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Year in Review 2018 Print E-mail
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Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00

July

Belize Barrier Reef Off the UNESCO in Danger List

A series of remedial actions implemented by personnel from the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Natural Resources led to qualify the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System for delisting from the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger, a list it has been on since 2009. This initiative was been done in collaboration with the Fisheries Department, Forest Department, Lands and Surveys Department, the Belize UNESCO Office and the World Wildlife Fund.

BTL loan signing agreement with Taiwan ICDF

The Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) signed a loan agreement with the Taiwan ICDF on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The funds would be used to expand its services, with the hopes to have the entire country “fiberized” by mid next year. Fiber is slowly being rolled out in the country to replace copper connections but because of this loan, the replacement can and will be done a lot faster. The USD $17.5 million loan had terms and conditions which included the provision by the Government of an irrevocable and unconditional loan guarantee

Ten thousand dollars for Brhea Bowen for GSU abuse

Brhea Bowen, a 20-year-old Belize City resident, won a ten-thousand-dollar judgment against the Government of Belize and the Police Department in her lawsuit for unlawful imprisonment.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Firearms Amendment Act of 2010 was misapplied in her family’s case. Police are now expected to investigate and prove who the owner of an illegal firearm and/or ammunition belongs to, so that innocent members of a family, or other persons present, won’t be necessarily swept up in a police raid and subjected to the deprivation of their freedom unjustly.

Brhea’s case dates back to July 6, 2012. That’s when a team of officers from the Gang Suppression Unit went to her family’s home on La Croix Boulevard in Belize City. When they searched the house thoroughly, they found three cartridges for a 16-gauge shotgun, which was inside a black plastic bag under the flooring of the house.

Solid Waste Management Equipment returned

For about 11 days, the Solid Waste Management Authority(SWAMA), the Statutory Board responsible for efficiently managing the country’s waste, had a force closure after Vision Architects and Contractors, a company it did business with got the Supreme Court to seize all of its assets. That company was attempting to force SWAMA and the Government of Belize pay $580,000 in damages for wrongful termination of two contracts. After consideration, and a back and forth with the attorneys for the two sides, Justice Abel ordered the return of the office equipment and the vehicles back to SWAMA. He also adjourned the hearing on the government’s application. The properties were returned on the evening of Monday, July 9, hours after the judge’s orders.

Ashcroft attempts to remove Justice Awich now at CCJ

Lord Michael Ashcroft who has been trying to get Justice Samuel Awich removed from office as a judge of the Court of Appeal for six years had his litigation end up all the way at the Caribbean Court of Justice for a final appeal.

The CCJ has reserved judgment in this appeal to be delivered at a later date to be announced.

New KHMH CEO says strengthening health services and revenue are her priority

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Board of Governors announced on June 29th, that Michelle J. Cox-Hoare would be taking up the position of Chief Executive Officer for the hospital. Speaking to the press on Wednesday July 4, Hoare explained that she has been acting as CEO since April of this year.

Hoare noted that as the Chief Executive Officer, she has full responsibility for the management and operations of the hospital services comprising medical services, nursing services, allied health services, infrastructure and other areas. She stated that with her intimate knowledge of the health system and in particular the quality assurance aspect of healthcare, she was tasked at looking at systems to identify weaknesses, look at things objectively, set standards and develop audit tools. Hoare stated that in the capacity of CEO it means that she has more responsibility and more authority to execute standards that were already in place for areas where there were no standards.

New president of the CCJ sworn in

The Opening Ceremony of the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting took place on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 in Jamaica. The ceremony was addressed by CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Andrew Holness. It was also addressed by Outgoing Chairman, President Jovenel Moise of Haiti; Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados; Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada; Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda; and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

Preceding that Opening Ceremony, there was a Ceremony for the Swearing in of the new President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Hon. Adrian Saunders. Hon. Saunders was appointed a high court judge in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court after years of private practice. Since then, he made several strides including being appointed in the Court of Appeal in 2003 then a judge in the CCJ in 2005. His judicial contributions were numerously highlighted before he was sworn in, under oath, by Governor General of Jamaica, Hon. Sir. Patrick Allen.

