Today's Belize News: August 10, 2012 - 08/10/12 02:08 PM
Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
Hurricane Ernesto brings mostly wind and rain to la Isla Bonita
San Pedro Ambergris Caye was spared a direct hit from Category One Hurricane Ernesto which left behind mostly wind and rain. The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) first issued advisories beginning on Friday, August 3rd when Ernesto became a tropical storm, the fourth named storm to form in the Atlantic region this year. Computer modules from very early showed that Belize would be directly impacted by Ernesto. By Monday, August 6th NEMO was fully activated including the Emergency Operating Committee (EOC) in San Pedro Town. The entire country was placed under a tropical storm watch which quickly elevated to a Hurricane Watch later that day. On Ambergris Caye, the San Pedro NEMO branch was in full operation advising residents to activate their hurricane preparedness plan. Residents living in the low-lying areas were advised to make necessary arrangements for voluntary evacuation in preparation for the imminent impact of Ernesto, which was originally scheduled to make landfall over northern Belize and quite possibly over Ambergris Caye. Residents and business owners alike boarded buildings and windows, securing their properties while local tour operators and fishermen began moving their vessels to safe harbor. Over 1,000 people voluntarily evacuated the island by both air and sea.
Snorkeling Tragedy at Hol Chan ruled an accident
The death of two visitors to Belize during a snorkeling excursion on April 3rd was ruled as an accident and death by drowning. The San Pedro Sun reported on the devastating tragedy that took place in one of the country’s most famous snorkeling destinations, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) located between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. The incident which occurred around 11AM that Tuesday, claimed the lives of American national 54 year old Roger Burger and Italian national Paola Maria Falco. Both were part of a group of seven that had become separated from their group by strong currents near the channel at the HCMR. The group had earlier left Caye Caulker onboard the Cyclone vessel, belonging to Tsunami Tours based in Caye Caulker when the incident happened. Initially, four individuals went missing during the snorkeling tour in the Hol Chan area. The guide, Marcel Graniel went in search of the missing individuals and later found that two had returned to the vessel. The other two remained missing and were eventually recovered dead around 2PM. Also onboard the vessel were; Americans 54-year-old Mrs. Rebecca Burger and her 17-year-old son Zach Burger, Canadians 25-year-old Lawrence Tastet and 29-year-old Yanik Doyon and Italian 59-year-old Mr. David Florencia. Following the incident, boat captain, Marcel Graniel was detained for questioning while police investigated the matter in an attempt to determine whether anyone was at fault or liable. A post mortem was conducted on April 4th by police pathologist Dr. Mario Estradaban at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital morgue who at the conclusion certified the cause of death as “Asphyxia by Drowning”.
Belize’s Tourism Industry has seen outstanding record-breaking months during the first half of 2012
Overnight tourist arrivals keep demostrating a steady increase as the second quarter of 2012 comes to an end. Belize’s Tourism Industry has seen outstanding record-breaking months during the first half of 2012. The BTB is honored to share that the first half of the year is ending on an admirable note with an exciting 9% increase in Overnight arrivals compared to last year. The good news does not end there, as tourist arrivals and airport arrivals are expected to continue their remarkable growth. With these stimulating figures, the BTB looks forward to sharing good news for the remainder of 2012. The following is a detailed report with the first half of this year’s tourism figures: Total Overnight Tourist Arrivals An overall increase of 9% in overnight tourist arrivals was recorded during the second quarter of 2012. A total of 5,791 more tourists stayed in the country overnight during the second quarter when compared to the second quarter of 2011. January started with an arousing arrival number of 24,263 visitors to Belize. This represented a 2.9% increase over last year’s figure. February’s figure totaled an astounding 25,778 visitors, which represents a 8.1% increase over 2011’s figure. March was the month that blew us all away with its history-making total of 32,240 visitors. Never before had Belize’s overnight tourist arrival numbers exceeded 32,000 visitors in any one month!
U.S. Department of Treasury targets accused Belize-Based operatives of Chapo Guzman
On Tuesday, August 7th the U.S. Department of Treasury based in Washington, D.C. issued an unprecedented and very bold sanction via a press release against three prominent Belizean businessmen. The men, namely John Zabaneh, his nephew Dion Zabaneh and his alleged close business partner Daniel Moreno are singled out as being Belize’s key associates and Belize-based operatives of Joaquin “ El Chapo” Guzman Loera, who is linked to the Mexican-based Sinaloa Cartel. The statement came in shortly after 9AM after it was posted on the website of the U.S. Department of Treasury. The release states that, “The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today (August 7th) announced the designation of John Zabaneh and two members of his drug trafficking organization, who are based in Belize and are key associates of Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera and other members of the Sinaloa Cartel. The action also includes the designation of five companies in Belize that are owned or controlled by John Zabaneh or members of his organization.” The actions by the U.S. Department of Treasury is in pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), which prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the individuals and companies pointed out in the release and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Committee extends public comments regarding marijuana decriminalization to August 31st
The Committee commissioned by the Minister of National Security to evaluate the issue of Decriminalization of Marijuana thanks those who submitted their opinions regarding a proposal to remove the current criminal penalties incurred for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) for personal use. Your responses have been respectfully evaluated and taken into consideration, including, many requests to extend the deadline. In this regards the committee has extended the period for submitting your comments to August 31, 2012. For the purpose of this discussion we invite your continued input and ask that you respond to us with your thoughts on the following:
Belize Tourism Board Presents Positive Tourism Report
Overnight tourist arrivals keep demonstrating a steady increase as the second quarter of 2012 comes to an end. Belize’s Tourism Industry has seen outstanding record-breaking months during the first half of 2012. The BTB is honored to share that the first half of the year is ending on an admirable note with an exciting 9% increase in Overnight arrivals compared to last year. The good news does not end there, as tourist arrivals and airport arrivals are expected to continue their remarkable growth. With these stimulating figures, the BTB looks forward to sharing good news for the remainder of 2012. The following is a detailed report with the first half of this year’s tourism figures:
Belize Police Force Needs to Upgrade Benefits Package
When I joined the Belize Police Force in 1973 there was no insurance for police officers who got sick, disabled or died while on duty. If they got sick they would go to the hospital and they would receive free medical care and be given sick days with a date to return to work. If their injuries were severe, the sick days would be extended continuously until they got better and then returned to work. When a police officer was permanently disabled and could not return to work, the Commissioner of Police, along with the government of Belize, would agree on a retirement monetary settlement, which was not substantial. In the event of death, the police officer received a funeral with full honors and a meager compensation to his or her next of kin and nothing for the surviving spouse or children.
