Today's Belize News: January 21, 2016 - 01/21/16 11:48 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
Island athletes continue to shine at Mayor’s and Minister’s Cup
The Mayor’s and Minister’s Cup continued this past weekend on its fourth round at the Honorable Louis Sylvester Sporting Complex. Twelve teams and a total of six games once again brought the excitement of football to island fanatics. Paired with good food and refreshments, fans enjoyed a fun weekend full of spectacular sporting fun. On Friday, January 15th at 7PM, the first of two games started with Catrachos defeating Belize Pro Divers 3-1. Ambergris Divers then beat San Mateo boys with a whopping 7-3 score.Mayor Minister Cup Football Tournament-6 The action continued on Saturday, with Jokers FC facing PSG. Despite pressure from PSG, the Jokers weren’t kidding as they won with a clean score of 7-4. Following the first game of the evening, San Pedro Junior College took a big defeat from the Veterans, falling with a 6-2 game. On Sunday, during a bright and clear afternoon, the last two games of the round started at 3PM sharp. Serious Warriors easily overcame Sky Energy team, walking away with the final score of 4-1. The last game for the weekend was between Peace Makers and Progresso Boys. Progresso Boys were fan favorites, playing has as they heard fans cheering. However, at the end only one could be victorious, and after a full 90 minutes of intense battle in the pitch, Progresso Boys conceded defeat to Peace Makers in a 6-3 game final.
Puroxona Cauich delights San Pedro with comedy show
Mexican comedy at its best was presented on Saturday, January 16th at the Paradise Theatre during the first ever Puroxona Cauich show. It was a full house, as many island residents came out for some laughs courtesy of Reef Radio and Reef TV. Ivan Vasquez, an iconic and charismatic comedian from Merida Yucatan, Mexico, gives life to ‘Puroxona Cauich,’ a Yucatecan woman, who faces failures in her marriages and struggles in modern society. The show depicted how Mexican Mestizo women live today, and how they have managed to keep their cultural heritage alive. The modern days have changed people to such a drastic measure that they do not know (or care to know) where they come from. Puroxona claims that their cultural roots have been severed and her act was aimed to showcase that culture before it is lost, all while having a good laugh. The show started a bit after 9PM, to a packed theater room number two.
Guatemala’s new president sworn in; Belize PM attends
On Thursday, January 14th, former TV comedian Jimmy Morales was sworn in as Guatemala’s president for a four year term (2016-2020) of office. Morales officially took the reins of the country in an elaborate ceremony held at the cultural centre Miguel Angel Asturias in Guatemala City. Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow was in attendance, among many leaders of other countries attending the inauguration, including U.S Vice-President Joe Biden and Spain’s former King Juan Carlos I. Barrow personally received the invitation to attend the event when Morales visited Belize in November of last year.
Miss Carnival Pageant is around the corner!
Four beautiful ladies will be vying for the coveted title of Carnival Queen 2016/2017 on Saturday, January 23rd at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium. The contest will start at 7:30PM, and is in honor of the anticipated ‘El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro,’ which will take place from February 5th to the 10th. The four ladies vying for the Miss Carnival title are Melida Perreira, Lurbin Ruiz, Blanca Wagner and Arabella Hernandez. On the night of pageant, the aspiring ladies will participate in four different segments which include opening dance, beach wear, talent, and evening wear. The winner of the pageant will become Miss Carnival Queen 2016/2017 and will be crowned by outgoing Carnival Queen Patty Lopez.
US FBI Joins Investigation on Anne Swaney Murder
It did not take long for the US media to arrive in Belize to follow up on the murder of ABC7 television producer Anne Swaney. Her name headlining news all over the world and the story of her untimely death while vacationing in Belize has people questioning the safety of traveling to Belize. The Belize Government and its Tourism Board is scrambling to keep its good name as a safe and desirable vacation destination has mobilized its police department and is working on boosting the presence of police in the Cayo District where Anne and another resident filmmaker, Mattheiw Klinck, were recently murdered.
