hukmani (3-2), before falling to Taye Parkinson in the winner’s bracket (0-3), sending him down to the loser’s bracket where he played Kevin Chen, winning, 3-2. His next match would be Rohit Pagarani, where he’d try to continue to make his run to the finals. Unfortunately for him, Rohit Pagarani managed to pull off the win, beating Solis 3 games to 1, putting Solis in fourth place for this year’s event.
Editorial: Sarstoon and Benque: different, dynamic modalities
On Wednesday morning, April 20th instant, there were different, dynamic modalities operating at the mouth of the Sarstoon River, which constitutes Belize’s southern border with Guatemala, and at Benque Viejo del Carmen, a town next to Belize’s western border with that same, hostile Central American republic.
At the Sarstoon on Wednesday morning, Belize’s Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar, accompanied by Ministry officials and the commanders of the Belize Defence Force, Brigadier-General David Jones, and the Belize Coast Guard, Rear Admiral John Borland, and representatives of the Belize media, was officially opening a forward operating base for our military on the northern bank of the Sarstoon. Ambassadors from Panama and Honduras were also present, but the ambassadors of the United States and the United Kingdom found reason(s) to be absent from the Sarstoon ceremony.
It appears that tension was pretty high at the Sarstoon River mouth, as uninvited Guatemalan naval vessels clearly and disrespectfully entered the Belize section of the Sarstoon to monitor(?) the ceremony, while a drone originating from Guatemalan air space entered Belize air space. At least one Belize television station reported in its Wednesday evening newscast that the Belize Coast Guard commander had aimed a weapon at the drone, which then quickly returned to Guatemalan air space.
From the Publisher
One of the most extraordinary and intriguing aspects of Belize’s situation with respect to the increasingly aggressive Guatemalan claim is the Mexican position. The Mexicans, who signed the British Honduras northern border treaty with Great Britain in 1893, 34 years after the Guatemalans signed the 1859 southern and western border treaty with Britain, have been essentially saying the same thing during the entire course of my lifetime. Mexico has said that Mexico accepts the territorial status quo in British Honduras (which became “Belize” in 1973, and a politically independent nation–state in 1981), but that if the Belize borders are ever adjusted to accommodate Guatemalan demands, then Mexico will activate a claim to Belize.
As a historical note, there was a single moment in time, I would say sometime between 1958 and 1959, when Hon. George C. Price, in answer to a question, made the following comment: “If independence fails, I will give the northern half of the country to Mexico and the southern half to Guatemala.” Strictly speaking, I should not be using quotation marks around Mr. Price’s statement, because I cannot swear for it word for word. But I am positive he said words to this effect, and I believe it would have been in response to a foreign journalist in some kind of press conference setting, perhaps abroad.
Clinton Canul to Dr. Assad
On Wednesday, April 20, 2016, an article was published under the heading “BNTU launches ‘Stand Up for Belize’ campaign in Benque Viejo,” written by Rowland A. Parks where he stated in paragraph 9 the following: “On the question of the situation in the Sarstoon, Dr. Shoman said, “They say we are losing the Sarstoon; some say we’ve lost it already. Not so. Sarstoon Island is ours. You can’t see the thing, but this is the back of a T-shirt which says ‘Sarstoon Island da fu we.’ So said Colonel Manuel Calle Madrazo, the Guatemalan Boundary Commissioner who signed the map of 13th May, 1861, saying the line on it, drawn in red, below the Sarstoon Island, was correct [that Sarstoon Island belongs to Belize], Dr. Shoman said.”
I, as an uneducated academic citizen of this country who is very interested in our history, would like to beg you, Dr. Shoman, please tell me (us) where we can find the above information. With all due respect, Dr. Shoman, one thing is what you say and another is the proof of what you said. I think you’d do us, the Belizean people, who like myself did not have the opportunity to achieve an education, a big favor. That way we can look it up for ourselves.
