Today's Belize News: March 15, 2017 - 03/15/17 12:40 PM
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, and other specials
Jordanie Olivera collapses at Airport
The San Pedro Sun extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of 23-year-old Jordanie Olivera, who suddenly passed away today, March 14th. According to an official police report, Olivera was complaining of shortness of breath, and after seeking medical attention, collapsed while waiting for a flight to Belize City for further care. A source from Tropic Air briefly told The San Pedro Sun that Oliveria sought treatment at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez Polyclinic II and was released from the clinic around 2:55PM, after which she booked a flight to receive emergency care at Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. However, she was experiencing breathing complications, and moments before boarding her flight, she passed away.
SPHS student Angel Navidad recovering after attack
A San Pedro High School (SPHS) student and member of the school’s champion male softball team, Angel Jose Navidad is recovering in a hospital in Belize City after being attacked on Saturday March 11th. Navidad was on his way home when he reportedly received a severe blow to his head by his attacker. He was then taken to Belize City where he has been under observation. Initially it was reported that Navidad’s state was critical and a surgery was to take place. However, after being examined by doctors in Belize City, surgery was ruled out. Navidad was closely monitored and according to the latest update, his recovery has been swift. According to a social media post from his family, within 24 hours of the attack, he was already conscious and talking. “I am happy to report that Angel Jose Navidad is doing much better. We had long conversations and everything looks great.”
SPHS Male Softball team defends championship at Northern Softball Regional championship
San Pedro High School (SPHS) hosted the 2017 National Secondary School Sports Association (NSSSA) Northern Softball Regionals on Friday, March 10th and Saturday, March 11th. In a total of eight matches played at the Honorable Louis Sylvester Sporting Complex, high school teams fought for a chance to represent the North at the anticipated NSSSA National Softball Championship. At the end of the tournament, the SPHS male and the Belize Rural High School (BRHS) female softball teams emerged as champs of the North. Outstanding players were given individual awards. Keena Pott (BRHS) and Angel Jose Navidad (SPHS male) won for Batting Champion; Indyra De La Fuente (OWTHS female) and Antholyn Vellos (CCC) won Best Outfield; Selena Banner (BRHS) and Javon Carrillo (BHSA) won Best Infield; Keena Pott (BRHS) and Lester Gamez (SPHS) won Most Wins; Britney Bijil (SPHS female) and Isaul Coba (SPHS male) won Most Run Batted In; Ada Cordova (SPHS female) and Alrick Quan (CCC) won Most Stolen Base); and Arumy Campos (ESTM) and Lester Gamez (SPHS male) won Most Strikeout.
Isla Bonita Elementary holds annual Science Fair
Isla Bonita Elementary School (IBES) had a full house on Friday, March 10th, as students hosted their 2nd annual Science Fair. Under the theme, “Knowledge is Power”, students from standards three to six were divided into groups and tasked with creating an experiment or science based project. Using creativity and unique talents, students successfully showcased their grasp of the scientific curriculum. From 9AM to 2PM, the upper-class students presented their group projects on static electricity, electromagnetic spectrum of light, gravity, the nervous system, the skeletal system and the pinhole camera. The lower division students presented an experiment with Diet Coke and Alka-Seltzer, and how to make slime. All the groups were well-versed in their material, their hard work clearly visible to their teachers. Students were graded on their presentations, and many groups passed with flying colors. Principal Addy Martinez was excited for her students’ performance.
Woman Collapses to Her Death While Waiting for Flight to Belize City
The Police Department has confirmed the death of Jordani Olivera, 23-years-old, today Tuesday, March 14, 2017. According their report, Jordani was complaining of shortness of breath and collapsed whilst waiting for her flight to Belize City. She was rushed to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez Poly Clinic and was pronounced dead by a medical officer. According to reports, Jordani had been battling health complications from a procedure she underwent at the Poly Clinic weeks earlier. She got really ill and after revisiting the clinic earlier today, she was advised to travel to the city for better medical care. While she waited for the 4p.m. flight at Tropic Air, Jordani suddenly fell really ill and was reportedly in pain. It was during the time that the departure crew at Tropic Air rushed to prepare the flight a little earlier to assist Jordani on her way to the city that she collapsed. First Aid attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.
