7 News Belize

7 News Belize HeadlinesWednesday, August 26, 2015

Man Acquitted For Mennonite Murder
After 4 years on remand, 28 year-old Nicholas Swazo, is at home tonight after being acquitted of murder in a trial without jury for the shooting death of...
After 27 Years, Melvin Hulse Calls It Quits
Former UDP Minister, and most recently the UDP standard bearer for Stann Creek West, Melvin Hulse says he’s resigning form the UDP. Hulse, who is a three time repr...
Sr. Supt Williams Disputes
On Monday’s news, we showed you our interview with the family of 16 year-old Mark Phillips who was shot in the abdomen on Thursday night. The police said that he...
Former Musical Artist Found Dead In River after Falling On Hard Times
Back in 2004, the performer named Bobo Youth lit up the local music scene with his song “Protect and Serve,” a searing criticism of police. But, when he wa...
Unemployment At Lowest Mark in 7 Years
All over the world, unemployment figures are a critical indicator of an economy’s wellbeing. In Belize, the unemployment rate is derived from the Labou...
GDP Down For Second Quarter
And while the unemployment figure is down – so is the GDP – and that’s not good, because the GDP is the total value of all goods and services produced withi...
Managing The Sargassum Phenomenon
The sargassum phenomenon is swamping beaches all over Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Belize is no exception – and with tourism numbers for th...
Sunset Cove Revisited
And today the media also asked Heredia about the Sunset Cove subdivision. You may remember that a year ago, news came out that survey pegs had appeared in the middle...
Community Policing 1, 2, 3
Once upon a time not too long ago, it seemed like every evening newscast would be filled with reports of police brutality. But nowadays you can substitut...
There Will Be A New DHS
There will be a new Director of Health Services. After 7 years in the job, we are told that Dr. Michael Pitts is moving on. We don’t know the terms of his departure, but we do know t...
Cruise Tourism: The Real Ideal
Every year, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Children's Environmental Poster Competition, awards Caribbean and Latin American students for creating posters depicting ways to prot...
A Rum Called Fiesta
Our next story is about rum – but in no way is it promoting drinking. That said, there’s no denying that the sugar cane alcohol is a major part of Belize’s tourism product, and, again, ...
Sarstoon Misadventures
For the past 2 weeks, Sarstoon Island and Sarstoon River have dominated the headlines – and you all got to see how the Belize/Guatemala Territorial Dispute was p...
Bobo, Before The Fall
And as we close tonight – we look back to June of 2004. That’s when Theodore Parchue, then known as Bobo Youth was the popular artist on the local scene with his breakthrough song, Prot...
Search 7 News Archive Click here for Yesterday's News Click to search entire archive
Free News

Subscribe to 7 News Belize RSS News Feed

ADVERTISEMENTS:

7 News Belize - News:
Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers, we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English

Man Acquitted For Mennonite Murder

After 4 years on remand, 28 year-old Nicholas Swazo, is at home tonight after being acquitted of murder in a trial without jury for the shooting death of 36 year-old Mennonite Businessman Wendell Reimer.

On October 7, 2011, the three men barged into Eagle One Hardware Store, located at mile 4 and a half on the Phillip Goldson Highway. One of the men was armed, and that’s when they held up the cashier, stole the money in the cash register and the gunman shot and killed the store-owner, Wendell Reimer.

Now, both Swazo and 25 year-old Ernest Staine, who was acquitted on last week Tuesday, are now free of the capital offence. As soon as Justice Adolph Lucas finished delivering his written ruling, we spoke with Swazo’s attorney outside of court about it:

Christelle Wilson- Attorney of Nicholas Swazo

"Nicholas Swazo is my client, he has been on remand for about 4 years for the murder of Mr. Wendellin Reimer who was the owner of the Eagle One Hardware store; and today he walked out of the courtroom a free man acquitted of the charges or murder so we are very happy to have received that result. They had actually charged 2 men with this crime of murder. One of the men was acquitted a little bit earlier in the trail, Ernest Staine; on the grounds that they did not have any evidence to show that Ernest Staine had the mental intention or mens rea as we say in law to commit murder. But what the prosecution claimed they had against my client was a surveillance footage taken from the Eagle One Hardware store; which they had a witness, officer Jemmott who claimed that he was able to identify my client as being the person on the footage because he knew him for 15 plus years."

Daniel Ortiz

"Talk to us about how you defended your client against this charge."

