Today's Belize News: December 29, 2012

Posted By: Marty

Today's Belize News: December 29, 2012 - 12/29/12 03:06 PM


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The San Pedro Sun

Central Bank commissions commemorative Mayan coins
The Central Bank of Belize- December 27, 2012- The Central Bank of Belize, in commemoration of the sacred and historical milestone – Maya Mythical “End of the World” 21 December 2012, has commissioned The Royal Mint to strike a limited edition of gold and silver coins. The front of the coin displays drawings from the Hokeb Ha vase depicting the hero twins described in the Popol Vuh (Maya sacred book). The hero twins are in conversation, dressed simply in kilts, necklaces, ear flares and featured white cloth headdresses. The glyphs in the centre of the figures represent the Maya Mythical ‘End of the World’ date. This date, according to archaeologists, completes a ‘great cycle’ of 13 baktuns (periods of 144,000 days each) since the mythical creation date of the pre-Columbian Maya calendar. The back of the coins depicts the Jade Head discovered in a large tomb at Altun Ha, a Maya archaeological site. This tomb housed the remains of an elderly adult believed to be an elite ruler during his lifetime. For the Mayas, jade was the most prized of all stones. The Jade Head remains the largest single carved object yet discovered in the Mundo Maya (Maya World). This exquisite carving represents the Maya sun god, Kinich Ahau, one of the most important deities of the Maya pantheon. The Jade Head, which became known as the Crown Jewel of Belize weighs 9.75 pounds, stands almost 6 inches high, and is representative of an era between AD 600 and 650.

Ambergris Today

Santa Rita Maya Site to Become Official Maya Wedding Garden of Belize
The "Festival del Mestizaje" that was held at the Santa Rita Archaeological Park and Wedding Garden in Corozal Town on December 20, 2012 featured the re-enactment of the wedding between Tzazil-Ha, the Mayan Princess and Gonzalo Guerrero, the Spanish Conquistador. The festival was held at such a historic event of the Maya calendar to bolster awareness and raise funds for a project approved in January 2012 by NICH and the Institute of Archaeology (IOA). The project involved the development of the tourism potential of the Santa Rita Archaeological Park by transforming it into the "Official Mayan Wedding Garden of Belize." Historical information documents the Santa Rita Archaeological Park as the only place where a marriage took place between a Spanish Conquistador (Gonzalo Guerrero) and a Mayan Princess (Tzazil Ha). Hence, it is believed that the enhancement of this site will bring back the unique historical, cultural, social and the economic potential of this site. The revival of this center as an official Maya Wedding Garden will honor the culture and heritage and will greatly benefit the present and future generations of the area. The Santa Rita Archaeological Park and Wedding Garden Project is a comprehensive, cultural-based development. It engages in infrastructural and educational developments and very importantly, markets Corozal as a wedding destination.

Mama Vilma Family Home Faces Hard Times
Changes In Leadership For Mama Vilma’s Family Home - At the annual meeting of Mama Vilma’s Family Home, Vice President Eve Dirnback and Secretary/Treasurer Cheryl Bowen resigned from their offices and from the membership. In addition, Surendra and Carolyn Kumar resigned as members. Eve and Cheryl have been with the organization since its inception in February 2011. Mama Vilma’s Family Home was intended to be a safe haven for women, children and families. “Unfortunately, we did not learn until March 2012 that providing services to victims of domestic violence on the island was prohibitive,” stated a press release by Mama Vilma Family Home. “Several members attended the domestic violence seminar held at Fido’s, coming back to the group with this information. Since that time, the organization has been unable to define a focus. Shelly Huber, President of Mama Vilma’s Family Home stated at the annual meeting: ‘This home will be built…we will find a way.’” Cheryl told the group that she very much wanted to contribute in a positive way to the organization, but it is hard to be an integral part when the organization has done nothing except fundraising. In two (plus) years, even with the generosity of the community, the organization has not raised enough funds to purchase, build or maintain a facility.

Misc Belizean Sources

VIDEO: Rough Road to Caracol Belize Archeological Site of Mayan

VIDEO: Travel Belize
Travel to a new destination. Travel to your next adventure. Travel to Central America and the Caribbean. Travel to Belize!

VIDEO: The Great Blue Hole (HD)
The Blue Hole in the Belize Barrier Reef, dove in December of 2012.

The End of the 13 B'aqtun Celebrations
One more image from the end of the 13 Ba'qtun celebrations in Santa Cruz Village. As the festivities started outside, everyone left the house except for this man. His job is to ensure that there is a constant supply of chicharron. Here he is dipping the finished pieces from the hot oil onto large plantain leaves to drain and cool. Just in front of him are large metal tubs full of the just butchered pigs. the pork will be cooked and feasted on throughout the night on into the morning.

VIDEO: Holiday Diving Belize, Christmas 2012
Join Guest Divers Sabrina, Ryan, Austin and Carmen as they dive Hol Chan Marine Reserve and snorkel Shark Ray Alley while celebrating family Christmas in Belize.

Channel 7

Electricity Rates Going Up By 17%
The PM said his Christmas Gift to Belize was the renegotiated Superbond - but the PUC's new year's gift is not quite as nice: it's a 17% increase in electricity rates! That's right, the rate that was reduced to 41.6 cents per-kilowatt-hour one year ago - is now going up to 48 cents per kilowatt hour! That's the upshot of an annual review proceeding which was concluded yesterday. Chairman of the PUC John Avery broke the bad news at a press conference this afternoon:.. John Avery, Chairman - PUC "The new approved electricity rate is now 48.86 cents which is approximate 16.87% above the existing 41.81 mean electricity rate." "Because this is a fairly big increase certainly it will put our productive and business sector at a disadvantage comparatively. It's not something we like to do and we try to minimize the impact on consumers while not putting any additional strain on the utility " And as Avery explained that strain on the utility is because of sharp, unforeseen increases in the cost of power coupled with very low rainfall leading to poor hydro-electric production. It got so bad that at some points BEL was forced to buy power for 32 cents more than they were selling it!:

Wild Shooting Results In Another Ladyville Murder
In 2012, Ladyville has emerged as the deadliest village in Belize - as it has recorded some of the most outrageous killings ever reported in Belize. Last night there was another wanton act of violence that injured 4 and killed one. 7news was on the scene and Monica Bodden found out more from one of the targets today:.. Monica Bodden reporting This quiet residential neighborhood known as the Milpa area in Ladyville was turned into a crime scene after 7:30 last night. Police officers responded after 5 persons - one of them a small child - were shot- one of their injuries proved to be fatal. Our news team arrived on the scene shortly after the shootout. Neighbors say they heard over a dozen gunshots ring out. Police officers stood guard at the entrance of the lane. While the police scenes of crime van rolled in from the City - Neighbors looked on from their verandahs and through the louvers of their windows as the police scenes of crimes team scoured the area for evidence for over two hours.