Southwest Airlines Launches Direct Flights Between Belize and Denver, Colorado
On Saturday, March 11th, 2017 Southwest Airlines and Belize launched its inaugural flight from Denver, Colorado direct to Belize connection. With two ceremonies held on that day to commemorate this event, the first was held in Denver, Colorado to mark the first flight departing to Belize. Those in attendance representing Belize included Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation and Mr. Anthony Hunt, member of the Aviation Development Committee. Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation stated: “It is always a pleasure to welcome a new route to Belize and today’s inaugural flight from Denver, Colorado is no exception. Southwest Airlines continues to show its commitment to Belize by creating additional routes to Belize making us more accessible to US travelers. We are grateful to Southwest who believes in our destination and we hope that they will continue be a great partner for years to come.”
BWS Expands San Pedro Sewage While Residents Complain About Water Supply
Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation and Area Representative of Belize Rural South, met with members of Belize Water Services (BWS) on Thursday, March 9, 2017 to discuss BWS intentions of further expanding its sewage system along the Laguna Drive from San Pedro High School to Sir Barry Bowen Bridge in San Pedro Town. An estimate of about $1.5 million dollars will be used for this project which will be funded by the Government of Belize and Belize Water Services. This project is to benefit approximately 62 residents and businesses. CEO of BWS, Mr. Alvan Haynes along with Mr. Sanjay Keshwani (BWS Technical Services Manager), Mr. Dave Pascascio (BWS Operations Manager) and Mr. Jermaine Jones (BWS Operations Supervisor) were all present on site with Mayor Guerrero and Hon. Heredia as they visited the areas that will be connected to BWS’ sewage system.
Misc Belizean Sources
Caye Caulker signage
Yesterday our Council met once more with the STP 2 team who has been coming out to coordinate with us and the public on new signage that will be placed around our island. We are still deciding on the best ones that will capture the attention of the public. For our next public meeting, we will be consulting more with public before we make the final decisions. Please feel free to comment! Attached are just some of the many examples!
Caye Caulker beach lighting
The Caye Caulker Village Council is working on our beach lighting project to light up dark areas along our beach. We have currently installed one of the many Eco Friendly Solar Lights on the beach and will be installing some more of these solar lights this weekend. We ask the communities kind cooperation in taking care of these new lights.
Chiquibul Challenge Marathon Photos by Tony Rath
Photos from the first Chiquibul Challenge Marathon. Sorry I could not cover everyone, some runners were too fast, others too slow, so I could only cover those that were just right ;)
Corozal Community College Open Day
March 17th, 91m - 2:30pm
Power interruption 8:00am to 12:00 noon, Sunday, March 19: portion Philip Goldson Highway from Mile 1 to Buttonwood Bay Blvd roundabout at Mile 2 1/2
Two 15min power interruptions 8:00am to 8:15am and 11:45am to 12:00 noon will also affect West Landivar, Coral Grove, Buttonwood Bay & Belama Phase 1. BEL to install primary load switching devise on power distribution system in area.
Power interruption 4:45pm to 5:00pm, Saturday, March 18, portion Cayo District
Unitedville to Arenal including Benque Viejo, San Ignacio, Santa Elena, Unitedville, Duck Run 1 & 2, Billy White, Georgeville, Central Farm, Esperanza, San Miguel, Cristo Rey, San Antonio, Santa Cruz, Bullet Tree Falls, Branch Mouth, Santa Familia, Calla Creek, Corozalito & Succotz. BEL to replace poles and ground wires on the transmission system in the area.
Seatrade Global 2017
The Belize Team at Seatrade Global in Ft. Lauderdale.
Miss Teen Belize
With the official photoshoot scheduled for April 1st & pageant day set for May 27th, the final casting call will be held at the venues listed below. Due to the large amount of applicants , the committee would like to get to know you better. For those of you who have signed up and given us your information we look forward to meeting you, and those of you who want to be apart of the 2017 Miss Teen Belize edition, send us your information before it's too late! Thank you to everyone contributing to this exciting event!
Caye Caulker Ocean Academy: Last Batik class for this school year
Thank you Lee Vanderwalker for mentoring young OA artists and designers. You can see the batik work display on March 24th at our Ubuntu Mentor Appreciation Event. Come out 10-11:30 and 1-3:30 at the Beach beside Rainbow restaurant/palapas.