Meet 2016 Reina del Carnaval Pageant Contestants
The third annual Mrs. Reina del Carnaval has been set to take place on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at the R. Angel Nunez Auditorium with four contestants vying for the title of Carnaval Queen of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize. Segments of the pageant will include an opening dance, beachwear, talent and eveningwear. Organizers expect another fun-filled pageant scheduled to commence at 7:30p.m. Here are this year’s Mrs. Reina del Carnaval pageant contestants:
Misc Belizean Sources
Paint Party at Crazy Canucks
We will be continuing with our reef fish series tommorrow and the events up and you can sign up. I have not posted a picture as im still working on the lay our of the four. If you want to come but missed the first one don't worry the four paintings will look good on their own but to people that do all four they will be able to connect them. This week we are continuing our Reef Fish series. Come join us this week at Crazy Canucks. Everything you need is provided step by step direction, paint, brushes, smocks, canvas and maybe even a stencilled canvas if you need it (shhhh). $25u.s for first time artists and visitors. $20u.s for our members. Bring a Rag if you can help save paper.
BELIZE FISHING REPORT: Week of January 10th – 16th, 2016
Permit were hungry and the fishing pressure is light at the lodge. Lots of bone fish for all of those who threw at them. Sarah and Matt, Greg, Marc and Jason, Terry and Cole, John, John 2, Jay, Tom, Ron, Todd, Stewart, Eric, Jim and Steve got some good fishing time in and were rewarded with out cooperative bonefish. Not to be left out… Shelly and Brandon, Brad, Matt and Mark, Joe, Russ, Rusty, and Ed, and Mike and Cindy rounds out the bonefishing crowd. We try not to take bonefish for granted here, but it seems everyone will catch a bonefish if they have the determination to work at it.
Public Meeting in Belmopan todayon Municipal Bond and BelizeRoad Safety Project
Fellow residents of Belmopan, I implore you to come out to this meeting. Especially since the Belmopan City Council is contemplating raising a municipal bond, which is basically borrowing money that you, the tax payers, will ultimately pay back. Come out, listen and voice your concerns. A municipal bond should NOT be accepted by the people without a local referendum. Please join us on Thursday, 21st January at the Belmopan Civic Center at 7:00 p.m to learn more about the development of our Garden City.
Jam night at the Palapa Bar
Palapa Bar is now hosting JAM Night every Thursday Night 8p-Close. Valentino de caliz gets things warmed up 5p-8, then join him and others on stage. Bring your own instruments, sing and dance. ALL are welcome at our NEW location (formerly Di V'u Dock Bar and Reef Side Dining/Wet Willy's)
Power interruption scheduled for entire Orange Walk District on Sunday
January 24 from 6:00am to 2:00pm. Necessary for BEL to replace utility poles carrying high voltage lines and conduct maintenance of transmission system.
FCD Signs Environmental Partnership
Great news for Cayo and the Chiquibul: Friends for Conservation and Development has signed an environmental partnership agreement with the Balam Association to protect the Chiquibul. "FCD and Asociacion Balam of Peten, Guatemala signed today a renewed 5 year environmental partnership agreement for the joint protection of the trans-boundary Chiquibul ecosystem at the OAS Office. Witnesses to the signing was the Ambassador of the British Embassy in Belize, Mr. Peter Hughes and Ambassador of the British Embassy in Guatemala, Mr. Thomas Carter."
Poetry Slam at Soul Project
The Pseudo Slam Jam at the Soul Project was a fantastic night of poetry and music, with a lot of amazing artisan wines too. Thanks, Hakim Bellamy, for coming to Cayo and sharing your talent!
TIDE Wins World Energy Globe Award
The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment - similar to Cayo's FCD - was one of the eight winners from over 2,000 projects from 177 countries. That's a big win for Belize! TIDE travelled all the way to Iran to receive the award. Well done! "Exciting news! TIDE has just won the World Energy Globe Award Youth Category 2015 for our Freshwater Cup environmental football tournament! TIDE freshwater ecologist Elmar Requena received the award on our behalf at the award ceremony in Tehran earlier today."
Maya Underworld: Waterfall Cave
National Geographic has published a short article about Waterfall Cave, located here in Cayo, across from Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. Definitely worth a read, and the Waterfall Cave is a must if you haven't been there yet. More great pictures here. "Once thought to be the entrance to the mythical Xibalba, Belize's Waterfall Caves is a spectacular subterranean world with a few grizzly surprises... I’m in a cave in the Belizean jungle, hundreds of feet underground, beneath a limestone mountain ridge. We’ve been following the subterranean course of a river, but have taken an unplanned vertical diversion up a scarcely defined sidetrack that disappears into the roof of the cave. I’m refusing to let myself think about the return journey."
