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we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English
The owner of 69 Bar in Teakettle was murdered over the weekend. Police got the call around 2 Saturday morning. They found 52 year old Chinese businessman Zhijiang Zhang with 7 cut wounds to his body and a female worker with a gunshot to the leg. Police say it was a robbery turned murder. We found out more today.
Courtney Weatherburne reporting
69 Bar - a business usually buzzing with activity is now closed down, abandoned. Neighbors say Chinese businessman Zhijiang Zhang opened the bar about a year ago but later on, they realized that the house - concealed by these overgrown bushes was more than just a hangout spot.
Voice of Neighbor "It says 69 Bar. But everybody knows from the time you mentioned 69, everybody knows it's not a bar, it's a place where they pay for sex, sexual favors. Everybody knows that."
Every night, up until the very early hours of the morning - men are seen going in and out of the brothel, drinking and fighting in the yard. Saturday morning was no different…until the police arrived and found Zhang inside - dead.
Insp. Octaviano Victorin, OC. Roaring Creek "On Saturday 6th February, 2016, between the hours of 1:50am and 2am, police responded to a report at a business establishment situated on the George Price Highway at Teakettle Village, a establishment by the name of 69. Upon arrival police saw the motionless body of a Chinese decent person. Likewise there was a female suffering from gunshot wounds on her leg."
The neighbor we spoke with said he heard a commotion but didn't bother because that was the norm. The investigation so far suggests the masked culprit climbed up to the 3rd floor and slipped in through this window. One of female commercial sex workers was upstairs alone. The man then hit her in the head and forced her downstairs. He saw Zhang downstairs and held him up at gunpoint - demanding money. Another worker came out to try to assist Zhang but she was shot in the leg. Now, while Zhang was getting the money he seized an opportunity to try and wrest the gun out of the culprit's hand. That's when the magazine fell out of the gun. Zhang tried to get away but the robber pulled out a small machete and attacked him. Zhang was slashed to the back of the head and neck and stabbed to the upper back.
This is believed to be the weapon used to kill Zhang. With some help from the media, the police found the machete here in front of the bar just this afternoon. The scenes of crime team was called out again to collect this crucial piece of evidence.
Insp. Octaviano Victorin, OC. Roaring Creek "We were looking into a knife or a small machete. That is what I had said. This knife that is now picked up have red substance. So we need to do a comparison, first of all to find out if its blood and then do a comparison at the laboratory to say if it matches with any blood retrieve either from the body or at the scene."
Now the police must carry out more tests to confirm if this was the weapon used and to find prints - after the small machete was found the team inspected the grounds one more time to see if anything else was left behind.
Police had detained all 12 female commercial sex workers. 8 have been released so far. Police are looking for the masked robber. They still have not confirmed if the knife found today was the weapon used. We will have an update for you tomorrow.
On Saturday at around noon, Ladyville police made a major drug bust. They caught a Honduran with almost 17 pounds of marijuana. But, 25-year-old Orbin Lenin Reyes wasn't a regular drug peddler - police believe he was moving weed from Mexico to southern Belize. They caught him at the mile ten, bus shed on the Northern Highway where he had fifteen packs of compressed marijuana in his backpack. Today, the commander of rural eastern division told us more about the significance of the bust:...
Sr. Sup. Edward Broaster, O. C. Eastern Rural "On Saturday we had a anti-drug operations in the Ladyville area, where we intercepted one Orbin Reyes who was bringing 16.5 pounds of wahaca cannabis from Orange Walk to Ladyville. We observed him alight the bus where we went in and made the arrest, found him with the knapsack containing the said cannabis. This was a targeted lead intelligence operation. We've been observing Mr. Reyes for a while in other criminal activities. The drug we believe came from Mexico and was heading to Honduras."
Daniel Ortiz "Is he intermediary or big time player in this trafficking of marijuana sir?"
Sr. Sup. Edward Broaster, O. C. Eastern Rural "We do not know his scope of involvement in Honduras. Nevertheless, we know that he came this way and acquire the marijuana."
Daniel Ortiz "We understand that the arrest has resulted in a fruitful conviction, in which this gentleman pleaded guilty to the drugs in the magistrate's court this morning. Were you all certain it was going to be a airtight case?"
