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Today's Belize News: March 17, 2017 #522363
03/17/17 06:52 AM
03/17/17 06:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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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

New mural features Belize’s rich ecosystem
In their efforts to continue spreading awareness against oil exploration in Belize, the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage and Oceana in Belize inaugurated their ninth mural on Monday, March 13th. During a ceremony held on Laguna Drive, San Pedro Town saw the unveiling of the artwork depicting Belize’s rich marine ecosystem. The initiative is part of a nationwide mural campaign, featuring scenes of the marine environment along the coast of Belize. The San Pedro mural depicts some of the marine wildlife and the richness of the barrier reef that lies in front of the island. During a short ceremony held at Oasis del Caribe Apartments and Condominiums on Laguna Drive, Janelle Chanona, Vice President of Oceana in Belize spoke about the importance of such projects. “These paintings should be a reminder that we need to protect these rich natural resources, which support many livelihoods. San Pedro is the prime tourist destination in this country, and the barrier reef is vital for the local and national economy. We can’t stop the fight. These murals are another way of saying no to offshore oil exploration, and yes to the well-being of our natural resources.”

Fugitive Jordan Bacchus is also wanted in Toronto, Canada
According to the post, 6’1″, thin-built, 27-year-old Jordan Bacchus has been wanted since February 23, 2017 for multiple firearm offences. It is alleged that on February 22nd the Toronto Police Service executed several search warrants at addresses in Toronto in relation to Bacchus. However, he was not located. Toronto police indicate that he was last observed driving a charcoal-colored Infiniti four-door automobile in the Christie Street and Dupont Street area. During several exchanges, Toronto police revealed to The San Pedro Sun that they were aware that Bacchus was wanted for murder in Belize, and this information helped them to obtain the necessary search warrants they used in an attempt to apprehend him. Bacchus has been at large since the searches. In San Pedro, Almendarez’s widow Nancy told The San Pedro Sun that this new information has brought some sense of relief. “After my husband was murdered, I did not give up. I go to the police station multiple times a month to find out if they have found my husband’s killer. Police have not assisted me very well, and they always tell me that they don’t know where Bacchus is.

Reef Week Opens in San Pedro with beach clean up
San Pedro Town participated on Sunday, March 12th, with a reef swim cleanup effort. At 7AM, many ocean conservationists dressed in snorkel gear gathered at the Isla Bonita Yacht Club’s dock. The participants swam to Central Park, while cleaning sea beds and picking up debris such as: bottles, engine parts, tires, old anchors, ropes, and other items. According to Martin John Leslie, Reef Swim organizer, islanders showed their love for the environment by attending the event. “A lot of people came out, and they mainly cleaned the sea grass beds from in front of Belize Yacht Club to the Central Park-parallel to the Barrier Reef. Because many juvenile fish shelter in sea grass beds, cleaning them helps to protect the fish from predators,” said Leslie.

Southwest Airlines inaugurates new route; Denver-Belize
On Saturday, March 11th, American air carrier Southwest Airlines and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) inaugurated the first non-stop flight between Denver, Colorado, USA and Belize. This new service will be seasonal, operating from Denver International Airport every Saturday from March until April 22, 2017, and then Saturdays and Sundays from June 4th through August 14th. The inaugural flight was received with much fanfare, including the traditional water baptism by the Belize Fire Department. Also onsite were dancers performing folkloric dances. Southwest Representatives, BTB officials and Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr. all gave official remarks. “It is always a pleasure to welcome a new route to Belize,” said Heredia. “Southwest Airlines continues to show its commitment to Belize, making us more accessible to US travellers.”

Ambergris Today

BTIA Says GOB’s Proposed Revenue Measures Could Heavily Affect Belize Tourism
The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) has issued a press release in which the organization is calling for the Government of Belize to reconsider two pieces of proposed legislation in the national budget that was presented to the country on Monday, March 13, 2017. BTIA states that these two proposals can pose very serious consequences for Belize’s tourism sector. The Belize Tourism Industry Association hereby presents a position paper in response to GOB's proposed amendment to increase PACT Fee and Departure Tax.

REEF WEEK: Belizeans Highlight Contributions of Reef to National Economy
More than 190,000 Belizeans living in Belize’s coastal and island communities earn their livelihoods from tourism, making that industry account for almost 25% of the country’s gross domestic product. Another 15,000 Belizeans are directly dependent on Belize’s fisheries for their livelihoods. So it is not surprising that economic reports show that in the areas of tourism, fishing and shoreline protection, the Belize Barrier Reef contributes more than a billion dollars every year to Belize. Therefore, efforts to ensure health and integrity of our marine resources also ensure economic sustainability for the country, and safeguard the interests of almost two thirds of Belize’s population.

Misc Belizean Sources

mzz

THE BELIZE ZOO RUNS SLOGAN COMPETITION FOR TAPIR CONSERVATION
In honor of National Tapir Day and “Fuego” the Tapir’s 4th birthday, The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center is inviting Upper Division Primary School students countrywide to enter a slogan competition to celebrate this wonderful occasion. The slogan should promote tapir conservation and awareness reflecting pride as our national animal and may highlight their habitat, their role in the environment, or the threats they face. Interested schools will receive an illustrated information package about Belize’s National Animal to assist in creating a great slogan. Entries should not be more than 12 words long. For more information and requirements for the competition contact education@belizezoo.org. Students who submit the winning entries and their classmates will be special guests of honour at Fuego’s 4th birthday bash and National Tapir Day celebrations on Thursday April 27th at The Belize Zoo. For those folks who work with local Primary Schools or have kids attending Upper Division, please spread the word!

Hon. Edmond Castro Delivers Keynote Address at Inauguration of Biscayne Water System
On Wednesday, March 15th, Minister of National Emergency Management and Belize Rural North Area Representative, Honourable Edmond Castro was the main speaker at an inauguration ceremony for a new water system in the village of Biscayne in the Belize District. This marks the completion of Sub-Project Phase II of the Water Expansion Project covering Biscayne Village and complementing the earlier phase inaugurated last year, which provides water for the adjacent village of Gardenia. This portion runs from mile 24.5 to mile 29.1 of the Phillip Goldson Highway and was executed at a cost of BZ$1.3 million, BZ$465,000 being a grant from the German Government, and BZ $835,000 being BWS’ contribution.

The San Pedro Town Council will be closing its offices tomorrow, Friday, March 17, 2017 at 12:00 noon
We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Senior Citizen Perishes in Fire
Sometime before 2 a.m. on Thursday, 16th of March a fire occurred on Iguana Street in Belize City. 86 year old Louise Berry did not survive the blaze which burned the modest wooden structure.

The PUP Belize Rural South Marshall's Community Service Corp. demonstrated today in San Pedro
Against the irresponsible lack of medical care and facilities on the islands of San Pedro and Caye Caulker. We have all lost so many loved ones from both sides of the political spectrum due the lack of medical facilities and emergency response. We call directly now on our Area Representative for BRS, Manuel Heredia Jr. and Mayor Daniel Guerrero to please address this very serious issue. A hospital was promised in 2011. 6 years later, our residents continue to suffer and succumb to the lack of emergency care and facilities. The PUP is here to speak out for those who no longer can and those who are afraid to do so. We will work with anyone, including our elected officials, to see an end to these unnecessary tragedies plaguing our island homes.

Hats and Scarves Palm Sunday Luncheon
Sunday, April 9 at 11 AM - 3 PM, Belize Biltmore Plaza 3 Miles Northern Highway Belize City, Belize City. Come out for an afternoon of musical enchantment and spectacular foods. Support the Belize Cancer Society Hats and Scarves Palm Sunday Luncheon, Sunday, April 9th, 2017. Reserve your tickets early and experience an afternoon unlike any other! Exciting raffles and door prizes. Mouth watering sweet treats will be on sale , Cash Bar. Contact us at 223-0922 or email us at belizecancersociety@gmail.com to reserve your ticket today.

Benque Women's Day Celebration
The Benque HoC celebrated Women's Day. March is Women's and Children's Month. "The Joy, the power, the challenges and strengths of a Women are just some of the natural traits of a Woman's virtue and possession,yesterday many Women shared their journey, empowering stories from the professional ground, lifeskills and the Artistry of being a woman in a changing environment. We are immensely grateful to all our women who participated as presenters, performers and engaging audience. Lastly we thank the efforts of Mrs. Cynthia Williams, Coordinator of the Women's Department for all her efforts in travelling from Belize City to Benque to address our audience! Celebrating Women for all contributions everyday and all day!"

Rabies Vaccinations Saturday in Cayo
The SISE Town Council and the Ministry of Health are promoting rabies vaccinations Saturday, March 18th, by having free shots all around Cayo. There will be 5 stations set up around Cayo, and they'll be there from 10:00am until 3:00pm. If your cat or dog is at least 3 months old, they can get the shot.

