31 de julio de 2008

“Do the Right Thing” award goes to Dangriga student

Not all news from the police is bad. And today they put up a brave and generous face as the men in uniform “did the right thing” with young people from across the country. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting
In an era when crime and violence are the order of the day, the Police Department’s Do the Right Thing award ceremony is a positive initiative for high school students whose energies are focused on making a positive difference. Today twenty-nine high schoolers from across the country were recognised for good deeds in their community. But for this year’s National winner, Delille Academy’s, Brittney Vernon, it will take much more than that small number to meaningfully address the realities in our society.

Brittney Vernon, Nat’l Winner, Do the Right Thing Prog.
“Well it’s very difficult because nowadays the youths are just killing and then if only me try to stand against all those youths out there it won’t work. We need to come together and be a team. All I can say, please stop the crime and don’t do what they are doing. Please put down the gun.”

And because stopping the crime and putting down the gun is top on the agenda for the department, they have managed to involve ninety percent of Belize’s high schools in the programme, which involves a monthly selection from submissions.

Several sponsors, including the Ministry of Education have come forth to provide for these top achievers, and it’s a programme that has impacted the community in which they live.

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
I have seen where it has encouraged students to do the right thing which is the whole basis of the programme. I have seen instances where these students who have been awarded the award have been given a lot of prominence, sending a signal to students who are up and coming that this is something they can work towards, this is something they can try to achieve. The accolades given at graduation time are always very coveted, they are things that people aspire towards and so when the police does something like this it is certainly a step in the forward direction.”

Daniel Gutierrez, Mgr., Marketing, Logistics, Corp. Comm., B.N.E.
“I spent a couple of years working at the sixth form level and I saw a number of students that would start school but would not have the money to finish school. I think that it’s very important for everybody in the society, especially corporate sponsors, to some on board with programmes such as these to be able to help students like that. So for us it was really an open and shut case. A programme like this deserves B.N.E.’s support and we were honoured to have been invited by Belize Police Department to participate.”

And while there have been many who are willing to help and many more students who have passed through the programme, very little is heard of them after they have moved on. In most cases, Senior Superintendent Seguro says their stories continue to be positive.

Sr. Supt., Miguel Seguro, Nat’l O.C., Community Policing
“I do tracking with the past winners. Ramona Garcia was the on in 2006, she is studying at U.B. Mr Eric who did the presentation is at St. John’s and he’s doing good with grades and we are following them because I send reminders to them; where are they now, what are they doing because they are the ones we want to become eventually a role model, or a mentor, may I say.”

Marion Ali
“Or a police officer.”

Sr. Supt. Miguel Seguro
“Well, somebody who can contribute to the benefit of our society.”

For her part, while staying the course is not easy and peer pressure is ever-present, giving in to wrongdoing is not an alternative for Brittney Vernon.

Brittney Vernon
“I always try to get the best out of the situation every time, like if somebody di fight I wah try stop deh. I noh wah watch deh fight and do things weh deh noh fi do.”

Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

Vernon received as her prize a full two-year scholarship to the sixth form of her choice worth over five thousand dollars from Belize Natural Energy, a computer and printer from Fultec and free internet services for one year from B.T.L. Tuition fellowships were awarded to the top ten achievers of the programme.

30 de julio de 2008


The budget was almost four months late. Finally, Prime Minister Dean Barrow read the first budget of his United Democratic Party government (2008-2013) at a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives, under the caption, Realizing the Possibilities. What most Belizeans want to know is, what’s in the $825 million budget for them?

In a nearly two-hour long presentation of 40 pages, Prime Minister Barrow, who is also the Minister of Finance, outlined a number of measures to be effected during the fiscal year. They include the removal of General Sales Tax (GST) from some basic food items, including powdered milk, cooking oil, chicken Vienna sausages, corned beef, coffee and tea; and the removal of GST from doctor bills, as well as some over-the-counter medicines, including anti-retroviral medication for HIV patients.

“In addition to no new taxes on the Belizean people in this budget, we are, of course, actually providing positive relief, especially to the poor,” said Barrow. “We will be lowering or removing tax on a number of basic items and services.”

Barrow also highlighted a new food subsidy, a new program for single mothers, education grants, import duty exemptions to temper the shrinkage in tourism arrivals, a new surcharge to increase public revenues from Belizean crude, and possibly cheaper, Belizean oil at the pumps and butane for your stoves.

“In order to help to alleviate the increased financial burden on the poor brought on by the sharp rise in food prices, we have allocated the sum of $2 million for a food subsidy program aimed at the poorest of the poor,” said Prime Minister Dean Barrow. “This program - the operational parameters of which are being worked out - will be funded by a soft loan from the proceeds of the sale of petroleum imported from Venezuela under the PetroCaribe accord.”

The Prime Minister highlighted the allocation of over $3 million for education grants for first-year high school students, and $2 million to maintain the supply of textbooks to primary school students under the Free Textbook Program initiated last year by the former administration.


In the public domain, oil and oil revenues have been the most hotly debated issue, and Barrow made several references to Government’s strategy, working in tandem with private sector initiatives, in his budget speech.

“With the discovery and extraction of crude oil in Belize, several entrepreneurs have expressed an interest in establishing micro-refineries to process and blend the locally produced crude oil into refined gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oil for the local market,” said the Prime Minister.

“Two local companies have invested substantially in refining equipment and are poised to produce a refined diesel and gasoline for the local market. Together these two producers project that they can supply more than 50% of the local market within the next few years, but starting almost immediately, at prices significantly lower than what we pay now.”

Due to World Trade Organization and CARICOM obligations, however, the excise taxes on locally produced products cannot be more favorable than the taxes applied to similar products which are imported into Belize.

He said that excise taxes would be established for locally produced diesel, gasoline, kerosene and jet fuel, to replace the import duty and environmental tax now paid on imported fuel products.

“Notwithstanding the excise tax, I repeat that it is expected that the final price to the consumer for the locally produced products will be lower than the imported, since international freight, insurance and handling costs will be eliminated,” said Barrow.