August

250 land leases issued in Corozal and San Pedro

On Friday July 2th, seventy eight persons received their land leases in the village of Concepcion in the Corozal District. Minister of Lands, Hon. Hugo Patt stated that the country was experiencing growth in its population and it is important to identify lands for the young people to build their homes. This he says is a way of combating poverty. While the 78 does not cover all those who need land, Hon. Patt stressed that the ministry will continue to work along with the area representative to identify more available land for future distribution.

According to Area Representative Hon. Dr. Angel Campos who was on hand to deliver the new leases, these lands that were distributed were actually subdivided quite some time ago during the tenure of Hon. Gabriel Martinez, that is some 8 or 9 years ago, but for some reason or the other the delivery of leases were never completed.

Residents of mile 21 on the Phillip Goldson Highway at Gracie Rock were startled on July 30 when just around 11:00 a.m., several large rocks flew at them from the nearby quarry, National Aggregates Limited.

While no one was hurt, the community center received damages. The company took responsibility and agreed to fix all damages as well as to build some concrete reinforced bunkers to alleviate any other incident.

Oceana Belize called to completely illegalizing the use of gill nets. The nets include those that are strewn over large areas of water and are later hauled up. It does not include cast nets that are used to catch bait. Vice President of Oceana Belize, Janelle Chanona explained that what her organization was seeking was to have the nets deemed altogether illegal. She added that it is not a situation that they are asking for an immediate banning of the nets. She stated that what her organization is seeking is a phased approach to the ban. She says what they are looking at is having a two year period during which the users of the nets would phase them out and replace their income lost with alternative means of income earning.

PUP versus PUP; Eamon versus Arthur

In August the press asked Eamon Courtenay what he thought about the lawsuit which Arthur Saldivar, filed against him and the P.U.P. The suit stems out of Saldivar’s claim, that his party, the P.U.P. had been unilateral and unfair, towards him and that they weren’t following the party’s constitution properly, by not accepting him as a candidate for the party’s Belmopan Standard Bearer Convention. At almost the eleventh hour, just before the convention was to be held in early July, Arthur was able to get an injunction, which obliged the P.U.P. to postpone that scheduled convention.

On hearing this, Courtenay came out swinging, when he asserted that Saldivar needs to accept that the P.U.P. does not want him to be a candidate for them. He added that he did not understood why Saldivar believed that he had a right to represent the PUP, that doesn’t want him to represent them. Courtenay went on to say, that Saldivar was going to court to force a political party to make a legal decision in his favor. He said he hopes Arthur never prevails in doing so. Courtenay went on to say that Saldivar was not a fit and proper person to represent the People’s United Party and if the People’s United Party choose him as a candidate, then he Eamon Courtenay would sue and challenge Saldivar from representing the party.

87 residents homeless after devastating fire in San Pedro

87 residents of San Pedro, who make up ten families, had their homes and all of their possessions destroyed in one big fire that spread through an entire block in the Boca Del Rio area of the island. Ten homes were completely destroyed, and the fire investigators believe that arson was involved in causing this mass misery. The blaze started sometime around 12:30 a.m., on Saturday, August 4 on Conch Shell Street, Boca Del Rio.

Hours after the fire was put out, NEMO Minister Hon. Edmond Castro, and Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., the Area Representative for San Pedro, were on the ground assessing the damage, and making plans to provide the fire victims with temporary relief. By Tuesday, August 6, NEMO teams were out on the island distributing packages of mattresses, a small table top stove, a gas tank, bedding, hygiene kits, and food packs.

Silver for Belize in Central American Volleyball Championships

At 10:18 on the night of Wednesday August 8th, the Belize Civic Center, replete with Belizean fans, burst into thunderous yells and applauses as the Belize National Women’s Volleyball team captured the final game of the 20th Central American Women’s Volleyball Championship. With the win Belize secured the Silver Medal adding to Belize’s sports history.

The tournament’s top finisher was Costa Rica, which secured the gold over Belize by a very narrow margin as the calculations were made based of point differentials. Third place went to El Salvador.

Aeromexico announces new flight to Belize

Aeromexico, Mexico’s global airline, announced the start of a seasonal twice a week nonstop flight to Belize on August 13, 2018. The flights, starting on November 17, 2018 and ending on April 28, 2019, is the first major Mexican commercial airline to offer such service to Belize.