Paradise Theater playing this weekend
Why Him?, Assassin's Creed, Silence, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Note: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter starts at 9:30.. Also, Projector for screen 2 has been upgraded and looks better than ever.

PALMAR GOV'T CHAIRMAN REFUSING COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS ACCESS TO COMMUNITY CENTRE
This morning the Community Health workers found themselves with closed doors after the Village Chairman has seemingly closed the space in the Community Centre that was set aside for a Community Clinic, refusing to give the key for access. Patients had to be treated outside; no regard for their health and hygiene. Another high handed act by Gov't officials in power, and the ones who suffer: the People. Note: A space within the community centre had been assigned for a "Clinica General Familiar" but health is not a priority for this Chairman and Government, wanting to move this clinic out.

Belize - Hurricane Earl (MDRBZ005): Final Report
REPORT from International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Hurricane Earl made landfall on 4 August 2016, with wind gusts of up to 110 km/h, as estimated by the United States’ National Hurricane Centre. NEMO reported major infrastructural and building damage, forcing 170 people to seek shelter in collective centres in Belize City, Cayo and Orange Walk. In total, 10,355 people (2,071 families) were affected after Hurricane Earl ripped through Belize as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Wind scale. Belize City and Ladyville were the most affected areas; NEMO assigned these areas (periurban areas) to the National Society, which conducted detailed assessments following the disaster. Meanwhile, the government provided immediate relief to the affected people and communities.

Caribbean Islands Count on Coral to Build Up Coastal Resilience
Twice a week, fisherman Romould Compton puts on scuba gear to dive to the seabed and clean tiny elkhorns growing in the coral nursery off the Caribbean island of Carriacou, tending them until they can be transplanted to a damaged reef nearby. He hopes his conservation work will help to bring back more of the fish, such as red snapper, king butterfish and hind, that many islanders depend on. "In my area we depend on the reef for our survival and livelihoods, and a lot of reef is dead," said Compton by phone from Windward, Carriacou, one of the lush, mountainous islands that make up Grenada in the southeast of the Caribbean.

HON. TRACY TAEGAR PAYS TRIBUTE TO WOMEN POLICE OFFICERS ON THE OCCASION OF WOMEN’S MONTH
Hon. Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of State for the Ministry responsible for Investment, Trade & Commerce, today paid tribute to women police officers for their personal sacrifices to safeguard Belize’s peaceful democracy and for their commitment and unparalleled dedication to the work of nation building, “a job reserved for women of strength.” The Minister was delivering a motivational speech to women police officers and civilian staff of The Belize Police Department, Eastern Division, during a two-day seminar as part of activities celebrating Women’s Month during the month of March. As part of Women’s Month activities, the Police Department embarked on an initiative to refresh, motivate and recharge the essence of team spirit and professionalism amongst the female populace within the department. Traditionally during Women's Month the Department seeks creative and innovative ways to highlight and celebrate women. And this year is no different.

St. Patrick's Day Beach BASH at Crazy Canucks!
We shouldn't have to remind you.....but TOMORROW beginning at 1pm is our St. Patrick's Day Beach BASH! DJ from 1-7pm. Karaoke beginning at 7pm. Corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots for $25bz. Irish Car Bombs $12bz. Lucky Leprechaun shots $5bz. Green Beer $5bz. Belikin Beer giveaways. Saga Humane Society 50/50 raffle. Free beads and temporary tattoos. Wear your green and be ready to party like a Leprechaun. Bring your friends!

Preschoolers come to the Corozal Library
We are in the Middle of Child Stimulation Month! We have had a lot of fun with preschoolers that have been coming to the library! So far we have had the following schools: Ranchito, Fairy Land, Paraiso, St. Francis Xavier, Christiline Gill... Check out the pics!

Channel 7

Octogenarian Perishes In Fire
An 86 year old woman perished in a fire early this morning. Louise Berry was inside her small wooden home when the flames and smoke engulfed her home. Berry was trying to escape but the fire spread quickly and engulfed her. It is a devastating blow to a family who has already lost close loved ones. Courtney Weatherburne has more details. Everyday Louise Berry would sell newspapers outside Brodies on Albert Street. Berry would sit right beside her brother, who also tries to make a few bucks himself. But today instead of enjoying his sister's company, he has to settle for a freshly cut rose peering out of a water bottle. His sister was burnt alive in a house fire early this morning around 1:00. Gretel Lopez, Stepsister: "Well I was asleep and my son hollered to me but we taught it was something happening to him out there so we jumped up but when I reached the door, the kids were shouting fire Mom, fire."

Fire Department Says Candles May Be The Cause
Now the fire department has already ruled out any electrical problems as the cause of the fire but they are looking definitely looking at Berry's use of candles as one cause. Benesford Matura, Operations Officer - BNFS: "Well I can say its not electrical and we also, the investigators, picked up that the neighbors say that she has that tendency of, although she has electricity, keep a candle lit. We are still out there investigating, but we are leaning towards that. But we just have to certify that that's what caused the fire." Reporter: "When fire officials got on the scene, were they able to ascertain whether the woman was still alive at that point in time?" Benesford Matura, Operations Officer - BNFS: "No, by the time we arrived there she was already probably overcome by the smoke and passed away." Berry had electricity.

Two Teakettle Residents Charged
Yesterday we told you that police had detained three people, two men and a woman, for questioning about the murder of 18 year old Kerona Ara. Well, the female was released, and both men have been charged. They are Teakettle residents, 22 year old Jaime Patnett and 20 year old Shaylon Santos and this evening, they were officially charged with Ara's murder. Shaylon Santos is the older brother of Shemar Santos, who was charged with the murder of Ernesto Wiltshire earlier this month. He is also the man who Ara's mother, Sherlene Mai, told us she suspected of killing her daughter. Both Santos and Patnett have been further remanded, and will appear in court tomorrow.

Arilee's Fire Not Electrical
The Fire Department has concluded that the fire at Arilee Scott's Prince Street home was not caused by faulty electrical connections. Yesterday Scott's son told us that the house had electrical problems ever since it was rebuilt after the last fire 10 years ago. But today the Fire Department's Operations Officer said that the cause of the fire is a lot simpler than that:... Benesford Matura, Operations Officer - BNFS: "At approximately 7am yesterday morning we got a call for a structural fire on Prince Street. Upon arrival the 2 store dwelling was a bit a few yards in on Prince Street. The upper flat bedroom was totally engulfed and flames were mostly concentrated in the upper flat." "We got into operations and quickly extinguish that fire, because if you can see the remains are not much. The entire downstairs is safe with a little water damage. We extinguish that fire and investigation is showing that it's not electrical. We ruled that out. The origin of the fire is on the top of one of the bedroom in the upper flat, but precisely what started it, what came together to start that fire we are still investigating - still trying to figure out what caused that fire."

Cop Ran Head On Into Car Crossing Intersection
Today a cop suffered minor injury when he ran into a car that was crossing a busy intersection on Albert Street. The police officer was heading down Albert Street but as he approached the intersection of Albert and King Street - a car tried to dart across. The officer, who had the right-of-way was unable to slow down or avoid the vehicle that tried to "tief chance" and cross the intersection before he could pass. The officer seemed relatively unharmed, and got up and was able to walk almost immediately after the accident. He received medical attention from paramedics on the scene.

Cost Ran Into Motorcycle Driver
Now, an accident that's almost the exact opposite happened two days ago on Fairweather Street in Belize City. That's when a Tourism Police Unit Pickup on Dolphin Street hit a motorbike that was crossing the intersection. The man driving the motorbike was flung to the pavement and appeared to have sustained minor injury.

Mother Of Two Will Be Raised From Coma With Bullet Still Lodged In Brain
Now we have an update on the condition of Camille Munnings. The mother of two was shot in the head in Caye Caulker early last week. Munnings was put into a medically induced coma to reduce the trauma to her brain and has been fighting for her life since. While there is still a bullet lodged in her head, we received some good news today. According to her sister, doctors have decided to bring her out of the coma. They are letting the process happen naturally, and expect her to regain consciousness sometime this weekend. After she wakes up, more tests will have to be conducted to determine exactly how extensive the damage to her brain was. Doctors are also debating whether or not they should remove the bullet, as extracting it could do more harm than good.

San Ignacio Sensae
Yesterday morning, San Ignacio Police found five and a half pounds of weed at a residence on Macal Street in San Ignacio Town. The weed was broken down into three packages. Police also searched near a creek and found another black plastic bag with half a pound of weed. No. one was around, so the drugs were labelled as "Found Property".