Costa Maya Festival Needs You For Continued Success
At the 20th Annual Costa Maya Festival opening ceremonies this past week, committee member Milo Paz gave the entire public of San Pedro and Belize a Wake Up Call. “Costa Maya is not about us and profits for the committee,” said Milo Paz. “It is about the entire community and how it participates. We have a few main objectives which are: (1) to provide good entertainment (2) to generate good business for everyone during the slow tourism season, and (3) to be able to pay our bills at the end of the festival.” The Costa Maya Festival Committee feels satisfied that they are committed to doing its part but is concerned and in a sense disappointed that the wider community is not. The committee points out that all hotels in San Pedro registered 100% occupancy during the festival. This indicates that very good business was generated for everyone, including hotels, bars, discotheques, restaurants, gift shops, stores, boutiques, and businesses in general. However, the number of sponsors to help curb expenses for the committee in hosting artists and delegates is not coming at full potential as in the past. With lower participation in sponsorship the committee is obliged to look for slightly less costly artists for its international night. This then translates into lower enthusiasm and lower attendance to all nights of the festival. With lower participation from the audience and spectators and concert lovers, then there is lower income generated and consequently Costa Maya Festival might have to tone down its festival to a one day event or discontinue it totally.
Misc Belizean Sources
VIDEO: Looking Back On Ernesto- La Perla Del Caribe
Aboard Coastal Xpress our crew heads north to La Perla to prep for Hurricane Ernesto. Here's a look at the morning of Aug.7, 2012.
A Local Guide to Belizean Culture
The Culturist has some cultural questions for the owners of Ka'ana. Cayo is highlighted, so they mantion escabeche and the roadside BBQ, and Xunantunich is mentioned, although it's NOT the tallest temple; ironically, that would be Ca'ana. Orange Gifts is mentioned as having the best artisan handicrafts. Of course, they have to talk about the end of the Mayan calendar, and the celebration at Caracol. "For a glimpse of daily life, I recommend this form of transportation: Hiking. Over 40 percent of Belize is national park, and Belizeans are brought up with a respect for the outdoors, so many of the hidden natural gems have been preserved and are located just on the far end of a short (or long) hike. Whether you’re heading to a hidden waterfall, an inland cenote, a partially excavated ruin site, one of the many caves, or just enjoying nature, it’s a great outdoor pursuit that will give you a taste of the true Belize."
Split Peas with Dumplings & Pigtails
Split peas are a good source of fiber and carbohydrate. In this video, I share my favorite meal I use to eat with my grandma. I show how to make green and yellow split peas with salt meat (pigtails) and dumplings. This dish is very comforting and spicy.
Chinese Grocer Killed In Ladyville
There was a murder in the Mitchell Estate area of Ladyville around five this evening. The victim is a Chinese grocer, known to his customers as by his Belizean name, "Kenny". He and his wife, called "Candy" are the owners of the grocer called E-buy Supermarket. Details are still sketchy at this time, but what we do know is that he received gunshot wounds at around 5:20 this evening, and his family rushed him to the KHMH. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries while at the hospital. Our News team is out on the story, and we'll have more details in our newscast tomorrow.
Johnny Zabaneh Says US Drug Blacklisting Is Destroying His Business
Yesterday at the Mayan King Banana Farm in the Stann Creek District, farm owner John Zabaneh was unable to pay his 200 employees. He can't because his bank, which is the Belize Bank has notified him that it can no longer handle his account. And with a payroll of over two hundred thousand dollars - Zabaneh says he cannot manage it without a bank. It's not personal, but because he's been blacklisted as a Drug Kingpin by the US Department of Treasury, no bank will do business with him. If they do, they stand to jeopardize what's known as their correspondent banking relationship with US banks that provide services for them abroad. And that's the precise effect of Tuesday's action by the US Department of Treasury. Their Office of Foreign Assets Control designated John Zabaneh, his nephew Dion Zabaneh, Corozal grocery store owner Daniel Moreno and their companies as "key associates of "Chapo" Guzman, and his Sinaloa drug Cartel. Once designated, U.S. citizens and companies are barred from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and companies. Today Zabaneh told us that his employees are continuing to work - despite not having been paid - but says he has to come up with a solution, and fast.
