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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

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ThE BElizE TimES

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Belize Times The Truth Shall Make You Free

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 21, 2010

Issue No. 4681

$1.00 www.belizetimes.bz

Teachers March!

Belizean teachers will march on Belmopan on Friday in an effort to insist that the Barrow Administration pay attention to the issues of importance to them. After months of trying to reach agreement on the Education and Training Bill (2009), Government will present to Parliament a revised bill the Union say is being presented in “haste.” The Union charge that the Education Bill is far too important to move through the final stages in the House without the allowing for “serious and proper study, consideration, research and, if necessary, further consultations.” The BNTU is worried that with the many amendments accepted at Monday’s Committee meeting, there was not enough time for legislators to study what was being proposed. In addition, they disagree that the issue of corporal punishment should appear in the Education Bill at this time.

The Union, which is not opposed to removing corporal punishment from the system, believes that some other measure of discipline must be in place before this can be removed and is claiming that the delay in coming up with alternative

methods of discipline is due to the fact that the Minister has not moved on the recommendations they presented in 2008. At the same time, the Belize National Teachers Union leadership

is still reeling from the stinging blow delivered by the Prime Minister at last week’s press conference. If this new fight between government and the Belize National Teachers Union would be compared to a boxing match, Mr. Barrow’s comment would be considered a severe blow below the belt. Even before responding in a formal manner to the unions, the Prime Minister delivered his shot by informing the press that the union would not get what they wanted. Last week Tuesday, one day after the Minster of Education said he was looking at the proposal, the Prime Minster stepped out and said: “We do not have the money, Punto Final!” Then at his press conference on Wednesday the Prime Minister revealed that the unions wanted $122 million dollars over the next three years and that what they were (Continued on page 31)

PUP Consulting With the Belizean People

Orange Walk Town, Tuesday, February 16, 2010 An enthusiastic crowd of several

hundred people packed the La Immaculada School’s auditorium and courtyard here in Orange Walk to hear and participate in

. . . r e h et g o T e m o C

the first national consultations with the Belizean people by the People’s United Party tonight.

The crowd listened attentively as PUP Party Leader and Orange Walk (Continued on page 31)

It's Time For The PUP!


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ThE BElizE TimES

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

Out Spoken

A crazy law which will stoP LooKinG BacK bring Belize into disrepute with visitors

Friday Independence Hill will once again be the scene of protest. It will not be the first protest against the Barrow Administration, but it will be the biggest so far. The largest group of protesters will be the teachers, who believe more time is needed to study the amendments to the new education bill. Some will be out there because they continue to feel that it was wrong for the Minster of Foreign Affairs to comment that our borders with Guatemala are “artificial,” and some will come to express their dissatisfaction with other aspects of governance. While the representatives of the people are engaged in the legislative process inside the National Assembly, outside the people will be voicing their dissatisfaction with their Government over a number of issues. For Prime Minister Barrow and his administration this cannot be a good sign. After just two years in office the UDP must deal with the fact that Belizeans are growing increasingly more impatient with this administration’s inability to deliver on any of its important promises. Whatever reasons the UDP may have for not being able to deliver on their promises, those reasons are now starting to fall on deaf ears. After two years the people are now ready and are starting to agitate. They are doing so because they see no sign of progress. The last two years have been hard on Belizeans both emotionally and financially. From the incessant crime wave to the rising cost of living, from the broken streets and roads to the inefficiency from local and national governance people have had to endure and accept less than is expected from a government that promised so much. And while they have yet to start to deliver, there has been no shortage of excuses and blame. When the UDP came to office in 2008 the world economy was already in recession, so the Prime Minister cannot say this was an unexpected circumstance. Likewise, they were fully aware of the Country’s debt situation long before they took the oath of office. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet knew about the Super Bond just as they knew that the price per barrel for crude oil would fall below US$100 per barrel. These were not disasters or occurrences that came in the quiet of the night. People elect governments to move forward, to bring progress to a nation, not to look back. Over the past two years the UDP has been so busy looking back that they are yet to make even the slightest forward motion. In the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment they virtually shut down the Lands Department and went on a mission to find prominent PUP supporters and suspected supporters and sought ways to cancel their leases. There is no progress in taking what little people already have. In the Ministry of Education they actually singled out school wardens who were suspected PUP’s so that they could fire them. Everything that has been done so far in this Barrow Administration is motivated by finding a way to look into the past. Of late even the Prime Minister’s speeches have resonated with more bitterness than optimism. It comes as no surprise that in just two years, Belizeans are now starting to have doubts that this administration will ever get their act together. People expect to see progress even if it comes in small doses. Two years have gone by since the United Democratic Party got elected into government and so far this administration has yet to get its domestic agenda going. Its reforms have not resulted in any benefits for the people. In the mean time the Prime Minister and his Cabinet seem to be picking a fight with everyone. They have insulted the legal community, pissed off the environmental community, picked unnecessary fights with those in the real estate business, upset the unions, insulted the media and fought with the utility companies. And while all this is going on, no one seems capable of getting a hand around the crime situation, the prosecution branch is poorly staffed and equipped; our reputation as responsible stewards of our environment is eroding, our justice system is breaking down and our communities are falling apart. The Prime Minister and his government have had two years to get their agenda off and moving. They were elected on 21 pledges; among those pledges were 5,000 new jobs, a feeding programme in our elementary schools, safer streets and communities, greater openness and transparency. Belizeans are smart people, they know that this is the crucial year for this administration, they are fully aware that 2012 is a big election year. If Mr. Barrow and his team cannot start to move this nation forward now, there is no confidence that he will be able to make it happen anytime soon. The tough reality is that the man in charge has already said to all and sundry, things are about to get even tougher. No wonder Belizeans are now taking to the streets, they expect their elected representatives to govern and when they fail this early in the term, they get to stepping.

Dear Sir, A crazy law which will bring Belize into disrepute with visitors As if we don’t have enough to contend with, what with the visitor drop-off resulting from the world financial crisis, resort owners having their hands full with very high air fares into Belize, rising hotel running costs, very expensive phone and communication costs, taxation, some of the highest electricity costs in the Caribbean, high price of fuel etc., we now have a new attack on our visitors - The Sport Fishing License. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has managed to produce the dumbest piece of legislation yet. The new law (Statutory Instrument 115) which came into effect on September 14th last year, requires anyone on a boat equipped for or engaged in Sport Fishing, to have a Sport Fishing License. The key word here is equipped. This means that everyone on the boat must have a Sport Fishing License, not just the fisherman on the boat, but everyone on the boat. So that includes non-fishing wives, children, babes in arms, your dear old granny, and even the tour guide or boat captain and deckhands! The penalty for failure to have a Sport Fishing license is $500, or 6 months in prison, or both. But the madness does not end there. There is also a provision (Clause 8 para. 2) that anyone fishing (by implication not just in a boat) for species designated as “Sport Fish” by the Fisheries Administrator also require a Sport Fishing License. And guess what? Amazingly, neither Permit, Bonefish nor Tarpon are on that list (which is appended to Statutory Instrument 114, also of September 14th 2009). So, if you go out on a boat to fish for these species, you need a Sport Fishing License (because you are on a boat equipped for fishing) but if you are NOT in a boat, i.e. wading from the shore, you don’t (because they are not designated Sport Fishing species)! Incredibly, the requirement for a Sport Fishing License also applies to fishing from the shore or from a dock although providing you claim to be fishing for barracuda, snapper, yellow tail, you can escape the need for a Sport Fishing License as these species are not on the designated list either! I have checked with Coastal Zone Management Authority which has confirmed to me in writing that the law is to be applied “as it is “. The Authority has further confirmed that the reason for requiring all persons on a boat to have Sport Fishing Licenses is “to make enforcement easy”. Personally I cannot wait to see Coastal Zone trying to enforce this in our rural fishing communities. Revolution does not cover it. The cost of an annual license is $100, and with the law as it is, everyone from small children to grandfathers will need a license. Whole families are going to be hit by this. Imagine a family with four young children and an elderly grandparent who like to have fun fishing together with a handline on a Sunday afternoon. As the law stands they would be required to each pay $100 license fee per year - $500 for one little family group. You might think that handlines are not Sport Fishing tackle, but neither Statutory Instrument 114 or 115 make this distinction. There is no definition of what constitutes Sport Fishing tackle in the law as it stands. Sadly our Tourism Association and the Belize Tourist Board have kept quiet about this. Well, Coastal Zone Management Authority says they are about to start enforcing this new law, so the BTB and BTIA better get ready for a storm of complaints, not only from resort owners who have to explain this law to their guests, but from tourists who will rightly feel they are being ripped off to say nothing of the complaints from hard working Belizeans caught by this legislation. To insist that every man, woman and child on a boat carrying a fishing rod must have a fishing license is as ludicrous. What will be next? That every passenger on a bus must hold a driver’s license? Whatever have things come to, that such laughably stupid, inaccurate, ignorant and incomplete legislation gets onto our Statute book? Is ANYBODY in the Ministry of Agriculture who approved this law actually listening to their own Fisheries Department’s complaints against this legislation? Yours Sincerely Chris Harris Steppingstones Resort Monkey River Toledo


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

ThE BElizE TimES

If Da Noh Soh…

Deputy Philloughby Obviously Phillip Willoughby did not take our advice from last week, as a result of that he had to sit and

listen and watch as Channel 7 made fun of his election as Deputy Mayor. Here is a bit of what they had to say about Philloughby: “He’s always up for an interview – even when he clearly shouldn’t be anywhere within 100 feet of a microphone. But, regardless, there he is, every time – rushing in – superman cap and all – where any other politician would fear to tread.” Had the man taken our advice, he would have avoided the pain of once again becoming the brunt of the joke. And here at If da no so... we feel that Philloughby’s election played out perfect for “Z” who we know is looking for a deputy who will do one thing and one thing only, sign and no ask no questions. If dah noh soh... Missing in Action And speaking of the Belize City

Council, aren’t we supposed to be paying stipends for 10 counsellors? Don’t we pay them thousands to attend a monthly meeting? How is it that of the 10 persons elected to office only 7 of them can show up for a meeting? Perhaps the Minister of Local Government might need to do an appraisal of these counsellors before allowing cheques to be cut when it appears as if they are abandoning their responsibility to the Citizens of the City. If dah noh soh... Sorry Anwar

Here at “If da no So...” our staff works overtime to get it right. We know that many of our readers enjoy the usual tone of our commentaries and look forward to a good shush from time to time. These days our desk here at “If da no So ... “ is swamped with information that comes to us from people who are fed up with the UDP and this Barrow Administration. Given the volume of information that comes in to us each week, we work overtime trying to ensure that we verify our facts. Some

weeks ago, it seems that one may have gotten away. See, we were told that Belizean passports are once again up for sale and that Mister Anwar Barrow and Mr. Said Perdomo were involved. Perhaps this one got away from our fact checkers and for this we apologise to Anwar Barrow and Said Perdomo. We have also been advised that Anwar Barrow and/or any company affiliated with him do not have an arrangement to sell cellular phones to BTL and if our record was indeed inaccurate, we offer our sincerest apologies. We are sorry if we caused you any pain and we thank you for reading "If dah noh soh..." No haad feelings right?

Ayz Haad From the time Minister Patrick started quarrelling with the President of SJC and Father Leslie on television

Social Security in Belmopan did not need a $300,000 parking lot. If dah noh soh...

Say it Ain’t So It had better not be true that just when the PM is asking Belizeans for patience and understanding that a Super Minister from the North is about to get a fancy new ride valuing more than $100,000. We are reliably informed that this very expensive vehicle is en route from the US. We are also hearing of a 100 foot yacht is sitting in Conway, Texas about to be shipped to Belize. The moment it arrives we want customs to value this vessel and then turn over the information to the integrity commissions so that no Minister of government can lay claim. Whatever happen to personal enrichment? If dah noh soh... We live in a democracy Minister... Something is going on in Santa Familia in Cayo and we at If da no so sees this as no laughing matter. Mr. Dionisio Cano the UDP elected Chariman left and went to the Unied

people have been telling him to slow down and cool off and stop pick quarrrel. We thought he did, we really thought he did when he got up in the house and basically beg pardon for his youthful hubris. We really believed he was a man who thought like his Party supporter Wellington Ramos who believe that their is nothing wrong in admitting when you make a mistake or when something is not working. We really believe that our little minister had turned a page and for this we were proud, because here at “If da no So...,” we believe deep down inside our little Patrick is a good guy. But Laad fu he ayz haad. Why he neva listen to the teachers union man? Why didn’t he postpone the Education Bill? He could have waited so that the teachers and everyone could have seen the amendments that went to committee on Monday couldn’t he? Now all di school pickni deh wah outa school Friday sayk a Patrick. If dah noh soh... What’s up with Lois and the Board at Social Security? What is the matter with these people? Don’t they know that Government is broke? Don’t they

know that we are close to a depression? Don’t they know that life haada out ya? How could the Social Security Board approve money for a $300,000 parking lot? Miss Lois no realize that that this is poor people money? Man we need to stop with the foolishness and take care of the people’s money. At $100 a month, 250 of our senior citizens could have received allowances for one year. Please man, let us stop the waste.

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States, he was away for about 5 months . Upon his return he tried to assume his position as chairman only to discover that he was replaced. We know of

no election by the Ministry of Rural Development to replace any village council chairman. It had better not be that the Area Representative interfered. Alvin Penner need to remember that in this country we still practice democracy. If dah noh soh... Glass House Julet Thimbrel, Beverly Castillo, Audrey Wallace, Leila Peryfitte, Alfrain Suppal, Dale McDougal, Pat Henry, Alfonso Noble, Elsa Paz, Said B. Guerra. Stop throwing stones when you live in a glass house. If dah noh soh...

Hypocrites of the Week

This week we had no choice but to feature not one but two hypocrites with similar names, Dean Barrow and Lois Young-Barrow. You see after using the now defunct ACB to push their propaganda the UDP has seen to it that there is no ACB, but that is for another day and another segment of hypocrites of the week. Everyone will remember during the Prime Minister’s Press Conference him saying that he would make no apologies for how much money Lois was making. Remember how he treated the ACB? He even pretended they were not even worth the comment. He said what was the name of the little group again? ACB I think it was? And then he went on to say how much Lois had done for ACB and all the pro bono work that she had done for that organization and others. Well, well Manuel! Lo and behold we here at the Times got our hand on a nice little document showing Saint Lois collecting tax payer dollars for work she did with none other than the ACB. Yeah Kreemy and Private

Citizen! Yeah Vasco, Nolan and Allan! Yeah Godsend, last year Lois Young-Barrow collected from the Government $36,647.00 for case number 218 of 2007 for work she did for the Association of Concerned Belizeans. Lois’ cheque was issued 6th May, 2009. And because of all the posturing about integrity and for all the antics of concern for Belizeans, we have determined that the two biggest hypocrites in Belize this week are Dean and Lois Barrow.