Vegetable Smugglers In North
And Customs in the north have also been making seizures, not of cannabis, but of contraband. On Wednesday morning at 11:00 on the Santa Cruz Road busted this Ford Ranger pickup truck very loaded with an assortment of vegetables including heads of lettuce and large onions, which were being smuggled into the country. And last night. And then last night at 11:30 on the Blue Creek Road, Customs intercepted this Chevy Colorado full sized pickup. It was again loaded with Mexican vegetable smuggled in illegally. Customs confiscated all the goods and the vehicles.

The In's And Out's Of The Highly Permeable Passport System
Last night, we showed you coverage of yesterday's session of the Senate Hearings on Immigration. The witness in the hot seat was was Rodolfo Bol, currently the IT Manager at the Immigration Department. He rejected allegations from the Auditor General that he attempted to conceal information on the passport machine from their audit. He also explained how dishonest persons managed to get a bogus picture onto the system for the Won Hong Kim passport. He said that from the Department's investigation, the Immigration Officer who took the picture was Immigration Officer Erwin Robinson. That's the officer who the Auditor General's report also points to, but there is a bit of a doubt. That's because Robinson had access to the passport system through a username and password, which could be compromised. Bol revealed yesterday that that just because Robinson's account information was used to access the passport system, it doesn't conclusively mean that he took it. He told the Senators that Robinson's password could be changed, allowing someone else to use his access profile.

CITO Manager Says He Was Unduly Blamed
In the last hour of the Senate hearing yesterday, the committee called Francisco Gonzalez, who is currently the Acting Director of the Central Information Technology Office, CITO. Back in November 2013 to February 2014, he was assigned to the Audit Team which went in to investigate the Immigration Department for irregularities. The team utilized his skills to extract information from the passport system. They cross referenced that with hard-copy records of application, to identify any inconsistencies, which could point to irregularities. So, his input was very valuable, but a few months into the audit, he went away to Taiwan on training. The Auditor General and her team did not take too kindly to that decision. They interpreted his sudden exit as frustrating to their audit, which they assert was negatively impacted due to his absence and his contribution. Yesterday, Gonzalez testified before the Senate that his exit was not so sudden, and whenever he was called upon, he performed to the best of his abilities:

Riding The Waves
Today Belize City just got a leg up in the fight against flooding. New devices called limnimeters have been installed above key waterways in the city and in Burrell Boom. These new machines are able to record the height of the water in real time, allowing officials to respond to flood related disaster much faster and greater precision. We spoke to Belize City Councilor Phillip Willoughby, who is responsible for the City's flood mitigation about the importance of this new technology... The new meters will allow City officials to predict and respond to incoming floods.

Botched Case: Cholom Is Free After Nine Months
He allegedly admitted to having sex with a 13 year old but 46 year old Santiago Cholom has been set free after nine months behind bars. His attorney, Oswald Twist successfully argued before the judges of the court of appeal that a number of serious technical errors had been made in the case. The DPP's office conceded to these errors and the judges of the court of appeal set Cholom free. Ususally, they would just order a retrial. Notably, Cholom's confession was not accepted in court because it was written in English which Cholom who is a Maya, says he does not understand.

SSB To Buy BEL Shares
In all the big business of Budget Monday at the House of Representatives, one major piece of news that got blushed over is Government's decision to sell 15 million dollars' worth of its shares in BEL to the Social Security Board. That's 3 million shares at five dollars each. Government needs the cash and says it won't change the government holdings in the utility. But the PUP says GOB is using Social security as a piggy bank: Hon. John Briceño - Leader of the Opposition: "Pretty much the government is using Social Security as their piggy bank, transferring these shares so that they can try to prop up their budget, because it's a budget that's in serious trouble." Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister: "SSB which already owns as I indicated a substantial amount of shares in BEL since this government nationalize, has realize a significant return well above what it can get for any fixed deposits in the banks every single year. This is an investment in which SSB can't miss. You can't get anything by leaving the money in the bank. This is a sure fire investment that will help SSB."

Hola Almagro!
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro arrived in the country today. He came in at around noon, and zipped to a meeting with the Prime Minister at his Belize City Office. Almagro was accompanied by Special Representative for Belize-Guatemala Affairs Magdalene Talamas, They were joined by Foreign Minister Hon. Wilfred Elrington and Belize's Permanent Representative to the OAS Ambassador Patrick Andrews. Almagro will hold a press briefing tomorrow.

Placencia Tourist Died By Drowning
53 year old American Tourist Steven Gail Wine died from drowning. That's what a post mortem concluded today. On Tuesday, the tourist from Colorado was socializing with his wife and other family members in Placencia village. He left the group, and went for a dip but never resurfaced. A few minutes later, his wife found him motionless in the sea.

BTIA Worried About Sagging Occupancy Rates
The Belize Tourism Board has been constantly reporting record breaking numbers. But, while we haven't seen any numbers for 2017 yet, there are anecdotal reports from some hotels that occupancy is down. This was underscored when we spoke to the Executive Director of the BTIA yesterday. John Burgos - Executive Director, BTIA: "We cannot take it for granted that because we saw increasing arrivals in 2016, that that's going to be the case for 2017. We have heard many concerns from our members stating that their occupancy rates was better in 2015 than in 2016. But the overnight arrivals have increased. How do you explain that?" Jules Vasquez, 7News: "Air B&B?"

Vega Not Coming Back To House?
The UDP's Gaspar Vega has missed four straight house meetings. Ever since the Orange Walk North Representative resigned in scandal in October, 2016, he has not attended a house meeting. And when you see his seat at the very far end of the back bench, you can kind of understand why the man who used to hold the number 2 seat, may be reluctant to attend. After all, that's the seat that was previously reserved for Elvin Penner. The Leader of the Opposition discussed his absences. Hon. John Briceño - Leader of the Opposition: "Look at what he has done to Gaspar Vega? He has put him all the way to the last seat. Not even next to Dr. Campos. I think that's an insult to Gaspar Vega and even to the people in Orange Walk North that voted for Gaspar Vega in the last general elections."

PG Progress
Residents of Punta Gorda Town are finally enjoying the completed works of a rehabilitated road and drainage infrastructure project. It's a 1.7 million dollar investment which the Government of Belize, and the Punta Gorda Town Council collaborated on to work on roads such the Hopeville Loop, and the Robert Pennell and Lucille Melendrez Streets. The project, implemented by the Social Investment Fund, came with chip seal roads surfaces, a drainage system, street markings, and road signs. It was officially inaugurated with a ceremony yesterday on those brand new streets in PG, and here's what the Minister responsible for SIF, and the Mayor had to say: Residents of PG told us that this project was first started under the previous PUP Town Council, and it was expected that about 6 months later, it would have been finished. Unfortunately, the completed works took almost 3 years.

Jail For Firearm
20 year-old Stephen Mejia is at the Prison tonight after being found guilty of possessing a loaded 9 millimeter pistol. He stood trial before Magistrate Carlon Mendoza where to 2 police officers testified that on the morning of September 1, 2016, they were on mobile patrol on Dunn Street, when they saw 2 men on bicycles. The cops say that the men made a dash to escape, and according to the officer, he saw Stephen Mejia, throw a gun over a zinc fence. They later recovered a Glock pistol, loaded with 9 live rounds. In his defense, Mejia told the court he was innocent. He disputed that the officers saw him throw anything away.

Luz Longsworth's Ascent
Today the UWI Open Campus gets a new Chancellor. Dr. Luz Longsworth will officially be inducted as the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies in Belize. Longsworth is the third woman to hold a position of such high standing since the Campus' inception in 2008. Longsworth has over 25 years of experience in academia and business, and served as a director of the open campus since 2008. We'll have more on her impressive ascension tomorrow.

Channel 5

2 from Teakettle Charged in Keonia Ara Murder
Two young men from the village of Teakettle are facing charges of murder in connection with the brutal slaying of eighteen-year-old Keonia Ara over the weekend.  As we’ve reported, the [...]

Fatal Flash Fire Traps 86-Year-Old Louise Berry
There have been two fires in the past two days in Belize City, one of which was fatal for an elderly woman. The most recent fire occurred just after one [...]

Fire Department Chasing Suspected Cause of Prince Street Fire
The other fire occurred on Wednesday morning on Price Street in downtown Belize City. Sometime after seven o’clock, Arilee Scott and her four-year-old grandson were inside the two storey wooden [...]

APAMO Attempts to Persuade G.O.B. Not to Tax PACT
The first serious objection to the bundle of tax measures introduced by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the government at Monday’s budget presentation was raised by the Belize Tourism Industry [...]

Your Bottle of Rum May Cost a Lot More in April
News Five has uncovered information of an unreported, unexpected increase in the excise tax on rum, reported to us at as much as a hundred-percent increase.  It has been proposed [...]

