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1/20/2014 to 1/31/2014
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Today's Belize News

January 31, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Belize and Guatemala sign agreement to strengthen relations with the support of the OAS
The Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala, Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera, along with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, signed an agreement entitled “Road Map and Plan of Action” on Friday, January 24th. The agreement was signed at the headquarters of the multilateral Organization in Washington, DC, USA. The purpose of the agreement is to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Belize and Guatemala during the year 2014. The agreement in return will assist both countries in getting the public to hold consultations on whether the territorial dispute between Guatemala and Belize should be brought before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Belize Basketball Federation seeks players for the COCABA Championship for Boys’
The Belize Basketball Federation is seeking players to form a National Under 16 and National Under 15 boys’ basketball team to play in the U 16 COCABA Championship tournament in Mexico in June 2014 and U 15 championship tournament in Honduras in March 2014. Players from across the country who were born 1998 or after and who wish to become a member of the Belize national basketball team can try out for the teams on Saturday February 1, 2014 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Bird’s isle in Belize city. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children for the tryout. Please contact National team coach Matthew Smiling at 600-4480 or Coach Fred Gabourel at 602-7876 for more information.

Free dental clinics hosted at Holy Cross Anglican School
A group of volunteer dental assistants and dentists are at Holy Cross Anglican Primary School and are the first of two groups scheduled to visit the school over the next two weeks. The group of eight includes three local residents and five visitors from Minnesota, USA. Heading the expedition is Dr. Paul Roggow and his wife Linda.

Ambergris Today

Ministers Removed from Office After Sting of Scandals
At its meeting on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, Cabinet discussed thoroughly the highly publicized matter of checks issued by the Belize Airports Authority (BAA) to politically assist Minister Hon. Edmond Castro. Cabinet was much assisted in its discussion by an informal report submitted to it by the BAA. Cabinet learned that only three checks were issued in the personal name of Minister Castro. One of those was for per diem in the course of the Minister’s official travel on BAA business, another was for assistance in burying the Minister’s mother, and the third was to pay for assistance with sports in Belize Rural North. Cabinet was also informed that the other checks not in Castro’s name, but issued to help the Minister in his constituency, did not amount to even a quarter of the seventy alleged by the Opposition.

Letters to the Editor: Political Manipulation & Belize’s National Development
Have you ever wondered what direction Belize is heading into? Is there a clear path set out for National Development? Is there even a Master Plan for a National Sustainable and Progressive Development Scheme? Or are political agendas defining the path of development every five years? Have our politicians ever consider putting their political agendas aside and begin working with the people of Belize? Do our current politicians even know of the good strategies the Father of the Nation, the Rt. Hon. George Price has helped to achieve? Growing up as a young boy in Big Falls, Toledo, I have witnessed four general elections. The People’s United Party was victorious in the first two elections in 2008 and 2003 while the United Democratic Party was successful in 2008 and 2012. I am an alert individual as it concerns Belize’s Political Past, Present and Future. While I am only 24 years of age, I am deeply disturbed when elected officials, appointed officials and those who hold public office get involved in “acts” which are considered “corrupted, and in non-compliance” with their employment description. While I cannot judge someone based on the acts they partake in, I can only say that the Belizean public are also displeased when corruption happen in Government and minimal, if not, no justice is done. It is “completely” abhorrent to be defending any political affiliate if they engage in acts of corruption, regardless of the scale. Yet, we see this happening in Belize.

San Pedro Sports Council Donates Softball Equipment to Holy Cross
The San Pedro Sports Council and the San Pedro Town Council donated softball equipment to the male and female softball teams of Holy Cross Anglican School on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. Councilor Gabriel Nuńez, Sports Council Member Kent “Bob” Gabourel and Freddie Gonzalez Jr, presented the donation to the teams of Holy Cross and Teacher Brandon Bood. Equipment included two bats, three softball balls, full catcher set and 10 mitts. Teacher and students were very happy and very thankful for the kind donation and said that they will put the equipment to good use. Councilor Gabriel Nuńez and the San Pedro Sports Council are working arduously in providing sporting equipment to schools for the youths of San Pedro to enjoy.

Misc Belizean Sources

Too many big trucks up north on Ambergris Caye
just incredible... never have seen it this bad. Sure, it's rained unlike ever in memory, but this is solely the result of heavy trucks being allowed to pass... unreal. So over the years of living here, we have spent countless hours and literally tens of thousands of our own $'s to build and maintain the "road" in the back. Mind you, this is not a zoned public road. This is on our private land. We did this so that the public, tourists and locals alike, would be able to pass. I took these pictures this morning on our property. This is the result of construction and utility trucks being allowed to drive up and down on a regular basis. I can't begin to imagine the extent of the materials that will be needed to fix this. Thank you to Captain Morgan's for driving their loader up this morning to, with a fork lift attachment and chain, hoist this vehicle up and out before it was swallowed whole. This is not the condition the island should be in for the peak of tourist season. Share this if you live in San Pedro and would like to see more resources allocated to the islands basic infrastructure.

Police State
By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez We are living in a police state Police no longer investigate Drive in tinted vehicle without licence plate Licensed firearm around their waist Some of them draw with haste Beating our youth till they have to wear brace Slapping mothers in their face Tazering them and spraying them with mace Officer turn car dealer Uses his girlfriend fi go register But whenever he comes to town there is a murder Is he for real or is he a grim reaper We have heard of state execution He and all the badman deh pan par He has been instrumental in all the turf war Now when it looks like he is observing from far He is evidently the superstar

What this UDP administration has done for teachers and the education system in the Stann Creek District
As some teachers of Stann Creek go out to demonstrate against the government for a salary adjustment today, I'll just share what this UDP administration has done for teachers and the education system in the Stann Creek District. In the face of economic hardships but because the govt recognizes the importance of education to help not only our teachers but the entire people of Belize. The following are facts: 1. All teachers WILL receive a raise from the government in July of this year 2. 99% of teachers have received for the last 5 yrs and will again receive a 2% increment on their salary. 3. All teachers at the primary level have received pedagogical training courtesy of the govt and it's partners... 97% trained in the district... Unprecedented in the history of the nation and nonexistent in any other district!

Belize Trade Statistics
The Statistics Institute of Belize has released the trade numbers from last year. There are some interesting numbers on there. "As expected, there were significant changes in the importation of several goods in 2013. On the one hand, spending on freight vehicles, earth moving machinery, jewellry and building cement were up. On the other hand, there were less expenditures on fertilizers, milks and creams, and telecommunication equipment. Imports from the US amounted to a record $597.3 million dollars, reclaiming the 32 percent share they held two years ago. Purchases of goods from Mexico and CARICOM were also at their highest level ever. Imports from Panama and China, however, fell for a second consecutive year, due directly to a decrease in free zone purchases."

OAS Scholarships
The Organization of American States visited Sacred Heart Junior College this week to talk about scholarship opportunities. Check out their website for a list of them and information on the types of scholarships that the OAS offers at the Undergraduate Level. Good luck! "With the aim of supporting the efforts of OAS Member States in the development of human resources as a means to achieving the objectives of the OAS Strategic Plan for Integral Development, the OAS provides valuable study opportunities to students by granting scholarships for the pursuit of graduate studies and research that are related to the eight (8) priority areas contemplated in the plan."

Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge
The Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge is just over 2 weeks away. One of the teams, the Yoga Slackers, has a video about getting ready for the greuling 4 days. Intense! It starts on February 13th. "Follow the YogaSlackers as they prowl through untamed jungles for three days and three nights non-stop in the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge. We’ll be there every step of the way to bring you the planning, the execution, the failures, and the triumphs in a four-part video series, starting now. Enter to win amazing prizes at"

Supa G at Meluchi's
Supa G will be at Meluchi's tonight. He'll be backed up by Tapric, DJ Lee, Brick City, and Fada Mark. His concert at the Cayo Welcome Center last year was wicked fun. Supa G had this to say: "This is bigger than Sweet pain, Supag, Tapric or any of d Djs on this flyer this is about Belizean people being there for each other in our dark days. we r doing a fund raising dance to help one Cayo family get their life bk together after they lost their home and almost everything in a fire. As proud Belizeans my self and everyone u c on this flyer have given up our time to perform for FREE. i wish it was that easy to get any and every band on board but this is d real world. I will help because I have a house and friends that have and any day or time can b my turn to b in their shoe so lets stop think of it as just a dance but also as a way of being there for each other. I turned down a show in Cancun Mexico to do this. Im ready for this! are u???"

Mesoamerican Health Project Donations
Feelgood news of the day. The Mesoamerican Health Project donated medical equipment to improve maternal and child health care services at the Northern and Western Regional Hospitals.

PUP leader addresses national issues
In a lengthy interview with local media in Belize City today, Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) touched on several national issues. First he reaffirmed his support for the cause of the Belize National Teacher’s Union (BNTU) and took the opportunity to condemn the response of Education Minister Patrick Faber and Prime Minister Dean Barrow made earlier this week in other media where they criticized the motives of the Union and in particular president Luke Palacio. Fonseca says the teachers need and deserve their salary adjustment, and should not be punished for their actions. Next on the agenda were the sanctions handed out to dishonorable duo ex-Minister of State Elvin Penner and current Minister Edmond Castro this week received more sanctions for their various misbehaviors.

Paul Nabor recuperates
He is a Belizean icon and a legendary Paranda musician. But today, 86 year old Paul Nabor is in recuperation at the Punta Gorda town hospital. This is Nabor’s second stint in the hospital in as many months after he was diagnosed with pneumonia late last year. Friends and family have been by his side during his hospitalization. Among those at Paul Nabor’s bedside is his daughter Marie Martinez who came in from Los Angeles, California when she learned of her father’s illness. Martinez says her father’s condition has improved and he is resting comfortably.

Channel 7

Will Gino Get A Jail Sentence?
Tomorrow morning at 9:00 the chief Magistrate Anne-Marie Smith will sentence Corporal 259 Gino Peck for keeping an unlicensed firearm, keeping unlicensed ammunition, and keeping prohibited ammunition. Because of the strict gun laws the judge's hands are tied and it is considered a virtual inevitability that he will be sentenced to the mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years for some of the ammunition and 5 years for the others - with the sentences to run concurrently. Today Gino Peck's wife told us that they have been trying to prepare themselves what will more than likely happen tomorrow:.. Loretta Peck - Wife of Gino Peck "I am prepared; I try to focus on all my emotions and my energy for tomorrow. I don't want my husband to see me breaking down. Come tomorrow we expect a victory."

Teachers Rallied And Railed Up In Griga
And while all eyes will be on the Belize City Magistrate's Court tomorrow, today the hotspot was Dangriga where the teacher's union held their rally for the Stann Creek District. This was their fifth rally: there have been 2 in the north, one in the central, and another in the west. Today in the south, as the public exchanges between the union and the government have degenerated to a string of recriminations, the tone from the union leadership was belligerent. Here's the story from the south:.. Daniel Ortiz reporting The schools in the Stann Creek District were closed for the entire day, because a little less than half of the 712 teachers in that district participated in the 4th day of BNTU rallies this month.

Teachers Say Hon. Faber Falsely Accused Them
A huge issue for the Stann Creek teachers, as we showed you, is that their Education Minister, Patrick Faber basically said that they were trying to cheat the children out of a second day of classes this week because they already planned to take tomorrow off, what he called, "breaching the policy of the ministry", to go and collect their pay. His comments suggested mass delinquency on the part of the teachers in that district, that they intentionally skipped work. Today, the BNTU Stann Creek Branch President scolded Faber calling his comments in the House of Representatives misleading. She said that he was twisting the truth because he, Faber, knew that his ministry granted them permission to get the time off a very long time ago: Nadia Martin Caliz, President BNTU - Stann Creek "Minister is a politician also and we know what politicians do, they twist the truth. One of the things I want to provide Channel 7 with before you leave from here today is a schedule that comes from the Ministry of Education giving rural teachers from Corozal to Toledo time off at the end of the month and some of the have half day, some of them have an entire day. In the Stann Creek District only 8 of our schools that are all the way down south will get tomorrow off. Every other school will be open and classes will take place as usual."

Unions Not Satisfied With Actions Against Penner/Castro
As you saw, the National President, Luke Palacio was in Stann Creek today, and he was expected at a meeting in Belmopan with the Prime Minister, as one of the 3 union leaders negotiating a salary adjustment. Representatives of the BNTU, the Public Service Union, and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers participated in that meeting, at its completion, our colleagues from Plus TV tried to get comments from the unionists and the Prime Minister, but they all declined. BNTU Rep George Frazer told Plus TV only that they finally got a chance to get clarification with the Prime Minister on questions they had from last year. Back in Dangriga, though, the teachers discussed Cabinet's recent decision on the BAA scandal, and the decision to remove Penner as Chair of a House Committee, thus taking away his Government ride. Palacio said that it is a welcome step in the right direction in dealing with that immigration scandal, but it is far from enough:

Leader Of The Opposition Calls For BAA Audit
And while the unions aren't satisfied with the actions against Elvin Penner, the opposition leader isn't altogether happy with what's happening with the Belize Airports Authority and its former minister of state Edmund Castro. The Opposition's party organ, the Belize Times first broke the story of the BAA's cheques to Castro in December - and had been releasing them slowly. But when the Opposition Leader dropped the load in the House of Representatives last Wednesday, that blew the lid off the scandal and set in motion the events that led to this week's dramatic Cabinet decision to require the resignation of the entire board of directors, to terminate the general manger and to remove the portfolio from Transport to Tourism.

Fonseca Calls For Fresh Elections
And to hear the leader of the opposition tell it, the Castro/Penner predicament constitutes no less than a crisis in governance. Miming the words of an Amandala editorial this week, Fonseca says that the Barrow Administration should seek a new mandate:.. Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition "We shouldn't beat around the bush. The reality is that Mr. Barrow's government is in crisis and he understands that if Penner and Castro fall his government falls. That is the reality. That is what we are dealing with. So, we, the Belizean people and the nation of Belize are really being held hostage by a political party that is protecting its political interest and really abandoning the national interest and I think it is time for the government to understand that the electorate is ready for fresh elections. It is time for us to go back to the people and seek a new mandate to govern Belize."

City Council Security Guards Say They Are Being Axed
Tomorrow is the last day of work for 26 security guards as employees of the Belize City Council. The Council says it's privatizing the service as a cost cutting measure - the mayor told LOVE TV that the saving could amount to over three hundred thousand dollars. But the Christian Workers Union which represents the workers says their workers stand to lose their jobs. The mayor has written the union to assure them that the new private security provider will take over all the staff - assuring no job loss. But, those staffers say that with one day to go before the changeover, they haven't gotten anything in writing from that new employer. And so, today they asked their union to go public with their issue in the hopes that some intervention will be made. President Audrey Matura Shepherd explained:.. Audrey Matura Shepherd, President - CWU "They were told "we wish you all the best in your future endeavors." There was no commitment in writing that you are being dismissed from this council, however the commitment is from the new employees X,Y and Z - that never happened."

Chief Magistrate: Horse Will Stand Trial For Murder
30 year-old Jermaine "Horse" Garnett, his 23 year-old step-son, Cassian Bennett, and 35 year-old Kenneth Barrow will stand trial in the Supreme Court for the murder of 19 year-old Raheem Requena. That's what the Chief Magistrate decided today after completing the preliminary inquiry into the case. As we've reported, the attorneys for the accused men have submitted to the court that the evidence from the main witness, who cannot be located at this time, is not solid because there could be line of sight issues and lighting in the area. Well, the Chief Magistrate took her entire court to the crime scene yesterday and after careful consideration, she did not accept the arguments from the defence.

Government Gets A Win Against Ashcroft
How many pending cases does the Ashcroft Alliance currently have against the government of Belize? You'd probably need two hands, two feet and a tail to count them all! But the last word on one highly technical one came down last week from the Caribbean Court of Justice. It is an appeal from the government of Belize against the Alliance, represented in this case by 20 respondents. The Alliance had won a partial victory in the Belize Court Of Appeal when they challenged the constitutionality of two Amendments to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, both relating to criminal contempt of court. The government went to the CCJ which found that there were inconsistencies in the law but, in their words opted to use quote, "a scalpel, rather than a machete to sever that which is inconsistent." They concluded that the legislation is constitutionally valid save for some parts. And so, they removed one of the 16 subsections and amended another. Today Denys Barrow, who represented the government said that it is a significant victory for the government.. Denys Barrow, attorney for Government of Belize "Contrary to the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Caribbean Court of Justice decided that those sections which were struck down should be restored and they are therefore now part of the law of Belize."

8 Year Old Girl Victim Of Hit And Run
A hit and run incident has left an 8 year old girl hospitalized in the paediatric ward at the KHMH. It happened sometime after 3 on Monday evening in the Village of Tambran down in the Toledo District. From what we understand, Marivella Che was knocked down in front of her house. Her father - Domingo Che- was at home at the time and ran out to see what happened after he heard a bang. He saw the truck sped off and then turn around back towards the accident scene - but the driver never stopped to render assistance. Here's this father's story. Domingo Che, father "Marivella got knocked down by a vehicle." Monica Bodden "When did this happen?" Domingo Che, father "This happened at 3pm on Monday in Tambran Village." Monica Bodden "Were you at home when this happen? You mentioned that she came in from school and then she left from home?" Domingo Che, father "Yes, she left in a hurry but I didn't see where she went. When I heard a loud noise "bam," she got knocked down. I hurry went to pick her up but she wasn't speaking." Monica Bodden "She was knocked down in front of your house?" Domingo Che, father "Yes in front of my house." Monica Bodden "You didn't see the driver? Was it a hit and run?" Domingo Che, father "Yes but the driver didn't stop. When he knocked her down, he went. I thought he was going to help me but he went."

BTL Double and Triple Up Not So Sweet Anymore
Today was a double and triple day for Telemedia, but their customers weren't too satisfied with the way the new system works. Your Digicell credit is now being separated into a bonus and primary balance. The primary balance is the money you put into the account and the bonus balance is the free credit you receive on a double and triple up purchases. But here is where it gets a little technical, because with your bonus balance, you are not allowed to make international calls or send calls and text to a Smart costumer, instead you would have to use your primary balance. And while many costumers on facebook were blatant about their dissatisfaction in the new change, General Manager of Customer Services, Dr Dionne Miranda told 7news it's the company's way of moving forward towards industrial standards to improve the products and services offered to customers. Dr. Dionne Miranda, General Manager of Customer Services "What we've gone ahead and done is we've had to move towards industry standards because we were trying to improve the products and services we were offering to our Digicell customers and in doing this industry upgrade, an upgrade to our system we separated the bonus balances that customer receives when they top up, so right now there is a primary balance which is the money that you put into the account and your bonus balance is the free credit that you get when you do a double up on a double or triple day. This occurred on January 15th, but however it didn't impact customers until today because this is the first double/triple."

CGAÂ’s Million Dollar Complaint Against CPBL
Right now, the country is just starting to relax just a bit after the cane farmers ended their embargo on the sugar mill and started to deliver the sugar cane after 11 weeks of delay. It has caused a significant setback, and everyone is putting in extra effort to catch up after the late start. With one crisis averted, the Ministry of Agriculture is being called upon to intervene in another, this time in the citrus industry. The Citrus Growers Association's executive is scheduling an emergency meeting this weekend to address its general members, the citrus farmers, about a delay in payment from the Citrus Products of Belize Limited, company which buys the growers oranges. Today, we spoke with the Chairman of the CGA, who told us that the farmers are owed over a million dollars, with no timeline for payment from the CPBL Management: Eccleston Irving - Chairman - CGA "Growers are sending their fruit and there has been really an arrogance of no communication or when that communication is had, it is not formal and to indicate that growers will not be paid. So, the association has had to be running behind really to get proper information as to when growers are going to be paid."

Dangriga Alleges Diversion Of Funds
You probably remember the Dangriga Market - before Penner, Castro and the Airports Authority, that was the first corruption flare-up. Contractor Kennard Smart alleged that he had been "hustled" by senior staffers at the Social Investment Fund which was funding the market. After a quick review, the Contractor General recommended the dismissal of four senior staffers while the Executive Director was forced to resign. That's all well and good for the anti-corruption effort, but it doesn't put the market anywhere nearer to completion - so vendors are still suffering losses and the residents have to live with a temporary market. SIF is putting it back out to bid, but - as the old saying goes - while "di grass di grow the horse di starve". Today the Dangriga mayor lamented their long suffering without a market:... Gilbert Swazo, Mayor - Dangriga "The phase 2 project through consultation with the people of Dangriga - they selected that 1.2 miles of street which includes Dr. Miranda Crescent, the Gazbi Ramos Road and the Trucking Boulevard to be paved. That is what the people of Dangriga want. SIF is now stating that the minimum 4 hundred thousand dollars to complete the market will be subtracted from our phase 2 allocation. That is what they are saying. Essentially that means to me that the 1.2 miles will not be paved again but be reduced by $400 - $450 value whatever that is equal to in terms of works or miles on the ground."

Channel 5

B.N.T.U. shows muscle in the Culture Capital
The Belize National Teachers Union showed muscle today in Dangriga. The teachers of the south want their salary adjustment…they want to be respected…they want better working conditions and they want [...]

B.N.T.U. National President says salary adjustments and increment are different things
As we told you, Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the joint union negotiating team in Belmopan today. Since he has already said as much in an unofficial but public [...]

Leader of the Opposition supports and respects teachers
As you heard, the message of the teachers was trumpeted in Dangriga. And if there is strength in numbers, then the teachers showed muscle today. There is also support for [...]

COLA comes out support of Convicted Cop, Gino Peck
Police officer Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday and his attorney Simeon Sampson is preparing to immediately mount an appeal to his sentence for ammunition offenses. Peck has the [...]

Francis Fonseca speaks on the divide between Police Dept., GSU & Office of D.P.P.
The introduction of the Firearm Act back in June 2008 attracted opposition in many quarters because it was considered draconian. The legislation says that anyone found in a house or [...]

City Hall lets go thirty-six security workers; the CWU takes up their cause
In mid-December, firebrand attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd was named President of the controversial Christian Workers Union, and little over a month after she is facing her first challenge. That’s because the [...]

Opposition says government is in crisis and it is ready for elections
The Leader of the Opposition touched on a number of issues of national importance when we spoke with him this morning. Francis Fonseca minced no words as it pertains to [...]

Trial on the murder of Aubrey Lopez before the courts
On May twelfth 2010 popular basket-baller Aubrey Lopez was abducted and then brutally murdered, shot in the head and then pushed from his own car in Belize City. Five days [...]

Works on Dangriga marketplace to resume using monies for road works
In September 2013, the Dangriga Market, a significant part of the Municipal Development Plan, was brought to a screeching halt by the combination of an allegedly incompetent contractor and corruption [...]

A new chair of the Integrity Commission after 4 years
There has not been a functioning Integrity Commission for years even though by law, the government must establish a Commission. In fact, the last recorded meeting of the Commission was [...]

Opposition Leader calls for an independent audit of Airports Authority accounts
The Board of the Belize Airport Authority has been asked to resign en masse by Cabinet in the wake of the Castro cheque scandal and from what we know at [...]

Corruption; teachers say they want real reform…
This morning teachers marched in Dangriga, and they say the march is also against corruption in government. That particular topic has grown wings lately with the revelations coming out of [...]

…While Opposition Leader says government action is a slap on the wrist
The P.U.P. leader also maintains that the actions which have so far been taken against disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner are lukewarm and not real. And the reason [...]

The gripping story of the Peck family
As we said earlier, Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday morning for ammunition charges. On the eve of his sentencing, his wife, Loretta, made a compelling case on his [...]

Healthy Living addresses a common skin infection
It’s one of the more unsightly and uncomfortable skin infections that you can encounter. Let’s face it: Boils can be a literal pain. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we get some [...]


Millions Being Lost Due To Present Situation At Mexican Border
Tonight, approximately 50 trucks remain parked at a parking area in the Santa Elena Border with destinations to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. As we reported last night, since Friday of last week, import and export products were not being allowed to cross the border since its private broker agency; Agencia Aduanal, “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados,” which is the only broker agency for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border in Subteniente Lopez had its license suspended. Today when reporter Victor Castillo visited the Mexican Customs authority, in an off camera interview, CTV3 News was made to understand that there are several reasons for the agency’s suspension. Licenciado Raymundo Loyola in charge of the Customs Department in Chetumal stated that the request of suspension was made by the ‘Servicio de Administracion Tributaria’ and the reason is one of three of the following; lack of information on the declaration form, a falsification on the document or a wrong address.

Onions Rottening In Container Parked At The Border
For weeks we have been reporting on the negative impact of rains to the production of local scale onions for the country. And while the country has faced its share of losses in that agricultural sector, the importation of onions from neighboring Mexico was supplying the local marketing the meantime. And with a halt on imports and exports from neighboring Mexico, today when Reporter Victor Castillo visited the border he came across a container full of onions with markings of its destination into Belize to recipient BMDC, which stands for the Belize Marketing and development Corporation. This container was one of several trucks that have been unable to cross the Mexican border due to the Broker Agency license being suspended since Friday of last week.

OWTC Serious About Taking Over Guadalupe Park
The Orange Walk Town Council is carrying out all necessary procedures to regain control of the Guadalupe Park in Orange Walk East. The Park was this Monday handed over to government from private hands but the idea is to place it under the National Sports Council. Mayor Kevin Bernard says that they are going to pursue jurisdiction of the park since the family members of the donor, Angel Castillo have requested the park remain for the public. Today the Council began cleaning the area. Mayor Kevin Bernard elaborates on the reasons for starting work despite not having full control of the park as yet. Kevin Bernard – Mayor or Orange Walk Town “To show our commitment and our seriousness in ensuring that the Guadalupe Park remains in the hands of the people of Orange Walk and we decided to start immediately in the cleaning up of that area and show them that we will start with those types of work, this is an on-going process and we have put it as part of our maintenance plan and we want to ask the support of residence of that area.”

Nick Jones Laid To Rest By Brotherhood
53 Year old businessman of Corozal Town, Nick Jones, was buried at his farm in Ranchito yesterday. But the funeral service was not a traditional type burial; in fact, he was member of both English Mechanics Rights and the Universal Mixta Masons of Belize. Ii is said that Jones was given high honors because he was of a high degree. The body was escorted from his house to the Alpha Lodge Temple in Corozal where lodge services were held. Present was the Grand Lodge of Belize for both Mechanics and Mixta Masons. Jones was then taken in a funeral parade to Ranchito for a church service and finally taken to his farm for burial.

Baby making Babies, Where Does The Problem Lies?
A United Nations progress report on population has spotlighted what it describes as high rates of teenage pregnancies in the Caribbean and other developing countries. The report has called on Governments to help adolescents achieve their full potential through education and adequate health services. And in this respect, Young people's sexual reproductive health is an area that requires increased attention in policies and programmes. But what are the root causes of this alarming trend and what can we do as a society to this increasing social and economic problem? Reporter Maria Novelo followed this story and filed the following report. Maria Novelo – Reporting Belize is among the countries in the Caribbean Region with the highest rate in teen pregnancies. With 55% of the population below the age of 25, studies show these target groups are the most vulnerable. Executive Director at the Belize Family Life Association, Joan Burke says, while these statistics are not unique to Belize, there are a number of factors that contribute to particular young girls engaging in sexual activities.

Chapel Inaugurated At NRH
It was an event that brought together worshipers of different denominations under one roof, or in this case, one tent. We are talking about the inauguration and blessing of the first ever, chapel at the Northern Regional Hospital in the Orange Walk District. It was a project that took several years to complete but it has finally become a reality for all those who were involved in the initiative from the start. Here is a look at what was a special moment for many. Dalila Ical – Reporting The Serenity Chapel of Faith and Hope is the first of its kind at the Northern Regional Hospital and it is a project that has filled the hearts of many with joy. The idea for the chapel was born from former nurse at the NRH, Ofelia Novelo founder of the MujeresAyudando a Mujeres a Superarse group in Orange Walk Town. North Regional Health Manager Guadalupe Longsworth says After Mrs.Novelo pointed out the need for the chapel; everything soon started to fall into place as shortly officials from Scotia Bank Limited approached them in search of a project to finance.


Gino Peck Robbed of Internal Tribunal
The Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, has joined the Belize Police Department and the list of persons that have offered full support to convicted Police Corporal, Gino Peck. Peck was found guilty earlier this week by Chief Magistrate, Ann Marie Smith, for Keeping Unlicensed Ammunition. The charge against him arose out of an incident in 2012 when members of the Gang Suppression Unit searched his residence on Currasow Street and removed a few rounds of ammunition. Since the case was brought before the court, Peck’s plight has garnered a considerable amount of air time on the official media and even more on the social media networks, from people who are convinced that he was deliberately targeted by the sequence of events that led to his conviction. COLA, in coming to the aid of Corporal Peck, has said that he is the latest example of the double standard practiced by the authorities and that from the start the pursuit by the GSU bears the hallmark of vindictiveness. Delroy Herrera, who is a key figure behind the attempt to get the Government to repeal or amend the current Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act, says that this is another classic example why the law needs urgent attention.

Union Wants Council to Hold Off on Security Privatization
Since Love News broke the news that the Belize City Council is moving to privatize its security services on Tuesday, the Christian Workers Unions have expressed grave concerns about the 36 security officers that are being made redundant. In an interview with Love News on Tuesday, Mayor Darrell Bradley, said that the Council Security Manager, Hiram Longsworth, through his security company, Rangers Company, had been awarded the contract. Mayor Bradley had stated that both he and Longsworth had agreed that the 36 security officer would be re-hired with Rangers Security. We understand that none of the workers have received a 100% guarantee that this will be the case as expressed by some of the affected workers in a press conference this morning. HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING “The Belize City Council has opted to privatize and outsource its security services. Thirty six security officers were given their walking papers as last week and were told that their post had become redundant. In an interview with Love News earlier this week, Mayor Darrell Bradley said that privatization is the way to go as it will result in cutting the council’s security budget in half and increase efficiency. The thirty six workers are members of the Christian Workers Union and according to the President of the Union, Audrey Matura Shepherd, Mayor Bradley did not follow the law.”

Trio To Stand Trial for Murder
Three men charged with the murder of 19 year old Raheem Requena, who was fatally shot in his chest in December, 2012, were committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court at the conclusion of a preliminary investigation today by the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. They are 30 year old Jermaine ”Horse” Garnett, his step-son, 23 year old Cassian Bennett and 35 year old Kenneth Barrow. They are to appear in the Supreme Court on June 17.The prosecution has intimated that it intends to call 30 witnesses, among them the main witness, an eye witness who is reportedly out of the country. The three are represented by attorneys Anthony Sylvestre and Alifa Elrington Hyde. Sylvestre and Hyde told the court that their clients have alibi witnesses. Yesterday Chief Magistrate Smith visited the scene of the crime, corner Kut Avenue and Kraal Road, so that she could get a better understanding of what occurred.


Mr. Aubrey Lopez’s Murder Trial Gets Underway
30 year old Mr. Aubrey Lopez, one of Belize’s elite basketball players, beloved teacher, and son of the Belmopan City Mayor, was gunned down in May of 2010 in the old capital. Mr. Lopez was accosted by his attacker, or attackers, while driving a friend’s vehicle on Prince Street. He...

Council Releases 36 Security Officers, the CWU Fights Back
The Belize City Council is in another spot of bother today after reports that its efforts to privatize and reorganize its security department under a trusted employee have run into an unforeseen snag – the Christian Worker’s Union. The CWU, whose sprawling national membership covers interests as diverse as...

Opposition Leader Responds to Plus TV on Issues Concerning Teachers
PLUS News sat down today with Leader of the People’s United Party (PUP) Francis Fonseca at his Belize City office for a wide-ranging discussion of current national issues. We begin with the teachers’ movement that is today in Dangriga. The PUP leader reaffirmed his support for the cause of...

Passing Vehicle Hits Southern Child, Now at the KHMH
Authorities in Punta Gorda are investigating a hit and run on the highway that has left a 7 year old girl injured. Police say that they believe they have recovered the vehicle involved in the incident. Our colleagues at PGTV spoke with Sergeant Pedro Ical. Mr. Pedro Ical- Sergeant...

Dangrigans Desperate for Completion of Market, says Mayor Swazo
The public tumult that arose from the scandal at the Social Investment Fund, involving high ranking officials within the institution has long died down. However, the aftermath is very much still a reality for residents of Dangriga Town. Due to the mismanagement of finances allocated for the renovation of...

Should Accused Immigration Officers be Given Immunity?
The trio of Immigration Department officers facing possible termination for their role in the passport scandal are not to escape according to the dictum of Prime Minister Dean Barrow who believes he has done enough to their ex-boss, Elvin Penner. But some suggest that instead of punishing the immigration...

Desperate Wife of Accused Corporal Peck Says She Expects a Miracle
Today PLUS News spoke to the wife of Corporal Gino Peck, who waits apprehensively to see her husband tomorrow, Friday, for what may be the last time in a while. He is to be sentenced for possessing unlicensed and prohibited ammunition found inside their Curassow Street home in 2012....

Land Lease Complainant Says Rivals Even Broke Down his House
Earlier this week, we told you of the initiative headed by Rise and Shine to host free legal advice to members of the public who are experiencing land dilemmas. The consultations held over the weekend was made possible through the partnership of five attorneys who volunteered their time to...

The Guardian

Unemployment Down, Inflation Down
The Statistical Institute of Belize’s latest surveys show that Belize’s unemployment rate fell and inflation was at 0.5 percent in 2013. Director General of the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), Glen Avilez, held a press conference on Wednesday, January 29th, to explain the data collection process in its Labour Force Survey and calculation of inflation. Avilez explained that the Labour Force Survey is conducted twice each year, in April and September. The labor force is made up of all individuals of working age who are employed, available and looking for work. In September of 2013, 5,910 households were randomly selected to be a part of the survey. According to Avilez, responses were obtained from almost 90 percent of the selected households which covers over 14,500 individuals 14 years and older. 64 percent of those individuals were in the labour force. The others are students, housewives and others who were not available for work.

Another CCJ judgment in Favor of Belize
The Caribbean Court of Justice has once again ruled in favor of the Government of Belize in a matter which essentially entangled GOB and the Ashcroft Alliance. The matter concerns an appeal to the CCJ as to the constitutionality of two amendments, one in April of 2010 and another in October 2010 to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act. The first amendment was “to strengthen the provisions relating to contempt of court...” the other amended the Principal Act as well as the First Amendment. This amendment sought to “clarify the law as to the ingredients of the offence of criminal contempt of court; to make provision for mitigation of penalties in the case of natural persons in certain extenuating circumstances; to specify the rules Governing Trial on Criminal Information and Complaint;..” The original case was brought to the court of appeals in Belize by the Ashcroft Alliance, at the time their primary argument was that the legislation was specifically designed to target them and that it was unconstitutional. At the end of that trial the court ruled partially in favor of them. That ruling was handed down by Justice Muria on December 22nd, 2010. Immediately after that ruling, the Government appealed at the CCJ and the ruling was handed down on January 24th by Honourable Justices Nelson, Saunders and Hayton, Delivered by The Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders and Judgment of The Honourable Justices Wit and Anderson.

Heads Roll at BAA
Cabinet announced on Tuesday January 28th that the portfolio of Civil Aviation under which the Belize Airports Authority falls will be moved to the Ministry of Tourism. The portfolio is in effect being moved from the Ministry of Transport. Additionally the Solicitor General and the Financial Secretary will have meetings with statutory bodies to review their operational protocols and advise on how to administer those institutions properly. The current directors of the Belize Airports Authority will be asked to resign. In effect the entire board will now be changed, these persons include the current chairman, Barbara Miller. While the entire board was asked to resign, the General Manager, Kenworth Tillett is also no longer at the head of the statutory body. The shakeup came after a series of checks were publicized in the media and allegations were made that there may have been wrong doing in the issuing of the checks. Since the publications, the Prime Minister has gone on record to say that the entire matter was prompted by improper judgment. In the Cabinet Release it states that "Cabinet was much assisted in its discussion by an informal report submitted to it by the BAA. Cabinet learned that only three cheques were issued in the personal name of Minister Castro. One of those was for per diem in the course of the Minister’s official travel on BAA business, another was for assistance in burying the Minister’s mother, and the third was to pay for assistance with sports in Belize Rural North.

Account for the Money Says PM
Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow announced on Tuesday, January 28th that there needs to be accounting by Area Representatives on how they spent a monthly stipend of $2,300 which they receive. In a release from Cabinet, it was announced that, "the Prime Minister, as Minister of Finance, has instructed the Financial Secretary to require every Area Representative, upon pain of losing the stipend, to account for the $2,300 monthly allocation provided for constituency office rental and secretarial services. We at the Guardian are certain that every single one of the UDP area representatives will have no trouble in providing evidence as to how the stipend is spent. Very much cannot be said about he PUP area representatives who have not opened constituency offices since they took up their offices. Some of the PUP representatives will now be forced to be in their constituencies to do what they were elected to do. For years now, persons living where there are currently PUP representatives have complained that they have been absent from their areas.

Cycling Association to hold Individual Time Trials
The Belize Cycling Association would like to inform all athletes, that the Individual Time Trials that was postponed from last Saturday January 25, will be held this coming Saturday, February 1st, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. on the Boom Road starting in front of CDS Service Station. As an update to this event, please note that this is the first in a series of ITT, where we will be having the elite riding 12 miles, while the Masters 4/5, Females, Youth and Juniors will be doing 6 miles. Please note those who had previously registered your name remains on the list. Anyone who would now like to take advantage of this change in date may register at the Office on the second floor of the Commercial Centre. Deadline to register is Thursday, January 30th. No registration will be taken at the start, as we are required to generate a starting list a day before the start of the event.

IDB provides US$540,000 Grant to Belize for George Price Highway Project Preparation Studies
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Belize today signed a grant agreement for US$540,000 to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The agreement was signed in Belize City by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Gina Montiel, Manager of the IDB’s Country Department for Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. “We are pleased to support Belize in its efforts to expand and rehabilitate its road network, which is so crucial to the country’s development”, said Gina Montiel. The grant will support the preparation of an investment program to finance the infrastructure works needed to upgrade and absorb growing traffic volumes on the highway.

Controversial Land reverted to Ministry of Lands
Elodio Aragon Jr. along with his father, held a press conference in Orange Walk town in a lot that was once a parking lot to serve Hi-5 entertainment center and the Orange Walk East Sports Complex. During the press conference Elodio Aragon Jr. announced that he had spoken to his father and his brother Adin Aragon and was able to persuade them to return the parcel of land back to the ministry of natural resources and the government of Belize. Last week, concerns had been raised over the Orange Walk East Sports Center where allegations were being made that there were moves by some 'private' individual to take over the land where it stood. Wrapped along with the allegations was an adjoining parking lot which was held by Adin Aragon, the young brother of the Orange Walk East hopeful, Elodio Aragon Jr. During the press conference on Monday, both Aragon Jr. and Aragon Sr. explained what the situation was.

Belize and Guatemala hold forum to strengthen bilateral relationship
In the wake of the uncertainty surrounding the postponement of bi-national referendum on the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute, Belize and Guatemala signed a new diplomatic initiative on Friday, January 24 at the OAS Headquarters in Washington DC. The agreement is called the Road Map and Plan of Action, and it’s main objective to strengthen the bilateral relationship between both countries during the course of the year to enable public consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice. The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, and Foreign Ministers Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera were all signatories to the Road Map. Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington told reporters at the event that the agreed document "evidences the commitment and resolution of the governments of Belize and Guatemala, with the support of the OAS, to seek to use our best efforts to develop the essential climate of trust and confidence."

BNTU’s Lies and Distasteful Rhetoric
Leaders of the Belize National Teachers Union seem to be getting more bitter and frustrated at every rally. Sources close to the union say their frustration stems from the fact that they have been unable to get close to fifty percent of their members out to the rallies. There are also many former loyalists who have lost confidence in Luke Palacio’s ability to motivate the troops and some close to him are planning to make a move on his presidency. The frustration from the very uninspiring rallies is felt across the board within the union’s executive. No one seems to be more frustrated than the man who has been hailed as the “Lion of the BNTU”, George Frazer. Frazer remembers the days when the union was fired up and marched mightily. He forgets; however, that the catalyst behind that passion was a desperation to get rid of an administration that was giving away the country’s assets and pocketing the people’s money. That is not the case in Belize today. Where there is wrong there is also discipline. Corruption is not the order of the day in this administration and the Prime Minister is not a lying thief. The “rallies” being organized by the union today are being held in a time when teachers are being paid while furthering their education for free. The union is asking teachers to express displeasure in a time when they are receiving annual increments and more benefits than ever before. This is a time when a salary increase for teachers and public servants is imminent – no wonder why teachers have not attended these “rallies” in impressive numbers.

Belize National Teachers Union holds rally in Cayo
The Belize National Teachers Union BNTU held its fourth rally to muster the support of teachers at the Macal River Park in San Ignacio Town last Friday. A total of three Union branches merged in San Ignacio Town despite a constant drizzle. The Benque Viejo del Carmen’s BNTU Branch was led by Leandra Chulin, the Belmopan Branch by Francis Avella, while the San Ignacio Branch was led by Manuel Medina. Some fifteen speakers took their turn at the teachers’ rally to rationalize why a salary adjustment was needed now. After the speeches, the teachers took to the main streets in San Ignacio Town and crossed the Hawkesworth Bridge to Santa Elena Town to continue their march.

Dara’s fundraiser again
Dara Robinson is once again inviting the general public, primary schools, tertiary schools, churches, the government, the opposition, NGO's, businesses, citizens, visitors and anyone else to support his Food Drive. It is the 5th annual initiative that he is conducting and it will be held on the MCC Tennis court from 10a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday February 6th. Dara says that he will be accepting all manner of non-perishable food items which he will then use to distribute to less fortunate individuals as well as his feeding program. The feeding program he conducts feeds primary school children on the north side of Belize City who are unable to secure a healthy midday meal while attending school. The fund raiser is being done to coincide with Bob Marley's birthday. Being a fan of the legend, dara will also be holding the 12th annual tribute to the musical icon on Sunday Febrary 9th at the Birds Isle. This will take place on February 9th from 4.p.m to midnight.

NCL EIA Consultations underway
On Wednesday, January 22, approximately three hundred and twenty residents from villages and towns in the south gathered at the Independence High School auditorium to give their input at the public consultation on the Environmental Impact Assessment for Norwegian Cruise Line’s proposed cruise port on Harvest Caye. The EIA as it was presented to the public has since been withdrawn with the developer promising to amend it to better address the environmental issues which have been raised about it’s inadequacy. Representatives of NCL, including the Harvest Caye Project Director, Hugh Darley; brothers Carlo and Daniel Arguelles from International Environments Limited; and NCL environmental consultant, Jose Pepe Garcia faced the crowd at around 7:30 p.m. to field any and all questions about the project. They answered to all concerns which had to deal with the environmental impact that the development on Harvest Caye could possibly have. The Department of Environment was also present to witness and conduct the meeting.

New cops for the Beat
One hundred and Twenty Seven recruits passed out of the Police Training Academy on Wednesday, January 29, after 16 weeks of training as part of recruit intake number 89. That’s 90 police constables, and 37 women police constables who have graduated and joined the ranks of the police department. It is among one of the biggest squads, with the record being the 130 recruits who passed out last year. In the same fashion that majority of the officers went to Belize City to become part of the Police Precinct system, majority of these new officers have been assigned to Eastern Division to help maintain police focus on one of the toughest police jurisdictions in the country to maintain law and order. It is this same precinct system to which many have attributed some of the success in lowering the murder rate for this year, reducing it by 46, a decrease of 32% in Belize City, recognized as one of the region’s murder capitals.

Papa Mena takes Dangriga
The United Democratic Party successfully held the second convention to elect a Standard Bearer in 13 constituencies across the country. On Sunday January 19th it was Frank 'Papa' Mena going up against Arthur Roches for the position of Standard Bearer for Dangriga. Voting began promptly at 10 in the morning and in a record breaking turnout for that constituency in a convention, Papa Mena would emerge victorious. A total of 1,676 persons cast their votes; of those Mena received 1,077 while Roches secured 581 votes, 18 ballots were rejected. Immediately after the convention, the results were made known after which the oath of office was administer to Mena. In addressing his supporters, Mena thanked his supporters and he explained that it was now time to work. He said it was all about love and it was also time to unite the party for the better of Dangriga.

Police Department’s position on the matter of Corporal 59 Gino Peck
The commissioner of police with the support of the Ministry of National Security hereby informs the public that the department will be supporting Corporal Peck fully, including payment of all legal fees in his appeal to his conviction on keeping unlicensed and prohibited ammunition. The Belize Police Department is saddened by the manner in which the decision to proceed with criminal charges against Corporal Peck was made in January 2012 as the department is confident that it could have been properly dealt with through its own internal disciplinary process. Unfortunately, the department was not given the opportunity to handle this matter as they have customarily done. It is unfortunate that we are at a point where a long serving member of the department is facing a jail sentence for a matter that could have been handled internally. Should his appeal prove successful, the commissioner of police will then exercise his power to decide what internal disciplinary action will be levied against Corporal Peck in the manner in which it should have been handled in the first instance.

Penner Stripped of Vehicle and Chairmanship
After investigations showed that Hon. Elvin Penner was involved in wrong doing at the Immigration Department, Prime Minister quickly removed him from Cabinet and stripped him of the portfolio which he handled. He was additionally asked to resign from the National Assembly and the United Democratic Party, the latter two he has not yet done. And while the penalty against Penner was swift and severe, there were still outstanding matters as to his tenure in the House of Representatives; he still held a government vehicle and was still the Chair of the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transport and Communication. In a release from Cabinet it was announced that Penner will no longer hold either the vehicle or the chairmanship. The release stated that "Cabinet also examined other areas in which it felt action was needed to combat any suggestion that the Administration would not resolutely act to put a stop to Ministerial or official wrongdoing.

Two-Bit Opinion
Last week when I told you that the convention to select the standard bearer for the Orange Walk East constituency would be exciting and emotional little did I realize that I was making more of a prediction than a promise. I mean, things really got heated over the weekend between the two contenders, Aragon and Constanza. One of the more vocal and radical supporters of Constanza, Landy Burns, came out swinging at the Aragon family, making provocative accusations only days before the convention, which is slated for this Sunday February 2 at the Louisiana Government School. Judging from the feedback on the streets, I can tell you this; for a while there it was a big political notch for the Burns offensive, until Lot Aragon gave his press conference on Monday 26 January and doused the cauldron with cold water. Having known Elodio “Lot” Aragon for many, many years, I can tell you that he is a seasoned politician and will not run and hide from any accusation or shy from any accuser. And to show his skill in these matters, he returned the favor in kind to Burns, but never did once impugn the character of Constanza in his counter. That was a good move and went down well with UDP supporters of both sides in the contest for standard bearer.

New Resources Center for Buena Vista Village
On Wednesday January 29th, area representative for Cayo Central, Hon. Rene Montero along with Japanese ambassador to Belize, His Excellency Yasou Takase And the chairman of Buena Vista Village, Eddy de la Rosa, officially cut open the ribbon to declare the Buena Vista resource center opened. The 26'X80' structure was constructed at a cost of $245,852 through grant funding from the Japanese government along with counterpart funding by the Government of Belize. Along with the building there are also walkways and a perimeter fence. The building was constructed for use by primary and high school students as well as the community of Buena Vista in general. According to Minister Montero, the resource center will have a computer lab and library which will serve some 180 students during normal school hours.

Taiwan Scholarships available
Since the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) made scholarships available to Belizeans in 2002, over two hundred and thirty Belizeans have received scholarships to study in Taiwanese Universities. On Tuesday, January 28th, the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Belize-Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) Alumni Society in Belize hosted a public briefing to encourage more students to apply for a scholarship of their choice. There are 29 programs being offered from 21 universities under the 2014 Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) scholarship program. Students and parents from across the country assembled inside the conference room of the Chateau Caribbean Hotel to listen to presentations by officials from the Taiwanese Embassy as well as past scholarship recipients. Jacqueline Ifield, President of the Belize Taiwan ICDF Alumni, was first to address the attentive crowd. She encouraged everyone to apply because a scholarship to study in Taiwan is the greatest opportunity one can hope for. She said the quality of education is excellent; the country is safe and the people are extremely nice. Ifield said living in Taiwan could be a little challenging at first with the language difference but as much as Belizeans are trying to learn Mandarin they are trying to learn English so communication is easier as time passes.

Guardian Bombers - Belize City Senior Male Softball Champs
The Belize City Softball Association 2013 Senior Male Competition finally came to an end on Wednesday January 22, 2014, at Rogers Stadium, after the championship series had to be postponed because of the wet conditions of the playing field. In the third and final game of the championship series, the budding champions Guardian Bombers wasted no time in establishing its supremacy in the game and the outcome of the title when third base Nelberth Flowers with only one out in the top of the first inning blasted a three run homer-run off Oceana Strikers starting and losing pitcher Jerome Carr for a 3-0 lead. The Guardian Bombers then added five more runs in the top of the 2nd inning when it send 9 batters to the plate who collected an assortment of hits including shortstop Carlyon Flores’ 2 run double.

Albert Constituency youth basketball tourney to start
The Albert UDP Committee will be hosting a Youth Basketball Competition for boys living in the Albert Constituency and are between the ages of 11 – 15 years old. The competition is scheduled to commence on February 15, 2014 and teams are quickly forming. Boys living in the Albert constituency that are interested in participating in the competition can pick up application forms from Ms. Mary Guzman at the Youth for the Future Secretariat on Regent Street (Old Hotel Mopan) and at the National Sports Council Office at Rogers Stadium. The Youth Tournament will be played only on Saturdays and is being sponsored by the Hon. Herman Longsworth, Area Representative for the Albert Constituency and the Minister of State with direct responsibility for Youth and Sports.

FC Belize faces the Belmopan Bandits in football finals
The Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup will enter into its championship series on Sunday February 2, 2014, at the MCC Grounds commencing at 4:00 pm between FC Belize and the Belmopan Bandits. FC Belize and the Belmopan Bandits advanced to the championship round when they both eliminated their opponents over the last week in the semi-final round. On Sunday January 26, at the Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo Del Carmen, FC Belize eliminated the home team and number seed into the semi-finals Verdes FC by the score of 2-1. The home team Verdes FC got on the scoreboard first when Rodney Pacheco scored the 1st goal of the game in the 14th minute of play via a penalty to give his team a 1-0 lead. However, the visiting FC Belize was able to get onto the scoreboard when Michael Hernandez scored his team’s equalising goal in the 29th minute of play to tie the score at 1-1. The first half of the game ended 1-1.

Queen’s Baton Relay coming to Belize
The Queen’s Baton Relay is a much loved tradition of the Commonwealth Games and symbolises the coming together of all nations and territories in preparation for the four-yearly festival of sport and culture. The official launch took place on October 9 2013 at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II placed Her message to the Commonwealth into the baton. The baton then departed from Glasgow for its epic journey to all 71 nations and territories beginning in Asia, visiting India, the Host Nation of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. Over 248 days the baton will travel sequentially through each nation creating an engaging journey through Asia, Oceania, Africa, Americas (south), Caribbean and Americas (north), before returning to Europe and the UK. The baton will average one to four days in each nation with an extended duration of seven days in Wales and fourteen days in England.

Central Region Secondary Schools softball to opens
The 2013-2013 Central Region Secondary Schools Softball Competition is scheduled to commence on Monday January 27, 2014, at Rogers Stadium with 8 schools participating in the female competition and 7 teams in the male competition. The schools participating in the female competition are Wesley College, Excelsior High School, Pallotti High School, Ladyville Technical High School, Gwen Lizarraga High School, St. Catherine Academy, Anglican Cathedral College and Nazarene High School. The schools participating in the male competition are Wesley College, Gwen Lizarraga High School, Ladyville Technical, Excelsior High School, Anglican Cathedral College, St. John’s College and Nazarene High School.

Escuela Mexico in Belize celebrates its 31st Anniversary
The “Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico” (ESTM), in San Roman Village, Corozal District, completes today its 31st Anniversary. The Official Ceremony was headed by its Principal, Mr. Carlos Castillo, and the Mexican Ambassador to Belize, Mario Velazquez. More than 800 people attended, including school officials, teachers, students and their families. The Escuela México is a technical/vocational high school that was built and donated in 1982 by the Mexican government as a friendly symbol of recognition of the Independence of Belize. In January 1983, formal classes began with an enrollment of sixty-eight (68) students and a small staff of five teachers. Since its establishment, the student population has grown considerably. The enrollment now stands over 680 students.

Rotary Club of San Ignacio supports future scholars
An innovative educational program for young people is now ongoing in the Cayo District and is being supported by the Rotary Club of San Ignacio. On the agenda at its weekly Rotary Club meeting held recently at the Cayo Center for Employment Training, was a lively discussion for the continued support of our future scholars of Belize. Today, the Rotary Club of San Ignacio has students with scholarships at both the Eden and Saint Ignatius High Schools in Santa Elena Town and at Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio Town. A total of 26 scholars are being supported via these scholarship programs with the top scholar having a choice to a two year tertiary level study at the University of Belize, Galen University or Sacred Heart College. This two year scholarship at the tertiary level is a memorial scholarship for Mrs. Paulita Bedran, whose son Abdala Bedran was a founding member of the Rotary Club of San Igancio.

UB research findings on the effect of salinity on callus formation and organogenesis of Red Kidney Beans published in international research journal
Red Kidney Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), a major staple food source in Latin America and particularly in Belize plays a significant role in the cultural and economic activities of Belize. The legume, high in protein content and considered to be on the daily menu across Belize is faced with on-going challenges due to increased soil salinity, global warming and its effect. “The experiment was carried out in an effort to develop a salinity resistant variety of red kidney beans,” said Associate Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Belize, Dr Thippi Thiagarajan. “It was carried out to test the ability of Red Kidney Beans to form callus and undergo organogenesis under in vitro saline conditions.” Grain legumes have been noted to have a poor regeneration capacity under in vitro conditions, and in light of the sea level rise and its effect on soil salinity, therefore developing a variety that can withstand saline conditions will be an advantage for countries like Belize where climate change can have drastic effect on salinity of soil in the near future. Research is being conducted in generating full plantlets from callus under saline conditions that can tolerate moderate saline conditions that may result from rising sea level.

UB distributes micro propagated planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector
The University of Belize, as a catalyst for change to enable socio-economic transformation and sustainable development in Belize, is producing quality planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector. Its current focus, at its micro propagation laboratory Central Farm Campus, is Belize’s sugarcane industry. To date, the University, in collaboration with the Sugar Industry Research & Development Institute (SIRDI), the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) and individual cane farmers of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), has distributed close to 30,000 micro propagated plants to the sugar industry to establish demonstration plots in the Corozal and Orange Walk areas. Such plots are to be used by these organizations as trial nurseries to produce quality cane seed for farmers. Spearheading the activities at the Bio-propagation laboratory is Dr. Stephen Williams, Micro propagation Laboratory Manager.

Career Cop faces long Years in Jail
Career police officer, 41 year-old Corporal Gino Peck, was found guilty of ammunition offences in the Magistrate’s Court on Monday, January 27. That’s a very unexpected and dramatic ending in Peck’s case, and the outcome is that his family’s financial stability is slowly crumbling. On January 19, 2012, a little over two years ago, the Gang Suppression Unit raided the Peck family home where they found 8 live rounds of .45 ammunition – a prohibited item - in a chest of drawers in their room. Under their bed, the GSU found 2 knapsacks. In one of them, they found 23 live rounds of 9mm ammunition, 18 twelve-gauge cartridges. The other bag contained six rounds of 9mm ammunition, four .38 rounds and 3 more 12-gauge cartridges. Because of the discovery, the GSU arrested and charged Gino and his wife, Loretta with keeping unlicensed ammunition, and keeping prohibited ammunition. The case caught the attention of the media when the Police Eastern Division refused to support the GSU on their action against one of their own, who they believed could easily be exonerated if the arresting officers would only look carefully at Peck’s reasons for having the ammunition. His defence remains – and has always been – that he got control of the items while on operations as a police officer.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Caye Caulker Hotel Makes Trip Advisor's 'Top 25 Hotels in Central America'
– Following the announcement of four Belize properties that made the ‘Top 25 Hotels in Central America’ list, the popular travel site, Trip Advisor, announced other categories in its 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards. We are pleased to say that travelers’ positive reviews and ratings placed Belize in several of those categories. Overall, Belize claimed thirty seven placements in seven categories at the regional and world levels.


"Take It to the Limit" in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
On Saturday Rose and I went to the Burns Night Dinner organised by the Belize Branch of The Royal British Legion. It was being held in the Flagstaff Mess, Price Barracks in Ladyville and our journey there should have been a relatively simple one. I’d booked tickets on Tropic Air‘s 16.00 flight to the Municipal Airport where our friend Ian , a serving member of BATSUB, was going to pick us up and take us to his house (well a bungalow actually) on the camp so that we could get changed. I ‘say’ changed because the dinner provided an opportunity to wear a dress. For Rose that is, not me before you let your imagination go in to overdrive. Me? I was going to wear a jacket, shirt (long sleeved too), trousers and shoes (a proper pair, not flip flops or loafers). The first time in twenty months! We left the house at 15.00 hours and after loading our stuff on the ‘cart I put the key in the ignition, started the engine and tried to engage the reverse gear. Nothing, the gear stick was flapping around like a bed sheet on a washing line! Now if I was mechanically minded I would have had a look, got out a tool kit and solved the problem . But I didn’t because I am to motor mechanics what Genghis Khan was to world peace. So I did the next best thing and ‘phoned a taxi and then I ‘phoned Tropic Air to warn them that we would be a little later than the thirty minutes before flight time that they ask you to be. Imagine ‘phoning United Airlines, British Airways, etc in similar circumstances ?

International Sources

żBelice es nuestro?
Después de seis ańos de intensos análisis, negociaciones y cabildeos, el Tribunal de La Haya tomó una decisión que algunos ya califican de salomónica y otros de arbitraria. Perú ganó 50 mil kilómetros cuadrados de mar en el océano Pacífico, pero la Corte de la Haya reconoció a favor de Chile el Hito 1 y el paralelo que nace a partir de allí hasta las 80 millas, como su límite territorial y marítimo. Chile no cedió soberanía, pero sí una importante porción de mar en una zona económica exclusiva. Así que en realidad lo jugado trascendió el tema de la soberanía y tuvo más que ver con un tema económico: la explotación de los recursos marítimos de esa zona. Tocará ahora ver qué sucederá con la mediterraneidad de Bolivia y cómo resuelven entre todos su salida al mar. Además, queda pendiente también el asunto del anillo energético sudamericano, ya que cualquier inestabilidad política en Bolivia, Chile o Perú podría afectar en mucho su implementación. Más allá de nuestra mirada al sur, la noticia de lo sucedido en la Corte de la Haya sobre el diferendo entre Perú y Chile, seguro ha provocado un efecto dominó en las vecindades cercanas y no tan cercanas.
Bad translation: Belize is ours?? After six years of intense analysis, negotiations and lobbying, the Hague Tribunal made a decision that already qualify for some other arbitrary Solomonic. Peru won 50 thousand square kilometers of sea in the Pacific Ocean, but the Court of the Hague acknowledged Chile for the Milestone 1 and the parallel that comes from there until 80 miles, as its territorial and maritime boundary. Chile gave no sovereignty, but a significant portion of the sea in an exclusive economic zone. So actually played transcended the issue of sovereignty and had more to do with an economic issue: the exploitation of marine resources in this area. Touch now see what happens to the landlocked Bolivia and how to solve among all its landlocked. In addition, the issue of the South American Energy Ring is also pending since any political instability in Bolivia, Chile and Peru could affect in a deployment.Beyond our gaze south, the news of what happened in the Court of The Hague on the dispute between Peru and Chile, sure has caused a domino effect in nearby neighborhoods and not so close.

Devon high school students heading to Belize
Students from a Devon high school are getting ready to head to Belize, in Central America, for a once in a lifetime trip. The students, from John Maland High School, are part of the school’s jazz band, and will soon be playing and teaching jazz music to the Belizean people Devon’s mayor, Stephen Lindop, came up with the idea. Two years ago he was in Belize building a playground, and he heard about a school with a music program. “I checked out their band and found out they didn't have jazz and I thought, ‘Wow, I'm in Devon, we have a tremendous band program’,” said Lindop. When Lindop returned, he presented the idea of bringing Devon music students to Belize to band teacher John Maland. “These kids have great music skills and we know they can go down, and make a contribution, make some new friends and help out another community,” said Lindop. “What a great thing to do.” The students started fundraising and Maland says the response has been overwhelming. “We’ve got three flutes, a clarinet, twelve trumpets and a cornet, three trombones, a euphonium, a tuba, orchestra bells, keyboard amp, bass amp and a synthesizer we’re bringing down.”

Death by sludge, coal and climate change for Great Barrier Reef?
Authorities approve plans to dump three million cubic metres of dredge spoil into waters of already at-risk reef... There's a phrase environmental scientists and campaigners like to use to talk about the slow and relentless degradation and destruction of habitats and natural wonders. "Death by a thousand cuts", they call it, as small chunks of habitat are lost and environmental laws are eased or repealed. A bit of bush here for a tourism development, a stand of mangroves there for a beachside resort. An entire nature reserve for a coal mine. Sometimes, the threats come like pincer movements with all angles covered. For the Great Barrier Reef, though, the world's most famous and largest coral reef system, a final decision passed down today gives us another gash, through which could rush millions of tonnes of coal. The reef is being threatened from all sides. Dredging for coal and gas ports. Increased shipping frequency. Run off from agricultural developments. Increased ocean acidity and rises in sea temperatures from fossil fuel burning. The threats have got the reef surrounded. Now the government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has decided to allow up to three million cubic metres of ocean bottom to be dredged and then dumped within the borders of the marine park and also the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

Canada-CARICOM Trade Talks Shrouded in Doubt
Negotiations on a trade agreement between Canada and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have limped along for over five years. Unless political will and energy is now put into the process, the negotiations could fizzle out by the end of June – a ‘drop-dead’ date now accepted by both sides. Abandonment of these negotiations would not be good for Canada and certainly not for CARICOM countries. For, while the negotiations focus on trade and investment and rules that guide them, the relationship between Canada and CARICOM goes far beyond these considerations. In Canada’s case, although its merchandise trade with all CARICOM countries is less than 1% of its total trade in goods, successive governments have enjoyed close relations with 12 of the Commonwealth Caribbean countries that are part of the 14 independent countries of CARICOM. Until recently, Canadian governments have been able to rely on Commonwealth Caribbean governments for support on hemispheric and international issues reflecting their shared values and common interests.

Reducing illicit trafficking in the Caribbean: 20 nations meet to coordinate efforts, way ahead
Maritime interceptor fleets, information-sharing mechanisms, regional strategies and human rights were among topics covered by defense, law enforcement and civilian leaders from 20 nations who met in Santo Domingo Jan. 28-30 to examine security efforts in the Caribbean.

January 30, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Belize Hotels dominate in the 2014 TripAdvisor Awards
Belize continues to rise in the ranks of coveted tourism destinations, capturing several international awards, and 2014 brings in even more accolades! Dominating in 2014’s TripAdvisor Awards, Belize’s hotels and resorts earned 37 distinguished mentions. TripAdvisor Awards are determined through the comments and ratings that visitors post about their vacation and serve as a means of publicity for a destination. As Belize’s top tourist destination, Ambergris Caye hosted its fair share of awards. A total of four island resorts placed in the Top 25 Hotels in Central America, with Grand Caribe Belize Resort taking the 2nd spot, Coco Beach Resort taking the 11th place, Victoria House Resort ranking 12th and Las Terrazas Resort taking 24th place. Grand Caribe Belize Resort also placed 4th in the Top 25 Hotels for Families in Central America. In the Top 25 Small Hotels in Central America, Belize took 11 spots including the top three: Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort (Stann Creek) 1st, The Phoenix Resort 2nd, Pelican Reef Villas Resort 3rd, Coco Plum Island Resort (Stann Creek) 6th, Xanadu Island Resort 7th, Chabil Mar (Stann Creek) 14th, Athens Gate 16th, Turneffe Island Resort 20th, Sleeping Giant Lodge (Cayo) 22ndand Ka’ana Boutique Resort and Spa (Cayo) 23rd. Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort also placed 8th in the Top 25 Small Hotels in the World.

Jerry Jeff Walker Passes the Hat for Saga Humane Society
Long time clients of Pampered Paws, Jerry Jeff Walker and his wife, Susan Walker passed the hat for Saga Humane Society at the Camp Belize concert on Friday, January 24th inside Fido’s Restaurant and Bar. The hat came back full with a grand total of $1,625 raised for the Operation SNIP (spay and neuter) campaign. Being an animal lover himself, Walker has always supported Saga, even seeking opportunities to raise funds however he can. At his concert, Walker shared the information on Operation Snip, the importance of Saga and their mission to find every pet a home, and even had special guests Kathy Marin and Judy Schreiner of Saga attend the concert themselves. Of course Walker sang a song about dogs, (it may have been about his own beloved Bear)while his hat was passed around to his generous audience that was more than happy to donate to a worthy cause. According to Saga, the money received will be used to spay/neuter 30 dogs or cats free of charge during February to celebrate Spay/Neuter Awareness Month and World Spay Day that will be held on Tuesday, February 25th. They would like to thank Jerry Jeff Walker, Susan Walker, their loving dog Bear and all participants of Camp Belize for the continued support and generous donations.

20 years of success for Robin McCutcheon of The Added Touch!
How does a Microbiology professor end up with a business like The Added Touch? From microscopes, cells and laboratories to soaps and wineglasses, sunblock, linens, postcards and more – there could only be one reason for this success. That reason is Robin McCutcheon. She’s no mad scientist – all of her experiments are a winner! But just how did she end up in this business? We asked her during a fabulous meeting in person at her store, and she explained: After a year of teaching microbiology at the University of Belize, Robin took a hiatus, stepping in to help some friends in their store located in Belize City’s downtown area. Customers (hoteliers and gift shop people) were constantly coming by, expressing their frustrations at not being able to find items that should be readily available for their resorts and restaurants. This was a time when anyone who didn’t live within access roads was especially frustrated. “Keep in mind that at that time the Placencia road wasn’t paved, nor was the Hummingbird Highway,” said Robin. “We called Pine Ridge the Outback!” Because getting to that area was tough, and those who had settled in there couldn’t provide their customers with basic items. Friends of Robin then invited her to attend a hotel show in Cancun, Mexico, and according to Robin, that’s where it clicked.

Ambergris Today

Belize Tourism Board and Olson Win Top Honors at In2 SABRE Awards
Belize took Best in Show honors at the In2 SABRE Awards for its ‘Breaking Bad’s Trip to Belize” campaign. The Belize Tourism Board and Olson Engage were recipients of three honors at the awards show that took place last week at the Four Seasons San Francisco. The marketing campaign won the awards for best marketing buzz and digital influence as well as the best in show for turning a potential negative publicity to a great opportunity to promote Belize. If you recall, the hit AMC show “Breaking Bad” used the phrase taking a “trip to Belize” as a euphemism for killing someone. But the Belize Tourism Board and the marketing team at Olson turned things around by posting humorous and light-hearted tweets at the show’s actors. The BTB even sent a letter to the cast of Breaking Bad inviting them on a free vacation to Belize.

Measuring Entrepreneurship in Belize
Belize joins the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), through the execution of a Compete Caribbean project in Belize to strengthen the Economic Development Council (EDC) [BL-CC2037] and improve the business climate and entrepreneurship; Belize, for the first time, has joined the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Three members of Belize’s National GEM team are attending the annual meeting of GEM national teams in Santiago, Chile. Other team members for Belize are representatives from the Ministry of Economic Development, the Directorate of Foreign Trade, and the Belize Agro-productive Sector (BAS Group). This national team will be the coordinating body for the two entrepreneurship measurement tools, the Adult Population Survey (APS) and the National Expert Survey (NES).

Misc Belizean Sources

BWSL Project Consultation
Dillon Consulting Ltd. will be conducting a consultation at the Lion’s Den on Thursday, January 30th in the evening at 7:00 p.m. The consultation by Mr. Frederick Sandiford of Belize Water Ltd. will bring awareness to the general public and provide a general overview in regards to the project that will be conducted on the north side of Ambergris Caye by BWS. Any questions or concerns can be addressed at the consultation.

BV Belize’s conservation Christmas cracker
A couple of weeks before Christmas the weh di gwan (agenda) board in Bachalar Chico Dive Camp announced that while others are doing data entry and dives, Santa’s fellow-countrymen Kaisa and neighbour Siim (me) are to start the preparation for a Christmas themed conservation party for the children of Sartaneja. It was a getaway from doing data entry and after a couple of hours brainstorming in the warm Caribbean breeze provided a theme and a plan. There was yet more brainstorming and preparation leading up to the party as there were going to be approximately 20-30 children attending the event. The staff and volunteers were organized into workgroups and a board was created that contained all the information about the party – who is responsible for what and where. However, everyone was always welcome to do things and come up with ideas that weren’t marked down for them – for example when one of the volunteers Emily was visiting Corozal Bay she bought candy cane instead of planned lollipops. Plans for the party were to create informal yet informative (and fun) presentations, boards, pictures and a huge 150 x 250cm˛ paper-board with a reef drawn on it so children could draw fishes and other sea creatures on it. Volunteers and staff also had to prepare cookies for cookie-decorating, Permit Jack shaped medals also had to be handmade. The Blue Ventures (BV) staff house had to be prepared for the party. But the flyers and posters for the party were done in time and with a smile!

