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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, and other specials

The San Pedro Sun

11th Annual San Pedro Sun Caribbean Christmas contest
Be sure to have your lights shinning bright on Friday night, our judges will be out in full force!

Belize prepares to participate in Copa Centro Americana
The Belize National Football Team (Jaguars) has been in training camp since Tuesday, December 6th in preparation for their participation in the 2017 Copa Centro Americana (UNCAF) football tournament. The international men's football championship will be held in Panama City, Panama from January 13 to January 22, 2017, and will mark the 14th edition of the UNCAF. The participating members of this league this year will only include six Central American countries: Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize. Guatemala will not be participating this year, due to a suspension by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for political interference by the Guatemalan government. As a result the tournament will be played in a round-robin format, which means that all teams will meet each other in turns.

Saga says goodbye to Dr. Samantha English
After a year of hard work and dedication to the San Pedro Saga Humane Society, Dr. Samantha English is leaving the island. The staff at Saga honours her as a hard- working veterinarian who spent endless nights watching over hospital patients who all benefited from her services. The many animals she saved and the many friends she made while on La Isla Bonita, will never forget her. During her stay in San Pedro Town, Dr. English, along with the staff at the Saga clinic, oversaw the shelter animals at the clinic. She was also very instrumental in overseeing the spay/neuter program SNIP for the public and treating hundreds of locally owned pets (dogs) for vaccines, sickness and surgeries. She did not do all this alone, and on many occasions, she teamed up with Saga's very own technician Ingrid Lima, and from time to time, would also have assistance from visiting veterinarians.

Despite Ministry of Education's mandate, BNTU advises teachers to enjoy full Christmas vacation
The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) issued a press release on Monday, December 12th, notifying teachers and students to enjoy their 'full' Christmas vacation. Originally, the Ministry of Education (MOE) had announced that three days would be docked from the Christmas vacation due to the BNTU's 11-day strike. While the MOE advises schools to be opened on January 3, 2017, the BNTU is informing teachers and students to return to the classrooms on January 9, 2017 instead. BNTU President Luke Palacio explained that it is up to the Managing Authorities and teachers who should decide when the days will be made up. "The Ministry of Education has relied on Rule 131 (4) of the Handbook of Policies and Procedures for School Services 2000 to forge ahead with an amendment to the school calendar where a school falls short of the one hundred and eighty school days; however, that rule clearly states that special arrangements shall be made by the school and not the Ministry of Education to fulfil this requirement. We believe that our school managers and not the Ministry should plan alongside its teachers and implement that make-up time," said Palacio.

First Marine Climate Change Report Card for the Caribbean in the works
Under the Commonwealth Marine Economies Program, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), are preparing the first ever marine climate change report card for the Caribbean. The news was released through a press release on Thursday, December 8th, noting that the program will be funded by the Government of United Kingdom (UK). With an expected date of March 2017, the report card will provide comprehensive, peer-reviewed and highly accessible information on what is already happening, what could happen in the future, case studies from across the region, knowledge gaps and potential socio-economic impacts. It's also aimed to raise awareness of climate change issues across the region in a way that will spur action and drive future change. The 12-page document will contain hundreds of pages of reports produced across the Caribbean.

Senator Vanessa Retreage resigns from Cabinet
Prime Minister Right Honorable Dean Barrow has reshuffled his Cabinet for the third time this year. From Deputy Prime Minister Gasper Vega resigning, to former Minister of Defense John Saldivar's portfolio changing, to now the Attorney General and Minister of Natural Resources, Senator Vanessa Retreage, announcing her resignation. This news was confirmed via the Prime Minister's press conference on Tuesday, December 13th. On August 1, 2016, Attorney General Retreage took on the role of Minister of Natural Resources from Senator Minister Godwin Hulse, while he took on Saldivar's former portfolio as Minister of Defense. She even made history as the first female Attorney General of Belize, as she took over the post from Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington following the United Democratic Party's general elections in November 2015.

Ambergris Today

Police Warn of Increase in Island Golf Cart Theft
Island authorities are informing the public that there is a band of thieves that is currently stealing golf carts, even if they are securely locked. With a high incident report, the San Pedro Police is advising residents to be on the lookout and to secure golf carts with double locks if possible. The thieves are even breaking padlocks and a number of golf carts have gone missing from private homes and those parked on the street. Police chief says that during the holiday season the department increases police patrols and that most downtown areas are heavily patrolled. It is the monitoring of neighborhoods that proves more difficult and where thefts are mostly taking place.

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

Island Academy Christmas Pageant 2016
The students of The Island Academy once again presented their Christmas show extravaganza that included songs by the youngsters and a fantastic play titled 'Jingle Bell Hill' by the upper class students.

NO.1 Flairtentender in the world. Coming to Belize
Months at work to make this happen. And finally.... the NO.1 Flairtentender in the world. Coming to Belize. Some of you guys know how much I have worked to make this happen. How much l've wanted to post that he is coming and couldnt because so much could go wrong. Now I can say, Alexander Shtifanov, the number one Flairtender in the world is coming to Belize. Excited much? March 6th at Rain Restaurant in San Pedro. March 11th at BTEC in Belize City. Of course I have to end this at the famous Tipsy Tuna in Placencia on March 17th. He will also be doing 3 performances like in the video. Spaces are very limited. Contact Belize Mixology or inbox for details.

FCD meets with BECOL
BECOL contains hydro infrastructures in both the Chiquibul and Vaca landscape. FCD met with BECOL personnel to update them on the conservation efforts, particularly on macaw conservation and tourism activities.

Bram: A Christmastime Tradition
"Christmas allowed the slaves three weeks to a month's license to enjoy the festivity of the season with music, dancing, food, drink and even the discharging of gunpowder" - British Honduras Almanack 1670. Visit the Museum of Belize (NICH) to learn more about the Bram by reading the linked to article by Myrna Manzanares.
"Call:I bild an ol' house, [response: ol' house] I build an ol' house,[ol' house] I builda pon di rocky road [ol'house] an di breeze kohn blow ah downg.[ol' house] I bild an ol' house [ol' house] I bild an ol'house [ol' house] I builda pon di standin' block [ol' house] an di breeze ko blowa dong [ol' house]"

Lions Club Children's Party Dec. 18th
Children's Party Sunday the 18th! Come take a photo with Santa! Tickets $5 for kids and Dinner available for $5 for kids and $10 for adults! Join us starting at 4pm!!

The Belize International Yoga Festival is honoured and proud to have The Larubeya Band join us
They will entertain attendees from 11:00am to 2:00pm at the vendor section! Don't miss this! Larubeya Band is a Garifuna Band whose mission is to preserve Garifuna Culture and Heritage for Generations to come through the performance of Garifuna music. Its members are from Belize, Honduras and Guatemala and their style of music is a rich combination of the styles of Garifuna music played in all three countries. The group was Originally founded by Mr. Benedicto Baltazar ,AKA Bal T, in 1990 in Belize City, and it later was joined by talented Garifuna musicians such as Mr. Lugua Centeno and the late Ras Chi. Larubeya was instrumental in the recording of Stone Tree's Album entitled "Garifuna Soul" by Mr. Aurelio Martinez. Larubeya band however later split up as everyone parted on their own journey due to personal or tragic reasons.

KIds Yoga, Dance, Art, and Health Camp
Full Lotus is doing a Kids Yoga Camp at the end of the month. "Full Lotus is excited to offer kids classes again! This mini yoga camp runs Dec 28th - 30th for three hours per session, 9am - noon. This is a great gift and a wonderful way to see if your child would benefit from our upcoming after school classes. Miss Jasmin Ford will be teaching children ages 6-12 many different yoga postures, songs, healthy breathing and movement games, art projects plus providing some healthy snacks. We aim to give the kids of Cayo positive influences and pastimes. The price for this 3 day camp is $45 or $20 drop in per class. Space is limited so sign your child up soon, we have a nice printed certificate if you will be paying in advance and giving this as a gift."

Community conservation agreement in the Vaca Forest Reserve
FCD received today official endorsement from the Forest Department to support and mobilize steps leading towards a community conservation agreement in the Vaca Forest Reserve (VFR). The VFR is approximately 40,303 acres located nearby Benque, Arenal and Succotz.

Media Tour - Harvest Caye
A familiarization tour of the newly opened Harvest Caye, Cruise Port.

Run for DS, run!
Today, 25 Embassy employees took part in the 5K Jungle Run to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and to support the Diplomatic Security Foundation. Thank you, RSO Belize, for organizing the run and congratulations, DSS!