Christelle Wilson- Attorney of Nicholas Swazo

"Well my client has always maintained to me that he could not have been at the scene, he always had an alibi defence; but because we had to tackle the identification being put forward by the prosecution. We had to prove that officer Jemmott was not in a position to make a positive identification of Nicholas Swazo. That is, there were conflicting evidence coming from Jemmott and the other prosecution witnesses that were brought to back up his story; in that he did not actually know the client for the past 15 years and he did not see him as often as he said he would have seen him. So what the defence put forward was that; for you to be able to make a positive identification on a surveillance footage of somebody you claim to know, you have to be able to prove to the judge, to the jury, to the court that you actually really know that person and you've known them for some time that you cannot be mistaken when you're making that identification. And as you heard from the judge, the prime witness, the person who has sealed the fate of the defendant was not able to satisfy the judge that he would have been able to make a positive identification."

So where did the case fall apart? Well, the prosecution’s evidence relied on video footage that was captured on a surveillance camera that was in the store. Assistant Superintendent Henry Jemmott, who viewed the footage, testified that Swaso was the robber in the white t-shirt who, according to the cashier, was the gunman that pursued Reimer before the gunshot were heard.

But in his ruling, Justice Lucas said that the images in the footage were not clear and that it would be unfair to convict an accused only on the evidence of Jemmott and so he found Swaso not guilty.

Cashier, Carmelita Peck testified in the trial that one of the robbers shot her boss, while the other went into the cash register and took out all the money that was in it, a mere $175 dollars.


After 27 Years, Melvin Hulse Calls It Quits

Former UDP Minister, and most recently the UDP standard bearer for Stann Creek West, Melvin Hulse says he’s resigning form the UDP. Hulse, who is a three time representative – and a veteran UDP politician for 27 years appeared on the LOVE FM Morning Show today to say that he’s calling it quits with the UDP – because they keep frustrating him in his attempts to help his people in Stann Creek West:..

Melvin Hulse - Resigned From The UDP

"I never expect the day mi wa come when I had to say, as of now, as of today, I am officially no member of the UDP party; I resign from the party. And I want to be an independent free thinker who; if he sees any injustice or anything. Because when you belong with a party, you are to a degree obligated not to be attacking your organization. Man if I work for BTL, I can't be criticising them. I work for Love FM, I can't criticize them. We can do it out there and then they tape and we get in trouble. I have decided that we reach a point that; no reason to quarrel with you anymore, we're on a different page. My loyalty is that we have an obligation to help grass root people and they should not. How much, every day we the hear about we the put system, put system. People can't get their purchase price, can't get their title. I have people who have paid for their title years ago; can't get lease, can't get that, can't get education help, can't get electricity, can't get pipe for water expansion. That da no weh this country is about you know."

Of course the background to this is important. In July, the PUP released a secret recording where Hulse was heard badmouthing his UDP colleagues including the Prime Minister. After that he apologized for misspeaking and stepped down as Standard Bearer. A convention was held earlier this month to replace HULSE, where his candidate, former Chairman Nathan Young had a strong showing, but lost to Walter Garbutt. So now, Hulse says he is in the bad books, a UDP persona non grata – and expressed deep frustration with his former party:..

Melvin Hulse - Resigned From The UDP

"It's never one thing that starts to frustrate you, okay. Not frustrate you, start to make you understand that gradually, even when you are breaking up with your wife and what’s not or any breaking up of partnership in business; the divergence start with little things. Eventually one day you wake up and you realize you're not on the same page. This is what has happened, steady erosion, erosion. You have a big fight man, Stann Creek with how many people? It's a constant struggle to get land issues straighten up for them, leases; and you hear all of these excuses. Then people give you the word that yes boy, we will get things done, we will do that and do that; they don't keep their word. Then it start to show that boy, if you are not a key person in party then you stop being a Belizean and you can't get any of the benefits from the ministry; and you can't push for things and what’s not. We got not Christmas cheers, we got no Mother's Day cheers in Stann Creek West. Because guess what man, we no happy with Hulse so; 30,000 people, grass root people, 23 villages, well tough luck. I have a problem with that, I have an opinion. And if we disagree you are then ostracized; now you seize to be a Belizean. You go to the ministry; because I am not active in politics that means if I follow up and ask to try help grass roots people to try get educational help; get their lease and their land papers and their title. Electricity expansion has been promised for umpteen years. Oh no, no, no, you no inna play."