Donations for Softball team of the Holy Cross Anglican School
Councilor Gaby Nuńez on behalf of the San Pedro Town Council and the San Pedro Sports Council, presented the softball team of the Holy Cross Anglican School with softball equipment such as mitts, bats, balls and catching gear. The kids were very enthusiastic as they enjoy the sport.

Escuela Mexico in Belize celebrates its 31st Anniversary
The “Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico” (ESTM), in San Roman Village, Corozal District, completes today its 31st Anniversary. The Official Ceremony was headed by its Principal, Mr. Carlos Castillo, and the Mexican Ambassador to Belize, Mario Velazquez. More than 800 people attended, including school officials, teachers, students and their families. The Escuela México is a technical/vocational high school that was built and donated in 1982 by the Mexican government as a friendly symbol of recognition of the Independence of Belize. In January 1983, formal classes began with an enrollment of sixty-eight (68) students and a small staff of five teachers. Since its establishment, the student population has grown considerably. The enrollment now stands over 680 students.

Cayo Quality Honey Producers Cooperative
Cayo Quality Honey Producers Cooperative (CQHPC) is pleased to announce that it has embarked on a process of expansion and education programs of its membershp that was made possible through a grant awaded by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP). CQHPC has been operating since 2006 and is recognized in Belize for the quality of its honey and its focus on sustainable environment practices. CQHPC is now looking for energeic, bold, responsible and committed persons (in particular young men and women) over 16 years of age for its expansion. The program includes a four-month training program in basic beekeeping to be carried out during weekends (Friday to Sunday). Applicants should have a good deal of reading comprehension and be committed to attend the training sessions. Interested persons may call Mr. Max Garcia 662-9880 or Mr. Sandy Perez at 625-6448. You can also e-mail us at [email protected]

University of Belize distributes micro propagated planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector
The University of Belize, as a catalyst for change to enable socio-economic transformation and sustainable development in Belize, is producing quality planting materials to benefit the agriculture sector. Its current focus, at its micro propagation laboratory Central Farm Campus, is Belize’s sugarcane industry. To date, the University, in collaboration with the Sugar Industry Research & Development Institute (SIRDI), the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) and individual cane farmers of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), has distributed close to 30,000 micro propagated plants to the sugar industry to establish demonstration plots in the Corozal and Orange Walk areas. Such plots are to be used by these organizations as trial nurseries to produce quality cane seed for farmers.

The effect of salinity on callus formation and organogenesis of Red Kidney Beans
The University of Belize research findings on the effect of salinity on callus formation and organogenesis of Red Kidney Beans published in international research journal Red Kidney Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), a major staple food source in Latin America and particularly in Belize plays a significant role in the cultural and economic activities of Belize. The legume, high in protein content and considered to be on the daily menu across Belize is faced with on-going challenges due to increased soil salinity, global warming and its effect. “The experiment was carried out in an effort to develop a salinity resistant variety of red kidney beans,” said Associate Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Belize, Dr Thippi Thiagarajan. “It was carried out to test the ability of Red Kidney Beans to form callus and undergo organogenesis under in vitro saline conditions.”

Belize's Ecotourism and Its Greatest Challenge Yet
Nestled on the Northeastern coast of Central America, below Quintanaroo, Mexico, sitting between a beach on a small island and on top of the Maya Mountain range, is Belize -- the 'land of the free by the Carib sea' as our National Anthem reminds the world. Here, the largest industry that is taxed is the oil industry and following that is tourism as the nation's largest producer of foreign exchange. Ecotourism, for arguments sake, since 1960, has been the galvanizing force and still is the spinal wall that keeps tourism upright and standing tall -- as tall as our national tree, the Mahogany. There are those who are strongly in support of an ecotourism product and there are those who want to subscribe to the "new" Cruise Tourism "streets of gold bandwagon". Personally, we prefer ecotourism. However, we must state that coming from the Western part of the country (San Ignacio, Cayo), within the last 15 years we have immersed ourselves in the ecotourism industry as entrepreneurs. Joe for example has been teaching adventure and ecotourism since 2005 and a couple other tourism courses for the local junior college in San Ignacio, Sacred Heart Junior College. Larry has been marketing the entire country since 2008 online via the different social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and different travel blogs.

BRRI Volunteer Opportunities
The Belize Raptor Research Institute has 5 volunteer opportunities this year. Some come with stipends for food and lodging. If you know of anyone who'd be interested, please pass the information to them. The first two listed will take place in Mountain Pine Ridge, and the other three are in Punta Gorda. Solitary Eagle Project Field Technician Solitary Eagle Project Field Assistant Internship Raptor Watch Project Coordinator Raptor Watch Project Compiler Raptor Watch Project Field Assistant Internship In related news, they are doing their Raptor Watch in August. Find out more here.

COBEC Librarian RDA Workshop
The Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation is having their Librarian Resource Description and Access Workshop Preconferences in Belmopan. They will go until next Wednesday. Next Thursday, COBEC is having their Winter Conference in Dangriga.

Screen on the Green Starts Today
The U.S. Embassy, along with the George Price Centre, is starting their Screen on the Green movie nights today. They'll have a movie every month, and it'll be at the Governor General's Field. Tomorrow, the movie they'll show is The Great Debaters, with Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. It's free, and it's a great movie. "Belize Screen on the Green will be showing the movie, 'The Great Debaters' on Thursday, January 30th!! Please join us as we launch our monthly movie series with this great film."

Big Rock Trail Progress
Sacred Heart Junior College students are making good progress with the Big Rock Trail improvement. They are half way through their 10 nights there. Check out the pictures so far at "The Big Rock Trail Improvement Project is underway. 8 SHJC NRM students, 6 SHJC volunteers, 4 trail builders from New York and team leader Chad Burrow braved rain and cool weather this weekend kicking off the project. They'll work and camp in Belize's Mountain Pine Ridge for 10 nights volunteering their time to make one of Belize's premier destinations safer and more accessible. Belize Trails, Blancaneaux Lodge, the Cayo Tour Guides Association and SHJC's NRM department are proud sponsors of this outstanding effort!"

Police Department comes out in support of veteran police officer
Over one hundred new policemen and women joined the ranks of the Belize Police Department today; but their graduation has been overshadowed by the stunning conviction of career police officer Corporal Gino Peck, 42. Corporal Peck was found guilty of charges of keeping ammunition without a gun license and keeping prohibited ammunition. There has been near unanimous support for the veteran police officer from virtually every sector of the community. And today, more support came in, this time from no less than the Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie himself. A statement put out by the police press officer announced that the police department will be bearing the full cost of appealing Corporal Peck’s conviction.

Cold front brings changes in the weather in Belize
There will be some changes in the good weather we have been experiencing the last couple of days. That is because the proximity of a cold front near to the Yucatan Peninsula is supporting a slight increase in moisture over Belize heading towards the weekend. The general forecast for Belize and her coastal waters is for mostly cloudy skies with a few showers or periods of rain mostly over northern and inland areas of the country. Winds over the open sea and along the coast will be westerly to northwesterly at 5 to 15 knots, producing light chop to choppy sea conditions.

Economic data shows unemployment is down
The Statistical Institute of Belize is responsible for the collection and presentation of up-to-date economic and social data for the country. Today they released a veritable avalanche of it – the consumer price index (CPI), which measures year to year changes in prices and inflation; the trade balance and how much Belize sells, and to whom; and finally the Labour Force survey, measuring the unemployment rate and who is working and where. Belize’s official unemployment rate is now 14.2%, down nearly two points from the all-time high of 16.1%. The figure comes from the twice-yearly Labour Force Survey carried out in September 2013. SIB Deputy Director-General Dr. Leopold Perriott said that from 2012 to 2013, there are 3 unemployed women for every two unemployed men; percentages stand at 21.5% for females and males 9.6%. The total labour force – all persons of working age, that is, 14 years of age and older, and who are not students, housewives, retired or disabled persons is over 149,000, of Belize’s total estimated population of 351,600, and 128,000 of these are employed – that is, they work for themselves, for others, or even just “ketch and kill.”

BTIA-Placencia continues to fight Norwegian Cruise Line
“It’s a done deal!” “You can’t win against a big rich company like NCL!” “You can’t fight the Government!” We have all heard these words before, both in Belize and around the world. They are the words of people who are counting on average citizens to shut down their brains, shut up their mouths and bow down to their masters. At tonight’s public consultation these same people—Norwegian Cruise Line and their paid agents—will try to impress you with a large crowd and a lot of noise. Why? Because that’s what you have to do when you don’t have the facts on your side. All we ask from the Department of the Environment, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee and those citizens attending this consultation is to look at the facts behind the Harvest Caye cruise port and decide for yourselves whether it will make life better for you, your children and your grandchildren. It’s all about jobs. At least that’s what they will tell you. The fact is that every time they talk about jobs it’s always a different number. Laura Esquivel Frampton and Tracy Taegar of the Ministry of Tourism claimed 800-1000 direct jobs…but the EIA from NCL says only 250 jobs including both the caye and Malacate on the mainland. With NCL having a ship in port at most only 150 days per year are these jobs full or part time? Year round or seasonal? Salaries? If the cruise line can give a number the must know exactly what the jobs are. For example, how many bartenders? How many cooks? How many landscapers? Security guards? Secretaries? And what about the 25% of employees that NCL has told Government will be filled by foreigners? Presumably they will get the highest paying jobs so where does that leave Belizeans? Please NCL, show us the jobs, the hours and the pay scales.

Eric Chang absent from City Hall
Former Deputy Mayor of Belize City Eric Chang is reported to be out of the country attending to family business in Taiwan. Last September Chang went to Taiwan right around the time that South Korean businessman and fugitive Won-Hong Kim received a passport through former Minister of State Elvin Penner. Chang stayed for nearly three months, until November of 2013, and lost his portfolios and positions as a result. Chang, the first Taiwanese-Belizean in elected political office, has steadfastly refused to offer an explanation for his activities in Taiwan, and today Mayor Bradley told reporters that even he is not sure about his colleague’s innocence.

Belize It Or Not: Rainy Days and Changing Plans
After spending what felt like forever in Mexico, my favorite new place in the world, we were on a whirlwind through Belize. My family was super excited about starting the next part of our trip, but as I’ve come to see during my new traveling life, things don’t always go according to plan. First off, there was the day we left Mexico for Belize. My Family had planned on getting up first thing in the morning, as early as the sun. Instead, we stayed up super late the night before with some new friends, and ended up getting a slow start on our border crossing day. This caused the smell of stress to fill the big truck, leaving me shifting around nervously on Victoria’s lap. The trip to the border of Belize and Mexico was super quick, and we got out of the country exactly as My Family thought we would. The interesting part started once we got to the Belize side of things. I knew there might be trouble, because all My Family had been talking about for the past two days was the fact that we didn’t exactly have my papers in order. I guess Belize doesn’t like new dogs so much, or they’re nervous about making sure everyone is healthy. Given all of the lonely, sick dogs I saw wandering around, I didn’t understand what sort of harm I could do. But they required My Family to ‘import me’, with all sorts of applications. We hadn’t received a peep back that our application was ready, and as Victoria had feared, the nice health officer had no paperwork on me.

I have a Dream for Belize Essay Contest
The US Embassy is hosting an essay contest to honor the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King. Belizean citizens may enter by 9 Feb to win a tablet computer device. In honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month, the U.S. Embassy Belmopan is hosting an essay contest in Belize. Submission: Drawing on the format from the famous I Have a Dream speech by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, tell us, in no more than 300 words, what your dream is for people and the future of Belize. Who may enter: Open to Belizean citizens between the ages of 16 and 30. How to enter: Send submissions to [email protected] Deadline: February 9, 2014. Prize: First place winner will receive a tablet computer device and their essay will be published in the local paper.

Channel 7

Police Dept Issues Extraordinary Statement Against Peck Conviction
Tonight the anger in the rank and file of the police department is growing and resentment is simmering over the incarceration of Corporal 259 Gino Peck. As we have reported Corporal Peck is in jail awaiting sentencing after he was convicted for possession of ammunition on Monday. It is a stunner because Peck is known as an upstanding officer, and a good many police have told us it is not unusual for police to have a few loose rounds in their residences at any given time. But Peck has been convicted as if he were a civilian – and that has provoked outrage, anger and disappointment in many police officers. Well, tonight, the real shocker is that the senior command apparently feels the same way. The Police Press office issued an extraordinary statement today saying, quote: “The Commissioner of police with the support of the Ministry of National Security hereby informs the public that the department will be supporting Corporal Peck fully, including payment of all legal fees in his appeal to his conviction on keeping unlicensed and prohibited ammunition.”

Commissioner Says Verde Case Has Not Gone By the Wayside
And while the police department laments the fate that has befallen one of its upstanding officers in the court, this stands in sharp distinction to the Reynaldo Verde case. Peck, a police officer was charged for old, dusty, job related rounds found in his house while the senior sales tax officer was never charged for an unlicensed Glock 380 pistol found in his house in earlier this month. Verde’s case is still on the DPP’s desk, while Peck must throw himself on the mercy of the courts. We asked the Commissioner about this contrast in cases: Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "That matter concerning Mr. Verde, I was assured that the statements have been submitted - or the file has been submitted to the DPP's Office. So, it is not to say that Mr. Verde will not be charged, if the DPP so directs. But, I gathered that there were other circumstances that the officers who were dealing with his matter did not feel comfortable about charging. That is why we have reviews done by the DPP."

And What Of Anwar Zetina? Commish Clueless!
And who can forget Belmopan resident Anwar Zetina? He got away with driving his car recklessly on December 20, even though he was busted by police without a valid driver’s license driving an unlicensed vehicle. He was detained, and even though charge sheets were prepared for reckless driving, driving without a valid driver’s license, driving an unlicensed motor vehicle, and using insulting words – the charges were never lodged in court. It is believed that due to his UDP political connections, those charges got buried. In the context of Gino Peck and Reynaldo Verde, we asked the Commissioner to comment on that case, and he told us he wasn’t quite informed on that one: Daniel Ortiz "This ties right in with another case Mr. Anwar Zetina, who is believed to political ties in the UDP, where he was supposed to be charge for wreckless driving and driving without a license. The charge sheets were prepared but that case was buried. So, it's another case where it seems as if though uneven treatment under the law is being applied. Can you comment on that aspect?"

Can Police Assure Even Application Of Law
So, after reviewing these 3 different cases, the logical conclusion which comes to mind is that the law is not being evenly applied. Gino Peck, a career lawman, with a sterling reputation, gets prosecuted to the full extent and the letter of the law. Renaldo Verde the flipside to that coin, gets a pass after senior officers accept his explanation that he was being framed. And Finally, Anwar Zetina gets a free pass, even though it was clear that he had violated the law. We asked Commissioner Whylie today about the perception that deferential treatment is clear to outside observers, and here’s how he responded: Daniel Ortiz "At the helm of the police department, are you concerned about appearances uneven treatment under the law, where you have the case of Mr. Anwar Zetina, then there is Mr. Renaldo Verde, and then you have Mr. Corporal Gino Peck who has been sort of given the full hammer blow in this particular instance? How address the public who says that there is a perception that uneven treatment under the law exists, and these are three examples of which that has happened?"

What About The Dental Bill, BAA?
Tonight the aftershocks of Cabinet’s executive thunderclap are still being felt. The Belize Airports Authority Board of Directors is preparing to resign, and, we are informed, so is the General Manager of the BAA Kenworth Tillett, who has been given that option to demit office in an orderly fashion. And, as the Board accepts Cabinet’s invitation to resign, we know that at least one of them is leaving a little further ahead than when she took office. That board member got the BAA to pay her daughter’s hefty dentist bill – and was supposed to pay it back out of her monthly Director’s stipend. Outgoing board member Lindsey Garbutt explained how that worked out: Jules Vasquez "Now, you have one here for the Dental Center $2,040. I understand that it was to assist a board member with a dentist bill for child, for her daughter. Explain to me, what went into making that decision."

Unemployment Down From Record High
The Statistical Institute of Belize – they’re the folks who generate the numbers on everything from the population to the inflation rate. And this year, the SIB - which usually just sends out press releases – is taking a higher profile. They held a press conference today to release the latest figures on unemployment, the trade imbalance and the inflation rate for 2013. First to the unemployment figures. Those come from the September 2013 Labour Force Survey – an annual exercise. Those figures show that unemployment is down form the record high of 16.1% in September 2012. It’s down to 14.2% which is still very high – but it means that 1,500 more people are working. Deputy Director General Leopold Perriot explained this morning: Leopold Perriott – Deputy Director General, Statistical Institute of Belize “The number of unemployed persons is twenty-one thousand three hundred persons in all. That’s the entire country, that’s the estimate for September, mid-September 2013. An unemployed person is a person that is fourteen years or old without a job, looking and able. Of that, we have males are almost nine thousand, eight thousand seven hundred and seventy-six of the unemployed are males and the females dwarf them, twelve thousand five hundred and twenty-four females and unemployed.

SIB: Trade Balance in 2013 Was Highest, Inflation Was Low
The other figures released today were for the consumer price index and the external trade ratio. As the Director General explained, the trade imbalance was higher than ever: Jules Vasquez Reporting Glen Avilez - Director General, SIB "At the top you have 2 lines, the blue one and the red one. The blue one represents all imports, and the red one represents all imports excluding the Corozal Free Zone. You'll see that there is a huge difference between what we import, and what we export. In fact, it seems that we import almost 3 times what we export as a country. In 2013, we imported a total of 1.3 billion dollars' worth of goods from the rest of the world. This is an increase of 8%, or roughly 133 million dollars. I want to highlight 2 of the categories that combine for 106 million dollars of this 133 million dollars that I spoke to you about. Machinery and transport equipment, up by 51 million dollars in 2013. For the 10-year period between 2003 and 2013, imports were growing at an average annual rate of 5.3%. In 2013 that rate accelerated to 8%." And while imports were at a record high - exports were down by 51 million dollars: Glen Avilez "The decrease in our export revenues were largely due to lower oil and citrus receipts. In fact, these 2 products combine for 90 million dollars less revenues."

New Cops For The Street
Today, 127 recruits from squad intake #89 passed out to become full police officers. They’ve been training for the last 16 weeks. At their graduation, their Police Minister, John Saldivar, welcomed them to the Department, and after the ceremony, we asked Commissioner Whylie about this infusion, and where they will go. Here’s what he told us: Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "It's amongst the largest indeed. I think the last squad 88, they were 130 recruit. This one is 127 recruits, so it’s amongst the largest indeed." Daniel Ortiz "Where will these officers be posted? We understand that majority of them will be assigned to Belize City." Allen Whylie "Yes, Belize City continues to be our area of focus. And so, the majority of the officers will be posted within Belize City, Eastern Division. I have tried to look at the situation in terms of the needs, and try to measure that quite carefully. As a result, other officers are also going to be posted in every formation across this country. So, every formation will be getting a few officers. I am certain they'll say that they needed and deserved more, but there is only so much we can give. So, I've tried to assist every formation."

New Equipment for Regional Hospitals
Yesterday, the Northern and Western Regional Hospitals received $311,000 worth of medical equipment which was handed over at a short ceremony. Since the neonatal tragedies at the KHMH last year, the country has been working to improve neonatal and maternal care at all the major hospitals. This donation is part of the Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project, and its Quality Improvement Project Manager hosted the handing over jointly with the Minister of Health. Here’s what he told our colleagues at Plus TV about the importance of the equipment that is now in the hands of the Northern and Western Health Regions: The Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project is five year health initiative aimed at improving primary healthcare services in maternal and infant, child and reproductive health in vulnerable communities.

Security CEO In Road Accident
CEO in the Ministry of National Security George Lovell was in an accident on the George Price Highway today but luckily he was not seriously hurt. Lovell – who drives a Volkswagen Jetta with private plates - told us that between miles 39 and 40 his driver was trying to overtake a vehicle that also started to overtake. The Jetta had to take for the soft shoulder where the vehicle flipped once and landed back on its wheels. Lovell says he was not hurt, and his driver only received a small cut from the windshield.

Owning Dean Street
Dean Street is Channel 7’s home base – so forgive us if we take a victory lap now that it’s finally gotten paved. In the past few weeks, we’ve gotten a chance to see the process up close – and come to know the guys who work on the street. Now that it’s finished we asked them what they feel about it: Juliet Soberanis Street from Albert Hoy Street to the Phillip Goldson International Highway will become a one- way street for the life of this contract.

Tacos Vendor Works 12 Hours x 7 Days: Says She Loves Job More Than Huzzy
Tacos – it’s the breakfast of choice across Belize where the low cost, high protein food is a staple for people on all kinds of budgets. And even as the price of everything has gone up, form chicken to the price of a pound of tortilla, for decades the price of tacos has remained stable: 3 for a dollar whether you buy it in Corozal or Punta Gorda. But if you really want grade-a tacos – you know you have to go to Orange Walk. We passed through recently and took a slice of life from one hard working vendor:

IDB's 4 Year Plan For Belize
Belize has been a member country of the Inter-Development Bank since 1997, and to date, the country has made around 190 million dollars in loans from the bank. As one of the largest donors to the country, the IDB has been working closely with different government administrations, and in December, it gave the green light on a country strategy to be implemented for the next 4 years. The Financial Secretary and the IDB’s country representative explained its significance: The country strategy’s main goals are to assist in education, tourism, transport, trade, and tax policy.

Highway Works Are First Up
And that spending on transport was in evidence today when the IDB and GOB signed a grant agreement for five hundred and forty thousand US dollars to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway. That is between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The agreement was signed in Belize City by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Gina Montiel, Manager of the IDB’s Country Department for Central America. Here are their remarks. An official statement says, the grant will support the preparation of an investment program to finance the infrastructure works needed to upgrade and absorb growing traffic volumes on the highway. The IDB is also supporting the development of a national transportation master plan to address existing bottlenecks in the country’s roads, ports, air travel and transit systems. If they have the courage, we’d encourage them to take a look at the bus system.

Channel 5

Police Department put their full support behind Convicted Cop, Gino Peck
wenty-three year veteran of the Belize Police Department, Corporal Gino Peck, will stand in court on Friday to have sentence imposed upon him. On Monday, he was found guilty of [...]

Peck’s family braces for sentencing set for Friday

Gino Peck clearly enjoys the solidarity of the police force and this Friday it is known that their presence will be felt when he is brought to court to learn [...]

ComPol says Reynaldo Verde is not home free
he conviction of a Police Officer and his sentencing on Friday for ammunition found in his home has brought new attention to the Reynaldo Verde case. An unlicensed weapon was [...]

Statistical Institute of Belize Report: Imports are up, exports down
he Statistical Institute of Belize today hosted a press briefing to provide an update on comparative unemployment, inflation and external trade statistics for 2013. Traditionally the institute is accessed only [...]

Unemployment rate down since 2012
he figure for unemployment was also released by the S.I.B.  But first, the largest employer is the private sector, no surprise here; it employs fifty-eight percent of the work force [...]

C.E.O. in Ministry of National Security in a traffic accident
At about three-thirty today, as he headed back to Belize City from the Police Passing-Out Ceremony, C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Security, George Lovell, was involved in a relatively [...]

Meeting of National Environmental Appraisal Committee postponed
oday there was to have been a meeting of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee to consider the EIA on the Norwegian Cruise Line tourism project, but it was postponed. Information [...]

James Gibson escapes confinement for drug trafficking conviction
he mandatory jail term for drug trafficking conviction is usually a fine along with confinement. But today, forty-eight year old James Gibson escaped the full weight of the law because [...]

Public weighs in on Peck’s conviction
here is growing outrage among the ranks of the police force on the conviction of Gino Peck, a long serving officer of the force. But while his colleagues are standing [...]

Police Passing Out Ceremony: A historic number of women join the police force
oday, the top brass and rank and file of the Belize Police Department, along with family, friends and supporters joined to welcome the eighty-ninth recruit squad…the men and women who [...]

IDB and G.O.B. sign agreement to rehabilitate 32 miles of George Price Highway

Government announced in November 2013 that it will be spending seventy-six million dollars on infrastructure works across the country. This morning, the Inter-American Development Bank signed an agreement with G.O.B. [...]


Students Involved In Bus Accident Tell Their Story
Today a special Thanks Giving ceremony was held at the Belize Adventist College Auditorium where recognition was given to those students who were involved in a traffic mishap last week Thursday in the Corozal District. The event saw the participation of the student body, teachers and invited guests from the Ministry of Education. It was a spirited event as it saw testimonials from the students involved in the accident and included prayer segments. CTV3 News spoke with Pamela Herron, Teacher and Counselor of the school who told us more on the day’s event. Pamela Herron– Teacher/Counselor “We are doing this in the acknowledgement that that protected us during that accident with the children, we can see that it could have been worst but we are grateful to God so today we are having special people like Mr. Magana from Scotia Bank who was the only person that stop and helped out the students that needed to go to the hospital and then we have Mrs. Alvares, she is from the ministry of education, she was there with us for the whole entire day, she even brought lunch for us and each student toady will get a purple ribbon thanking God for their bravery and we know this is a dramatic experience but we have seen how God has Secured your life.”

Annual Primary School Softball Tournament Gets Underway
The annual Primary School Softball Tournament officially kicked off today at the San Andres Civic Center in Corozal Town. Coordinator of the tournament Carlos Acosta told us more on this year’s tournament. Carlos Acosta – C.S.C “It’s the beginning of the district primary school softball tournament 2014 and we have eight schools participating and four females and eight males participating in this tournament which will take about six weeks to eight weeks of tournament before we go the national tournament for softball for primary schools.” Victor Castillo – Reporter “Is this a rural or an urban competition?” Carlos Acosta – C.S.C “It is a district competition and we have schools from Chan Chen, Ranchito, Xaibe and the Town schools, and it is eight schools that will participate this year.” Victor Castillo – Reporter “At the end of the tournament, will these teams represent Corozal?” Carlos Acosta – C.S.C “The winner in the male division and the male division will represent Corozal at the national championship games to be held in Belize City and it should be in April of this year.”

Central American Cup TO Be Played In The U.S
Since the inception of the Central American Cup in 1991, the United States, will for the first time, be hosting this year’s tournament. This was announced by the Central American Football Union. The Central American Cup will be held in September, and will be played in three offices: Washington, Houston and Los Angeles. It was also confirmed that Panama is part of group B, with selections from the United States, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. While the group A teams is comprised of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize. It is of note that Copa Centroamericana gives five seats to the Gold Cup.

Orange Walk Town Council To Apply For Land In O/W East
The issue on ownership of the Guadalupe Park on Aurora Street in Orange Walk East was put to rest on Monday, or so we thought. The matter continues to be of concern this time for the Orange Walk Town Council which is now trying to obtain the land under their control. The council met last Friday and passed a resolution to reclaim the land and thus return it to the people, according to Mayor Kevin Bernard. Now that the land has been reverted back to government, the council is looking at applying for it and according to the Mayor, they started that process today. Kevin Bernard- Mayor Orange Walk Town “This afternoon we will be continuing that process in ensuring that we get that application. I am also being encouraged by my family members to take out a petition drive for the residence to sign on behalf of the people of Orange Walk in support of the council in ensuring that that land is returned to the people of Orange Walk. The only best way that that can go to, is by giving it, like I said it doesn’t have to be a title, it can go as a lease land to the municipality or it can be written their documents that it ought to be vested in the town council for and on behalf of the people of Orange Walk.”

Statistics Show Unemployment Rate Is Down
The Statistical Institute of Belize has released its latest report on Unemployment, Inflation, and External Trade. In its latest report on the Labour Force Survey, which measures employment, and which is conducted twice annually – in April and September – unemployment decreased by nearly two points. Since September 2013 the unemployment rate stood at 14.2%, down from 16.1% in September 2012. To be more specific, the number of employed persons increased by 1,500 in September 2013 compared with September 2012 and the median monthly income was $900. Figures for those without a job show that there are 3 unemployed women for every two unemployed men; percentages stand at 21.5% for females and males 9.6%. Unemployment among persons aged 14 to 24 was 25.3%. Those aged 25 to 34 accounts for half that figure while only about ten percent of people over fifty-five years are unemployed. Belize’s labour force, which is measured from persons fourteen years and older, stands at 149,000.

SIB Report Shows Prices In Goods Have Gone Up
The Statistical Institute of Belize also reported on the consumer price index and the news remains the same for the public. Prices have gone up, but according to the report, it is not by much. In its report, the SIB shows that it researched 260 products in all the municipalities except for Benque and San Pedro, and found that on average, Belizeans are paying just over a cent more for basic goods, or 1.5% more for food staples like ground beef, red kidney beans, eggs, milk and vegetables. The prices are less in regards to alcohol and cigarettes, clothing and footwear, house furnishings, recreation, but remain more or less the same for housing and utilities, communication and transport. Gas and fuel has stabilized somewhat and butane is actually down on average from year to year. The report adds that in other sectors the price index has gone down. The national inflation is at 0.5%. The highest average inflation is registered in Belmopan at 1.4%.

Exportation And Importation To And From Mexico Prohibited For The Time Being
Tonight, there are reports coming from Subteniente Lopez at the Santa Elena Border that products are not being allowed to be exported or imported to and from Belize and Mexico. So, what’s the rationale behind this? Well, turns out the license for the Agencia Aduanal, “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados,” which is the only broker agency for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border in Subteniente Lopez, has been suspended since Friday of last week until further notice. CTV3 News understands that the agency was suspended for no apparent reason. But the true question is, how does this affect commercial trade here in Belize? The brokers and businesspersons we spoke to today state that millions of money is being lost as they cannot carry their products, much less sell it when the trucks have been stationed at the border.

Sugar Crop Looks Promising
Without a doubt the progress of the Sugar Industry is one of interest to all Belizeans especially Northenos. This is based on the fact that when the industry catches a cold the trickle effect is felt especially here in the north. But all indications are that the 2013/2014 crop season, despite some minor hiccups, has gotten off on the right foot. Since the start of the crop on January 24th, to date, the factory has milled 18,400 tons of cane producing 1,702 tons of sugar. It’s much less than last year when the factory milled 53,305 tons producing 4,908 tons of sugar. The good news is though, that compared to last year, less mud is being extracted from the cane. Moving on to a very important figure, TCTS, or tons cane per ton sugar, stands at 10.81.This, according to BSI/ASR is very encouraging. Last year during the same time frame TCTS stood at 10.69. We here at CTV3 News will keep our viewers informed on the progress of the crop through our weekly crop review scheduled to commence next week.

NRH Gets New Equipment
The Ministry of Health Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project was launched in 2013 with the aim of improving access, usage and quality of maternal, infant, child and reproductive health in northern and western Belize The regional health initiative is being carried out by the Inter-American Development Bank with funding from a number of charitable organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And from all indications Government is doing its part. Yesterday the Ministry of Health handed over medical equipment valued at approximately BZ $311,000 to the Northern and Western Health Regions during a ceremony held at the grounds of the Western Health Regional in Belmopan. The equipment’s, which include incubators, operating theatre tables, resuscitators and basinets, were handed over to Western Regional Health Manager Pearl Ellis and Northern Regional Health Manager Guadalupe Longsworth by Minister Pablo Marin and Quality Improvement Project Manager for the Mesoamerican Health 2015 Martha Woodye.


Fonseca Says Penner Is Getting Slaps on the Wrists
Yesterday, Cabinet sent out a release in regards to the Elvin Penner Immigration scandal and the Edmund Castro BAA cheques corruption. The Directors of the Belize Airports Authority have been asked to resign following numerous media reports that the Board had issued a number of cheques to Belize Rural North area representative Edmund Castro. The Prime Minister has called the action “wrongdoing” however he said it is not corruption. The portfolio of Civil Aviation, which includes the Belize Airports Authority and over which Castro exercised day to day jurisdiction, will be removed from the Ministry of Transport and placed with the Ministry of Tourism. Leader of the Opposition, People’s United Party, Francis Fonseca says that the action taken against Castro is not enough. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “It’s good that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet have recognized that there is need for them to take action regarding this matter given the outcry across the country. It is good and I give them credit in recognizing that it is necessary for the Government to take action but to remove the Department of Civil Aviation from the Ministry of Transport and to move that to the Ministry of Tourism is clearly not the answer.

Opposition Leader Says Recent Statistics are Misleading
As you heard, the latest unemployment figure is at twenty one thousand three hundred, a decrease. The report presented by the Statistical Institute of Belize also indicates that inflation in Belize decreased to zero point five percent. For the Leader of the PUP, Francis Fonseca, the figures are misleading. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “Certainly, that doesn’t, in my view, reflect the reality of life in Belize today. The reality of life in Belize today is that more and more people are losing their jobs, there is higher unemployment particularly among young people and our women, there are thousands of young people coming out of school who have no jobs; yes, they have created some jobs on the streets with street construction programs but that target a particular sector of our society. The reality is that the vast majority of our young people who are graduating from school can’t find meaningful employment and that is the reality. In terms of cost of living, you only have to go into the store and you will know that everything has gone up since this government came into office in the last six years. The price of goods and services has gone up; I think that is very misleading, like I said I haven’t seen the press conference and so I don’t want to be too harsh in my comments but it certainly does not correspond with the reality of life today.”

International Bank Grants Belize A Million Dollars for Highway Project
Belize will receive over a million dollars in grant from the Inter-American Development Bank for a preparation study on a George Price Highway Project. Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the Bank’s Country Department Manager for Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, Gina Montiel, signed a grant agreement for 540 thousand US dollars to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments. These are for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The grant will be invested in the preparation of a program needed for the upgrade of the highway to meet growing traffic volumes. Transport is one of the four priority areas of the IDB’s new country strategy with Belize, which was approved in December. The other areas are education, tourism, and trade and tax policy. The Bank will focus its support in the transport sector on the rehabilitation of roads that promote trade and integration and improved access to major tourism sites. The IDB is also supporting the development of a national transportation master plan to address existing bottlenecks in the country’s roads, ports, air travel and transit systems.

Statistics Show Unemployment Rate is Down and Imports Are Up
The unemployment rate has gone down from 16.1 percent in September of 2012 to 14.2 percent in September of 2013. Those figures were released this morning at a news conference that the Statistical Institute of Belize held. At that rate, Deputy Director General of the Institute, Dr. Leopold Perriott, said that the number of unemployed persons in September of 2013 amounted to 21 thousand 300 persons. DR. LEOPOLD PERRIOTT “Estimates at mid-September 2013, the number that we estimated was about 351,600 persons in the country of Belize and of that almost precisely two thirds, sixty six point six per cent or 234.300 persons were of working age, meaning they were fourteen years or older. The employment rate is the number of unemployed persons divided by the number of persons in the labour force. It is the percentage of unemployed persons in the labour force and countrywide is fourteen point two percent. The number of unemployed persons decreased evidently.” The Institute also reported that the annual inflation rate for 2013 was point zero five percent as Director, Glenn Avilez shared.

Police Department Rallies Behind Convicted Cop
On Monday 40-year-old police corporal Gino Peck was found guilty of two counts of kept ammunition without a gun license and one count of kept prohibited ammunition. Peck was charged on January 21, 2012 when Police went to his house on Curassow Street and found a dusty kit bag which contained twenty-two 12 gauge cartridges, five .38 rounds and one .45 caliber bullet. Peck, who had been a police officer for 22 years, was assigned to Special Branch. Ever since Peck was arrested, he has had the support of most of his colleagues and the public who believe he was not treated fairly. A number of people have called in to the various talk shows to make their displeasure known. Today the Police Department issued a release stating that the department is fully supporting Corporal Teck as was reaffirmed by the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE “Myself as the Commissioner is deeply saddened at the turn of events and I am certain that the members of the Belize Police Department are also saddened and disappointed at the result. I want to say that the department will be fully supporting Corporal Peck during this period; we will be funding the entire fees for him for his legal appeal of his conviction. I believe that the matter could have been handled differently; it’s a matter that was before my term when I took up post but as I said, we are deeply saddened and we will be assisting him in his appeal.”

From Attempted Murder to Murder
The charge of attempted murder against 30-year-old Hensley Ryan Jones of Ranchito Village in the Corozal District was upgraded to murder this morning in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court. Jones faced the attempted murder charge on January 4, 2014 following a shooting incident on New Year’s Day that left his father hospitalized, later succumbing to his injuries on January 25, 2014. Police reports say that the son had allegedly shot his fifty three year old father, Hensley Jones, also known as Nick Jones in the head multiple times on New Year’s Day. The authorities say that when they arrived at his home the elder Jones approached them with blood running down his head. He was taken to the Corozal Community Hospital and then to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.

Western and Northern Health Regions Benefit From Health Project
Medical equipment valued at an estimated three hundred and eleven thousand Belize dollars has been handed over to the northern and the western health regions. The equipment geared at improving the services of maternal and child health care in vulnerable communities, ranged from incubators to operating theatre tables, resuscitators and basinets. The donation comes as part of the five year initiative dubbed, ‘The Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project”. Minister of Health, Pablo Marin handed over the equipment on Tuesday, January 28 during a brief ceremony at the Western Health Regional in the City of Belmopan. Marin, during his keynote address, commended the dedication of the health workers in both the northern and western regions as Belize had been recognized for achieving a maternal mortality rate of zero in 2013. On hand to receive the donation were Pearl Ellis of the Western Health Region and Guadalupe Longsworth of the Northern Health Region.

Matura-Shepherd Says Mayor Bradley Lied
Yesterday we told you about Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley decision to privatize the council security services. Mayor Bradley says that is an effort to reduce staff and cost. The contract to provide the council security services has been given to the current Security Manager at the council, Hiram Longworth, through his company, Rangers Security. More than thirty security officers have been given their walking papers but Mayor Bradley says that they will be immediately hired by Rangers Security. The Christian Workers Union which is the recognized bargaining unit for the workers is concerned. The CWU says that the Belize City Council failed to comply with section 45 sub-section 3 paragraph A of the Labor Amendment Act number 3 of 2011 which mandatorily requires the Council to quote, “inform as early as possible but no later than one month from the date of the existence of any circumstances,” end of quote. In a letter sent to the Labour Commissioner, Ivan Williams, the Christian Workers Union is requesting the Labour Department to ask the City Council to reconsider the implementation of their redundancy program until after consultation with the Union. The Christian Workers Union is also requesting that the Labour Department intervene to mandate the consultations and to have the Belize City Council postpone its date of termination slated for January 31st. President for the Christian Workers Union, Audrey Matura Shepherd, spoke to Love News.

Compol Says Verde May Still Be Charged
And while Peck is awaiting his sentence, Commissioner of Police has commented on a similar case involving firearm that did create quite a stir among the Belizean populace. On January 3, 2014, a senior supervisor at the General Sales Tax office in Belize City got off on a firearm charge after a search by Police at his home uncovered an unlicensed weapon. But the find was not what made the news, but rather, the news became how the charge against Verde was handled. For the average citizen, once an unlicensed firearm or ammunition is uncovered it would end up in an automatic remand or a minimum of fifteen days in jail but that didn’t happen for Verde. At around 6 o’clock on the morning of January 3, 2014, Police had gone to Verde’s home just off Faber’s Road in Belize City and conducted a search where they uncovered a Glock 380 pistol in the washroom of his home. Verde was unable to produce a gun license for the weapon and was taken to station…and… up to this point that would be the norm but then it all went awry as while it was mandatory for him to be remanded as stipulated in the gun laws; he was set free and never spent any time in jail. Police Commissioner commented on the way this case was handled and assured the public that Verde may still be charged.


Statistical Institute Survey says Unemployment Went Down!
Belize’s official unemployment rate is 14.2%, down nearly two points from the all-time high of 16.1%. That is the major news development coming out of a press conference hosted today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the country’s primary provider of economic and other statistical data. The figure...

Improving Maternal and Child Health Care Services
A significant step toward improving Maternal and Child Health Care Services in the Northern and Western Health Regions of the country was taken yesterday. The Ministry of Health, through the initiative of the ‘Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize” Project, donated medical equipment valuing approximately BZ $311,000, at a ceremony held...

What the Heck Happened to Peck
In January of 2012 the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) conducted a search at the residence of a 40 year old Police Constable Gino Peck. As a result, Corporal Peck was busted and charged with possession of unlicensed firearm, unlicensed ammunition and prohibited ammunition. In his defense, Mr. Peck claimed that...

San Ignacio Residents Complained of Polluted Water
Residents in the Burns Avenue area of San Ignacio are complaining of contaminated water in their taps for the past week. Construction is currently taking place on a street in the neighborhood, which is believed to have led to pollution of the water system. Mr. Kent Pandy, a local,...

Commissioner Wiley Discusses Reynaldo Verde Case
Earlier, we told you about Corporal Gino Peck and the fact that he was convicted on ammunition and firearm charges. We also told you that the police department says it is supporting Peck. After speaking to the about Peck’s conviction and his possibly facing a sentence of five years,...

Belize Buying More, at Home and Abroad
The Statistical Institute of Belize today called reporters to a press conference in Belize City to release the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures the cost of living in the Jewel, as well as to report on Belize’s trade balance and performance in the year gone. As most...


Finally some Fabulous San Pedro Weather
Our fabulous San Pedro Weather combined with a too long to do list have been keeping me from writing. It has been perfect beach and walking weather so I have taken advantage of that since Saturday afternoon when I went to go see Yancey De Veer play at Wayo’s. What a great show and the highlight was when Yancey and Cowboy Doug hijacked two Spanish musicians that were riding down the beach road and got them up on stage to jam for a bit. Later I took out the hula hoops and about 8 of us hooped for a long while. Now for the do to list – we are aiming to do 4 First Aid classes in February and there is a lot to be done. The first one will be at Friday Feb 7th at Casa Picasso, they are getting all 7 of their staff trained. Also sending staff to that class are Corona Del Mar Hotel, Caribbean Villas and Pedro’s Hotel. Feb 8th will be 15 people from the wildlife conservation group upstairs at El Divino.

A Quick Look Around Independence, Belize Or Is it Mango Creek?
The town of Independence is not a tourist hotspot (YET – the cruise ships are coming!) but its well known in the country for other reasons. 1. It’s the home of Big Creek, the deep water port that is the hub of the oil and fruit industries. Here is the home of the Banana Growers Association at the Big Creek port. Fenced in CLEARLY so you can not take a picture on top of it. The colonial style housing for those who manage the port. 2. It’s a stop for every bus headed south even the express buses stop at Belmopan –> Dangriga –> Independence –> Punta Gorda. It’s a good sized village…population somewhere around 3000. And 3. Many tourists go through Independence to get to the much more touristy town of Placencia. This bus to Independence/Mango Creek runs with much more frequency than the direct bus to Placencia…and is often faster. It’s a quick hop across the lagoon from Independence to Placencia. 10 minutes, $10bzd on the Hokey Pokey ferry.

Chili With Beans
In one of my prior videos I made Chili (no beans). This dish is a variation on the Chili with the addition of Red Kidney Beans. This dish can be a whole meal or can be used a dip.

Time to leave GDP behind!
Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success.

Colonialism and the Colonial Mentality
“On Baron Bliss Day, 9th March, 1928, the writer journeyed on his bicycle from Belize to the Pine Ridge near Freetown on the Old River, about ten miles, to witness a cricket match. On arrival he found quite a large number of people from Belize, including thirty or forty bicycles and four motor cars. On returning the idea came to him or organizing an expedition from Belize to Cayo on bicycles. At first the subject was dismissed as impossible. But, like a recurring decimal sum, the thought came back again and again.” - pg. 11, BLAZING TRAILS, by Monrad S. Metzgen, BRC Printing, 2002, edited by Emory King Colonialism in British Honduras for native schoolchildren meant that they sang “God save the Queen” twice a day. When citizens of this colony traveled abroad, their passports said, “British subjects.” The tariff structure was such that we imported almost all our manufactured goods from the colonial motherland – Great Britain. Where infrastructure was concerned, such as roads and bridges, these were built for immediate utility.

Belize, still in the squalid shadow of British colonialism, reminds us of the value of independence
Stumbling on-line I found this insightful article that actually made me mad; not mad at the person writing it, but mad at us. YES, mad at US, WE have allowed ourselves to be this way; for what reason? I have no idea. I know many will read this article and start to say negative things about the author, but I ask that instead of doing that, sit back and ponder on what the message is saying about us. THAT is what we look like to the world. Do we want to remain that image or do we want to change? Now ask yourself this question and try to answer it honestly.. What am I willing to do to ensure that our nation changes for the better and that future generations of Belizeans will not have to live and be seen by the world the way we are today.

My favourite Belize blog posts of 2013
Although John McAfee’s media attention dominated the beginning of 2013, I won’t include any of those articles in my top Belize blog posts of 2013, haha. But thinking about it, maybe I should, McAfee’s ludicrous behaviour and the international media’s love for him (his actions/ thoughts), brought Belize the most attention it has EVER received. I hope the BTB sent him a thank you Christmas card, because even if the publicity was considered negative, it did more good than bad. Here are the top posts, in no specific order.

International Sources

TAMUK athlete represented Belize in 2012
When one thinks of the Olympics, one would never imagine that one of those athletes would go to school at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK), but meet Kaina Martinez. Martinez is a freshman from the Central American country of Belize and competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games running in the 100-meter race and the 200-meter race. Martinez was raised in southern Belize by a single mother of three. Belize is the only country in Central America that speaks English as a first language, and with a population of 324,060, Martinez said the country has a family feel. “I’m honored to say I grew up in a little village in southern Belize. It’s very orientated; your neighbor is like another mother, father, sister or brother,” she said. As a child, she loved reading books and would travel to different countries through the stories she read. Martinez started to venture into athletics her last year in elementary school.

Central American national teams could hold Copa Centroamericana tourney in US
The Copa Centroamericana – the championship of Central American national teams and a qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF Gold Cup – could be held in the United States in fall 2014 or January 2015, according to and reports from Prensa Libre in Guatemala and Prensa Grafica in El Salvador from UNCAF meetings this month. The tournament, held in January in recent years, would mark the 25th anniversary of UNCAF, the governing body of the seven Central American national associations, if held in 2015. The idea of hosting the tournament in the United States was raised publicly at UNCAF meetings in Costa Rica last month, but discussions have evolved this week with the suggestion that El Salvador is bidding to host. Officials are also considering moving the tournament to the autumn months of 2014. If the tournament is held in the United States, possible sites include Washington, Dallas, Houston, and multiple cities in California.

Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $53 Million to Save the Oceans
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s throwing his philanthropic weight behind saving the oceans and the decimation of fish species worldwide. His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has committed $53 million dollars over the next five years to reform fisheries and increase sustainable populations through the Vibrant Oceans Initiative, a partnership between three groups, Oceana, Rare and EKO Asset Management. “It’s a big day for the oceans and for Oceana. We’re so happy about it,” Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This is the first ocean grant that the philanthropy has made.” Bloomberg isn’t the first big name to team up with Oceana, the international advocacy organization which works to protect and restore the world's oceans. How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders and Parks and Recreation's Rashida Jones have traveled with the organization to Belize to learn about protecting the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Miranda Cosgrove (Despicable Me) will soon launch a public service announcement in partnership with Oceana about protecting dolphins.

Manatee Death Toll Is At An All Time High, And Nobody Knows Why
Sea cows, mermaids of the sea, gentle giants, whatever you want to call them -- manatees are in trouble. The economy of Crystal Rivers, Florida is dependent on a healthy manatee population. It is the only place, outside of Belize, where people can legally swim with the manatees, and tourists come from far-and-wide to get close to these aquatic mammals that can weigh over 1,000 pounds. Last year, however, something unusual happened to the manatee population -- there were 829 known deaths, the highest annual death toll ever recorded. Though there are many contributing factors to why manatees are endangered (boat strikes, cold temperatures, disease, infant mortality), scientists are stumped by what killed the record number in 2013. It is known that 276 manatees were killed in southwestern Florida by a red tide -- toxic algae eaten and breathed in by the animals in fatal quantities. But according to National Geographic, nobody knows what killed the manatees in the Indian River area of east-central Florida. "It started out pretty baffling, and to this point they still have no clue," Bob Bonde, a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told NatGeo.

Caribbean walks the talk on clean energy policy
Despite having an abundance of wind and sunshine, Caribbean countries have found that going green is requiring significant shifts in policy, and most importantly, significant financing. But despite these challenges, they are not daunted. Barbados, for instance, which spends an estimated 400 million dollars annually on fossil fuel imports, has announced plans for a wind, gas and solar energy programme that requires almost one billion dollars in investments. "Plans for the area include a 680-million-dollar waste-to-energy plant; a leachate treatment plant costing about 31.9 million dollars; a landfill gas-to-energy project to cost 9.4 million dollars; a solar project costing 120 million dollars; and a wind-to-energy facility projected to cost 24 million dollars," said Environment Minister Dr. Denis Lowe.

My outfit with shorts and sandals in San Pedro Town, Belize
La ciudad de San Pedro (Belize) es un entorno de postal. Las pequeńas casas pintadas de colores junto a las calles de arena que desembocan al mar turquesa, las palmeras de coco y los bungalows hacen que sea el lugar perfecto para pasar unos días en shorts y sandalias, disfrutando de algo único.

In Pictures: The Main Islands of Belize
Belize has about 200 islands off its coast. Most of these are in fact small cayes scattered throughout the shallow waters, used as hideaways by 17th-century pirates after they plundered Spanish gold. But Belize’s two main islands are Ambergris Caye and its little sister, Caye Caulker. Ambergris Caye and the islands that surround it are quaint and pretty. If you’re looking for ocean sports during the day and partying at night, Ambergris won’t disappoint. Whiz from beach to bar with a golf cart, the favorite means of transportation on the island. Arguably more beautiful and less developed, Caye Caulker offers a more relaxed lifestyle than Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker makes you feel as if you really are away from it all. Reveling in its no shirt, no shoes lifestyle, Caye Caulker is a tiny, laid back island known to attract backpackers from around the world.

January 29, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

OPM Clarifies that the Unions Requested Meeting with the Prime Minister
The Office of the Prime Minister wishes to clarify that the Honorable Prime Minister did not request a meeting with the Union leaders as was stated by George Fraser, Senior Advisor to the BNTU, at the BNTU rally last Friday and carried by Channel 7 News. Fraser is quoted by Channel 7 as saying, “Just a while ago, not even half hour ago we got a phone call, the Prime Minister wants to meet with us.” The facts are that in a letter dated January 8, 2014 the Unions’ Negotiating Team wrote the Prime Minister asking for a meeting to discuss three areas of concern. After receiving assurance that the meeting was to be with the Union leaders only, and not the full Negotiating Team, the Prime Minister agreed to the meeting on the day suggested by the Unions which is January 30th, 2014.

Blues Dogs Blues Band sing for Holy Cross
What’s better than delicious food and cold drinks on the beach with live music by the Blues Dogs? Enjoying all that and knowing it’s for a good cause! On Sunday, January 26th, Estel’s Dine by the Sea hosted the Colorado, USA band for the second time as they teamed up with local musicians to deliver great music and a lively fundraiser. In addition to Estel’s lucky diners , several members of the Holy Cross staff and music fans came out to hear a bit of the blues while contributing to the worthy cause. The concert was a hit, as the total proceeds raised from the event earned $2,817.85.

BEL Launches 2014 Golden Citizen Electricity Bill Pay Program
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) today presented awards to recipients of its 2014 Golden Citizens Electricity Bill Pay Award during a ceremony held this morning at the Company’s Corporate Headquarters in Belize City. The 20 Golden Citizens awarded today represent only a portion of the approximately 160 randomly selected senior citizens countrywide, whose monthly electricity bill will be paid by BEL for an entire year. BEL’s Golden Citizens Bill Pay Program is one of several initiatives through which the Company fulfills its new Mission “to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost, stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize.” The remaining 140 awardees from across the country will be visited and presented with certificates at their homes during the next week.

PM Barrow cleans house following string of scandals
At its meeting today, Cabinet discussed thoroughly the highly publicized matter of cheques issued by the Belize Airports Authority (BAA) to politically assist Minister Hon. Edmond Castro.Cabinet was much assisted in its discussion by an informal report submitted to it by the BAA. Cabinet learned that only three cheques were issued in the personal name of Minister Castro. One of those was for per diem in the course of the Minister’s official travel on BAA business, another was for assistance in burying the Minister’s mother, and the third was to pay for assistance with sports in Belize Rural North. Cabinet was also informed that the other cheques not in Castro’s name, but issued to help the Minister in his constituency, did not amount to even a quarter of the seventy alleged by the Opposition. After due consideration, including hearing from Minister Castro himself, Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the BAA or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides. In light of this, the Prime Minister took the following decisions:

Ambergris Today

UB Continues To Train Leaders To Transform Belize’s National Development
A total of 481 graduates received diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor, Certificate and Diploma levels at the University Of Belize Eighteenth Commencement Exercises on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at the University’s Central Campus, Belmopan. Of the total number of graduates 307 were females and 174 males representing 63.8 and 36.2 per cent respectively. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Bachelor Degree Programs was presented to Nelson Joevanie Amaya, who scored a 3.96 GPA with a Bachelors of Science in Spanish Education.

Misc Belizean Sources

Save Ms. Elena
Help us save her life!!! Keep informed on how you can help! Ms. Elena Chee is a single mother of three. Kristy, Karissa and Kyrone need your help to save their mom. If you live on the Island of San Pedro, chances are you have seen or know Ms. Elena. She worked for 14 years at the Jade Garden before dedicating 9 long years to serving us all at Elvi's Kitchen. Help us keep her alive!!! To donate blood please see Nurse Madril at the blood bank next to the KHMH. You may deposit to Belize Bank Acc # 670-01-1-014387 or donate at Belize Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Center in Belize City. Elvi's staff is holding a fundraiser (radioton) and selling food tomorrow. The Elvi's Kitchen Staff is raffling a stove at $10 per ticket! The winner will be chosen on the San Pedro Morning show on January 31st! PLEASE HELP!

FISHING REPORT: Week of January 19th – 25th, 2014
Only a few boats went out in the beginning of the week as the wedding party departed leaving an empty lodge behind for a few days. Our Orvis Group arrived on Thursday with 10 anglers ready to learn the art and science of bonefishing. A half day seminar followed by 3 -1/2 days fishing overlapping into next week is off to a great start. Thanks to Orvis’ Vincent C. for his help and efforts making the seminar a blast.

National Protected Areas Presentation
Please take note of the invitation to a presentation for the National Protected Areas System this Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 at the Sun Breeze Conference Room. Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development

The Cartel-Like Nature of Belize’s Political Ruling Class. A Deformed Democracy to a Kleptocracy
by: Hubert Pipersburgh Both Political parties in Belize have developed over the decades since independence a flawless blueprint to ensure the relative success of the individual party. They have both colluded to perfect a clientele spoils system of machine politics that will ensure that the nepotism, cronyism, and subjugation to a deformed system continues unabated. Both parties nibble around the periphery with a few cosmetic adaptations and amendments here are there, which only sort to guarantee the continuation of the status quo and their priveledge place in it. This system of patronage and handouts inherited from our colonial masters reinforced under self-government, is now an institutionalize pattern of dependency and limited participation in the affairs of the state by its people. The model fostered is a form of democracy without the genuine participation of the people. However, it is now effectively a kleptocracy, a form of government in which no outside oversight is possible. An all powerful prime minister that enjoys demigod status, control both the supply of public funds and the means of determining their disbursal.

Candidates are invited to submit their resume for consideration

A Story of Resistance in Belize
The exhibition entitled 'A Story of Resistance in Belize' is back at the SISE House of Culture. It opened this week. If you missed it last time, you have around a month to see it this time.

UB Graduation - January 2014
The University of Belize had their 18th Commencement exercise over the weekend, and they got a plethora of great pictures. Ms. Kay Menzies gave the keynote address, and it's worth a read. Congratulations, UB students, and best of luck in the world! "A total of 481 graduates received diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor, Certificate and Diploma levels at the University of Belize Eighteenth Commencement Exercises on January 25, at the University’s Central Campus, Belmopan. Of the total number of graduates 307 were females and 174 males representing 63.8 and 36.2 per cent respectively. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Bachelor Degree Programs was presented to Nelson Joevanie Amaya, who scored a 3.96 GPA with a Bachelors of Science in Spanish Education."

Wingstop Comes to Burns Avenue
Cayo has a Wing Stop now. It's on Burns avenue, across from Flayva's, and has been open around a week and a half. They have some great wings and burgers, and are the new downtown hot spot on weekends. It's great to see good businesses opening downtown. "Cayo has a Wingstop Restaurant and Bar now. They have great wings at a good price, and their bar is well stocked, with bartenders that know what they're doing. It's a popular spot on weekends now that the vibe on Burns has changed for the better."

Cruise on the BAY
The Belmopan Active Youths are having their 'Cruise on the BAY' fundraiser on Valentine's weekend. They'll have Panerrifix and DJ Karizma there for entertainment. The boat leaves at 6:00pm from Old Belize. Call 602-4812 for more information. "Cruise on the BAY! Support the Belmopan Active Youths Fundraiser!"

Belize People’s Front and VIP on the Hubert Pipersburgh Show
Featured guests are Nefretery Nancy Marin of the Belize People’s Front and Hubert Enriquez of the VIP.. The two leaders of these parties will share with us their vision for Belize’s future.

23 Reasons Why I Love San Pedro, Belize
San Pedro definitely wasn't love at first sight. I despised the garbage along the beach, the seemingly looking "run-down" town, and the millions of no-see-ums/mosquitoes (the reason why I was so itchy all god-damn week). But after my week or so there, I finally realized why Madonna dubbed this island "La Isla Bonita". Sure, the palms and beautiful blue skies were easy on the eyes, but the island called to me in a deeper way than any other, say like Maui or St. Lucia. It was just different. Tons of character in every direction. The longer I stayed there the more I felt I was connecting with the island. I had met so many people coming back year after year, bringing their families and small kids. It finally made sense. And when I sat down and actually thought about my newfound love with this tiny blip of land in the ocean, I discovered what my life is truly missing- the stress-free island life atmosphere.

Channel 7

Cabinet Thunderclap!: BAA Board Fired, Castro Stripped, Penner Stripped
For weeks the pressure has been mounting on the Belize Airport Authority and Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Edmund Castro. And today, that pressure finally reached Cabinet- which has acted decisively to close the stable door, even if it's long after the horses have bolted. First off, the entire Belize Airports Authority Board chaired by Barbara Miller is being required to resign. Second, the portfolio for the Department of Civil Aviation, which has responsibility for Airports, is being removed from the Ministry of Transport and is being put under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, with Manuel Juniour Heredia. This is the equivalent of stripping Castro of the ministry. This was confirmed in a rare Cabinet Release that came out an hour ago. Holding the official line of wrongdoing but not corruption, it says, quote, "After due consideration, including hearing from Minister Castro himself, Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the BAA or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides." End quote.

Incarcerated Lawman’s Family Distraught, Destroyed
Last night, 7News told you about the dramatic, unexpected outcome in the case of Corporal Gino Peck who was convicted of firearm offenses in the Magistrate's Court. He remains at the Belize Central Prison tonight, while awaiting sentencing. He will learn on Friday how much years he's going to get. While Peck endures that agony of grim foreboding, he has a wife and 5 children, 4 of which depend on him as the breadwinner. Their lives have been thrown into ruin by the guilty verdict - a verdict they never could have expected would befall a career lawman. His family invited 7News into their Belize City home today, and they spoke with Daniel Ortiz about the case and about who Peck really is:

Pickwoad’s Win Interim Victory
A week ago, 7News told you about the Supreme Court case that aspiring politician Beverly Castillo was caught up in. She was accused of orchestrating a land grab on Chetumal Street just before she left office of CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources. Bernadette Pickwoad, a Belizean American, claims that Castillo used her influence to have her lease cancelled and then then transferred to Castillo's son and mother, Mervin Castillo and Maud Williams. Beverly Castillo continues to fervently deny the allegation, and the Commissioner of Lands has spoken to 7News explaining that the lease was lawfully revoked because Pickwoad violated the terms. Audrey Matura-Shepherd, attorney for Bernadette Pickwoad, got an injunction to stop Castillo, her son, and her mother from making any further developments on the land to try to strengthen their claim to it.

Football Fight Continues Off-Field
Last night we showed you the tumultuous finish of the Premier League Playoff game in Benque Viejo at the Marshalleck Stadium. Tonight, the after effects are just coming on. We have learned that Verdes is protesting the outcome of the game. And that's because #32 for FC Belize Michael Hernandez was allegedly registered in two leagues, which is not permitted. 7News has learned that he played in the Mayor's Cup in July, which was not an FFB sanctioned event, but Verdes argues that still he was not eligible to play on Sunday night. As we showed you he came on as a late substitute and scored the winning goal.

Eric Chang Goes Back To Taiwan; Mayor Not Amused
Eric Chang, we've not reported on him since December of last year, 7 weeks ago, when we made yet another failed interview request of him. Well, the mayor confirmed today that he intends to leave the country once again, to return to Taiwan. Chang has a vested interest in that country because that's where his family lives, but because he was in Taiwan when Citizen Kim's bogus passport was delivered, the strong suspicion is that he was the one who brokered the deal. Chang has refused or ignored all interview requests for him to answer to the allegations, even at the urging of his boss, Mayor Darrell Bradley, who has repeatedly encouraged him to make a public statement.

PM Puts Fraser “To Right”
If you watched the news on Friday - you'll recall the angry, bitter and just downright mean words that BNTU senior advisor George Fraser had for education minister Patrick Faber. And if you missed it, the Prime Minister didn't. He certainly listened to this line:.. George Fraser, BNTU Senior Advisor "Just a while ago, not even half hour ago we got a phone call, the Prime Minister wants to meet with us. I don't know about what, but when the heat di come on and they deh under fire, let him meet with Patrick and tell him to behave himself, little boy." So, from that you'd conclude that the PM hurriedly called for a meeting because, in Fraser's words, he was "feeling the heat." Well, yesterday the Office of the Prime Minister sent out a release to make it clear that it's no such thing.

FCD: Caracol Incursion Is Serious
On Friday night's new we also spoke to Rafael Manzanero about the felling of trees right near to the Caracol road. It's a most disturbing incursion because that is the heart of the archaeological park - and the trees were some of the largest in the area - mostly because prior to this no Guatemalan poacher would have dared go so close to a clear sign of Belize's civil authority. But two weeks ago, they did. The spot is only four miles from the Guatemala border in northern Chiquibul and tonight Rafael Manzanero discusses the seriousness of this incursion in greater detail. Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director - FCD "We are looking at over a dozen of trees that were cut in a period of less than 3 weeks. The most aspect of the concern is because it is very close. In fact the trees that were cut less that 2 weeks ago they actually were dropped right over the highway; over the road. We are actually talking about no more than 1.5 miles from the Caracol center."

BAA Board Takes Down Kenworth, Before Getting Taken Out
Today in cabinet, it was like thunder struck. The entire board of the Belize airports Authority was required to resign immediately. This in the wake of revelations that cheques had been issued to its Minister Of State Edmund Castro and his various political interests. But, there's more. During the course of this newscast we've confirmed that in its last act, the Board reportedly fired Airports Authority General Manager Kenworth Tillett. We have been reliably informed of this though there are varying reports. Of course, the board did not know that would be its last act when it moved to fire Tillett this morning. And yesterday board member Lindsey Garbutt - unaware of that fate that awaited him today - came forward to bite the bullet, take the heat for the Board's dubious decisions. First off, he explained those Castro Cheques... Jules Vasquez "How did you feel when the Prime Minister said that if he were member of the board when these wrong and distasteful checks were being issued, how did that make you feel?"

Will NCL EIA Have to Go Back To The Drawing Board?
The National Environmental Appraisal Committee was supposed to meet tomorrow to discuss the NCL Project for Harvest Caye, but there are reliable reports reaching 7News tonight that it this meeting has been postponed until a later date. That's because the public concerns raised at the EIA public consultation meeting on last week Wednesday in Independence have highlighted many environmental concerns that the developer has not properly dealt with in their EIA. Yesterday, an organization called Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development sent out a release criticizing the EIA for its inadequate details on the project's daily water usage, the effects of dredging needed, the destruction which will take place on Harvest Caye, the effects of the operation of the cruise ships, and its socio-economic impacts.

BEL Gives Senior Citizens
One hundred and sixty senior citizens from across the country have been awarded one year of free electricity courtesy the Belize Electricity Limited. It is a part of BEL's Golden Citizens Bill Pay Program which was launched in 2012. An award ceremony was held this morning for 20 of the persons selected from Belize City. Monica Bodden reporting This morning the Belize Electricity Limited presented 20 Golden Citizens from Belize City with awards for payment of one full year's worth of electricity. Hector Vallejo - Customer Care Rep. "We are here this morning to present 20 golden citizens from Belize City with award for payment of one year full worth of electricity courtesy of BEL. These citizens are here only representing a fraction of the 160 golden citizens across the country who are being randomly selected to receive this special gift. BEL's golden citizen bill pay program is one of several initiatives through which the company fulfills its new mission to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost to stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize. We are also proud to introduce this program publicly as one that has evolved like many others out of our employees to reach out in meaningful ways to make a difference in others in the community we serve."

How to Get a Taiwanese Scholarship
The Taiwanese Embassy is once again accepting applications for its scholarship program for Belizean students to go study in that country. Today, the Embassy hosted their annual scholarship briefing, and 7News attended. Here's what the Taiwanese Ambassador told us about how you can get into the programme: H.E. David Wu, Taiwan Ambassador to Belize "Today is the briefing for the year 2014 scholarships awarded by Taiwan. There are 2 kinds of scholarships; one is called ICDF, that's stands for International Cooperation and Development Fund and this program will be taught in English and it will be divided into post-graduate and under-graduate. Last year we had 21 students who were awarded this ICDF scholarship. The other one is called the Taiwan Scholarship. This scholarship is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan and this program is study is Mandarin Chinese. For those who speak English when they go to study in Taiwan for this scholarship, they need to learn one extra year of Mandarin in the language center."

Channel 5

G.O.B. takes action on the Castro Cheques Scandal: the Belize Airport Authority Board to resign
Late this evening, Cabinet issued a release in response to an ongoing check scandal involving U.D.P. Minister of State Edmond Castro and the Belize Airports Authority. Castro came under fire [...]

Penner stripped of government vehicle, while Marilyn Williams to chair Integrity Commission
Also included in the lengthy Cabinet release is word that disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner will be stripped of his government vehicle. He has had it, and enjoyed [...]

Chief Justice issues decision on Pickwoad land dispute; injunction stands
Since December, a prime parcel of land located on Chetumal Street has been the center of intense legal dispute. In a nutshell, the piece of land in Belama Phase One [...]

PM says he’s not fazed by teachers who asked for a meeting on Thursday despite a scheduled rally
Teachers held their largest rally to date in San Ignacio last Friday, and it was also the most focused, on the Prime Minister and his Minister of Education Patrick Faber. [...]

Show me the money; PM says salary adjustments for teachers uncertain
The Prime Minister wasn’t quite finished there. He then turned to the issue of the salary adjustment, because he maintains that for teachers, it’s really all about the money despite [...]

Was the issuance of BAA cheques to Minister Castro corrupt or distasteful?
Tonight’s question is: Do you think the issuance of cheques by the BAA on behalf of Minister of State Castro is corrupt or distasteful? Send your comments and responses using [...]

Mayor Bradley says he’s still unsure of Councilor Chang’s role in immigration scandal
Councilor Eric Chang has been in the hot seat in respect of the immigration scandal. Chang allegedly had a role in the passport issued to Won Hong Kim, the South [...]

Belize City Mayor says Castro cheques scandal is distasteful
Cabinet has issued its official proclamation on the Castro check situation, basically exonerating the U.D.P. Minister of State from all-wrongdoing, but asking the BAA Board to resign. But today, Belize [...]

Darrell Bradley still has his sights on Central Government
And from City Hall to Central Government, where Bradley has set his sights…the young politician has stated that he will throw his hat into the ring for higher office. He [...]

National Elite Basketball League Tournament to be aired live on Channel 5
After years in hiatus, senior male basketball is back. A national elite tournament kicks off on February seventh with the first game to be played in the city. There are [...]

2 men freed of murder charge
Tonight, two men who were on trial for the gruesome murder of Rudolfo Villatoro were freed of the charge. After deliberating for hours, a jury of twelve on Monday afternoon [...]

Taiwanese Embassy holds scholarship applications briefing
Scholarships for Taiwan generally attract scores of applicants; aside from earning a degree it provides students with the chance of learning Mandarin. This year, high school and sixth form students [...]

UB’s 18th Commencement Exercise; 481 graduate
The University of Belize came under scrutiny last year because its president, Doctor Cary Fraser, resigned effective the end of the academic year 2014, but then took leave. There has [...]

156 golden citizens receive the Electricity Bill Pay Award
The Golden Citizens Electricity Bill Pay Award – it’s an initiative put in place by B.E.L. in 2011 to benefit golden citizens all over the country. It all started with [...]

A huge scoop of ice cream from The Ice Cream Shoppe
Scoops ice cream was once an all time favorite where family and friends went for a special treat. Well that simply delicious and decadent ice cream is back at its [...]