Paradise Theater playing this weekend:
The American Honey, Uncle Buck, When the Bough Breaks, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Channel 7

Police, The Stench of Scandal + The Aroma Of Marijuana
Tonight 7News is investigating a story of police high-level interference that carries the stench of scandal - and the aroma of marijuana. According to multiple sources, on Tuesday afternoon San Ignacio police received information that a vehicle was coming from Arenal loaded with a sack of weed. They got the plates on the pickup and police set up a checkpoint in Santa Elena. But when the vehicle with the license plates arrived, it turned out to be a vehicle with private plates attached to the Special Patrol Unit. The officers reportedly confessed to have a few contraband beers and firecrackers, but the intelligence said marijuana, so police took the vehicle to the police station to search it. But when they got there, 7News has received reports that a senior officer from Belmopan called and told the cops doing the search to release the vehicle immediately. Now, by this time police had already picked up the strong scent of marijuana in the pan of the pickup. But, the senior officer - as we understand it - was insistent that they release the SPU vehicle immediately or face consequences. With that, the police let the pickup go -carrying its cargo of contraband and very likely a sack of marijuana on board.

Chon Saan In Belmopan to Be New HQ For Immigration
The Immigration Department is looking for a new building for its headquarters - and 7News has confirmed that Government is about to buy the Belmopan Chon Saan building for that purpose. Minister of State in the Ministry of finance Dr. Carla Barnett today confirmed to us that they are finalizing a price and it is just about a done deal. But, what about the whole issue of buying a property from the President of the Senate? After all, Li Mark Chang's family owns Chon Saan. Well, he told us that the building is too big for his restaurant - and he wants to move into a smaller building. He also added that he's giving a government a deal: they will pay half up front, and the other half at a later date. Dr. Barnett also addressed that issue. She said that because the sale involves Chang - who is a UDP insider, she made sure that the highest standards in transparency were met. She says that they looked at three buildings, and selected Chon Saan as the most suitable. She concedes that government's valuator and Chang's arrived at very different values, but she says the final value is closer to the Government value.

No Answers In Mystery Body Found
From a death investigation to a murder: the woman whose body was found yesterday afternoon in the Belize River, was killed and dumped there. At a press briefing this afternoon, police had told us that she might have went swimming or either fallen in the river and was attacked by a crocodile. But after police spoke with the investigators this evening, they confirmed that it wasn't a croc attack that killed her; it was 2 chop wounds to the head. It is after her body was thrown in the river that the crocodile may have mauled her and ripped off one of her arms. Now while police have a clearer direction in this case, they are still trying to identify the body. As we told you, the woman is of creole decent and is believed to be in her 30's. There is a tattoo with the letters M.I.C.H and a rose on her right breast, another rose tattoo on her right foot above her ankle and an animal shaped tattoo above her left knee. Police revealed today that the only other details they have is that she may have been homeless and that she was last seen on Sunday morning walking along the Burrell Boom Road. This afternoon police gave an update on the case.

Another Body Found, This One Out West
And there is the report of a body found in the Cayo district today. Reports say a decomposing body was found in a sheet early this afternoon. It was found in a remote area between Buena Vista and Valley of Peace villages. Police removed the body, and not much details are known at this time. We'll have more details tomorrow.

PUP Says Government Must Prod Investigation of Vega Family Land in Carmelita
The issue of the Carmelita land scandal just won't go away. Today, PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay brought it up in the Senate as something the government has to act upon with deliberate haste because the society demands action:... Hon. Eamon Courtenay, PUP Senator: "It begs the question Mr. President and members what if anything we as a country we are going to do about this. What if anything we sign a convention that commits us fighting corruption. We have institutions that are available to fight corruption and here is something that requires attention. It is interesting Mr. President, members of the senate that 2 days ago I believe it was or a day ago, the Prime Minister was asked about this and he was very clear and I want to quote him, he said "there is no need for an investigation if the facts are as you say."

Courtenay Wants Police To Investigate Carmelita
After the meeting, Courtenay called for a criminal investigation into the land transactions which resulted in 50 adjoining properties ending up within the hands of the Minister's family:... Hon. Eamon Courtenay, PUP Senator: "First of all there must be an investigation by the police to determine, with the advice of the director of public prosecutions whether any criminal offence has been committed and it appears quite clear that criminal offences were committed and secondly, it seems to me based on the same CCJ case that a claim brought by the attorney general for malfeasants in public office needs to be brought against the Honorable Gaspar Vega," Reporter: "Do you expect that the government would go after him as you're calling?" Hon. Eamon Courtenay, PUP Senator: "I expect that the government is going to go after him as I said and that's why I brought it up on the adjournment in the context of the convention. They are the ones who said they are committed to the convention against corruption. They are the ones who have now appointed the integrity commission. Is Minister Vega going to file his returns? Is he going to file his returns going back 3-4-5-6 years? Because remember, family members are also included."

PUP Senator Welcome New Speaker Longsworth, Bristles At New Senator Peyrefitte
And as the senior opposition senator, we also asked Courtenay to comment on the upcoming changes in parliament - which could significantly change the tenor and mood of both houses. Well known nursing professional and president of the Cancer Society Laura Longsworth is going to be the Speaker of the House, and former house Speaker Mike Peyrefitte is going into the Senate. Courtenay was alternately gracious and aghast:... Hon. Eamon Courtenay, PUP Senator: "Let me refer first of all to the proposed appointment, the nomination of Mrs. Laura Longsworth as a speaker. Speaking for myself, I think it is a fantastic nomination. She is an exemplary person, a great Belizean. She has done tremendous public and private service to this country and I believe that she will bring a certain level of dignity and grace to the house that has long gone and so I welcomed her appointment and I think that it is going to attenuate to a large extent the vulgar display by parliamentarians in the house. So I think, personally I support it and I am very happy to see that happen. As to the advent of Michael Peyrefitte in the senate - oh my God. I suspect that the debates would be more robust. The debates will be more colorful, but I love good debate so I am looking forward to meeting him in the senate."

Brazen BEL Holdup
It's Christmas - time which means "crime-time" for some criminals - who are getting increasingly brazen with robberies and holdups. An example of that came this afternoon when two men robbed a BEL security guard. In broad daylight, the assailants approached and overwhelmed the security guard who was posted at the front entrance of the company's corporate headquarters. They stripped him of his firearm and fled. Seems the gun is all they wanted, and they didn't make any attempt to enter the business. No one was injured, and police are investigating.

Harvest Caye Welcomes 7News
A month ago, we took you to the opening of Norwegian Cruise Lines' Harvest Caye cruise port off the Placencia Peninsula. It is 100 million dollar investment in Southern Belize, and a one-of-a-kind destination since it is the only port of call in the country that has a berthing facility for cruise ships. Still, even though it is a big deal, Norwegian made it a point not to invite the local press to the opening - even though we made multiple requests. In the end, we had to paly the role of party crashers and sort of spy on it from afar to show you what the finished development looks like. Still, we kept pressing, and finally today, after weeks of more requests, NCL finally relented and invited the press to visit the island for a tour. Now, it's been a very long day to cover most of the features, and our news team is still on the road at this hour. But, they've managed to put together a small peek at the trek through Harvest Caye. We'll have our full story for you in tomorrow's newscast, with all the bells and whistles that island has. But for tonight, we have a portion of our interview with NCL's Colin Murphy discussing what the first 4 weeks of cruise ship calls to the island have been:

Today's encounter with the NCL local boss allowed us to ask him about a few of the complaints coming from the local tour operators who are members of FECTAB. The biggest issue for them is that almost - if not all - of Norwegian's Cruise ships will divert from the Belize City harbour, to their Harvest Caye island getaway. That means that all the business that those local operators got from tourists coming off NCL's ships has disappeared. The concern is that NCL guests spend the most money - and now all that has gone south. We asked Colin Murphy and Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. about that and here's what they had to say: Colin Murphy, Senior VP - NCL: "At the moment we have 80 sum calls scheduled for 2017, we're hoping to grow that as time goes by. We have no contracts with any other cruise lines to come to Harvest Caye at present so it's just our 3 brands. Obviously we've made a significant investment here, we've planted a flag in Belize so it will make a lot of sense for us to support that with more calls."

NCL Says FECTAB Misleading
So, what about FECTAB's other complaint against Harvest Caye? According to the local operators, they had guests booked on NCL cruise ships. They say that these guests bought tours from them, and they couldn't go on those tours because, instead of going to Belize City, they landed at Harvest Caye, far from their intended tour operators. We asked Murphy and Heredia about that one, and they said that FECTAB is misleading the public. Here's how they put it: Daniel Ortiz, 7News: "We have heard FECTAB complained that some of their guests would have been on ships that were supposed to go to Belize City and those ships were directed here and those guests were locked away from them." Colin Murphy, Senior VP - NCL: "Well I've heard that but I can't believe it's true frankly, because we've been working with the government, with BTB for years on this project and everyone knows what we were planning to do. Everybody knew what the start date was and actually as you know, we delayed this project a year so that the folks in Belize City got an extra 12 months of calls from us that was originally communicated. So everyone knew what the start was for Harvest Caye. If they're taking passenger bookings for days on the ship, they knew it wasn't going to be in Belize City. I don't understand how that can happen."