At Senate, Rodolfo Bol Questioned over Alleged System Tampering by Audit
Rodolfo Bol is the Immigration Department’s former System Manager, and current I.T. Manager. He has been with the Department since 2004. He manages the passport machine system and border management [...]

How BPIS Failed in Won Hong Kim Case
Bol was also questioned on the most infamous example of how the Belize Passport and Information System was breached during the tenure covered by the Auditor General’s Report from 2011 [...]

Man Dodges Heavy Sentence for Throw-Away Gun
Twenty-year-old Stephen Mejia of Antelope Street in Belize City is behind bars after he was sentenced to one year in prison for keeping an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. In September [...]

Court of Appeal Dismisses Carnal Knowledge Conviction for Santiago Cholom
After nine months behind bars, forty-six-year-old Santiago Cholom is home free, following a decision by the Court of Appeal to have him released due to a number of errors during [...]

B.T.I.A. Calls for More Spending on Tourism Destinations
On Wednesday night, we told you about the B.T.I.A.’s strong position on G.O.B.’s proposed revenue measures which include increasing the PACT fee, as well as taking ten percent of the2017-2018 [...]

25 years of Healthy Teeth with Project Smile
A dental initiative for Anglican primary schools in Belize City has students motivated to smile and show off their clean, pearly whites. Project Smile is a dental program of the [...]

The “Y” Marks 61 Years
The YWCA is celebrating sixty-one years of being in Belize. To mark this milestone, on Sunday they started a week of activities under the theme “Empowering Women in a Changing [...]

All-Male Baker to Vegas “Protectors” Try for Repeat Performance
A team of athletes from the Belize National Coast Guard, the Belize Police Department and the Belize Defense Force is headed to the United States next week to participate in [...]

Seasons of Sickness: Healthy Living Tells What to Watch For
Doctors are accustomed to seeing cases of certain illnesses rise at specific times of the year. This time of year – although the weather is quite “UN-Marchlike” – pediatricians tend [...]

CTV3

PUP Leader Dialogues With Students Of Belize Adventist College
There were listening ears and curious minds at the Belize Adventist Junior College in Calcutta Village, Corozal District this morning, as the Leader of the Opposition Hon. John Briceno paid a special visit to address the students of the institution. The People’s United Party leader spoke on a variety of key issues affecting the country at the moment including the economy, education, unemployment and the lack of opportunities for young people, and the budget and how it impacts young people.

Opposition Leader Speaks On Upcoming Debate
The Barrow Administration’s 2017-2018 draft Budget presented on Monday of this week will go under heavy scrutiny by the Opposition People’s United Party on Thursday March 23rd and Friday March 24th when the House meets once more for its annual budget debate. Opposition leader Hon. John Briceno has done a review of the Prime Minister’s budget speech, questioning his sincerity about the numbers presented for the next fiscal year. Briceno has called the budget a bogus budget and today he repeated that the PM’s numbers just don’t make sense.

Mayor Bernard Weigh In On Budget Presentation
The Prime Minister’s 2017/2018 $1.18 billion National Budget presented on Monday is giving much to talk about. The plan for the Barrow administration is to raise close to $80 million dollars in revenue from increased taxes which will then be used to plug the budget’s flaring deficit. Today we took the opportunity to ask the Mayor of Orange Walk Town, Kevin Bernard, for his input on the budget itself. He responded by saying that it is merely a sham as it puts additional burden on all Belizeans. Kevin Bernard – Mayor, Orange Walk Town: “This budget is a Bogus Budget, this budget will see increase in taxes to the hard working Belizean middle class, I mean our electricity will go up we will pay more we are already suffering when environmental tax is added on 1% the consumer will pay; fuel we’ve been suffering from fuel cost for quite some time now the Prime Minister come and say they are going...”

Twenty Five Workers Sacked From Princess Casino Near Free Zone
Reliable information to CTV-3 news is that about twenty five employees of Princess Casino located at the Santa Elena border have been suddenly let go from their jobs. According to a reliable source, the notice of termination came via abrupt phone calls to them indicating that they should not come to work the next day. We understand that some of the workers affected include supervisors, cleaners, dealers and casino attendants. We have been unable to get any of the affected workers on the record and will follow-up on this report. We hope to get some verification from the Casino management.

LOVE FM

Villagers Forced to Receive Healthcare Outdoors Following Eviction
For the past five years, Community Health Worker, Everita Luciano Copo and her team, has been offering free clinic services to infants and women of San Jose Nuevo Palmar Village in the Orange Walk District. Copo decided to do the same this year at the community center where she would usually hold the clinics. But […]

Belize and Canadian Authorities Seek Jordan Bacchus
Police in Toronto, Canada, are searching for a man wanted for multiple firearms related offences. That man is also wanted in Belize in relations to a murder investigation. He is 27 year old Jordan Bacchus. In Belize, he is the prime suspect for the murder of Melvin Almendarez who was found south of San Pedro […]

Dr Luz Longsworth to Be Inducted as 3rd Pro-Vice Chancellor for UWI Open Campus
The University of the West Indies Open Campus is the umbrella organization of seventeen campuses in the Caribbean and effective this evening, Belizean national, Dr Luz Longsworth will be at the helm of all these institutions. Her induction is slated to start at six o’clock this evening at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize […]

Efficiency at Sugar Mill Registers at 89%
The Sugar Cane Crop season is in its 15th week and last week more than forty eight thousand tons of cane was milled. That amount produced close to six thousand tons of sugar. So far so the season a little under sixty thousands tons of sugar has been produced. The BSI factory is milling a […]

AIR CANADA Approved to Fly to Belize
Five months ago WestJet had its inaugural flight from Toronto, Canada to Belize with a plan to operate seasonally. Recently, Air Canada had requested the approval from Canadian regulators to have a new route added to their roster which would see flights from Canada to Belize. Love News understands that the Canadian Transportation Agency has […]

Belize Partakes in CARICOM-Japan Consultations
The 18th CARICOM-Japan Consultation concluded on Tuesday, March 14 of which Belize was a participant via video conferencing. This consultation was built with three main foundations namely, the cooperation towards sustainable development including overcoming vulnerabilities particular to small island developing States; the deepening and expansion of bonds founded on exchanges and friendships and cooperation in […]

Senate Questions Entry of Wong Hong Kim Photo Into the Passport System
Information Technology Manager for the Immigration Department, Rodolfo Bol, appeared before the Senate Select Committee to answer allegations made against him in the Auditor General’s Special Reports. Bol has been at the Immigration Department since 2004 as he began his IT career as the System Administrator. Bol is in charge of the over sight all […]

IT Immigration Manager Refutes AG’s Allegations
In her report, the Auditor General says IT Manager Rodolfo Bol hid evidence. The Auditor General says quote, “Evidence suggested that IT Personnel or BPIS users had the ability to remove the history of users. This was substantiated by the action of Mr. Rodolfo Bol, the system manager, when he removes the user roles of […]

BTIA Fears New Tax Measures will Harm Tourism Industry
Two days ago the presentation of the National Budget for the fiscal year 2017/2018 noted an increase in departure tax for non-Belizeans and a ten percent contribution from Statutory Boards as part of the Government’s efforts in raising eighty million dollars. According to Prime Minister, Dean Barrow consultations were done with the Belize Tourism Board […]

Three Detained for Ara’s Brutal Murder
Investigators attached to the Belmopan Police Station have made significant progress into the murder of 18-year-old, Keona Ara whose charred remains were found at a dumpsite on Sunday, March 12 in that municipality. Reports reaching our news desk are that a residence in Belmopan was searched yesterday and the weapon suspected to have been used […]

2016 Sees 207 Complaints Taken to Ombudsman
The 45-page report for 2016 from the Office of the Ombudsman was released earlier this week. The report cites a total of two hundred and seven complaints made throughout the year with the highest percentage being against the Belize Police Department followed by the Belize Central Prison and the Immigration and Nationality Departments. According to […]

VIP Demands Reregistration 2017
Prime Minister Dean Barrow has written to the unions and other agencies expressing his desire to postpone the reregistration exercise to 2018 on the grounds that the economy would not be able to sustain the millions of dollars required for the undertaking and that with intentions to revoke illegally obtained nationalities more time would be […]

Police Finds Thelma’s Body Near Market Wharf
The lifeless body of an adult female was taken out the sea from the coastline of Punta Gorda earlier today. We hear more in this report from correspondent Paul Mahung. PAUL MAHUNG “Based on reports Punta Gorda police went to the area in the vicinity of the Punta Gorda Market Wharf where police took the lifeless body […]

American National Dies on the Peninsula
An American national lost his life on the Placencia peninsula last night just after six o’clock. It is a case that the police has categorized as sudden death. The incident happened directly in front of the Tipsy Tuna Sports Bar when 53-year-old, Steven Wine went into the sea. After much time had passed Wine’s wife […]