Belize tourism sector fights Zika with proactive steps
Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a level 2 travel alert for Belize, asking travelers to take “enhanced precautions” after an American woman who had recently visited Belize tested positive for Zika. However, that has not deterred visitors from coming to Belize. Director of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), Karen Bevans, told Amandala today that Belize has seen substantial growth in overnight tourism for the first three months of 2016, and cruise arrivals, which had been depressed for 2015, are on the upswing.
Nervousness over the spread of Zika in the Caribbean had spurred fears across the Caribbean that the multi-billion-dollar industry, which Bevans said contributes 25% to Belize’s GDP, could be adversely impacted. Nonetheless, Belize has, at least to date, been spared from any adverse impact.
Bevans said that tourism stakeholders have been advised to take proactive measures to curb the possible spread of Zika by ensuring that premises are free of receptacles that may collect stagnant water and making insect repellant available to guests.
PUP fires Dr. Assad
The People’s United Party yesterday removed Dr. Assad Shoman as its representative in the Belize-Guatemala discussions.
His removal is as a direct result of his controversial remarks made at the BNTU’s “Stand Up for Belize” forum held on Friday, August 15, 2016, in Benque Viejo.
“I have my own established views on the subject, which are not necessarily shared by the PUP, a party that I used to belong to but I left in 1985,” said Dr. Shoman.
“I’m not a PUP; I’m a socialist and they are a capitalist party,” Dr. Shoman further stated.
In his candid interview with Amandala today, Dr. Shoman’s replacement, PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay stated that, “you can’t say you are representing a party but you are not a part of that party.”
A glimpse into Chinese businesses
Today, the University of Belize’s Faculty of Management and Social Sciences held its 6th Annual Research Conference in Belize City.
Of the eight presentations made today, it was the “Study of the Impact of Chinese MSMEs on Belize’s Economy,” by Dong Hoon Choe, that deeply sustained interests.
Dong Hoon Choe is a born Belizean with South Korean heritage. He was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Maud Williams, and he has served as president of the student councils of St. John’s Junior College and then the University of Belize, where he completed his Bachelor’s degree.
His three-month research focused on 60 Chinese businesses in Belize City. Of the 60 Chinese businessmen and women he interviewed, the majority were males, 31 years or older, who predominantly held a primary or secondary school diploma, according to his findings.
Sixty-percent (60%) of the businesses that were studied are grocery stores, while 38% are food shops and 32% are lottery stores.
Getting the Belize Barrier Reef off the danger list
Twenty years ago, in 1996, the Belize Barrier Reef was inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the world-famous site as “one of the most pristine reef ecosystems in the Western Hemisphere;” but for the past 7 years, it has been featured on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, with the primary threats being offshore oil exploration and construction along the coast and on the cayes.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently released a report dubbed, Protecting People through Nature Report 2016: A Report for WWF by Natural World Heritage Sites as Drivers of Sustainable Development, produced for WWF by Dalberg Global Development Advisors, which revealed that almost half of World Heritage Sites are “threatened, underscoring the fact that the problem is not just a local challenge—it is a global one”. Belize, though, can again prove itself to be a leader by tackling the problem head-on with decisive action.
According to the study, 114 natural and mixed World Heritage sites out of 229 either have oil, gas or mining concessions overlapping them or are under threat from at least one other harmful industrial activity. The WWF special report cited Belize as “a striking example.”
Felix brothers to be tried for murder
Maurice and Emory Felix, two brothers whom police have charged for the May 2015 shooting death of Mark Gentle, made their last trip to the Belize City Magistrate’s Court this morning, along with their attorney Arthur Saldivar, for the continuation of the preliminary inquiry into the case against them.
After going over the paper evidence that police had put together to make their case against the two brothers, Senior Magistrate Sharron Fraser ruled that the two have a prima facie case to answer at the Supreme Court, where they will be indicted for Gentle’s murder in the June session of the court.
Maurice Felix, 30, and his younger brother Emory Felix, 29, had only enjoyed being on the outside for a few months after they were released from prison, where they had spent more than eight years on remand for the 2006 murder of Mitchum Heredia, a mechanic who was gunned down as he worked on a car in the Port Loyola.
