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Drug Plane Lands In The North: Police Mum

7 News Belize | And now to the north, where there is a report of a loaded drug plane making a landing at the Sarteneja airstrip last night. A Mexican newspaper from Quintana Roo called Por Esto is reporting that a drug plane landed on the runway in Sarteneja village in the Corozal district last night. The report says that at around 10:00 pm the plane landed at Sarteneja – quickly offloaded some drugs into a van and sped off.

The newspaper reports that the plane was heard flying low over southern Quintana Roo before it landed which is what alerted Mexican authorities. According to the report, Mexican Police Commissioner for the area Jimenez Gumercindo immediately alerted police in the Othon P. Blanco area and those located on the banks of the Rio Hondo and the air Intercept Base to prepare for a possible landing in Quintana Roo.

But the report states that half an hour later, it was confirmed that the plane had landed on the runway in Sarteneja. Our sources in Sarteneja confirm that a plane did happen last night, but they say that it was really fast, an in and out operation. The Coast Guard was seen maintaining a presence in the area today.

And while that isn’t much, it is more than the police have got to say. Press Officer, Fitzroy Yearwood told us that an official investigation is underway and he cannot comment until that is completed.

Athletes in New Delhi doing their best in 2010 Commonwealth Games

Belize competes at Commonwealth Games

Belize competes at Commonwealth Games

Channel 5 Belize | Thousands of miles away in New Delhi, India, a contingent of Belizeans are competing against top athletes in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Controversy shrouded the games when they started because the facilities were either not up to par or had not been completed. But the games are now well underway and News Five got an update on the performance of our local cyclists and runners. The results are somewhat bittersweet. According to the National Olympic Committee, we’re bringing home the medals but the performance of the athletes is extremely encouraging. In fact, Belize has topped all other Caribbean countries in the individual time trials.

Owen Sonny Meighan, Public Relations Officer, National Olympic Committee

“Two riders that finished the race Greg Lovell and Edgar Arana did very well. Greg finished twenty-sixth and Mr. Arana finished forty-sixth. We placed twelfth out of thirty-three countries that took part in that road race.”

Delahnie Bain

“And this is the first time that we have riders actually completing the race?”

Owen Sonny Meighan

“Completing the course yes, which is a plus for us. It shows that our riders are—we’re not winning medals yet but we’re getting better and better every time.” (more…)

How to Rent Your Own Private Island

How to Rent a Private Island

How to Rent a Private Island | About five years ago travel writer Joshua Berman and his wife capped their honeymoon by renting a private island, French Louie Caye, off the Placencia Peninsula in Belize.

He recalls that “it was an incredible experience watching that boat pull away and knowing we were all alone,” which they were for a night and the following day, though they also enjoyed a little non-human companionship. “We had two dogs and a fridge stocked with shrimp and fish in a small wooden cabin. We could see a few other islands in the distance, but otherwise, it felt like the Caribbean was all ours. We cooked our own meals, snorkeled the coral around the island, and sat in the sand watching the dogs chase crabs back into the water.”

If you’re already shaking your head about how beyond your budget a private island overnight like this must be, consider that the present-day nightly rate for French Louie is $450 and includes food, the boat ride to and from the island, and snorkeling gear. Plus, in the years since Berman’s stay, the island has added a caretaker who, among other duties, will catch and cook fish for you. (more…)

BBC airs Ashcroft documentary

Independent UK | The BBC has aired its Panorama investigation into the financial affairs of the Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft, two weeks after removing it from its schedule at the eleventh hour. The programme had been postponed following legal objections and information provided by the peer in the final hours before broadcast. A revised version, examining his controversial business dealings in two Caribbean tax havens, aired on BBC1 last night.

Reporters visited both Belize and Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), where Lord Ashcroft operates a bank, and interviewed local politicians and subcontractors. It examined a telecoms business in Belize and a luxury marina development in the TCI and alleged links with the peer. Lord Ashcroft’s representatives declined to comment on the programme last night, but were quoted by the BBC denying any impropriety.