For the first time in a year, Belize has an Ombudsman. Lionel L. Arzu, was officially sworn in as the new Ombudsman this morning in Belmopan by Governor-General Sir Colville Young. Arzu is expected to be in office on the first day of January, 2013. According to an official release, the PG resident leaves behind his job teaching at Julian Cho Technical in Toledo. Arzu holds a Master of Science Degree in International Commerce and Policy from Valparaiso University and a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts with Management and Computer Science concentration from Knoxville College. Will he be able to withstand the rigors of being the champion of the down-trodden? We hope to ask him next week.

Swaso Says Hon Finnegan Bad-Mouthed Him
Last week we told you all about Goldbourne "Easy Glen" Adolphus and his alleged partner in crime James Swazo. Now we stress "alleged" because Easy Glen hasn't been charged for anything - but Housing Minister Michael Finnegan says that Swazo and Adolphus teamed up to hustle business-owners using his honourable name. Easy Glen has already declared his innocence - and he has plausible deniability; after all, he hasn't been charged. But James Swazo was charged with two counts of obtaining property by deception from two businesspersons in the amount of $1,500.00. So what's his defence? Well in court he pleaded not guilty but today when we met him on the streets, he said it was politics:.. James Swazo "They are trying to abstract us big time. They caught us in Orange Walk, brought us to Belize City, took us to Belmopan and held us there for two days and a night and then they brought us back to Belize City and tell us that they have a charge for us. They held us for 94 hours and then they charge us." Jules Vasquez "You think that he was fighting against you; that Mr. Finnegan started up this thing against Easy Glen and yourself because of this whole confusion over who is supporting Faber and who is supporting Gapi?"

The Sage Of "Horse" and Pam At Court
Yesterday, we told you about the drama which unfolded at the Belize City Magistrate's Court involving the arraignment of Jermaine "Horse" Garnett and his wife, Pamela Garnett. It happened late in the evening, and because of that there were some elements of the story which were understated in our yesterday's coverage. So, Daniel Ortiz revisits the story tonight in a recap: Daniel Ortiz reporting There are now 3 people, 2 of whom are believed to be affiliated with the Southside Gangsters, who are on remand for the murder. They are 23 year-old Cassian Bennett, his step-father, 30 year-old Jermaine "Horse Garnett, and 35 year-old Kenneth Barrow. But yesterday at the courthouse, their families and supporters, who believe them to be innocent, escalated the environment of what should have been a routine arraignment. The proceedings, however, were far from ordinary because the DPP herself appeared on behalf of the prosecution, a very rare occurrence to make sure that the court appreciated the gravity of what was at stake.

Salesman Robbed
Yesterday evening, a 33 year old Santiago Castillo salesman was robbed of almost twenty thousand dollars in cash. It happened at 6:20 at Tommy's Store on Central American Boulevard where the 33 year old had gone to pick up proceeds from a sale. He stuffed $19,598 dollars and 13 cents into a carton box and jumped on his motorcycle. That's when two men - one of them armed with a handgun - approached him and snatched the box and his knapsack. It would have been a bonanza for the robbers, but police have responding quickly by detaining one man while they look for another well known figure from the area. In other news, we understand that there was a robbery this evening in the downtown area of Belize City. According to reports, a magistrate court staffer was going to deposit court money at the Belize Bank when he was pounced upon, knocked out and robbed.

Taylor is Belizean
40 Year old David Taylor - the Placencia resident accused of outrageous acts of child sexual exploitation - remains in prison tonight - where we understand he is in protective custody. Taylor has not applied for bail yet - and may end up waiting out the 90 days before he does so. But who is Taylor? We've been reporting that he is a British National - and so he is. But what we didn't know is that Taylor is half Belizean. His now deceased mother was Carmela Montejo, sister of the also deceased former PUP Representative Remijio Montejo - who was David Taylor's uncle. As we understand it, Taylor gained his citizenship - as all children of Belizean citizens can - by affirmation in 2008. He has been living in Belize since then. His mother Carmela married a British Officer in the 70's and they had two children. She died in 1993 of cancer.

Sales Were Slow Say Businesses
On Christmas Eve, 7News sampled public opinion on how the holidays were going. As you may have seen, many of the interviewees weren't particularly excited about the holiday because finance was low. And so what did businesses think? Well today, we went around to different business houses to ask them how the Christmas sales went. Again, we found out that the business community is facing a lot of challenges. Here's what a few owners told us: Shadheed Haulze, part time employee - A & R "I think that they were going to keep me here fulltime but business went bad, nothing is going on in the spot. People are not buying like one time. Look when the Mayor of Belize City choose to fix the streets when Christmas time, business went bad. I think that were going to keep me fulltime." Keith Slater - Managing Director - Unicomer "We had a very good Christmas to be honest with you. There were the usual challenges; late arrivals, some weather challenges around the country and here in Belize City we've had the challenge of the road being closed on the opposite side which has an impact on us but we had a pretty good Christmas, lots of customers coming in and I would say we are up from last year's figures. We have a lot of loyal customers that come back time and time again. We try to keep it exciting; this year we got a brand new D-Max car that we've got from Bravo Motors and this has created a lot of excitement at the Courts branches and that help to boost sales as well."

The Many Trials Of the "Chicken Dread"
For the man known as the "Chicken Dread" sales are the least of his problem. He's got plenty of that! What he can't seem to keep clear of is the law! This evening - during the news - the police came to shut him down again. That's because he went right back to the spot on the sidewalk in front of the Abdu Building where he had been sent form originally. Daniel Ortiz just came back from the mini melee on Albert Street. He was detained again by police and we'll follow up on Monday to see if this results in more charges being filed.

Channel 5

1 dead and 4 others, including a 4 year old, injured in shooting in Ladyville
While the guns were silent in Belize City on Thursday night, shots were ringing loudly in Ladyville.  At about seven-thirty p.m., five persons were shot in the village. A four year old child was among the wounded, but the man who was killed was shot over a dozen times. News Five’s Duane Moody was the [...]