Ambassador Mendez Awarded Medal of Honor as OAS’ Assistant SG
Ambassador Nestor Mendez who now holds the seat of the Assistant Secretary General at the Organization of the American States (OAS) was awarded for his commitment to the values of the OAS. He received the Medal of Honor for merit today presented by the Sociedad de Estudios Internacionales (SEI) of Panama, in recognition of his […]

Immigration System Flawed in Tracking Users
IT Manager in the Immigration Department, Rodolfo Bol, was not able to tell the Senate Select Committee how a photo of Wong Hong Kim got into the system. The system, however, records the date, time and username when it is used. In this case, according to the Auditor General report, the system shows that the […]


Re: Today's Belize News: March 17, 2017 [Re: Marty] #522364
03/17/17 06:53 AM
03/17/17 06:53 AM
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The Guardian

Superbond takes up 45% of Belize’s external debt!
Belize’s total external public debt amounts to over $2.3 billion. This represents approximately 70 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. Administrations led by both major political parties have contributed to that massive number but what the concrete evidence has shown is that all debts are not created equally. The People’s United Party’s Superbond is the result of a consolidation process that resulted in the amalgamation of numerous commercial loans amounting to US$546,786,000 which were borrowed at ridiculous interest rates in the span of a few years time. This accounts for 45 percent of the total external public debt. Every economist will tell you there is nothing wrong with a government borrowing or being in debt. Almost every single country in the world has some national debt. However, something is extremely wrong when an Administration is less responsible in spending than a drunken sailor. One of the loans amalgamated in the Superbond is the 2002 Bear Sterns $250 million bond, of which the purpose for $33.4 million was listed as “multisector development”, $21.4 million was listed as General Budget Support, $10.4 million for Intelco computers, $10 million for “GOB Investments”, another $40 million for General Budget Support and $10.6 million for “fees and expenses”. The PUP spent all that money and we have nothing to show for it – not in stone or on paper.

2017-2018 Budget will give Public Officers 3% salary increase and Tax increase on Beer and Cigarettes
Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow presented his 10th budget on Monday March 13. While there had been wild speculation that the fiscal adjustments by government would have seen massive taxation and austerity measures the budget did not reflect this. The Prime Minister stated that the budget would see a salary increase across the board of 3.0% for all public officers, police (including the BDF and Coast Guard), teachers, and pensioners. This he said, “would require an additional $15 million in resources. But we are determined to keep our word even though to do so means having to forgo other potential expenditures in goods and services.” PM Barrow went on to remind Belizeans that, “over the last four years, public officers and teachers have received an aggregate increase of 25% in wages and salaries, costing government $90 million.”

Supreme Court to decide if Ashcroft can collect from GOB
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin is deliberating on whether or not he should lift a temporary injunction against the Ashcroft Alliance, which the Barrow Government got from the Supreme Court earlier this year. They are trying to get enforcement of a 50 million US dollar judgment which the Caribbean Court of Justice has refused to allow in Belize, but which has been granted in the US District Court. This dispute goes all the way back to Musa Government’s special tax arrangements that they gave to the Ashcroft Alliance in 2005, when they owned BTL. The Barrow Government, having learned of this illegal and secret Accommodation Agreement, refused to honour them, because they were abusive, and a burden to Belizeans. The Ashcroft Alliance went to the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and got a 44 million US dollar award against Belize for Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s refusal to subject the country to the deal any longer. The Prime Minister has flatly refused to pay a cent of it.

Is Johnny Liad or Looney?
People who believe their own lies are most commonly identified as pathological liars, however, they can also be identified as suffering from narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. These people sometimes believe their own lies on a conscious level. Then there are those who tell lies with the expectations that if they tell a lie often enough, the truth will disappear. They may be referred to as being looney because regardless of how much times lies are told, the truth will always prevail in the end. We in Belize don't know in which category to place the leader of the PUP, Johnny Brecino. He it seems is either just plain LIAD or is LOONEY. Take for example the things he has said about the Superbond last week and the Budget this week. At first he referred to the Superbond last week as the UDP Superbond. Everybody and their GOAT know that the Superbond is a creation of the PEOPLE'S UNITED PARTY. It is an amalgamation of loans that were all barrowed by the PUP when they were last in the seat of government. For him to lie in front of his party faithfuls at a PUP Press Conference was bad enough, but when he had the face of brass to try it in the House of Representatives, he was asking for trouble.

There is now water in Biscayne
Chairlady of Biscayne Village, Kathlyn Tillett welcomed those in attendance to her village as Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL) officially inaugurated the Biscayne Water Supply system linking Gardenia to Biscayne. “It is a whole new world for us, you can course shower or fine shower. Flushing the toilet seems like a water fountain, it is a big deal!” stated Tillett. Biscayne has never had potable water! Residents of that village had get water from rivers and streams in the area or had to depend on water to be delivered to them by BWSL. Often times the trucks of water was not enough to suffice and at this day and age, Hon. Edmund Castro, Area Representative for Belize Rural North, explained that this was simply unacceptable.

4 H in Belmopan offering a ray of hope for our many youths
At the start of the new school year the National 4-H Youth Development Center, located at the National Agriculture Show Grounds in Belmopan will soon be inviting students from around the country to apply and learn life-long skills on agriculture. The well maintained Center which is managed by the Department of Youth in the Ministry of Education will be sending the invites to potential students in May of this year. We visited the National 4-H Youth Development Center’s five acre grounds on Friday of last week, where we found lecturer Elvira Pinelo giving a tour to students on how to harvest crops. Alongside the crops area is a recently constructed Bell Tunnel that has been provided by the Department of Agriculture to give plants an optimum growing environment. Not too far away from the agricultural grounds is a spacious basketball court built by the Belize Natural Energy to keep students active during leisure time.

To Boycott or not to Boycott
The mainstream media has come public to say that they are boycotting the police department by not giving any airtime or paper space to any event that the Police may wish to publicize. This came as a result of some changes which were made in the manner in which the media was being given information. As it was the media had free reign and access to all manner of police information, unbridled and unchecked. After careful observation and consideration, because of the many instances where information was being passed on to the media which led to criminal cases being tried in the court of public opinion, a decision was made to put a stop to that method of Police/Press relations. A system which has actually been in place for quite some time now was re-activated in an effort to streamline the flow of information out of the department.

Dr. Percival Cho New C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Percival Cho as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with oversight for the Fisheries Department, Forest Department, Department of the Environment, Sustainable Development, National Climate Change Office, and the Solid Waste Management Authority. Dr. Cho will work specifically with Minister Omar Figueroa who has direct responsibility for the aforementioned portfolios. Dr. Cho is a career public officer with over 17 years experience serving in the Ministry of Forestry. Dr. Cho is a forestry expert and natural resource scientist who holds a PhD degree in Environmental Biology from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, a Master of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resource Management from Clemson University in South Carolina, USA.

Two more schools receive cash donations from Belize City Council
After receiving cheques on Monday and Tuesday of this week, St. Luke Methodist and Calvary Temple are now the most recent schools to have received cash donations from the Belize City Council through the portfolio for Women and Children. Coucilors Hyacinth Latchman Cuellar and Kevin Singh visited St. Luke on Monday and Calvary Temple on Tuesday to deliver cheques that are to be used for Standard Six students gearing up for the Primary School Examinations this March and May. Principal Pamela Bowden accepted the donation on behalf of the students of St. Luke and Vice Principal Randeish Prior accepted the donation on behalf of the students of Calvary Temple School.

Belize Announces Successful Consent Solicitation
Belmopan, Belize: The Government of Belize today announced that holders of more than 87 percent of Belize’s U.S. Dollar Bonds have consented to certain amendments to the terms of those Bonds. Belize released a Consent Solicitation Statement on January 12, 2017 seeking the consent of holders of the Bonds to targeted amendments focused on the interest rate and amortization schedule of the Bonds. Following extensive consultations with representative bondholders, Belize revised its Consent Solicitation on March 3, 2017. The Bonds contain a collective action clause that permits modifications with the written consent of holders of more than 75 percent of the outstanding principal of the Bonds. Once that voting threshold has been reached -- as it now has for Belize’s Consent Solicitation -- the proposed amendments become binding on all holders. The Government expects that all conditions precedent to the effectiveness of the amendments will be met no later than March 21, 2017.