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ThE BElizE TimES

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

Out Spoken

BTB confirms new Director of Tourism is not qualifi ed for the post From the Desk of the Party Leader

The Unions are flexing

On Thursday the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) announced that eight of the ten branches would participate in a demonstration in Belmopan during Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives. Our teachers are standing up against the passing of the Education and Training Bill, 2009, without additional consultations and review. When you put this into perspective, what Belizeans are seeing is that in just two years of the Barrow administration, the BNTU is now prepared to demonstrate against a government that was elected with the largest mandate in Belize’s modern electoral history. So what has gone so wrong so quickly? Many things have gone wrong, but the two biggest are the UDP’s arrogance and incompetence! At his press conference the Prime Minister announced that the Public Service Union (PSU) and the BNTU were making some unreasonable demands on government. The Unions he claimed, were demanding pay raises of over $122 million. In the present economic hard times the Prime Minister proclaimed that the Unions were being unreasonable and that they would get nada, zero pay increase. The Unions were shocked by the Prime Minister’s public remarks. They haven’t yet sat down to a meeting with the Ministerial sub-committee to discuss this issue, and already they are told, “It’s not going to happen.” Since 12th September 2008 the Unions have been trying to sit down with government; since 2008 they have been trying to meet with their Prime Minister. The BNTU president, Mr. Jaime Panti along with Ms. Jackie Willoughby, after trying without success, had no choice but to get the attention of Government by going to the media. Mr. George Frazier, the Executive Secretary to the BNTU also met the media and explained that they have made no request from government for a $122 million dollar increase in salaries over the next three years. He also pointed out that even if that were so, the parties would present their bargaining positions and then negotiate an agreement. Since there was no coming together at the bargaining table, it was obvious that the Prime Minister in raising the issue of the $122 million was grand standing in public. As a result of this, 11th February, in an effort to remove the egg from his face, so to speak, the Prime Minister had to publicly apologize to the unions. This quarrelsome and confrontational approach seems to be the way the UDP governs. The Minister of Education when he introduced the Education and Training Bill, started by setting off a public fight with the Church-managed schools. These school managers had serious concerns over the bill in particular with the issue of losing control in the hiring, transferring and firing of incompetent teachers. School mangers felt that they were being given responsibility over these schools with no authority over their teachers. At first, Minister Faber refused to bend - he proceeded full speed ahead attacking these school managements and on several occasions even hinted that serious changes must be made to the Church\State partnership. It is only after much pressure from the Churches that Minister Faber decided to listen. After much hesitation and damage to his agenda, he finally decided to meet with the Catholic Bishop’s Commission and listen to their concerns. After that fateful meeting, the Minister committed to withdraw all the offensive amendments to the Education and Training Bill, this time at the risk of losing the support of the BNTU with whom he did not consult before taking such decisions. Governance doesn’t always have to be confrontational. In the People's United Party we have always governed with an open door policy. We were always willing to dialogue even when we did not agree with the demands of the Unions. In 2005, because of the difficulties with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), our government was forced to hold back the last promised pay increases to the Unions. The Unions weren’t happy and after several meetings decided to strike. The Unions came to Belmopan in protest and were joined by the United Democratic Party who ironically is now the government. They came in large numbers to Belmopan and expressed their dissatisfaction. Despite all these troubles, the PUP kept the dialogue going. At one time Ambassador Assad Shoman was our main negotiator and other public servants such as Dr. Carla Barnett and Joe Waight kept the negotiations going. Our Prime Minister Honorable Said Musa felt that notwithstanding our differences with the Unions we must continue the negotiations. All ministers were instructed to continue the dialogue. I remember as Deputy Prime Minister heading several meetings with the Unions. After much heated debate, the government caved in to their demands. And this leads me to the present. I believe that the Barrow government must stop this governance of arrogance and incompetence. The Barrow government needs only to look at recent history and realize that once the Unions are united in a cause there is no stopping them. It would do well for the Prime Minister and his Ministers to get off their arrogant ministerial high horses and delay the passing Education and Training Bill 2009.

Dear Sirs,

I find the whole process behind replacing Mrs. Tracy Panton for the Director of Tourism at the Belize Tourism Board to be a joke and in the same breath very disrespectful to every one of us working in this industry. The UDP government has now gone back to how things used to be done and made the position a fully fledged political appointment. This is the amount of respect they give to this very important sector of the economy. After receiving several applications for the post from qualified persons, they decided to go with a hand-picked recommendation of Mike Singh, the CEO in the Ministry of Tourism. The very same thing this government said it would not do (cronyism and nepotism) it continues to do. I also find it a joke because the official government press release on the political appointment (sent out by BTB on Friday, February 12th) of Ms. Seleni Matus states clearly that her work experience indeed has only been project management. So we are entrusting the leading position in this industry (the Director of Tourism) to a person who has only done project management for one local NGO and 1 international NGO doing capacity building and technical assistance work. It is incredible that the official press release admits that their political appointment has had no practical work experience in the industry – an industry that is grappling with serious revenue, marketing, product development and hotel challenges. We are approaching March which should be peak season in the industry but anyone working in tourism can tell you the numbers are simply not what they used to be. The official press release goes on to say that “…Ms. Matus was the lead advisor in the formulation of an Environmental Action Plan for Belize, which had the potential to serve as a model for cruise lines travel destinations around the world”. So, this same government’s official press release admits that the work that Ms. Matus was not successful. Simply incredible! Then, to make it worst, the official government press release on their political appointment can’t even confirm the date when Ms. Matus will take up her post. All it says “Ms. Matus is expected to assume her post shortly”. So the country has had to wait since November to learn when there will be a new Director of Tourism and who the Director of Tourism will be. Now after being told who it will be, we still have to wait to find out how much longer the country will be operating without one. Simply incredible! The worse thing of all though is the disrespect that Mike Singh and the government showed for the hard working men and women of the Belize Tourism Board. Most of the people found out about the appointment from a Love FM news cast. Good way to build moral at an important agency where moral is at an all time low. Simply incredible! How much more disrespect are we going to take? A lot of us depend on this industry because it is the only thing that is putting food on our tables. When will they get serious about it? Respectfully, A very concerned tour operator

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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The Belize Times

UDP Politics as usual Wellington Ramos is fed up

Belizean-born Caribbean New Net correspondent Wellington C. Ramos is no stranger to the UDP. Indeed those who read his on-line blog out of New York would know that he was a strong critic of the People’s United Party. Yesterday it seems as if Mr. Ramos got to that point where he could no longer give the Barrow administration a free pass. Here is what he had to say. There is nothing wrong with admitting that we made a mistake and acknowledge that something is not working because that is part of development.... Belize and these countries have many challenges to deal with but crime and unemployment are the two major thorns they must be addressed quickly. Belizeans are becoming very impatient and intolerant. When our people have had enough of something they will do something about it. Pretty soon they will begin to ask themselves is the UDP government doing their best to address these two important issues? If they come to the conclusion that the answer is no, they will not hesitate to put back the government in the hands of the People’s United Party. You gat that right BROTHER! Who beat up Mr. Zelaya’s son? We are disturbed by reports that a 16 year old boy was badly beaten. A third form student from SJC was so badly beaten that he had to be hospitalized. As we go to press this young man is undergoing cat scans to determine the damage that was done. If it is true that Dr. John Gough, brother of prominent UDP official Dr. George Gough is involved in beating this boy near Divine Mercy on Wednesday, then something needs to be done. This matter has been reported to the police and to date no action has been taken. We are calling on the Minister of National Security to ensure that those involved in the brutal beating of this minor be arrested and charged. Where is the Example? Where is the Leadership? The Queen Square Area is one of the hotbeds of criminal activity in the City. On Wednesday, just when children from St. John’s Primary, Queen Square Anglican, St. Ignatius and Wesley Primary Schools, were going home for lunch, 22 year-old Peter Myvette was gunned down.

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The reports from the media drew attention to the fact that this murder occurred just as these thousands of school children were going home for their lunch. Kut Avenue, the area where the shooting occurred, is a part of the Queen Square Division, where the Prime Minister has been the Area Representative for more than 25 years. Still Queen Square is one of the poorest divisions in Belize. According to the Statistical Institute of Belize, the nation’s unemployment rate is 14 percent. Overall youth unemployment is 26 percent. On the south side of Belize City, youth unemployment is 53 percent. On the South side of Belize City, the UDP represent five of the seven divisions. Each of these representatives hold the most powerful and heavily funded government portfolios: Faber in Education, Boots in Works, Finneghan in Housing, Elrington in Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General and the Prime Minster himself is Minster of Finance. Yet the Queen Square Division is one of the most run down in the country. Shame! Shame on all of you for abandoning our young people from the south side. Crimes against our young people A student of Mount Carmel High School was stabbed on a bus while on his way to school. A 16 year-old boy was badly beaten up some by adults supposedly for talking to a young lady. Each week we hear of more and more physical abuse of our youth by older and stronger adults. What is going on in our society that the stronger now feels that it is ok to beat up on the weaker? Where is the law and what has happened to the system that is supposed to be protecting these young people? If are to bring about an end to the senseless killings in the streets, if we are to dial down on the anger that is gripping certain segments of our society, then we need to stop the bitterness. In Belize we were once known to be civil, courteous and respectful of one another. It used to be said that Belizeans are among the friendliest people in the world. When did all this hate and anger overtake us? And why are we doing so much damage to the next generation? We need to become a kinder and more understanding people. We need to suppress the anger and the hate and start to watch out for each other like we used to. Let us work harder at ending the rage.

A Public Service Message Courtesy of The Belize times.


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PartY PaGe

ThE BElizE TimES

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

THE BLUE MACHINE

MeetinG oF chairPersons oF constitUencY Branches anD the United Women’s Group, the Belize Youth Movement and the Marshall’s community service corp.

EVENT

Diary of Events DATE

PLACE

TIME

Budget Consultations

Thursday, February 25

San Ignacio Town

7:00pm

Thursday Think Tanking

Thursday, February 25

Independence Hall

7:30pm

ANNOUNCING

PUP National Consultations on 2010/2011 Budget (Coming Soon Dangriga)

We Are The PUP


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

ThE BElizE TimES

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BARROW’S STATEMENT IS AN AFFRONT TO CONTRACTOR

The Government of Belize in FY 2009/10 had a budget of $ 432.6M at its disposal for both recurrent expenditures on goods and service and capital expenditures in the furtherance of Government delivering services to the Belizean people. The process through which Government spends tax payer’s monies is a process that requires heavy scrutiny in light of the PM’s most recent unapologetic statements on the Government’s procurement of legal services. A close review of GOB procurement policies and procedures indicates that PM Barrow’s statements and more so his action severely contravenes the law and ought to be challenged. This is made even more relevant in light of the fact that the hallmark of this UDP administration is touted to be grounded in the principles of transparency and accountability. PM Barrow has been rather opaque and boldly arrogant in defending his actions. This columnist will discuss what government procurement is and how it is suppose to function in Belize. Procurement is the process by which governments purchase goods and services. In both developed and developing countries the large scale of government purchases makes corruption or inefficiency in this process a real drain on government resources. For developing countries like Belize this reality is even graver when financial resources are limited. The exponential nature of how government procurement is addressed is the awareness by the international community that discriminatory practices resulted in a trade-restrictive and inefficient system. It is this awareness that lead to the inclusion of the Agreement on Government Procurement as an annex to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) which entered into force on January 1, 1996. Unfortunately, as a plurilateral agreement, not all members of the WTO are signatory or bound by this Agreement. Most developing countries and Belize are not signatories to the Agreement on Government Procurement. However, the merits of the fundamental tenants of this Agreement were incorporated in the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act of 2005. This Act, it will be recalled, was occasioned by the citizenry’s call for better accountability in treating with public finances. It remains, of course, for the Barrow administration to continue this work in areas where the legislation needs to be enhanced. However, impetus may be required from the citizenry calling for further reforms. What may not be widely known, however; is that Belize as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted in 1996 the InterAmerican Convention on Corruption, which clearly states that “Parties agree to consider the applicability of measures within their own institutional systems to create, maintain and strengthen systems of government hiring and procurement of goods and services that assure the openness, equity and efficiency of such systems”. Accountability to the people of Belize is required, in so far as the Government’s procurement of legal services and the operations and management of Belize Telemedia Ltd, a public nationalized company. The Government is obligated to engage in contracts for the provision of

goods or services using an open tender procedure which ensures transparency and non-discrimination in the selection and award of Government contracts. As a second option a selective tendering procedure could be used, which allows for Government to invite selected suppliers to participate in the tender process. A limited tendering procedure must only be used if the aforementioned previous options did not result in any tender being received. Further to the requirements stimulated in the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act of 2005, the office of the Contractor General also has a legal mandate to monitor the award and implementation of public contracts with a view to ensuring transparency and accountability (Contractor General Act, Chapter 6, Clause 14). Therefore a call is made upon this office to investigate the apparent abuse being perpetrated in the award of public contracts for legal services among other contracts being awarded by Government entities and Statutory Bodies, such as the Social Security Board. What is evidently being ignored or missed is the conflict of interest that surrounds the provision of many services to Government, be it real or actual conflicts, apparent or potential conflicts of interest. All International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) including the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and Caribbean Development Bank, have specific procurement guidelines that speak to how conflicts of interest are identified and ought to be addressed. The PM’s statement of not having any interest in the law firm of Lois Young-Barrow and Company may be superficially accurate. The more relevant question that may require investigation by the Contractor General, however, is his legal relationship to his daughter and her place in the Firm and whether he has contracted in a way that contravenes international and local best practice, and the relevant legislation relating to conflict of interest. Likewise is the case of Belize Telemedia Ltd and the procurement of legal services. The Contractor General has an obligation to investigate and review the contracts being awarded, as BTL is clearly a public entity subject to this Act. It is most unfortunate that most recently the IADB has provided funding for an evaluation and assessment of Government’s procurement systems, procurement operations and market practices. This is being executed through the Office of the Contractor General, however, the successful firm that was awarded the contract may be overleveraging their expertise, as Barnett and

Company has also been engaged to take up the preparation of Horizon 2030, Belize’s long term development plan. The outcome of the national assessment of government procurement system is addressing the legislative and regulatory framework, institutional framework and management capacity and procurement operations and market practices. This would be done in conformity with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) standards and best practices. The extent to which the outcome of the assessment would aid in any meaningful reform of the system will remain to be seen. This author further opines that without the adequate level of staffing and funding to the Office of Contractor General, claims of transparency and accountability will remain a buzz word. Yet the legislature calls on that office to partake in securing public funds. Although Government has limited financial resources, Belize does have a wealth of qualified consultants and attorneys that are well capable of providing valuable service at a competitive cost to Government. This writer calls on the Opposition to not take the consistent abuse of power, but rather to have Government’s action be subjected to a judicial review. This call is made especially so, regarding the Prime Minister’s off-springs being awarded service contracts and being appointed on several Boards. No law currently in place provides the scope for anyone to “have the PM back” or “his eyes or ears on any Board”. This writer makes

a further call, that with respect to the nationalized BTL, the Office of the Contractor General should so outline an insider-trading policy that would ensure that no individuals or firms within which persons of the current management or Board of Directors have any interest, would be allowed to purchase shares whenever they are made publicly available. It can be anticipated that if such a policy is not forthcoming, there would be no basis on which to challenge any questionable purchase or acquisition of shares in that company. One of the dilemmas of development is the fact that the integrity of the institutional framework in any country rest significantly on the integrity of the persons who are part of that system, and processes put in place, and when not adhered, to gives rise to principal agent problems. In the case of Belize, the conflict is evident in that the agents that were elected to represent the people are failing miserably in executing their duties in the best interest of their principals – the people of Belize. Instead, the administration is plagued with individuals seeking to fulfill personal agendas to the detriment of the majority. The PM may do well to be more careful in the manner in which he profess to have no apologies on matters for which he clearly should, least he in a public way challenges the other arms of government charged with responsibilities to audit and investigate such conflict of interest. Send comments to GwynethNah@ gmail.com


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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The Chairman speaks on the Party’s Philosophy THE PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICAL CREED OF THE PUP lieve:

I am a member of the Peoples’ United Party because I be-

(a) That the nation of Belize is founded upon principles which acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms, the position of the family in a society of freemen and women and institutions, the dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator; On the day of my election as Chairman of the People’s United Party, I never thought for a moment what it meant for me to be the first woman ever to hold this post. While I embraced the role of Chairman, I did not immediately appreciate it as a position in the pecking order of things, a fact I later came to grips with. What beckoned me, was the opportunity to be a part of a great movement, one that my parents, grandparents and great grandparents believed in. This was a political organization whose mandate was very clear in my mind, that is, that it is established solely to create a NEW BELIZE, to bring to all Belizeans a better quality of life, and a just share in the national wealth. This was the vision of our founding fathers and mothers, passed from leader to leader, from elders to the youth, from generation to generation. It is also a vision anchored in three core principles: First, an acknowledgement of the supremacy of God. Second, that we exist to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize. Third, we understand the need for a social and economic order that values our environment and natural resource endowment, while redressing the blatant inequity in the allocation of resources and opportunities, and the distribution of wealth in our country. These are the principles that define us as a Party; that makes a statement as to who we are, and what we stand for. That is our philosophy, and a representation of our collective beliefs and values. Today 142,276 or 43 percent of our people live in poverty and an additional 46,648 or 14 percent are vulnerable to becoming poor. This does not represent the social justice that the PUP aspires to create in our nation. This says to me that the PUP must be the party for all, especially for the working class and the poor, who have been victims of social and economic exclusionary policies and practices rooted in colonial mental construct and carried over into post independent Belize. For those who have no voice, who are oppressed and marginalized, the PUP must also be the Party of their choice. Our founding fathers and mothers even crafted the political blueprint and road map for us based on these principles. This is contained in the Aims and Objects of our Constitution. It sets forth what we are to do, and what we are to work towards to change this state of affairs, and realize this vision. It was also cognizant that a revolution, as is change, is a process, but for us to continue it, we must begin by believing in something, or we will fall for anything. Our Philosophy is our mooring, it anchors what we believe in, and if we grasp this, hold on to it, it will bind us and we will not stray from it. On Wednesday February 10th, 2010, I was honoured and privileged to chair a historic meeting of the National Executive of the People’s United Party at Independence Hall. At this meeting, the Philosophy and Political Creed of the Party was unanimously approved. As collective stewards of our Party, and the revolution, we signed on to it. By so doing, we are affirmed, unequivocally, that every decision we make, every action we take, every position we formulate, every cause we fight, will be grounded in our Philosophy and Creed, and be evaluated based on it, for we believe, and only in so doing, can we achieve the aims and objects of our Party. Our Philosophy is what we believe in, and our Creed is an Affirmation of that Belief and as PUP’s we believe:

(b) In the principles of social, economic and environmental justice, and therefore believe that the operation of the economic system must result in the material resources of the country being so distributed as to serve the common good; that there should be adequate means of livelihood for all, that labour should not be exploited or forced by economic necessity to operate in inhumane conditions but that there should be opportunity for advancement on the basis of recognition of merit, ability and integrity; that equal protection should be given to children regardless of their social status and that a just system should be ensured to provide for education and health on the basis of equality; (c) That the will of the people shall form the basis of government in a democratic society, recognising that people and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and upon the natural law; (d) That policies of state must protect and safeguard the unity, freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize; that eliminate economic and social privilege and disparity among the citizens of Belize whether by race, ethnicity, colour, disability, creed or gender; that protect the rights of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to the ownership of private property and to operate private businesses; that prohibit the exploitation of man by man or by the state; that ensure a just system of social security and welfare; that protect the rights of workers to organize, unionize and strike; that provide for a healthy, clean and sustainable environment; that promote international peace, security and cooperation among nations and the establishment of a just and equitable international economic and social order based on interests of the other; (e) Further that policies of state must promote the economic independence of Belize by pursuing strategies and programmes of self-reliance, greater production and innovation; which stimulate a dynamic partnership between the government, the private sector and all the social partners, so that the ownership and control of our natural resources and national treasures are so managed as to secure maximum ownership and benefit for the Belizean people; (f) That the coinage of money and control thereof is the sole responsibility of the duly elected representatives of the people; (g) That it is the sacred duty of government to intervene actively in the economic life of the nation in order to achieve full employment and the eradication of poverty and secure a better life for all Belizeans.


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

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COURT NEWS Aikman’s Ex-Employee Pleads Guilty To Stealing Derek Aikman’s IPod

Luis Savery

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 18, 2010 Luis Savery, 26, a former employee of former UDP Minister Derek Aikman, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft for stealing an IPod from Aikman, when he appeared yesterday in the #6 magistrate’s Court. Magistrate Sharon Fraser fined him $1,000 and gave him until March 17 to pay. If he defaults on payment he will serve 1 year. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m. last Saturday, February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. Aikman reported to the police that he

was at his residence on the Burrell Boom Road and Savery was working in his yard. He said he asked Savery to get a machete from the house and Savery went inside and returned with the machete. Aikman said that when he checked he discovered that his IPod valued at $700 was missing. Aikman told police that about two days after the incident he met

Savery on the Burrell Boom Road and Savery admitted he stole the IPod. According to Aikman, Savery offered to get the IPod and he drove Savery to Belize City but when Savery reached he got out of the vehicle and ran. Police located Savery on Tuesday, February 16 and retrieved the IPod.

“ET” Bailed for $60,000 Burglary Heist, Jailed For Jacking

Basil Willis

2010

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Feb. 16,

Basil Willis, 42, a.k.a. “ET”, who was recently released on bail for charges of robbery and burglary in a case in which $60,000 was stolen, was back in court yesterday on another charge of robbery. Willis pleaded not guilty to the charge when he was arraigned in the #4 Magistrate’s Court. Magistrate Aretha Ford denied him bail and remanded him into custody until March 24. The robbery occurred around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, February 10. Gregory Zuniga, 35, reported to the police that he was at a Chinese shop near to the corner of Freetown Road and Hunter’s

Lane when he was approached by Willis who had a knife. Zuniga told police that Willis demanded that he hand over a plastic bag he had in his hand and when he refused Willis stabbed at him with the knife. Zuniga said Willis inflicted a minor stab wound on the upper right side of his body and Willis grabbed the plastic bag and $20 he had put on the counter of the shop. Zuniga reported that Willis then fled from the scene. The bag, reported Zuniga, contained one cell phone charger; 10 DVDs, 7 CDs and one bottle of Sprite. The charges of robber y and burglary for which Willis was on bail are in connection with an incident which occurred on September 4, 2009, at Western Union office on Coney Drive in which a security guard was tied up with his own belt and his hand-held radio and cap stolen. The Western Union office was then burglarized and a metal safe containing $60,000 was heisted. Only $39,000 was in cash. The balance was in cheques. Nothing was recovered.

Ex-BDF Soldier Remanded To Prison On Firearm Charges 2010

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Feb. 16,

Auto mechanic Alton Roaches, 29, a former BDF soldier residing on Jane Usher Boulevard, became an inmate of Kolbe Foundation Belize Central Prison yesterday after he was charged with keeping a firearm and ammunition without a gun license. Roaches was arraigned in the #7 Magistrate’s Court where he pleaded not guilty to the charges. Magistrate Ed Usher explained to him that the court could not offer him bail because of the nature of the offences and remanded him to custody until March 15. The incident occurred around 9 p.m. on Friday, February 12. The police reported that they were on mobile patrol when they intercepted a fully-tinted twodoor car at the intersection of Raccoon Street Extension and Neal Pen Road. The driver of the car was identified as Roaches. The police reported that when they searched the car they did not find anything incriminating. But when they searched the pocket of a jacket Roaches was wearing they found a 9 millimetre pistol with 13 9 millimetre caliber rounds of ammunition in its magazine. Roaches was asked if he had a

Alton Roaches

license for the firearm and when he said no, he was detained and subsequently charged. His car was impounded.

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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

COURT NEWS “Robbery” Acquitted of Mark Gardiner’s Murder

Kareem Lopez

Kareem Lopez, 23, a.k.a. “Robbery”, charged with the murder of Mark Gardiner, 26, who was shot and killed around 9:30 a.m. on October 5, 2006, was acquitted of the charge yesterday in the court of Justice Michelle Arana. After the prosecution closed its case attorney Hubert Elrington, one of Lopez’ counsels, submitted that he did not have a case to answer. Elrington’s submission was based on two limbs. He argued firstly that the court should withdraw the case from the jury because the evidence of identification was of a “tenuous character” and secondly that there was no evidence of who identified the body of Mark Gardiner because his brother, Richard Gardiner, did not come to court to testify. The submission did not succeed on the first limb but it did on the second. Justice Arana ruled that Lopez did not have a case to answer to because of the failure of the prosecution to establish the death of the deceased. She said that proof of death must be coupled with proof of identification and the witness, Richard Gardiner, the

deceased brother, should have been brought to court by force if necessary. She directed the jury of 9 women and 3 men to deliver a formal verdict of not guilty. Lopez’ other attorney was Legal Aid Center counsel Phillip Palacio. There were two eye witnesses in the case, Gilbert Olivera and Nicannon Fermin, but Olivera could not testify because he had been shot and killed last year. Fermin did testify and said that the deceased was riding a bicycle on East Canal Street from the direction of Orange Street when his assailant rode up behind him on a bicycle and fired a single shot which struck him in the back of his head. Gardiner collapsed at the corner of East Canal Street and Water Lane. He was rushed to Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where he died around 10:24 a.m. Fermin said the shooter had a stocking on his head and his firearm appeared to be a .38 revolver. He identified Lopez as the shooter in an identification parade that was held 2 days after the incident. But when he testified in court, however, he said he could not say whether the prisoner in the dock was the same person he identified in the identification parade. T h e p r o s e c u t i o n’s c a s e wa s presented by Senior Crown Counsel Cecil Ramirez.

Witnesses reluctance force attempted murder acquittal 2010

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 18,

Brandon Taylor, 22, charged with 2 counts of attempted murder, was acquitted of the charges today in the court of Justice Michelle Arana. The prosecution, represented by Crown Counsel Christelle Wilson, withdrew the charges because three witnesses, among them the complainants, Carl Bradley and Ernie Gill, indicated that they would not testify. Justice Arana directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty. But although Taylor was acquitted of the charge he was not freed because he has 14 other charges pending, prominent among them murder and attempted murder. The charges of two counts of attempted murder arose from an incident on April 4, 2008 around 7:10 p.m. in which Gill, 33 reported to the police that he while was sitting on the metal railing of the canal near West Canal Street and Rocky Road, waiting for Bradley to finish washing his Mitsubishi Gallant, he heard

Brandon Taylor

3 to 4 shots. Gill was unhurt but Bradley was shot in his left forearm and he fell to the ground. Gill’s vehicle was damaged by 2 bullet holes in its windshield and 4 bullet holes in the right passenger side. Another man Alexander Lopez also been expected to give testimony but he too indicated that he wished to withdraw from the matter.

law Student Fined $250.00 For Cannabis

Orintha Staine

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Feb. 16, 2010 An attempt to get rid of some cannabis by throwing it in a toilet bowl filled with faeces did not succeed because a “zealous” police officer put his hand in a black plastic bag and retrieved the cannabis. As a result, two persons, law student Orintha Staine, 21, and her boyfriend, Micah Lee Williams, 26, were

charged with the possession of 21.4 grams of cannabis. They were arraigned yesterday in the #6 Magistrate’s Court at which time Staine pleaded not guilty to the charge. She explained that she does not use the controlled drug and she that she had gotten it for her boyfriend. She also said that at around 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, February 13, when the police came to the unoccupied house on Antelope Street Extension where she and Williams were, they did not bring a female police officer with them. Consequently, when she asked the male police officer to leave the room so that she could change her clothes he refused to go and he stood and watched her while she changed. Staine was fined $250 by Magistrate Sharon Fraser and given until March 31 to pay the fine. If she defaults on payment she will serve 3 months. The charge was withdrawn from Williams but he was not released from police custody until he paid half of the balance he owed for a fine of $3,000.

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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

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Belize Times ol

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Dejen de estar viendo hacia atrás

Este Viernes Independence Hill, será una vez más el escenario de protesta. No será la primera protesta contra la Administración de Barrow, pero será la más grande hasta ahora. El mayor grupo de manifestantes serán los profesores, que creen que se necesita más tiempo para estudiar las enmiendas a la nueva ley de educación. Algunos otros estarán allí, ya que siguen sintiendo que no es correcto que el Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores comentara que nuestras fronteras con Guatemala son "artificiales", y algunos vienen a expresar su insatisfacción con otros aspectos de esta administración. Si bien los representantes del pueblo están comprometidos con el proceso legislativo dentro de la Asamblea Nacional, en las afueras el pueblo expresara su insatisfacción con su Gobierno sobre una serie de cuestiones. Para el Primer Ministro Barrow y su administración no puede ser una buena señal. Después de sólo dos años en oficina el UDP debe lidiar con el hecho de que los beliceños están creciendo cada vez más impaciente con la incapacidad de esté gobierno para cumplir con ninguna de sus importantes promesas. Cualquiera que sean las razones por las que el UDP no pueda ser capaz de cumplir sus promesas, las razones están empezando a caer en oídos sordos. Después de dos años, la gente está ahora lista y comienzan a agitarse. Lo hacen porque no ven ningún signo de progreso. Los dos últimos años han sido los mas duros en Belice, tanto emocionalmente como financieramente. Desde la ola de crímenes incesantes al creciente costo de vida, de las calles rotas y caminos a la ineficiencia de la gente del gobierno local y nacional, han tenido que soportar y aceptar menos de lo que se espera de un gobierno que prometía mucho. Y mientras ellos todavía no han empezado a entregar resultados, no ha habido escasez de excusas y culpa. Cuando el UDP llegó al poder en el 2008 la economía mundial ya estaba en recesión, por lo que el Primer Ministro no puede decir que ha sido una circunstancia inesperada. Asimismo, eran plenamente conscientes de la situación de la deuda del país mucho antes de que tomó el juramento del cargo. El Primer Ministro y su gabinete sabían de el Súper Bond del mismo modo que sabían que el precio del barril de petróleo crudo caerían por debajo de 100 dólares EE.UU.. por barril. Estos no fueron los desastres o sucesos que se produjeron en la quietud de la noche. La gente elige a los gobiernos para avanzar, para traer progreso a una nación, no para mantenerse mirando hacia atrás. En los últimos dos años, el UDP ha estado tan ocupado mirando hacia atrás que están todavía tratando de incluso hacer el más leve movimiento hacia adelante. En el ministerio de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente que virtualmente cerró el departamento de tierras y fue en una misión para encontrar a prominentes simpatizantes del PUP y presuntos partidarios y buscó la manera de cancelar sus tierras. No hay progreso en quitar lo poco que la gente tiene. En el Ministerio de Educación se destacó por buscar a cualquier trabajador de escuela que se sospechaba era PUP, para poder despedirlos. Todo lo que ha hecho hasta ahora esta Administración Barrow está motivada por encontrar una manera de mirar hacia el pasado. En los últimos tiempos, incluso los discursos del Primer Ministro, han resonado con más amargura que el optimismo. No es de extrañar que en sólo dos años, los beliceños están empezando a tener dudas de que esté gobierno nunca pondrá su acto junto. La gente espera ver avances, aún si viniera en pequeñas dosis. Dos años han pasado desde que el Partido Democrático Unido, fue elegido en el gobierno y lo que va de la administración todavía tiene que poner su programa nacional en marcha. Sus reformas no se han traducido en beneficios para el pueblo. Mientras tanto, el Primer Ministro y su gabinete parecen estarse peleando con todo el mundo. Han insultado a la comunidad jurídica, enojando a la comunidad ambiental, provocando peleas innecesarias con el sector inmobiliario, molestan a los sindicatos, insultan a los medios de comunicación y luchan en contra las empresas de servicios públicos. Y mientras sucede todo esto, nadie parece capaz de conseguir tener control de la situación de la delincuencia, los órganos del Ministerio Público están cortos de personal y equipo, nuestra reputación como administradores responsables de nuestro medio ambiente se está deteriorando, nuestro sistema de justicia se está derrumbando y nuestras comunidades se están desmoronando. El Primer Ministro y su gobierno han tenido dos años para implementar su programa y su agenda. Fueron elegidos basados en 21 promesas, entre esas promesas encontramos 5.000 nuevos puestos de trabajo, un programa de alimentación en las escuelas primarias, calles y comunidades más seguras, una mayor apertura y transparencia. Los beliceños son personas inteligentes, saben que esté es el año crucial para esta administración, que son plenamente conscientes de que 2012 es un año electoral importante. Si el Sr. Barrow y su equipo no puede empezar a mover este país hacia adelante, no hay confianza de que será capaz de hacer que suceda pronto. La dura realidad es que el hombre a cargo ya ha dicho a todo el mundo, las cosas están a punto de ser aún más difíciles. No es sorpresa entonces que los beliceños estén saliendo a las calles, ellos esperan que sus representantes elegidos gobiernen y cuando están fallando tan temprano en su termino en el poder, es mejor que empiecen a caminar.