Trade License Fees; a hot button issue within business community
The recent increase in trade license fees by the Belize City Council remains a hot-button issue within the business community. In some cases, business owners have seen a three hundred percent spike in charges, an upturn that many describe as “uncomfortable”.  On Thursday, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in an email forwarded to [...]

Electricity rates will go up by over 16% in 2013
The Christmas season normally means that a few pounds will be carried on the waists of Belizeans in the New Year, but it seems that your next electricity bill may also have quite a few dollars more added to it. Electricity rates are going up by sixteen point eight-seven percent. Residential rates will carry a [...]

But increase not quite what B.E.L. asked for
B.E.L. will get an increase in rates, but not quite the amount it asked for overall. In its December tenth submission, B.E.L. stated that the Mean Electricity Rate (MER) increased from point four-one-eight-one cents per kilowatt hour to point five-five-seven-eight cents per kilowatt hour. That would imply an increase of close to fourteen cents overall. [...]

UB students sign petition to prevent hike in semester fees in January 2013
Hundreds of students of the University of Belize are facing a significant hike in semester fees starting in January 2013 when the government says it will stop paying subsidies to the school. But in these tough financial times, that’s a blow that many of them are unable to handle and so the Student Government President, [...]

A $350 increase to be implemented
Amadi says the affected students would be paying upwards of three hundred and fifty dollars more on their school fees and there are many who would not be able to afford it if the government cuts off its subsidies.   Hope Amadi “If the government of the day would say to its people, I am [...]

Salesman robbed of $20,000
A Belize City salesman was robbed of almost twenty thousand dollars in cash on Thursday night. The Evergreen Street resident reported to police that at around twenty minutes after six o’clock he was leaving Tommy’s Store on Central American Boulevard with a carton box containing the cash he had just collected, an Apple iPad and [...]

Crashed Bert ambulance sends you to prison
A Police Street resident, who had a little too much to drink over the weekend, now has to find over four thousand dollars to pay the court and the Belize Emergency Response Team, (BERT) after he took an ambulance for a joyride then crashed it. The incident was reported by Riceño Pook Junior, who says [...]

Ladyville bus conductor convicted for Harm
A bus conductor from Ladyville was convicted today by Magistrate Adolph Lucas for harming a female friend. The charge against forty-three year old Alton Fidel Flores, also known as “Spaceman” followed an incident in the wee hours of April twenty-first when the victim had asked him for a ride to her daughter’s house after a [...]

Taiwan holds luncheon and discusses territorial dispute in China
Today, the Taiwanese Embassy held their annual end of year luncheon. The event was to express gratitude on behalf of Taiwan to the Belizean government and people for their support and continued collaboration over the years. Taiwan has been a substantive financier for several ministerial projects that target the youth as well as the illiterate [...]

New Ombudsman, Lionel Arzu, sworn in
A brief swearing-in ceremony was held in Belmopan earlier today during which forty-five year-old Lionel Arzu was inducted as the new ombudsman.  Arzu demits his post as an educator at Julian Cho Technical High School to succeed former ombudsman Cynthia Pitts.  The formalities took place this morning in the presence of Governor-General Sir Colville Young.  [...]

Limited edition gold and silver coins to commemorate the end of Mayan cycle
The Central Bank of Belize has commissioned the Royal Mint to strike a limited edition of gold and silver coins in commemoration of the end of the Mayan cycle of thirteen baktuns on December twenty-first. In a press release today, the Central Bank explains that the front of the coin displays drawings from the Hokeb [...]

Belize Barrier Reef: a travel destination for tourists escaping winter 2013
The Mesoamerican Reef System is a six hundred-mile stretch of marine biodiversity, which includes the Belize Barrier Reef. The Belize Barrier Reef has been chosen by the editors of National Geographic as one of several travel destinations for tourists wanting to escape the harsh winter of 2013.  The Jewel’s three coral atolls, Glover’s Reef, Lighthouse [...]

Taiwanese Government donates $120,000 to Ministry of Nat’l Security
Earlier in the newscast we told you about a luncheon held by the Taiwanese Embassy for several persons including government officials, former scholarship recipients, persons who had visited the mainland, as well as the media. But there was also a substantive donation presented to the C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Security, Retired Colonel George [...]


Toledo police say Christmas holiday was peaceful
The Christmas holidays were peaceful in the Toledo district this year. Correspondent Paul Mahung has a recap.

PUC makes initial decision on BEL application
The Public Utilities Commission today announced that the regulatory body has made its final draft of the 2012 annual review proceeding for Belize Electricity Limited. The government owned power company is asking the PUC to grant a thirteen cents increase in the mean electricity rate, which BEL says would assist the company in recovering additional cost of power this year, and an anticipated cost for the first six months of the new year. A press release issued this afternoon by the PUC says that its decision on the BEL submission made on December tenth, is that the increase it is approving is sixteen point eight seven percent to the mean electricity rate, to be applied during the period of January first to June thirtieth, 2013. The actual increase in the mean electricity rate takes it from forty one point eight one cents to forty eight point eight six cents. The final draft of the amendments to the 2012 ARP Final Decision is available for viewing at the PUC office on Gabourel Lane. Interested parties are being invited to offer comments on the draft of the amendments to the ARP by the close of business on Monday, January seventh.

Special Branch at work; makes drugs discovery and arrest
A shooting incident in Belize City on the morning of Boxing Day has left a man injured. Twenty year old Hugh Thomas was shot in the upper right leg just after one o’clock yesterday morning as he stood at the corner of West and King Streets. Police say that a man described as being of dark complexion and wearing a black shirt, came from the direction of West Street and fired a single shot at Thomas, injuring him. The Special Branch division of the police department continues to report drug seizures and arrests. On Monday afternoon, officers, assisted by the K-9 unit conducted a search of an abandoned lot on Faber’s Road Extension in Belize City, which led to the discovery of a large crocus sack containing six thousand and fifteen grams, or thirteen pounds of marijuana. No one was found in the immediate area and the drugs were deposited and labeled as found property. On Boxing Day, Special Branch, acting upon information received went to the home of thirty eight year old Curtis Alexander York. A search of the premises led to the discovery of one hundred and eighty seven grams of cannabis inside a Milk Can. As a result York was arrested and charged for the crime of drug trafficking.

Murder in Hopkins mars Christmas holidays
The Christmas holidays came to a tragic end for one family in Hopkins village last night. Our Stann Creek correspondent Harry Arzu reports.