As you heard, the management of the Lands Department kept coming up, and Hulse said the straw that broke the Camel’s Back was the mishandling of a subdivision in Placencia. He says he will now act as a free thinking, free speaking watchdog – and he won’t be afraid to speak out against his former party.


Sr. Supt Williams Disputes

On Monday’s news, we showed you our interview with the family of 16 year-old Mark Phillips who was shot in the abdomen on Thursday night. The police said that he and another man were armed and waiting to ambush a man who was walking by. The cops say the plan went wrong when Phillips ended up getting shot by his partner in crime. Phillips, his family, and residents in the area, say that the cops have it all wrong; Phillips and his 2 friends are in fact the victims a failed street slaying.

So, who put the police narrative together – and how could it be so far off? We asked Senior Superintendent Chester Williams, the Officer Commanding Eastern Division South. He told us that Phillips and his alibi witnesses better prepare themselves to tell that story to the judge, because the police will move forward with the prosecution base don their version:

Daniel Ortiz

"Are the police investigators reconsidering the position that they have taken to take criminal action against all 3 of them?"

Supt. Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South

"I am not going to venture into any back and forth in terms of what Mark Phillips has said. I do not expect him to say that he was out there trying to perpetrate any criminal act. So whatever it is, it's his story, you must save it for the courts."

Daniel Ortiz

"But sir what if your investigators are wrong? 2 men are in jail right now awaiting the case for aggravated assault; some would say that is unjust use of police force, to force them to prove their innocence when you might already be sitting on that information of their innocence."

Supt. Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South

"Every person who is charged by the police; there is always some doubt coming from them or there is always something coming from them that you know what, they did not commit the crime for which they are charged. I do not expect anyone to say you know what, yes we did this. I have two separate reports on two separate occasions where these persons were involved with the use of gun, threatening others. So even if they want to say on that night in question; the previous night they were there as well with firearm trying to shoot somebody. So the fact of the matter is that, they are charged with aggravated assault. They will face their day in court to explain to explain to the magistrate what their side of the story is and that will be hashed out in the court between them and the person who they had gone to shoot that night in question."

Daniel Ortiz

"But you do concede that there is a possibility; a chance that the police intel may be wrong. Do you concede that could be a possibility?"

Supt. Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South

"I'm not going to say that; we must understand that when we do investigation, it's human information. The police were not out there on the night in question when they matter took place. The police investigation is a result of information given to the police by those person who were out there and witness what took place. And in any investigation we go by what people say to us; those information are analysed at a part of the police investigation process to determine whether or not there is some truth to the story. Because at the end of the day we want that, when we charge somebody we are not charging somebody out of malicious behaviour. So I am satisfied with the information we have on these individuals that yes; they were the ones who commit the crime on the night in question and hence the reason why they are charged and they are where they are today. "

Mark Phillips’ friends, Lloyd Leslie and Dwayne Evelyn, who the teenager claims were almost shot, are in jail tonight. They were remanded to the prison after being arraigned on aggravated assault.


Former Musical Artist Found Dead In River after Falling On Hard Times

Back in 2004, the performer named Bobo Youth lit up the local music scene with his song “Protect and Serve,” a searing criticism of police. But, when he wasn’t on stage or in the studio, Bobo Youth, whose real name is Theodore Parchue got in major trouble with the law, caught in the act during a burglary – for which he got sentenced to 7 years. That was back in 2006 – and since then the former rapper has fallen on hard times. He had been homeless for the past few years, living under the Belcan Bridge in Belize City.

Well, this morning at 8:20, the 34 year old was found dead under that same bridge – afloat in the Belize River. He was caught in the net of a fisherman – who got quite a scare. He told us about it:…

Herman Williams - Fisherman

"When I throw now I feel the net hook pan something like a piece of board; and I the haul it, haul it and when I look I see a hand the come like this so and I just let go the net and I run come on land. And when I look I see two officers and I just hail them and they come and then when they haul the net a lee bit more they see da wa man they so. Its fortunate for he because then you know a lot of crocodile they round the spot and thing; and maybe drift go more and crocodile carry ah or maybe he drift go, you know. And then maybe we don't even find ah. So it’s good how I haul him in."

Jules Vasquez

"So what was your reaction?"

Herman Williams - Fisherman

"I start to shake, I tremble, I had to hold on that piece of iron thing and I the shake, shake, shake because those kind of experience is nothing that happens all the time you know. That is like once in a million years. I just hope I don't catch nobody else after this because that is a serious experience."

