Today's Belize News: September 13, 2015 - 09/13/15 11:47 AM
Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, West Vision (Cayo) and CTV 3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, Rise and Shine Morning Show, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
Squatters respond to allegations made by San Pedrito land owner
The squatters have been accused of clearing the mangroves and dumping garbage in the water. According to Leon Flowers, one of the squatters living in the area, such accusations are inaccurate and biased. “I have been living in that area for 12 years and I believe as a Belizean, I have a right to have a place to live. I am a tour guide and I care about the environment and I want to clarify that the allegations are untrue. There was a fence that divided Robateau’s property and us (the squatters). He tore down his fence and all the garbage you see around our area is his garbage,” said Flowers who pointed out that the reason Robateau tore down his fence was to expand his property and demanded the squatters leave the area. Furthermore, he mentioned that Rabateau, has a little dock in the area where he works on boats from time to time. The squatters indicated that when he is working on boats, he usually dumps all hazardous materials into the water, which has an effect on the marine life and the immediate ecosystem. One of the issues that squatters are facing is the lack of a proper sewage system. However, they are working on getting a septic established to address the situation of the waste. Flowers would like to invite local authorities to go and inspect the area, clarifying that all they want is a place to live. So far they are happy with their dwellings, but if there is an opportunity to sit down and chat with the authorities, they just want to make themselves clear that all they need is a place to live so they can leave for their families’ well-being.
BAHA – Keeping Belize Medfly free since 1977
Many question why the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) imposes such strict regulations in the importation of produce, especially from neighboring countries such as Mexico. The reality is that, these regulations are set in place to protect Belize’s own agriculture industry from foreign pests that may be transported through the products. According to the Belize Agriculture Health Authority Act, the importation of any plant, planting material, plant product, bio-engineered products or banned products can result in fines and even imprisonment. Here on Ambergris Caye, several restaurants and bars face issues when stocking up on fresh produce, as many vegetables and fruits are seasonal, leading to shortages or high costs on the island. This has led to the increase in contraband fruits and vegetables, with the most common ones being avocados and limes. As BAHA cracks down on this contraband, businesses incur financial loss on the products confiscated as well as the fine that comes along with the charges. Sales are also lost from not being able to serve regular menu items.
San Pedro High School Addresses Cyber Bullying
In an effort to bring awareness of the issue, SPHS hosted two meetings with first year parents and students. Heading the special meeting was Diana Shaw, attorney-at-law and a legal consultant, as well as founder of the Child Development Foundation. The first meeting was held on Friday, September 4th and saw parents of freshmen students in attendance. “We invited the parents of all freshmen to attend and learn more about cyber bullying. Shaw was very insightful and talked to the parents about the dangers of cyber bullying and how they can play a role in preventing it,” explained SPHS Counselor, Alexis Guerrero. Guerrero indicated that while the school can do its part in educating parents and students of the issue, cyber bullying most commonly occurs while youth are at home. “Parents have to instill values in their children. As such they need to talk to them about what is bullying, because if your child is a bully, you need to let them know that what they are doing is wrong and correct them. And if your child is the one being bullied, you need to help that child overcome the issue and build him/her up,” said Guerrero. She further explained that Shaw emphasized that adolescents are naturally self-conscious, and bullies pick on these issues, thus magnifying the problem. “So if at home these children are also being told negative things, and on top of everything they are being bullied at school, then that can be very detrimental to their character. Children that are bullied can become depressed and have low self-esteem,” said Guerrero. Effects can be wide-ranging, including a drop in grades, a change in attitude or behavior, and in some cases, suicide.
Misc Belizean Sources
Belize Mixology Bartending training schedule
*Cayo at Rumors Resort Hotel Date: September 14th- 16th for Introduction to Bartending & Sep 17th -20 for Advanced training at 9am - 1pm. * Belmopan Date: September 23rd-25 for Introduction to Bartending & September 26th-29th for Advanced training at 9am - 1pm * Caye Caulker at Roses Grill and Bar. Date: October 1st -3rd for Introduction to Bartending. & October 5th -8th for Advanced training at 9-1 pm. * San Pedro at Rain Restaurant and Rooftop Terrace at Grand Caribe. Date: October 13-16th for Introduction to Bartending & October 19th - 23rd for Advanced training. * Spaces are limited * We help in job placements for qualified participants. * After payment, participant only needs to bring a book & a pen as we provide all ingredients including liquor for practice. Inbox or call/text 664-1515 today to sign up. Don't miss this great opportunity!
