7 News Belize

7 News Belize HeadlinesThursday, August 28, 2014

Accused By Aunt, Alleged Arsonist Goes To Court
On Wednesday's newscast, you saw homeowner Sonya Harris's devastation after her home in the Gungulung Area of Belize City burned down. The Belizean American made a direct and emotion...
Hon. Castro Says Hes Sorry For Opponent Arthur Saldivar
The big news in political circles continues to be Arthur Saldivar's suspension from the PUP. Saldivar is the standard bearer for Belize Rural North but yesterday the PUP National Executiv...
Former UDP Chairman Says Saldivar Suspension Is Acceptable
Another politician who has a valid perspective on the Saldivar suspension is former Chairman of the UDP Patrick Faber. As Chairman, he had to preside over many conventions and he knows that...
More Sour Times In Sugar Industry
Tonight, there are concerns coming from cane farmers in the north following a letter from Tate and Lyle, the British company a major purchaser of Belizean sugar. According to the letter, in ...
US Citizen Found Dead At Guest House May Be Suicide
The body of a US Citizen was found at a Belize City Guest House this morning - and police suspect suicide. 47-year-old Robert Thomas Scruton was found dead in room 34 at the Three Star Gu...
Police Hit A Dead End On Denvo Murder Investigation
27 year old Denvo Banner's body was found in Lemonal five days ago - he had been shot to the head. It is the first murder reported in the small village of 150 residents in a very long t...
PC Chulin Shot Himself, Accidentally
A policeman shot himself in Trench Alley early this morning. 25 year old Constable Victor Chulin was pulling up his pants when his nine millimeter pistol accidentally went off and he shot h...
Faber Says Hes Helping Cabinet Colleagues, Despite Rift
It's back to school time - and all over Belize parents are scrambling to come up with the money for uniforms, schools supplies and fees. Altogether it can be very expensive and a terrible b...
Faber Says CXC Results A Mixed Bag
We also asked Education Minister Faber about the recent CXC results. It's a mixed bag where there is a general upwards trend, but problems persist in traditional trouble subjects such as ma...
Menzies Explains Jasmine Link Mix-Up
Last night, we told you about the embarrassment with Police Department's website linking to a porn site. As we showed you, the link is supposed to belong to belong Jasmine Alert, the organi...
Crystal Water Production Slowed By Water Line Plant Breakdown
Many of you may have noticed that 5 gallon bottles of Crystal Water has been scarce in stores for the past week. That is because there was a break down in Crystal's water line plant last w...
Work Starts On Old Northern
The Old Northern Highway is one of the most battered and tattered stretches of road in Belize. The road was mostly abandoned in the eighties when the new Northern Highway was built - and ...
Maskall Needs A Police Station Repair
And so, the old Northern Highway will be rehabilitated, and Maskall village got a new library today, which we'll tell you about later. But, what about the Maskall police station. Hones...
Castro Says Cultural Tolerance Is A Must
And while we had the chance, we asked Castro about the recent fare up in the news over the speaking of the Garifuna language in a bank in Dangriga. Castro's father was Garifuna, and while h...
Kraal Road Lashes Out Against GSU
Earlier this week we showed you the citizens on patrol programme and the effort being made by police to mend relations with the community. But it seems that for every step forward...
Old Road Gets New Library
Welcome back to 7news - for all those outside the city, we apologize for the 40 minute break in transmission; there is a citywide blackout in Belize City - which is still underway. BEL h...
Independent Girls...
7 girls will grace the stage with their beauty and talent at the 6th Annual Independence Day Junior Pageant. They have been practicing since the start of this month and according to the coor...
Boxing Down For The Count, But Recovering
In the fast few years, boxing has been making a steady comeback, and a big part of this pugilist's renaissance is regular international bouts. On Saturday in Orange Walk there will be anothe...
Search 7 News Archive Click here for Yesterday's News Click to search entire archive
Free News

Subscribe to 7 News Belize RSS News Feed

ADVERTISEMENTS:

7 News Belize - News:
Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers, we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English

Accused By Aunt, Alleged Arsonist Goes To Court

On Wednesday's newscast, you saw homeowner Sonya Harris's devastation after her home in the Gungulung Area of Belize City burned down. The Belizean American made a direct and emotional accusation that her nephew did it - because she wouldn't let him sell weed in her home. Well, it seems the police agree: today they charged 27 year old Darrell Alvarez with arson. He appeared before Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith to hear the charge. No plea was taken because the offense is indictable. The prosecutor objected to bail on the grounds that the offense is of a serious nature and if granted bail the defendant might interfere with the complainant and other prosecution witnesses. Chief Magistrate Smith upheld the objection and she remanded Alvarez into custody until October 3rd.