Monster croc taken out of Belama
For the past week, residents of the Belama area have been complaining on public forums on Facebook about the presence of crocodiles in the residential neighborhood. On Tuesday, March 14, as a result of a coordinated collaboration between the Belize City Council, the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES) and the Forestry Department, one of the crocodile was captured in Belama phase two. Efforts to catch the crocodile started at 5 in the morning with ACES and the forestry department setting up a trap. That method was unsuccessful. It was not until the croc attempted to cross the road that it was snared with a rope and by 9:30a.m. the massive 10 footer was placed in a trailer and was transported to the ACES crocodile sanctuary in Ladyville. There are reports of another much larger reptile in the Belama area and Belize City Councilor, Philip Willoughby says that residents must not feed the animals as they tend to become unafraid of humans and pose a threat to people as well as pets. He also added that residents should be cautious in the area as the reptiles come on land and prey on smaller animals like dogs.

UDP Mesopotamia Champion retires
In the sport of Boxing there are many terms we often use to describe a boxer as he retires. Two of those terms are: staying in the ring too long and the latter is leaving at the top of the game. These terms could also be used in reference to Politicians. The former is usually the term used to describe those who refuse to leave even though all the signs are there for them to see. The aging POLITICIAN like the aging Boxer, with diminishing skills refuses to leave on his/her own accord. In refusing to leave they run the risk of being beaten into oblivion by their much younger stronger or more equipped opponent. The latter though is the POLITICIAN who like the SMART Boxer knows when to leave.

Graduate degree and no job? What were you thinking?
There are many young Belizeans with college degrees and no jobs. What’s worse is that many of those young college graduates have no clue where they can find employment. “No job noh deh,” is what many of them say. My question to them; however, is “what were you thinking when you enrolled in junior college?” The purpose of pursuing further education in a particular field is to prepare oneself for a career that your eyes (heart) are already set on. The role of the individual is to find something they are passionate about, identify a need in society and pursue studies that satisfy both. Many youngsters enroll in programs and have no idea how it will help their transition into the labour force. Upon completion of such programs they realize that no job is available in that field. The problem is not that “no job noh deh”; the problem is that you chose a field in which no job was available from before your enrollment. What were you thinking?

Landy Habet threatens public officers over a horse race
Orlando Habet, PUP area representative for Cayo North East was all too happy to grandstand on Monday March 13th about some horse owners not being able to use the Peter August horse race track. He complained that there was a lot of time and money invested in the race only for it to not take place because the organizers were stopped by the police. What Habet did not tell the nation was that he openly threatened a number of public officers when he got involved in the whole matter. While at the racetrack he sent at least one text message in which he threatened a senior police officer in Cayo that he would loose his job when the PUP wins the general elections (to him we say good luck on that one.) He also called and threatened a number of public officers who are part of the Jockey Club in the same manner telling them that they would loose their jobs.

Johnny tells Julius shape up or ship out
At the end of February Julius Espat fired some scathing remarks directed at the leader of the PUP, Johnny Briceno. He basically called his leadership ineffective claiming that the leadership was made up of Bench Players who had not proven their mettle in an election. It was salvo directed at Briceno and one that saw even Micah Gooding crawling out of the woodwork in defense of his leader. Well the shot across the bow did not go unanswered and on Thursday of last week the PUP held a press conference (we should rephrase this, Johnny had a press conference along with Chris Coye) to speak about the budget that was read on Monday of this week. The subject of the press conference is definitely not worth the ink so we’ll leave it at that. What was interesting was that Briceno responded directly to Esapt. He, point blank, told Espat that he’d better shape up or ship out. Briceno sunk his heels and braved the attack saying that if anyone, including Julius Espat, were not ready to follow that they would simply have to leave the PUP.

Belize 22nd Session of the Ordinary Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States Ministerial Council
The Association of Caribbean States (ACS) held its 22nd Session of the Ordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Council on March 10th, in Havana, Cuba. The ACS brings together 25 nations of the Caribbean region. These nations include the 15 member states of CARICOM, as well as Latin American Member States such as Cuba, Mexico, and Central and South American countries that share the Caribbean Sea. The meeting underscored the work that the secretariat has undertaken with the aim of re-energizing, re-organizing and ultimately rebranding the ACS. The very specific work of the Association in reference the protection of the Caribbean Sea as a shared patrimony was highlighted. The effort of Secretary General Dr. June Soomer to strengthen the ACS, instill strategic planning and to attract donors was applauded.

How many people will be affected by the BEL tax threshold adjustment?
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow presented his budget on Monday of this week and while there were those who had expected that this fiscal year would have been loaded with new taxes, the reality is that they are not as wide reaching as the naysayers would have wanted it to be. One of the primary concerns about the budget is the decrease of the threshold in BEL rates. Currently anyone who consumes $200 or less in electricity is not subject to the 12.5% in GST. With the new budget, that has now been adjusted to have only persons who consume $100 or less in electricity being subject to the GST. While it may seem alarming- BEL has confirmed to the Guardian that it is not. BEL states that as of December 2016, it has 91,281 active customer. Of that number, 80% or 73,242 customers consume below $100 in electricity. The company says that approximately 11,500 or 12.6% of customers will be affected by the change.

NEMO minister undertakes flood mitigation program
As Minister of National Emergency Management and Area Representative for Belize Rural North, Honourable Edmond Castro is carrying out a Flood Mitigation Program in preparation for the Rainy Season which normally begins in late May or early June. Currently, drains are being opened up in the Maxboro Area of Sandhill Village with the use of equipment acquired by the Government of Belize through the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO). These works will take place throughout the constituency of Belize Rural North over the next few months.

Road & Drainage Infrastructure inaugurated in Punta Gorda, Toledo
Residents of Punta Gorda and surrounding communities are now enjoying a safer and more pleasant street and drainage environment courtesy of the Government of Belize, which financed the project at a cost of $1,702,214.32 with funds through a loan from the World Bank, and counterpart contribution from Punta Gorda Town Board amounting to $51,066.43 In this regard, the road and drainage infrastructure was officially inaugurated at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Speakers at the event included Hon. Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce; Mayor Fern Gutierrez, and the Executive Director of Social Investment Fund Mr. William Lamb Jr., among others. The project is designed to improve the quality of life for all Belizeans traversing Punta Gorda. It includes the rehabilitation of Robert Pennell Street, Lucille Melendrez Street, and Hopeville Loop, coupled with an extensive drainage system, street markings of finished chip and seal surface, and installation of road signs.

UDP Staying in Touch
Over the past couple of weeks the United Democratic Party’s leadership including the Deputy Party Leader, Hon. Patrick Faber; Chairman, Alberto August and Secretary General Pearl Stuart; have been on a national tour across all constituencies countrywide. The purpose of the tour is to keep in touch with the members of the UDP in the country. Every stop has been about communicating with Belizeans- finding out their concerns, needs and more importantly how can their concerns be addressed. The most recent meeting took place on Tuesday March 15 in Roaring Creek where Hon. John Saldivar and the executive of Cayo South hosted the team.

Statistical Institute of Belize receives new IT equipment
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development handed over to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) 25 DELL computer systems at a brief ceremony on Friday, March 10, 2017 at the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in Belmopan. The contribution was made through the Ministry’s Capacity Building for Strategic Planning and Management of Natural Resources in Belize project (CD 2), financed by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This donation, valued at $66,944.00 Belize dollars, is in line with one of many actions outlined in the country’s sustainable development framework. The handing of these computers is “a key action that is associated with Belize’s sustainable development pathway [and] is tied to Belize’s ability to monitor and track its process against its policies and plan, and the ability to ensure the availability of information to guide decision making...” said Diane Wade Moore, Assistant Resident Representative from the United Nations Development Programme.

Vitamins to be added to rice in Belize
Ministry of Health officials have met with rice producers to discuss adding vitamin B12 to that very essential staple of the Belizean diet. The process is called fortification and as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), fortification refers to “the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient”. A national survey was conducted by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control from 2011-2012 which sampled 1,979 adults and children from across the country for micronutrients levels among women of reproductive age (15-49 years) and children (6-59 months) in Belize. The results were released in 2013 and showed that Belizeans have low levels of Folic Acid and Vitamin B12. The findings constitute a “public health concern”, according to health officials at the time. It is important for women to monitor their folic acid levels because Folic acid helps to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, in which the baby’s brain or spine is not fully formed. According to Healthwise, such birth defects usually happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy, before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Deficiency in folic acid and vitamin B12 in pregnant women also increases their risk of anemia and anemia in their child. According to Dr. Daniel Godinez in an interview with Channel 5 Belize, anemia in children “if it starts from early results in failure to thrive, problems with growth, mental problem - especially concentration, problems in general well being, physical well being and emotional well being.” They are also more susceptible to certain infections.

