The news will be a bit brief for the next week or so due to time constraints
FOR TODAY'S BELIZE WEATHER, CLICK HERE
Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.
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
Costa Maya Festival Presents: Miss Nicaragua Danielle Nicole Hodgson Joseph
The International Costa Maya Festival® Committee proudly announces the seventh contestant vying for the title of Reina de La Costa Maya 2017-2018: Miss Nicaragua Danielle Nicole Hodgson Joseph.
19-year-old Joseph stands 5’, 7’’ tall, and has honey brown eyes and dark brown hair. She is currently pursuing a degree in marketing and advertising. She is very athletic, and enjoys volleyball, soccer, swimming, and racing. She also loves dancing, singing, literature, poetry and going to the beach. However, Joseph’s weakness is cooking then eating, especially Caribbean dishes. “Healthy versions of course!” she says with a laugh.
F.C. Barcelona goalkeeper Paco Sedano on philanthropic visit to Belize
Football fans in San Pedro Town were delighted to meet world renowned Spanish Futsal Player and goalkeeper for the popular Football Club Barcelona, Francisco ‘Paco’ Sedano on Wednesday, July 5th. Paco was in Belize from Sunday, July 2nd under the auspices of EFHRE International University. During his stay in the Jewel he made donations to the National Sports Council and met with government officials in regards to future projects in Northern Belize and Ambergris Caye.
Camp Starfish ready to start special needs summer program
Camp Starfish will host its fourth annual, free two-week camp at the Lions Den on July 17th, 19th, 21st, 24th, 26th, and 28th. With their motto, “We are more alike than different”, Camp Starfish focuses on children with learning and physical disabilities.
Each camp day will run from 9AM to 11:30AM, where campers will learn about healthy habits, marine life, transportation, and animals. Thanks to a $5,847 donation from the Blue Water Grill, The Phoenix, and Wine de Vine, Camp Starfish will provide campers with various story time activities, music, arts and crafts, sensory activities, food and drinks, and a t-shirt. There is also a beach day scheduled on Monday, July 21st at Sandbar. Friday, July 28th will mark the last day of camp, and will be celebrated with a fun parade, followed by a party.
Projects Abroad and Ministry of Health host Health Fair
Non-governmental organization Projects Abroad, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH), hosted a health fair in San Pedro Town on Saturday, July 1st at the Lions Den. The general public was invited to take advantage of an array of free health services, such as blood pressure testing, HIV/AIDS testing, eye exams, brushing and flossing demonstrations, environmental demonstration, pharmacy services, information on Saga Humane Society, drug information and information on how to avoid vector borne diseases.
A year after the devastating fire, San Pedro Town continues bold and strong
Today, the area where the fire took place still looks vacant, as most of the buildings have not been replaced. One structure that was quickly erected is El Dorado Store. Abel Dorado, owner of the store, says that he is back on track and thankful to everyone who assisted him. It was a terrible experience, but for him life goes on. “When bad things happen to you, don’t just sit and mourn on it, get up and get it out of your way as soon as possible,” he said. He is glad to be back on his feet with his flourishing business on Pescador Drive.
For Romel Bardales, who runs a fruit and vegetable shop, business continues as usual, but he mentioned that just thinking about the fire gives him goose bumps. He lost almost everything in the fire. “It took me a couple months to get back on my feet, but with the assistance I received from the different organizations that were helping people, I was able to quickly get my business up and running,” he says.
Tropic Air awards $13,000 in educational grants
Tropic Air awarded $13,000 in educational grants to the dependents of 21 members of staff. The grants were selected based on academic ability and merit from a large field of applicants representing all 11 destinations served in Belize.
“Tropic has a commitment to education, through its support of the Nation’s schools, sports, drug prevention programs, and internships for those interested in the airline industry”, said John Greif III, Tropic Air’s president. “Similarly, these grants are an investment in a better and more prosperous future not just for the recipients but for our nation, because Belize will benefit for decades to come from the career achievements of these individuals. We congratulate them all”.
Dive Into Scuba Diving Summer Program For Kids
Learning to scuba dive is a fulfilling, life-changing, and educational experience. This summer the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association (SPTGA) in collaboration with the Hol Chan Marine Reserve are once again giving local kids the opportunity to explore the underwater world.