Cayo family offers community support in Bullet Tree Falls
The spirit of community involvement in the policing of their village was amplified today when the Neighborhood Watch group in Bullet Tree Falls village in the Cayo district took receipt of a donated motor cycle. Mary Carriddi spearheaded the initiative, and she spoke with Love News via telephone this evening about the donation. Value of today’s donation in terms of dollar and cents is over five thousand dollars.

Regional actors and actresses to meet in Belize in January
The eight annual meeting of El Proyecto Lagartija Centroamerica is set to take place in Belmopan early next year. It will involve actors and accesses from all of Central America. Beverly Swasey is one of the participants and also am executive member of the organization. Swasey says that the three-week event which starts next weekend will also see the visiting actors and actresses going out into the community to share their talents. The delegates for the meeting are scheduled to start arriving on Saturday of next week.

Mahogany Heights without stable water supply
Water is a precious commodity in the sustenance of life. But for residents of Mahogany Heights, a community situated along the George Price Highway, they are facing a serious water shortage. Love TV’s Marion Ali and video journalist Brian Castillo went west to bring you the following story.

Woman charged for attempted suppression of evidence
It was high drama late this evening at the Magistrate’s Court when forty two year old Money Lender, Pamela Garnett, was denied bail and remanded into custody until January 11th, after she was charged with attempt suppression of evidence. Garnett fainted as she was being taken out of the court room and an ambulance was called to escort her to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. According to the allegations, on December 23rd, Garnett offered five thousand dollars to Marie Alvarez for her to refrain from giving evidence at a trial in which her husband, Jermaine Garnett, and her son, Cassian Bennett are charged with the murder of Raheem Requena. Garnett pled not guilty to the charge and the prosecution, represented by the Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, objected to bail on the grounds that if granted bail she will interfere with witnesses. Garnett’s attorney, Dickie Bradley submitted that she’s not a flight risk and that the offense is a misdemeanor and she should be granted bail, but after a ten minute break, Magistrate Hettie Mae Stuart upheld the objection and remanded Garnett into custody. Garnett’s son, Mark Vernon, was also charged with attempt suppression of evidence. According to allegations, on December 23rd, he threatened Marie Alvarez to refrain from giving evidence at the same trial. He too was denied bail and remanded into custody until January 11th. Jermaine Garnett and Kenneth Barrow were charged with the murder of Raheem Requena. They were remanded into custody until January 30th. But there was also another twist to this story as special constable, Lisa Cayetano, was charged with allowing a prisoner to escape. This is in connection to an incident on 25th of December in which according to the allegations, Cayetano allowed Pamela Garnett to escape from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where Garnett was admitted to ward after she claimed that she was suffering from a heart attack. Cayetano was released on a bail of two thousand dollars and her case was adjourned until February 8th.


Shooting in Ladyville leaves one man dead and others injured
Last night, Thursday December 27th at around 7:40 pm, police in Ladyville visited the Milpa area of Ladyville, Beli...

Police seek man following chopping incident in Maya Mopan
Last night we told you about a Christmas day chopping incident which occurred in the Maya Mopan area of Belmopan. (...

Men charged for murder of 19 year old Raheem Requena
Police say they have arrested and charged 30 year old Jermaine Garnett, a Caretaker of #2 Ceasar Ridge Road, Belize...

The paving of Lim Ni Puni Street will be completed by March.
Belmopan residents who shop frequently on the Lim Ni Punit street have,over the last few weeks, been subjected to m...

Belmopan Deputy Mayor promises more streets to be paved
Lim ni Punit is not the only street that is being upgraded. Belmopan residents in the Mountainview area, also affec...

Last Worship Together for 2012 is a time of reflection
The year is coming to a rapid close, but one group that has been laying the spiritual groundwork for 2012 and the u...

Arrests made by Police for Attempted Suppression of Evidence
Marie Alvarez,a School Warden of Belize City, reported to Police that on Sunday at 7:30am, she was talking to a man...

Gunman steals cash from salesman in Belize City
Police in Belize City have detained one man, and are looking for another, as they investigate an armed robbery. A S...

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Posted By: Marty

Re: Today's Belize News: December 29, 2012 - 12/29/12 03:06 PM

More News: Scroll up from here


Raheem Requeña, 19, was murdered on December 19, 2012 — shot eight times as he was riding his bicycle on Kut Avenue around 8 p.m. He was a fourth form Excelsior student, and at the time no one could figure out why anyone would want him dead. Police have been investigating, and on Monday they announced that they had a killer. They charged Cassian Gentle, also known as Cassian Bennett, who is considered a member of the Southside gang. But Police say Gentle did not commit this murder alone. Late this evening in Belize City’s Magistrate Court they charged Gentle’s stepfather, the well-known street figure Jermaine “Horse” Garnett, 30, with the murder of Raheem Requeña. They also charged Kenneth Barrow, a resident of #4 Gill Street, with the same murder. Due to the nature of the offense none of the men were offered bail and they were remanded to the Hattieville Prison until January 30, 2013, when they are scheduled to reappear in court. But this was no ordinary murder case. That’s because just before Horse Garnett was charged, his wife, Pamela Garnett, 42, was arraigned inside the court of Magistrate Hettie Mae Stewart, for the offense of attempting to suppress evidence in the murder of Raheem Requeña. Police say that on December 23, Pamela Garnett allegedly approached a person believed to be a crucial witness in the murder of Requeña, and offered to pay the person $5,000 for her not to testify.

The Government of Belize and its debt review team, led by Ambassador Mark Espat, have been trying since August to convince creditors who had subscribed to the US$544 million super bond back in 2007 to agree to a significant restructuring that would help put Belize back on the path of debt sustainability. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow and the debt review team held a press conference at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel last Friday evening to announce what Barrow described as a “pre-Christmas treat”—a breakthrough in the debt negotiations that began four months ago which could save Belize US$150 million. Amandala readers will recall that the Government of Belize released three indicative restructuring scenarios in early August and creditors finally responded with their counterproposals in November. However, the Government of Belize was not satisfied with the counteroffers, and it responded with new proposals shortly afterwards. The Government’s proposals have generally called for an interest rate lower than the 8.5% applied in August to the super bond under a step-up interest scheme, and Belize additionally proposed significant principal “haircuts” along with an extended repayment period. To date, the details of the counteroffer from creditors have not been disclosed, and neither have the details of the agreement Barrow said was reached in principle Friday afternoon, after direct talks he had with Ajata Mediratta, co-president of Greylock Capital Management and co-chair of the creditor committee. Barrow told local media that, “Belize has reached agreement in principle with its bond holders over the re-structuring of the super bond. This agreement is comprehensive, it is sustainable and it will provide well in excess of 150 million [US] dollars in relief to Belize.”