Belizean Students Briefed on Requirements of Taiwan Scholarships
Several high school and university graduates gathered at the Chateau Caribbean earlier today to be briefed on the details of an estimated 25 scholarships that will be awarded through the Embassy of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Ambassador to Belize, David Wu told Love News that the gesture from his country to ours is a sign of goodwill that seeks to strengthen our already good diplomatic relations. He explained that the scholarships fall under two categories for the scholars. DAVID WU “To apply for the scholarship to study in Taiwan has become a big event for many graduates either from the high school or university. Last year we awarded twenty six Belizean applicants and they are now studying in Taiwan; half for undergraduate and half for post graduate. Again, I believe that there will be between twenty three to twenty five full scholarships that will be awarded. There are two kinds of scholarship; the ICDF scholarship is taught in English and the Taiwan Scholarship is taught in Mandarin Chinese. For those who want to take the Mandarin program will have to study an extra year to learn Mandarin first and they will go to the language centre where they have good tutors who teach Mandarin.

Belize City Mayor Weighs in on Issue of Airport Funds
Mayor Bradley also weighed in on Belize Rural North Area Representative, Edmund Castro’s latest scandal. Castro is accused of inappropriately using the funds of the Belize Airport Authority for personal and political use. While Prime Minister Dean Barrow has stated that it is distasteful but not corruption, Mayor Bradley says that the allegations against Castro are affecting the United Democratic Party. DARRELL BRADLEY “I haven’t followed that situation very closely but I have made this statement very clearly; no Government can perform effectively unless there are principles of good administration, unless the people at the very top adhere to the highest levels of ethical conduct. It is something that is distasteful; it is something that causes a scourge on the administration and on the UDP on a whole. I am a UDP and I want to know that every single member of my party is doing things on behalf of members of the public and we don’t really get side tracked by these allegations; we are doing a lot of work in the City, the Central Government is doing a significant amount of work both in the city and countrywide and I think that these things just detract from the good work of the Government and it is very unfortunate and it is very distasteful.”

Mayor Bradley Still Hopes Councilor Chang Would Clear His Name
When Belize City Councilor Eric Chang returned to the country after being accused of having part in facilitating Kim Wong Hong a visa, Love News attempted to obtain a comment from Chang on numerous occasion. We did so to give Chang an opportunity to clear his name but he refused. We spoke to Chang last month but he told us that he would rather not comment and let the allegations fade away. He did, however; sent a correspondent to Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley in which he explained that his extended stay in Taiwan was as a result if his ailing grandfather. Well the news tonight is that Chang, who was demoted from Deputy Mayor with several responsibilities to a councillor with no responsibility, is out of the country, allegedly to Taiwan. Mayor Bradley spoke about it. DARRELL BRADLEY “He didn’t get permission to leave; the situation is that since he had returned on the last occasion, we have tried to reintegrate him back into the City Council and it is my responsibility to ensure that he is performing his duties and that he is acting in accordance with his oath of office as a City Councillor and we have been working with him to integrate him back but at the present time, we understand that he is not in the country.”

Corozal Woman Caught Stealing Wipes and Deodorant in Chetumal
Corozal resident Marisol Cortez was caught stealing from a store in neighboring Chetumal, Mexico. Cortez is being accused of attempting to steal 24 deodorants and a box of wipes. A Mexican newspaper reports that theft has been the most recorded crime in Chetumal and several Belizeans have been the culprits. Reports are that Mexican police were called after the store’s employees had Cortez detained. The Manager Francisco Bojorquez handed Cortez to authorities and was taken to the Public Prosecutor of the Common Jurisdiction where she was charged for theft.

Cabinet Strips Penner of Government Vehicle; Directors of Airport Authority Asked to Resign
Cabinet met today and quite a bit of news came out of today’s session. The matter of Edmund Castro receiving cheques from the Belize Airports Authority was discussed. After hearing from Castro Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the BAA or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides. In light of this the portfolio of Civil Aviation, which includes the Belize Airports Authority and over which Castro exercised day to day jurisdiction, will be removed from the Ministry of Transport and placed with the Ministry of Tourism, the Solicitor General and the Financial Secretary will meet with all Statutory Bodies to review operational protocols and advise on proper administration and the current Directors of the BAA will be asked to resign. Ex-Minister Elvin Penner is asked to turn in the Government vehicle he has and will also lose the chairmanship of that House Committee on Public Utilities, Transport and Communications. The Prime Minister, as Minister of Finance, has instructed the Financial Secretary to require every Area Representative account for the $2,300 monthly allocation provided for constituency office rental and secretarial services. Following the consultations between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, the new Integrity Commission to be chaired by ex-FIU Director Marilyn Williams, has been agreed and will be formally constituted at next month’s sitting of the Senate.

Murder Case of Son of Belmopan’s Mayor Goes to Trial
The trial for the man accused of killing Aubrey Lopez began today in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas. Lead prosecutor, Kaysha Grant called her first witness. The allegations being made by the crown is that on May 12, 2010, Paul Jex was one of many persons who was inside the vehicle of Aubrey Lopez when he was murdered. He is believed to have been the trigger man who shot him and threw him out of his own vehicle, leaving him to die on Prince Street. According to Grant, Lopez left his girlfriend’s home driving in her blue Maxima car and headed to E. P. Yorke High School to socialize with friends. After socializing, Lopez left the compound at around 11:00 p.m., but after he left E P Yorke, he met up with the accused, Paul Jex and others who boarded his car and upon reaching Prince Street, Lopez was shot in the head and his body shoved out of the vehicle. Later that same night, two officers on patrol in the city, saw Lopez’s blue Maxima car and the police set chase from Central American Boulevard and caught up with it on West Collect Canal and Jex was found inside. A jury of seven men and five women were selected this morning to hear the case. Prosecutor Grant is being assisted in this trial by two other newly appointed crown council of the DPP’s office, they are Shanice Lovelle and Porshia Staine. Paul Jex is represented in the murder trial by Attorney, Tricia Pitts-Anderson.

A Tale of An 83-Year-Old Woman Propels Benefits for Senior Citizens
Today the Belize Electricity Limited, BEL, extended its social assistance to the public to 20 of the country’s senior citizens. Overall, some 160 senior residents countrywide benefit from its Golden Citizen Program. The company’s Customer Care Representative, Hector Villaje, explains how the program works. Hector Villaje “BEL’s Golden Citizen program is one of several initiatives through which the company fulfills its new mission, to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost, stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize. We are also proud to introduce this program publicly as one that has evolved like many others out of the passion of our employees to reach out in meaningful ways to make a difference for others in the community that we serve. BEL employees who interact with customers on a daily basis have come to see the various circumstances being faced by some of our golden citizens when trying to meet or make payment of their electricity bill. An inspiring incident that occurred in our Customer Care Department in 2011 was the catalyst for this program. In 2011, an eighty three year old woman visited our office to pay her account as her electricity had been disconnected for nonpayment and not having paid her bill for some time.

University of Belize Graduates 481
A total of 481 graduates received diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor, Certificate and Diploma levels at the University of Belize Eighteenth Commencement Exercises on January 25, at the University’s Central Campus, Belmopan. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Bachelor Degree Programs was presented to Nelson Joevanie Amaya, who scored a 3.96 GPA with a Bachelors of Science in Spanish Education. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Associates Degree Program was presented to Brianni Grace Hyde who achieved the highest overall GPA score of 3.83 in Biology. And, the Award of Academic Excellence in a Certificate/Diploma Program was presented to Trisha Monique Hulse-Silva scoring the highest overall for Certificate/ Diploma with a GPA of 3.95 graduating with a Diploma in Education Methodology. The awards were presented by Chairman of the UB Board of Trustees Harrison Pilgrim. Guest Speaker, President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kay Menzies in her Keynote Address outlined ten ingredients of success, and also made reference of the clarion call embedded in the mission and vision of UB for its graduates to contribute to the development of Belize. The Acting President of the University of Belize, Dr Wilma Wright, congratulated the graduates for their dedication, commitment and achievement. Since its inception on 1st August 2000, there has been close to 7,000 graduates from the University of Belize.


Castro Scandal Damaging Government’s Image, says Mayor
The Mayor also briefly touched on the scandal enveloping fellow UDP and Minister of State for Transport Edmund “Clear the Land” Castro, accused of obtaining thousands of dollars of public funds belonging to the Belize Airports Authority for his personal use in his constituency of Belize Rural North. As...

Cabinet Removes Belize Airport Authority from Castro’s Portfolio, Asks Directors to Resign
Today, Cabinet made the decision to remove the Belize Airport Authority from the Junior Minister’s portfolio and request that the Directors of the Authority step down. In a release today, Cabinet states that the resolution came after thoroughly discussing the “highly publicized matter of cheques issued by the Belize...

Penner’s Ministerial Perks Stripped by Cabinet, Integrity Commission to be Constituted
But that’s not all the housekeeping that Cabinet did today, in fact, the Prime Minister has required ex-Minister Elvin Penner to turn in the Government vehicle that he kept, after removal from Cabinet. As Chair of a House Committee. Hon. Penner will also lose the chairmanship of that House...

Three Men Acquitted of the 2009 Murder of Mr. Rudolfo Villatoro
Three men from the south were today freed of the 2009 murder of Rudolfo Villatoro. Villatoro was decapitated and mutilated and his body disposed of in a latrine pit. A week ago, a no case submission made by defendant, Gilbert Lamb resulted in his freedom. We understand that Lamb...

Streets Being Paved in Belmopan
After the Public Accounts Committee meeting which took place on Friday, we spoke with Hon. John Saldivar, Representative of Belmopan. There have been major works done in Belmopan on some of the residential streets and other Belmopan City roads. The Area representative says several streets have been paved, several...

Isidoro Beaton Stadium to Receive Major Facelift
Football fans will feel glad to hear that there is to be a complete face lift of the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan. According to the Belmopan Area Representative, the contract for the project has been awarded to an architecture firm and the design phase of the project is...

Speedy Trial for Pickwood Land Dispute
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin has chosen to continue an injunction he issued last December on activity at the parcel of land, located corner Albert Hoy Avenue and Chetumal Boulevard in Belama Phase I, Belize City. The land is the subject of a dispute between former leaseholder Bernadette Pickwood and...

Police Corporal Facing 5 Years Sentence for Ammunition Convictions
A Police Corporal is facing a possible 5 year sentence, after he was convicted of possession of unlicensed ammunition and prohibited ammunition. The Gang Suppression Unit, in January of 2012, conducted a search of the residence of 40 year old Gino Peck, where they uncovered a 9 mm. pistol,...

Taiwanese Scholarships Available to Belizeans
For Belizeans seeking the next level in academic achievement, it is often difficult to find finance to pursue studies in their chosen field. The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Belize is launching its annual program of scholarships to Belizeans, including the ICDF (International Cooperation and Development...


Improper Disposal Of Garbage Taking Place In Carmelita, Residents Are Concerned
During the past few weeks, concerned citizens and residents of Carmelita Village have noticed illegal dumping taking place near the entrance of the village, aligning the highway. According to local residents, this has been going on for quite some time and is now getting out of control. Our news team followed the story and reporter Maria Novelo filed the following report. Styrofoam items, plastic bottles, soiled baby diapers, and accumulated household waste, litter the stretch of the Philip Goldson Highway, immediately upon entering Carmelita Village. It is a definite eye sore for many, and we found out that garbage generated during the last few weeks or months, remains uncollected, defacing the Village and causing much nuisance to the residents with its unbearable stench and possible health hazards. That is the sentiment we got from many residents when we visited Carmelita Village today. One such resident who requested to remain anonymous says it’s the villagers within the community causing this disturbing trend.

Minister Marin Accused Of Abuse Of Political Authority
On November 28th of last year, we reported on the re-distribution of a 20 acre lot at the Consejo Road South East of the Corozal District, which had the name of Lennox Garbutt as former lessee of the property. At the time of the report, Garbutt acquired the land back in November of 2011 and had paid his taxes on the lease up to 2013. But last year he received a letter indicating that he was no longer owner of the parcel due to non-development and the parcel was to be issued to Ada Luz Romero, sister of Minister of Health Pablo Marin. Since that report aired, Garbutt claims that walking on the streets of Corozal has not been the same. And to make matters worse, Garbutt claims that this past Sunday he was detained by Corozal Police for approximately 4 hours. But what was the rationale behind his detention? He spoke to Victor Castillo this morning. “I was hanging out with some friends and my son, the kid, the minister passing on his vehicle, according to the police because I didn’t saw him, when the minister passed in his vehicle and like ten minutes after the police come and start to, they have to detain me because the minister said that I showed him my middle finger so when they came and they detained me and I asked them to just drop my son and then go at the station, they didn’t wanted so I had to make my son walk by himself. When I was detained I went to the station and they asked for my properties and stuff and they wanted to put me in the cell but a police constable said no, leave him alone on the bench and I was there for about three to four hours because the sergeant told me that it is an order from Mr. Ramirez to detain me and until he comes back and so I asked what was my charge and they said because I pointed my middle finger to the minister.”

Cabinet Sees Major Shifts Castor And Penner Stripped
Following much scrutiny and public debate, Prime Minister Dean Barrow made major shifts in Cabinet today. According to a lengthy release issued late this evening, after much consideration and hearing from Edmund Castro, Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the Belize Airports Authority or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides. In light of this, the PM took the following measures; 1. The portfolio of Civil Aviation, which includes the Belize Airports Authority and over which Minister Castro exercised day to day jurisdiction, will be removed from the Ministry of Transport and placed with the Ministry of Tourism. 2. The Solicitor General and Financial Secretary will meet with all statutory bodies to review operational protocols and advise on proper administration. And 3. The current Directors of the BAA will be asked to resign.

P.M Says "I Did Not Call The Union"
On Friday of last week, the Belize National Teachers Union's continued its rallies in the Cayo District where the union branches of Benque, San Ignacio and Belmopan joined in a spirited gathering. And while many of the union leaders took center stage to speak at the podium, many were enraged on the comments made by Minister of Education, Patrick Faber in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Well, while that did not sit well with the union, Senior Advisor of the BNTU George Fraser, made a remark which was carried by Channel 7 news in regards to the PM calling on Faber to reel him in from his comments in the house. The comment Fraser made was and we quote ‘Just a while ago, not even half hour ago we got a phone call, the Prime Minister wants to meet with us." Apparently, that was not the case and as a result, the office of the Prime minister issued a press statement to clarify that the PM did not request a meeting with the Union Leaders as stated by Fraser.

More Bullets Removed Off The Streets
Orange Walk police have scored once again as they were able to retrieve, this time not a firearm, but a number of bullets off the streets. On Tuesday January 28th 2014, at about 4:00pm, Orange Walk Special Branch visited a vacant property on Royal Palm Street, Orange Walk Town, where a Nescafe Dolca Coffee Bottle containing forty five gold color S & B hallow point 9mm Ammunition, was retrieved from under some dry grass. Nobody was in the area at the time of the finding and the bullets were deposited as found property.

Onion Producers Continue To Struggle Following Incessant Rains
The struggle continues for farmers as they try to salvage whatever crop they have left following the incessant rains that fell over the last few weeks. The most affected in the north have been onion farmers. In the most recent update to their situation, CTV-3 News understands that out of the thirteen point five acres that had been planted for this crop, only about three were spared. The remaining acreages were destroyed by the rains. According to official reports, from the remaining three acres, farmers are expecting to harvest around fifty thousand pounds of onions. According to officials, this is not even twenty percent of their projected production for this year. That onion will be harvest between the next two weeks. Preparations are also underway to import onions to supply the demand. We understand that the price of onions will remain unaffected. Onion farmers have replanted and are expecting to harvest another crop in March this year.

Trinidad School Gets Facelift
The Trinidad Government School today received a much welcomed facelift. The work was done free of cost to the school and community by a group of students and teachers from Millwoods Christian School in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Our news team caught up with the team as they painted over school buildings and had some fun in the sun with the students. Dalila Ical has that report. The group of 32 students and seven staff members are in northern Belize visiting several primary schools conducting service projects. These include repainting schools or parks and holding presentations at these institutions. Assistant Principal Dan Vandermeer tells us about their objectives.

2013/2014 Crop Season Well Under-way, But Sugar Roads Still Pose A Major Problem
After close to two months of delay the 2014 Sugar Crop Season is now in full effect. Today when we spoke to Vice Chair of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, Alfredo Ortega, to get an update on the industry, we were informed of a few hiccups. But those glitches aside, the season is going rather smoothly. Alfredo Ortega– Vice Chair, Management Committee, BSCFA “At this point it time everything is going well, farmers are really pushing forward in bringing their product as clean as possible maintaining the quality and they are doing the best on their part to fix the pieces of road for them to travel on.” Maria Novelo – Reporter “Now the weather has improved for a few days, paint a picture for us in terms of the sugar road works being done?”


The constant rains and the muddy grounds of San Ignacio’s Macal River Park could not deter the more than 500 teachers from the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) Belmopan, San Ignacio and Benque branches. They came out here to express themselves on Friday morning, as the BNTU continues its month-long, countrywide rallies. Gathered under six tents, some lining the perimeter of the park, decked out in their lime green T-shirts with the slogan: “Teachers gat yu back,” the teachers appeared to be in a jovial mood, as speaker after speaker castigated the Barrow administration and, in particular, Education Minister, Patrick Faber, who bore the brunt of their indignation after his controversial remarks on Wednesday during the House meeting. The BNTU, when it announced its month-long rallies, had said that the union rallies would also address national issues, apart from the salary adjustment issue it has been negotiating with the government for years.

A businessman of Ranchito Village lost the fight for his life at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where he died at about 1:30 Saturday morning after battling for his life for almost a month. Hensley Jones, 53, was shot in the head about 10:00 on the night of New Year’s Day in his house in Ranchito, Corozal, by his son, Ryan Jones, 25, said police. Hensley was shot in the left side of the head and in the back of the head. Police said that Hensley and Ryan were in the kitchen of their house when Ryan shot his father for reasons unknown, and fled the house in a SUV.

Police Corporal #259 Gino Peck, 42, a 22-year veteran of the Belize Police Department who was found with illegal ammunition, has been remanded to prison until Friday, when he is to return to court with his attorney, who will make a mitigation plea before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith sentences him. On Monday, Peck was found guilty on two counts of keeping ammunition without a gun license, and one count of keeping prohibited ammunition, but his attorney, Simeon Sampson, S.C., asked the court for time to prepare a mitigation plea. Amendments to the Firearms Act have introduced stiffer penalties, with a minimum prison sentence of five years each for the .38 ammunition and the 12-gauge cartridges, and an additional three years for the prohibited .45 round.

Police say that a girl, 16, reported to them that she was raped by her 16-year-old boyfriend’s older brother, 21. The girl also told police that she had been engaging in sex with her boyfriend, the 16-year-old brother. The two brothers were released on bail of $5,000 each on Friday after they were charged with sexual assault. In the presence of his father, the 16-year-old was charged with unlawful carnal knowledge for engaging in sexual acts with his girlfriend, despite the fact that he and the girl are the same age, while his older brother, Rolando Espat, who was arrested on Wednesday, was charged with rape and grievous harm.

This week Parliament is expected to set a program of national consultations to garner public feedback on the recently tabled Occupational Safety and Health Bill (OSH), 2014 – a 72-page bill which, for the first time, sets out clear provisions which would make it a criminal offence for an employer to endanger the health of its worker, but which would also make workers criminally liable for failure to take protective precautions, or for creating risky situations to disrupt work. Under the proposed law, workers would be protected from injury to the body and from diseases, and employers would be required to “implement an effective system for the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, ill health and damage to property at workplaces.” The Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2014, was created “to make new provisions relating to occupational safety and health of workers, of other persons at work or other persons affected by such work…”

Despite intermittent showers and deplorable sugar road surfaces, the sweet smell of sugar permeated the air in Tower Hill this morning as hundreds of sugar cane farmers, primarily from the San Narciso branch in Corozal, covered the entranceway to the factory with their cane trucks, which were loaded with freshly harvested sugar cane stalks – ready to be milled. After being deferred for eight weeks for various reasons – including persistent rains and a bagasse dispute to which there had been no resolution since late last October – the 2013/2014 sugar cane crop season finally got underway at 10:00 a.m. today. It was a bittersweet moment for the cańeros, who told us that although they are glad to get the mounting yields of crop ‘off their back’, many of them must also endure unimaginable road conditions in order to get their product delivered to the factory.

This newspaper’s editorials are where we seek to educate the Belizean people. In most of the rest of the newspaper, our focus is on information and entertainment. In feature stories over the last year or so, our reporters, columnists, and contributors have discussed the unraveling of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) where its moral authority is concerned. Amandala has covered, and quite adequately we think, the rosewood scandal, the Noh Mul incident, the Social Investment Fund (SIF) problems, the meltdown in the Ministry of Lands, the Penner criminality, the Castro adventures, and so on and so forth. In our editorials, however, we spend more time looking at the deeper issues, such as neoliberal capitalism, the role of Christianity, Belize’s trade union history in the modern era, the nature of our parliamentary democracy, and so on and so forth.

As we approach the 45th anniversary of the founding of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), I think it desirable to update the present leadership structure of Kremandala and the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF). UBAD was officially dissolved in November of 1974, but over the years I’d made a conscious effort to run things in such a way that those Belizeans who contributed their time and energy to UBAD, which was the parent organization of Kremandala and UEF, would feel that they had not wasted their UBAD time and energy. I’ve said before that UBAD essentially went through five phases between its founding on February 9th, 1969, and its November 1974 dissolution. The first phase lasted from its foundation until October of 1969, when the remainder of the UBAD leadership made an alliance with the People’s Action Committee (PAC), led by Assad Shoman and Said Musa. I say the “remainder” of the UBAD leadership because several of the UBAD officials who had been major personalities in the sensational summer of ’69, had migrated to the United States by October of that year. These included Robert Livingston, Edgar X Richardson, and Karl X Menzies (all now deceased). Two other UBAD personalities who were not elected officers, Bert Simon (now Nuri Muhammad) and Odinga Lumumba, also migrated during that period. Bert Simon returned to California and Odinga returned to England.

Former Belize City deputy mayor Eric Chang has pretty much remained out of the public spotlight for the last few months since he was named by multiple highly-placed sources as the man who brokered the deal in last September to get the South Korean fugitive, Kim Won Hong, his bogus Belizean passport which, in turn, resulted in former Minister of State, Hon. Elvin Penner, being sacked from Cabinet. He had left the country on September 3, 2013, for an official visit to Taiwan, and after a seemingly unwarranted, extended stay – which eventually cost him his position as deputy mayor and his City Council portfolios – Chang returned to Belize 12 weeks later, in late November of 2013. At the time, he had stated that his prolonged absence was due to an illness in his family.

For the past two weeks, we have been following the story concerning Seashore Drive Park in the Caribbean Shores area of Belize City, which until recently had been labeled as “Ground Zero” in a land dispute between the current City Council and Giovanni Blease – a landowner who allegedly has UDP connections. Last Wednesday, during a break from the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives, the current Caribbean Shores area representative, Hon. Santiago Castillo, had commented that he (Castillo) “brought it [the issue] to Cabinet on Tuesday [January 21st],” and that “the PM told the Deputy Prime Minister to find another piece of land for Giovanni Blease or compensate him [for the said parcel].”

The annual sugar crop season will get off to an unfavorably late start, and although the sugar cane farmers have agreed to start cane deliveries this Friday, they are still facing a rough and rugged road ahead – actually a lot of rough and rugged roads. Earlier this week, we had reported that the start of the 2013/2014 sugar crop season had been postponed yet again for another four days to facilitate the repair works that are currently being conducted on the badly battered sugar road networks in the northern districts. On Tuesday, Amandala headed north to get a firsthand view of the state of some of those vital passageways which have also partly contributed to the delay of the crop season. During a press conference in late November 2013, the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, placed an ultimatum to the embattled cane farmers when he vowed not to do any repairs to those roads unless a date for the start of the crop season was established.

Although there is almost universal access to water services in Belize, almost 90% of Belizeans have no access to sewage services, according to a report released earlier this month by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). “As for sewerage collection and treatment, only 11 percent of Belize’s population… has access to sewerage services, which include both wastewater collection and treatment”, said a recently released technical note published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) titled, Water and Sanitation in Belize. The technical note, which was prepared to support the policy dialogue between the IDB and Belize, adds that in rural areas, access to sanitation primarily involves the use of pit latrines and septic tanks. Connections to the sewer line have primarily been set up in Belize City, Belmopan, and San Pedro.

A road map signed by Belize and Guatemala at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Friday, January 24, 2014, sets out a 12-month program of activities, to culminate with subsequent review to determine the possibility of holding simultaneous referenda in 2015, so that the electorates of both countries could vote on whether the parties should submit the territorial differendum to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). According to the OAS, the main objective of the roadmap signed Friday is “the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries during 2014 in order to make concrete the holding of popular consultations to enable the consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).” The vote which was slated for last October was aborted after Guatemala unilaterally pulled out of the process, claiming that Belize’s referendum law, which requires that 60% of the electorate participate to make the vote valid, does not create a level playing field to secure a “yes” vote.

A house owner on Lakeview Street, Radiance Tablada, is very grateful to her neighbors, whose quick reaction today saved her house from being destroyed by fire. Neighbors and members of the family who were at home at the time quickly threw water on the flames that erupted from an extension cord that had caught fire and was scorching the wall, and which damaged a portion of her sofa. The fire was soon extinguished. The incident occurred about 3:30 this afternoon. Tablada told Amandala that she and some family members were at home when the extension cord that was plugged into an outlet, into which the refrigerator was plugged, suddenly began to burn and emit smoke. The cord was near the sofa and the window, and the curtains on the window began to catch fire. According to Tablada, she quickly shut off the switch box so that the fire would not intensify.

Two separate fires destroyed a house in San Roman in the Stann Creek District, and destroyed the interior of the upper flat of a two-flat house on Miller Street in Belize City. The fire in San Roman occurred at about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, and the Miller Street fire was about 2:45 this afternoon. Police said that they responded to reports of a house fire in San Roman, and on their arrival they saw a thatched house measuring about 20 by 15 feet engulfed in flames. The house and its contents were completely destroyed, and the cost of damages was estimated to be about $5,000. The owner of the house, Magdalena Bou, 25, reported that she was cooking on a fire hearth in her house when the flames caught the dry walls and quickly spread out of control, and engulfed the house. The house was not insured.

A fugitive from American law enforcement, who has been on the run since November 30 on a murder charge for the death of his wife, has been captured. Edly Atherley, 29, of San Bernadino, California, USA, gave in himself to police officers and the FBI in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, January 25. Atherley is now being held at a Hillsborough County Jail in Florida, waiting to be returned to San Bernadino to face trial. His wife, Ashley Atherley, 28, was found dead in their home on Sunday, December 1, with her throat slashed. According to information, Ashley Atherley went to the house for Thanksgiving November 30 last year, and people who became concerned when they did not see her, called police to check on her. When they went into the house, Ashley was found dead in the bathroom. She had been badly beaten and her throat slashed.

The trial of Joseph Budna, a Belizean accused of kidnapping Abimael Lopez Palma, 23, in the Guatemalan City of Chiquimula and taking him to Honduras to extort ransom from his father, is expected to conclude this week. Budna, who is being defended by a public attorney, Nery Garcia, has already been sentenced to 25 years in prison in Guatemala for the kidnapping of a US teenager, Luis Byron Reyes Onofre, back in August 2012. We understand that an appeal of that conviction is pending. In the Palma case, the complainant has alleged that he was taken from near the Central Park of Chiquimula, from in front of the town board in that area, by Budna, who he alleges wore a bulletproof jacket and carried a firearm, pretending to be an investigator. The complainant alleges that he was asked to participate in an ID parade in a case where a woman alleged that she had been robbed of her motorcycle and cell phone.

All indications pointed to another Verdes victory in the re-scheduled football game after a wet-field postponement at the Marshalleck Stadium, when the Saturday night match against FC Belize from Belize City was re-scheduled to Sunday at the same venue. But Verdes fans were out for a shocking disappointment, for FC Belize left Benque Viejo last night with a 2-1 overtime victory and a spot in the PLB finals. The Police United team had suffered the same difficulty in regular season, and the excessive travelling on short notice took its toll on their players, leaving a bitter Police management to sulk in the off-season after they failed to gain the victory they needed to make the playoffs. It was a 1-1 draw against Verdes at the Marshalleck, but that wasn’t enough for Police, who must now look to next season. It was looking like a replay of the same script over this past weekend, as once again the travelling team, this time FC Belize, had to deal with a postponed match, due to very wet field conditions, after they had travelled all the way from Belize City to Benque Viejo, approximately 81 miles sitting in a regular “school” bus, for their scheduled Saturday night semifinal against Verdes FC.

The Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) 2014 high school football competition, which kicked off less than a month ago on Wednesday, January 8, began its semifinal playoffs today for both females (F) and males (M) at the MCC Grounds. Five (5) female teams and sic (6) male teams participated in the tournament, the females playing a double round-robin, while the males played a single round-robin in the regular competition. The semifinals and finals will both be best-of-2 games series.

A release from the Belize Cycling Association (BCA) this morning said that the Individual Time Trial (ITT), which was postponed from last Saturday, will now be held this coming Saturday, February 1, beginning at 2:00 p.m. on the Boom Road, starting in front of CDS Service Station. This is the first of a series of ITTs, where the Elite will ride 12 miles; while Masters 4/5, Females, Youth and Juniors will cover 6 miles. Previously registered names remain on the list, but registration remains open for those who would now like to take advantage of the change in date; they may register at the BCA office on the second floor of the Commercial Center. Deadline for registration is Thursday, January 30. No registration will be taken at the start, as the starting list must be generated a day before the start of the event.

Round 1 of the semifinals in the FFB (Open) Inter-District Football Tournament 2013-2014 took place yesterday, Sunday, January 26, at two different venues. At the Louisiana Field in Orange Walk Town, it was home standing Progresso FC taking the 2-1 win over MnM Steelers from Independence, with goals from Gabriel Perez (21’) and Alexander Diaz (80’). Rolling Burgess (12’) got the only goal for the Steelers. Meanwhile, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, Roaring Creek United was held to a 2-2 draw by visiting San Estevan FC from Orange Walk. Roaring Creek grabbed a 2-nil lead in first half with goals from Norman Neal (6’) and Kenny Williams (15’); but San Estevan came back with goals from Otoniel Sandoval (60’) and Edwani Munoz (65’) to tie it up in second half.

Brandon “BT” Tillett, 28, who claims to be a car dealer of #100 George Street, was remanded to prison after he was arraigned on attempted murder and related charges before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith on Monday. Tillett was also charged with use of deadly means of harm and dangerous harm against Kevin Alvarez. Chief Magistrate Smith remanded Tillett until February 27, when he is to return to court. According to police, Kevin Alvarez, 19, a construction worker and resident of Supal Street, reported to them that he was standing on a bridge on George Street, around 9:05 p.m., when a man rode up on a beach cruiser bicycle, pointed a handgun at him and fired several shots.

Burglaries were reported by police in Orange Walk and San Pedro. In Orange Walk, a preschool was targeted and over $1,000 stolen by thieves, and in San Pedro, thieves burglarized the home of an American woman and deprived the owner of over $6,000 worth of her belongings. The American woman, of Ambergris Lake Villas, told police that between 2:30 and 7:30 yesterday evening, Sunday, a thief or thieves burglarized her apartment and stole an HP Laptop computer valued at about $1,600US, and other assorted items totaling $6,532 in value. San Pedro police began an immediate investigation that led to the recovery of some of the stolen items, and they detained a security guard.


Placencia, Belize Has a Serious Food Scene: Great Restaurants You Want to Try
The Placencia Peninsula has a relatively small population. Placencia, the most visited village at the tip of the peninsula, has only about 1000 permanent residents. So it’s shocking to me each and every time that there is such a diverse selection of restaurants and bars. How do they do it? A smarty pants friend had the answer for me: lower rents, lower food costs, lower barriers to entry can equal more room for experimentation and creativity. And in Placencia, it definitely does. The list of great eateries is long & DEFINITELY includes the amazing gelato shop called Tutti Frutti. The flavors change all the time. May I suggest Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate on a cone for your walk down the Placencia Sidewalk? Or a late morning affogato…a shot of Bailey’s gelato with hot espresso drizzled over it? This most recent visit, I asked a friend in the know what the “hot spots” are in town, and the list kept me busy (and stuffed) for the next two days and nights. Let’s start with Rumfish Y Vino. Called a gastro-bar…Central American style. I went upstair in this colonial style building for lunch.

Yo! Jesse Pinkman! We’re still waiting
Our more loyal readers may remember the brief exchange Chaa Creek had with Breaking Bad Star Aaron Paul last year. This all happened after the infamous Breaking Bad episode where Saul Goodman, the lawyer of dubious ethics and moral fibre, suggested that Walter White’s brother in law, DEA agent Hank, be “sent on a trip to Belize” as a euphemism for killing him. Walter deferred, but the remark about Belize was heard round the world. What to do when your tiny country is used in such a manner? Great minds thinking alike, both the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and The Lodge at Chaa Creek decided to turn the statement into a marketing opportunity. The BTB, in conjunction with their US based advertising agency Olson Engage, ran an invitation to the Breaking Bad cast to come visit Belize.

Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean
We invite you to read up more on this great initiative.

Information on warranty collected from selected establishments in Belize
The Belize Bureau of Standards is currently conducting a cell phone survey to capture information about warranties provided by selected establishments across Belize. Kindly click on the link to view the results for Belize City and San Ignacio collected in January 2014.

Metrology in Food Processing
During the last quarter of 2013, the Bureau conducted a metrology survey that collected a wide range of information on the inventory and use of metrology equipment across the productive sector in Belize. The results show that of the 1865 equipment documented, 496 (26.6%) items are used to monitor/measure pressure. These equipment are used to measure fluid (water) and gas (primarily ammonia) pressure. Pressure equipment is prevalent across many sectors in Belize especially the food processing and agro-processing sectors. The bulk of pressure equipment in Belize can be found in power generating and refrigerating equipment used in activities such as citrus processing, shrimp processing and storage and fish processing.

Benefits of Accreditation to Private Sector, Consumers and Regulators
A National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) would be incomplete without its important elements which include the fields of Metrology, Standardization, Testing, and Quality Management including Certification and Accreditation. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on accreditation and its benefits to private sector, consumers and regulators. Accreditation is a process that allows a business or person to be seen as a knowledgeable body that can carry out a specific task. This approval is provided by a respected organization (Accreditation Body) that recognizes that such a business has the systems in place to continually provide reliable and quality services or products.

Accreditation: Facilitates Trade
International trade is the exchange of goods and services across international borders or territories. However, with the rapid increase in globalization the demand for a vast number and range of quality products and services is becoming more available to the consumer. Most of us would find it impossible to imagine a world where the choice of goods and services was limited to only those we can produce in our country. Despite all the varieties of products available, we still demand that the goods and services be of acceptable quality. How do we assure that the goods and services provided are safe and of acceptable quality? International trade represents a large share of our gross domestic product which means that we must have the systems in place to ensure that these goods meet specified requirements of acceptable quality.

5 Benefits of Buying Belizean Made Products
“Buy Belize, Build Belize!” continues to be the clamour of local business and manufacturers and it is with good reason why this is so. For purposes of this article let us examine a few notable ones to stir some interest and thought: 5) Foreign Exchange Savings: The Foreign Exchange Reserves is important for Belize to maintain its current peg to the US dollar. With an imbalance in trade favouring a high and continuous demand for imports it means that more foreign exchange is needed to purchase imports. This leads to a draw down on the country’s international reserves and is made worse where not sufficient foreign exchange is earned through exports. . . Also the high demand and low supply encourages black market transactions lessening the ability of the country to maintain its international reserves.

Pacing Towards Accreditation
A few years ago I was to be tested at a local public laboratory for diabetes after having developed an unusual blister that had appeared on the surface of my skin. A young lad appearing to be invincible and immune, I remained unconvinced and dismissive of this possibility. Yet my family history got the better of me, my grandfather a victim himself of this chronic disease I was more on the better side of being forced than encouraged to be tested. Medical attention whether by force or will, there is always that dreaded result that we happen to fear. My experience no different, I awaited the results in agony perhaps due to the fact that I spent much of my time reflecting on the life changes I would have to make. After all, having to give up some of life’s little pleasures in dramatic fashion on the heels of better health is easier said than done. Results are just one part of the ordeal that the mind becomes preoccupied with, on the flip side is the more critical element such as the accuracy and the reliability of the results which sometimes at the individual level is overlooked. As luck would have it, my results proved to be negative and for me that was sufficient to the ear.

BBS Consumer Watch Newsletter: Volume 5 Issue 3
The Belize Bureau of Standards presents its Volume 5 Issue 3 of our Consumer Watch Newsletter. Please feel free to download, read and circulate with your friends and colleagues. Kindly click on the link below to view the document.

International Sources

Illegal Whale Shark Factory Found in China
A factory which processes around 600 whale sharks annually has been found in southern China, a conservation group said Monday, calling it the world's biggest slaughterhouse for the endangered species. Hong Kong-based conservation group WildLifeRisk said it discovered the factory in the town of Pu Qi in Zhejiang province after a four-year investigation. It said the sharks are slaughtered and processed mostly to produce shark oil for health supplements. Undercover video footage produced by the group showed workers cutting up the large dotted back fins of whale sharks and other shark species. "How these harmless creatures, these gentle giants of the deep, can be slaughtered on such an industrial scale is beyond belief," said a WildLifeRisk statement sent to AFP. "It's even more incredible that this carnage is all for the sake of non-essential lifestyle props such as lipsticks, face creams, health supplements and shark fin soup." The slaughterhouse also handles other species of sharks including blue sharks and basking sharks and produces 200 tons of shark oil annually from the three species, its owner -- identified only as Li -- said in the video. Li also said he needed to "smuggle" whale shark skin out.

River View students return from trips with new experiences
Seven students studying German went to Germany from Dec. 31 to Jan. 9, while 13 students studying Spanish went to Belize. Students going on each trip had been working on projects, including journals and videos, and will present their projects to the school board in February. For many of the students, this was their first time traveling outside the United States, which led to some culture shock. Freshman Sami Trowbridge went to Belize. “This experience was one of the best times of my life and I would go back again in a heartbeat,” Sami said

Six Caribbean countries eligible for US visa programme
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says six Caribbean countries are among 63 countries worldwide that are eligible to participate in two visa programmes this year. The H-2A and H-2B Visa programmes allow US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, respectively. The USCIS identified the Caribbean countries eligible to participate in the visa programmes as Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti and Jamaica.

Caribbean Walks the Talk on Clean Energy Policy
In 2012, another Caribbean country, Belize, which currently generates 63 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, announced plans for a National Energy Policy and a Sustainable Energy Strategy. We have ambitious targets. We have set ourselves to change from fossil fuel to renewable energy and at the same time decrease our energy intensity,ť Energy Minister Joy Grant told IPS. We are pursuing all types of renewable energy “ hydro, bio energy, solar, ocean, thermal and wind and waste-to-energy,ť Grant added. But like all other small developing countries, Grant said Belize's efforts in renewable energy were constrained by the high cost of renewable technologies; the lack of domestic capacity; inappropriate frameworks to incentivise the private sector to invest in renewable energy; and small population size.

Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC)
infoDev’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) is a seven year $20M program funded by the Government of Canada that seeks to build an enabling ecosystem to foster high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Caribbean. EPIC has three core activity pillars: mobile innovation, climate technology, and women-led entrepreneurship.

January 28, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Another government Minister, Edmond Castro, embroiled in scandal
Another scandal is brewing and it involves the Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Transport with responsibility of Civil Aviation and Area Representative of Belize Rural North Honorable Edmond “Clear the Land” Castro. A number of checks have been written by the Belize Airport Authority (BAA) to Castro and for expenses incurred by him. The checks have been surfacing in the media and are all from BAA, a statutory body that falls under the responsibility of Castro. The San Pedro Sun has gotten possession of images of nine checks. Two of the checks are made out to Bowen and Bowen, one for the sum of $5000 and the other for $5321.66. According to Channel 5 News, those checks were used to pay for beverages for political functions held by Castro. There are three checks of varying amounts made directly to Castro as well. One is in the sum of $4,000, another for $900 and the third for $5156.55. According to the People’s United Party Belize Times Newspaper, the third check was given to Castro to offset burial expenses for a family member. But there is yet another check made out to David Coye Funeral Parlour for the sum $3337.50, which is believed to have been related to that very same burial expense.

Two wheels can be better than four when it comes to police patrols
Editorial: Tamara Sniffin The ongoing problem of transportation for our San Pedro police offers has been a topic of debate for years. It seems that whatever the vehicle may be, a four-wheeler, motorcycle, Polaris or truck, it is reduced to shambles in a matter of months. We all know how hard the island environment is on vehicles, from rust to rain and ruined roads, they all take a beating, but it seems that police transportation suffers to the extreme. Is this because they have to take the vehicle to the limit in search of the bad guys or is it due to driving it without a care? I know this might be a touchy subject, but a lot of us own and maintain a vehicle here on La Isla and gosh knows they don’t look like the junk on wheels that sat on blocks in front of the hardware store on Pescador Drive for the last few weeks. It wasn’t until our Senior Reporter Jorge Aldana posted something about it on his personal Facebook page that the spectacularly beat-up police truck was removed. Ironically his post merited a call from OC Castellanos to this editor, stating that the truck had not been “crashed and abandoned” but left there with the intent of making the public aware of their less than adequate means of transportation.

nuDE architectures + interiors
nuDE architectures + interiors is a young San Pedro-based architecture company, owned by San Pedro native Javier Alamilla. nuDE(new Designers) made its premiere in 2011, offering services such as commercial ,resort and residential consultations, planning and designs. While nuDE typically delivers modern designs with rustic twists and simple warmth so as to compliment a natural environment, the company’s versatile design portfolio allows them to meet the needs of almost any clientele agenda. From a young age,owner Javier had a passion for design, and at 15 he was given the opportunity to do summer internships with established island architect Vicky Nelder. It was through this that he decided to pursue studies in architectural designs in Mexico. While enrolled in school, Javier was actively involved in several projects with his peers. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture specializing in Bioclimatic Design, Javier decided to invest in the start-up of his own company here in his hometown of San Pedro.

Ambergris Today

Belize/Guatemala Minister Strengthen Relations
On Friday, January 24, 2014, The Honorable Wilfred Elrington, Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize, His Excellency Fernando Carrera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala and His Excellency Jose Miguel Insulza, signed a document entitled Roadmap for Strengthening Bilateral Relations in 2014 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. The signing of this important undertaking took place before Ambassadors and representatives of OAS member states.

Pic of the Week: Total Relaxation in Paradise
Days off in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize are usually spent doing something like this. Locals take advantage of their free time and enjoy the island as tourists do. Well, if you are a tourist, then you can do this all day long for the length of your stay. Total relaxation at its best, seen here at Rojo Beach Bar's infinity pool in North Ambergris Caye.

Flashbacks: Building San Pedro High School
Indeed this was early 1980’s and perhaps the very first efforts by students of San Pedro High to construct their new high school building. They were tired of using the community center, now the Town Hall and were on their way to clear the bush of the property at Boca Del Rio Area to prepare for the big project. The land had been a donation of the government of Belize under Area Rep. Hon. Louis Sylvestre. The building committee was busy raising funds and the kids took the pride and the task of cleaning the high bush. As they paraded, they reminded San Pedro to co-operate under this slogan: IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME.

25 Years Ago: A Wealthy Living Lagoon
Today we know that this body of water right behind the town of San Pedro is void of fishes and has no economic benefits. The only purpose of this so called lagoon is for boat navigation from the sea on the east of the island to the west or back side of the island. There is no swimming, no hand line fishing, no fish traps, no casting of nets- nothing. Not so years ago in San Pedro. In this lagoon there are several sink holes (posas) where fishing was frequent and exciting. Some of the largest black snappers and even Jew fish were caught with hand line in these sink holes. Most folks disliked fishing there due to the fact that if a fish did not bite the hook would get caught on some rock or coral on the edge of the sink hole. That meant that you had to forcibly break the line and you lost several yards of your precious line and the hook.

Misc Belizean Sources

The Grand Belize Entertainment Group Announces Plans for World-Class Casino Resort and Online Casino
The Grand Belize Entertainment Group has announced plans to build a world-class casino resort and spa paired with an online casino, a concept slated to be the very first of its kind by integrating an online entity within the design of a casino resort. Casino gaming is projected to be a $390 billion industry in 2013. The online gaming segment remains one of the fastest growing in the industry with an average growth rate of 23% per year since 2003 and 32% in 2011. Michael Glauser, chief operating officer of The Grand Belize Entertainment Group, said, “we are excited to be on the forefront of this innovative concept in gaming. As one of only four licensed casinos to Belize, the launch of the online casino will attract gaming aficionados around the globe while promoting our world-class property in Belize, even before it opens.” According to Glauser, Peak Gaming Group will support the development, launch, and management of the online casino, which is scheduled to launch worldwide second quarter 2014. Blue Sky Advisory Group has been selected to assist in the development and manage the day-to-day operation of the casino resort and spa.

1 cup uncooked rice 4 cups water 1 cup milk 1 cup evaporated milk 1 can condensed milk (or to taste) 1 cinnamon stick 1 tablespoon vanilla 2 inch piece of ginger, grated ENJOY!

Western Ballaz Schedule
The Western Ballaz, who were on Sports Zone tonight, have their schedule out. Their first two games are on the road, and they'll face the Corozal Heats and Orange Walk Running Rebels. They'll play their first home game at the SHC auditorium on February 21st, and they'll take on the Dangriga Culture Warriors.

Amazing Adventures in Cayo
Arran and Alison Bevis, from Mountain Equestrian Trails, were interviewed recently, and they had a lot to say about Cayo, and Belize. Many of the great spots in Cayo are talked about in the interview, including Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, the Green Iguana Conservation Project, and MPR. "I can take any of my kiddos here: both of these places are easily accessible with small children. At Rio On, there’s a variety of depths of water and many natural pools to choose from, so it’s great for swimming with the kids and sliding down the waterfalls. The enormous Rio Frio Cave, with its huge, impressive entrance, is also a great attraction for all ages, perfect for some spooky exploration, and easy to get in-and-out-of."

Belize History Association Formed
Congratulations to the newly elected executive board of the newly formed Belize History Association. Can't wait to see what they come up with. "History was made in Belmopan on Saturday, January 25, 2014 with the formation of the Belize History Association and the election of its Executive Board. Congrats to the elected members: Mr. Francis Humphreys - Chair Mr. Gian Vasquez - Vice-Chair Ms. Myrna Manzanares - Senior Member Mr. Fred Hunter Sr. - Senior Member Ms. Ifasina Efunyemi - Junior Member"

Belikin Stout National Domino Tournament
Belikin had their domino tournament in Cayo this weekend. The 2 winning teams received beer and a cash prize. "The Belikin Stout National Domino Tournament was this weekend at the Spot Bar on Bullet Tree Road. The teams consisted of 8 players each. They had great prizes, beer and money, and trophies for the first and second place teams."

Banana Pudding with Nilla Wafers
This recipe for Banana Pudding with Nilla wafers is divine and simple to make. While waiting for the pudding to set, I got invited to a jewelry party so Jada stepped in and tasted the dessert for me. I didn't want it to go overnight before I showed you guys what the pudding looked like.

Government minister to undergo spine surgery in the USA
The Honorable the member for Mesopotamia division and Minister of Housing Mr. Michael Finnegan left Belize today for the United States where he is scheduled to undergo surgery to his lower spine. The wife of the veteran parliamentarian Diane Finnegan today confirmed to Patrick Jones that Mr. Finnegan’s stay in the USA is dependent on the success of the surgery. The five-time Mesopotamia area representative has a degenerative condition that, when it last flared up, wore down two spinal disks and caused pain in his left leg after touching a nerve root. Hon. Finnegan is a prostate cancer survivor and has lived all his life with a disability that has affected his arms.

Heavy sedimentation reported on the Sittee River
Concerns are being raised over the extraction of material from the Sittee River bed. The operation, which was photographed near the Kendall Bridge over the weekend, could be under legal permit from the Department of the Environment, although this has not been confirmed. A request for information from DOE via email has not yet obtained a response. Indications are that the activity on the Sittee River may have been going on for a while now and there are complaints of heavy sedimentation downstream. We await a response from the Department of the Environment and will post an update when that expected response is received.

Good weather and lots of sunshine in the forecast
There will be sunshine this week … lots of it. That is the general consensus of the Belize Weather Bureau where forecasters say mainly fair weather conditions will prevail over the course of the next couple of days. Today will see mostly sunny skies. Skies will be clear tonight and little or no rainfall is expected. Winds are easterly to southeasterly at 5 to 15 knots and the sea is choppy. High temperatures this afternoon will be 89 degrees Fahrenheit in Punta Gorda town, Belize City and Corozal town. It will be 84 degrees Fahrenheit in Belmopan, San Ignacio town and Spanish Lookout community. Up at Baldy Beacon, the high temperature this afternoon will be a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Channel 7

Despite His Police Connection, Corporal Gino Peck Found Guilty
Police Corporal Gino Peck is at the Hattieville Prison tonight - sent there by the GSU for possession of firearms and ammunition. Peck, who has been in the Department for 22 years is staring down a 5 year sentence after he was convicted of firearm offences at the Magistrate's Court this afternoon. Viewers may remember the sensational case of Peck and his wife who were busted at their home on Currasow Street on January 19 of last year with unlicensed and prohibited firearms and ammunition. Peck's case was particularly scrutinized because it divided the Police Department's Eastern Division. The Gang Suppression Unit said that he needed to be charged, while the senior rank and file refused to support the GSU on that action. As we reported, at around 6:30 a.m. on that day 53 weeks ago, the GSU raided his house, and Peck handed over his police issued glock 9mm pistol with 13 live rounds of ammunition. The officers continued their search and inside a chest of drawers, they found 8 live rounds of .45 ammunition which is prohibited.

Son Faces Murder Charges For Killing Dad
54 year old Hensley "Nick" Jones said he was shot three times in the head by his own son on New Year's Day - and tonight that son Hendley Jones is accused of patricide, killing his own father. "Nick" Jones, passed away on Saturday from complications relating to his head injury. As we told you, on New Year's Day, Corozal police responded to a report in Ranchito Village where they found Hensley Jones suffering from 3 gunshot wounds to the head. He told police that his son shot him in the head for no apparent reason. He suffered 2 wounds to the left side, and 1 to the back of the head, and police found him running out of his house, and they rushed him to the hospital. After 24 days in which he had showed encouraging signs, he passed away while undergoing treatment.

Tajah Is Surviving
And while Nick Jones was shot on New Year's Day, 19 year old Tajah Staine was shot on New Year's Eve in Belize City. The young lady was shot ten times, allegedly by her own 16 year old male cousin. But, incredibly, she survived and four weeks later is continuing to to make strides back to health. Today her mother told Monica Bodden how Tajah is doing:.. Jermaine Thompson - Mother of Shooting Victim "So far we found another bullet lodge in the wrist part of her hand. We will try to see if we can take that out tomorrow, but other from that is as we go along. The other two bullets are still lodge in the back of her neck. The doctors are still contemplating whether they should move it or leave it as it is because they say if it is not affecting any nerve then its best they leave it as is. That is where we are when it comes to the bullets." "Tajah bounced right back, I mean it surprise me, she is ready to back to school. The only thing that bothers her is the bullets that are still lodge in her. She cries in the night of pain, so she lives on pain killers until the doctors decide what they will do."

Aragon Jr. Distances Himself From Land Scandal
And turning now to politics, there was an interesting development in Orange Walk East today. That's the division where the UDP is having a convention in a few days' time on February second. And last week, aspirant Elodio Aragon Juniour was dogged by allegations that his father, former area representative Elodio Sr had snatched up an abandoned piece of public park land as his private property. Add to that the fact that the title for an adjoining basketball court is missing, and you had the key elements for a land grab scandal. The interesting part is that the Aragon attack was allegedly orchestrated by fellow UDP's - from the rival camp in this hotly contested convention. So today, Aragon had to move smartly to gain distance from a toxic political situation. But he couldn't very well renounce his own father. So how did he play it? That's what Jules Vasquez went to Orange Walk to see:... Jules Vasquez reporting Guadalupe Park, it's been in a state of ruin for decades, but recently it became the site for a different kind of sport: political football. And this morning Elodio Aragon Junior tried to score an equalizer after losing points when it was alleged that his family was guilty of a land grab with public lands.

BT Charged For George Street Shooting
Last week, 7News told you about the shooting of 19 year-old Steven Alvarez, which left him with a bullet in his left leg. Well, police believe that the shooter was 28 year-old Brandon "BT" Tillett, a well-known figure to police who lives on George Street, the same street where Alvarez was shot. Tillett was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith, on the charges of attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm. Due to the nature of the offences, he was remanded to prison until February 27, his next court date. Tilett made our newscast as recently as last year in August when he claimed that the Gang Suppression Unit brutalized him. The Gang Suppression Unit charged him for allegedly assaulting one of their officers, Detective Constable Abner Itza. He is facing charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and wounding. That case is still pending in the Magistrate's Court.

Leroy Gomez Acquitted Of Escape
26 year-old Leroy Gomez, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence dodged more jail time after he was able to beat an escape charge which was brought against him. A jury of 9 heard his case where it was alleged that on August 27, 2011 he escaped from Police Constable Jarcel Savery while being detained at the Mahogany Police Station. During that time, he was wanted in connection to rape and robbery. Savery told the court that he handcuffed Gomez, and while he was making a call Gomez escaped from custody. He says that when he returned, he saw Gomez running down Oleander Street. He fired warning shots in the air but Gomez made haste. He was caught 3 days later. Gomez, who was unrepresented, chose to remain silent, but called an alibi witness on his behalf.

Horse And Others Still Waiting For PI
30 year-old Jermaine "Horse" Garnett, his 23 year-old step-son, Cassian Bennet, and 35 year-old Kenneth Barrow will have to wait until Friday for the Chief Magistrate to determine whether or not they will have to stand trial in the Supreme Court. Viewers may remember that on last week Wednesday, the Preliminary Inquiry started for these men. The issue at this time is that the main witness is believed to have left the jurisdiction, and police can't locate her. She has fingered all 3 men as the shooters who killed 19 year-old Raheem Requena in her statement to police, the prosecution's case against the men is at a crossroads. Attorneys for all 3 accused submitted that even if that main witness could be located, the evidence she would give is flawed because in her account, there are discrepancies of line of sight and visibility.

Sugar Deliveries Moving Along Steadily
The 2014 Sugar Crop season started on Friday and tonight the good news is that deliveries have come up to speed - and everything is proceeding apace. That's a rare stretch of good news in an industry that has seen nothing but discord and discontent for months. Alfredo Ortega gave us the update:.. Alfredo Ortega - Vice-Chair, BSFCA's CoM "On Friday we were unable to achieve the six thousand. We were a little bit below; 400 tons was needed to meet the target, but as of Saturday and Sunday we have met the target which we have delivered up to this morning at 6am above 18,000 tons of cane." Jules Vasquez "From there you all are hoping to step it up. Will you all be able to step it up? Will you have the supply?" Alfredo Ortega - Vice-Chair, BSFCA's CoM "Yes, of course. Once the weather continues as is - we have seen that farmers are really geared in bringing the cane. We have seen that farmers are coming together in some areas where works were not done - they are coming in with stones and put where the trucks can pass and they are bringing the material right now to the mill."

Benque Game Was Brutal
Was It was win or go home this weekend in Premier League Football, as both semifinals series played their second and final games. In game 1 on Saturday in Dangriga, the BDF Team was unable to overcome a three goal deficit when they drew with the Belmopan Bandits and one goal apiece. So with that, it's over for BDF and the Bandits advance to the finals. On Sunday night, the action moved to a very wet Marshalleck Stadium in Benque Viejo where the home Team FC Verdes just had to score one goal more than the visiting Belize FC team to advance. But, let's just say weather was an issue, a major one at that. The game couldn't be played on Saturday in Benque because it had been raining all day, and then on Sunday the field was still too wet so the game was moved to Norman Broaster. But, it was quickly moved back because the Benque fans wanted their team on their turf.

UDP PAC Looking Into Venezuelan Housing Money
7News has been telling you about the Public Accounts Committee meetings which have been going on without PUP Chairman Julius Espat. It is the only committee which the Oppostion is allowed to chair, but Espat has repeatedly claimed that he refuses to support an inquiry that is reportedly not the mandate of this current PAC. That's because the UDP majority wants to look into public spending prior before and after 2008, when there was a change in government administration. The 2014 meetings of this UDP led PAC started up, and they looked into the spending which happened to the Venezuelan housing money in 2008, which was given away indiscriminately in the run-up to the general election. After the PAC meeting, our colleagues at Plus TV asked the Pro Tem Chairman, John Saldivar, what the PAC has unearthed so far. Here's what he told them: Hon. John Saldivar - Pro-tem Chairman, PAC "This morning we were looking at the Venezuelan Housing Project - you know the 20 million US that was granted to the country by Venezuela half of which came initially and was given out within a 30 day period by the People's United Party government prior to the 2008 election and the other 20 million which we eventually got back from them under this new government. The report of the auditor general covered that first 20 million that was spent between December of 2007 and February of 2008."

Gill Got 6 Months For A Roach
33 year-old Lyndon Gill is at court tonight serving a 6-month prison sentence after he was convicted of drug possession in the Magistrate's Court. Police on patrol, they saw Gill riding a bicycle on Vernon Street. When he spotted the mobile, he threw away a small package, which the police retrieved after he was detained. They found that it was less than one gram of cannabis, and so, he was charged with possession of controlled drugs. Normally, he would have been given a fine, but because he has outstanding fines for drug possession, Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith sentenced him to serve 6 month in jail, instead.

UB Graduates 481
481 students graduated from the University of Belize on Sunday. It's a welcome bit of good news for the University which has repeatedly made headlines because of the sudden decision of President Cary Frazer to leave his post. Our colleagues from Plus TV attended, and here's what Kay Menzies, the President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry told the graduates as the guest speaker: Kay Menzies - President, BCCI "Often in our society we don't talk enough about success. We talk about success as achieved, like for example when you go out today and tomorrow and so on everybody's going to say you got your degree, cool, congratulations, what you get your degree. But they are not aware of what went in to getting that degree. As the master of ceremonies said earlier, early morning bus rides, long hours, missed occasions - it's been a really tough few years I am sure but today you have achieved academic success and the proof is in your hand."

Papa Mena Won Dangriga Convention
Former UDP Mayor for Dangriga Frank Papa Mena is now the UDP's new standard bearer in that division. In a convention on Sunday, he bested former UDP Area Representative Arhur Roches by almost 500 votes. The final tally was Frank Mena, 1,077 Frank Mena?and Turo Roches 581 votes. 1,676 ballots were cast which the UDP Chairman says is the largest convention the UDP has ever had in Dangriga.

Channel 5

Belize Airports Authority stands by its minister; Board member speaks out
Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Edmond Castro, has been in the hot seat for some time. But this time, he came under fire after Belize Airports Authority [...]

Land Dispute in Orange Walk Town; land reverted to G.O.B.
Last Friday, we reported that a parcel of land used as a park in the Orange Walk East Constituency had ended up in the hands of the politically connected Aragon [...]

Aragon family says land issue a smear campaign by Landy Burns
According to the Aragon family, a smear campaign was prompted from within the U.D.P. camp by the constituency caretaker; Orlando “Landy” Burns, in an effort to hurt the political career [...]

Ranchito resident, shot in the head by son, dies at the K.H.M.H.
On New Year’s Day, thirty year old Hensleigh Ryan Jones allegedly picked up a gun and shot his father three times in the head. Miraculously, Hensley ‘Nick’ Jones survived, and [...]

Cop behind bars for a firearm conviction
There was a sensational conviction in court today. A police corporal was convicted this afternoon inside the courtroom of Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith in a trial that began six [...]

CCJ hands down judgment on challenge to an amendment to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act
But in the regional Caribbean Court of Justice, a judgment was handed down last Friday concerning a challenge to an amendment to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act.  The parties [...]

2013-2014 Sugar Cane Crop Season off to a good start
The 2013-2014 Sugar Cane Crop Season got off to a late start this past Friday after months of delay. The cane farmers and the Belize Sugar Industries were at odds [...]

But deplorable condition of sugar roads still an issue
The biggest setback for the industry, according to Ortega, is still the deplorable condition of the sugar roads in a number of areas. So farmers are taking matters into their [...]

Trouble brewing in the citrus industry; delay in payment to growers
While the sugar industry is up and running, there is trouble in the citrus industry tonight after a delay of payment to growers by the Citrus Products of Belize Limited. [...]

Move over xaté; gold panning by Guatemalans is new illegal activity in the Chiquibul
The Chiquibul Forest Reserve has seen increased national exposure following a symposium which drew attention to the park, its benefits and challenges. One of the biggest challenges in recent years [...]

George Street Associate remanded for attempted murder
Also in the courts, a well-known George Street associate is tonight on remand at the Belize Central Prison after he was accused of attempted murder. He is Brandon Tillett, aka [...]

The controversial EIA for NCL tourism project; 1 consultant says he didn’t work for it
Last week Wednesday, Norwegian Cruise Lines executives were part of a consultation process in Independence, seeking input on the Environmental Impact Assessment for their proposed cruise tourism port on Harvest [...]

Elodio Aragon Junior resigned as Deputy Commission to pursue political career
Earlier today when we spoke to Elodio Aragon Junior, the U.D.P. political aspirant for Orange Walk East, we also questioned him about the reports that he had been using government [...]

Belize Fishermen Cooperative receive donation from CRFM
The Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association (B.F.C.A.) on Friday was presented with a Sony laptop computer and accessories as well as significant fisheries publications. The donation is part of the Implementing [...]

James Adderley has all the weekend sports on football, cycling and canoe race
Good evening, I’m James Adderley and this is Sports Monday. The 2 finalists for the Belikin Cup emerged over the weekend and the 2 game finals begin this Sunday. First [...]


Corozal Resident Caught Stealing In Chetumal, She Is Charged For Theft
No country is speared of crime and while we normally don’t report on crimes in other places tonight there is one of interest. Reports from neighboring Chetumal Quintana Roo, Mexico is that they are seeing a continuous occurrence of theft. Now, this becomes of interest to us because among the reports made are reports against Belizeans visiting the city. According to Mexican media, on Friday, six thefts were recorded at the police department and among those arrested was Corozal Resident Marisol Cortez. According to reports, Cortez was caught trying to steal twenty-four deodorants and one box of wipes from a popular store located on Avenida Insurgentes, corner Javier Rojo Gomez. Police were called after the store’s staff had secured Cortez. The Manager Francisco Bojorquez handed Cortez to authorities and was taken to the Public Prosecutor of the Common Jurisdiction (MPFC) where she was charged for theft.

FFB, Trains Young Athletes To Become Professional Football Players
Football may be well on its way to its former glory in Orange Walk and the entire country for that matter. That’s because the Football Federation of Belize has embarked on a youth program for both males and females. That program entails organizing talent schools for under thirteen, under fifteen and under seventeen players. The program was been officially launched in the Orange Walk District last week and on Saturday young football lovers gathered at the People’s Stadium for a festival, and it was all about having fun. Dalila Ical has the story. Children as young as six up to twelve years old and all in between mingled on the football field over the weekend as they took their first steps into learning everything there is to learn about football. Jayden Michael “Good, I like football because it is fun and I get to meet with other friend too” Talent schools have also been opened in the Toledo, Corozal, and Stann Creek Districts. Executive member of the Football Federation of Belize, Chris Gamez is in charge of Youth Development and the program falls directly under his portfolio.

Guadalupe Park Returned To GOB
Last week, our news centre was first to break the story of a public space that ended in private hands; namely the lot next to the East Sports Center in orange Walk Town, supposedly the proposed Guadalupe park. As we’ve reported the land in question was registered as a private property on October 17th, 2011 to Elodio Aragon of #8 Aurora Street. This parcel #2215 was transferred from the Government of Belize. In June of 2012, the same parcel was transferred in the name of one Adin Glen Aragon, son of Elodio Aragon Sr where a land certificate verifying entitlement was issued. And while the story has been drawing a lot of fanfare from Orange Walk residents, today there was an impromptu press conference which was held by the Political aspirant for Orange Walk East, Elodio Aragon Junior. Our news team was on hand for the event and filed the following report. Former Assistant Police Commissioner turned Political Aspirant for the Orange Walk East, Elodio Aragon Junior, flanked by his father, also former politician and a few members of his political camp staged an impromptu press conference this morning at the land in question; parcel number 2215. And while the story drew a lot of attention, this morning’s conference saw a ‘hand over’ of the land in question back to the public, or in this case, the Government of Belize.

Belize Red Cross , Keeping Belize Clean
Communities keep growing in our country and with that come different needs based on their location and size. Meeting those needs however can prove a real challenge for Village Councils and therefore when that much needed assistance is rendered; it is only to the benefit of the people. In Northern Belize, at least eight communities are receiving such benefits under projects implemented by the Belize Red Cross Society and financed by the American Red Cross. These projects are all part of the Resilience in the America’s Project. Over the weekend we visited San Antonio Rio Hondo in the Orange Walk District which is benefiting from a garbage bin project currently being implemented. Reporter Dalila Ical has that story. Ian Glory – Field Coordinator “The idea is to establish garbage bins for the community, in this way improving the cleanliness, health, hygiene, sanitation programs as well as improving the waste management and drainage within the village because we know it is prone to flooding.” Ian Glory is the Field Coordinator for the Resilience in the America’s Project which was first launched in late 2012 and is being implemented in three phases until it’s conclusion in 2015. Glory says the projects implemented vary depending on each community’s need. In San Antonio Rio Hondo, the garbage bin project was most ideal.

Charge Against Ryan Jones Upgraded To Murder
Tonight, an attempted Murder charge has been upgraded to Murder as the victim has succumbed to his injuries. As we reported at the beginning of the year, around 10 pm, 30 year old Hensleigh Ryan Jones shot his father, 53 year old Nick Jones on the head while they were both standing in the kitchen of their home located in the Village of Ranchito in the Corozal District. Jones was taken to the Corozal Community Hospital where doctors discovered three bullet holes on his head; two on the left side and one to the back. Ryan was charge for attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm and dangerous harm and was remanded to the Kolbe Foundation until his next court date. It was the first major crime reported in this municipality and tonight, Ryan’s charge will be upgraded to murder since his father Nick Jones has succumbed to his injuries at the KHMH after being hospitalized for about 25 days. Hensley Jones was the proprietor of Nick’s Waste management in Corozal Town.

Mayor Bernard Say's Guadalupe Park Should Have Been Reverted To The Council
And while the parcel of land has been proposed to be given to the National Sports Council, the news did not sit well with the Orange Walk Town Council who claims that the land should have been given back to the people of Orange Walk. Mayor Kevin Bernard claims that the council has faced much taxation and hardships to access the recreational spaces for Town events. Here is that interview after the press conference held this morning. Kevin Bernard – Mayor of Orange Walk Town “Well, of course it has been returned to the Government of Belize, I believe that we as a council we will try our best as well to try to get back this park. We have already spoken about it on Friday but of course we don’t want to be caught in the middle of any personal or any internal political issues that they are currently facing and as such we have decided to deal with it on our angle and so that is the reason we decided to pass that resolution. We believe that also this is a park that was maintained many years ago before and gradually deteriorated of course way back I understand way back in 2003 it started becoming aground for old vehicle and so forth because of the same issues, people were wondering ever of not this was a park again and whose hand it was in and so we have found out the truth but I believe that what is important is that we need to ensure that these places be return to the people of Orange Walk and not to a ministry of sport because if you would speak to the councilor in charge of sport the difficult he has to carry out events under the people stadium or at the Multi-Purpose Complex because it is being politicize and all we are doing is trying to promote something healthy for our young people so if this is to remain as a park let keep it as a park under the hospices of the Orange Walk Town council and we are here prepared to bring up this park as well and work with the community of the east to bring it up to standards.”

Police Break Into Dias' Home, She Alleges Money Is Missing
Last Friday we reported an incident in which police allegedly broke into a home when no one was inside. The owner of the residence, Aleida Dias told CTV-3 News that she was away late Friday afternoon and received a call informing her of what had transpired. Dias’ front door was pried open and the door frame was broken. While the house didn’t seem to have been searched, Dias alleges that money she had put away was missing. A small storage house located behind her residence was also broken into and ransacked. Dias says she was going to make an official report of the incident at the Orange Walk Police formation and by all appearances she did. Today Ctv-3 News followed up the story.


Police News
A skiff was reportedly stolen from the Placencia dock between two and four on the morning of January 23rd. The 30-foot long white fiberglass skiff with a Yamaha 250 horse power four-stroke, belonged to Placencia Eagle Ray Tours. The company is offering a reward to anyone who has useful information that leads to its recovery. People who wish to assist can call the owner at 602-9315 or the nearest police station. Police in San Ignacio removed a firearm off the streets this past weekend. On Saturday morning Police responded to reports of shots fired on Second Street. Police say they searched the home of a known drug base but did not find anything. A search in the nearby bushes led to the discovery of a loaded double barrel chrome pistol with two live round of ammunition. No one was in the area and the firearm and ammunition were labeled as found property.

Car Dealer Faces Attempted Murder Charge
28-year-old Brandon Tillett, a car dealer of a George Street address is facing a charge of attempted murder. Tillett, who is accused of shooting 19-year-old, Kevin Alvarez was charged with attempted murder when he appeared today before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. In addition, Tillett was charged with grievous harm and use of deadly means of harm and has been remanded into custody until February 28. The incident occurred around 9:05 p.m. on January 23. Alvarez reported to the police that he was standing on a bridge on George Street when a man rode up to him on black beach cruiser bicycle and fired several shots at him and one of the bullets struck him in his left leg. The police visited the scene and reported that they recovered 5 expended 9 millimeter shells.

