Currently Browsing: Letters to the Editor
Apr 9th 10
The last year in San Pedro the citizens and businesses have faced a variety of issues. Some of these issues have arose from the tough economic times, other from unbridled development and even more from the lack of San Pedro Town Council and Central Government management
Currently we have two significant issues that must be addressed immediately.
- Our water supply collapsed this Easter due to contamination of the filter system in the Consolidated Water Supply desalination plant. This ruined the stay of thousands of tourists during this critical holiday and many will (a) not return to our island and (b) will spread the word that we’re so backward here on Ambergris Caye that it’s hard to even take a shower. We’re all 100% dependent on tourism on this island. This will really hurt us in the months and years to come. It is clear that massive dredging activities by a slash and burn developer directly adjacent to the water desalination plant west of Victoria House were at least partially responsible for the breakdown of the water supply.
- The recent increase in property tax threatens to have a grave impact on investment and our economy. Increases for individual lots have been anywhere from 200% to 2,000%. Locals cannot afford this type of increase and foreign investors will not invest in a pace where the local government can change their taxes from year to year without logic or due diligence. If property sales collapse on Ambergris Caye then the Government of Belize will be denied a valuable revenue source in the form of the Stamp Transfer Tax. Furthermore all construction would grind to a halt as investment dollars dried up causing mass unemployment in the construction trade.
We would like to see the following take place:
- All investors, developers and locals adhere to the environmental laws of Belize. Members of the Town Council shall not facilitate any individual or project going around the environmental laws of Belize. It means that every single person must go through the proper planning applications and environmental procedures before commencing with development, most especially development involving dredging of sensitive wetlands and coastal areas.
- Anyone person or developer found to be violating the environmental laws of Belize be held accountable, prosecuted and heavily fined.
- All of the present outrageously inflationary tax increases for 2010 to 2011 be cancelled.
- Accounting leaks within the San Pedro Town Council must be addressed and plugged without delay. This includes ensuring that all funds collected at the toll bridge go to their intended purpose.
- Where there is a genuine shortfall in the budget establish a five year plan established by the Town board outlining property tax increases. This will establish a legitimate system and guidelines for citizens and investors. It must include LIMITED and SENSIBLE taxes increases with FAIR notification to property owners and must be equally applied across the board without prejudice.
- All outstanding taxes must be pursued and collected by the Town Council. It is not fair to raise the property taxes for the people that actually pay and continue to allow others to go without paying.
If the San Pedro Town Council does not feel they can adhere to the above requirements then we will be able to assist starting with a full and independent audit annually of Town Council accounts, if necessary paid for by we, the law-abiding citizens, taxpayers and business people of Ambergris Caye.
We would remind the Mayor and the Town Council that their responsibility is to the well being of all of the people of Ambergris Caye without PREFERENCE or PREJUDICE.
Mar 9th 10
There are many nice friendly and honest people in San Pedro. I own rental property in San Pedro – at least 12 Belizeans make their living working for our home owners and condominium property. Many more Belizeans benefit from the guests we bring down to Belize who patronize restaurants, grocery stores, shops . They also dive, go fishing, boating sailing etc..
We depend on our guests to spread the good word about San Pedro when they return to their home towns, if guests have a bad experience unfortunately that is what they will remember and tell their friends and relatives back home about.
The traffic in San Pedro is a big problem – an even larger problem is the behavior of the drivers. I am afraid they will not have good reports when they are very nearly run down by carts, trucks, motorcycles, taxis and SUVs.
Our condos are very close to the San Pedro Police Department and many a time people will speed right past the police station! But the problem is certainly not limited to that area it is all over town.
I have also noticed people being harassed in town, on the beach etc. There are drug dealers frequently asking people to buy drugs. People do not feel safe when this is happening.
We own condos at Paradise Villas, we are constantly repairing damage to our pier and have people with bikes and drugs hanging around at all hours of the day and night. Vandals make graffiti on the property and leave garbage there.