The annual Scuba Diving Summer Program’s purpose is to educate the community’s younger generation on the importance of Belize’s reef eco-system and so they can also assist Hol Chan Marine Reserve research and programs in to futures.
The ages accepted for the summer program are 10 years and older and participants targeted are primary school level children.
Change Of Electoral Division / Transfer Period For Voting In Belize
Do you want to change your electoral division for voting in Belize? Two months are set aside each year by law for the transfer of electors from one Electoral Division to another. These two months are JULY AND AUGUST. Application for a change of Electoral Division from one Electoral Division to another are done using Form No. 17.
These applications are processed during normal working hours at the Elections and Boundaries Registration Office your new division of choice during the Period: JULY 1 - AUGUST 31 of each year.
New Check Processing System Introduced By Central Bank Of Belize
The Central Bank of Belize announces the launch of Automated Check Processing, a new component of APS3. Starting 7 July 2017, all checks deposited countrywide will be processed electronically, allowing for faster clearing time. According to Governor Joy Grant, “This new service will further expedite the flow of money, contributing to faster receipt of funds by beneficiaries and increased business activity in Belize.”
Inaugurated on 21 October 2016 by the Central Bank in collaboration with Central Government and domestic financial institutions, APS3 is an instrumental component of the National Payment System (NPS) reform project, which is a priority initiative of the Central Bank to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of Belize’s financial infrastructure.
Celebrity Spotting: Belize To Receive Donation From World Renowned Spanish Futsal Player
This week, visiting Belize from Europe is Francisco Sedano Antolín, better known as Paco Sedano, who is a world renowned Spanish futsal player and goalkeeper for F.C. Barcelona.
Mr. Sedano is in Belize under the auspices of EFHRE International University which is in the process of establishing a campus in Belize. Along with EFHRE representatives, Mr. Sedano will be making a donation of sporting gear to the National Sports Council at a brief ceremony to be held at 2:00 p.m. today, Wednesday, July 5, 2017 at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.
Misc Belizean Sources
National Sports Council Receives Donation from World Renowned Spanish Futsal Player
This week, visiting Belize from Europe is Francisco Sedano Antolín, better known as Paco Sedano, who is a world-renowned Spanish futsal player and goalkeeper for F.C. Barcelona.
Mr. Sedano is in Belize under the auspices of EFHRE International University which is in the process of establishing a campus in Belize. Along with EFHRE representatives, Mr. Sedano made a donation of sporting gear to the National Sports Council at a brief ceremony today, Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.
The representatives of EFHRE International University also met with representatives of the National Sports Council to see what assistance is needed and how it can be provided. They have offered assistance, both technical and equipment wise, in multiple areas and in all sporting disciplines.
The delegation arrived in Belize on Sunday, July 2nd and will depart on Thursday, July 6th.
NEMO MINISTER IN THE SOUTH FOLLOWING WEEKEND FLOODING
On Monday and Tuesday, July 3rd and 4th, 2017, Minister of National Emergency Management Hon. Edmond Castro was in the South to assess the impact of flooding over the weekend and the effectiveness of the National Emergency Management team in the Toledo District, which was affected by the floods; and in the Stann Creek District, parts of which were momentarily placed under flood warning on Sunday afternoon.
The Minister stopped first in Dangriga where he met with Mayor Francis Humphreys and NEMO Southern Regional Coordinator Keith Emmanuel at the Stann Creek Emergency Command Center (EOC). They visited key locations at Sarawee and Hope Creek where the North Stann Creek River had to be monitored during the flood threat, which fortunately did not materialize over the weekend.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Wilfred Elrington joins CARICOM Heads of Government at the Opening Ceremony of the 38th Regular Meeting in Grenada
Business sessions will commence today, Wednesday, July 5th. CARICOM Heads of Government in a family photo following the Opening Ceremony for their Thirty-eighth Regular Meeting in Grenada, Tuesday.
The Heads move into their business sessions on Wednesday and Thursday at the Radisson Beach Resort.
Join the Belize Defence Force!
Summer Beach Olympics
Sunday, August 6 at 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM, Placencia
Are you a Belizean with an Associates Degree and looking for a job? Do you have at least 5 years experience in education, community outreach and organization, business administration, tourism management or related field? This might be what you are looking for!