Special Branch Corporal Found Guilty of Unlicensed Ammunition
A Police Corporal has been found guilty of three ammunition offences. Earlier today, 40-year-old, Gino Peck stood before Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith and answered to two counts of kept ammunition without a gun license and 1 count of kept prohibited ammunition without a gun license. Chief Magistrate Smith has deferred sentencing until Friday, January 31 at which time Peck will be allowed to call in character witnesses to testify on his behalf. The charges stem from an incident that occurred on January 21, 2012 when members of the Gang Suppression Unit went to Peck’s house on Curassow Street in Belize City and conducted a search of his home. The officers uncovered a dusty kit bag under the mattress of his bed which contained twenty-two 12-gauge cartridges; five .38 rounds and one .45 caliber bullet. Peck did not have a license for the ammunition and therefore he was taken into custody and charged. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl Lynn Vidal called 4 witnesses to prove her case. In an unsworn statement, Peck admitted that found the .45 round in a gang related area and he was going to hand it in as found property. Peck, who had been a police officer for 22 years, was assigned to Special Branch. He called one witness, Sergeant Randy Sanchez, who testified that he often issued ammunition of that kind to Peck but he could not say if the ammunition found was issued by him. Peck was represented by attorney Simeon Sampson.

Jury Deliberates on Leroy Gomez’ Case of Escape
A jury of 7 women and 2 men is deliberating today in the court of Justice Adolph Lucas to see if it can reach a verdict for 26 year old Leroy Gomez, charged with escape from lawful custody. Gomez who is serving time for rape and robbery, allegedly escaped on August 27, 2011, from the Mahogany Street Police precinct where he was detained for an investigation of a rape allegation. Police constable Jarcel Savery testified that he saw Gomez on oleander Street and he detained Gomez and took him to the Mahogany Street Precinct. Savery said he left Gomez at the precinct with his hands hand cuffed behind his back and he went to make a telephone call to CIB. He said that when he returned he saw Gomez running on Oleander Street. He testified that he pursued Gomez for about 3 blocks and he fired a warning shot in the air but Gomez still managed to escape. Gomez was captured 3 days later. Gomez chose to remain silent but he called an alibi witness who testified that he was with her babysitting at the time of the incident. Gomez was not represented by any attorney. Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell represented the prosecution.


Man Allegedly Shot By Son Dies Over The Weekend
The attempted murder charge against 30 year old Hensleigh Ryan Jones, who allegedly shot his father, has been upgraded following the passing of the victim, 53 year old Hensley Jones. Jones succumbed to his injuries at the KHMH on Saturday morning. Mr. Jones was shot twice to the left side...

PAC Says Only Half of a 40 Million Dollar Grant was Properly Accounted for by the then PUP Government
Today, after almost a two months break, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) met at the National Assembly to resume discussion of the Auditor General’s report. In today’s PAC meeting, the monies for the 20 million US dollar grant received from Venezuela, which was granted through the Venezuelan Housing Project...

PM Responds to Statement Made at BNTU Rally
The BNTU is making quite a roar in its latest effort to get the attention of Government on a number of key national issues, including a salary adjustment expected in July. Indeed, they have obtained GOB’s attention – Minister of Education, the Hon. Patrick Faber and the Union have...

Private Owner Returns Park Land to the Community
Meanwhile, a land dispute in the north, seems to have been resolved quite amicably. Last week, Mr. Orlando Burns, a former UDP Standard Bearer for Orange Walk East, revealed to CTV3 News that a parcel of land, which was donated to the community, had somehow ended up in private hands...

Taxi-Men Attend a Training Workshop
Last week, the Department of Cooperatives hosted a two day training workshop that targeted registered cooperatives in the transportation sector- taxi-men and bus drivers- operating in the Cayo District. The workshop took place at the George Price Center on Thursday and then again on Friday. Several stakeholders were invited...

City Center Near Complete Demolition
The Belize City Center is to be replaced by a $30 million stadium at some time in the near future, but before that can happen the old one, which has been standing since 1992, has to disappear. Last week, PLUS News went to the site on Central American Boulevard...

Housing Minister Leaves Belize for Spinal Surgery
Minister of Housing and Urban Development (Michael Finnegan left Belize today for the United States where he is scheduled to undergo surgery to his lower spine. The five-time Mesopotamia area representative has a degenerative condition that, when it last flared up, wore down two spinal disks and caused pain...


An AWESOME Tour in Belize’s Banana Belt Or “Going Bananas in Belize”
My home island of Ambergris Caye isn’t known for agriculture. Years ago, there were coconut plantations but now tourism is a way of life in San Pedro. On much of mainland Belize though, that is not the case. Head up north and you will see papaya and sugar cane fields, to west, you’ll pass miles of cattle and farmland and when you head over the Maya Mountains towards Dangriga, the hills roll with citrus trees. I’ve passed this sign headed in and out of Placencia a few times over the past year in the small village of Riversdale, Belize and this trip? I gave these guys a call. I like bananas. I know very little about how they are grown. I’m DYING to know why they are so cheap in the states. 19 cents a pound at Walmart? And I’ve never been on a real industrial farm in Belize… had also taken this picture a few days before in the port town of Mango Creek. The port that carries all of the bananas and much of the oil out of Belize.

International Sources

Venezuela ruined mangroves for me forever. Over a decade ago, I spent an afternoon silently gliding through a magnificent mangrove forest on Venezuela’s Margarita Island. Belize: The mangrove forests here are associated with the magnificant 220 km barrier reef and is interlinked with those in Mexico and Honduras. Here in Belize, you have the opportunity to also spot matanee’s while exploring the mangrove forests. Book a five hour adventure to the mangrove forests of Swallow Caye near Belize City with Tour Belize or a mangrove snorkeling excursion to Twin Cays with Island Expeditions.

VIDEO: Epic 2 Day Journey to San Pedro, Belize
Hi! I'm Anna from The Legendary Adventures of Anna ! I took a car from Sumter, South Carolina, train from Columbia, South Carolina to Raleigh, North Carolina, bus to the Raleigh Airport, flight with a layover in Atlanta, Georgia to Cancun, Mexico-met my friend Gladys, car to Cancun central bus terminal, overnight bus to Belize City, taxi to the ferry, and finally a ferry to San Pedro Belize. This documents my journey in 38 seconds.

War on lionfish shows first promise of success
It may take a legion of scuba divers armed with nets and spears, but a new study confirms for the first time that controlling lionfish populations in the western Atlantic Ocean can pave the way for a recovery of native fish. Even if it's one speared fish at a time, it finally appears that there's a way to fight back. Scientists at Oregon State University, Simon Fraser University and other institutions have shown in both computer models and 18 months of field tests on reefs that reducing lionfish numbers by specified amounts – at the sites they studied, between 75-95 percent – will allow a rapid recovery of native fish biomass in the treatment area, and to some extent may aid larger ecosystem recovery as well. It's some of the first good news in a struggle that has at times appeared almost hopeless, as this voracious, invasive species has wiped out 95 percent of native fish in some Atlantic locations. "This is excellent news," said Stephanie Green, a marine ecologist in the College of Science at Oregon State University, and lead author on the report just published in Ecological Applications. "It shows that by creating safe havens, small pockets of reef where lionfish numbers are kept low, we can help native species recover. "And we don't have to catch every lionfish to do it."

January 27, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Wolfe’s Woofer: The Drink’s Not On Me
The Drink’s Not On Me “Why don’t we just meet at Wet Willy’s at one o’clock?” I asked “That sounds like a plan to me,” Richard said. “I’m sure some of the other guys will be there already.” Richard Cartwright and his lovely wife Vicky usually spend two or three months visiting San Pedro each […]

Caye Caulker Police Report
On Thursday 16th January 2014 about 5:30am Caye Caulker Police Personnel conducted an Anti-Drug Operation within the island where a search was conducted at the residence of Shawn Bennett age 37. Upon arrival at the house the police knock on the door and identified themselves at which time they observed one of the window facing north of the building being opened where someone stretch of their hand and threw out a black object which fell in the nearby yard. Upon gaining entry inside the house it was observed that Shawn Bennett was inside the house along with his Common Law Wife Betty Petillo age 33 and another male person learnt to be Justin Usher age 22 . They were escorted outside where the object fell and it was retrieved in their presence and observed to be a black plastic bag which when opened contained green leafy vegetable substance suspected to be cannabis. They were informed of the offence committed and escorted to the Police Station along with the suspected drugs where it was weighed which amounted to 66.9 grams of cannabis. They were formally arrested and charged for the offence of Drug Trafficking and will be escorted to San Pedro Magistrate Court on Friday 17th January 2014 for arraignment.

Doctor Love: Sad Mistake
Readers, please send your letters. They can be emails, formal letters or handwritten notes. They are edited solely for grammar and spelling. Also, they are sometimes edited for length. Dear Doctor Love, I met a man while I was here on vacation a year and a half ago. We stayed at the same resort and […]

Misc Belizean Sources

There is no trust between Belize and Guatemala
By Wellington C. Ramos. Since the 1800s, Guatemala has been claiming our country with no end in sight. Plus, they continue to teach their citizens that Belize belongs to them. Every day many Guatemalan citizens cross the border at will with no regard for the military, immigration or custom officers. They even establish villages, take land to grow their food and settle permanently to await their citizenship through amnesty programs from Belizean politicians, who need their votes to get elected.

Dangriga UDP convention
Frank Mena 1,077, Arthur Roches 690, Spoilt 18. Congrats are in order to Papa Mena!

Damaged equipment cause big blackout
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) technicians were working late Sunday to fix damaged equipment at the company’s Westlake Substation. A brief statement put out by the state-owned company said that the damaged equipment was the cause of an “unplanned power interruption” which plunged the Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo districts into blackout. The blackout struck at 3:35 pm and it took roughly 3 hours for BEL to fully restore power to all the affected areas.

Archaeology Sites Reopened
The Institute of Archaeology, NICH, has advised all tour operators, tour guides, and the general public that water levels have receded, and the following sites are now open for visitation: Nohoch Che'en (Caves Branch) Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Barton Creek Xunantunich


Placencia, Belize: The Beach, The Sidewalk, The Bars, The Restaurants, I’m Loving It
And what’s not to love? I’ve been here a few times in the past year and this place grabs you when you first get off the plane, or the bus or even the Hokey Pokey Shuttle boat from mainland Mango Creek to the Placencia Peninsula.

Central America: You better Belize it, baby! (Part 1)
12 hours, a (very long) bus ride, one border crossing and a boat ride later, and we were on the beautiful island of Caye Caulker. Of all the stops on our itinerary, this was the place I was most excited for. As soon as we approached the jetty and I caught a close-up of the island, I knew I was going to love it. Lush azure waters, a sandy perimeter and colourful shops and houses dotting the 3-street-long island. I mean, how could you not fall in love with this mini haven? Playa Del Carmen may have had the picture-perfect beaches, but Caye Caulker was winning in the attitude stakes; the island’s motto: GO SLOW, MON! (Think Caribbean – a big influence on the island, perhaps even more so than it’s Latin neighbours). Originally part of the British Empire, Belize is an English speaking country (although the locals often speak a mixture of Creole or Spanish), and so it’s also an easy destination for non-Spanish speaking tourists to get by. After dropping our bags at the Paradise Hotel, we followed Kaylie on a short ‘tour’ of the island which took all of 10 minutes and soon I was racing back to the hotel to jump in the shower before we reconvened for dinner. En route, I passed a guy driving a golf cart and as I raced passed him, he shouted after me “Go Slow!”, a welcome reminder for a Londoner like me to take advantage of the more laidback lifestyle whilst I had the chance.

The reason BTL was Nationalized?
I told you all back then and I’ll keep saying it.. The issue was never about nationalization as in making it for the people, initially I thought it was just to get to slip a backdoor into the Constitution to give the politicians in Government all power but it seems it goes way beyond that. Doing research for my article about the CARICOM Union that we are heading into, I stumbled on this and you have to know about it. To fully understand this you will have to read the CARICOM article.

International Sources

Pictures: Massive Maya City Revealed by Lasers
Airborne lasers have "stripped" away thick rain forests to reveal new images of an ancient Maya metropolis that's far bigger than anyone had thought. An April 2009 flyover of the Maya city of Caracol used Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment—which bounces laser beams off the ground—to help scientists construct a 3-D map of the settlement in western Belize. The survey revealed previously unknown buildings, roads, and other features in just four days, scientists announced earlier this month at the International Symposium on Archaeometry in Tampa, Florida. University of Central Florida anthropologists Arlen and Diane Chase have spent decades hacking through the tangled undergrowth that has engulfed the powerful city—which thrived between A.D. 550 and 900. So far they've uncovered only a tiny fraction of the ruins.

Maya Rise & Fall
Interactive map: Explore 15 key Mayan sites that archaeologists and historians are using to piece together the story of this once great civilization.

Belize Tourism Board with Olson Engage Take Home Top Honors At In2 SABREs
The Belize Tourism Board with Olson Engage took home Best in Show honors for its “Breaking Bad’s Trip to Belize” campaign at the In2 SABRE Awards at the Four Seasons San Francisco last week. The campaign — which also won in for marketing buzz and digital influence — took home best in show for turning a potential negative into a memorable, remarkable opportunity. Earlier this year, the hit AMC show “Breaking Bad” used the phrase taking a “trip to Belize” as a euphemism for killing someone. Following this, the Belize Tourism Board showed its sense of humor in a series of light-hearted tweets directed at the show’s actors and TV influencers. The team also partnered with the New York Times for an exclusive story inviting the cast of “Breaking Bad”on a free vacation to Belize.

Belize and Guatemala agree on 'road map' to address the territorial dispute
Belize and Guatemala agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of American States on a “Road Map and Plan of Action”, which has as its main objective the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries during 2014 in order to make concrete the holding of popular consultations to enable the consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza emphasized the importance of the two countries deciding to coordinate joint activities, because doing so “means moving toward a more stable relationship.” “The more dense the international relations between countries, the greater their stability and permanence,” he added, because “to be able to develop significant projects in the areas of the environment, security, labor, immigration, health or education helps people to get to know and value each other.”

Orvis announces 2014 matching grants
Every year, Orvis awards cash grants to causes important to its customers. This year’s target grant recipients include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its Oyster Restoration Program. Rare, for its Fish Forever program in Belize. Fish Forever empowers local Belizean communities to sustainably manage their fisheries, thereby increasing food security, conserving important marine habitats and species, safeguarding local jobs and creating coastal climate resilience. The $30,000 grant from Orvis will match customer contributions up to the same amount, for a total of $60,000 support for this program.

Belize and Guatemala agree on plan to strengthen relations
The foreign ministers of Belize and Guatemala, Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera, and the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, on Friday at the headquarters of the multilateral Organization signed an agreement entitled “Road Map and Plan of Action", which has as its main objective the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries during 2014 in order to make concrete the holding of popular consultations to enable the consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Insulza emphasized the importance of the two countries deciding to coordinate joint activities, because doing so "means moving toward a more stable relationship."

Marshalleck rises from humble beginnings to a leader in his field
From humble beginnings in Central America, Francis Marshalleck, M.D., has risen to become the director of pediatric interventional radiology at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health -- as well as the only fellowship-trained pediatric interventional radiologist in Indiana. A native of Belize, Dr. Marshalleck, assistant professor of clinical radiology at the IU School of Medicine, attributes his work ethic to his mother, a seamstress. “You do it until the job is done -- give your best effort with what you have,” said Dr. Marshalleck, whose early struggles were rewarded with scholarships. “I see myself as blessed.” A graduate of the Regis University in Denver and the University of the West Indies, Dr. Marshalleck returned to Belize for two years after medical school in Jamaica to work as an emergency room physician, a requirement of his scholarship. He wasn't able to return to practice in the United States, however, until the radiology fellowship director at the University of Texas at Houston -- whose father spent time as a missionary in Belize -- recognized his talent and enthusiasm amidst harsh circumstances, selecting him to join the program.

Picking the right destination for your hard-earned vacation is no small feat. Where can you go that is close enough to your home, where one can minimize travel time, potentially be within a similar time zone and where the locals can actually understand you? Insert the tiny island of Belize. Located on the northeastern coast of Central America this country is bustling with adventure, culture and some spectacular Mayan ruins. Did I mention that they also speak English for those of us that are not that proficient with languages? I visited this magical gem at the ripe age of 19 and recall having been blown away by the generosity and kindness of the people. A country that is uncomplicated and simple, yet rich in history. When determining potential locations to shoot the travel show, Belize was at the top of my list. From flying over Mayan ruins in an ultralight, to trekking through waterfalls and exploring the local Garifuna cuisine. Watch the video to explore this exotic and remote country!

Belize is an amazingly diverse country due to immigration, colonisation and slavery throughout its history; this has had a knock on effect on its culinary history. Having recently completed a few other countries in the same geographical area I was keen to try something different from the region. Inspired by a blog I read about a lady cooking breakfasts from around the world (unfortunately I can’t find the link again to reference her) I thought I’d have a go at a Belizean breakfast. Breakfast in Belize consists of a fried dough called Fry Jack (the plural remains Fry Jack, rather than Fry Jacks in the creole language), served with cheeses, beans, eggs, sausages and meats. Coffee is the usual accompaniment along with fruits. I’m a huge fan of mangoes which are grown in Belize so enjoyed a large glass of mango juice. The Fry Jack are made from flour, baking powder, vegetable shortening and water. The ingredients are mixed, kneaded and rested in the fridge (I left the dough overnight last night). The dough is then rolled out and fried in vegetable oil. The Fry Jack puff up and float; they can then be fished out and drained.

January 26, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Full Basket Belize begins annual scholarship search
Full Basket Belize has begun its annual process of looking for deserving secondary students to receive scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year. Each scholarship is worth up to $1,000 BZ and covers tuition, books, fees, and uniforms. The first step in this process is for interested Belizean secondary schools to apply to be “participating schools.” This involves a school representative completing a short online Participating Schools Form found at and agreeing to abide by the conditions required by Full Basket Belize in processing its scholarships. Once a school has completed and submitted the Participating Schools Form, Full Basket Belize will send the school a scholarship application to photocopy and hand out to students who they feel are in great need of a scholarship. The organization is looking for outstanding students who demonstrate financial need, represent their schools positively, do well academically, and participate actively in their communities.

The San Pedro Sun Announces Annual Valentine Poetry Contest
With February right around the corner it’s time to start thinking about that oh so sweet and romantic holiday, Valentine’s Day! With visions of cupid dancing in your head (and heart) why not put those thoughts of love and inspiration to pen and paper…declaring your passion in the form of a poem! The San Pedro Sun is proud to again sponsor our annual Valentine Poetry Contest, with fabulous prizes for poems of different categories, such as most romantic, funniest, Spanish and of course, the ode to the beloved lobster, whose season closes on February 15th when the tasty crustaceans take a well-deserved honeymoon until mid-June. Poetry prizes range from one night stays at exotic resorts, dinners, golf cart rentals, gift certificates and much more!

Largest number of turtle nests recorded on Ambergris Caye in 2013
Hol Chan Marine Reserve has released the Ambergris Caye Marine Turtle Program survey report on sea turtles for the year 2013.The report indicates that while last year saw the largest number of nests recorded on the northern portion of the island, hatching success went down by over 11% in comparison to the previous years. Weather is believed to have been one of the major contributing factors as sea surge from storms during the hurricane season damaged nests along the beach. The Ambergris Caye Marine Turtle Program observed turtle nesting from mid-May to late November on northern Ambergris Caye. Efforts were concentrated on Robles and Rocky Point beaches – areas that have seen the most activity throughout the years. Generally, three native turtle species’ nests were studied; the Loggerhead turtle (ChleoniaCaretta), the Green turtle (ChleoniaMydas) and the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate).

Misc Belizean Sources

Guatemalans Stealing Gold from Chiquibul
The gold panning activities cause severe alteration to the small streams in the area. It seems that sections of the streams are zoned off in large blocks representing different groups/factions of gold panners. The expedition surveyed an area of non-stop panning 'blocks' for almost 2hours. Entire streams are dammed off, river banks are deforested and large areas are excavated. — at Ceibo Chico, Chiquibul National Park

Beginning Meditation Workshop
There will be a free beginners meditation class today from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at the Soul Project. A real Buddhist monk will be leading the class. Call 668-1498 for more information.

CACHE Has New Executive Team
CACHE has a new executive team, and Elvis Avila is the new president. Looks like it'll be a great year for art and culture for CACHE.

Santa Elena Football Stadium Upgrade
The Santa Elena football stadium started the first phase of getting its upgrade last week. Belize Infrastructure Limited signed contracts to do feasibility and environmental studies, and come up with some design plans for the project.

Job Listing, Station Manager, Tobacco Caye Marine Station, Belize
Tobacco Caye Marine Station (TCMS) is an education and research facility on the island of Tobacco Caye within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. The station manager is responsible for all aspects of the continuing operations of TCMS from scheduling and leading international and domestic students groups in the classroom and in the field to assisting visiting researchers collect data on the health of the Belize Barrier Reef System (BBRS) World Heritage Site (WHS). Role Responsibilities Hosting and guiding domestic and international student groups participating in field study programs. Providing education on the tropical marine environments of Belize through a mixture of classroom based learning and snorkel excursions to the reef, mangrove and seagrass habitats of the SWCMR and beyond. Coordinating study group programming with supplier in Belize and abroad. Securing continuing business for TCMS's education programs through designing and marketing marine ecology field courses for new and existing clients. Recruitmentment and management of volunteers and interns and providing sufficient opportunities for professional and personal development during their placements. Development and implementation of funding proposals for new research projects and grants for further development of the Station. Liaising with governmental, national and international departments and organisations. Managing the station - administration, finances and budgets, general maintenance including the building and grounds, solar power supply, lab equipment and snorkelling gear. Managing website, social media, email and developing promotional materials.

The Show Must Go On!
Delivery of sugar cane in Corozal started early this morning (Jan. 24th). The Corozal Daily caught up with a few loaded cane trucks and cane farmers early this morning. It is a bitter sweet moment as cane farmers have already irrecoverably lot over 10,000 tonnes of sugar cane equivalent to over ten million Belize dollars as a result of the undue delays. The 2014 sugar cane harvest was due to begin November of last year but due to a stalemate in the negotiations of “bagasse” payment, between BSI/ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Famers Association, the harvest had been delayed. To make matters worse the inclement weather and incessant rains deteriorated most cane roads and inundated cane fields. Many farmers this morning were calling the media to complain that their particular roads have not been repaired and they cannot access their cane fields to harvest them.


O/W Town Council Will Fight For Guadalupe Park
The circumstances surrounding the controversy on the parcel of land known as the Guadalupe Park in Orange Walk East continue to intensify. There is no shadow of a doubt that the parcel 2215 has been privatized and already the family of the donors of that parcel of land have shared their dissatisfaction at the situation. The members of the family stated that they are willing to fight the case and reclaim the land but invited the Orange Walk Town Council to take the lead and reclaim the parcel for the people. Today, Mayor Kevin Bernard stated that they will be doing just that. Kevin Bernard– Mayor of Orange Walk Town “As a Council definitely tonight I have drafted a resolution on that matter which I will be tabling tonight at the Council in order for us to one, ensure that that property is return to the hands of the people of Orange Walk, it has to be because at the end of the day it was given for that purpose for the people of Orange Walk to be able to use as a facility, as a park so that they can have their children and great grandchildren come out there and have some form of activity, I know as well that the area is lacking development but at the end of the day it needs to be develop, it needs to be there, the people gave us that property to the previous council and I as the Mayor and this council is going to fight for the use of it along with those who support us at the same time am supporting the family relative who has come forward who has come to speak about this issue.”

Another Disturbing Report Of Carnal Knowledge Surfaces
There is another disturbing report of unlawful carnal knowledge to report tonight. Police report that on December 17th, 2013, a 16 year old student of Orange Walk Town visited the San Ignacio Police Station accompanied by her mother and reported that on the June 14th 2012 at about 10:00pm, while in San Pedro Town she visited the home of a 16 year old male in the San Pedrito Area where they had sexual intercourse. On a second occasion, on December 15th 2012, the minor went back to San Pedro Town where she also had sex with the young man. The minor further stated that on the January 3rd 2014, she once again visited the home of the 16 year old and while there his older brother identified as Rolando Espat, went inside the same bedroom and forced himself upon her without her consent. On January 7th, a medical examination was conducted on the child in the presence of her mother where the doctor confirmed that she was carnally known and certified her injuries as Grievous Harm.

Faber Say's BNTU Rallies Are Uncalled For, Musa Thinks Otherwise
On January 10th the Belize National Teachers Union launched a series of nationwide rallies here in Orange Walk and Corozal. Chief among the teachers’ demands is the case for a minimum five-percent pay increase by July. Teachers’ are also calling for an end to corruption in public office. Today the protest took place in San Ignacio and while a large number so teachers joined in the cause, one person that is not in agreement with the rallies being carried out is the Minister of Education Patrick Faber. And he made that known loud and clear during Wednesday’s House Sitting. Faber lashed out at the teachers and even said that they are simply wasting time and that the rallies are uncalled for. Patrick Faber- Minister of Education “Let me just make the example Mr. Speaker, in Orange Walk the rallies got started at around nine with the parade and so on and by midday everything was lock down and teachers were all over doing business and so the entire afternoon was wasted Mr. Speaker. In Corozal the rallies were held in the afternoon and so the entire morning was wasted and if anybody doubts that look at what happened in Belize City where ther rallies got finished by twelve o’clock and the entire afternoon was lost, what prevents them Mr. Speaker, for having these rallies, there is one schedule for this Friday I am told in Cayo, what prevent them from starting these rallies at two o’clock an dismissing school at one o’clock , if we are really concerned about the students Mr. Speaker, and about the quality of education in this country. If it is Mr. speaker that these rallies that are distracting the progress of our children in education are being held because they are not getting a raise then that is bogus because we know that the raise is coming, if it is that they are invoking industrial action Mr. speaker because the negotiation have broken down then that is a lie because I will tell that there is no breakdown in communication between the union and this government at any level so waht are they rallying for.”

Ministry Of Education Will Crank Down On Half Days Teachers Take To Collect Salary
The ongoing rallies are not the only thing the Minister of Education is not in agreement of. He also has a problem with the fact that some teachers are not adhering to the rules and regulations of the Ministry of Education. One such point of contention is the half day teachers take to collect their salaries every last Friday of the month. Faber says, while this is a no, no some teachers, under the advice of the union, still take the half day to collect their pay. But if you are one of those teachers then you better watch out because, according to Faber, well, its best you hear it from him. Patrick Faber- Minister of Education “Next week Friday is payday and the teachers in the Stann Creek District are famous for breaching the policy and many of them, breaching the policy of the ministry when they should know they should not be taking that time off so payday Friday for them is already holiday, even though ministry says it shouldn’t happen, and we will be cracking down on that, but so normally because they done get that day off, yes because it is wrong the children deserve the best, the children deserve maximum hours in the classroom especially in the light of the fact that we are not doing well in these examinations, Mr. speaker they decided they will not have the rallies of Friday because that they would have rather already gotten that off, and of course that will create an inconvenience to them because it is payday so they will do the rallies in Thursday.”

Contractor Receives Financing To Commence Work On The San Estevan/Progresso Road
The incessant rains over the last months have not only caused damage to the sugar roads. Mother Nature has also caused extreme damage to the road network countrywide. An initial assessment conducted by the Ministry of Works sets the cost of damages on roads at $18.4 million. According to Minister of Work Rene Montero, his Ministry is currently carrying out works damaged areas including Orange Walk and Corozal. Rene Montero- Minister of Works “In Corozal a total of $423,500.00 has been spent in this district which includes grading and small patching in Buena Vista and Caledonia, rehabilitation of Tony New River Road, Laguna Seca Road amongst other, works were also going includes grading, spot patching along the Santa Cruz, Caledonia road, narrow sugar road, Corozal, Patchakan Road, and the rehabilitation of all sugar roads in the district at an estimated cost of 1.6 million dollars. It is estimated Mr. Speaker, that we will require an additional 1.6 million dollars in order to address the Pueblo Nuevo roadway, Sarteneja and Chunox and the constructions of sections of the Phillip Goldson highway which passes through Corozal Town. Mr. speaker, in Orange Walk a total of $237,150.00 has been spent carrying out emergency works as follows; grading and spot patching in the Yo Creek/san Antonio Road, San Luis Village Road and the pot hole and pre-mix patching of the section of the Philip Goldson Highway between miles 52 and 58 with an estimated cost of 2 million dollars for the ongoing works which includes grading and spot patching on the Santa Martha Road, san Felipe, Blue Creek Road, also drainage in the Trial Farm Area and all sugar roads in the district, additionally Mr. speaker we will require an additional 3 million dollars in order to reconstruct the section of the Phillip Goldson highway which passes through Orange Walk, conduct grading and spot patching in other areas affected like in Guinea Grass, Indian Church, Santa Cruz and San Carlos amongst others.”

2013/2014 Crop Season Finally Gets Under-way
The 2013/2014 Sugar Crop Season went into full effect today as the harvest and delivery season officially kicked off after a 60 days delay. It was a much anticipated day for all stakeholders in the Sugar Industry who patiently waited for the Belize Sugar Industries Limited and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association to iron out their problems when it came to the negotiations for payment of bagasse. With that issue now forming a part of the past, at least for now, the crop is now being mobilized full speed ahead. Our news team was on hand this morning for the opening of the delivery gates. Reporter Maria Novelo and Video Journalist Jesus Melgar followed the story and filed this report. Maria Novelo – Reporting After close to two months of delay, at 10:00 this morning, the delivery gates to the sugar factory was opened which signaled the official start of the 2014 Sugar Crop Season. As early as 6:00am, cane farmers, with their harvest in tow, lined the factory road corridor to delivery their cane. Vice Chairman of the BSCFA, Alfredo Ortega, says the San Narciso branch in the Corozal division was first to deliver at the first hour.

The Belize Times

9 LIVES?? – Castro Hustles, Barrow Forgives Again
Over $42,000 siphoned from the account of the Belize Airport Authority, a Government-run Department, was wrongfully and possibly criminally dished out to UDP Minister Edmund Castro, members of his family or to the embattled UDP area representative for supposed political purposes. To everyone’s shock, Prime Minister Dean Barrow defended Castro’s latest scandal with all his might and with a twisted tongue, after the Opposition Leader Hon. Francis Fonseca lashed out at the level of corruption that exists under his administration. According to Barrow, “it is distasteful and wrong…but it’s NOT corruption” and so no offense was committed, in his almighty opinion.

Faber lambastes teachers
Like pouring gasoline on a wildfire, the words blared at Wednesday’s House Meeting by Minister of Education Patrick Faber in his attack on teachers who are protesting the UDP Government’s refusal to give a salary increase, ...

Think About It
CHAMBER SUPPORTS TEACHERS For ten years the teachers of Belize have received not a single salary increase. For ten years they have been patient. Their patience has been wearing thin. For ten years the cost of living has been galloping out of reach. Basic food items, medicine, rent, mortgage, electricity, water, ...

Error of Impunity
By G. Michael Reid If the Prime Minister and Elvin Penner are indeed waiting for this matter to “blow over”, they are in for a very long wait. Channel Five on Monday released even more information on Pennergate and the cry for justice is getting louder. The consensus is that Elvin ...

Editorial: What Needs to Change
In presenting the New Social Justice Agenda at Independence Hall on Wednesday morning PUP Leader Francis Fonseca said: “It is fair to say that at times, we have walked away from the straight path that we have been on, and today, we’re saying that we recognize that. We accept that, and we are absolutely committed to making sure that we are walking on the path of social justice.” Poverty is on the rise in Belize today. Almost half of the population is living in poverty. Thousands of Belizeans are living in abject misery, no job, no income, wretched housing conditions, dependent, unskilled, hopeless and penniless. What is equally disturbing, hundreds of families who once were part of a growing middle class of Belizeans are now falling into the poverty trap, a vicious cycle that finds many high school and Sixth Form graduates at the street corners of our cities and towns struggling, begging, caught up in the sub-culture of gangs, crime and violence. We see so many mothers desperately trying to find food for their children. So many cannot pay their grocery bill, the light bill, the gas bill, the water bill, the school fees. The high cost of living and the high cost of dying (with the ever escalating funeral expenses) are a heavy burden for the many struggling jobless families. One way out of this vicious cycle is through an effective education system. ...

Gwen Liz & SCA trail undefeated Wesley College girls
The Wesley College girls are undefeated as they lead the female high school football competition in the Belize District, posting a 3-1 win over the St. Catherine’s Academy girls at the M.C.C. Garden last Saturday afternoon. Elisha ...

SJC leads high school football SJC leads high school football
St. John’s College is undefeated with a 4-0 record in the high school football competition, posting their 4th victory in a 5-1 win over Wesley College at the M.C.C. Garden last Saturday afternoon. SJC’s Sydney “Bucket” Bradley ...

Belmopan Bandits assault BDF 3-0 Belmopan Bandits assault BDF 3-0
The Belmopan Bandits are almost into the Belikin Cup football finals, after they blasted the Belize Defense Force 3-0 at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan on Saturday night. The BDF ...

UDP bullies Union Leaders – NTUCB banned from National Assembly
Under directives of the UDP-appointed House Speaker, uniformed Police Officers blocked Union leaders from entering the National Assembly building prior to the start of the House of Representatives meeting on Wednesday. Union leaders belonging to the ...

Belize Airport Authority must undergo an audit!!!
With the mounting evidence of corruption at the Belize Airport Authority, one wonders why the Prime Minister has not ordered the immediate removal of the members of Belize Airport Authority Board, headed by UDP cronies Chairlady Barbara Miller and General Manager Kenworth(less) Tillett. Miller and Tillett’s signatures ...

AMAZING GRACE – Chasing Tails
Human beings have a tendency of chasing things. Like a dog chasing its tail, we run after that elusive happiness that always seems to be right there, just out of our reach, but still so far away. Some ‘tails’ that we run around and around in circles to capture are: ...

HOME ECONOMICS – Huge potential in Clay Bricks Industry
By Richard Harrison Over the weekend, I stopped in at mile 32 George Price Highway to see the progress being made at a small business that manufactures kiln-fired clay bricks. I have had a long-term interest in this industry and was very happy to see this development by a roots investor. This ...

AIDS: Deadly but Preventable!
By Angela Banner-Joseph This is the story of Matthew, a law student who gave me a brief synopsis of how he believed he contracted the HIV virus that progressed to AIDS. It was after my first encounter with him that I spoke with the Dean of the law school where I ...

SCALES OF JUSTICE – “He thinks we are fools!”
By Anthony Sylvestre I am now convinced that Dean Barrow believes that he is lord and master of us all, and as such, that what he says does not have to make sense: it is what it is because, well, just because he says so and because we are fools. For ...

UDP infighting in Dangriga gets nasty! UDP infighting in Dangriga gets nasty!
The UDP in Dangriga are in a bitter war amongst themselves as they prepare to select a losing candidate this Sunday. Just how bad it is? Very bad! So bad that someone woke up to the ...

Fail to the Chief! – Dean’s dull machete for corruption
“…I tell you…any UDP Government that I lead will never be engaged in corruption. As soon as it rears its ugly head, I personally will cut it off. And I will tell you I will sharpen a special machete with blades on two sides ...

Shame on the UDP for Sabotaging Recall
By Gilroy Usher, Sr. It is shameful what the UDP government has done to stop all efforts to trigger a recall of former UDP Minister of State Elvin Penner for his handwork in the provision of a Belizean passport to a criminal, who was in Taiwan and has never visited Belize. In ...

Another president walks the political highwire at UB
By Norris Hall. The University of Belize continues to be on life support as the Ministry of Education and a politically-appointed Board of Trustees lock horns with yet another President of this faltering Institution. Given the present uneasy state of affairs and the repetition of conflicts between the Ministry ...

By Dolores Balderamos Garcia There was an event last week which in my view should not have been the footnote that it was. It ought to have been headlines. I am talking about the “elevation” to Senior Counsel of three women attorneys-at-law, which was announced by the Chief Justice at the ...

Chamber responds to Faber’s insults & threats
The Belize Chamber of Commerce has warned that Minister Patrick Faber’s insults and threats launched at them at Wednesday’s House Meeting is not being taken lightly by their organization and is not considered “the wisest course of action”. Faber attacked the Chamber of Commerce for supporting the ...

Shameless! – Corrupt UDP Elvin Penner surfaces, stinks up National Assembly
The audacity and sheer shamelessness of disgraced Cayo representative seems to know no bounds; but even he reached a new low when he dared to show his face in the National Assembly for Wednesday’s special sitting of the House of Representatives. Penner sat alone in a corner on the back bench of the ruling United Democratic Party side of the House. His UDP colleagues seemed to be in no discomfort at the sight or proximity of this political pariah. Why Penner even bothered to attend remains a mystery, as he uttered not a peep in the entire session. Which is just as well, as he as lost all credibility. The cold hard fact that citizen Kim Won Hong was in a Taiwanese jail at the time his Belizean passport was issued has totally exposed the untruth of Penner’s claims that he personally escorted “Kim Wong Hong” to the Immigration Department to ensure that he got his passport as fast as possible.

By Francis W. Fonseca It appears that every time a new corruption scandal, and they seem to be coming monthly, rocks this UDP administration, Prime Minister Barrow reverts to LAWYER MODE, becoming the chief explainer and defender of those Ministers whose actions and conduct are under public scrutiny. One could fairly argue ...

Tarpon Caye Belize calls on Government to Map Belize’s Barrier Reef
Dear Editor, On January 14, 2014 it was reported on's website that the Mexican National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) have commissioned EOMAP, a value added service provider of satellite data, to take the very first high resolution sea-floor and bathymetry survey of the Mexican Riviera Maya. The ...

Shame on the PM!
Dear Editor, When Dean Oliver Barrow got into power in 2008 I was so happy that finally we will have a Prime Minister that would bring accountability and transparency in government, but after his first term and into his second term I must say that I am so disappointed in him. Look at all ...


Unplug from social media
I’ve been away for a while. Away from Toronto, away from blogging, away from social media. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, heck I work in it, but it can consume your life and that’s when it gets bad. You sometimes get so caught up in sharing every aspect of your life that you forget to actually enjoy it. My recent travels reminded me of how nice it is to unplug. On the first day of 2014 I sat on the roof of my apartment in Havana reflecting on how much more nourishing and relaxing life is without the pressures of social media. I had been there for a week and I didn’t have any internet access… eek. The first couple of days were hard since I couldn’t do anything with my smartphone and that made me anxious. Then one day during dinner, as I exchanged stories with friends I noticed my phone was on the table. A little embarrassed, I slowly reached for it and put it away.

Diving in Belize with Whale Sharks
Whale sharks are intelligent, gentle giants that migrate into the Caribbean waters of Belize from April to June. Snappers (dog snapper, mutton snapper, cubera snapper, etc) spawn in great numbers off Belize during these months, usually during the full moon periods, attracting the hungry whale sharks that feed at night. It is often a hit-and-miss when guessing their arrival. Even the experienced dive instructors cannot predict which moon and which location the whale sharks will be from year to year. Whale sharks are filter feeders, feeding on the snapper's suspended fish spawn. They migrate from great distances to mate. Amazingly, it is safe for scuba divers and snorkelers to swim and play around with these huge and curious creatures. When you spot them in the water, they are huge and intimidating but surprisingly graceful and non-threatening. Some catch a ride on the larger whale sharks and reportedly, some of the younger whale sharks are so curious that they will actively engage with human swimmers. It is a real privilege to be able to swim with the largest fish in the world.

Roadmap for the Strengthening of Bilateral Relations between Belize and Guatemala
Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala agree on “Roadmap for the Strengthening of Bilateral Relations” between Belize and Guatemala at OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Honorable Wilfred Elrington, Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize, His Excellency Fernando Carrera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala and His Excellency Jose Miguel Insulza, today signed a document entitled Roadmap for Strengthening Bilateral Relations in 2014 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. The signing of this important undertaking took place before Ambassadors and representatives of OAS member states. The Roadmap identifies specific aspects of the Framework Agreement for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures between Belize and Guatemala and other measures that the parties will focus on for implementation in 2014 with a view to promoting peace, security and cooperation and an environment conducive to the holding of the agreed simultaneous referenda that was postponed in October 2013. The Roadmap should also contribute to the management of bilateral relations between Belize and Guatemala until such time as Guatemala’s claim to Belize is finally and definitively resolved.

International Sources

New Initiative To Deal With Border Dispute
Belize and Guatemala have signed an agreement aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between each other as they seek to end a border dispute going back several decades. Belize Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington and his Guatemalan counterpart Fernando Carrera met on Friday in the presence of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza. At the end of the meeting, the two ministers signed the Roadmap for Strengthening Bilateral Relations in 2014 between Belize and Guatemala. The accord identifies specific aspects of the Framework Agreement for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures between the parties to promote peace, security and cooperation. The agreement paves the way for revisiting the simultaneous referenda that was scheduled for October 6, 2013.

Broadcasting Giant Russ Withers Dies
The founder and owner of Withers Broadcasting Companies which owns six television stations and 30 radio stations died Friday night at his home in Mount Vernon, Ill. W. Russell “Russ” Withers, Jr. was 76. Withers began his career in broadcasting as an announcer/salesman for KGMO in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He joined LIN Broadcasting Corp. in Nashville, Tenn. in 1961 as a disc jockey, transitioned to sales and became vice president in 1963. During his tenure with LIN, Withers founded their cable TV division, building 50 systems throughout the Midwest and West. He also served as president of Schertle Galleries, Inc., another LIN subsidiary, franchising 100 art galleries. In addition to broadcasting ventures, Withers served as chairman and CEO of Withers Beverage Corp. of Mobile, Ala., vice president and board member of Turneffe Island Lodge Ltd., a fishing lodge in Belize and chairman and CEO of Productos de Atlanticos, S.A., Costa Rica, a lobster processing company. He was also a regent of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Caye Caulker: Paradise And Horny Germans
As mentioned in a previous post, I made a break to Belize after a depressing week or so in the Yucaton hoping to break away from my mopy attitude and stress late July. I was determined to meet some other travelers and finally have some fun. I caught a four hour bus from Playa del Carmen, Mexico down to the border town Chetumal where I hopped in a taxi to the water border to board my boat to the beautiful Caye Caulker – it cost about 30 – 50 pesos for the taxi although it may be cheaper if you don’t go straight up to the docks. I had heard so much about the cayes and I had high hopes for my border run. I was a little nervous about crossing borders by myself (which is why I choose the pricier $80 ocean-border route rather than going through Belize city) but met a fourty-something american man on the bus and with the help of his superior spanish skills we made it to the port quite easily. The Chetumal ocean border was not at all how I imagined – we were well and truly on our way to the carribean with reggae music blearing, laidback staff wandering around and one of the freindlier immigration officials I’ve dealt with. I was able to get currency out at a nearby bank to the righthand side of the ticket office (approx 5 mins walk) and change the money outside the ticket office into Belizean dollars. The only unchilled part of the experience was having our bags lined up and being lightly inspected by the border guards – nothing too much, just a bit intimidating as this was one of the first times I’ve been surrounded by a bunch of young men with guns (something I still haven’t gotten used to seeing).

January 25, 2014


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Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

“Through Di Alley” by Jenko Veli
The perfect vision of a Belizean backyard party, replete with a panades stand, Belikin or rum punch on tap, sawdust on the ground, big speakers (all the better to blast those party sounds) and a motley crue of beautiful Belizean people – Jenko Veli’s “Through Di Alley” brings to life everything wonderful about Belize. Talent? Available in spades! Heck, the song includes panades, garnaches and salbutes and only leaves you hungry (get it?) for more! Beauty? Just check out all the lovely ladies and handsome gentlemen co-mingling and enjoying the hella talented Jenko (himself an easy-on-the-eyes individual). Friendliness? Time for a party for a few hundred in Miss Banks’ backyard!

1 year later; OIC Luis Castellanos Reminisces
Assistant Superintendent of Police Luis Castellanos has been the Officer in Charge of the San Pedro Police Department since January 14, 2013. Castellanos was transferred to Ambergris Caye after the immediate transfer of OC Vienne Robinson was requested. Castellanos came San Pedro with 28 years of experience, his strong belief in community support and collaborations have improved the police force and the public’s relationship throughout the year. “The relationship with the community has been improved but is still not at the level that I was aiming for. Like I said when I first came here, ‘Without the community little can be done’. I think at the beginning of the year the police department was developing a strong bond with the community but it seemed to die down as the year ended,” said Castellanos.He stated that relationship building with the community and fostering good public relation skills for his officers continues to be his mission. In his short time as Officer in Charge, Castellanos also addressed the living conditions of the police officers. Castellanos spearheaded the start of the construction of a new wooden police barracks by seeking monetary donations from the business community.

What’s New? DC and Szana’s Country Cabańa
The San Pedro Sun is pleased to introduce DC and Szana Comegys, owners of DC and Szana’s Country Cabańa (formerly known as Tio Pil’s). DC and Szana are originally from Dallas, Texas USA and moved to Belize in November of 2013, after having visited the island earlier in August. In addition to being great hosts the Comegys are also Country Western singers, and aren’t shy about that fact as they incorporate live music and good ol’ Southern hospitality into every inch of DC and Szana’s Country Cabańa.

People’s United Party launches Social Justice Agenda
To commemorate national hero and Belize’s first Prime Minister, Right Honorable George Cadle Price, the People’s United Party (PUP) launched a Social Justice Agenda on Wednesday, January 15th at Independence Hall. The agenda was launched on what would have been Price’s 95th birthday. Price, who formed the PUP in 1950, devoted his life for social justice and aimed of the PUP to serve as a beacon for social justice in Belize. According to PUP Leader, Francis Fonseca, the launching of the social justice agenda is to celebrate the life of Price and enforce the principles on which PUP was created on. “It’s always important for us in the People’s United Party to pay tribute to the Right Honorable George Price on his birthday. It is a special duty, responsibility and obligation to keep Price’s legacy alive,” said Fonseca. The social justice agenda has ten points geared to improve issues in poverty, education, health, employment, land, legislation, human rights and the economy.

Ambergris Today

San Pedro Resorts Make Top 25 Hotels in Central America
The Belize Tourism Board is pleased to announce that four properties in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, have made Trip Advisor’s “Top 25 Hotels in Central America” 2014 Travelers’ Choice list. Congratulations to the following properties: #2: Grand Caribe Belize Resort & Condominium, #11: Coco Beach Resort, #12: Victoria House, #24: Las Terrazas Resort. Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, Alyssa Carnegie, says that these accolades are testament to the hard work and dedication of Belize’s tourism industry partners, “Properties in Belize continue to top lists and garner huge recognition internationally, and I am proud to say that we can certainly expect to receive even more of these awards. The BTB lauds the efforts of our stakeholders as they continue to raise the bar through hard work and marketing of Belize.

Perfect View of Paradise at Mayan Princess Hotel
After checking in at the Mayan Princess Hotel and dropping my bags on the floor of my room, I found myself standing in the middle of the verandah staring at the amazing beachfront view. Mind you it was night time, but I was on the third floor and a cool tropical breeze swept through the room and the view was still spectacular. You see, the Mayan Princess Hotel is located right on the beach and towering three stories high each beachfront suite offers a fantastic view of the Caribbean Sea, be it day or night. My view that evening included that of the lighted pier of Amigos del Mar Dive shop where their dive boats had been put to sleep down for the evening. The beach is very well lit and you can enjoy the island go by while you relax on your private verandah. Tourists walk by with Belikin beers in hand having a jolly good time, locals stroll with their families and enamored couples stroll leisurely enjoying the beach ambience that caters for intimacy and romance; the beach just comes alive with activity. Having purchased a bottle of wine from a store around the corner, I just sat back on a lounge chair, sipped away and enjoyed a peaceful evening watching the San Pedro nightlife go by.

Misc Belizean Sources

Photographing Belize from the Air
Over the last 20 years, Tony Rath and LightHawk have teamed up to photograph the jungles, coastline, and reefs of Belize from the air countless times. Tony shares what he’s learned over the years about making aerial images with LightHawk. My flight day begins with a motion sickness pill and a good breakfast. Even the hardiest stomach can churn when banked 45 degrees while peering through a viewfinder. A peek into my gear bag reveals two camera bodies, two wide angle and a couple telephoto lenses, extra batteries and CF cards. If we will be shooting over water, then a polarizer filter is a must. A flash (for in plane photos), batteries, lens cleaning equipment, and notebook and pen round out my kit. I slip on long pants, t-shirt and a long sleeve shirt, as it can get cold at altitude. A pair of hiking boots rounds out this photographer’s ensemble – a holdover from my military days.

Private property on the Marina Road

SHJC and the Big Rock Falls Trail Improvement Project
Sacred Heart Junior College students are spending just over a week at Big Rock Falls, where they'll join forces with Blancaneaux and Belize Trails to help fix the trail leading to the site. The current trail is in bad shape, and really needs the upgrade. Thanks, SHJC NRM students! "Tomorrow is the big day when SHJC's NRM department, Belize Trails, Blancaneaux and other partners commence the Big Rock Trail Improvement Project. Trail leader Chad Burrow of the US National Park Service will lead the crew for 9 days teaching principals and applications of Sustainable Trail Design. Environmental Assessment professional and instructor Charles Britt of the Scarlet 6 will be on site. We're hoping to see Roni Martinez and Lenney Gentle out there as well. Feel free to join us!"

BNTU Rally and March in Cayo
The Belize National Teacher's Union had their Cayo rally and march today, and the turnout was spectacular. Support the teachers of Belize. With a voice a big as was witnessed today, they should definitely be heard. "The Belize National Teacher's Union had their rally and march today. Macal River park was the setting. It was an amazing turnout."

Western Ballaz Back to School Bashes
The Western Ballaz are teaming up with SHC and having a couple of back to school bashes next weekend. Friday, they'll have a dance at SHC, and Saturday there will be a dance at Meluchi's. Come out and support Cayo's new elite basketball team, and have a great time doing it. They'll have a meet and greet, so you'll get to talk with the future champions.

Teachers rally in San Ignacio town
Clost to 500 teachers from the Cayo district attended a rally in San Ignacio town today. Under the banner of “Teechaz Gat Yu Bak” teachers from the Belmopan, Benque Viejo del Carmen and San Ignacio/Santa Elena branches of the Belize National Teachers Union braved a constant drizzle at the Macal River Park to attend the event. Among the speakers at the rally were BNTU president Luke Palacio and BNTU negotiator and former Secretary General George Frazer. Also addressing the teachers were members of community groups from Cayo and other districts who had journeyed west to show their solidarity with the teachers.

Pueblo Nuevo Ferry to be Closed
The Ministry of Works has informed the general public that the Pueblo Nuevo Ferry in the Corozal District will be closed to traffic beginning on Monday, January 27 through Saturday, February 1, 2014, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. The closure has become necessary to carry out urgent repairs to the deck structure. The Ministry apologizes for any inconvenience caused. Note that this is the ferry between Corozal Town and Copper Bank.

The Show Must Go On!
Delivery of sugar cane in Corozal started early this morning. The Corozal Daily caught up with a few loaded cane trucks and cane farmers early this morning. It is a bitter sweet moment as cane farmers have already irrecoverably lot over 10,000 tonnes of sugar cane equivalent to over ten million Belize dollars as a result of the undue delays. The 2014 sugar cane harvest was due to begin November of last year but due to a stalemate in the negotiations of “bagasse” payment, between BSI/ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Famers Association, the harvest had been delayed. To make matters worse the inclement weather and incessant rains deteriorated most cane roads and inundated cane fields. Many farmers this morning were calling the media to complain that their particular roads have not been repaired and they cannot access their cane fields to harvest them.

Channel 7

The Teachers’ Western Rally Rails Against Hon. Faber
The Belize National Teachers Union's month of rallies continued today in the Cayo District. The country's most powerful union has done the north and center of the country, and today they moved west where the union branches of Benque, San Ignacio and are Belmopan are known to be well organized. But then, it Jules Vasquez that didn't stop a spirited rally:.. Jules Vasquez reporting Umbrellas set the tone this morning in the Macal River Park where a steady drizzle forced a late start. An observer might have been led to conclude that there would be a poor turnout but the teachers kept streaming in in their neon green shirts and their carefully composed signs - designed for maximum insulting effect to the Minister of Education.

BAA Cheques Are a Mixed Bag, About 30% Tied To Castro
Last night we laid out 76 cheques from the Belize Airport Authority from a whistle-blower who alleges that all 76 were issued at the request of Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport Edmund Castro. But, two sides to every story, and we today spoke to a board member who preferred to remain anonymous. First to the cheques - 10 of them issued to Jafari Castro - Edmund Castro's son. They were issued in amounts of less than 300 dollars between February and April, 2013 and total $2,240 dollars. Well, 7News managed to speak with a BAA board member today who told us that Jafari Castro worked at the Airports Authority before he left for school and those were his pay cheques. And what about the cheque for Norman Middleton - Edmund Castro's driver? Well, the board member says he was paid 300 dollars to clean off the Belize City Municipal runway when it was flooded over.

Belize And Guatemala Undertake Major New Guatemalan Initiative In DC
Belize and Guatemala signed a major new diplomatic initiative today at OAS Headquarters in Washington DC. Foreign Ministers Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera, and the OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, signed an agreement entitled "Road Map and Plan of Action." They discussed the agreement in Belize two weeks ago and the idea behind it is to embark on a new course of confidence building, moving towards consensus building in the populace of both countries, so that when a referendum is held - whenever that is - it has a better chance of success. All 3 officials spoke to the media after the signing, and here's what Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington had to say about it: Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs "This occasion evidences the commitment and the resolve of the Government of Guatemala and of Belize with the support of the American States to use our best efforts to develop that climate of trust and confidence that is absolutely essential for a successful resolution of the Guatemala claim to Belize."

Streets Stay Hot: Shooting On George St.
19 year-old Kevin Alvarez, a construction worker of Supal Street, is at the KHMH receiving treatment after he was shot last night while on George Street. According to police, Alvarez reported that he was standing on a bridge at the eastern end of George Street when a man riding a black beach cruiser bicycle approached him. That man pulled a handgun and fired several shots at him and sped off. One of the bullets struck him in the left leg, and he was rushed to the hospital, where he continues to receive treatment. Police retrieved 5 expended shells from the scene, and they've since detained one man for questioning.

Sugar Season Starts In Earnest
Today, after almost 3 months of delays the 2013-2014 sugar crop season finally began. Estimates are that over 10 million dollars in production has been lost, and some 16 million dollars more in sugar cane stands to be wasted at the end of this season. So, with that grim bottom line in mind, the cane farmers were more than willing to start the deliveries today, and 7News went north to see the season start. Daniel Ortiz reports: Daniel Ortiz reporting Today, the Tower Hill Sugar Factory opened up their gates to accept the first cane deliveries for the 2013-2014 milling seasons. Because of the rains, the bad condition of the sugar roads, and primarily bagasse impasse, this day, which should have happened back in the middle of November, finally arrived. We found the farmers eager to move their product in, time is against them and millions of dollars in crop is at risk of being wasted.

Big Men Tried To Kill 15 Year Old Christian
1 week ago, 7News told you about 15 year-old Christian Martinez who was mauled and then stabbed, but still managed to survive. Well police believe that 54 year-old Joseph Vaccaro, 34 year-old Rupert Garnett and 33 year old Kenrick Crawford were his attackers, and tonight, they are at the Belize Central Prison. As we told you Christian Martinez reported to police that at 2 o'clock on last week Thursday, he was riding his bike on Balan Street when he was ambushed by 3 men who jumped out of a vehicle. One of them threw a maul which struck him in the back stabbed him several times in his left shoulder with an icepick. The men then left him there; and it was his mother who took him to the KHMH.

Tattoo Artist Tells Court Cops Beat Him
Last night, 7News told you about 26 year-old Edilberto Madril, the young man who police say was caught with a firearm on him. Tonight, he's at the Belize Central Prison after he was taken to court for charges in relation to that weapon. As we told you, Ladyville police visited a small wooden house on Jackson Avenue and they discovered that 2 men were there at the time. When they spotted police, they ran off, but police caught one of them, who was identified as Madril. Police say that he was searched, and they found a "Thunder" brand 9mm pistol on him which was loaded with 17 live rounds of ammunition. As a result police arrested and charge him with keeping an unlicensed firearm, and keeping unlicensed ammunition. He was arraigned today before Magistrate Hettie Mae Stewart where he pleaded not guilty to the charges. He complained that while in police custody he was brutalized.

Midget Manzanero Could Lose An eye, But Police Have Plenty Charges Waiting For Him
Kevin "Midget" Manzanero continues to receive medical treatment while under police guard at the KHMH for chop wounds he received home invasion he's accused of committing in San Ignacio. He is at risk of losing an eye. After 2 months on the run as a suspect in a spate of robberies and burglaries in the twin towns, San Ignacio Police are patiently waiting for him to recover so that they can start to question him in connection with those crime and in connection with the murder of 57 year-old Fredy Lopez Sr. Today, 7News spoke with the second in command at the San Ignacio Police Station, and he gave us an update on Manzanero, as well as their search for his accomplice: Insp. Reymundo Reyes - Deputy OC, San Ignacio Police "In regards to the home invasion that happened on Sunday 19th, we have Mr. Kevin Manzanero who is in police custody, being guarded in Belize City and the KHMH hospital as he underwent surgery for his left eye yesterday. Presently his condition is that of a stable condition. As soon as he is discharge from the hospital then he will be escorted to San Ignacio so that he could be interviewed in respect to murder of Fredy Lopez and aggravated assaulted and aggravated burglary that happen on the 19th at the residence of Mr. Castillo on Collins Boulevard."

On The Eve Of His Birthday, Nabor Back In Hospital
Paranda Legend Paul Nabor is back in the hospital. The 85 year old Punta Gorda Resident was re-admitted to the PG hospital yesterday. His friend and care give Darius Avila tells us that the doctors say that he is still weak and his condition has not improved but he remains stable. 10 days ago we reported that he was diagnosed with broncho-pneumonia. Duie to his advanced age, doctors have said it ids best not to move him at this time, and they'll have to wait a few days to see if he improves. Nabor will be 86 on Sunday January 26th. His legion fans will be celebrating his birthday on Sunday, with a 7:30 am mass at St. Peter Claver Church in Punta Gorda Town. Then, on Saturday, February 1, 2014 they will have a major Paranda concert in his honour at the PG Sports Complex.

Season Starts But Sugar Roads Still An Issue
Earlier we told you that the sugar cane season had opened. But, the final hurdle that stakeholders in the sugar industry are facing right now are the sugar roads. They are in bad condition because of last year's rains, and the Government of Belize starting working on them from last week Monday. They are far from being totally fixed, and today the Vice Chairman of the Cane Farmers Association's Committee of Management, the budget set aside to fix the road is clearly not enough. Here's how he explained the situation where one road was left unfinished after only 30% of it was fixed: Reporter "Has the relevant authorities communicated with you to tell you what their position or how are they currently conducting the works on the roads?" Alfredo Ortega - Vice-Chair, BSFCA's CoM "I call yesterday one of the engineers and I spoke to him about a particular road where there are an amount of farmers that have a lot of cane there that could be harvested and he told me that the funds available for that particular road has depleted and that happen to many roads according to him that were given under contract because of the situation of the road."

Brothers Charged For Sex With Teen
Tonight, a 16 year-old old minor and his 21 year-old brother are facing sexual abuse offences after a 16 year-old girl reported them to police. The minor who is form Orange Walk reported to police that on last week Tuesday, she was invited to the 16 year-old's house in San Pedro where they had intercourse. She reported that she went with the young man 2 weeks earlier where they had intercourse again. She says that the 21 year-old brother met her at the house and he forced himself on her and raped her. She was examined by a doctor who certified that she was carnally known and grievously harmed, and because of her report, the 16 year-old has been charged with carnal knowledge, while the 21 year-old has been charged rape and grievous harm.

The Irrelevance Of The “Road Map” In View Of Guatemalans Stealing Logs Off Caracol Raod
Earlier on in the news we told you about the new initiative signed by the ministers of foreign affairs of Belize and Guatemala. It's called the Road Map and Plan Of Action" and lays the groundwork for a new series of more meaningful confidence building measures. Sounds all nice and stuff, but on the ground in Chiquibul you can throw out the road map - because Guatemalans are illegally logging right on the road side! Two weeks ago the Friends for Conservation AND Development which co manages the park saw tress felled right a few feet from the Caracol road in the heart of the Caracol Archaeological Park., It's outrageous, outlaw behavior and we discussed it with FCD's Rafael Manzanero today:.. Rafael Manzanero "The Guatemalans cutting down the Mahogany and Cedar right along the road which is use as access to the Caracol Archaeological Reserve. The most aspect of the concern is because it is very close. In fact the trees that were cut less than 2 weeks ago they actually were dropped right over the highway; over the road. We are actually talking about no more than 1.5 miles from the Caracol center."

Bench And Bar, Where They Meet
The Bench and Bar meet annually and this year's meeting was held today in a seminar where prominent Caribbean Jurists advised them on different areas in the practice of law. The Secretary of the Bar Association explained the agenda and its importance to us: Aldo Reyes "Today we have a law conference. It's a very long overdue initiative and the bar association has organized it and brought in some renown legal practitioners from Jamaica, Bahamas and the BVI. We have a committee that was brought together to select the topics and we try to select topics that are varied but also very pertinent to today's practice." "The first topic is law, media and the technology. The second one is trials without juries. The third is the implication for free movement in CARICOM. The fourth is multijurisdictional litigation and the last one is extraditions." "I believe is was not in this recent opening of the court, I think it was in the one before that the attorney general specifically mentioned that the judiciary ought to have continuing further legal education seminars and it was with this in mind that this conference was put together because we do concede that the law is dynamic, it continues to develop, it continues to grow and we need to be kept abreast of these developments."

Luke Says PM Called From A Private Number
For the past three weeks we've shown you the teachers' rallies. It seems that the entire movement was given impetus when the Prime Minister made a mistake in his new year's message and said that the raise of pay would be effective in August and not July. It was a mistake, but one the union's took to heart as a demonstration of bad faith in ongoing negotiations. The PM said it could all have been avoided if Union President Luke Palacio had taken his call on the morning before he had a press conference. The PM said he even left a voice mail. Today Palacio gave his side of the story. Luke Palacio, BNTU President "The salary adjustment issue became an issue because the Prime Minister in his new year's message indicated that the salary adjustment would be effective August and we the teachers are saying that is what we have been negotiating. And the Prime Minister I guess in the House or to the media had indicated that he tried calling me - that is true. But I was Open Your Eyes, he want to call me 5 - 6 -7am in the morning with a restricted number. He also then left a voice message. But what had happen that same Monday we were having our press briefing, so again my phone was off. On Tuesday I clarified on Channel 5, to be exact with Isani Cayetano, who said that the Prime Minister had mentioned that he had informed that it was a mistake. I guess my good friend Jules, where is he. I guess Jules called him and say look, the teachers say you didn't tell them anything - you didn't apologized, so he gave an exclusive interview to Jules - you have my back and I have your back, because If I didn't have your back I would have said what I am saying. And so yes I told Isani that the Prime Minister has indicated that it is a genuine error on his path, but we want it in writing. We cannot be flip flopping here; one day it's July and the next day it's August and back and forth."

Channel 5

VIDEO: Inside the NCL consultations

The Sugar Crop Season finally gets underway
Smoke billowed from the mills at the Tower Hill Factory. Long and at last, at ten this morning, delivery of sugar cane began in earnest. The 2014 season is delayed [...]

More on the Castro and cheques from Belize Airports Authority
Minister of State Edmond Castro and the Belize Airports Authority—a politician and his personal piggy bank… The story of cheques drawn on the BAA’s account and made out to Castro, [...]

Teachers weigh in; say corruption is corruption
Did Edmond Castro cross the line when he used his authority as Minister in charge of the Belize Airports Authority to get his hands on public monies? Prime Minister Dean [...]

Godwin Hulse, on the other hand, tries to explain P.M. definition
And for more comment, News Five also went to the man who, at least before he walked the hallowed halls of government, was an anti-corruption champion and a relentless warrior [...]

The story of how a park ends into the private hands of a highly connected family in Orange Walk
How did a public space end up in private hands in Orange Walk? The story starts back in the seventies when the land located in the downtown area of Orange [...]

Dangriga Belize Bank Administrative Officer charged with theft
A whopping amount of two hundred and seventy thousand dollars went missing from the Dangriga Branch of the Belize Bank between 2008 and 2013 for which Administrative Officer Rosalva Kotch, has [...]

Belize and Guatemala sign an agreement to keep the peace
A high level meeting took place in Washington today between the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala, Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera, and OAS Secretary General Miguel Insulza.  It ended [...]

Simeon Sampson is awarded at meeting of the Bar Association
The Supreme Court closed today for hearings as legal practitioners headed over to the Radisson Hotel for a one day conference. The Bar Association is an active voice in support [...]

Orange Walk resident says he wants equitable taxation
Earlier when we spoke to businessman Landy Burns, he was aggrieved that a plot of land that was being developed for sporting activities has now ended up in the hands [...]


BNTU Holds Rally in the West
The Belize National Teacher’s Union held a rally in San Ignacio today. Despite constant rain, some 600 teachers showed up for the Union’s third assemblage, calling for awareness to national issues and endorsing its requested salary adjustment. After years of clamoring on the part of the Union, the Barrow...

BNTU Highlights the OSH Bill at its Fourth Rally
One of the national issues highlighted at today’s BNTU rally is the Occupational Safety and Health Bill. The Bill, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, will create new provisions relating to matters of safety and health of workers or persons affected by such work, in order...

Dangriga Belize Bank Administrator Charged with Embezzlement
An administrator at the Belize Bank has been charged for 256 counts of theft from the institution’s Dangriga Branch. 34 year old Rosalva Kotch is accused of misappropriating some 271 THOUSAND dollars over a period from January 2008 to December 2013. Kotch was arraigned in the Dangriga Magistrate Court on...

Senator Hulse Comments on Barrow’s Definition of Corruption
The meeting of the House of Representatives which took place this past Wednesday buzzed with many interesting topics. Above all was the many cheques that Catro had been receiving from the Belize Airport Authority. When the stories started to air in the local media, public opinion screamed corruption. Nevertheless, the Prime...

Bar Association Discusses Timely Legal Issues
In keeping with its promise to become more prominently involved in the development of justice in Belize, the Bar Association of Belize called a Law Conference inviting its members and the Judiciary to meet at the Radisson Hotel. According to Secretary of the Association Aldo Reyes, the Association chose...

Bar Association Has Interest in Firearms Law
A topic not up for discussion at today’s law conference was the Firearms (Amendment) Act of 2008, which has come under scrutiny for its lax application to certain sectors of society. Today Bar Association Secretary Aldo Reyes says that the Association has used its privilege as among the first...

Government Loan Encounters Some Resistance
The Senate had a special sitting at the National Assembly, this morning, to hear two readings. First was to approve bill to amend the insurance act number 11 for 2004. The Second reading was to approve a motion to accept a loan from the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development...

CGA Says the Rainy Weather Forced them to Postpone Meeting with Growers
The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) confirmed this afternoon that ongoing inclement weather in the South, along with forecasted poor weather for this weekend, has led it to postpone its planned meeting with growers for tomorrow, Saturday, at the Association’s headquarters on the Stann Creek Valley Road. The meeting has...


Two Belize City men who are accused of the November 12, 2012 murder of Three Star Quality security guard Denys Anthony Williams, were committed to stand trial in the June session of the Supreme Court, after Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith ruled that the preliminary inquiry found enough evidence against them. Stephan Devon Jenkins, 19, and Ashton Steve Thompson, 19, both gave police caution statements after they were arrested for the shooting death of Williams, who was doing his security guard work when the two men attempted to rob the business place, located on Vernon Street. According to court documents, both men incriminated themselves in the caution statement that they gave to police. That, along with an eyewitness statement, provided the prima facie evidence necessary for the Chief Magistrate to commit them to stand trial in the high court. Both Jenkins and Thompson were unrepresented by an attorney at the preliminary inquiry. When it was time for them to speak in court, Thompson said he had nothing to say to refute the evidence that the police had amassed against him.

Rosalva Kotch, 34, an administrative officer at the Belize Bank, appeared in the Dangriga Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, where she was arraigned on 250 counts of theft for approximately $275,000 that went missing from the Belize Bank’s Dangriga branch. Kotch was released on $7,000 bail plus one surety in the same amount, but she spent Tuesday night in police custody. She was unable to post bail until the following day, Wednesday, her attorney, Marilyn Williams, the former Financial Intelligence Unit Director, told Amandala today, Thursday. Williams said she did not have any comment on the matter, because the bulk of the legal proceedings has not taken place as yet. A bank reconciliation uncovered that the monies went missing between January 2008 and December 2013.

Less than 48 hours after Eaton Carr, 37, died after being shot multiple times while walking on the dangerous Banak Street on Sunday night, Micah Williams, 28, of Racoon Street Extension, lost the fight for his life at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after being shot in the right temple at about 8:50 Tuesday morning. Williams was washing his vehicle in front of his house when a man rode up to him and shot him in the right side of the head. The man then rode away. Williams was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) in a critical condition by his neighbors in a private vehicle. In the Intensive Care Unit, doctors worked to save Williams’ life, but were not successful. Williams’ body has since been taken to the morgue, where it awaits a postmortem to certify the cause of his death. The official police report said that Williams was with two other persons when he was shot. Detectives of Precinct 2 said that they are seeking a Belize City man known to them, who they believe can assist in the investigation.