You need to educate the public – the tourists – should be perceived as guests in Belize, they should be treated as guests. They should feel safe on the roads, on the beach and at their lodgings. They should be protected by the authorities. The taxi and truck drivers and the residents need to be reminded that the guests to San Pedro drive the economy.
Remind them that the guests are on vacation, not used to the narrow crowded streets and they must have patience..
Feb 18th 10
As if we don’t have enough to contend with, what with the visitor drop-off resulting from the world financial crisis, resort owners having their hands full with very high air fares into Belize, rising hotel running costs, very expensive phone and communication costs, taxation, some of the highest electricity costs in the Caribbean, high price of fuel etc., we now have a new attack on our visitors – The Sport Fishing License.
Ah, but that only affects a minority of people – those who come here to sample our world class fishing, I hear you say. Not so. It applies to each and every one of us who picks up a rod or hand line to go fishing.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has managed to produce the dumbest piece of legislation yet. The new law (Statutory Instrument 115) which came into effect on September 14, last year, requires anyone on a boat equipped for or engaged in sport fishing, to have a Sport Fishing License.
The key word here is equipped. This means that everyone on the boat must have a Sport Fishing License, not just the fisherman on the boat, but everyone on the boat. So that includes non-fishing wives, children, babes in arms, your dear old granny, and even the tour guide or boat captain and deckhands!
So this means that all boats which go to sea; ferry boats, dive boats, catamarans, yachts, dories, cruise ships, etc., must ensure that all persons on board have Sport Fishing Licenses if they have ANY fishing tackle on board, whether in use or not. This does not just mean down-riggers; it means ANY fishing tackle. This will add $500 to the cost of a week’s cruise on a catamaran for ten people, if they simply trail a hand line to catch their lunch or even have a handline on board!
The penalty for failure to have a Sport Fishing license is $500, or 6 months in prison, or both. (more…)
Feb 13th 10
John and Maureen
The Day my Husband and I lost our 3 babies our doggies to the most devastating and harmful death from a desperate poison.
It’s so hard and emotional to go through this tragedy. My whole life is planned around my dogs, they are with me all the time, never without me. It helps to think of the wonderful happiness they gave us and the love and caring we gave them, Bennie, Tamara and Greta. Snoopy and Sebastien survived but the other three always go to play with Pat & Kimmy’s dogs while Snoopy and Sebastian stayed at my heels. My heart goes out to Pat & Kimmy who lost their puppy’s also Mrs McLean who lost beautiful Lola and Harriette who shared Greta’s wonderful love and affection.
I realize now how many truly compassionate friends my husband and I have in San Pedro and other parts of the world they have truly shared out terrible grief. It is better to have loved with all your heart and passion than have lost in never loving at all. Sincerely and with happy memories Maureen and John.
Feb 9th 10
CG Esthetic ‘Girl Party’ at El Divino Today
From 9:00 am to 11:00 am & 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Join CG Esthetic for a beauty breakfast and/or a night of fun. There will be a big product sale, product demonstrations, barefoot sandals and more.
Liquor License Extensions
The San Pedro Liquor Licensing Board would like to inform all Liquor License establishments that have extensions that they should bring their extension forms to the San Pedro Town Council office on Tuesdays of every week no later than 2:00 p.m. Late Extension forms will not be considered.
