Today's Belize News: October 3, 2014 - 10/03/14 11:53 AM
Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV 3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
Biologist Lisa Carne and Manatee Expert Jamal Galvez get Ocean Hero Award
Two outstanding conservationists received the Ocean Hero Award from Oceana in Belize during a special ceremony on Saturday September 27th. The two recipients of the prestigious award are Biologist and Coral Researcher Lisa Carne, and self-made Manatee Expert Jamal Galvez. The two were awarded for their heroic work with two endangered wildlife species, the Acropora Corals and the West Indies Manatee. According to Oceana in Belize, being an Ocean Hero can mean that the recipient takes action to help to protect the marine environment for people and creatures of today and for future generations, and as such, the award recognizes their efforts.
Music Video: Belize by Wayward
“You left me for Belize too soon…” Pop music…plus a visual feast showing so much about Belize…Belize, Belize, Belize…just watch and enjoy…
Tourism Police executed at Caracol by suspected illegal Guatemalan Xateros
The death of a Tourism Special Constable working at Caracol Archeological site in western Belize has caused public outrage amidst a police investigation. 20-year-old Tourism Special Constable Danny Conorquie was shot to death by armed Hispanic men at the Archeological site just before midday on Thursday September 25th in plain view of tourists and other Belizean tour guides. While Belizean Ministerial authorities have been diplomatic in dealing with the murder, authorities have been unable to bring those responsible to justice. Because the murder happened about five miles within Belizean territory near the Guatemalan border, and because the culprits jumped across the border, they are believed to be Guatemalans.
Canary Cove donates to New Horizon SDA Primary School
Canary Cove has embarked on a three phase project to improve New Horizon Seventh Day Adventist Primary School and on Monday, September 29th a donation was handed over to complete phase one. The donation was made in the form of a check for $9,198 and will cover expenses for the construction of a veranda and staircase for the newly constructed building at New Horizon, as well as other elements needed for the completion of the building. According to supervisor of Canary Cove, Gilberto “Gil” Nuñez, the donation was made after the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) identified the need for better education facilities at New Horizon. The school is quickly becoming over populated and needs more classrooms. Once completed, the building will serve as two classrooms. “Our purpose with these donations is to improve the quality of education that the children at New Horizon receive. Right now, some of the classes have almost 40 students. We want to create more space for these children,” said Gil Nuñez.
Belize Coral Researcher and Manatee Expert Awarded as Ocean Heros by Oceana
On Saturday, September 27, 2014, Oceana Belize formally recognized coral researcher Lisa Carne and manatee expert Jamal Galves as ocean heroes. Being an ocean hero can mean many things but mostly, it means deciding that you are ready to take action to help to protect our marine environment for people and creatures of today and for future generations. In 2006, Ocean Hero Lisa Carne was a young biologist who had witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Iris in Southern Belize and was deeply troubled by the vulnerability of Belize’s marine environment to climate change through rising sea temperatures and stronger storm surges. Using the Laughing Bird Caye National Park as a natural laboratory, Carne established a coral “nursery” in attempt to restore critically endangered Acropora corals. Today, with support from the communities of Independence and Placencia, her “Fragments of Hope” project has more than five thousand out-plants in more than eighteen sub-sites.
Misc Belizean Sources
Stomach Flu wreaking havoc in our Corozal schools and community
The economic burden caused by Acute Gastroenteritis (AGI), also known as Stomach Flu, is estimated at over $18 million countrywide, according to data released by the Ministry of Health. The ministry released some of the findings from the Burden of Illness (BOI) research study on AGI and causes of food borne illness in Belize last week. The study was done in collaboration with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The impact on the public health system alone is estimated at $6.2 million annually, when considering basic medical services, supplies, hospitalization, and the need for care-giver services. Loss of income due to unproductive days is estimated at $10.9 million, and patients are estimated to lose some $4 million annually due to being out of work.