Detailing more potential developments in Belize’s energy sector, the Prime Minister said that Belize Natural Energy (BNE) is developing a facility for the supply of locally-produced butane gas far cheaper than the imported butane.

“Their butane should be commercially available by September of this year and they expect to meet the needs of at least 30% of the local market,” Barrow announced in his speech.

As cost of living continues to escalate, the resounding public concerns are not only over high pump prices, but the fact that public revenues from oil – at a time when per barrel costs continue at sustained highs – have not yielded enough benefits for the Government and people of Belize.

While Barrow said that oil prices will remain high in the foreseeable future, he commented that, “It is important that the country, as both an oil exporter and an oil importer, offset the high prices we pay for the refined products by obtaining a larger share of the export earnings.”


“In preparing its estimates of revenue, the Government is proposing several measures aimed at providing some relief to those whose lives are most badly affected by the sharp rise in food and fuel prices,” said Prime Minister Barrow. “This was an issue that arose several times during the budget consultation process and several suggestions were made to reduce GST [General Sales Tax] and or Import Duties on an expanded list of basic food items.”

Barrow tabled the following proposals: (1) the removal of GST, by applying a zero rate on a wide range of over-the-counter and prescription medicines and medical supplies including analgesics, cough and cold preparations, diagnostic testing kits for glucose in the blood and urine, insulin and insulin syringes, oral re-hydration salts and solutions, dialysis fluids, oxygen, and anti-retroviral drugs; and (2) the classification of medical, dental, hospital, optical and paramedical services as exempt items for the purposes of the GST.

“The effect of this is to ensure that the providers of such services will no longer be adding GST to their invoices for the services they provide,” said Barrow. “This is a first step towards the zero-rating of medical services - a step that the government proposes to take after consultation with the medical service providers to ensure that the benefits of zero-rating will be passed on to consumers through lower costs for medical services.”


At the center of the country’s food security strategy are those who produce food for your tables, and Barrow’s first budget was drafted with them, too, in mind. The sector has been one of the most hard-hit by escalating prices, which have sent the prices of fertilizers and agro-chemicals – not to mention fuel - through the roof. This has had a domino effect on prices on the Belizean market – translating to higher costs to families for feeding themselves and their children.

Barrow also referred to a new agricultural push – what he dubbed as “the second coming of Belize’s Green Revolution.”

“To help government to define appropriate policy responses,” said Prime Minister Barrow, “we have established a National Commodities Commission to advise the Government on the development of a detailed national strategy to take advantage of opportunities that have arisen out of the global increase in food prices.

“This work is being done on the basis of the recognition that the rise in food prices presents a historic opportunity for farmers to increase production, including for export, with the end result of increasing their income and the country’s foreign exchange earnings.”

Immediate support from the Government was identified as follows: the removal of revenue replacement duty from fertilizers; the removal of customs duties from animal feed concentrate; and the provision of import duty exemptions for agricultural machinery and implements, particularly for small farmers seeking to expand production; as well as the provision, later on, of a significant line of credit for agricultural expansion.


“Firstly, the public debt [now at 2.2 billion] has never been higher, and the servicing of that debt became such an impossible burden that the former administration…the country is now unable to access external commercial sources of finance…

“Secondly, economic growth has slowed dramatically in the last few years, clearly demonstrating the extent to which the country’s earlier performance, the occasion for much self praise by the then Prime Minister and his Svengali, had in fact been propped up by the unsustainable borrowing…

“Thirdly, our ability to raise revenue and to collect taxes has been greatly constrained by special arrangements and dubious legal structures (including secret agreements) that have seen particularly rich business enterprises exempted from paying their fair share of taxes. Exhibit one is, of course, the BTL scenario which has caused the new government far too much time, energy and expense to try to set right.

“Fourthly, the provision of a number of tax holidays and arrangements to guarantee particular rates of return in order to notionally stimulate private sector investment has turned out rather to be a device for the imposition of a double whammy on the public: even as the favored few have been allowed to deprive the people of much needed revenue, they have also raised their prices to consumers.”

On the expenditure side, Barrow pointed to questionable pre-election spending by the former administration.

Barrow pointed to “…the new Housing Assistance Program, funded by a grant from the Government Venezuela under which some $18 million was spent in the six weeks immediately before the elections, and without the approval of the National Assembly as required by the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act.”

(Government has given no indication as to how many houses were built or renovated in those six weeks.)

Weighing heavily on the public purse is also the judgment against the Government of $8.8 million in foreign arbitration won by NEWCO and the $40 million diverted by Musa’s administration from the public coffers in the months before the election – what Mr. Barrow dubbed “reckless spending and criminal diversion of funds.”

“The hangover from 2007 is, of course, a reality with which we now have to deal. Consequently, in 2008, GDP growth is already being affected by lower output of sugarcane and papaya, the two crops most severely affected by last year’s hurricane. The closure of the Williamson sewing factory, lower electricity output and a decrease in hotel and restaurant activities stemming from a sharp fall in cruise ship arrivals, are also taking their toll,” said Prime Minister Barrow.


He noted that GDP grew by only 0.6% in the first quarter, with exports being down by 1.1%, and imports up by 19.5% driven by Commercial Free Zone activity and increased expenditure on a range of items including fuel, telecommunication equipment, construction materials, vehicles and electricity.

Barrow said that the gap created by the downturn in earnings from exports and the expansion in imports was worsened by a substantial outward movement of funds in the form of repatriation of profits by the Belize Bank to the tune of almost $60 million.

The quantity and the quality of sugarcane have declined in the current crop year, papaya output between January and April 2008 was almost 50% lower than in the comparable period of 2007, citrus deliveries for the 2007/2008 crop year up to April declined by 7%, with decreases in orange and grapefruit deliveries of 8% and 4.5%, respectively. Juice production has declined by 6%. But banana export volume rose by 74.0% to 27,194 metric tons while earnings were up by 92.2% to $23.5 million in the first four months of 2008 as compared with the same period last year, he reported.