El Bejuco Malos Aires

La líder Sindical Jackie Willoughby describiendo el caos que existe entre las diversas instituciones del gobierno, expuso al Ministerio de Salud como el caso típico de la confusión que reina por entre el gobierno. El Oficial Ejecutivo en Jefe el Dentista Peter Allen no pueden verse cara a cara con el Director de Servicios de Salud el Doctor Michael Pitts. Y peor que eso se socavan el uno al otro… que se traduce en un detrimento generalizado del Ministerio de Salud y en consecuencia de la salud del pueblo. Añádele a esto el hecho de que el presente Ministro de Salud es el más inepto en toda la historia del país y no se necesita mucho para concebir el caos al cual se refiere la sindicalista… Tómese por ejemplo la pagina publicitaria que apareció la semana pasada en cierto sector de la prensa, emanada por el Ministerio de Salud Publica en la cual ventilaban los “grandes” Logros del Ministerio durante el último año… La gran vergüenza es que el logro principal de todo el año es el hecho de que el actual Ministro de Salud tuvo la oportunidad de conocerse con el Ministro de Salud de Brasil. Se hacen citar que hubo firmas de acuerdos, de los cuales no sabemos y ni siquiera hace mención del acuerdo (del cual si sabemos) sobre el banco de leche materna, proyecto que sin lugar a duda ha sufrido una muerte natural… Otros logros citados son dos o tres seminarios ofrecidos por el Ministerio con la ayuda de agencias internacionales. Estos no evidencian ser ningún tipo de logro que beneficie el bienestar de los Beliceños. Y por supuesto, también se oye el gran bullicio de unas cuantas vacunas contra la fiebre porcina que el gobierno ha adquirido para los trabajadores del estado más expuestos a contagio. Tomando en cuenta de que la fiebre porcina nunca paso a más de un simple catarro y de que la naturaleza pandemica ha amenguado, quizá hubiera sido más sobrio gastar el dinero en tratar de salvar a tantos niños que perecen semana tras semana en nuestros hospitales nacionales… Hubiéramos querido oír que la mortalidad infantil hubiere disminuido, pero la propaganda del gobierno no hace mención de los hechos, después de haber sufrido el año más vergonzoso con relación a muerte infantil en la historia de la nación. Hubiéramos querido oír que las enfermedades en general hubieren disminuido pero únicamente nos vienen con falsedades de que lograron contener la fiebre porcina que nunca fue un real peligro y tratan de hacernos creer que solo hubo una cuarentena de casos de dengue gracias a los esfuerzos del gobierno y Ministerio de Salud. Cuando todos sabemos que medio Belice anduvo con la fiebre dengue. Hubiéramos querido haber oído que la pobreza ha disminuido pero nos reportan todo lo contrario. Y para colmo nos avisan que nos van a subir el precio del agua, vital para la salud. Esperábamos que ahora que la compañía de agua pertenece al gobierno el líquido vital para la vida y la salud fuera subsidiado. Con el subsidio al agua, este gobierno pudiera tan siquiera cumplir con una de sus muchas promesas…que aun no se cumple ni una. El reporte final sobre la pobreza en Belice, recientemente publicado, indica que uno de los factores que ha ayudado en la parte sur de la ciudad de Belice y el sur del país para contrarrestar la pobreza ha sido el NHI (Seguro Nacional de Salud), programa instituido por el gobierno anterior. Hubiéramos querido escuchar que el Ministro de Salud hubiere llevado este programa a todo el país en estos tiempos tan difíciles. Ahora lo que sabemos es que su distrito natal, Corozal, es el segundo más pobre del país. Oímos que se jactaron de dos clínicas nuevas, pero esos proyectos fueron heredados del gobierno anterior, oímos que han puesto agua en dos aldeas, pero nada comparado con el gobierno anterior que invirtió fuertemente en agua potable en reconocimiento a la importancia de este a la salud y desarrollo de un pueblo. La jefa del sindicato de los trabajadores del estado tiene razón. El presente gobierno es un desbarajuste. El propio jefe del gobierno, el Primer Ministro, es un total desconcierto. Anunciar un déficit presupuestal de $60 millones de dólares sin tener a mano una posible solución no es el distintivo de un jefe de estado serio y capaz… Y a estas alturas ponerse en son de batalla con los sindicatos de trabajadores además en vez de negociar la conciliación, es una ave de mal agüero que nos anuncia los peores tiempos que nos acechan.


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The

ThE BElizE TimES

Belize Times ol

ñ a p s E n E

Desde el ecritorio del Lider del Partido

Los sinDicatos se están PreParanDo

El jueves, el Sindicato de Maestros unidos de Belize (BNTU) anunció que ocho de sus diez ramas participaran en una manifestación en Belmopan, durante la sesión del viernes de la Cámara de Representantes. Nuestros profesores estáran de pie en contra de la aprobación de la Ley de Educación y Formación 2009, sin consultas adicionales y sin revisión. Al poner esto en perspectiva, lo que los beliceños estamos viendo es que en sólo dos años de la administración de Barrow, el BNTU está dispuesto a manifestarse en contra de un gobierno que fue elegido con el mandato más grande en la historia electoral moderna de Belice. Entonces, ¿qué ha ido tan mal tan rápidamente? Muchas cosas han ido mal, pero las dos más grandes son la arrogancia y la incompetencia del UDP! En su conferencia de prensa el Primer Ministro anunció que la Unión de Servicios Públicos (PSU) y el BNTU estaban haciendo algunas exigencias poco razonables al gobierno. Que los sindicatos estaban exigiendo aumentos de sueldo de más de $ 122 millones. El Primer Ministro proclamó en la actual situación económica difícil , los sindicatos estaban siendo irrazonable y que recibirían nada, cero aumento salarial. Los sindicatos se sorprendieron por las declaraciones públicas del Primer Ministro. Aún no se han sentado en una reunión con el Subcomité Ministerial para debatir esta cuestión, y ya se les dice, "no va a suceder". Desde el 12 de septiembre del 2008, los sindicatos han estado tratando de reunirse con el gobierno; desde el 2008 han estado tratando de reunirse con su Primer Ministro. El presidente del BNTU, el Sr. Jaime Panti, junto con la Sra. Jackie Willoughby, después de intentarlo sin éxito, no tuvieron otra opción para conseguir la atención del Gobierno, que ir a los medios de comunicación. El Sr. George Frazier, el Secretario Ejecutivo de la BNTU también se reunió con los medios de comunicación y explicó que no han hecho ninguna solicitud al gobierno para un aumento de $ 122 millones en sueldos para los próximos tres años. También señaló que, incluso si así fuera, las partes presentarán sus posiciones de negociación y luego negociaran un acuerdo. Como no hubo acercamiento en la mesa de negociación, es evidente que cuando el Primer Ministro planteo la cuestión de los 122 millones dólares estaba poniendo su posición en público. Como resultado de esto, el 11 de febrero, en un esfuerzo para remover el huevo de su cara, por decirlo así, el Primer Ministro tuvo que pedir disculpas públicamente a los sindicatos. Este enfoque pendenciero y conflictivo parece ser la forma en que gobierna el UDP. Cuando el Ministro de Educación presentó el proyecto de ley de educación y formación el año pasado, inició una pelea pública con las escuelas administradas por la Iglesia. Estos administradores de la escuela tenían serias preocupaciones sobre el proyecto de ley, en particular, con la cuestión de perder

el control en la contratación, transferencia y despido de profesores incompetentes. Los administradores de las Escuelas sienten que se les da la responsabilidad sobre estas escuelas que no tienen autoridad sobre sus profesores. Al principio, el ministro de Faber, se negó a ser flexible, se dirigió a toda velocidad a atacar a estos directores escolares y en

varias ocasiones, incluso insinuó que los cambios deben de ser hechos en la relación de la Iglesia \ Estado. Es sólo después de mucha presión de las Iglesias que el ministro Faber decidió escuchar. Después de muchas vacilaciones y los daños a su agenda, finalmente decidió reunirse con la Comisión, el obispo católico, y escuchar sus preocupaciones. Después de esa fatídica reunión, el ministro se comprometió a retirar todas las enmiendas ofensivas en el proyecto de ley de educación y formación, esta vez con el riesgo de perder el apoyo de el BNTU con quien no consultó antes de tomar tales decisiones. La administración no siempre tiene que ser confrontacional. En el Partido Unido del Pueblo siempre hemos gobernado con una política de puertas abiertas. Siempre estuvimos dispuestos al diálogo, incluso cuando no estábamos de acuerdo con las demandas de los sindicatos. En el 2005, debido a las dificultades con el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI), nuestro gobierno se vio obligado a detener los últimos aumentos de sueldo prometido a los sindicatos. Los sindicatos no estaban felices y después de varias reuniones decidieron la huelga. Los sindicatos llegaron a Belmopan en protesta y fueron acompañados por el Partido Democrático Unido, que irónicamente es

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

ahora el gobierno. Vinieron en gran número a Belmopan, y expresaron su descontento. A pesar de todos estos problemas, el PUP mantuvo el diálogo. En ese momento el Embajador Assad Shoman era nuestro principal negociador y otros funcionarios públicos como la Dr. Carla Barnett y el Sr. Joe Waight mantuvieron las negociaciones en marcha. Nuestro Primer Ministro, el Honorable Said Musa consideró que a pesar de nuestras diferencias con los sindicatos teníamos que continuar las negociaciones. A todos los ministros se les instruyó a continuar el diálogo. Recuerdo que como Viceprimer Ministro participe en varias reuniones con los sindicatos. Después de muchos debates acalorados, el gobierno cedió a sus demandas. Y esto me lleva a la actualidad. Creo que el gobierno de Barrow debe de dejar la arrogancia y la incompetencia. El gobierno de Barrow, sólo tiene que mirar a la historia reciente y darse cuenta de que una vez que los sindicatos están unidos por una causa no hay como detenerlos. Les haría bien al Primer Ministro y sus ministros que se bajaran de sus arrogantes caballos ministeriales y demoraran la aprobación de la ley de educación y formación 2009.


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The Belize Times

IS THE FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD SIDELINED?

In 2003 the Social Security Board (SSB) purchased 1,000 acres of land in North Ambergris Caye from the Government of Belize (GOB) and received Minister’s Fiat Grant No. 998 of 2003. Subsequently in 2006, the Social Security Board purchased an additional 2,487.444 acres of land in North Ambergris Caye and received Minister’s Fiat Grant No. 12 of 2006. In 2005 however the SSB received a Minister’s Fiat Grant No. 873 of 2005. This was title for 3.69 acres of land, an island known as Cayo Frances, and was given to the SSB to increase the value of the asset to the SSB. As of December 31, 2009, these assets carried a value of BZ $10,636,234 on the books of the Social Security Board. Some time last year this and another newspaper carried a story that the SSB’s Cayo Frances was now in the ownership of Minister Rene Montero. A title search at the Lands registry indeed generated two titles to this island; one in the name of the SSB given in September of 2005 and another in the name of Rene Montero in 2007. How two titles to the same property were acquired is not the interest

of the owners of the SSB Fund. What is of great interest to them is that not a whisper of this quandary is heard from their representatives on the Social Security Board. Where are the representatives of the Belize Business Bureau, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Unions? They are the trustees of this Fund and as Board Members have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the Fund does not loose a valuable asset. This island is valued at least $1.6m BZ dollars, a purchase price

proposed to the SSB back in 2006. Today the market value of this prime real estate has tripled and could increase exponentially in a couple of years. Interestingly and more importantly is where the media is? When the SSB purchased this land in 2005-2006 there was outcry, especially by the media, that the SSB was not getting value for money. How is it that the media does not make mention of the Prime Minister’s evasive response when questioned about this issue. How can this very important issue remain in the backburner and seemingly not in the interest of the public when this asset remains on the books of the Social Security Board? This island is part and parcel of the assets of the SSB. The Prime Minister’s response leaves one to question whether the SSB funds stand to loose the value of the island that in 2006 stood at $1.6 million dollars. When will the stakeholders or the contributors to the fund (the workers/employers) be advised/consulted on the write-off of this asset? Will the Social Security Board not fight for legal compensation? If the Board of Directors were true trustees of the fund they

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would not allow for this island to be given to another title holder as legally the SSB is the rightful owner of this island. Madam Chairman of the Social Security Fund, the true owners of the fund demand an answer! The people demand the transparency and accountability promised to them!

Novel Fundraiser in San Pedro is Proving a Great Success Elizabeth Pridgeon Liberty Children’s Home in Ladyville, which offers a refuge for abandoned and abused children, has over recent months become critically close to closing its operation down due to a lack of funding. There have been times when the staff haven’t even been paid due to serious cash flow problems, precipitated by a sole reliance on donations and community fundraising events for financial funding. Thankfully, things are at last looking up for Liberty Children’s Home due to a novel fundraising event in conjunction with some top restaurants in San Pedro. Bluewater Grill, Caliente and Red Ginger are three restaurants which are now collecting donations on behalf of Liberty Children’s Home. What is unique about the arrangement is that the restaurant owners Kelly McDermott Kanabar and Mukul Kanabar have committed to matching every donation, dollar for dollar. Thus a customer dining at the restaurant who pledges $20 to Liberty Children’s Home will have his donation doubled by a $20 contribution from the restaurateurs. This initiative is a great method for the San Pedrano business owners to show their support, meanwhile encouraging diners and visitors to donate as much as possible. The restaurants even accept donations from non-diners and the business community, which they will similarly match dollar for dollar. According to Delfena Mitchell, Director of Liberty Children’s Home, “the money these businesses can raise for Liberty Children’s Home can make a real difference in the lives of these children”. The fundraising campaign started just before the Christmas break, on 23rd December, and since then, all diners have been informed about the appeal during their meal by educated waiting staff who have been briefed on all aspects of the Children’s Home. At the end of the restaurant visit, if diners wish to contribute to the campaign, they can donate their dollars into a donation box, and pick up a brochure telling them more about Liberty Children’s Home. So far, in just over six weeks, a staggering $3000 has already been raised, and the fundraising drive looks set to continue as the organisers are already really impressed at the generosity of clients. Anyone wishing to donate to Liberty Children’s Home is strongly encouraged to do so via collection boxes at Bluewater Grill, Caliente and Red Ginger because giving at these restaurants promises to make donor’s money make twice the difference.