Great Blue Heron Rescued
This Great Blue Heron was found by two boys in San Antonio Village in the Cayo district and brought to Stephanie and Roni Martinez (famous local birder) on Dec 19, 2015. Initially the bird seemed in critical condition and the pictures sent to BBR indicated an injured, possibly broken wing. BBR picked up the animal and the physical showed a weak, skinny bird with parasites, but thankfully no broken wing. In the capable hands of the BBR team, with meds, worms, plenty of live fish and lots of TLC, there was a quick recovery. BBR is happy to announce the release of the beautiful bird on January 2, 2016 at Captain Hook's Shrimp Farm in Ladyville (with kind permission of Charlie, the owner). I would like to thank Nikki for allowing me to jump into the wonderful work at BBR while I visited, and participating in the rehab and release of this magnificant creature. It was such an amazing feeling to watch him spread those incredible wings and fly off. BBR, you do great work.
What would two macaws be doing on a Quamwood branch?
Well, sometimes we have to observe beyond the obvious to understand these birds. Clues are in the rest of the photo... Hanging on a Quamwood branch munching some cohune nuts, or the pericarp rather.
Orange Walk Weed Mega-Bust Was Not From A Mex Cartel
Orange Walk police made a major marijuana bust right after New Year’s – and it was a huge one. Nine parcels of compressed weed, a total of 183 pounds of weed with an estimated street value of three hundred thousand dollars. That’s more than a quarter mil! And what made the case more intriguing is that the weed parcels carried a label, the letter “J”. Experts say it seemed to be the mark of a cartel – and police believe it came over from Mexico. Well today, at a press luncheon where he addressed all matters, the Mexican Ambassador Carlos Quesnel gave us his information on the mysterious “J” Jules Vasquez: "Is there intelligence sharing between Belize and México on a case like this and specifically does anyone know if that "J" represents a cartel in Mexico?" H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: "Well, I can tell you I just came back last week from Mexico so, eh, eh, I just heard an opinion by an expert about hat the package you all mentioned, the marijuana. And I was told that this is not a typical package sent by a Mexican cartel because of the circumstances, the package, the different, the characteristics of the stuff."
Caledonia's Alcoser Still Missing
And, right after that weed was busted by police, 31 year old Caledonia villager Luis Alcoser went missing. His Kia Sportage was found abandoned and riddled with bullets on the road to Caledonia – and nothing has been heard from him. When we called Corozal police today they were reluctant to say anything about the matter although the man has been missing for two weeks. Police simply told us they did not wish to jeopardize anyone’s life and so directed us to the family. If you can recall from our report a couple weeks ago, after 48 hours that the man was missing police told us that they suspected the man was still alive although they could not tell us where he was. When we checked with the family today they gave us the same story they gave us last two weeks when they first learnt about their son’s disappearance.
Mexicans Annoyed Over Nanes Schnitzer
And another subject the Mexican Ambassador commented on was the disappearance of David Nanes Schnitzer. As we told you, the Mexican fugitive got Supreme Court bail on Friday, November 20th and no one has seen him since. But, the truth is that he was imprisoned on a flimsy charge, for having a fake driver’s license – which was only to hold him in jail until an extradition to Mexico could be arranged. But, the government of Belize failed to deliver him – because they said there was something missing from the extradition treaty to make it effective. Today Ambassador Quesnel told the media that as far as they are concerned the extradition treaty with Belize is intact, functional and didn’t need anything to make it operational: H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: "Once the extradition treaty was entered into force, so for international law that treaty was totally in force. I also as a lawyer understand that there is a system in Belize that obligates the Belizean government to incorporate that treaty into national law. I'm not going to go into details because that's not part of our job. I just see the bilateral relationship and I would like us to mention that by international law standards that treaty was fully in force."
Coast Guard Hunting Pirates That Caused Tourist Terror
Last night, we told you about the man who police charged for the armed robbery of a group of tourists on their yacht near Middle Long Caye on last week Wednesday. He’s Bradwick Lino, and he remains behind bars tonight while police continue to look for the other 3 pirates who accompanied him. Today, we spoke with the Coast Guard’s Commandant about their response to this crime, and he told us that as soon as the they were notified, they mobilized to the area where the armed robbery had occurred.: Adm. John Borland - Commandant, Belize National Coast Guard: "The distress was relayed to the coast guard on the night of the incident via the port authority. As we were out of range of channel 16 distress communications. We did respond that night, the perpetrators of that crime were well gone from the scene and we assisted in guiding that vessel in coming into safe harbour and making the reports to us. Both coast guard and police deployed to conduct an investigation in the area and the rest you know a little bit more than I do. Since then some arrests have been made and police continue with their investigation to see if they can put those that are responsible to justice for committing that crime."