Majority of UN members sign Paris Agreement
More than 170 countries out of 196 have signed on to the Global Climate Change Treaty, known as the Paris Agreement.
The United Nations held a special signing session this week, where countries, particularly from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), came to show their support for the treaty.
The Paris Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance with the Secretary-General.
At the session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries to move quickly to join the accord at the national level so that it can enter into force as early as possible.
Public outrage over Facebook post
Numerous Belizeans are expressing their outrage on the social media platform FaceBook, after a Belmopan bar owner posted derogatory comments about the Belize Defence Force (BDF), and saying that she supports Guatemala.
The user, Lala Chacon Menjivar, owner of La Cabana bar, posted a lengthy rant in Spanish, with respect to the ongoing situation with the BDF and Guatemalan poachers where a minor, who reportedly fired shots at the BDF, was shot and killed.
In her post, Menjivar registers her discontent by referring to the BDF soldier as “cowardly” for shooting the child, and went on to insult the soldier’s mother.
“Cursed is the dog that had the heart to shoot a child,” Menjivar said. “I hope whoever did it falls into the hands of the Guatemalans and he be made minced meat.”
She went on to say that she joins her Guatemalan friends in anger at the scenario, and ended the post with a picture of the Guatemalan flag.
The Belize Times
Respect Teachers! – BNTU Shakes Up Sedi, Stands Up for Belize
On April 15th, 2016, the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) mobilized its membership in solidarity with Belize, in the first of a series of consultations aptly named “Stand Up for Belize”. The Teachers are on a fact finding mission to guide their official stance, yet to be taken on the question of the International Court of Justice panacea being offered by the Barrow Administration. If the events of April 15th are any indication of things to come, Sedi and Dean will be in serious trouble with the BNTU. The mobilization by the BNTU which is perhaps Belize’s most powerful union, signals a menacing but righteous threat to the Barrow Administration’s policy of appeasement in relation to Guatemala. The momentum has been building across all sectors of Belize as it becomes clear to the Belizean people that Mr. Barrow and Sedi has bungled the nation’s most important diplomatic duty—the management of the unfounded Guatemalan claim.
The Fleecing of BTL Pt. II
Last week the BELIZE TIMES exposed a small sample of the political piñata that BTL has become for special UDP friends and cronies with the Prime Minister’s son Anwar Barrow in charge.
We published one of several documents in our possession that was leaked to us by a BTL whistle-blower who is tired of the government-owned company being used as a grab-tub. The document showed that one local used car dealership, owned by known UDPs, was paid $251,100 for two USED 2014 Ford F250 vehicle.
The price paid by BTL for the USED vehicle is highly questionable A copy of a payment invoice, dated March 30, 2015, also shows that the phone company even made a pre-payment of 75% of the cost to Belize Auto Trader.
UDP Incest – Pablo Marin could call Erwin Contreras “Dad”
It has become the hottest-topic in Corozal Town. Residents say that UDP Corozal Bay area representative Pablo Marin has moved out of the municipality and found a cozy home in the western side of the country. The talk becomes more sensational. Marin, it is said by residents, spends much of his time in Cayo where he has found new spice in his life. Someone should call in Jerry Springer because from here it only gets hotter.
The BELIZE TIMES is surely not in the business of prying into people’s bedroom business but when strange conjugations seem too convenient or coincidental, or worse, threaten to negatively affect the nation’s business, then it becomes fair game.
This newspaper has confirmed that Health Minister Pablo Marin has found a partner in no other than Danini Contreras. Ms. Contreras happens to be the daughter of UDP Minister Erwin Contreras.
Now, if the name rings a bell loudly, it is because three years ago, Ms. Contreras was in the middle of heated controversy over her sudden appointment to the post of “Drug Inspectorate”, which placed her above the Chief Pharmacist – the most senior public officer post in the Ministry of Health.
