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Celebrating Central American Independence

Belize's Flag

7 News Belize | The skies across the Central American isthmus and Mexico light up with fireworks every September as Mesoamerican countries from the region celebrate their independence. The independence anniversaries are simultaneous or just days apart: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua are on September 15 while Mexico is on September 16 and Belize is of course on the 21st.

And to bring it all together, over the last couple of years, Belize has hosted its sister nations in holding one great big unified ‘Independence Anniversary Celebration”. And so for the third year now in a row, the nation’s capital will become the venue for much song and dance, music and ‘fireworks”, that will celebrate jointly the region’s independence anniversary.

At the forefront of these joint festivities is Belize’s neighbor to the North, Mexico, celebrating 200 years of Independence this year. Mexican Embassy press officer, Marcelino Miranda told Seven News their BiCentennial anniversary makes this year’s celebration even more special. The multicultural festival is being held at the Governor General’s field in Belmopan, and will include a fireworks display. The entrance is free and the festivities get underway this Sunday at 4 P.M.

Best Places to Retire Abroad: Belize

From left: The Mayan site of Cerros on Corozal Bay; a boat in Corozal.

From left: The Mayan site of Cerros on Corozal Bay; a boat in Corozal. — Tony Rath Photography

AARP | A Central American paradise that offers beaches, beauty and a fast track to residency status. Let’s fast-forward to Belize’s unique appeal to U.S. retirees: It’s the only south-of-the-border country whose official language is English. Until 1973 it was called British Honduras, and was a crown colony of the U.K.; it was granted full independence in 1981 (although Queen Elizabeth II is still head of state). Another goodie: It’s catching up to Panama and Costa Rica’s retiree perks. Its Qualified Retired Persons program, known as the QRP, offers benefits and a fast track to residency status.

Squeezed between Mexico’s Yucatan coast and Guatemala to the south, sparsely populated Belize is a Central American paradise, with tropical jungle flora, endless white beaches, an aquamarine Caribbean sea, some of the world’s best reefs for snorkelers, fishing to die for, Mayan ruins, and even casinos. Most expats settle either on the largest island, Ambergris Caye, or in Corazol Town on the mainland’s northern tip. Ambergris Caye has the fancy restaurants and condos, including million-dollar properties. It can be as expensive as South Florida (Leonardo Di Caprio bought an island west of Ambergris Caye). The Corozal district, a few miles’ drive from the Mexican border, is far more affordable. Corozal expats live a laid-back life, with year-round outdoor play (boating, hiking, swimming, diving), but are still only 20 minutes from the malls and cineplexes of Chetumal, the capital of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. (more…)

Belize mob torches Americans’ animal sanctuary but their will survives

American Crocodile Sanctuary Before and After

American Crocodile Sanctuary Before and After

CNN | An American couple in Belize struggled Tuesday to figure out their future, their dreams literally up in smoke after a mob of indigenous Mayans burned down their animal sanctuary in the belief the foreigners fed two missing children to crocodiles on their property.

Cherie and Vince Rose moved to the tiny Central American nation in 2004 to form a 36-acre sanctuary for two species of endangered crocodiles found in Belize — the American and Morelet’s crocodiles. Bit by bit, their hope turned into reality. They built a two-story octagonal-shaped house that rested on stilts and reached 30 feet into the air. They constructed two smaller cottages for researchers and students to stay in. They dug out two acres of canals for the crocodiles. They acquired two boats.

They called the place the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary.

Most of it vanished Sunday morning, when a throng of angry villagers from a settlement about 10 miles (16 km) away torched the buildings on their property. The villagers had been told by a local psychic that the Americans had fed the two missing children to the 17 crocodiles at the sanctuary, police say.

The Roses were rescuing three crocodiles on a distant island at the time, so were not home to ward off the attack — or possibly suffer a gruesome fate. “It was like something out of a Frankenstein movie,” Cherie Rose said Tuesday. “If we’d been home, they would have killed us. They said they were going to chop us up and feed us to the crocodiles.”

National police confirm that the indigenous Maya villagers were acting on the advice of a psychic who said the Roses had something to do with the August 7 disappearance of 9-year-old Benjamin Rash and his 11-year-old sister Onelia. “They have their own superstitions,” deputy police commissioner James Magdaleno said about the Maya, who make up about 10 percent of Belize’s population. “Because of their beliefs, they decided to take the law into their own hands.”

No arrests have been made, the deputy commissioner told CNN. “We don’t know who burned the house,” he said. “That is still under investigation.” Police also questioned Vince Rose about the missing children but no connection was established, Magdaleno said Tuesday. For the Roses, the drama unfolded in excruciating slow motion from far away. (more…)

JetBlue Airways Letter

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways

Belize Tourism Board | Over the past 18 months, the BTB, through the Aviation Development Committee, has maintained an active dialogue with JetBlue Airways to initiate service from the North East USA to Belize. JetBlue took off in 2000, proving that an airline can deliver excellent service at reasonable fares both domestically and internationally.