Hulse Says GOB Did Have Issues To Clarify With NCL
And it seems we weren't the only ones meeting the top brass from Norwegian. Chairman of Cabinet's Investment Committee Godwin Hulse says he did the same yesterday. He says they discussed the required ratios of local involvement and employment:.. Hon. Godwin Hulse, Chmn., Cabinet Investment Committee: "When we started the negotiations with NCL both in the MOU, it was clear that initially they will be able to bring up to 25% of foreign personnel which they will phase out over a period of 5 years, but it was also crustal clear that when it came to tour guides, boat captains and those that has to be Belizean unconditionally. I met with them just to review that together with Minister Heredia and Minister Panton as well as the senior staff of the BTB and the BELTRAIDE to reiterate that. As I understand it, the minister is down there today, NCL has assured us that they are complying to the letter with the agreement both in terms of hiring only local tour guides and people associated with that element and also on the island as best as possible hiring as many locals."

Opposition Questions 7 Million for BIL
And going back to today's Senate Meeting - there was a back and forth about the Supplementary Appropriation budget. This approves 14.3 million dollars in government spending above what had already been approved in the budget. 7 million of that is for Belize Infrastructure Limited - mainly for work on the Civic Center - and that drew strong criticism from the opposition:... Hon. Valerie Woods, Senator, PUP: "On the matter of BIL, my very brief comment is that we were here not so long ago on supplementary bill for BIL (Belize Infrastructure Limited). I joined all colleagues on both sides of this chamber who are asking for more information. Yes, we know that we cannot stop money bills, but we should not, especially in a week following the signing of UNCAC just accept these types of bills where the overruns are as grossly increased. We have absolutely no knowledge of where these expenses are to suggest to look at a field there or a field down south is simply not enough when we're millions of dollars of overruns."

Government Raises Treasury Bills Ceiling, Labour, Business and Opposition Express Concern
And there was also a lot of talk across the floor about the Treasury Bills Amendment Bill. That increased the ceiling on what is called government paper, or treasury bills to 1.3 billion dollars. The business sector, labour and opposition said it's too much borrowing:.. Hon. Rufino Lin, Ag. Senator, Business Sector "I believe that we must have a limit to borrowing. Private and Sovereign borrowing must be capped beyond which red flags must be raised. Borrowing in the private sector is not achieved simply by the stroke of a pen, it is achieved after careful, candid and meticulous review of the borrower's repayment capacity. There are key financial ratios that guide a banker as he/she reviews and evaluates a customer's financing requirements so both borrower and lender have a financial and social responsibility to be honest with each other. This bill really opens the opportunity for a level of borrowing that in my view places us in a dangerous path. So, this bill without any sort of limit just allows the borrowing of more and more money I think is one that we do not really support."

Senate Approves Special Agreement, PUP Says "For What?"
And finally from today's Senate meeting, the upper house approved the International Court of Justice Motion, and its accompanying protocol, authorizing ratification of the special agreement to submit it to the International Court of Justice. Now, this is mostly symbolic - since government doesn't need the Senate's ratification to proceed. Today's meeting was preceded by a session with the Minster of Foreign Affairs explaining the reason for bringing the motion to the senate - and not surprisingly, the government side was convinced and the opposition was not. Here's both sides of that story:... Hon. Godwin Hulse, Chmn., Cabinet Investment Committee: "The question of course was that whether in fact we should authorize the ratification, that is the main issue. As for the foreign minister, his team and the government the consensus says we should approve the ratification of both the special agreement and the protocol there too. It doesn't mean that we're doing anything else but ratifying that and as you all know, this has to be made clear..."

Fancy (And Tiny) New Street Sweeper
Today the streets of Belize City were introduced to a new method of maintenance. A brand new street sweeper was unloaded on Chetumal Street, where we caught a few operators demonstrating its capabilities. We also met Councilor Phillip Willoughby observing the demonstration and he gave us some information about the sweeper, and some other equipment that arrived along with it... Phillip Willoughby - Councilor responsible for Flood mitigation: "This is one of 5 equipment that has come courtesy the Flood Mitigation Project, granted by the government of Belize through IDB for the Flood Mitigation infrastructure improvement project for Belize City. The four other equipment that we'll be getting are a back hose a roller, a vacuum truck and an asphalt truck. We have in country four of the equipment thus far and the other will be arriving shorty which is the asphalt truck." Alex Courtenay, 7News: "Now sir, we've seen this machine sweep up some of the debris that was on the street. Where should we except to see this in the City."

Highway Hijackers Strike Again
The highway hijackers have struck again! this time it was a Shaw's Bus. Last night around 8:30, the Belmopan bound bus stopped near Gracie Rock and 2 armed men got on the bus demanding money from the conductor. But the conductor outsmarted the robbers and gave them an empty bag. Rural Police told us more about this second highway robbery and what they are doing to prevent recurrence. Police are not sure if those 3 men they caught were involved in last night's bus robbery. As we told you on Tuesday, 2 men who were dressed as cops, set up a fake check point at mile 20 and stole almost 50,000 from a Travelers truck.

Catholic Bishops Tell Luke, Go Back To School
For the past two nights we've been reporting on the dispute on when school should resume after the Christmas holidays. The teachers union says it should start on the 9th January as per normal, and the ministry and school managements say it should be on the third to make up for days lost due to strike. Well, the Roman Catholic Bishop have written to the teacher's union president. This time, the Catholics are telling the union to get back to school on January third, The letter, signed by both Bishops Glancey and Wright says that the plan to return to school on the third is reasonable, and it avoids extending the school year into July. The letter notes that that the Catholics supported the teachers in the labor and good governance issues that they fought for, and adds that teachers have said they are willing to make up the time. But, the Bishops are against extending the school day after 3:30, because it would quote "overly tax children beyond their limits to pay attention," end quote.

High School Managers Says School Opens On Third
And so while that's for Primary schools, what about High Schools? Well, the Belize Association of Principals of Secondary Schools also agreed with the Ministry to open school early after the Christmas - so that they could achieve the minimum of 180 school days in a school year. In a release today, they add, quote, "It must also be noted that the addition of 6 days to the school year will not affect the 30 working days vacation leave that teachers are entitled to per year." It concludes, "It is therefore the position of the Association that schools reopen on Tuesday January 3rd, 2017."

Manuel and The Visa's
Earlier in the newscast, we showed you our interview with Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia in which he joined the press on a tour of Norwegian Cruise Line's Harvest Caye island getaway. That gave us the opportunity to ask him about his name being brought up in yesterday's Senate Select Committee Hearing. The Senate, as we told you, is going through the Auditor General's report on the Immigration Department with a fine tooth comb. Yesterday, the portion of her report addressing allegations against Heredia came up. You'll remember it as the section on the Visas where according to the Auditor General, Manuel Heredia signed for 52 visa foils. You'll also remember that the Auditor General also noted in her report, quote, "We observed that there appeared to be a special connection between the Honorary Consul of Belize in Lebanon, Khodr H. Harmouch and Hon. Manuel Heredia in order to have�three members of the Harmouch/ Harmouche family acquire Belizean nationality." It also notes that in one case, quote, "Minister Heredia requested File for processing a year before applicant had qualified for Nationality based on his file."

Channel 5

The Awful Death of "Jane Doe" in the Belize River
The body of a woman fished out of the Belize River on Wednesday, remains unidentified tonight.� No one has come forward to verify her identity despite very distinct features on [...]

Murder in Buena Vista, Cayo: Body Found Decomposing on Ranch
There's another murder to report tonight. About two miles off the Buena Vista Road in the Cayo District a body of a middle-aged man of Hispanic origins was discovered. According [...]

Security Guard at B.E.L. Stripped of Firearm
With Christmas just around the corner, criminals are on the loose. This afternoon, they are targeted Belize Electricity Limited in broad daylight. Police are investigating the hold up of a [...]

Senate Ratifies Special Agreement and Protocol; is Referendum Next?
In the Capital, the Senate hosted its final session for 2016 at the National Assembly. It reviewed and passed nine bills brought back from the House and several motions. Of [...]

Opposition Disagrees - Agreements Did Not Need to be Ratified to Have Referendum
The Opposition contends that there has been a rush to judgment and that the Government need not have acted with such haste. They say their view is bolstered by an [...]

Why Investigation is Needed in Carmelita Land Scam
One thousand six hundred acres of prime farm land gobbled up by a powerful family in five years, at great loss to the Government and people of Belize. That, in [...]

More Money in the Economy Not a Good Thing, Opposition Senator Claims
Among the bills considered by the Senate today is the Treasury Bill (Number Three) Amendment Bill, which juggles the limits that Government can raise on treasury bills and treasury notes. [...]

Tourism Minister Wants Injunction to Quash Senate Inquiry
Belize Rural South Area Representative, Manuel Heredia Junior, according to the Auditor General's report, received fifty-two visa foils that were to have been delivered to the Officer in Charge of [...]

Couriering Visa Stickers Was Part of "Service" to Constituents, Says Heredia
According to Heredia, acting as a courier to convey documents, including passports and visas foils, from San Pedro to the respective departments within the Ministry of Immigration is simply part [...]

Guardian Accused of Lying About Deliberations of Senate Committee
Who is leaking inaccurate suggestions of private deliberations of the Senate Special Select Committee on Immigration to certain sections of the media? That question came up in the full meeting [...]

