Title: Independent reformer
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099538/00018
 Material Information
Title: Independent reformer
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Publisher: Independent Publishing Company (of Belize) Ltd.
Place of Publication: Belize City, Belize
Publication Date: April 6, 2007
Copyright Date: 2006
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Bibliographic ID: UF00099538
Volume ID: VID00018
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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1I


The heart of Ladyville was beating
strongly on Sunday, April 1st, for the
Village Council elections. These elec-
tions unlike the nationals are not at the
whim & fancy of the Prime Minister but
called every three years by the Minis-
try of Government responsible for them.
At press time, the UDP candidate for
Chairman, Luciano Cho had officially
won with approximately 50% of the
vote, while the PUP and Independent
slate were neck and neck with 26%
and 24% respectively. Councillor votes
had not yet been counted.
The results mirror the latest UB poll
percentage-wise showing a steep de-
cline in the popularity of the People's
United Party and the increase in public
support for Independent or "third" par-
ties. Ladyville is an important Village
simply because it's the largest village
and some say because its Ralph
Fonseca's old constituency. That very
powerful minister counts Ladyville as
his home turf although he's rarely seen
in the area. However, the three candi-
dates wanting his seat were very vis-
ible election day. Dr. Cardo even had
a permanent booth.
There were three teams vying for of-


Voters lined up out into the street and around the corner to place their votes on Sunday.


fice. APUP, UDP, and an independent


Commoners representatives urge residents to vote Independent.


slate led by the lady Mrs. Thurton. She
was supported by family and friends as
well as members of the Commoners
organization.
The PUP and UDP slates had the ob-
vious strong support of their respective
party machineries. Monies were being
spent that is normally unheard of for
Village Councils: TV ads, radio spots,
newspaper ads, t-shirts, refreshments
for the troops, and some say even a little
grease for the voters but we could get
the picture of the 100-150 dollars be-
ing doled out.
Mass party troops were transported
in mostly from Belize City and in some
instances did cause a bit of excitement.
There were a couple of instances with
banners being torn down by PUP sym-
pathetic imports but all in all a quite non-
confrontational event. Very civil, lots of
determination on all sides. No need for
the almost excessive show of police
power. No BDF or ADU, although the
latter could have had a field day.
For the Government side, numerous
ministers & their families, senators,
standard bearers, standard bearer
hopefuls, and just families of a number
of high ranking PUP ministers. Quite a
(Please Turn To Page 16) ,


I


e


Inside this Issue


Handouts on
Handyside Street
pg. 4


Blaming
Colonialism?
pg.5


Do di Rait Ting
pg. 6


Menchu seeks to
Bring Guatemala
out of the Darkness
pg. 7








Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 2 7



1


Village Council
politricks
Dear Editor,
The first weekend of Village Council
Elections, it goes like this: Mark Espat's
Ministry of National Development
through the Ministry of Rural Develop-
ment is responsible for conducting Vil-
lage Council Elections. Don't wait on
the E&B to update their website be-
cause the information is actually handled
by the MND. They should be sending
out a release shortly. Elections are
spread out over the next six weeks (not
two) with a break for the Easter holi-
days.
The government came up with the
schedule for elections but the strategy
failed them miserably the first week. The
strategy was to schedule all those
known DIE HARD PUP villages in the
first two week to give the impression
that the PUP was very much alive and
doing well and set the stage for other
villages to follow. Worse case scenario
should have given them an 85% victory
but they were looking forward more
towards a 95 to 100% victory in all


these PUP villages.
In Cayo, for example Esperanza Vil-
lage, a known UDP area, was placed
in the starting line up but this was done
because the PUP knew that there were
two candidates running for the UDP and
so with the UDP votes splitting between
these two candidates, they were of the
opinion that their candidate could have
slipped through the crack thereby giv-
ing them a real victory to claim. As it
turned out, both UDP candidates de-
feated the PUP candidate and his three
colleagues because they could not even
come up with a full slate of six coun-
cilor candidates in Esperanza.
In the overall scenario, it turned out
that they took a licking and are now
claiming victory with 60%. Even if we
are to believe them, a 60% success rate
is a terrible blow for a party that was
expecting as much as 95 100% with
all its die hard villages in the starting line
up.
One can only imagine what will hap-
pen when all those known UDP villages
begin to kick in. Like for example in
those UDP villages where the PUP con-
tinues to have a hard time coming up


with candidates.
In some cases the Prime Minister him-
self has to come into these villages to
get a slate together. While the UDP, on
the other hand is faced with having to
go to village council conventions be-
cause there are just too many candidates
offering themselves as UDP candidates,
as in the case with Bullet Tree Village
were there were four persons in the
convention for Chairman and 14 for
councilors.
And as mentioned previously, there
is the case in Esperanza Village just this
week, where there were two UDP
slates and they still defeated the PUP
slate which ran with only three council-
ors so although the UDP votes were split
among two candidates for Chariman,
the PUP candidate still came in dead
last.
The renewed PUP strategy I am told,
is thatby that time the UDP villages start
going to the polls, they should have suc-
cessfully convinced the people that vil-
lage council elections should be kept
free for partisan politics
Alberto August,
STAR, Publisher


Ripping off our Advertisers


It has come to our attention that a woman identifying herself as "Edith who used to work at a radio
station" is purporting to sell advertisements for Independent Weekly and collecting money from various
business houses. For the record, we have not entered into any arrangement with anyone by that name
and she is not authorized to do business on our behalf.Any business or individual who has been contacted
by this person or paid money to her is asked to please call or email us as we are building a case with a
view to criminal prosecution for theft.
Please note: all payments for ads are to be made directly to Independent Weekly's Atlantic Bank
account, or to the General Manager and not to individual sales reps.
ThankYou,
Trevor Vernon, General Manager
Independent Weekly











independent.newspaper.bz@gmail.com
P.O. Box 2666
Bcli/c (Cil. Beli/e

\ \ YES! Send me 6 months of the INdependent Reformer for as little as
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Friday, April 6, 2007


The INdependent Reformer


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Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 4 |


By: Karla Heusner Vernon

"Are they crazy?" I thought to my-
self. "Taking money out like that in a
neighborhood like this?" A neighbor-
hood, like so many Belizean neighbor-
hoods, once respectable, even upper
class but now decaying and depress-
ing.
I had been driving by when I saw the
man taking a roll of US money out of
his pocket, peel off a few bills and give
it to his female companion. They were
obviously tourists, from their pale com-
plexions, matching khaki outfits and
fanny packs. No doubt they were off
one of the cruise ships in port, there were
swarms of visitors that day in Belize City.
I thought about pulling over to cau-
tion them about flashing money around,
letting them know they could be
robbed, or hurt or both.
As I was trying to decide what to do,
the woman suddenly dashed across the
street in front of my car and started
waving almost frantically at a woman on
the verandah of the lower flat of a di-
lapidated house. "For the little girl..." I
heard her say.
I saw a tiny child, probably no older
than three, standing there. Her dress
was in tatters, her face smudged with
dirt and mucus and her hair in disarray.
She looked, in short, just like one of


those Third World orphans on Save the
Children Fund commercials.
I could see why the tourist felt com-
pelled to give the Hispanic woman with
wild, unkempt hair standing next to the
little girl. I felt like scooping her up my-
self and taking her home to give her a
bath, a decent meal. She looked totally
neglected, possibly even abused.
Frankly, so did the woman.
Then I shook myself. How do I know


that? Maybe the girl has just been run-
ning around evading all attempts to
bathe her and blow her nose. Kids do
that. Run around looking like ragamuf-
fins even when their parents are trying
to keep them neat and tidy. Kids from
all kinds of socio-economic back-
grounds don't like to take a bath. Maybe
if she weren't standing in front of this
brukup house she wouldn't look so
desperate... so sad.
But as I drove off, I had to wonder
what would happen after what had just
happened. Would the woman, presum-
ably her mother, actually spend the
money on food or clothing for this kid?
Would she hurry to bathe the child, em-
barrassed, mortified even, that some
stranger thought she was dirt poor?
Or would she now stand in front of
her house every cruise ship day, put her
child on display hoping more kind
hearted tourists would fork over money
for the child's welfare? Then spend it
on herself?
Was a vicious cycle now beginning in
which the child might indeed actually be


abused, even pushed into prostitution
when she gets older?
It's not farfetched. I found out how
near-fetched it is two days later when a
man told me he had to call police be-
cause a tourist from one of the ships
was having sex with a minor girl right
out in the open-- on the stage of the
Memorial Park! Stories abound of taxi
drivers regularly procuring Belizean
young ladies for visiting foreigners want-


ing a little action in the middle of the
morning and afternoon. This is notjust
anecdotal, its documented by the agen-
cies dealing with youths in this country,
a form of sex tourism and exploitation.
I have seen the taxis myself pulling into
the brothel on the northern highway and
the men getting out in broad daylight.
The Love Boat indeed.
Drugs are another problem. How of-
ten do we hear of tourists busted with
drugs in their fanny packs or even stuffed
up their fannies? ABelizean who works
in the Fort Area told me he was walk-
ing through an alley between Memorial
Park and Eyre Street when he met a
couple of tourists smoking crack! Right
in the alley.
Now, I suppose some will ask why
foreigners should be prohibited from
enjoying crack in our alley ways when
so many Belizeans enjoy it there on a
regular basis... or if I never read old his-
torical accounts of the shenanigans visi-
tors to Belize used to get up to in the
seafaring days of old. Why these things
are just part of local hospitality tradi-