Belize Bird Rescue is saying goodbye to its longest serving intern.
Sarah Mann is moving on to nurture her own organisation, Belize Raptor Center, and dedicate her time and skills to avian education in Belize. Our sincere thanks for all the amazing things she has done for BBR over the last 9 months and we wish her every success in her ongoing venture working with the young hearts and minds of Belize. Great job Sarah!
Thirteen bands take part in Carnival road march 2015
Thousands lined the route from Port to thr BTL park for the Carnival road March 2015. Six junior and seven senior bands are braving the heat in spirited competition. According to the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), the bands will be rated in categories such as durability of costume, creative use of colors and carnival spirit. Bands also received points from their performances in mass camp inspections held before carnival day. The road March will proceed up the C.A. Boulevard, across the BelCan Bridge, on to Princess Margaret Drive, culminating at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.
FCIB workers sick from pending unemployment
The Christian Workers Union (CWU) is calling on the Government of Belize to withhold passing the Vesting Act, enabling CIBC First Caribbean International Bank from selling its assets until the bank has settled on an exit package for the employees. CWU president Audrey Matura-Shepherd explained that the union has been informed that the House of Representatives is preparing to hold two special sittings next week to approve the Act, which would remove any leverage the workers have in negotiations. “Only the Prime Minister can stop this at this point. Its him who as the Minister of Finance has to go to the House on Tuesday and present this legislation and it is in his power now to say you know what I am going to put this off. I am going to be satisfied that they are negotiating…”, Matura-Shepherd said.
BEL Workers Threaten to Strike
Negotiations between the Belize Energy Worker’s Union (BEWU) and the Government-owned Belize Electricity Limited for a just wage increase for the workers have hit a wall, forcing the union representatives to threaten to take serious industrial action if their request is not taken seriously. The BEWU has been extremely patient and understanding. Their request for an increase commenced about ten months ago. The Government, on the other hand, has been stalling and stiff. The Government has nurtured an environment conducive to problems. The BEL employees have demanded an 8% salary increase to be spread over four years. It’s a small increase considering that the original request for 48%, but thanks to BEL’s meanness, was eventually reduced. Additionally, in its 2014-2015 Financial Year Report, BEL boasted profits of $36 million. The senior managers have been enjoying all sorts of benefits and perks, while the regular employees are yet to see a raise. In July, following a 3-day demonstration taken by BEL workers/BEWU members, the Minister of Labour Godwin Hulse intervened. The matter was taken to arbitration in which the Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams was the negotiator.
BEL Workers Threaten to Strike
Negotiations between the Belize Energy Worker’s Union (BEWU) and the Government-owned Belize Electricity Limited for a just wage increase for the workers have hit a wall, forcing the union representatives to threaten to take serious industrial action if their request is not taken seriously. The BEWU has been extremely patient and understanding. Their request for an increase commenced about ten months ago. The Government, on the other hand, has been stalling and stiff. The Government has nurtured an environment conducive to problems. The BEL employees have demanded an 8% salary increase to be spread over four years. It’s a small increase considering that the original request for 48%, but thanks to BEL’s meanness, was eventually reduced. Additionally, in its 2014-2015 Financial Year Report, BEL boasted profits of $36 million. The senior managers have been enjoying all sorts of benefits and perks, while the regular employees are yet to see a raise.
Court blocks UDP destruction of Maya Mopan homes – Maya Mopan residents win 1st Round
A sinister and callous move by UDP functionaries to tear down the humble homes occupied by residents of a neighbourhood in the nation’s capital has been blocked by the Supreme Court of Belize. On Friday, September 4th, attorney Michel Chebat took the plight of the over 100 residents to the Supreme Court, seeking an injunction to halt the UDP Mayor, Khalid Belisle, and officials from Recondev, a development arm of the UDP Government, from executing an open threat to destroy the homes belonging to over 30 families living in an area of Maya Mopan within the next two weeks. As reported extensively in last week’s issue of the BELIZE TIMES, the families live in fear daily that the actions of the UDP Belmopan City Council and Recondev will leave them homeless. Several families have been living and raising their families on the land for decades. Over time, they cleared the land and built homes. The laws of Belize recognise this kind of legal occupation as squatter’s rights. The Government has the power, under the law, to remove people from their lands, but compensation is compulsory.