Sr. Sup. Edward Broaster, O. C. Eastern Rural "Well, the fact that he plead guilty he had no other alternative I can tell you that. Because our surveillance team were on top of him. There is no way he could have denied not having in possession the cannabis, because of the newly acquired red ice that we have - the Rural Eastern Division Integrated Communication Equipment, our officers were able to video him coming off the bus with the bag in hand."
Today, 28-year-old Orbin Reyes was sentenced to 3 years in prison by Magistrate Deborah Rogers after he pled guilty to drug trafficking. Reyes said he was set up and he was told that he will be paid $100 if he took the bag to Belize City. Reyes said he came to Belize last Monday and he was staying at an apartment in Orange Walk Town.
Orange Walk Police arrested two persons over the weekend for the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. On Saturday afternoon at 2:30, the Orange Walk Quick Response Team searched the residence of well-known seamstress Mavis Wade on Saint Peter Street. Present during the search were a mother and son: Mavis Wade and student Steven Hyde. Police dug into a stack of books on top of a computer table. The books had been carved out from the inside creating a space to conceal a weapon. The cops found a 9 mm Browning pistol and 13 bullets inside a white sock and fifty two .38 live rounds. Police arrested and charged both mother Mavis Wade and her son Steven Hyde for Kept Firearm without a gun license and kept ammunition without a gun license. Today in court they were both remanded to prison until their next court date.
Last week we told you about the big guns that city police found in an apartment building on the northside. At the time they told us they didn't want to release the photographs because they were hoping to make an arrest. Well, that didn't happen, and over the weekend they sent his picture showing that the Colt .45 pistol, with five gold plated rounds, and a Glock 40 caliber pistol, also with gold plated rounds were found under a staircase in an abandoned building.
Many who commute to and from the city are familiar with the quarter mile stretch between Travellers Bar and Brodies where fresh coconut water can be bought from a bevy of vendors. But, they sell right on the side of the road, which is a traffic hazard, so recently the City council began enforcing a 10 feet off the road requirement for all coconut water vendors.
We note that there were over a dozen of them along the quarter mile stretch before the new regulations began to be enforced; now we are told there are only about 7 or 8 of them currently operating. It was a necessary improvement some of those who stayed told us. But at the same time others say that all the shifting around has caused them to lose quite a lot of their cliental. Viviana Menjivar is one of them. She has had her stall for about 8 months now and claims that business has never been slower since they moved her business across the road.
Viviana Menjivar, Coconut Vendor "City Council moved us like 4 times already."
Emanuel Pech "Since you've been in the business."
Viviana Menjivar, Coconut Vendor "Since we open the business yes."
Emanuel Pech "Where did you start?"
Viviana Menjivar, Coconut Vendor "We started on the other side of the street. From there they move us to this side and then they told us that we can't stay there. They have us up and down. We are not harassing nobody. We have everything they ask for, but they still moved us anyhow. Right here the business is slow. It's not like before when we use to sell a lot. We lose lots of customers already."
Emanuel Pech "Why did you lose customers?"
Viviana Menjivar, Coconut Vendor "Because we could sell more on the other side of the street. Because all the vehicles leaving at 5pm to go home, they would buy water. But on this side we don't have lot of sale."
Emanuel Pech "Talk to me in terms of money you have loss since they move you here?"
Viviana Menjivar, Coconut Vendor "Before we use to sell like $700 per day. On this side we sell like $175-$200 the most."
Emanuel Pech "Have you complained to them that you are losing a lot of money?"
Viviana Menjivar, Coconut Vendor "Yes, we went to them many times. But they don't care. Because there are people who sells like us, who pays them. We don't do that. We want to do our business legally."
Emanuel Pech "What about the 10 feet requirement? Because they I heard there was a 10 feet requirement that you had to be away from the street."
Viviana Menjivar, Coconut Vendor "We did that. We built a bridge on the other side. Then after a while, they told us we need to move it. I ask why are they doing that. We need to work."
We tried calling the City's Public Relations officer for a comment on the matter but we could not get through.
Yesterday around 4 p.m., a Canadian couple was robbed at gunpoint while they were staying at the Belize's Zoo's Tropical Education Center.