We were hoping to report that the Christmas holidays were relatively peaceful and that we have no murders to report, but we learnt early last night that murders take no holiday. A 17-year-old young man was killed in Hopkins last night sometime after 8. Luke Nunez’s death marks the 142nd murder for 2012 – 13 more than the previous record of 129 in 2010. 2012 has certainly been a year to forget, and we still have four more days to go before the year officially ends. January of 2012 was arguably our most peaceful month, and talks of the peace truce holding resonated everywhere. There were only 4 murders that month. But the number of murders quickly escalated to 10 in February, down to 8 in March, before almost tripling in April, the deadliest month of the year. 21 persons were murdered in April, including 4 in one 24-hour period on the weekend of April 20. In fact, at one point there were 14 murders in 15 days in April of 2012, including the murder of George Street boss, Shelton “Pinky” Tillett, triggering a virtual shutdown of businesses in the old capital and inspiring unparalleled fear in the hearts and minds of Belizeans at home and abroad. Pinky Tillett was violently shot at a gas station at Mile 2 on the then Northern Highway, while he sat in his white Ford Ranger pickup truck along with a female friend, 23-year-old Kamill Andrews. It is alleged that Pinky Tillett was killed by Pregnant Alley boss, Arthur Young, who was detained by Police two days later on Sunday, April 22, and who was shot and killed by Police as he struggled with a police officer for his handgun while in detention. That’s the official police version, while eyewitnesses countered that he was handcuffed while in the pan of the police mobile.

The old year, 2012, has been rough for many of us; but the New Year cometh, and with it, hope for a better year for all of us. There will also be high hopes among a gallant bunch of cycling athletes who will take up the challenge on January 1, 2013, to try and become the next champion of the Krem New Year’s Day Cycling Classic. The Elite race (93 miles) starts at 9:00 a.m. from the Santa Elena border and finishes in Belize City at the intersection of Central American Boulevard and Mahogany Street. The Women and Junior races begin at 9:30 and 9:35 a.m., respectively, and both travel (55 miles) from the Town Hall in Orange Walk to the finish on Boulevard/Mahogany Street. It’s the second biggest race classic in the nation, behind only the Holy Saturday Cross Country, both in prestige as well as in lucrative prizes and station prizes. Last year’s Elite and Women winners were both first time Krem Classic champions. 2012 Krem Classic Elite Champion Geovanni Choto is also the reigning Cross Country Champion. The situation is the same for the Women, where the 2012 Krem Classic Women Champion, Kaya Cattouse, also went on to become the 2012 Women Cross Country Champion. Her challengers this year will include 3-time Krem Classic Champion Shalini Zabaneh. There is one other noteworthy observation where the race history is concerned: there has never been a back-to-back Elite champion of the Krem New Year’s Classic. Will 2013 be the year?

Premier League of Belize Commissioner Myito Perdomo phoned us tonight to inform our sports desk of the Individual Awards for the PLB 2012-2013 Opening Tournament regular season. He said he was at a league meeting, but their computer network was down, so he called to try and meet our printing deadline for this weekend’s issue of Amandala. Here are the awards: Best Goalkeeper – Woodrow West (Belmopan Bandits); Best Defense – Dalton Eiley (Placencia Assassins); Most Goals – Daniel Jimenez (Police United); Best Forward – Evan Mariano (Police United); Best Rookie – Edward Gongora (Verdes); Best Midfielder – David Trapp (Belmopan Bandits); Best Coach – Edmund Pandy, Sr. (Belmopan Bandits); Regular Season MVP – Woodrow West. The Playoff MVP will be announced at the end of the championship.

James “Chain Saw Man” Swaso, a known sidekick of Goldburn “Easy Glen” Adolphus, could not convince Police that he was innocent of accusations by Minister of Housing Michael Finnegan that he was one of the men using his name to hustle businesspersons. Swaso was arraigned in the Belmopan Magistrate Court today on charges of theft and obtaining property by deception. Police say that he is the one who has been scamming people in Minister Finnegan’s name. Police say that Tony Griffith, the owner of Belize Waste Control, located at Mile 2 ½ on the George Price Highway, Belize City, reported to them that at about 1:00 p.m. on November 30, someone who identified himself as Hon. Michael Finnegan called his office and requested financial assistance of $1,250 ”to be handed over to two of his boys.” Griffith agreed, and five minutes later two men came to his business. One mentioned that he was there on Mr. Finnegan’s behalf. A check for the value of $1,250 was written in the name of James Swaso. Three weeks later, say Police, on Thursday, December 20, the businessman discovered that Hon. Michael Finnegan had not requested or authorized anyone to collect any monies on his behalf.

Two elephants are fighting, and I am the grass getting trampled, says Adolphus... Last week five-time Mesopotamia representative Michael Finnegan made the media rounds blasting long-time UDP supporter Goldburn “Easy Glen” Adolphus for calling local businessmen and public sector departments, impersonating him, asking for donations, and in at least one instance actually receiving “some $2,000 plus” from Tony Griffith, the proprietor of Belize Waste Control. The Minister of Housing was absolutely sure that Easy Glen, and his sidekick, James Swaso, were the culprits, and he reported the matter to the Police Commissioner. Police, acting on the complaint, found Easy Glen and Swaso, also known as the Chain Saw Man, in Orange Walk on Tuesday, December 18, and they were detained, pending charges. Easy Glen on Monday, December 24, did his version of the media rounds to clear his name, starting with an extended call to the KREM WUB morning show. Adolphus told the KREM hosts, “If you listen to my voice, there is no way, no how that I can sound like Mr. Finnegan…I didn’t imitate anybody. I didn’t go and collect any money in anybody’s name.” An irate Easy Glen said he was detained for 94 hours, before being released on Saturday. “They took me from Orange Walk to Belize City to Belmopan back to Belize City, with no water, no food, and no communication to nobody. They run my wife like wahn dog out of the station,” said the popular Belize City street personality.