On December 20, 2013, the Opposition PUP’s newspaper, The Belize Times, published a story that claimed that several cheques were paid out by the Belize Airports Authority (BAA) either to, or on behalf of, Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Hon. Edmond Castro. Since then, the newspaper has published 9 cheques, 3 of them totaling just over 10 thousand dollars, which were made out directly to Castro. Other cheques, issued to bike shops, poultry stores, beverage companies, and funeral homes, amounted to another $15,000. According to The Times, the cheques were given to Castro to pay debts he incurred personally and politically, allegedly in the furtherance of his political work as Belize Rural North area representative. Since the story broke, Castro has told the media to talk to the BAA for information. When the media attempted to talk to the Airport Authority, however, the Authority refused any comment on the matter. Today, at the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Francis Fonseca, raised the issue, declaring that he had up to 60 of the questionable cheques. Fonseca stated: “I have in possession here today, copies of some 60 Belize Airport Authority operating account Belize Bank cheques, which in my view demonstrate a consistent pattern of ongoing misuse and abuse of the Authority’s funds for personal and political purposes by the member for Belize Rural North. There are at least 10 cheques in varying amounts, Mr. Speaker, which are made out to members of the member for Belize Rural North’s family – Cheque # 005067 for $400; Cheque #004750 for $520; Cheque # 005144 for $1,132.

Last week, there was a major public outcry in response to reports that three immigration officers had been recommended for termination in the wake of the Penner Passport Scandal, and this week, two senior officers from the Nationality Section of the Immigration Department are now under scrutiny following an administrative investigation into the abovementioned scandal. Amandala understands that Gordon Wade, who heads the Records section, and the Counter Supervisor Ady Pacheco, who is the second in charge, are being asked to answer specific questions regarding missing nationality files. An official report on the circumstances surrounding the scandal was completed on October 4, 2013. It contains reports of interviews done with staff members at the Nationality Section who supposedly played roles in the issuance of a Nationality Certificate for the South Korean businessman, Won Hong Kim, who was in a Taiwanese prison when his nationality certificate and Belizean passport were issued on September 9, 2013.

The US$100 million Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility, which has received environmental clearance, is expected to proceed imminently after Parliament yesterday received a proposal for a 20-year development concession in the form of the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, 2014. Meanwhile, the US$50 million Harvest Caye destination island proposed by Norwegian Cruise Line for southern Belize is still under the lens, with the public consultation for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) held Wednesday night in Independence. “The EIA was just disastrous…” said a businessman, who supports the project conceptually. The concerned citizen told us that while the majority of the people who attended the hearing want to see something happening in the south, they want to make sure it is within the framework of a good EIA and is a good project, beneficial to Belizeans. People are skeptical and think everything is a conspiracy, so it is important that the concerns are properly addressed, he indicated.

For us, focus shifted from Cayo Northeast’s Elvin Penner, conspicuous by his presence, to Belize Rural North’s Edmond Castro, conspicuous by his absence, on Wednesday in the House of Representatives when Hon. Prime Minister Dean Barrow actually told the House, and the nation, that what had been going on at the Belize Airports Authority was “distasteful” but was not “corruption.” Glory, glory be. As we understand it, and this is a story broken by Channel 5 and The Belize Times, the Belize Airports Authority, under the chairmanship of one Kenworth Tillett, who has been refusing to speak to the media, has been in the habit of making out checks to Mr. Castro for various and sundry expenses which appear personal and/or frivolous. According to Mr. Barrow, these checks were approved by the board of the Belize Airports Authority, and, again according to the Prime Minister, this is a time-honored practice engaged in by Ministers and statutory boards within their portfolios.

What’s more important in life than family? Nothing, really. Family is where you come from, and family is what you will leave behind when you are gone. Family is where you are nurtured and comforted and loved. But, family is what revolutionaries sacrifice when they choose that road to trod. Two of the greatest revolutionaries of our time – Ernesto “Che” Guevara of Argentina (and Cuba), and Nelson “Madiba” Mandela of South Africa, are clear cases of men sacrificing their families for their beliefs. Their children paid the price for Guevara’s and Mandela’s exploits, and, of course, their children’s mothers suffered with their children. The 1960s (Che and Madiba burst on the international scene in the Sixties) are just a half century gone, but already historians worldwide have declared the decade a sensational one in our lifetime. Looking back, the Sixties began just fifteen years after the carnage of World War II, which ended with the Russians swarming vengefully into a prostrate Germany from the east and the Americans dropping atomic bombs on the defenceless Japanese in the Far East. After the defeat of Adolf Hitler and German Nazism, it is safe to say that the world looked forward to a time of peace. After the storm, a calm, we say. That calm didn’t last that long.

The Feinstein Group of Companies announced last year its intent to invest US$100 million in a cruise port at Stake Bank and a shopping zone at North Drowned Caye off Belize City, and today, the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill, which would, among other things, provide for the developer to be exempt from Income Tax and General Sales Tax (GST) for 20 years, was introduced at a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives. “This, of course, is the enabling legislation that will now permit the developer to begin works on Stake Bank,” said Prime Minister Dean Barrow, in introducing the bill. He noted that the 16-acre island known as Stake Bank lies about 4 miles offshore from Belize City, and the idea is to locate the new cruise port there and to build the causeway to Belize City.

Therese Warwick, the second daughter born to KREM’s Tony Wright and his wife Marva, was presented on Saturday, January 18, 2014, with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Annual Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award for Community Leadership in Lexington, Kentucky. Warwick informs Amandala that her organization, Sisters Road To Freedom, Inc., is coordinating a mission trip to Belize in December 2014. They hope to be in Belize City for one week, at which time free empowerment workshops for women and teen girls will be held. Apart from her NGO ministry, Warwick also serves the community through her inspirational speaking.

If there ever was a time when Belizeans have been feeling used and abused by the system of politics of our country, I opine it is now. This sentiment is coupled with feelings of frustration and injustice and a sense that we are in a spiral of deceit and corruption we just cannot seem to get out of. Those of us who have been voting for the past three to five decades have factors and events from which to compare, and know sufficient local political history to cause us to believe that indeed there is a PUDP System. Ironically, the new generation voters have also come to quickly realize the very things the older voters now know for a fact, and this is because in just this decade alone sufficient has happened that has caused them to unmask the PUP and UDP. There is no difference This is my analysis of the situation: there is no difference between the two most powerful parties: and the parties change at elections, but the system does not. Thus the promise of change in politics is rhetoric. The true change of policies, processes and operations cannot come about until there is change in the method by which we elect our political leaders.

Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), the NGO which co-manages the Chiquibul National Park, estimates that at the moment, 100-150 Guatemalans, some of them armed, are engaged in illegal gold panning in the highlands of the Chiquibul/Maya Mountain area—and they continue to elude Belize security teams, thus posing a national security threat to the country. “The threat of gold panning is high and so are the losses to our national patrimony. These areas are the true birth place of the Chiquibul River. Sedimentation, garbage and fecal contaminants are now found in areas where humans had never been operating before,” said Rafael Manzanero, FCD’s Executive Director. Earlier this month, Manzanero went on patrol in the highlands of the Chiquibul/Maya Mountains (CMM) together with Joint Forces Unit personnel based at Ceibo Chico Conservation Post, and what they found was alarming. “The environmental damage is high and we estimate that today this is the most critical issue to address in the Chiquibul Forest alongside the illegal logging,” Manzanero said. “However, unlike illegal logging, the gold panning activity is more difficult to address due to the remoteness and dangers associated in capturing the panners.”

At the last sitting of Parliament, representatives of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) agitated for the immediate introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill, claiming that the Barrow administration, which had promised to introduce the bill in 2013, had been dragging its feet in taking the bill to the House of Representatives. Well, today, Prime Minister Dean Barrow finally introduced the OSH Bill, and while he said that the objectives of the bill, as proposed by the NTUCB, are indeed laudable, he said that if passed, “the price tag will be huge…” and a tremendous cost to the Government, which will also have to set up a new statutory body to give effect to the reforms. The bill calls for the creation of a National Occupational Safety and Health Authority and an inspectorate. Barrow said that although it is perhaps time and even overdue that they make this quantum leap forward, nobody must be under any illusion, because there will be a “substantial burden and cost” to the Government of Belize, to the private sector and also to self-employed persons and small individuals who may hire just one worker.

Teachers from the three Cayo branches of the Belize National Teacher’s Union (BNTU), and specifically from Belmopan, San Ignacio and Benque Viejo del Carmen, are scheduled to host their rally on Friday, January 24, as part of a national wave of rallies by the BNTU to raise the public profile of their efforts to get the Government to pay a minimum 5% salary adjustment for teachers and public officers in July 2014. As a part of their campaign, the teachers are also taking on national issues – prime among them being corruption. Education Minister Patrick Faber in a statement in Parliament this morning said that the teachers should not go to Friday’s rally – but report to work, because students cannot afford to lose valuable class time; but all indications are that teachers are moving ahead with the planned rally. The minister said that Primary School Examination (PSE) grades have been stagnant for 10 years and they need to put their shoulders to the wheel, with everybody doing their part, to improve performance.

Corozal police are currently investigating a bizarre and traumatic case of kidnapping which occurred last night in the remote village of Copper Bank, located on the outskirts of Corozal Town. Sabino Nah, 24; his brother Eduardo Nah, 32; and Eduardo’s common-law wife, Roxanie Cruz, 25, had gotten home last night just before 8:00 o’clock when four armed, masked men – who subsequently questioned them about drugs – barged into their compound, assaulted one of them, ransacked the family’s home and took Eduardo and Roxanie hostage. Superintendent Andrew Ramirez, the Officer Commanding the Corozal Police Formation, gave us a detailed explanation of how the incident unfolded. He said that according to the account of the incident they received from the victims after the incident, at about 7:45 Monday night, January 20, Sabino and Eduardo Nah, along with Eduardo’s common-law wife, Roxanie Cruz, arrived at their home in Copper Bank in Eduardo’s dark grey Toyota 4-Runner, and upon reaching in front of the yard, Roxanie got out to open the gate to let the vehicle into the driveway.

A mentally challenged man who was shot in the neck has been released from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH). James Elijio, 29, of Flamboyant Street, is recovering at his home with his family after he was shot by one of two men while he was going back into his house after urinating in the yard. The incident occurred about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15. A relative of Elijio’s said that he was released from the KHMH yesterday, but they are encountering some difficulties in caring for him at home, since one of his lungs is not functioning properly. Although the doctor strictly forbade Elijio to smoke, he smokes anyway, and resists their attempts to prevent him from doing so. They are, however, praying for his speedy recovery, the relative said.

The Office of the Ports Authority Commissioner has concluded investigations into a boating accident that occurred on Christmas Day in the New River, near the Lamanai Maya ruins, when a boat carrying ten tourists who were on a river cruise to the Maya ruin capsized. No one died, but the tourists suffered minor injuries and all their equipment was lost. The investigation determined that the captain of the vessel was at fault and charges have been levied against both the owner of the boat and the captain of the boat. The owner of the boat was given two charges — allowing the vessel to travel without adequate crew, and allowing the boat to be piloted by a captain who did not have the requisite license. The owner conceded to the charges and made an out-of-court settlement. Four charges were imposed on the captain — piloting a vessel without the requisite license, piloting a vessel without requisite crew, disobedience to regulations, and negligence. Ports Commissioner Merlene Bailey Martinez told Amandala that the captain has not yet indicated whether he will settle out of court. She said that this is an isolated incident and that there is no fear that captains are mishandling and jeopardizing the lives of people. However, regular checks will be made and Ports Authority personnel will be in the area of the Maya ruins to ensure safety procedures are carried out, but how frequently such checks can be made cannot yet be announced said the Ports Commissioner.

Last week, we reported on a land dispute which had been brewing between CITCO and the Lands Department over a portion of Buttonwood Bay Park, which is situated on Seashore Drive in the Caribbean Shores area of Belize City. Well, according to the current Caribbean Shores area representative, Hon. Santiago Castillo, that disagreement has been quashed through his intervention. The clash primarily involved the UDP Mayor of Belize City, Darrell Bradley, and an allegedly well-connected UDP private citizen – Giovanni Blease. The UDP Mayor asserted that the prime seafront property, also known as parcel # 3820, should remain as a public park, while Blease was in the process of acquiring half of the parcel for private use. Mayor Bradley – who has a particular political interest in the Caribbean Shores constituency – swore that he would do everything in his power to ensure that the piece of land stays in the hands of the Government – and by extension, the public.

A vehicle collision in Corozal has left three people injured, damaged a car and a food stall. Angel Patt, 34, a construction worker of 3rd Street South in Santa Rita Area, Corozal Town, told police that the rear wheel of his vehicle became jammed in the drain when he was turning into 5th Street, from 3rd Street. He stepped on the accelerator, causing the vehicle to lurch forward, but when he tried to stop on the side of 5th Street, into which he had just turned, he stepped on the gas instead of the brakes, colliding with a grey Mercedes Benz that was parked on the street-side, causing it to slam into three people who were on the sidewalk at the time. Patt then lost control of the vehicle and ran into a food stall. The incident occurred about 9:40 yesterday morning.

Today marks one month since a robber, Ajlan Requeńa of San Ignacio, was killed during an armed robbery of the WW Store in the DFC area of San Pedro. Another thief was also shot to death, on Sunday night, January 19, during the attempted armed robbery of an accountant in the same DFC area of San Pedro. Michael Wallace, 24, of the San Juan area in San Pedro, who, along with an accomplice held up the accountant as he was about to enter his yard, was shot three times in the chest and upper body area at about 10:30 Sunday night.. Police have declared self-defense in both cases, and no charges will be brought against these citizens who stood up to the robbers.

Afsar Miah, 37, a businessman of 17 Orange Street, was arraigned on a charge of employing a person not in possession of a valid work permit when he appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano on Tuesday. The Immigration Department is alleging that Miah hired Mohammed Moynul Amin, a Bangladeshi national, who does not have a valid temporary work permit. When asked to enter a plea, Miah told the court “I am guilty.” But he desperately wanted to explain the situation to the Magistrate, after he said he was guilty. When he was allowed to speak, Miah said: “it was not me who hired him.” He was referring to his brother Mohammed Moynul Amin.

Please allow me some space to share some of my thoughts and feelings and “heal” in a way that has helped me over the years in overcoming overwhelming emotions that as human beings we tend to hide by keeping to ourselves. You see, writing for me has always been an escape and a therapeutic measure that even though at times takes on a “dark” undertone, has always helped me greatly. Today, I want to write a little about Lupus and how this sinister disease has crept into our lives and taken one of our very own. This word Lupus was something that had never entered my vocabulary until about three years ago when my sister Shante Lewis, who was residing in the U.S.A., called me and my mother and told us she had been diagnosed with the disease. Still, I didn’t know what that meant and as she explained what her doctor had said about her about “staying out of the sunlight and how Lupus was a disease that broke down your immune system…” we didn’t fully grasp the full reality of what we faced. Over the next two years, she got progressively worse, constantly gaining and losing weight because of the medications and being in and out of the hospital. All I could do was pray and over the phone give her words of encouragement and hope that the disease would go into remission.

The first encounters of the home-and-away semifinal playoffs in the Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup Opening Season 2013-2014 took place on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, with one team now holding a commanding position, while two others are “even-steven” going into the decisive game 2 of the semifinals this weekend. Belmopan Bandits prevailed, 3-0, over BDF at the Isidoro Beaton; while FC Belize and Verdes FC played to a 0-0 stalemate at the MCC. BDF vs Bandits On Saturday night at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, it was home standing and #3 seed Belmopan Bandits FC delivering what most fans are feeling was a 3-0 knockout punch to #2 seed Belize Defence Force FC. The game was more competitive than the score indicated, and the difference may have been the return to top form of Deon McCaulay, considered Belize’s best striker, despite being surpassed in the scoring race this year by Jarret Davis of FC Belize and hot newcomer Clifton West of Police United, who took the top scoring honors.

Belize District football is presently in shambles, where the administration of the sport is concerned. This was most evident when our National U-16 squad that participated in last November’s UNCAF U-16 tournament at the FFB Stadium in November of last year did not include a single player from Belize District, the media, commercial and population center of the country. For all intents and purposes, the Belize District Football Association (BDBA) is presently inactive. Various tournaments have been held in the rural (e.g. the Edmund Castro Cup) and in the city, including the Smart 13 & Under tournament and the (open) Belize City Mayor’s Cup, and there was an open female tournament; but these have not been administered by the BDBA, but instead by private individuals. In the case of the female tournament, one former member of the elected BDBA executive was supposed to be in control, and that tournament ran into all kinds of problems and confusion. There is a desperate need, especially with the FFB now rolling out plans countrywide for youth football development, for the situation to be properly organized in the Belize District, under an officially constituted Belize District Football Association, which can effectively coordinate football activities in the district, and represent the district in communication with the FFB.

Female 8-A-Side football The finals of the Abelardo Mai Female 8-A-Side football tournament will be held on Sunday, January 26, at San Lazaro Football Field Sunday, January 26 2:00 p.m. – Carmelita vs Guinea Grass (for 3rd place) 3:00 p.m. – Chan Pine Ridge vs Indian Church (for the Championship) Trophies and cash prizes will be distributed after the game. First prize – $500.00 plus trophy; second prize – $300.00 plus trophy; third prize – $200.00 plus trophy; fourth prize – $100.00 plus trophy. Male 5-A-Side semifinals The first round of the Caribbean Rum 5-A-Side semifinals was held on Tuesday night, January 21, at the People’s Stadium, and both semifinal games ended in 1-0 scores. In the opener, Landy’s dropped Barrios, 1-0, on a goal by Gabrielito Perez (a former National U-20 player). And in the nightcap, Sherwin Williams clipped Trafalgar, 1-0, with a goal from Luisito Cunil (a former U-21 sub-goalkeeper).

The Belmopan Football Association (BFA) and the Belmopan Bandits, along with coach Leroy Sherrier Lewis, are conducting Grassroots Football training for children ages 6 to 17 at the Devon Beaton Park. This past Saturday was the first of many training sessions. 66 participants showed up, both male and female. This youth football programme is to train/develop talent and foster special techniques. Football is a universal language, and it is an integral part of local cultures across this nation. In Grassroots Football we have found that there is a perfect partnership within the FFB, BFA and the Belmopan Bandits, who are all united in the belief that the true power of football is in the connections that it creates between people and the great partnerships that it cultivates. We will be utilizing this Grassroots Football program in order to create a positive medium for the children of our community, to develop and nurture their talent, which in turn will have a positive impact in our community of Belmopan.

The Reporter

A federal judge in the United States last week struck down a contract which the City of Detroit had negotiated with two big banks. Faced with hard times, the City of Detroit had agreed to pay $128 million to the banks in return for a bailout loan. But Judge Steven […]

Verdes & FC Belize draw in Belikin Cup football playoffs
Verdes FC of Benque Viejo del Carmen will need to exploit the home-field advantage when they host FC Belize for game two of the playoffs of the Belikin Cup football tournament at the Marshalleck Stadium on Saturday night, January 25, as the city boys held Verdes […]

Wesley College girls lead high schools football
The undefeated girls of Wesley College are leading the Belize City high schools football competition organized by the Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA), posting their third victory 3-1 over the girls of St. Catherine’s Academy at the M.C.C. grounds in Belize City on Saturday, January […]

Night work throws body into chaos
Doing the night shift throws the body “into chaos” and could cause long-term damage, warn researchers. Shift work has been linked to higher rates of type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and cancer. Now scientists at the Sleep Research Centre in Surrey have uncovered the disruption shift work causes at the […]

Superfoods of the future
These foods may not be mainstays in your diet now. But these nutritional powerhouses are the superfoods of the future. Millet is used more for birdseed than side dishes—but it may be the next gluten-free wonder grain. Easily grown in arid land, this whole grain is pale yellow, round, tiny […] Chief Magistrate rules extradition for Deon Bruce

Chief Magistrate rules extradition for Deon Bruce
Deon Bruce, 28, got bad news on Friday in the #1 Magistrate’s Court, after Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith ordered that he be extradited to Cook County, Illinois, U.S.A. to stand trial for murder and attempted murder among other charges. The Belizean is accused of shooting […] Belama land case involving ex-CEO in court

Belama land case involving ex-CEO in court
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin is to decide whether an injunction he placed at the end of December on activity at Block 16, Parcel No. 2127, located at the corner of Albert Hoy Avenue and Chetumal Street in the Belama Phase I area, is to be […]

Violence fears in Thailand rise
Rights groups and others have called on Thai authorities and anti-government protesters to respect human rights and avoid violence during mass demonstrations in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee protest group — which hopes to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office — launched its “Bangkok shutdown,” intended […]

Vatican cleric Scarano charged with money-laundering
A senior Italian cleric has been charged with laundering millions through the Vatican bank, police say. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is already on trial and under house arrest on separate charges of plotting to smuggle 20m euros ($26m; Ł17m) into Italy. The former Vatican accountant and two other people were served […]

Balance of Power: a cure for the woes of absolute power
“No, do you see what’s happening in the United States where they have a system where paralysis is able to be engineered because the way that republican module works; you can have one chamber controlled by the party that doesn’t form the administration, one chamber Democrat, one chamber Republican. “You […]

Minister of Education addresses BNTU and BCCI
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter The Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, took to the offensive against the Belize National Teachers Union and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry this week, when speaking about the teachers’ rallies for their salary adjustments. Faber, speaking at a Special Sitting of the […]

Cane deliveries will be “minimal!” BSCFA says the bad roads remain a serious problem
The cane farmers may only be able to deliver a “minimal” amount of cane when the crop starts, because of the deplorable conditions of the sugar roads, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association Vice-Chairman Afredo Ortega said Thursday. Despite the road conditions, Ortega told Reporter […]

Belize Super-Bond Restructuring receives international award
By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter The negotiations to restructure Belize’s US $547.5M Super bond in March 2013 have been awarded the 2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year by Latin Finance, a financial publication covering Latin America and the Caribbean. The award was presented to the Government of Belize […]

BTB holds 13th Annual Industry Presentation
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter “Belize needs to be proud for having a seven percent growth in arrivals from 2012 to 2013… the region will not see over three percent,” Bonita Morgan, guest speaker at the Belize Tourism Annual Industry Presentation. The event, which took place at the Corozal Bay […]

Price of Red Kidney Beans Soars
Since two weeks ago, the price of red kidney beans, a locally-produced commodity, skyrocketed from roughly $2.25 to as much as $3.25 per pound. The reason is said to be the need to import the product from the United States, and that was caused by the recent flooding due to […]

We will not be moved! Teachers rally comes to Belize City
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter Hundreds of teachers took to Belize City’s streets in peaceful protest last Friday morning, as the Belize district branch of Belize National Teachers Union took their turn at the country wide tour. The rally started off at the Constitution Park with approximately 350 teachers, but […]

OSH Bill introduced
By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter Prime Minister Dean Barrow introduced the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill at the first House sitting of 2014, to the satisfaction of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB). The tabling of the Bill came after months of public outcry from the […]

Castro Again? P.M. Barrow says,“Wrong but not corrupt!”
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter The Peoples United Party claims to have more evidence of sums of money paid to Hon. Edmond Castro by the Belize Airport Authority, but the Prime Minister says these payments do not amount to corruption. PUP leader, Francis Fonseca, announced at Wednesday’s Special Sitting of […]

Alone! Penner back, but isolated!
By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter Former Minister of State in the Immigration Department, Elvin Penner made his first appearance in the House of Representatives since the immigration scandal involving Won Hong Kim broke last September. At Wednesday’s House sitting, Penner sat quietly in the far left corner of the […]

Chamber of Commerce to Minister Faber: “Read carefully!”
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter “Attempts by a minister to insult and threaten the largest taxpaying group in the country because he had not carefully read our press release is certainly not the wisest course of action for healthy partnership and development,” the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry said […]


Heroic Indiana Jones moment by Victoria House Resort staff Marlon Gonzalez
While preparing something to eat he heard commotion coming from his neighborhood. Marlon sprang into action to see what was going on and if he could help. He took his flashlight since they were in an area of San Mateo that has limited electricity and flashed around the area. After illuminating his neighbors across the river, he noticed some kids and a mother calling for help. He went in the crocodile waters to aid the wailing family. When he reached them he found out the Mirna had swallowed a big marble and it was stuck in her throat. Her family was in a panic not knowing what to do. Marlon could tell by her color she was not well and after doing a few fast back blows to try and dislodge the marble, he could see the girl was turning blue and going unresponsive. Marlon laid her on the ground and started doing chest compressions. He remembered that you switch from back blows an abdominal thrusts to CPR when a choking person turns blue because their heart has stopped pumping oxygenated blood. At the same time Marlon was administering CPR on Mirna, he called for her brother Dixon to help by the dory [small flat bottomed fishing boat], so they could get to the Holy Cross Anglican School.

Final Public Consultation Meeting Held on Norwegian Cruise Lines “Nature Park” in Southern Belize
Wednesday night I attended the Public Meeting, the FINAL public meeting, about the environmental impact of the proposed Norwegian Cruise Lines Cruise Ship port at Harvest Caye. The caye is 2 miles away from Placencia, a very small tourist village and from the larger (but seriously UNtouristy) port town of Independence/Mango Creek, Belize. The building/dregding plan is going to progress at speeds unseen in Belize. The caye is basically mangroves and sand right now. No fresh water, no electricity…nothing. So now Harvest Caye, part of the Southern Eastern Coast of Belize, surrounded by nature reserves, breeding grounds for manatees is being sold to one of the largest cruise ship companies in the world. I visited the tiny island last August. And saw fish, a manatee and these AMAZING dolphins on our way over. More wild life than I’ve ever seen on any boat trip in Belize.

Gorgeous Glass Beads Made in Placencia, Belize For Jewelry & For Dread Locks
A few weeks ago, someone sent me a facebook link for someone making pretty PRETTY glass beads in Placencia, Belize along with this picture. Veda’s Beads. A little brown string with gorgeous hearts. Veda (which I later found is Jessica’s middle name) has a bead selling business on the American based website Etsy. A site that helps craftspeople and artists distribute their wares worldwide. The cool thing is that they are also based in Placencia, Belize. With this nugget in the back of my mind and with a trip to Placencia in my future, I contacted Jessica, the artist, to meet her, to see her beads and, of course to tell her all my ideas. It’s really one of my more annoying qualities. When I meet someone and I am excited about THEIR business, I can’t stop talking “have you thought of this?”…”Oh my god, do you totally know what you should do?”. Like they never thought of it.

Belize Research Shows How Fungi are our Forest’s Friends
The beautiful tropical flora and fauna, big, small, colourful and camouflaged, will impress anyone who walks through Belize’s stunning rainforests. But they may miss one of the most important components that contribute to rainforest diversity –the humble yet omnipresent fungi. However, new research conducted by Oxford and Sheffield University researchers in Belize’s Chiquibul National Forest Reserve sheds interesting light on the role that fungi play in our rainforest diversity, and the dramatic, damaging effects fungicides can have on the biosphere. The study, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and published in Nature, sampled 36 seedling plots in the Chiquibul. It found that fungi prevented a single species of plant from dominating one area by spreading quickly between closely-packed plants of the same species, keeping it in check and thus enabling a wider range of species to flourish.

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
Belize joins the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), through the execution of a Compete Caribbean project in Belize to strengthen the Economic Development Council (EDC) [BL-CC2037] and improve the business climate and entrepreneurship; Belize, for the first time, has joined the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Three members of Belize’s National GEM team are attending the annual meeting of GEM national teams in Santiago, Chile. Other team members for Belize are representatives from the Ministry of Economic Development, the Directorate of Foreign Trade, and the Belize Agro-productive Sector (BAS Group). This national team will be the coordinating body for the two entrepreneurship measurement tools, the Adult Population Survey (APS) and the National Expert Survey (NES).

“Boat Drinks” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Yesterday morning after producing and publishing the edition of the blog from my ‘office’ on the western (lagoon) side of the house I was tempted (oh how I was tempted) to drive to ‘Town for breakfast at Estel’s. But I didn’t have time for that (but you’ve go loads of time you’re thinking). No, Rose and I had stuff to do. We had to revise the Belize Port Authority’s Mariners’ Handbook. Why would you want to do that when you’ve got a fence to cover with protector you are wondering. Well, number one it was raining. Number two, I didn’t particularly feel like getting the brush out anyway. But, and more importantly, Rose and I were scheduled to take the Theory section of the test/exam for a Master’s License that, once successfully taken, will enable us to drive a powered boat in Belize waters.

International Sources

Teaching School Children the Rosary in the Jungles of Belize
A parishioner of St. Alphonsus Parish in Ocean Springs, Eddie Kemmerer recently spent 10 months with a missionary order, The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, in the small Central American country of Belize. There, in addition to his regular duties, he learned of and became involved in a special ministry to the school children that is focused on teaching them all about the rosary. He reflects on his experiences: "Walking the streets of Benque Viejo in the Central American country of Belize one afternoon several days after my arrival to fulfill my commitment to serve at a Catholic mission there, I was practically beside myself. I was wondering what in the world I had done. I had just left a very good engineering job in the United States (probably the best assignment I had ever had) to come and live in poverty with others like me who had received what I believe to be a very special calling from God to do so. "The calling was so strong that I just couldn't ignore it or resist it any longer. So I left everything . . . taking care of all my worldly connections as best I could before leaving as I knew there would be little if any contact with anyone or anything to do with my "possessions" back home for almost a year.

Majority of Belize population has no access to sewerage services
Only 11% of Belize's population has access to sewerage services, according to a new report from the IDB.

Bluffton couple answers call to help kids in third-world countries break cycle of poverty with ROW Kids
Using a photobook of landmarks for directions, the missionaries traveled dirt and rock roads through the Maya Mountains to Billy White, a remote village in the Cayo District of western Belize. The photos instructed them to turn left at this tree, then take a right at that gravestone. Through terrain that was once a jungle, the 15-passenger vans drove along charred hillsides that had been farmed using the slash-and-burn method. Off the edge of the narrow path, they could see down the steep drop-off, hundreds of feet that ended at a river. Arriving at the village three hours later, they pulled up to the school they were there to help. The school day was over, and the dozens of children playing in the front yard scattered. They returned within the hour, having run home to change into their best clothes for their guests. Over the next week, the missionaries worked on the dilapidated school building and taught Scripture in vacation Bible school. They spent their free time playing marbles or pickup soccer games with the kids and visiting locals who had invited them to their one-bedroom, dirt-floor homes. Some students picked flowers that bloomed around the school building and put them in the hair of their females guests.

Camping in comfort on a beautiful beach
Glover's Reef Atoll adventure offers best snorkelling in the Caribbean, but no Wi-Fi... It was our first night in Belize and things were not starting out well. "You didn't tell me we were camping!" exclaimed my 16-year-old daughter Kelsey. "I would never have agreed to come if I had known we were camping." She had a point. I hadn't used the word "camping" because to me camping means a sleeping bag on the floor of a tent. We were in a comfortable wooden cabana with beds, mattresses, pillows and sheets. There was electricity and a central shower area with running water and flush toilets. This wasn't really camping. I suspected the underlying problem was really a case of nomophobia or fear of being out of cellphone contact. With no cellphone signal and no Wi-Fi, the cabanas were practically prehistoric - in a teenager's mind, at least. When I booked the trip with Island Expeditions, I had hoped that a few days away from technology on a mother-daughter adventure trip would be fun for both of us.

New and larger ports in works, more choices for cruisers
Think you’ve seen all there is to see in the Caribbean? Cruise lines don’t think so, and together with some of the island governments, they’re doing something about it. As cruise ships become larger, and as repeat passengers yearn for different ports of call, cruise lines and seafront destinations in the Caribbean are expanding existing ports and building new ones. The idea is to give passengers new destinations to explore, create more diverse itineraries, and in the case of port expansions, to provide more docking space that can accommodate today’s increasingly larger ships. Norwegian Cruise Line plans to build a $50 million eco-friendly port on 75 acres in southern Belize. The property consists of two adjoining islands. The design has not been finalized, but Norwegian envisions two destinations at the port — docking/tendering facilities on the island and a mainland connection point for inland tours. Facilities would include a floating pier, island village with open-air structures, a marina and transportation hub for tours to the mainland, a lagoon for water sports and a beach area.

Tax duckers: Rich and disgusting
Billionaire Ty Warner, who grew wealthy from Beanie Babies, evaded taxes by hiding as much as $107 million in an offshore account. He pleaded guilty, paid $53 million in penalties, and drew two years of probation. Warner is the latest in a long string of rich Americans who cheat on taxes, which forces other Americans to make up the sums the evaders don't pay. Forbes magazine, which focuses on wealth, compiled a list including these examples: Kenneth Dart, heir to a Styrofoam cup fortune, renounced his U.S. citizenship and lived in the Central American country of Belize, a tax haven.

Researchers consider future of VI reefs
Although some Caribbean reefs, including many in the Virgin Islands, have been monitored and studied over the years, others haven’t, and almost nowhere has there been any research about the interaction between reefs and people who live near them. Yet people are strongly impacted by — and have a strong impact on — coral reefs. That’s the idea that sparked the Future of Reefs project, a Newcastle University-based study that hopes to pave the way for managing coral reefs in the face of climate change. “The heart of it is joining up ecological work and social facts,” said Sarah Young, who is heading the project in the VI, at a Wednesday evening meeting in the East End/Long Look Community Centre. The group will be conducting interviews in EE/LL to get a perspective on an area where lots of fishing takes place. They’ll also be working in Cane Garden Bay to get the perspective from a heavily tourism-based area.

Tread lightly
The truth behind the carbon footprint of cruise ships... The Great Maya Reef runs the full length of the Yucatan Peninsula and south to the Bay Islands in Honduras. It’s the largest coral reef in the western hemisphere; worldwide, it’s second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It’s a mecca for divers and snorkelers, and has spawned a thriving eco-tourism industry along the Costa Maya. Beginning south of the Mayan Riviera, the Costa Maya stretches from the Mayan ruins of Tulum to Xcalak National Reef Park, and encompasses the Sian Ka’an international biosphere reserve. The approach to the biosphere is lined with low-impact hotels, interspersed with boho vegan restaurants and eco-chic retreats. But as you move down the coast, unspoiled beaches give way to something entirely unexpected. A thick ribbon of rubbish decorates the edge of the shore, just a few hundred feet from the reef. Shards of plastic. Broken disposable cutlery. Bottle caps. The odd shoe.

EduDeo Ministries is constantly evaluating its impact and effectiveness with its partners and is committed to some earnest face-to-face time to build our relationship and find out what God is doing in and through are partnerships. Many great things are being reported through regular reporting channels but it’s always surprising to see and hear for yourself some of the incredible things God is doing in and through a partner. Tim Bootsma, EduDeo’s International Partnership Director, returned from a 5-day trip to Belize last month after visiting the schools there and hearing from each of the principals and the association leadership about some of their celebrations. He found it to be a rich time of hearing from them. Upon return he shared a few of his reflections: 1) School leaders have a strong desire to be an intentional Christian School and have a clear focus on modeling and teaching the word of God to the students. There is a great desire to continue to learn more about what this means both theoretically and practically.

January 24, 2014


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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
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The San Pedro Sun

Tourists fall victim to credit card fraud on Ambergris Caye
For over a year, tourists to Ambergris Caye have been claiming that they have been victims of credit card fraud. The matter simmered down after those operating the scam got wind that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture was alerted and hadasked for the intervention of the Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) and local police. However the credit card fraud operatives are back at it again. Recently, two victims have gone public with their cases. According to the visitors, the only common place they both used their credit cardsat was at a local golf cart company. The victims first posted their experiences on TripAdvisor and indicated that the fraudulent charge apparently came from Ethan’s Vege Store. “While there (on Ambergris Caye) we paid cash mostly and only used our credit card two times, once with a reputable cart company and once with a reputable tour company. Now looking at my credit card statement I see that I have charges for over $300 for Ethan’s Vege Store with the transaction date the day after we returned to California. We can’t think of anything else that would have cost over $300US, especially not groceries. Ethan’s also charged a smaller amount of $26 first, which is apparently what credit card fraud people do the ‘test the waters’ so to speak,” said one of the tourists from Belmont California USA.

Santa Elena Football Complex and Facilities to be updates
Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL), a public sector agency of the Government of Belize (GOB), is undertaking the design, construction and management of capital projects in Belize with particular emphasis on sporting and other multipurpose facilities. Investment project was initiated on January 21st, 2014 with contract signature for consulting services and architectural designs for infrastructure at the Santa Elena Football Complex and Facilities. BIL, along with technical support from MOW, is working closely with the Local Government Representative for the area. The investments to be financed as a prerequisite to any commencement of the civil works, and relevant to this consultancy, include a feasibility study, inclusive of public and one-on-one consultations with the community and relevant stakeholders, socio/environmental studies as related to any environmental management, approved design plans, bidding documents inclusive of all cost estimates, and operational recommendations for the Santa Elena Football Complex and Facilities.

Mountains of garbage on Marina Drive is “plain nasty” and “unacceptable” says the Mayor
There are major concerns being expressed regarding tons of garbage dumped on Marina Drive in the southern portion of San Pedro Town, specifically the section between the DFC subdivision and the town’s municipal marina. It is an issue that the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) said they are equally concerned about. The council indicated that garbage disposal remains a major challenge for the local municipality. In fact, the amount of garbage generated by islanders is in the millions of pounds per year, some of which is not properly disposed of. “I went to the area on Monday (January 20th) and we took pictures so that we can share with our residents via social media because we want to show them the challenges we are faced with. It is shameful that we have residents dumping garbage there. The sight is unpleasant, plain nasty and unacceptable,” said Mayor Guerrero when questioned about the concern.

Pickin’ & Grinnin – Who are these HAPPY people?
Each year American country musician Jerry Jeff Walker fans migrate from across the globe to San Pedro for the legendary Camp Belize concerts and island merriment. One thing is for sure, these gregarious fans are certified music junkies! When they are not attending one of the four concerts Walker puts on over the two week period, they are busy making music of their own! Pickin’ Parties pop up daily at local bars, such as Lola’s, Wet Willy’s, Crazy Canucks, Country Cabańa and Average Joes. And if they aren’t behind an instrument like a guitar or ukulele, you can find them behind a mike singing “SherryOkie” at the Road Kill Bar.

Ambergris Caye Educators join Belize District Teachers Protest
The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) is continuing their initiative for a salary adjustment and on Friday, January 17th, hundreds of teachers converged in Belize City for the second teachers protest demanding the Government of Belize to adhere to their concerns. Attending the protest were teachers from San Pedro Town and Caye Caulker Village who walked in solidarity for the cause. The protest commenced at Constitution Park and ended at the Battlefield Park. The countrywide strategy began on Friday, January 10th, when teachers from Corozal and Orange Walk District banded together in protest. According to the BNTU, the protest was not only to demand a salary adjustment but for overall social justice. Since 2008, BNTU has been demanding better working terms, including a raise in pay. On October 9, 2012, GOB and BNTU signed an agreement to open negotiations, and since then, the GOB has agreed to a salary adjustment but not exactly the amount the teachers were hoping for. BNTU expressed disdain towards the GOB’s decision to not meet the teachers’ minimum requirement and as such they continue fighting for what they believe is a just cause.

Ambergris Today

Manelly’s Brings Marquesitas to San Pedro
There’s a new afternoon treat in town that is creating a huge buzz on the island! People are going wild for Marquesitas! Both lovers of the delicious Mexican treat, the Angels, of course, are not going to miss out on it. A quick call to Manelly’s Ice Cream Parlor and the Angels arranged a private “Marquesitas Session”. They met with Ivan Staines who was the intuitive one to bring the Marquesitas stand to the island. What are Marquesitas you might ask? Well, they are crispy rolled up wafers stuffed with Dutch cheese or/and other delicious fillings. Not only did we want to try these delicious treats but we also wanted to get in the fun of making them. Ivan wasted no time in getting the Angels in the kitchen to help him make the sweet batter for the wafer. Angel Perlita stepped up to do the mixture and followed directions very well into making the perfect batter. A little sugar, flour, vanilla and some other secret ingredients, mixing, sifting and a elbow grease, in no time we had prepared a good batch of marquesita magic.

Daniela Salazar Celebrates Quinceańos
Celebrating her Quinceańos (15th Birthday) last week in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, was lovely Daniela Salazar. She celebrated with close family and friends at a private party held in her honor inside Jaguar’s Temple Night Club. Daniela is daughter of Ilsa and Hector Salazar; she was officially presented to society by her cousin Andrea Nuńez, grandmother Isabel Salazar and uncle Gabriel Nuńez. Daniela turned 15 on January 12. Congratulations!

Misc Belizean Sources

The Chamber has heard Hon. Patrick Faber’s comments in the House yesterday and is compelled to clarify our press release of January 17, 2014. In that release, we advocated for a phased-in approach to increases in teacher’s wages, based on responsible financial management principles. Belize has excellent teachers, mediocre teachers, and teachers who should seek another profession. The object of a merit-based increase is to motivate our teachers to consistently improve, which will only serve to better our country and our future generations. In these times of widespread poverty and illiteracy, we can no longer afford to skimp on education. This is why the Chamber, in supporting the teachers' request for a wage increase, and being mindful of the limitations of the public purse, suggested that any increase be phased in over a number of years, and must be merit-based.

Why we continue the fight against Norwegian Cruise Line. “It’s a done deal!” “You can’t win against a big rich company like NCL!” “You can’t fight the Government!” We have all heard these words before, both in Belize and around the world. They are the words of people who are counting on average citizens to shut down their brains, shut up their mouths and bow down to their masters. At tonight’s public consultation these same people—Norwegian Cruise Line and their paid agents—will try to impress you with a large crowd and a lot of noise. Why? Because that’s what you have to do when you don’t have the facts on your side. All we ask from the Department of the Environment, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee and those citizens attending this consultation is to look at the facts behind the Harvest Caye cruise port and decide for yourselves whether it will make life better for you, your children and your grandchildren.

SIRH's First Signature Dish Cook-Off
Deliciousness of the day. The San Ignacio Resort Hotel had their first Signature Dish Cook-Off, and those dishes look amazing. Congratulations to Samuel Salam, who won with his Lobster a la Mia. Can't wait to try it. "San Ignacio Resort Hotel's First Signature Dish Cook-Off. Testing our talented Kitchen staff in a creative and fun way!"

Kazoku Shotokan Karate Classes
Was 'getting into shape' one of your New Year's resolutions? Karate is one way to get into, and stay in shape. Cayo's Kazoku Shotokan Karate Dojyo is offering classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6:30pm. For more information, contact Rito Fernandez, the Vice President of the Belize Karate Federation, at 604-0462, or email [email protected] Have fun, get in shape, and learn a valuable skill all at the same time.

U Janal Aj Maya: Traditional Maya Cuisine
U Janal Aj Maya, which means 'Food of the Maya,' has been released. It was written by Aurora Garcia Saqui, one of the famous Garcia Sisters from San Antonio. While you can visit San Antonio and get a copy, it's also on Amazon: “Nothing is better than a home-cooked meal that is wonderfully flavoured with native plants, and served with love”

The Community of Artists for Cultural and Historical Endeavours is having their AGM tonight at the Benque House of Culture. "Act now and become a member of a dynamic organization that has been promoting the Arts, Culture & History since 1991 in Benque Viejo. Join CACHE! Volunteer your time with us and impact the communities social and cultural life. Be a part of History in the making... an AGM will be held on Friday January 24th, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. This can be your first opportunity to interact and engage with other active members."

Wanaragua Book Launch
The Waranagua book launch was last week at the National Heritage Library. Artist Pen Cayetano, whose family created the book, was in attendance.

Kim Simplis Barrow brings motivational message to girls in the south
The national information campaign on the commercial sexual exploitation of children made its latest stop this afternoon in Punta Gorda town. Hundreds of school girls from the Toledo district gathered at the Sport Complex in PG to hear a message from the Special Envoy for Women and Children Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow. The message from Mrs. Barrow to the girls was simply that their body is precious. On Wednesday, the “My Body Is Precious” tour stopped in Dangriga town where hundreds of girls got to hear a personal message from Mrs. Barrow.

Elvin Penner returns to the House of Representatives
After missing three House of Representatives meeting since the passport scandal broke last September, the Honorable the member for Cayo Northeast, Mr. Elvin Penner was back in the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday. The House met in a special session and Penner made an appearance. Prior to the scandal and his subsequent firing as a junior minister, Penner sat on the backbench behind the Honorable the Prime Minister. On Wednesday, Penner was isolated to the far right hand side of the backbench on the government side of the House. In effect the opposite side of the back bench where he was seated prior to the scandal.

Police in Cayo investigate separate carnal knowledge cases
There are two reported cases of carnal knowledge involving teenage girls in the Cayo district. The latest incident is reported to have happened on Saturday night in San Ignacio. According to police reports, a 15 year old student went to the police station in San Ignacio along with her mother and reported that around 6:45 pm on Saturday a man she knows took her to his house in a van. The girl says that while at the man’s house, he had sexual intercourse with her. Police say that a medical examination was conducted on the minor where the doctor confirmed that there were signs of sexual contact. Police in San Ignacio are now looking for the man in the van, pending investigations.

High School student hurt in road traffic accident in Corozal
A traffic accident this morning on the Phillip Goldson Highway in the Corozal district has left two people injured and others shaken up. Reports are that the incident happened after 8 am today and involved a passenger bus belonging to Armstrong Bus Service and an SUV. The vehicles were traveling in opposite direction, the bus carrying students towards Corozal town. Reports from Corozal say that the blue Cherokee swerved into the lane of the passenger bus. To avoid a head on collision, the driver of the bus reportedly swerved off the right hand side of the road ending up in a cane field.

Channel 7

PUP Says 76 BAA Cheques Are From Castro
Tonight, the heat is mounting on Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport Edmund Castro - after the PUP released 76 cheques they say were issued at his request from the Belize Airports Authority to various individuals, institutions and businesses. All in all, the cheques, totaling some 116 thousand, 155 dollars and 19 cents, and issued between December 28, 2012 and September 11, 2013 show a pattern of the Minister of State using the Airports Authority as a kind of political piggy bank. Indeed, it is an old practice with politicians and statutory boards, but it's never been revealed before and not in such lurid details. We say lurid because 10 of the cheques were issued to his son, Jafari a few to his driver Norman Middleton, a few to a business associate, a few to Castro himself, and many to schools and businesses. And while some - such as those to schools or even chicken, butane or beverage companies can be justified as legitimate political work, it's tough to find the same justification for the 10 cheques issued to his son, Jafari. Or for that matter the over four thousand dollar cheque paid to Cellular Plus.

Belize Bank Employee Charged For Theft Of Quarter Mil.
Rosalva Kotch is an administrator at the Belize Bank in Dangriga - but tonight she is the suspect in a major case of theft from the bank. The 34 year old was taken to Dangriga Magistrate's Court yesterday and charged for 256 counts of theft from the Belize Bank Dangriga branch. The allegation is that she stole 271 thousand dollars over a period from January 2008 to December 2013. We called the Belize Bank Headquarters today, but were told only the President could comment and he was in a meeting. We need to stress how unusual it is for a bank to actually bring criminal charges against an employee. Typically so as not to startle depositors - these matters - which do happen - are dealt with internally, the employee is terminated and usually some discreet re-payment plan is agreed to. But, in this case the quantum or the severity of the allegations may have forced the bank's hands in going public.

Cruise Consultation In Independence Is Incendiary, Illuminating
Since April of last year there has been a campaign in the south from private tourism interests who are trying to resist multinational cruise company Norewegian Cruise Line from building a port to call near to the Placencia peninsula. The campaign has been creative, but after months of small encounters between the two, both entities met under one roof in Independence Village for a public consultation meeting for the Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposed port to be built on Harvest Caye. NCL is at the final stages to getting the project off the ground, but those private interests and concerned environmentalists are determined to fight to the very end. 7News was embedded in that meeting last night where sparks flew. Daniel Ortiz has this report: Daniel Ortiz reporting About 320 residents of the South gathered at the Independence High School Auditorium last night. They listened intently to the presentations made by the representatives of Norwegian Cruise Line and their environmental consultant.

After Meeting, Both Sides Claim Victory
And while that bubbles in the south, on a parallel track in the Belize District, the Barrow Administration has given the green light to Mike Feinstein's Stake Bank Project. A bill introduced yesterday in the house is named the Stake Banks Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill. The Prime Minister explained how it will work:.. Stewart Krohn - President, BTIA Placencia "You were here just like I was; the opposition was virtually unanimous. Out of all the hundreds of people that were here only one person spoke up directly in favor of the project and he read from a script that was obviously written by somebody else. I think its clear, the people here and the people of the south realize that this project - nobody ask for it, nobody needs it - there is the new development at Stake Bank that just today was approved and endorse by the national Assembly - that is the way to go. It's clear, there is absolutely no need for this cruise port at Harvest Caye for a million different reasons that we've gone over many times before." Daniel Ortiz "Did you expect such a negative feedback from the public?"

Government Greenlights Stake Bank Project
And while that bubbles in the south, on a parallel track in the Belize District, the Barrow Administration has given the green light to Mike Feinstein’s Stake Bank Project. A bill introduced yesterday in the house is named the Stake Banks Cruise Docking Facility Development Bill. The Prime Minister explained how it will work:…

This morning, about 50 students from the Belize Adventist High School in Calcutta village had a major scare when their school bus had a head-on collision with a Jeep SUV between miles 70 and 71 on the Northern Highway. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but 7News understands that the driver and a female student who was flung from the bus suffered minor injuries. It happened this morning at around 7:00. An Armstrong bus was carrying the students to their school compound in Calcutta, Corozal when the bus slammed into the jeep. The driver the bus, the driver of the SUV and the student who got hurt were all taken to receive medical treatment. The principal of Belize Adventist High School told our colleagues at CTV3 News that classes were cancelled for the other 49 students who were on the bus during the accident.

Vehicle Flips On Hummingbird, Scary Scene, No One Hurt
7News arrived on the scene of another accident at Mile 28 on the Hummingbird Highway at around 9 o’clock this morning where 3 men also walked away from a delivery truck which ended up on it’s right side. The received minor injuries, and as Daniel Ortiz found it, the 3 men are very lucky:

Chamber Swipes Back At Hon. Faber
Yesterday in the House of Representatives, Patrick Faber laid it on the Chamber of Commerce. That's after the Chamber sent out a release saying it supports the teachers for a raise. Faber said why don't they raise the minimum wage, and let the business community stop gouging consumers. That's a double ouch, and today the Chamber fired back. The Chamber says it has to clarify, that it supports a phased - in, merit-based increase. It seems to backtrack, somewhat, saying, quote, "We cannot support the notion of an across-the-board public sector wage increase." As to his cutting remarks about the minimum wage, the Chamber says, quote, "our response is that businesses that are good corporate citizens pay a disproportionate amount of taxes, leaving a diminished amount of resources with which to create jobs and pay employees." It adds, quote, "those disproportionate taxes cause the citizens of Belize to pay higher prices on goods and services because they directly and severely impact the cost of doing business."

The Kidnappers Called Back!
For the past 2 nights, 7News has been telling you about the kidnapping which happened in Copper Bank, Corozal. The captors managed to get with $15,000 in cash, but it seems that this amount wasn't enough. Supt. Andrew Ramirez, the officer commanding Corozal Police, confirmed to our colleagues at CTV3 News that the assailants made contact with the family today demanding more money. Viewers may remember that when the 4 men stole the money, they took Eduardo Nah's cell phone and gave him a chip which they would use to contact him. They did so today. Corozal Police have been busy today tracking down leads, trying to find out who these individuals are, but they have not made any progress as yet.

Gladden Gets Three For Drugs
40 year-old Ernest Gladden, a fisherman of Victoria Street is spending a 3 year sentence in prison after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking today in Magistrate's Court. According to police, they searched his house and found 0.19 ounces of marijuana in one parcel, 11 ounces in another parcel and a final 4.89 ounces in a third parcel. Police arrested and charged him with 2 counts of drug trafficking and one count of drug possession. He was arraigned today before the Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith, where he pleaded guilty. He had outstanding finds for a separate drug possession conviction, and so he was sentenced to 3 years in prison, and he must pay 2 additional fines of for $10,000 each drug trafficking conviction. If he defaults, he risks another 3 years in prison.

How To Discount Gift Certificates
Last night we closed our story on Caribbean Shores Area Representative Santino Castillo with a hanging question: how do you get discounts on gift certificates? He said he had steered all the business from the Christmas cheer programme to his family's stores, which we said was a conflict of interest. He said that in fact, he was doing government a favour since he gave a substantial discount - and sold the items at cost. But, how do you get a discount on a gift certificate, or buy at cost since all the items have to be bought at shelf prices? Well, during the news Castillo sent a text message explaining that if the government bought $90,000.00 in gift certificates from SAVE-U, he gave them 10% more in total value, bringing it up to 99 thousand dollars. Castillo says that translates into giving customers 10% off, being able to reach more people or giving each person more money per certificate. He says, his discount to government was more than 10%.

“Down Di Lane, Eena Di Drain!”
The timeless truism says that progress brings problems – and nowhere is that on more ample display than Belize City. The cementing of 100 plus streets in less than a year has been truly remarkable, but a few important things like drains have suffered. One man who knows that too well is contractor Charles Bucknor. He said the drains at the property he rents on Vernon street at the corner of Youth For The Future Drive have been backed up – and sent water rushing into the apartments, damaging his electrical appliances. Bucknor says the drain is backed up with over six feet of gunk:..

Making Moves With Mayan Artifacts
Tonight, 36 year-old Godswell Flores, a Belize City food vendor is out on bail after he was allegedly caught with 2 statues which the authorities believe to authentic Mayan jade artifacts. A woman police officer spotted Flores on Tuesday afternoon on Freetown Road and detained him because he matched the description she was given of a man wanted by police for questioning in connection with at shooting incident. When she searched him, she found a black knapsack which contained a small jade figurine and a large jade mask. The officer immediately recognized the possible importance of these items and escorted him to the Queen Street Police Precinct where he was charged with failure to produce a license to possess or have in custody or control any ancient monument for the two items.

Bad Roads Make For Good Business
2013 was one of the rainiest years on record - particularly the last half of the year. And then, the extraordinary rains in November and December wrecked streets and roads across Belize, and while the Ministry of Works has been scrambling to patch up potholes, car owners are trying to get their creaky cars road worthy once again. Anyone who knows someone with a car has heard the story of front end damage or suspensions wrecked due to too many potholes and soaked highways. The folks over at West Trac have heard it too. They're one of the biggest car parts vendors in Belize and today Neil Wolfe, the Manager at West Trac told Monica Bodden that their sales have gone up in the past 7 months. Neal Wolf - Manager, West Trac "Overall our sales have increased slightly during the last 7 months. It could be due to the roads." "We do sell a lot of suspension parts like shock observers, ball-joints, tie rod ends and wheel bearings. That's one thing that tends to go bad especially when you have a lot of rains and you drive through high water."

Man Busted With Weapon
Yesterday afternoon, Ladyville police caught a man with an unlicensed weapon. They searched a house on Jackson Avenue where both occupants dashed out. Police pursued the suspects and caught one of them only. He was searched and they found a "Thunder 9mm pistol" marked Industria Argentina with a magazine containing (17) .9mm Luger brand ammunition. He was later identified as 25 year old Edilberto Madrid, tattoo artist of Roaring Creek village, Cayo. He told police he was born in Belize, moved ot Guatemala, and then came back, and is trying to head to the US. Police say they don't believe him.

Reds War In O. Walk
We’ve been reporting regularly on the land dispute in the city involving a UDP city council park and a private landowner with UDP connects trying to chisel in on the public parcel of land. That one has since been resolved in the public interest, but now there’s news of another similar type of case in Orange Walk. This one is a little more dynamic because the house of the UDP in Orange Walk East is divided in the run – up to a hotly contested convention in that area. And that’s where Orlando Burns comes in. He’s the former UDP Standard Bearer who’s using PUP friendly media to allege suspicious moves with a public basketball court. He suggests dubious motives on the part of his former political ally and the title for the basketball court. And he also suggests that the family of the new aspirant for the East Elodio Aragon Jr could be trying to chisel in on the land.

Oh No He Didn’t!
Here at 7News, we listen to a lot of speeches by politicians. And sometimes, we hear some stuff that's just crazy. Usually we chalk it up to the temporary insanity or altitude sickness that can accompany ascension to high office, but this week two of them really caught our attention.

Channel 5

NCL Project gets the thumbs down at consultations
The Norwegian Cruise Line proposed port on Harvest Caye has been somewhat on the backburner lately, but for tourism stakeholders and residents in the south, it is certainly up front [...]

…But is project a done deal?
The discussion was tense on Wednesday because the proposed NCL tourism port is such a big deal for all involved. But perhaps the situation has been exacerbated by a perception [...]

P.M. Barrow blames both Castro and Board of Airports Authority on distasteful checks
On Wednesday, the House meeting lasted more than five hours, and a lot came out of it. We brought you the meat of the day on Wednesday, but tonight we [...]

Chamber of Commerce say the Castro cheques are clear examples of corruption
In various sectors, there is open concern that the government has not signed to an OAS anti-corruption convention called the MESICIC which stands for the Mechanism for Follow-Up on the [...]

A Freudian slip from Gappy; he predicts who will be in government next time around
The 2013-2014 sugar cane crop season starts on Friday. It’s long delayed, and conditions are not optimal. To make it worse, it is raining today in the north. Still, the [...]

Faber says industrial action by B.N.T.U. is the worst kind of tough love
Teachers will hold a protest march and rally in San Ignacio on Friday. As it has been since it started, the peaceful industrial action is a source of frustration for [...]

Chamber says Minister spoke out of turn; good teachers need to be rewarded
You heard the Minister lash out at the teachers for taking time off for industrial action and at the Chamber of Commerce for daring to support salary adjustment for the [...]

Both Penner and Barrow came under fire by Former Prime Minister, Said Musa
Corruption was very much at the forefront of Wednesday’s House meeting. The Castro checks situation was front and center, but with Elvin Penner’s sudden and unexpected resurrection, he came under [...]

Bus collides into a jeep…a number of students are injured
A bus full of passengers travelling from Orange Walk collided with a jeep before it could get to its destination in Corozal. The bus careened into a nearby cane field [...]

Chamber of Commerce responds to jabs made by Minister Faber
At Wednesday’s House Meeting Minister of Education Patrick Faber took jabs at the Chamber of Commerce saying that instead of writing release in support of teachers the private sector body [...]

BGYEA is mobilizing for the weekend
Prime Minister Dean Barrow has referred to the Ministry of Natural Resources a hotbed of corruption. And he is not alone in that opinion. The Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association [...]

Godsman Flores charged for being in possession of Mayan artefacts
  Thirty six year-old Godsman Flores, a food vendor of Church Street in Belize City, appeared in court this morning for Failure to Produce a License to Possess or have [...]

Roberto Gilharry freed of Handling Stolen Goods
  Also before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, thirty-seven year old Roberto Gilharry walked from a charge of handling stolen goods.   The matter was initially before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith, [...]

Ernest Gladden busted with cannabis
In a police sweep of a house on Victoria Street, the Quick Response Team found four hundred and fifty-five point one grams of suspected cannabis which is the equivalent to [...]

Roaring Creek tattoo artist caught with unlicensed firearm
A tattoo artist from Roaring Creek was arrested on Wednesday in Ladyville. Edilberto Madrid was along with another person in a small wooden house located on Jackson Avenue when police [...]

Ras Indio back in Belize for upcoming concert in Orange Walk
Award winning Belizean reggae artist Ras Indio is recognized for his conscious music and prolific production. He is a composer, songwriter and singer who has travelled around the world and [...]


Hard Talk Between Faber and Belize Chamber Of Commerce
Also in the House of Representatives yesterday, Minister of Education Patrick Faber raved about the education achievements to date from the Government, before delving further to criticize the stance from the Belize Chamber of Commerce, who supports the teacher’s salary adjustment movement. Apparently, Faber was offended by the support teachers garnered from the private sector entity and said in the house that it’s none of the chambers business to intervene and challenged that private sector workers get a raise as well. Here is that clip. Patrick Faber- Minister Of Education “You know, the Chamber, Mister Speaker, but out a release that I don’t understand. I think it baffles me. They are saying that the teachers deserve a raise and they support the teachers getting a raise. Well for the record, this administration, nobody in here—I don’t think the Prime Minister or any of his ministers—have ever said that we don’t think that the teachers deserve a raise; so let’s put that to rest. In fact, in his New Year’s message and in those negotiations, we have agreed that a raise will be given. We just don’t agree on the thirty percent and the reason why we noh agree on that thirty percent is because we can’t afford it.

P.M Says There Is No Corruption In Castro's Recent Cheques Scandal
And unto more pressing issues with the Governments dishonored Ministers, Prime Minister Barrow was asked of checks paid out by the Belize Airports Authority to Minister of State in the Minister of Transport, Edmund Castro. This is after Leader of the Opposition; Francis Fonseca revealed a total of 60 checks to the House of Representatives. This move prompted the PM to react with a swift counter-response stating that in his view it was not ‘Corrupt’ but was ‘Ill-advised and wrong”. Here’s how that played out. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition “There are cheques here made out to him. Cheque number zero-zero-four-nine-five-four in the amount of nine hundred dollars to Edmond Castro…Belize Bank cheque Airport Authority to Edmond Castro. Cheque number zero-zero-four-nine-five-seven in the amount of four thousand dollars to Edmond Castro. Belize Airport Authority cheque number zero-zero-five-zero-six-six in the amount of five thousand one hundred and fifty-six dollars and fifty-five cents made out to Edmond Castro. Man this is absolute nonsense Mister Speaker, absolute nonsense, and that is just a sampling man.

Students Escape Unhurt In What Could Have Been A Deadly Traffic Accident
This morning our news room was flooded with calls of a traffic accident on the Philip Goldson Highway. The incident involved a student bus and a jeep Cherokee. Luckily, no fatalities were recorded but left the passengers shaken. Reporter Victor Castillo was at the scene and filed the following report. Victor Castillo – Reporting Around 7:00 this morning, this bus carrying 50 students from the Belize Adventist High School was en-route to the high school in Calcutta Village Corozal when it became involved in what could have been a deadly traffic accident. As you can see, the bus, belonging to Armstrong Bus Service, landed in a nearby cane field while this jeep Cherokee which was traveling in the opposite direction and allegedly swerved into the lane of the passenger bus became a mangled wreck as a result of the collision.

Crop Set To Commence Tomorrow Numerous Large Portion Of Sugar Roads Still Not Fixed
Tomorrow the long awaited start to the 2014 Sugar Cane Crop season should go into full effect as the Belize Sugar Industries Limited will open it gates to farmers from 10:00 in the morning. This will happen while cane farmers are still struggling to take out their product from the cane fields due to the extremely bad conditions of the sugar roads. While the Ministry of Works is presently carrying out works on the sugar roads, it will be quite some time before all roads are brought up to driving standards to say the least. These and other economic concerns were brought up yesterday at the House of Representatives by Orange Walk South Area Representative, Jose Abelardo Mai. But Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega lashed back saying that despite the challenges with the road and weather, the sugar crop season will commence, come rain or shine. Jose Mai, Orange Walk South Area Representative “I heard a statement that fifty percent of the sugar roads would be completed by Friday. Well that is far from being realistic Mister Speaker. I was in the area yesterday, in my constituency—which is the second largest sugar cane producing branch—and it is far from the truth. There is no doubt in my mind that the Ministry of Works is trying to do its best, but I think that there are things that still can be done. Mister Speaker, the rate of repair must be accelerated. The sugar industry cannot afford further delay and I will tell you why. Mister Speaker, we have a hundred and twenty day crop to deliver one point two million tonnes of sugar cane this year. This is the largest crop since the project of BELCOGEN came in; in 2009-2010, we had similar one point three million tonnes. Today the farmers have one point two million tonnes. The milling capacity of seven thousand five hundred a day, definitely there will be cane left out this year.”

Accident In Centre Of Corozal Town Leaves Three Injured
A traffic accident in the heart of Corozal Town sent to women and a half month old baby to the Corozal Community Hospital. At around 9:40 yesterday morning police visited 5th Avenue where they observed a white Toyota Tacoma Pick-Up with Corozal license plate parked in front of a food stall facing a northerly direction and a grey Mercedes Benz Car with Belmopan license plate parked on the right hand side of the street with damages to its left front portion. Reports are that the pick-up, which was driven at the time by Angel Patt, 34 year old Belizean Construction worker of Santa Rita Area, Corozal Town, was traveling on 3rd Street South from an east to west direction and upon making a right turn into 5th Avenue, fell into a drain. In his attempt to get the pick-up out of the drain Patt accelerated the vehicle. And the vehicle did come out of the drain but as it did so it slammed into the grey Mercedes Benz at the same time hitting Janira Gamboa, 21 year old Belizean sales clerk of Concepcion Village, Corozal District, who was holding her new born and Solemi Novelo, 17 year old Belizean unemployed of Concepcion village, Corozal District. The pick-up also caused damages to the food stall belonging to Gloria Itzab.

Despite Involvement In Passport Scandal Penner Still Receiving Perks
Months after being fired from Cabinet, the infamous Cayo North East Representative Elvin Penner made an appearance at the very first House of Representatives meeting yesterday in Belmopan. As you may be aware, Penner remains in the spotlight as the mastermind of the biggest Immigration Scandal in Belize’s history as information surfaced that he facilitated a Belizean Passport for Won Hong Kim who did not even step foot in Belizean territory when his passport was issued because he was incarcerated in Taiwan. Since the news broke, Prime Minster Barrow has stripped Penner of his government portofolio, but that’s where it ended. He did not face criminal charges, despite credible evidence of his participation and up to date, is still receiving his full salary plus all the perks and extras that any elected Minister would receive. Well, yesterday after the House Meeting, the media spoke with Prime Minster Barrow on Penner’s status and reappearance at the House of Representatives. Let’s just say, the PM remains unfazed.

Kidnappers Get In Contact With Their Victims, They Want More Money
Tonight the nightmare for, 32 year old Eduardo Nah and his common law wife 25 year old Roxanie Cruz, the couple who was kidnapped by four armed masked men as they arrived at their home in the Village of Copper Bank on Monday night, continues. Today when we contacted Officer Commanding the Corozal Police Formation Andrew Ramirez for an update on the case he told us that the kidnappers have contacted the couple demanding what is believed to be a large sum of money. We understand that police are looking closely into the matter and are presently interrogating persons of interest. As previously mentioned, on Monday night the couple was abducted by four armed Hispanic men. They were taken to a cane field between Progresso and San Estevan in the family’s dark grey Toyota 4 Runner. Right there and then Nah had to hand over $15,000 to his abductors in order for him and his wife to be released. Before being released the kidnappers did inform Nah and his common-law-wife that they would be contacted for more money, hence why they were given a chip to a Digicell phone. We understand that police have been doing their work in tracing the number.

Guadalupe Park In O/W East Is Now Privatized
The controversy surrounding the land where the East Sports Centre on Aurora Street and the parcel of land adjacent the centre continue to be of interest. Since the East Sports Centre Committee brought to light their difficulties faced when trying to acquire the land documents for the sports centre, the circumstances surrounding the land next to it, a land that should be government property and a community park, came to light and took the forefront in this matter. We have presented an official document that shows that the parcel has been privatized since 2012, but there are allegations that the information gathered may be erroneous. Therefore, we dug further into the story to find out more on the parcel of land and here is what we found. Dalila Ical – Reporting The documents we obtained and which is registered in the Lands Registry department shows that parcel ID: 4- 102- 2215 was first registered on October 17th, 2011 in the name of Elodio Aragon. The Status indicators section state it is “Absolute Title, Private Land, Active Parcel, Freehold”. On January sixth 2012, that title was then transferred to Adin Glen Aragon.


Sugar Cane Crop Season Opens Tomorrow; Sugar Roads Still Undone
Despite more than 50% of Sugar Roads still in dire need of attention the 2014 sugar cane harvest and delivery season is scheduled to start tomorrow as agreed last Friday. The Tower Hill factory gate is scheduled to open at 10am with the Corozal division starting the delivery. Cane farmers will deliver until 10pm at which time the Orange Walk division will get the opportunity to delivery its sugarcane for 12 hours. In speaking with Vice chairman of the BSCFA Alfredo Ortega, he told us that the crop season will start tomorrow no matter what are the setbacks. We note that this harvest season has been delayed for almost eight weeks due to difference between BSI and the BSCFA and because of the conditions of the sugar roads. When Ministry of Works personnel met with caneros last Friday, they said they need four extra days to complete at least 50% of work in the sugar roads but we understand that has not been possible. BSI needs at least 5000 tons of sugar cane delivered daily in order for its mills to operate normally. We will have more on the opening of the sugar cane crop season tomorrow.