tion, right?
And its not all the visitors, heck no.
Most of them are busy looking for frivo-
lous little trinkets and taking photos of
intriguing sights they can't get back
home like open drains, stray dogs and
half starved horses pulling the fattest
Americans their owner can attract in car-
riages bedecked with plastic flowers and
garish yards of material. If they are
lucky, they can capture the moment the
poor animal collapses in exhaustion with
their video cameras.
Sadly, in so many ways, our city is
becoming a caricature of itself, an ob-
ject of ridicule, or revulsion, or pity for
visitors. I am sure they return home full
of stories of being followed around by
haunted looking drug addicts not tak-
ing no for an answer, of taxis that blow
their horns loudly at them when they
walk incorrectly down the Swing
Bridge, or merchants who swindled
them out of US cash by given them in-
correct amounts ofBelizean change.
For sure, at least one woman is at this
moment still telling her relatives about
the dire poverty in Belize, conditions so
bad, so shocking she could not help but
take some of her own vacation money
and hand it over to help one little girl
living in an inhuman ghetto, on a street
that runs right offthe fancy Tourism Vil-
lage. "We have so much you know, you
really don't appreciate it until you go to
these Third World countries, do you?
Frankly I don't know if I could ever go
back. It just breaks your heart.."
It breaks our hearts too to see all the
money coming in on the ships but not
being left--in the right way--in our neigh-
borhoods. And visitors thinking we have
no pride, no dignity, no resources of our
own.


FACTS


OR


TRUTH?


What is happening in


By: RavAuxillou
I can't get decent radio stations out
West where I live, so I never listen to
the radio. We get the tv news periodi-
cally, but not regularly as we only hit on
them by chance, not by any scheduled
time. Most of our entertaining scandal
information comes from the newspa-
pers. This past week the news was kind
of scarce.
A very nice article on a shoe repair
man and his life. I liked that! Interest-
ing article or ad, on BTL giving FREE
INTERNET access to some child care
facility. I liked that. But it brought to
mind the BTL television ad where the
young man keeps saying to his peer
group teenagers that 25 cents a minute
to talk to your friends is CHEAP! I
have to laugh at that bald faced lie!


Yet the newspapers of the political
party organs prove that telling lies works
on the general public. I certainly would
say 2 cents a minute for BTL conversa-
tions would be cheap and 5 cents a
minute would be fair, BUT 25 cents a
minute? Gimme a break! That's high-
way robbery without a gun!
Of course BTL took over the GOV-
ERNMENT GUARANTEED
INTELCO losses and we all remem-
ber the PM running around like a
chicken with his head cut off for over
three years trying to get the alleged
INTELCO swindles buried to avoid
any public exposure and possible pros-
ecutions by any new political party tak-
ing over the government in the future.
The emphasis in the scandal sheets on


our PUP government?
only scandals available to the media, but foreign exchange to Panama on our
INTELCO was where the real thieving Belizean diplomatic passport in the tens
took place from what I have read of of millions of dollars, with these foreign
this novella so far. And Ashcroft through exchange bandits. Nobody knows yet
BTL, finally agreed to take over and the Money Laundering Unit in
INTELCO and bury them, for what Belmopan were quoted as evasive in
price is what I wonder? another article when a reporter enquired
Then this week there was the new tie as to progress on illegal parallel market
in, in the Amandala newspaper about trading.
some holding Panamanian shell com- They can't do anything anyway as
pany, that Michael Ashcroft and the they obviously can be inferred as under
Panamanian Vice President and Foreign the control of one of the alleged play-
Minister or something were stockhold- ers, as local Cabinet Minister in charge
ers? Given that Fonseca in past news- of that very thing. They haven't been
papers has been quoted to be heavily prosecuted yet, or fined in court! The
involved in Panamanian politics and shell assumption to me, an ordinary reader,
companies. That kind oflumpsAshcroft, was that a group of individuals in our
Fonseca, Panamanian politicians, shell government and their friends were rip-
companies in Panama and probably our ping off our Belize teenagers market with


the DFC and Social Security are the money carrying mule CAL, smuggling


( Sadly, in so many ways, our city is becom-
ing a caricature of itself, an object of ridi-
cule, or revulsion, or pity for visitors.


(Please Turn To Page 13) MIW


r








Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 5


How Long Will We Continue to Blame ColonialismP


By: Mario Lara
It's an old cliche that every cloud has
a silver lining. The series of political
scandals that have plagued the nation
of Belize recently is one such dark
cloud. But the rude awakening effect
that these scandals have on the people
is in fact a silver lining. This is evidenced
by the number of independent candi-
dates and third parties who have added
their voices to the national debate about
the political future of Belize. Although
they have a long way to go, they are
already contributing in a positive way
by inspiring ordinary Belizeans like my-
self to really stop and question the way
we govern ourselves and to imagine
what Belize could be, if we only we had
the conviction to embark upon a grand
experiment of what it truly means to be
independent.
For too long, we have habitually
blamed our problems with our politics
and our way of life on colonialism. We
act as if we are powerless to rid our-
selves of the dysfunctional parliamen-
tary system of government and ill crafted
constitution we inherited from our Eu-
ropean forefathers. But, perhaps the
latest round of political scandals involv-
ing waste, greed, incompetence and
corruption, delivered by the current sys-
tem of government, will provide the im-
petus for us Belizeans to rid ourselves


of this mental slavery that colonialism
has wrought upon us and to imagine a
new set of possibilities and a new vi-
sion for Belize.
Think about it. Belizeans are but a
few thousand people among the billions
who populate this planet. And yet, we
collectively lay claim to one of the most
beautiful and bountiful specks of land
on Earth. Tiny as Belize may be, com-
pare our ratio of people to land to any
other nation and you'll see that we are
far better off than most. Perhaps we
don't have the most productive and fer-
tile lands nor the most tolerable of cli-
mates; but no one can argue that what
we have isn't good. Indeed, most would
easily agree that what we have is great
- a choice piece of real estate.
So then why should we continue to
make a mess of how we govern, ad-
minister, and make a living from this
beautiful jewel of ours? Why should a
few continue to enjoy a disproportion-
ate share of the shade that Belize has to
offer, while a majority is left to labor
under the hot sun? This is what our
current system of government delivers.
But what is stopping us from fashioning
a system of government for ourselves
that ensures the wealth of Belize is
shared more equitably? What is stop-
ping us from giving true meaning to our
independent status?


Suppose we suspended the belief that
the parliamentary system of government
is some sort of sacred cow and instead
of merely tinkering with the system, we
decided to boldly but intelligently ex-
periment with different forms of govern-
ment? Suppose we elected a council
of District Supervisors and a National
President to replace the Prime Minister
and his Cabinet. Imagine also that we
elected a set of leaders who had a
shared vision for the future that says
quality of life in Belize is intertwined with
preserving and respecting the environ-
ment in a truly sustainable way not
merely declaring swaths of land as na-
ture reserves while allowing polluting
industries to operate unregulated in other
areas of the country. What if these vi-
sionary leaders formulated national
policy by consulting with the people and
truly representing their interests, rather
than simply manipulating a mob during
elections time by making promises to
them of housing schemes that only end
up serving to enrich an elite and con-
nected few while being paid for by the
masses?
What if we were more careful and
selective about which aspects of mod-
ernization we pursued as a nation so that
we took time to ensure that whatever
national programs we embarked upon
were fully consistent with our vision of


Belize? Programs that place a high value
on preserving the pristine environment
(one of our greatest assets) and consis-
tent, as well, with our culture and way
of life which values people above ma-
terialism so that every Belizean would
be afforded a greater chance at a digni-
fied way of life rather than having to beg
for handouts. And what if administra-
tive authority and responsibility were
delegated to the district, towns, and vil-
lages so that local leaders no longer have
to lobby ministers for resources but are
instead truly supported and provided
oversight by the national government so
that they are able to direct their affairs
in a true spirit of partnership. Wouldn't
this be an even better form of checks
and balance than an elected senate
within the current dysfunctional struc-
ture?
How long will we continue to blame
colonialism? Indeed, the future of Belize
can be much better if we dare to rid
ourselves of our mental slavery and truly
embrace our independence by seeking
out news ways by which to govern and
administer ourj ewel. I feel that out of
the scandals a worthwhile national de-
bate has begun and I am optimistic about
the future. Are you?
Readers, if you liked this article you
may send comments to Mario Lara at:
cowfootsoup@yahoo. corn


On~ Wednesday. 28rh March 2007 The Minlistry of National
Development. investment cond Culrure hold a ground breaking
(er,-FIo'?i o rl o nsGI!I~Ci$tIIrfon oi a :2ew school buiddlg r qotWesley
Collee 'In Belize C(fy.