Job Opportunity at BEL
A vacancy exists at Belize Electricity Limited for the post of Technician I in the Transmission & Substation Department.
Flor de la Feria 2017
Who will be Flor de la Feria 2017? You can find out which of the 4 candidates becomes the 51st pageant winner this Saturday, July 8th, at the Cancha Marshalleck.
Soul Project Wine Revolution
The artisan wines you can find at the Soul Project are amazing, creative, and yes, are a revolution in and of themselves. Worth a read.
"From its grand opening, Soul Project was planning on selling local wine San Ignacio Town was experiencing a wine-making movement, and local restaurants were not promoting these local artisan wines. Yes, most of the traditional seasonal wines are a bit too sweet and people like to say they give you “bad gomma” or hang over.
But I felt tourists needed to decide for themselves, and we explained, ”this is sweet like port, a desert wine” and they enjoyed it and we became known for selling local wines. At the same time other new wine makers were making dry wines, and I was now buying from 3 different wine makers.
Motmot Heritage Education Camp
The Rotaract Club of Benque Viejo is having a Motmot Heritage Education Camp from Friday, July 7th, through Sunday, July 9th. It'll take place in Succotz, and you can get more information at the Succotz public library.
Maya Wedding Re-enactment
Today July 6th is the BIG Wedding Re-enactment at our Santa Rita Wedding Garden. Please come out and support this important event representing our Maya/Yucatec history.
Plumber needed at USA Embassy
Attention interested candidates: The U.S. Embassy has extended application deadline for plumber position to July 14th, 2017.
Felix LT Performing at International Costa Maya Festival 2017
Follow the link to view his music videos!
Senate Select Filled With Fireworks
As everyone expected, today's Senate Hearings on Immigration was filled with fireworks, and it even escalated to open hostility, the hurtling of insults, and finger pointing. That's because, for the first time, 2 sitting UDP ministers, Edmond Castro and Anthony "Boots" Martinez, were called to testify before the Senate Select Committee. They are the 2 elected politicians who have been most imputed upon in the most in the Senate Hearings so far.
Added to that was Castro's public embarrassment for his sons who got into a confrontation with police, and were then busted with 89 cases of contraband beers, and so it's easy to see why he was on edge.
And What About Those Letters of Recommendation?
So, we now go to an earlier moment in his testimony when the Senators were drilling him on the recommendations he made for applicants seeking Belizean immigration documents.
The Senators were trying to find out what weight he thought those recommendations carried. As we have shown you, immigration officers, under cross examination have conceded that these recommendations from ministers, even though they are worded as suggestions, are treated more like orders because they don't want to block the wishes of a Minister.
Castro was a repeat recommender, and the Senators wanted to find out why he did this:
Castro Confronted With Documented Evidence
So, as you heard, Edmond Castro insisted that he made sure that in his letters that the person he is recommending should only be approved for immigration documents "if all is in order".
Well, the Auditor General flagged one such letter which is identified as Edmond Castro's. We say identified as his because when he was asked about it today, he says that it is a forgery.
Here's that and other excerpts of the hearing where the Senators confronted him with documented evidence of visa recommendations that they've been provided with from sources at Immigration:
Michel Chebat - PUP Senator:
"Alright minister, there are at least 2 letters which you wrote on the 13th of May 2013 and in each of those letters in one you recommended 6 persons and in the other one you recommended 5 persons for visas. Do you recall that?"
Not Answering Alvarine
Before all of that unfolded, the Senators began the afternoon asking Castro questions about Alvarine Burgess.
She's the former immigration agent who claims that she paid him bribes of $2,000 to write recommendation letters for Chinese nationals which guaranteed approval for their visas.
He was a little more calm at the beginning of the hearing, but he made it clear that any questions about her are not welcomed. Here's the back and forth:
Boots Blocked Questions On Burgess
But, before it was Castro's time in the hot-seat, his ministerial colleague Anthony "Boots" Martinez was up first. Martinez took the morning session and though he was the better behaved of the two witnesses today, he was very intolerant of any questions related to Alvarine Burgess. And every time the Senators brought her up in the hearings, he shut them down.