Sedi’s Love Note to Guatemala, Not Protest Note!
Senator Lisa Shoman has fully exposed the Barrow Administration’s continued pathetic defense of Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in the face of open aggression from Guatemala. Following the August 16th clash between over 150 BTV supporters and Guatemala’s military during an expedition to the Sarstoon Island in Belizean territory, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in an attempt to save face, held a prime ministerial press conference, to announce that his Government had prepared sent off a “strong” Protest Note to the then Otto Perez Molina-led Government. When asked by Krem’s Marisol Amaya to disclose the specific tone and content of the protest note, Barrow turned red in the face and treated the question like an insult, suggesting that Ms. Amaya was confused. Well, we now know why Barrow scowled at the media. It is because the note sent by his Minister of Foreign Affairs Sedi Elrington to Guatemala was a love/apology note, and definitely not a protest note.
Rat bites Newborn at Western Regional Hospital – Why is Health Minister Pablo Marin silent!
A newborn baby was attacked and bitten by a vicious rat, while inside an incubator at the Government-run Western Regional Hospital, on Friday September 4th 2015. This most recent display of negligence and incompetence by health authorities has angered the public and, once more, cast a heavy shadow of distrust. The baby was resting inside the incubator when the rat attacked and began chewing on the child’s toe. Had the baby not cried out in pain and anguish, no one would have known what was taking place. There are several theories about how the rat got into the incubator, from the strange belief that it squeezed itself through the oxygen tubes, but the real question is how hospital authorities could allow a disease-ridden rat to enter and contaminate one of the most sterile and safe places throughout the institution: the baby unit of the maternity ward? It is very clear that incompetence and lack of due diligence has led to a serious rodent problem at the Western Regional Hospital.
Think About It
We fail to understand how our highest law, the Constitution was changed to allow the government to specifically take away and keep the BTL and BEL “for the people of Belize” and then the government give back one third of our BEL. We fail to understand it. Some think it is unconstitutional. We think it is worse than that. We think it is akin to a rogue government. This is a gangster government at work. This is Shock Doctrine at work, as explained by the writer Naomi Klien. While the nation is worried over Guatemalan aggression and the capture of the Sarstoon River, the government springs this completely unacceptable piece of hoodlum tactic. Hey, honey! It not 3 percent. It is 33 percent plus 70 million dollars! Plus legal fees to the brother of the Prime Minister, while there is a Solicitor General and eight lawyers paid for by the taxpayers.
King of the Circus
The circus was in town again last week and as per usual, the antics of the clowns overshadowed the seriousness of the acts. As is customary, the show was broadcast live and from what I could hear, it seems that apart from the usual ensemble, they brought a jackass, some fools and even a pig. No word if the members brought food this time but a few sessions back, one guy even brought his bukut. There is never a dull moment with this circus. Fun and joke aside, these politicians have totally disgraced this so-called honorable House. The language is unparliamentary, behavior unbecoming and decorum is sorely lacking. We must demand more from those who represent us. If we were to hire a lawyer to go to court and they were to carry on this way, we would surely fire them forthwith; why do we tolerate such boorishness from the members of our parliament? The reason for the last week’s House Meeting was two-fold. The first was to pass the Electricity Acquisition Settlement Act which in effect, gives back to Fortis, half of the 70% shares that were expropriated n June of 2011. Fortis will also be paid a hefty sum of seventy million dollars for half of the number of shares that back in 1999, they paid a mere 35 million. Interestingly enough, the other reason for the meeting was to approve two separate loans from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) respectively. The first loan, labeled the CDB Belize Education Sector Reform Program II Loan Motion 2015 is for, get this, seventy million dollars. The exact amount needed to pay Fortis. Coincidence….I think not!