CENTRAL AMERICA & MEXICO INDEPENDENCE EVE 2014 (11 photos)
On Saturday, September 13, 2014, the San Pedro Town Council hosted its annual Central America & Mexico Independence Eve at the Central Park where residents and visitors had the opportunity to indulge in the various culinary treats each country had to offer in honor of their independence. Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Civil Aviation offered a few remarks and Mayor Daniel Guerrero welcomed everyone to the event.
ASP Hall's Dire Warning About TPU In Caracol
Since the news of Special Constable Danny Conorquie's death at the Caracol Archaeological Site, security at border locations, especially those trafficked by tourists, has been at the forefront of the national discourse. But, in real terms, it's too little too late: one promising young life has been lost, and tourists have been badly rattled: so much so that there are mass cancellations of pre-booked tours. But, could it all have been avoided? Quite possibly. As we showed you last night, our newsroom has obtained a leaked police memorandum from the Commander of the Tourism Police Unit, Assistant Superintendent Diana Hall. In that letter, she more or less foretold the death of Constable Danny Conorquie at the Caracol Archaeological site. She wrote the Commissioner of Police on January 24, 9 months ago, and discussed the serious security concerns at Caracol. In that letter, she notes that the Tourism officers posted there expose themselves to a high level of risk every time they report for duty.
Opp. Leader Asks Why Didn't Police Heed Hall's Warning
But - after we broke the news last night - the ASP Hall letter certainly caught the attention of Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca. Today in the House of Representatives, he demanded to know why her very dire warnings and recommendations were ignored:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "That letter is very damning because it foretells what has actually taken place and it made clear that within the ranks of the police department, within the ranks of the Police Tourism Unit at the highest levels - there were very serious concerns. What follow up there was to this letter? The Commissioner of Police was alerted to this letter. Was it brought to the attention of the Minister of National Security? Was it brought to Cabinet? Was it taken to the national Security Council? These are serious matters. The inspector/commander said "God forbid one of our people or more than one of our people get killed" and unfortunately regrettably that has what has taken place Mr. Speaker."
PM Says Security Minister Should Answer
Today the Minister of National security addressed the House Meeting at length - and we'll have that for you shortly - but, very notably, he had nothing to say about the ASP Hall letter. And while Saldivar slipped out before we could question him - we did ask the Prime Minister who chairs the National Security Council. He said the letter was not brought to his attention:.. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize "In terms of what Ms. Hall flagged. Again I don't know if that's the sort of thing that you would bring to the national Security Council. You would expect that the ministry would handle that almost as a matter of routine." Jules Vasquez "Apparently they did, the band played on, nobody paid it any attention - next." Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize "It is as I say, I can't fault the minister or anyone for not bringing that to my attention. My God man that's a detail for the ministry." Jules Vasquez "Perhaps you can fault them for not taking into account properly." Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize "I don't know what would be their response when ask about this and that's why what I can do and what I will do is to say to the minister, I try to suggest to all ministers you can't not talk to the media. Very many of you in the media that I consider a pain, but a necessary pain."
Tour Guides Protest in Belmopan
And that kind of inaction and indifference to clear and present dangers is what spurred the Cayo Tour Guides Association to hold a protest outside the National Assembly this morning - while the House of Representatives met inside. The guides say that they're the ones who have to work at the archaeological sites like Caracol and El Pilar, which are targeted by cross-border bandits. The CTGA says that they've submitted recommendations to the Government officials in charge of the tourist sites in the west, and they've been ignored. The association staged it's first ever protest today, and 7News there. Daniel Ortiz reports: Daniel Ortiz reporting On the stairs of the National Assembly, some 47 tour guides from the Cayo Tour Guides Association assembled for a protest. They were assembling for maximum effect and to catch the attention of the Government Officials.
Security Ministry Reviews and Revises Security Deployment At Caracol
And without even knowing what their complaints were, National Security Minister John Saldivar responded to them today. Saldivar told the house that his ministry has made a full security review of Caracol - and they are determined to safeguard visitors and prevent another loss of life with the following measures. Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of Nat'l Security "Our review has revealed that the BDF escort that would normally accompany the visitors to Caracol did not on that day accompany the visitor due to mechanical problems. This led to reduce security at the Caracol site. We firmly believe had the escort service been provided security would have been adequate to up to the point where the escort left with the visitors. Approval has now been given for the acquisition of two vehicles for the purpose of escorting visitors to Caracol. We are also reviewing the procedures to be applied when due to unforeseen circumstances the BDF is unable escort services. The review also revealed that 5 horses that were confiscated the previous day by a patrol in the area had been kept at the Caracol site up to the time of the incident.