N.C.L. Will Be Kept to Agreement on Hiring Belizeans
A News Five crew was on Harvest Caye today at the invitation of Norwegian Cruise Lines. It is the first time the media was invited to experience the cruise port [...]

FECTAB Complaints About Losing Tours Not True, According to N.C.L.
Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia Junior also took on Federation of Cruise Tourism Association of Belize for their allegation that visitors who booked with NCL to call on Belize, did [...]

N.C.L. Will Feed Local Tourism in Mid-South and Toledo
Since NCL launched its Harvest Caye destination on November seventeenth, there have been concerns among local tour operators that their counterparts in Placencia aren't getting a slice of the tourism [...]

New Belizeans Sworn-in in Time for Christmas
Over a hundred and twenty persons are new Belizeans. The group of persons took the oath making them citizens of the country in Belmopan on Wednesday. They come from as [...]

Interdicted Cop and Brother of Policeman to be Tried in Separate Sex Assault Cases
Interdicted police officer, Darren Evan Martinez who was accused of committing a heinous act on an eight year old child in February of this year, will have to stand trial [...]

Fake Commuters Tried to Rob Shaw Bus to Belmopan
There was yet another robbery on the George Price Highway near miles twenty. A pair of robbers, pretending to be commuters, boarded a Shaw bus en route to Belmopan and [...]

Northside Police Seek Contributions for Christmas Hampers
Christmas is a time of sharing and caring and the Police of Eastern Division North Precinct Three want to spread some cheer this holiday season. Press Officer of Eastern Division [...]

Healthy Living: How to Avoid a Heart Attack for Christmas
Christmastime is said to be a period of joy and merriment; where families come together and celebrate and build memories with their loved ones. The kids look forward to see [...]

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Armed Robbery at Chinese Store in Corozal
Corozal Police are investigating the armed robbery of a Chinese store in the Santa Rita area of Corozal Town on Tuesday night. Two armed robbers targeted Ban Store located on Mile 85 on the Phillip Goldson highway just before the store closed its shutters. The men entered the store, despite an off-duty Police Officer being on guard, and one proceeded to tackle the officer while the other demanded money as he brandished a firearm. The store attendant, fearing for his life, handed over cash which the men took and ran away. Reports are that the men got away with $800.

Senate Committee Questions How Visas Were Illegally Sanctioned
There were also other cases of visas illegally sanctioned by the Ministry of Immigration. One such case reviewed during the hearing had the Chairman Senator Aldo Salazar ask, "how did that happen??!!". Aldo Salazar, Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "List of applicants whose application were not approved by the Director, how did that happened?" Carla Faber, Head of Audit Team: "Her signature was not on the form, so how did it had been issued and we are talking about Belmopan." Aldo Salazar, Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "I thought she was the person who could issue VISAS, who had the authority." Carla Faber, Head of Audit Team: "She approves the VISAS for issuance but she did not issue the VISA, after she had finish approving a VISA application she sends it to the officer in charge at the VISAS section."

More Visa Irregularities
There were also other cases of visas illegally sanctioned by the Ministry of Immigration. One such case reviewed during the hearing had the Chairman Senator Aldo Salazar ask, "how did that happen??!!". Aldo Salazar, Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "List of applicants whose application were not approved by the Director, how did that happened?" Carla Faber, Head of Audit Team: "Her signature was not on the form, so how did it had been issued and we are talking about Belmopan." Aldo Salazar, Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "I thought she was the person who could issue VISAS, who had the authority."

Human Smugglers Got Belizean Passports And Nationality
There have been numerous reports of Human Smuggling rings in Belize. There have been Police arrests and confiscation of vehicles in the past, but no significant bust of any sort of operation. But perhaps greater efforts will or are going towards cracking down on those activities from outside of Belize, as the Auditor General's report noted that a foreign service assisted her investigation with evidence that human smugglers were given Belizean passports and nationality. Just who that Foreign Service is could not be identified, because as the Auditor General pointed out, it is very classified information. Senator Mark Lizarraga - Representative for Chamber of Commerce and Industry: "You said that it was also observed that an alleged human trafficking/people smugglers were able to obtain Belizean Nationality by registration and I guess passport because you are dealing with it in the passport report."

Auditor General Speaks On Mismanagement In VISAS And Nationality Section
In last night's newscast, we showed you snippets of the Senate Special Select Committee hearing on the Auditor General's special audit into immigration department. Tonight we continue to air several aspects that caught our attention. Firstly, in the second session held on December 7th, Auditor General Dorothy Bradley made a critical concession in the eyes of her detractors when she corrected a statement in her report that Ministers signing recommendation letters for the processing of visas, nationality and passport documents were irregular and not illegal. This concession meant that the controversial actions from Ministers who issued letters directly to Immigration officials was perhaps less controversial than suspected. Yesterday, however, the Auditor General cited illegality when the Committee discussed the approval of visa applications that were backed by unauthorized sponsors.


Roman Catholic and Association of Secondary School Principals Tell Luke to Put Interest of Children First
The Roman Catholic Management has written to the President of the Belize National Teachers Union, Luke Palacio following a release from the BNTU earlier this week regarding the date for the re-opening of schools. In its release the BNTU took issue with the Ministry of Education stating that classes would resume on Tuesday, January 3, [�]

Minor Detained for Robbery of Big-H Delivery Truck
Dangriga Police have detained a sixteen year old minor and are looking for a second individual following the robbery of a delivery truck on Monday. Police say the Big H delivery truck was making a delivery in the Harlem area in Dangriga when the driver was approached by a male person wearing a black t-shirt [�]

Elderly Man Robbed and Killed on a Ranch in Western Belize
The body of an elderly man was found on his family ranch this afternoon just outside Buena Vista Village, Cayo District. Love News met up with the victim's son, Carlos Medrano minutes after he got the news of his father's demise. CARLOS MEDRANO " A post mortem was conducted on-site. While the family believes that [�]

GoB Hits a Snag in Arbitration Appeal to the US Supreme Court
Earlier this month the Government of Belize had petitioned the US Supreme Court to review a ruling handed down in July by the DC Circuit Court that upheld the monetary award to the Belize Telemedia Limited via the London Court of International Arbitration. That revision, however may not come for Belize as it was reported [�]

Referendum Motions Go to the Senate; Opposition Disapproves
The final Senate Sitting took place today in Belmopan. It got underway just after eleven o'clock as the Senators engaged in a closed door meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister, Wilfred Elrington to get a briefing on the matter as motion was being presented in the Senate regarding the Referendum Act. Senator responsible for Government Business, [�]

PUP Senator Says Treasury Bill Amendment Poses Danger for Belize
At last Friday's Sitting of the House of Representatives, four bills were introduced namely the General Revenue Supplementary Appropriation Bill, the amendment of the Treasury Bill, Income and Business Tax Amendment Bill and the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Amendment Bill. The amendment to Treasury Bills Bill was what stood out as the opposition [�]

Police Says Croc May Be The Culprit in Woman's Death
Traumatic Cranial Injuries is what the results of the post mortem conducted yesterday. Revealed on an unidentified woman believed to be in her thirties. The post mortem was conducted on-site and subsequently laid to rest in Lord's Bank Village, Belize District. Initially, police had noted that the woman's feet were tied but with further investigations, [�]

The Guardian

Strength in change - Cabinet and Parliament Shuffle
It is very rare for changes in both the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government to result in a strengthening of the Administration. Belize may be witnessing one of those extremely rare phenomenons as the changes announced by Right Honorable Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Tuesday, December 13, are receiving thumbs up from all sectors of society. The Attorney General and Minister of Natural Resources Senator Hon. Vanessa Retreage has upheld a verbal one year commitment she made to Prime Minister Barrow and is now moving on to focus on her private career and development. Since word surfaced that Retreage was moving on from public service, rumours have been flung wildly. She disappointed the conspiracy theorists at a press conference with PM Barrow on Tuesday in Belmopan. "Sadly it's only because time is up and I can't confirm any of the juicy gossip that has been going around," said Retreage. "I remain committed to this UDP administration and will provide any support I can whenever I can to this UDP administration and I am confident that this administration will see the country through these troubling times that we are having."

School to re-open on January 3rd - BNTU says no way
Once again, the Belize National Teachers Union is encouraging its members to take an adversarial stance against the Ministry of Education. They are rejecting the plan to make up 6 of the 11 school days lost in their October strike. It appears that their vacation is more important than helping the students catch up after falling behind due to their reckless actions. The Ministry of Education has publicized the intention to short the Christmas break by 4 days, so instead of classes resuming on January 9, the next term should start on January 3, which is a Tuesday. Also the plan is to extend classes an extra two days into the Easter Holiday. So, instead of the Easter break starting at the end of Friday, April 7, students and teachers are expected to show up for 2 more days into the week before Good Friday. That means April 10 and 11 are to be school days. This was the plan of action decided upon by the Ministry and the managing authorities of the different schools countrywide.