The programme has been a year in the making and had first been pencilled in for broadcast during the general election.

Caribbean Court of Justice panel accepts 1st Belize case

Caribbean Court of Justice

CCJ accepts 1st Belize case

Amandala | A five-member panel of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), seated in Trinidad and Tobago, today accepted to hear the first Belize case, filed by ex-ministers of Government Florencio Marin, Sr., and Joe Coye, after the Barrow administration took them to court for nearly a million dollars in damages as part of a misfeasance lawsuit.

Specifically, the Government initiated suit against Marin and Coye for $924,056.60, which the Attorney General has claimed government had lost in the sale of lands to Cheop Enterprises for 56 parcels of land in Belize City, as well as exemplary damages.

The Government had, however, lost the case on a preliminary point in the Supreme Court, when it was heard before the former Chief Justice Dr. Abdulai Conteh. The judge raised a technical question of whether the government was pursuing the right kind of claim against the now opposition members.

Conteh had said, in the end, that the Attorney General can’t file a misfeasance case in the Supreme Court but could have pursued the route of filing a malfeasance case for criminal sanctions in the Magistrate’s Court. The Court of Appeals overturned Conteh’s ruling and directed the Supreme Court hearing filed by the government.

The defendants, Marin and Coye, then sought a further appeal, this time at the Caribbean Court of Justice, which has now replaced the Privy Council in the UK as Belize’s final appellate court. This morning, the CCJ panel held a hearing via teleconference with the attorneys for the parties, Dr. Elson Kaseke and Magali Marin-Young for the ex-ministers, and Lois Young, SC, for the Attorney General of Belize, representing the state. (more…)

Cash-strapped Northern Spirit sells Belize petroleum interests in Orange Walk and Cayo

Amandala | Northern Spirit Resources Inc. of Canada, the last company to have been granted petroleum concessions in Belize by the Dean Barrow administration in early 2010, is reporting via a press release posted on Marketwire International that it plans to assign its interest in the petroleum contracts to a company whose name it has not yet disclosed.

The contracts are for exploration over nearly quarter million acres of Belize in the Orange Walk and Cayo districts, within blocks previously relinquished by other petroleum contractors. Northern Spirit had announced that it had been trying to raise the equivalent of a million Belize dollars to carry out the work in Belize.

The company’s release published this week cites an announcement by Northern Spirit’s Chief Executive Officer and director, Richard F. Boyd, saying that the contracts which the company had announced in July had been assigned “to an arm’s length undisclosed Calgary-based international oil and gas exploration company.”

The deal is for CAD$100,000 plus a 1.5% gross over-riding royalty [GORR] in favour of Northern Spirit on the lands relating to the PSAs, said Northern Spirit’s release. As Amandala has reported, Northern Spirit’s financial position had been weak even when the Government gave it the petroleum contracts. However, Section 11 of the Petroleum Act, Chapter 225 of the Laws of Belize, demands that a concessionaire has the finances to meet contractual obligations. (more…)

Nominate Your Favorite World Heritage Site

Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

NatGEO | National Geographic Travel & Cultures want to know which UNESCO World Heritage site you want to see featured in a new set of guides on The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) protects and preserves cultural and natural sites around the world. This fall we plan to create coverage on thirty of them, with more to follow next year.

Update (September 28, 2010): We have had a tremendous response on Twitter, Facebook, and here in the blog post’s comments. Over 100 World Heritage sites have been nominated. Nominate your favorite site now before it’s too late! Nominate the Belize Barrier Reef System by clicking this link and leaving a comment, or hit them up on Facebook or Twitter.

Belizean Athletes To New Dehli

Commonwealth Games 2010

Commonwealth Games 2010

7 News Belize | The Nineteenth Commonwealth Games officially opens on Sunday October third in New Dehli, India. The highly anticipated event which is staged every four years for former British colonies has been riddled with numerous logistical issues including bad weather, failing infrastructure, a dengue scare and withdrawal of athletes. But Belize isn’t one of those countries pulling out. Our team comprising 9 athletes, 2 coaches and two officials is going boldly forward to Dehli and will stay there for the entire duration of the games, 15 days.

