Today's Belize News: March 29, 2015 - 03/29/15 10:11 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
Man claims GSU Brutality
42-year-old Brian Castillo has reported to officials that on Thursday, March 12th he was brutalized by Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) personnel on the island. Castillo claimed that while working at a resort North of Ambergris Caye as a security guard, between 3AM and 5AM, GSU visited the establishment demanding that drugs be handed over. Castillo stated that he indicated to the GSU that he had no drugs but instead of being left alone was badly beaten up. 12 Brian Castillo GSU BrutalitySince the incident, Castillo has been issued a medical report for the injuries he sustained due to the attack. He sustained broken ribs as well as several cuts and bruises across his body. “On the day of the incident the GSU went to my place of work and grabbed me from in front of a door, held me to the ground and started beating me. They asked me to hand over the drugs. I told them I found no drugs and I don’t know about any drugs. They fractured three of my ribs.I got bruises to the leg. They stomped me in the face. I thought I was going to die.
It takes a community to fight crime!
The spike in crime has led San Pedro Police to implement several measures to try and bring back peace and stability to the island. One such measure is reaching out to the community. Retired Superintendent of Police and National Coordinator for the Auxiliary Police Unit, Rudolph Orio invited community members to a presentation on Tuesday, March 24th where steps were made to bridge the gap between police and residents. Religious members, elected officials, concerned citizens and even the business community attended the presentation at Living Word Church to offer their full support to the cause. The presentation was regarding the Citizens on Patrol (COP) program and how the community plays an essential role in crime prevention. Before Orio took the stage, Pastor Ian Zaldivar led an invocation for strength to rid the island of crime. Orio started by stating that the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are in s state of mourning because the recent criminal activity has affected us all. “My friends the community is you, and it is all of you that are suffering. The longer the community stays silent, the more you will suffer, because fear of crime feeds on silence. Gangs and criminals love areas where the community has fear. My advice to you is not to give over to these criminals. Gangs are recruiting children, our children, and it is you that are allowing it because you are not speaking up. We see these things happening, yet we do not voice out our concerns because of fear. If we allow fear to mandate our actions, then we will never achieve a better life for our children,” said Orio.
San Pedro Tour Operators Association formed
Following years of discussion, the San Pedro Tour Operators Association was formed during a meeting that included stakeholders in the tour operators industry. The new organization on the island was formed during a special meeting at the La Isla Bonita Yacht Club conference room on Friday, March 20th. The role of the tour operators had been assumed for years by the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association (SPTGA). According to the President of the SPTGA, Phillip “Billy” Leslie, all operators were invited to the meeting. He added that SPTGA felt it fit for the association to be formed in order to assume their role in the industry. “The Belize Tourism Board has a seat on their tour operators committee and has not seen it properly represented by a rightful organization from San Pedro, and as such, the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association has been assuming the responsibility of that seat for years. The legal process of the San Pedro Tour Operators Association is being formalized and registered in Belmopan for it to become a legal entity,” explained Leslie.
Authorities and San Pedro Animal Hospital at odds
The San Pedro Animal Hospital is the only private veterinary clinic on the island and provides a full range of 24 hour medical services. Droke has indicated that if her license and permits are not renewed, she will be forced to close down the clinic. “Unless this situation unexpectedly changes, San Pedro Animal Hospital will close its doors by the end of the year, when our current veterinarian is scheduled to return home and our current supplies will be exhausted. I have been writing to the all the relevant authorities but have not received any response. We hope we can get through with our permits and licenses, we are willing to do anything. The clinic is needed here on the island,” said Droke. DePaz stated that along with the complaints, there are other issues preventing Droke’s re-registration. “One of the major problems with the San Pedro Animal Hospital is that we are aware that Droke is not permanently residing in Belize. So the question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘who is running the clinic when she is away?’ We understand that she has volunteer veterinarians that come every so often, but if she is not here, then who is supervising them? These veterinarians that come from abroad just to work for a period of time cannot legally practice without a DVM that has been licensed in Belize supervising them. So there is more than one issue with Droke, and so the board needs some clarification with her before we can made a decision,” said DePaz.
Misc Belizean Sources
THE LEGENDARY KENRICK HALLIDAY!
BELIZEAN CROSS COUNTRY CYCLING POWER HOUSE! When there become a level playing field once again in Belize's most celebrated sport, the Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Race, poised to showcase to the world again on April 4th., 2015, Belize will continue to exhibit exceptional cycling champions again like the legendary Kenrick Halliday. Today we appreciate his exceptional contribution in defending the Garland!
Girl, 13, accuses cops of rape
Two policemen assigned to police stations in the south of Belize have been placed on interdiction after they were accused of rape by a minor. The girl reported that this week, the two policemen, whose ranks we were told are constables, were drinking and offered the 13 year-old girl, who accepted the liquor. However, when she became inebriated, the two law enforcers, who are assigned to the Independence and Bella Vista police stations, had sexual intercourse with her against her will. The matter is now before the Professional Standards Bureau and will be before the court after the two are criminally charged with rape. A medical exam on the girl has since determined that she has had sexual intercourse recently.