Aeromexico’s Flight 67 will be on Saturdays and Sundays and will depart Mexico at 8:30 am and arrive at the Phillip S. W. Goldson International Airport at 10:30 am. It will depart Belize at 12:00 and arrive in Mexico at 2:25 pm.

Taiwanese president arrives in Belize

The Republic of China (Taiwan) president arrived in Belize at 2:30p.m. on Thursday August 16. The visit was an expression of the strong ties that country has with Belize and as President Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen was in the country, she was hosted to a number of activities, which had her get first hand appreciation of the partnership that Belize and Taiwan shares.

She attended the 2018 Taiwanese Scholarship Awarding Ceremony at the Radisson Hotel after which she was Conferred with the Order of Belize by the Governor General H.E. Sir Colville Young at the Museum of Belize.

She was also hosted at a Special Joint Sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate at the National Assembly in Belize followed by a visit to the Institute of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Belize City.

She departed the country on Saturday, August 18th, 2018 with a farewell at the Philip Goldson International Airport.

Football player punches female referee

Darnell Mossiah, a football player, on Sunday, August 12 punched referee, Yuri Daniels after she had red-carded him during a football game between the northern villages of Concepcion and San Antonio. On Tuesday, August 14, Mosaiah was arraigned in the Corozal Magistrate’s Court on charges of Wounding. He wasted no time and pleaded guilty to the charge. The magistrate fined him $2,000 plus $5 cost of court, for the offence of Wounding.

The incident raised the ire of many in the community and fell in line to support Daniels, who as a female took on a career in a male-dominated field, officiating male football games.

PUP City Council cancels 10th Celebrations

Stephanie Lindo, Belize City Council’s City Administrator wrote to the National September Celebration Committee Co-Chair Sapna Budhrani, on behalf of the Belize City Council, informing the National September Celebrations Committee, that the Council had made the decision to cancel the 10th September Bram/Municipal Fair, which was scheduled to be held following the conclusion of the 10th September parade.

The reason sighted for the Council’s decision was the shortage of finances. Following the announcement, Minister of Culture, Hon. Patrick Faber dug into government coffers and assisted the Council with additional finances to keep the 10th alive. What was delivered to the residents was a half-hearted effort, which was not valued what was allocated by the Ministry of Culture.

Twenty persons granted bail since September 2017

Since September of 2017, based on our records, there have been at least 20 persons who have been granted bail after being accused of murder. Almost on a weekly basis, on Fridays, applications are made to the Supreme Court for bail for murder and more often than not they are granted. Most recently on Friday, August 24 Jermaine Garnett and Keyron Gibson were granted bail.

Prior to 2017, the trend had been that bail was not granted for murder with only three cases in recent memory having been granted. Those included bail for Hubert Neal, a 74-year-old blind man in 1977, Jesus Marroquin in 2006 and 81-year-old, Manuel Teck Cucul, who was bailed in 2012 after being accused of killing his wife. It was not until September 22, 2017 that the Supreme Court in earnest began to grant bail for murder on a regular basis. The case that was brought up at the time was for Nelson Henry, who had been on remand for over five years for the murder of Edward Lord Jr.

At the time his attorney Oscar Selgado had successfully argued that under Section 55 of the Belize Constitution, he was entitled to bail, especially if the person who is charged is not afforded a fair trial within reasonable time.

Since that precedent was set, by our records, persons have been bailed for murder after being on remand for over four years.

Persons who have been bailed for murder this year alone include Warren Lewis, Matthew Moore, Charles August, Gabriel Salazar, Jervis Diamonds Valencia, Kenneth Barrow, Nelson Henry, Orel Leslie Jr., Troy Hyde, Tyrone Meighan, Jedd Burgess, Travis Navarro, Jermaine Horse Garnett, Keyron Gibson, Roque Middleton, Alton Bailey, Roger Hernandez, a person by the last name Ramirez, Alton Bailey, Aaron Bailey and Daniel Myvette. Again this list is based on our research and not through any official reporting.

Speaking to CEO of the Hattieville Prison, Virgilio Murillo, he noted that as of June 30th there were 270 persons who were on remand for murder with 49 being added to the list this year alone. He noted that the 20 or so persons who have been bailed had limited impact on the prison population as there have been more than twice the number of persons remanded this year that those who were bailed.