PUP Says Guatemalans Must Answer For Danny's Death
And while those measures WILL go into effect - right now, there is a strong call for justice for Danny Conorquie. Today the Leader of the Opposition demanded answers - and the police minister did provide some:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "The attack on Danny Conorquie Mr. Speaker is not only an attack on him and his family and the police community, but it is an attack on all Belizeans. An attack on our national sovereignty, an attack on our territorial integrity, it's an attack on our dignity as Belizeans citizens and the Belizean people expect that we respond to it accordingly. No effort should be spared. No stone left unturned Mr. Speaker, in investigating this crime and bringing these killers to justice. We expect and in fact we demand that the relevant Guatemalan authorities treat this matter as if on of their own security forces had been shot down and killed and do everything within their borders to find these cowardly killers."
Guatemalans Building Belize Coast Guard Base At Hunting Caye
And while Caracol has come to the fore of national attention, something else is bubbling up on the current affairs horizon and it's not too pretty. This morning on KREM WUB host Mose Hyde revealed news of a contract that a Guatemalan Company has gotten a contract to construct the Belize Coast Guard's Forward operating Base on Hunting Caye - which is one of Belize's southern-most islands in the Sapodilla Caye Range. Today in the house, Opposition Leader Fonseca expressed his outrage, while the PM confessed his ignorance:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "We are building some facility out at Hunting Caye, the Coast Guard. I don't know if it's a headquarters or some other facility for the Coast Guard and he is saying he went out there personally and the contract to build this Coast Guard facility is held by Guatemalans, a Guatemalan company and every single workers there, this is Mose Hyde saying this, is a Guatemalan national. The Guatemalan company and Guatemalan workers building our Coast Guard facility. Man, there must be some national security risk in that taking place. Somebody has to be awake man, we can't all be sleeping over there in the government. Who is looking after these matters?"
Mother Wants Justice For Autistic Son She Says Was Sodomized
Over 2 weeks ago, there was a very disturbing report which emerged from the St. Martin Government School, which is right in the middle of an immigrant community in Belmopan City. It involved a 5 year-old boy who was indecently assaulted by another 5 year-old who allegedly touched his privates, and supposedly sodomized him. 7News didn't pick up the story because police sources told us that the investigators could not find any evidence that it actually happened. Still, the disturbing report lingered, until things came to a head today. The mother of the child is convinced that the school, the police, and the Education Ministry aren't doing enough to get to the bottom of it. It led to a protest today, and our team was there. Here's that report: Daniel Ortiz reporting A number of parents who enroll their children at the San Martin Government School, refused to send them to classes today. They organized themselves in the neighborhood church, an impromptu Parent meeting.
Police Says Mothers Complaint Has No Basis In Fact
Well, as you heard, there are allegations against the Belmopan Police that they have somehow mishandled the investigation into the report. Today, Belmopan's Commanding Officer, flanked by the Belmopan Education Officer, and the lead investigator, hosted a media press conference to respond directly to that allegation. They told us that they've done all they can to investigate this report, and they just can't find any evidence to support the allegation. The OC explained to us what they've found: Supt. Howell Gillett - OC, Belmopan Police "I am certain and happy to have this report in our possession, the child was not sexually abused. There was no penetration and the doctor was very clear on that, so I don't know why others are saying this. I think there was some inconsistencies on the part of some media house's I do not care to mention now, but I think that is what got this thing out of control. We are very clear and we are happy to report to the media that there was no penetration, no foreign fluid, anything on this child's test that was done. We are safe to present to the media and to the public that there was no sexual abuse. The mother, we can't fault the mother. She has all right to be pressing for police to take action. In my view I am happy to say that we did all that we could have done to bring this matter to a close, hence the reason why the report was made on the 16th September and it didn't take too long for us to get to the bottom of it."