The best news was from the petroleum sector, which showed impressive growth of 11%, with earnings increasing by 108%.

“These increases didn’t fully compensate for declines in other export commodities, however, and the trade deficit consequently has increased by 62.8% ($89.2mn) relative to the same period of 2007,” the Prime Minister said.

GDP growth is projected at only 2% this fiscal year.


Prime Minister Barrow said that in order to curb the contraband cigarette trade, the excise tax on the carton of 20 sticks of cigarettes would be reverted to the March 2008 figure of $12. He expressed the view that the reduction in excise tax would not necessarily cause an increase in cigarette consumption, but rather was intended to curb contraband.

He said that Government would continue consultations on taxation for the tourism sector. Meanwhile, Barrow pledged to lift import duties for small registered hoteliers seeking to expand and/or improve the quality of their facilities, as well as small tour operators wanting to import passenger vans for tourist transportation services.


Barrow’s first budget includes roughly $50 million more in recurrent spending and $38 million more in capital spending than Musa’s last – an increase of $90 million more in spending than his predecessor.

On the other side of the budget equation, we are looking at $96 million more in revenues and grants than last year’s figures.

“The proposed increase of $51.3 million [in recurrent expenditure] reflects the reality of increased costs faced by Government (which is also a major consumer of goods and services), as well as the need to make provisions for special programs in the areas of education, health and social development,” Prime Minister Barrow said.

Barrow said that the freeze on salary increments for public officers will be lifted.

“Government is proposing an allocation of $262.8 million for personal emoluments, reflecting an addition of $28.9 million, to provide for the filling of some critical need positions in health, education, and the security services, as well as to pay for the restoration of the salary increments frozen by the last administration for a period of one year in 2005,” said Barrow.

A total of $237.9 million has been programmed in the budget for goods and services “to provide for increased cost of fuel, rents, material and supplies, and other essential items.”

Also in the budget, said PM Barrow, is a brand new allocation of over $3.0 million to provide for education grants for first-year high school students on a needs basis; an increase of $1.5 million in scholarship grants to tertiary level students; a new allocation of $2.0 million to maintain the supply of textbooks to primary school students; an increase of $1.5 million in grants to the University of Belize; and an increase of $3.0 million to cover the full cost of basic primary health care under the National Health Insurance (NHI) Program in those areas in which NHI has already been rolled out.

According to the Prime Minister, “The Government has decided to delay the full rollout of NHI, pending the results of ongoing analysis of the costs and possible sources of revenue to meet those costs.”

Public debt is still a major budgetary constraint. This year, Government estimates that $108.9 million dollars will go towards meeting interest payments, with a further $63.9 million to meet amortization payments. Debt payments will total $172.8 million (20% of all Government’s receipts in revenues and grants) – that is despite the debt re-profiling undertaken by the former administration.

Barrow’s administration plans to increase capital spending from $137 million to $175 million - $78.7 million funded from the public purse, supplemented by external financing.

Major capital projects he highlighted include: $6.5 million toward the upgrading of the Placencia Road; $4 million for the completion of the Southern Highway; $5.3 million for the Belize City South Side Poverty Alleviation Project; $4.8 million for the rehabilitation of sugar feeder roads; $2 million for the temporary bridge structure at Kendall; $8 million in support to the banana and sugar industries under the European Union Programme; over $11.9 million dollars in aggregate to fund community projects under the Social Investment Fund, the Commonwealth Debt Initiative, and the Basic Needs Trust Fund; $6.5 million to complete the Health Reform Project; and $3 million to complete Enhancement of the Technical Vocational, Education and Training Project.

Other major allocations in the budget for special programs include: $1.0 million for a project to assist low income persons in getting proper titles to land through providing funding to pay for surveys; $2.0 million for housing improvements for low income persons; $1.7 million for maintenance of municipal streets and drains; $175,000 for a pilot project for skills training for single mothers; and $1 million for rural water systems.


One major issue highlighted in the budget is credit to the small and medium sectors, and the revival of the Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

“There is now a critical and unsatisfied need for financing for small and medium enterprises and student loans, and the new Government has been discussing with the International Financial Institutions, the imperative of a revitalized and restructured DFC resuming small and medium sized credit and student lending,” Prime Minister Barrow said.

“The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has agreed, in principle, to a new loan of $25 million to the Government of Belize for the seeding of the new DFC. We expect our formal loan request to go to CDB’s board by October and for DFC to restart its lending operations by the end of the year,” he announced.


Prime Minister Barrow pointed out that the 2008/2009 fiscal year began seven weeks after the United Democratic Party (UDP) came to office. The past four months have been spent in wide public consultations.

The consultative process leading up to the budget presentation, said Barrow, was not a one-shot deal. He said that his administration would take all views into account as they secure a future for Belize.

The broader consultations on the proposed constitutional amendment bill has attracted far more public attention and sparked heated public discourse – and even two lawsuits against the Government. Barrow said he was taking the opportunity today to assure all those that attended public hearings that his government would be making changes to reflect the positions expressed, based on merit.

He said that he would scrap proposed amendments to Section 17 of the Belize Constitution: For sure we will take out that portion of the proposed amendments dealing with mineral rights that gives Government authority to turn over its title in oil to the oil company, said Barrow. “We are going to scrap that.”

He also said that they would not bring back the constitutional amendment bill for passage unless and until they have circulated the draft ordinary law for the recall mechanism for elected officials.


According to Barrow, the proposed oil revenue amendments will be circulated when he tables the Supplemental Petroleum Tax Bill. The Prime Minister plans to host a press conference Wednesday to detail important breakthroughs in the talks with oil industry stakeholders.

At today’s Sitting of the House, Prime Minister Barrow also presented the Customs and Excise Duties (Amendment) Bill 2008 and the Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill 2008.

The Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill was rushed through the House in today’s sitting. Barrow cited the need to have the bill immediately passed into law so that when a Magistrate’s Court makes an order for any entity to pay overdue taxes, there can be no question of that order being suspended by an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The law was sparked by the current dispute between the Government and Belize Telemedia Limited over millions in tax arrears.