All told, Murillo says that as of 30th of June there were 470 persons on remand for various offenses. That is down from last month when it was up to 495.

While the issue of bail is not affecting the prison population, there are those within the Police Department, who have expressed concern over the bails, which are being granted as those who are out may have an impact on the community where they return to while they await their trial.

Farewell to John Woods

In August, the nation had to bid farewell to John Woods, who died in Huston following complications of cancer. He was 75 years old. His passing was noteworthy as he was the chairman of the Kolbe Foundation and an active Rotarian serving in many humanitarian capacities. He was also the founder of Cisco Construction and was well known of his philanthropic work.

September

Court orders Jose Abelardo Mai to pay over 200,000 in death of woman

Jose Abelardo Mai, PUP Area Representative for Orange Walk South was ordered to pay in excess of $230,000 to the estate of Julia Arana. Mai appeared in Supreme Court after Arana’s son, Nissan Arana took the issue of his mother’s death to court after she was knocked down by Mai in Trial Farm on Friday April 1, 2016. Mai was never charged for the matter and he never admitted liability and never settled with the family members. On Wednesday, September 26th Justice Courtenay Abel ordered that Mai is to pay.

Ministry of Education Expands Number of Schools to get Hardship Allowances

The Belize National Teacher’s Union issued a statement in which it expressed “disgust” at the Ministry of Education for not having given them a finalized list of schools that were re-categorized for allocations to teachers for hardship allowances and time-off to collect salaries.

The impasse was based on two issues, the first being the re-categorizing of hardship allowances for rural school teachers; the second was the revisiting of time off for payday.

The last time this exercise was conducted was in 2000.

All Corozal rural teachers take half day every Friday

The Ministry of Education had to address a situation where teachers in the Corozal District, who teach in rural areas take half day off every Friday. Ministry officials told the Guardian that they recently came up on the situation as they went about updating the list of schools for which teachers are given hardship and time off for them to collect their pay.

Orange Walk blaze claims father and three children

A father and three of his children died in a fire, which destroyed their home in Orange Walk Town during the Independence Day weekend. That same fire destroyed three other family homes in the same yard. Along with the four relatives that the Petillo family lost in the blaze, 11 others were left homeless and without any of their possessions.

The victims who lost their lives were identified as 35-year-old Alfredo Petillo; his 14 year-old stepson, Kevawn Clarke; his 12-year-old daughter, Jayda Petillo; and his second daughter, 10-year-old Mia Petillo. Some time around 7 a.m. on Sunday, September 23rd, their severely burnt bodies were removed from the ashes of their destroyed home, which was located at the corner of Progress and Cinderella Streets in Orange Walk.

14 million in cocaine busted by police

Law enforcement personnel were able to seize drugs and drug runners in northern Belize on Sunday September 9th. At the time a Venezuelan aircraft was found in the Tres Leguas area in Blue Creek, Orange Walk and one of the three persons who were found in the area was a Belize police officer. The aircraft carried approximately 1,226 pounds of cocaine, having an estimated street value of BZD $14 million.

It was not until after a 45-minute shoot out with law enforcement officials, where no one was injured, that three persons were detained. In the end, a police officer and another Belizean and two Mexicans were detained. The officer was identified as PC Norman Anthony. And while PC Anthony was not at the scene, his presence in the area raised suspicion.

Along with the apprehension of PC Anthony, the two Mexican nationals, and a Belizean civilian, another person, Sup. David Chi, the officer in command at the Orange Walk station was placed on a five-day administrative leave. He was later formally charged.

Inauguration of the Caye Caulker Municipal Airport

After months of getting a facelift, the Caye Caulker Municipal Airport was inaugurated on Friday, September 7, 2018. At the inauguration ceremony at the airstrip, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Manuel Heredia, along with members for the Belize Airport Authority as well as the Belize Tourism Board were joined by Chairlady of the island, Enelda Rosado, and other prestigious and invited guests.

Flights from Caye Caulker, both from Maya Island and Tropic airlines, were suspended in October 2017 after the airstrip was deemed a safety hazard. With the inauguration of the airstrip, those safety hazards were addressed with new safety features and expansion restorations, all totaling to $3.6 million. That includes hot mix asphalt to runway lights, necessary to accommodate late and emergency flights.