Murder File for Former Minister’s Son Is Now With DPP
In November of last year, Michael Silva, after allegedly receiving medical treatment in Guatemala for ingesting poison two years prior, returned to Belize and gave himself up to San Ignacio Police who had Silva as the main suspect for the murder of Maritza Santos. After returning to Belize, in November 7, Silva walked into the San Ignacio Police Station where he was immediately charged with murder. Since then he has been on remand. Today Silva returned to court. His attorney, Dickie Bradley explained. DICKIE BRADLEY “Mr. Silva was brought back to court today and given a further adjournment. It is our understanding that the investigation is just about complete, they had already done all the ground work and the file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions and we are hoping that upon reading that file, it would be returned hastily so that we can move on to the next stage of the process in this matter. A person charged with murder cannot be tried in a Magistrate’s Court; they must go to the Supreme Court and so we are hoping that we are not far away from the process which starts that which is called a preliminary inquiry and so the Magistrate gave an adjournment today. This is a matter that occurred from in 2011, the police did all their investigations. The person who they would want to say is their prime suspect had to be given permission to be taken abroad for psychiatric and medical treatment. He had, in fact, I was going to say ingested but let me not use one of your words, let me use my word; he swallowed poison.”

More Reports of Carnal Knowledge Cases; 14-Year-Old 32 Weeks Pregnant
Two more cases of carnal knowledge are being investigated, this time by officers in the Cayo District. Reports are that a 15-year-old, in the company of her mother went to the San Ignacio Town Police Station and stated that on January 18, 2014 at around 5:45pm, a man known to her took her in a van to his home and engaged in sexual intercourse with her. A medical examination has confirmed the teenager’s hymen is not intact and Police are seeking the accused. The other incident is being reported by a 14-year-old student of Ontario Village. The young girl, in the company of her sister went to the Belmopan Police Station and reported that between the months of July and August of last year, a man whom she knows went to her home and they had engaged in sexual intercourse on three separate occasions. The minor was examined by a doctor who certified that she is 32 weeks pregnant. Police are seeking the man pending investigations.

Tattoo Artist Suspected of Robberies in Ladyville
Ladyville Police have captured a 25-year-old tattoo artist of Roaring Creek Village in the Cayo District whom they believe has been responsible for several robberies in the area. On Wednesday, January 22 at around 3:45pm officers attached to the Ladyville Police Station visited a home on Jackson Avenue that was occupied by two men but upon seeing the officers, the men ran out the back door and into the nearby bushes. Police pursued the men and managed to nab Edilberto Madrid on Poinsetta Street while the other person made good his escape. A search of Madrid was conducted and turned up a Thunder Industria Argentina brand nine millimeter pistol with serial number 8-4-5-5-9-2 along with a magazine containing seventeen 9mm Luger brand ammunition.

Driver Crashes Into Mercedes; Injured Three and Destroyed Food Stand
A minor traffic incident in Corozal Town turned into a series of collisions, leaving several persons injured. At around 9:40 on Wednesday morning in the municipality, Belizean Construction worker, 34-year-old, Angel Patt of the Santa Rita area in that municipality was driving his Toyota Tacoma pickup truck on 3rd Street South when his rear tire fell into the drain as he was making a right turn onto 5th Avenue. In an attempt to get his vehicle out, he accelerated the pickup truck and managed to get it out but at that point instead of hitting the brakes on his truck to park on the side of the street, which was his intention, he accelerated further and the Tacoma pickup truck ended up on the sidewalk colliding into a Mercedes Benz belonging to 39-year-old, Ruben Menjivar of Ranchito Village in the Corozal District.

Nicodemus Beats Murder Charge and Freed
Twenty two year old Nicodimus Rodriguez is a free man tonight after he was released this morning. Rodriguez along with Gilmor Martinez and Gilbert Lamb were accused of the murder of Rodolfo Villatoro in Dangriga in April 9, 2009. This morning, Rodriguez was set free on a no case submission assertion by his attorney Arthur Saldivar. Rodriguez’s mother, Anita Garcia, told Love News that her son had spent more than four year behind bars for a crime he did not commit. The two other men are in custody for the remainder of their trial. In other news from Dangriga, 34 year old Rosalva Couch, former Belize Bank Administrative Manager in Dangriga was formally arraigned in the Dangriga Magistrate Court yesterday where she heard charges against her for two hundred and fifty six counts of theft. It is alleged that between the period of 2008 and 2013, Couch misappropriated two hundred and seventy one thousand dollars from the Belize Bank with the intention of permanently deprived the bank of its property. Because of the nature of the crime, no plea was taken. She was asked to hand over her travel documents and present herself to the police station weekly. Couch has retained the legal service of former FIU director Marilyn Williams and is set to return to court on April 22.

Fisherman Convicted for Drug Trafficking
Forty year old Ernest Gladden, a fisherman of Victoria street, was given two three year sentences and two ten thousand dollar fines today by the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith after he pled guilty to two counts of drug trafficking. Chief magistrate Smith stipulated that the sentences are to run concurrently, so Gladden will only serve three years. Gladden also pled guilty to a charge of possession of a controlled drug and he was fined one hundred dollars. The charges arose from an incident which occurred yesterday when a quick response police team executed a search at his residence. The search resulted in the discovery of five point four grams of cannabis in a Gamesa biscuit pan in his living room and 312 grams and 138 grams of cannabis in his refrigerator.

Woes in the Citrus Industry; Growers not Getting Paid
Citrus growers will attend an emergency meeting on Saturday at the Citrus Growers’ Association to discuss what the CGA says are overbearing delays with payments to the growers. Today the Chief Executive Director of the CGA, Henry Anderson, told Love News that the delays in payments have extended from the last quarter of 2013. HENRY ANDERSON The Committee of Management had an emergency meeting on Wednesday and after that there was a meeting with the Chairman of the CGA, the Executive Committee, if you will and the Deputy Prime Minister and the CEO of Agriculture bringing to their attention issues in the industry with growers are not being paid for their fruits and it is not sure when they would get paid. The Committee of Management decided to have a consultation session on Saturday with the members of the CGA to apprise them of the situation and to discuss the situation with them and that is essentially what the notice is about. Since we sent out the notice, we just got word that growers will get payments for fruits delivered last week but it is uncertain, at this point, when they will get payment for the fruits that were delivered this week.

Prime Minister Settles Land Conflict in Caribbean Shores
The controversy over a piece of land in Caribbean Shores seems to be settled. Late last year we reported that residents were upset after an area they had designated as a park was given to a private individual. Last week Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley told the media why it was necessary to keep the land as it was originally designated. A caution was put on the land and a hearing had been scheduled for next week. However area representative, Minister of State Santino Castillo told the media yesterday the matter has been settled. Castillo said he has been involved from the inception in getting the matter settled. HON. SANTINO CASTILLO “I realized from the start that this was a UDP vs UDP situation and it made no sense to go public with this one and so, I have been fighting behind closed doors to ensure that the best thing had been done for everyone. I brought it up to Cabinet a few weeks ago and I have been in touch with the residents, namely, from the very beginning, Damien Gough, Sylvia Cattousse, Ann Marie Williams, Johnny Valdez and also with Giovanni Blease. I brought the situation to Cabinet and the Prime Minister, after discussing it said to me, ‘if you can get me signatures from the area, from the residents, I would gladly revisit it and see how we can have a better solution and so I went back to the residents and they got their petitions to me on Monday and I brought it to Cabinet on Tuesday and sure enough the PM told the Deputy Prime Minister to let us find another piece of land for Mr. Blease or compensate him but that the land would, in fact, remain a park.”

PM Says Society Will Have Final Say on Occupational Safety and Health Bill
The Occupational Safety and Health Bill was introduced yesterday. In introducing the bill, which the unions have been pushing for some time, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said while the bill is one whose time has come, it is necessary to look at what the cost might be. RT. DEAN BARROW “The key feature of the bill is the establishment of the National occupational safety and health authority (NOSHA) consisting of twelve members. NOSHA will have a secretariat called Inspectorate in the bill headed by a chief safety and health inspector; provision is also made for a deputy chief safety and health inspector, a health inspector and a minimum of one inspector per district. To defray the cost of NOSHA and Inspectorate, the bill provides for a NOSHA fund which will be comprised of the monies voted by the National Assembly coming from tax payers. Like other statutory bodies, NOSHA will submit annual budget estimates to the Ministry of Finance for approval from the National Assembly. In effect, Mr. Speaker, it is the Government that will have to shoulder the cost of another pretty sizeable bureaucracy which will not be easy to fund. Apart from this the Government of Belize as an employer and I believe as the largest single employer, will incur substantial additional costs relating to the purchasing of personnel protective gear and that sort of thing; more importantly, the requisite administrative and infrastructure changes to the existing workplace environment and to the policies and procedures to meet the standards set out in the bill.


After-House Clash Between Minister Faber and Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry today, responded to comments made by Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, at Wednesday’s Special Sitting of the House of Representatives. Minister Faber criticized the Chamber for its support of the BNTU, who is hosting countrywide rallies to bring awareness to issues of

The Prime Minister Challenges the Opposition Leader to Produce the Copies of the 60 Cheques
The glaring evidence that Minister Castro had been getting regular cheques from the Belize Airport Authority was one of the top issues discussed at adjournment of yesterday’s House sitting. It was the Belize Times that first broke the news on December 20th, 2013. Since then, they have released 9

PM Says BAA Was in the Right Legal Position to Authorize those Cheques?
The scalding evidence of Minister Castro’s cheques raised many concerns, and according to Hon. Francis Fonseca, the Prime Minister has a responsibility to deal with the matter and stressed that this is the not the first time that Minister Castro has been involved in such mischief. However, the Prime

Mr. Michael Silva Appears Back in San Ignacio Court
Mr. Michael Silva, charged with the murder of his girlfriend Maritza Santos, appeared in court for the second time today. In 2011, Silva’s girlfriend was found murdered in his home in San Ignacio, having died from a massive blow to the head. According to police, Silva was also at

Prime Minister: “Immigration Officers Should Not Be Excused”
Three Immigration Officers namely, Senior Officer Sharon Neal and Data Entry Clerks Erwin Robinson and Omar Phillips are presently on suspension and facing possible termination, for their alleged involvement in the Kim Won-Hong passport scandal. Director of the Immigration Department, Mrs. Maria Marin, has submitted recommendation for the officers to

Island Routes Too Big for FECTAB
The Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) has gained a sterling reputation for never being afraid to fight – whether with the Government, or Belize Tourism Board, or especial enemy Chukka Tours which it has accused of everything short of homicide. But there is news of a...

The Guardian

Deal of the Year!
Speaker of the House, Hon. Michael Peyrefitte was in New York on Thursday, January 16th during which he received an award on behalf of the Government of Belize. The award was presented to the country after it successfully renegotiated the Superbond earning the recognition of being “2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year.” Peyrefitte received the award in Gotham Hall in New York City. It was presented to the government of Belize by the Latin Finance publication which covers markets of Latin America and the Caribbean. Speaking to Hon. Peyrefitte, he explained to the Guardian that it was an honor to have received the award on behalf of the government and he expressed great pride and satisfaction for having been able to contribute to the successful renegotiation of the bond. The award is of particular importance since this singles out Belize as having been able to negotiate the bond to its benefit. This is a big deal since other countries have not been able to do the same. Countries like Jamaica and Barbados for example are struggling to get their public debt under control with both taking actions which include wage cuts as well as retrenchment in the public sector in order for this to be done.

Close to 500 students to graduate at UB’s Eighteenth Commencement
The University of Belize will honour an estimated 481 Graduates at its Eighteenth Commencement at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday 25th January at its Recreation and Events Centre at the Belmopan Central Campus. Guest Speaker for the ceremony, Ms. Kay Menzies, President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will deliver the Keynote Address. Students will receive diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor and Certificate levels from the Faculty of Education and Arts, (FEA), totalling 197, the Faculty of Management & Social Sciences, (FMSS), with a total of 174, the Faculty of Science and Technology, (FST) with a total of 82, and the Faculty of Nursing, Allied Health & Social Work (FNAHSW) with a total of 28. Of the total number of graduates 307 are females and 174 are males representing 63.8 and 36.2 per cent respectively. During the ceremony, students who have distinguished themselves will receive the university’s official honour chords. The tri-cable white honour chords recognise those graduating with Cum Laude; gold honour chords designate graduates with Magna Cum Laude (great honour); and purple honour chords are worn by graduates with Summa Cum Laude-the highest honour.

Chamber of Commerce Should Put Money Where Its Mouth Is!!!
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a press release on January 20th saying, “The Chamber supports the Teachers in their demand for a wage adjustment that better reflects the increased cost of living experienced by all Belizeans…” This is no different from Government’s position. Government has already committed to a wage adjustment for not only teachers but for all public officers. Now that the Chamber seems all too willing to discuss “wage adjustment that better reflects the increased cost of living experienced by ALL BELIZEANS”, it is time that Government table an increase in the minimum wage that is equally “substantial” to the salary adjustment that public officers will receive. Teachers are not the only people living in this economic period; public servants are not the only people living in this economic period- workers from the private sector are shopping at the same stores as public servants. Since the Chamber is in full support of wage adjustment then Government should table an across the board salary adjustment for public and private sector workers.

Teachers Rally in Belize City
A little less than 500 teachers and supporters from the Belize District took to the streets of Belize City on Friday, January 17, in the third rally in a series that was supposedly planned before the announcement that Government would grant teachers and public officers a salary increase. This rally pooled membership from the cayes as well, where there was a possible 1,700 teachers who could have come out, but only 29% (less than a third) showed up in support. For whatever reason that amount of teachers didn’t show up. Those who did tried to make up for it by taking over Cemetery Road and the downtown area for a short march to show the BNTU’s machinery in action. Everyone gathered at the Battlefield Park, where majority of the BNTU Belize City Branch’s activities were concentrated. Quite a number of schools in the Belize City area were closed because the teachers were out participating in this rally, and to ramp up a sort of ‘civil disobedience’, rally was conducted with as much gusto as required to disturb the normal flow and activity of the downtown area, in the near vicinity of the judiciary which had just re-opened for 2014, some 4 days earlier.

Belize Celebrates Technical and Vocational Education Week
The Ministry of Education is spending over four million dollars on technical and vocational education this financial year which is more than ever before. However, the technical and vocational education institutions continue to be underutilized across the country. According to Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, “There are only three to four hundred trainees across the country that are full time and I know that it is improving but that is not the best bang for our buck.” Minister Faber said, “We need to highlight and trumpet the kind of work that is being done in the ITVETs and CET across the country because the projects that are being done by these students are truly spectacular.” The Ministry believes that highlighting the work of students of ITVETs and CET will attract more youths to access technical and vocational education opportunities. Regional partners, the CARICOM Education for Employment (CEFE), plans to assist Belize in marketing its technical and vocational institutions in order to increase enrollment.

Conspiracy Theories
Conspiracy theories are often and correctly written off as the products of an over active imagination. However, at times they are the true explanation for events that cannot otherwise be explained. Consider the scenario unfolding in Belize. While this region and many others are mired in negative economic growth, increasing unemployment rates, spiraling inflation and surging violence, Belize is experiencing steady positive economic expansion, greater employment opportunities, low inflation and a marked decrease in violent crime. The Superbond Monster has been tamed though not entirely defeated; the Sugar Industry that was on the verge of collapse has been revitalized bringing increased income to cane farmers; utility rates have gone down; infra-structure improvement are visible country wide; primary school completion and access to secondary school has increased dramatically with changes in education funding protocols bringing financial relief to thousands of families; and internationally admired pro-poor policies administered in a non-partisan fashion have brought hope for a better future to those most in need. Although instances of individual corruption continue to be uncovered both in the private and the public sector there is no evidence of institutional corruption such as that practiced on a massive scale by the previous PUP government. The important difference, one that opinion makers are not generally drawing, is between an individual who accepts payment to game the system and a system that is set up to siphon public funds into private well connected hands.

Belize Celebrates Technical and Vocational Education Week
The Ministry of Education is spending over four million dollars on technical and vocational education this financial year which is more than ever before. However, the technical and vocational education institutions continue to be underutilized across the country. According to Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, “There are only three to four hundred trainees across the country that are full time and I know that it is improving but that is not the best bang for our buck.” Minister Faber said, “We need to highlight and trumpet the kind of work that is being done in the ITVETs and CET across the country because the projects that are being done by these students are truly spectacular.” The Ministry believes that highlighting the work of students of ITVETs and CET will attract more youths to access technical and vocational education opportunities. Regional partners, the CARICOM Education for Employment (CEFE), plans to assist Belize in marketing its technical and vocational institutions in order to increase enrollment.

Ministry of Works Assesses Performance
On Thursday, January 16, 2014, the Ministry of Works and Transport held its quarterly Technical Staff Meeting. Present were Honourable Rene Montero, Minister of Works and Transport; Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Errol Gentle; Chief Engineer, Mr. Lennox Bradley; Engineers, District Technical Supervisors (DTS), Assistant Technical Supervisors (ATS), other Technical Staff as well as Senior Staff from the Administrative and Accounts Sections. The Minister commended the staff for work well done during 2013, but emphatically mentioned the projected works in the pipeline to deal with civil works in the North to mitigate the effects of the recent rains as well as other “Hot Spots” countrywide.

Top Public Servants from CARICOM in Belize
Twenty-two of the highest ranking public servants from twelve Caribbean countries are in Belize participating in a Leadership Development Programme sponsored by the Government of Canada. Belize is being represented by Tracy Panton, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, and David Leacock, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education. According to Marie Legault, Counsellor of the High Commission of Canada-Jamaica, the programme is designed to build the capacity of public service leaders to prompt economic growth, contribute more effectively to regional integration and promote gender sensitive public sector reform. Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, delivered the keynote address focusing on the topic “Citizen Centered Service- Answering the Call to Action”. Minister Faber said it should be the goal of every administration to operate a people centered government. In order to do that, governments must know what the people want. He says, “Figuring out what the people want is simple. You do so by listening to them.” He cautioned; however, that listening can also be complex. He said there are times when you may think you are doing something that everyone will be happy with only to be met with strong opposition. Minister Faber pointed to his experience with the passage of the Education and Training Act.

Jungle Jam in Fort George
Roger Espejo’s 1st-ever ‘Jungle Jam’ was successfully held this past Saturday where scores of residents from the ‘Pickstock Hutment’ area enjoyed a day of community or as Roger Espejo dubs it: ‘A Display of Health and Strength’. The event was part of the vision Roger Espejo has for the Fort George Constituency in fighting poverty. He strongly believes that by bringing the community closer, albeit through mundane sporting events, young people can appreciate one another more. Espejo holds that it builds sportsmanship, encourages team work, fosters peace and stems rivalry. The event was graciously opened by Mayor Darrel Bradley where the City’s popular leader even played a couple basketball games with the young men of the area before the basketball tournament started. Councillor Alain Gonzalez also played a major role as he administered a free basic health clinic for anyone wanting to verify their diabetes status and/or blood pressure. Councillors Mike Theus and Alifa Elrington-Hyde were also in attendance to share their time with the residents of this marginalized but ever-hopeful area known as ‘the jungle’.

Contracts for Santa Elena Football Complex signed
Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL), a public sector agency of the Government of Belize (GOB), is undertaking the design, construction and management of capital projects in Belize with particular emphasis on sporting and other multipurpose facilities. The Investment project was initiated on January 21st, 2014 with contract signature for consulting services and architectural designs for infrastructure at the Santa Elena Football Complex and Facilities. BIL, along with technical support from the Ministry of Works, is working closely with the Local Government Representative for the area. The investments to be financed as a prerequisite to any commencement of the civil works, and relevant to this consultancy, include a feasibility study, inclusive of public and one-on-one consultations with the community and relevant stakeholders, socio/environmental studies as related to any environmental management, approved design plans, bidding documents inclusive of all cost estimates, and operational recommendations for the Santa Elena Football Complex and Facilities.

Social Investment Fund hands over the keys to Library in Cayo
A representative from the Social Investment Fund SIF handed over the keys to a completely refurbished library in Santa Elena Town in the Cayo District on Friday of last week. Mike Zetina from SIF delivered the documents and keys to Joy Ysaquirre, Chief Librarian Officer in a brief signing ceremony at the upper floor of the newly improved and spacious building that will be inaugurated soon. Improvements to the Santa Elena Public Library came at a cost of about $415,000.00, with some of the funding coming from the Caribbean Development Bank. The work completed at the Santa Elena Public Library involved the building of a computer room extension, equipped with fifteen desktops and a central server. This new and well ventilated computer room is in fulfillment of a vision by Cayo Central Area Representative, the Hon. Rene Montero, to usefully engage our Nation’s youths. In addition to general improvements of the original structure, a six foot high chain link fence was also built for added security to the freshly painted building.

Close to 500 students to graduate at UB’s Eighteenth Commencement
The University of Belize will honour an estimated 481 Graduates at its Eighteenth Commencement at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday 25th January at its Recreation and Events Centre at the Belmopan Central Campus. Guest Speaker for the ceremony, Ms. Kay Menzies, President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will deliver the Keynote Address. Students will receive diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor and Certificate levels from the Faculty of Education and Arts, (FEA), totalling 197, the Faculty of Management & Social Sciences, (FMSS), with a total of 174, the Faculty of Science and Technology, (FST) with a total of 82, and the Faculty of Nursing, Allied Health & Social Work (FNAHSW) with a total of 28. Of the total number of graduates 307 are females and 174 are males representing 63.8 and 36.2 per cent respectively.

Kidnapping and Ransom in Corozal
Corozal Residents, 32 year-old Eduardo Nah; his 25 year-old common law wife, Roxanie Cruz; and his 24 year-old brother, Sabino Nah were the victims of a carefully planned kidnapping on Monday, January 20. Fortunately, all 3 victims are alive today, but they only survived the ordeal after handing over $15,000 in ransom. The 3 had just arrived at their home in the remote village of Copper Bank in Corozal just before 8 o’clock that night. They opened the gate and they were parking Eduardo’s vehicle when 4 armed, masked men ran into the compound and held them up at gunpoint. The men spoke to them in Spanish that they recognized as distinctly Belizean. Sabino Nah was struck in the head with the butt of a rifle, handcuffed and then ordered to lie flat on the ground. The other 3 men escorted Eduardo and Roxanie into their house where they ransacked it. Sabino took advantage of his captors lapse in alertness, and he escaped while he was still handcuffed. He went to seek help from other villagers, and when he returned shortly afterwards, the 4 assailants were gone, they had taken Roxanie and Eduardo in the couple’s vehicle.

Eaton Carr Murdered
Eaton Emory Carr, 36, a resident of Holy Emmanuel Street, was murdered on Sunday, January 19, he had been gunned down on Banak Street. Police found his body at around 10:19 p.m.; with multiple wounds to the neck, upper chest, right arm, and the back, a total of 7 gunshots injuries. Investigators believed that just before 10 o’clock that night, Carr was on Banak Street standing when his assailant ambushed him and shot him several times before fleeing the scene. He fell to his death in the drain, and that’s where police retrieved his body. Not much is known at this time about the attack because no one has come forward with information about how the shooting unfolded, what has been reported to police is that at around the time, residents heard the gunshots, and a short while afterward, Carr’s lifeless body was discovered.

Frank Garcia Charged for Attempting to Kill His Nephew
Frank Garcia,54, appeared before Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith on Monday, January 20th, to answer to charges of attempted murder, dangerous harm with a deadly instrument and use of deadly means of harm. Garcia is being accused of trying to kill his 23-year-old nephew, Sherwin Garcia on January 12th. At about 8 p.m. on January 12th, police responded to reports of a chopping incident at #6 Oleander Street. According to police reports, Sherwin Garcia was riding his bicycle when Frank shouted for him. When he turned around, his uncle was already charging at him with a machete and chopped him across the face. Sherwin was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for treatment. Police have not established a motive for the chopping and charged Frank Garcia for the attack on his nephew.

Alrick Lamb Pleads Guilty to Gun Possession, Five Others on Remand
Officers of the Gang Suppression Unit were conducting mobile patrol on the Phillip Goldson Highway in Belize City on Friday night, January 17th, when at about 10:45 p.m. their attention was drawn to a red Ford F-150 pickup truck with numerous young men inside. The truck turned right off the highway and headed towards the BelCan Bridge. It was then that the driver of the police vehicle put on his lights signaling the truck driver to pull over. The driver complied and stopped on Peter Seco Street where police ordered everyone to exit the vehicle. Inside the truck were the driver 34-year-old Richard Smith, 29-year-old Everald Gray, 19-year-old Arthur Hill Jr., 18-year-old Jihadul Gill, Alrick Lamb, and Delbert Alvarez. Police searched the men and found nothing incriminating. A subsequent search of the truck led to the discovery of a .45 firearm with seven live rounds and an extended magazine under the driver’s seat, all prohibited in Belize. The six men were arrested and charged with possession of prohibited firearm, ammunition and extended magazine.

Kevin “Migit” Manzanero captured in Cayo
One of two well known criminals, who had been operating in the Cayo District has been captured. Kevin “Migit” Manzanero was injured with a machete during an aggravated burglary at a house on Collin’s Boulevard this past Saturday night and had gone for medical attention at the San Ignacio Hospital on Sunday. As a result Kevin Manzanero’s long reign of terror has ended and he has been captured by San Ignacio Police. Kevin Manzanero’s next intended victim was Galvin Castillo. The 20 year old Castillo was at home sitting in a sofa in the living room watching television at about 12:00 pm and had left a door slightly opened. Suddenly a short male person with a red rag tied over his face barged in, wielding a knife in the right hand. The intruder then inflicted a stab wound on Castillo’s right arm and a struggled ensued. However; Castillo’s brother, Heronimo Castillo was inside another room and came to the rescue with a machete; hitting the intruder several times. The intruder then fell through the unlocked kitchen door and rolled down the steps, where the rag on his face came off. It was therein that the brothers recognized that it was “Migit” from the well publicized photos that had been made available on the media. “Migit’ then ran down Collins Boulevard in the direction of Bullet Tree Road where he was to disappear for a few hours; before re-surfacing to tend to his untreated wounds.

Robber shot dead in San Pedro A.C.
San Pedro Resident, 24 year-old Michael Wallace was killed on Sunday, January 19, allegedly in the act of committing an armed robbery. The man police believe to be his accomplice was detained shortly thereafter for questioning. 24 year-old Kirian Azueta reported to police that at around 10:15 p.m., he arrived at his house on Marina Drive, San Pedro. Readers may know that in this particular area, it is somewhat deserted, and that’s what 2 men tried to take advantage of when they attacked Azueta. One of the men, who was wearing a black “Texas Tech Hoody” and a rag over his face, shoved a 9 mm pistol in his face and demanded that he remain still and not to draw his firearm. The man fired a single shot at him, which nearly struck Azueta in the face, and in that moment, he made a decision to protect himself. He pulled his licensed weapon out and shot the man with the gun. The man fell to the ground, and his accomplice, who was wearing a white hoody, ran off. Azueta didn’t know that he had killed the robber, and so he ran off to get help.

Micah Williams succumb to gun shot injury
Micah Lee Williams, a 28 year-old Belize City resident, died on Tuesday January 21 after fighting for his life at the KHMH for almost 12 hours. He was shot in the head on Tuesday, January 21. His shooters came to his house pretending to have interest in buying car rims and that’s how they got him to let his guard down. Williams had just dropped his girlfriend off, and when he returned to his house on Raccoon Street just before 9 o’clock, he began washing his car. 2 men rode up and asked him about the rims he was selling, and he told them that they were already sold to someone else. When he was about to look away and head inside, one of the men pulled out a firearm and shot him in the head, near the temple area.

Richard Quinn RC girls and Trial Farm Government School boys are national primary schools football champs
The National Primary Schools Football championship for school year 2013-2014 came to an end on Friday January 17, 2014, at the MCC Grounds. The championship saw the participation of champions in both girls and boys division from all six districts of the country with the girls’ games played at the Racoon Street Football Field and the boys competition played at the MCC Grounds with both championship games played at the MCC. In the girls’ championship game, Richard Quinn Roman Catholic representing the Stann Creek District edged Santa Elena Roman Catholic representing the Cayo District by the score of 2-1 in penalty kicks to capture the national championship. The goals for Richard Quinn RC were scored by Anita Augustine and Renisha Requeńa, while the goal for Santa Elena RC was scored by Keilin Witt. In the consolation game for third place, San Pedro Roman Catholic representing the Belize District edged San Jose Roman Catholic representing the Toledo District by the score of 4-3 in penalty kicks. The goals for San Jose Roman Catholic were scored by Cinthia Cerpa, Lesbia Guity, Jemely Chinchilla and Yakzari Jamez. For San Jose Roman Catholic the goals were scored by Benita Bol, Brigida Coh and Juanita Cal.

Albert Constituency youth basketball tourney to start
The Albert UDP Committee will be hosting a Youth Basketball Competition for boys living in the Albert Constituency and are between the ages of 11 – 15 years old. The competition is scheduled to commence on February 15, 2014 and teams are quickly forming. Boys living in the Albert constituency that are interested in participating in the competition can pick up application forms from Ms. Mary Guzman at the Youth for the Future Secretariat on Regent Street (Old Hotel Mopan) and at the National Sports Council Office at Rogers Stadium.

Belmopan Bandits lead in Belikin Cup playoff
The Premier League of Belize Opening Season for the Belikin Cup has entered its playoff round on Saturday January 18, 2014, between the Belize Defence Force the number 2 seed and the Belmopan Bandits the number 3 seed out at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan. At the end of the game, it was the host team the Belmopan Bandits that defeated the Belize Defence Force by the score of 3-0 to take a 1 game lead in the playoff over the Belize Defence Force. The first goal of the game was scored by David Trapp in the 23rd minute of play via a penalty that gave his team a 1-0 lead. The lead was further increased when Deon McCaulay scored his first of two goals in the 69th minute of play for a 2-0 lead. The Belmopan Bandits final goal of the game was scored again by Deon McCaulay via a penalty in the 77th minute of play for a 3-0 whitewash of the Belize Defence Force.

Wesley College girls lead in High School Football Competition
The Central Region Secondary Schools Football Competition continued at the MCC Grounds with a number of games played over the weekend. On Saturday, January 18th, in the first of two female games played, Gwen Lizarraga High School defeated Belize High School by the score of 2-0. The goals for Gwen Lizarraga High was scored by Kishay Bevans and Tyra Moreira. In game two, Wesley College continued on its winning path when it clipped St. Catherine Academy by the score of 3-1. The goals for Wesley College were scored by Elisha Bernardez (2) and Shanice Neal. Meanwhile, the goal for St. Catherine Academy was scored by Jodi Pott. In the first male game of the day, Anglican Cathedral College defeated Excelsior High School by the score of 2-1. Jose Machuka and Sergio Luna both scored goals for Anglican Cathedral College, while Jamal Ford scored for Excelsior High School.

Desperation Squared
I make it a point to steer clear from commenting on the different practices and traditions of the several religious denominations that exist in Belize today. This is because many scholars hold firm the opinion that religious intolerance between differing faiths has sparked the most appalling conflicts in our world’s civilized history; several of these deadly conflicts continue without abate even to this day. That said, and I say this tongue in cheek, I will risk one comment here on a ritual which I thought was pretty uncommon and bizarre, especially coming from a nationally recognized organization who participated in this ceremony. Last week Wednesday January 15 the leadership of the People’s United Party went to sing “happy birthday” songs at the tombstone of the late Rt. Hon. George C. Price, and then later went on to sponsor a press conference at Independence Hall, evoking the former PUP leader’s name several times during the in-house political rally. In my view, the entire episode, but especially the part in front of the grave, came across as superficial since the PUP leaders were without question exploiting the departed gentleman’s legacy for political profit in promoting their so called “new and improved” social justice agenda.

“2nd Young Belizean Entrepreneur Wins Growing Up CEO Award”
For two consecutive years, Youth Business Trust Belize received a message stating, "Congratulations! One of your entrepreneurs has been selected for the 2009 Growing Up CEO Program!" Ricardo Gongora, a second year student at St. John’s College Junior College, was this year’s lucky recipient. As a winner, Ricardo was invited to a three-day Inner City 100 Summit May 19- 21, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. During the Summit, he was exposed to some of the fastest growing companies in America, and had the opportunity to develop relationships with Inner City 100 winners, gain access to world class business education and advice as well as getting to meet national business and civic leaders.

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Do you need a high school scholarship?
Full Basket Belize begins annual scholarship search. We have begun our annual process of looking for deserving secondary students to receive Full Basket Belize scholarships for the 2014-15 academic year. Each $1000 BZ scholarship covers tuition, books, fees, and uniforms. The first step in the process is for interested Belizean secondary schools to apply to be participating schools by completing this form by February 21, 2014. Then we send each participating school a scholarship application to photocopy and handout to students in great need of a scholarship. We are looking for outstanding students who demonstrate financial need, represent their schools positively, do well academically, and participate actively in their communities. All scholarship application materials are due March 22, 2014. If you have any questions, please email Scholarship Co-Chairpersons Erin McCool at [email protected] or Jo Link at [email protected]


Are you a sports fan? Great things coming for Belize!
When we first moved to Cayo some 30 years ago, all there really was in the way of sports facilities were a few balls and some dusty fields set aside for football, some rusty hoops here and there for basketball players, and not a whole lot else. A few loosely sponsored football (soccer to our friends up north) teams held scheduled matches between villages, and horse racing had its share of competitors and fans. This wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm, for Belizeans are a sporting bunch. There just wasn’t a lot of money or organisation as most people were too busy trying to make a living in agriculture and other time intensive, low-income pursuits. Schools did the best they could, but again, it was with what they had. As ecotourism and related opportunities arrived the standard of living increased and so did the sporting life as facilities were upgraded. Sponsorship of teams increased, and events such as the annual La Ruta Maya River Challenge evolved from a few guys and gals in canoes paddling their hearts out in whatever crafts they could find to the well-organised international event it is today. We love what the growth of sports has done for the Cayo District. There’s the healthy competition, but more importantly is the sense of responsibility, teamwork and pride it fosters in young people, giving them healthy avenues to use that youthful energy that’s always looking for an outlet. We all know that old adage about idle hands…

Strengthening the Institutional Architecture for Investment Attraction in Belize
Aside from Caribbean micro-states, Belize was as of 2009, the fourth most open economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Belize’s population is small (313,000 inhabitants), which limits the size of the domestic market and potential economies of scale. The economy depends strongly on trade with the world economy, both as market for domestic production and as a source of the wide range of products that would be costly or impossible to produce domestically. In 1997, with the support of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), the Trade and Investment Promotion Service (TIPS) was established in 1997. This institution was mandated to be the focal point for all trade and investment information and facilitation services. In March 1997 the scope of TIPS was broadened to serve as a “one stop shop” for local and foreign investors. In the year 2000, TIPS changed its name to Belize Trade and Investment Development Services (BELTRAIDE).

Call for proposal
Calling entrepreneurs, individuals, groups who have an existing climate related technology business or new idea for development and commercialization locally and regionally! Grant funding is to become available under the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) to assist with the localization, commercialization and transfer of technologies that demonstrate positive impact to environment and community. Grants will be awarded for proposals that demonstrate exceptional potential impact. Technologies or business models to be funded under PoC must demonstrate potential positive impact to environment and community through mitigation or adaptation to identified climate challenges in sustainable agribusiness, water management (including waste water) , energy efficiency, solar energy and resource use sectors.

Jump start your business- direct assistance grant!
The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) officially announces the publication of the Call for Proposals for both the Accelerated and Regular Procedures grant facilities under the well known Direct Assistance Grant Scheme as part of the Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). The Direct Assistance Grant Scheme is a reimbursement grant funding facility specifically designed to provide financial assistance to legally registered firms, individuals and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) who have the potential to export their products and services.

Strengthening The Institutional Architecture For Investment Attraction In Belize: The objective of this consultancy is to conduct an End of Project Evaluation and prepare the report. The End of Project Evaluation will examine and assess the performance of the project, and take into consideration the project’s relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability; and identify lessons learned during project execution.

Your photo, our front cover – Competition
The face of an entrepreneur resident in the Caribbean, together with a Caribbean landmark would replace Frederick (shown above) on the front cover of Alexander Bain’s business book when it launches later this year. The inner front cover would explain in a 200 word story who the entrepreneur is and a little about his/her business brand in order to promote Caribbean business. The photographer of the winning photo will share in this exposure as his/her work would be fully attributed and reference made to an online source where more of his/her work can be found. Can either of these entrepreneurs be you? Submit your compelling story and get in with a chance to win.

“Things Have Changed” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Well, at long last, the weather appears to have turned. For the better. Mind you it couldn’t have got worse. I was starting to get concerned that I might run out of sweat tops and jumpers (pullovers for non UK readers) to wear! My ‘me time’ on the veranda has returned to normal. I know during the chilly (downright cold at times) period I was still ‘hitting’ the veranda between 04.30 to 06.00 hours (timing -fairly obviously – dictated by what time I awoke) with a mug of coffee (black, no sugar) and my iPad. Oh, and a sweater of some type or other. With the change in the weather the additional layer of clothing has become superfluous (Question – how can a word with super in it mean unnecessary? The weirdness of the English language!). Talking of words and specifically the origin of them, the subject came up yesterday evening when Rose and I had the pleasure of spending some time in conversation with Melissa and Ken Fellure at Carlo and Ernie’s Runway Bar& Grill. Melissa and Ken both read my blog (obviously they have far too much time on their hands or, no taste. Or both) and Melissa happened to mention my penchant for breakfast at Estel’s and then the conversation moved on to wondering what the origin of the word ‘breakfast’ is. I hazarded a guess when musing that it might mean a break from a fasting period.

Recipes fer Judys' Foodies: My Mennonite Chili!
6 egg yolks 1 cup milk 2 tsp. vanilla 1 1/2 cup sugar 1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp. Bakyun' Powd'r 3/4 teespoon salt 12 Tablespoons butt'r 3 cup flour Mix yolks, 1/4 cup o't' milk vanilla. Put all dry ingredyints n' mixyun' bowl. Beat n' butt'r till like crumbs. Beat n' remunyun' milk. Noe slowlee beat n' egg yolk mixture. Beat till smooth. Pour into a greeset flouret 9×13 pun bake 350 degrees 25 -35 minnuts. Poke holes n' cake wit un object about t'diamet'r o'a drankin straw. Pour Chocolate Marshmalloe Frostyun' ov'r warm cake. Smooth fer un eve finish.

What is an International Business Company (IBC)
What is an International Business Company (IBC)? An International Business Company or Offshore Company is normally formed in certain countries such as Belize for asset protection and confidentiality. Who is an IBC for? An International Business Company or IBC is for anyone who wants to engage in international trade or investments. It is also for those who want to hold assets or hold a bank account in the IBC’s name. An International Business Company (IBC) is not subject to paying taxes in the country the IBC was formed. Also the person holding an IBC is also not allowed to do business with the residents of the country of incorporation. Why set-up the IBC in Belize? There are many reasons why you should set up an International Business Company in Belize. Two of the main reasons are: Belize is located near two major US hubs such as Miami and Houston. Thus travelling to Belize easier and always welcomed! Belize is an English speaking country so most people find it easy to communicate. What are the benefits of having an International Business Company (IBC) in Belize? Forming an International Business Company in Belize has many advantages. An IBC allows you to: Conduct business without using your name Avoid paying local taxes Protect your assets by registering them under the IBC name Maintain your privacy – shareholders and directors are not registered at the registry in Belize Hold accounts in any currency Rent office space in Belize Be a shareholder and/or director on multiple IBCs Own vessels under the IBC name Sophisticated banking system available for your Belize IBCs Form your International Business Company within 24 hours

International Sources

Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative: tracking the health of the Mesoamerican Reef
The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative is an international, multi-institutional effort that tracks the health of the Meso-American Reef (Meso-Amazing Reef), the human choices that shape it and our progress in ensuring its long-term integrity. Producing valuable data on: a) existing and emerging threats to reefs, b) current health of the reefs, c) conservation action and recommendations

Centre College's Elizabeth Alexander travels to Belize to work at Ocean Academy
Elizabeth Alexander of Louisville, a senior international studies major at Centre College, traveled to one of the world's newest countries to get a firsthand look at how educational infrastructure is established and maintained. CentreTerm is the College's three-week January term that allows students and faculty the opportunity to explore a single subject intensively, often through travel abroad. The short term works particularly well for unique internships like Alexander's. "The island where Ocean Academy is located, Caye Caulker, is a few miles off the mainland and takes an hour to get to via ferry," Alexander explains. "Before Ocean Academy was founded, there wasn't a high school on the island, so students had a lot of difficulty accessing education after the eighth grade. "The school is only five years old," she adds, "so it struck me as an opportunity to help build something new and contribute to the early structuring of a really important operation."

Choose Your Own (Underwater) Adventure
If you're a water sports junkie or think you could become one, these nine hotels are the perfect place to start your vacation planning. It doesn't matter if you prefer to surf or snorkel -- whatever your pleasure, we've chosen an awesome hotel for a variety of different activities. So prepare to leave the winter cold behind (and don't forget your sunscreen).

Central America upgrades cruise ship, airport facilities in race to attract more tourists
While Costa Rica remains Central America’s top tourist destination, the region’s six other countries are vying to lure tourists and increase revenues by aggressively investing in airports, cruise-ship facilities, hotels and other tourism infrastructure. A $22 million project in neighboring Nicaragua is now underway to modernize the fishing port of Puerto Salvador Allende, El Nuevo Diario recently reported. Virgilio Silva, chief executive of the state-run Empresa Portuaria Nacional, said the harbor – which is 1,300 meters long, 10 meters wide and 10 meters deep – will be upgraded to allow cruise ships and other vessels weighing up to 15,000 tons. The port, named after a leftist president of Chile in the 1970s, now receives an average 100,000 tourists per month. Following construction of a marina, retail shopping center and other improvements, that figure is expected to triple to 300,000 visitors. Adriana Dinarte, the port’s general manager, said her staff is working with Helicópteros de Nicaragua to incorporate a heliport as part of the tourism offer, and also will spend $1.5 million to upgrade Puerto Sandino. But the biggest project by far is a widely publicized plan by Nicaragua to build an Atlantic-to-Pacific canal to compete with the 100-year-old Panama Canal. Last week, President Daniel Ortega and Chinese tycoon Wang Jeng announced that work would begin this December on the 178-mile canal. His HKND Group has a 50-year concession to operate the future waterway, with an option to extend the contract for another 50 years.

Frog-Eating Bats Use Water Ripples to Hunt Tungara Frogs
Researchers from a range of scientific institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin, have established that bats prey on túngara frogs, principally using the water ripples cast during their mating calls. The findings of the latest study were published in the journal Science, and was entitled Risky Ripples Allow Bats and Frogs to Eavesdrop on a Multisensory Sexual Display. The túngara frog (Engystomops pustulosus) is typically found across parts of Central and South America, including Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Colombia and Venezuela. The frog typically inhabits tropical and subtropical dry forests and lowlands, freshwater marshlands and savannas. Túngara frogs nest along the surface of small ponds, with male members of the species constructing foam nests to support and protect eggs and hatched larvae.

Meet the Rainforest 'Diversity Police'
A new study has revealed that fungi, often seen as pests, play a crucial role policing biodiversity in rainforests. The Oxford University-led research found that fungi regulate diversity in rainforests by making dominant species victims of their own success. Fungi spread quickly between closely-packed plants of the same species, preventing them from dominating and enabling a wider range of species to flourish. 'In the plant world, close relatives make bad neighbours,' said Dr Owen Lewis of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, who led the study. 'Seedlings growing near plants of the same species are more likely to die and we now know why. It has long been suspected that something in the soil is responsible, and we've now shown that fungi play a crucial role. It's astonishing to see microscopic fungi having such a profound effect on entire rainforests.

Death by Chocolate meets the King
Every year, the Fort Saskatchewan Rotary Club hosts its Death by Chocolate fundraiser. This year, a new approach has been taken in bringing in a hip-shaking theme in tribute to the King of Rock and Roll — Elvis, himself. Death by Chocolate runs as the Rotary’s biggest fundraiser of the year. “Through the generous donations of local businesses, Rotary would not be able to continue our support of local youth leadership and supporting various community groups,” the Rotary Club stated in a release. Currently, the local group is completing fundraising efforts towards its second major international wheelchair project in Belize, with a goal to raise enough funds to send 110 wheelchairs to Belize.

IOC Awards Olympic Broadcasting Rights in Caribbean
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has granted the exclusive broadcasting rights in the Caribbean to International Media Content (IMC), which is the parent company of SportsMax, for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. IMC picked up the exclusive English-language broadcast rights for all media platforms, excluding the Internet and mobile. The coverage includes Anguilla, Antigua-Barbuda, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago. SportsMax will be providing live coverage of the games on SportsMax and SportsMax2. Thomas Bach, IOC president, said: “This agreement is another step in ensuring the universality of the Olympic Games. Having worked with IMC to broadcast both the Vancouver and London Games, we are very pleased to be able to rely on their expertise once again in Sochi.”

Missions Today: Belize Feature
Our Belize mission team experienced God’s blessing in so many beautiful ways. An incredible team effort to build a classroom, dozens of eager kids at our children’s outreach, people accepting Jesus as their Savior—see it all on this Missions Today feature!

January 23, 2014


Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

National Agriculture and Trade Show 2014
The National Agriculture and Trade Show Committee of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture are pleased to announce the dates for the National Agriculture and Trade Show 2014. The dates will be from May 2nd- 4th at the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in Belmopan. The Planning Committee will be publishing information on booth availability by the end of January. For further information please contact Ms. Delia Cunil at phone number 822-2241 (ext 121) or email [email protected] .

Roman Gonzalez saves a young girl from choking
Gonzalez, along with the family, escorted young Mirna to Ambergris Hope Clinic to receive further medical attention from Dr. Daniel Gonzalez. Along the way to the clinic, Gonzalez continued to give Mirna CPR. Dr. Gonzalez certified that the marble was no longer stuck to Mirna’s trachea and that her life was no longer in danger, that her body would just expel the marble naturally. Thanks to Gonzalez’ assistance, young Mirna was saved. Gonzalez has been employed for 12 years at Victoria House Resort and received his CPR training through the resort. Victoria House offers CPR and first-aid training to its employees three to four times a year. Red Cross gave both Gonzalez and Mirna a small gift as a token for their individual bravery. Red Cross also encouraged all businesses that are interested in having CRP and first-aid training for their staff to contact Laurie Norton at 600-0837

U Janal Aj Maya Cookbook released
Producciones de la Hamaca proudly announced the publication of U Janal Aj Maya: Traditional Maya Cuisine by Aurora Garcia Saqui with Amy Lichty of Maya Center in December of 2013, and ever since then, I’ve been itching to find out more. Especially since, the minute the email came across my screen, I realized that the cook behind the book is actually family! Aurora Garcia-Saqui is one of the famous Garcia Sisters who captured national and international attention in the late 1980’s – early 1990’s with their slate carvings and love of the Maya culture. She also happens to be my aunt and someone I remember from the early San Antonio Village, Cayo days. I have shared meals with her and the family, and even seen her cooking alongside my mother, grandmother and aunts. Thus, I was excited to reconnect with her and proceeded to find out more about Aurora Aureliana Garcia Saqui and U Janal Aj Maya (Uh-Hanala-Maya).

Ambergris Today

Victoria House Employee Saves Choking 11-Year-Old Girl
Many businesses on the island take the opportunity to have staff members trained in first aid for the safety of their customers and their staff. The Belize Red Cross San Pedro Branch and Victoria House expressed to Ambergris Today that they are very proud of Marlon Gonzalez who has been working at the resort for the past 12 years as bellboy/driver. Just having recently obtained trained in administering first aid he saved the life of an 11-year-old-girl over the Christmas vacation in the San Mateo Area. Marlon saved Mirna Pagoada’s life on Tuesday, December 31, 2013. He heard the frantic screams of his neighbors and knew something was wrong. He explains that he did not think it twice to dash himself across the lagoon and swim to help the family in distress. Upon reaching the Pagoada’s residence he found the girl unconscious in the ground and learnt that she had swallowed a marble; he immediately commenced CPR. “There was no electricity at the house so with my flashlight in my mouth I started pumping the girl’s chest because she was all purple and not breathing,” stated a proud Marlon. “I ordered her brother to get the dory ready and he took us across the lagoon till we reached Holy Cross. All this while I was giving CPR to Mirna. When we reached, I grabbed her and carried her over the bridge, put her in a taxi and continued chest compressions until we reached the doctor’s office.”

Misc Belizean Sources

Oldest Succotz resident
Carlos is 96 and still going. He once went about the village painting UDP colors all about and the village council issued a summons. Philip Goldson sent his personal attorney to have it dismissed.

Benque Photography Classes
They are having another round of photography classes at the Benque House of Culture. Contact them if you are interested. "1st Photography club meeting being held at this moment under the fantastic leadership of Mr.Subrata Basu. Interested?? Inbox us..."

Charlie's Third Ride-Along With The BZ Cops
& The Foiled Robbery Of Ray's House... So last Sunday I flew to Belize and after my sideman picked me up at the airport we went to Orange Walk to see my friends Melvi and Alejandra. Melvi is like my secretary in Belize and she is a good friend for over 11 years. Alejandra just had a baby (and no, it is not my baby). At any rate, we were having a pizza party over in Trial Farm and the car was parked right near by - in sight no less - with my luggage and stuff. We were watching that car like hawks but a tief stole my back-pack while we were bringing pizza from the car. We knew who it was and discovered it right away. It turns out the cops were already looking for this dude for something else. Several guys went looking for him and then some of us went to tell the cops at the station in OW. The police were very responsive and half the station piled out into several vehicles and started a manhunt. I got to ride in one of the police vehicles and watch them as they went about their search. We went to his family's house and another more remote hang-out. No warrants needed, they would just announce they were coming in. He did not turn up so we went back to file a report. When I finished we went back to Trial Farm and the culprit's sister was waiting with my small camera. As I approached her she exclaimed, "Oh no, it's Charlie!"

Latest Ya'axche Newsletter, December 2013
Mitigation methods to protect crops against pests and diseases The farmer training involved a hands-on practical- approach workshop. The workshop’s aim was to develop the skills of the farmers in order to shift their agricultural techniques towards a more sustainable practice. This particular workshop, which took place in Silver Creek, focused on pests and disease control within corn farms. Soil expert, Flint Wagner, from the Department of Agriculture was contracted to conduct the workshop.

Matachica Resort & Spa introduces new enhancements and expansions
Matachica Resort & Spa, an award-winning beach resort located on Ambergris Caye, has announced the completion of a series of upgrades to the outdoor dining area and bar lounge including new Dedon furniture and Palapa weather protection. The outdoor dining area and bar-lounge have been expanded to reveal exquisite views of the sea. Now topped with soaring Palapa, a thatched roof made of dried palm trees, the outdoor dining area is naturally sheltered for year-round weather protection. The resort has also introduced brand new Dedon furniture located at the beach, pool, pier, and lounge. “We are thrilled to unveil these upgrades and expansions,” says proprietor Daniel Lighter who also owns GAĎA Riverlodge, a sister property in Belize. “These improvements were made with our guests in mind, to optimize their experience at Matachica Resort & Spa.”

Plant killers protect rainforest diversity
Voracious pests may be foes of individual plants, but they can benefit forests. A study in the humid rainforests of Belize shows that plant-killing fungi can help preserve diversity in such ecosystems. The study, published today by Nature1, provides experimental support for a leading ecological hypothesis on why any given plant species does not take over in species-rich forests. That proposal — the ‘Janzen–Connell hypothesis’ — posits that as the population of a plant species grows, so does the rate at which specialized pests dine on it. Those pests then keep dominant plants in check, giving other species room to flourish. Owen Lewis, an ecologist at the University of Oxford, UK, and his colleagues decided to test the hypothesis experimentally. The team marked field plots in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve in southwestern Belize, where the ground is laced with thick, shallow roots and seeds fall from a thick canopy overhead. Some of the plots were treated with fungicides, and others with an insecticide. Control plots were sprayed with water.

Meet the rainforest 'diversity police'
A new study has revealed that fungi, often seen as pests, play a crucial role policing biodiversity in rainforests. The Oxford University-led research found that fungi regulate diversity in rainforests by making dominant species victims of their own success. Fungi spread quickly between closely-packed plants of the same species, preventing them from dominating and enabling a wider range of species to flourish. 'In the plant world, close relatives make bad neighbours,' said Dr Owen Lewis of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, who led the study. 'Seedlings growing near plants of the same species are more likely to die and we now know why. It has long been suspected that something in the soil is responsible, and we've now shown that fungi play a crucial role. It's astonishing to see microscopic fungi having such a profound effect on entire rainforests.

The Football Federation of Belize (FFB) continues the launching of its Youth Development Program
This week the program is in Orange Walk Town starting today Wednesday January 22 and runs until Saturday January 25 at 12 noon. We encourage parents to bring your child to the People’s Stadium between the hours of 4 – 6 on Wednesday Grass roots ages 9-12, Thursday U-15, FridayU-17 and the grand festival on Saturday for all age group from 9:00am to midday. All district U-15 and U-17 male and female tournament is scheduled to commence on Saturday February 15, 2014. Managers of youth teams are ask to contact your local district association for details. The FFB President Cup is schedule to commence on March 1 and 2, 2014. Each district will select its top amateur selection to compete against each other. This tournament will be for eighteen (18) weeks.

Cruise on the BAY" Catamaran Party. 15th Feb, 2014
Get your tickets now for "Cruise on the BAY" Catamaran Party. 15th Feb, 2014. Leaves Old Belize marina at 6pm. Includes transportation from Belmopan at 4:30PM, Buffet, Complimentary Drink, Panerrifix Steelband, DJ Karizma, cash bar, prizes n surprises. Tickets $85 - Contact 602-4812 or 635-6995. Fundraiser for Belmopan Active Youths Non-Profit Organization.

Recipes: BEIGNET
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 envelope active dry yeast 2 eggs, slightly beaten 1 1/4 teaspoons salt 1 cup evaporated milk 7 cups bread flour 1/4 cup shortening Nonstick spray Oil, for deep-frying 3 cups confectioners' sugar Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour.

Notice to all talented and aspiring Literary Artists: The BELIZE BOOK INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION announces the BELIZE PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Criteria: Original unpublished work of fiction; 2500 - 3500 words. Prizes: 1st - $1,000; 2nd - $500; 3rd - $300 Deadline: March 30, 2014. See flyer for additional information.

Close to 500 students to graduate at UB’s Eighteenth Commencement
The University of Belize will honour an estimated 481 Graduands at its Eighteenth Commencement at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday 25th January at its Recreation and Events Centre at the Belmopan Central Campus. Guest Speaker for the ceremony, Ms. Kay Menzies, President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will deliver the Keynote Address. Students will receive diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor and Certificate levels from the Faculty of Education and Arts, (FEA), totalling 197, the Faculty of Management & Social Sciences, (FMSS), with a total of 174, the Faculty of Science and Technology, (FST) with a total of 82, and the Faculty of Nursing, Allied Health & Social Work (FNAHSW) with a total of 28. Of the total number of graduates 307 are females and 174 are males representing 63.8 and 36.2 per cent respectively. During the ceremony, students who have distinguished themselves will receive the university’s official honour chords. The tri-cable white honour chords recognise those graduating with Cum Laude; gold honour chords designate graduates with Magna Cum Laude (great honour); and purple honour chords are worn by graduates with Summa Cum Laude-the highest honour.

On Thursday, January 9, the election for the Central Board of the Belize Police Association was conducted where 7 members were elected and on Monday, January 13, the executive posts were appointed as follows: 1. Sergeant Ainsworth Perez SGT 2. Sergeant Natalie Castillo W/SGT 3. Corporal Eldon Arzu Cpl Chairman of the Central Board 4. Corporal Aliyson McLaughlin Secretary 5. Corporal Christine Jacobs Vice Chair 6. PC Enrique Iglesias Treasurer 7. PC Jason Jones

Flayva's Fresh Roast Coffee
Falyva's Fresh Roast Coffee is delicious, and can be found on Burns avenue, at Flayva's Restaurant. It's great to have such high quality coffee made locally. They sell it by the pound too. You can see the special machine they use to roast and grind it there too. "Flayva's Fresh Roast Coffee is Cayo's best coffee. The beans are roasted and ground here in Cayo, at Flayva's restaurant. The coffee beans come from the 'As Green As It Gets' farmer's cooperative in Antigua, Guatemala, ensuring they are top quality - Fancy grade, as it's called. If you'd like to order some, call Mark Mossiah at 662-4853, email [email protected], or stop by 22 Burns avenue."

SHC Championship Ceremony
Sacred Heart College had their first banner ceremony in their new auditorium. The males won the NSSSA championship, and the females won the CSSAC championship. They also got to celebrate Mr. Karim Juan's birthday at the same time. Happy birthdy, Karim, and congratulations, SHC! In related news, there won't be any classes on Friday due to the BNTU rally here in Cayo.

Cayo Highlights Travelers’ Choice Awards
Cayo hotels and B&B's are all over this year's Travelers' Choice Awards, just like last year. Cayo hotels had half of the places on the Best Bed and Breakfast list, and half on the Best Bargain Hotel list. Congratulations to all the winners of this year's Trip Advisor awards. The Inn at Twin Palms Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge Moonracer Farm Table Rock Jungle Lodge Martz Farm Amber Sunset Jungle Resort Black Rock Lodge Rumors Hotel Calico Jack's Village Clarissa Falls Sleeping Giant Ka'ana Resort

Land dispute in Caribbean Shores is resolved
Caribbean Shores area representative Santino Castillo says that Giovanni Blease, who claimed half of the parcel of land on Seashore Drive known as Caribbean Shores Seashore Park, will be compensated, either with another piece of land or money, at the order of the Prime Minister. He spoke to reporters during a break in the House of Representatives’ meeting on Wednesday in Belmopan. Castillo said he called Blease personally to give him the news and pointed out that the matter was bigger than one man.

Career Day at Sacred Heart College
Second form students attending the Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio town today took part in a Career Fair. It featured various presenters from different fields speaking with the students about what they do, in the hopes of helping them to prepare to choose a career course of studies. Marcia Aldana Lennen is a teacher at Sacred Heart College who organized today’s fair.

Passenger bus for sale
A 1987 Bluebird Bus is being offered for sale. The owner is asking $25,000 or best offer. The bus has a diesel engine and comes with or without rack and has new batteries. If you are interested in this bus, please call telephone number: 665-4800.

Enabling legislation for Stake Bank cruise project goes to the House
The Honorable the Prime Minister, Mr. Dean Barrow has taken enabling legislation to the House of Representatives to facilitate the construction of the cruise docking facility at Stake Bank, Belize District. A Bill for an Act to provide for certain exemptions of taxes and duties to facilitate the implementation of the project was introduced to the House of Representatives this morning. The Prime Minister explained to the House that the project will see the establishment of the docking facility on the 16 acre island situated about 4 miles offshore Belize City. It will include the construction of a causeway linking the facility with mainland Belize City. The Bill which was referred to the relevant House Committee wil be brought back to the next House meeting for passage.

Minister says road improvements carried out nationwide
The Honorable the Minister of Public Works, Mr. Rene Montero has told the House of Representatives that the Toledo district is no longer the forgotten district. Minister Montero was making a statement to the House of Representatives during which he outlined several road maintenance work projects being carried out around the country, detailing how much money has been spent and is being spent to improve these critical roadways. Minister Montero told the House that Toledo is getting its fair share of the pie, noting that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spend up road maintenance in the Toledo district.

Minister Patrick Faber makes statement in the House of Representative
The Honorable the Minister of Education Mr. Patrick Faber in making a statement to the House of Representatives appealed to teachers not to attend any more of the rallies being held by the Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU. Minister Faber stressed in the same statement that there would be no penalty is the teachers choose to attend. Minister Faber chastised the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) for coming out in support of a salary adjustment for the teachers saying they, the Chamber, should rally their members to increase the minimum wages.

More News: Scroll up from here

Channel 7

PM On Castro Cheques: "Ill-advised", "Wrong", "Not Corrupt"
There was a house meeting in Belmopan today, and it was full of news. The first big piece of news was that after missing three meetings, Elvin Penner showed up at the House Meeting, and sheepishly slunk to his position at the extreme far end of the UDP back bench, about 10 feet across from any other representative. That ends his streak of three missed meetings – six missed in succession would have disqualified him from the House. Later we’ll talk to the Prime Minister about why he continues to receive public pay. Other news today from the house was that the police seemed to be preparing for a crowd, after the NTUCB applied for a permit to protest. They put up the rope barrier but it wasn’t necessary because while the NTUCB did show up, it was only 11 of them, and they were there to hear the introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill. Later on, you’ll hear why the Speaker didn’t want to let them into the House.

PM On Why Penner Still Drives A GOB Vehicle With Gas Allowance
There was a house meeting in Belmopan today, and it was full of news. The first big piece of news was that after missing three meetings, Elvin Penner showed up at the House Meeting, and sheepishly slunk to his position at the extreme far end of the UDP back bench, about 10 feet across from any other representative. That ends his streak of three missed meetings – six missed in succession would have disqualified him from the House. Later we’ll talk to the Prime Minister about why he continues to receive public pay. Other news today from the house was that the police seemed to be preparing for a crowd, after the NTUCB applied for a permit to protest. They put up the rope barrier but it wasn’t necessary because while the NTUCB did show up, it was only 11 of them, and they were there to hear the introduction of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill. Later on, you’ll hear why the Speaker didn’t want to let them into the House.

Faber Rebukes Teachers For Rally-Holidays; Challenges Chamber
The other issue that took center stage today was the statement on the Teacher’s Rallies made by minister of Education Patrick Faber. He opened the meeting with a 40 minute statement explaining why the Teacher’s should not cancel school for rallies: Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education "In Orange Walk, the rallies got started at around 9 with the parade and so on, and by midday, everything was locked down, you know, and teachers were all over doing business. And so, the entire afternoon was wasted, Mr. Speaker. In Corozal, the rally was held in the afternoon, and so, the entire morning was wasted, if anybody doubts that look at what happened in Belize City, where the rally got finished by 12 o'clock, and the entire afternoon was lost. What prevents them, Mr. Speaker, from having these rallies - there is one scheduled for this Friday, I am told, in Cayo - what prevents them from starting that rally at 2 o'clock, and dismissing school at 1 o'clock, if we are really concerned about the students. In Belize City, Belize District Mr. Speaker, where there are 1,700 teachers, they could have only mustered 400 or 500 to go to the rally? That means that 1,200 teachers, Mr. Speaker, did not go, and I don't want credit for all of them who didn't go. We'll take 500 out of that; 500 did not go because they knew the benefits that they have received under this administration.

Micah Williams Becomes City's Fourth Murder In Ten Days
Last night on the news we told you about Micah Williams – the 28 year old Belize City Resident who was shot in the head before 9:00 yesterday morning. Well, he died last night at 8:20 – from significant brain damage. Today his mother publicly grieved for him and lamented her great loss. Monica Bodden has the story: Monica Bodden Reporting Despite being shot in the head, 28 year old Micah Williams survived for 12 hours - before he expired at approximately 8:35 last night. Layla Williams - Mother of Decease "At around 6 o'clock, the doctor called me back to the hospital, and they asked me to come and sign a paper so that he could take an emergency surgery because he was in a critical condition. He went into the surgery, and as he got in after the surgery, he just passed away."

Palencia Owners Pay Fine, Gets Free
The Palencia is a free ship tonight, after being detained for 12 days by the government of Belize. Attorney for the Government Denys Barrow told us that he has asked the court to release the PALENCIA from arrest today because GOB and the insurers have settled the claims. The agreement is that the fine will be paid in to government in 14 days but it could be as early as this Friday. And while the nominal value of the fine was over 9 million dollars, the final figure agreed to was US$1.35 million dollars. All things considered, that’s not too bad since government lost most of its leverage when the PARANGA was allowed to sail in July of 2012.

"Horse" And Others Close To Being Clear Of Charges
Today, the preliminary inquiry for 30 year-old Jermaine “Horse” Garnett, his 23 year-old step-son Cassian Bennett, and 35 year-old Kenneth Barrow was called up in the Magistrate’s Court. The case went quite a distance to completion and at the next hearing, all 3 men could walk for the murder of 19 year-old Raheem Requena. Viewers may remember this case made headlines when allegations emerged that Garnett’s wife, Pamela, and her son, 24 Mark Vernon tried to tamper with the main prosecution witness. That witness reported to police that Pam and her son tried to pay her off to withdraw her written statement which implicated all three men. When that didn’t work, the pair allegedly threatened the witness. Pamela Garnett and her son got their day in court and because that witness had fled the country, the case was thrown out because of want of prosecution.

Copper Bank Kidnapping Still A Mystery
On last night’s news we had excerpts of our very late interview with Superintendent Andrew Ramirez about the Kidnapping of the Copper Bank Family in Corozal which happened on Monday night. We’ve since had a bit more time to prepare it, and Daniel Ortiz revisits the elements of this very frightening but compelling incident. Here’s his story: Daniel Ortiz Reporting 32 year-old Eduardo Nah, his common-law wife, 25 year-old Roxanie Cruz, and 24 year-old Sabino Nah, and the rest of the family were escorted from their Copperbank home to the Corozal Community Hospital today, to ensure that they were in good health. We’re told they had a few minor injuries. Them being alive is a turn in good fortune. Supt. Andrew Ramirez - OC, Corozal Police District "I am glad to have these 2 individuals alive. The primary function of the police department is protection of life and property." Last night 4 armed hispanic men abducted the Nah brothers’ and Eduardo’s wife’s at gunpoint.

Balona's Death Still Being Treated As Murder
Last night, 7News told you about the body that San Ignacio Police found in the La Gracia area on Sunday afternoon. Police said that he was 20 year-old Marlon Balona, but they’ve got in contact with Marlon’s family from Valley of Peace, and they’ve found out that his correct name is Marlon Effrain Flores. The post-mortem conducted on him certified that he died of those injuries to the neck and chest, and at this time police can’t say that if someone inflicted them on him, or if he received them from an accident. As such, the investigation into his death remains open and continues to be treated as a murder. As we told you, he was a suspect that Belmopan Police wanted to question in connection with the murder of Canadian Brian Townsend from the Valley of Peace.

Santi Made Sure San Cas Group Got Christmas Cheer
We also used the opportunity to speak with Castillo about the recent Christmas Cheer programme. As a UDP Area Representative, he got ninety thousand dollars to distribute amongst his constituents. But our reports say, he directed all that business right back into his family owned Supermarket Chain Save U and Bottom Dalla. Castillo is a member of the Castillo family, which is among the largest merchant houses in Belize. He told us that he makes no apologies for giving his family company the government business: Jules Vasquez "It puts you in a situation that you funnelled business from the Christmas cheer, or proceeds from the Christmas Cheer, money which you did not handle, but money which came from the Department of the Human Services, from the Christmas Cheer, into those retail outlets." Hon. Santino Castillo Jr. - Area Rep., Caribbean Shores "I have no apologies, Jules, I did it last year, and I did it this year. As a matter of fact, I stretched the dollar more due to the fact that it is our stores, I got the items at cost. So, I then, was able to take that $90,000 and stretch it even further, and give those gift certificates to more residents of Caribbean Shores. I mean, other people went to different stores. What is the difference that I go to my store that I own that I get at cost? I will let you know that many of the other area reps came to my store because I gave them an additional discount so that they can stretch their dollar.”

How Row On Cane Roads
And keeping it in Belmopan, we turn now to the subject of the cane roads. They are still not fully ready and today the area representative for Orange Walk South – which is the second largest cane producing constituency – warned that significant volumes of cane stand to be lost: Hon. Jose Mai - Orange Walk South Representative. "The sugar industry cannot afford further delay, Mr. Speaker, and I will tell you why. Mister Speaker, we have a hundred and twenty day crop to deliver one point two million tonnes of sugar cane this year. Definitely, there will be cane left out this year. The estimation, Mr. Speaker, is that we are only going to 960 thousand tonnes; the mill only be able to absorb that, hence the urgency of the repairs. Mr. Speaker, you know what it is to be left with 240 thousand tonnes of cane ou there? Mr. Speaker, you are talking about 16 million dollars' worth remaining, in the field. So, Mr. Speaker, it is urgent that we really accelerate the rate of repairs." Hon. Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister "The way this thing was programmed was with the directors of all the different sugar branches. I don’t think that the representative from Orange Walk South expected that from this administration, but we are showing him that we are transparent and that all we want is the betterment of the industry. We take no sides for no one; we want a better industry.

Occupational Safety Bill Goes To House, PM Urges Deliberate Patience
We’ve told you a lot about today’s house meeting so far in the news – but you haven’t heard a whole lot about the legislative business of the meeting. And that’s because of the eight pieces of legislation, 6 of them were all about meeting US standards for transparency in the banking system to discourage terrorism and money laundering. But one of them was just for the unions. The occupational safety and health bill of 2014 was introduced after the unions staged a disruptive walkout form last month’s house sitting. So, it was introduced today – by a very wary Prime Minister: Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize "This bill, when - or perhaps - if it is made law is going to come at a huge financial cost. It's not an unmixed blessing. I want to be very careful in what I say. It is laudable; it is perhaps timed and over time that this quantum leap forward, but nobody must be under any illusions. There will be a tremendous burden and financial cost, not only to Government - Government as well, but to the private sector, and to small individuals employers, even who have 1-person operations, to become compliant will cost a great deal of money."

Senior UB Staffer Asks Where’s The President
Allison Crawford is a long-standing member of the teaching staff at the University of Belize, and in her capacity as the President of the UB Faculty and Staff Association, she has been one of the leading voices to speak out on different issues that the teachers have with the administration. Well, some of the members of faculty believe that she is being punished for standing up. Crawford who has been teaching 13 years at the UB, and 21 years at the Belize Technical College before it was amalgamated with the other schools to become UB, reached retirement age this year. As a Chemistry lecturer at the University, she was reportedly promised by her dean to be kept on staff fulltime for this current semester to ensure that her students would not be negatively affected. It is not a policy that the University has to keep retiring teachers on, but it is a practice that teachers who have reached retirement age during a semester are given contracts for short tenures so that there are no transitional tremors. Well even though Crawford’s post has not been advertised, and there is likely not going to be any teacher available, she was only offered a part-time position.