For the individual, it is very easy to have a new beginning: all that is needed is a change of heart. That is, if your heart is in darkness. If your heart is in the light, then you should shine brightly to lead your brethren to the light. For the state, a new beginning has to start at the top, at the seat of governance in the House of Representatives. They should set the good example for the rest of the nation. The House has two sides – members of the majority party, called the Government, and members of the minority party, called the Opposition. They are there jointly to serve the best interests of the nation. That is why they bear the title “Honorable.” They are our rulers but also, our servants. In the House of Representatives, all the members are equal, regardless of their position in the Executive. They have the same rights and privileges. Despite their differences, they should treat each other with high regard and respect. Members should always be referred to as the honorable member of the electoral division he/she represents, or the position held in the Executive, never by the use of personal pronouns. It will help to instill a high regard for the House amongst the populace if, when appropriate, members of your own side are referred to as “my honorable friend” and, of the other side as “the honorable gentleman.” To refer to a member of your own side as your colleague is improper. It would be a good beginning for the whole nation if civility and decorum reigned in the House of Representatives. To be elected to be a member of the House of Representatives is a great honor that the electors of the electoral division he represents bestow on him, along with their trust and their hopes for their future also, the power to act on their behalf.

As he was taking his last breaths, Luke Nunez, Jr. told his aunt: “Auntie, I love you. You take care of my mom because I’m getting weak and I’ll die.” A squabble turned deadly last night in Hopkins Village when 18-year-old Luke Nunez, Jr. was reportedly killed by Wilfred Garcia, 48, a Belizean driver of Hopkins Village. According to reports, Nunez, a laborer of Hopkins Village, got into a misunderstanding with Garcia in the north side of the village. That misunderstanding led to a fight, during which Nunez sustained cut wounds to the right side of the chest, center of the head, and the upper left side of the chest. Nunez succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment at the Southern Regional Hospital. According to Elta Augustine, it was frustration that led Garcia to kill her nephew. “He’s a drunk, always drinking and he doesn’t work,” she said. “It was frustration that got into him.” She said that Garcia asked Nunez to help move a car that was stuck. Nunez didn’t want to continue to help Garcia push the car, so Garcia told him: “I will kill you.” Augustine said that when she was informed of what had happened to her nephew, she immediately went over to the village health center where she found doctors trying to stabilize Nunez.

Company considers raising more debentures in 2013... The Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) announced that it is closing the series 5 debenture offer for BZ$25 million, launched on November 15, 2012, eleven days early, because it has been fully subscribed. BEL reported that “as of today, these subscriptions are for over $14 million in excess of the $25 million offer.” The series 5 debenture offer, which pledges a fixed interest rate of 7% to mature in 12 years on December 31, 2024, is being sold in multiples of $100. The offer was not due to close until December 17. The Belize Social Security Board (SSB) is purchasing $5 million worth of debentures, in addition to $10 million in preference shares from the government-owned utility company. BEL, understandably, is happy about the outcome of the debenture offering. BEL’s Senior Manager Finance & Human Resources, Betty Tam, said in a statement, “We appreciate the high interest in our offer and thank all subscribers to the series 5 debentures. We stand on a strong record as we have consistently paid interest on time to holders of our series 1, 2, 3 and 4 debentures. Holders of our series 5 debentures can expect the same consistency from us going forward.” The proceeds of the series 5 debentures will come just in time for BEL to pay those who had subscribed to its first debentures, due at the end of December 2012.

It was billed as the best offense against the best defense; the leading goal scorer, Danny Jimenez of Police United vs the best goalkeeper, Woodrow West of Belmopan Bandits. The league and the media have more work to do to better familiarize paying fans with the players on the field. But where the big name stars are concerned, fans know them well, whether or not their numbers are printed large on their jerseys, or announcers are calling out their names when they trot onto the pitch. Danny led all strikers in scoring this year, drilling 12 of his team’s league leading 30 goals in regular season; and West was mean between the sticks all season long, yielding only 4 goals in their 14-game regular season. West and the Bandits had blanked Placencia Assassins in the semifinals, beating them 1-nil in Placencia and then ending 0-0 at home in Belmopan at the Isidoro. Danny was scoreless in the semifinals against BDF, with their game winner at the Norman Broaster coming from Trevor “Burger” Lennon in injury time (90+’). His teammate Evan Mariano, second on the goal scoring list, had tied it up before the intermission (33’) for Police, after Vallan Symms had gotten an early goal (11’) for BDF. And their return match was also scoreless, 0-0. But with the crowd jamming the Isidoro Beaton Stadium for the Finals game 1 yesterday under bright sunshine and a light, cool northerly air flow, goal hungry fans were given a treat approaching mid-way of the first half, when Danny Jimenez completed a long run from the left wing, cutting into the middle, avoiding a few attempted tackles, and culminating near the 18-yard line with a hard right foot grounder that caught West leaning the other way. Danny was guarded all the way by a defender, and West might have anticipated a pass to his teammate on the right side. But Danny must have glanced at an opening, for suddenly he pulled the trigger, and aimed right, which is what “prize strikers” do. 1-nil, Police.

The UBAD Education Foundation (UEF) celebrated the opening of Kwanzaa week at the UEF Library of African and Indian Studies yesterday evening, and the first principle was Unity (Umojaa in Kswahili). Shortly after, across the river and inside the Biltmore Hotel upstairs Riverhall room, Belizeans were united in their passion for boxing entertainment, and their support for Belizean boxers against visiting boxers from Chetumal, Mexico. James Adderley/Mahogany Productions promoted the fight card, and, according to ringside announcer Brian Mossiah, the sponsor was Belize Telecommunications Limited. Tickets were sold out before the first fight got under way around 7:00 p.m., but the crowd that jammed the lobby eventually made their way in, causing the perimeter corridor between the walls and chairs to be blocked with eager spectators, and the atmosphere to approach “oven” status, reminiscent of the infamous Civic Center. Nevertheless, it was an exciting night for approximately 400 to 500 boxing fans, who were just happy to witness a live boxing event, something that has been a scarce commodity for some time. It was a 7-fight amateur card, featuring boxers from Chetumal against Belizean opponents, from the Leopold Smart gym in Belize City and Clinton Tucker’s Lion’s Den gym in Ladyville. The bouts were scheduled as 4 rounds each, with 2 minutes per round. Referee in charge was Roberto Ordonez, and ringside physician was Dr. Michael Pitts.