Belize City Areas in State of Emergency

On Wednesday, the Ministry of National Security announced that there will be two areas that will be placed under states of emergency. One of the areas affected include Orange Street starting at West Canal, going down into Racecourse Street, up into East Collet Canal until it meets Orange Street. The second starts at the corner of Vernon Street and Central American Boulevard until it meets South Creek, across Dolphin Street and Magazine Road until it meets Vernon Street back to the corner of the boulevard.

The statutory instrument has already taken effect. On Wednesday, the police conducted operations where as many as 100 persons were detained. Police say that these persons will not be held indefinitely and DCP Williams said, the Police Department will not use this instrument as a means to abuse their power. Instead, there is structure and order to be abided by. After being detained, persons who are not directly linked to a gang can only be held for a maximum of seven days before they are informed of the reason for their detention. After that period, those persons will be released but the remaining persons, who are directly gang affiliated, will be immediately remanded and cannot apply for bail until after those 30 days.

UDP votes No to pay UHS debt-PUP walk out!

On Friday August 31, Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, introduced a Bill in the National Assembly to seek approval for the Government to use public money for payment of in excess of 95 million dollars to settle a private debt for the Universal Health Services Hospital.

When the time for voting came the PUP unceremoniously walked out. Led by the architect of the entire debt, Said Musa, invariably all PUP members walked out. In the end, the NO vote was carried by 17 members from the United Democratic Party voting NO. 12 PUP’s walked out. Two UDP members were not present at the meeting.

State of Emergency Declared in two south side areas

The Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar, CEO in the ministry, Ret. Col. George Lovell and DCP Chester Williams spoke at a press conference on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 after Governor General of Belize, Sir Colville Young, signed a statutory instrument. That proclamation declared a state of public emergency on the southside of Belize City, especially the areas in and surrounding Banak and George Streets.

The State of Emergency, was to subdue the expected crime during the September activities for a 30-day period.

Placencia battles sargassum problem

The white sandy beaches of Placencia were literally covered with tons and tons of sargassum, better known as Gulf Weed. In some areas, the compressed decaying plant material was as much as five feet thick with people actually being able to walk on it. The sea-side tourist community was one of the hardest hit by the floating weed. The community took it upon themselves to address the situation and employed many hours of man and machine power to clear up the problem.

Subsequently the Belize Tourism Board and the Department of the Environment pitched in with financial assistance to tackle the problem.

Director of Finance resigns from Belize City Council

Director of Finance at the Belize City Council, Marilyn Ordonez resigned from her post effective Wednesday August 29th. Reports were that she had grown increasingly frustrated with the manner in which business was being conducted at the City Council and opted to walk out.

Coast Guard opens new San Pedro Patrol Base

On Friday August 24, the Coast Guard held a groundbreaking ceremony at Bacalar Chico in the northern part of Ambergris Caye.

The construction of the base started immediately with construction being able to house 16 officers and will include a 30 foot lookout tower. A vessel will be permanently assigned to the outpost.

BTL rebrands to showcase its Digital imprint

Belize Telemedia Limited formally launched its rebranding exercise at the Civic Center on Friday, August 24, 2018.  All services and products offered by BTL were bundled under the ‘Digi’ brand. The three services rebranded were the landline telephones, “DigiTel”; internet, “DigiNet”; and mobile devices, “DigiCell.”

October

KHMHA reopens upgraded Operating theaters

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority (KHMHA) returned to full service capacity as the national referral hospital on Monday October 22, 2018. Service to the public was disrupted for six months due to planned upgrades and renovations to their operating theater suites. These upgrades were further compounded by an unexpected structural roof failure. Most of the upgrades included reinforcement within the beams and a fault line, which spanned the entire width of the hospital. Several services within the facility were cut in half due to reconstruction and other services, such as the operating theatres, were completely relocated, inconveniencing surgeons and their team for almost an entire year.

Johnny wants to export weed…

In one of his weekly addresses to the nation, Johnny Briceno announced that Belize should look into the possibility of legalizing and even exporting marijuana as a new industry in Belize. He pulled out all manner of statistics from countries that have legalized marijuana and explained how this would help us grow our economy. He went so far as to say that marijuana growth and exportation would be new and innovative industries.