How The Coye's Became Convicts
Convictions for white collar crime are very rare in Belize - and that's why tonight, it's still quite remarkable to consider to Michael Coye and his daughter Melonie are spending their second night in jail. We expect that she is in the female section - and for Michael Coye, possibly, due to his age and family background he may end up in the Tango Five section - which is reserved for small timers, family court offenders and low risk prisoners. How did they end up there? We revisit that in a recap of yesterday's unprecedented events at the Supreme Court: Daniel Ortiz Reporting 36 year-old Melonie and 65 year-old Michael Coye are in in prison tonight, a culmination of over 3 years of work from the Financial Intelligence Unit. It is the first money laundering conviction in Belize, and for the members of the Coye family, now considered white collar criminals, and facing prison time, it their first criminal conviction The Coye family and friends' were visibly shaken as the pair were escorted by police to be taken to the prison transport for the long ride to the central prison in Hattieville. And while it is a stunning outcome, this is really about a suitcase stuffed with over a million dollars in cash that was found at the Coye's home. Where did all that cash come from?
Not Ready for The World?: Superbond 2.0 Gets Rough Reception
Last night we told you about the government's launching of what are called "Indicative Restructuring Scenarios." Basically, they are proposals for a Superbond 2.0 - with farm more agreeable terms than the present Superbond. It would save the government of Belize many, many millions of dollars - but represent significant losses for bondholders. Well, today we got a feel for what the reception on the market is like - and it's not good. A commentary from a Scotiabank International Analyst named Joe Kogan calls it, quote, the "worst restructuring terms." He says, quote, "this proposal (is) one of the worst restructurings for bondholders in recent Emerging Markets history." Kogan - who had been moderate in previous analyses of the Superbond difficulties - concludes that quote, "the government's strategy is puzzling. On one hand, they are going through the motions in consulting with bondholders and making their case for a restructuring. On the other hand, today's lowball offer will undoubtedly anger all bondholders, who would lose tremendously if they participated in such an exchange." He closes by suggesting that there is room for government and bondholders to come up with a more creative solution. As we understand it, Government's debt restructuring team anticipated this reaction - and has been engaging with bondholders.
PM Takes Personal Leave
And while the Debt Restructuring Team takes the heat, the PM will be taking some personal leave. According to an official release,Prime Minister Barrow left the country today to Miami, Florida. He returns on Monday, 13th August, 2012. During his absence, Patrick Faber will act as Prime Minister.
Jaguar Skinned In Caledonia
Belize's history of protecting jaguars is one of the proudest in the world - but it's a very fragile balance and the cat remains a prized possession for hunters. That was illustrated on Sunday in Caledonia Village in the Corozal district. Today's Guardian Newspaper reported on a hunting expedition for game meat which encountered a mature male jaguar, reportedly near a cane field road on the outskirts of the village. The Guardian newspaper which first published the story today, reports that the hunters shot it in the back of the head and took it back to the village where it was skinned. The pelt is considered valuable. Today via telephone form Cayo, Jaguar expert Omar Figueroa told us the report distresses and concerns him greatly. We warn you that the images used in the story - may be unpleasant to some: Omar Figueroa - Jaguar Expert (Via Telephone) "It was very disturbing, Jules. Without a doubt, it is outrageous to say the least. As a country, Belize has done so much to advance jaguar research and conservation. In so many regards, we are the envy of the region, and to see this happening, is just very disturbing and disappointing. It appears to be a large male from the size of the head. Usually, females tend to have smaller heads. But what caught my attention is you see that it has intact canines, and there are no other signs to suggest that this cat was old cat, or was somehow injured, so, it had to be preying on livestock.
Belizean Basketball Prospect Travels
Andrew Ortiz is an 18 year old High School Basketball Players. He's won championships with Sadie Vernon High School and recently participated in the King James Summer League in Ohio. That's where scouts took notice of him as a basketball and even an American Football prospect. And why not? He's tall, strong and quick, and now he's going to pursue his athletic dreams in the US - where he's been accepted as an exchange student at a High school in Ohio. He left the country today and we found out about his big athletic adventure: Rosco Reese - Trip Organizer "Well basically, Andrew Ortiz will be going to St. Peter Chanel High School in Cleveland, Ohio. We received a one-year scholarship to finish 4th Form. Now, at that level, it's very good experience for him because in high school is the majority of recruiting is to go to a 4-year college." Andrew Ortiz - Exchange Student "I feel good, but inside, I am leaving behind my family. I am going to a good family also."
Family Needs Help With Medical Bills
The family of 19 year-old Shayna Lightfoot is pleading to the public for assistance to help pay her medical bills. Lightfoot was recently diagnosed with cancer, and her family had to take her to Merida to receive her treatment. An unknown complication arose, and now the family can't pay the bill because they only budgeted for the cancer treatment. The hospital is now refusing to let her leave until that bill is paid. Her mother asked for help to get her home in time for her 20th birthday, which is just a few days away. Era Lightfoot - Mother of Cancer Patient "We found out at the end of April that she has cancer, and so, from then we were going to Merida for treatment. But on June 21, when she went for her chemotherapy, she got sick and worse. They had to admit her to the hospital, Clinica De Merida. Now, she is okay, and she is ready to come home, but we don't have the money to pay the hospital bill. And they don't want her to come out of the hospital without paying the bill. We don't have any money, so we're asking the public - anybody - to please see how they could help us, maybe the Government - somebody who can may be call the hospital. We don't have any problem paying the bill. We just want them to give us a certain time to pay it. We can go back because she still has to go there for her chemotherapy. So, we just want them to find a way to let her come home, and let us work on paying the bill piece by piece." Anyone who would like to help can contact Era Lightfoot at telephone number, 636-1636.
