Today's Belize News: June 26, 2014 - 06/26/14 11:25 AM
Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV 3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
Belize receives funding to train guides in Birding
The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has provided $2.6 million to be divided between the governments of Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay and the Bahamas as part of an initiative to promote Birding. As part of the project, tour guides will be trained in proper birding techniques and practices to promote ecotourism activities in their respective countries. The project was launched on Wednesday, June 18th at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City with representatives from the participating countries and IDB present. Belize Audubon Society will be overseeing the project, and Executive Director, Amanda Burgos was present to speak on the importance of the project. “The IDB bird-based tourism project is an opportunity to form stronger linkages between protected areas systems and the tourism sector. This project will demonstrate the economic value of our protected areas to local communities through job creation and other economic enterprises associated with an improved tourism product,” said Burgos.
Actress Denny Mendéz spotted in San Pedro
The San Pedro Sun has spotted actress and former Miss Italy Denny Mendéz vacationing on Ambergris Caye along with fiancé Oscar Generale (producer). Denny is enjoying the fine hospitality of Victoria House Resort. The newly engaged couple was spotted on Monday June 23rd taking an evening stroll on the dock of the resort and sharing laughs. Generale proposed to Mendéz last month at the annual Cannes International Film Festival with the help of friends John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston. Rumor has it the couple is considering tying the knot here on La Isla Bonita! One of Denny’s most noteable roles was in Oceans 12 (alongside Clooney, Pitt and Damon). Generale’s numerous producing credits include Casino Jack.
San Pedro Red Cross hosts HIV Prevention Workshop
On Friday, June 20th, the San Pedro Red Cross hosted an HIV prevention workshop as part of a “Street Beat” activity held at the San Pedro Lobster Festival on Saturday, June 21st. The workshop was held at El Divino Restaurant from 9AM to 4PM and was aimed to educate community members on HIV so that they can in turn educate others. Of the 11 people that participated in the workshop, eight were teens. San Pedro Red Cross members Shirlee Arnould and Mike Memeo officiated the workshop. Both had been previously trained at the Belize Red Cross Youth Agents for Change “Street Beat” Training and Activity back in December 2013. Throughout the workshop, participants received vital knowledge on how HIV is contracted and on ways to prevent the spreading of the disease. The group also shared common misconceptions of HIV. Participants had an open discussion on the stigma people with HIV suffer.
Carlos Moreno New U.S. Ambassador to Belize Presents Credentials
On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at the Belize House, the Governor General of Belize, His Excellency Sir Colville Young received the letters of credence of the new United States of America Ambassador to Belize, His Excellency Carlos Moreno. In his presentation, Ambassador Moreno expressed his desire to work with the Government of Belize on “matters of mutual interest, issues relating to youth, culture, education, health and commerce”. He further stated that there is great potential for continuing strong relations between the two countries. The Governor General welcomed the Ambassador and thanked him for his kind words of friendship and cooperation. He also expressed particular interest in building relations as it relates to youth.
Hollywood Producer Oscar Generale Vacations in Ambergris Caye with Former Miss Italy Denny Mendez
The Hollywood producer, nicknamed the “King of Product Placement”, Oscar Generale, was recently caught vacationing on La Isla Bonita, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize with his beautiful girlfriend Denny Mendez. The couple was spotted romantically walking down the beach by Victoria House. Denny Mendez and Oscar Generale got engaged on May 22, 2014, at the Cannes Film Festival and it is rumored that the couple wants to wed here here on our beautiful Isla Bonita. Denny Mendez is a Dominican-born Italian beauty queen turned model and actress who was Miss Italy 1996 and represented Italy in the 1997 Miss Universe pageant. Denny has become a sensation in the modeling world, adorning the fine wears of Alberta Ferretti, Ferre and Roberto Cavalli, to name a few. Denny career followed into the likely path of acting and has landed multiple roles in Italy, as well as Ocean’s Twelve (starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon).