Southside Cops Opened Gun To Match With Bou-Nahra Mansion Burglary
As we told you last night, police recovered one of the six guns stolen from Sarkis Bou-Nahra's Burrell Boom mansion. Police found the Browing 9mm pistol on Ordonez Street in Belize City on January 7 th - but it took 12 more days to confirm that it was from the Bou-Nahra estate because the serial number had been filed off. But a diligent Inspector disassembled the weapon to find the serial number on the pieces inside. Today Senior Superintendent Chester Williams told the weapon recovery is due to the Southside Strike Team’s hard work: Sr. Supt. Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South: "What you will hear on the news is south side strike team working in conjunction with special branch remove from the street guns, ammunition and drugs. That is on a daily basis and I can say that for last week alone, we removed from the street at least 5 firearms and that effort continues and I think over the weekend, early this week, we removed one of the firearms we believe was stolen from the Bou-Nahra's residence in Burrell Boom. There was no one arrested for it, it was found property.
Chukka Says No Preference A La Dark Night
Yesterday we told you about the tremors in the tourism industry that have local tour operators upset. The allegation is that foreign tour companies regularly receive preferential treatment from the authorities governing the tourism industry. The report focused on Dark Night’s Cave Adventures owned by American businessman Bradly Paumen, but during one of the interviews Yohnny Rosado named a couple other foreign tour companies who he claimed are also getting preferential treatment including CHUKKA. In the case of Paumen, public records show a consistent pattern of preference for Dark Night, from the state acquiring land for his company’s private use, to allowing him to operate his tours without a valid license for the first 18 days of this year. But CHUKKA says that the allegation that they get this type of preferential treatment also is a blatant lie. Here’s how Valerie Woods put it: Valerie Woods - Country Manager, CHUKKA Belize: "We must comply with the same regulations that FECTAB and all other operators operating out of Nohoch Cheen reserve which is the matter at hand, we must comply with it. Our buses are checked at the village, our buses are checked at the boot. The tourism police officers go on our property that we lease and check us there too. NICH personnel have checked up there too and that is the statement of fact that is what I'm clarifying."
An Appalling Case Of Child Rape
There is an appalling rape case to report tonight: A 12 year old girl was raped by her stepfather twice in the Stann Creek district. The first incident happened last Thursday afternoon at their home. The little girl had just come home from school when her stepfather grabbed her, tied her hands, covered her eyes and mouth with a rag, placed a knife to the side of her neck and raped her. Then, he raped her again the next day at their home. Neither her mother nor her siblings were around. The stepfather has been detained and is expected to be charged later tonight or early tomorrow morning.
Stan Creek Serial Rapist Caught
While the girl’s stepfather awaits those charges, another man has been charged with 2 counts of rape in the Stann Creek district. He is Jamaican national Dwight Johnson. Johnson reportedly raped 2 women on separate occasions at the same location. The first incident happened on December 11th 2015. A pregnant woman had just come off the bus at the 6 miles junction on the Hummingbird Highway when a man with a grey t-shirt covering his face, dragged her into a nearby orange orchard, held a knife to her throat and raped her. The second incident occurred on January 9th. IN this case a 48-year-old woman got off the bus at the same 6 miles junction. She was standing alone at the junction when a man with a brown T-Shirt tied on his head and carrying a machete approached her. He dragged her into the same nearby orange orchard where she was beaten, raped and robbed of $372 and her cell phone. Dwight Johnson has been charged with 2 counts of rape for both these incidents.