Saint Bernard returns a money package

In October, Mayor Bernard Wagner returned a package of money which had been brought to his office as some form of gift. The bundle of money was contained in an envelope and it amounted to $2,500. The money was supposedly from a Chinese businesswoman with whom the Council had engaged in business for materials that could have been gotten in Belize City. The reason for the decision is unknown.

58 additional dialysis patients to receive treatment

On Monday, October 8, 2018, the Ministry of Health, on behalf of the Government of Belize, signed contracts with four service providers for the expansion of its Hemodialysis Program. The program will provide coverage to more than twice the number of patients with end-stage renal failure. The providers include KHMHA, La Loma Luz Hospital, Miguel Rosado Dialysis Clinic, and Dialysis del Caribe. From the expansion of the hemodialysis program, 88 patients with end-stage renal failure are set to benefit.

Gang members set free after 30 days

After 30 days of lockdown, 64 persons who were incarcerated as a result of a State of Emergency that was implemented in two areas in Belize City were released exactly one month after being remanded. The men who are from the George Street and Banak Street areas of Belize City were released after the legally mandated time for which they could be held in prison expired.

Stevedores say they will strike

The Christian Workers Union wrote a letter to the Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister and Minister of Labor, on behalf of the stevedores at the Port of Belize. That letter stated that the Port of Belize was being given 21 days’ notice of industrial action against the Port of Belize. After an impromptu strike in December 2015, a piece of legislation was passed that included stevedoring as an essential service, also prohibiting dockhands from going on strike without prior notice and it is with that that the impasse was brought against the Port.

Port of Belize and the stevedores had been at odds for quite some time it came to a head when the Port of Belize refused to discuss anything other than hours of work. In the days following, the Minister of Labor, Hon. Sen. Dr. Carla Barnett presided over negotiations between the two parties and the matter was settled amicably.

Hostel Girls tear open their roof

On Tuesday October 2nd police officers and BDF personnel had to be called in to placate a situation at the Youth Hostel where ten of the young girls at the institution ended up on top of the roof. The girls went into the ceiling of the building as a form of protest to poor treatment, food that they were not satisfied with among other complaints. The police were called in and some form of smoke device was used for them to come out. Instead of coming out the way they went in, they pushed the zinc roof off and ended up on top of the building.

They were talked down at around 11 on that same day and dialogued with authorities to improve their conditions.

November

Back hoe man Samuel August causes havoc in the city

On Friday, November 2, Samuel August Sr., escaped from police at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, assaulted a woman, stole her car, and crashed it into a backhoe near Mile 3 and a half on the George Price Highway. Two days prior to that, he used a backhoe to kill his mother-in-law, and his own five-year-old son. He had taken a backhoe entrusted to him as a City Council employee, and rammed it into the house on Faber’s Road. The impact completely wrecked portions of the house, and the falling debris crushed Louise Young, and his son, Samir August, to death.

Sex Offenders Registry now in Belize

In November, a Belize Sex Offenders Registry was unveiled in Belize. The registry will contain the name, picture, address, date of birth, and other information of the convicted sex offenders. The public will not have complete access to the registry. Those who do have, which may include principals, school managers, childcare facilities, and other entities responsible for care and education, may be granted access by the Minister of National Security or the Commissioner of Police. The reason for seeking access must be stated in the application. According to the law, convicted sex offenders must notify the police of his or her name and any aliases, address and change of address, date of birth, and other particulars. Failure to do so, without a reasonable excuse, may result in a fine of up to $10,000, a five-year-setence, or both. Sexual offences for which reporting is required include rape, attempted rape, marital rape, incest, indecent assault, procurement, and unlawful sexual intercourse.

Citco looks for 5 Million dollars to meet bills

The Mayor of Belize City in November, revealed that he is looking to float a municipal bond to the tune, of between four and five million dollars. The Mayor said that it was a short-term municipal paper to straighten out our their seasonal cash flow problems. In effect, the Council will be creating a debt in order to service debt.