Police officer nabbed with 8 illegal immigrants
Eight undocumented persons were intercepted over the weekend in Santa Elena Town, Cayo. On Saturday at about 9:15 pm a police team accompanied by volunteers from the Special Constables were conducting patrols in the Santa Elena Town Area in the Cayo District when their attention was drawn to a heavily tinted vehicle that was speeding towards Belmopan. That vehicle, an SUV without a license plate number, was pursued and brought to a stop. A closer inspection revealed that a police constable attached to the Benque Police Formation Edif Alex Sierra was in the driver seat along with eight Salvadoran Migrants--four adults and four minors under the age of 16. An investigation launched by the Departments of Human Services, Immigration and the Police has shown that the occupants of the SUV had no form of travel documents with them. As a result those persons will be charged for immigration offences and so will the police officer for facilitating the transportation. Police were also able to find two thousand US dollars in the said vehicle.

Carl Ramos Stadium now officially opened
Dangriga and the surrounding communities in the Stann Creek District can now enjoy a professional football match at the Carl Ramos Stadium. The 1.2 million-dollar upgrade has been completed and the Dangriga stadium is now the envy of the south, and this facility is state of the art. It is just one of the many sporting facilities which the Government of Belize and the Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) have partnered to construct and upgrade for the footballers countrywide. It was opened on Saturday, December 10, with its first official football match. There was also a ceremony hosted by Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture; Dangriga Area Representative, Hon. Frank "Pawpa" Mena; Defence Minister Hon. John Saldivar; who is a long time football fan and team owner; and Dangriga Mayor Francis Humphreys.

Belize signs to UN Anti-corruption Convention
Belize is now the 184th country to sign on to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The Barrow Administration has done as was promised to the people of Belize. With this step, the government is demonstrating to the world that it is serious about tackling corruption in public life, despite the insistence from critics, that the leaders stubbornly ignore that it exists. Acting Prime Minister Hon. Patrick Faber signed the treaty on Friday, December 9th in Belmopan. He did so in the presence of the United Nations Resident Coordinator Christian Salazar Volkmann; other Government officials such as Dr. Carla Barnett; and a representative for the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The signing is simply a completion of the Government's expedited plan to get the convention enforced on Belizean soil. That plan started in November when the Cabinet agreed to move straight to accession.

Belizean entrepreneurs receive seed funding to expand their business
Thirty-six young Belizean entrepreneurs were recognized for their hard work during an award ceremony of the EMPRENDE Belize Fund, which was held in the IVET Dining Room, ITVET Campus on Freetown Road, Belize City. During the award ceremony, His Excellency Charles Liu, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Hon. Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade & Commerce, presented a cheque for the total sum of US$200,000 to the recipients as part of the EMPRENDE Belize Fund. The entrepreneurs will receive grant funding of up to US$5,555 each to establish or expand their businesses and will execute their investment plans as approved by the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) and the Regional Centre for the Promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CENPROMYPE).

CCJ interpretation of 'Channels' eases SMART 5 million dollars in fees
Speednet, the parent company of Smart, the second major telephone company in Belize, has won judgment against the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Caribbean Court of Justice has ruled against the utilities regulator allowing Speednet to save 5 million dollars in licensing fees. The dispute between Speednet and the PUC dates back to 2011 when Speednet was paying for the licensing of 238 channels which they use to provide phone calls, text, and data usage to their customers. They paid $1,400, but the PUC informed them that they owed $800,000. The huge disparity existed because the PUC was attempting to charge them for usage of voice channels, whereas Speednet was paying for radio frequency channels. The regulators were of the view that the telecoms company was being undercharged. Speednet disagreed, believing that they were being overcharged. They paid the $800,000 for that year under protest, and then, they filed a lawsuit against the PUC disputing the amount. After that, they did not pay for the 5 years outstanding, while the litigation was ongoing.

International Diana Award given to Belizean Youth
On Friday December 9, 2016 Ernest Anderson, a fourth form Industrial Studies student from Orange Walk Technical High School, was awarded the International Diana Award. Ernest won this award for the reading and writing program he instituted at Louisiana Government School. For the past three and a half years, Ernest has volunteered as a tutor and mentor to the Standard Three primary school students and significant progress has been made in the behavior and academic achievements of his students. Deputy British High Commissioner, Mrs. Grace Chun, presented Ernest with the Award. Ms. Chun spoke of the late Princess Diana's charitable works and she encouraged youth to volunteer and build up their communities. Ernest is a scholar of BNE's Energy for Life Program. This program is a BNE employee initiative where scholarship recipients are sponsored, mentored and tutored by employees of BNE. The three directors of the Program are: Albert Roches, Manuela Lue and Leila Leslie.

A step closer to having full local electricity production in country
On Tuesday December 13 the Belize Electricity Limited and SS Energy a subsidiary of the sugar producing company, Santander in western Belize signed on to a 15 year agreement (with an automatic extension of10 years) for the supply of electricity to the national grid. Public Utilities Commission (PUC) chairman, John Avery explained that the signing is in keeping with request for proposal for generation of power which was launched in October of 2013. At that time it was promised that the process would be fair transparent and open. He added that Santander was selected as one of the bidders to negotiate with BEL for power purchase as Belize has the least capacity for local power production in the first 6 months of the year. The company he said, is also well established with proven technology.

General managers say school should open on January 3
On Wednesday November 2nd , 2016, General Managers of Pre and Primary Schools met with senior officials of the Ministry of Education to explore ways to compensate for the loss of instructional time due to strike action taken by the Belize National Teachers Union. Managers believed that it is in students' best interest to seek ways to help students to catch up while at the same time meeting the minimum 180 school days in a school year as required in the Education Rules 131 (3) of 2000. Managers unanimously agreed that 6 school days will be added, January 3rd to 6th and April 10th and 11th, 2017. The managers' decision to add the six days will assist schools to comply with the minimum 180 school days requirement. Additionally, managers accept that given the structure of the school year, any compensatory school days would involve a change in the vacation periods as described in Rule 132 subsections (3, 4 and 5) of ER 2000. General Managers believe that the 180 school days minimum requirement is also underscored in Rule 132(2).

IICA reports to stakeholders in Belmopan
The Inter American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture IICA held its annual meeting at the George Price Center for Peace and Development in Belmopan last Thursday to report to stakeholders on achievements and its plans. In attendance were experts from the Department of Agriculture, Belize's Agricultural Industries and Mexico. According to IICA's Representative in Belize Dr. Dowlat Budhram such reporting mechanism occurs similarly in the 34 member states where the organization operates. In reviewing with the Guardian the achievements of IICA during last year, Dr. Budhram mentioned that SIRDI in the North was assisted with a building with European Union funding and so are more effectively able to do some research on sugar cane. The second significant piece of work by IICA during the same time frame was to work with the Department of Agriculture's Extension Service in the implementation of the farmer field school methodology. Under this program, extension officers from other areas such as citrus, bananas and the Pesticide Control Board PCB were provided critical training.

Julius says he will not apologize to the Speaker of the House
After Said Musa's failed attempt to try and get the House to vindicate Julius Espat for his UNCOUTH BEHAVIOUR, that he displayed in the house on the 26th August, 2016 .The same behaviour that caused him to be named and suspended from the House of Representatives , he has now taken to Facebook to throw another tantrum and be a further EMBARRASSMENT and DISAPPOINTMENT to the People of Cayo South and the entire nation. For clarity we will reproduce the entire post he placed on Facebook so that you, our readers will get the full effect of how uncouth this man is. Below is the post as taken from his Facebook account.

Education CEO moves on
Mr. David Leacock, Chief Executive Officer with responsibility for Education, in the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture will be leaving this post effective December 31, 2016. In a letter dated September 7, 2016, Mr. Leacock gave notice to the Prime Minister of his intention to resign after he had verbally informed the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture. Mrs. Debbie Domingo, current General Manager of Anglican Primary Schools, will succeed Mr. Leacock as Chief Executive Officer. Mrs. Domingo holds a Masters in Education in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida and Bachelor of Science in Biology Education. She has served as a teacher at Wesley College (1987-1994), Vice Principal of the Anglican Cathedral College (1994-2000), Principal of Sadie Vernon High School (2000-2005), Dean for St. John's College Junior College School of Professional Studies (2006-2011) and General Manager of Anglican Schools (2011-2016).

Unacceptable: Violence against Children Must Stop Now
The National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC) joins the nation in mourning the tragic loss of another innocent Belizean child. It is truly a tragic outcome. Media reports about the questionable circumstances surrounding the tragic death of baby Janeeka Campbell leaves the NCFC with grave concerns and a number of questions. The death of any child is regrettable. Sadly, the recent results of the Belize Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2015 indicate that children below the age of five experience the most severe forms of violence against them. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that parents have all the support they need to raise happy and healthy children. Together, with its partners the NCFC continues to work on strengthening the support that Government and NGOs give to families. However, as citizens we need to remember that "it takes a village to raise a child".