Ceibo Chico Gold Diggers?
7News has come across a very strange press release on the internet which posted on Monday of this week. A Canadian Company, Erin Ventures Inc., which is based in Victoria British Colombia, announced that it has reclaimed its interest in the Ceibo Chico area of the Chiquibul. If that name sounds familiar, it should; it made the news several times last year as the location where the Friends for Conservation and Development busted illegal gold panners. Well, the release from this company claims that it has licenses it obtained for this “gold interest”. It state’s that for this Ceibo Chico interest, the property it has rights to has quote, “3 contiguous Exclusive Prospecting Licenses covering approximately 34 square kilometers (13 square miles), and a 160.25 hectare (396 acre) Mining License, in west/central Belize.” End quote

FCD Says More Help Needed To Keep Guatemalan Gold Diggers Out
And so, while that company reportedly has a legitimate licenses to mine in the area, the FCD recently encountered illegal gold panning in some very remote areas of the Ceibo Chico. On last week Wednesday, An FCD team went out with personnel from the Joint Forces Unit. Members of PACT and the National Protected Areas Secretariat also accompanied the part. The group went to the Ceibo Chico Conservation Post to assess the damages occurring at these remote areas. The area where they went was located on the highlands of the Chiquibul/Maya Mountains, and a survey around the entire area showed clear signs that Guatemalan gold panners were operating the area, some 5 kilometers from the Conservation Post; that represents about 6 hours of hiking, and the area that they are targeting is located some 12 kilometers away from the Western Border. Based on the investigations, the FCD found that the panners were opening trenches as deep as 10-12 feet in search of gold. They found other signs of human interaction such as garbage, bottles, cans, old clothes, batteries gloves, and plastic pans used for panning gold.

Channel 5

Special Sitting of the House; Castro’s Cheques from Airports Authority discussed
Today was the first sitting of the House of Representatives for 2014. And as has become practice rather than rule, sparks flew across from both sides of the aisle. Now, [...]

P.M. says Castro checks are distasteful, but not corruption
Distasteful and wrong, but not corrupt. That’s a very fine line drawn by Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who has been faced with all manner of accusations against his ministers and [...]

Elvin Penner goes back to the House for the 1st time since immigration scandal broke
After months of absence in the House, the disgraced former Minister of Immigration, Elvin Penner put in an appearance. Penner, as you all know, is at the centre at the [...]

PM Barrow says Penner has been punish and so should the public officers
While Castro ran for cover, Elvin Penner emerged from hiding and was in the House of Representatives this morning. As we said, he was seated all by himself in the [...]

Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, lashes out at teachers
On Friday, teachers in the Cayo District will rally under the banner of the Belize National Teachers Union and take to the streets. It is the third such industrial action [...]

Faber also took jabs at Chamber of Commerce for supporting the B.N.T.U.
After devoting much of his address to detailing all the things this administration has done for teachers, Faber then rounded on the Belize Chamber of Commerce. Faber was offended because [...]

NCL consultation attracts a large crowd
At this hour, the Environmental Impact Assessment into the Norwegian Cruise Lines project is taking place at the Independence High School Auditorium in the south. A News Five crew on [...]

Micah Williams succumbs twelve hours after he is shot to the head
A young man who was shot on the head at about eight-thirty on Tuesday morning died as he was about to undergo emergency surgery at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.  [...]

Police say there are no leads in the murder of Eaton Carr
Prior to the shooting turned murder of Williams on Raccoon Street Extension, the body of another man was discovered on Banak Street. Just before ten on Sunday night, thirty-six year [...]

Witness cooperation a setback in solving murder of Derrick Parham
The Williams and Carr murders are examples of an upsurge in urban gun violence since the beginning of the year. As it relates to another murder, that of Derrick Parham, [...]

Valley of Peace resident, Marlon Balona, died due to severe chest and abdominal injuries
But there is a fourth murder which is most recent and involved a man wanted by Belmopan Police. Marlon Balona’s body was found under cohune leaves off a feeder road [...]

San Ignacio Police say breakthrough in investigation; wanted man remains hospitalized
Meanwhile, San Ignacio Police are saying that there is a breakthrough in the investigation of a string of robberies in the west. On Sunday afternoon, Kevin ‘Midget’ Manzanero was taken [...]

Justice for Jesus Bol; Tito Martinez found guilty for his attempted murder
A conviction has been secured for the attempted murder of Jesus Bol. The decision was handed down in the Supreme Court of Justice Denis Hanomansingh in the Southern Session of [...]

Camille Ferguson spared jail time for proof of her identity
After being unable for the third time to produce any proper identification to prove her true identity, Camille Ferguson was spared jail time today. When Ferguson appeared before Magistrate Stephanie [...]

Various bills tabled in House including the Occupational Safety and Health Bill
Now to the real business of the day in the House of Representatives. Various new bills were tabled for first reading and some came up for second reading. The Stake [...]

Union executives banned from 2 sitting of the House
As a consequence of that protest at the last sitting, union executives have been banned from participating in two sittings of the House. That may seem like a small price [...]

Difference of opinions on sugar roads in delay sugar cane crop season
The 2013/2014 sugar cane crop season is slated to begin at ten a.m. on Friday morning, after a delay of more than two months. At least, it is the hope [...]


The Hunt For Orchestrator's Of Monday Night's Kidnapping Continues
Tonight, 32 year old Eduardo Nah and his common law wife 25 year old Roxanie Cruz are back at home with family and friends. But there is no doubt that they are still recuperating from the frightful ordeal they experiment on Monday night when they were abducted by four armed masked men of Hispanic Decent. While the couple remains traumatized, police are still viewing the surveillance tape that captured the entire abduction which played out at the couple’s home in the Village of Copper Bank in the Corozal District. The fact that the entire residence is surrounded by cameras did not deter the ruthless criminal’s from carrying out their crime which apparently was well planned out. As we’ve reported, around 7:45 on Monday night the couple, along with Nah’s brother, 24 year old Sabino Nah arrived at Eduardo’s residence in the family’s dark grey Toyota 4 Runner. While Roxanie Cruz was closing the front gate four masked men rushed in the yard. The first to be attacked was Sabido who was pistol-whipped on the head and handcuffed. He was then forced to lie on the ground. While one of the men stayed with Sabido, the other three escorted the couple inside their residence where it is believed that two of the rooms where ransacked. Outside the residence Sabino somehow managed to escape from his attacker and ran for assistance. But by the time Sabino and a group of villagers returned to the house, his brother, sister-in-law and the four criminals were long gone in the family’s SUV.

Celebration Of TVET Week Continues
This week the Institute of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Centers across the country are observing TVET week. The aim of the week is to create awareness of what ITVET is all about, what it offers and the benefits of joining the institution. In celebration of TVET Week a ITVET’s country wide including Corozal, are carrying out a number of activities country wide. As part of the observation, students of ITVET Corozal took time out of their studying schedule and headed out to the Corozal Central Park to give it a complete facelift. Victor Castillo Reports. Victor Castillo – Reporting Approximately 50 trainees and their instructors invaded the center of Corozal Town this morning. Their aim was to beautify the Corozal Central Park by joining hands with the Corozal Town Council. Stacy Budna – Manager of Corozal ITVET “We work with the Town Board today and we are beautifying the entire Central Park, we did some landscaping, we picked up the garbage, we are now painting all the benches and so the ITVET trainees have been all day working really hard, am very proud of them and the work that they are doing and we are just doing some public awareness for the public to know that we are here ITVET is an option, it is not the last resort it is your first option, there is a need for a lot of trained skilled workers and we are here to offer the services.”

Youth Academy Now Active In O/W
The Orange Walk Football Association today launched its Youth Academy that will focus on training youth of all ages on the do’s and don’ts of football and well, how to become one of the best professional football players in the country and quite possibly internationally. That’s the dream, according to District Chairman Rafael Avila. Rafael Avila – District Chairman, OW Football Association “The children need to have a school where they can improve on their talents, it is very important that the children from a very young age they learn how to kick the ball, how to control the ball, how to put in the ball in the goal and everything so it is very important for children to develop their skills at this early age and then only as the time goes by improve and become professional athletes. One of the key factors in the school is to have discipline so by children having the right discipline they can eventually go to a higher levels and become the professional that is required from them.” The Academy has been made possible with the assistance of FIFA which gave the Association funds to start the classes.

Public Property In Orange Walk East Privatized, The Son Of Elodio Aragon Now Owns The Land
In last night’s newscast we told you about the controversy that is brewing in Orange Walk East over the East Sports Centre. A group of sports enthusiasts, members and supporters of the Centre have been trying to get their hands on the document of the parcel of land where the Centre sits. The committee says that with support from Orlando Burns it has been attempting to apply for the lease to the land to help facilitate their applications for funding to keep rehabilitating the centre and host sporting events. But those papers have ben hard to come by. Up to news time we have not located those papers for ourselves as we have been unable to reach appropriate officials at the Lands Registry Department in the Ministry of Natural Resources. What we have got our hands on is an official registry document that clearly shows that the parcel of land adjacent the enclosed area of the centre has been privatised. That land as far as history shows should be public property. With the evidence in hand, CTV-3 News sought to find out what will be the next step for the East Sports Centre Committee. Dalila Ical – Reporting The proof is in black and white. The land was registered as a private property on October 17th, 2011 to Elodio Aragon of #8 Aurora Street, Orange Walk Town. It was transferred from the government of Belize. In June of 2012, the same parcel was transferred into the name of Adin Glen Aragon, Elodio Aragon’s son and the land certificate for that parcel was issued. So what will the Orange Walk East Sports committee do now?

More Streets To Be Rehabilitated In Orange Walk
Road rehabilitation continues to be a priority for the Orange Walk Town Council. After several weeks of work on at least four junctions along Fonseca Street in Town, the council has identified key areas that will now see improvements. We spoke with Mayor Kevin Bernard on the projects that should get underway in the days ahead. Dalila Ical – Reporting Work on the four key points of Fonseca Street is nearing culmination. The area is well rehabilitated after concrete blocks were laid at the intersections along with necessary drainage system. Mayor Bernard says work now continues on other streets. Kevin Bernard – Mayor, OWT “I ask the patience for the residence of that area to bear with us but we are going to address those streets and especially in that lower Pasadita Area, Juventus and all those areas no. One of the major undertaking that we also be doing is that we are finally going to get on to finishing Mahogany and Zapodilla, immediately after this grader leaves from here we are going to start the ripping and scarifying and compacting of mahogany street and Zapodilla street because we want to pave that street by the end of March.”

Taking A Closer Look At Dog Eradication Practices
The issue of dog poisoning is always a very sensitive topic when it comes to government officials using it as a form of controlling the stray dog population in the country. But it’s one that needs to be practiced if we want to keep a healthy community. It has been a practice used in Belize for years, but in this day and age when there are various other techniques that can be used, people wonder why the poisoning of dogs with strychnine is still carried out. In light that the Orange Walk Town Council and the Health Department has launched its dog eradication campaign we decided to shed some light on the somewhat controversial topic and find out why dog eradication, although cruel as it may seem, is important health wise. Maria Novelo followed the story and filed the following report. Maria Novelo – Reporting It’s a problem that all concerned agree could and should be handled better … but the practice of poisoning stray dogs has persisted for decades in Belize due to health purposes. And in this light, the dog eradication campaign has been launched here in Orange Walk. Public Health Inspector, Karel Heredia, says stray dogs are targeted based on community complaints.

Reading Campaign Launched IN San Estevan Village
As educators and mentors to our children, success in school and life starts with literacy. When children become good readers in their early education period, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school years and beyond. And in this light, a reading campaign model has been initiated in the Village of San Estevan in the District of Orange Walk. School children from standard three and up are being engaged in a series of reading activities within their school and community. Jorge Gutierrez, brain child of the initiative, says the campaign has been very successful for the schools to promote reading within the student body, at the same time, teaching children about helping other children. Jorge Guttierez– Standard 4 teacher “After analyzing our results in PSE the performance of our students in school we realized that we have a big problem and that problem is reading comprehension although we have been performing well in standardized tests, I believe we have much more improvement that can be accomplish and I had the idea of creating a reading program in which we can help our students someone of those who has, this campaign that we are having today. We had a parade for children day that included or had to do with literacy and we had several other things; we had a reading festival plan for May and we have set up a body system reading that it has started today and all is in an effort to ensure that our students improve reading and now the purpose of today is to bring the parents onboard, help them or to make them realize that reading is important and that they play a very important part in that aspect to help their children read, so the children are out today ensuring that to spread out the message that they are important in this process, that they are important to help them to learn to read and to understand.”

Burglars Hit Preschoool In Corozal Town
At the start of the New Year, there were two burglaries in the Corozal District that went under the radar as it did not make the police’s situation report. One of the burglaries occurred 12 days ago at the Kiddy Kinder Garden, one of the first preschools that were formed in Corozal Town. According to the Director of the preschool, who preferred to remain anonymous, on the 10th of January upon arriving at the preschool she noticed that the rear door of the building was open. Upon making further checks she discovered that the room had been ransacked and a Laser jet printer was missing. To make matters worse the printer was not property of the school. But it seems that the culprits were not satisfied and targeted the school a second time over the weekend. This time several school supplies were stolen.


Shot to The Head While Washing Vehicle
A 28-year-old man of Belize City is at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the head. Police reports say that Williams was approached by two persons last night at around 8:45 on Raccoon Street in Belize City, who were offering to sell him vehicle tire rims. It is uncertain as to what was said but the encounter ended with Williams being shot to the head. Williams’ mother, Lelia Williams, told Love News that she has no idea who would want to hurt her son. LEILA WILLIAMS “They said that two gunmen rode up to him and asked him if he can purchase the two car rims that he is selling and he told them someone already came to see them and they are sold and then one of the gunmen just shot him in the head and the other just dispersed. He is on life support machine and he is critical. He was shot in the head and the bullet is lodged in the brain and the doctor says we need to wait until the swelling goes down in order for them to do a surgery. Right now, we are sending up prayers and the doctor says he is a 50/50 chance for life. He has no enemies but police has the names of the two suspects. He was washing his vehicle and my grandson offered to help him and as he turned his back to wash his tire, he saw his uncle fell to the ground; he had seen the two boys coming up the street but he doesn’t recognize them. The two men had on hats, people saw them and they gave the police the information.”


PM Is Disappointed in Castro But He Says, No Offense Was Committed
Area representative for Belize Rural North Edmund Castro has been on the hot seat for the past few months, first it was his alleged involvement in a visa hustle and lately his name has surfaced on a number of cheques issued by the Belize Airports Authority. Castro was notably absent from today’s house meeting but that did not stop the accusations from flying. Opposition leader Francis Fonseca spoke on the issue on the adjournment. HON. FRANCIS FONSECA “I am stating the facts; it is for him or others who are responsible on the Government’s side to say what these funds were used for, if they were not improperly used. For example, Mr. Speaker, there are cheques and they are here; apparently, the member was not satisfied that they were paying for things on his behalf. There are cheques here made out to him – cheque #004954 in the amount of nine hundred dollars to Edmond Castro – Belize Bank cheque – Airport Authority; cheque #004957 in the amount of four thousand dollars to Edmond Castro – Belize Bank – Belize Airport Authority; cheque #005066 in the amount of five thousand one hundred and fifty six dollars and fifty five cents made out to Edmond Castro. This is absolute nonsense and that is just a sampling; I have over sixty cheques here either made for the member’s personal use for him to cash or for him to use for political purposes or to help family members. At a time when the Government is saying that they don’t have money and I think that is what really rubs the teachers and other people out there the wrong way, when the Government is saying that they can’t find money for them and there are legitimate reasons that the Government can put forward to say that they are trying to prioritize their spending. This is complete nonsense.”

Stolen Firearm Recovered in Northern Belize
Orange Walk Police has recovered a fire arm that was reported as stolen. Last year on May 29, 63 year old Roman Garcia, Belizean, who resides in the USA, reported that someone burglarised his house on number one Asuncion Street in Orange Walk Town. Stolen from his residence was one point four-ten (410) double barrel shotgun. Also stolen were a point twenty two (22) rifle and an undisclosed amount of money as well as silver coins went missing. Police did its investigation and on Tuesday January 21, CIB personnel and Orange Walk Special Branch conducted a search at an unoccupied house on Smithsonia Street in Orange Walk Town. On the veranda of the building was a rusty zinc and underneath the sheet of zinc police found a point four-ten (410) double barrel shotgun believed to be the stolen one from Garcia. Nobody was in the area at the firearm was deposited as Found Property.

Two More Immigration Officers Under Scrutiny
The latter part of 2013 was filled with revelations and speculations coming out of the Immigration and Nationality Department following the issuance of a Belizean passport to a South Korean national, Kim Won Hong. Since then investigations were initiated and that had resulted in the suspension of three Immigration officers, namely, Sharon Neal-flowers, Omar Phillips and Erwin Robinson. These three officers are now being recommended for termination by the Director of Immigration, Maria Marin. But the internal investigations are evidently still ongoing as two more officers have recently come under scrutiny. The head of the Records division in the Nationality section, Gordon Wade along with his second in command, Ady Pacheco have been brought into the fold to answer specific questions of how certain files went missing from the office. We understand that Immigration Director, Maria Marin, has written to Wade and Pacheco asking about missing files. They have reportedly been given a deadline to respond to the Director’s questions after which it will be determined what actions, if any, will be taken. Love News Centre has made several attempts to contact the Director of Immigration but at all times, we have been told that she is in a meeting.


Financial Implications of Occupation Safety and Health Bill
Who could forget the NTUCB’s show of protest at the previous sitting of the House, for its discontent with Government’s foot dragging on the long-sought after Occupational Safety and Health Bill. The Union disrupted the meeting, chanting their demands and were ushered out of the chambers by Police. They say...

NTUCB on the Tabling of the Occupational Safety and Health Bill
Outside the House, we caught up with President of the NTUCB, Dylan Reneau, to get the sentiment of the Union on today’s presentation. Reporter:“Do you now feel sufficiently respected now that the unions have been listened to?” Dylan Reneau: “Yes, certainly the bill, as we know it has been...

Mr. Micah Williams Succumbs to Injuries
Police have confirmed the death of 28 year old Micah Williams of Belize City. As we reported yesterday, the Racoon Street Extension resident was shot in the temple around 8:45 Tuesday morning on the same street by one of two persons who it is alleged approached him to ask about purchasing vehicle...

Penner Appears at the House for the First Time Since Immigration Scandal
The House of Representatives met today at the National Assembly for their first and second readings of several bills, and to discuss issues of national importance. One of the highlight of today’s sitting was none other than Hon. Elvin Penner, who made his first public appearance today since the passport...

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Climbing Kili For The Caye
As we all have something in common that we love the unique island of Caye Caulker. This is our chance to give something back and support the local community and help secure a bright future for the children of the island. At Seaside Cabanas we have just begun a voluntary $1 a night per room collection that is totally voluntary and will be added to each guest’s bill. Also I will be undertaking a sponsored climb this year of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Obviously just by coming to the island you are supporting the community and the above are both totally optional, but please help where you can as it will make a huge difference. Simon Morris, Seaside Cabanas

Caye Caulker Sailing Club
You may well remember that the Caye Caulker Sailing Club was formed back at the end of last year. The Club will be part of the bigger Belize Sailing Club which has full support from the Belize Tourism Board in the endeavor to bring this sport which has such roots in Belize’s history and culture, back to life. It has been a slow start, you can blame the weather for this, but before the year finished, not only did our first two Optimist dingy boats arrive but you will note that the CCVC granted permission for the club to build the storage house for the sailboats on the beach by the Palapa Gardens – this area being the focus for the Sailing Club. We have to thank Enrique Alamina and Bob Greaves for all their hard work in erecting the building and not forgetting our President Neil Bradley for his contribution of the materials to build the structure – thank you!!! As mentioned, we currently have two boats, kindly donated by Caye Caulker Towers and the Caye Caulker Humane Society – thank you!! These boats are ‘getting us on our feet’ or so to speak – allowing us at this early stage to get a small number of the children to become competitive before our first competitive race in Corozal on 8th and 9th Feb 2014. We have ordered and will be expecting sometime in March a further 6 boats which have been sponsored by the following – BTB, Brian and Zaira (BZE Jade), Iguana Reef Inn, Raggamuffin Tours, Seaside Cabanas and the San Pedro Belize Express which will allow us to operate more fully as a club ie allowing for a wider age range of kids to get involved and for a more recreational purpose.

Annual Liquor Licensing Meeting
The Annual Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Meeting was held in Caye Caulker on January 22nd 2014 at 1:00 pm at the Community Center. There were 33 license granted including 5 businesses who were put on a three month probationary period due to complaints or health and fire hazards. The official meeting was opened at 1:30 pm by the Chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board Francis Staine. The newly elected liquor licensing board or board appointed Clerk was not announced. Present at the meeting were Chairman of the Liquor Licensing board Francis Staine, Chairman of the Caye Caulker Village Council Wayne Miller and a late arrival from member of the board Allison Usher. Also Present were The Police Inspector, Fire Official, and the Health Inspector. Mr. Staine began the meeting welcoming the villagers and went straight into issuing the approval of licenses to the business owners. Non issue establishments were given out prior to those who had complaints against them. It seemed to be a pleasant meeting until the issue of I & I Reggae Bar’s license when members of the public shared their discontent for the one hour extension said business would receive daily. Chairperson Wayne Miller announced that they’re were new laws amended which states that the holders of Publican Specials license can get an extension up to 3:00 am. This new information was a shock to members in the audience, who also requested a copy of the S.I. or amended law. Overall the meeting was pleasant and license holders were pleased with their approvals. There were a few business owners who were not present for the issuing of the license and will be given at a later date.


Texas Music Icon Jerry Jeff Walker Fills Fido’s Courtyard with Avid Fans (and Converts a Country Newbie)
Every year, for over 15 years, famous singer/song writer, Jerry Jeff Walker comes to San Pedro, Belize to visit his vacation home and to bring a large crowd of his super fans…to something that is called “Camp Belize“. He does two big shows per week, now at Fido’s Courtyard (the most popular bar in town with visitors for sure)… And I’ve lived in this town for 7 years now and never ever seen any of it. Not the big shows. Not the “pickin’ parties” all over town. Nothing. I may have mentioned it before. I was born and raised in New Jersey (America’s “Garden State” – which many wrongly scoff at – NOT “America’s Heartland”) and moved to Belize from Manhattan, NYC. 7 years ago, there wasn’t even a country music station in the biggest city in the US.

Belizean Stretch Mi Guts
Stretch Mi Guts is a hard candy made from coconut water. It can be made like a taffy or a hard candy. In this video, Joe and the children and I recorded while we tested the recipe for the 7th time. You will need a candy making gloves to make this candy.

BPO Working Session
The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service in collaboration with the Compete Caribbean, IDB, UK aid and Canada conducted the very first Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) working session; an effort to align and unite the key players in this booming industry. This session fostered dialogue between the Consultant Mr. Shaun Finnety and afforded BPO organization to voice their concerns whilst sharing their valuable experience. BPO association was developed on Tuesday, January 21st 2013, from 8:30 am- 12:30 pm at the ITVET Building in Belize City in the Dining Room area.

2013 International Trade Center SBDCGlobal Successes

Edmond Castro Swipes Over $30,000 from Belize Airports Authority
Minister of State Edmond ‘Clear the Land’ Castro seems to be in the middle of one scandal or the other. Just a couple years ago, Castro was fired by Prime Minister Barrow for his involvement in a land hustle. He did political penance and was welcomed back into the fold – and then was named in a diplomatic incident accused of making unwelcome advances to a Taiwanese chaperone while on an official visit to that country. Shortly after, he was accused of large scale and very lucrative visa facilitation by an individual who allegedly paid him two thousand dollars per visa. And in late 2013, documents surfaced showing that Castro was recommending visas for Chinese nationals on a weekly basis. Now Castro is under fire again, this time for checks paid out by the Belize Airports Authority. Mike Rudon has the story. Mike Rudon, Reporting The Belize Airports Authority operates under the Department of Civil Aviation, which is listed under the Ministry of Transport, run by Minister of State with responsibility for transport, Edmond Castro. When we checked the official website, the BAA is said to be responsible for managing aerodromes, or small airports, for public use. So why is the BAA writing checks to Edmond Castro? And why is the BAA writinig checks which a reliable source says are to pay debts incurred by Castro?

Belize’s Most Romantic Islands
More than 200 offshore islands dot Belize’s Caribbean coastline, ranging from uninhabited mangrove islets to at least 20 larger, idyllic plots with cozy cabanas, postcard-perfect beaches and utter seclusion. In “The Jewel” -- as Belizeans call their home -- island hopping isn’t just for diving. To experience the best of Belize’s striking Caribbean scenery and to live out that secluded island fantasy, consider visiting one or more of these 6 cayes. A mere 45-minute to 2-hour journey from the mainland will get you there, aboard a scenic Tropic Air puddle jumper flight, water taxi or chartered boat. There’s a reason Ambergris Caye is the crown jewel of Belize’s tourism. The most developed and largest in size, la isla bonita boasts top-notch hotels, Latin-inspired restaurants and a weekly nightlife calendar—although afternoon bar hopping is also the norm. Escape dizzying San Pedro Town, with its congested beachfront, and head to the south or north ends of the island where Ambergris’ true beauty lies. It’s difficult not to fall in love with an island standing behind the motto, “Go Slow.” Belize’s second most visited caye couldn’t be more different than its neighboring big sister Ambergris. Five miles long, Caye Caulker’s Caribbean pace is intoxicating. Daily life is enjoyed outdoors—islanders chat in the streets, fishermen clean their catch seaside and street food vendors chant as they make their rounds past colorful clapboard homes. The only sounds on la isla carińosa are of birds chirping at sunrise and bicycles crushing the sandy streets—no cars or paved roads here.

Purchasing Belize Real Estate
Purchasing Belize real estate is very simple and extremely secure. The extensive documents that are common with a property purchase in the USA, Canada and/ or Europe are thankfully not part of the buying process here. There are no barriers to foreign investment and, as a member of the British Commonwealth, Belize has a legal system based on British law and is the only English speaking country in Central America. Understanding your documents will be much easier than in other countries in Central America. Title is fee simple absolute title so is extremely secure. Title insurance is available yet rarely utilized. Foreigners have the same property rights in Belize, as do local citizens. Foreigners can own beachfront property in Belize. In addition, Belize has no capital gains or inheritance taxes and a growing private offshore banking sector. Corporate income taxes are also quite low and can be as low as 1.75% of gross sales! Property taxes are extremely low (normally below $US 100 annually) so holding costs are very low.

Corozal House of Culture monetary artifacts
Corozal House of Culture invites everyone to view the monetary artifacts - one of a kind - courtesy of Ms. Jackie Levy. The collection includes an 1894 Queen Victoria 5 cent piece. Enjoy!

International Sources

Biotech giants sue Hawaiian island for passing legislation to restrict GMOs
The "big dogs" in chemical agriculture are on a witch hunt to reverse a bill passed by the Kauai County Council back in November that sets reasonable restrictions on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the Hawaiian island. According to the Huffington Post, an unholy trinity represented by DuPont, Syngenta and Agrigenetics Inc. (an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences) has filed a federal lawsuit arguing against Measure 2491, which is intended to set buffer zones between schools and fields sprayed with pesticide, for instance, and requires companies to disclose when and where they are spraying their poisonous concoctions, as well as report genetically modified crops. As it currently stands in Kauai, chemical companies have very few restrictions on where they are allowed to plant GM crops and how often they are allowed to spray undisclosed chemicals on fields. Because of this, many areas of the island have become toxic hotbeds, with local residents reporting allergies, neurological damage and other major afflictions stemming from exposure to GMOs and crop chemicals, one of the many issues that stands to be addressed by Measure 2491.

Family and friends honour Townsend’s memory
During his time as a ministry director and missionary, Brian Townsend was able to reach and affect positive change in the lives of more than a thousand people. On Jan. 19, hundreds from across the country gathered at the College Heights Seventh-Day Adventist Church to remember the former Lacombe resident who was killed in Belize. “It was very well attended,” said Ron Sydenham, senior pastor. “Due to family connections, we had guests come from Edmonton, Saskatchewan. I believe there was close to 700 people at the church. “Knowing the type of person Brian was, which was very much a people person, it still surprised me a bit with how many people were able to attend the service.” In addition to the hundreds gathered at the church, hundreds more viewed the service via computer and many more sent their condolences.

World's Quirkiest Place To Retire
Quirkiest retirement haven in the world? That'd have to be Belize. Belize City's roadways are built around a system of roundabouts (thanks to her British colonizers), but shops alongside them sell rice, beans, and tortillas still ground by hand. Everyone you meet speaks English (it's the country's official language), but this belies the stories of their origins. The 350,000 people populating Belize today are descendants of migrants from Britain, yes, but also, more so, the surrounding Central American countries. You've got Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans mixing with current-day generations of the Maya who originally inhabited this land, the pirates who came later, the Mennonite farmers who began arriving on the scene in the 16th century, the British who ruled until 1981, and each other. Belize is a country of freedom-seekers. The pirates came to ply their pirate trading out of view. The Mennonites came from Germany and the Netherlands so they could be Mennonites without anyone bothering them. The British came so they could bank in private. And the folks from the surrounding countries who've sought out Belize over the past few decades typically have made their way across this country's borders in search of safety.

Quiet in the Caribbean
I wrapped my arms around Leonardo, our “moto” driver, as he pushed our overloaded Yamaha across the hot, potholed concrete. “Did you understand anything,” he shouted over his shoulder, picking up speed and launching us into the thick night. I had not. I’d sat through a 10-minute roadside conversation between Leonardo and his shirtless, and apparently apologetic, friend. Insects had menaced my ankles, the motorcycle’s scorching exhaust pipe had threatened my right calf and I had made out exactly one word: “Sorry.” My husband, Tim, sat behind me, hugging my back, his feet crushed beneath my own. He hadn’t understood either. “Some say we speak patois,” Leonardo said. “But it’s English — Creole English.” It was Saturday night on “Old Providence,” as the local, Afro-Caribbean Raizal people call the second-largest island in the remote Colombian territory of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. Tim and I had arrived a few days before, after taking a circuitous route: three flights in three days, each airplane smaller than the last, like so many Russian nesting dolls. When we finally touched down, our first sight was the prop-less, wheel-less wreckage of a less-fortunate flight; the second was my father, waving from the open-air greeting area of a two-room terminal. Even through the obligatory palms of a Caribbean airport, and with a video camera pressed to his eye, I could see he was beaming.

How DiCaprio is single-handedly wiping out clean air gains by Ford
Leonardo DiCaprio is part of the “green” green crowd. They’re folks with boatloads of money lecturing the rest of us about our wanton destruction of Mother Earth through excessive carbon footprints. DiCaprio is on the National Resources Defense Council board. DiCaprio uses his platform as a celebrity to warn the world — particularly Americans — that we will trigger an environmental catastrophe unless we significantly shrink our carbon footprint. Consider his words when he gave his acceptance speech for receiving the Big Green Help Award at the Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards a few years back: “Right now, our mother — our mother — all of our mothers, Mother Earth is hurting. And she needs a generation of thoughtful, caring and active kids like all of you to protect her for the future. You can help us win the battle to clean up our air, or water, our land, to protect our forests, our oceans, and our wildlife.”

New World Oil&Gas receives initial funds from Niel Petroleum
Oil exploration outfit New World Oil&Gas notified shareholders that Niel Petroleum had disbursed 4.8m US dollars as part of its agreement to subscribe a total of $25m in new shares to help the company finance the acquisition of near-term production or oil and gas projects already in production. Said funds were being held in escrow, with the amount outstanding falling due by the end of February. It is at that stage that the approximately 2.184m in new shares would be issued. The subscription shares were to be placed at a price of 0.735p, as per the agreement reached with the new shareholder. Niel Petroleum is set to provide New World Oil&Gas a separate $25m credit line alongside the above investment. The firm’s chief, William Kelleher, reiterated his belief in the ‘upside potential’ of the firm’s three projects in Belize and Denmark.

January 22, 2014


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Caye Caulker Police Report
On Wednesday, January 15th, at about 4:20PM while Caye Caulker Police were conducting patrol on Avenida Mangle, Caye Caulker Village they stopped a male who was riding a bicycle on the street and informed him that a search would be conducted on him. At this point the person handed them a small bundle of green leafy substance suspected to be cannabis he had in his left hand and at the same time he threw an object which he had in his right hand which fell about 15 feet away from where they were standing. He was detained and escorted to the area the object fell. The object was retrieved and police suspected it to be a metal pipe used for smoking of Crack Cocaine. Further search on the person led to the discovery of five small pieces of white hard substance suspected to be crack cocaine inside the right front pocket of the pants. He was informed of the offence committed and taken to the Caye Caulker Police Station. He was later identified as Hubert Palacio, 30 years of age. The drugs were weighed which amounted to two grams of cannabis and 0.6 grams of crack cocaine. The metal pipe was measured which measured 3 ľ inches in length. He was formally arrested and charged for two Counts of Possession of Controlled Drugs and Possession of Pipe.

Belize Awarded “2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year” by LatinFinance
Following the successful conclusion of landmark negotiations between creditors and the Government of Belize to restructure the country’s US$547.5MM Superbond in March 2013, it was announced last week that the transaction has been awarded the 2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year by LatinFinance, the premier financial publication covering the markets of Latin America and the Caribbean. Gathered alongside representatives of the region’s top corporations, sovereign ministries of finance, investment banks and law firms, the Government of Belize formally received the award at a ceremony held at Gotham Hall in New York City on January 16, 2014. Accepting the award on behalf of the people of Belize and the Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, was the Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House, who himself played an instrumental role in facilitating the negotiations with creditors that began in mid-2012.

Edly Atherley turns himself over to police for the murder of his wife
Edly Atherley has turned himself in to police custody on Saturday, January 18th. On Thursday, January 9th The San Pedro Sun reported on a murder case from San Bernardino, California USA. According to the report, 29-year old Edly Atherley murdered his wife, Ashley sometime after Thanksgiving. Ashley’s body was found on December 1, 2013, but Atherley was nowhere to be found. Police reported that Atherley has strong ties to Belize and could have fled here to seek refuge with his Belizean relatives. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) searched for over a month in California, Florida and Belize for Atherley, even offering a $10,000US reward for his capture. Atherley was officially arrested by Tampa, Florida USA police on Saturday, January 18th on a federal warrant when he handed himself over to police.

Ambergris Today

Belize Ministry of Health Updates on Current H1N1 Situation
As of Monday, January 20, 2014, there are three confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza A in Belize. Five other samples that have tested positive for Influenza A have been sent on to (Caribbean and Regional Public Health Agency) CARPHA in Trinidad and Tobago for further testing and confirmation. Neither H1N1 nor any other Influenza A strain have been linked or involved with any of the severe respiratory cases that are presently hospitalized. The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the situation of flu-like illnesses across the country.

Belize Tourism Industry in Good Health
Positive reports came forth at the 13th Annual Tourism Industry Presentation that was sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board and hosted for the first time in Corozal Town at Tony’s Inn & Beach Resort on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. It was reported that Belize’s tourism industry is in good health and showing positive growing trends with presenters celebrating achievements and past performance. The main focus of the presentation was on the tourism master plan which was formulated a few years ago and to present to stakeholders the Ministry’s plan for the year ahead. There are more tour guides and hotel rooms than in past years and the Ministry of Tourism announced that it has just secured an $11Mil Bze loan for infrastructural development through Taiwan’s International Cooperation for Development Fund. Tourism figures are up from 2013 when compared to 2012 and including a positive growth in the tourism private sector. Minister of Tourism and Culture, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., indicated that Belize saw an increase of 21.2% in the number of tour operators in the country and an 8.4% growth in licensed accommodation establishments. The number stands at 1,400 licensed tour guides for the country.

Education in Belize: Who's the Enemy?
For the record, trading places between some educators and students has been done before in other schools, though probably not in Belize. However, the results of trading places for a day in schools throughout Belize would be rather interesting, I am sure. It should, though, be done for one main purpose only that has nothing whatsoever to do with politics: to encourage policymakers and educators to want to understand and fulfill the needs of students today. In this new age, feeling empathy for students is but the first step in a long and difficult journey that our Belizean educators and policymakers must stop putting off and putting off! That “lee sea breeze” of teachers’ industrial actions and discontent will not just gradually blow away. Actually, by continuously ignoring our young people’s needs, year after year, election after election, we have created our own enemy – one that has become far more dangerous and destructive to our people than any hurricane that has ever reached Belizean shores.

Community Bulletin: Light The Night For Kids
Join the worthy cause taking place on Friday, March 14, 2014 at 6pm; Memorial Park in Belize City. Express yourself and together let's light up the night for kids.

Community Bulletin: Holy Cross School Fundraiser
Sunday, January 26th, 12 pm noon, the Blues Dogs Blues Band from Colorado, will be having a fundraiser for Holy Cross Anglican School at Estel's By the Sea. Local musicians, Mike & Rob from Legend's Burger House, Dale Wallace, Jr, Trumon Davis and Amorice will be gracing us with their musical and singing skills! Fans of Blues Dogs Band will remember them from their visit a year ago. There will be food, drinks and great music! Fun will be had by all! Come and support Holy Cross School!

Annual "Light The Night" Cancer Walk
I hope this letter finds you and your place of business under the most fortunate of circumstances. It is a great honor and privilege to also wish you a Happy New Year on behalf of the San Pedro Cancer Society and that we may all be rejoicing in the prosperity that it has to offer. As you may know, the San Pedro cancer Society holds a “Light the Night” cancer awareness walk every 4th of February in commemoration of World Cancer Awareness Day. This year will be no different. It is in the anticipation of this event that we take this opportunity to invite you and your staff to this year’s event.

Misc Belizean Sources

Belize Tourism Board Year In Review 2013
The Belize Tourism Board give a review of the year 2013 with all the tourism arrival statistics, marketing strategies, celebrating achievements in the industry and announcing strategies for 2014.

Cayo Ecolodge Owners Honored
Alfonso and Azucena Galvez from Clarissa Falls were presented with awards from the Royal Humane Society for their assistance in trying to save some British tourists that got stuck in the falls. Well deserved. "Ms Azucena Galvez and her brother Alfonso, who own and operate Clarissa Falls Resort, have been presented with awards from the United Kingdom’s Royal Humane Society. The British High Commissioner, HE Peter Hughes, presented the awards on behalf of the Royal Humane Society for the couple’s courageous assistance in attempting to save the lives of British tourists at the Falls in December 2008 when a number of them experienced difficulties while river tubing on the Mopan river."

My Body Is Precious Girl Empowerment Tour
Sacred Heart College's new auditorium was the setting yesterday for the My Body is Precious Girl Empowerment Tour, and it was a packed event as Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow and many others presented about female empowerment and motivation.

Western Ballaz Sign Contracts
The Western Ballaz signed their contracts last week, and have been practicing regularly. They just announced that they'll be selling t-shirts for fans to wear to the games while cheering them on. Don't forget that their first home game is on February 21st, at 9:00pm, at the SHC auditorium. "Western Ballaz fans shirt are on sale!!! Please send a message to make your order or post under this message. We have adults and kids sizes. Shirts are $15. each. Yuh cya cuh watch Western Ballaz plaay ah nat hav ah shirt!!"

Seth Montfort Concert at GPC
Seth Montfort, the award winning pianist, is back in Belize, and he's doing a concert at the George Price Centre tomorrow evening. The show was made for Belize, and will start at 6:00pm.

Teenage girl injured in domestic dispute
A domestic incident in Elridgeville village in the Toledo district has left a teenage girl injured. According to our Toledo Correspondent Juan Caal, the incident happened around 3:30 pm on Monday. The 16 year old and her common-law husband were involved in an argument during which the man allegedly slashed her palm. Preliminary information suggests that the couple got into a fight after the 16 year old found out that her 23 year old common-law husband was being unfaithful to her with another woman. Police are now looking for the 23 year old man, as the 16 year old is receiving treatment for her injury.

Kidnappers make out with $15,000.00 Bcy from villagers
Acting on information received at about 8:10 P.M. on Monday January 20th, 2014 of a kidnapping at Copper Bank Village, Corozal District, Corozal Police visited the village where 24 year old Sabino Nah, fisherman of Copper Bank Vilalge, Corozal District reported that at about 7:45 P.M. on Monday January 20th, 2014 he was along with his brother 32 year old Eduardo Nah and 25 year old Roxanie Cruz, Eduardo's common law wife. They arrived home in Eduardo's dark grey Toyota 4 Runner L/P: SCC 8230 where they were accosted by a 4 (four) Spanish speaking male persons. Sabino was allegedly hit on the head with the butt of a black rifle and was then instructed to lie on the ground and handcuffed. The other three went inside the house with Eduardo and Roxanie. Sabino took the opportunity and ran off to seek help and upon reaching back a few minutes later with several villagers, they were all gone. Extensive searches were conducted by both Corozal and Orange Walk Police but to no avail. At about 12:00 A.M. today Tuesday January 21st, 2014 while a team of Corozal police was at the scene, Eduardo Nah and Roxanie Cruz arrived in his vehicle. Eduardo then reported that on Monday Janaury 20th at approximately 7:45 P.M. they were kidnapped from their residence in his own SUV, taken to a cane field before reach San Estevan Village, Orange Walk District.

Channel 7

Crazy Kidnapping in Corozal; Copper Bank Couple Gets Free With 15G In Cash
Tonight, three Corozalenos are lucky to be alive after a crazy kidnapping in Copper Bank village. It appears to have been planned with professional precision, executed with ruthless efficiency, and it didn't end until the captors got paid! And so, right now, the Copper Bank family is in a sustained state of terror. And right that they should be: 3 of them were held up by 4 armed gunmen, who abducted 2 of them. 24 year-old Sabino Nah, his brother 32 year-old Eduardo Nah, and Eduardo's common-law wife, Roxanie Cruz had just gotten home last night just before 8 o'clock when 4 armed masked men barged into their compound, assaulted one of them, and ransacked the family's home and took Eduardo and Roxanie hostage.

Man Critical After Being Shot In Head In City
A man is in critical condition at the KHMH tonight after he was shot in the head this morning. Micah Williams has had a few notable run - in's with the law over the years, making the news for being caught in some fairly large weed busts, one time even getting shot by police. But this morning, it wasn't weed that got him shot - two men came to his yard looking for car rims. His mother today told Monica Bodden where the sale turned into attempted murder:... Leila Williams - Mother of Micah Williams "The diagnosis is like 50/50 chance of life right now. We are praying for him and hope that everything will be okay and we wish him all the best. We all pray and I put it in the church because I went back to my church - I joined church and so I left everything on my pastor's hands. We have a lot of prayers our right now, all on Facebook. I think the prayers will help. God said his prayers can move mountains and I know that's a big mountain and he's going to move that mountain for me through his faith and his power he will. I don't have hopes that he is going to die, but through the almighty he will make it. I don't care if he is a vegetable or what, but I will take care of him because that's my child."

Wicked And Wild In The West
Tonight, San Ignacio Police continue to closely guard 27 year old Kevin "Midget" Manzanero as he remains in the hospital after being chopped by the would-be victims of his latest crime. Manzanero is wanted for a spate of burglaries and robberies which were committed in the San Ignacio/Santa Elena area during the month of December last year. He is also one of 2 main suspects in the murder of 57 year-old Fredy Lopez Sr., elderly man who was killed in a robbery gone bad which unfolded in front of his wife and his 2 very young granddaughters. On Sunday, Hospital officials called police that a man was in the hospital suffering from multiple chop wounds and this individual matched the description of Manzanero who was wanted. Officers check in and confirmed that yes, it was indeed Manzanero. Reports to police are that he tried to commit another aggravated burglar on a family home on Collin's Boulevard, San Ignacio. The owners were alerted to his presence in their house, and one of them got into a struggle with him. Another family member grabbed a match and chopped him on both arms, the right side of his face, and the right side of his neck. These injuries needed medical attention, and that's how he ended up at the hospital.

The Pickwood’s VS. Bev Castillo In Court
In late December of last year, aspiring politician Beverly Castillo made the worst kind of news: she was accused of a land grab just before she resigned as CEO in the Ministry of Natural Resources to pursue politics. The story as it turns out, is more nuanced than that, but the broad strokes remain: a freshly forfeited parcel of leased land was awarded to Castillo's mother and son, Maude Williams and Mervin Castillo Jr. The Pickwood family who had held the lease for thirty years said they had been jilted of the prime piece of undeveloped real estate at the corner of Albert Hoy and Chetumal Streets without notice. The Lands Department said the Pickwood's had failed to live up to the basic terms of their lease. The Pickwood's got an injunction issued and today, they went to the Supreme Court before the Chief Justice to see if the injunction should be set aside. The hearing was held all afternoon in Chambers with Audrey Matura Shepherd appearing for the Pickwoods. At the end of the hearing, Matura Shepherd gave us a recap:..

Hon. Santi Swoops In, Settles Seashore Park Dispute
Last week we told you all about the dispute over Buttonwood Bay Park. The UDP mayor says seafront parcel 3820 should be a park, while a UDP connected private citizen wants half of the parcel as private property. Perhaps seizing on a political opportunity in the Caribbean Shores division that he aspires to represent, mayor Darrell Bradley vowed last week to staunchly defend the parcel for public use only. Well, it appears he won't have to knock himself out, because the current Caribbean Shores area representative Santino Castillo says he's "got this." Castillo told us today that he took 150 signatures of area representatives to Cabinet today and got the Prime Minister's assurance that he will ensure the entire parcel will remain as a park. And what about Geovanni Blease, who'd, been awarded half the parcel as private land? Well, Castillo says he will be compensated with another piece of land elsewhere.

BTL Park Re-Done, Re-Dedicated, Re-Loaded
And while that park will have a future - today the City Council re-dedicated another park that is the future, or some approximation of it. That's the BTL Park, 4 acres of the most heavily invested in public space in memory. With a budget of close to 2 million dollars, it looks spectacular. But today the mayor said it's more than just a pretty park, it's an investment in imagination. Sounds pretty high minded, but we went into the nuts and bolts of politics and economics to find out what will make or break the park as a sustainable public space:.. Jules Vasquez reporting The new BTL Park is 40% larger than it was before - and that's due in large part to land reclamation. The new park will have 27 rent paying stalls, compared to 9 previously. The section in the middle where you presently see soil will be filled in with grass, while the rough clay near the sea will be covered in beach sand, much like this play area, and in about 5 years, there will be sections shaded by Laurel trees which are still in their infancy. It is the most expensive, and probably the most beautiful public space in Belize. And it's lyrical beauty inspired the mayor, nearly to poetry today:

Senior Immigration Officers From Nationality Section Under Scrutiny
Two senior officers from the Nationality Section of the Immigration Department are now under scrutiny. 7News has confirmed that Gordon Wade who heads the records section and Ady Pacheco who is his second in charge are being asked to answer specific questions regarding missing files. Minister Godwin Hulse confirmed to us that Director Maria Marin has written to both senior officers asking certain questions about missing files. They have a specific time to answer and if their answers are not satisfactory, they could also be recommended for termination. Wade is considered to be a key figure in many activities at the department, and his second, Ady Pacheco is also very prominent. Apart from being a relative of a cabinet minister, she also formerly enjoyed a high level of trust with the minister as she was selected as the go-between to shuttle between the minister and the department before the whole scandal exploded.

Police Catch a 25 Pistol, They say Gang Related
Last night we showed you a 45 pistol that the GSU intercepted. Well Police caught another weapon over the weekend: it's a .25 pistol with 8 live rounds. On Saturday morning, they searched 18 year old Shaquille Perrera, who is described as a known affiliate of the Supaul Street Gang. He was on West Collet Canal and carried the gun on his side. He has been charged for an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Belize’s Military Brass To Britain
Belize's top military commanders are wrapping up an official visit to the United Kingdom. BDF Commander General David Jones, and Coast Guard Commander Rear Admiral John Borland, met with Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison as well as senior British military officers. They were there to take part in an international maritime security capability conference and exhibition which ended ten days ago. After that finished, they attended what are described as high level meetings at the UK Ministry of Defence and at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They were also hosted on board HMS Argyll which will be deploying to the Caribbean later this year.

Major Caribbean Cruise Operator Coming To Belize
You may not know the name Butch Stewart, but he is one of the very biggest names in all of tourism in Jamaica as a pioneer and a power broker of unmatched influence and leverage. Wikipedia says he;s the the owner or Chairman of over two dozen companies throughout the Caribbean, North America and Great Britain. including Sandals Resorts,[2] Beaches Family Resorts,[3] Appliance Traders, Ltd.,[1] The Jamaica Observer,[1] and others. The news tonight is that he's coming to Belize, or at least one of his companies is. The Caribbean Journal reports that the regional tour company Island Routes is continuing its Caribbean expansion, with plans to open in Belize, St Kitts and Dominica this year. It quotes, General Manager David Shields who has overseen expansion into Grenada, Aruba, St Maarten and the Dominican Republic.

BIL Gets Ready For FIFA Standard Football Field In Twin Towns
Belize Infrastructure Limited, known as BIL has 60 million dollars to spend on sporting facilities across Belize. And today it signed its first contract in the districts, specifically in Cayo. Area representative and minister of works Rene Montero signed a preliminary contract for a FIFA standard football field in the municipality. We found out more form him and the newly installed General Manager:.. Hon. Rene Montero, Minister of Works "We just sign what you called a feasibility and design project for the upgrading of the Santa Elena sporting complex. It is a 2.5 million dollars project which will take us about 6 months for the design before we start putting out the tender for the construction of that football field." Reporter "How soon will we see works beginning?" Hon. Rene Montero, Minister of Works "I should think around June/July, that's our target date. Once we get the feasibility study and design then we will put it out for tender and then we will get it going."

The Water’s Not Safe! (To Swim In)
When Darrell Bradley was running for mayor, the plan for BTL Park was that his council would build a beach there. Well, they've built plenty at the park, even a beach area is planned, but no real beach, you know, the kind that leads into the sea. Nope! not happening, and the mayor told us why today:.. Darrell Bradley, Mayor - Belize City "One of the things why we moved away from the BTL beach concept is that we are not warranting anything in relation to the water quality out here. There issues that were raised preliminary and we want to first of all ensure that what we build is something that conforms to health and safety standards and that's one of the reasons why we went with the issue of the park and our marketing has been BTL Park. We are looking and I am reviewing proposals in rebuilding the cowl that was out here originally so that people could enjoy that. We are going to have water sports. One of the businesses is a zip lining business. We also have a guy by the name of Jenkins who is going to do jet skis and different kinds of water sports, kayaking and those kinds of things and no doubt people will swim out here but we have signs that will warn off that we don't provide any life guard and you swim at your own risks."

Public Consultation For Cruise Project
Residents of the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts are preparing for a public meeting to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment for Norwegian Cruise Line's proposed cruise port on Harvest caye - south of Placencia. The consultation on what is in a cruel twist of the English Language is called "Harvest Caye Nature Park" will be held at the Independence High School Compound. 7News confirmed today with Emilio Zabaneh the Secretary of the Independence Village Council that NCL representatives have been making rounds in about 20 villages from Placencia to Bella Vista trying to bring out people attend this important public meeting. Viewers may remember that the Government has green lighted a cruise port of call on Harvest Caye, which has been hotly debated and contested by private cruise interests on Placencia, who say that it will negatively impact tourism in the south.

Channel 5

Beverly Castillo and family in court over land taken from the Pickwoad family
Beverly Castillo – she’s the former deputy in the Ministry of Natural Resources turned political aspirant in Belize Rural Central. She’s been making headlines right from the get-go, but it’s [...]

The fleecing of the Belize Airports Authority….over $30,000 paid on behalf of Edmond Castro
Minister of State Edmond ‘Clear the Land’ Castro seems to be in the middle of one scandal or the other. Just a couple years ago, Castro was fired by Prime [...]

2 senior staff members of Nationality Section called in Immigration Report
On Monday, News Five brought you an exclusive look at the report on Won Hong Kim. It contains reports of interviews done with staff members at the nationality section who [...]

Michael Hutchinson says he is not stepping down from Rural Central
Even as Castillo is in court waging war for a piece of land, she is also in a battle for her political life in Belize Rural Central. Castillo wants to [...]

Do you believe immigration officers should be terminated, while Elvin Penner is untouched?
And our question for tonight is: Do you believe that immigration officers should be terminated while Elvin Penner is untouched for illegally issuing nationality and passport to an alleged criminal? [...]

Belize City man clings to life after being shot to the head
A Belize City family is hoping for the best but fearing the worst following the shooting of one of their own. Micah Williams was shot in the head this morning [...]

Copper Bank couple is kidnapped and freed after handing over $15,000
While Williams fights for his life, a family up north in Copper Bank, a remote village in the Corozal District is traumatized following an overnight kidnapping ordeal. The latest abduction [...]

Will the Occupational Safety and Health Bill be tabled at House Meeting
The House of Representatives will meet on Wednesday. At its last sitting, representatives of the N.T.U.C.B. protested and were escorted out of the gallery by Police. The unions’ issue is [...]

PSU says it is supporting the B.N.T.U. and N.T.U.C.B. in their fight
While the OSH Bill is high on the list of priorities, there are other matters for which the unions, with the B.N.T.U. on the forefront…are agitating. The PSU has taken [...]

2 Belize City youths committed to stand trial for 2012 murder of Dennys Williams
Two young Belize City men were in court this morning for a preliminary inquiry into a murder they are accused of. The homicide took place on November 2012, at Three [...]

More incursions in the Chiquibul and the Columbia Forest Reserve
This morning News Five caught up with Toledo activist, Will Maheia, who leads the Belize Territorial Volunteers. The group has made visits to border points from north to south to [...]

Maheia says incursions continue because borders not properly marked
Maheia reiterates that the incursions continue because our borders are not properly marked and properly patrolled.   Wil Maheia, Founding Member, Belize Territorial Volunteers “The evidence speaks for itself, you [...]

Belize’s Military Top Brass visit the United Kingdom
Late last week, the top brass of the Belize Defense Force and the Coast Guard concluded a visit to United Kingdom. Brigadier General David Jones and Rear Admiral John Borland [...]

B.T.L. Park officially opens to the public
The much anticipated opening of the B.T.L. Park took place this morning after a delay of about a month due to the persistent rains in December. The cost of transforming [...]


Where Are The Land Documents For The O/W East Sports Centre?
Land ownership in Belize has been the subject of many disputes and we have presented our share of stories along this line brought forward by concerned citizens or people who simply have become fed up with the porous system in the lands department. Tonight we have yet another of these stories but this time around, the contention surrounds what should be public property. It concerns the East Sports Centre located on Aurora Street in Orange Walk East. The matter was brought up to us by members of the East Sports Centre Committee and other sports enthusiasts. They say that for unknown reasons they have been unable to obtain the lease papers for the centre and consequently have had to halt infrastructural development and even sports events at the plot of land. We take a look at this story in two segments, since to get a better understanding of the situation; we need to look at the history of the East Sports Centre and eventually what has led to the group’s discontent. Dalila Ical reports. Dalila Ical– Reporting Today, the East Sports Centre on Aurora Street is not in the best conditions to say the least. Overgrown weeds and grass have taken over the sides of the court, the chain link fence, and electricity wires that hang over the area. Garbage has begun collecting in the corners of the sports facility.

Portions Of What Should Be he East Sports Centre Is Owned By Elodio Aragon's Son
Now, while the East Sports Committee is baffled at their inability to obtain the proper documentation for the parcel of land where the East Sports Centre sits, the story, it seems, does not end there. That is because the enclosed area is but half of what should be the East Sports Centre. The parcel of land, a large part of which is concrete, should also be public property. We say should because, well, Dalila Ical has more on that part of the story. Dalila Ical – Reporting CTV-3 News understands that the land adjacent the enclosed part of the East Sports Centre is also public property. According to Orlando Burns, the land was first donated to the Town Board over four decades ago. Orlando Burns – Sports Enthusiast “That portion of the complex was donated by a private citizen if I am not mistaken it was by the estate of Mr Angel Castillo or by himself, donated that portion to the Town Board, the then Town Board and that would probably be in the early 70’s I am not sure but I wish some of his family members were here and give us the history because one day one of them showed me the document where it was being donated to the Town Board so I then when I saw that I ask the Mayor to intervene to clear up that piece.”

Orlando Burns Say's Issue At O/W East Is Not About Party Politics
The East Sports Centre Committee’s land dispute is compelling and the document CTV-3 News unearthed has proved their suspicions true. However, it is hard to ignore that one of the very persons pushing for this issue to become public knowledge is and has been a big player in the United Democratic Party. Furthermore, the persons involved in acquiring what should be public property are also factions of the UDP. Therefore, we asked Orlando Burns, the former UDP Standard Bearer for Orange Walk East whether the move is part of a larger political agenda. Orlando Burns- Former UDP Standard Bearer O/W East “This interview is about my country put your country first before your political party, this is a public park where my children play basketball and a lot of children of the east play basketball and it is time that people stand up and stop looking about politics and about who is involved, it doesn’t matter who they are giving it to I think it is wrong and I stand up for that and this is not about party or politics who or what and I am bringing this up to the media because it is happening for so many months and I have heard nothing official so I just wanted the people to know that all or our work is basically down the drain if you pass thereby you could see place is growing back up it is going to look pretty soon like it was I mean abandoned.”

Taking A Look At The Rehabilitation Of Belize's Manatees At Wildtracks
Most of us have seen a dog or animal carcass along a busy highway. But terrestrial species are not the only ones threatened by collisions with speeding vehicles. In Belize, being killed by a boat is the most common way for endangered manatees to meet their demise. Though Belizean officials have no verified estimate for the total number of manatees currently roaming Belize’s waters, a large percent of recovered manatee bodies are the victims of watercraft collisions. Reporter Maria Novelo sat down with Zoologist and Director of WildTracks, Paul Walker for part two of our conservation efforts to sensitize the public on the rich wildlife Belize holds and ways in which we can help them harmoniously survive in our borders. Maria Novelo – Reporting Between 2012 and 2013, there were 26 known boat fatalities of Manatees across the country. And with Belize boasting the largest Antillean manatee populations in region, this unfortunate trend is only going up year by year. But with conservations efforts from Wildtracks, the only Manatee and Primate Rehab Center in Belize, zoologists have strengthened efforts to protect one of the most iconic and threatened animals in the crystalline waters of Belize.

ITVET Celebrates TVET Week
Today the sun shone and brought much desired warmth around town, but in the Otro Benque Park Area, there was additional contentment as students from the Orange Walk Institute of Technical and Vocational Education and Training dedicated their entire day at giving the park a much need facelift. The students renovated all corners of the park that they adopted three years ago. Acting Assistant Manager Joseth Espadas says it is an all-day initiative which they conduct once a year. Joseth Espadas – Acting Assistant Manager “It’s the entire student population, the faculty and staff, the Orange Walk ITVET family are out here today doing what we can for this park.” Maria Novelo – Reporter “So what is happening?” Dalila Ical – Reporter “Well, three year ago when we came to the park it was basically abandoned we decided to install some swings, we install the seesaw and to basically paint the park with our school colours which are orange, yellow and blue as you can see some of our trainees are painting our school logo on the basketball court and we actually fix again the back board and the rim for the basketball court and are just projects that our trainees trained are involved in, for example the back board and the rim, the welding trade trainees are the ones who are responsible for that, the little house that we are going to build by the slide, carpentry trainees are involve with that, painting, most of our trainees do painting as part of our ground maintenance so we are trying to give back to the community for what they guy learnt and what they know so far in their trade.”

O/W Police Remove Another Illegal Firearm Off The Streets
Orange Walk Police have removed one more unauthorized weapon from the streets. Reports are that on Tuesday, around 3:30pm CIB personnel of the Special Branch visited an unoccupied upstairs blue house located on Smithsonia Street where they found a Stevens double barrel shotgun hidden under rusty zinc on the verandah of the house. While no one was in the area at the time of the search, it was labeled as found property. Orange Walk authorities resolved that the firearm was one that was stolen during a burglary reported on May 29th 2013 at the residence of businessman Roman Garcia.

Wanna Be Robber Shot Dead By His Victim
Authorities on the island of Ambergris Caye are investigating a burglary and an attempted robbery that resulted in a man being shot and killed. The victim has been identified as 24 year old Michael Wallace, unemployed of a San Juan address in San Pedro Town. Preliminary police report indicates that Wallace was one of three persons that attempted to rob a fellow islander when he was shot and killed. The Sun Newspaper reported that according to the Officer in Charge of the Coastal Executive Unit and the San Pedro Police Formation Superintendent of Police Luis Castellanos, the incident happened sometime after 10:30pm on Sunday January 19th with a robbery attempt. 24-year old Kirian Azueta, an accountant of Marina Drive reported to police that while he was going into his residence three people approached him as he got out of his golf cart to open his gate. They held him up at gun point and in the process one of the robbers fired a shot at him. Azueta then took out his licensed gun and returned fire.

MHS Breaks Ground For New Auditorium
The dream of owning their own auditorium is something that the faculty and staff of Muffles High School have been striving for, for many years now. But due to financial constraints, that dream, it seemed would be too difficult to grasps. But as they say, where there is a will there is a way and today the official ground breaking ceremony for the Muffles High School Auditorium took place at the school’s campus. Principal, Maria Johnson says the dream is becoming a reality thanks to the community’s response and past graduates that have taken it up to assist in raising the funds needed to get the project off the ground. Maria Johnson- Principal, Muffles high School “Our students sometimes we would have to walk about two blocks from here to assemble in one place when we decide to chansit sometimes with tents and so on we have rain and sometimes the sun is really hot and sometimes some of our students get dick because of heavy sun burns so those are the three most important aspects that motivated us to say you know what we need the Auditorium and plus the population is getting larger, we have increased our population by 150 students and it has been increasing and there is not place in Oranges Walk really that can accommodate us and we do have the campus, we have space the only thing that we don’t have is the money but we are going to get it with the assistance of the Orange Walk community.

Corozal Celebrates Youth Cadet Program
Since its inception in 1994, the Police Youth Cadet Corp has provided at risk youths an avenue to stay out of trouble by engaging in positive activities. This weekend, as a token of appreciation for the youth’s dedication to the program, a party was held in their honor in Corozal. Police constable attached to the Corozal Community Policing Unit, Abner Marroquin says the program aims at instilling sound discipline, respect for authority, leadership and team building skills among young people. ABNER MARROQUIN – Police Constable, Corozal Community Policing Unit “We have them out here on their yearly party and if you notice we have food, we have gifts, we have snacks today and this day is their day for them to enjoy themselves, no.” Victor Castillo – Reporter “What is the purpose of this gathering that you have hosted for them?” ABNER MARROQUIN – Police Constable, Corozal Community Policing Unit “Well, basically it is for them for the community to be aware that they have the Police Youth Cadet Corps and to sensitize the community of this event and let them know that there is something especially for those children that are at risk. This cadet program deals with discipline, we do lectures, we do community service, we engage in different things, cancer walks, ride-a-tons and everything that has to do with the community we get our cadets involve along with the other different departments like the Youth Service and ENDAC and othe events that happen within the community we get them engage.”

Corozalenos Surf The Web, Free Of Cost At The Central Park
In a technologically driven era, staying connected with friends and family has become common place in society. And for many residents in Corozal who enjoy the outdoors, one of the favorite spots for meeting with friends and family is the Central Park. And if they enjoy technology, that is something they will also have now available as on Saturday, the Corozal Central Park saw the historic activation of Free Wifi access to residents. Corozalenos, especially students, were elated with the innovative idea which was undertaken by Gregorio Papas Garcia, PUP Standard Bearer Candidate for Corozal Bay, and his team. Gregorio ‘Papas’ Garcia – PUP Standard Bearer Candidate, Corozal Bay “What we have done we have partner up with an internet provider to get some free Wifi here in Central Park, definitely to benefit the youths and any other person that want to use the internet services and does not have access to it.”

Trial Farm Victoriuos In The National Primary School Football Championship
Twelve teams converged at the MCC grounds in Belize City to battle it off on the field in the 2014 National Primary School Football Championships. The event saw the participation of the best teams from each district and representing Orange Walk was a dynamic team from Trial Farm Government School. After the one day competition, these boys overcame all odds and brought home the title. This morning, the entire school celebrated with them. Here’s a look. Dalila ical – Reporting It was a sweet victory for the school’s football team and by extension all students at Trial Farm Government School. Coach Eber Patt said he could not be any happier and proud of his team. Eber Patt – Coach “We started playing against San Pedro and we won and then we continued playing against Toledo and we son as well, then we continued playing against Corozal and Cayo we won as well and then the last game that we had was against Cayo which we won in penalties, am really proud of the guys and they really played their heart and soul on the field and we did our best and all the hard work paid off.”

Are You Purchasing Expired Items?
In today's economy, where every cent counts, you expect to get what you pay for. But this is not always the case because there are times when we go shopping and not even realize that we have purchased items that have already expired until it’s too late. And apparently this has become a problem because the Public Health Department is warning consumers to be on the lookout for outdated perishable products when they go food shopping. Reporter Maria Novelo took to the streets today to investigate this story and filed the following report. Maria Novelo – Reporting There’s a new reason for you to check your groceries a bit closer the next time you shop. Four out of 7 major shopping centers in Orange Walk have expired or nearing expiration dates on food items placed on their shelves. It’s an alarming statistic since we, as consumers, pay the full price for these items. So, how hard is it to find expired foods being sold around Orange Walk Town?

Belizean Drivers May Soon Face New Regulations When Travelling To Chetumal
There is a possible change in the horizon in regards to vehicular documentation in Chetumal, Mexico. Given the possible implementation of what is being called the Mexico Vehicle Emissions Testing Center, Belizean Drivers who visit Chetumal may be faced with new regulations. In an article ran in the Mexican media, Honorary Consul of Belize in Chetumal, Jorge Valencia Gómez, discusses the possibility of revising the units that visit the city daily. According to the Honorary Consul Gomez, there is already a verification centre in Belize and hopes that the documentation given to Belizean vehicles continues to be valid across the border.

Doing The Right Thing Pays Off
The annual Du Di Rait Ting Award by the Police Department was handed today to an outstanding fourth form student from Bishop Martin High School. The award has handed to Luis Aguillar Junior for his contributions to his community. We caught up with him at his school today and this is what he told us about his experience. Luis Aguillar Junior – Awardee “I start to help out people to do work but I didn’t really expect this.” Dalila Ical – Reporter “Any community work” Luis Aguillar Junior – Awardee “Yes, help out to clean up and work with Help-age and things like that. I see a lot of people need help so I help them and I see that I need to help and things like that.”


Northern Belize Sees Reduction in Major Crimes
There was a reduction in major crime in the northern part of the country in 2013. Arturo Cantún spoke with the officers commanding the Regional Command of the Belize Police Department who explained the strategy that they will implement in order to keep the crime statistics down and build safer communities. ARTURO CANTUN REPORTING Over all the northern part of Belize saw close to 30% decrease in major crimes in 2013. Commander of the Northern Region for the Police Department is Superintendent Joseph Myvette. SUPERINTENDENT JOSEPH MYVETTE “2013 was a challenging year but certainly, we did make some serious in-roads in the reduction of major crimes; that could not have been done without the public’s participation and certainly, several crime initiatives had to have been put in place.”

Ambushed, Kidnapped and Robbed; Trio Lives to Tell Ordeal
A family of Copper Bank Village in the Corozal District is in turmoil following a kidnapping that happened last night at around eight o’clock. Reports received at Love News Centre is that 24-year-old, Sabino Nah and his 32-year-old, Eduardo Nah along with Eduardo’s common-law-wife, 25-year-old, Roxanie Cruz arrived at their house last night where they were ambushed by four Spanish-speaking men. Sabino told investigators that one of the men hit him in the head with the butt of a rifle and was then forced to lie on the ground and was handcuffed. The other three assailants then proceeded to take Eduardo and his spouse in the house which Sabino saw as an opportunity to escape and seek help. A few minutes later when Sabino returned to the house with the help of some of the villagers, the assailants, his brother and the woman were gone. Extensive searches were conducted by Police from the Corozal and the Orange Walk Districts but they turned out fruitless.

“My Body Is Precious” – Campaign Continues Countrywide
The “My Body is Precious – Girl Empowerment Campaign” was in Orange Walk Town this afternoon. The national campaign started last week in Belmopan. Heading the campaign is Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis Barrow who said the activity is an empowerment rally which aims at encouraging high schools girls to take pride in themselves and to delay sexual activity. KIM SIMPLIS-BARROW “It’s about carrying the message of sexual abuse and if they are being abused, they should report it. Definitely, we have seen an increase of our young girls being taken advantage of and young girls being pressured into having sex by their boyfriends or by their friends. So, I just wanted to make it clear that we can start a new trend by just waiting until you’re mature enough to experience something like this. I would more want to put it as delaying your sexual debut. As high school girls, they should be focusing on studying; they should be doing girl things, listening to music, going to movies, participating in sports, reading books. Engaging in sexual activity can affect their future; they can get pregnant, they can get a sexual transmitted disease, they will fall out of school; there are so many things that come with it. As for the young men, we will be doing something with our boys; we need to address what our boys are going through and it is very important that we don’t put them apart but for now, I really just wanted to focus on girls.”