Grijalva Is Guilty!! – His company destroyed 2,300 year old Mayan site, Noh Mul
The reckless destruction of the ancient Noh Mul Mayan site by Denny Grijalva’s construction company drew heavy condemnation nationally and internationally in May 2013. The UDP politician from Orange Walk Central admitted that his company was excavating for road material and had set their eyes on the Mayan site.
On Monday, April 18th, almost three years since the start of the trial, the slow wheels of justice finally held the callous politician accountable when the Magistrate Court found Grijalva guilty of the destruction of the 2,300 year old Mayan site.
In Court, Grijava hung his head low as Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith read out her judgment, condemning the “irreversible” damage to the Mayan site.
Grijalva and his wife Emelda were charged as the Directors of the company, De-Mar’s Construction located in Trial Farm Village. Foreman Javier Nuñez was charged for the removal of stones from an ancient monument wilfully damaging an ancient monument and causing the destruction of an ancient monument, respectively.
Think About It
Guatemala’s claim to Belize and Guatemala’s chance to huff Belize is now close to a national crisis.
It is finally becoming clear to thinking Belizeans that there is now a serious problem.
It is now clear that Guatemala has indeed taken over our portion of the 30 miles length of the Sarstoon River. The government of Belize handled the matter in the most unacceptable manner. Assad Shoman has publicly stated that this has never happened before. Guatemala has taken territory and is insisting that the “usual” protocol must be followed. This “protocol” (procedure), according to Guatemala, is that the Belize Defence Force and Belizeans and anyone going on the river must get permission from Guatemala.
Guatemala has even come to the so-called Forward Operating Base constructed by the B.D.F. and told them they must follow the usual protocol. Again, this latest and serious intrusion into our sovereignty and our territory is being badly handled by our government.
Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister (following the intrusion by Guatemala) told the media that the Foreign Minister would raise the matter at an OAS meeting with Belize and Guatemala in Washington. The PM was asked what if the issue was not dealt with in Washington. The PM’s public reply was that he would pick up his telephone and speak to the President of Guatemala.
The suggestion by Assistant Commissioner of Police Chester Williams for implementing a curfew has drawn fire from several sides. As many naysayers as have come forth however, there seem twice as many who are in support of this idea. This idea, put forward by any policeman other than Chester Williams, might have been quickly dispelled as ridiculous. But, Chester has developed an interesting rapport with the people of Belize; both criminal and law-abiding.
Chester Williams is himself is an interesting study of human character and the man is deserving of whatever accolades are piled upon him. Here is a man who picked himself up from humble beginnings, raised by a single mom but has made something substantial of himself. That in itself is a valuable lesson to anyone who engages in self pity and blames their environment and financial situation for their condition. Chester is a success story worth telling.
Chester barely finished primary school when he went to work at a bakery in Ladyville, far from his native village of Seine Bight. At that point, his life could have gone in any direction but he decided to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a Police Officer. He joined the Belize Police Department and his life took a turn for the better.
A Product of Dean’s Square
The legacy of Dean Oliver Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, and longest-serving member from Queen Square will include the introduction of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) along with their horror stories of abuses against the Belizean people.
While Barrow introduced the American-trained and funded GSU as a paramilitary arm of our security forces, in his constituency he witnessed the rise of members of the well-known George Street Gang which became an asset to his political machinery when it was necessary.
The GSU’s objective, as its name declares, is to suppress the gangs in Belize. So far, however, the suppression tactics has only added fuel to the wars on the streets, and at times the police hierarchy itself, but this is a discussion for another Editorial. In August 2011, the GSU struck on George Street residents and well-known members of the GSG when they carried out searches of residences with brutal force. Several residents claimed police brutality and eventually sued and won large compensation for the GSU’s actions. In March 2012, an audio recording revealed the GSU’s planned “War against George Street” as a tactical operation. So much so that when in January 2013, four men connected to George Street were killed viciously in their apartments on Plues Street, the GSU were the first suspects in the eyes of the public.