Protection for Chiquibul receives financial aid from PACT
In August of this year the Ministry of the Environment unveiled the Chiquibul Forests Investment Initiative (CFII) which will see an investment of an unprecedented 15.8 million dollars over the next two years for the protection of the Chiquibul forests. At the time the ministry promised that it would begin to outlay the finances as soon as possible and that has now started. On Tuesday December 13, through the Protected Areas Conservation Trust's (PACT) Environmental Management Fund, the fist trache of funding was issued to the BDF, the Forestry Department, Friends for Conservation (FCD)and Development and the Ya'axche Conservation Trust. During the ceremonies the BDF received $434, 101; FCD received $770,000; Ya'axche received $400,000 and the Forest department received $572,749. Denicia Francisco, Executive Director of PACT says that the organizations have received the finances as they are directly involved in the protection of the Chiquibul forests. She says that over the next two years $2.5 million dollars will be made available to these organizations from the PACT's Environmental Management fund.

No leadership void in UDP as Hon. Patrick Faber leads UDP in National Assembly
On Friday 9th December, 2016 , the eyes of the nation were focused on the Capital , Belmopan. This was a day when a few historical moments were about to occur in Belize. The first being that the government was about to sign to bring into effect, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The UNCOUTH Julius Espat via a Privilege Motion, to be moved by Said Musa, was going to attempt to get Julius' suspension from the National Assembly lifted. However the biggest moment of the day, was when the young, educated and dynamic UDP Deputy Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Patrick Faber was to be the Leader of the National Assembly for the first time. It was not the first time that a Deputy Prime Minister would lead the House. As Hon. Curl Thompson had done it before when he once lead the House in the 1980's when he was Deputy Prime Minister. The difference was that Hon. Thompson had already been Deputy Leader of the UDP about 5 years and Deputy Prime Minister for about 3 years. Hon. Faber on the other hand has only been Deputy Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister a little over 6 months.

Rosewood found in Benque will not be burnt
The forestry Department is currently investigating the case of at least 30 thousand board feet of Rosewood flitches which were found at a wood works shop in Benque Viejo del Carmen. Chief Forestry Officer, Marcello Windsor told the Guardian newspaper that some officers conducting patrol and inspection in the area of Benque came up on the Rosewood which could not be accounted for. The Forestry is at this time preparing a case and Windsor said he could not give much information as he does not want it to affect case. As of Tuesday December 13, the rosewood was being transported and measuring is still taking place. The department is also going through the process of determining where the wood originated from and are asking the persons at the wood shop to cooperate.

Town Council in San Ignacio distributes gifts to children
Some 400 Christmas gifts were distributed by the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town Council at the Cayo Welcome Center on Friday night of last week in keeping with the fast approach of Christmas Day. As part of the program by the Town Council it was also to officially present a 19 feet high, fully decorated Christmas Tree to the community. On hand to put on the lights of the Christmas tree was Mayor Earl Trapp and his Councilors. The frame for the Christmas Tree had been donated by the Cayo Steel Works and the staff of the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Town Council had also managed to raise funds for 75 gifts. In presenting the Christmas Tree to the Cayo community, Mayor Earl Trapp was able to highlight some of the achievements of his Council. He said that as Mayor of the municipality his priority was to seek new opportunities for residents "�that can create jobs and bring about betterment in the community."

Special Envoy and Counsellor for Belize at Inter-American Development Bank present Hurricane relief to four institutions in Belize
The Special Envoy for Women and Children, and Counsellor for Belize on the Board of Executive Directors at the Inter-American Development Bank presented donations in the amount of US$18,425 to four institutions in Belize to provide relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Earl. The donations were presented by Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children and Ms. Elvira Mendez, Counsellor for Belize at the IDB Board of Executive Directors. Also present was Cassandra Rogers, IDB Country Representative in Belize and the representatives of the four institutions that received the donations. The funds were raised through contributions made by employees at the IDB headquarters in Washington DC in four events organized by Mrs. Elvira Mendez during the months of September and October 2016. The IDB corporate office then matched the funds that had been raised bringing the total to US$18, 425.00.

Superbond meeting not yet focused on details
Prime Minister Dean Barrow gave a briefing on his recent meeting with holders of Belize's bonds at a press conference on Tuesday, December 13, and there is not really much to report. Basically, all that has happened thus far is Belize has placed its cards on the table. "So far we've set out the broad contours," said PM Barrow, "We know basically what we are talking about but the devil is always in the details and those details won't be discussed until the next meeting which we are hoping to have before the end of year." Prime Minister Barrow said he did not meet with the bondholders. In an interview with News 5 he said, "I went to meet with our team prior to their meeting with the bondholders because this is the point now where the rubber is beginning to meet the road." Belize's team comprises of Ambassador Mark Espat, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, attorney Lee Buchheit and advisors from CitiGroup. Prime Minister Barrow gives the final nod on the position put forth to the bondholders by this team. So far the team has simply opened the books that contain information on the country's financial position and projections.

Remembering UDP's first victory at the polls
On Wednesday 14th December we in Belize and more so in the UDP marked the THIRTYSECOND ANNIVERSARY of the United Democratic Party being elected to government for the first time. The election was the first in Belize since it achieved full independence from the United Kingdom in 1981. At that time in its more than 30 years of existence the then ruling People United Party, had never lost an election at the national level, whilst the opposition had never won more than six seats out of a possible eighteen (1974).However, by 1984 the PUP were presiding over an economy in recession and one that had just recently been bailed out by the DREADED IMF. The party was internally fractured and faced a United Democratic Party that had made significant gains since losing the previous election in 1979. Senator Manuel Esquivel , whom George Price had defeated in the then Freetown Constituency in 1979 had become UDP leader in December 1983.

Lavern Longsworth out after less than 2 Years
After getting her life sentence for murder quashed and agreeing to a plea deal of 8 years imprisonment for manslaughter, Lavern Longsworth is out of jail after serving just over 2 years. Longsworth was convicted of murder but the Court of Appeals reduced it to Manslaughter and instead of serving life in prison she was sentenced to serve 4 and a half more years in prison on June 27, 2014. Her attorneys, Godfrey Smith and Leslie Mendez, appealed her murder conviction in the June 2014 Session of the Supreme Court on the grounds that in July 2010 she wasn't totally to blame for her actions when she doused her common-law husband, David White, in Kerosene and lit him on fire. Her attorneys successfully convinced the Court of Appeals to accept reports done on Longsworth by British Forensic Psychiatrist, Dr. Gillian Mezey. In those reports, the Doctor found that Longsworth was suffering from battered woman's syndrome because she suffered years of physical abuse at the hands of the deceased. She therefore concluded that Longsworth should not be held fully liable of the crime she was convicted of.

Bobby Mansaray charged for home invasion
Holy Emmanuel Street resident Bobby Mansaray, 22, is on remand at the Belize Central Prison because he was accused of forcing himself into Claudio Arzu's home with a firearm and causing physical harm. Mansaray was unrepresented when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Monday, December 12. He said, "The man fabricated the story. I was somewhere else. I could not be in two places at the same time as I am not God." He pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated burglary and wounding. However, since it is alleged that the crime was committed with a firearm Mansaray was denied bail and remanded to the Belize Central Prison until his next court appearance on February 26, 2017 or when he is able to secure Supreme Court bail. Disclosure is to be provided by February 12, 2017.

Denzel Flowers chops his stepmother
There is still no explanation as to why Denzel Flowers, 19, got so angry and chopped up his own step-mother on Thursday, December 8, but police believe they have enough evidence to convict him of attempted murder for that vicious attack. Based on information received about a chopping incident in progress, police visited #4305 Louise Bevans Street at about 10:55 a.m. on Thursday and saw 52-year-old Consuelo Lopez being chopped by her stepson Denzel Flowers. Lopez received multiple chop wounds to her hand and head. She was bleeding profusely and police rushed her to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery to save her life. She was then sedated to ease the pain and prevent further damage to her body. Lopez is still in a critical condition but her prognosis is much improved.

Leroy Richards busted with 700 grams of weed
Police say they caught Leroy Richards, 30, on a bicycle carrying a sack of weed but he claims the police is fabricating a story against him. According to police, on Wednesday, December 7, they saw Richards riding a bicycle on Antelope Street Extension with a sack on the handle. The officers stopped him, conducted a search and found cannabis inside. Richards was immediately arrested and escorted to the police station where the cannibis was weighed. It amounted to 700 grams; therefore, he was charged with drug trafficking.

3 months for stealing shrimp from Public's
Mark Middleton, 42, also known as Rugu, is now serving a three month sentence after he pled guilty to stealing shrimps from Public's Supermarket. Around 8:30 on Wednesday morning, December 14, the security guard at Public's Supermarket was on patrol when his attention was drawn to Middleton who was carrying a knapsack on his back. The security guard noticed when Middleton went to the freezer section and took out a bag of shrimp out of the freezer and placed it in his knapsack. The security guard approached him and took away the bag of shrimp. Police were called to the establishment and Middleton was arrested and charged for theft. The bag amounted to four pounds, valued at $64.

