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Iberia launches flights to El Salvador

Iberia Airline flights to Central America

Iberia Airline | From 2 October 2010, Iberia will start flying between San Salvador and Madrid, becoming the first European airline to connect both cities. The four new weekly flights (on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) will also allow travellers to connect to other Central American cities with TACA, and to other European cities from Madrid with Iberia.

Thanks to a code-sharing agreement with TACA Airlines, passengers will be able to fly onward to (or from) other Central American cities. The region, which includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, markets itself as a multi-destination under the umbrella brand “Central America, so small… so great” since 2002.

One of the region’s main attractions is its rich Maya heritage, with major sites which are more than 3000 years old in Belize (Caracol), El Salvador (Joya de Ceren), Guatemala (Copan) and Honduras (Tikal). The region’s cultural offering also includes colonial cities like Antigua in Guatemala, Leon and Granada in Nicaragua, or Portobelo and the Old Quarter of Panama City in Panama, and the opportunity to meet indigenous communities like the kuna and embera in Panama or the garífuna in Belize and Honduras. (more…)

Legal move to oust Tony Quinn from oil company

Belize Natural Energy Limited

Belize Natural Energy Limited

Irish Times | YOGA GURU Tony Quinn is facing a challenge to his role as a director of an oil company in Central America. A legal action taken by Paul Marriott, a former director of the company, International Natural Energy, also seeks to have it wound up. The case taken by Mr Marriott represents the latest bout of feuding within the company since it discovered massive reserves of crude oil in Belize in 2005.

Another former director, Jean Cornec, is taking legal action seeking millions of euro he claims are owed to him after he sold his shareholding. INE was founded by two women from Northern Ireland, Susan Morrice and Sheila McCaffrey, along with Mr Marriott, Mr Cornec and Mike Usher, who has since died.

Most of its 400 shareholders are Irish people who at one time attended one of Mr Quinn’s “Educo Mind Power” seminars. Mr Quinn was not involved when oil was discovered, but was invited to join the board two years later. Subsequent disagreements among directors led to the suspension of Ms McCaffrey, who is currently considering her legal options.

While most shareholders remain fiercely loyal to Mr Quinn, a minority have expressed frustration at the lack of financial information from the company and its failure to pay a dividend since oil started flowing. INE earns up to $100 million in oil revenues each year but says it has had to borrow heavily to fund further exploration and is prevented by its banks from paying a dividend. (more…)

UNESCO makes sizeable donation to Belize

UNESCO makes sizeable donation to Belize

UNESCO makes sizeable donation to Belize

Love FM | The United Arab Emirates through UNESCO made a significant donation of relief and medical supplies to the National Emergency Management Organization, NEMO. Liaising on Behalf of Belize was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Wilfred Elrington.

“These were made possible through the assistance of our ambassador to UNESCO and his sister who is also Belize’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. These gifts come from the United Arab Emirates and the Crown Prince, it consists of one forty foot container and two thirty feet containers with all types of materials that are need during times of emergency. We are very grateful to the United Arab Emirates and the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates. The more we have this interaction the more we can get benefits to help to develop both of our people and to make our people safe and secure.”

The Manager of the Office of the Ambassador to UNESCO, Gabriel Saikaly travelled to Belize to ensure the delivery of the items to the country. (more…)

Frontier Airlines eyes further international expansion, including Belize

Frontier Airlines eyes route to Belize

Frontier Airlines eyes route to Belize | Frontier Airlines is eyeing further expansion of its international network beyond its current services to Mexico and Costa Rica. The low-cost carrier recently selected Liberia as its second destination in Costa Rica and Ixtapa as its sixth destination in Mexico. Frontier vice president strategy and planning Daniel Shurz says the Denver-based carrier will not ad any other destinations for winter 2010/2011, but is now starting to look at destinations for next year.

Routes currently under evaluation include Denver to Belize, Roatan in Honduras, Grand Cayman and Montego Bay.

Shurz says Frontier sees unique opportunities for increasing its international network from the central and western USA because it is the only low-cost carrier in the western US which operates overseas. “We’re in an interesting position because there’s less low-cost carrier presence west of the Mississippi,” Shurz told the Airline Business Daily. “There’s Allegiant, which doesn’t fly across the US border, there’s Southwest, which doesn’t fly across the US border, and there’s us.”