MY PERSPECTIVE: Your Own Backyard
A Jamaica Sunday Gleaner article caught my attention this past week. The headline read:
“Jamaican Attorney Slams U.S. Over Treatment of Most Vulnerable.” Of course I went through it with interest and care. It featured Margaret Macauley, an attorney and human rights advocate who was elected in June 2015 as one of the commissioners of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. The IACHR is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States which is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in the American Hemisphere. Commissioners are elected to a four year term, and Ms. Macauley is thus serving from January 2016 to December 2019. She was previously a judge of the Inter American Court of Human Rights from 2007 until 2012.
BDF “finances” under investigation
The BELIZE TIMES has confirmed through reliable sources at the Ministry of National Security that there is an ongoing investigation into a “special” Belize Defence Force (BDF) Account for which records of transactions have not been made readily available. That account, referred to as the Belize Defence Force Account Fund, has been the subject of internal Ministry audits since 2014, but things have apparently now come to a head between Ministry of National Security CEO Retired Colonel George Lovell and BDF Commander, Brigadier-General David Jones.
In a MEMO dated March 4, 2016, from CEO Lovell to Commander Jones, CEO Lovell is requesting “a response within two weeks as to why those discrepancies, along with your recommendation as to what will be put in place to ensure that those practices do not re-occur”.
GOB Gouging Fuel Consumers
The government of Belize continues to increase the price of fuel at the pumps. Last week Friday, like a red-hooded thief in the night, the cost of Regular fuel rose again to $9.06 in the districts, surpassing the cost of Premium fuel in the Belize City at $9.01. Statistics show that only about 20% of consumers use Premium Fuel, while 80% use Regular, meaning that government is raking in the money from the continuous increases.
Diesel fuel increased by 8 cents to $7.79 in the city.
There is no moral justification for the high cost of fuel at the pumps in Belize. The cost of crude oil per barrel on the global market has plummeted, and for months has maintained a steady and record low, benefitting consumers all over the world. Except in Belize. Despite lowered cost of insurance and freight, the price of fuel at the pumps has gone up steadily since late last year.
GOB loses another multi-million dollar case! – Court says Government acted in Flagrant Breach – UNICORN Could Get Millions!
GOB has stated that it will appeal a $9M judgment handed down in January 2016 when Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel ruled that the raid and seizure of evidence at the offices of Titan International Securities was unconstitutional. According to Prime Minister Dean Barrow in the wake of the decision, he does not think the judgment can stand. But there’s another judgment arising out of the events of that day, by another Justice. And it will potentially cost GOB more millions in damages.
On April 15, 2016, Justice Michelle Arana ruled that when an Financial Intelligence Unit team with Police support raided the offices of Unicorn International Securities located at the Matalon Building, they were in flagrant breach of the law.
A People’s United Party government would look very carefully at regaining control of the Boledo/Lottery system in Belize. This is a staple of our Belizean culture and ALSO a way in which our people can make some extra money to help them make ends meet. BUT it must be a fair game of chance free from any manipulation. For too long this franchise has been in the hands of unscrupulous businessmen who are financiers of the UDP. They care only about making money, anyway they can and in this instance of the backs of the Belizean people. Our people have been complaining for many months that the system is rigged. The Lotteries Commission does not listen. The Government does not listen. And Brads and whoever his partners are rake in all bundles of money. From all accounts, managing Boledo is “pound for pound” one of the most profitable businesses in Belize. Boledo/Lottery must be run by an entity which is honest and works for the people, not a business that cares only about making money. Boledo/Lottery MUST be given back to the people of Belize.
City Administrator Caught Up in Love Triangle Again
Over the years, we have heard all sorts of drama coming out of the UDP, Belize City Council. From Zeniada’s under-depositing to guns and money being stolen. There have been all sorts of Human Resource issues as well. Some going all the way to the top.