More On The Murder
As we told you at the top of the newscast, there was a murder late this evening in Ladyville. It happened in the Mitchell Estate area. The Store owner of E-Buy supermarket was and shot and killed around 5 this evening. Police believe it was a robbery. Even though details are still sketchy at this time, we were told that 2 men attempted to rob the store and one of them who was armed with a handgun, fired a shot hitting the Chinese store owner in the forehead. He was rushed to the KHMH in an ambulance but died shortly after.
PROFILE: Mark Manzanaro
Tonight's I am Belize Profile is about Mark Manzanaro, and his journey to join the Belize Defence Force. Manzenaro was set to pass out of his recruitment training, but he had an unexpected, life-threatening accident at the base. He tells us about a year's worth struggles he had endure defeat his lower-body paralysis, and then move on to become a proud member of the BDF.
The recently deceased Benjamin Nicolas is known to have been one of Belize's most creative, distinctive and prolific artists. As a tribute to his legacy and broad body of work, the Mexican Embassy along with NICH and the Atlantic Bank is holding an exhibition titled, "Story Color Life, honoring Benjamin Nicholas". The exhibit features over 25 works by the Belizean painter. It opens tonight, but we got a preview today: Marcelino Miranda - Press Officer, Mexican Embassy "The Mexican Embassy is pleased to present this exhibition, this is the first tribute that is paid to Bejamin Nicholas, and that's the reason that the Embassy of Mexico decided to put together different private collections of his works. And in conjunction with that, the Atlantic Bank and NICH is presenting this exhibition. Benjamin Nicholas is one of the most important Belizean artist. He painted for over 50 years, and he also inspired many other Belizean artists. His work is mainly on subjects of Garifuna and the Belizean culture. And that's the reason and the importance of his work; the Mexican Embassy decided that it was worth it to present this exhibition. The first one was actually in Dangriga, the town where he lived and died in April of this year, and this exhibition is now presented in Belize City. At the same time, the Mexican Embassy edited a booklet on his work and his life with the support and the assistance of the Atlantic Bank and NICH. It's being sold in this exhibition, and the funding will be for the Nicholas family." Benjamin Nicolas died on April 9th, 2012 in his hometown Dangriga. The exhibition runs until August the 15 at the Mexican Institute.
Don Zabaneh; Will the U.S. extradite john and Dion?
It is said that when the U.S. sneezes, the world catches a cold. Belize is tied to the United States economically through imports as well as remittances from the Belizean Diaspora in North America. Now that the U.S. Treasury Department has used the kingpin act to designate Belizean businessmen John Zabaneh, Dion Zabaneh and Daniel [...]
Man photographed with stolen M4 Carbine not killed in San Pedro
It made headlines when a joint forces operation was engaged in a shootout near the Rocky Point end of Ambergris Caye. Three men, Alexander Mazariego and Ismael Garcia of Las Flores, Belmopan and Kendale Flowers of Belize City were killed. According the police, months before the operation was carried out they had received pictures showing [...]
A tale of 3 bond models; which will work for Belize?
The next bond payment for Belize is due on August twentieth. The government had stated that it budgeted for the payment, but it hasn’t announced whether or not it would make the payment. As you are aware the bond team is currently negotiating with bondholders for new terms that would be sustainable. Tonight we take [...]
Late evening murder of shopkeeper in Ladyville
Another Chinese grocer is dead tonight following a vicious attack at his business in Ladyville. Kenny Deng, proprietor of E-Buy Supermarket, was shot and killed during an armed robbery this evening. Shortly after five o’clock, Deng, who was inside his store on Crab Catcher Street, was shot in the head by a gunman whom it [...]
14 year old high school student suddenly dies
While the murder of the Ladyville shop keeper was calculated, the death of a young girl in Belize City is left without answers. An Edward P. Yorke High School student died mysteriously at her home on Jude Street in Belize City. On Tuesday August seventh, thirty year old Averil Tinsley arrived home at around three [...]
More agricultural damages attributed to Hurricane Ernesto
Preliminary results have been released from an ongoing damage assessment in the Corozal District in the wake of Hurricane Ernesto, a category one storm which made landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday. While the destruction of infrastructure was minimal, accessibility to outlying areas, including Sarteneja and other coastal communities in the north, have been [...]
Study shows steady deforestation in Belize
Belize sells its tourism package as one of Mother Nature’s best kept secrets. But the country’s natural resources that have come under attack by Guatemalan peasants who look across the river to an abundance of wood and opportunity. A recent study has been conducted that shows much of Belize’s deforestation has occurred over the past [...]
A deep step in flooded streets
The Belize City Council has been giving streets within the City a facelift. It is part of an infrastructural upgrade that the council has embarked on. At least fifty percent of the streets are to be upgraded, but the residents of the Belama Phase Four area are up in arms because they say that the [...]
Record figures for overnight tourism
We reported on Wednesday night’s newscast that overnight tourist arrivals in Belize were up by an overall nine percent in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year. The initial release indicated that in the months from April to June, there were approximately five thousand seven hundred and ninety-one overnight [...]
But what caused decline in cruise tourism?
But there was some bad news. The figures for cruise ship arrivals were down by six percent, just about sixty thousand less visitors. Esquivel-Frampton says the shortfall is attributed to the increase in overnight stays and that plans are in place to boost the figures. Laura Esquivel-Frampton “We’re attributing it mainly to the conversion. [...]
Hospital bill has cancer victim stuck in Mexico
Though the Jewel brings tourism dollars, occasionally Belizeans must take their paychecks across the border. The mother of a nineteen year old cancer patient is in need of assistance to bring her home from Merida. According to Era Lightfoot, her daughter Shayna, has made several trips to Merida for chemo-therapy since she was diagnosed about [...]