Three other US low-cost carriers – Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways and AirTran Airways – only operate international routes from the east coast. Frontier will link Denver with all eight of its winter 2010/2011 international destinations – Costa Rica’s San Jose and Liberia, as well as Cancun, Cozumel, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. Several of the Mexican destinations will also be served from Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and St Louis. “Cancun is obviously our largest international leisure market within Airbus narrowbody range,” Shurz says. (more…)

Irish Digicel, based in Jamaica, eyes BTL

Belize Telemedia Limited

Belize Telemedia Limited

Amandala | Executive chairman of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), Nestor Vasquez, told Amandala Wednesday that the company is finalizing the prospectus for the sale of shares in the company, which should go to press within the next couple of weeks and be publicly released in October.

Vasquez confirmed reports to Amandala that the Irish company, Digicel, which has its central operations in Jamaica with 11 million customers across 26 countries in the Caribbean and Central America and 6 in the Pacific, has expressed serious interest in purchasing BTL shares. The Digicel group is chaired by its founder, Denis O’Brien, said to be one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs.

The BTL chairman told us that a Digicel team was given a tour at BTL last week, and they are in the process of exchanging information, under the terms of a non-disclosure agreement between the parties. “They have been told very clearly in their visit that controlling interest is not available,” said Vasquez. During the 3-day visit at BTL, the Digicel reps also had a chance to look at the Telecommunications regulations and other documents.

Although a Mexican investor has also expressed interest separately to the Government of Belize, Vasquez said that BTL will not be engaging in negotiations with any other group, until they have seen it through with Digicel and until they make a decision whether they will buy or not. He expects a proposal from Digicel shortly. (more…)

World Bank has approved Loan for Belize

World Bank approves Loan for Belize

World Bank approves Loan for Belize to reduce proverty

Love FM | The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a 15 million US dollar loan for Belize to improve service delivery in several municipalities. These projects include Municipal Infrastructure Investment and Technical Assistance and Capacity Building. According to a government release the project is part of the World Bank’s Interim Strategy Note for Belize which outlines the Bank’s assistance until June, 2011 and supports the country’s strategy to spur economic growth and reduce poverty.

The program provides analytical and advisory services to assist the Government in the design and implementation of current policy initiatives as well as investment lending. According to the release Prime Minister Dean Barrow welcomed the news and said that this is a clear indication of the reengagement of the Bank with Belize and exemplifies the Bank’s commitment to the development priorities and platform to the people of Belize. This fixed spread loan from the International Bank for reconstruction and Development had a total term of 25 years including a five year grace period.

Costa Maya Beauties in the Spotlight

Daniela Augspurg – Miss El Salvador representative in the 2008 Miss Costa Maya Pageant

Daniela Augspurg – Miss El Salvador representative in the 2008 Miss Costa Maya Pageant

Miss El Salvador – Daniela Augspurg in TV Azteca’s La Academia Bicentenario

Ambergris Today | Daniela Augspurg – Miss El Salvador representative in the 2008 Miss Costa Maya Pageant is once again proudly representing her country internationally. 19-year-old Daniela is the first and only person to represent her country, El Salvador in one of Mexico’s most popular reality shows – TV Azecta’s La Academia.

The show kicked off this past Sunday, September 12, where Daniela sang along with Denisse of Italia and both performed La Quinta Estacion’s “El sol no regresa”. It was a tough competition and unfortunately Daniela (El Salvador) is up for elimination along with the representative of Guatemala and USA for next week’s round of competition.

La Academia (kind of like American Idol) takes students from around the world and teaches and trains them to sing and at the end of the competition the winner has the opportunity to record an album and become a famous artist. Stay tuned to this week’s round of competition on Channel 32- TV Azteca (local channel listing) from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Best of luck to Daniela Augspurg. (more…)

One Student’s Enriching Journey to Belize

Nojol Nah Maya Ruin in Blue Creek Belize

Nojol Nah Maya Ruin in Blue Creek Belize

Blue & Grey Today | It’s early autumn, and for returning Hood students, this season is filled with preparations: saying goodbye to family and friends and saying hello to a brand new semester. Amidst the chaos that is move-in day are the questions: “How was your summer?” “What classes are you taking?” “Is it true that Meyran’s prized basement has been turned into dorm rooms?”