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The Belize Times

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF AUGUSTINE FLORES

Last Wednesday, 27th January, the call went out in Seiri: “Aninte nege tia Augustin. Wisahumaña lagübürigu wei – Odensio tuma Higinia. Mabulieida huguya me gíen lun híchugu fe houn líbegu – Victoria, Jacinto, Dumasi luma Ezekiel agaradaha hamamuga lubá. “Word is that Austin Flores is on his way. Make sure that his parents, Odensio and Higinia Flores are informed. And don’t forget to tell his siblings Victoria, Jacinto, Thomas and Ezekiel to be on the lookout for his arrival”. While all this commotion was going on in Seiri/the after life over the impending arrival of this beloved son and brother, left behind engulfed in grief to mourn his passing were Sally, his wife of 55 years, his children Rebecca Caliz, Clement Flores and Paulette Flores Enriquez as well as his sisters Dominica and Sarita. Augustine Flores has, without doubt, lived a full life that has touched countless lives throughout this country as well as far beyond our borders. He has lived a life of service to his fellow human beings – a life replete with accomplishments far in excess of the many honours and awards that we have cared to bestow upon him during his life time. It is fitting, therefore, that so many of the persons that he has touched in one way or other come together as we have this afternoon to pay our last respects and to celebrate his life. And what a life it has been. He deserves no less. By his own admission, Augustine, Austin, Flo, Mr. Flo or Prez, as he was variously known, would have been daunted, in spite of his tremendous academic accomplishments, to write this eulogy. In a review of his life conducted with Paulette last December, his said: “If there is going to be a day or time when I have to summarize my life, I will have a difficult time”. Still, I will enlist his help and draw heavily from his own words expressed in that review. I also apologize in advance if, in the end, you think that this eulogy is too long. Secondly, there is so much to say that much will have to be left out Austin had a childhood in a home that was loving but was not blessed with material abundance. His mother, Higinia, was one of two women who had a strong influence in his upbringing. She made sure that he gave priority to his studies, that he understood and accepted their economic limitations and did not hesitate to tell him that that particular suit or the shoes that he wanted were at Brodies. In other words, prepare yourself, work, earn and you will be able to get whatever your heart desires. The other woman who figures prominently in his early socialization was Sister Joseph Xavier. She saw his potential, pushed him to the limit and would not hesitate to punish him even when he got the highest grade in the class because, according to her, he had not done his best. So, as he put it, “I had to work harder at school and study longer so that I could meet the expectations of Sr. Joseph Xavier”. His ethic of hard work, and attention to preparing himself to do the best that he could, can be traced back to the influence of these two women. After five years in Std. 6 at Sacred Heart School here in Dangriga, after having taken and passed pupil teachers examinations, young Augustine got a St. John’s College Alumni Scholarship, a first for Dangriga, and began his high school education at the age of 17, graduating in 1953 at the age of 21. He then embarked on a teaching career that took him to Sacred Heart in Dangriga, Concepcion RC in Corozal, St. Alphonsus in Seine Bight, training at St. John’s Teachers’ College in Belize City, back to service at Holy Family School in Hopkins and full circle back to Sacred Heart in Dangriga for the 1961 – 1962 school year. The following year saw him at the University of Manchester

where he went to take up a Commonwealth Scholarship to further his training as a teacher. His first posting after his return from Manchester was as assistant tutor at St. John’s Teachers College. What did he have to say about that assignment? “When I worked at the teachers’ college, I resigned to go to school because I did not feel I was equipped to produce #1 students”. Because of this motivation to produce # 1 students he took steps and endured hardships to be as prepared as he could be for his work. He left St. John’s Teachers College to pursue a first degree at St. Francis College in New York and later left a posting at the Belize Teachers College to do a Master’s Degree at St. John’s University also in New York. Austin knew from what he learnt from his Mother and Sister Joseph Xavier that he had to pay his dues as he laid his foundation for a successful career in producing #1 students. Regarding his time as a recently married student at the Teachers’ College 1957 to 1959, he wrote: “Those two years were probably the most difficult in our relationship. We went through a period of extreme poverty. To some extent we had to depend on friends and family to survive. I think to a great extent that is probably the time when we did not have enough to put food on the table”. This was to be repeated in 1972 -1974 while pursuing his Master’s degree of which he said, “This was another period when we had to make sacrifices. It was when I went back to the States that the family was subjected to another period of hardship”. He and his wife, Sally, worked hard to pay his way through school. The sacrifices he and Sally made paid off. After successfully completing his MA at St. John’s University, Augustine returned home to find that Austin High and Stann Creek High were going to amalgamate to become Stann Creek Ecumenical College. He set his sights on the position of Vice Principal and thus commenced a long career at Ecumenical which he served in that capacity for two years and another 15 years at the helm as Principal, driven by his passion to produce #1 students. Of this period he said, “I enjoyed every day of my work. 18 years on one job I was only absent 3 days. I loved my job as principal. I worked hard and demanded perfection from my colleagues”. I have no doubt that having meticulously prepared himself Augustine Flores really came into his own during this period. He, just as meticulously, saw to the preparation of the thousands of students who passed through his formative influence at Ecumenical while at the same time establishing himself as a leader among his peers in the Belize Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (BAPSS), successfully pushing, among other things, for the establishment of a pension for teachers in grant aided secondary schools. He presided over the continuous development and expansion of Ecumenical including the establishment of Ecumenical Junior College. He represented Belize on various bodies of the Caribbean Examinations Council for ten years. At the same time, he came to the notice of the national authorities and was called upon to serve the country in several other capacities including the Elections and Boundaries Commission for ten years all while being an active member of the Dangriga Lions Club and proudly serving as a senior justice of the peace. He and Sally also found the time to establish Pal’s Guest house and to care enough to consistently be a supporter of the People’s United Party. While most people associate Augustine Flores with his lifetime of service to education, there came a point in his life when his association with the National

Garifuna Council and the Indigenous Movement took center stage. In 1994, three years after his retirement from Ecumenical he took over from Pablo Lambey as President of the National Garifuna Council and led the organization until 1998 and again in 2003. His vision of the NGC was broad and he embraced the view that we needed to establish and strengthen linkages with like entities in Belize and elsewhere. He got interested in the Central American Indigenous Council (CICA) and had a big hand in the founding of BENIC, the Belize National Indigenous Council, of which he was President for many years. In that capacity he represented the indigenous people of Belize in Fondo Indigena. Another major accomplishment of this period was the founding, under his leadership, of CABO, the Central American Black Organization, in a gathering the NGC organized in Dangriga. He was its first president and subsequently served several terms as vice president when the presidency moved to Honduras. He felt that Belize had a lot to offer and that we had a responsibility to lead. His involvement with the NGC, CABO and the Indigenous movement took him to many countries: all over Central America, South America and beyond. I fondly recall how he, the late Buyei John Mariano, Canon Jerris Valentine and I made several trips to the Orinoco in Nicaragua to assist in their Garifuna language and cultural retrieval efforts, an initiative that was very near and dear to his heart. But what about Augustine Flores, the man? How was he seen? Some might regard him as brash, arrogant and abrasive. As his son Clement rightly put it, “There was a method to his madness”. He himself said, “I do not necessarily tell my friend what he/she wants to hear. That is primarily the reason why I don’t have many friends. I am not easily swayed by the crowd; I am prepared to stand alone”. There is no question about it; he was prepared to stand alone in defence of what he saw as the truth and in the interest of arriving at the best decision. I am sure that his former colleagues in BAPSS, in CABO and all the organizations, national and international, that he has been a part of can come up with hundreds of examples of critical moments when he took leadership, stopped the beating around the bush and cutting to the chase. He certainly was not one to be intimidated. His apparent abrasiveness and brashness were also a defense to mask a certain softness and his concern. Maud Castillo, to luguñou, tells of this instance when her son Greg was entering a race that he evidently was not up to. Flo, the Principal, looked at him as the race was about to start and mockingly said, “Híi, híi”. (We Garinagu know what that means!!) Greg won the race. Kristy Hays, a former Peace Corps Volunteer with NGC wrote,

“My favorite memories of Mr. Flo always start the same way: my walking into Pal's and hearing the greeting "What the hell are you doing here?" Which was always immediately followed by "Why the hell are you not sitting down?" His gruff exterior belied an incredibly kind and generous soul who always welcomed me to come and sit and talk. And as I sat, he taught: the value of community, the history of his culture, the value of education, the value in remembering and rejoicing in your friendships, relationships and family, and of his pride in his culture. On my last trip to Belize we spoke about all of that and the importance of being willing to make change and to make a difference. Then, there is Augustine Flores, the Farmer. Sally says that he has always wanted to be a farmer. Governor Oxworth visited his class at Sacred Heart and asked who was the smartest person in the class. When Sr. Joseph Xavier pointed him out, the governor asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied that he wanted to be a farmer- not the answer that was to be expected from the star pupil in those days! Years later, after making fun of me when I starting farming, he became an even more avid farmer than me and a leading member of the Starch Producers’ Cooperative. He was proud of his products and sold them at the reception at Pal’s Guest house. The week before he died, he bragged to me about a fifteen pound yam he dug just a few days earlier. When asked, “What was the proudest moments in your life?” his reply was: “As a farmer. I felt proud when I produced both students and products. I feel when I produce from the farm. When my children did well”. Ecumenical, Dangriga, NGC, CABO, the Atlantic Coast of Central America were all his farm and the people his children. Finally, there was Augustine Flores, the protector. That is how Paulette sees him. She can still hear him tell Clem or anyone else le ananihati tun, “Leave the young lady alone” or from his sick bed in his daily telephone calls checking on her in Louisville, Kentucky, threatening to go over there to deal with whoever might be harassing her. Guento ti, gubidali Austin. Tügülali lidasin. A towering figure of this community and this country has left us. I want to assure Mom, as he called his wife Salome Almira Lino Flores, his children Rebecca, Clem and Palpal, that in accordance with our spirituality as Garinagu, he will continue to be our teacher, our guide and your protector from Seiri, his place among the Áhari, the Ancestors. Ígira waméi lun lameragun lidan Darangilaü lubá liúnragún ya lau uweirigun. May our friend, Augustine Flores, rest in Peace and rise in glory. E. Roy Cayetano 1st February, 2010


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The Belize Times

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NATION BUILDERS

“MS BIRDIE” (Ms Ienna Coleman Sealy)

Elizabeth Pridgeon Ms Ienna, who has been known as “Ms Birdie” throughout the course of her life, is almost a celebrity in her own right. You can stop a passer-by on any street in Belize City, and chances are that even if they don’t know Ms Birdie personally, they will know of her. And once you get around her neighbourhood on Pelican Street, just about everybody can direct you to her house. Not only that, for within the political sphere, everybody knows Ms Birdie as one of the few people who never misses a PUP meeting, nor a conference, nor a rally. For over 50 years, Ms Birdie has made it her objective to not just observe politics, but to actively direct them. Ms Birdie was born the eldest child of eight, and lived at the family home on the north-side of the City. The absence of her father meant that financial constraints on the family were particularly hard on Ms Birdie as the eldest, and even after impressive academic achievements at Ebenezer Methodist Primary School, she was unable to further her education at high school. Thus, at the tender age of 12½ years old, Ms Birdie joined the working world, helping her employer cater three meals a day to working men temporarily based in the City. After three years of earning at the most $1.50 a week (not to mention giving the entirety of her wages directly to her mother to assist with the maintenance of her younger siblings), Ms Birdie sought improved employment opportunities as a washer-woman for a brotherhood of priests, where she earned a much improved $10 a week. Throughout her teenage years, Ms Birdie worked in order to support her family at home, and when she met Mr Gilbert Sealy and later married him, she did not forget her obligations to her family. Moving to a new premises on Pelican Street (where she remains today) would have proved a great advancement for the couple and their two children had her mother not tragically died just days after the move; instead of beginning to acquire her possessions and develop her home as planned, Ms Birdie unexpectedly became surrogate mother to all seven of her younger siblings, who all remained in her care until ‘fleeing the nest’ in adulthood. Few people would have so selflessly sacrificed their personal progression for the sake of younger siblings; Ms Birdie believes that her inspiration was her mother, who had always raised the family to know that they were like a ‘chain’, thus not one

a ‘home’ for her seven orphaned siblings, to caring for her extended family, to contributing to the food providers of Belize, to altruistically promoting the better ment and development of her country through the People’s United Party. Since 1993, Ms Birdie has also been an active Justice of the Peace, and she is recognised by the Order of Distinguished Ser vice. And throughout it all, Ms Birdie has remained a faithful servant of God, dedicating her daily devotions to the country of Belize and its people. There could, surely, be no greater Nation Builder than Ms Birdie.

CHECK OUT OUR NEW WEBSITE link can be forgotten nor neglected. With nine children under her roof, Ms Birdie and her husband were (not surprisingly) unable to maintain the family without finding new gainful employment opportunities. And so Ms Birdie began cooking food wholesale to sell to passing trade. Johnny cakes and Creole bread became daily staples sold by Ms Birdie outside her house, which not only generated a supplementary income for the family, but also provided the growing household with nutritional sustenance sufficient to promote their healthy development. Her culinary prowess rapidly became well reputed about town, and so when she started selling plates of food at mid-day (such as rice and beans, seré, and stew beans and white rice), her name for good cooking preceded her, and she created a niche market for herself in the fledgling street food industry of Belize City. Even today, she still cooks every quincena to sell her produce to a regular crowd outside Brodies on Regent Street. Aside from her cooking and family duties, Ms Birdie still found the time and energ y to partake actively in the political process, in which she first became involved in 1954 (even though, at the time, she still didn’t qualify to actually vote). She assisted the fledgling PUP with their promotion of independence by accompanying representatives on their canvassing campaigns, and she voluntarily helped the party in whatever way she could because she knew that the PUP could lead Belize into a brighter future. A great role model in Ms Birdie’s life was Ms Gwen Lizarraga for her selfless contribution to the Belize City community. I think it is safe

to say that Ms Birdie, in every way, mirrors the achievements made by Ms Lizarraga, and in some aspects even exceeds them: from providing

at www.belizetimes.bz We are the most visited newspaper website in Belize


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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

VOICES Village

from the

BULLET TREE FALLS

Elizabeth Pridgeon Nestled just a couple of miles northwest of San Ignacio is the tranquil village of Bullet Tree Falls. Until a decade or so again, the village was a simple Spanish-speaking community, unknown by many, and only even marginally on the map because of its unique access to the isolated Maya ruin, El Pilar. However, in recent years the village’s strategic location yet peaceful ambience has attracted many new residents to the community, and various tourist facilities have since opened up, taking advantage of the ‘authentic’ feel of the place. With a growing population, currently almost topping 4000 inhabitants, Bullet Tree has grown beyond nearly all recognition of its former days of a small hamlet-type settlement. The village, it is thought, was settled by wood loggers who sought a particularly hard and durable wood, provided by Bullet Trees. By the late 1800s, the village was also home to a handful of Maya families, who settled the precise location where a set of gentle rapids (or ‘falls’) cross the Mopan River for a convenient source of fresh-flowing water (hence the name Bullet Tree Falls). Nearly two centuries later, further refugees from the Caste War in Mexico also ultimately made their home in Bullet Tree Falls, which generated the foundations of the village today. The proximity of the village to the Guatemalan border supported the village’s substantial numbers of chicleros in the past, as they would travel across the region in search of gum. However, the nearby border today frequently

causes problems as contrabandistas often use the village access roads to smug gle illegal Guatemalan goods into Belize. Bullet Tree Falls today has more of a transient population, with the majority of working residents commuting daily to work in San Ignacio and Belmopan. Those who work further afield, either as public servants or in tourist-related industries, often only return to their home village on a monthly basis. However, due to the growth of tourism within the village (largely due to the nearby El Pilar ruins), several residents now enjoy gainful employment within the village itself. With over half a dozen bars, a couple of restaurants, various budget and mid-range hotels and guesthouses, guided tours, and the Masewal Forest Garden and Trail, various members of the community are directly involved in the tourism industry. Furthermore, the El Pilar Cultural Centre – Be Pukte – is also housed in the village, attracting visitors with their unique model of the El Pilar Archaeological Site, and literature for sale alongside cafe facilities. Villagers seem particularly proud of the development of their village, and the added opportunities it offers village residents, and there are various groups and committees established within the village in order to maintain an aesthetically pleasing environment. The Bullet Tree Environmental Group formerly took responsibility for cleaning the river and the river-side area (with ‘rubbish’ being more a collection of branches and river sediment blocked by the rapids, rather than garbage disposed of by residents and visitors). The Youth group has also proved active in the

now proudly boast full team kits to use at matches across the country. Bullet Tree Falls is one of the several ‘gems’ of Cayo which make the district so popular with international tourists and Belizeans alike. Just about every service that could be required is on offer in Bullet Tree Falls: from varied food outlets to grocery shops, from a tortilla factory to a butchers, from Creole bread sellers to a car wash. The village also has a tree nursery, cultivating both native and introduced species, and is home to REMAR’s rehabilitation ‘farm’. Around twenty ‘collectivo’ taxis serve the village, catering to these varied service providers, ensuring regular and reliable transport to and from San Ignacio. Which means there’s no excuse not to visit Bullet Tree Falls, and experience the tranquillity of fundraised and established a reputation for themselves as serious athletes, and the village for yourself. maintenance of a satisfactory village environment in the past. Now, one of the most active groups within the village is the Bullet Tree Football Club, with both a male and a female team. Having started from scratch a year ago, the teams have


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

ThE BElizE TimES

Mariposa'sKid's Corner

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“501 KIDS’ CLUB” Black History Month Special Match the faces you see on the left to a name on the right. You may need to ask your mom, dad, sister or brother for help. Nelson Mandela: Led the fight against the oppression of Black South Africans and became the first black South African President. Rosa Parks: Fought against one of the many laws in the USA that barred Black Americans from having the same rights as White Americans. She is known for refusing to give up her seat on a bus, as she was supposed to do, to a white person. St. Martin De Porres: Born in Lima, Peru, he was called St. Martin of Charity and is known as the first Black saint in the Americas. Malcolm X: He was a Black American Muslim who fought for the human rights of Black Americans and spoke strongly against the system of oppression in the USA. He formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Marcus Mosiah Garvey: He is a National Hero in Jamaica and is known for his fight to improve the lives of Blacks worldwide. Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: He was a Baptist minister who strongly believed in the rights of Black Americans and dedicated his life to fighting for the equality of African-Americans in the USA.