More Cops Face Serious Charges
Last night, we told you about the outrageous complaint against police in which a Belize City resident discovered that her jewelry was stolen when a team of police officers searched her home. Well, tonight, we can reveal the identity of Constable 1096 Jamille Scott, the officer who police caught red handed with the woman's jewelry. As we told you, Scott was part of the team who searched the woman's Antelope Street home yesterday, and while it was happening, she realized that her jewelry was missing. She acted quickly enough, and reported it to police. The officers were all ordered to remain at the site of the search, but Scott allegedly left, and so police officers followed him. They stopped him on an uninsured motorcycle, and when they searched him, they found the missing jewelry on him. He has since been charged with theft and handling stolen goods.
Dengue Cases Rise In Lake I
Dengue has become a serious health issue affecting residents in cities, towns and villages. And according to the Central Health Region, it is worsening in certain areas of Belize City. Courtney Weatherburne found out about this latest spike and what you can do to make sure Dengue doesn't come through your door. Courtney Weatherburne reporting If you tune into news often, you have definitely seen this Dengue commercial air over and over. Many of you can even recite some of the lines of the script, although the commercial sends a clear message on key measures to prevent the spread of Dengue, cases are on the rise. Javier Alpuche, Senior Public Health Inspector "In late June early July we started seeing an increase in the number of cases of dengue specifically here in Belize City. What we basically also noted was that while the number of dengue cases was somewhat expected what we were having is a higher number of dengue hemorrhagic dengue cases being reported. At that time when we detected that increase in cases we of course did a number of things; one of the things that we did was enhance the surveillance to ensure that we were collecting all the necessary data on dengue cases, not only from the public hospitals, but from the private hospitals as well including laboratories. To date since January to now we are taking about 331 cases and of these 247 are classical dengue and 84 are dengue hemorrhagic fever and that's for the entire Belize District because we do have cases being reported from some of the rural communities as well."
New, More Rational Gun Law Passed
We've already covered all the headline news coming out of today's House Meeting in Belmopan - but the House Business also had some big news. First was the passage of the Firearms Amendment Bill - which is to rationalize gun possession laws, the make it so that persons who may have been wrongfully detained can get bail. The Leader of the opposition said that he thinks it still doesn't go far enough in relaxing the punitive provisions of the law:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of The Opposition "It still remains that section 6A of the firearm act we believe is unconstitutional; it infringes the presumption of innocence, it still throws a very wide net on a wide class of innocent citizens because we believe that while the current amendment is a step in the right direction, it does not in fact cure and address the real problem that is really at the root of the outcry that the public has about this matter."
PM, AG Say Buh-Bye Bar Association
And the other big piece of legislative business coming out of the House today was the Legal Profession Act - which will make it so that lawyers no longer have to be members of the Bar Association, and no longer have to pay an annual membership fee. It will also change the composition of the General Legal Council. For the Barrow Administration which has long been at odds with the Bar - which it says is pro PUP - it is a signal accomplishment - for the PUP it is an extension of a police of discord:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of The Opposition "The purpose and intent of the body and the association is a public purpose and if there are difficulties with the performance of the Bar then lets address those, but this attempt as the bill seeks to, to really undermine the Bar Association and really to dismantle the Bar Association in our view. It certainly not something we should support. It's a bill that's truly reflection of this UDP government; if I cant control you or don't like what you are saying or what you are doing, then I will seek to destroy you, to undermine you, to discredit you - to use the power of the state against you. I mean that really is not the direction that Belizeans want to see the country going. Not just because a government feels that the Bar is a bunch of PUPs that means that you must then resolve to destroy the Bar and break up the Bar? That is absolutely ridiculous man, it's crazy - dividing our society, destroying our society."