Police found no signs of violence on the body and do not suspect foul play. They believe that Parchue may have had some kind of an accident or a seizure, and fell into the river and drowned. He was an epileptic. A post mortem is scheduled for tomorrow. Later on we’ll go back in our archive to 2004 when he had his breakthrough hit “Protect and Serve.”


Unemployment At Lowest Mark in 7 Years

All over the world, unemployment figures are a critical indicator of an economy’s wellbeing. In Belize, the unemployment rate is derived from the Labour Force Survey – which is done twice yearly – in April and September. The results of the April 2015 survey were released today and they show that with a labour force of 153 thousand persons, 138 thousand are employed. That leaves 15 about thousand unemployed – for an unemployment rate of 10.1% - the lowest recorded figure since April of 2007 – and one percent lower than a year ago. Director General of the Statistical Institute of Belize Leopold Perriot explained at press conference today:..

Leopold Perriot - Director General, SIB

"The employed labour force went up slightly from April 2014 to April 2015; went up by total of about 3,500 people. So the employed persons, 138,145 person in April 2015. They are 15,544 persons that are unemployed in Belize April 2015 compared with 16,730 in April 2014; we're down in the unemployed categories. And we're down mostly due to the females. Compared with April 2014, the unemployment rate is down 1 percentage point. Currently it stands at about 10.1%; and so it's down from 11.1% in April 2014. And this is the distribution in respect to various districts. Stann Creek of course seems to give us the highest unemployment rate; followed by Cayo. Lowest in Toledo, that's what it was last time Toledo also is 2014."

Unemployment has been trending down since September 2013 when it peaked at 16.1%. The next labour force survey is in September, which is usually higher than April due to fewer seasonal jobs in tourism and agriculture. This survey polled 2800 households.

And if you get lost in all the percentages, this may be simpler: there are 3,558 more persons working in April 2015, than there were in APRIL 2014.


GDP Down For Second Quarter

And while the unemployment figure is down – so is the GDP – and that’s not good, because the GDP is the total value of all goods and services produced within that territory. And when it is down – as it is for the second quarter of 2015 - that suggests an economic slowdown. The latest GDP estimate was released today along with the figures of inflation in July of 2015 – which, despite the fact that you may be paying more for groceries and foodstuffs, shows that overall, prices are falling. We’ll let the experts explain it:

Jules Vasquez Reporting….

Inflation for July was down -1% when compared to July of last year.

That is based on a one hundred dollar so called shopping basket – and the statisticians say – it costs less than last year:

Angelita Campbell - Statistician II

"For instance if you were to purchase a basket of goods last year on an average of 100 dollars, this year it will cost roughly 99 dollars."

Now the hundred dollars in your family’s shopping basket may seem be costing much more – and indeed the cost of foodstuffs like eggs and beef have gone up sharply – but the statisticians say that in the end it evens out:

Angelita Campbell - Statistician II

"We have meat going up, we have eggs going up. We see vegetables going down. There was a small increase as well in fruits. So I'm not saying individually things are decreasing. I am saying on an average; which a broader spectrum of all the prices that we take into consideration. It's show a decrease."

"They are fluctuations within each category. If you're spending more money in house and rental, obviously it increase; I said before. But collectively, you're spending less money on gas; you're spending less money on electricity. So there is an offset to that increase as well."

One of the main drivers of negative inflation is the lower cost of fuel compared to last year.

Angelita Campbell - Statistician II

"We see fuel prices decreasing by roughly 2 to 3 dollars in comparison to last year of the same period."

Still, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama are three of the only countries in the region to show negative inflation in July 2015.

In trade, the imbalance between imports and exports continued to grow – and the import bill was higher than ever:

Mrs. Marilyn Pinelo-Lee - Economic Statistics Manager

"Belize imported goods totalling 1.2 billion; an increase of 50.3 million or 4.4% from the same period last year.

Exports were down – and not just oil exports either:

Mrs. Marilyn Pinelo-Lee - Economic Statistics Manager

"Crude had the largest share in decline; amounting 41.3 million, due to decreased production and lower world market prices. Citrus experienced a decline of 13.2 million attributing to decreased exports."

And that carried over to the Gross Domestic Product – which contracted in the second quarter of 2015.