Now, to be very specific, the armed encounter did not happen the Belize Zoo, located at Mile 29 on the Highway. It happened at the Tropical Education Center, which is a sister facility to the Zoo, but which is located at about a mile away.
Today, the Police Commander of Rural Eastern Division, Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster, briefed the press on the information that they have at this time.
Sr. Sup. Edward Broaster, O. C. Eastern Rural "We had a robbery at the Tropical Butterfly area at mile 29 on the George Price Highway, where one Steven Temple, 75 years old and one Cynthia Fedricks, 65 years old were robbed by two dark-skin male persons. As a result of that one Jorge Lopez who was coming in his red pickup attempted to render assistance and he was shot, not before he inflicted a chop wound to one of the suspects who is at the KHMH under police guard at this time. Our investigation is ongoing right now and more than likely we will have the suspect who is at the hospital charge for robbery, aggravated assault and what have you."
Reporter "Can you discuss the name of that person at this time, given the fact that he was caught in the act?"
Sr. Sup. Edward Broaster, O. C. Eastern Rural "He was not caught in the act. We caught him after the incident. We are yet to conduct ID parade and all of that. So I will not release his name at this time."
Reporter "Is he known to the police as for previous criminal activities?"
Sr. Sup. Edward Broaster, O. C. Eastern Rural "I'm not quite sure if he is known to the Hattieville Police."
That armed assailant remains at the hospital under police guard at this time, and as soon as police bring charges against him, we'll show you who he is.
So, back to the robbery, what exactly happened at the Tropical Education Center? That's what our news team went in search of this evening, and we spoke with the Zoo's Operations Manager about the incident. He told us that since they opened the Center in the 90's, an armed assault like this has never happened before:
Celso Poot, Operations Manager - Belize Zoo "A little after 4pm yesterday evening, two of our guests staying in one of the guest houses came over to the office and reported to the manager working at that time that they were just robbed at the guest house. Apparently, two mask men entered their house and held them at gun point and robbed them of their personal belongings. The Canadian woman had just come out of the house to take a photograph of the crocodile and while she was getting ready to take the photograph she was held up by one of the men with a gun and told not to make any noise and then took them in the house and lock them up in the bathroom and then went through their personal belongings."
"They were just told to stay inside the house, that they had a getaway car and of they move they will get shot and so the guests complied."
Daniel Ortiz "It's a very unfortunate incident. Can you tell us what are the guests saying at this time or what did they say about the experience? Of course it's not something anyone wants to experience. But did they blame anyone in Belize because of what happened?"
Celso Poot, Operations Manager - Belize Zoo "It's so unfortunate that the incident happened. They are aware of the current crime situation in Belize. They've read about it. They are very familiar with the current situation in Belize. It's unfortunate that they became one of the statistics for such crimes. They are doing well. Actually, we evacuate them last night and took them to a place because they really wanted to leave the premises."
"Since 1994 when we open over here we've never had any incidents like this or close to it. It's the first time we are experiencing something. We do have security in place and what we are now doing is we've revisited our security operations and we are now going to make some improvements. I means this incident happened between 3pm -3:30pm yesterday. So it's broad daylight."
And just a few minutes before news time, our Daniel Ortiz spoke with Jorge Lopez, the man who these armed thieves shot to get his vehicle.
Lopez was driving through that location to go visit his father. He just happened to be the first vehicle they saw after they had only just robbed the Canadians of their belongings. They blocked his path on this road which leads to the back entrance of the Tropical Education Center, and when he stopped, the pulled the gun on him. They shot him in the abdomen, and he fell to the ground
When he realized what was happening, the gunman pointed the weapon at his head but it jammed. He used that distraction to pull a machete which he then used chop his shooter on the shoulder.
The other man picked up a big rock to try to bash him in the head, but he managed to fend both assailants. They jumped into his vehicle and drove away, leaving him to bleed out on the highway. Fortunately, he managed to get help, and he was transported to the Belize Health Care Partners Hospital.
A few minutes before the start of news, we spoke to Lopez about the terrifying experience while he was on his hospital bed. He is fluent only in Spanish, and so here's a short excerpt of his interview unedited:
We'll revisit his full interview with the translation for our English viewers tomorrow.