Reliable sources have informed this newspaper that last week the drama landed at the desk of the City Administrator, Ms. Candice Miller. Apparently after hanging out with friends she got information that her partner (who we will call Mr. DJ) was in some house off Wilson Street spending quality time with the partner of a top brass of the police. This tangled web became somewhat violent and we were told that the situation got intense and rough. The Police had to be called to handle the situation. We were also advised that a longtime HR staff of the Council had to lecture the senior employee about her actions and the shame she was bringing on the Council.
Alleged Killer Cops Get Bail
In June 2015 pandemonium briefly descended on the island of Caye Caulker after student Hilberto Sotz, 18, died while in police custody. Islanders rioted and additional Police had to be called out to keep the peace. Justice appeared to be swift. Within days two Police officers, PC Hallet King and PC Leonard Nunez were arraigned for murder after a post-mortem examination revealed that Sotz had injuries consistent with a savage beating.
But tonight those two officers are out on bail. On April 15ththe charge of murder against them was reduced to manslaughter based on a directive from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The rationale given is that there was a lack of evidence to support the charge of murder, and with that the men were granted bail of $2,000.
Leon Gordon fatally stabbed in Caye Caulker
Well-known Caye Caulker resident, Leon Gordon, was fatally stabbed on Sunday night as he attempted to stop a fight at a local club, Sip and Dip Bar.
Gordon was reportedly intervening in a squabble between the bar owner and a customer who was being forced out of the bar for disorderly conduct, when he was stabbed with a broken pint bottle.
The 29 year old was rushed from the island to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City where he underwent an emergency surgery, but around 3am on Monday morning he passed away.
Belizeans are not being told the real story about the Sarstoon. We’re not being told the truth. How did we suddenly get into this position where Guatemala has the upper hand? Just the other day there was no doubt that the border in the South was the midpoint of the Sarstoon River. We could go in there with no problem. That’s the “Sarstoon” we refer to in our national anthem. But suddenly it seems that we’re singing anthems about a river belonging to Guatemala. Suddenly we have to ask permission to go into the river. Suddenly, while someone somewhere in the diplomatic fairy tale castle in Belmopan was asleep, Guatemala established a fully manned patrol base on the Sarstoon. And they took it, lock, stock and barrel.
The Last Word!
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on a matter of great importance, and before I go any further, no it’s not the Sarstoon nor is it the dismal economy but a matter of importance because if we can only get this right the whole country will shout out for joy. Mr. Speaker I speak of the Mile 8 (George Price Highway) to Mile 11 (Phillip Goldson Highway) Road for which the Government is borrowing an ELEVEN Million Dollar Loan.
This loan is basically for a road going nowhere. For the record Mr. Speaker, I am not against the construction of the road but believe that it is not necessary at this time. I can’t help but to call on my colleagues on the other side to think this through. To prioritise on their priorities and get the best value for borrowed money at this time.
Instead of moving ahead on that project, let us examine the pros and cons of spending on a much needed road infrastructure which is the Manatee Road/Coastal Road. This is a project of greater value and impact to various sectors of our community.
Open Letter to the President, Board of Directors and Administrative Team
The University of Belize Faculty and Staff Association recently received copies of various articles and letters which were sent to the editors of our key national newspapers. While these public discussions are private views held by those who work/worked at the University, the UBSFA is of the opinion that most of the issues reflect the current reality of our institution. Additionally, the sentiments reflected in these articles echo a sense of acrimony and disillusionment in the work environment. These issues have been brought up to the UBFSA on multiple occasions by numerous employees.
It is true that there is widespread discontent and disenchantment at all levels and across all campuses of the University. Unfortunately, the University will continue to receive bad publicity if these issues are not addressed internally. We therefore call on the President and/or Board of Directors to convene, at your earliest convenience, a general Staff and Faculty meeting to discuss the most pressing issues affecting our institution.
The Mess Is Here!
Last week Ambassador Assad Shoman said something important. He said that he doesn’t trust the persons representing Guatemala in these talks. He said that they’re being disingenuous and Belize needs to be always on its guard. Shoman has been involved with negotiations and discussions over the Guatemalan territorial dispute for about 40 years, so when he talks, I think we should listen.