Belize’s great leader, indeed its greatest leader, George Price was uncomfortable with the information about the “Battle of St. George’s Caye”. Making allowance for the source of the information and the facts surrounding it, Mr. Price is reported to have referred to the “battle” as a myth. Such a bold and revolutionary statement would not have gone down well with the British Governor nor his Loyal and Patriotic Order of the Baymen, L.P.O.B. supporters. This group made up of loyal and unquestioning lovers of the British formed the core of the political party that was the Honduras Party and then the National Independence Party (N.I.P.), which in early 1970s became the United Democratic Party. The leaders of these parties marched during the 10th September parades with the British flag, called the Union Jack, at the front of their annual parades. The parades would pass the Governor’s House on Regent Street, where the Governor and other British dignitaries would come by the gate and receive a note of loyalty and well wishes to the Governor and the King, or Queen of Britain. By contrast, the People’s United Party, designed their own flag, abolished any British flags from their parades and events and made it a significant point to keep the Governor and all things British away from them and their legions of followers.
Round 1 of 2015 Bros. Habet Team table tennis
The 7th annual team table tennis competition sponsored by Brothers Habet opened at the Belize Elementary auditorium on Sunday, with teams battling it out for the top spots in three divisions. This year 17 teams are competing in the eight-week long competition across the 3 divisions. 1st round – 1st Division Results: Racqueteers Defeated Brodies Ping Pang – 3-0 Hurricane Defeated Penholders Plus – 3-0 1st round – 2nd Division Results: Phoenix Defeated Bismark – 3 – 1 Racqueteers vs. Turds – 3-0 (Forfeit) Crushers defeated Spin Kings – 3-0 Racqueteers spanked Bismark – 3-0
Team Santino’s & Benny’s Megabytes dominate Weekend Warriors’ Criterium
Team Santino’s Kareem Flowers dominated the A Division and Mark Reid won the B Division, while Team Benny’s Megabytes won all top 3 spots in the Elite race when the Weekend Warriors Cycling Club held its annual Criterium on the Albert-Regent St circuit in Belize City on Sunday. Top 10 – A Division – 25 laps (25 miles) 1st Kareem Flowers – Team Santino’s – 1:03:08 2nd Kent “Bob” Gabourel – Team Megabytes 3rd Ray Cattouse Sr – Team C-Ray 4th Vallan Symns – Team Megabytes
Canada eliminates Belize from World Cup qualifiers
Canada eliminated the Belize Jaguars from advancing to the 4th round of the qualifiers to the World Cup Russia 2018, by a 4-1 aggregate score, after a 1-1 draw at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan on Tuesday night. Deon McCaulay delighted home fans when he struck the Jaguars’ 1st goal in the 26th minute, but Canada’s William Johnson equalized the score 1-1 just before the half. The Jaguars pressed for more goals as Coach Jorge Nunez introduced Jarret Davis, Devon Makin and Evan Mariano to strengthen the Jaguars’ attacks, replacing Andres Makin, Harrison Roches and Elroy Kuylen but Canada’s goalie Milan Borjan avoided giving another goal. Belize’s veteran goalie Shane Moody Orio made a great save in the final minutes to avoid giving Canada a 2-1 win, it remained a 1-1 draw at the long whistle.
Belize Bank Bulldogs win back-to-back national women’s softball champs
The Belize Bank Bulldogs won the national female softball championship by a 5-4 win over Belize Telemedia in the finals, when the national championship was held at the Rogers Stadium over the weekend. Telemedia got 7 hits off Bulldogs’ MVP pitcher Kenreen Gillett, who struck out 2 batters and walked 7. Bulldogs’ Greta Davis scored 2 runs while Cindy Joseph, Ashley Lucas and Marsha Wills scored a run apiece. Telemedia’s Lydia Cacho and Norecia Fraser scored 2 runs apiece.
Malik was a marked man
20 year old Malik Jair Dixon was killed on the night of Saturday August 29th as he headed home on his bicycle on Flamboyant Street in the Lake Independence area of Belize City. Dixon, who is known to be affiliated to the Mayflower Street area which is the home of the Ghost town Crips, was in the neighbourhood of an opposing gang area, controlled by PIV – Peace in the Valley. Dixon was approached by an armed man who fired shots at him, hitting him on the lower back and left side of his body. Dixon was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, but died from his injuries. In 2012, Dixon survived a murder attempt on his life. He was in a vehicle along with Ellis Meighan Jr when a gunman fired at them. Dixon was shot in the lower back but received treatment and bounced right back.