When John Briceno was elected as PUP party leader eight days ago, there was some question s to whether he could rope in the support from a majority of his colleagues in parliament to become leader of the opposition. It should be automatic for any party leaders - but the majority of parliamentarians had supported Francis Fonseca in the leadership race, so there was some question as to whether they would switch over to Briceno. They did so last week as the party closed ranks after the divisive convention. And so today, for a second time, Briceno was sworn in as leader of the opposition. Courtney Weatherburne was there:..
Courtney Weatherburne reporting
John Briceno and his family arrived at the Belize House a bit after 10 in his polished Prado. He stood outside, greeted a few supporters and police officers - appearing almost reluctant to go inside.
But after his chit chat he and his family finally strolled into the Belize House for the short ceremony.
Inside - instead of a large spirited crowd of supporters like those at the convention - he greeted by a small very composed, almost tense group. The all looked on in silence as the new leader of the opposition took his oath
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition "I John Briceno so swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and to uphold the constitution and the law and that I will conscientiously, impartially and to the best of my ability, discharge my duties as leader of the opposition and do right to all manner of people without fear or favor, affection or ill will. So help me God."
With that, he signed the declaration - officially designating him as the new leader of the PUP. While all the niceties and formalities are over - the real work now has to begin.
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition "As leader of the opposition, one of the first things I want to do is to meet with my parliamentarians. So that we can then discuss on the way forward. There are a number of issues we have to look at. We have to look at the issue of the house committees. There are I think at least a dozen house committees that we need to look at the composition and see how we can make sure that everybody participates and everybody have a function to do. We certainly need to look at the issue of senators to decide whether we are going to keep the senators or whether we are going to change them. That is something that we have to decide. Certainly when it comes to the issue of the seating arrangements, well there is going to be some changes. Not a lot of changes. We have new deputy leaders for instance, who are in the house. Certainly we have to give them the respect. But it's something that I have not finish as to how exactly it's going to look. But yes we are starting to look at it. As to the issue of senators, there will be some changes. We need to do some changes. As the former leader of the opposition pointed out, that the 3 senators were in effect care takers until a new leader is elected and then that new leader will have a free hand as to how they want see the composition in the senate. I will be looking at that and pretty soon we will be announcing what are the changes in any, that we are going to be making."
Certainly those changes need to be addressed but right now - the main focus is strengthening and unifying the party.
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition "I come with a lot of hope. I am person that is full of optimism. I believe in the good of people. When it comes to unity within the party, I believe that something of the past. Because everywhere we went in all the meetings that we had across this country from Corozal all the way to the Toledo District - everybody was crying out saying that they want a party that is united. I have been speaking to the different leaders of the PUP and all them have pledge their unqualified support to me as the leader of the part and as the leader of the opposition."
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Lake Independence Representative "That's been the clear message from people all over the country from inside the party, that they want the party to work together, to fight together to return to government. It's been a long time since we won an election, since 2003 and we've had 9 defeats in 9 years starting in 2006 and I think our people are tired of losing."
And the man now charged with the duty of leading to party to victory is John Briceno, who's hoping that when he next comes here it will be for a swearing in as prime minister.
Now to inspire unity within the party and hopefully be victorious for the next general elections - there needs to be a strategy. Well, an integral part of that strategy is the popular Cordel Hyde. As you heard at last week's PUP press conference, Briceno will find a place or role for both former party leader Francis Fonseca and Lake Independence Area Representative Cordel Hyde. Today when we asked him about Hyde's role, he wasn't specific but what he was clear is that Hyde is indispensable to reshaping and refreshing the PUP.
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition "I've always said that the Hon. Cordel Hyde has to play a critical role in the rebuilding and the re-strengthening of the party as we move to get to Belmopan in the next election. I have met with him and he is here with us today and I am very pleased that he has joined me in this very important occasion. It goes to show his commitment to the work that we have ahead of us. We are going to be finding ways on how we can use him to the maximum of his abilities. We all know that he has a lot of talent and abilities and that he has a way to connect with people."
When we asked Cordel about this he said he is willing to help out in any way he can but he too wasn't specific about what key position he will take up. We do know that all the executive posts are filled.