DID YOU KNOW? 1. Black History Month was started by Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson as Negro History Week. The month was chosen in honour of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln who were both born in February. 2. Jack Johnson (1878 -1946) the first African-American heavyweight champion, invented a wrench in 1922. 3. Nancy Green (1834 – 1923) a freed slave was employed in 1893 to promote the Aunt Jemima pancake mix at fairs; her face was used on all their pancake products. 4. Dr. Charles Drew (1904 – 1950) – discovered ways to store blood and developed blood banks. 5. Otis Boykin (1920-1982) – invented electronic control devices for guided missiles, IBM computers and the control unit for a pacemaker (machine that helps a weak heart to work properly). 6. Madame C.J. Walker - Created and sold Black Hair Care products and became so successful that she was the first Black female millionaire. She created jobs for more than 1,000 women. 7. Benjamin Banneker - Developed the first clock built in the United States. He helped to create the layout of the building streets and monuments for the USA’s Capitol - Washington, D.C.

Dot to Dot Mystery Map Connect the dots to draw the borders of a mystery country. Then use an atlas to figure out which country you have drawn. I’ll give you a clue, Nelson Mandela was this country’s first Black President.


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The Belize Times

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

ThE BElizE TimES

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Belize #1 Sports Page

St Martin’s girls win national basketball champs

Belize City, February 12, 2009 The St. Martin’s De Porres Primary School girl’s basketball team is the new National Camps. Gilda Moguel the team’s most valuable player scored 8 pts in game one as she led St Martin’s to a 10-6 win over the Central Division Champions, Bishop Martin RC School of San Ignacio. The top scorer for Bishop Martin RC was Ivonne Clarke who scored 3 points. In Game 2, the defending champions and the winner of the Southern Region, Georgetown won 22 to nil against the girls from Northern Regional Champ, Orange Walk’s Louisiana Government School. Orin Castillo led the score with

8 points and Nisha Augustine scored 6 points. In Game 3, Orrin Castillo and Andra Fernandez each scored 10 pts to lead the girls from the north to another 35 to nil win over Toledo’s St Peter Claver RC School. Other scorers for Louisiana Government School included Nisha Augustine with 8 pts, Jaylee Thomas with 4 points and Diceve Ramirez who hit a long three pointer. In Game 4, Lousiana’s Jennifer Trejo scored 11 points as she led the Northern Champs to a 21-8 win over Toledo. Linda Duran, Simran Padwani, Evonie Gentle and Beatrice Cuellar all scored in this game. Toledo’s Doresse Lopez

scored 3 buckets and hit 2 free throws scoring a total of 8 points. In Game 5, Gilda Moguel scored 13 points in a 22 – 5 victory by St Martin’s over the champs from Orange Walk. Kedidna Tunn and Shenika Thompson each scored 4 points and Andra Fernandez added 2 points for the girls from the Central Region. Gladys Mejia led the Bishop Martin girls with 8 pts, Suzan Budna added a bucket and Nell Usher sank a free throw. In Game 6, Or rin Castillo and Jaylee Thomas scored 6 pts each to lead Richard Quinn RC from Georgetown to a 16-11 win over the Bishop Martin girls; Gladys Mejia scored 8 points for

Cayo. In Game 7, the Bishop Martin girls won the consolation game for 3rd place 16-9 against the Sugar City girls. Ivonne Clarke top-scored 8 pts for Cayo, Shaline Guillen added 5 pts and Gladys Mejia added a bucket. Yashira Bull led Sugar City with 4 pts, Simran Padwani added 3 pts, and Marlyn Espat added one bucket. In Game 8, the championship final, MVP Gilda Moguel led the St Martin’s girls with 9 pts and a 13-9 win over the Richard Quinn RC School girls. Nisha Augustine scored 5pts for Richard Quinn RC.

Bishop Martin RC boys win national basketball championship

Last Friday at the Belize City Center Bishop Martin RC School boys of San Ignacio, won the National Primary Schools Basketball Championships. In Game one Bishop Martin boys, beat Mary Hill RC the Northern Regional Champs from Corozal 22-10. Santiago Clarke led with 8 points, Carlos Juarez had 7 and Kevin Funes 6. Vinton Perez led the Mary Hill boys with 6 points and Kristan Lopez scored 4. In Game 2, the Stann Creek district champs, Holy Family RC School beat Toledo champs, the St Peter Claver RC School by a score 18-6. Holy Family’s Deshawn Nunez and Arwyn Hemans scored 6 pts each, while Terique Avila led the Toledo with a long trey. In Game 3, the Belize District champs,

the Grace Primary boys handed the Corozal boys their ticket home: 28-15. Trevor Jones led with 8 pts, while Raheem Staine and Rasheed Adolphus scored 6 pts each. Vinton Perez drained a long trey to lead the Corozal boys with 9 pts. In Game 4, the Holy Family boys edged out the Orange Walk champs, the La Inmaculada RC Schoolboys, 15-14. Deshawn Nunez scored 9pts and Dayton Longworth, Sydney Petillo and Arwyn Hemans scored 2 pts each. Michael Shaw led the Orange Walk boys with 6pts. In Game 5, the Cayo boys handed the Grace Primary boys their first loss: 22-9. MVP Santiago Clarke lead with 10 pts, Carlos Juarez added 8 pts and Kevin Funes and Denzel Nunez each tossed in a bucket each. Raheem Staine led Grace Primary with

7 pts, while Trevor Jones added 6 pts. In Game 6, William Guan scored 8 pts as he led the La Inmaculada boys to a 23-9 win over the Toledo boys. In Game 7, Trevor Jones led the Grace Primary boys with 16 pts as they eliminated the Stann Creek boys 33-25 in the semifinals. Rasheed Adolphus lead with 11 pts and Raheem Staine scored 6 pts. Deshawn Nunez led the Stann Creek boys with 14 pts, Arwyn Hemans had 6 pts and Leandre Alvarez drained in a trey. In Game 8 in the semifinals, the Bishop Martin boys moved on to the finals with a 30-12 blowout win over the La Inmaculada RC boys. Carlos Jaures led with 13 pts, Kevin Funes added 8 pts and Santiago scored 5 pts. Amin Garcia led the Orange Walk boys with 10 pts, Michael Shaw tossed

in 1 bucket and Christian Sutherland scored 2 free throws. In Game 9 the Stann Creek boys won the consolation game for 3rd place over the Orange Walk boys 24-16. Deshawn Nunez and Arwyn Hemans scored 9 pts each, Nayib Casimiro drained in trey and Alvin Choco scored bucket. Amin Garcia led the la Inmaculada boys with 7 pts. In the finals, MVP Santiago Clarke led the Bishop Martin boys to the championship with 21 pts for a 41-19 win over the Grace Primary boys. Carlos Juarez added 9 pts, Kevin Funes had 6pts and Denzel Nunez added 3 pts and Gary Martinez tossed in a bucket. Rasheed Adolphus led Grace Primary with 6 pts, Trevor Jones added 5 pts, Raheem Staine tossed in 4 pts and Malcolm Nunez drained in a trey.


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Belize #1 Sports Page

Delille girls win NSSSA football champs

The Delille Academy girls won the National Secondary Schools Sports Association (NSSSA) football championship hosted by Corozal Community College at the Ricalde Stadium over the weekend. In Game 1, the Western Division champs, the Mopan Technical High School girls from Benque Viejo, qualified for the final by a 1-0 win over the Central Division champs, St Catherine Academy. Leera Alvarado and Tatiana Habet led the SCA offensive with the help of midfielders Kursha Pollard, Katherine Maradiaga, Christiane Rodriguez and Aimee Vasquez. SCA’s top goal scorer Kursha Pollard had many opportunities to put SCA on the scoreboard, but Mopan Tech held on. Rashida Guerra, Natasha Tillett and Shamela Pinelo were creating plays for

their forwards Addy Rosa, Carla August and Xena Pinelo. Carla August outran the SCA defense of Inga Woods, Ashley Pelayo, Diedra Gill and Samarie Samos in the final minute of play to challenge SCA’s goalie Carlicia Petillo to a one on one. A collision between Carla August and the SCA keeper Petillo resulted in the ball lazily bouncing over the uneven ground and rolling into the empty net. In Game 2, the Southern Division champs, the Delille Academy girls won 1-0 over the Northern Division champs, the Corozal Community College. Narilee Lambey and Cindy Flores led the Delille offensive, with the help of midfielders Twila Castillo, Shanice Ogaldez, Syanne Castillo, Bernardine Gonzalez and Philipa

Acosta. Twila Castillo scored the winning goal, but was injured had had to miss the final. The CCC girls tried to equalize with Flor Carcamo, Shamilee Zuniga Yolanie Oh, with the help of midfielders Cindy Riverol and Anahi Riverol but made no impression on the Delille defense of Patricia Marin, Glenda Aranda and sweeper Sherane “Anigi” Welch, leaving little for MVP goalie Cheflora Martinez to do. In Game 3 on Saturday morning, the SCA girls won 1-0 over the Corzal girls in the consolation game for 3rd place. SCA’s coach Rodriguez introduced Leanne Murray into the ball game to replace Samarie Samos in the 2nd half and they shut out the CCC girls until the final

whistle. In Game 4 the championship final, the Delille girls won a penalty shootout 2-0 after 40 minutes of regulation time and two 5-minue overtime periods, ended in a nil-zip draw with the Mopan Tech girls. Philipa Acosta scored Delille’s 1st kick, the 2nd girl missed, but Patricia Marin scored the 3rd try. MVP goalie Cheflora Martinez came up with 3 big save to shut out the Mopan girls and secure the championship. The championship, second and third place trophies and individual medals were presented to the winners, and Cheflora Martinez won the Most Valuable Player award.

Delille boys win NSSSA football champs

The Delille Academy boys won the National Secondar y Schools Sports Association (NSSSA) football championship hosted by Corozal Community College at the Ricalde Stadium over the weekend. In Game 1 on Friday, the Belize City champs, the Wesley College boys, came back from a 1-0 deficit to advance to the final by a 2-1 win over the Western Division champs, the Belmopan Comprehensive School. In Game 2, the Southern champs, the Delille boys won 1-0 over the N o r t h e r n ch a m p s, t h e C o r o z a l Community College boys. Delille team captain Abraham Chavez, Tito Flores and Byron Chavez led the attack. In Game 3 on Saturday morning,

the Belmopan Compherensive won the consolation game for 3rd place 2-0 over the CCC boys. The Belmopan defenders Brian Membreno and Ronis Martinez held off the CCC attacks and the CCC boys made no impression on goalie Shawn Lopez. In Game 4 the championship final, the Delille boys won 2-0 over the Wesley College boys. The game was a nil-zip draw up to the half time break, but in the 2nd half, Tito Flores blasted in the winning goal and Byron Chavez iced the win with a 2nd goal. The championship, second and third place trophies and individual medals were presented to the winners, and Tito Flores won the Most Valuable Player award.


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years of a PUP Government

Increased Tourist Arrivals from 130,000 tourists per year to over 1 million Increased tourism receipts from just over 100 million to over 600 million Developed the Cruise Industry in Belize Established the Fort Street Tourism Village Introduced tourism in the Primary and Secondary schools curriculum Introduced Tourism at UB Trained thousands of Belize in different tourism disciplines Successfully re-branded Belize with Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret- Catch the Adventure Increased airlift to Belize (Delta, American, US Airways, Continental) Created an environment that enabled the expansion of the hotel industry Built Houses of Culture in the Districts Built the Museum of Belize Improved the infrastructure at all Archaeology Sites Improved the border crossings at the two major borders Extended the airport runway to accommodate long-haul flights

2

years of Barrow & the UDP = RECESSION

Life No Haad Out Ya, Life Haada Out Ya


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The Belize Times

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Mike Singh’s Political Appointee for Tourism?

We are now in the second month of the New Year and approaching the two year anniversary of this UDP government with no clear way forward for leadership in the tourism industry. In November of last year, it was made public that the BTB was not going to renew the contract of Mrs. Tracy Panton as the country’s Director of Tourism. Advertisements for the vacancy were placed in the newspapers with a first deadline and then it was extended for a second deadline of December 14th since the board (one assumes) was not satisfied with the first round of applicants. The second round of applicants apparently has not pleased the Board or CEO Singh. We now know that last week the BTB paid for Seleni Matus to fly in from Washington DC for an interview for the job. That’s right! CEO Mike Singh, the Minister of Tourism and the Board of Directors of BTB have totally disregarded the tendering process and went outside of the list of applicants they received which we understand to have a few qualified, locally based Belizeans to do the job. Hmmm- sounds a lot like the same mess that got the KHMH board in trouble which resulted in a Commission of Inquiry because they too disregarded a tendering process and began to “hand pick” persons to do their bidding. So why go abroad to Washington,

DC for Seleni Matus? Well, she does work with Conservation International which has done a few conservation tourism projects in Belize. The most recent was in 2008 for an Action Plan for the better management of the cruise sector. Of course under the UDP government, nothing has been done with that plan. So perhaps CEO Mike Singh, the Minister and the BTB Board of Directors are thinking with her at the helm, maybe finally something will happen? But then, does that mean once again priority focus and energies of BTB will be placed on the cruise sector? So who exactly is looking out for the overnight group who are spending more and staying longer? More heads

on beds mean more jobs for Belizeans and more tax revenues for the government. Seems pretty straightforward to us! Matus is also very dear friends with Joy Grant, now Ambassador in Belgium but former Executive Director of Programme for Belize. Matus worked at PfB under Joy Grant’s tenure. See the UDP connection? In addition to that, Matus is also perceived as more aligned with UDP than with PUP due to her friendship with the Singh’s and Channel 7 Vasquez’s. So we are back to providing job opportunities to friends and families of the UDP which is probably the only accomplishment of the BARROW administration. In addition to this, she has been able to

Isabel Vasquez At the end of last week, the Belize Tourism Board announced its new Director of Tourism: Ms Seleni Matus. According to the BTB, Ms Matus was chosen because she already has over five years managerial experience in ecotourism and sustainable development. She was a key player in the establishment of the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) in 2004. Over recent years she has also worked actively with Conservation International and Program for Belize, alongside being a founding member and the first President of the Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance. All this – in theory – looks promising. But not everyone involved in the tourism industry is convinced that Ms Matus is the best choice. Here at the Belize Times, we have been contacted by certain hotel owners and

tour operators who are concerned that the reality of Ms Matus being the new Director of Tourism may be far from rosy. Last year the Belizean tourism industry received a damning blow when five of its seven World Heritage Sites were officially placed on the endangered list by UNESCO because of “unsustainable tourism activities’. These included the attempted wholesale of a large area of Bacalar Chico, excessive infrastructural development on Half Moon Caye, the sale of crown land, mangrove destruction and dredging on South Water Caye, and illegal fishing around the Sapodilla Caye. The report findings, released by the UNESCO mission in June 2009, stated that “the overall impression is that there is no clear recognition and understanding of the management implications of a World Heritage Property”

and thus the entire area “should be considered for immediate inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger”. It is not perverse to speculate at Ms Matus’ involvement when the condition of the reef was being compromised at the very time that she was so involved in ecotourism and sustainable development of the Belizean reef. Ms Matus was instrumental in instigating the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI), established with the principal objective of “significantly reducing the environmental footprint of the tourism industry” on the local reef system. It seeks to achieve this by targeting unsustainable hotel development in coastal areas, unnecessary tourism-related infrastructure, and water pollution, stemming from inadequate treatment of wastewater and disposal of solid waste (pressures on both of which increase phenomenally due to increases in the overall coastal population). In a nutshell, MARTI seeks to protect the reef ecosystem from any detrimental effects, thereby ensuring its health and prosperity for future generations. So, it is little wonder that sceptics of Ms Matus’ new role as BTB Director allege that environmental stewardship promised by MARTI, under the supervision of Ms Matus, was to a large extent a failure. Concerned members of the tourism industry can only hope that her new role as Director of Tourism will be more successful. Her new job description, alongside the support of the Board of Directors of the BTB, will be not merely to promote and encourage tourism growth for the benefit of Belize, but to simultaneously “foster

access grant funding for conservation projects through OAK Foundation and has a good relationship with Oak Foundation’s Belize representative, Imani Morrison and is familiar with IDB processes and personnel in Washington. So, perhaps the thinking is that she can help access grant funds for the financially strapped BTB and perhaps help out with the IDB tourism project since Noel Jacobs (who is the paid Project Manager) is too busy with his private consulting jobs for PACT, COCESNA and NICH, etc. Is a political appointee who is close to Mike Singh the answer to tourism woes? The industry is suffering in product development, marketing and institutional capacity to manage it all. With a significant drop in accommodation tax due to less than normal arrivals and low occupancies, whoever is appointed as Director will have to be strong enough to ensure things are done very different at the BTB and can withstand the political environment? From what I hear, Seleni Matus is a real softy entering a lion’s den. We will see how long she lasts. The country cannot afford anymore political appointments that are paid lucrative packages to just attend cocktails and rack up frequent flyer miles. Mike Singh is enough! It is about time we get very serious about this country’s development and stop messing with the politics.