Hon. Dolores Sponsors Basketball Marathon in Hattieville
On Saturday September 5th 2015, Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia sponsored a high-spirited Youth Basketball Marathon in Hattieville Village. First and Second place teams were awarded cash prizes. Thanks to the youths and the many villagers who came out to support. Also, big thanks to Mr. Gilbert Vialdores a.k.a Yankee and Ms. Nicole Baptist who helped organize the event. Hon. Dolores will continue to support sports in Belize Rural Central. Planned next will be a tournament for young women.
PUP Collet Standard Bearer Provides Positive Outlets to Young People
PUP Collet Standard Bearer, Yasmin Shoman, sponsored a talented team of footballers called “Jerusalem FC.” They are participating in the CYDP Peace Cup Tournament 2015. The team members are residents of the Collet Division, mostly from an area called “Jerusalem.” The team is comprised of the following players: Gilbert Reyes, Oscar Diaz, Kevin Guardado, Carlos Vanilla, Evyn Ardon, Anthony Ramirez, Keron Willoughby, Ryan Pandy, Tyrique Ciego, Orlando Velasquez, Julio Alvarez, Kenroy Willoughby, Hallet Conorque, Aaron Gordon and Dennis Sutherland. Their first game was played at MCC on Saturday, September 5th, 2015.
PUP Caribbean Shores Executive Committee Sworn In!
On Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 the Team that will deliver the Shores and PUP Standard Bearer Kareem Musa was sworn in at the Independence Hall, PUP Headquarters. Now the work begins to ensure that Caribbean Shores gets proper leadership and representation. The members of the Executive Committee are (Left to Right in photo): Danny Madrid (Chairman), Said Musa Jr., Javier Castellanos, Deltrude Hylton, Carlo Keith, Pauline Conorquie, Paul Ferguson, Kareem Musa (Candidate), Winston Bennett, Joyce Smith, Natasha Pipersburgh, Kevin Arthurs, Mark Musa (Campaign Manager) and Gavin Zuniga.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOOK
You always hear people presenting the cliché “think outside the box” and I’ve come to the conclusion that artists do this much better than the rest of us. We do need to think outside the box but I also think that it is more than just trying to do things differently. When we say we are trying to think outside the box this generally means a continuation of what we have already been doing with only slight modifications. What art and artists bring allow a more violent confrontation in our thoughts. Every now and again we need something external that will go right against the grain of our everyday thinking in a not-so-gentle way. Our friends at the Image Factory today released a “book” called BINOMIUM. Now I put book in quotes because it is not really a book though it looks like a book and feels like a book. Joan Duran in his introduction said we should think of reading it like a religious text. Even at this slight suggestion, I wouldn’t be surprised at the extreme conservative taking offense. You know religious books are read in verses, chapters and parts. You don’t read a religious text like a novel. You take it in sips.
BEL Nationalization – Who Benefits?
Nothing changed for Belizeans under BEL’s Nationalization. Some villages in Belize Rural North can’t say anything good about BEL under this oppressive government. Old Rock Stone Pond is still without Electricity. Bomba is still without electricity. Maypen is still without electricity. Rhaburn Ridge is still waiting for electrical power. From a grassroots position, the services of BEL have not improved. In Sandhill Village, we experienced more outages than ever before. All across Belize Rural North, poor people still have to pay for poles and Transformers. Poor Miss Fermin in St Paul’s Bank was told she must find around $35,000.00 to get hooked up to the grid which stops about half-mile from her house. Miss Martinez in Rock Stone Pond No.1 is still burning candles. Her husband died not enjoying electricity and as a single parent, she must find $12,000.00 to get connected to the system. In 2015, Maypen students must still use candles to study and hot iron on the stove to iron their uniforms.
SSB Chairman mis-speaks against SSB staff
Christian Workers Union in conjunction and in solidarity with its Members from the Social Security Board (SSB) denounces the recent conduct of the SSB Chairman, Doug Singh, who seems intent in raising public sentiments against the workers and providing misleading and inaccurate information. These comments come just after the Negotiating Team of SSB at its first negotiating session tabled the request that there be a complete media blackout regarding the proposals, counter-proposals and discussions during negotiations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement presently being negotiated. CWU from its part has refrained from discussing the CBA and all surrounding and relevant matters in this regard and thus finds the conduct of the Chairman to be in total bad-faith and contrary to the spirit of good faith negotiations.
WOMAN IN THE HOUSE – WHO IS THE PIG?