Misc Belizean Sources
Dia de San Pedro Fishing Rodeo 2014
Sunday 29, 2014. Fishing time 6:00a.m. To 5:00p.m. Scale will be open until 6:00p.m. for more information call Jennie at 651-3850.
The U.S. Embassy Belmopan is now harvesting a free, renewable, sustainable and high-quality resource… rainwater
The rainy season is upon us and the final preparations are being made on the new water catchment system. The 10 tanks hold up to 1500 gallons of rainwater which will be utilized throughout the year for non-potable purposes. The project was launched this year in May. With an average yearly rainfall of 80” in Belize, we expect to capture an estimated 30,000 gallons per year. We are excited to see this project come to life at Embassy Belmopan. In addition to being environmentally responsible, conserving water will promote savings in utility costs and provide an excellent back-up source of water for emergencies. What are you doing in your homes and communities to conserve and live more efficiently?
Diamante service industry night at Fidos
July 5th at 9pm. No speeches, no promotions, no strings attached. Just free beer for an hour.
National Youth Orchestra rehearsing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and Pirates of the Caribbean
Last Saturday at the Pallotti School of Music, Belize City. We are preparing for a concert with MUSAID on August 27, 2014 at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts. (5 photos)
Pregnant Mother of Two Perishes In Fire: the Timeline
Early this morning, a pregnant mother of two perished when the building she was living in caught on fire. Witnesses say she refused to jump to safety because she was pregnant. 24-year-old Jacqueline Arteaga lived upstairs of Kimmie's Club on Newtown Barracks. At 4:15 am a fire started and she was trapped inside. The story of how she met her death in the sea front apartment is the tragedy of tonight's news, but we begin first with the troubling part of the story: and that is the fire Department's response: was it adequate, and could more have been done to save property, or even her life? We have video of the earliest moments captured by a friend of the newscast and area resident, Leo Matute – and Jules Vasquez starts building the timeline from before the fire truck arrived: Jules Vasquez Reporting This is the fire at 4:48 am – it's already in free burn and the fire truck hasn't come yet. The Kimmie's building is engulfed as electrical wires crackle. Dawn hasn't broken yet, and the strong easterly wind is driving the flame unto the adjoining three story, Giovanni Smith building – which is also wooden.
The Ruinous Aftermath of a Deadly, Costly Fire
And that loss of life is the real tragedy in this costly blaze. Property can be replaced or rebuilt, but Jacqueline Arteaga's life cannot be returned. There are many questions surrounding her death in that apartment atop a nightclub. Today, Daniel Ortiz tried to find answers: Daniel Ortiz Reporting At 9 this morning, 5 hours after started, the Fire Department was still on the scene trying to ensure that the fire was completely extinguished. Police blocked off the section of Barrack Road in front of the remains of the buildings. Investigators from both the fire and police departments were on the scene until 4:30 this evening, still canvassing for evidence. Important evidence, important because in this fire, a person perished inside the burning wreckage of Kimmie's Bar. 21 year-old Jacqueline Arteaga was inside one of the rooms in the upstairs flat of the building, and when the blaze engulfed the entire structure, she was trapped. She was the only person out of 4 who didn't make it out in time.
Auditor General Prelim. Report Finally Leaked To Media: Some Eye-Catching Stuff
And changing subjects now – we turn to the Immigration scandal. Two weeks ago COLA had a press conference disclosing the major findings of the Auditor General's Investigation into irregularities at the Immigration Department. Well today, on the eve of what may be their last stand in the private prosecution at Belmopan Magistrate's Court, they released the document to the media. It is a 27 page document dating back to March of this year. We looked at the interesting parts of the preliminary report: Jules Vasquez Reporting The preliminary report from the Auditor General notes on the very first page, that they quote, "encountered challenges regarding lack of cooperation." It says the Director Immigration Maria Marin quote, "demonstrated blatant disrespect for my office" End quote. It goes unto say that she quote, "found ways to evade requests for the accessing or records", and when asked, quote, "she stated that the records were with the minister," end quote. On page 5 the report notes that quote, "Minister Elvin Penner signed several nationality certificates that were not recorded on the nationality register."