The school btidi'k1'protect wilt bbe funded by the Governmnent of dehiee
rhrougii the Connnomo.haeoIh Debt Initiative programme with
cotinllefpoft hi nds ng prov'ide'd by the community through their
(Qn)lr~xiliQfl of rn-kond labour. The project wilt be implemented by the
Sociali/ n vetmen r Fund on behalf of the Government of Belize

The' project consists of the replacement of a d~iapidated two sC rorce
A00oden surticture with a fiv~e classroomi building and barhroorns. The
new building wi~l be of rerinforced concrete and wi1ll measure 30 feex
A vrdt'. InClUding a 5 foor verandah, and ;08 leer by 78 feet long in the
forrn o ofcon V shape. The building wil utilize folding partitrion waits to
alow rIthee of the classrooms to be used as an auditorium. The
bulJJdinig will be designed to function as a three story building in the
tJinife. ond to withstand up to category 5hurricane srorms.Alf extrinor
doors ivifl be sotid timber doors and the hv~ndo--.s will be aluminum
fouvti.ed worh securiy grills. Provisions lortI*Xlmr'instaflSlat~ion will be
made aoIng vihprovision of appropriate waste diip~oIa system5 for
the sanirary block services.

This project vaf/be~nefir 729 srudenrs ondS wachers and staff

Guest speakers at the evient wete rhe Honotiwa*l Mark Es pat. Minister
of NatiionalOe'de~prnen.Inverwstment and Culture and Albert Division
Area Represenlot,6-e, and Mr. Hugh O'Brien, Cbaigpeson of the Social
1rivesuent Fund.


A Paid Advertisement


a b Belize city
*fil



*PUS







Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 6


Cuban refugees safe in Belize


Cayman Net News, March 28,2007
The nine Cuban refugees who left
George Town harbour on 5 March have
arrived safety at the Tranquility Bay
Resort in Belize.
In an e-mail to Cayman Net News
dated 24 March, a local resident passed
on the good news and brief details of
their journey.
Two days after leaving the Cayman
Islands the boat's engine broke down
and they drifted in bad weather for
three days. On 10 March they arrived
near the Tranquility Bay Resort, which
is located 14 miles north of San Pedro
on Ambergris Caye.
All the seven men and two women
made the trip safely. Because their
boat was now unusable, six men and
one of the women continued their
journey on foot, heading towards
Mexico.
One couple still remains in Belize,
although they are apparently unde-
cided on what path to take but are
said to be concerned about their
safety and worried that the police

Cayo high


U-
al'it4-/


SM Ib


might deport them back to Cuba.
According to their account of the
j journey, it was a nightmare. They say
the weather after they left Grand Cay-
man was terrible and both thank God


..--.
he Cuban refugees left Grand Cayman on 5 Marc
that they are still alive.
Attached to the e-mail was a pho-
tograph on one of the couples, taken
after their safe arrival in Belize.
After the refugees left, many people


on Grand Cayman offered prayers for
their safe passage. When the news
was received one of them said sim-
ply, "I am so happy. My prayers were
answered."


school student "Do di Rait Thing"


in the fudge. According to Police, the
originator of the fudge was eventually
discovered thanks to Cynthia Perdomo.
She received a T-shirt with "Du di Rait
Thing!" written across it and a special
document from Commissioner of Po-
lice Gerald Westby.
"It is because she cares for others that
she took this bold step," stated Deputy
Officer in Charge of San Ignacio Police
Jeffrey Martinez, to the specially as-


sembled student body.
Superintendent Murray reported
that last year, the first winner under
the 'Do the Right Thing' Program had
won a two year full scholarship to
Saint Johns College Sixth Form along
with a computer
On hand to witness the awards was
Police Press Officer Michael Reid. He
encouraged students to aim for the stars.


Police Superintendent Yolanda Murray & Police Press Officer Michael Reid present
award to Cynthia Perdomo, accompanied by Eden School Principal Erodito Pineda.
Press Release--The Belize Police gram. Perdomo was the winner for the
Force has recognized a student from the month of February 2007 after a highly
Eden Seventh Day Adventist High selective process. This academically out-
School from Santa Elena Town in the standing student had reported to au-
Cayo District. Ahigh ranking member thorities the presence of Cannabis in
of the Police Force, Yolanda Murray, 'fudge' after having discovered it her-
awarded prizes to Cynthia Perdomo, a self. Police now report that another stu-
second form student, for being the win- dent had been taken seriously ill at the
ner under the "Do the Right Thing" Pro- time after the green substance was found

For an online version of the

INdependent Reformer

visit us at

http://www.belizenorth.com/
independentreformer.htm
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Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 7


Financial Times
Guatemala City-- March 28 2007
In a middle-class home in Guatemala
City, and surrounded by five hyperac-
tive puppies and a bodyguard carrying
two sub-machine guns, Rigoberta
Menchu is mapping out a campaign that
she hopes will culminate in victory in
September's presidential election.
Dressed in a traditional multicoloured
dress and headband, the 48-year-old
indigenous leader and winner of the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 adopts mys-
tical tones when she begins to describe
the problems Guatemala faces. "We are
in a time of darkness," she tells the FT.
"It is a time of no time. We cannot see
the path because it is still dark."
Such ways of seeing and describing
the world are a new concept in Guate-
malan politics, which, since indepen-
dence in 1821, has been dominated by
a small and overwhelmingly light-
skinned elite.
But while these Mayan musings may
not fit easily in the western mind, she
believes they will be easily understood
by the country's majority indigenous
population and stir a traditionally apa-
thetic segment of the country to vote for
her. If she succeeds, she would become
Guatemala's first indigenous president.
She would also follow the example
of Evo Morales, the indigenous Boliv-
ian head of state who, since assuming
power in January 2006, has courted
controversy with his brand of leftwing
rhetoric and strengthened political and
trade ties with Hugo Chavez,
Venezuela's oil-rich president and self-
proclaimed socialist.
Ms Menchu, a diminutive figure with
a bright smile and a round face that hides
her years, speaks fondly ofMr Morales,
whom she describes as "a great brother


Rigoberta Menchu Turn champions the rights of Guatemala's poor and indigenous
peoples in her bid for the presidency of the Republic.


and friend". "Bolivia is a country that is
building its future," she says.
Yet she adopts a more cautious tone
when asked whether her policy propos-
als could be seen as leftwing. "Concepts
of left and right cannot be applied to
what we stand for," she says. "I am a
Mayan and that makes me different."
Some of her proposals or at least
the way she describes them do set
her apart from her competitors. For
example, while Alvaro Colom, a run-
ner-up in the 2003 presidential election
and the leading centre-left candidate for
the September election, advocates
simple "rural development", Ms
Menchu talks of promoting national ag-


riculture to cement traditional Mayan
produce as the cornerstone of the
nation's diet.
She also says she would open a na-
tional debate on whether Cafta, the 2004
trade agreement between Central
America and the US, truly benefits Gua-
temala. Central America's most popu-
lous country ratified the agreement in July
and while the effects of the agreement
are still unclear, it has met with strong
opposition in some particularly sensitive
sectors, such as agriculture.
On other issues, however, Ms
Menchui's proposals echo those of the
mainstream opposition. She talks of the
need to make government spending


more efficient and transparent, make
Congress more accountable and raise
Guatemala's pitiful tax take to help re-
solve poverty, which affects more than
50 per cent of the roughly 12 million
inhabitants.
Like the other candidates, she says
purging and improving the national po-
lice force is a priority. The subject has
become a principal theme in Guatemala
since the apparent discovery of death
squads operating within the force, after
four policemen were accused of slay-
ing three congressmen from
neighboring El Salvador along with
their driver last month.
The incident, which this week pro-
duced the resignation of Carlos
Vielmann, the interior minister, acquired
an even more sinister air when the ar-
rested policemen were found murdered
in their cells several days later.
Despite the fanfare that greeted the
announcement of her candidacy, most
political analysts in Guatemala believe
her chances are slim. They admit her
fame is a strong asset in an electoral
system where personality often counts
for more than policy.
But they also point out the indigenous
movement is fragmented and that she
does not enjoy the support from the in-
digenous community that she might. Ac-
cording to a recent poll, she only has
19 per cent of the vote compared with
more than 38 per cent for Mr Colom.
But sitting in her garden, where two
oil drums stand next to a pen containing
yet another dog, Ms Menchu dismisses
the scepticism.
She leans across and points to a thick
column of ants scaling a wall and says:
"That is what my campaign is about. It
is a campaign of the poor but, above
all, about collective action."


PNP & VIP denounce Political Interference


in Village Council Elections


Press Release--The People's Na-
tional Party and We The People de-
nounce political party interference in the
Village Council elections and call for
restraint by the PUP and UDP. Politi-
cal party manipulation ofVillage Council
elections as well as the local develop-
ment process has created dependence
on the party in power for jobs, favors,
and loans. This has served to create di-
vision in the communities.
The PNP/WTP decries the use of
party politics at the village level because
it drives wedges between families and
neighbors, leaving behind a hostile at-
mosphere long after the election is over.
"We want to remove party politics from
village council elections and will make
this an important priority once we get
into government," said Hipolito
Bautista, WTP Leader, "Belizeans are


a tolerant and decent people living in a
closely-knit society and deliberately di-
visive party politics does not represent
the heart of the typical Belizean."
"We have become divisive as a na-
tion, so beholden to our political par-
ties that we are unable to place love of
country ahead of PUP or UDP. Our
patriotism is reduced to adorning party
flags in our villages and receiving hand
outs on election day while allowing the
area reps to undermine the public ser-
vice and the rule of law and promote
corruption through illegal access to land
and depriving local communities of their
rights and patrimony," said Wil Maheia,
candidate for Area Representative for
Toledo East.
Once in government the PNP/WTP
will respect the Village Council Act and
strengthen the authority ofVillage Coun-


cils by decentralizing their funds and al-
lowing VC's to collect monies directly
from the village for village purposes. This
will make the villages less dependent on
government for their operations and
development and in turn less vulnerable
to party politics.
"Patriotism is love of one's country,
this must include its people: all of its
people. Once in government The
People's National Party will work to-
gether with other leaders and individual
citizens regardless of party," declared
Dionicio Choc, candidate for Area Rep-
resentative for Toledo West.
"Once the PNP is elected we will
drop the party banners and replace them
with the mantle of leadership. We will
not be divided by partisanship but uni-
fied in service to the Belizean people,"
said Wil Maheia."