Martin Matura charged for Port Loyola Center burglary
The Port Loyola Health Center was burglarized around 3 a.m. on Friday, December 9, but police say they caught the culprit inside the facility so nothing was reported stolen. The man police say they caught red handed is Martin Matura, 40, a resident of #15 Central American Boulevard. He was arrested and charged with a single count of burglary. Matura was unrepresented when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Prosecutor in the case, Inspector Egbert Castillo, strongly objected to bail. Castillo's objection was based on the prevalence of the crime, the strength of the prosecution's case, and the fear that Matura may try to interfere with witnesses since he lives in the area and it was the security guard who alerted the police about the burglary in progress and gave police a statement in the matter. With that, Chief Magistrate Smith denied bail and remanded Matura into custody at the Belize Central Prison until February 24, 2016.

Mysterious murder of Armando Pelayo in Corozal
Corozal Police continue in their investigation of the murder of 36 year-old Armando Pelayo, who was fatally shot and chopped inside his home. The incident is believed to have happened shortly before 3 a.m. on Thursday, December 8, at his house on G Street in Corozal Town. The cops came upon him bleeding out after being shot in the back of the neck, and the lower back. His assailants also chopped him in the face and the forearms. Police came up on the scene completely by chance because they were following a suspicious car which led them to his home. This burglary patrol team spotted a white Toyota Camry car with dark tinted windows and international license plates. They followed it, making sure that the occupants were not going on any criminal operations.

Robert Emmanuel Popper pleads guilty to theft
Robert Emmanuel Popper, 43, a seasoned thief, is now serving a three year jail sentence for snatching Dwayne Crawford's bag with his cash and other personal items. Crawford reported to police that just after 3 p.m. on October 15 he was walking on Princess Margaret Drive heading towards Nazarene High School when a short brown skinned man passed and snatched his bag from his right arm. Inside the bag was a blood sugar testing machine, a black Samsung flip phone valued at $175, a black and yellow Wahl brand trimming machine valued at $150, a black leather wallet valued $50 containing $185 cash, identification and banking cards. Popper appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Monday, December 12, where he was read a single charge of theft. Popper has a long rap sheet for several offenses of dishonesty and he wasted no time in pleading guilty to theft. He told the court, "I am Sorry for what I did. I am an addict of alcohol." Chief Magistrate Smith told him that she cannot ignore his prior convictions so she sentenced him to three years imprisonment.

San Pedro Tiger Sharks win in preseason basketball game
The National Elite Basketball League sponsored its first pre-season basketball game on Saturday 11th December, 2016, at the Orange Walk Multi-Purpose Complex in Orange Walk Town between the Orange Walk Running Rebels and the former two times champions the San Pedro Tiger-Sharks. The former champions, San Pedro Tiger-Sharks defeated the Orange Walk Running Rebels by the score of 61-53. The top scorers for the San Pedro Tiger-Sharks were Ashton Edwards who had a game high of 15 points, while Kurt Burgess contributed 13 points, Dar Harris contributed 10 points along with Jamal Kelly and Douglas Valley who scored 8 and 7 points respectively.

Coast Guard, Tut Bay and Kelly Street win in CYDP Cup Tourney
The Conscious Youth Development Programme Football Competition continued on Saturday 11th December, 2016, at the MCC Grounds with three games on the schedule. In the first game played, The Belize Coast Guard defeated Hattieville United by the score of 4-0. The goals for the Belize Coast Guard were scored by Allen Armstrong, Orvin Wade, Steven Coleman and Durran Addier. In the second game of the day, Tut Bay FC won over Yabra FC by the score of 3-0. The goals for Tut Bay FC were scored by Carlos Lino, Kevin Rowland and an own goal. And in the final game of the day, Kelly Street FC edged out Ladyville FC by the score of 2-1. The goals for Kelly Street were scored by Kadeem Myers and Deshawn White, while the goal for Ladyville FC was scored by Tyrone Parchue.

2017 National Elite Basketball League season to commence on January 13
The Commissioner of the National Elite Basketball League Karim Juan informed the general public that the NEBL will commence its fourth season on Friday 13th January, 2017. The fourth season will see eight teams competing for the top prize. The teams that will be competing in the 2017 campaign will be the Orange Walk Running Rebels, Belize Hurricanes, Belize City No Limit, San Pedro Tiger Sharks, Belmopan Bandits, Dangriga Warriors, Cayo Western Ballaz and a new franchise from Chetumal, Mexico. It is noted that games will be played in Chetumal, and the Chetumal team will also play games in Belize, using the same home and away format. For the up-coming season, each team will have a shot clock, which will greatly enhance the competitive nature of the game.

Police United has one leg into the finals of the Premier League of Belize Football competition
The Premier League of Belize Football competition semi-final round commenced on Sunday 11th December, 2016, with two games on the schedule. At the MCC Grounds, the top team into the playoffs, the Belmopan Bandits and the number four seed in the playoffs, FC Belize played to a 1-1 draw. The host team FC Belize was the first team that was able to make it onto the scoreboard when Hector Martinez scored his team's only goal of the game in the 34th minute of play to give his team a 1-0 lead. The FC Belize defence was able to protect the slim lead and took it well into the second half of the game. It was not until the 75th minute of play that the Belmopan Bandits' Jerome James was able to penetrate the FC Belize defence and scored the equalising goal for the unbeaten Belmopan Bandits. The second and final game in this series will be played on Saturday 17th December, 2016, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan commencing at 8:00 pm. Meanwhile, at the Norman Broaster Stadium in San Ignacio Town, the host team Police United edged out the visiting Belize Defence Force (BDF) by the score of 3-1.

Cycling Federation to hold pre-Christmas Race
The Cycling Federation of Belize in partnership with the Belize City Council and Leslie's Imports present the Annual Pre-Christmas Cycling Classic on Sunday 18th December, 2016, commencing at 9:00 am. The Circuit Race will take place on the new Lake I/Chetumal Street Blvd in Belize City. The route will be between the Round-about at the George Price Highway and the intersection of Albert Hoy Avenue and Chetumal Street Blvd. The Elite/Master riders will do 40 laps, junior and youth riders will do 15 laps while the female riders will do 20 laps. The registration fee is $15.00.

I am writing this article from the waiting room of a Mexican Federal building in the state of Quintana Roo called the CRIQ, which is an acronym for the rehabilitation center for physical therapy services. I am however starting from the end of my story so let me back up a bit. My mother in law passed away on December 3, 2016. Please do not think that I am soliciting condolences for my wife's relatives, in fact this sad occurrence ties in with my effort to reach out to people who may be afflicted with a stroke or cardiac arrest. My mother in law suffered a stroke about 10 days after I did. Her condition kept deteriorating with time while mine continues to see marked improvement. Maybe it's the age issue, or maybe I had a very determined attitude to get back up and I paid heed to all council on the matter. So here I am at CRIQ in Chetumal, waiting for my appointment with the physiotherapist in an hour's time.

My Degree
I am a very recent graduate of Saint John's College Junior College, just having gotten my degree this week. By graduate I mean that I have my Associate Degree in hand, not that I participated in a graduation ceremony. While completing my degree took seven months longer than necessary, I am still elated that I can make my parents and those around me proud. Having said all that, I am not the proudest graduate. I am presently nineteen years old. Growing up, I had calculated my life: done primary school being twelve years old, four more years to graduate high school, and two years of 6th form, doing the math, graduating at eighteen years. I saw myself participating in a ceremony, wearing a hat and gown in a very humid gym, sweating out my hair and make-up, seeing my family near tears, and doing regular graduation stuff before jumping into the next chapter of my life. That chapter, I hoped, would have been to leave the country in pursuit of a Bachelor's Degree. But none of that happened. I graduated less than a month after my 19th birthday and yet I feel so behind and quite unaccomplished.

WORDS OF LIFE with Barry Fraser
This week, we look at two important prophesies about the long expected Messiah. Malachi 3:1 reads: "I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty. Isaiah 40:3 declares: A voice of one calling: "In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God." Both these prophesies refer to John the Baptist. The Gospel of Matthew 3:1 & 2 reports: In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judah, and saying, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near."

Young Artists woo their peers and policy makers
A group of young Belizean artists are poised to take the local art industry into a stratosphere that a couple years ago most people wouldn't have thought possible. Students of the Primary School Arts Skills Training (PSAST) program have been dominating art competitions in the country over the last two years and its all due to a dedicated teacher with a well developed curriculum that the Ministry of Education now hopes to integrate into the national education agenda. The Primary School Arts Skills Training program started in 2014 after His Exellency David Wu, Ambassador of the Republic of China-Taiwan, was so impressed with Saint Joseph Primary School's art club that he committed funds to extend the program to primary school students from across the city. St. Joseph Primary's students benefitted for years from the volunteer services of Taiwanese art instructor, Fiona Huang, and the success of that art club encouraged Ambassador Wu to support it on a wider scale so that more students and schools can have the same opportunity to excel in arts. "Belize is a very unique country," said Ambassador Wu, "when I walk through the streets many, many people who I don't even know greet me in a friendly way and this is something I will always remember about Belize."