2015's Last Quarter Was Strong For Tourism
As we’ve been reporting, 2016 has been a rough year for Belize’s image as a tourist destination, but 2015 was a bumper year, according to BTB’s figures. Today the Belize Tourism Board sent a release with a recap of their tourist numbers for 2015. The report focused on the number of overnight tourism which showed a strong increase in the last two quarters of the year when compared to 2014. In September there was an increase of 19.3%, in October 22.1%, in November 33% and in December 22.5 %. BTB also makes note that the November increase of 33% is the largest increase ever recorded for that month, which rarely goes above 10%. Furthermore in December BTB recorded a total of 39,977 overnight visitors to Belize- the closest number to 40 thousand tourists that a month has ever recorded in overnight arrivals. There were several things that factored in to the record breaking performance of 2015 as it relates to overnight tourism. One of them is the introduction of two new flights to Belize: South West and COPA Airlines.
Mexican Border Express Fee Is Bogus
Anyone who’s travelled to Chetumal – especially on a long weekend or a holiday knows how long and time consuming the lines can be. But for those willing to pay ten dollars a head – they also know about the so-called “express fee”. That’s 75 pesos, for which you get a stamped paper which you put in your passport, and you simply whiz past all those stuck in the immigration line – by the time they get out, you’re in Chedraui stocking up on groceries. Today at the press luncheon, one journalist asked if that fee is legal: Reporter: "Is this legal entry into Mexico because this is a big concern for people who cross regularly, would want to get across the border as quickly as possible, you're being solicited to pay an express fee. Is this considered legal entry into Mexico?" H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: "What you have expressed to me, that’s certainly illegal. And we are totally against these practices. And I beg you in any case that you know something about like this, do send the information to the embassy and I guarantee that we will convey this information to the authorities of the immigration in Mexico city because we are totally against these practices."
Mex Ambassador: Cigarette Contraband Causing Concern
But one thing which passes into Mexico without even a bogus express paper are contraband cigarettes. Literally millions of cigarettes have been intercepted going into Mexico form Belize – which means that many millions more are smuggled through. Today the ambassador said Belize and Mexico need a trade agreement to cut down on contraband:.. H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: "We are very concerned on this issue. This has been brought to the official discussions between both countries. I can tell you this is one of the main concerns of our people, the authorities based in Chetumal. We are doing all of our efforts to combat, to fight this smuggling of cigarettes." "Even if we are fighting very seriously this phenomenon because we don’t want these kinds o cigarettes in México and Central America, but I think the best way to combat it, to fight the smuggling of cigarettes is having a free trade agreement that allows not only cigarettes, but many other products to be traded openly and not through contraband which affects the economy of the countries of the area."
Is Trade Agreement Antidote To Contraband?
And for contraband generally, form cattle going over to Mexico, to vegetables being smuggled into Belize across the Rio Hondo, the Ambassador says a trade agreement is the solution:.. H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: “If we go one with the signature of the Partial Scope Free Trade Agreement that will bring much benefits in this particular area So that it will avoid contraband of, well you mentioned cigarettes, and many other products. Ah, you know there is also contraband, of, for example, of cattle and if we open the market in the sectors that are convenient for both countries I am sure that contraband will be automatically decreased between both countries.”
(Formal) Carrot Imports From Mexico Were Stable
And what about carrots? As we’ve reported local farmers say their carrots have been left to rot because of excess importation of Mexican carrots. Today the Ambassador said the legal importation has also been the same:… H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: “We have seen last year's statistics, and we have not seen a change of pattern in the carrots exports to Belize from Mexico, so there has been a quota, and this, this amount of carrots we exported to Belize are the same as last year. So I don't know if it really is the Mexican carrot that is affecting the local market in Belize."
Mexico Also Has Rio Hondo Security Concerns
As has been well documents carrots and other vegetables are smuggled from Mexico into villages along the Rio Hondo in the Orange Walk and Corozal districts. Now that’s contraband, but illicit drugs are also smuggled along that river. It’s a concern for the BDF which says the US is funding a base in the Consejo area. The Mexicans say they also want to help:… H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: “We are in talks with the Belizean government on how to provide an agreement of even constructing some facilities to try to help the Belizean authorities to fight all these criminal, illegal activities.”
Blue Creek 'Copter Wasn't Mexican
And the BDF will soon be doing aerial reconnaissance of the Hondo, some of it with the Bell Helicopter which was found abandoned in Blue Creek near the border with Mexico. It’s been widely rumored that the helicopter had a drug cargo or cartel figure, but today the Ambassador said the helicopter is not Mexican H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: “We have just, received some reports, unofficial reports that, ah, the registered, or this helicopter, was registered in the U, so it’s not a Mexican number and it's not registered under Mexican law.”