The truth is that for the first time I feel that we’re getting the true sense of what’s happening in these talks. For the past few years Sedi has been meeting with Guatemala and we have to listen to his version of events only. I’m not absolutely sure that Sedi always tells the truth. I’m not absolutely sure that he’s been handling this Guatemala situation properly. I think he’s allowed us to be bullied. I think it could actually be his fault that we are where we are – at a point where Guatemala feels comfortable taking the whole Sarstoon, coming into our waters whenever they want and even aggressing our BDF. Sedi says all that is because Belizean civilians are provoking the Guatemalans. He says that the Belize Territorial Volunteers are to blame. I think Sedi has lost it completely. He should be recalled by his Prime Minister.
Gaza Don Gunned Down…Violence Erupts
On Saturday April 16th night in Dangriga, Gerald “Shiny” Tillett, the leader of what is considered Belize’s most powerful and ‘connected’ gang, the George Street Gang (GSG), was shot and killed in an execution-style attack. Three others were also shot, one of them being the man suspected of pulling the trigger on Tillett.
Tillett was playing dominoes at the popular Wadani Shed along with proprietor David Rodriguez, Carlos Sharp and others when a man arrived and unleashed a hail of bullets. Tillett was killed instantly, with a shot to his temple, while Rodriguez and Sharp were both shot on their chests.
As the gunman fled the scene, he was shot twice to the back by an unidentified male person who was also at the establishment. The assailant, now suspected to be as Dangriga-born, turned Belize City resident Nicholas Swazo, would later be rushed to the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan where he is currently listed in stable condition and under heavy Police guard.
Breaking Belize News
La Cabana bar owner withdraws anti-BDF social media post
A Belmopan bar owner has lost face after having to retract a social media statement in which she appears to go after the Belize Defence Force for their actions in the death of the Guatemalan minor in the adjacency zone on Wednesday. According to […]
Belize drops in press freedom ranking
According to the Reporter, The Reporters without Borders annual World Press Freedom Index ranks Belize 36th of 180 nations, a drop of six places from last year’s ranking. The Index measures pluralism, media independence, quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists […]
BPP Condemns Military Provocation by Guatemala
The Belize Progressive Party (BPP) is offering to organize a Belize People’s Brigade, which it says will support the active forces with citizen volunteers to be trained to respond to further escalation of aggression by Guatemalan forces. The offer comes in a party press […]
Dueling versions of New York meeting
Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Friday met with his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales in New York – where he said Morales agreed to de-escalate tensions along Belize’s borders with Guatemala. It happened in the margins of the signing of the UN Climate Change Agreement […]
Guatemalan boy laid to rest while diplomatic discussions continue
Julio Alvarado, 12, was buried today in San Jose Las Flores Peten in Guatemala while Guatemalan President Jimmy Moralez and Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow agree to deescalate tensions between both countries. Officials of the Guatemalan Armed Forces attended the child’s funeral. The minor […]
The Belize Mayan Temple Experience
The Mayan Civilization dates as far back as 2,600 BC, making the Maya people the oldest ethnic group in Belize. This ancient civilization is regarded for their highly developed writing system, sophisticated calendar, and elaborate architecture. One of the most recognizable and unique accomplishments of the Mayas are the structures found at Mayan Sites across Belize.
These sites were once ceremonial and administrative centers, which featured plazas, ball courts, market places, and large temples used in various ancient ceremonies and practices. Today, they are frequented by locals and visitors who explore the now uninhabited location, learn about the history of the Mayas that once occupied the area, and of course, ascend atop the Mayan Temples. But, before someone ventures up one of these temples, it’s advised to be well-prepared for the adventure.
Exploring Mayan Temples can prove to be challenging without the proper footwear. It’s recommended to wear a comfortable, yet durable pair of sneakers. Cool, light clothing are ideal options for all the exploration that will be done. Don’t forget to keep hydrated with a refreshing bottle of water. Packing fly repellent is a wise choice, considering the proximity to the Belizean jungle. Additionally, don’t forget to bring along your camera to record your journey.