"We must keep advancing as a coun-
try and the old style spoils system where
one party and its followers is castigated
by the winning party is simply not the
kind of political culture Belizeans want
anymore," said Maheia, "that's why
ordinary Belizeans mustjoin the People's
National Party and We The People to
strive for a unified and stronger Belize."
"With the alliance between PNP and
WTP we are building a national party, a
broad and outward looking party that
reflects Belize today, said Dionicio
Choc.
"We believe that voters will usher in a
new ear of three-party politics in the next
election. It is going to be a very differ-
ent House of Representatives and it will
be healthy for our democracy. At the
end of the day, it is the Belizean people
that matter, said Maheia.







Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 8 |



"Ills of Urbanization"


By: William Schmidt
PG correspondent for
INdependentWeeklV

Juan Sak is hunting and he is caught
by Warden Pop.
"Juan, this is the second time I have
found you hunting here, you know it is
a protected area."
"Yes, you told me the last time we
met here, and I told you my family has
been hunting here for many years. My
grandfather taught my father how to
hunt here, and he taught me. I want to
teach my son when he is old enough."
"You had your chance Juan, I told
you last time, if I caught you hunting
here again, I would take you in." "But
Pop, how am I to feed my family, you
know we have to hunt to make ends
meet. "Yes, I do know how hard it is,
but I also have to live, and the NGO
who purchased this land from the gov-
ernment who pays me, will fire me, if
they find out I am not doing myj ob. I
gave you a chance last time, now I must
report you."
"Pop, you know I can't afford to pay
a fine or go to jail. Who will care for
my wife and three young children? Ever
since the hurricane destroyed our milpa,
I have not been able to feed my family.
I must hunt here."
Pop said, "Your only chance is to
move to Punta Gorda Town, as the oth-
ers who have been forced out have
done."
"I know you love this land, but there
is no other way. If I let you go again
they will find out and fire me. Then an-
other will come and he will tell you the
same thing, 'you can no longer hunt or
fish here, or cut Cohune leaves for your
home, or gather bush medicine. This
area is protected now for the endan-
gered plants and animals." "What about
my endangered family, why are the
monkeys and trees more important
than my children?" asked Sak.
"Those who have the money and
power have purchased this land and
you have to obey the law. If you prom-
ise me you'll leave this area, I will let
you go once again. But if you come
back to hunt or gather plants again, I
will report you, and you will pay the
price, or you will gotojail."
Juan Sak, returns home and moves
to the outskirts of the nearest town. As
town lots, and all good land is already


taken, he builds a small stick and thatch
house in the swamps behind town. This
takes all the money he made by selling
the two pigs and few chickens he had
in the village. Now he gets up early each
day and goes into town to look for
work.
"Are you a carpenter?"
"No."
"Are you a mason?"
"No."
"Are you an electrician?"
"No."
"Aplumber?"
"No."
"Then what are you? What can your
do?"
"I'm a good farmer."
"But you are not in the bush now.
You're in town. There is no farmland
here, and you have no skills. There is
no work for you."
Juan returns home and his wife asks
him, "What have you bought for us to
eat Juan?"
"I tried all day but, I was unable to
find any work."
"But Juan, the children are hungry,
they haven't eaten all day. The baby is
crying for food.."
Meanwhile in the neighborhood shop
the shopkeeper tells a townswoman, "I
can't give you any more credit, you al-
ready owe me for the last month."
"Please Mister, you know at the end
of every month my husband has a lot to
chop and we always pay you. I only
need, two packs of bread and one more
can of corned beef, tomorrow I'll pay
you. My children are hungry and we
have no money."
The shopkeeper says "Alright, you
come into the back room and give me a
kiss, and I will credit you one more
time." The poor woman thinking of her


hungry children agrees.
The next day, Juan leaves home prom-
ising his wife he will bring home some-
thing, if he can't find work or borrow
money, he will steal, but he will find
something, he must, he can't stand an-
other night of his children crying from
hunger. Juan goes from house to house
asking for work, but there is none. Fi-
nally he sees a house with grass in the
yard that needs chopping, and he asks
the woman to let him chop it for her.
But she says "No, I'm sorry, I have a
man from town who chops for me ev-
ery month."
Juan, desperate, asks "How much
does he charge you?"
"$30," says the woman.
Juan replies, "I'll chop it for $25."
But the woman says no, she has a
regular man. Juan says he will chop it
for $20, again the woman says no. Juan
in desperation, thinking of his hungry
children and wife says I will chop it for
$15. The woman, not so wealthy her-
self says, "If you chop it close to the
ground for $15 you can have the job."
Juan gets to work and chops the yard.
The next day, the end of the month,
the townsman goes to chop the yard,
but finds it already done. He asks the
woman what happened? She tells him
a poor Indian man came and chopped
it for $15. "I'm sorry but I'm poor also
and couldn't pass up the savings."
The townsman is very upset and an-
gry. "Those damn Indians have un-
dercut me, they're coming to town and
taking the few jobs we have! What
will I tell my wife? What will she tell
the shopkeeper? How will I pay the
bills. Where will I get credit for an-
other month?"
While thinking this he comes upon
his friend who is also out of work but


has enough money to buy a pint of rum.
When he hears of his friend's prob-
lem, he says, "Yes these people from
the villages are coming to town more
and more and they're taking the jobs
and spaces in the schools, and now
they tell me there is no more room for
my children." Together they get
drunk.
Meanwhile, Juan's out bright and
early once again offering to chop an-
other yard for way under the going
rate. He knows it's unfair and the
owner thinks he is nothing but an ig-
norant Indian who doesn't know the
going rate, but he is willing to play the
fool, if it helps him feed his children.
By midday he has finished the lot,
purchase some food and is heading
home. The townsman, unable to face
his wife, continued to drink the day
before and never went home. Now
broke and with a hangover he is on
his way back, and he runs into the
Indian man who his friends says is the
same man who took his contract.
"Look, there is the son of a bitch
who took your job, and look at the
bag of food he has." The man, egged
on by his friend, approaches the In-
dian saying, "You took my job." Juan
says, "The woman gave it to me."
A fight ensues, and the townsman
and his friend beat the Indian and take
his food. Meanwhile a householder
who sees the fighting calls a police
officer, when he arrives, it is the
brother in-law of the townsman.
"Hey, Bro-Lee, what goes on here?"
The townsman says "This Indian
tried to take mi bag of goods."The
police asks the other townsmen if this
is true. They back up his story and
poor Juan goes to jail.
(Please Turn To Page 9) E


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hill 75 yards to Guesthouse.







Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 9










"The Maya Homeland Problem"


By: Meb Cutlack
NICH, the National Institute of
Culture and History has, from almost
nowhere, rekindled the thorny debate
on the issue of a homeland forthe Maya
The real point is of course that all
indigenous people everywhere deserve
a deal that gives them, at very least, a
fair share of the land and prosperity of
their country of origin rather than the
deal they have. Which, in Belize's case,
amounts to almost total exclusion from
both the land and the wealth of Belize.
The Maya of Toledo, the Maya from
the North and from the West are
historically slotted into rural poverty.
They have been denied anything but a
token representation in the political,
economic and social life and fabric of
the nation as a whole. We can look at
this situation and decry it. We can weep
crocodile tears and lament the role of


history in placing the Maya so low
on the scale of a share in, and
rewards from, the nation's wealth.
The time for useless rhetoric is
however over. We have to do
something about this situation
immediately! Our need for action
is made the more urgent by the fact
that on an almost daily basis more
and more Mayan traditional lands
are being sucked up by property
speculators encouraged and in
consort with government officials
and ministers.
And, more and more of the
lands of Belize as a whole are being
detached from the people of Belize
by greedy politicians thinking only
of lining their own pockets.
There is only one way to stop
what is happening and that is not
so much as to hand huge land tracts


to the Mayan people, or to any other group,
but to take all land distribution away from
the Government and hand it to regional
committees composed, certainly in Toledo's
case, of a majority of Toledo Mayans.
The real truth is that all Belizeans,
whether Mayan or Garifuna or Creole
deserve the right to land. Where there is a
majority of any such group (in any district)
it should be natural that they have a fair say
in how the land in that district is distributed.
No group and no individual in Belize should
be excluded from the right to own land. And,
that includes not just rural Belizeans but all
our town and city dwellers too.
A writer to a Belize online list serv wrote
this week: "The (ILO) convention which was
passed in 1989 seeks to right the injustices
imposed on indigenous and tribal peoples
by asserting their human dignity, rights to
land, rights to employment, vocational
training local government and other issues.