The Social Security Board has agreed to lend 12 million dollars to the Santander group - and it's raised some eyebrows. Some say that Santander is a private investment and shouldn't use local resources, while others say the fund's money shouldn't be exposed to that kind of risk. But, the Governor of the Central Bank has a different take on it. Santander has already gotten a syndicated commercial loan - with several banks - local and international - putting together to make that loan. And so, Santander's indebtedness became - what is called - of systemic importance because if the company fails, it could pose a risk to the banking system.
And that's where Social Security came in. They are not regulated like a bank - so their 12 million dollar loan to Santander did not have to get Central Bank approval. And that's why the governor of the central bank, appearing yesterday on KREM TV's Sunday Review with Ya Ya Marin Coleman said they need to be cautious:..
Glenford Ysaguirre, Governor - Central Bank of Belize "I wasn't aware at least of the Social Security Board component and that is something that had indeed change the formula and increase the domestic exposure. So I would want to hope that those at Social Security Board who made that decision are looking at the wider financial stability implications of it and have put in place their measures to mitigate that."
Later today, Ysaguirre stressed to LOVE FM that Santander is a local company.
Today, we asked the leader of the opposition about it - and he said caution is the key:..
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition "I just like to make 3 points. 1) That we always support foreign direct investment. The Santander group has made a massive investment in Belize and we need to recognize that and support that. By extension that investment that they have done has already created a lot of jobs and can bring in more foreign currency into our country. I want to make that very clear. Secondly. when it comes to the loan from Social Security for twelve million dollars to Santander Group, the first thing that comes to mind is how secure is that loan. We have to make sure that we can protect the workers' money because that twelve million dollars belongs to all of us who pay Social Security. We need to ensure that it is properly protected…that there are assets that are going to guarantee that loan, that God forbid something goes wrong that the twelve million dollars is properly secured and that workers do not lose a cent of their hard-earned money."
At the top of the news, we showed you that drug bust that the Rural Eastern Division Police made which they say has elements of transnational narcotics smuggling. Well, this weekend, Rural cops happened on another drug trafficking run when the alleged trafficker ran a checkpoint in Sandhill and crashed his vehicle while trying to escape from police.
The Rural Commanding Officer discussed the incident with us this evening:
Sr. Sup. Edward Broaster, O. C. Eastern Rural "On the 5th February at about 12:15am, one Roland Rivas managed to elude the mobile interdiction team check point and crashed into a lamp post in the Sandhill area where our rural rapid response team went and accosted him and discovered marijuana and un-custom beers. The vehicle has been extensively damaged and Roland Rivas has been charged for the possession of marijuana that was found."
The last we heard about female cyclist Kaya Cattouse is that she had "lawyered up" and her attorney Lisa Shoman had fired off a letter to Cycling Federation of Belize - who had threaten to fine and suspend her for a series of facebook postings. Cattouse was complaining about the Digicell Valentine's Tour only including elite male cyclists. Now the issue has gotten the attention of the special envoy for women and children, Kim Simplis Barrow. Today, she issued a release saying, quote, she "stands in solidarity with Belize's female cyclists in light of the recent decision to cancel their participation in the upcoming Digicell Valentine's Cycling Tour…allowing only the male elite cyclists to participate in this annual event, which previously included female riders, highlights the gender inequality that continues to be rampant in sports in Belize." End quote. The release further stated that Miss Barrow, quote, "calls on the Belize Cycling Association as well as all other sporting associations to take deliberate actions to develop women's sport in Belize." The release ends by saluting Kaya Cattouse and the other female cyclists who are quote, "breaking down barriers" in a male dominated sport. We contacted the Vice President of the association who told us via a telephone conversation that the matter has been blown way out of proportion. He said that it has nothing to do with gender based discrimination; It was simply a matter of logistics.
World Cancer day was observed last week Thursday. And, as a part of that, the Belize Cancer Society put together a 30 minute documentary focusing on the risks of cervical cancer. It is one of the most prevalent cancers in Belize, but also one of the most preventable because there is a vaccine. Here's more:…
That documentary airs in its entirety later on tonight on Channel 7.