The 2008/2009 budget would be retroactive to April 1, 2008, and would be for the year ending March 31, 2009.

The budget debate has been scheduled for Thursday, July 24, 2008. This gives the 31 members of Parliament 10 days to further study the contents.

The 90-day waiting period for the Belize Constitution (Sixth) Amendment Bill, from which Barrow has now scrapped two proposals – that for preventative detention and now the proposal for turning over mineral rights titles to investors - will also expire at that time.

(The Prime Minster’s budget proposals as gotten from the Amandala.)

29 de julio de 2008


Police have the men they say killed Jerson Hernandez, 25, last week in San Jose Succotz and Nirba Bradley, 45, last week Thursday in Santa Elena, as well as the youthful murderers of American couple Michael and Donna Hill in Cristo Rey over the weekend.

On Sunday, June 29, police and BDF soldiers found Hernandez on the edge of the Western Highway in Succotz, and his last words to them were, “an accident, an accident,” which they took to mean that he had been involved in a traffic accident on the road.

However, subsequent investigations pointed to Hernandez having been murdered, which led to the arrest of Estevan Williams, 18, of Succotz. He has been arraigned for murder at the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court.

Benque police say the post-mortem on Hernandez’s body, on which there were several cuts, indicated that he had been beaten to death with a pint bottle. According to police, Hernandez was simply left at the roadside, and he had never been in any traffic accident.

In another case, Ermitt Bradley, 45, was remanded on Friday for killing his wife Nirba, 45, early Friday morning at her workplace in Santa Elena Town.

San Ignacio police say Bradley visited his wife’s workplace at Espat Chicken Processing factory on the Cristo Rey road at 6:20 a.m. Friday and began to argue with her.

At some point during the argument, it is alleged Bradley took out a knife he was carrying with him and cut Nirba’s throat, leaving her dead in the road in a pool of her own blood.

Police detained Bradley soon after, and he, too, has been remanded from the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court.

On Wednesday, police confirmed that on Tuesday evening they found the Toyota Hilux pickup that belonged to Michael and Donna Hill. Inside, they found various other items, such as a Garmin GPS device, a gray flashlight and a bottle of wine, also thought to have belonged to the Hills.

Two minors, 15 and 17 years old, are facing murder charges in connection with the murders of Michael and Donna Hill. The 15-year-old lives in Santa Elena, and the 17-year-old lives on the Cristo Rey Road, Santa Elena. They were arrested on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, pathologist Dr. Mario Estradabran certified that both Donna and Michael died due to head injuries caused by a single shot to the head. In Michael’s case, he was shot behind the left ear, and Donna was shot under her left eye.

In related news, the Belize Defence Force has just confirmed reports that first surfaced in May that a BDF soldier in Cayo lost his M-16 rifle to marauding Guatemalan bandits in the forests near Camp Belizario.

According to our source, the soldier was badly beaten and the rifle taken by the bandits when they surprised him in an outhouse at the El Pilar archaeological site.

He made a report and the patrol searched the area for the robbers, but found no trace of them or the rifle.

The rifle has since been linked to the recent murders and robberies in the area, we understand, but it has not been confirmed that it may be the weapon used, for instance, in the recent robbery of schoolteachers on Arenal Road. Our efforts, then as now, to contact the BDF about this matter were unsuccessful.

28 de julio de 2008


When we last left the case of the Income Tax Department versus Belize Telemedia Limited et al, revenue magistrate Edd Usher had issued an arrest warrant for the company’s chairman, Dean Boyce, because more than two million dollars owed in business tax arrears had not been paid.

Telemedia coughed up the cash within hours, but today, attorneys Eamon Courtenay and Elson Kaseke made it clear that their client only did so because the company’s top executive was faced with the prospect of going to jail. Courtenay and Kaseke had sought an “11th-hour” injunction against Usher’s orders on Tuesday, but the application was dismissed by Justice Samuel Awich.

So today, both men were back before Awich, asking him to interpret Section 112 of the Supreme Court’s Judicature Act. In his arguments to the judge, Courtenay contended that the under the law, orders made by the inferior court (the Magistrate’s Court) are set aside once an appeal has been filed in the Supreme Court. He maintained that “there is no bar in the law that prevents the taxpayer from appealing the decision, and the law, in immaculately clear language, calls for the suspension of Magistrate Edd Usher’s orders.”

Courtenay went on to claim that that the Income Tax Commissioner’s decision to even obtain a judgment debtor summons from the Magistrate’s Court is “fundamentally flawed,” and that the department had “jumped the gun and jumped into the wrong frying pan.”

According to him, “a four-million dollar debt should have been dealt with by the Supreme Court,” as the sum exceeded the Magistrate Court’s jurisdiction.

That point was put to the Attorney General’s representative, senior counsel Lois Young, by Justice Awich, who said, “Why did they take it to the Magistrate’s Court? It’s creating a lot of headache today. The Chief Collector could have gotten the money without going to court.”

Young’s response was that it was not her place to question the Commissioner’s choice, as he (the Commissioner) was acting within his discretionary powers in an effort to collect the taxes.

Young disputed Telemedia’s position that the Magistrate’s orders are to be set aside, as in her view, the Income Tax and Business Tax Act is “seamless in all its stages,” because it is designed to ensure revenues to the Government. She believes that once an income tax assessment is made, it is due.

Young told the court, “Taxpayers must pay now and dispute later,” the same position adopted by Magistrate Usher when he issued the arrest warrant for Boyce.

Justice Awich intends to deliver his interpretation in the matter at 2:30 on Friday, July 18. Following the proceedings, Telemedia’s counsel told us that the judge’s decision is key, as the company is involved in separate court action for business tax arrears for other months. Of note is that today, Courtenay told the court that the second half of the four million dollars in taxes has been paid.

However, Telemedia has filed notice of an appeal of the Magistrate Court’s June 24 orders, but a date has yet to be fixed for that hearing.


25 de julio de 2008


Tonight Customs and police authorities have joined forces in investigating another hijacked shipment of goods destined for Guatemala.