Michael Usher executed at home
The family of 35-year-old Michael Usher are making preparations for his burial after a ruthless killer went to his Hattieville home and shot him to death in his own yard. The incident happened at around 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, when Usher was sitting on an empty bucket on his veranda. His aunt, who usually sits and socializes with him, went inside the house, and she heard him speaking to a man, confronting him. Shortly after, she heard the gunshots which claimed his life. The gunman emerged from the darkness and opened fire on Usher, hitting him in the head and the left side of his body. He tried to flee from his attacker, but he collapsed inside the yard, where he was bleeding out. His injuries were severe, and he was transported to the KHMH for medical treatment. The doctors attempted to save his life, but around 3 hours or so later, he passed away.

Police corporal Darrel Usher out on bail
Interdicted police officer, Corporal Darrel Usher, is out on bail after he was arraigned in the Belize City Magistrates Court on Tuesday, March 14. Usher was represented by attorney Dickey Bradley when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on a single charge of drug trafficking for over twenty pounds of marijuana. According to police reports, on Friday, March 10, police were on mobile patrol at around 9:15 p.m. on Faber’s Road Extension when they saw a man coming out of an overgrown yard with a large bag. He placed it in the back seat of a white Chevrolet SUV, got in the vehicle and drove off. The vehicle was pursued by police and the driver was ordered to stop, which he did.

Austin Decosta convicted of aggravated assault
Caye Caulker resident Austin Decosta, 43, is at the Belize Central Prison serving a two year sentence for aggravated assault upon a 27-year-old Belize City woman on September 11, 2016. The victim reported to police that when she arrived home from Carnival practice that night, she found her mother and Decosta who was upset about something. As she went inside, Decosta began to curse her out calling her ugly names and saying that she was no good and not helping her mother. That was when Decosta grabbed a knife and stabbed at her three times but she managed to avoid getting hurt. The victim said she tried to get her mom to help but she refused to do so. She retreated to her room but Decosta tried to force himself in. That was when she made a call to police for help. Decosta was arrested and charged for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Oscar Quiros captures Belmopan Cycling Classic
The Cycling Federation of Belize in partnership with the Belmopan City Council and the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture sponsored the 36th Annual Belmopan Cycling Classic on Sunday 12th March, 2017. The 100 miles event which started and concluded in the City of Belmopan attracted some 60 Elite, U-23 and Master riders. At the end of some 4:05:53, it was Oscar Quiros Jr. of Smart/Cray Western Spirit that captured first place. Quiros was a part of the four man break-away group that caught Giovanni Lovell at about mile 35 on the home bound journey on the George Price Highway. The second rider to cross the finish line was Rudy Rincon of Quintana who finished the event in a time of 4:06:26. He was followed by Josyln Chavarria Jr. of Digicell 4G Elite Cycling Team in a time of 4:06:32 and he was followed by Robert Liam Stewart who is unattached, and he was followed by Nissan Arana of Westrac Alliance to round off the top five riders.

Sprite Eastern Police Division South Youth Basketball competition rolls on
The Sprite Eastern Police Division South Youth Basketball competition continued on Saturday 11th March, 2017, with five games on the schedule. In the first game played, South Side Warriors edged out Unruly by the score of 30-28. In game two, Lakeland Boyz won over Park Ballers by the score of 40-30. In game three, Lake I Boyz edged out A.B.S by the score of 18-17. In game four, it was Pacesetters winning over Kraal Road by the score of 36-27. And in the final game of the day, Police Peacekeepers won over Complex Admirals by the score of 37-30.

Belama Gators edge out New Road in week eight of Ahmidiyya U-19 Basketball Tourney
The Ahmidiyya U-19 Basketball tournament continued on Sunday March 12th, 2017, at the Gateway Youth Centre. In the first game of the day, Belama Gators edged out the highly talented New Road squad by the score of 51-48. The top scorer for the Belama Gators was Jason Philips with 14 points while Holden Swazo was the top scorer for the New Road team with 15 points. In game two, Gateway won over Bombers via the default route. In the third game of the day, 3rd World won over Raising Stars by the score of 45-43. The top scorers for 3rd World was Mark Thompson with 11 points and the top scorer for Raising Stars was Alphius Cruz with 18 points. In game four, Chiefs won handily over Police Street by the score of 50-41. The top scorer for the Chiefs was Shaquille Crawford with 9 points and the top scorer for Police Street was Everald Tablada with 10 points.

Wesley Upper School girls and Hattieville Government School boys won the Belize District Primary Schools Football Tourney
The Belize District Primary Schools Football Tourney was played on Thursday March 9, 2017, at the MCC Grounds. In the girls’ championship game, Wesley Upper School defeated San Pedro Roman Catholic School by the score of 5-4 in penalty kicks. At the end of penalty kicks the game was tied 4-4. The goal scorers for Wesley Upper School were Leandra Bainton, Kelize Garcia, Karina Eagan and Jenecia Cacho, while the goal for San Pedro Roman Catholic School was scored by Veril Morris. In sudden death penalty kick, Wesley Upper School came up victorious with a 1-0 victory. The goal for Wesley Upper School was scored by Jada Gillett. In the boys’ championship game, Hattieville Government School defeated St. John Vianney School by the score of 4-2 in penalty kicks.

Verdes FC white wash the Placencia Assassins FC
The Premier League of Belize Closing Season Tournament continued over the weekend with a number of games on the schedule. On Saturday 11th March at the Michael Ashcroft Stadium in Independence Village, the visiting Verdes FC white wash the host team the Placencia Assassins FC in front of its home fans by the score of 1-0. The only goal of the game was scored by John King in the 48th minute of play to give his team the 1-0 victory. With the win, Verdes FC now moved into the second place spot in the standings. On Sunday 12th March, at the MCC Grounds here in Belize City, the league’s leading Belmopan Bandits and the host team FC Belize played to a 1-1 draw. The host team FC Belize was the first onto the scoreboard when Hector Martinez scored the 1st goal of the game in the 35th minute of play via a penalty kick to give his team a 1-0 lead. However, the lead was short lived as Jerome James scored the equalising goal for the Belmopan Bandits in the 44th minute of play.

Pepsi National Elite Basketball League hosts another All Star night
The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) hosted its third annual All-Star Night on Saturday 11th March at the St. Catherine Mercy Centre in Belize City. The activities tipped off with the Three Point Shootout, where Cayo Western Ballaz Elvert Ariola was crowned three Point champion, as he narrowly edged out Linton Broaster of Smart Belize Hurricanes. The Slam Dunk contest was the most entertaining in three years, as Shemar White from Orange Walk running Rebels easily claimed the prize with his dazzling dunks. In the main event of the night, the Imports and Belizean Americans won the All Star game, as they defeated the locals by the score of 76-74. The Imports/Belizean Americans were cruising in the first half of the game leading 24-6, and having a 20 point lead in the second quarter. However, a late surge by the local teams made the waning moments interesting, as they mounted a major comeback, behind sharp-shooter Ashton Edwards, who sank 4 three-pointers, and a jump shot, in the final 4 minutes of the game to quickly evaporate the lead.

Belize Softball Federation names National Male Team pool
The Belize Softball Federation has named the softballers that will form the National Male Team Pool from where the final 17 players will be selected to represent Belize at the X Pan American Male Softball Championship scheduled for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in September of this year. The Head Coach is Jude Lizama while Eric Vasquez and Michael Middleton will be the assistant coaches along with Michael Sherman as the pitching coach. The federation will be meeting with the pool of players on Saturday 18th March, at 5:30 pm at Rogers Stadium. All players must bring a copy of their Passport Bio data page to the meeting.

Taxi driver killed for unknown reasons
Elbert Gillett, a 66-year-old taxi driver, left his Belize City home last Thursday. He went missing, and nearly 3 days later, police found his body between miles 4 and 5 on the George Price Highway. His car was found miles away from him; someone had set it on fire. At this time, it appears that he was lured to his death by his killer, who posed as a customer. Gillett’s family told the press that he left his home on Thursday night, March 9, when he went to run taxi, hoping to pick up a few more customers before closing off business, and returning home. He never did come back, and so, his wife got concerned when she woke up the next morning. The entire family was alerted of his disappearance, and they went to the police to file a missing person’s report. They formed search parties to look for him, and later on Friday, March 10, his car was found completely burnt on Benbow Street in Belize City. His driver’s license was found in Ladyville by a stranger.

Couple gets plea deal after being busted with over 3 lbs of weed
Ernest Forman, 38, and his common-law-wife, Samantha Garbutt, 29, were facing a possible fine of $10,000 and jail time of three years when they appeared in court on Thursday, March 9, to face a charge of drug trafficking for 1,637 grams of marijuana. Fortunately for them, prosecutor in the case, Cpl. Christopher Smith, accepted a plea deal in which the accused, Ernest Forman, admitted guilt to the charge of drug possession and not drug trafficking. Normally the prosecution accepts such deals when the amount of drugs discovered is close to the 60 grams threshold for drug trafficking. In this case the amount was significantly more than 60 grams but there were two different discoveries in play.