Official Inauguration of Rehabilitated Road & Drainage Infrastructure Project, Punta Gorda, Toledo
Residents of Punta Gorda and surrounding communities are now enjoying a safer and more pleasant street and drainage environment courtesy of the Government of Belize, which financed the project at a cost of $1,702,214.32 with funds through a loan from the World Bank, and counterpart contribution from Punta Gorda Town Board amounting to $51,066.43. In this regard, the road and drainage infrastructure will be officially inaugurated at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Speakers at the event will include Hon. Erwin Contreras, Minister of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce; Mayor Fern Gutierrez, and the Executive Director of Social Investment Fund Mr. William Lamb Jr., among others. The project is designed to improve the quality of life for all Belizeans traversing in Punta Gorda. It includes the rehabilitation of Robert Pennell Street, Lucille Melendrez Street, and Hopeville Loop, coupled with an extensive drainage system, street markings of finished chip seal surface, and installation of road signs.
The Special Envoy of Belize presents the "She for Belize" initiative.
Support the Rio Blanco Women’s Group in the Toledo District with the purchase of one of these handmade Jippi Jappa baskets--available at Mirab until April 1st.
Belizean Elected as a Waukegan Township Trustee
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Government of Belize, extends congratulations to Mr. Sylvestre Castellanos for his remarkable achievement as the first elected Belizean American to serve on the Waukegan Township.
Belizean Youth Ambassadors luncheon
On March 13, Chargé d'Affaires Adrienne Galanek and the Embassy staff hosted eight Belizean Youth Ambassadors and their mentors for a luncheon and discussion at the Chief of Mission residence. In just a few days, these energetic Youth Ambassadors will travel to the United States on a three-week long leadership exchange program facilitated by Georgetown University in Washington D.C. They will also travel to Alabama and Idaho as part of the exchange. The Central American Youth Ambassadors (CAYA) program is a U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs's youth exchange program designed to strengthen leadership skills of young people from Central America and the United States. Upon return, the Youth Ambassadors will lead various community projects in their communities and inspire their peers to develop leadership skills.
2017/2018 Budget Presentation by Prime Minister Dean Barrow
Read and download the Budget
Belize Band Fest 2017
Its official Belize Band Fest 2017 will be in Orange walk people's stadium! On the 8th of April! Win lose or draw we are a band of fun.. SEE YOU THERE!!!
Earth Hour 2017
Don't miss out! Let the lights shine on Corozal the March 25th as we celebrate Earth Hour! All are invited!!
RADiCAL Art Exhibit Launch
The RADiCAL art exhibit by the Belize Women's Art Collective will be launching at the SISE House of Culture on Friday, March 17th, at 6:00pm. "You are Invited! Launch of Women's Art Exhibit happening this Friday March 17th at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at SISE House of Culture!"
Ride to the Reef 2017
Oceana's annual Ride to the Reef was held on Saturday, March 11th 2017. Some 100 cyclists took part in the event and averaged 16 miles per hour to make it from the steps of the National Assembly in the capital city Belmopan to the coast at the BTL Park on Princess Margaret Drive. We thank the sensational Belizeans for braving inclement weather to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to highlight the importance of our marine resources.
Burnt Female Body is Teenager
Yesterday we told you about a female body which was found at the dump site 4 miles outside of Belmopan; it had been burnt beyond recognition. Well, today police confirmed that the victim is a teenager: 18 year old Kerona Ara, a resident of Blackman Eddy Village. So, who killed her and why? Well, police haven't confirmed at this time, but we have received reports that a young Teakettle resident has been detained by police for his possible involvement. No one has been charged, but Belmopan police have also impounded a car which they believe was used in the crime. And police have confirmed that her murder is not connected to the murder of 66 year old taximan, Elbert Gillett, a possibility which investigators were looking into yesterday.
Easy Bail For Cop Who Ran
Last night, we told you about Police Corporal Darrell "Tutsi" Usher, who was charged with trafficking for 9 kilos of marijuana. Well, he's out on bail tonight after being taken to the Magistrate's Court. He was arraigned today before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, where he pleaded not guilty. and even though he allegedly ran from the cops and eluded arrest for more than 48 hours, the police prosecutor had no objection to bail. Chief Magistrate then granted him bail of $1,000, but he had to pay 500 of that in cash. The conditions of the bail are that he must surrender his travel documents, and he cannot leave the country without permission of the court. He must also sign in at the Hattieville Police Station once a week until his case is done. He returns to court on May 29.