New BTB Director Has Work Cut Out To Gain The Confidence Of Members

understanding within Belize of the importance of environmental protection and pollution control and the conservation of natural resources”. Belize is a major tourism attraction predominantly because of its natural beauty and diversity. As the UNESCO report concluded, “given that the Outstanding Universal Value...is intimately related to healthy ecosystems...the business-as-usual scenario cannot continue without irremediably compromising the Outstanding Universal Value”. Without a protected coral reef system, Belize would no longer have the incentives to attract the hundreds of thousands of tourists that come here simply to experience our unique marine environment. And without those visitors, not only would thousands of Belizeans lose their livelihoods, but the BTB – and therefore Ms Matus’ role as Director – would become defunct. It can only be hoped that Ms Matus realises what a monumental role she has accepted – and what a monumental effort is required from her to win the support of her critics.

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Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The Belize Times

Strictly Personal Barrow is bogus!

by glenntillett@yahoo.com "The Social Partners recognizing that there resides among them a mutuality of interest, an inherent interdependence and a maturity in the exercise of their relationships; "And further recognizing that the sources of any sustained social and economic progress in Barbados will depend to a considerable extent upon their on-going individual and collective commitment to a philosophy of governance which is characterized by participatory democracy and the subjugation of their sectoral interests to the national good; “Recommit themselves to a formal structure to govern their continued collaboration and consultation of fundamental issues affecting their individual and collective contributions to all aspects of national development.” - Preamble to Protocol Three, Barbados Social Partnership compact. If I am to judge strictly by the feedback I get, sometimes I want to think more people read my column on-line than in the actual world of the pages of the newspaper. If you’re reading this on paper as it has been printed in ink, the chances are you reading it on Friday, February 19th, 2010, and Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow may even at this moment be behaving dishonorably in the House of Representatives. As I write this on Wednesday afternoon, February 17th, 2010, it is a good bet that once again at Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives at the National Assembly in Belmopan, and as he has done on just about nearly every other public occasions when he addressed matters of state or tended to the business of the nation, Barrow will be doing all he can to the divide the people of Belize, and continue to damage our viability as a nation-state. My on-line readers are most often curious about why I am so critical of Barrow’s behavior, and question the aggrieved tenor and angry tone of my columns about him. I conclude that they wonder about it because they don’t get to witness Barrow’s behavior first hand, and the majority of our media do not report his histrionics or question his exaggerations, misrepresentations, derogatory characterizations, untruths, lies et cetera. Each and every time I have listened to Dean Barrow in the past few years I am left in awe of his limitless capacity to hyperbolize, overstate, amplify, magnify, overdraw, misinform, mislead – alas, my Thesaurus fails me. And then I watch and listen to the reports of his “performances” in the socalled “independent” media and I wonder why they don’t think that Dean Barrow’s turn before the camera and microphones is not worthy of adjectival comment.

Belize, to put it mildly, is in the economic doldrums of a paralyzing recession, and the only breeze is Barrow’s hot air. But instead of breathing life into our limp sails it tends to blow off statesmanship and make enemies of the very people needed as allies in the cause of survival. In the early Nineties Barbados was able, in the words of their media, “to avoid the prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund” and strengthen its economy to one of the top three in the region through the implementation of what became known as “The Social Partnership.” Former Barbadian Owen Arthurs once told me that the Social Partnership ushered in a new era and indeed a paradigm shift in the concerts and practices of governance. He said: "We have to a very great extent changed the meaning and interpretation of consultation and participation.” Belize as a nation is failing on nearly every front and in every sector. We need a uniter, not a divider. I wrote in this space over a year and a half ago about Barbados’ social partnership and urged Belizeans to consider this as a core strategy for economic and social advancement and development, and today I am renewing that call. I will continue to chronicle the many, many ways Dean Bar row’s political philosophy of partisanship over partnership fail us, and provide you with examples to show how and why a different approach would benefit us. For example, even as I write this I note the following story from Barbados. Compare these two Caribbean Prime Ministers. Just last week Dean Barrow called his quarterly press conference to once again pursue his petty, partisan, political agenda … “Barbados PM to meet with social partnership on Friday “The possibility of having a moratorium on wages is expected to be discussed this Friday, February 19, when Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, David Thompson meets with the social partnership. “He made this disclosure last Thursday, during his first quarterly press conference for the year, which was televised live from Ilaro Court. “Thompson told the media that there was a lot on the meeting's agenda, because, "as a precursor to the economic consultation there are specific initiatives that are being pursued in the economy and in the society". “He said that the social partnership currently had before it the impact of the increase in local water rates. ‘Obviously I expect to be hauled over the coals by the private sector and the social partnership for the size of the increase; and government has to defend why, in these circumstances, it is necessary to do it for environmental and for other reasons,’ the Prime Minister stated. “He added that concerns from the Catholic Church in relation to a more humane society in Barbados, and issues related to specific scenarios where government and the workers' representative had matters unresolved, would also be discussed at Friday's meeting.” This is why I say Barrow is bogus. Check the contrast Jack - Barbados PM seeking to unite in the face of crisis, Belize PM trying once again to divide.

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The Belize Times

S

PON DI GULLY “It’s a pity youth is wasted on the young”

By anthony sylvestre George Bernard Shaw (not the retired CNN broadcaster), once grudgingly lamented that “it’s a pity youth is wasted on the young”. The witty Irish playwright is also noted for his truism on nationalism: "A healthy nation,” he said, “is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man is unconscious of his health. But if you break a nation’s nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again." When you look around these days and see what all our youths are caught up in, you would tend to agree with Shaw. Ah mean, you hear of youths murdering and being murdered; youths jacking and being jacked; youths selling drugs and on drugs; youths seemingly doing every

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conceivably negative thing. At least that is what is propagated in the news cycle daily. Of course, the media will say that they only state the facts. If that is the state of youth in Belize right now, then it’s not so much of a pity that youth is wasted on the young, but rather, that we have been unable to harness the youth in the young. When the Irish playwright coined the phrase, he was mindful of the fact that youth is that period of a person’s life when you have all this energy, imagination, creativity, skill and talent overflowing. It is also that period of a person’s life on the way to adulthood when he strives to build skills, hone creativity and imagination and competencies in order for him to function positively in life. Clearly then, there is a great responsibility for adults to help youths harness their youthfulness. The news yesterday of a young man gunned down not too far from his home on Kut Avenue brought home again this sad state of affairs of youth in our country. The youth was from the Queen Square area and lived not too far down the street from where I grew up when I was young. Some years earlier, another youth, a friend of his, was gunned down at almost the same spot, in the same brutal way. It reminded me of the dangerous lives our youths live and are seemingly

compelled to live these days. Just under twenty years earlier, I used to frolic those same streets, but hell, it wasn’t as dangerous as it is now. But back then, when I think about it, we had better role models and every adult in the community used to help out their neighbor with that important job of raising a child. I don’t’ think I could have done anything out of order without being admonished or without that reaching the ear of my mother. And what I found incredible is that even adults who were into mischievous things, did not encourage the young boys into the f—kery that we see adults encouraging and setting up our youths to do these days. The basketball court right there at the corner of Kut Avenue and Euphrates Avenue (not far from where the young man was slain yesterday) is where myself and other young males from that community got our education about life. But those men back then who hung out in the park and played the ritual basketball from about 4:30 to 8:00 every day, managed the basketball court with a hardnosed discipline. You would constantly hear the men telling the young boys who wanted to fight (as is their wont) to “stop dah r—s”, or they would be banned from playing on the court until they “laan some manners”. Or you too would hear the men telling a youth who would be rolling up a joint of weed to “go smoke that somewhere else”. It’s not that those males were angels, and they certainly didn’t take any child psychology classes, but yet they seemed to me to appreciate the fact that condoning a youth in stuff which were beyond their years, was not right and could lead to a road of destruction for that youth. They realized in their own way that youths needed guidance. But something seemed to me to have gone terribly, terribly out of control around 1994 or thereabouts. I think that’s when the youth on youth vicious killing started to spiral out of control.

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010 The UDP government at the time tried to deal with the situation by enacting a law called the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act. The Minister of Police was given the authority under this law to declare certain areas as crime ridden areas and enable the security forces to search any person or place within that area without a search warrant. That law, of course, did not address the core problem: that is, lack of guidance of our youths. I remember first fully engaging with the young man who was killed yesterday, back in 1999 when he was eleven or so, at the first ever Queen’s Square Summer Camp. We tried to provide an outlet for the youths at those camps: to expose them to the positive things our country had to offer them, to open their minds and hone their imaginations of the great things that they could achieve. Without realizing back then, we were trying to provide some guidance to the youths from the area. Governments have an obligation to create the environment to have our youths harness their youthfulness. A government then must have a youth agenda. This government so far has shown that it has no interest in the youth. What has it done for the youth of this country so far? Rather than doing anything for the youth, it has punished the young. Youth programs and initiatives for the benefit of the young are almost non-existent; hell, the Prime Minister fired the second youngest member of his government as Minister of Youth because he dared to expose the hypocrisy in his government. How then can we seriously expect our youth with thisstate of affairs to cultivate their talent, creativity, and genius into something positive? Government must do something to address our youth crisis. We too in our communities must do our part. If we do nothing, then mothers, sisters and daughters will continue to cry and the young will continue to waste their youth.


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THE PATRIOT

Black? History? Month? Part I

The only time Belize seems to give any attention to blackness is when an eye- witness or a newscaster belches out the description of a suspect or when we breathe a transient sigh of relief as some nappy headed south-sider skips out of the pan of a CIB truck to play the “dodge the camera” game with court reporters. Truthfully, the last gasping for some intellectual and constructive branding of blackness in Belize was the marginal tokenism of the Belize Black Summit and even that is now lost under the clutter of distant memories of September 2003. Yes. I dare say "marginal" because apart from the romantic novelties of that imported North American concept which temporarily pacified the conscience of accomplished people of color in Belize, it left no identifiable plan, relief, or impact on the quicksand of issues and common challenges swallowing its target population. If it was a start, then its ending followed shortly thereafter. Fast forward to the recent CABO ceremonies, which was snubbed by locals and again left no “lifeline” to answer the million dollar question of impending black demise. Now, the current identifiable swat at the issues is a de facto one. Recently there has been the introduction of a traveling gypsy show headed by a Jamaican intellectual whose act was spawned in a country where results are less important than the breathing space it gives to alarmists and devious politicians to claim that “we are trying something”. Stats and fancy talk are the cheapest ways to sedate the masses but where is the success story in Jamaica? Where is the proof that this miracle works? Where is the bully beef, Doc? I no fraid fi seh, it is a de facto exercise in taming out-of-control blackness because as I understand it, the study being conducted is not directed at any specific race of males but for certain the ‘whitelime’ tagging of “Male Social Participation and Violence Study in Belize” is nothing but a euphemism for black juvenile delinquency. It is insulting to have the response of “well anything is better than just sitting around”. Crime is a fixture of social interaction; check Eve in the very first book of the Bible. No one is going to take me for a ride. My mom always taught me never to go shopping for groceries when hungry. I would be kinder to this study if it were being done by an NGO or some human rights organization but this smells like a commercial venture to me. Crime is an industry. Policemen, reporters, bail bonds men and, of course, a pack of lawyers, feast on the fears and helplessness of a seized society. How much is Gayle collecting? We should know because black males need answers not statistics and manifestly obvious observations. Stop play, boss. I am willing to bet my left “Zenaida” that nothing will come of this study. Pessimism is not a bad thing

especially in this case. What made me think “hmmmnn!?!??”and to ‘barrow’ a strictly personal description - “bogus”, was when I heard the Doc say on national tv: “The gang members I have spoken to here, all of them have already killed a family member. We’re not even saying a few of them you know, all of them have already killed a family member.” What, big man? We nuh fool. Either you interviewed a total of two males or your entire sample group is feeding you a pack-bread full sensational lies. And trust me, we saw the ‘made for TV” documentary that paid Ross Kemp for his painting of Belize as the Central American Rwanda. Trust me; Belize has become no Garden of Eden but listen to the language of these people. Imagine - Kemp said, “In Belize City I met one gang who are incredibly violent, they’re all killers. I’m not talking about the odd hit; I’m talking about killing 10 to 15 people, shooting children.” Now hold it down big man. When did this 15 hit murder happen? I am no mathematician, but look here, if that gang has more than 20 members (we all know they do) and each kills 15, even at different times the year statistics for murder would be, I don’t know, 300 murders? Stop it, unu wah give Jefferies wah Missa Davis heart attack. These guys remind me of what happens in Belize when your house is burning down. People come out of nowhere and start to “help” take your belongings out of the house. But in all the confusion, and the trauma of the situation, you don’t even realize when “the owner” takes your stove and tv. Something is stink, and da no kennel wata. And yes. It is Black History Month. So what? Well in my opinion there are but a few things haunting black males, none of them excusable. But who can be surprised at the lack of identity and belonging that eats away at black- at- risk males when they do not know who they are, and no one teaches them who they are or even what masculinity means. It is not about the crime statistics or the fish pond game for nolle prosequi, it is a dangerously misguided, BET-hypnotized, and Mavado-indoctrinated group of boys that are isolated and unprepared. Whose fault is that? Hold up, we no get deh yet, boss. I was despondent this month to notice that no one, not even one entity has launched any meaningful campaign for this month. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Black History Month is a North American construct but black consciousness or absent mindedness is a challenge in Belize. In fact, it is the challenge in Belize. No one has tried, not CABO, not the Garifuna Council, not the Creole Council, none of the private sector black organizations. No seminars, no workshops, no museum shows, no local documentaries. Nothing, boss! Nothing! Nope, none of the commercial or business groups have had any promotions or frilly decorations for

Black History Month. Not even an ad in the newspapers. Probably they think that blacks get enough news time already as crime stats. In ranting this week, I am reminded that we have a pluralistic society, a multicultural tapestry of stakeholders. Black History month is maybe even “artificial”. But the question is when do we stop to say to black youths “know your past” and it did not begin when Goal Lane housed shackles and not neck ties. Forget a Black History Month. Maybe I am asking too much. When will there be a “History history” month? What about the rich history of blacks? What about all the black inventors? When will the story of Alejo Beni, TV Ramos, Malcolm X, Madiba, Mr. Price, Mr. Goldson, Martin Luther King, Marcus Canul, Rosa Parks, the truth of the Haitian and Cuban Revolutions? When will Belize stop telling the fable told by white settlers of the Baymen? As the African proverb warns: "Until the lions produce their own historian, the story of the hunt will glorify

29 the hunter." Our young males don’t know they are. Their rite of passage is how soon they can “breed a juvie”, how many “hydro” they can smoke, how many times they can go to the “piss house”, how many people they want to “merk” and how many “two dollars volume wine” they can slug down. Now if you think this is a dismissible race thing and a commentary on how the Southside Chicken Little sky has fallen, then you have not been watching the news or paying attention to the graffiti as you drive to Benque or Corozal. The trans-boarder influx of MS13 and other narrow-nosed gangs are building momentum. The reality is that the only reason we have not given it a proper eyebrow raising is because it has not reached the endemic levels of Southside Belize City. The sad part is that we are losing a war and failing to capitalize on valuable lessons that we will be forced to apply to other non-south side black groups… (to be continued)


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The Belize Times

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The CGA speaks: is the Barrow administration listening?