Here's how that went:
Hon. Elena Smith - Labour/Civil Society Senator:
"You are aware minister that Ms. Alvarine Burgess appeared before this committee few weeks ago?"
Senate And Minister Clash On Public Characterization Of Sittings
And while he took issue with questions on Alvarine Burgess, Business Senator Mark Lizarraga made sure to question him on his public comments from last week.
You'll remember he called the Senate Hearings a "circus" for even allowing Burgess to testify in the first place. He also felt disrespected for being summoned last week, only to be sent home, after he had canceled all his appointments as a minister and as an Area Rep. for the day.
Here's Lizarraga challenging him on his description of the hearings:
"Bruk" Belize Banned From CODICADER For Two Years
Every year, Belize's best young athletes look forward to the CODICADER - which is where Central America's elite student athletes in all disciplines meet to compete under their national flags. But this year, scores of young Belizean athletes will be disappointed because Belize is being sanctioned, basically, we won't be able to participate. And the reason? Well, the usual, "no money noh deh". Except it's not that there isn't enough money to send a contingent; the problem is CODICADER is asking the Government to host the CODICADER special athletes competition. That's what Government doesn't have the money for. And because of that event organizers are expected to ban Belizean athletes from the games for two whole years! Today we asked the Minister of Sports to explain
Capturing The West's Most Wanted
Police finally captured 24 year old Erwin Santos â€“ he is the suspect in Marky Mendez's Teakettle murder - and he is also wanted for questioning about another murder.
Police caught him this morning at 11:00 in the village after an extensive manhunt. He is now in custody being questioned about both murders. Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett gave us more on this arrest.
While Murder Suspect At Large, Family Home On Fire
Now we have been following this case closely and there is nothing that Markey Mendez's family and friends wanted more than for Erwin Santos to be captured. As you can recall, the villagers expressed their outrage at Santos' initial release by starting up a tyre fire in the village. Well, early this morning around 5:30, hours before Santos was captured, his home was burnt down. Now it is alleged that frustrated villagers lit his house on fire but today police told us that they are still waiting for the fire department's report.
7News On-Site, Investigating The Sarstoon Oil Spill
For the past two nights we've been reporting on the oil spill in Guatemala on July first - caused by a tanker truck that crashed not too far from the southwestern Belize - Guatemala border. It caused thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the Rio Chacon which feeds into the Sarstoon River on the Guatemalan side of the border.
Well, at around 4:00 this morning, our team left out from the city to accompany OCEANA and the Belize Territorial Volunteers down the Sarstoon to see if the spill had gotten into the Belize side of the river.
They've been on the water all day and just got back to Punta Gorda at around 6:00. Here's what Will Mejia told Alex Courtenay about the importance of the expedition:
FCD Catches Macaw Poachers
Guatemalan poachers in the Chiquibul - it's an old story that we've told many times, but tonight is different. For the first time, the Friends for Conservation and Development is reporting that they've caught a pair of what are called "Guageros", the term for Guatemalan macaw poachers. On Monday morning at 4:00 am, as they were crossing the Chalillo Lake swimming, the park rangers apprehended them. They are 40 year-old, Victor Noe Aldana Lopez of Dolores Peten and Antonio Ramirez de Ramirez of Dolores Poptun. They had 2 long ropes and spurs used to climb the tall trees. They said that they were planning to remain in the area for another three days. They reported that young macaw chicks can be sold as much as 1,500 quetzales or $450.00 Belize dollars. They were escorted to the San Ignacio Police station pending charges by the Forest and Immigration Departments.
Family's Far Mounts In case Of Missing Man
A man went missing after an early morning run on Monday. 49 year old Mark Pollard left his house to go jogging around 5:00 Monday morning. He usually goes way up to the Haulover Bridge and back to his Peter Seco Street home. But he didn't return and his family is starting to fear the worst. Today one of his close friends told us that he hopes Pollard makes it back home but he also shares his theory as to what might have happened.