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

Another Ministry of Education vehicle abused
Reports reaching our newsroom is that around 8:45 tonight, a Ministry of Education vehicle was driven into a drain in front of Carillo Puerto gas station in Santa Elena town, Cayo. The vehicle, bearing license plate CZL B-170, was assigned to the Cayo district. [�]

Decomposed body of man found in Cayo
The decomposed body of a man was found today in an area off the Young Gial Road (about 1 mile away from Buena Vista village) in Cayo District. A source told BBN that the body was found wrapped in a sheet at the victim's [�]

Police find over 32 lbs. of weed in Black Man Eddie village, Cayo District
Police in Cayo found 32.1 lbs of marijuana on December 13, 2016 in Blackman Eddie village, Cayo District. According to reports, police were patrolling on George Price Highway in the vicinity of Blackman Eddie village when they found a plastic bag on the side [�]

Police issue statement on body found floating in Belize River
Police have issued an official statement on the body that was found floating in the Belize River yesterday. According to Ladyville police, information was received of a body floating in the Belize River and when they visited an area behind the Los Lagos Community [�]

Miss Belize Universe continues to gain popularity
Miss Belize universe, Rebecca Rath continues to win the hearts of Belizeans at home and abroad. Rath has gained more popularity after winning the Miss Belize Universe pageant in September. "I am Rebecca Rath and I am representing the culture capital of Dangriga. I [�]

COMPOL and OC Belmopan appointed Supreme Court commissioners
Yesterday at the Supreme Court before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, Commisioner of Police Allen Whylie and Officer Commanding Belmopan police, Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett were appointed as commissioners of the Supreme Court of Belize. The Oath of Allegiance was administered by the Chief Justice. [�]

Fair weather to continue
The 24-hour forecast is for mostly cloudy skies with a few isolated showers today and tomorrow. The National Meteorological Service informs that a drier air mass is setting in. The wind will blow from the north to northeast at 5 to 15 knots. The [�]


Journey to Pirate's Not-So-Secret Beach Bar & Grill
Up until a year or so ago, there was an area 6.5 miles north of San Pedro Town that was referred to as the Secret Beach. Getting there involved traveling on a not-so-great dirt road that, at times, depending on the weather, could be nearly unpassable. For those adventurous souls with sturdy carts and stamina, the drive could take well over an hour from town, but after a bumpy and sometimes harrowing journey, the rewards were great. As if this gorgeous beach wasn't enough to make the area a key destination, the new Pirate's Not-So-Secret Beach Bar & Grill just upped the ante! Owner Maresha Reid has quite the track record for creating not only fantastic food but memorable experiences. This pint-sized, award-winning chef just wowed the judges at the annual Taste of Belize chef's competition, taking second place against some very stiff competition. Known for her signature lionfish dishes, her Pirate's Treasure Restaurant and Bar in the Tres Cocos Area of Ambergris Caye is renowned for authentic Belizean dishes and her very popular Chef's Table experience.

My Day on Ambergris Caye: Great Gifts, Clearing Weather and Wildflowers
Tuesday was one of those few days we have each fall when it just RAINS. All day grey to black, POURING rain. Yesterday we started at grey. But by about noon, it was gorgeous. Sandy Toes Beach Bar has the cutest chairs along the beach. No natural segue so onto my gifts. One incredibly cool manatea that made her way down from Texas - thanks Patty. Perfect for trying my new loose teas from Belize Chocolate Company And my last topic: wildflowers. It took moving up north to find out that we have them here. Tons of them�and this seems to be the season. My friend Ken has the book - a labor of love for the authors i am sure - The Plants of Caye Caulker. I bet he can identify most if not all of these. But the book is with Ken in Connecticut so here are only photos. If you know any, please let me know. This is the flowering bush that produces cocoplum fruit. It's actually on the cover of the book about Caye Caulker.

Top 5 Destinations in Belize to Ring in the New Year
With plenty of warm sunshine and balmy temperatures, it's no surprise that more and more people are choosing to ring in the new year with an exciting vacation in Belize. Visitors can partake in fun parties, sip on cocktails, dance to over a dozen genres of music spun by the country's popular DJs, feast on delicious foods, and watch the skies explode with color as 2017 kicks off. Fireworks ranging from expensive municipal productions to locals firing off bottle rockets, cherry bombs, and sparklers, Belize has a strong tradition of welcoming in the new year with an explosion of pyrotechnic fun. Here are five exciting places to enjoy New Year's in Belize: San Ignacio Town, Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Belize City, Belmopan.

Dooley Bear drops in on Holy Cross Anglican School students and a pizza party breaks out
Dooley Bear, a gregarious chocolate Labrador with a penchant for travel and the subject of more than a few books, dropped into Holy Cross Anglican School in the San Mateo neighborhood on Wednesday for some petting and pizza. Dooley brought along his literary partners, Ronnie and Lisa Cyrier, so that they could read some of the books about his adventures to a special gathering of students. The occasion was the first Christmas Party of the newly resurrected volunteer literacy program which is designed to help students of all grade levels to enhance their reading, pronunciation and comprehension skills. The program is operated by a dedicated group of volunteers from the San Pedro community under the leadership of Susan Barkhouse and Brittney O'Daniel. Dooley Bear and the kids of Holy Cross were a great match. Lisa Cyrier is a speech pathologist who conceived of the books as a way to encourage and improve language skills and that's what these kids are all about, too. Ronnie Cyrier illustrates the books and Dooley is in charge of canine antics that can be turned into amusing stories and illustrations.

Pier 366: A New Family Style Seafood House In A Beautiful Location
The resort, the Villas at Banyan Bay, has been on Ambergris Caye for well over 15 years. Located on one of the prettiest beaches on the island - Maratumbo Beach - it is now under new management. And there are some changes to come to the 2 and 3 bedroom condo hotel in the year to come. But the first major change was an overhaul and updating of the old Rico's Restaurant. Here are some pics of the resort. I love all the flowers and trees that give keep the pool from the beach. I very much dislike feeling like you are on display while lounging in the sun.

International Sourcesizz

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a former Chair of the Committee, today announced that their legislation to enhance U.S. engagement with the Caribbean has passed the House and Senate and is headed to the President for signature into law. The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (H.R. 4939) calls for a new, long-term strategy to strengthen ties between the United States and its Caribbean neighbors.

Baldwin grad gets help from teachers for Belize books project
A teacher at J.E. Harrison Middle School who worked as the gifted coordinator at Baldwin High School stays in touch with a number of former students. So when Baldwin High School graduate Adria Zern sent a Facebook message asking if teacher Debbie Reynolds could organize a book drive to benefit the primary school Zern works at in Belize there was no hesitation. Reynolds thought the book drive fit perfectly into the district's theme "BW Connects" by having middle school students and members of the high school's Literary Guild collect books for a Baldwin graduate working in a Central American country. As of late last week, Reynolds said around 200 books have been donated. Zern said the books will help children in kindergarten through the seventh grade. The school library has limited materials for the 120 students. Keith Harrison, high school teacher and sponsor of the Literary Guild, said the group's service project for the past four years has been a book drive to benefit Pittsburgh Carmalt School in Brookline. Reynolds asked Harrison if the guild would want to help Zern's efforts. Harrison taught Zern as a freshman in honors English. He said the project shows students that they can make a difference.

CDB approves US$10 million to support Belize poverty reduction agency
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will assist the government of Belize in strengthening an institution that is a key partner and important vehicle for providing services to poor and vulnerable communities in that country. CDB's board of directors last Thursday approved a loan of US$10 million to Belize. It will be used to expand the services of the Belize Social Investment Fund (BSIF). BSIF, which was established in 1996, is responsible for promoting, appraising, financing and supervising the implementation of small and medium-sized sub-projects designed to benefit underserved communities. "CDB is pleased to support BSIF in scaling up its very important work, which increases access to basic social infrastructure and services to underserved women, men, boys and girls in Belize," said Daniel Best, director, projects, CDB.

Garinagu organization and political growth in Belize - Part 3
The 1980s is a significant period in Belize and for the Garinagu, as the country in 1981 obtained its independence from Britain. Although discrimination continues in employment promotion and granting certain positions, prejudice against Garinagu decreased in the post-independence period. It is commented that negative stereotypes of the group decreased through the arts recognizing Garifuna Punta Rock music in the 1980s and also their participation in the nationalist movement and many contributions to the country recognized.40 Since this period, the Creole continued to exercise social and political power in Belize.41 Nonetheless, it is estimated that this may change with the growth of the mestizo population and increase in their socioeconomic status. Furthermore, other Spanish-speaking populations from neighbouring countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico) continue to migrate to Belize in large numbers.42

Caribbean Nations See Mixed Growth In Exports This Year
Latin American and Caribbean exports are expected to fall approximately $50 billion, or 6 percent, in 2016, but three Caribbean nations saw declines in the double digits, the Inter-American Development Bank said this week. They are: Belize: The Central American nation of Belize saw a 24 percent decline in its exports compared to 13 percent last year. Belize's exports include sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood and crude oil. Exports in Belize decreased to BZ $21.42 Million in September from BZ $59.35Million in August of 2016. Exports in Belize averaged BZ $ 48.62 Million from 2005 unt

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