For younger Belizeans, this Christmas/New Year’s holiday season is mostly a time of revelry, but for us older folk, the season is more a period of reflection. Out of my reflections so far, I sat down to pen the following thoughts. In my lifetime, there has emerged a dominant elite in Belize which we consider native, even though the patriarchs of some of these families may have been immigrant in origin. When the nationalist movement began here in 1950, there were no identifiably powerful families in the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts, apart from Perez-Schofield. There were no such families in the Toledo or Cayo Districts, although Wahib Habet was very big in the West. In the Stann Creek District, people like the Sharps and the Bowmans were big and becoming bigger in citrus, but this was taking place in the Pomona Valley, which was an exclusive, almost separatist enclave. In the capital city, the powerhouse was the Belize Estate and Produce Company, challenged by Bob Turton, and then you had the big stores – Brodies, Harley’s, and Nord’s. I was a toddler in 1950. The socio-economic picture of the colony, British Honduras, which I am presenting to you, is not based on academic research, and so I accept and welcome criticism and dissent. By a “powerful Belizean family” in the present day context, I would say this is a family which can “comfortably” owe the banks a hundred, two hundred, or three hundred million Belize dollars. I would say, as we approach the end of 2012, there would be several such families in every District of Belize, except perhaps Toledo, which is, ironically, the wealthiest District in Belize where natural resources are concerned. In my lifetime, a group which has become quietly and spectacularly wealthy is the Mennonites, the group which dominates food production in Belize. I have no idea how the Mennonites are structured. I assume there are families which are at the top of the Mennonite pyramid.

Grieving mother of victim says the accused was known to be a very mannerly young man. “But you look at people and you don’t know what kind of temper they have, what kind of things they are capable of doing.” The life of 23-year-old Robert Alexander Pinnock, Jr., was cut short on Saturday, December 22, 2012, when he was stabbed to death by his cousin, Glenford Chavez, in Dangriga. Amandala was told that both young men were socializing at a baby shower in the New Site Area of Dangriga when an altercation began between the two relatives. Witnesses said that they were not sure what triggered the argument, but they became fully aware of the squabble when it turned physical. Gloria Mejia, mother of the victim, told Amandala that she is not exactly sure what transpired but she knows that her son was invited to a baby shower by a friend who was hosting the shower. She said her understanding of what happened is based only what she was told. “They said that the young man told my son something, and my son punched him. The young man fell, but it seemed that my son didn’t pay any attention to him; he just turned his back and was talking again to the rest of friends,” she said. “And the next thing they saw, “ she went on to relate, “was when the boy came, not sure if it was a knife or what, and then it looked like he was punching my son.” The witnesses said that it looked like Chavez was punching Pinnock, but they didn’t know that he was actually stabbing him. It was only when Pinnock held his hand on his chest that witnesses saw blood on his clothes. According to witnesses, when Chavez finished stabbing Pinnock he fled the scene.

To tell the truth, we had almost no interest in this Patrick Faber challenge to Gapi Vega for Deputy UDP Leader/Deputy Prime Minister until Easy Glen entered the picture. Easy Glen entered the picture because Michael Finnegan, who appears to be supporting Faber, called him out naked on national television last week, the police picked up Easy Glen, and after holding him for 94 hours, according to Easy Glen, they released him without charge. Easy Glen then counter-attacked on the KREM WUB talk show and the Channel 7 newscast last Friday. You may not know this, but Easy Glen is a popular man in the city streets. This is because he is friendly with everybody, and he has lyrics. Michael Finnegan is a big man on the city streets because he has won Mesopotamia five straight times, and by bigger and bigger margins. When these two meet in the UDP national convention in February of 2013, everybody will want to see the action, because Easy Glen will be Gapi’s general in the city constituencies. The reason we had no interest in the Faber challenge to Gapi is because there are no general elections due here for four years, and no matter how much wrangling and political bloodshedding goes on, it will be an internal matter of the ruling UDP. That’s all. No matter how small the victory margin of one of the two major political parties over the other, and in the case 0f 2012 it was only 17-14 in favor of the UDP, once the Governor General swears in the Prime Minister, that means Buckingham Palace is staying, story done. In the British Commonwealth, the election process is sacrosanct. If you lose, no matter how narrowly, don’t be moaning and groaning. No one cares.

There is an attitude in the city on the part of some roots that they are owed something for the Christmas holidays. This is an attitude engendered and encouraged by the PUDP politicians, but such an attitude has now spread to the point where it introduces seasonal sourness into the relationships between some haves and some have nots. The politico-economic system we have in this country is free market democratic capitalism. It essentially guarantees inequality, to the point of oppression. This is what Christianity, it appears, brought to the table, and almost all Belizeans say they are Christians. It is intrinsic to the politico-economic system we have implemented that some accumulate more, do better, than others. But, a mindset has developed in some Belizeans that the system owes them Christmas, and if their more fortunate neighbor does not cater to that mindset, then the vibes become bitter. Overall, it is sad how we live in this community nowadays. There is something fundamentally wrong here. Most Belizeans, rich and poor, are obsessed with shopping in Chetumal. The vibes are not bitter in Chetumal. Why are the vibes in Belize City and Chetumal so different? What is the difference between Belizean nationalism and Mexican nationalism? Why do we Belizeans scorn ourselves and our city while the people of Chetumal love and cherish their municipality?

A PUDP 2013
We make a conscious effort not to disrespect Belize’s major political parties, but we adult Belizeans of sound mind and body are sure that a change from the UDP to the PUP would not necessarily solve our problems overnight. By the same token, we enter the New Year 2013 with the consciousness that the UDP is becoming more of a problem than a solution. This is parliamentary democracy – PUDP. From we are children, they have told us that this is the best thing to happen since Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. It ain’t so, Joe. This is ring-a-ring-a-roses. This is just piti pat: fu you, fu me, fu you, fu me … And, there is nothing to be done about it, because the churches say this is what God wants for us. Since we are all so deathly afraid of not believing in God, we reply like the sycophants that we are – hip, hip, hurray. There’s not that much that’s going to be happy about 2013 at the public sector, political party level. That’s why it is so important for you and me to keep the vibes curry and nice between us. Reach out and touch somebody’s heart. That’s the freedom we have left. Sing a song for me, and I will dance the punta for you. Share the love. Power in the struggle.