Man Gets Off Conviction for Causing Child's Death Due To Jury Error
Two weeks ago, we told you about Lyle Harris, who was found guilty of knocking down and killing four year old Elisha Gilharry. As we reported on March first, the jury deliberated for 90 minutes before arriving at a verdict. Well, it turns out, that wasn't enough. Today - on the day he was supposed to be sentenced - Harris's attorney Simeon Sampson submitted that the jury of 6 women and 3 men did not deliberate for the mandatory 2 hours. Because of that error, trial judge, Justice Adolph Lucas had to order a retrial. So that means the guilty verdict for causing death by careless conduct is thrown out, and he will have to face a while new trial in front of a new jury. It's a major disappointment for Elisha's family who was hoping to bring some closure to her death - which happened in 2010. The four year old was walking with her father when Harris ran over, and didn't notice so the vehicle was dragging her along the pavement.
Ashcroft And GOB Retire After Two Days Of Arguments, Wait For April 12th
Arguments concluded today in the case between the Barrow Administration and the Ashcroft Alliance. They were arguing over what the court should do with the injunction which prevents the Belize Bank Limited and the BCB Holdings Limited -now named Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited - from enforcing the 50 million US dollar judgment granted by a US court. Government wants the court to make it permanent; the Ashcroft Alliance wants it lifted. Eamon Courtenay appeared for the Ashcroft Alliance, and Denys Barrow appeared for the government of Belize. They argued all day before the Chief Justice yesterday, and then continued again this morning. When they finished at midday we asked them how it went, and they outlined their main arguments:...
Monster Croc Captured in Residential Neighborhood
Belama Phase 2 residents can finally walk about freely after a 10 foot crocodile was captured this morning. It has been terrorizing the neighborhood for months. But one resident couldn't take it any longer and made countless pleas on social media. Well, the Forestry Department and the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary answered her call. They teamed up and captured the crocodile before dawn. Crocodile Conservationist Chris Summers told us how he roped up the reptile and restored peace in the community. City Councilor Phillip Willoughby also discussed some of the works that will be done in the area to ward off other crocs lurking in the nearby canal.
What the New Taxes Will Cost You In Real Figures
Last night, we gave you the broad outline of Prime Minister's Budget presentation for the fiscal year 2017/2018. That speech is titled "Bouncing back - A Bold Belizean Recovery," but it's also about contraction, and the coming year's budget is about 5% smaller than last year's budget. That's a stark contrast from last year's budget, which increased by almost 8% over the previous year. But, while the Government is cutting spending, It intends to collect an unprecedented 1 billion dollars in taxes from you, the tax payers. To do this, the government is rolling out 88 million dollars in new tax measures, 80 million of which we already told you about. Last night, we showed you the areas that the Government intends to tax, but we showed you those figures as percentages of the GDP. We've done some crunching of the numbers, and this is what we found.
Are Taxpayers Bankrolling High Cost Wage Increases In A Time Of Austerity?
But with so much revenue from new taxes, what's government doing on the expenditure side? Well, overall, that's coming down by about 60 million dollars with a freeze on expenditure, but there's one area that's going up sharply, and that's wages and pensions. Those are increasing by about 32 million dollars as government pays out the last tranche of its promised wage increase to teachers and public officers. Now wages are usually frozen during a time of austerity and cutbacks, and the IMF would even go further and recommend retrenchment. But, the Barrow administration is going in the other direction when it comes to teachers and public officers - and we asked the tough questions that naturally arise from that apparent contradiction:... Jules Vasquez, 7News: "Sir, are we the other tax payers being held hostage, being made to pay for these people when they are ruthlessly inefficient. 50% of our children failed PSE and more will fail this year because of the strike. So why are we, the tax payers, being made to bankroll that?" Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister: "Well its a point of view. It is not my point of view."