P.M. out of country on personal leave
The office of the Prime Minister announced today that P.M. Dean Barrow is taking a personal leave. Barrow left Belize today en route to Miami, Florida and is expected to return next Monday. In his absence, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Patrick Faber, will be holding over as acting Prime Minister.
Healthy Living goes bone deep with dengue
Dengue Fever is endemic to Belize and cases are detected each year, particularly during the rainy season. But in 2010, the country faced a frightening outbreak of the disease, which included a few fatal cases of dengue hemorrhagic. To prevent a recurrence, the Ministry of Health has implemented preventative measures. In this week’s, Healthy Living, [...]
Data Shows Increase in Tourist Arrivals
The comparative figures for the first six months of the last three years show impressive overnight tourist arrivals for Belize. From twenty one thousand, three hundred and twenty eight arrivals in 2010, the figures for this year show that three hundred and thirty seven more visit...
A misunderstanding between an employee and a manager resulted in one man on the run and the other hospitalized. On Monday morning Police visited the Independence Polyclinic where they saw 47-year-old Aurelio Menjivar suffering from several cut wounds. Reports are that Menji...
Belize Audobon Society Reopens Protected Areas
The Belize Audubon Society (BAS) has reopened six of the nine protected areas it co-manages with the Forest Department which were closed yesterday due to the threat of Hurricane Ernesto. The Half moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monuments remain closed until further notice. The protecte...
Elderly Man Robbed and Beaten
An elderly man remains was injured when he was beaten and robbed early Monday morning in Independence Village. Police say they responded to reports of a robbery at a garage and on their arrival they were approached by 73-year-old watchman Rayman Frazer who was bleeding heavily fr...
Government Publishes Blueprint on Restructuring of Super Bond
The government of Belize today published its final blueprint for the restructuring of the nation’s foreign debt, commonly referred to as the super bond. The exercise started in early April and involved an assessment of the country’s external debt and preliminary discu...
Family Of Four Seeks Assistance
Hurricane Ernesto has come and gone leaving behind several flooded areas in Corozal. Luckily, the damage recorded was close to none in both Northern Districts. But for one single mother living here in Orange Walk Town, the passage of Ernesto brought great losses. Forty one year old Irma Hernandez and her four young daughters weathered out the storm in their small apartment located on Poinsettia Street. The room was flooded with water and all of the family’s belongings were damaged. With nowhere else to go and little resources to get back on her feet, Hernandez is asking for the public’s assistance. Forty one year old Guatemalan National, Irma Hernandez, has been living here in Room Number 3 for the past 6 months with her four daughters. Without a steady job, the single parent has been struggling to maintain her family with the little money she makes.
Construction Of New Evangelical Church Gets Under-way
A group of 42 missionaries from South Side Church of Chilliwack in British Colombia Canada, arrived in Orange Walk on Tuesday to render their assistance to Chapels Primary School. The school, along with the evangelical community, is currently in its first stage of construction for their new church building. On Tuesday when we visited the school we found 21 of the 42 two missionaries hard at work. For these young men and women, putting others before themselves is important: that’s what they are being thought by South Side Church in Chilliwack. The group travelled all the way from Canada to Belize at their own cost, to render their services to the evangelical community who has begun construction for their new church building. The group has been hard at work since Tuesday. Heading the team is Brock Adams who says that the team partnered off with Thirst Missions in Minneapolis U.S.A, to make the trip possible.
The proposal made by the Government of Belize to decriminalize the possession of up to ten grams of marijuana, is a hotly debated topic that’s taking center stage. Current legislation considers marijuana possession of less than sixty grams a criminal offense punishable by a fine up to fifty thousand dollars and as many as three years in prison. But government plans to change that legislation should the proposal go through. When the proposal was announced to the public back in July, the committee that would examine the decriminalizing of marijuana possession gave the public less than a week to send in their comments and concerns.
Propane Leakage Creates Possibility Of Explosion
Minutes after 5:00 yesterday evening, the Orange Walk Fire Department, was called out to Main Street where they observed the rear portion of a red van leaking propane. For the average man it might seem like nothing serious but for those with the special expertise, well, they think otherwise. According to Kenneth Mortis, Chief Substation Officer for the Orange Walk Fire Department, the van was leaking propane. The leak was coming from a hose that runs from the rear passenger side to the gas tank. In order for the fire fighters to stop the flow of propane, a wet cloth was attached to the hose after which the van was sprayed with water. According to Mortis the gas tank contained approximately 30 gallons of the natural gas. If the leak was not stopped in time, the gas would have poured into the open space creating the possibility of an explosion.
Government Presents Three Options to Pay Superbond
In twelve days, on August 20th to be exact, the Government of Belize is scheduled to make the next superbond payment of $46 million with an interest rate of 8.5%. Will GOB be able to make the payment? That’s left to be seen, what we can tell you though, is that Government proposes to restructure the U.S$57 million superbond and yesterday the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development released a copy of their restructuring plan called the Indicative Restructuring Scenarios. According to the report Government has been holding discussions with multilateral partners focusing on refining medium-term macroeconomics projections and identifying corrective measures to counterbalance the $19.5 million shortfall in oil revenue that have already started to materialize. In the document Government outlines three options which they believe could ease off the bond payment. Option one extends the superbond payment to 2062 making it a 50 year bond with a two percent interest rate and 15 years grace period. Option 2 on the other hand, extends the bond to 2042 with no grace period. Government; however, is proposing a forty-five percent discount on the principal interest. Similar to the second proposal, the third alternative also extends the bond to 2042, has a 45 percent discount on the principal interest, but proposes a five year grace period and a three point five percent interest rate throughout the term.