Jefte Ochaeta, Statistician I, SIB

"For the months of April to June 2015 compared to the same period last year, total production of goods and services within the country if Belize fell by 1.6%."

Now for the first half of 2015 there was a cumulative increase of 2.7% in the GDP; but in this second quarter, the main drop was in the secondary or manufacturing sector – that’s the one in yellow.

Jefte Ochaeta, Statistician I, SIB

"We found that the decrease, the largest decrease was in manufacturing and oil and mining; which was around 10.9 million dollars less than what was produced in 2014. Citrus concentrate was almost half less from what was produced in last year."

And if you are really into the numbers, you can find more at the Statistical Institute of Belize Website.


Managing The Sargassum Phenomenon

The sargassum phenomenon is swamping beaches all over Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Belize is no exception – and with tourism numbers for the first half of the year sagging just a little bit – the blighted beaches can be safely scapegoated for the modest downturn. And what is government doing to try and help? Today the Tourism Minister said they are giving duty exemptions to any resort or hotel owner who is importing equipment to dispose of the Sargassum:…

Hon. Manuel Junior Heredia - Minister of Tourism

"The overall from the January to July it was .08 % only the difference between one year and the other. So I believe that even though there were little factors, one that I could say that you mentioned privately a while ago the sargassum has been a minimal; I cannot say that it is just a minimal part of that one because our beaches for almost 2 years have been practically 25-30 feet wide, the entire beaches of Belize with that sargassum. Whenever you cannot keep your beaches 24 hours a day as white as it used to be, it is indeed a problem. There are some of the tourists that will come specifically to be bathing in the shallow waters right in front of the beach of their resort.”

Government for its part have been trying with whatever equipment they want to get, duty exemption to be able to assists the hotelier to make sure that they can the best that they can to have their beaches as clean as possible. I know for a fact now that in San Pedro there is Matachica that has gotten equipment; I haven't seen it personally in the value of 30,000 US, in less than an hour will have their beaches clean. Grand Caribe also has something like a turbine that they have bought. And according to the owner, he tells me that within an hour also they get rid of the sargassum. So hopefully we will find the right solution to be able to deal with this natural phenomenon. But again it is a regional problem. If you see in the social media, Cancun is worst that Belize. 4 feet deep and I believe almost 100 feet wide. I think it is St. Martin that had to close the beaches over there because it was unmanageable. So Belize as a whole is going well and the beauty about Belize is that we can pull together, we search it together and make sure we can address as best as possible.


Sunset Cove Revisited

And today the media also asked Heredia about the Sunset Cove subdivision. You may remember that a year ago, news came out that survey pegs had appeared in the middle of a mangrove wetland – one that had been put aside for part of a protected area – but somehow ended up as a proposed subdivision. IT brought heat on area representative Manuel Junior Heredia – but today, he told the media that an alternate and viable plan has been worked out:…

Hon. Manuel Junior Heredia - Minister of Tourism

"Today I can tell you and I can invite you to go and see the subdivision that we have done. What we decided because; indeed I have to accept that a subdivision in low area has been done in other parts of the island. But politics unfortunately, politics is the name of the game and the opposition will use it to their advantage. But in this case, it worked to my advantage because Cabinet decided to give us 400 acres of what was invested in Beltraide; which is far better land than what we were using and we have created. We have created a concept plan of what we want to in those 400 acres. Leaving over there open spaces for another hospital, another police station. The fire station, schools and you name it, we will have it over there and with sufficient space because its 3, 4, 5 acres that is being left for this particular type of infrastructure."


Community Policing 1, 2, 3

Once upon a time not too long ago, it seemed like every evening newscast would be filled with reports of police brutality. But nowadays you can substitute the buzzword “community policing” for “police brutality” – because that’s what’s on the news, like, every night. Now don’t get us wrong; this isn’t to say that police brutality has come to an end – we’re very sure it hasn’t. But the police department is trying to change the public narrative about policing – apparently by inundating the news with community policing initiatives.

For the past two months, we’ve been showing you the sustained community policing efforts that the Belize City cops have been rolling out in the different neighbourhoods that have been trapped in the cycle of gang violence.