For most college students, the answer to this first question is as boring as the question itself. “I babysat for my neighbors.” “My parents drove me insane.” “I found out that an internship means getting coffee for my boss.”

But for Hood senior Maureen Marton, boredom had no part in her summer plans. An Archaeology major with a Classics minor, Maureen transferred to Hood from the University of Virginia. This past summer, along with one other Hood student, she traveled to the jungles of northern Belize, where she participated in an archaeological dig. Archaeology majors at Hood are required to fulfill an internship in the field.

The dig, sponsored by the Maya Research program at the University of Texas, aimed to explore and better understand ancient Mayan culture. With help from department chair Dr. Jennifer Ross, along with a scholarship from Hood, Maureen set off for the Nojol Nah site in Blue Creek. In the subsite where Maureen worked – named “Pito” by her field team after the Mayan word for Toucan – the archaeologists and students worked under the hot sun from about 7:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. (more…)

Belizeans Caught In Scary Bus Jacking In Mexico

ADO Bus Mexico

ADO Bus robbed on route

7 News Belize | The air corridor between Cancun and the United States has become a godsend for many Belizeans during these tough economic times. Hundreds if not thousands of Belizeans have taken advantage of cheap airfares travelling through the Mexican tourist mecca. But now those cheap tickets are coming with a price. For three Belizeans making their way home yesterday thru the state of Quintana Roo, an armed holdup of the bus they were travelling in seemed too heavy a price to pay.

Twenty eight year old Nick Pollard Jr., a Marine Tour Guide of Placencia told Seven News, the harrowing ordeal of having a gun pointed at him along with a knife at his neck, has him thinking twice before he travels through Mexico again. Pollard says two hours after leaving Playa del Carmen last night bound for Chetumal, he and an almost full busload of passengers were rudely awakened by two masked gunmen.

Nick Pollard Jr.
“It was after 12 midnight so I was sleeping, I think most people on the bus was sleeping and then I think it was about 2 o’ clock in the morning when I heard commotion in the front of the bus. I was sitting around in the middle area and I was still kind of shaky like waking up and I thought it was people coming on the bus to sell stuff and when I actually opened my eyes, I noticed a mask gunman right in front of me speaking Spanish and I don’t really speak Spanish but I assumed they were asking for money and whatever else they could get. The first instinct was to go in my pocket and grab what I could and give it to them. I had cash in different pockets front and back and in my wallet and didn’t give them the one in the wallet first, I gave them the cash that was in the front pocket and they worked their way through the bus.” (more…)

Manatee Subspecies Genetically Confirmed, But Diversity Challenge Looms

Belize Manatee

Belize Manatee

USGS | The first genetic study to compare nuclear DNA of endangered Antillean manatees in Belize with Florida manatees confirmed their designation as separate subspecies. Belize’s manatees, however, were found to have extremely low genetic diversity, raising questions about their long-term genetic viability.

The Central American country of Belize hosts the largest known breeding population of Antillean manatees and is touted by biologists for its potential to repopulate other parts of Central America where manatees are severely reduced, rare or absent. “It turns out that the genetic diversity of Belize’s manatees is lower than some of the classic examples of critically low diversity” said U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conservation geneticist Margaret Hunter, Ph.D., who led a molecular DNA study of genetic diversity in the Antillean subspecies in Belize.

Belize’s Antillean populations scored lower in genetic diversity than textbook examples of “bottlenecked” endangered species such as Wanglang giant pandas, the East African cheetah and an island koala population founded by only three koalas.

Endangered species need genetic diversity to weather threats to their survival, including random or rare shocks such as disease, hurricanes or habitat destruction. When a population drops to low numbers, the diversity of its gene pool also shrinks. Even after it rebounds to greater numbers, that population decline leaves a legacy of reduced genetic diversity known as a bottleneck. This renders the population more vulnerable to future shocks, explained Hunter. (more…)

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