Comptroller of Customs, Gregory Gibson, and Officer Commanding the CIB Eastern Division, Assistant Superintendent Julio Valdez, confirmed this evening to News Five that the goods labeled as “cough suppressants” arrived from Panama earlier this week. The shipment was cleared from the Taca warehouse on Central American Boulevard in Belize City around noon on Wednesday en route to its destination, Guatemala. And while Gibson would not release the names of those involved, he did say that the container never made it to Guatemala. Gibson reports that when the customs guard and the trucker reached mile forty-two on the Western Highway, two vehicles blocked them on the road. The men made a report to the Customs hours later around four o’clock on Wednesday afternoon claiming that four robbers, wielding guns and speaking in English held them up and commandeered the truck with the one hundred and forty-six packages of the presumed medicine. According to the report, two of the jackers held the trucker and custom guard hostage while the other two took off in the loaded truck. Eventually they were taken to the Rockville area where they were left on their own. The victims said they then hitched a ride to Belize City. At news time, police and customs officials are still looking for the missing truck and are also now trying to verify the cargo. Police are not treating the customs officer or the trucker as suspects but they are currently interviewing the Belize City agent to whom the goods were consigned.

Viewers will recall that only two months ago another mysterious jacking of a container was reported and a Customs officer was suspended after the forty-foot container truck left the Belize City Port en route to Dangriga but never arrived. That container was ironically invoiced as – you guessed it, “Medicine” and vitamins and bound for Dangriga. The hijackers used the Coastal road to commit that crime and the empty container was eventually discovered on George Price Boulevard in Belmopan. In a third incident a shipment bound for Cancun consigned to a Mexican businessman and invoiced as “spices” also mysteriously disappeared on the highways. At present, Gibson says his department is baffled at the repeat incidents of medicine containers gone missing.

24 de julio de 2008


Belize is blessed with the historical past of the Mayas. Their are Mayan monuments everywhere in Belize. Their rich heritage is the pride of all Belizeans and the awe of alll those who visit this jewel of ours each year.

For those of us who have not been to visit the wonders our ancestors left for us I would like to encourage them to do so. It can be a day visit and one which is filled with knowledge and if you have a camera, take it along for the pictures you will be able to take will be memorable photos any family can be proud of.

Visit areas of Belize where these Mayas have left behind their masterpieces and you are sure to cherish your memories.

Brenda A. Ysaguirre

23 de julio de 2008


The battle of the newcomer, Belize Water Taxi Association versus the long established Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association is only just beginning. The newcomers started operating on Saturday from their office which is right beside the Caye Caulker Water Taxi. It has been tense and tough, and tonight there are two important developments. First the City Council reviewed the application for a trade license from Belize Water Taxi. Though the Port Authority has given the new group a permit – the City Council had not given its stamp of approval. And after hearing representation from both sides the Belize City Trade Licensing Board voted three to one in favour of granting a license for the Belize Water Taxi Terminal to operate from its location right next to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal on North Front Street.
The Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association maintains that it welcomes the competition but insists that it must operate from a different location because of the congestion that it will create. And it was because of that concern that the Mayor of Belize City Zenaida Moya says she is the one vote dissenting. She says she could not agree to granting the license. She differed with two other councillors Leila Peyrefitte and Calvert Quilter who sit on the Licensing Board. Today she told us why she could not vote in favour of the Belize Water Taxi Terminal.
Zenaida Moya, Mayor of Belize City, “The decision made was for a license to be granted to the new entity, I think it is the Belize Water Taxi Terminal to operate at the location which is right next to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association.”
Jacqueline Godwin, "I understand that you vehemently objected to this license being granted. Why?"
Zenaida Moya,“Yes I objected to it, the license being granted for the carrying out of business at that location. I have no problem with that new business operating within Belize City but just not right next to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association’s location. Why? Because one we already have to deal with a traffic congestion right there at that location, it is a huge problem. I believe anybody who travels along that way in the morning, in the afternoon, whenever, they will see that it is a huge problem. We have to really put out extra manpower there, it costs the council a lot of money so definitely the traffic congestion there is a problem, that is on land.
On sea I also see it as a huge problem having more vessels there operating in an already congested area. I see that as another problem, safety concerns for the customers. I also see another concern in the fact that we’re dealing with a group, in this case it is the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association’s whose very livelihood is dependent on definitely the tourism industry, and we are already trying to control that area when it comes to traffic congestion, but they have a lot at stake. These are not wealthy persons, I don’t know of any of them that are hugely wealthy, but they have put all their monies on line into this particular business and I feel very concerned that their whole livelihood and the money that they have invested could be deeply jeopardized.
I won’t support it and as the Chairman of the board I don’t support it and as Mayor of Belize City I don’t support it operating there, being given a license to operate right next to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association. I have to also understand that the board is made up of other individuals and if those other individuals supported it I have to understand but it is something that I certainly don’t support, even in terms of signing off on the license. I will not sign off on that license, I guess the deputy chair will have to sign off on that license.”
While licenses are usually granted for one year, in this case the Belize Water Taxi Terminal service license was initially given for six months. At the end of that period the permit will be reviewed.

22 de julio de 2008

Edgar Gegg recognized for contributions to Salvation Army

The Salvation Army today honored one of its most dedicated members for his years of good service to the organisation and for his positive contributions to the community. He is Edgar “Bally” Gegg, a prominent businessman and the former proprietor of Vogue Store which subsequently evolved into Marelco. News Five spoke to both Gegg and his son Francis about his dedication to Belizean society.
Edgar Gegg, Recognised for Years of Service said, “Quite pleased and thrilled that they should honor me in this unique fashion. I’ve always had a tremendous admiration for the Salvation Army and I was on very good terms with their officers and members. I have a—I hate to say this because it sounds boastful—a preference to deal or hobnob with poor people.”