Police Brutality Is Issue For House
And on the adjournment of today's House Meeting, the member for Belize Rural Central also brought up the very topical issue of police brutality. She spoke about many cases including the recent case of Allan McCoy:.. Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Belize Rural Central Rep. "Mr. Allan McCoy was extremely articulate and detailed in what he suffered at the hands of the GSU. All I could do is shake my head and say to myself, those members of the GSU, it seems to me that they believe that they have some kind of license to brutalize because they thought that Mr. Allan McCoy had been involved in an incident involving one of their own - every single somebody in the GSU in that incident was getting in their licks even the woman GSU personnel. And the most horrendous kind of brutality that we as Belizeans can imagine and almost every single day we are hearing about more and more incidents of police brutality."
Barrow Still Defending Insp Flowers, GSU
The media also asked the Prime Minister about the GSU. He has stood up on multiple occasions for its controversial commander, Inspector Mark Flowers. But Flowers ahs also been the target of police complaints - and we asked the Prime Minister to reconcile his high praise with the dim view taken by some in the community: Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "I don't know of those particular circumstances, but I think Mark Flowers, while he is a hard charging police officer, I think also to be a very bright police officer and I find it difficult to understand how he would put himself in circumstances where he could be busted so easily, so I don't know the facts and I therefore will refrain from commenting on whether the allegations have merit but if formal reports have been made then those reports need to be processed, need to be investigated."
GSU Arrests "Bobo"
And while controversy about the unit hasn't subsided, the GSU says it is still getting on with its work. Yesterday morning, they arrested well known West Canal resident, Elwin Lewis known as Bobo - who the GSU says is a key figure in the George Street gang. He was arrested and charged allegedly after GSU caught him trying to get rid of a supply of drugs. Yesterday at around 7 in the morning GSU arrived at Lewis' residence with a search warrant. Officers were searching for illegal drugs and firearm but when Lewis saw the officers, they say he threw away a bulky black plastic through one of the windows, which fell in his neighbor's yard. The GSU found 18 parcels of cannabis in transparent plastic amounting to 127 grams or quarter pound. As a result, 33 years old Elwin LEWIS was arrested and charged for Possession of controlled drug with intent to supply.
Van's Spontaneous Combustion
Just after one this afternoon, a van became engulfed in flames in one of the city's busiest areas. Reverent Alfred Ramsey Jr, a resident of Independence Village was traveling on Mahogany Street along with his family in a rented van. They began smelling a strong scent of gasoline and quickly pulled the van over. That was when they saw the blaze streaming from under the vehicle. Ramsey managed to remove his 7 passengers' safely from out of the vehicle but it was only a matter of seconds before the entire van went erupted into flames.
Woman Arraigned For Carnal Knowledge In Capital
On this newscast, we very regularly report on sex crimes in which men take advantage of female victims. Well, tonight, the story is about a 23 woman who is accused of taking advantage of a 14 year-old boy from Belmopan in February of this year. The Commanding Officer in the capital told us that the woman has been charged with carnal knowledge: Supt. Howell Gillett - OC, Belmopan Police "A report made by a 14 year old male minor of Belmopan that sometime in the month of February of this year a female forcibly had sex intercourse with him. That female has been identified as Ms. Selma Markita Ortiz, she has been charged, but was granted bail recently. This report was made to us on the 18th September and we acted on it and the person has since been charged and taken to court."
Castro Says He's Not Worried About Saldivar Replacement
The PUP has not yet found a replacement for Arthur Saldivar in Belize Rural North. But, the incumbent and two-term area representative Edmond Castro isn't worrying. He says that the area is a tall order for any newcomer candidate. He spoke to us about the political lay of the land yesterday:.. Hon. Edmund Castro, Area Rep - Bze Rural North "It doesn't matter who they bring, but one thing I can tell you is that 26-27 villages spread out in Belize Rural North is not easy to cover in the short space of time that we have to go towards the general election. Its next to impossible." Jules Vasquez "So even if Arthur Saldivar is out of the picture honestly you think that you still have an advantage?" Hon. Edmund Castro, Area Rep - Bze Rural North "We will win." Jules Vasquez "But if they have a new candidate with an unblemished record, yes the villages are plenty but man you could do it if you work 7 days a week."