Sr. Supt. Vidal, Welcome To The Southside
Senior Superintendent Marco Vidal is back in Belize City - for the first time since 2014 when he handed over the command of the GSU, which he founded. Vidal assumed command of the Southside Eastern Division over the weekend - and, today, he held his first meet and greet session. We found a renewed officer, embracing community policing which he had once repudiated:â€¦
Sr. Supt. Marco Vidal- Southside Commander :
"The community policing is a department philosophy and therefore those will continue. The whole purpose of community policing is to foster the relationship with the community and to understand the problem and to look at ways to resolve them. So the information we're getting is that in some areas there are police visibility and in some areas there are not, so we need to look at those areas they are not in place and then improve on those because it has allowed a better interaction between the police and the community. Of course we will be looking at the continuation of the community policing programs but in tandem with that we'll also have intelengence led polcing because community policing does not mean that the criminals are allowed to do as they please. So the law has to apply. So where the law has to apply then it will be applied."
Pro-Tem Chair Comments On Rudeness
At the top of the news, we showed you how UDP Ministers Edmond Castro and Anthony "Boots" Martinez were rude and hostile with the Senators when they were finally obliged to take questions on allegations of that have surfaced against them in the Senate Hearings.
Now, in the past, witnesses have become confrontational, but there has always been a level of respect between the Senators and those who are called to testify.
As you saw, today was a big departure from the normal decorum of these hearings, and after they concluded, we asked Senator Elena Smith about it. She had to fill in as pro-tem chairman because Senator Aldo Salazar was unable to make it today. We asked her about the way the hearings were sort of dragged into the mud, and here's what she had to say:
DPM Faber Says There Was Not Deliberate Rudeness
So, was it a deliberate strategy for the Ministers to be difficult, rude and rough with the Senators? That's what we asked the Deputy Prime Minister today:
"Did you see the senate proceedings today, what did you think of the performance your ministerial colleagues?"
Hon. Patrick Faber - Deputy Prime Minister:
"I have not seen it sir."
"You must have heard it."
Senator Disputes Alleged Cost of Hearings
And in our last item from the the Hearings Today, Senator Elena Smith clarified that contrary to the Guardian Newspaper report, the Hearings have not cost half a million dollars so far.
She told us that in fact, they haven't spent even 200 thousand dollars as yet. Here's how she explained it:
"From the camps of the government and the UDP, there seems to be that suggestion well we are wasting money now."
Major Criminal Appeal Being Argued At The CCJ
If you didn't see PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay at today's Senate Select Meeting, its because he was in Port of Spain, Trinidad, arguing before a full panel of judges at the CCJ. Its the ongoing criminal appeal of the conviction of Gregory August for the murder of 73 year old Alvin Robinson. He's asking the CCJ to overturn his conviction after his lawyers successfully convinced the Court of Appeal to make a landmark judgement scrapping life sentences. Today in two and half hours of arguments his attorney Eamon Courtney touched on a number of key points including the makeup of the parole board:
Alleged Ladyville Shooter Jessie Mejia Charged For Weapon Only
Last night we told you about Elward McKay who was shot in Ladyville. Police pursued the suspected gunman and recovered the weapon, a 38 pistol. But today in court, 22 year old Jessie Mejia wasn't charged for attempted murder, he was only charged for with two firearm related offenses for keeping and unlicensed firearm, and kept ammunition without a license.
Mejia was denied bail today and remanded pending additional charges while McKay recovers form his injuries.
DPM Faber Comments On Possible Bradley/Barrow Rift
Last night on the news we tried the Prime Minister's comments from Friday's House meeting where he said that if Darrell Bradley said that Cabinet was considering zoning regulations, he was not speaking the truth. Bradley did say that and today we asked the deputy party leader if there IS A RIFT between the two:..
"So then, the Prime Minister has, publicly in the National Assembly, outed the mayor as a speaker of things that are not true. That's a bad thing do be in politics."
Hon. Patrick Faber- Deputy Prime Minister :
"So what do you need from me?"
New Vehicles For Capital Cops
This afternoon Belmopan Police got a much needed donation from Santander. They got a pickup truck. Sure, you might say that the last thing police need are mooore vehicles but today OC Howell Gillett told us just how critical this donation is for communities out West.
The vehicle will be moved over to the Roaring Creek Police Station. Belmopan police have an ongoing partnership with Santander. As part of this donation, the Belmopan police will patrol Santander grounds once per night.