Ronlee Petillo to stand trial for murder of Roger Banner
Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser ruled that the prosecution presented sufficient evidence in a Preliminary Inquiry on Thursday, March 9, to commit Ronlee Petillo, 29, to stand trial for the murder of Roger Banner, 29. Petillo was released from prison on June 17, 2016, after being on remand for murder at the Belize Central Prison since 2011. According to police, Petillo was only able to be out of prison for 22 days before he killed again. Roger Banner, a resident of Roaring Creek, was murdered on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at around 9:15 p.m. as he was socializing with his girlfriend on West Canal. Three men walked up to Banner; one of them pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots at him. Banner was hit several times with one of the bullets entering his head. He died on the spot. It is believed that he was executed as a result of him owing money for drugs. Police investigation into the incident led to the arrest of Petillo, who police say was the trigger man that night. After 31 days away from the Belize Central Prison, Pettillo was remanded after he appeared in court on Monday, July 18.

Words of Life with Pastor Barry Fraser
In the book of the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 55, verse 8, we read: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord God Yahweh.” It was only a few years ago that excited supporters of the big bang theory for the origin of the universe announced that their theory had apparently been proven. Now their unverified conclusions are being seriously questioned on several fronts. Even as it was being announced that the big bang theory was proven, verification was being made on other results showing that the big bang theory is probably wrong. William G. Tifft of the University of Arizona had been looking at lists of red shifts from distant galaxies.

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

Southside family of 7 homeless after losing home again to fire
A south side family of 7 is homeless after a fire gutted their home for the second time. Yesterday morning just before 7 a.m. fire fighters and police were called to a home belonging to Arilee Scott on Prince Street in Belize City. The […]

85 year old female PUP campaigner burns to death
A veteran campaigner and life long supporter of the People’s United Party, eighty five year old Louise Berry was burnt alive inside her home early this morning. Sometime before 2 a.m. cops responded to reports of a house on fire at # 32 Iguana Street […]

Superbond 3.0 is now a done deal
Yesterday, the Government of Belize via a press release announced that holders of more than 87 percent of Belize’s U.S. Dollar Bonds have consented to certain amendments to the terms of those Bonds. According to the release, following extensive consultations with representative bondholders, Belize […]

A turbulent women’s month in Belize – Lisa Shoman speaks
I’m an early riser. I love mornings and the promise of a brand new day. I especially love the cool damp before the rising sun. I’m normally a sunny person when I awake. Not this morning. This morning I’m up and I’m mad. […]

Police find four bags of marijuana in San Ignacio Town
Yesterday morning, police in San Ignacio Town, Cayo District found four black plastic bags containing marijuana amounting to 785g, 844g, 956g and 199g. According to police, they were conducting an anti-drug operation at a residence on Macal Street, San Ignacio Town where they discovered […]

Woman drowns in Punta Gorda
A woman drowned in Punta Gorda Town yesterday morning. According to police reports, the victim is Telma Coc, 28, a Guatemalan housewife. The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. behind Vernon’s Pharmacy on Front Street, Punta Gorda Town. When police visited the area, they saw […]

Public health officials in San Ignacio & Santa Elena to provide free rabies vaccinations to pets this month
Brendal Gibson, Public Health Inspector at the San Ignacio Hospital has issued a release informing residents of San Ignacio and Santa Elena in the Cayo District that they will be conducting a “Rabies Vaccination Campaign” this month. “Let us prevent rabies… Rabies is a […]

WWF challenges PM to save the reef
On Friday morning in Belmopan the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Belize launched its Reef Week by staging a small parade around the National Assembly building and delivering 265,000 virtual letters to the Prime Minister. According to the WWF, this is an ongoing campaign […]

Air Canada to fly to Belize very soon
According to Flightglobal.com, Canadian regulators have approved a request by Air Canada to operate flights between Canada and Belize. Flightglobal.com says that documents obtained from the Canadian Transportation Agency did not specify routes or a start date and that Air Canada did not immediately […]

American tourist drowns in Placencia
BBN has confirmed that an American tourist drowned in Placencia village on Tuesday evening. According to reports, Steven Gail Wine, 53, from Colorado, USA was socializing with his family members at Barefoot Bar in Placencia village and at around 6:30 p.m., he left them […]

Blogs

A fantastic morning with SeaStar Belize
For someone who loves sleeping in, this trip required an early wakeup call. But the Caribbean Sea was calling my name and there’s no way I’m missing out! I arrived to Sea Star Belize’s office, only a couple minutes north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge and was quickly equipped with a snorkel, mask and fins. My tour guide for the day, Adolfo “Fito” Duran, ensured that my gear fit just right – don’t want any compromises underwater! As we boarded the boat, I eagerly looked forward to a fun morning at my underwater office. First stop: Hol Chan Marine Reserve. I have been here many times, yet its beauty always astounds me. After a short briefing, my snorkel group of four plunged into the water and we began to make our way across the coral beds.

International Sourcesizz

Caye Caulker, un pequeño paraíso en Belice
Durante mucho tiempo, Caye Caulker, en la pequeña república centroamericana de Belice, fue considerada una típica isla para mochileros. Esto está cambiando ahora pese a que la isla sigue siendo un lugar de ocio, la playa, el restaurante o para bucear. Un tiburón se acerca por detrás y pasa nadando entre las piernas. Un pequeño susto. De repente, desde todos lados se deslizan encima de las algas tiburones nodriza y rayas que pasan entre y debajo de los buceadores. Ha llegado la hora de comer en el arrecife de Caye Caulker. Media docena de barcos están amarrados a boyas. Los dos más grandes están llenos de turistas de cruceros. Los tiburones de la zona de buceo Shark and Ray Alley están tan condicionados que nadan hacia los barcos nada más oír el ruido de los motores. A toda velocidad se acercan desde todas las direcciones. Es un espectáculo impresionante que incluso buceadores que han viajado a muchos sitios en el mundo raras veces pueden observar. En la diminuta isla beliceña no hay mucho más que hacer que snorkel. Y a la mayoría de los turistas le parece bien así.

Bribes, gifts and scandal: 7 stories of corruption that shocked Britain
From the acceptance of bribes to tax evasion, claims of corruption and scandal have featured heavily in recent news. But we mustn’t forget that corrupt systems and the unscrupulous individuals who exploit them are not a phenomenon of modern life says historian Mark Knights. Here, he explores seven instances of corruption in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries…

Videos

  • Residents of San Pedro Protest for a Hospital to be built after the recent death of Jordanie Olivera on Tuesday, 1/2min. "How many more until something is done?" Are the cries at today's peaceful protest.

  • Chukka Belize Jaguar Paw Tubing!, 6min.

  • In the Field: Scuba Diving Belize's Half Moon Caye Wall, 1min. Dive in to see Caribbean reef sharks patrolling the reef, angelfish darting about and garden eels peering into the blue at Belize's premier scuba diving site.

  • Belize Day 1, 3min. Capturing beauty, emotion and environment is an art. It's helpful when your surroundings are breath taking. Being able to say, "I've never seen that before" everyday is how to live. Here is day 1.... more to come.

  • Our Trip to Belize, 3min.

  • Baby barn owls have interesting table manners!, 1/2min.

  • BSI ASR WEEKLY CROP REVIEW 2017 - WEEK 14, 3.5min.

  • TALK AH DI TOWN MARCH 16, 2017, 22min.

  • Ministry of Education - Child Stimulation Month, 48min.

  • United Nations Development Fund - Small grants Programme, 21min.

  • Belize Medical Associates - Introduction of New 16 Slice Ct Machine, 22min.

  • https://vimeo.com/208787134, 1min. Snorkeling in Ambergris Caye, San Pedro. There were nurse sharks, rays, and lots of fish. Footage was from a GoPro Hero 5 Black

  • BELIZE on the fly, 4min.

  • EXPLORING MAYAN RUINS - MEXICO & BELIZE - ADVENTURE & TRAVEL, 3min. Walking excursions are great for people who are hungry for knowledge ( Archaeology, Anthropology, History etc.) and at the same time you walk your way to a fitter and healthier you :)

  • Barton Creek Canoeing in Cayo District,Belize - Jan 2017, 3.5min.

  • Belize above Water, 13min.

  • Belize Jaguar Project 2016, 9min. My experience participating in the Jaguar Project in Belize the summer of 2016!

  • Palapa Bar & Grill is back Bigger and Better! San Pedro, BELIZE - Ambergris Caye - March 2017, 4min. A short video of the newly rebuilt Palapa Bar & Grill in San Pedro, Belize. The bar was totally wiped out by Hurricane Earl last year. They have rebuilt even bigger and better.


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