Francis Gegg, Son of Edgar Gegg added, “Well he was the first chairman of their advisory committee and the primary purpose of that was to raise money for all the worthy causes. Then of course, he’s been a very avid Catholic all his life. And sort of at the end of his career of service he decided that the Salvation Army was a very worthy cause and he’s always said that if he was not a Catholic he would be a Salvation Armyist. So in the latter part of his life he spent ten years advising them on fundraising. That’s been perhaps his greatest contribution to Belize’s society in an area of fundraising for the Catholic church in the first instance and then after that for the salvation army. In terms of his public service, he was a foundational director of D.F.C. he was one of the first directors of D.F.C., he was one of the first directors of monetary authority, Central Bank, he was chairman of the tourist board, chairman of the fisheries advisors committee, he served on the public service reform committee, he was on the public service commission. He’s been in almost every single statutory body in old Belize.”

The Salvation Army’s Regional Commander Errol Robateau is inviting new volunteers to the organisation that is well known for its Kettle Appeal at Christmas Time.

21 de julio de 2008


I haven't read the news coverage on the situation surroundng the Las Vegas Casino yet. I will write what I have heard and then I will clip the news coverage articles.

BelizeanView (as told to me):
There was a robbery at the Casino. Seems the owners always give advance pay to staff and someone owed a lot and didn't want to pay. Hence3, some Mexicans trid to rob the Casino ans where chased over the Mexican border and were arrested for possessing a gun and bullets and for shooting at a Mexican as he fled from the Casino into Mexico.

Mexican View (as told to me):
Someone won a lot of money at the Casino and the owner wanted them to keep on playing and because they didn't and left they were chased into Mexico. The American owner of the casino and his security workers were arrested for shooting the Mexican IN HIS OWN COUNTRY PLUS IT IS A CRIME TO TAKE A WEAPON INTO MEXICO AND WITH BULLETS - EVEN WORST. The fine is something like 30 to 35 years in jail but for the time being they are just eing held as the fine has not been met.

Reports coming out of Chetumal are that the illegal firearm charges have been dropped, which is good news. But don’t rejoice as yet because the men are now facing charges for the attempted murder of thirty-five year old Edwin Jesús Navarro Meneses.

19 de julio de 2008

Want a nice place to relax in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Here you can enjoy view of the ocean and relax in comfort with the cocnut trees swaying too and fro.
And you can enjoy this scene from those chairs!!!
How about a place call Rocky Point! Seen so many rocks before? Hahaha
This one is an old picture of St George's Caye taken 1946!!!! Historical!!! That's Belize for you!!

18 de julio de 2008

The Governor of Belize coming down Albert St. towards the swing bridge. In those days vehicle traffic was left hand drive, i.e. opposite to how we drive today. The changeover to right hand drive occurred around 1960.

Photograph by the late Neil Fraser

17 de julio de 2008


As we move on into the light of the new Belize we are faced with the reality that all things are not as we would have wanted them to be. However before we decide to critize or blame the government of the day, it is time for us to take a look around us and see how we can help this country, that we call home, to grow. Is there anything that we are doing that we could have done better? Is there anything that we could have done that could have made Belize more than it is today? Is there anything that we can DO to help make this jewel more than just a fake gem?

I truly believe that there is a lot that we can do BUT we have got to stop looking for self worth and step up to the plate. We need to become true Belizeans and we need to fight for that which w hold dear - our homeland. We must stop thinking that others will do it for us. it us time for us to do for ourselves that which is right.

I all on all Belizean, whether at home or aboard, to do that which will make Belize bigger and brighter. Let us work for that new Belize that we all dream of.

Brenda A. Ysaguirre

16 de julio de 2008


Lindbergh Lands in Belize!!! Air travel comes to Belize...
On December 30, 1927 Belize was visited by Col. Charles Lindbergh in his Ryan monoplane "The Spirit of St. Louis." Following his triumphant transatlantic flight, Lindbergh set off on a goodwill tour of the Caribbean Basin. He flew from St. Louis to Mexico City, then to Guatemala City and on to Belize.
In the first photo you can see "The Spirit of St. Louis" slipping into the wind on landing approach to the polo field at The Barracks. The Polo Club is on the left.
In the second photo, "The Spirit of St. Louis" is on the ground as welcoming crowds gather.

15 de julio de 2008


Charles Lindbergh reception in Belize, 1927
1. The Spirit of St. Louis on the ground at the Barracks guarded by Belize policemen
2. Lindy emerges to an enthusiastic welcome. Dr. Cran is on his right. Note the dress code of the day...Lindy is wearing a suit and tie and holding his fedora in hand, this after hours in the cramped cockpit of that little airplane!
3. Lindbergh being received at government house on December 30, 1927. In the photo besides Lindy are: Dr. Cran on his right; Governor Sir John and Lady Burdon; Sir Herbert and Lady Sisnett; DC Hamilton Anderson and an unidentified lady.
After leaving Belize, Lindy went to each of the Central American capitals, around the tip of South America, back north through the islands, and returned to St. Louis. His famous airplane was retired from service following this trip and now hangs in the Air and Space Museaum of the Smithsonian in Washington.
Photographs courtesy of the late Neil Fraser

14 de julio de 2008


I have been thinking how to be a better Belizean. There is really so much that this country needs and so little that we give to it.

I am appealing to all Belizeans to look around and find something that they can do to help this country improve.

As a guide I have come up with a few things that we an do but I am sure you will be able to think of a lot more once you read my ideas. Feel free to write me comments and give me more things that we can do.

1. Help the elderly
2. Teach the young respect
3. NEVER mock the physically or mentally challenged
4. Learn and use manners
5. Study and achieve a good education
6. Read books and increase your knowledge on things your didn’t know about
7. LISTEN to the advice of the elderly and those who would know better
8. SPEAK UP when you see injustice occurring
9. VOTE in each election

10. Assist and be courteous to tourists who visit your country
11. Never give up on your dreams – everything is possible if you believe YOU CAN do it.
Know that you are one person and that the world is yours. You can move mountains but you must believe in yourself. It follows a logical belief which we can say in English or which I prefer in Spanish because it seems stronger: YO PUEDO !!!