Belize City, Thursday, February 18, 2010 As with so many other issues the Barrow administration has again signaled it was unprepared to lead in solving the major problems causing upheaval in one of our largest and most important ago-industries, despite a clear and compelling case that without timely intervention the industry could implode in crisis. Although when taken separately the issues appear complex, it was made clear today when the industry’s most important stakeholder representative spoke, a strong signal of support from the Barrow administration would have gone a long way in assisting an industry find its way through a crisis sparked and prolonged primarily by a lack of political leadership. At a press conference this afternoon

the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Citrus Growers Association, Charles Woods and Dr. Henry Anderson respectively, made it clear that the turmoil causing such upheaval in the industry was sapping investor confidence at both foreign and national levels, because it increased the risk that the present stakeholders could lose their investments. Their conference had been called to respond to several allegations by representatives of their foreign investor partner, Banks Holdings Limited of Barbados, who had boldly stated yesterday that it was “… interesting and enlightening that the Prime Minister understands the situation and his hands are tied.” It has been obvious for the past two years that the laws governing the nation’s three major agro industries,

sugar, citrus and banana, as it applied to the statutory requirement that there be only one growers association, was anachronistic and badly out of date. Although ordered by the Supreme Court in the case of the sugar industry to present amendments to correct constitutional anomalies, the Attorney General’s Solicitor General has been dragging his feet. In the particular case of the Belize citrus industry, last year Dean Barrow appointed an ineffectual Alan Slusher to try and mediate agreement on several differences between stakeholders. Industry observers have concluded that Slusher’s subsequent report that it was all about “personalities” more than likely set back efforts at resolution by years. Today the Citrus Growers Association made it clear that they continue

to welcome the investor partnership with Banks Holdings Limited but that it must start from the simple point of respect for their absolute right to appoint the majority five members of the board of directors of the Citrus Products of Belize Limited. The Barrow Administration should have signaled its clear and equivocal support for the growers from the start and its intention to do what is necessary to ensure the sustainability and long term profitability of this vital industry. When thousands of citizens march and demonstrate, responsible governments not only listen, but also respond. For the past two weeks the Belize’s citrus growers have been speaking out in a loud clear voice. The Government of Belize should have responded long before then.

Elizabeth Pridgeon It seems that the media houses of Belize can’t get enough of the CPBL versus CGA story. One of the most publicised aspects of the story is that the Citrus Growers’ As-

sociation (CGA) wants CEO of CPBL, Dr Henry Canton, Mr Michael Duncker and Mr Frank Redmond to be removed from their position on the Board of CPBL. And yet, in regards to Dr Henry Canton’s position, the agreement has al-

ways been that the CGA, with their 51 percent of the company, can nominate 5 directors through their investment arm, the Investment Company Limited (ICL). One of these five directors is permanently fixed as Dr Henry Canton, according to

the employment agreement signed by both parties on 21st October 2002, which states “the Company [ICL] shall appoint the CEO [Dr Henry Canton] as a director of the Company and of each of the Company’s subsidiary companies for the duration of this agreement”. . While the CGA are responsible for the appointment of these 5 directors, the other principal share holder, Banks Holdings (BHL) of Barbados, is responsible for the nomination of the remaining 4 Board Directors. When the CGA first began their commentary on the position of Dr Henry Canton, Banks proposed a compromise to increase the number of directors from nine to ten, thus the CGA would maintain their right to nominate 5 directors over and above the resident post allocated to Dr Henry Canton. The second issue is really a division between growers, which is casually aligned according to the scale of production of each grower. In the initial years in the aftermath of Del Oro (Belize) Ltd becoming CPBL in 2002, the largest 65 growers were responsible for 75 percent of the country’s citrus production. Today, it is loosely estimated that a mere 37 large scale growers produce approximately 80 percent of the country’s production. Whilst all 575 growers were affiliated with the CGA (368 full members and 207 provisional members), each grower had equal influence on the nomination process through a 1 man-1 vote method. This, in theory, gave the small-scale growers (many of whom boast less than 10 acres of citrus), a powerful voice in CGA decision making processes. It was amid this air of controversy that, on 28th July 2009, a number of CGA resignations were received from largescale growers, seeking confirmation that they would not be prevented from selling and delivering their citrus to CPBL, nor would they be denied a licence, merely for their dis-association from CGA. In a response letter from the CPBL, signatories were informed that, under chapter 277 of the Citrus Act, CPBL is prohibited from accepting any citrus from any citrus producer without a licence. All well and good, except for the fact that licences are issued only to members of the CGA. In the meantime, the large-scale producers who resigned from the CGA in July, have now formed their own association, called the Belize Citrus Mutual, that has been registered as a not-for-profit limited company by the Belize Companies Registry and are waiting for a change in legislation to allow for Freedom of Association within the citrus industry.

The ongoing rift in the Citrus Industry


Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The Belize Times

Teachers March!

(Continued from page 1) asking for was, “ an impossibility”. One teacher who commented on this issue said: “This from a man who told us to ‘imagine the possibilities.’” The PM’s reaction to the request by the teachers union was a direct contrast to the Prime Minister’s comments in response to a question about the amount of tax payer dollars being paid to his ex-wife Mrs. Lois Yong Barrow. In responding to the question the Prime Minister said that he will make no apologies for the amounts of monies being paid to Ms. Barrow in legal fees. Critics close to Mr. Barrow were upset by his comments and said it seems as if only Lois is able to realize the possibilities. As for the Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU’s Executive Secretary Mr. George Fraizer responded by saying: “They have taken too long to answer and respond and a series of letters that

PUP Consulting With the Belizean People

(Continued from page 1)

Central area representative Hon. John Briceno, Deputy Party Leader and Freetown area representative Hon. Francis Fonseca and Belmopan Constituency Committee Chairman, and former Deputy Commissioner of Police Ms. Maureen Leslie spoke on several issues impacting on the lives of ordinary Belizeans nationwide. The Party Leader’s concise but thorough review of Belize’s social, political and economic situation underlined the Barrow administration’s “can’t do anything right” type of governance and resonated heavily with those assembled. He concluded: “It is time for the UDP to deliver on their promises. It is time for the UDP to lead or leave." Mrs. Leslie’s frank, feisty but still folksy style quickly won over the gathering. Obviously drawing from her experience of 35 years in uniform she railed against the continuing increase in violent crime and vowed that she would continue to fight for the Belize that she loved and cherished. "I have to fight for you,” she said. "I have to fight for your children. I have to fight for the people of Orange Walk and Corozal. I will not stop fighting for the people of Belize." Hon. Francis Fonseca may be low keyed but his words carried tremendous weight as he critiqued the UDP lack of economic competence by outlining how thay had transformed the viable and robust economy they inherited into a bankrupt and shrinking mess. "It is time for the government to act strategically,” he declared, “and decisively intervene …” to avert an economic collapse. In an hour long question and answer session that ensued the panel addressed every concern put them, whether it was on oil, relevant education, failing standards and values, increasing crime, victimization, the UDP’s land quitar policy, with advice, recommendations, words of encouragement for flagging spirits and most of all, the sure promise of better to come. The next consultation is scheduled to be held on Thursday, February 25th in the twin towns of San Ignacio, Santa Elena.

I have can show and chronicle when we first started the process with the present government. When the Prime Minister is quoting a hundred and twenty-two million, that is not what it actually would cost because we trade off.” Fraizer, who was responding to a question from a Channel 5 reporter, went on to speak about the way the Union expected the bargaining process to have been handled. He said: “When you negotiate, you sit down and negotiate and say okay, we agree dat you wah revise di tax system, which means that we agree that you will revise the tax system, which mean we wah have more money eena wi pocket soh den ih noh have to be maybe the ten and twelve percent raise weh wi di ask fah and thing like dat. Yes they have given some answers but we have not met from the twelfth of September, 2008 – wah year and change – that is disrespect.”

Party Leaders Past and Present stopped by to offer words of encouragement to Narcisco "Don Chicho" Urbina, a founding member of the PUP, recently in Orange Walk Town.

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Whip

Plantain & Water, Filet Mignon & Champagne So said the lady, and she is right If things are bad and tight And if we are asked to sacrifice All must have plantain & water minus rice Problem comes when Sobs and Fobs Most of them just a bunch of dubs, Pillage the coffers of the nation And want to eat everybody ration This man Barrow wants us to have so-so plantain Yet his son can have filet mignon and Moet champagne What good for the goose, good for the Gander We can no longer follow Barrow’s meander The Ministers they all ride in luxury S-U-Vs ‘Tis a symbol of their greed and sleaze Their wives and sweethearts also have of these All being paid from the coffers of our Belize To and fro they travel in style, locally and overseas Meanwhile public officers suffer salary freeze Neither rant nor chant shall have them appeased For the rampant corruption has them displeased We may have to eat the green fruit of the musa But we expect all to do so, even Barrow’s medusa For you see di Lice she no betta than we What good for we, got to be good for she She di get pay by the million She di drink lone vermilion While she makes the muckle We suppose to tighten the buckle Mr. Barrow things rough out here The Economic Machine is out of gear The coming year augurs stormy and drear But to the Unions you give your wretched sneer Have you forgotten who got you there? Who fought to get you to the sphere? What is the cause of your veer? What made you become so queer? We crossed paths on your way to the top We will meet again, on the way as you drop All you have become is a gorgeous fop As a leader you are the greatest flop

They Are Listening to YOU!


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The Belize Times

Mexican Police Find 6 Decapitated

On Thursday Mexican police discovered the headless bodies of five men and one woman in the western state Michoacán, a part of Mexico known for drug-gang violence. Michoacan state prosecutors reported that the bodies and heads were found inside a car abandoned in the capital city of Morelia. Authorities report that the letter

''Z'' carved on their backs in an apparent reference to the Zetas drug gang. The Zetas have been involved in some of the bloodiest confrontations with the Michoacan based La Familia drug cartel in a drug war that has cost more than 15,000 lives in Mexico in three years. The Zetas are based is the border state of Tamaulipas across from Texas.

Guatemalan President and the OAS

At the Headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, President of the Republic of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, expressed his appreciation to the Organization for the unanimous support of the hemispheric organization and its Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, during the political crisis Guatemala went through in the months following May 10, 2009. The Guatemalan leader said: "The decisive and rightful role of the Permanent Council and the unconditional solidarity that the hemisphere offered Guatemala at that time, combined with the rightful initiatives of the Secretary General, were determining in preventing a greater crisis and stopping an unjustified but understandable political attack on my government," The Guatemalan President was accused of being involved in the death of Rodrigo Rosenberg, a lawyer. During the crisis, the Colom administration invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the OAS "in defense of Guatemalan democracy and its institutional political process." "The dramatic circumstances of that moment called for the application of this important tool to avoid a breakdown of democracy, and the Permanent Council immediately offered its unconditional support," the President said.

Sunday, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

Commission On Honduran Coup will report its findings in 4 Months

The soon to be named Chairman of Honduras Truth Commission says that the Panel will present its findings on the Coup which deposed President Zelaya In 4 Months Former Guatemalan Vice President and the man being tapped to chair the panel Eduardo Stein says a truth commission being formed in Honduras to investigate the events that led to the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya will present its findings in June. Stein said on Wednesday that the Commission will be formally established

later this month and will include two Hondurans and three other foreigners. Honduras' army flew Zelaya out of the country last June after he pushed ahead with plans for a referendum on changing the constitution even though Honduras' Supreme Court ruled the vote illegal. The coup was widely condemned by many in the International community. The truth commission is being pushed by the United States to sort out responsibilities in the coup.

The year 2010 may go down in Costa Rican history as “the year of China.” On Wednesday, an important event occurred when Costa Rica and China finalized negotiations on a free-trade agreement, which will initially eliminate tariffs on 58 percent of the products traded between the two countries. For the next 10 years, the agreement will eliminate tariffs on all but 10 percent of the goods traded. Pending ratification by the Legislative Assembly, Costa Rica will be the first Central American country to forge a free-trade accord with China.

The agreement is expected to be signed in early April. Commenting on the issues, Costa Rican Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz said on Wednesday, “I am pleased to say that a few minutes ago we concluded the sixth round of negotiations between Costa Rica and the Republic of China. We have now satisfactorily concluded the free-trade agreement with the third biggest economy in the world. Without question, this is a milestone for Costa Rican commercial policy.” The trade Minster also said, “This is a very special day for us,”

Costa Rica and the People’s Republic of China forging closer partnerships

Trinidad government seeks to introduce witness protection “Death by Red Tape” and new hearsay evidence rule

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is moving to provide increased protection for witnesses and persons who are required to give evidence in criminal court proceedings. It is also seeking to make hearsay evidence admissible in court. On Tuesday The Evidence Amendment Bill was presented to the Senate. The Government of Prime Minister Manning is seeking the support of the opposition. According to the Attorney General, the move regarding hearsay evidence was another way of government dealing with increasing levels of crime in Trinidad and Tobago. The Attorney General drew from countries such as the United States, the UK and Jamaica where he said similar legislation was already in place for children. He is warning them to shape protecting victims.

Reports are that medical evacuations of critically injured Haitian children have slowed down due to concerns that the proper paperwork is not being completed before these children are flown out of Haiti. . This report from Inigo Gilmore of Britain’s Channel 4 News tells the story of one badly injured 3-month old Haitian baby girl named Landina Seignon, who

needs a life-saving operation that has been delayed because it has taken days to get permission to fly her out of Haiti from the country’s barely functioning government. Authorities worry that if children are flown out of Haiti without the appropriate paperwork, medical personnel may be exposed to charges of kidnapping

The Jamaican President is calling on parents to take responsibility for their

up or suffer dire consequences when the parent commission comes on stream. Prime Minister Bruce Golding, told Parliament this week that the State would no longer allow bad parents to get away while children became disadvantaged because of their parents failure to carry out their responsibilities. "We are going to have to send a signal to parents that if you are not prepared to honour your obligation to your children, then don't have them," Golding told members of the House of Representatives. "If you have them and you are not prepared to honour those obligations, then you are going to be punished. We are going to have to start making it clear that the discharge of parental responsibility for children is not an option," he added.

Jamaica’s PM to Parents, “shape up”

Barbados Opposition Leader strongly opposes any wage freeze

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP), the main opposition party, says it is opposed to any wage freeze in the public sector. This comes at a time when the government of Mr. David Thompson is considering ways to deal with a contraction in the local economy. "The worst thing that government can do now is to further dampen spending in this country. If you want to see more people go home, then make sure that you go down that road," Mia Mottley the Leader of the BPL said at a public meeting. Last week, Prime Minister Thompson gave clear indication that he was in support of a wage freeze in Barbados, and warned that any slight increase in the wage bill would have serious implications because it meant the possibility of cutting expenditure and reducing social programmes. But Mottley, armed with a document from the International Monetary Fund, said that since 2008 the Washington-based financial institution had made recommendations to the government.


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