Two of the female athletes travelling with the contingent to the 19th Commonwealth Games believe the competition will be strong but they are confident that they’ll do well:

Kiana Martinez- Athlete
“I do know the competition is going to be a tighter competition than here in Central America because there are pro athletes who is going to be part of that commonwealth games and but that doesn’t leaves me not believing in myself and doing the best that I could do.”

Kay De Vaughn-Athlete
“Well I am just going out there and do my best, I am hoping for a PR personally and to see how far where I am when it comes to other athletes in the commonwealth.”

The cycling team representing Belize is made up of proven talent. Among them are Gregory Lovell, Jairo Campos and Shalini Zabaneh who told us what the preparation was like for this big event.

Jairo Campos
“We have to try to see if we can bring home a medal for the country, because we were preparing hard and we were doing 25 miles mostly in the week and we have to try accomplish a time over 50 minutes for 25 miles to try bring in gold.” (more…)

A wet week ahead for the Western Caribbean, Florida, and the Western Bahamas

Western Caribbean Satellite Image

Satellite image of the Western Caribbean and Central America, showing a large area of disturbed weather beginning to develop over the Western Caribbean.

Weather Underground | Today, for the first day since August 20, the National Hurricane Center will not be issuing any advisories for an Atlantic named storm. Thus ends a remarkably active 36-day period that saw the formation of ten named storms, six hurricanes, and five intense hurricanes–an entire hurricane season’s worth of activity, compressed into just five weeks of the six-month season. This season is not done yet, as we still have three more weeks of peak hurricane season left to go, and the Western Caribbean is looking poised to generate a tropical storm sometime in the next ten days.

A wet week ahead for the Western Caribbean, Florida, and the Western Bahamas
Pressure are falling over the Western Caribbean today as a large area of low pressure develops over the region. This low is bringing heavy rains across a huge area, from the Pacific shores of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, to eastern Cuba and Haiti. All of Central America, eastern Mexico, the western 2/3 of the Caribbean, plus the Bahamas and Florida can expect sporadic periods of very heavy tropical rains over the coming week, with peak amounts of 3 – 6 inches per day possible. In the Western Caribbean, a few hundred miles east of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, a region of concentrated thunderstorms has built this morning, and has the potential to develop into a tropical depression by Wednesday. (more…)

BBC to broadcast Ashcroft tax allegations

Lord Michael Ashcroft

Lord Michael Ashcroft

The Independent Uk | Lord Ashcroft, the outgoing deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, continued to avoid millions of pounds in UK tax, despite his pledge to become a full British taxpayer, according to a wide-ranging investigation into his financial and business affairs to be aired by the BBC tonight.

A Panorama programme on the billionaire Tory donor was originally scheduled to air before the General Election, when Lord Ashcroft was in charge of the party’s campaign in marginal constituencies, but the corporation delayed broadcast amidst wrangling with Lord Ashcroft’s lawyers, and extended the programme’s scope.

The investigation spans three countries where the peer has controversial interests, including the Caribbean tax havens of Belize and the Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as the UK. His lawyers told the BBC before broadcast: “Our client has denied any impropriety or wrongdoing in respect of any of the matters that you have raised.”

Lord Ashcroft’s opaque tax affairs have proved a thorn in the side of David Cameron’s Conservative party, and the Panorama broadcast will ensure that the issue does not fade quietly as the peer formally steps down from the deputy chairmanship at a party meeting today.

The programme claims that Lord Ashcroft transferred ownership of one of his main companies on the eve of a new law that forces members of the House of Lords to pay tax on all their worldwide income. On 5 April, the peer moved his 25 million shares in Impellam Group into a trust for the benefit of his children. On 6 April, new legislation came into force that would have cost him an estimated £3.4m in inheritance tax. (more…)

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