A Tale of Five Cities: Tulum Maya Site and the Beautiful Beach
On our first full day in Tulum, we caught an inexpensive collectivo from the main street through town to the Maya ruins and beach nearby. This is the number one tourist destination in Tulum, and it is well worth a visit. Although you can take a private taxi for just a bit more ($50 MX, or about $4 US), collectivos run every few minutes and cost just $40 MX for the two of us (approximately $3.20 US). Just ask them to take you to the"ruinas" since many of the drivers don't speak English. Be forewarned, however; the collectivo dropped us on the main road about a quarter-mile from the entrance to the park, so we had to hike in the rest of the way. A taxi will presumably take you right up to the entrance. We'd been warned to get to the ruins early as the tour buses would start to arrive around 10 am, but unfortunately, we arrived right about that time. And one of the most striking things about the entire day was how many people there were, everywhere. After getting used to visiting Maya ruins and national parks in Belize, where we sometimes had the place to ourselves, or were among just a handful of others, this was a real shock! Since these ruins are just south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen -- and with end of the Mayan calendar just days away -- it seemed that everyone and his brother, aunt, and cousin wanted to see the ruins and the gorgeous Tulum beaches on this day. I recognized a lot of French being spoken in particular, but there were certainly people from all over the world visiting the well-manicured site overlooking the beach on dramatic cliffs. We heard almost no English being spoken in the park.

Nat Geo Names Belize Top Ten Winter Trip
The December 2012 online edition of National Geographic has listed the Belize Barrier Reef as one of the world’s “Best Winter Trips” for 2013, Chaa Creek’s marketing administrator Larry Waight announced today. “This is very timely in light of the new Tropic Air services linking Chaa Creek to the Belize Barrier Reef, and gives us even more reason to look forward to 2013” Mr Waight said. In the introduction to the feature, National Geographic advises readers to “Get ready to infuse the long winter months with color, carnivals, and adventure. Chosen by our editors, this year’s best winter trips span the globe and transcend the season.” The feature article goes on to list National Geographic’s ten top picks for 2013 winter holidays, which includes diverse exotic destinations such as Alaska’s Chena River State Recreation Area, the Ruaha National Park in Tanzania, Salzburg, Austria and the Harbin Ice Festival in China. Belize’s Great Barrier Reef, also known as the Mesoamerican Reef is described as offering “exceptional beginner-to-expert sea kayaking and snorkeling along shallow reefs, plus secluded white-sand beaches and unspoiled nature reserves.”

5 Maya ruins to explore in Belize
When I thought of the great ruins of the Maya empire, I never gave Belize a second thought. Sure, I knew Central America was the heart of the Maya empire, but I didn’t really know much more. Although I’m certainly no expert on the Maya, I knew of the famous ruins of Chichen Itza, Palenque, and Calakmul in Mexico and the great city of Tikal in Guatemala. But Belize? What ruins were there? And were they even worth visiting? But as we began planning for our trip to Belize this summer, I began to learn so many interesting things about this country that I never knew before — including the important role it played in the Maya empire. Much to my surprise, I learned Belize contains the greatest concentration of Maya sites in the entire region (supposedly more than 1,400!). Unfortunately, most of these sites remained covered in dense jungle and have not been excavated. Nonetheless, Belize has several partially excavated Maya sites that are well worth taking the time to visit. They impress not only because of the architectural prowess of the Maya, but also because of their spectacular settings along rivers and nestled deep in seemingly impenetrable jungle. Because they’re less well-known than sites like Tikal and Chichen Itza, they’re also less crowded, offering a much more serene environment in which to immerse yourself in the life of the Maya. If you’re planning a trip to Belize, here are five ruins you’ll want to take time to explore:

What a Diff’rence a Day Makes
In yesterday’s edition (‘Take it Easy’) I apologised for the lateness of publishing and explained that we suffered a sudden and protracted loss of the Internet. So this morning after having breakfast I went to the Coral Cable office to report the fault. The Internet speed, as anyone living on or visiting Ambergris Caye will know, is slow. The same cannot be said, however, for the engineers. Why? Well I reported the fault at 10.10 am and at 11.05 am the engineers arrived and within 10 minutes of arrival they had identified the fault and corrected it. A first class service. With access to Internet again Rose and I set off for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize shortly after 1 pm so that we arrived after the guys had returned from their lunch break ( they normally break for lunch at noon for an hour) . On arrival at the site we couldn’t believe our eyes. There were workers everywhere. A quick body count informed us that the workforce today comprised fourteen people. Yesterday there were four. What a difference a day makes!

International Sources

A decoy and a rainy border crossing: Eccentric fugitive software developer John McAfee details his escape from Belize into neighboring Guatemala
The McAfee saga continues. Eccentric fugitive software mogul, John McAfee, who spent weeks on the run from Belizean authorities, recently revealed the ins and outs of his escape from the small Central American country, roughly the size of Vermont, into neighboring Guatemala, which deported him back to the U.S. The escape from Belize to Guatemala started with an undercover arrival in Belize City, McAfee wrote on his blog the day after Christmas. In order to dodge ‘multiple checkpoints set up along every highway exiting Belize,’ the 67-year-old says a look-alike he has known for over 30 years and who years ago changed his name to ‘John McAfee’ got himself arrested in Mexico, north of Belize, in order to convince Belizean authorities that they could stop their search for him. While the look-alike diversion was reportedly taking place in the north, McAfee and several friends, including two Vice journalists, climbed into an SUV and followed another friend, who was driving one of McAfee's trucks in the opposite direction. The idea was for the lead truck to act as another decoy - this time to confuse security checkpoints along the route. ‘If they stopped the truck, I knew the checkpoint officers would be swarming all over it. Subsequent traffic would be likely to be waved through,’ McAfee wrote. That, he says, was a backup plan in case his real plan failed. His real plan was apparently to rely on the weather. ‘In Belize, no checkpoint officers will ever stop a car in the rain,’ McAfee wrote.

A Fish With Nowhere to Hide
Luiz Rocha, the curator of ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences, writes from Belize, where he conducts research on the social wrasse, one of the world’s most endangered fish. The weather is much better, and we were able to do several dives and get a good grasp on just how bad the lionfish invasion in Belize really is. They are everywhere. We saw and collected them in all habitats we visited, including coral reef, sea grass and mangrove. Finding them in the last two is especially disheartening, as they are nursery habitats for many coral reef species. Lionfish are eating young reef fish before they can even get there. In the morning we dove along the barrier reef to estimate lionfish abundance there. During a 45-minute dive, we counted more than 20 of them. For perspective, we were a group of five divers, swimming slowly over the edge of the barrier reef. Collectively we would see a lionfish on average every two minutes.

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