British Warship Visits
Usually when you think about warships, the last thing that comes to mind is a grand tour. Well today the media got one of The Royal Navy Warship: The HMS ARGYLL. It arrived yesterday and it is here to meet with the coast guard and the BDF in order to improve relations. The media got to see the 4.9 inch Mark 8 naval gun, the harpoon anti-ship missiles among other war weapons as well as inside the Bridge. Here is what the Executive Officer had to say about the visit to Belize. The HMS Argyll recently conducted successful Counter Narcotics Operations in the Caribbean Sea and is also equipped to provide humanitarian aid. The ship leaves Belize on the 4th.
PM Visibly Uncomfortable With Faber Domestic Abuse Questions
Today, the media asked the Prime Minister about all kinds of stuff including his bad back which had him wincing and rocking in pain for much of the house meeting. He said that was caused by a muscle he pulled trying to strengthen his back. We also asked him about the allegations of domestic abuse against his Minister of Education Patrick Faber. The story isn't exactly fresh - in fact the allegations emerge din the first week of September. But, the Prime Minister has never commented on the prickly issue - and today he did so with some visible discomfort:.. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "The fact that the lady withdrew the complaint, I don't know that you can argue that. That means that perhaps there was never any real substance in the complaints. I wouldn't think so; I would think that there was. And if there was, then clearly that sort of thing is extremely regrettable and cannot be condoned, but I certainly can't take any formal action, except that there is a complaint that is going to be pursued by the victim."
Minister of National Security Breaks His Silence on Caracol Murder
We go now inside the House of Representatives that concluded its special sitting before two p.m. today. Tourism Police Special Constable Danny Conorquie was killed exactly one week ago. His [...]
What’s the Deal with the FOB at Hunting Caye?
The Minister of National Security John Saldivar also addressed the House on a number of new initiatives which have been put in place to enhance security on our border and [...]
Security Measures to be Put in Place at Caracol Following Danny Conorquie’s Death
Back to the House of Representative. Tour guides assembled outside the house looking for quick solutions for a problem which could cost them their lives, just as it did the [...]
Cayo Tour Guides Protest Outside Assembly Building
Even as the discussion surrounding murdered special constable Danny Conorquie took center stage inside the House, outside the members of the Cayo Tour Guide Association stood in protest. They want [...]
Francis Fonseca Criticizes Legal Profession Act
As far as House meetings go, today’s session was decidedly tame, with little of the acerbic repartee we’ve become accustomed to. Some significant bills were pushed through to final reading, [...]
P.M. Barrow Says Bar Association is all P.U.P.
Those hits from across the floor got the PM’s hackles raised, and he fired back, taking direct aim at the Bar Association which he says has been totally and completely [...]
3 Police Officers Charged for Criminal Wrongdoings
On Wednesday, the Professional Standards Branch of the Belize Police Department told the media that there are at least seven officers currently under investigation, following allegations of criminal wrongdoings. Among [...]
Sudden Death at K.H.M.H., Teenager Dies Mysteriously
A mother and aunt are tonight grieving the sudden death of a thirteen year old girl at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Maria Larios was admitted to the K.H.M.H. on [...]
Was Maria Larios’ Throat Punctured, did it result in her Death?
According to the women, a doctor was called in and somehow Maria’s lung was allegedly punctured when a tube was introduced into her throat. Within minutes and before their eyes, [...]
Charges Brought Against John Popper for Breaching Protection Order
Police say fifty year-old John Aaron Popper committed a number of criminal offenses when he breached a protection order to stay away from his ex-common-law wife, forty-one year old Cecilia [...]
P.M. Barrow Comments on Beleaguered GSU…
The GSU, or more specifically GSU commander Mark Flowers, have been in the news almost nightly. The elite, aggressive unit has been under fire after allegations of excessive force and [...]
…and His Statement of Patrick Faber
Special Sitting of the House: It was only a couple weeks ago that Minister of Education Patrick Faber was accused of assaulting a young woman who works in his Ministry. [...]
Healthy Living looks at the Quality of Life for Older Persons
This week is being celebrated as Senior Week which includes the celebration of International Day of Older Persons on October first. In Belize, there are several groups advocating for a [...]