13 de julio de 2008






12 de julio de 2008





Brenda A. Ysaguirre

11 de julio de 2008


Today I went to Chetumal, Q. Roo, Mexico to eat some really nice tacos from Diaz Grill and to watch a movie. I realized something. There were so many Belizeans crossing the border that you can see why Chetumal has grown and Belize hasn't. Belizean money has built Chetumal and it would be nice if we could get some respect. Half the time the attendants in stores are mean and negative when dealing with Belizeans. What a pity we are treated that way. Belizeans are a great people. Let's try to regain the respect we are due. Let's be polite, a little more smart and a lot less noisy, please. We represent our nation when we are abroad. Let's be proud of whom we are and let's get back the respect we are due!

10 de julio de 2008


As we move on everyday, things seem to be getting worst in Belize. Iam still ver angry that the streets are getting patched in some areas while others are relly bad. Please note that patching the street is no good for us. In a short while the filling is gone and the holes are bigger. We NEED COMPLETELy RE-DONE STREETS.

Maybe it is time to cut the Ministers salaries and fix the darn streets. Come on Mr. Prime Minister. You asked for it and you got it. Now do the job you promised you would do and stop blaming the pass government. We want governance not a constant finger pointing. Move on or move out!

B. Ysaguirre

9 de julio de 2008


How wonderful the breeze blows,
Even in the evenings when the sun sets,
Or when the moon over the bay glows,
Spreading the feeling of Belize that everyone gets.

To feel so free and to be alive,
In a ownderful land of nature's best,
Is how the person feels who will scuba dive,
Climb a mountain or sit in the shade to take a rest.

Birds chirp in the early dawn,
As the sun rays smile over the land,
It may be a busy day and you may be mowing the lawn,
Or driving and listening to the music of a Belizean band.

Clearly this land is a place of peace,
Where everyone moves to the rhythm and a flow,
There is so much love for hearts to release,
Only in Belize can you feel this glow.
Brenda A. Ysaguirre
Copyright 2008 Brenda A. Ysaguirre


He is a businessman involved in brewing, soft drinks, water, aquaculture, tourism and other industries, who does not often appear on camera. But today Barry Bowen took time to address the proposed constitutional amendments. As we reported in our newscast on Tuesday, Bowen is taking the Government to court over what he believes will deny him his basic constitutional rights. His claim against the government refers to Section seventeen of the Constitution which, as it stands right now, provides protection from deprivation of property or acquisition rights and rights to access the courts. Government is hoping to use its solid majority in the House of Representatives to change Section seventeen and remove these guarantees and protection. The crux of the matter has to do with petroleum and minerals and accompanying substances which may be located anywhere in Belize and which, if government has it way, can be removed from private landowners without compensation or the right to a fair hearing in the courts.
This morning News Five Intern Oneyda Flores sat down with Bowen to find out why he felt compelled to act.
Barry Bowen, Managing Director, Bowen & Bowen, “I’m filing a challenge to the proposed amendments to section seventeen because the amendments seek to take away the rights of Belizeans to have access to the courts. I do not believe that the rights of access given to all of us, all Belizeans by the constitution should ever be denied. I believe that such denial of access for whatever reason is unconstitutional and therefore my action is to seek from the Supreme Court, their decision on this issue which I think is of really great importance to the public. It’s strictly a matter of deprivation of rights given to us by the constitution. My point is strictly the access to the courts. I’m not asking for compensation from petroleum or anything like that. I have no idea whether there’s petroleum on my land or not. The land I own in south Stann creek is in my name personally. There are other lands owned by companies that I own in other parts of the country but the one in Stann creek is specifically in my name and I’m using that for simple reason that, it has nothing to do with petroleum or gas it has nothing to do with minerals, it’s strictly a case of the unconstitutional way of taking away the rights of people to property and rights to access to courts for the courts to determine whether it is unconstitutional or not...”
Oneyda Flores, “So in essence you’re speaking on behalf of the public...”
Barry Bowen, “Everybody, the whole country, any landowner in the country. In my opinion I think the government do have rights to all the petroleum and I think the government do have rights to all the gas and minerals; there are laws to say this. I’m saying that if the constitution is to be upheld, the constitution is the ultimate, ultimate protection of ones freedom in a democracy then if the government is now saying that they have all these rights to property, there should be compensation, there should be, but that’s not the issue my issue is strictly a point of protecting the constitution.”
Bowen is not the only party challenging the proposals. In late May, the Bar Association made known its concerns regarding sections of the amendments, particularly the denial of access to the courts. The Belize Chamber of Commerce will join in the discussion over this sensitive issue early next week when it convenes a panel of interested parties. At news time public consultations on all the amendment are taking place at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall in Belize City.

8 de julio de 2008


For all the people of Corozal, Belize

Clouds become grey before the storm

As the air around us becomes warm.

All is still and silence covers,

A community prepares for showers.

Drop after drop it slowly comes,

Suddenly the earth cheerfully hums.

God's blessing is sent from above,

Nature accepts the Creator's love.

Lightning flashes and thunder rolls

As water down the hillside flows.

Puddles develop in gardens and streets,

But nature accepts raindrops as treats.

For tomorrow the sun will shine again,

We'll have forgotten this storm by then.

The leaves will be green and the sky will be blue,

And God's Earth will have a beautiful hue.

Brenda Aurora Ysaguirre
Copyright ©2008 Brenda Aurora Ysaguirre

6 de julio de 2008


I have no idea how people are suppose to continue living in this country right now with the cost of living going up. It seems like the poor will have to do without a lot of thing but strangely enough there are people who seem to have a lot of money still circulating.

Utilities are going up and there seems to be no end to the cost of gasoline going up. I am wondering if after all the new fangled notions that we have been blessed with if we are going to have to go back in time and begin using our bicycles as our means of transportation and visit our friends when we want to talk to them.

It seems that we may have to cut down on the little things we love to eat, too. It is either too expensive or too little or less now for the price we are use to.

I guess we are going to make budgetary changes soon. The lifestyle we know and love may be over if things don't change soon.