For Belize this theoretically means an
increased inclusion of the Maya and
Garifuna peoples who are deemed as
indigenous."
And he adds: "The Maya and
Garifuna people need to talk to the
American Indians to gain some insight
into what works and what does not
work. Inclusion is a better avenue than
isolation."
Quite rightly, the PM. Said Musa,
has said that he will never preside over
'the balkanization ofBelize' and, without
care, that is exactly what could happen
-especially if greed and emotion rather
than common sense were to dictate land
distribution in Belize.
Belize is the homeland of all
Belizeans. It is time it was taken back
from the present rapacious set of
exploiters who masquerade as legitimate
government in Belize.


"Ills of Urebani


nation"


- E (Continued From Page 8)
The young wife waits in vain for him
to come home. There are no lights,
or even a road behind Town where
they built their shack, and she is wor-
ried and afraid.
By the afternoon of the next day, she
learns that her husband has been ar-
rested, and taking her three children,
goes to see him. But the police tell her
she has missed the visiting hours and
must come back the next day at the
appointed time. She returned home
alone, hungry and afraid.
Meanwhile the word has gone out.
A young, angry gang banger hears that
she is at home alone with only three
young children and she is pretty. He
gets drunk, and late at night breaks in
her flimsy door and beats and rapes
her. Some neighbors hear screaming
and the children crying but none dare
go out into the dark night to investi-
gate...
If you think this story is far fetched,
you had better think again. It only
means you have a secure roof over
your head and know how to live in
town. You weren't brought up in a
rural village in the forgotten district,
and forced to move to town. You
don't know what it really means to
be a defenseless woman with young
hungry children, alone and frightened,
with no family or friends, no educa-
tion and a husband who has gone
missing.


Or maybe you were born in town
and are struggling to get by and have
lost your jobs to villagers who have
moved to town because they could not


make a good living in the village. If
you have been there, you do know
and have empathy, sympathy and you
will help those who are trying to


prevent this kind of urbanization by
supporting the Toledo People's Eco
Park.


Boat for SALE for US $10,000

-21' open fisherman
- double hull
-flooring recently refurbished
-live bait well (a must for any real
fisherman)
-14 rod holders
-6 holders for trolling
-dependable 200hp Yamaha with 120
hours
-new stainless steel prop with spare
aluminum prop
-new center console
-Bimini top
-all stainless steel fittings
-Captain chair doubles as fighting
chair
- all running lights & bildge pump .
operational w/new switches
-new bottom paint/anti-fouling paint
-60 gallon tank
-new seat belts
-she flies no brakes available.


Contact owner:

tel. 225-3520








Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 10


ARIES (Mar. 21- April 20)
You have your own family to con-
sider as well. Go after your professional
goals. You can make money through
your own creative efforts. Your temper
could be short if someone criticizes your
efforts. You can make major decisions
regarding your professional direction.
Your lucky day this week will be Mon-
day.
TA URUS (Apr. 21- May 21)
You have a real need to be vocal. Try
not to use emotional blackmail; it will
only make matters worse. You prob-
ably aren't getting straight answers to
your questions. Problems with fire, gas,
or oil may cause disruptions and annoy-
ances. Your lucky day this week will
be Saturday.
GEMINI (May 22-June 21)
You may have the opportunity to get
involved in some interesting conversa-
tions. Try to address the real issues in
order to turn things around. You will
have to be careful not to let others find
out about your intentions. There could
be opposition or temper tantrums on the
home front. Your lucky day this week
will be Saturday.
CANCER (June 22-July 22)
Stress may cause minor health ail-
ments. Do things that involve children.
You may be emotionally unstable if you
let someone you care about get away
with verbal abuse. You may need to
make a choice. Your lucky day this
week will be Tuesday.
LEO (July 23-Aug 22)
Your mate, however, may not be too
pleased with you. Get down to busi-


ness. You've been in a rut and you need
to do something that will help you break
the pattern you've fallen into. Don't
overextend yourself in the process. You
need to take a good look at all sides of
an issue before making a decision. Your
lucky day this week will be Friday.
VIRGO (Aug. 23 -Sept. 23)
Take a short business trip if possible.
Property purchases should be on your
mind. Romantic opportunities will be
plentiful if you go out with friends.
Moves or the possibility of having
someone different living with you may
be difficult at first. Your lucky day this
week will be Friday.
LIBRA (Sept. 24 -Oct. 23)
Control those desires to cast your fate
to the wind. Secret affairs may be
tempting. Upgrading at this point is not
a bad plan. Losses are likely if you have
left your financial affairs in other
people's hands. Your lucky day this
week will be Tuesday.
SCORPIO (Oct. 24 Nov. 22)
You must make sure that all your per-
sonal documents are in order. You have
the ability to motivate others. Look into
joining groups that can give you hands-
on advice about business. You'll look
guilty if you don't lay your cards on the
table. Your lucky day this week will be
Saturday.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23 -Dec. 21)
Travel could bring you the adventure
and excitement you require. You will be
emotional about your personal life. You
are best to tuck your money away
where no one will be able to touch it,
including yourself. Family outings or a


Q: What are four hundred rabbits
hopping backwards?
A: A receding hare line

Q: What did the rabbit say to the car-
rot?
A: It's been nice gnawing you.

Q: The more he takes away the bigger
it becomes. What is it?
A: Arabbit hole.

Q: How is a rabbit like a Q-tip?
A: They both have cotton tails.

Q: What is the difference between a
crazy rabbit and a counterfeit cent?
A: One is a mad bunny and the other
is bad money.


quiet stroll through the park will lead to
stimulating conversation and a closer
bond. Your lucky day this week will be
Tuesday.
CAPRICORN (Dec 22.- Jan. 20)
Opportunities for financial gains
through investments and games of
chance are likely. You have more en-
ergy than the rest of the people you live
with anyway. A change in position could
be better than you thought. Catch up
on overdue phone calls and correspon-
dence. Your lucky day this week will
be Thursday.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 21 -Feb. 19)
You will be able to work in fine detail
and present the best possible proposal.


Q: What would you call a rabbit who
is mad at the sun?
A: Ahot cross bunny.

Q: What would you get if you crossed
a rabbit with a bumblebee?
A: Ahoney bunny.

Q: How is a rabbit like a cornstalk?
A: They both have big ears.

Q: Why is a leaky faucet like a cow-
ardly bunny?
A: Because it runs.

Q: Why is a rabbit like a cent?
A: Because it has a head on one end
and a tail on the other.


Relatives will not agree with the way you
are dealing with your personal problems.
You're best not to get involved in joint
financial ventures. Complete those hob-
bies you started a long time ago.
Your lucky day this week will be Mon-
day.
PISCES (Feb. 20-Mar. 20)
Take care of any medical problems if
they've been troubling you. You can
work in conjunction with those in the
know in order to get to the bottom of
any pending issue. You're best to chan-
nel your energy into work. Your emo-
tional state could leave you vulnerable
and confused. Your lucky day this week
will be Friday.


THE I





BESSY






*


1L jI FOR


['s FAST FOOD
Lord's Bank Road, Ladyville

In the mood for Panades on a Friday evening during this Lenten season?
Do you live in Ladyville too? If you answer yes to both, then Bessy's is
the place for you. Her petite panades are excellent in both their beans
and fish incarnations, while her gachos stir up memories of the 10 am
"rush fi Dario's" food stand during my school days at SJC. Located in
the metropolis of Lord's Bank, Bessy's serves them all up hot and fresh.
It is not often that you seen a roadside food shop that is spotless inside,
but this in one. This gives us confidence the food is made with care and
an attention to hygene. And the pepper sauce, well ... what is a panades
without onion "fi di tap", and the two attendants (who knows which one
is Bessy) will certainly give you ample. So, before you commit a sin and
eat chicken on a Friday this lent, give Bessy's a try. As the photo suggests,
I did just that!


OPNDAL


Your weekly .







Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 11


Los Ricos asked to
help Los Pobres


From Inside Costa Rica-Costa
Rican president Oscar Arias Sanchez,
during a cabinet session held in Paraiso
de Cartago, urged Costa Ricans with
financial resources to help poor fami-
lies, as the government cannot give them
all they need, Costa Rica being a poor
country.
The Arias cabinet held their session
in the Sal6n Picacho in celebration of
the 175t anniversary of the moving of
the Uj arras to the Llanos de Santa Lucia,
today known as Paraiso.
"We have to be better, more human,
we can be more charitable, united, gen-
erous with those who have less, help
out more the needy, because the State
cannot give them all," said Arias.
Drug Kingpin's
associates in Belize?