PUP dissects fiscal budget
The fiscal budget debate went for an entire second day Friday and while the government side of the House supported it, the opposition criticised it. Cayo South Area Representative, the PUP’s Julius Espat, went further by calling the budget “useless”. “What we have in this book, Mr. Speaker, disguised as a budget is useless and has absolutely no credibility … because of the essence of what the Prime Minister said in his budget speech this year, and I will quote: … ‘I serve notice right now that I expect to come back to this House with a mid-year supplementary, for what I present today cannot long survive the tectonic shift caused by last week’s results.’ You see, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister’s continued use of supplementary appropriation bills and special warrants underminds the essence and purpose of what a national budget should be. This is a continued abuse of the financial regulations of this country … he in reality, Mr. Speaker, uses this method of bypassing regulations to enable him to do his political spending”, Espat said, pointing to Barrow’s Christmas cheer, Mother’s Day and back to school programs.
Man knocked down in Belize City
A man lies seriously injured after he was knocked down in Belize City tonight. The incident happened at around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and the victim has been identified as Carlos Sosa.
Policeman dies of gunshot wound
The Police Department is investigating the death of one of their own in mysterious circumstances on Thursday night. 28 year old Shannon Gene Ramirez, police constable of Aloe Vera Street, came home around 6:30 in the evening and went to his room, thereafter a single gunshot was heard and shortly after that his body was discovered lying on the floor face down, a black 9mm Taurus pistol with six live rounds in the magazine and an expended shell lying nearby. But did he inflict it to himself, or did someone kill him? A post-mortem examination is scheduled. Meanwhile, officers are mourning Constable Ramirez’s death. A former community policing officer, he was well liked and Community Public Relations Coordinator Douglas Hyde remembered him as being dependable and an important asset for the Police Department.
BLACK anti-crime march held in Belize City
Yesterday morning Belize City was shrouded in BLACK – not the color, but a movement titled Be Loving and Cease Killing, dedicated to lifting the gloom over the Old Capital as a result of criminality, which has become almost a lifestyle and a business in Belize City. The Police Department has tried to mastermind a shift toward community-involved policing and the big kick-off is the BLACK march which took off from the Yabra area around six and marched up Central American Boulevard and out to Battlefield Park for a rally. Most of the route encompasses gang territory, where the criminal element is often seen as heroic, benevolent and in some cases even necessary for the community’s survival.
Ancient Maya citadel discovered in Belize is an anomaly
Many centuries ago on the border of Belize and Guatemala, Maya people built a large city surrounded by a cultivated jungle garden that was home to around 20,000 people, which archaeologists call El Pilar. They had large structures, including palaces and pyramids, and paved their plazas in lime plaster to divert rainwater into reservoirs. Archaeologists using lasers from the air have recently identified a fortress-like structure nearby covered by vegetation. Using LiDAR laser technology from a helicopter for Light Detection and Ranging, archaeologists have identified a citadel-type structure now forested over in the ancient Maya city of El Pilar in Belize. Though a team of archaeologists has been studying the ruins for more than 20 years, this fortress 600 meters (656 yards) away from the edge of the main town was unknown until they started using LiDAR to study the landscape a couple of years ago. The Maya began building monumental structures at El Pilar about 800 BC. The ruins of the stone buildings are largely covered over by forest except a house called the Hummingbird. Archaeologists have been allowing the ruins to stay forested over to preserve them while carefully digging and exposing structures in limited areas. Archaeologists working at the site are trying to gain an understanding of the lives of the everyday people, as opposed to the elites and rulers. One fact they’ve discovered at El Pilar is that the residents fed themselves in part through what is called “forest garden” agriculture, where the forest itself is cultivated.
EXPEDITION BELIZE: An Unexplored World of Botanical Mystery Beneath the Earth’s Surface
Due to the scientific and cultural importance of the Chiquibul National Park, and the sinkholes within, it will likely become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There's a plan to study the area for around a year. More pictures from the expedition. "An historic expedition of a 425’ sinkhole located in the Chiquibul National Park of Belize may prove to reveal rare and possibly never-before-seen plants from the heart of the ancient Mayan civilization. The area’s scientific, historic, and cultural significance makes it a likely candidate for a UNESCO World Heritage site designation." Selby Gardens’ Director of Botany Bruce Holst joined an international team for the first of several planned descents into the Nohoch Ch’en Sinkhole, one of the most biologically diverse and difficult to access natural environments in Belize. “This project perfectly aligns with our mission at Selby Gardens to understand, conserve and bring awareness to threatened and endangered wild ecosystems in the tropical world,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens. “We are delighted to play a role in the discoveries that will no doubt be uncovered by this team and pleased that we can help showcase the historical significance of this special place.”