Unemployment Down, But Only Slightly
The latest unemployment figures were released today by the statistical Institute of Belize. It's called the Labour Force Survey and it's done every year in April and September. This year's survey sampled employment patterns from within a workforce of 151,317 persons. The survey found that sixteen thousand of them are unemployed – which is down slightly from last year April. The Deputy Director explained: Dr. Leopold Perriott - Deputy Director-General "In April 2014, there were 16,730 persons unemployed in the country of Belize. This is down from 17,375 persons in April 2013. So, the unemployed persons are down very slightly. The national unemployment rate is 11.1% as of April 2014, and that's down very slightly from April 2013. In April 2013, the unemployment rate was 11.7%. So, there is a slight decrease in the unemployment rate. The highest unemployment rate was recorded in the Belize District at 14.3%, which is up substantially from April 2013. In April 2013, it was 11.6%. The lowest unemployment rate was recorded in Toledo District as 4.1%; this is substantially down. In 2013, it was 8.0%, and so, it's down dramatically, but that's due mainly to people dropping out of the labour force, dropping out from the unemployed persons, just become not in the labour force. For the Creoles, it's 16.3%, which basically is what it was in April 2013. The Garifuna, the rate has gone up to 18%, from 12.8%, the Mestizo, 9.1%, down a little bit from 10%. It's virtually the same. The Maya, the rates have fallen dramatically, 4.5%, and I alluded to this. Perhaps, what happened was that the labour force, people just left the labour force and basically gave up. The unemployment rates for women is 19.4%, the unemployment rate for men is 5.9%, and this is basically what has been happening over the years."
S.C. Smith On Office Of Prime Minister's Defence of Awich
Last night we told you about the extraordinary press release on the controversial tenure of Justice Samuel Awich from the Prime Minister's Office. What made it unusual was the suggestion that contempt of court could be invoked by the DPP. Well today there was a lot of blowback on this – and the opposition led the way with a statement condemning the Prime Minister's release. IT calls the PM's release "bullying and intimidation" and says it is "ugly, divisive and unacceptable." This morning we spoke to the PUP's National Campaign Manager – who is also a big part of the anti-Awich legal movement, Godfrey Smith. His words were very similar to those on the press release: Godfrey Smith - Defends Bar Association's Resolution "I think it is embarrassing to the Prime Minister. I think it is irresponsible for what was said in that statement to have been said. I think it is wrong to use such a high office to issue not so veil threats of criminal action against individuals who speak out, who exercise their freedom of expression, to speak out about a particular issue like the continued tenure of the judge based on a bar Association resolution which went to the process strictly to the process of extending the judge. And I think again, the open threat - not veiled at all - that a course of action will be taken to effectively deal with the Bar Association, I think is something that can be characterised as a modus operandi of the Office of the Prime Minister. And it is divisive and, as I said, scandalous, embarrassing to that high office and plain wrong."
Opposition Leader on Office of PM: "Absolute Craziness"
The case was fully argued and the Supreme Court decision will be handed down at some point in July. Keeping it on Awich, this evening, the Leader of the Opposition made himself available to the media to discuss his party's position on the PM's statement. In that statement, reference was made to the 18 persons who attended the meeting of the bar – calling it a puny minority. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the statement generally as "crazy": Hon. Francis Fonseca - Leader of the Opposition "It's absolute craziness, at a time when people all across the country are calling on Mr. Barrow and his government to deal with the corruption in his Government, and to deal with Mr. Penner. That is the individual he should be talking to the DPP about, providing evidence and providing, ensuring that there is a successful prosecution of that individual. Instead, he's threatening and trying to intimidate the Bar Association of Belize. So, it's absolute nonsense; it's craziness. I understand in the release that the Government put out - the Prime Minister put out, he talked about a minority, and a puny number of people representing the lawyers of Belize.