TAMPA, Fla. AP.- The U.S. Trea-
sury Department announced Wednes-
day it is freezing the assets ofdozens of
businesses and individuals believed to
be associated with a Colombian drug


kingpin wanted on federal cocaine
trafficking charges.
The agency said the 45 companies
and 64 people added to a federal drug
trafficking list were part of Fabio
Enrique Ochoa Vasco's "extensive
criminal and financial network."
Ochoa and 12 others were indicted
by a Tampa grand jury in 2004 on
federal charges they conspired to
bring more than five tons of cocaine
into the United States. Only two of
the 13 men have been arrested. Au-
thorities are offering a $5 million re-
ward for Ochoa's arrest.
The designation of Ochoa, key fi-
nancial managers and the companies
as drug traffickers allows authorities
to freeze all their U.S.-controlled as-
sets. It also prohibits Americans from
doing business with them. The agency
said Ochoa's financial network has
roots in Colombia, Belize, Ecuador,
Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica,
Panama and Mexico.
Guatemalan drug
Traffickers sent north


(Reuters) For the first time in 15
years, Guatemala sent accused drug
smugglers to face trafficking charges
in the United States on Tuesday, win-
ning Washington's praise for stepping
up a war against organized crime.
Suspected heroin smugglers Javier
Reyes and Alberto Ramirez, who
were arrested in 2005 by Guatema-
lan authorities and the U.S. Drug En-
forcement Administration, will face
trial in New York, the U. S. Embassy
in Guatemala said in a statement. It
was the first time since 1992 that
Guatemala, a major transit point for
U.S.-bound South American cocaine
and heroin, has sent criminal suspects
to face specific drug-trafficking
charges in the United States, the em-
bassy said.
Officials said the pair formed part
of an international ring that smuggled
heroin hidden in cars from Colombia


through Guatemala and onto the
United States. Dubbed "Operation
Jump Start," the 2005 sweep led to
over 100 arrests, the confiscation of
over 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of
heroin and cocaine and more than $1
million in cash.
Guns for computers


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) Police
who have raided vice-ridden Mexico
City neighborhoods in a push against
drug violence hope to take guns off the
streets by offering to swap them for
computers and video-game consoles.
Launching the program on Tuesday
in the notorious inner-city barrio of
Tepito, which police stormed last month,
city police chief Joel Ortega said any-
one who turns in a high-caliber weapon
like a machine gun will get a computer.
Owners can swap smaller guns for
cash or Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox video-
game consoles under the plan.


Guatemalan Interior
Minister resigns


Associated Press: Guatemala's inte-
rior minister Carlos Vielman resigned on
Monday in the wake of a scandal over
police investigators' alleged involvement
in the grisly murder ofthree Salvadoran
politicians last month, while President
Oscar Berger rejected a Congressional
declaration expressing a lack of confi-
dence in Carlos Vielman.
The charred bodies of three Salva-
doran members of The Central Ameri-
can Parliament, which is based in Gua-
temala, were found along a rural road
on Feb. 19. Autopsies determined that
two were burned alive, while the third
legislator and their driver died before
their bodies were set on fire. Officials
have identified seven Guatemalan po-
lice officials as suspects, including four
who were arrested but later killed in
prison under circumstances that remain
murky. Another officer is in custody, and
two remain at large. Vielman, who ini-
tially presented his resignation days af-
ter the police officers' involvement was
uncovered, said he was quitting because
opposition party lawmakers in the Con-
gress "used public security in a political
fashion and not in an institutional way."


'Ra Fa 501 2 6-233



Em i:rsrvtos tSpci~o


Visit


The Belize Zoo




The Bt Iittle Zolo)

In he orl







Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 12



Buying Belize Real Estate



Twin Cayes and caveat emptor


Owning your own Caye would be
great, but be careful what you buy, it
might sink into the mud!
On a recent trip to Belize, I hap-
pened to glance in the window of a
real estate agency near the swing
bridge in Belize City. Posted there
was an offer for parcel J68, "2.01
acres situated on the south-western
portion of Twin Caye, Stann Creek".
The announcement went on to say:
"The land has been partially filled,
good fishing, near the reef, ready to
build on. US$150,000." It did seem
high to me, but then I have since found
out that US$75K per acre is about
the going price for a good Caye.
Pretty clearly not a market for
Belizeans. Still...
Because I had been working on
mangroves on this little island for a
couple years, I stopped into the of-
fice to learn more. Basically, I learned
the 2 acres was mostly cleared bush,
and filled with sand. I know the spot.
There has been no development, I
was told, possibly a few palms
planted, but it could probably be used
to grow limes. It is owned by some
people in Dangriga. Now, I had just
returned from Twin Cayes where the
equinox with the full moon had re-
sulted in really high spring tides, and
this "parcel" was completely under
water, so I asked about flooding.
What I learned was that the tides
here are only about 9 inches so there
should be no problem. I asked about
building and he said typically, you drill
hydraulically down to the coral which
should be no more than about 4 to 5
feet, then you want to build up to get
away from the insects. I asked about
water and he said that typically you
could drill a shallow well (a few feet)
and get brackish water for most uses,
but that otherwise you would collect
water from the roof in a cistern. It
does indeed rain a lot there.
But there has been an extraordinary
amount of research done on this is-
land. Type "Twin Cayes" into any
search engine and see what you find.
It is not underlain by coral. It is
peat... the partially decomposed re-
mains of thousands of years of man-
grove roots. It is peat down about 40
feet. There is no fresh or even brack-
ish water anywhere. And if you cut
down the mangroves, as this parcel
has had done, then the peat begins to
decompose without renewal. It sinks.
It is also anaerobic, so it stinks.
So if you want real estate in Belize,
or if you want your own tropical is-
land, look carefully before you buy.
You could be waste deep in the big


muddy before the ink dries on the sale.
Belize For Sale
The Belize Guardian
www.guardian.bz/foresale.html
Belizeans have been bombarded with
instance after instance of PUP corrup-
tion and greed over the last 8 years.
Still, many Belizeans truly believe that
we have only touched the proverbial
"tip of the iceberg" where PUP cor-
ruption and greed are concerned.
Many believe that rampant corruption
exists in the Ministry of Natural Re-
sources, particularly where public
lands being converted to private hands
are concerned, but that information has
not been forthcoming.
Sometimes, one has to look outside
the box to gain a glimpse of the type
of corruption that exists within the
Ministry with respect to public lands.
All Belizeans are aware that endless
PUP cronies and operatives have been
accumulating vast tracts of prime pub-
lic lands, mostly for speculative pur-
poses or for accessing financing for
which they have no collateral (Arnaldo
Pefia has seemingly perfected the lat-
ter).
On the matter of speculation, there
is currently a foreign company called
Vladi Private Islands Limited
(www.vladi-private-islands.de) that is
advertising 8 different island/caye
properties for sale, with advertised
prices ranging from US$695,000 to
US$9.0 million. Except for one
"Montego Caye", which "is situated
in the Caribbean and belongs to
Belize", all are reported as being pri-
vately owned. Prices range from
US$53,462 per acre to US$430,000
per acre.
Most recently, The Guardian re-
ceived official information that the


Government was in the process of
selling some (275 + 240 =) 515 acres
of "land" on North Drowned Caye to
Michael Feinstein and Stake Bank
Enterprises for BZ$52.00 per acre.
With administrative fees and other
Government fees, the 275 acre par-
cel was calculated at a final price of
BZ$18,768.75, or BZ$68.25 per
acre. In the February 26, 2006 issue
of The Guardian, it was reported
(Servulo Baeza wheeling and dealing)
that Minister Servulo Baeza had
transferred some 29.97 acres of
prime land on Hen and Chickens
Caye to Dion Zabaneh (of the miss-
ing BTL BZ$6.0 million fame) for the
price of BZ$7,792.20, or BZ$260.00
per acre.
The prices offered to Feinstein and
Zabaneh pale in comparison to the
prices being asked for by the "own-
ers" of the islands advertised by Vladi
and shows just how much temptation
there is for corruption where such
lands are concerned. Although North
Drowned Caye is mostly under wa-
ter, it can be seen how one can spend
a little money (by comparison) to con-
vert this caye into an extremely valu-
able property for speculation.
Even if the North Drowned Caye is
not intended for speculation and is in-
stead intended for development in re-
lation to cruise tourism, one can see
how the effects of such development
could cause Ara Macao to be a prac-
tical "saint" by comparison. And given
the prices being asked for properties
such as Montego Caye, it would ap-
pear that this caye would only be at-
tractive for commercial development,
bringing its own mountain of environ-
mental concerns.
Interestingly, the Chief Executive


Officer in the Ministry of Natural Re-
sources, Ismael Fabro, is not aware
that there is any caye that "belongs
to Belize" that is up for sale. The Min-
istry is also unaware of any develop-
ment plans for North Drowned Caye,
as is the Ministry of Fisheries.
So, it appears that there are end-
less concerns where the management
of public properties is concerned. The
Guardian has previously reported of
land grabbing schemes involving Min-
ister of State Rodwell Ferguson in
Stann Creek West, and the type of
speculation the Vladi cases expose
hints to the type of temptation our
elected officials have to face. We all
know this current band of PUP pi-
rates cannot resist such temptation.
But what is also very hypocritical
about this PUP Government is that it
took back caye properties sold to
former UDP standard bearer Tony
Leslie, which he had bought for
BZ$2,000.00 per acre. Musa said
this was a corrupt deal, and further
said caye properties should fetch at
least BZ$10,000.00 per acre. While
one may not totally disagree with
Musa for taking back the property
from Leslie, one has to wonder what
Musa would now have to say about
Hen and Chickens Caye and North
Drowned Caye. Are these just cases
of business as usual for PUP cronies
under a PUP Government?
Ed Note: The above reports were
posted by mr Cheyenne Morrison
on the private islands Blog
Private Islands For Sale, Island
Resorts & Exotic Islands World-
Wide
h ttp : private -
islands. blogspot. com 2006/07/
belize-islands-market. html


\Vith a


Tropical TvOist


Anita Tupper

Christine Tupper


Tel: 822-8014
Res:/Fax: 820-2062
Int.: 501-822-8014


r Mile 31 1/4
Western Highway
BELIZE, Central America
Mailing Address: Box 346, Belmopan
E-Mail: chrissy@cheersrestaurant.bz







Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 131


of the


business


By: Trevor Vernon
Granted, we don't do hard news. We
don't go chasing Police Press Office for
crime reports. You can get that else-
where in Belize and at various websites.
But even so, in this business the chal-
lenges abound, every single day. So I
thought I'd share a bit as we cross over
into our second trimester.
Mostly its about having loyal reader-
ship, solid distribution channels, com-
mitted stakeholders, ad revenues, im-
peccable sources and a great product.
We experience challenges with distri-
bution, sources, and ads, but let me tell
you first about what we have no trouble
with, then get into the difficult issues.
Our readership is already fiercely
loyal to the product. They call, or write
us often, notjust columns and letters to
the editor either. Sometimes just to share
ideas and suggestions. Its great, and we
love it. It keeps us going on difficult days
and adds to our satisfaction on easy
days.
The Independent is the rebel paper
and goes where few dare to tread. We
don't apologize for that. We don't need
to curry favour with the political direc-
torate for our supper. Thanks be to
God. And we are not easily intimidated,
although on occasion they try. We have
absolutely no fear to call a spade a
spade and our readership appreciates
this.
Our stakeholders are multitalented
individuals who understand the rugged-
ness of the business. Cumulatively they
bring over 90 years of experience in the
business, from a number of continents.
We are truly blessed to have assembled
such a great team here at the
INdependent Reformer Weekly.


Many of our contributors have seem-
ingly come out of thin air, as ifby magic.
Only a few were known to us before
we got started. Others just send us ar-
ticles, photographs, even cartoons by
mail or email, or in person. They are
typed, handwritten (which makes the
editor crazy since we have no typist) or
injpg files. With return addresses, emails
and cell numbers or unmarked manila
envelopes. It is as if all these people
were just waiting for the proper vehicle
to drive up and open the door to their


thoughts.
We must thank them all for their faith
in us. More so their unshakable faith in
Belize, despite the rough ride it's given
almost all ofus. These people renew our
hope in this country and our country-
men and women.
Most interestingly, and quite acciden-
tally, we have noticed times when sev-
eral of our writers are all on the same
page. Not literally, but thematically. It's
interesting and no doubt you have no-
ticed it too. Somehow, someway, people
appear to be sharing similar thoughts at
similar times. Talk about synergy!
Finally, also in the positive column is
what we believe to be a good product
that will continue to evolve. This evolu-
tion is from constant feedback of the
readership,(both domestic & interna-
tional), the committed staff, and some
educational institutions we liaise with.
Now in the not-so-positive column,
everyone seems to be obsessed with our
meager ad revenues because they can
count our ads and figure we are not get-
ting enough. True. Visible ad revenue
can and must be tremendously im-
proved. We have the entire status quo
political system off kilter with our radi-
cal rebel approach and together they
control every single aspect of economic
life in Belize. They wish we'd go away


so they lean on every business they can
to refrain from patronizing us with ads.
Perfectly understandable and fully an-
ticipated. So yes, they are successful so
far, but we have backup plans, so not
to worry.
In wishing we'd fold, the bipartisan
political system is also trying to tamper
with our distribution system. We had to
cut several distributors in Caye Caulker
because they are openly handing over
the papers to PUP operatives for de-
struction by bonfire. Crude. In the old


capital, the attacks are more subtle,
slicker, smoother with intimidation. In
the city, people just "get sick" and you
never see them again and not only do
they not pay you for amounts owed,
their "replacement" refuses to sell your
product.
Some stores have declined to stock
our paper. One maj or supermarket told
my wife point blank the very first week,
"Sorry, no space on the counter." They
have since told readers who enquired
after the Independent that we dropped
it but never came back. Absolutely not
true and please challenge the lie if they
continue to repeat it.
But these cases are the exception
rather than the rule and we MUST
thank our loyal distributors whether in
larger establishments, mom and pops-
both over and under the counter-and
several men and women who can only
be described as "All Star" street sell-
ers. To these people who clearly care
more about the weekly customers than
would be mind controllers, we say thank
you. And we hope you will say it too,
when they hand over your hot-off-the-
National-Printers-press copy next
week. Minus any bum or singe marks
around the edges.
You have a constitutional right to read
whatever you want to read. Remember


that if anyone tries to intimidate you or
keep reading material from you. Re-
member it when you go to the polls too.
For if they are hiding opinion pieces in
a newspaper from your eyes, what else
are they hiding?
Now as far as sources, readers freely
share information with us as do the
NGO's and most corporations and we
are grateful. But when it comes to gov-
ernment releases, we appear to be
blocked out from their supposedly open
media policy. Hence we get no releases
from government or quasi government
bodies. None. Forget the ads for job
vacancies with the various ministries and
items such as election results or stats
from Central Bank which are supposed
to, by law, be published with all regis-
tered newspapers. Our letter from the
Solicitor General gave us permission to
run a newspaper in November, 2006.
Maybe we should publish a copy here.
Another thing about sources: we've
asked for informal interviews (pre-
printed questions) from the Leader of
the Opposition and other mass party/
political establishment figures and
they've simply refused to respond. In-
stead, they take our questions (mainly
about appointments to various advisory
committees) and incorporate them a
couple days later into their addresses
at the National Assembly in the form of
new grandiose promises. Empty prom-
ises we believe... that they have no in-
tention of fulfilling.
We here at the Independent do in-
tend to fulfill our promises to you the
reader. And you in turn are doing a fan-
tastic job of finding each issue each
week and sharing it with your friends
and family. Thanks to all those in Chi-
cago and other US cities who down-
load it and print it off to circulate.
They can bum the hardcopies on the
ground in Belize, but not the ones float-
ing in cyberspace... run, fellas, run; but
you are right, you know, in the end, the
truth will set us free. Whether you want
Belizeans to read it or not.


FACTS


OR


TRUTH?


i--n (Continued From Page 4)
overpriced phone bills, converting the
revenues (supposedly belonging to
charities according to newspaper
quotes-laugh!) then changing them on
the illegal parallel market and smuggling
them to Panamanian shell company shelf
accounts for influence there. No pros-
ecutions obviously, as the WOLF is
guarding the hen house.
CAL's exposure is obviously breaking
the money trail. What the media will have
to tell us next weeks suspenseful and fine
entertainment, as we wait the develop-


ments in this local Novela. I wouldn't be
surprised to learn that the big man now
owns a shell bank in Panama. It seems
the obvious next step in this novella.
Who will lay claim to the estates ofM
and F, G andAwhen they die? Will this
novella get that far and we have a furor
like theAnnaNicole ($500 million inher-
itancetvthingy?) Whowill havethe knowl-
edge of secret accounts and authority to
get the money among the many descen-
dants?
How do you money launder over a hun-
dred million dollars US ofBelize GUAR-


ANTEED foreign exchange? As the par-
ticipants learn, so do we, thanks to the
investigative reporters of our newspaper
media.
The thing I can't understand, is why
these criminals do it? They are all old
guys now and probably can't even get
it up without VIAGRA? Sex is sup-
posed to be the subconscious driving
force of males trying to get rich. But if
you don't get rich until late in life, it sort
of loses it's purpose I would think? I
don't see any of them enjoying things,
like parasailing, or yacht racing, or


something like that, while they are
healthy enough to do it. Must be some-
thing in the genes inherited personality
characteristics.
Some people just steal and do scams
because they enjoy the game. They
don't need the money; it isjust the num-
bers represent a score card. Still, our
newspapers are fine entertainment as
they hint and reveal with ironic articles
at the maneuverings at the highest po-
litical levels of characters following thou-
sands of years of historical plot lines of
similar human criminality and foibles.


The Independent is a rebel paper and

goes where few dare to tread. We don't

apologize for that.








Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 141-



TOO W frU FOR. WOUIS!


While some development
projects conveniently turn their
heads to the impact they may be
having upon the environment,
FreshCatch, Belize has proven to
be a "Wings Up" exception!
Situated off the coastal road, this
massive tilapia farm produces high
quality fish for both the local and
foreign markets. Their ponds have
also seen an increase of Jabiru
storks in the area.
Field research, conducted by
Omar Figeroa, has shown that less
than 200 Jabiru storks remain in
Belize. This is yet another reminder
that our Belizean wildlife, so rare
and special, requires our concern,
care, and protection to see it thrives
into the future.
Hungry Jabiru storks, and in some
cases, needing extra food to care
for young during the breeding sea-


A national symbol, the well-being ofthejabiru stork is also indicative of the nation's
well-being.


son, have given a huge "wings up"
to FreshCatch.
The Jabiru, at times numbering 25
or more birds, visit the tilapia farm
and readily sample the fish. Mr. Joe
Mena and his son, Emil, have cho-
sen to work in concert with The
Belize Zoo and Birds Without Bor-
ders, to see that the Jabiru remain
safe and sound. This kind approach
is not only good for our scant Ja-
biru stork population, it is great for
the nation of Belize.
The Jabiru stork is a charismatic
part of our country's natural heri-
tage. Thanks to the Menas, and
their principled stand aimed at pro-
tecting, rather than persecuting
these birds, the chances of seeing
this superb species live on in Belize,
look very, very good!
"Wings Up" to Fresh Catch,
Belize!!!