Overnight Tourism Increase By Nine Percent
A report from the Belize Tourism Board shows that there was 9% increase in overnight arrivals in the first half of this year compared to last year as a total of 5,791 more tourists stayed in the country overnight. January started with an arousing arrival number of 24,263 visitors to Belize representing a 2.9% increase over last year’s figure. February’s figure totaled an astounding 25,778 visitors, representing an increase of 8.1% compared to last year. In March a total of 32,240 tourists visited the jewel for the firs time. April’s 2012 figure of 23,699 surpassed the 2011 figure of 23,585. The month of May saw a 14.6% growth while June did not disappoint with a 13.1% increase over last year’s recorded figure. The report also shows that overall there was a 13.8% increase in airport tourist arrivals through the first half of 2012. As it pertains to cruise visitors, BTB boasts of a 34.9% increase in January alone. But amidst the good news is the fact that during the first half of 2012 the cruise industry saw a 5.9% decrease in tourist arrivals compared to the figures of the same period in 2011.
Increase In Deforestation In Belize Recorded
According to news.mongabay.com, deforestation in Belize has accelerated since late 2010. The online news article reports that a new satellite-based assessment of the jewels forest, covered by CATHALAC (the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean), shows that there has been an increase in deforestation in Belize. The analysis used NASA Landsat-7 imagery to compare forest cover between early 2010 and early 2012. It concludes that Belize's forest cover fell from 62.7 percent to 61.6 percent during the period, a decline of 25,264 hectares. The annual loss of 12,632 Hectares is more than a quarter higher than the rate observed between 1980 and 2010, when deforestation averaged around 10,000 hectares per year. According to the article, a technical report detailing the analysis will be released soon. A 2010 study by the group found that most deforestation between 1980 and 2010 occurred outside protected areas, where land is being converted for agriculture and plantations.
More time to offer comments on marijuana decriminalization proposal
The discussion on the proposal to remove the criminal penalties for the possession of a small amount of Marijuana in Belize continues. [VO] And today the Committee set up by government to evaluate the feasibility of the decriminalization announced another extension of the deadline for the public to make submissions on the proposed decriminalization. The announced intention would be to remove the criminal penalties for the possession of ten grams of marijuana or less for personal use. In its announcement of the extension today, the Ministry of National Security listed a nine-point reference list of questions being considered during this evaluation period. It includes the question of just how much marijuana should be decriminalized, the penalties that should be levied upon first time offenders, the need for drug education, and whether the “decriminalization” of marijuana will increase, remain the same, or decrease the usage of marijuana both for adults and youths? The new deadline for the submission of comments and suggestions from the general public is now Friday, August thirty first. Comments are to be emailed to: [email protected]
Rapist gets fifteen-year jail sentence
Twenty-six year old Leroy Gomez has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. At the end of July Gomez was found guilty of rape and robbery. Justice Adolph Lucas sentenced Gomez to 15 years for each charge however the sentences will run concurrently. The incident occurred between 5:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. on August 23, 2011. The complainant, a 27 year old mother of two, testified that she was walking on Administration Drive when Gomez rode up to her on a bicycle and put something to her side that resembled a firearm. She said Gomez stole her fake diamond earrings and her cell phone then he took her to the verandah of a house at the back of a yard and raped her. Gomez testified and said that at the time of the incident he was at the house of his mother-in-law waiting for his girlfriend. His mother-in-law testified and corroborated his alibi testimony. Gomez was not represented by any attorney. Crown Counsel Trienia Young represented the prosecution.
Father and daughter duo jailed on money laundering conviction
Last Friday a jury of seven women and two men deliberated for about two and a half hours before it found [VO] Michael Coye, Melonie Coye, Atlee Matute and Dietrich Kingston guilty of money laundering for $1.5 million. On Wednesday the four were back in court in front of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin for sentencing. Melonie Coye was sentenced to three years in prison. She was additionally charged $50,000.00 which she has to pay in one year or in default she will spend an additional year behind bars. Her father Michael Coye was also sentenced to three years in prison and charged $25,000.00. Atlee Matute and Dietrich were issued fines of $25,000.00 each. They must an installment of $10,000.00 by November first and the rest in installments of $500.00. On December 31, 2008 police conducted a search at the home of Michael Coye on Johnson Street where they found the one point five million dollars. The prescribed offence for money laundering was that the four forged a number of documents for which the names of the persons were put along with their purported signatures for money that was purportedly sent to them through Money Gram Exchange, a company which Michael and Melonie were directors and shareholders. To prove its case, the prosecution called 18 witnesses. The defendants were represented by attorneys Dickie Bradley, Arthur Saldivar and Brian Neal. The Financial Intelligence Unit was represented by counsels Antionette Moore, Tricia Anderson and Patricia Arana. The trial was a retrial. The four along with three others were freed of the charge at the first trial. The three others were Michael’s wife Marleni, his son, Jude and Melonie’s husband, James Gerou. The FIU appealed the verdict of the first trial and Belize Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a retrial for four of the seven.