BDF Getting Ready For Takeoff
And speaking of helicopters, we told you how the BDF were expecting their 2 helicopters to arrive in Belize from Taiwan. Well, reliable sources tell us that they are here, and they’re currently at the Port of Big Creek in Independence Village. The choppers are currently in a disassembled state with all the parts sitting in several containers. We’re told that those containers will be moved from the Port of Big Creek very shortly, and the Taiwanese technicians get started on assembling them. That will take several weeks, and in about 3 months, the choppers will be handed over to to the BDF.
Coast Guard, 2015 Was Good, 2016 Will Be Better
Today, the High Command of the Belize National Coast Guard invited the media to a briefing where they gave an overview of their performance over the last year. It was a lengthy and extensive 2 hour presentation, but here are a few important excerpts of the Coast Guard’s operations geared at making Belize’s seas safer: Adm. John Borland - Commandant, Belize National Coast Guard: "The coast guard grew from a strength of 50 in 2005 where we started to 320 in 2015 but more significant over the last 2 years, since 2012 the coast guard grew from a strength of 120 to 320. Critical was the approval of our new recruiting policy from the national security council to grow the coast guard by 100 each year to reach the desired end strength of 700 by the year 2020." Lt. Junior Grade Alma Pinelo - Adjutant, Belize National Coast Guard: "Under the headquarters command are the seal platoons. We have here 4 seal platoons that we would like to establish between now and 2020 each with 16 personnel." Adm. John Borland - Commandant, Belize National Coast Guard: "The coast guard continued also with its enduring partnership without partner nations, we share common goals and face common threats in proving our defence and security mechanisms. Through this partnership with United States Southern Command, we saw the coast guard multi-purpose complex building commence construction and is near completion scheduled for the end of April 2016. We saw capacity building increase as we continue to receive valuable support in training for our forces both in country and overseas. This was made possible through the partnerships, not only with South Com but United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico; allowing us to train at their institutions alongside their forces."
The Hunting Caye Hangover
But, while the Coast Guard is expected to get those boats in a few months time, things aren’t so certain for the completion of their Hunting Caye Forward Operating Base. This facility has stalled for over a year after the public outcry that a Guatemalan company should not be building a military facility for Belize. The Coast Guard officers posted at that strategic location have been forced to perform their duties in less than ideal living conditions. By now, if the Guat company, BINARQ, had been allowed to continue, the base would more than likely be finished by now. So, when we asked about it today, their commandant told us that these officers can and will have to make do until construction on the base resumes, and is then completed: Adm. John Borland - Commandant, Belize National Coast Guard: "The officers that are stationed at Hunting Caye are all on active duty status, so they continue to perform their operational requirement for providing law enforcement and their military functions. They continue to operate out of the old facility, the facility being constructed it still hasn't met any traction since the project was suspended but the update on that project is that now finally we have received the new amended updated plans from the army core of engineers. Our ministry of works' engineers have since then put together a bill of quantity, an estimate for the completion of that project and we expect that contract should be put to tender; advertised and awarded perhaps by the end of this financial year."
GSU's Busts Impressive
The Gang Suppression Unit was busy today as they apprehended one person for weed, removed a machine gun and a pistol from the streets of Belize City, and recovered a stolen item that, information indicated was to be sold by members of a gang. We start first with the arrest of Jorge Caceres for the offence of “Possession of controlled Drug.” Around 5 o clock this morning based on intelligence, members of the GSU searched a house on Madam Liz Crescent, the residence of 29 year old Caceres. They were searching for firearms and ammunition. 10 persons including females and minors were present when they arrived at the residence. Police found nothing incriminating inside the house but when they searched Caceres, they discovered 4 grams of loose cannabis inside the Velcro of his Jordan slippers.
Northside Neighborhood Watch
Police officers from both the North and South side held their weekly meet and greet session today. We started off with the north side this afternoon and caught up with Inspector Fitzroy Yearwood in the Queen Street Area. As we told you, residents in that area are asking police to assist in organizing a neighbourhood watch. Residents say there is a high level of petty theft in the area. Yerwood told us they are back to start up that neighbourhood watch and to listen to the other their other concerns. Insp. Fitzroy Yearwood - Public Relations Officer: "On today's meet and greet we will target the New Road area, Hyde's Lane, Keyhole Alley, Eyrie Street, Hudson Street, Jail Lane; this is sector one A, B and C. The reason we're targeting this area, we have other areas like Lizarraga Avenue that will come up eventually. We're trying to do meet and greet almost weekly. We were lucky today that the weather held up and so we can move forward with it." "It's a house to house effort, being more in direct contact with members of your community, the people that live in your area. This effort we know it's stressed all over the city but we on the north side we have decided that on a weekly basis, we'll do this. We are forming more neighbourhood watches in the area. We are trying our best to get the community more interactive in their own personal protection and their own safety."