Island Water Sports
Weekends and sunny days will now be even more enjoyable with these fabulous water toys available for rent at Island Water Sports. Located at the Holiday Hotel dock, this new venture is sure to please – with water trikes, paddle boards and more. These fun water toys are a guaranteed hit – stop by and check them out! SP Sun
SP Lions club donates food items
The San Pedro Lions Club on Friday made two donations; one to a local resident and the other to an institution. Zone Secretary Lion Kainie Manuel and local Club Secretary Lion Jorge Aldana handed over food items on behalf of the club to Mr. Dale Ellis and to Holy Cross Anglican School. Ellis expressed his gratitude to the Club for the generous donation, as did authorities at Holy Cross. Those authorities indicated that the items will be used as part of the school’s feeding program. SP Sun
Smile Clinic back on Ambergris Caye
The Smile Clinic was back on the island as of last week at the Holy Cross Anglican School. Volunteer dentists from abroad continue arriving on the island on a regular basis to offer free dental clinics to the children of San Pedro. This week they continue providing their services at the Holy Cross Anglican School, but also at the San Pedro Poly Clinic. The services are free for children ages four to twelve. For more information you can contact the Anglican School or the Poly Clinic at 226-2536. Ambergris Today
Belize Departure Tax Letter to the Editor
My husband and I and four other couples were in Belize for eleven days from January 22 until February 2. We were sailing for seven days, and spent the rest of the time divided between the Maya Beach area and Placencia Village. We had a really wonderful time and hope someday to return. However, our experience on departing from the Belize City International Airport was a very, very frustrating way to end such an amazing holiday.
We had been told about the departure tax and have absolutely no objection to paying it, however having to provide it solely in US funds is ridiculous. It’s a Belizean tax. We were in Belize. We are not US citizens, we are Canadian and had no US money. We had prepared ourselves by having sufficient cash in Belizean dollars, (and had Canadian money) but we were told you only accepted US money to pay the Belize Departure Tax? Having to exit from the security area and line up a second time at the Atlantic Bank and pay an addition commission to convert money again from Belizean dollars to US dollars and line up again to pass through security and customs created an unnecessarily stressful delay.
I could understand, if you accepted US dollars as well as Belizean as a convenience to so many American tourists who would carry US money, but why would you penalize people from outside the US in this way? I can’t stress how much this left a bad feeling right at the end of a trip that had been completely blissful until that point.
Yours sincerely, Judith McGill, Pickering, Ontario
Jan 6th 10
My husband and I are frequent visitors to San Pedro. We volunteer regularly at Holy Cross Anglican School. Recently, we were invited to explore local housing opportunities by Reef Village. While there, we inquired into community involvement by the corporation. One of the officials made a curious statement, stating that “they” were assisting Holy Cross to relocate. We do know that the school is an integral part of Island education and the Anglican Diocese has legal title to the property with no intent to move. Why would the school move, as it serves the San Mateo people and their children?
Comments of this sort are both patently false and very disconcerting to local people who depend on Holy Cross for their children’s education. This leads to questioning whether events are occurring behind the scenes which can undermine the good work of the school and its employees/volunteers. Holy Cross is a jewel which requires support and nurturing. These are your children and education is their future.
Heather and Rick Leslie
Dec 28th 09
I am writing today to express my sincere gratitude to Laurie at the new vet clinic that has just been built at Pedro’s Inn. On the afternoon of December 24th I was in my yard which is located at the end of the wall of the Mansions, just down the road from Banyan Bay. My yard is fenced but unfortunately my American Staffy, Ginger has figured out a way out. On the 24th I was outside, then noticed Ginger was not in the yard.
I immediately went to the road and called for her. I heard her barking, then I heard what most pet owners fear, which was the most heart wrenching scream coming from the lot next door. I ran down the road to find her at my neighbours house covered in blood, and bleeding excessively. I immediately put her in my golf cart and brought her to Laurie at San Pedro Vet clinic. I know it was a crocodile that had attacked her, as there is one that lives there in Ambergris Lake. I had just lost my Boston Terrier, Oskar to the same fate 2 weeks prior. Thankfully Laurie was there in the clinic awaiting my arrival, after a surgery that lasted over 5 hours Ginger is now patched back up, and hopefully will make a full recovery. She is not completely out if the woods yet, as she suffered a severe puncture wound to her abdomen, and is under constant supervision from Laurie.