5 de julio de 2008


Today I was listening to the radio as I drove around in Chetumal, Mexico, Q.Roo. Someone was talking about the amount of money the oil found in Belize had brought to Belize so far. Unfortunately the Government and people of Belize have nothing to show for it and the comments that wEre now being made was that IF we can keep the revenue made from this oil from falling into the hands of corrupt politicians THEN Belize would have much to show from it.

I have a very special friend whose wisdom has often led me to thinking more about many things. He said to me some time ago that a country is only prosperous IF they have the proper ROADS and STREETS! All the little monuments we build and all the beautification we do is nothing if the roads and streets of a country are no good.

"Progress of a country is seen," he said, " in how good the roads are for the people of a country and for tourist to be able to travel on."

These may be very true word so I hope MANY BELIZEANS read this and HELP ME IN TRYING TO GET THE GOVERNMENT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE ROADS AND STREETS, WHICH ARE REALLY VERY POORLY MAINTAINED, NEED TO BE FIXED. And we are not talking about patching. We are talking about paving and making them last a long time.

Let's re-build Belize for Belizeans and for those who visit us.

The road to success MUST BE PAVED! Stop the little nonsense beautification projects and get to work with the STREETS AND ROADS.

Brenda A. Ysaguirre

4 de julio de 2008


Children Eating Sand by Angel Nunez J.P. of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
( I found this article and it was interesting so I hope Don Angel does not mind that I have re-publish it. Great job, Mr. Nunez.)

Teacher, teacher, Pedro is eating sand,” This kind of accusation was common from children at school who discovered that a boy was eating sand. And this happened with children who were as young as three years and as old as ten. It is not that they had no understanding of the very unhygienic practice, but they had a craving and they did exactly that.

At home, moms used to fight with this problem too. They kept a keen eye on the child and asked the older sister or brother to caution everyone whenever they noticed the young one eating his delicious sand. To discourage this practice, some parents used to rub pepper on the children’s hands so that they would not want to carry them to their mouths. But at times they rubbed it on their eyes, poor guys.Others used to rub the hot peppers on their mouths as a punishment for eating sand. Some parents used to lock up the children in a wooden box so that they would not have contact with sand. Others used to raise the box in the air if the children were persistent and rumors were there that the smart sand eaters used to hide the sand in their ears, armpits or even butts, so that when raised, they would resort to eating their appetizing sand.In a school of some 75 students back in the 1950’s, I would say that some ten of them delighted in this strange practice. How could these children eat sand? I do not know about you all, but occasionally if I were to accidentally chew a piece of sand, I get the goose bumps.It is an awful feeling, yet how could these children insist in this apparently delightful activity. A doctor has explained to me that it is a deficiency of calcium in our diet that causes this reaction. Apparently it was the lack of milk and eggs that caused this calcium deficiency.Most children were brought up with breast milk and when the change was made it was made to condensed milk instead of fresh milk or the powdered formula.Errrr… my little hairs are standing up just at the thought of chewing on sand, and if there is anything that I don’t miss from 25 years ago, it is this crazy craving of eating sand.

3 de julio de 2008


While Man struggles to survive, difficult circumstances helps to improve personal growth. (Brenda A. Ysaguirre)

It is time for us to look at what is happening to Belize at this time. WHY AREN'T WE AS FREE AS THE BIRDS OF THE AIR ANYMORE?

It seems that suddenly there is a rise in crime and a rise in the prices of food and gasoline. While this is something that is worldwide, it is hard on the Belizean society and to top it off we are faced with the rising rivers down south as the season known for hurricanes slaps one tropical wave after another on Belize.

A friend of mind voiced her view on this in this way: " This is a licking season and the new Government is really having hard time as they try to govern this poor country and are faced with the rising expenses that these bad weather conditions are throwing on poor Belize. It is as if they are being tested."

Tested is a light way to put it. With each disaster as they unfold, we know that it is costing the Government money and this is something they did not inherit. We can only hope and pray that things will change soon because if it doesn't we will lose our carefree attitude and become a country of fear and suffering.
Brenda A. Ysaguirre

2 de julio de 2008


The MesoAmerican Barrier Reef is the longest living reef in the Western Hemisphere, paralleling the coast line for approximately 185 miles. A shallow coral crest forms the top layers of the barrier reef closest to Placencia. Inside the coral crest, corals slope downward to a depth of about 40 feet. Deep fissures and canyons also cut the reef , providing great diving opportunities. Snorkeling is good too in the shallow coral gardens around the cayes. The MesoAmerican Barrier Reef has been designated a World Heritage Site.

More than 200 cayes are scattered offshore between the Belize mainland and the Reef. Many of the cayes are mangrove cayes, providing nurseries for the abundant marine life in Belizean waters. Following is a map of the cayes between the Placencia Peninsula and the Reef.

1 de julio de 2008


Crocodile Adventure
The #1 night wildlife adventure
The crocodile Adventure is a fun activity that can be done by everyone. You get to see nocturnal animals in the wild.
This is an exciting 2 hrs tour you will never forget! An expert guide will take you out to spot crocodiles using headlamps and a spotlight. Make sure you bring your camera -- You might just get to touch one!!
Crocodile Adventure is normally done in a motorboat on the Belize river. But.... for the most adventurous it can be done via canoe (very save) on a tributary to the Belize river - Mussell Creek.

"After dinner, we slide the canoe into the inky blackness, load it with a car battery that juices a jury-rigged spotlight, then climb aboard with our headlamps strap and switched on. The lights are used to spot the shine of the crocs' eyes. We see plenty of 'em alright, but it turns out they're not the headliner of tonights show, after all.
Fish shoot from the water, leaping over and sometimes right into the boat--once even smacking our guide in the chest--apparently drawn to the bugs attracted by our lights. Each darting fish scares the crap out of us, causing us to nearly capsize.We scream like little girls then laughed until tears sting our eyes. Finally we flick the lights off and coast in the dark beneath the endless starry sky.
Belize delivered more than we asked when searching for our ideal His-and-Her vacations. It gave us stories that we'll tell in tandem for years to come."
By Megan Padilla