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36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye

San Pedro Sun | Security at the San Pedro Municipal Airstrip was heightened with BDF officers, members of the San Pedro Police Department, and other Protection Forces as early this morning the Foreign Affairs Ministers and Ambassadors of Guatemala and El Salvador arrived on the Island.

Snipers were visible on the roofs of nearby buildings around the airstrip

 A series of meetings have started both at the technical and vice-ministerial levels, in preparation for the visit of the Heads of State of all Central American countries. The visit by the leaders is part of the Central American Integrated System conference which will end on Thursday when all leaders are expected to discuss a number of issues related to the region before participating in a joint press conference on Thursday afternoon.
The meetings at the technical level started on Monday evening while the vice-ministers met behind closed doors inside the conference room at Coco Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye. The meetings continued on Wednesday with senior officials, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the various countries. The 36th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and the Government of SICA will see the participation of six Heads of State including the Prime Minister of Belize, the Honorable Dean Barrow.

Con Man Sentenced

7 news |
He’s one of the “chanciest” and prolific con men we’ve ever reported on and 33 year old Artemio Acosta was convicted in absentia today.
Acosta was charged with fourteen counts of obtaining property by deception for allegedly taking money from primary schools all over Belize for t-shirts which were never delivered.

Though he was not in court, Acosta was found guilty of seven counts of obtaining property by deception in a trial that was held in the #4 Magistrate’s Court.

Magistrate Roberto Ordonez fined him $1,000 for each count, a total of $7,000, in default one year for each count with the stipulation that the sentences are to run consecutively.

He also ordered that Acosta pay $1,330 in compensation to the schools. (more…)

WOMEN’S DEPARTMENT COMPLETES THIRD PHASE OF SINGLE WOMEN’S PROJECT

LoveFm |

The third cycle of the “Supporting Single Mothers in Belize City Project” being carried out by the Women’s Department has come to a close. The session began in July of this year and a commencement exercise is scheduled for tomorrow evening at the Belize Elementary School Gymnasium. Love News spoke with Cynthia Williams Human Development Coordinator at the Women’s Department.

Cynthia Williams; Human Development Coordinator, Women’s Department

“56 women have completed the program. These women have undergone training in cosmetology, child care services, housekeeping and sewing. These participants are single mothers who range from 17 to 48 years and the sessions were held in the evenings where child care services were also provided for them. In this way the participants were able to sometimes also work or engage in other types of activities that could sustain them and their children while undergoing the training.”
Williams says that a part of the project is assisting the women in getting employment.”

(more…)

Officers charged in last month’s drug bust

Ambergris Today |

Five police officers and custom officers who were allegedly involved in the landing of a drug airplane on November 13th, returned to Magistrate’s court on Thursday, December 9, under heavy police and BDF guard.

However, only four of the police officers and the custom officers were charged with abetment of a crime. According to the allegation, on November 13 the officers facilitated the landing of an airplane carrying 2,921 kilograms of cocaine between miles 56 and 57 on the Southern Highway.

The five are Sergeant Jacinto Roches, attached to the Internal Affairs Department, Sergeant Lawrence Humes, attached to the Belmopan Police Station, Corporal Nelson Middleton, who was the driver for the Governor General of Belize, Corporal Renel Grant, attached to the Traffic Department and custom officer Harold Usher. Only Corporal Vidal Cajun was not charged with the offence. However, Vidal and the others have a charge of keeping ammunition without a gun license and were remanded into custody until February 9th, 2011. The five were given the same remand date for the new charge. (News Source: Love FM) (photos courtesy News 5)

Trawling Totally Banned in Belize

San Pedro Sun | PRESS RELEASE
Wed December 8, 2010
Belize City, Belize

All forms of trawling in Belize has been banned in the country’s waters including its EEZ when Minister responsible for Fisheries Rene Montero today signed the Statutory Instrument effecting this legislative change.

The ban which is effective January 1, 2011 is a historic decision of Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration that has also passed legislation to protect parrot fish, regulate sport fishing and control the issuing of fishing license.