If this clinic was not open, on this day that would be considered a holiday here, there is no way she would of survived. Laurie has given her the same care as I would get from the vets back home in Canada. She has been with Ginger everyday since the incident, and has given me the confidence that Ginger will be ok. Again if it were not for her skill, and the clinic being here there is no way Ginger would have survived this savage attack.
The most important thing is that there is a vet clinic here on the Island that provides 24 hour emergency care, there is no reason for any animal to go untreated, it is her job to save the lives of those that are dearest to us. She did indeed save Ginger’s life, and without her she would have died. I would like to also thank Peter for his support in providing me a place to stay here at Pedros while my dog is under Laurie’s care. being so close to Ginger and the one who saved her life is probably the greatest gift I got this Christmas, THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH. – Cori Sterrenberg.
Dec 3rd 09
I would like to thank Saga Humane Society and the local community for all their support over the last year. I have greatly enjoyed my work in my position as Saga Humane Society Veterinarian. It has been a very challenging year, but I am proud of the progress we have made in a number of areas, most importantly, controlling the dog population of San Pedro.
When I arrived in October 2008 the shelter was overflowing with dogs and cats in need of veterinary care. Many were sick, and few were spayed or neutered. The island had been without a veterinarian for a couple of months, and the result was startling and sad. One dog in particular at Saga, Cassie, was struggling to recover from a severe case of tick fever and a deep, infected machete wound. There were other dogs like her in the shelter with varying degrees of illness. When I spoke with local residents, they expressed their concerns that another round of poisoning of the stray dog population may occur. It was obvious to me that San Pedro was suffering in a number of ways due to the lack of veterinary care.
Because of this, I decided that two of my biggest goals as the humane society’s veterinarian would be to work to control the island’s dog population in humane ways and to actively work with government officials to initiate an alternative plan to strychnine poisoning.
With the help of staff members Ingrid and Noami, volunteers, and all the pet owners who allowed us to spay and neuter their pets, it appears that we have made great strides in achieving these goals. I would like to encourage all the pet owners of San Pedro to continue to have their pets spayed and neutered. It is the single most important thing you can do for your pet, your community, and to prevent the suffering of future homeless animals. I would also like to thank all of those in the community who have taken the time to listen to us and allow us to spay and neuter their pets.
Although it has become time for me to leave my position at Saga Humane Society, I will always be available to continue to work towards these goals. It is my belief that the animal population of San Pedro will be better served by a permanent private veterinary practice than by the temporary veterinarians that Saga can provide, often with gaps between them with little or no veterinary care.
I will be offering substantial discounts on care for the shelter animals and I am open to working with Saga to do what I can to continue to provide veterinary care to pet owners with financial needs. I plan to be available to the public for surgeries and consults Mondays through Saturdays, as well as for house calls as time allows. My cell phone number will be made available for emergency care after hours. My last day as Humane Society Veterinarian will be December 10th. Beginning December 11th I may be reached at mobile number 630-2479, so that there will be no lapse in veterinary care for the island.
After months of treatment, Cassie and many dogs like her are now living happy and healthy with loving families. Please continue to support Saga Humane Society and all the work that is done to rescue homeless animals, treat their illnesses, spay and neuter them, and find them homes.
Laurie Droke, DVM
Nov 24th 09
Price of Flights to Belize
To whom it may concern; Over the past 3 years I have noticed a steady increase in the cost of airfare from the US to Belize and would like to bring this to your attention and raise some awareness. I am sure you are fully aware that with the sagging US economy a lot of financial belts are being tightened and travel decisions are being effected by this.
I bring this up because my wife and I attempt to travel to Belize 3 times a year to visit friends, family and enjoy all that the country has to offer. Currently the cost of a round trip ticket in February from MEM to BZE is $800.00 and ask why can I fly significantly cheaper to other Central America destinations ( SJO, STT, CUN, CZM, SAP) using the same date range? One destination beat the price by 38% and as much as I love visiting the country of Belize one has to wonder why La Isla Bonita is so expensive? Sincerely, John & Shawna Robilio