Brutal home invasion in St. Matthew’s Village
A St. Matthew’s Village family was terrorized during a home invasion early this morning. According to one of the victims, she was in bed along with her husband and two children when she was awakened by a loud noise. Upon making checks they saw three men who had used the cover of heavy rain to break down their door. The woman said one of the men was armed with a firearm. The men attacked her husband and beat him unconscious after which they tied her up along with her two children. The woman said one of the men then proceeded to rape her while the other two ransacked their home. The assailants made off with jewellery including two wedding bands, a pair of gold earrings and a gold ring along with three cellular phones. The men then left in her husband’s red Ford Ranger pickup truck. After the men left, the woman sought the assistance of her neighbours to get her husband to the Western Regional Hospital. He was in a semi conscious state suffering from abrasions to the right cheek, left hand, three broken teeth, six broken ribs broken and complained of pain all over his body. He remains hospitalized. His wife was treated and released. The vehicle was recovered about half a mile from the family’s home with the battery missing.
Chinese grocer shot and killed in Ladyville
Chinese businessman Kenny Deng was fatally wounded during what appears to be an attempted robbery on Thursday evening in Ladyville village, Belize district. Sketchy reports suggest that a lone gunman may have attempted to hold up E-Buy Supermarket, situated on Crab Catcher Street in the Mitchell Estate area of Ladyville when the shooting happened just after five o’clock yesterday evening. Deng was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City for treatment, but died shortly after. It is not known if the gunman got away with anything from Deng or the Supermarket and the police investigation of this latest murder continues.
Belizean blacklisted by the USA says he is innocent
For the past couple of days, Love News has been reporting on the blacklisting of three Belizeans and their business holdings by the United States government for their alleged involvement with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel. Using its Kingpin Act, the United States Treasury is accusing John Zabaneh, his nephew Dion and businessman Daniel Moreno of being key associates of Mexico’s high profile trafficker Joaquin Guzman. When the US government agency announced that it had targeted the trio, an official statement also noted that the Obama administration had also frozen the US assets of the three men as well as those of five of their companies including a banana farm, grocery store and marina. On Wednesday, John Zabaneh, through his unnamed attorneys, issued a statement claiming that the actions of the US Treasury were unfounded, wild and unsubstantiated. In his press release, Zabaneh says that all the accusations of wrongdoings by the US Treasury Department against himself and his companies are, quote, false and defamatory, unquote. Zabaneh goes on to explain that he has no association with Chapo Guzman, that he has never met or heard of Daniel Moreno nor has he seen or spoken with his nephew Dion Zabaneh in years. The Zabaneh statement concludes by saying that the businesses blacklisted by the US Treasury Department, together employs over seven hundred and fifty workers and is responsible for the generation of over fifteen million US dollars to the Belize economy through exports annually. Zabaneh is concerned that the US treasury Department move will adversely affect his business operations in Belize; but if confident that in time, he and his companies will be fully exonerated. The companies blacklisted on Tuesday are Mayan King, Mid-South Investments, Crown Paradise Enterprises, Belize Chemicals and D’s Supermarket Company.
Benjamin Nicholas’ paintings go on display
The Mexican Embassy will be showcasing an exhibit in tribute of renowned Belizean Artist Benjamin Nicholas who passed away in April of this year. This is the final in a series of three exhibits presented firstly in Dangriga and followed at the Mexican Embassy in Belmopan. Public Relations Officer for the Mexican Embassy is Marcelino Miranda. The exhibit in Belize City opens tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Institute of Mexico on Newton Barracks. The display is open to the general public and is free of cost. Schools are encouraged to organize excursions to the exhibition which will remain open until the 15th of August.
Ambulances for Belize from Chicago
The Ministry of Health has gotten a donation of two ambulances. The ambulances, which are provided through the efforts of the Chicago-based Superior Ambulance Service, were hand over to the Minister of Health Pablo Marin over the weekend during the annual Chicago Belize Day in the Park Celebration. George Heinecan was one of the persons who worked to secure the ambulances for donation to Belize. The Chicago Belize Day in the Park is part of activities organized by the Belize Educational Fund to raise funds to assist charitable organizations or individuals both in Belize and in the United States. Among the recipients of assistance since the inception of the Belize Educational Fund back in 2006 are the Guinea Grass Roman Catholic School, the Cornerstone Foundation, Salvation Army and Stella Maris Schools in Belize City.
New Commanding Officer for Placencia Police
Inspector Mark Flowers is the new commander for the Placencia Peninsula’s Police formation. Flowers was appointed last month to succeed Sergeant Norman Benguche. Because of the area’s growth and importance as a tourism destination, Commissioner of Police, David Henderson decided to upgrade the Peninsula’s top post from sergeant to inspector. Love News spoke this morning with Inspector Flowers. Earlier today Inspector Flowers presented two police officers with Police of the Month awards. He told us about the occasion. Chairman of the Placencia Village Council Charles Leslie, informed the Department of the Council’s plans to upgrade the Placencia Police Station.
NEMO declares hurricane “all clear” for Belize
The National Emergency Management Organization NEMO has issued the all clear for the entire country of Belize following the passage of Hurricane Ernesto. Even though the all clear was given NEMO says people in the North need to be cautious as they may experience some gusty winds with showers. Boats were advised to remain in harbor as sea conditions remain rough. Water taxis runs were delayed until midday. The country had been bracing for the approach of Ernesto on Tuesday. Coordinator for the Corozal District Willard levy told Love News they went into preparations early. Levy said that the response of residents should be commended. Levy said five shelters remain opened with116 in residence. These are persons whose homes are flooded. He said they should remain in the shelters for the next day or two. Prime Minister Dean Barrow has extended his congratulations to all those who were involved in preparing the citizenry for the hurricane. Hurricane Ernesto made landfall in Mahuahal, Mexico last night with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour.