Sonya Harris told the media that her nephew had been living rent free in the house for two years. But when she came home from New York recently she told him that he couldn't sell weed there, and that his girlfriend had to leave the house. She says he threatened to burn down the home, and five minutes after she left to go and report it to police, the house was on fire. The Fire Department found that clothing had been used to start the fire.


Hon. Castro Says Hes Sorry For Opponent Arthur Saldivar

The big news in political circles continues to be Arthur Saldivar's suspension from the PUP. Saldivar is the standard bearer for Belize Rural North but yesterday the PUP National Executive decided to suspend him based on the allegation that he helped himself to nine hundred thousand dollars of his client Melonie Coye's money. The PUP has appointed a committee to investigate the charge and report back to the executive for a final decision by September 17th.

Insiders suggest to us that it is a process pre-ordained to get rid of Saldivar - who, some feel, has become a liability to the party because of multiple allegations of professional impropriety.

But, it's not that simple to just purge a duly elected standard bearer and Saldivar's camp is digging in for what looks like it will be a protracted battle for control of Belize Rural North. This evening at 5:30, Saldivar convened a committee of the Belize Rural North Committee and they have promised to issue a release later this evening. The Committee feels that it was bypassed - and that the executive tried to do the Committee's job when it suspended Saldivar. So…it's a fight for real now…and in the days to come, we can expect it to flesh out as the Saldivar camp fight for its political life.

Sitting by and taking it all in is the UDP two term representative for Belize Rural North Edmund Castro. He was dogged by scandal for much of last year, but survived mostly unscathed - and now the harsh spotlight is on his would-be opponent. Today in Maskall Village, we asked Castro how he feels about Saldivar's troubles:...

Hon. Edmund Castro
"I don't pay much attention to what the PUP do or does or with Mr. Saldivar. He is a non-entity, we don't get sideline and distracted by what Arthur Saldivar and the PUP is id doing because they can't win anyway and if he comes or they send somebody else or they come together in two or three I will still beat them."

Jules Vasquez
"However, it has to be some sort of relief for you, it's been a rough nine months, you name has been dragged through the mud; you've been accused of taking bribes, you've been accused of selling visas, or issuing cheques of Belize Airport Authority for you cronies. So now the pressure is off from you."

Hon. Edmund Castro
"No my friend, I've been working for the people of Belize Rural North and I don't thief anybody. I never walked away with a bag of money from nobody. Nobody can accused me or stealing money from them. Everything we work for is for the people of Belize Rural North."

Reporter
"Sir, as Saldivar's political opponent you must find or feel some sort of joy that this is happening to him."

Hon. Edmund Castro
"I will not gloat about Mr. Saldivar. Normally every morning he is on the talk shows, but recently he had call the name serial caller, now we haven't heard anything from him. I will not gloat about that. I am sorry for him."

Jules Vasquez
"He said he would initiate a bi-election drive against but since then we didn't hear anything about it."

Hon. Edmund Castro
"My old grandmother would say "poor thing" see where he is, he and his recall mechanism, he need to recall himself."


Former UDP Chairman Says Saldivar Suspension Is Acceptable

Another politician who has a valid perspective on the Saldivar suspension is former Chairman of the UDP Patrick Faber. As Chairman, he had to preside over many conventions and he knows that once a standard bearer is elected, getting rid of them is...let's say...complicated. And that's why, he says, so far he agrees with the cautious course endorsed by the PUP Executive:..

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"Like in the case of Saldivar, if he did not at the time of the application process, if there is one; let's say hypothetically, like in the UDP we have a form that says is there anything out there that might embarrass yourself that will cause embarrassment to our party and you had to declare it. If we find later on that you did not declare it we reserve the right to pull you back or to disqualify your candidacy, then to me that is fair, that is how we operate in the UDP and yes there are instances where that has come up. You are right, it is a slippery slope, it kind of throws a dark shadow over the party. Other people who are in the party or those who might be considering to run for the party might be dissuaded. If that is what they are going to bring to the party might as well be dissuaded and don't come. But I don't see anything wrong with it as long as there is due process, that is very important and if I am to dabble just a bit, that is exactly what I heard the Leader of the PUP said yesterday."