Service to Belize by JetBlue would prove a vital opportunity for your clients to visit at a lower fare and the impetus for much needed competition and additional demand. JetBlue’s Vice President, Scott Laurence, noted publicly that they will launch service to all six remaining Central American countries (including Belize) in the near future. We anxiously await seeing them here.

With this in mind and with the consent of Jet Blue, we kindly ask for your assistance to share your company’s support for this proposed service by e-mailing Erik Smith at erik.smith@jetblue.com. Knowing that there are agents and wholesaler partners whose clients would use JetBlue, your support can be seen as the final element for a service announcement and start date.

Once again we take this opportunity to reiterate Belize’s commitment to building relationships that facilitate tourism and other business development for Belize.

Thanking you in advance for your kind consideration. We look forward to a fruitful and rewarding relationship between you, our valued partner, in increasing your market share of clients to Belize and offering greater options for their travel.

Sincerely,
Shakira Tsai
Marketing Director
Belize Tourism Board

For further information please contact the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation & Culture at Tel: 227-2801 or email at info@travelbelize.org.

Oil rig explodes in Gulf of Mexico; Bahamas halts drilling

Oil rig explodes in Gulf of Mexico

Oil rig explodes in Gulf of Mexico

Channel 5 Belize | The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico put the world on alert. Well, there is more bad news to report. An oil rig exploded this morning in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig which was located about eighty miles south of Vermillion Bay, Louisiana belongs to an oil company called Mariner Energy. Thirteen persons were onboard the Vermillion three hundred and eighty platform when it caught on fire. The fire is currently contained to one active well at the platform that has seven active wells. On average, the platform was producing fifty-eight thousand eight hundred gallons of oil and nine hundred thousand cubic feet of gas per day, while storing up to four thousand, two hundred gallons of oil. Here’s an interview with Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary, who confirmed that only one person has been injured.

Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary

“There’s a production platform about a hundred miles off the coast. I’m told the dept of water was about three hundred and forty feet so this is not a deep water facility. As I understand it, the well is not in active production. I will, in some ways, rhetoric what I think the Coast Guard has said in a statement they released and that is that they responded to reports of a fire onboard an oil platform in the gulf. The initial report that we got was that thirteen people were on the platform. They are accounted for, one is injured and is on his way out of that area. Two Coast Guard cutters, multiple Coast Guard aircraft were en route, one Coast Guard helicopter was on the scene. We will continue to gather information as we respond. We obviously have response assets ready for deployment should we receive reports of pollution.” (more…)

New Green Globe Library features sustainability achievements

Green Globe Library

Green Globe Library

PR | Green Globe Certification launched the new Green Globe Library to promote the sustainability achievements of its members.

The Green Globe Library features case studies from Green Globe’s diverse membership including eco-resorts and urban convention centers. The case studies are researched and written by the members themselves in collaboration with Green Globe Certification. The main aim is to help members begin to communicate their own sustainability achievements in their own voice.

While the sustainability movement across the world has recently been dominated by global climate change issues, the member case studies are designed to put a human face on real work being done at the community level.

Beyond the environmental indicators of energy and water usage and waste production and recycling are many human stories. These stories reflect the efforts made by the workers and managers at tourism resorts and other travel companies to improve and protect their local communities while solving real challenges through cooperative and innovative actions. (more…)

Living in Belize: A True Retirement Paradise

Belize Beach

Imagine Life in Belize

International Living | For anyone looking for that perfect second-home or retirement paradise, living in Belize is hard to beat. This little Central American country has so much going for it—sun, sand, sea and an incredible retiree program. Three Major Reasons Why You Should Consider Living in Belize

1. English is Spoken Here
Once known as British Honduras, Belize gained its independence in 1981, but still retains English as its national language. Spanish and Creole are widely spoken, but you won’t have to learn them to get by in Belize… English is everywhere, making it incredibly easy to get along no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

2. The Belize Retiree Program
Belize’s offshore laws ensure maximum financial privacy, allow asset-protection trusts, and encourage international business and banking. Of particular interest to those living in Belize is the “qualified retired persons” (QRP) program, which resembles Panama’s popular pensionado program.

Foreign residents under the QRP program are exempted from all taxes on income from sources outside Belize. They can own and operate international businesses based in Belize, again exempt from all local taxes. They can also import personal effects without paying import duties.