Southside Cops Vigilant
Residents in the southside are also calling on the police to organize those same programs in their area. This evening about 35 officers were going house to house in different zones on the southside. We spoke first with Superintendent David Chi on Krooman Road and he told us residents want a neighborhood watch and more patrols. Supt. David Chi - OC, Precinct 1: "It is very important to do the meet, it gives us an understanding of the area, the way people feel and it gives us information, opinions as how to better police the area. In that sense we understand where people need assistance, what we can do. For instance we just spoke to some people in this area and they are asking about neighbourhood watch because of past incidents where they had to be looking out for each other. So we spoke to them and we agree with them that the police will be back in this area to assist them to form a neighbourhood watch in this area, which will make the area much safer." Residents are also asking for the overgrown lawns and bushes to be cut. We also caught up with Senior Superintendent Chester Williams in the Fabers Road area on Madam Liz Street. Williams discussed some of the concerns of the residents and what will be done to keep that community safe.
Police Active With Gang Mediations
Now keeping these communities safe is just one part of their community policing strategy. Another crucial approach is ensuring that those who terrorize the south side residents with gun violence and gang rivalry are dealt with. This is done through police interventions with gang members when there is tension between gangs. Williams discussed how effective this approach is to the reduction of crime.
COLA Condemns Ashcroft Alliance Cruise Port Proposal
Last week Tuesday, we showed you our interview with the Prime Minister in which he discussed the reason Mike Feinstein’s Port project, Stakebank, might be scrapped. According to the Prime Minister, Feinstein wanted the government to give him a 25 year exclusive contract as the only cruise port in Belize City. Government’s Plan B, is to revive the old Port of Belize project idea. That’s the failed project that the then Port owner, Luke Espat, broke ground with Carnival Cruise Line, but which never materialized. The Ashcroft Alliance now wants to partner with the Government to make the project become a reality this time around, and the Grassroots Organization, COLA, has joined the chorus of opposition to the idea. The release says, “ While COLA has been on the record as supporting the need for a cruise port in Belize City – the sooner the better – we cannot support this failed project, disguised and repackaged by Ports Investment Limited and supported by the moving hand of the Alliance.”
Extortion Charge Dropped Against Cop
It made major news 2 years ago when 38 year-old Police Constable Oscar Ramirez was charged with extortion for an accusation while he was on duty in San Pedro. Well, the accused cop is accused no more; the Magistrate’s Court has thrown the extortion charge out of court. As we told you, 18 year-old Sander Palma, who was a minor at the time, told police that his friend, Mirna Berganza, was detained by police for a traffic offence. Palma told police then that he had Ramirez $600 to release her, with the promise that he would pay another $700 at a later date. Well, the case was called up before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer today, and Palma told the court that he no longer wanted to proceed with court action against Ramirez. Without a complainant, Senior Magistrate Frazer was obliged to strike it out for want of prosecution. That set Constable Ramirez free of the charge.
Mexicans Gave Their Money For Marion Jones, What Next?
And finally tonight, one last bit of news from the Mexican Ambassador’s Luncheon. He announced that Mexico has made the money available for a sports facility within the Marion Jones Sports Complex. As we understand it, this would be within the what is considered the parking lot. Ambassador Quesnel explained:.. H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: "What I can tell you is that México has done its part, we have donated the money and we have donated the money to the UNOPS, which is the United Nations office on projects and management, they are dealing with the Belizean government. Ah, the Mexican government is just now hoping to see that the first stone be put there and we would be very happy when the construction is finished, or when the construction starts." Jules Vasquez: "So then how much is the money?" H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez - Mexican Ambassador to Belize: "The money through the Yucatán fund is 5 million US dollars." Right now, there is no word from the Government of Belize on when that first stone will be put there – but considering that Marion Jones has been one big PUDP misadventure from bow to stern, we aren't holding our breaths