Up to news time, our checks with the Saldivar camp said their Belize Rural North committee meeting was still underway.


More Sour Times In Sugar Industry

Tonight, there are concerns coming from cane farmers in the north following a letter from Tate and Lyle, the British company a major purchaser of Belizean sugar. According to the letter, in the next sugar crop, they stand to lose 83% of their revenue from that overseas sale.

Tate and Lyle wrote to the Cane Farmers Association two days ago informing them that starting with next year's crop, the company will only buy ten thousand tonnes of their sugar under the Fair Trade Agreement - usually they buy fifty to sixty thousand tonnes.

The reason put forward is that market forecasts for the sale of sugar are down, and that there is not the same type of demand as there was in the past. For the farmers it means that they stand to lose $5.7 million dollars. So, the association held an afternoon meeting with all of the 18 branch chairmen to inform them, and to seek their input on a course of action.

The Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Management of the cane farmers association explained to the awaiting media what this loss will mean for the cane farmers:

Alfredo Ortega - Vice-Chair, COM, BSCFA
"The letter we received from the very beginning is that they will be buying from us not less than 50,000 tons of sugar and at that time, as you know Belize was the first country that was certified for sugar or sugarcane and we were used as the pilot projects in the first year. For the first 2 years we manage to sell more than 70,000 tons - what we produced was sold and then they certified other countries like Fiji on which a reduction of sugar under fair trade umbrella from Belize came. But we were not less than 50,000 tons of sugar sold to them. Last year we received an additional letter that they will be buying 10,000 tons more, which took it to 60,000 tons and we have some visitors from the US that they compromise themselves to buy 5,000 tons of sugar. So that brought it up to 65,000 tons for this crop that just ended. This 10,000 really came to a surprise to us so immediately."

"It's a huge loss. Last year we got 6.9 million Belize dollars and it was only 60,000 tons that was sold. This year what have proposed to buy from us was 65,000 tons; 60,000 tons to the EU and 5,000 tons to the US, so that is what we will be getting this year. But for this upcoming crop the 2014/15 crop is where they are saying that they will only be buying as a minimum 10,000 tons, so it's a very huge reduction from 6.9 million to almost 1.2 million, the difference is very huge and it will definitely create problems within the organization."

"We were receiving in the vicinity of 6 million Belize on which that at least gives us an opportunity to cover and also to comply with the standards of flow. That money, a good portion of it is being use for us to comply with the flow standards because as you know they have some heavy standards that we have to comply with; the use of agrochemicals, environment, child labor and administration - many things that they have that we have to comply with and many of these funds is being use for us in compliance of these different programs and also these funds are used in granting help to the farmers in regards to agrochemicals and other programs that they put on board. Also we have social programs in which we have been helping the education sector, infrastructure and healthcare, medicines and so on. With this reduction it means that many of those programs that we were contemplating before, we won't be able to do so and that means that many of our staff at this point we will have to come to cut in regards to staff because of this situation."

It's tricky because Tate and Lyle is owned by American Sugar Refineries, which is the same company that owns BSI - and BSI is locked in a dispute with the cane farmers about a price for bagasse.

The suspicion is that this is some ploy to pressure the farmers into accepting the bagasse payment that BSI has proposed. As you may know, the farmers have firmly rejected that offer. The negotiations into the bagasse issue remains stalled, and so is the negotiation for the commercial agreement for next year's crop. This afternoon, we tried to get BSI, Chief Finance Officer, Belizario Carballo, for comment, but his secretary told us that he has been in meetings with visitors to the mill all day, and that he will be unavailable.

We'll keep trying for tomorrow's newscast.

Getting back to that letter, Tate and Lyle also informs the farmers that their payment schedule for their sugar will change. Instead of being pre-paid based on an estimation, the farmers be paid only after Tate and Lyle has sold all the sugar to their customers in the European Union.