Man Convicted For Firearm Offence
And going now from high court controversy to low court convictions, Twenty-nine year old Darren Dawson, a Brodies employee, was sentenced to 5 years today by Chief magistrate, Anne Marie Smith after she found him guilty of discharging a firearm in public. It happened around 5:30 p.m. on May 27, 2013. The main witness, Police Sergeant Keith Clarke, testified that he was standing on the back verandah of his house when he saw Dawson fire shots at another man on Neal Pen Road. The investigators retrieved 14 expended shells from the scene.
Conorquie Was Electrocuted Trying To Steal Electricity
Police have confirmed that 33-year-old Ernest Lincoln Conorquie died of electrocution. As we told you last night, he climbed a lamp-post beside his house on Rivero Street on Sunday night trying to steal electricity when he got a shock and fell into a drain. He was found dead in the drain on Monday morning. Police say a post mortem shows that he was electrocuted.
PSE Tops In Bze District Honoured
Two weeks ago, we showed you the top performers of this year's Primary School Exams. Today was finally the day when the Ministry of Education honoured the top 25 performers in the Belize District. Education Minister Patrick Faber told the media that he's encouraged by this year's results: The Ministry will hold award ceremonies for the best performers in the western, northern and southern regions tomorrow.
Hon. Faber On PSE Errors
In the north, Louisiana Government School's Jose Arciga should be front and centre. He's one of the top finishers in his district, but due to an error the original test results didn't even have him in the top 30. Today, when the Minister of Education was asked about it, he reiterated that the scores were preliminary, and every year there are few errors which are ironed out. He says that the Ministry allows a grace period for any challenge to the scores: Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education "Every year we do have queries. I don't want anybody to run away with the idea that this is not normal. In fact, if you look at the press release - the release that came along with the grades of the Primary School Exams, not only this year - it says preliminary. The reason why we say preliminary is because we give the time period for the grades to be queried.
Hon. Faber On Teacher Redundancy
And while we had the opportunity we asked Patrick Faber about the consolidation of certain subject areas of study among three Belize City High Schools: Sadie Vernon, Maude Williams and Excelsior. As we've reported, all these 3 schools will pool their resources to streamline resources and maximize subject offerings. As a part of the streamlining, 12 teachers from the different schools were declared redundant. Today, when we asked about it, he said that it was a tough decision which had to be made: Hon. Patrick Faber – Ministry of Education "You will recall that we had a press conference on this, and that we made it quite clear that no teacher would be let go based on lack of qualification or qualifications even though at the time, I did lament that indeed the majority of the teachers teaching at these three schools in fact were not professionally trained. But that was not the reason on which we based our decisions. In fact what we did, we looked at the curriculum that is being offered and you saw that in great detail at the press conference and we tried to fit as best as we could the teachers of the sixty-one of them into the delivery of that curriculum. That as you now know caused the issue of us having to displace, as you put it, twelve teachers. But as we said these schools were in fact overstaffed from the beginning. I remind people. Sometimes, we want the system to be fixed, and we're shedding tears now and crying for - and I don't want to be unkind to the teachers because of course, they are probably very good at what they do in some respects, and every dedicated. But, if you are not trained, and if fact, if you're in this position where you're assisting the process of developing education and making it better, then we can't make omelettes if we don't break a few eggs. So, I want to remind people of that. When we talk about change, sometimes, change brings with it some unpleasantries.""
CWU and CPBL Sign Agreement
This morning in the Pomona Valley, the Christian Workers Union and Citrus Products of Belize Limited signed a collective bargaining agreement. According to a release, the agreement covers just under 100 workers at the peak of the citrus season at the processing plants operated by CPBL. Seen here signing are CWU General Secretary Floyd Neal, CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd, CPBL Chief Financial Officer Kent Herrera and CPBL Chief Administration Manager Nikita Usher.