“The BLUE in Belize” – Dream places to visit!
Whether by flight or by water, something ‘blue’ is the first thing you’ll notice as you sneak into the paradise of our jewel, Belize! Some of the best places to visit in Belize are blue and consists of the most attractive colours that illuminate nature’s beauty to the human eye. What comes to mind when combining nature and blue? – That’s right, the sky, the sea! Surrounded by a 1,000 shades of blue, Belize borders the beautiful Caribbean Sea and is most prominently known for many attractions such as the reef, the cayes and the Belizean flag. Belize is known to have some of the riches places to visit with the world’s 2nd largest Barrier Reef which is famous for its most stunning diving paradise – the great Blue Hole! With its unique existence, the Blue Hole is almost a perfect circle and is over 1,000 feet wide and 480 feet deep. What makes the Belize Blue Hole so interesting is the fact that it is in a cave that was formed above sea level with over 500 rare plants and animals, including the hammerheads and black tip tiger sharks. On average, more than 200,000 people yearly explore the Belize Blue Hole and get a chance to dive into experiencing this wonder of underwater nature.
Surprising, Vibrant Reef Discovered in the Muddy Amazon
Colorful sea fans, fish, and gigantic sponges found in murky waters. One scientist says the reef has the most amazing animals she’s ever seen on an expedition. After sampling muddy water from the mouth of the Amazon River, oceanographer Patricia Yager steamed in the research ship Atlantis toward the continental shelf, where a Brazilian colleague was chasing a phantom. Yager’s colleague was carrying a 1977 six-page research paper that included a hand-drawn map suggesting this region might mask an extraordinary set of reefs.
Yager was skeptical. The mouth of the Amazon was thick with more runoff and sediment than any river in the world. She had heard diving in this area was like swimming through goopy, dark stew. "I thought that everything would have just been smothered by settling mud from the river's plume," she says.
But when her colleague, Rodrigo Moura of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, dredged small areas near the shelf that day in 2012, he uncovered one of the most surprising finds in modern sea research–an extensive deepwater reef system up to 120 kilometers offshore, below the Amazon's thick, dirty plume.
Jimmy Morales Can’t Fix Guatemala
As Guatemala wrestles with the ghosts of its civil war past, its new president may already be a lame duck.
When comedian Jimmy Morales was inaugurated as Guatemala’s new president on Jan. 14, the question on everyone’s mind was whether he could lead the beleaguered country into a more just and democratic era. Morales, 46, had run on the slogan “not corrupt nor a thief,” in the wake of a sprawling corruption scheme that took down sitting president and former military commander Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president, Roxana Baldetti, who are now in jail awaiting trial. Despite a thin offering of policies and few concrete plans, he rode a wave of widespread discontent to carry nearly 70 percent of the vote.
Now, two months into his tenure, his actions have dampened hope that change will come quickly, if at all.
The country that Morales inherited is a troubled one. Two decades after the end of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, which killed over 200,000 people and displaced more than a million, it is still grappling with that legacy. In 1999, the U.N.-sponsored Truth Commission found that 93 percent of the deaths were attributable to the U.S.-backed government forces; in four regions, the commission found, state agents committed genocide against indigenous Mayan groups. The perpetrators, however, have rarely been brought to justice. Meanwhile, the deeply entrenched structural conditions that gave rise to that conflict — the enduring vestiges of colonialism, political exclusion, inequality, and poverty — remain largely intact.
Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow addresses recent incidents between Belize and Guatemala, 10min. And also speaks about his meeting with President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales.
Playing with Lilly and Piggy, 1min. Playing with Lilly and Piggy at Hostel La Vista, San Pedro, Belize
Diving with sharks and rays, 1min. Diving with sharks and rays off San Pedro, Belize
Diving in Belize, 1.5min. These sharks were not persuaded, they were just real curious.
Cayos de belize, 1min. Aerial views
ATVs through the jungle of Belize, 4min.
Bikepacking Belize - Karem, 6min.