US Citizen Found Dead At Guest House May Be Suicide

The body of a US Citizen was found at a Belize City Guest House this morning - and police suspect suicide. 47-year-old Robert Thomas Scruton was found dead in room 34 at the Three Star Guest House on Meighan Avenue this morning. His taxi-man went there to pick him up at 10:00 am, but found him dead on the floor with a cut wound to the inner arm, and abrasions to the left wrist. The injuries are believed ot have been made with a glass bottle. Police have not ruled out homicide but suspect suicide due to the cutting nature of the wounds. Additionally, police have learned that the American software technician appeared to be a heavy driver and was going through a divorce.

He arrived in Belize last Friday - and was her to celebrate his birthday at Caye Caulker. He returned from the Caye yesterday - and was last seen alive last night at 10:00 when his taxi-man delivered food to him.


Police Hit A Dead End On Denvo Murder Investigation

27 year old Denvo Banner's body was found in Lemonal five days ago - he had been shot to the head. It is the first murder reported in the small village of 150 residents in a very long time - and tonight police are no closer to solving it. They had detained a suspect earlier this week - but he was released due to a lack of evidence. Regional Executive Officer Inspector Fredrick Gordon told us more today:..

Inspector Fredrick Gordon, Regional Executive Officer
"We had a person of interest in respect of the murder. As a matter of fact it was two persons that was detain in respect to the murder of Mr. Banner."

Jules Vasquez
"Those persons have been released without charges?"

Inspector Fredrick Gordon, Regional Executive Officer
"There is an ongoing investigation at this time."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you able to say what angle you are looking at? You all know any motive for anyone that killed this man?"

Inspector Fredrick Gordon
"At this time the investigation is still ongoing, we don't want to speculate at this time."

Jules Vasquez
"There has been some information that it may have been related to in an incident that happened in Belize City where Mr. Denvo Banner was charged for murder in 2007. Is that a possible angle?"

Inspector Fredrick Gordon
"We are looking at all possible angles in respect of the investigation, but so far we haven't received any information as such at this time."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you able to say if there may have been involvement of gang elements from Belize City?"

Inspector Fredrick Gordon
"Like I said we are not ruling out any group at this time. We are looking at all angles in respect of the investigation."

Jules Vasquez
"Now we have two other missing persons in your area Belize Rural, Dwayne Young and the chairman of Hattieville, Mr. Carcamo. Are there any leads that might be somehow be related to what happen to Mr. Banner?"

Inspector Fredrick Gordon
"We are looking because once we pick up a person of interest we question them thoroughly in respect of the other missing person also. Mr. Shane Young and Mr. Carcamo - the police investigation is still open in respect of the cases."

Jules Vasquez
"You think in cases like Mr. Denvo who was murdered right in the Valley?"

Inspector Fredrick Gordon
"We cannot ruled out anything at this time, anything is possible."

Dwayne Young was a Lord's Bank resident and Kevin Carcamo lived in Hattieville. The investigation into their whereabouts is ongoing.


PC Chulin Shot Himself, Accidentally

A policeman shot himself in Trench Alley early this morning. 25 year old Constable Victor Chulin was pulling up his pants when his nine millimeter pistol accidentally went off and he shot himself, reportedly, in the groin area. He was rushed to the Hospital, and is stable. But, police say they are investigating for any breach of protocol - and if he is found negligent, he will receive disciplinary charges.

The gun was a nine millimeter pistol, which apparently did not have the safety engaged.

Police maintain a fixed presence in Trench Alley where Chulin shot himself.


Faber Says Hes Helping Cabinet Colleagues, Despite Rift

It's back to school time - and all over Belize parents are scrambling to come up with the money for uniforms, schools supplies and fees. Altogether it can be very expensive and a terrible burden on families. In many cases, some of that burden has to be shouldered by politicians - who are under pressure to service their constituents.

Reliable reports tell us that pressure recently resulted in some major friction within the ruling UDP - and at least one ranking minister accused the Education minister of hoarding the resources which should be shared amongst all. Today Faber told us that he distributes equitably:..

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"And so I don't know that any of my colleagues are dissatisfied. Everybody wants a little bit more, that is true and some believe that they deserve more than others but that's not how I operate in the Ministry of Education."


Faber Says CXC Results A Mixed Bag

We also asked Education Minister Faber about the recent CXC results. It's a mixed bag where there is a general upwards trend, but problems persist in traditional trouble subjects such as math.

Faber discussed the prognosis going forward since Government will pay for some CSC's tests in the coming school year:..