The call to ban bottom trawling had been made some years ago but lacked the political will as the government was faced with the reality of what to do with the existing trawlers owned and operated by the Northern Fishermen Cooperative Association (NFC). Oceana in Belize in collaborating with the government assisted in resolving this concern by negotiating the buy-out of the two shrimp-trawlers.

After discussions with the fishers directly affected by the proposed ban, Oceana was able to secure the full support of the Belize Fishermen Association which has a membership of four cooperative including the NFC. In the letter, signed by the Chairman Allan Bevans Green, Vice Chairman, Carlton Young and Secretary Ovel Leonardo Sr. the BFCA expressed support for the buyout of the trawlers. “By our support of the sale of the two trawlers to Oceana, the BFCA also agrees to support Oceana in its Endeavour to ban all trawling permanently within the waters of Belize,” concluded the letter.

Belize has become one of only three countries in the world to institute a complete and permanent ban on trawling in all its waters. Large areas in the US, Indonesia, Phillipines and other Pacific islands are closed to trawling, though not the entire country. Venezuela and Palau, like Belize banned trawling completely.

Vice President for Oceana in Belize, Audrey Matura-Shepherd says that this is a historic milestone in the life of the Belizean fishers and the environmental community because “it is indicative of the partnership that could be forged for the betterment of the people and country of Belize”. “We thank the government for its bold decision and look forward to being able to work with any administration on marine issues for the development of Belize,” she added.

This move is critical because it comes at a time when UNESCO is asking the Government to report on what corrective measures it has taken to remove the existing threats to the Belize Barrier Reef System.

Placencia residents sign petition against cruise tourism

Placencia Cruise Ship Tourism

Placencia Cruise Ship Tourism

Channel 5 Belize | In the south, since the Placencia Tourism Board introduced the idea for cruise tourism on the peninsula, residents of the area have expressly rejected any project to accommodate that kind of tourism there. That is being followed up with a petition bearing the signatures of over three hundred and thirty people; all registered residents of the village. The number compares with the three hundred and sixty seven cast in the last Village Council election.

The residents oppose cruise tourism because they feel it will kill overnight tourism and will pose an environmental threat because of the very nature of mass cruise tourism. Copies of the petition have been forwarded to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, the Area Representative, Melvin Hulse, the Placencia Village Council, BTB, and the Belize Tourism Industry Association.

Trawling Totally Banned in Belize

Trawling Banned in Belize

Trawling Banned in Belize

PR | Oceana, Wednesday, December 7, 2010 – All forms of trawling in Belize has been banned in the country’s waters including its EEZ when Minister responsible for Fisheries Rene Montero today signed the Statutory Instrument effecting this legislative change.

The ban which is effective January 1, 2011 is a historic decision of Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration that has also passed legislation to protect parrot fish, regulate sport fishing and control the issuing of fishing license.

The call to ban bottom trawling had been made some years ago but lacked the political will as the government was faced with the reality of what to do with the existing trawlers owned and operated by the Northern Fishermen Cooperative Association (NFC). Oceana in Belize in collaborating with the government assisted in resolving this concern by negotiating the buy-out of the two shrimp-trawlers.

After discussions with the fishers directly affected by the proposed ban, Oceana was able to secure the full support of the Belize Fishermen Association which has a membership of four cooperative including the NFC. In the letter, signed by the Chairman Allan Bevans Green, Vice Chairman, Carlton Young and Secretary Ovel Leonardo Sr. the BFCA expressed support for the buyout of the trawlers. (more…)

BTIA: New President Confronts Old Issues

Belize Tourism Industry Association

25 Years of Advocating for Responsible Tourism Development in Belize

7 News Belize | The BTIA has a new board of officers elected today at its 25th Annual General Meeting. The meeting, which was attended by members from across the country, identified crime and garbage as major problems countrywide. Well that’s not news to anyone but the new team of officers hope that they can meaningfully address the problem, particularly as it relates to the tourism industry.