3. Relaxed Beach-Living
If you’re looking for the perfect beach…power-white sand, waving palm trees, calm, clear water glinting in the tropical sun… Belize has the genuine article. Many genuine articles, in fact! Below are some areas of Belize worth considering as your ideal retirement or second home destination: (more…)

How a Fort Worth Museum Pulls Mayan Culture From its Watery Depths

Lobster effigy, c. 1550, Lamanai, Belize. National Institute of Culture and History, Belize.

Lobster effigy, c. 1550, Lamanai, Belize. National Institute of Culture and History, Belize.

D Magazine | I arrived at the preview of the Kimbell’s new exhibition, Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea, a few minutes early and wandered through the show’s four galleries without looking at the accompanying wall essays, cue cards, or catalogue scholarship. Moving through the neatly arranged collection of artifacts, I was struck by their strange incomprehensibility. I saw small animal figurines with human heads sticking out; exquisitely painted pottery with ornate scenes depicting moments in very unknown stories; plates decorated with royal scenes, dense with indecipherable symbols; stone reliefs covered in boxy hieroglyphics; tiny precious gems and jewelry; and what looked like trifling play things – tiny sculpted frogs, human figurines – that were executed with the utmost care and craftsmanship.

It is rare to encounter the artifacts of a culture in such an unadulterated way, absent the usual associations that are the byproduct of cultural references, adaptations, and assimilations. Even the Dallas Museum of Art’s African Masks exhibition isn’t this culturally raw (we can all conjure an image of an African mask in our minds without seeing that show). For most of us, encountering this Mayan work is an unfettered experience, an approach of something bafflingly new and utterly foreign.

As it turns out, I’m not the first to be baffled by these bizarre and fascinating objects from the ancient culture. The scholarly project of Fiery Pool is the culmination of twenty years of new research into Mayan culture that followed the important deciphering of a single glyph: the symbol the Mayans used for “sea.” This discovery led to a reimagining of the workings of Mayan culture and brought to light the central role the sea played in the daily and spiritual lives of the Mayan people. The exhibition, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, brings together some key objects to help flesh out our understanding of the sea and the Mayan people. “Fiery Pool” is the phrase the Mayans used to describe the sea, and as a culture nearly surrounded by water, the sun’s rising and setting on the water, the fiery reflections of orange and yellow on the sea’s surface, created the context for the Mayan understanding of the world. (more…)

Morgan Freeman joins OCEANA’s ban against offshore drilling

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman speaks in support of Oceana, an international organization focused on ocean conservation, at that company's press conference in Gulfport on Aug. 24, 2010.

Channel 5 Belize | Over the past few weeks, we’ve told you about OCEANA’s tour and research along the coastline of Louisiana and other parts of the United States that have been deeply affected by the BP oil spill. OCEANA Vice President in Belize, Audrey Matura Shepherd gave an update last week on what she saw in coastal towns and has returned to the U.S. accompanying a significant partner, San Pedro’s Mayor, Elsa Paz, to learn how communities like San Pedro can be crippled by a petroleum leak.

Paz is also joined by award-winning actors Ted Danson, Morgan Freeman and Spanish model Almudena Fernandez. Mayor Paz spoke at a press conference earlier in the week and said QUOTE “this visit allows me to carry the message back to my hometown and country with the hope of enlightening those who have been blinded by the greed of allowing oil exploration to develop freely in our country” END QUOTE. Paz expressed her commitment to do her share in discouraging her government from allowing oil exploration and drilling in Belizean waters. Freeman also spoke to Matura Shepherd about offshore drilling in Belize. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Morgan Freeman, the Hollywood actor, has performed in notable movies such as the Shawshank Redemption, the Dark Knight and even Evan Almighty. The Oscar Award Winner is aboard OCEANA’s vessel, the Latitude, which is sailing along the Gulf of Mexico to visit areas which were damaged by BP’s Deep Horizon oil spill. (more…)

Miss Mexico wins Miss Universe; Jamaica becomes first runner up

Miss Universe Jimena Navarette of Mexico

Miss Universe Jimena Navarette of Mexico

Channel 5 Belize | There was no representation from Belize in this Year’s Miss Universe pageant, in fact the last time the Jewel sent a contestant was back in 2007. And the only time we ever made it to the top ten was in 1979 when Sarita Acosta put us on the world map. She still holds that distinction. If you follow pageants, it was a first-rate moment for the region last night at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas. At least four beauties from the region were semifinalists. In the end, the competition narrowed down to two. Mexico’s Jimena Navarette won the title and the beauty queen from Jamaica, Yendi Phillips, was the number one runner-up which means that she can move up to the top spot in the event that something goes awry for the Miss Mexico. Since last night, in both Mexico and Jamaica, the mood has been celebratory.

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