Shot to The Head While Washing Vehicle
A 28-year-old man of Belize City is at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the head. Police reports say that Williams was approached by two persons last night at around 8:45 on Raccoon Street in Belize City, who were offering to sell him vehicle tire rims. It is uncertain as to what was said but the encounter ended with Williams being shot to the head. Williams’ mother, Lelia Williams, told Love News that she has no idea who would want to hurt her son. LEILA WILLIAMS “They said that two gunmen rode up to him and asked him if he can purchase the two car rims that he is selling and he told them someone already came to see them and they are sold and then one of the gunmen just shot him in the head and the other just dispersed. He is on life support machine and he is critical.

BPO Association Formed in Belize
People involved in the call-in services, along with representatives from the internet service providers, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the business support organizations and the University of Belize met this morning at the I-TVET building in Belize City to form the Belize BPO Association. The move to bring the group together was spearheaded by the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service, BELTRAIDE, following what has been described as a very lucrative business process outsourcing industry, or what is more popularly known as the call-in centres. With over two thousand Belizeans employed in the sector at 18 calls centres, Executive Director of BELTRAIDE, Nick Ruiz, says that in 2013 alone, Belize earned over 50 million dollars in export revenues through the call-in centres. But while it has been lucrative, Ruiz adds that there is a need to offer a wider range of services through the service. NICHOLAS RUIZ It’s been a really phenomenal growth since 2008 and now we feel that we need to get all those voices together so that the Association can speak as one when it comes to development issues for the sector.

Debt Restructuring Earns Award for Belize
Belize has been awarded the “2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year” by Latin Finance. According to a Government release, following the successful conclusion of landmark negotiations between creditors and the Government of Belize to restructure the country’s five hundred and forty seven point five million US dollar superbond in March 2013, it was announced last week that the transaction has been awarded the 2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year by Latin Finance, the premier financial publication covering the markets of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Government of Belize formally received the award at a ceremony held at Gotham Hall in New York City last Thursday. Accepting the award on behalf of the people of Belize and Prime Minister Dean Barrow was Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House, who himself played an instrumental role in facilitating the negotiations with creditors that began in mid-2012. Peyrefitte was responsible for arranging a series of top-level meetings between the Prime Minister and the Co-Chairs of the Coordinating Committee that led to the key break-through in the discussions, and continues to serve as a liaison between Belize and the international financial community.

GSU Intercepts Vehicle on Highway; Prohibited Weapon Found
The Gang Suppression Unit has arrested and charged, who they describe as a reputed drug distributor along with five others known to be associated with the Peace in the Village (PIV) gang. The arrests came as a result of the discovery one PARA brand .45 pistol loaded with an extended magazine containing seven .45 live rounds of ammunition. According to the GSU, a team was out in the city on Friday, January 17 at around 10:45pm when they intercepted a red Ford F150 pickup truck without license plates on Peter Seco Street in Belize City. Driving the vehicle at the time was 34-year-old, security guard of Green Street in Belize City, Richard Smith while the passengers were 19-year-old, Jihadul Gill Sr.; 29-year-old, Everal Gray; 18-year-old, Delbert Alvarez; 18-year-old, Alrick Lamb and 18-year-old, Arthur Hill Jr. all of Belize City addresses. Lamb pled guilty to the charges when he appeared today before Magistrate Dale Cayetano. He was sentenced to five years for each offence with the stipulation that the sentences are to run concurrently. But despite Lamb’s guilty plea the charges were not withdrawn from the others; they were remanded into custody until March 17. All six persons were represented by attorney Bryan Neal.

Wanted Man Gets Chopped During Burglary Incident
Fugitive, twenty two year old Kevin “Midget” Manzanero was arrested by Cayo Police over the weekend. Love News understands that Manzanero was arrested by San Ignacio Police yesterday afternoon after he sought medical attention for chops wounds. Manazero along with twenty five year old Alex “Cat” Reid are wanted for the December murder of 56 year old Freddy Lopez in San Ignacio, Cayo. Both Manzanero and Reid are also wanted in Corozal Town for a number of robberies and burglaries. We understand that Manzanero was caught by San Ignacio Police in the act of an aggravated burglary.

Sunday Night Murder in the City
An unemployed man of Belize City is the latest murder victim. On Sunday night sometime around ten o’clock gunshots rang out in Banak Street. When it was over 36-year-old Eaton Emory Carr laid dead. Police say when they arrived on the scene they found Carr of a Holy Emmanuel Street address lying on his side in a drain with apparent gunshot wounds to the neck, upper chest, right arm and back. Today, Carr’s family is preparing to lay him to rest and his older brother, Denmark Carr, says that the family has no idea who would want to kill their love one. DENMARK CARR “I understand that he was riding through Banak Street last night and they just came up to him and shot him up and left him there in a drain. I don’t know if he had enemies but the man used to be in the streets in the past but he was trying to change his life and when you try to change your life that is when people try to chance you.

Uncle Faces Attempted Murder Charge After Being Accused of Chopping Nephew
Fifty-four year old Frank Garcia, who allegedly chopped his nephew, was charged with attempted murder when he appeared today before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. Garcia was also charged with dangerous harm and use of deadly means of harm, He was remanded into custody until March 20. The complainant, 23 year old Sherwin Garcia Jr., reported to the police that on January 12, he was riding his bicycle in front of his home on Oleander Street when his uncle called out to him and when he turned around his uncle chopped to the left side of his face with a machete. Sherwin was admitted to ward at KHMH where his condition was reported to be critical but stable. Frank, whose head was bandaged, said that he was beaten by the police.

Teenagers Charged with Attempted Murder
19 year old Joseph Lopez and a 17 year old boy, were charged with attempted murder when they appeared today before the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith. They were also charged with dangerous harm and use of deadly means of harm. They were remanded into custody until April 22. The charges arose from an incident that occurred around 9:50 p.m. on January 15 in which 29 year old James Elijio was shot to the back of his neck. Elijio reported to the police that he was standing in front of his house on Flamboyant Street when two persons riding on bicycles approached him and fired several shots at him and one of the bullets struck him in his neck. Elijio was admitted to ward at KHMH where his condition is reported to be critical but stable.

Belize’s Top Brass Hosted in UK
Belize’s top ranking military officers- Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Rear Rear Admiral John Borland and Commander of the Belize Defense Force Brigadier General David Jones has just concluded an official visit to the United Kingdom. On their visit, Commandant Borland and Commander Jones met the Ministry of Defence Minister Doctor Andrew Murrison as well as senior British military officers. The officers were invited by the British Government to participate in an international maritime security capability conference and exhibition in early January. Borland and Jones attended a number of high level meetings at the UK Ministry of Defence and at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They were also hosted on board the HMS Argyll vessel which was at anchor in the Thames next to Tower Bridge.


Will Occupational Safety and Health Bill be Introduced at Tomorrow’s House Meeting?
After years of rallying for the implementation of a legislation to protect workers on the job site, the Unions say they have been informed that the bill-dubbed the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, will be tabled at tomorrow’s sitting of the House of Representatives. For clarity on what the...

Couple Kidnapped for Ransom in the North
Tonight, authorities are investigating the kidnapping of a couple that occurred last night in the Corozal District. Police were called out to - Copper Bank Village where they met with Sabino Nah, a 24 year old fisherman of the village. Nah told them that the incident unfolded at around ...

Bloodshed Continues in the Old Capital
A Belize City resident is at the KHMH tonight fighting for his life after he was shot to the head. Shortly before 9 this morning, 28 year old Micah Williams was on Racoon Street Extension when he was approached by two men, inquiring about purchasing vehicle rims. One of...

Known Gang Affiliate Charged with Weapon Offenses
Also in crime news, Police have confiscated an unlicensed firearm off the streets of Belize City. The holder of the weapon they say, is known affiliate of the Supaul Street Gang. On Saturday morning, Shaquille Perrera was busted in the vicinity of West Collet Canal with a .25 pistol and...

Suspected Murderer Found Dead
Meanwhile, in the west, the body of a man wanted in connection to the murder of Canadian National Brian Townsend was discovered on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Marlon Balona was found by a local, under cohune leaves in a secluded area in the village of La Gracia. It is believed

BNTU Hits San Ignacio for the Third Leg of Scheduled Rallies
As you may know, this Friday, BNTU is hitting San Ignacio, Cayo, for the third leg of the scheduled rallies. However, this time, the rally takes on a much broader perspective as they are joined by community activist, Mary Cariddi, who is calling for a District wide shutdown of...

Rise and Shine Hosting for Free Legal Advice on Land Issues
For far too long we have been reporting land issue after land issue, but this week Plus TV’s very own Rise and Shine is taking it a step further; turning thought into action. For the first time since its initiation, Rise and Shine, with the assistance of a group...

Old Road Residents Given Reprieve
PLUS News learned today that residents of the Old Northern Highway in the village of Ladyville have been told that M&M Engineering, which they accuse of disturbing their peace with heavy activity at their construction compound and damaging several sections of road in the area, must limit that activity

BTL Park Opened
This morning the BTL Park was launched with opening ceremonies by the Belize City Council. It took several months to be completed but the results were pleasing to all in attendance, particularly corporate sponsors Belize Telemedia Limited and Bowen and Bowen Group, as well as to international partners such...

Caye Caulker Chronicles

Caye Caulker’s little sailors compete in San Pedro
Caye Caulker’s little sailors spent a day in San Pedro honing their sailing skills alongside the San Pedro Sailing Club. We can honestly say we have not seen anything as cute in a long time. Angel, Malik and Alanis were excellent ambassadors. We are so proud of you, sailors! Aye.

Caye Caulker’s own Nordstrom model is back on the island
Jake, son of Mark Mossiah and Mariette Ravet, is back on his beloved Caye Caulker. Jake was signed with Elite Models a few years ago when the modeling company fell in love with his runway strut. Beloved Jake, among other things, has appeared in print ads for Nordstrom.

Caye Caulker BTIA to hold Annual General Meeting
Annual General Meeting for the Caye Caulker BTIA. Dear Members and Business Owners, You are cordially invited to our Caye Caulker Annual General Meeting. The meeting will be held on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm at the Community Centre. This meeting is called to update members of the status of BTIA Caye Caulker, as well as to hold elections for a new Board. We encourage you to participate actively and fully in the process. We look forward to see you at the AGM. Thanks.


In response to increased sightings of Guatemalan xatéros inside the Columbia River Forest Reserve, the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) plans to undertake an expedition in the area to document the reported incursions which have been marginalizing Maya hunters and farmers in the area, BTV founder Wil Maheia told Amandala. Last week, Fermin Castellano of San Antonio reported that he had seen a Guatemalan xatéro armed with both a machete and firearm, and harvesting the xaté palm as far as 12 miles inside Belizean territory, near the La Union area of the Columbia River Forest Reserve. Castellano said that when he saw the armed xatéro, he became nervous and hid in the bushes. Although it happened three years ago, the armed assault by xatéros on Emelino Cho, the alcalde of San Jose Village, Toledo, and villager Alfredo Sho, near Doyle’s Delight, Cayo—who xatéros had shot after the men gave them food—has embedded lingering fear in many Toledo villagers, forcing them to cut back on farming and hunting activities.

One of police’s most wanted fugitives, Kevin “Midget” Manzanero, 27, of Santa Elena, Cayo District, wanted for crimes such as robbery and murder that have brought terror to the residents of Bullet Tree and surrounding areas in the Cayo District, has finally been captured. Manzanero reportedly went to the San Ignacio Hospital today to seek medical attention for machete chop wounds to the head, shoulder, face and hands. Reports are that one of the chop wounds has caused him to lose one of his eyes. Hospital authorities called police immediately, as mandated. When police arrived, they were surprised to find that the victim of the machete attack was none other than one of their most wanted fugitives, Kevin “Midget” Manzanero. Manzanero was immediately arrested and put under police guard while receiving medical treatment at the hospital, where he has been admitted.

The family of a thief must find a coffin to bury him in when he died after being shot during a robbery attempt in San Pedro Ambergris Caye. At about 10:15 last night, Sunday, a San Pedro accountant of Marina Street returned home on his golf cart and stopped to open his gate. The man told police that as he was getting off the cart to open his gate, two men came out of the shadows of the bushes and one of them pointed a gun at him. According to the accountant, both men wore sweater hoods on their heads, and one of them, of fair complexion, was dressed in a black hooded sweater with the words “TEXAS TECH” emblazoned on the front. He also had a black warm hat over his face and a rag over his mouth. That thief was armed with a black .9 mm pistol. The other thief was dressed in a white hooded sweater with a rag over his mouth, and he was unarmed. The gunman pointed the gun at him and told him not to move, and not to reach for his gun, the accountant told police. The accountant reported that as the gunman said this, he, the gunman, fired a shot at him, the accountant, but missed.

The seemingly never-ending gun violence has claimed the life of a man who was walking on the dangerous Banak Street, in the city’s Southside. Last night at about 9:50, Eaton Emory Carr, 27, originally of Dangriga but who lived in the Aloe Vera Street area of Belize City, was shot multiple times by unknown gunmen. Police reports are that Carr was walking on Banak Street towards the Central American Boulevard when unknown gunmen fired many shots at him. Neighbors quickly called police, who found Carr lying in a drain by the street side. He had been shot in the neck, the upper chest, the right arm and the upper back. Carr was taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival at about 11:00 p.m. Police have not yet found the murderer. Carr’s family told Amandala that they were at home last night about 10:00 when police went to their house and asked for Eaton, but did not tell them that he had been killed. They left when they were told that Eaton was not at home.

Back in 2012, when Belize was in the heat of negotiations with bondholders to restructure the billion-dollar debt acquired under the last administration, some analysts were very critical of the move, claiming that Belize’s restructuring offer was “worse than investors expected” and that it would set a dangerous precedent. Today, though, it was announced that LatinFinance, the premier financial publication covering the markets of Latin America and the Caribbean, had awarded Belize the “2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year,” for the US$547.5MM super-bond debt restructuring concluded in March 2013. “Negotiated in a period of less than one year, the consensual nature of the collaboration demonstrated between the Government of Belize and the coordinating committee of Belize bondholders to achieve a comprehensive restructuring transaction has been lauded by a number of international agencies and financial institutions, and is being pointed to as a precedent for future sovereign restructurings,” said a statement from the Government of Belize. The team was led by Ambassador Mark Espat and the members were Minister of Labor, Local Government, Rural Development and National Emergency Management Hon. Godwin Hulse; Financial Secretary Joseph Waight; Governor of Central Bank of Belize Glenford Ysaguirre; Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Belize, Christine Vellos; Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Finance, Allan Slusher; Deputy Advisor to the Ministry of Finance, Yvette Alvarez; and CEO for the Ministry of Economic Development, Yvonne Hyde.

The European cargo vessel which goes by the name The CFS Palencia has been docked off the coast of Belize City for over a week, primarily because the Government of Belize (GOB) secured a court order to seize the international cargo ship on Friday, January 10. The vessel is a sister ship to The Paranga, which, in July 2012, caused over 9 million dollars in damages to Belize’s Barrier Reef when it ran aground two miles southeast of English Caye. The persons responsible made a false promise that they would return to settle any fines arising, and the Government hold-up of the Palencia is in the hopes that the ship’s owners will arrange payment of the $9.6 million environmental fee that was levied on The Paranga. Well, that has not happened, and in the meantime, cargo – including citrus concentrate, shrimp and corn – for export to Jamaica is sitting on board, stuck in transit. Today, CEO and receiver of the Port of Belize, Arturo “Tux” Vasquez, told Amandala how the situation has affected operations in terms of shipments at the port.

As part of their honoring of the January 15 birthday of Rt. Hon. George Price, the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) last week unveiled a l0-point program which was intended to move the grand old party back to its social justice roots. This newspaper welcomes the PUP social justice program, if only in its symbolism, because we have been accusing the PUP of having gone so far to the right over the last two decades, that they have become more neoliberal than the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) itself, the political party which introduced neoliberal capitalism in Belize when the UDP was founded in 1973. Some history is relevant here. We consider ourselves on Partridge Street as having campaigned for a political party of our choosing in three different general elections. These were for the PUP in 1979, for the UDP in 1984, and for the PUP in 1998. In all the aforementioned national elections, the party we campaigned for won a landslide victory. On these three occasions, this newspaper had felt, whether rightly or wrongly, that a victory for the “other” side would have threatened our very existence. 45 years ago, three young university graduates made a splash in Belizean public affairs when they went to the streets. These were Assad Shoman, Said Musa, and Evan X Hyde. Assad Shoman admired and loved Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution so much, he eventually abandoned Belize and went to live in Havana. Shoman became a top flight academic. After Shoman resigned electoral politics here in 1984, his closest friend, Said Musa, apparently began a move to the right, so much so that his two consecutive terms as Prime Minister of Belize were marked by doctrinaire neoliberal capitalism. Evan X Hyde, for most of his public life, has been representing what we will refer to as an independent minority on Belize’s socio-political spectrum. When this independent minority takes sides with any of the two major political parties, as it did in 1979, 1984, and 1998, it tips the scales in that party’s favor.

We speak of the concept of democracy as if it represents a Holy Grail, as if it is something which should solve our problems as a people. As Belize’s socio-economic problems have persisted, and indeed grown worse, through our 32 years of political independence, serious citizens of high intellectual capacity have focused on the precise nature of our “parliamentary democracy” in the quest for a better kind of government (“governance”, as they say), or in the search for changes which would reform the present system, make it a better system for all concerned. The Government of Belize which was elected to office in August of 1998 was expected to be a government of logic and progressive thinking. PUP Leader Said Musa had put together a group of qualified minds to surround and advise him, and many of these qualified minds became Cabinet Ministers in his first administration. Because of the aura of intellectual freedom surrounding the first Musa administration, a so-called “reform movement” was organized in “civil society” to discuss how we were governed. The movement featured people like Godwin Hulse, Francis Gegg, Patrick Rogers, and several more.

Since the start of the New Year 2014 – which has been dubbed by union leaders as the “Year of the Worker” – the workers unions have intensified their efforts to get the Government to heed their calls not only for a long awaited salary adjustment, but also for accountability and transparency with regards to pressing social and national issues such as corruption, which remain unaddressed in the eyes of many Belizeans. One of those unions who have been at the forefront of the agitation, and one with the most widespread membership base is the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), whose members are clamoring for a salary adjustment, which they say has not been effected since 2005. The BNTU has organized a series of peaceful, weekly rallies to be held nationwide in order to mobilize not only teachers, but public officers from across the country to stand together and raise awareness about those issues on the front burner – including their salary adjustment. The stance has been met with a level of disdain by the Ministry of Education, which insists that there is no need for any industrial action on the part of the teachers.

The Organization of American States (OAS) has announced that Belize is among six Caribbean countries picked for site visits this April by the OAS’s Anticorruption Mechanism within the context of its fourth round of review, to conclude in March 2015. The other countries on the itinerary are Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. “The process of on-site visits to the six Caribbean countries, which are carried out with their consent, began last December, when the governments of these nations sent their replies to the questionnaire sent by MESICIC (Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of Inter-American Convention against Corruption) delegates as a prior step to the visit of the delegations,” the OAS said. It added that each subgroup is composed of representatives of two member countries, with the support of officials from the OAS Department of Legal Cooperation. Visits to these six countries will bring the total countries visited for on-site reviews up to 25 countries.

Today was scheduled to be the start date for the much delayed 2013/2014 sugar crop season; however, Amandala understands that deliveries of cane have been deferred for another four days. That is based on a decision that was made by Government and the relevant stakeholders of the sugar industry at a meeting that was held last Friday, January 17, regarding the impassable conditions of the sugar roads. Belize Sugar Industries (BSI), the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Works agreed that deliveries would not be able to start until this Friday, January 24, 2014 because work on the very critical sugar roads has just begun, and more time would be needed to complete at least 50-75% of the road works. Contracts for road works have been signed; however, the works on the sugar roads – which are in a very bad condition – have reportedly been very slow, and therefore all parties came to the conclusion that those roads would not have been passable by 10:00 a.m. this morning when it was agreed that the season would have gotten underway.

The first sitting of the House of Representatives for 2014 is scheduled to be held at 10:00 a.m. this Wednesday, January 22, 2014, at the National Assembly in Belmopan. Amandala understands that one of the main items on the agenda for that Special Sitting of the House is the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced in Parliament last month. The bill is in line with Belize’s commitments to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), which, according to CFATF, has called on Belize “to consider implementing counter measures to protect [its] financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Belize.” At the December sitting of Parliament, members of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) staged a vocal protest calling on the Government to immediately introduce the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Bill. Indications are that the drafting of that bill may not be complete in time for Wednesday’s meeting.

New butane prices which came into effect today, Friday, January 17, 2014, surpass the Government-controlled prices consumers paid during 2013, and indications from records here at Amandala are that they may be the highest prices since around mid-2012. Back in July 2012, a 100-pound of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sourced from Central America was only $97 in Belize City. Today, it will cost a Belize City consumer $121 – almost 25% more. Meanwhile, those Belize City consumers who buy LPG sourced from Mexico are paying 20% more than they did in July 2012: $125 versus $104. Of note is that consumers in the districts pay more, with prices varying across the municipalities. According to a notice issued by the Belize Bureau of Standards, persons who purchase LPG with a higher percentage of propane and a smaller percentage of butane (the 90-10 mix sourced from Central America) will pay $121 for a 100-pound cylinder, while the mix of 40% butane and 60% propane (sourced from Mexico), said to burn more efficiently, will now cost $125 for a 100-pound cylinder.

Six days after Evon Michaels and her family, consisting of 10 people, were left homeless after a fire completely destroyed their house and belongings on Giles Street, the family is making an effort to rebuild their one-flat concrete house, on a self-help basis, and with assistance from family, friends and neighbors. The reconstruction of the house began today. Evon said that she has no choice, because they need a house to live in. She has meager resources which she is using to begin the construction, and is asking for help from the public – whether in the form of construction assistance, or material contributions. Those wishing to contribute can reach family members at phone numbers 632 – 7180, 602-8880, 663-8056 or 629-9764. Josephine Michaels, 24, Evon’s daughter, who is the mother of Ryon Martinez, 8, said that she and her mother, along with the children, were at home on Friday, when they lit two candles, one in the hall and the other in the front room where the children were.

Funeral services were held this afternoon at All Saints Church in Belize City for Brenda Louise Gomez, the daughter of our dear Violet “Miss Vio” Gomez. Brenda was born on August 23, 1961, and passed on January 14, 2014. The Officiating Priest was Rev. Ilona Smiling and her Lay Assistant was Mrs. Nina Reneau. Mr. Joey Belisle was Organist. The Eulogy/Remembrance was given by Mrs. Pearl Lizama. Pall Bearers were Stanley Lizama, Carl Lamb, Keith Bermudez, Nicholas Smith, Michael Gomez and Ronald Stuart. This newspaper extends deepest condolences to Miss Vio, and the family and friends of the late Brenda Louise.

Exactly three years ago, on January 20, 2011, Kadisha “Alicia” Saragossa, 16, a second form student, at the time attending Maud Williams High School, went missing and has not been seen or heard from since. Her mother, Andrea Saragossa, 44, is still saddened by the fact that she has not been able to bring closure to that tragic chapter in her family’s life. Andrea said that her daughter was last seen at her grandmother’s house, from where she left to go to her boyfriend’s house. “Her boyfriend at the time was living at one of the apartments known as Lakers, and rented by James Young. The apartment is located on Panting Street, in the Lake Independence area,” Andrea told Amandala.

A 55-year-old native of the country of Tanzania in East Africa is the latest person in a string of foreign nationals who have been caught in possession of faulty immigration and nationality documents by alert Immigration personnel. Tanzanian national Teena Isaac attempted to get a legitimate Belizean passport by using a fake Belizean birth certificate and Social Security card. She was promptly remanded to the Belize Central Prison today after she appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano and pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying a document, failure to comply with the conditions of a visitor’s permit, using a document she is not entitled to use, and using a certificate she is not entitled to use. After Isaac pleaded guilty to the charges, she was fined $1,000 for each offence, amounting to a total of $4,000. She was ordered to pay the fines forthwith. In default of payment, her sentence is one year for each count with the stipulation that the sentences are to run concurrently. She was unable to pay and was consequently incarcerated.

A British woman living in Consejo, Corozal District, narrowly escaped being robbed, or possibly harmed, by two men who were chasing her on bicycles at about 3:30 yesterday afternoon on the Consejo Road about 2 miles outside Consejo. Deborah Jayne Thomson was riding her bicycle on the road to Consejo when a man of Hispanic descent rode up behind her on a bicycle and tried to knock her off her bike into the bushes by attempting to poke a stick into the bike’s wheel. Thompson, however, hit the assailant with her bag, which he then tried to grab. She hit him again, causing him to fall back, and she quickly sped away and called her husband on her cellphone. While she was doing this, however, her assailant was joined by another man, also of Hispanic descent, and they both chased her.

Week 1 of the Premier League of Belize Belikin Cup Opening Season 2013-2014 home and away semifinal series took place over the weekend on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Bandits 3:0 BDF In the first semifinal on Saturday night, January 18, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, home standing #3 seed Belmopan Bandits registered a commanding 3-0 win over #2 seed Belize Defence Force (BDF). It was the most goals that the normally very tough BDF has given up all season long, albeit 2 of the Bandits’ goals came from the penalty spot. The Bandits, meanwhile, had been scoreless in their last two regular season outings, but they found their scoring touch, especially striker Deon McCaulay, when it mattered most, at playoff time. The first goal was a penalty conversion by David Trapp at the 23rd minute, after striker David Madrid was taken down by BDF defender Rickey Rickets. The second, an easy tap in by Deon McCaulay, came at the 69th minute when BDF goalie Derol Roches couldn’t hold on to a hard cross goal pass from the right side. And the 3rd was another penalty conversion, this one by McCaulay at the 77th minute, after he had made a threatening run down the middle toward the BDF goal.

Round 2 of the quarterfinals in the FFB’s Open Inter-District Football Competition 2013-2014 was held over the past weekend, setting the stage for the semifinals, which are also a home-and-away affair. Two quarterfinals were played on Saturday, January 18, and two on Sunday, January 19. On Saturday, down south at the Michael Ashcroft Stadium in Independence Village, the home squad, MnM Steelers dropped Hope Creek Pumas, 4-2, with goals from Edwardo Oliver (2’ & 50’), Deon Burgess (38’) and Jesus Urbina (76’); while Torrence Murillo (82’ & 89’) got both goals for Hope Creek. (The Steelers also won game 1, by a 3-0 margin.) Meanwhile, here at the MCC Grounds in Belize City, San Estevan FC also made it two victories in a row, as they blanked home standing Ebony Lake FC, 3-0, with goals from Diego Mancia (61’) and Edwani Munoz (68’ & 78’). (Game 1 was also won by San Estevan, 5-2.) On Sunday, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, there was no repeat winner, as home standing Roaring Creek United bounced back from a game 1 loss to hand Toledo’s Mavericks a stunning 3-0 shutout, courtesy of a goal apiece from Kenny Williams (18’), Amir Torres (68’) and Clifbarn Neal (71’). Mavericks had taken game 1 by a 3-2 score, so Roaring Creek emerged victorious in the series by a 5-3 aggregate score. Also on Sunday, up north at the Louisiana Field in Orange Walk, Progresso FC made it back-to-back victories with their 3-1 win over Penarol FC of San Ignacio. (Progresso FC were 4-0 winners in game 1.) Shaking the net for Progresso were Johnny Cardenas (24’), Gabriel Perez (75’) and Alexander Diaz (87’); while Noel Eiley (22’) scored for Penarol.

Here are the results of the Weekend Warriors (WW) Sunday Race held yesterday, with the “A&B” riding from Leslie’s Imports to Boom Village junction via the Boom road and back, for 40 miles; while the “C” rode from Leslie’s to Hattieville and back to Leslie’s. Category “Open A/B” – 1st place Warren Coye (Santino’s, 1:50:12); 2nd Santino Castillo (Santino’s, st, 1st “B”); 3rd Daniel Cano (Digicell-4G, st); 4th Kent Gabourel, Jr. (Megabytes, st); 5th Ernest Thurton (Santino’s, st); 6th Wilbert Jones (Megabytes); 7th Colin Maheia (FT Williams); 8th Stephen Bissett (BNE); 9th Ernest Meighan (Santino’s); 10th Merk Gentle (FT Williams); 11th Dean Belisle (Smart); 12th Kirk Sutherland (Digicell-4G); 13th Derrick Smith (BWS); 14th Kevin Hope (Digicell-4G, 2nd “B”); 15th Anwar Barrow (Digicell-4G); 16th Isaiah Willacey (Digicell-4G, 3rd “B”); 17th Kenneth Butler (BWS); 18th Andrew Vasquez (BWS, 4th “B”); 19th Marlon Swift (FT Williams); 20th Mike Lewis (invitee); 21st John Burns (Digicell-4G); 22nd Antonio Escarpeta (FT Williams); 23rd Mike Phillips (Santino’s); 24th Rigoberto Rivas (Santino’s); 25th Jack Sutherland (Digicell-4G); 26th Eustace Ireland (Santino’s); 27th Albert Conorquie (Santino’s); 28th Gilroy Robinson (Santinos’); 29th Ian Abraham (Smart); 30th Vallan Symms (Megabytes); 31st Matthew Smiling (Megabytes); 32nd Kaya Cattouse (Smart); 33rd Calvert Staine (Digicell-4G); 34th George Lovell (Santino’s); and 35th Alicia Thompson (invitee).

The Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) high school football competition continued at the MCC last week with games, female (F) and male (M), on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Monday, January 13, (F) Wesley shut out Belize High, 2-0, with Shanice Neal scoring both goals for Wesley. And (M) Wesley trounced ACC, 5-1, with a goal apiece from Marques Stamp, Tyrell Rowley, Sheldon Linares, Emerson Kelly and Keeron Young. The lone ACC goal was by Sergio Luna. Tuesday, January 14, saw (F) SCA and Excelsior High playing to a 0-0 draw. And (M) SJC clipped Gwen Liz High, 2-1. Sydney Bradley and Dmitri Fabro shook the net for SJC, while July Barrientes scored for Gwen Liz. After a break on Wednesday, the competition resumed with one game only on Thursday, January 6. (M) Gwen Liz High bombed Belize High School, 6-0, with July Barrientes netting 2, and Leeford Meighan, Albert Davis, Jovian Usher and Zion Brandon scoring a goal each.

Joseph Lopez, 19, and a 17-year-old minor were remanded to the Belize Central Prison after they were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith on charges of attempted murder and use of deadly means of harm against James Elijio, 29. No plea was taken from the two accused, because their case will be heard on indictment in the Supreme Court. On the night of January 15, 2014, James Elijio, a mentally challenged man, went outside his Flamboyant Street home to urinate. Elijio was just about to return inside when two men approached him from the direction of Casuarina Street. Two shots were fired at Elijio. One of the bullets caught Elijio behind his neck and he was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted in a critical condition.

While businessman Rhett fuller was fortunate enough to beat extradition charges just yesterday after 15 years in and out of court, 28-year-old Deon Bruce – who is also wanted for murder by US authorities – did not share the same fate. Today, Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith “threw the book” at Bruce and ruled that he should be extradited to the United States to face charges of not only murder, but also attempted murder, aggravated battery, and firearm possession. A visibly shaken Deon Bruce was escorted out of the courtroom after the decision was handed down. He will be extradited unless the Supreme Court overrules today’s judgment. He has a mere 15 days to apply to the Supreme Court for an appeal of the decision before it becomes final Bruce is wanted by Cook County Circuit Court, based in Chicago, Illinois, for the shooting death of Aaron Carter after an argument escalated and a pint bottle was thrown at Bruce’s vehicle. It is reported that Bruce allegedly stopped, pulled a firearm from the trunk of his vehicle and fired at Carter and a companion, Bryan Rodgers, fatally injuring Carter. The incident reportedly happened on July 28, 2010.

Jason Jonathan Espinosa, 20, a Belizean jockey of South End, Corozal, has been fined $200 by the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court after he was arrested and charged for communicating with a prisoner without authority, and committing a mischievous act. He pleaded guilty to both charges and was fined $100 for each offense. Espinosa had gone to the Corozal Police Station, where he began to talk to a prisoner without obtaining permission to do so. When he was asked his name, he replied that it was Marvin Ramclam. Espinosa was subsequently arrested and charged for the offense of communicating with a prisoner without permission. He was then granted a phone call to his mother, during which he identified himself as Jason Jonathan Espinosa – thus revealing that he had given the police an incorrect name. He was then additionally charged for the offense of committing a mischievous act.

Five out of six men whom police charged with possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition, and a prohibited extended clip, pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned before Magistrate Dale Cayetano. Magistrate Cayetano sentenced Alrick Lamb, 18, a laborer of 18 Fabers Road, to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the three firearm charges. Lamb was charged along with Jihadul Gill, 18, who is unemployed; Everald Gray, 29, a laborer; Richard Smith Jr., 34, a security guard; Arthur Hill, 18, a fisherman; and Delbert Alvarez, 18, a laborer. Lamb was sentenced to five years imprisonment for being in possession of a prohibited .45 pistol; five years for the seven .45 rounds and five years for the prohibited magazine.

Three men were robbed in Punta Gorda, Esperanza and Belize City in three separate incidents. Godfrey Tillett, 69, of the Trapeche area, Santa Elena, Cayo, was robbed about 2:30 Monday evening in Esperanza. Two thieves held him up at gunpoint and robbed him of $400 and a bag that contained an undetermined amount of coins. The thieves then hit him on the head, causing him to lose consciousness. They then escaped. Police took Tillett to the San Ignacio Town Hospital, where doctors classified the injury to his head as wounding. Police have launched a search, but the thieves have not yet been captured On the day before, at about 4:10 Sunday evening, Philip Leslie, 21, a paletas vendor for Blades Ice Cream located on Tigris Street, Belize City, was robbed by two men on Dungeon Street while pushing the paletas cart towards Blue Marlin Boulevard.


A Walk On the Beach: Pelicans and Jerry Jeff Walker Pickin’ Party + This Week’s Schedule
After what seemed like a week of grey and chilly weather (for Belize = 60s and 70s), the sun popped out yesterday afternoon and it was a perfect time to take a walk to town. AND a perfect time for hungry pelicans, one of the least graceful birds around, really the turkey of the sea…but I’ll get back to these guys in a few. And then…BC’s! Closed and being dismantled. Hopefully being moved somewhere else…we just don’t know where yet. Jeff Jeff Walker, a popular country music singer and songwriter, is in town for two weeks of concerts that he has been doing for years called “Camp Belize”. Jerry Jeff is most famous (and probably most rich…he owns a large beachfront house south of San Pedro town) from writing the song “Mr. Bojangles”. Some really amazing artists have covered that song…from Robbie Williams to Harry Belfonte and Neil Diamond!!!! and Nina Simone!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Every Little Thing” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
After the exertions of Saturday night (its hard work lifting a Belikin bottle – well at least until you’ve drunk some of the content!) I didn’t get up yesterday until just after 06.00 hours (for those of you that like things to be precise I actually got up at 06.10 hours). The temperature was still a little chilly (it had improved on recent days though) so I put on a sweat top (really pleased that I brought them with me now) before venturing out on to the veranda (first floor on the western side) with my mug of coffee (black, no sugar) and my iPad (the old one – not going to inflict the cold weather on my new one, well not yet anyway) I spent around 50 minutes reading the Sunday Times online ((the Sports section first (just had to read about Arsenal’s victory over Fulham the previous day even though I had watched it on TV -you can’t have too much of a good thing!)), followed by the Business section (its nice to know what I’m not missing) and finished off by the News section.

International Sources

WTO: International Tourism Exceeds Expectations With Arrivals Up by 52 Million in 2013
International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth - again, above the long term projections. Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%). “2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.

Belize and United Kingdom Strengthen Military Ties
A delegation from the Belize Defence Force and the Belize Coast Guard recently concluded an official visit to the United Kingdom. The delegation included Brigadier General David Jones, the commander of the Belize Defence Force, and Rear Admiral John Borland, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard. The pair met with Ministry of Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison and other senior British military officers. The Belizean officers were invited by the British government to an international maritime security capability conference. They also held meetings at the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, before visiting the HMS Argyll, which will be deployed to the Caribbean later in 2014. “I welcome this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the strong relationship between the British Armed Forces and the Belizean Military,” said British High Commissioner to Belize Peter Hughes. “The UK recognizes the challenges faced by the region in tackling violence and organized crime. We are committed to working with international partners to provide further assistance in the form of training and expertise.”

Expats Open Successful Hotel Business in Caribbean Belize
On a balmy morning in Belize, John Lee is sitting on the pier, planning out his day over coffee. Breakfast service is over, and he's expecting around 40 people for dinner tonight. Once his wife, Ellen Larson Lee, has finished helping some guests with travel arrangements, she'll join him. It's a far cry from their previous existence in Denver, Colorado. But John and Ellen consider themselves to be the luckiest people in the world running their small hotel and restaurant in the Belizean beach paradise of Placencia. Back in the U.S., John, who's from Australia, and Ellen, who's American, believed that because they had invested 20+ years in their careers, they had to stick to them. John is an electrical engineer by trade. He was an owner of a consulting firm that did business all over the world. Ellen was in advertising. She worked her way through the creative end of the business as a copywriter to become owner of her own advertising agency. Then came the "light-bulb" moment when they realized that, actually, they didn't have to keep doing the same thing for the rest of their lives... and they didn't want to wait until a traditional retirement age to make a dramatic change.

January 21, 2014


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The San Pedro Sun

Michael Wallace shot and killed during robbery attempt
Police on Ambergris Caye are investigating a burglary and an attempted robbery that resulted in a man being shot and killed. The victim has been identified as 24 year old Michael Wallace, an unemployed individual of a San Juan address in San Pedro Town. Preliminary police report indicates that Wallace was one of three that attempted to rob a fellow islander when he was shot and killed. According to the Officer in Charge of the Coastal Executive Unit and the San Pedro Police Formation Superintendent of Police Luis Castellanos, the incident started sometime after 10:30PM on Sunday January 19th with a robbery attempt. “24-year old Kirian Azueta, an accountant of Marina Drive reported to police that while he was going into his residence three people approached him as he got out of his golf cart to open his gate. They held him up at gun point and in the process one of the robbers fired a shot at him. Azueta then took out his licensed gun and returned fire.”

Crime under control in Ambergris Caye
The San Pedro Police Department has released crime statistics for the months of November and December, 2013. The report demonstrates a steady decrease in crime, with major crimes down by 25% in the month of December 2013, and theft and burglary having the highest rates. Police reports show a large crime concentration in the Town Core, Boca del Rio and San Pedrito. Throughout the year, police also carried out several drug raids both at homes and on persons. Crime response also went up. San Pedro police reported a 58% increase in arrests as compared to 2012.

Fishing like a San Pedrano
As an island rooted in tradition and developed around the bounty of the Caribbean Sea, it is no surprise that fishing is still a major part of Ambergris Caye. Yes, it may have begun as a coconut plantation, but fishing made the island profitable through the years. San Pedro has grown from a small fishing village to the prime tourism destination in Belize, but the past has stayed alive and the love for fishing has never been lost. Older San Pedranos may say “You are not a true San Pedrano if you don’t know how to fish!” And truly, it would be a sin not to try! When the bountiful Caribbean Sea is right at your doorstep, fishing ought to be a fun hobby. Worldwide, fishing is a sport whereupon fishermen spare no expense in purchasing the best gear, tackle and even vessels, even travelling far and wide, chasing the big one! Here in San Pedro Town, it is more a simple recreational activity enjoyed by all ages.When you have a conversation with any of the older San Pedranos about fishing, they will tell you that fishing is an art that can only be mastered through time, there is no need for expensive rods and hooks. Having tried my hand at it, I believe them! Fishing is not easy, but it sure is fun! Good thing that in San Pedro, children get an early start. We’re talking from the diaper stage!

Ministry reports growth in tourism at the 13th Annual Tourism Industry Presentation
Tourism stakeholders from across the country converged in Corozal Town on Wednesday January 15th for the 13th Annual Tourism Industry Presentation. H osted by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture through the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), the event was held at Tony’s Inn Resort and was geared towards reflecting on the previous year’s accomplishment and challenges, and to present the stakeholders, the Ministry’s plans for the 12 months ahead to the stakeholders. The event included cultural presentations, reports from the senior tourism officers, and the announcement of new initiatives that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Belize Tourism Board are putting forward. Speaking at the event was the acting Chairman of the Board of Directors of BTB, Einer Gomez, who said that tourism is the livelihood of Belize, thus it is everyone’s business. “Tourism gives us the opportunity to serve and it exposes our country’s natural beauty. It enhances our culture and makes us love our country. Tourism is everything for us,” explained Gomez. And while tourism is everything, the evidence is in the tourism figures which were proudly announced by the various speakers.

People’s United Party to seek judicial review over rejection of Elvin Penner’s recall petition
The People’s United Party (PUP) will seek a judicial review regarding the actions of the Chief Election Officer Josephine Tamai in which the recall petition of Elvin Penner was rejected. The Leader of the PUP, Honorable Francis Fonseca flanked by senior party officials and attorney, said that his party will challenge Tamai’s decision. The party officials used the opportunity to lash out at the Election and Boundaries Department at a press conference on Thursday January 9th in which they strongly condemned the rejection of the recall petition. The Election and Boundaries Department said that after one month of careful review, 337 of the 2002 signatures of petitioners were rejected for various reasons including 83 for duplicating and triplicating signatures. The PUP indicated that after quickly looking at the list of rejected signatures of petitioners, they have a strong case and the party will appeal the decision at the Supreme Court of Belize.

Current H1N1 Situation
The Ministry of Health reminds the public that we remain in heightened surveillance for any Influenza (flu) or Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses. We are in the middle of the flu season and disease trends in neighbouring countries are being monitored. As of Monday January 20th 2014, there are three confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza A in Belize. Five other samples that have tested positive for Influenza A have been sent on to (Caribbean and Regional Public Health Agency) CARPHA in Trinidad and Tobago for further testing and confirmation. Neither H1N1 nor any other Influenza A strain have been linked or involved with any of the severe respiratory cases that are presently hospitalized. The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the situation of flu-like illnesses across the country.

Ambergris Today

Robber Shot Dead in Self Defence Case in San Pedro
In unfortunate news, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye has its first death case of the year as an assailant of an attempted robbery was shot dead. The attempted robbery took place on Marina Drive on the south side of San Pedro, just beyond the DFC neighborhood. Reports indicate that the assailant opened fire on the victim, who then returned fire and fatally shot his would be robber. According to the Police Report, on Sunday, January 19, 2014, at about 11:50p.m., 24 year old, Kirian Azueta, of San Pedro Town visited the station and reported that sometime around 10:15p.m. he arrived home on his golf cart at his gate and upon getting off to open the gate he was approached by two male persons. The male assailant with the black “hoody” then reportedly pointed the gun at Azueta’s face and told him not to move and not to reach for his gun. At the same time, the assailant fired a shot at him but missed. Azueta reportedly returned fire in self defense and managed to inflict three gunshot wounds to his armed assailant who managed to escape after falling to the ground. The second assailant in the white hoody also then ran into the bushes. Kirian Azueta then ran to his neighbor’s house and called the police. Kirian's family confirmed to Ambergris Today that his fire arm is licensed.

Guava Limb Cafe a Refreshing Addition to San Ignacio
A short walk down the popular Burns Avenue you find the small and quaint cafe which is located inside a resorted historical house which owners Lucy and Mick Fleming of Chaa Creek bought to preserve. They kept its identity of old Belize; a charming European look with decor that includes local handmade furniture from the wood shop at Chaa Creek and artwork from around the world. The atmosphere is very homey, very Belizean, a Caribbean feel. The cafe has a great view overlooking the Macal Park where you can see a lazy San Ignacio throughout the day with school children playing and people strolling by; very relaxing and away from the busier Burns Avenue section.

Pic of the Week: Cannot Beat the Winters in Belize
Although technically speaking there is no winter season in Belize, residents feel like they are experiencing winter weather with cold front rolling through the country one after the other this year. With temperatures dropping as low as 65 degrees Fahrenheit in Ambergris Caye and coastal areas, it was pretty darn cold for us tropical islanders. Belize has not experienced such extended periods of cool temperatures for a long time now. But after listening to all the news about the polar vortex hiting North America this winter, we don't think many of us are complaining. Our 'Belizean Winter' still pretty much looks like the picture above - Silk Caye off the coast of Placencia in southern Belize.

Misc Belizean Sources

FISHING REPORT: Week of January 12th – 18th 2014
The wedding of Bill and Meagan was the highlight of the week and they brought over 80 guests to visit us. It was a spectacular wedding that has brought together 2 great families. El Pescador’s family was honored to be able to host them. Fishing wise it was slow, there were just a few boats a day going out, the weather was cold by Belize standards, some clouds, a bit of rain and some very unusual low tides (no high tides to speak of) during a full moon I will blame it on the polar vortex.

Trees of Belize, 2nd. ed by Kate Harris Published
The 2nd edition of Trees of Belize by Kate Harris has just been published. I haven't seen the 2nd. edition yet, but I thought the first edition was a very handy reference for the traveler or for those with an interest in identifying the most notable trees and shrubs in Belize and the region. Even though Kate Harris has an M.A. from Oxford in forestry and lived in Orange Walk for four years, this is not a book for the professional botanist or other scientist but more for the interested amateur or enthusiast. It has lots of color photos by the author. It is available at some stores, gift shops and hotels in Belize now, and wider distribution in Belize and online is being arranged. For more information, you could go to or you can contact The Added Touch ( in Belize City to get copies.

Strengthening of bilateral military ties between Belize and the United Kingdom
Brigadier General David Jones, Commander Belize Defence Force, and Rear Admiral John Borland, Commandant Belize Coast Guard, Belize’s top-ranking military officers have just concluded an official visit to the United Kingdom where they met the Ministry of Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison as well as senior British military officers. The officers were invited by the British Government to participate in an international maritime security capability conference and exhibition from 7-10 January. During the following week they attended a number of high level meetings at the UK Ministry of Defence and at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They were also hosted on board HMS Argyll which was at anchor in the Thames next to Tower Bridge. HMS Argyll will be deploying to the Caribbean later this year. British High Commissioner to Belize Peter Hughes said: "I welcome this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the strong relationship between the British Armed Forces and the Belizean Military. The UK recognises the challenges faced by the region in tackling violence and organised crime. We are committed to working with international partners to provide further assistance in the form of training and expertise." At the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. L-R: RAdm John Borland, Grace Chun (British Deputy High Commissioner), Martin Garrett (Americas Research Group), HE Perla Perdomo (Belize High Commissioner), Lt Col Patrick Brown (Defence Attaché Caribbean), Brig Gen David Jones

My Body Is Precious Girl Empowerment Tour
First Lady Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow — at Sacred Heart College. (11 photos)

Galen Eagles Band at Carifesta
Musical interlude. The Galen Eagles Band represented Belize at Carifesta, and the Belize National Dance Company was there to get it on video, which they just released. Great as always. "BNDC has had the privilege to work with some of the BEST MUSICIANS in Belize. Today we pay tribute to them. The MUSIC inspires us, moves us and sometimes makes us SOAR.... Thank you! VIDEO: Galen Eagles CARIFESTA ENCORE Performance Independence Eve (Sept 20th, 2013)"

Beginning Meditation Workshop
There was a meditation workshop for beginners at the Soul Project yesterday. Looks like they had a great turnout. They've uploaded some great videos from their Open Mic nights.

Girl Empowerment Tour at SHC
The Special Envoy for Women and Children, Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow, was at Sacred Heart College today on the Girl Empowerment Tour. They are making 9 stops around Belize this week. This is part of the 'My Body is Precious' initiative. They'll be in Benque this afternoon at the Marshelleck stadium.

SHJC Tour Guide Training Certificate Awarding
Great news for Cayo. Sacred Heart Junior College had a ceremony to award 25 students their Tour Guide Training Certificates. Andy Bahadur, head of the Tourism department at SHJC gave the awards out to all the students. It was a great night for Cayo. Congratulations to all involved! "Sacred Heart Junior College had their ceremony for 25 students that finished their Tour Guide Training. It's great to see such smart and energetic students achieve their dreams."

Chilly weather continues
It is a chilly and overcast Monday afternoon in San Ignacio town as a cool north-easterly airflow continues to dominate the weather over the country. The weather will continue to be on the cool side with some light rain expected mostly in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts. The wind is blowing from the northeast at between 5 to 15 knots, producing choppy sea conditions. The high temperature this afternoon will reach 81 degrees Fahrenheit in San Ignacio town; 78 degrees Fahrenheit in Belize City and 70 degrees Fahrenheit up at Baldy Beacon in the Mountain Pine Ridge. Tonight will be cold, with temperatures expected to fall to 66 degrees Fahrenheit in San Ignacio, Esperanza and Georgeville; 70 degrees Fahrenheit in Hattieville, Maskall and Western Pines; 60 degrees Fahrenheit in San Antonio (Cayo), Bella Vista (Toledo) and other places along the Maya Mountains.

Traffic accident on the Hummingbird Highway
There was a road traffic accident this morning on the Hummingbird Highway. Reports are that it involved a south-bound passenger bus belonging to James Bus Service and at least two other vehicles. Details of what transpired are not fully available as yet, but indications are that the crash happened just before the Manatee Road junction. Some of the first pictures from the scene show the bus with heavy damage to the rear and a pickup truck off the road in the bush.

Chopping incident in San Felipe village
A chopping incident on Saturday in San Felipe village, Toledo, has left one man hospitalized. The victim has been identified as Lino Tzub, 52. The circumstances of the chopping are still under investigation by police in Toledo. The man believed to have chopped Tzub has been identified; but police are yet to take him into custody. Reports are that Tzub sustained a chop would to the left elbow and the left side of his ribs.

Belize Awarded by LatinFinance
Belize Awarded “2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year” by LatinFinance

Belizean military top brass visit United Kingdom
"The officers were invited by the British Government to participate in an international maritime security capability conference and exhibition from 7-10 January."

Escuela Secundaria Tecnica de Mexico (ESTM) celebrates its 31st Anniversay of scholastic aptitude at the ESTM Auditorium on Friday January 24th
Everyone is invited. You don't want to miss the cultural presentations! Official Programme/Ceremony 9:-00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. M.C.’s …..Miss Digna Ramirez (4-2) & Mr. Christian Valladarez (4-1) 1. Marching in of ESTM Escolta 2. National Anthem of Belize & Mexico - Ambassadors Band 3. Exit of Escolta 4. Welcome - Mr. Wilbert Tzul, PTA President 5. School Song - Homeroom Presidents 6. Remarks - Mrs. Gina Sajia, Chairperson, BOM 7. Presentations - ESTM 8. Remarks - HE Mario Velazquez Suarez, Ambassador of Mexico in Belize 9. Cultural Presentations - Embassy of Mexico Torch Run – Libertad Junction to ESTM – 6:00 a.m. Breakfast (by invitation) – ESTM Cafeteria – 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Channel 7

Kill Or Be Killed For Man Who Shoots Robber Dead
Last night in San Pedro, it was killed or be killed for 24 year old, Kirian Azueta. 3 men tried to rob him at his gate when he got home. But Azueta, dodged a bullet from one of the assailants and then made a split second decision, drew his weapon, and fired back at the men. He ended up killing one of them. Today, 7News went to the island, and Daniel Ortiz found out more: Daniel Ortiz reporting This house on Marina Drive on San Pedro Town was the scene of a failed armed robbery which ended when the would be victim pulled his licensed weapon and shot at men who ambushed him in the dark and secluded area.

Homicide Spike Continues In City
And there was another murder in the city - the fourth in eight days. This spike in killing comes after a November and December which saw only two homicides in the city. But something changed since the new year started - and there's been a rash of especially violent murders. That's what the city witnessed again last night - when a man who's no stranger to police was shot up on Banak Street in the City's southside. He died on a dark street with no one around. Monica Bodden tried to find out what happened to Eaton Carr. Denmark Carr - Brother of Deceased "I was sleeping last night and around 12:30 - 1:00 I received a call for me to come because they found a body at the morgue. When I reached at the morgue it was my brother." Monica Bodden reporting Just after 11 last night, Denmark Carr was awakened by a call from police requesting his presence at the morgue to identify the body of his younger brother - 37 year old Eaton Carr.

Ministry Of Health Says H1n1 Cases Not Increasing
A number of persons - reportedly as many as five - remain hospitalized at the KHMH with acute respiratory distress - and are under observation for h1n1. But the Ministry of Health today sent out a release saying, quote, "As of Monday January 20th 2014, there are three confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza A in Belize. Five other samples that have tested positive for Influenza A have been sent on to CARPHA in Trinidad for further testing and confirmation." The release then clearly states, "Neither H1N1 nor any other Influenza A strain have been linked or involved with any of the severe respiratory cases that are presently hospitalized."

GSU Gets Big Gun From PIV
The Gang Suppression Unit has been keeping the pressure on the PIV Gang - and that has resulted in the discovery of a loaded, high powered handgun. At 10:45 on Friday night, the GSU intercepted this Ford F-150 pickup with no license plates. 34 year old Richard Smith was driving and his passengers were 19 year old Jihadul GILL, 29 year old Everal GRAY, and 18 year old's Delbert ALVAREZ, Alrick LAMB and Arthur HILL. Inside the truck, the GSU found 1 Para brand .45 pistol loaded with an extended magazine containing (7) seven live .45 rounds; one of which was already loaded in the chamber. A 45 is prohibited, meaning you can't even get a license for it and so all 6 were charged for Kept Prohibited Firearm, Kept Prohibited Ammunition and Kept Prohibited Magazine.

Teenagers Charged For Shooting Mentally Challenged Man
Last week, we told you about the shooting of 29 year-old James Elijio, a mentally challenged resident of Flamboyant Street. Well, tonight 19 year-old Joseph Lopez, and a 17 year-old boy are at prison after they were taken to court today. Lopez and the minor were charged with attempted murder, dangerous harm, and use of deadly means of harm, and they were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith. Due to the nature of the offences, they couldn't be granted bail, and they were remanded to prison until April 22, their next court date.

Tio Machete?
54 year-old Frank Garcia joined those accused men today in jail after he was taken to court for allegedly chopping his nephew in the face 23 year-old Sherwin Garcia Jr. told police that on Sunday, January 12, he was riding his bike home on Oleander Street when he heard Frank Garcia, his uncle, call out to him. He stopped to see what Frank wanted, and when he turned around, Frank chopped him on the left side of the face for no apparent reason. Fortunately, he was able to get to the hospital on time, where he received treatment for the wound. Police arrested and charged Frank Garcia with attempted murder, dangerous harm, and use of deadly means of harm. He was arraigned before the Chief Magistrate who remanded him to prison until March 20, his next court date.

Rhett’s Wife Says It’s Been Tough Holding It Together
Rhett Fuller has been out of jail for 4 days now, after being on remand for 2 years. He has been fighting his extradition to the US for over 15 years where he was wanted for 23 years in connection with the murder of American Larry Miller. After so many losses in the courts, at all the different levels, Fuller finally successfully appealed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs last week Thursday, who agreed that he should not be extradited. So after almost quarter of a century, Fuller is completely free; he doesn't have to worry about the threat of extradition hanging over his head. He is not the only one; he has a wife and 3 kids who have been waiting for him to be released from prison. Today, his wife, who has been instrumental in keeping the family together through those trying times, spoke to us about their struggles in trying to keep on hoping: Daniel Ortiz "I am very sure that it was a reaction that's like maybe this court thing is not working out. Did that ever crossed your mind?"

Thanks To Donors With Heart, KHMH Gets Echo-Cardiology Lab
The vision of a full range of cardiac services at the KHMH continues to take shape. Today the hospital opened an echo-cardiology lab to complement its cardiac cauterization lab. The new lab will be dedicated only to cardiac services - whereas previously the cardiologist had to share resources with other specialists. The dedicated lab is the product of a donation and a continuing partnership with the Carolina's Healthcare system, International Medical Outreach and the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte. 7News was there when they cut the ribbon today:... Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth, CEO - KHMH "Today we marked another milestone and we now have a non-invasive cardiac clinic that we are inaugurating. It's a wonderful achievement - everybody is excited."

Hon. Faber Says It’s Hard To Know What People Really Want
The Caribbean Leadership Project is an ambitious one; it tries to equip public service leaders with the capacity to lead their ministries or departments towards growth and regional integration. Today the project held a leadership development session in Belize where top public officers from Belize and other territories gathered to share ideas on Citizen Centered Service. Education Minister Patrick Faber gave the lead address on that subject today where he outlined his experience trying to introduce education reform - and how hard it was to find out what education stakeholders really wanted:... Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education "The landscape of citizens needs and wants is a complex tangle of different interest. What might appear clear and straight forward from the outside is often tangled and tethered with other interest. Untangling these interests requires careful analysis of these interests, persistence and patience. Most of all it requires continuous engagement of stakeholder groups, continuous listening and dialogue."

Three Years Later, A Mother Still Hopes & Cries For Kadisha
Today makes it exactly three years since 16 year old Kadisha Saragoza mysteriously disappeared. The second form high school student went missing on January 20th 2011 and since then her whereabouts have been a mystery. The circumstances would lead most to lose hope and conclude dismally that she had somehow met her end, but a mother's hope never dies, and Andrea Saragoza still hasn't given up. She today shared her earnest hope that her daughter will return safe one day. Andrea Saragoza, mother of Kadisha Saragoza "I came here today because it has been 3 years that she has been missing; January 20, 2011. Since then I haven't heard anything." Monica Bodden "How difficult is this for you as a mother?" Andrea Saragoza, mother of Kadisha Saragoza "It's really difficult because without any trace or closure it's really hard. Not a day goes by that I am not thinking about my daughter. I eat and sleep and I wake up and think about her." Monica Bodden "You have hopes that she may still be alive?"

PSU Says It’s Not Getting Into All The Hype For Immigration Officers
Last week, 7News showed you the public outcry in the wake of the revelation that Maria Marin, the Director of Immigration, had recommended the termination of the 3 immigration officers caught up in the Citizen Kim Scandal. Penner has admitted in an email to 7News that these officers only followed his instructions, and social agitators are outraged that these officers are being recommended for the maximum penalty while Penner is still an area representative with all the perks of his high office. The Public Service Union, the organization who has to defend the officers, commented today, and it's executive addressed the allegations that they've been soft in its representations. Here's what they told our colleagues at Plus TV News: Ray Davis - Industrial Relations Officer, PSU "The procedure is that at this point the Ministry of the Public Service through the Public Service Commission looks at all the information and then a determination is going to be made at a hearing. At that hearing the member have the opportunity to go explain to the commission their side of the story and having heard the explanations from the members, from the officers, the Public Service Commission then makes a determination."

A Football Feast, BPFL Playoffs Begin
After a 14 week regular season which was dogged by the worst rains in years, the Belize Premier Football League's playoffs commenced this weekend with a pair of two game series. Four teams made the cut: the top seeded Verdes FC, the #2 Seed BDF FC, the #3 seeded Belmopan Bandits and the #4 seeded FC Belize. The first game was played on Saturday in Belmopan City, between the third seeded Bandits and the second seeded BDF. BDF had the better record but the Bandits were on their home field. In the end it seems that was enough to give the home team a decisive victory; we aired the game live on Channel 7, and here are their three goals - two of them off penalties:.. Deon McAuley, Belmopan Bandits FC "It was just a hard knock on my ankle but it will be alright. It shocked me when I first got it, I feel like my toes they couldn't move but everything alright now that my body cool down a little bit." Jules Vasquez "We know when injuries get cold; often times it feel a lot worse. You think you will be okay for next week in Griga?" Deon McAuley, Belmopan Bandits FC "Well of course, if not then I'll work with a therapist this week and see how well I can be for next week."

Superbond Still A Winner
We haven't heard about the superbond in a while, but the re-financing has earned Belize an unusual honour. It was announced last week that the transaction has been awarded the 2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year by Latin Finance, a magazine covering Latin America and the Caribbean. Michael Peyrefitte, the speaker of the house, whose friendship with bondholder representative AJ Mediratta proved pivotal formally received the award at a ceremony held at Gotham Hall in New York City on January 16.

Ramon’s Re-Loaded
Ramon's Village, the flagship resort in San Pedro Town which almost burnt down has gone through extensive rebuilding efforts, and today, it stands almost fully repaired. As you can see, 38 of its 85 cabanas which were completely destroyed in October of last year have been fully repaired. That's a huge difference from how the compound looked 4 months ago after it had been gutted.??This morning, we called Einer Gomez, the General Manager of Ramon's Village. We requested an interview to discuss the recovery effort, but he told us that he was out of the office and wouldn't be available until Friday.

Channel 5

The paper trail on the nationality certificate issued to Won Hong Kim
As we told you Friday, News Five has obtained a copy of an internal report compiled on the Won Hong Kim immigration scandal. Kim, A South Korean national imprisoned in [...]

Penner personally presented and signed the certificate and recommended the passport
The surfacing of the report is a somewhat public resurrection of former Minister of State Elvin Penner, who has gone to ground since the scandal broke in September. As we [...]

PSU says process is being followed in case of suspended immigration officers
Following confirmation by Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse that Director Maria Marin had indeed recommended the termination of three passport officers suspended since September, the Public Service Union has come [...]

PSU seeking to implement whistle-blowers clause to protect public officers
And to show that they might not be loud, but they are getting the job done, the PSU stated today that it is working to get the public officers reinstated, [...]

Ministry of Health advices public to be cautious for any influenza
At least one person, a twenty-seven year old woman Shahera Bodden, has died of complications of H1N1. But with the flu season in full swing, the Ministry of Health today [...]

Belize City resident, released from jail on Friday, is murdered on Sunday
A Belize City man was detained on Wednesday for a robbery and released from prison on Friday but by Sunday night, Eaton Eamon Carr was a dead man. Carr was [...]

A suspect in the murder of a Canadian Missionary is found dead
There is a second murder to report tonight.  The body of Marlon Balona was found under shrubs off a feeder road in an isolated area by a resident of the [...]

Would-be-robber in San Pedro is stopped dead in his tracks by his victim
The third death of the weekend was reported as a burglary/attempted robbery in San Pedro Town. The victim, Michael Wallace, was allegedly one of a trio who tried to rob [...]

Wanted man, Kevin Manzanero, caught by police; another remain at large
On Christmas Eve, a man was gunned down during an attempted robbery in the Kontiki Area in the Cayo District. The death of Fredy Lopez launched an intensive manhunt for [...]

Attorney Antoinette Moore sworn in as temporary Supreme Court judge
Attorney Antoinette Moore was sworn in on Friday as a temporary judge of the Supreme Court. Moore is assigned to the Belmopan criminal session which deals with cases from Belmopan, [...]

Alrick Lamb sentenced to fifteen years for possession of firearm and ammo
An eighteen year old youth, Alrick Lamb, is serving his first night of a fifteen-year jail term after he pleaded guilty to possession of prohibited firearm, ammunition and an extended [...]

Uncle arraigned for attempted murder of his nephew
Also appearing in court was a man who was remanded to prison this morning after he was charged for attacking his own nephew on January twelfth.  He is fifty-four year [...]

The long legal process of Rhett Fuller’s extradition request and release from prison
After fighting extradition and exhausting every legal option at his disposal for more than fifteen years, Rhett Fuller is a free man. Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington decided on [...]

A Regional TVET Marketing Strategy
Institutes of Technical and Vocational Education and Training have been set up strategically across the country, but enrollment numbers do not reflect the investment in those centers. There is a [...]

K.H.M.H. now offering full range of cardiology services
The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital will now be offering a full range of cardiology services. The K.H.M.H. partnered with the Carolina Healthcare System’s International Medical Outreach to establish its first [...]

Football, softball and cycling updates in Sports with James Adderley
Good Evening, I’m James Adderley and this is Sports Monday.   The Belikin Cup Post Season blasted off over the weekend with all 4 playoff teams seeing action over the [...]


PSU Speaks on Recommended Suspension of Immigration Officers
The issuance of a fraudulent Belizean passport and nationality certificate to Kim Won-Hong, has opened Pandora’s Box to a slew of accusations of administrative misconduct at the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality. For the past two months, allegations involving Immigration personnel and Government Ministers have dominated the headlines, as well

PSU says Immigration Officers Should be Reinstated on Full Pay
There is one other issue on this matter that the PSU addressed today and that is the suspension of the officers. On 23rd September, 2013, the Ministry placed the Neal, Robinson and Phillips on suspension, noting that it was “Satisfied that there has been a serious breach of the

Ministry of Health Remains on Surveillance for H1N1
Three cases of H1N1 have been confirmed in Belize. The Ministry of Health issued an advisory today saying that the country remains in heightened surveillance for any Influenza (flu) or Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses. As of today, Monday January 20, there are three confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza A

The Hummingbird Highway is Also to Receive Major Upgrades
The Ministry of Works and Transports through the Belize Road Safety Demonstration Corridor Project (First launched in May 2013) is being funded by the Government of Belize and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to make major infrastructure development on the George Price Highway. The project will include development of

Wanted Fugitive Busted While Seeking Medical Attention at Hospital
The Police man hunt for one of two fugitives Kevin “Migit” Manzanero has ended. The 27 year old Manzanero was detained yesterday afternoon, when he sought medical attention at the San Ignacio Hospital for chop wounds received in an alleged burglary attempt. According to Police, Manzanero broke into a home

Belize Awarded “2013 Sovereign Restructuring Deal of the Year
The infamous US$547.5M “superbond” was restructured last year in March, providing much needed relief to the Government of Belize in making those hefty payments to its creditors. Last week, Latin Finance, the premier financial publication covering the markets of Latin America and the Caribbean, announced that Belize’s restructuring of...

The Wonderful Hope of Facing Hardships of Many Kinds
Our verse for this week is taken from….. James 1:2-3 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.


New Archaeology Finds in Belize
We mention this to explain our excitement about a recent find in northwestern Belize called Tulix Mu. At first it was considered just another overgrown ancient Early Classic Maya site that contained at least two standing vaulted rooms and was interesting, but not particularly exciting. But then came the “Wow Moment”. Researchers found, beneath the plaster in one of the rooms, fragments of a polychrome, fine-line mural similar to one found years earlier by other archaeologists at San Bartolo in Guatemala. It’s an exciting find because there have only been a few other such Maya murals found in all of Mexico and Central America. The magazine “Popular Archaeology” has reported on the find, and we’re following it closely here in Belize because the more such unique sites are discovered, the more we learn about Belize’s rich Maya heritage and get a better picture of this enigmatic ancient civilisation.

Belizean Cutubrute
Cutubrute (cut-u-brute) is a Belizean coconut candy much like the Tableta. It's very simple to make.

Caribbean Export and the EU Offers Grants to the Region’s Private Sector
The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) officially announces the publication of the Call for Proposals for both the Accelerated and Regular Procedures grant facilities under the well known Direct Assistance Grant Scheme as part of the Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) on January 17, 2014. The Direct Assistance Grant Scheme is a reimbursement grant funding facility specifically designed to provide financial assistance to legally registered firms, individuals and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) who have the potential to export their products and services.

Government Pays for Nothing
Belize today a self-mutilating, cannibalizing system of governance and jurisprudence led by career minded, corrupt, unprincipled, lawyer politicians. The people have been trained from the inception of the nation that the clientele patronage system of currying favor for votes is the right and only way to sustainable development. Many say they are sick and tired of it, yet the only solutions they offer are shrouded within the narrow trajectory of bitter partisan divide. As a people we are captured by our own imagination. We have been bred to believe that the way forward lies within the benevolence of a small ruling political elite that continue to determine our worth. The world ought to say f… you stupid Belizeans stay at the bottom.

Education in Belize: Who’s the Enemy
As we start a new year in this rapidly-advancing Age of Technology, the Belize National Teachers’ Union is once more trying to “raise awareness on key national issues”, and is “seeking justice for the work that teachers do”. Thinking along those same lines, to raise awareness and seek justice, I wonder what classrooms in Belize today would look like if the powerful school policymakers from the Ministry of Education and Education Department were brave enough to switch places with teachers and school administrators for a day. Likewise, some teachers could also switch places with students for just one day. Switching places in the classrooms between Education policymakers and teachers, if only for one day, would provide an eye-opening opportunity for policymakers to understand what really happens in classrooms everyday vs. what they think or expect happens in classrooms everyday. Likewise, it might be quite eye-opening for our very hard-working teachers to also experience first-hand what many students deal with everyday in the classrooms in 2014. After all, students throughout Belize today also need to know who “gat yu back” (“has you covered”).

International Sources

Belize Snorkel by Explore Magazine
An underwater exploration of Southwater Caye Marine Reserve, on Belize's southern barrier reef.

Belize Zoo
I organised something very special for my last night in Belize, an overnight stay at the Belize City Zoo! I love animals and I love adventure. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not turn down. When my tiny little plane touched down in Belize City I was taken aback. All I had seen of Belize was beautiful San Pedro and in comparison Belize City seemed very undeveloped. I took a taxi to the chaotic bus station. I was already apprehensive about taking the bus as it was a Sunday and I knew the service wouldn’t be regular. After a lot of negotiating, from $150 to $30, I took a taxi from the bus station to the zoo. The highway was pretty much a dirt road and my taxi wheezed the whole way down it. After 5 minutes the taxi driver pointed out the local prison. A few minutes later, he showed me a strip club. That was my guided tour of Belize City.

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