Politician attacks Journalist



UDP Standard Bearer for Orange Walk Central charged


The following account was sent to
Independent Weekly by Belizean jour-
nalist Jorge Aldana. He claims he was
assaulted by an aspiring candidate
for Area Representative during Vil-
lage Council Elections in Trial Farm.
"I was doing my weekend coverage
of Village Council elections in every vil-
lage in the Corozal and Orange Walk
District. When I made a stop at Trial
Farm Village after 12 the afternoon, I
did the normal procedure, tried to get
figures from the returning officer. When
I was coming out, my News Director,
who was at Trial Farm decided to give
me instructions.
"At that time I stood to listen while
the UDP supporters started to insult me
with rude comments. I ignored the
comments. I believe that because I
work at the Centaur and host a morn-
ing show on Fiesta, both owned by
Johnny Briceno, the people targeted me.
Anyway, when the leader of the UDP,
Dean Barrow arrived at the site, I told
my cameraman to focus the camera on
him. He arrived with Gaspar Vega;
moments later joined by Rosendo
Urbina Sr.
After Barrow passed by us, with his
two other UDP partners, a UDP sup-
porter, the assistant administrator and
driver of OW. Mayor, said to me "Say
something now; say it. Since yu has lot


0. Walk Central Standard bearer Rosendo Urbina, the man accused of losing his cool.


to say on the Mawning Show, say it."
At that point, Urbina started to
point towards me and proceeded to
where I was standing. He went up to
me and slapped me on the left side of
my face. Immediately a swarm of
UDP supporters and PUP supporters
clashed. About 30 seconds after,
Vega left Barrow and walked to
where I was, about 20 to 30 feet
away, came up to me and attempted
to do same, but at that time I was pre-
pared for him. He told me "I am a
dead man walking." That caused a
larger confrontation which was bro-
ken by the police.


We were removed from the site,
where I was escorted moments later
by a large multitude of PUP support-
ers into my vehicle along with my cam-
eraman. I decided to take the mat-
ter to the police so that justice is
done."
For his part Rosendo Urbina told
LOVE FM's ManuelaAyuso he never
hit Aldana, that instead he was attempt-
ing to shake his hand.
Rosendo Urbina:U-D-P Standard
Bearer "Somebody pointed to me and
said "see Jorge Aldana right there "
I did not know the guy Ijust hear him
over the radio, I don't know him per-


sonally. So I went to him and they
pointed the camera at me and I told
the camera to move, I lift up my
hands to tell the camera to move be-
cause i know they were taping me. I
went to him, I wanted to shake his
hands but he did not want to so I told
him tell me weh yuh havefu tell me "
and a do mi hand like that because
ah mi deh shake ih hand right. Ah
put mi hand beside him and when I
saw some people were struggling
began to push and they thought
that I was going to assault him.
And so I drew back and when I drew
back I told him "well listen yuh
done geh red, suppose ah mi touch
yuh how yuh mi whan get, ah neva
even touch yuh an yuh done get
red?" like that" them ah turn to
Nrei and ah tell ah "yuh done get
red too" and then afta that I pick
up myself andl gawn and that was
it. And as far as I know that's what
happened nothing more, all right.
This morning \police come to my
warehouse and they said report to
the Police station and I came and
they charged me with Common As-
sault and they said tomorrow we
will have to come to Court, that's
about it. "
From www.lovefm.com March 27,
2007








Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 15I



Give land use issues back



to the Belizean people


By: Nadja Chamberlain
After questioning many knowledge-
able people throughout Belize regard-
ing the present problems in environmen-
tal policy, planning, and management,
the following issues were consistently
brought up. These issues should be a
part of the environmental platform of
every entity party or individual run-
ning for office:
Public input regarding environmen-
tal matters must be encouraged. The
people of Belize must become advo-
cates for environmental issues and be-
come a part of the decision making pro-
cess.
*Public access to ALL meetings re-


garding environmental matters should be
granted. Government in the Sunshine
laws, similar to those in other parts of
the world should be instated, for ex-
ample: http://mvfloridalegal.com/sun.nsf/
manual
Ministerial Discretion should not be
allowed in environmental matters. Any
issues regarding the land and land use
should be resolved by public forum and
with full representation by the citizens.
*De-designation of any part of, or all
of, any park or protected natural area
should not occur without the vote of the
citizenry.
Citizen participation in the devel-
opment review process in Belize is in-


adequate. Citizen participation in the
process should be early in the process.
A review board of private citizens with
knowledge of environmental review is-
sues should make the decision whether
a proj ect is in the public interest not
government officials or employees. ALL
NEAC meetings should be open to the
public. No voting on projects should
be behind closed doors, nor should
there be any private discussions be-
tween committee members regarding a
project outside of an open forum. At
present, many members of NEAC are
government employees and as such are
subject to duress. There are sufficient
numbers of private citizens with knowl-
edge of environmental assessment is-
sues to serve as board members; pri-
vate citizens could make decisions
based on facts rather than pressure. The
function of government employees
should be to provide information to the
board, not to make the decisions.
*Knowledgeable citizens' committees


in open meetings should make the de-
cisions on all land use planning and man-
agement issues, whether local, regional,
or national.
*Any proposed purchase of govern-
ment land by public office holders, their
representatives or families, should be
advertised well in advance of the actual
finalization of the purchase. Approval
or denial of a proposed purchase should
be made by an elected environmental
planning board.
*All sales or purchases of government
land over a certain number of acres
should be advertised in advance and
members of a district land management
or environmental planning board should
evaluate the proposal.
Belize has many, many brilliant and
caring citizens with specialized knowl-
edge that could step in and volunteer to
be a part of this process whether it
be on a local, regional, or national level.
Please begin thinking how YOU could
help and give us some input.


A service learning group from Galen
University in Cayo has partnered with
the Society for the Promotion of Edu-
cation, Advocacy, and Research
(SPEAR) and invites the public toj oin
them in an open forum discussing the
issues that affect every Belizean
Hode's Place in San Ignacio will be
the epicenter for new ideas on Belize's
promising future from 5:30 to 8:30 on
Thursday April 12.
In this expansion, students in a ser-
vice learning project class Kyle
Lovell, Emily May, Kali Brgant, and
Laura Magnuson, are eager to embark
on this task. They will be distributing
pamphlets to inform citizens about
SPEAR and organizing a venue for
open discussion of relevant issues.
Let your voice be heard! In gather-
ing together, the people of the Cayo
district can organize as a community
and together push for the true needs
of the country in the upcoming elec-
tion. In this crucial time, they look
forward to your support and the vast
opportunities that await Belize.
As a non-governmental, non-parti-
san, civil-service group, SPEAR has


been a part of Belize since 1969.
Based out of Belize City, SPEAR has
been embarking on the quest for good
governance with an emphasis on
transparency, accountability, and
people's participation. Through vari-
ous campaigns and activities, SPEAR
has been effective in the past yet de-
sires to grow as an organization that
can work for the people of Belize to
ensure a positive outcome in the up-
coming 2008 election. Their mission
is clear and imperative: to continue the
struggle for justice, democracy and
sustainable development.
Belize needs the participation of
its citizens and SPEAR encourages
you to join them in this mission. An
organization fighting for the best in-
terests of the people cannot possi-
bly thrive without the support of its
citizens. Otherwise, their best in-
terests cannot be achieved. This is
why SPEAR has made it a priority
to expand membership and involve-
ment.
Free food at the SPEAR yaad talk
will encourage a change in the gov-
ernment.


~cAJIgot


Zee Edgell autographs copies of her new book "Time and the River".


Belize's most beloved author and the
woman who has inspired at least two
generations of Belizean writers, has
done it again. Zee Edgell's fourth
novel was launched March 28th at the
Bliss Institute. "Time and the River"
is historical fiction set in 1798 and
delves into the complex relationships


between masters, slaves and freemen
and women. The book is published
by Heineman and has been eagerly
awaited by her fans, students and edu-
cators. Among those attending the
launch were Belizean writers, poets
and playwrights such as Carol
Fonseca, (pictured above).


1/2 acre lots in Burrel Boom 10 acre plots in Burrel Single-12 acre plot in

starting at $10K Boom starting at $50K Ladyville $120 K

Call 600-1627 Call 600-1627 Call 600-1627

for details for details for details





Friday, April 6, 2007 The INdependent Reformer Page 16


--S.(Continued From Page 1)
showing for the Opposition, appear-
ances were made by numerous rank-
ing personalities, including their Party


Full
With


loses
Leader himself. Others included:
house of representatives opposition
members, UDP standard bearers,
UDP City Counsellors, UDP Execu-


Service
over 1


Airline
0 daily


tive, and their supporters. Impressive.
Never before in the history of
Ladyville has an election at the Vil-
lage Council level attracted so much
national attention and voter turnout.
Never before. For some reason the
T -^ ? .. ."' V -I & ^


d


R-Z line was full all day and when
this writer went to vote the waiting
time was 32 minutes. At the close
of the polls at 5:00 PM there were
well over a hundred and twenty
people in line.


e


Independent supporter Tim Thompson compares notes with PUP Minister Jose Coye.


scheduled flights
throughout Belize
and Flores in
Guatemala

Charters also available


m -a aU


The Airline of Belize


UDP supporter Wilmott .Simnons encourages residents to vote for a better way.




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