Audubon Society announces reopening of national parks
The Belize Audubon Society has reopened six of the nine protected areas it co-manages with the Forest Department which were closed yesterday due to the threat of Hurricane Ernesto. The Half moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monuments remain closed until further notice. The protected areas now opened are the St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Jaguar Reserve), Guanacaste National Park, Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and Actun Tunichil Muknal Natural Monument. Victoria Peak Natural Monument remains closed, as it is annually closed to the public from the period June 1 – November 31.
Hurricane Ernesto a no-show in Corozal
And while it is all clear now, on Tuesday morning, northern Belize appeared to be right in the pathway of the approaching storm. Our news team traveled to Corozal to wait for the storm’s arrival.
Prime Minister Barrow comments on US claims against John Zabaneh
Yesterday we reported that the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had placed sanctions against three Belizeans who they say are linked to the Sinaloa Cartel. They are John Zabaneh, Dion Zabaneh and Daniel Moreno. We asked Prime Minister Dean Barrow for his reaction to the news. The list of companies listed by the Treasury Department is Mayan King Limited, Mid-South Investments Limited, Crown Paradise Enterprises Limited, Belize Chemicals Limited and D’s Supermarket Company Limited. Prime Minister Barrow says it is too soon to speculate on the economic impact of the action. According to the release from the US Treasury Department’s action was taken following the United States of America’s Foreign Narcotics Kingpin designation Act. The OFAC says it is designating Zabaneh for the notable role that he and his organization play in narcotics trafficking in Central America, particularly Belize, as well as their role in the drug trafficking operations of Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel.
GOB announces super bond renegotiation plans
The government of Belize today published its final blueprint for the restructuring of the nation’s foreign debt, commonly referred to as the super bond. The exercise started in early April and involved an assessment of the country’s external debt and preliminary discussions with the bond holders to basically tell them that it’s not that we don’t want to repay the debt, but that the country simply cannot live up to its obligations under the terms of the US dollar bonds which mature in 2029. The government’s position, as we understand it, is that declining oil revenues and the global economic crisis are putting a real squeeze on the nation’s treasury to repay the super bond. According to a quick read of the debt restructuring plan put forward by government today, Belize is offering three options to the bond holders; but the bottom line is that any of the three scenarios being proposed would have the same impact on the bond holders. The first option being put forward by GOB is for the super bond to be swapped for a fifty year bond, meaning a maturity date in the year 2062. The bond holders will get a two percent rate of return on the coupon throughout the duration of the loan period; but with a fifteen year grace period on the repayment of the principal. The two other options for bond holders both include extension of the maturity period for the super bond, but options two and three will mean that the creditors will actually collect less on the bonds. In effect, Belize would get a huge discount on the principal loan amount of over a billion dollars. How much of a discount? Well, the Belize Bond Restructuring plan suggests a forty five percent discount, meaning that for every dollar Belize owes them, they would only collect fifty five cents. It’s a mortgage-type repayment plan and for the bond holders it is a matter of getting their money back in a hurry or over a longer period. Option two is for a stepped up interest payment beginning on day one, with one percent through to the year 2019; then increasing to two percent in 2026 and a final step up to four percent through to 2042. Option three calls for a five year grace period on the payment of the principal; with a three and a half percent rate of interest throughout the entire term of the bond; which would mature in the year 2042. As we said, all three scenarios would bring the much sought after debt relief for the government of Belize and at the same have the same impact on the bond holders. As we have reported previously, during the first round of meetings with bond holders, the debt restructuring team, headed by Ambassador Mark Espat had held talks with about ninety percent of the bond holders. And with the publication of the blueprint for the way forward, the renegotiating team is optimistic of a final resolution by the time Belize celebrates its thirty first anniversary of Independence.
Toledo resident complains about bad road conditions
A frequent traveler in rural Toledo expressed concerns about the current road conditions linking three Toledo communities. Correspondent Paul Mahung reports.
Teenager charged in fatal road traffic accident
Police has charged 19-year-old Prandeep Kumar Saikai with manslaughter by negligence, causing death by careless conduct, driving motor vehicle alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit and driving without due care and attention. Saika, a medical student was the driver of a vehicle that overturned in a cane field between miles seventy and seventy one in Santa Clara Village on Saturday morning. The accident claimed the life of twenty one year old Jayandra Jahhar.
Manager chopped up by angry employee
A misunderstanding between an employee and a manager resulted in one man on the run and the other hospitalized. On Monday morning Police visited the Independence Polyclinic where they saw 47-year-old Aurelio Menjivar suffering from several cut wounds. Reports are that Menjivar invited Jorge Humberto Hernandez into his office to settle a previous misunderstanding. As a result Hernandez reportedly became annoyed and inflicted the injuries to Menjivar with a machete. Hernandez then escaped in one of the company’s vehicle. Menjivar was transported to the Southern regional Hospital where he was admitted in a critical but stable condition. Police say they recovered the vehicle earlier today in an area two miles inside Texmar Shrimp Farm Road off the Southern Highway inside some bushes.
Elderly man beaten and robbed
An elderly man remains was injured when he was beaten and robbed early Monday morning in Independence Village. Police say they responded to reports of a robbery at a garage and on their arrival they were approached by 73-year-old watchman Rayman Frazer who was bleeding heavily from the mouth and also had a cut wound to the left ear. Initial investigations reveal that Fraser was at the garage just after midnight when he was attacked by several persons who hit him with a blunt object and beat him causing injuries to his face and upper body. The assailants made off with his wallet containing $500. Police are looking for one suspect in connection with the incident.