Taking A Bite Out Of Statutory Bodies
And in trying to raise revenue, government isn't only looking to you the taxpayer. They're also going into those big spending statutory bodies, to take a cut of their revenue. The PM announced yesterday that all statutory boards are required to contribute 10 percent of their 2017/18 income to the Consolidated Fund. Statutory bodies include places like the BTB, PACT, BAHA, The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), The Belize Social Investment Fund, known as SIF, BELTRAIDE, and the PUC, among others. The PM discussed how it will work: Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister: "Which has to be cut at the statutory bodies and nobody, the ministries associated with the particular statutory bodies, including the ministry of finance - those ministries have not been doing the kind of monitoring, the kind of supervision that must be done and so there is this sort that let everything come into the consolidated revenue fund and we only give back as a budget what these people can justify and that would help to curtail some of the excessive spending."
Coming Up With A Relevant Curriculum
The high school curriculum hasn't been revised since the 90's. Now unless, everyone is comfortable with their kids being stuck in the 20th century, then it's about time for an education reform. That's what the Ministry of the Education has been working on and today stakeholders held a meeting to discuss ways to re-vitalize the secondary school curriculum. CEO in the Ministry of Education, Deborah Domingo discussed some of the focus areas that will be reflected in this new curriculum. Deborah Domingo, CEO, Ministry of Education: "Today's event is not a new initiative it is an ongoing one. The Ministry of Education has embarked on an effort to rationalize and diversify the curriculum at the high school level. So one of the first things we have done is to pull our stakeholders together to have us develop a profile of who the high school graduate for Belize should be, what attributes should they have. Having done that we have looked at, well how best do we deliver this through the curriculum."
Working Towards A National Trade Policy
Today the Directorate General for Foreign Trade hosted the first of a two day public consultation for the National Trade Policy. The Directorate introduced the framework for the new policy in July 2016 and is now working with stakeholders from the public and private sectors to further develop the legislature. The policy will be used to strategically stimulate trade and further integrate Belizean products in regional and international markets. The DGFT's Acting Director General, Andy Sutherland, told us more...
PM Had To Fight Mayor To Block Chang's Candidacy
Last week, former UDP City Councillor Eric Chang shook up the Senate Inquiry when he appeared before them calm, collected, and, he claimed to be candid, when he said he too was set up in the whole Citizen Kim affair. And after the whole scandal below up, Chang - who was then an elected city councillor - stayed in Taiwan, while the saga of Citizen Kim played out with manic intensity back here in Belize. When he returned 12 weeks later, Chang had been stripped of his Deputy Mayorship and his portfolios. Politically, he was dead meat. Or was he? According to the Prime Minister, the Mayor of Belize City still wanted him on the slate. It's an interesting angle and a story we'd never heard which the PM as Party Leader shared with us yesterday:...
Finnegan On Political Rot
And as the Senate Inquiry lumbers on tomorrow, there could be more revelations which UDP did what in the great game of Immigration Irregularities. Indeed, as one officer pointed out, every corrupt politician needs a corrupt public officer to facilitate them in this game, and it seems there's no shortage of either. It's a cause of much sorrow for many UDP faithful who still wanted to believe that theirs was the honest and un-corrupt party, but there's ample proof that red lights were bring run rampantly on both sides of the PUDP political superhighway. We asked retiring UDP party whip Michael Finnegan how he feels about all the tales of corruption surrounding the political movement he joined in the 60's:..
Finnegan, An Improbable Ascent
And while decency may win out in some unforeseeable future, Finnegan won't be around. As he told us on Friday, he's retiring, for real this time. We asked him to reflect on his improbable ascent to power:.. Jules Vasquez, 7News: "As you make this announcement of retirement from political life, from electoral politics, Mike, you are from Conchshell Bay. You are a boy with a primary school leaving certificate." Hon. Michael Finnegan - Area Rep, Mesopotamia: "Do I have that? The last time I check I never see any hanging (laughing). Amazing." Jules Vasquez, 7News: "You grew up rough, but now as you retire, one of the strongest politicians the UDP has ever seen, probably top 2." Hon. Michael Finnegan - Area Rep, Mesopotamia: "All that went on is that when you are coming up, you follow good people. You follow Dean Lindo, Evan X Hyde, Phillip Goldson, Manuel Esquivel - you grew up and raise as boyhood friendship with Dean Barrow. How can one go wrong?"
UNLMTED (Unlimited) is a Belizean dancehall and reggae artist who is trying to uplift at risk youths in Belize. He recently released a music video for his song "About Life", which brings to light the struggle many Belizeans face everyday. We spoke to UNLMTD earlier today about his music and his message...