Last week the House of Representatives met in Belmopan in what many believe was one of the last House sittings before general elections. All indications are that probably elections will come before the end of this year. We are entering what pundits in the Commonwealth Caribbean call the Silly Season, and it is clear that both sides, as well as the smaller parties, are gearing up. It was obvious at the House meeting that the Member for Queen’s Square was not having a good day where his back is concerned. Of course when he was on his feet attacking all and sundry and casting numerous personal aspersions at his perceived opponents, whatever pain seemed to disappear altogether. And I can tell you that this past time he outdid himself with nastiness, his Speaker of the House not once admonishing him for crossing the line. Belizeans are collectively still shaking our heads, if not in disbelief, then certainly in disgust that the leader of our country once more displayed all his pettiness and wicked and unacceptable misconduct for everyone to see and hear.
“Sick” FCIB employees protest delay in compensation
Employees of First Caribbean Bank branches all across the country called in sick yesterday, September 11, as a sign of solidarity against the manner in which the selling of the bank’s assets to Heritage Bank is being handled. Since no employees showed up for work, all branches had to be […]
Classes to resume at Faith Nazarene Primary School
Since Monday of this week, the teaching staff at Faith Nazarene Primary School in San Ignacio has been on strike due to allegations against the school’s principal, Policarpia Pech, who is said to be abusive to students as well as teachers, among other things. This strike by the teachers caused […]
Decomposed remains of Salvadorian national Jorge Edwardo Aguirre found
Reports reaching our newsroom are that the decomposed remains of Salvadorian national Jorge Edwardo Aguirre were found sometime this morning in Maypen Village, Belize District. According to reports, the decomposed remains contained chop wounds to the neck. BMG will be updating our readers as more information on this story becomes […]
Global Solutions employees strike
Police officers had to be called to the Global Solutions compound in Ladyville yesterday September 11th, when upset employees started to strike after not being payed as promised by the company’s management. According to the employees, they were promised to be paid at 10:00 a.m. but they didn’t get their […]
San Pedro Mayor in trouble with MOE
Daniel Guerrero, San Pedro Mayor, has gotten himself in hot water after going against the decision of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and giving a holiday to all schools on the island yesterday, September 11. Guerrero did so even after receiving a letter on Wednesday, denying his request for a […]
Cheaper butane prices
A press release issued by the Belize Bureau of Standards serves to inform the general public that Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) prices will be lowered by $4.00 – $5.00 per 100 pound cylinder, effective September 11th. The decrease is a result of a drop in crude oil prices and a […]
Lobster meat pies and a reader review
Yesterday morning Shirlee, Sue, Aimee and I had a meeting with Miguel from the Cancer Society to discuss blood drives. Since Miguel was accommodating as to when and where we could meet and us Red Cross girls are all about food we decided on Boogies Belly for breakfast. Aside from the excitement of our meeting and breakfast, I was anticipating a yummy treat. Aimee had called in an order for lobster meat pies for the two of us. Unless you special order they are only available on Saturdays. The pies are double the price of a regular meat pie at $3 BZD each but worth every penny. As we stood in line to order our food, a few people were eyeballing our 14 lobster pies in the case and wishing it was their special order instead. I was not surprised, they are delicious.
7 Fun Facts You Should Know About Belize
Thought you knew everything there was to know about Belize? Not so fast. There are many fun facts and observations that may be missing from your version of Belize trivia. We’ve dug up nuggets sure to entertain you at the very least, and if you rely on witty bon mots at social gatherings, dropping a few of these can’t hurt.
Strong El Niño Influenced By Climate Change Says WMO Official
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed on Sept. 1 that “a mature and strong El Niño is now present in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The majority of international climate outlook models suggest that the 2015-16 El Niño is likely to strengthen further before the end of the year.” El Niño is a weather phenomenon characterized by warming of the Pacific Ocean’s surface water due to weakened easterly trade winds. For the region, this results in strong rains, flooding, droughts, high temperatures that can consistently destroy infrastructure, and loss of agricultural production, biodiversity and even human lives. According to the WMO, during August, east-central tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures have ranged between +1.3º and +2.0º Celsius above average. And the prediction is that temperatures are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius above average, potentially placing this El Niño event among the four strongest events since 1950 (1972-1973, 1982-83, 1997-98).