Well, Eastern Division South Commander Chester Williams and other police officers were out in the area of Supal Street and Kraal Road today. This is the turf of two powerful gangs, but for the past few weeks, it has been incident free. Williams told us today that the police will not be lulled into a false sense of security:

Supt. Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South

"It’s a continuity of our police community relationship and effort that we are trying to bridge that gap between the police and the community. So we continue our weekly meet and great. This is a weekly event that we normally do on Wednesdays or Thursdays; that myself and the other senior managers of south side Belize City go in the different neighbourhoods of south side Belize City. Interacting with people and try to see how best we can get their concerns and put measures in place to address those concerns in order for them to feel much safer in their communities."

"They are satisfied, they are saying that they have been very happy over the past couple of weeks that they are seeing the crime situation going down on south side Belize City and they applaud the effort that myself and my management team are putting in to see how best we could bring some symbol of peace on south side Belize City. So the feedback all and all from the members of this community has been very good. They spoke to the fact that they like seeing the police presence in the area; the police pass every so often. Stop, talk to them and do what they have to do; and stop even searching people. But they are saying that now, the way the police come it is with a more respectable manner than how they use to come before with this brutal mentality."

ASP Marcia Moody - OC, Police Precinct 2

"Today we’re out doing meet and great with the people in the area of Supal and Kraal Road and I must say they are very receptive. They are here giving out positive comments and one of the concern that I hear mostly from them is respect from the police to the community and respect from the community to the police. And they are saying that, they are getting it and we are dialoguing trying to see how we can communicate on a one to one basis to see how we can curve crime within this area."

Daniel Ortiz

"Now Kraal Road sir, we know that is a base of one of the city's gangs. Is that area a particular area of interest for the south side commanders working in this area?"

Supt. Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South

"Yes it is an area of interest. I must say that for the past couple of months, Kraal Road has been somewhat dormant in terms of criminal activities but; it doesn't mean that because there is not so much going on in the area that we must just neglect it totally. We still come in and see how things are in the area and we talk to people, see what their concerns are and try to see how best we can assist them to police the area and let them feel much safer in this area."

The Eastern Division South has an event planned for the Kraal Road/Supal Street community this weekend.


There Will Be A New DHS

There will be a new Director of Health Services. After 7 years in the job, we are told that Dr. Michael Pitts is moving on. We don’t know the terms of his departure, but we do know that Dr. Ramon Figueroa will be replacing him. Dr. Figueroa was formerly the Director of the Planning and Policy Management Unit. The transition is expected to happen before the end of this week.

Pitts had an adversarial relationship with CEO in the Ministry, Dr. Peter Allen – which went on for years. His departure is seen as CEO Allen eventually winning out in the power struggle.


Cruise Tourism: The Real Ideal

Every year, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Children's Environmental Poster Competition, awards Caribbean and Latin American students for creating posters depicting ways to protect the environment and promote awareness in their country. This year's competition featured finalists from 12 destinations ranging from juniors to seniors with nearly $26,000 awarded to the participants and schools. 16 year old Nisa Sanchez of E.P York High School won second place in the senior competition and was awarded three thousand dollars to put towards her education and another three thousand dollars for her school. 11 year old Homayra Sarah on St Joseph RC School won third place in the junior competition and was awarded with two thousand dollars, also for her education and another 2 thousand for her school. Today the Belize Tourism Board held a handing over ceremony of the cheques to the winners.

At this morning’s ceremony there was another handing over. The Tourism Board donated 5 Yamaha trail bikes and equipment to the Tourism Police Unit to assist the Unit in carrying out their mandate.

The bikes will be distributed to Hopkins, Orange Walk, Ambergris Caye, Cayo and Belize City.


A Rum Called Fiesta

Our next story is about rum – but in no way is it promoting drinking. That said, there’s no denying that the sugar cane alcohol is a major part of Belize’s tourism product, and, again, this year, just in time for September, Travellers Liquors has launched Fiesta Rum. This is a follow up on last year’s release of “Belizean Rum.” Now Fiesta Rum is the first we know of with a celebrity tie-in. The celebrity in question is DJ Dalla – and he launched the blended spice rum today at Traveller’s headquarters:

We stress alcohol consumption is for adults.


Sarstoon Misadventures

For the past 2 weeks, Sarstoon Island and Sarstoon River have dominated the headlines – and you all got to see how the Belize/Guatemala Territorial Dispute was playing out in real time.

But, tonight, we have slightly different take for you. Sure enough, the Sarstoon issue is no joke – but the civilian-led river adventures – have also had their share of misadventures – mainly because the territorial volunteers are figure out as they go along. And that’s fine – the men and women of the volunteers, are stout of heart and strong in spirit. But they also have to have a good sense of humour – because as the saying goes, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. So, we’ve put together a parable of misadventure on the Sarstoon, partly at our expense. Enjoy – and try not to laugh too much:

Daniel Ortiz Reporting….