Complaints against security forces to be better handled

The Minister of National Security on Wednesday November 21 announced that it would establish a better way in which it will deal with complaints arising from activities of all its law enforcement arms. A countrywide team of well-respected members of the community have been appointed to make up an investigating and advisory body that will look into complaints against security forces. The committee will be headed by former Police Commissioner, Gerald Westby. He is joined by Ian Glory from Corozal; Baldemar Gomez from Orange Walk; Martin Griffith from Belize City; Roberso Marin from Cayo; Sarita Kerr from Stann Creek; and Cecilia Mahung from Toledo.

GOB must pay for 4 million for ‘Walkie Talkie’

Back in 2002, Minister Ralph Fonseca signed on to a lease agreement with Intelco to provide a telephone system to connect all Government offices. It was a sweetheart deal that saw government paying 24 million dollars for the initial set up of Intelco and its Chairman at the time, Glen Godfrey. The agreement then continued with the Government continuing to make payments for the use of the system.

When the Barrow administration took office, the payments were discontinued causing Godfrey to take the Government to court. While the Government had won some cases related to this matter, the reality was that there was a debt owed and at a House Meeting held on Friday November 23, the Government passed a bill to pay Godfrey five million dollars in compensation for the telephone service.

Prime Minister Barrow stays in Office Until 2020

On Tuesday November 27, Cabinet announced that Prime Minister Dean Barrow will be staying in office until 2020. The PM had previously announced that it was likely that he would demit office before the next General Elections to give his successor an opportunity to, as Prime Minister, marshal the UDP into the next elections.

The announcement changed that decision. There will now be a recommendation to the UDP National Party Council to revise the schedule for it to fall in line with the Party’s Constitution. That means the next UDP leadership convention cannot occur before January of 2020. This will also push back the delegates conventions.

December

Belize reinstated to Anti-Doping Organization

In December, Belize was reinstated to the Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO) after being suspended in the middle of August. At the time, RADO decided to suspend the Belizean counterpart body-the Belize National Anti-Doping Organizaion (NADO). The decision was taken after Belize did not attend a RADO meeting and according to them, it was the third such consecutive meeting that Belize did not participate in. That meant that benefits and delegation responsibilities had been suspended, meaning that no sanctioned anti-doping testing could be conducted in the country.

In a letter dated November 27th Chairman of RADO-CAM explained that the members of the organization had voted unanimously to reinstate Belize as an official member of the body. The reinstatement came after the Government of Belize through the National Sports Council in consultation with the National Olympic Committee formed a task group to plan and execute the necessary steps to have the suspension lifted.

BEL Proposes Adjustment to Approved Rates

In a notification made to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) on Monday, December 10, 2018, stated that due to significant increases in cost of power since May 2018, the company was proposing an increase of $0.4150/kWh for the remainder of the Annual Tariff Period, January 1 to June 30, 2019.

After the request, the Public Utilities Commission not only approved the rate increase but actually gave them an additional $0.005 on the request. Making it a $0.03 increase on the Mean Electricity Rate. Following that announcement, the Government announced that it would be challenging the decision and the ministry of Public Utilities wrote the PUC to hold off on the decision until June of 2019.

FCD reports that the Chiquibul is regenerating

The Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) held its 19th Annual General Meeting on Sunday at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. At the meeting, a new Board of Directors was elected with the new entry of Hannah Martinez and Mick Fleming, the latter being a pioneer in a highly successful tourism venture in Belize.

FCD’s mission is to take on the adaptive management of the Chiquibul Forest to improve the ecological and cultural integrity of the Western Chiquibul-Maya Mountains. Its vision is for healthy terrestrial ecosystems that are sustainably managed for Belize and the region. In his annual report, Executive Director of FCD Mr. Rafael Manzanero reported positively that “..the forest is returning back…” Although data gathered by FCD partly from satellite imagery in 2018 estimates that 2,888 hectares has been deforested and there were 143 active fields in the reserve.

Credit Union Matriarch passes

The woman, who is considered the matriarch of the credit union movement in Belize, passed away. Hon. Jane Usher, who was born on September 5, 1917 passed away on Tuesday December 11. She was 101 years old.

Usher began the credit union movement with the establishing of Holy Redeemer Credit Union along with her husband Henry Charles Usher in 1944. Originally she was employed as a clerk at the institution and by 1956 she was appointed as the General Manager. Up to the time of her death she was the Chief Executive Officer of the credit union.