Both outgoing and incoming presidents said that collaborative efforts can contribute to the sustainability of the environment and the longevity of a vibrant tourism industry:….

Dr. Dionne Miranda
“The theme of my speech was harmony and the reality is that we need to work together. Unemployment is causing a lot of the problems that we have and tourism has the ability to turn that around by creating more jobs and it would key that we gain that level of harmony with our government and the private sector so that at the end of the day we can come up with a solution together that is best suited for the sustainability of this tourism industry and the Belizean people. A prosperous country is only prosperous when its citizens, its visitors and all of us are feeling some kind of benefit and security and that is key because although we may market the country and bring people to the country, we have to ensure that when they come it is safe, a pleasant and a great experience for them to return.”

Jim Scott
“I think there is so much positive things going on and at the same time there is a lot of negative things going on in our society which affects our industry a great deal. Of course the environment and some of the social issues that we all have to deal with around the country. what we are looking to do is to find that core sampler just like our sugar industry has to improve their standards, we have to do the same, collaborating with BTB, ministry of tourism and all the other ministries because there is so inter related to what we do and hopefully get everybody excited about what tourism really brings to the table here in Belize.”

The new BTIA Board includes: Incoming President: Jim Scott, First Vice President: Peter Tonti, Second Vice President: Ian Lizarraga, Treasurer Pedro Perez, Secretary Rob Hirons, Director: Wendy Lemus and Outgoing President: Dr. Dionne Miranda.

Changes at the top in Tourism Ministry

Lindsay Garbutt Belize

New Head of Ministry of Tourism in Belize

Amandala | Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Manuel Heredia, Jr., today announced changes in two top posts within the Tourism Ministry during a press conference at the House of Culture in Belize City this morning. It was confirmed that Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry Michael Singh is leaving at the end of this year to become executive director of BELTRAIDE. His contract was due to expire next February. Tapped to replace Singh is Lindsay Garbutt, currently chairman of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), who has an extensive career in the tourism sector, particularly in the South.

Mariam Roberson, managing director/owner of San Ignacio Hotel, and who has also served on the boards of the BTIA and the Belize Hotel Association, replaces Garbutt as chairperson at BTB and Brian Young, owner of Seahorse Dive Shop, has been named southern representative to the Board, replacing Garbutt, who held that role in addition to his chairmanship. Garbutt, the new CEO, told the press that he was looking forward to working on the Board’s various new initiatives and projects for the development of Belizean tourism.

Among those projects is the Sustainable Tourism Program (STP), which continues in its development phase in Belize City, San Ignacio, San Pedro Town and Placencia, with construction on the various projects scheduled to start no later than March of 2011 after the consultants and engineers have completed their various drawings and concepts. (more…)

Tourism Minister in talks with UNESCO on Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

Channel 5 Belize | The Ministry of Tourism also weighed in its formal position on the possible delisting of Belize’s Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO at its press conference today. According to Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia, government is in talks with UNESCO to maintain Belize’s status retain the Barrier Reef among the main attractions for cruise and overnight tourism.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“We have been working, I think we have met with the people several times assuring them that as a responsible government we will continue to make sure that we do the right things not to damage or affect our reef. As a fisherman, previous fisherman and still loving the sea so much I am one of the first ones that will cry foul whenever anything that will affect our reef comes along noh. So I see no fear in probably thinking or speculating that we will lose that World Heritage.”

Lindsay Garbutt

“If I could add to that minister [uhm] we met for about three hours. A team of people with the director and myself on Friday looking to frame a response because there were some specific issues that was cited by the World Heritage Site committee. And we are working together with the NGO community and key people within other ministries to frame a response and like the minister, the reef has been a part of my life and certainly we know how much importance. To me the reef defines Belize and losing the World Heritage Site status would be a tragedy so rest assured that the government, the ministry and all the key players including the NGOs that have a responsibility for some of the management of the key resources are coming together to make sure that we do not lose that status.”

The Ministry of Natural Resources has agreed to meet with the NGO conservation community on December fourteenth to discuss preparing a joint response to UNESCO regarding the status of the Barrier Reef.

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