Protecting the sovereignty of the Sarstoon: it’s a serious and powerful statement, but there have been a few misadventures in that location which provides ample comic relief.

The first is that to avoid contact with aggressive Guatemalan Navy, the Territorial Volunteers had to hold their patriotic party on a Sandbar with Sarstoon Island visible in the distance. It was a simply calculation for safety, but seeing 160+ persons in ankle deep water looked faintly like an outing to the cayes for getaway.

FILE: AUGUST 18, 2015

Efrain Alpuche - Travelled to Sarstoon River Mouth

"Standing here is quite a pleasure. This is serious fun, but it's necessary to be done. It's about high time I think as Belizeans we stand together and make a stand about our patrimony - about our natural heritage and such. So standing here is worth the while.”

Then, there was the confrontation with the Guatemalan Navy – bumper boats – which seems kind of funny now, but when it was happening it led to mass panic and softening of wills. Fraught with danger, it definitely warranted the panicked pleas for a retreat when Orlando De La Fuente was forging forward. Now, that it happened without incident, it does make for a chuckle to listen back to persons shouting for everyone to turn back.

Then, imagine sitting in the lead boat. The Guatemalan Navy has already laid down the hardline, “Go back to where you came from”. Everyone showing bravado is acutely aware of the danger of being hurt, detained or provoking an armed confrontation. Who would forget seeing the Guatemalan boat captain cutting off your boat every time you attempted to get away from them?

That was all in an effort to get to the Sarstoon Island, the flashpoint of the Guatemalan Territorial Claim. The Territorial Volunteers would eventually get the opportunity to get up close to the island, and almost mischievously, they erected the Belize Flag. They also got to put a foot on the island - which not really on the land per say. That’s when it becomes clear the symbol of defiant patriotism is really a mangrove bog, and the closest thing to planting yourself, if you want to remain dry, is on a mangrove’s root.

FILE: AUGUST 25, 2015

Daniel Ortiz

"Do you accept that there was a risk of being detained when we were doing that and that while we have our own views, the Guatemalans would certainly have arrested us?"

Wil Maheia - Leader, Belize Territorial Volunteers

"Yes, it is a very real risk. But as Belizeans we must stand strong, we must stand proud, we must stand Belizean. So while it was a risk, the risk was well worth it."

Then, not being aware of the difficulty, we go on a chase of suspected illegal Guatemalan fishermen. It’s important issue, but seriously funny, projecting the image of a beached manatee thrashing around in soft mud:

Sure, everyone knows what’s at stake, but how much does all this increased activity really means in the grand scheme of things?

FILE: AUGUST 17, 2O15

Daniel Ortiz

"Sir, while it is a great and powerful statement, there will be those who say you've accomplished everything, but you've really accomplished nothing because when we leave from here, the Guatemalans will still be as aggressive to anyone who enter this channel and has any intentions to go in that location. How do you respond to those people?"

Orlando De La Fuente

"Mr. Ortiz, you've heard right, because that's the tradition. That's the custom here.”

And for all his shallow water troubles, Daniel Ortiz lost two cell phones to the loamy banks of the Sarstoon.

And for all his shallow water troubles, Daniel Ortiz lost two cell phones to the loamy banks of the Sarstoon.


Bobo, Before The Fall

And as we close tonight – we look back to June of 2004. That’s when Theodore Parchue, then known as Bobo Youth was the popular artist on the local scene with his breakthrough song, Protect and Serve. It was a very effective police protest music song – and one that resonated at many levels of the community. It was the high point for Bobo Youth – who as we told you at the top of the newscast went very much downhill after 2006 when he was convicted of burglary. He died this morning as a homeless man under a city bridge. But in 2004, when, as the old spiritual says, “hope was still unborn”, no one could have guessed at such a tragic, and nameless end for a one time street celebrity. Tonight we look back at Keith swift’s story of the then ebullient artist.

Theodore PArchue, aka Bobo Youth, dead at 34. Tomorrow we’ll know more about his cause of death, but police do not suspect foul play




7 News for Wednesday, 26th August, 2015 from 7News Belize on Vimeo.


Home | Archives | Downloads/Podcasts | Advertise | Contact Us

7 News Belize