Nessie Young Has Young Girl Money
She may be in her 70's but Nessie Young has young girl money, after she walked away with the Fantasy 5 Jackpot of $353,000 today. Today, she told us she never expected to win when she bought her ticket with the numbers, 3, 10, 19, 25, 30 – which are just a few of her favourites: After taxes, she'll get to keep 300 thousand and fifty dollars. Nessie Young's husband, Henry is the former UDP Minister and founder of Bird's Isle. At its next drawing, the Fantasy 5 jackpot reverts to $150,000 dollars.
Pregnant woman perishes in a massive fire in the City
A twenty-three year old mother of three tragically perished this morning in a massive fire which completely destroyed two large buildings on Newtown Barracks in Belize City. Jacqueline Arteaga, three [...]
2 businesses gutted to the ground – origin of fire under investigation
Following this morning’s blaze, the owners of both Kimmie’s Bar and Business Computer Systems looked through the wreckage to see if anything could be salvaged. That seems unlikely, because the [...]
Bucket brigade saves Hunter Lane house from burning down
While all attention was on the main blaze which engulfed the buildings and killed one young woman, there was much drama being played out in Hunter’s Alley beside and behind [...]
Opposition Leader blasts the Prime Minister for attacking the Bar
A release from the Office of Prime Minister Dean Barrow late Tuesday evening has stirred a hornet’s nest in the Bar Association. The release targets current and past presidents of [...]
Francis Fonseca says action of PM typical of U.D.P. government
While Fonseca vouched for the characters of all three attorneys named in the Prime Minister’s response, he says that the behavior is typical of government. According to the Leader of [...]
Former Bar President says PM release is a distraction from real issue
As we told you, former President of the Bar Andrew Marshalleck is specifically named in the release. Today, he told us that the release is just a red herring [...]
Andrew Marshalleck says appointments in judiciary are of concern
Three persons are named in the Prime Minister’s release – Eamon Courtenay, Andrew Marshalleck and Jackie Marshalleck. But whether or not that was an attempt to get personal, Marshalleck remains [...]
Attorney says PM’s attack is wrong in every way
Attorney Godfrey Smith also weighed in on the release from the Office of the Prime Minister, and he wasn’t bashful about it. Smith says that the PM deciding to enter [...]
Joblessness decreased in the City, but increased in the districts
The latest figures on unemployment were released this morning by the Statistical Institute of Belize. It shows a nominal drop in joblessness compared to the same period last year. The [...]
Attorney speaks on application before the court for appointment of Justice Awich
It is not often that judges’ names are bandied about in the public forum, largely because they are considered sacrosanct. Speaking on the conduct of those judges is a walk [...]
Belize City man electrocuted
Police are reporting a case of electrocution in the city. Despite warnings by the utility company against the practice of illegal connections, thirty-three year old Ernest Caniquie of Rivero Street [...]
Leroy Samuel Ruiz pleads guilty to fishing without a license
Twenty-seven year old Ladyville fisherman, Leroy Samuel Ruiz is in plenty trouble with the law; this morning he pleaded guilty to fishing in the Glovers Reef Marine Reserve without a [...]
Stabbing in the south leaves 2 men critical
In the south, two men ended in the Punta Gorda hospital following a stabbing incident. Twenty-four year old Eden Mejia was involved in a confrontation with twenty-six year old Jordy [...]
The National P.S.E. Awards
Young Ashton Tillett from Crooked Tree set the standards high this morning when he was honored as this year’s top scorer for the Primary School Examinations. It was not by [...]
Education Ministers speak on errors in P.S.E. results
As we said earlier, twenty-five primary school students from across the country were honored at today’s national P.S.E. Award ceremonies in Belize City. And that included Jose Arciga from Louisiana [...]
Minister says school boards determined 12 terminated teachers
Minister Faber was also asked about the plight of teachers who were dismissed as a result of the merger of three Belize City high schools. It’s an unfortunate situation says [...]
If You Can Sing It Bring It!
If you can sing it, bring it… our sensational new entertainment show premiered as promised on Tuesday night with recorded auditions of those artists who dared to step up to [...]