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"We are satisfied that there are improvements and in fact the number of students who are now taking these larger number of CXCs. In my time in high school for instance, I did 8 CXCs and that was considered to be a lot and now we have students who are doing - I met one yesterday who had 16 CXCs; about 12 grade one, 3 grade two and 1 grade three - these are 16 passes and we are seeing more and more of this happening and that is a very good sign for us in Belize in terms of us competing for the regional awards for the CSEC examinations. On the other side there is still a good number of students who aren't at the point where they are taking these exams and that has to concern us. I see it on a daily basis, the students who come asking for job in the government service for instance, and the public service has a basic requirement on most jobs of a high school diploma and 3 CXCs and you have still many people who are finished with high school but don't have any CXCs and we are hoping that this can be changed because of course of our plan now to pay for CXCs CSEC examinations for our students."

"Of course there will always be those who say there are some students who were paying, some parents were paying and they don't show up take the exams. So what do you feel is going to happen when the government is paying for it and there is no loss to them. It is a moral hazard, but there are ways of getting around that and as we move along we will try to improve."

This year there was a 1.4% increase of Grades 1 to 3. In the areas of Home Economics and Management and Physical Education the grades have consistently garnered scores between grades 1 to 3 for the past 3 years.


Menzies Explains Jasmine Link Mix-Up

Last night, we told you about the embarrassment with Police Department's website linking to a porn site. As we showed you, the link is supposed to belong to belong Jasmine Alert, the organization which releases urgent bulletins to the nation for missing children. The Jasmine Alert was launched in 2012 in memory of Jasmine Lowe, who was brutally murdered in Cayo after being missing for several days.

The police department is one of organizations linked into the Alert system, so logically, a link to their website was posted on their official page. But, recently, when visitors clicked that link, jasminealert.com, it took them to a porn site. Of course, when it hit the news, it caused major embarrassment, but at least it prompted the website managers to pull it down.

The Executive Director of the Jasmine Alert, Patrick Menzies, has been put in the hot seat because of it. Today, taking a break from occupying Belmopan, he explained to us that indeed that link (jasmine-alert.com) which now takes web surfers to view porn, was once the web domain name for Jasmine Alert. The problem, he explained, began when the organization couldn't continue to pay the web fees to maintain it:

Patrick Menzies, Executive Director - Jasmine Alert
"I want to declare, the police website doesn't and what they have is a link to the Jasmine Alert web page or website. So the police doesn't run the Jasmine Alert website, I do. We've establish the website, we control everything and so when you use to go there up to last night you would be able to click on where it say click to go to Jasmine Alert, you'd go to www,jasminealert.com. That site, we lost the domain name this July because of funding. I didn't have the money to renew it, to be honest and but when we finally got some funds I try to get it back and the company I submitted a letter two weeks ago and they have not responded, but so I bought instead jasminealert.org. The problem is that yesterday the hacker also blocked it in the DNS server, so inside the computer in the United States, the company is well protected - but hackers got in, blocked it. So when you go to JasmineAlert.org up to yesterday you could get it, but now you can't even get .org, you can't get .com, it's all been taken over. We are planning on today with God's help get .bz and that way its control in Belize and I have a personal contact and get that resolve quickly. Again to be very specific, we lost it due to funding. Folks will be able to go after today hopefully to jasminealert.bz and get in contact with the site. The site is still up. The site is on another company's server."

Menzies is asking for the public's assistance and support of his fund raising efforts to maintain the new web domain name.


Crystal Water Production Slowed By Water Line Plant Breakdown

Many of you may have noticed that 5 gallon bottles of Crystal Water has been scarce in stores for the past week. That is because there was a break down in Crystal's water line plant last week Thursday. They also experienced difficulties obtaining the bottle caps from suppliers in Mexico. A company representative told us it was just a temporary disturbance in the 5 gallon production process and it will be normalized by tomorrow.

Work Starts On Old Northern

The Old Northern Highway is one of the most battered and tattered stretches of road in Belize. The road was mostly abandoned in the eighties when the new Northern Highway was built - and since then it has steadily degraded. Now, most of it is just like a one lane road with some very jagged edges. It's unfortunate because the highway connects visitors to one of the most popular Mayan sites, Altin Ha. But, the Area Representative says that work will soon start to repair the first five miles:..

Hon. Edmund Castro
"Within the next two weeks we will be signing the agreement for the construction of the refurbishment of the old northern highway. The first phase is 5 miles from San Hill into the New Hope Bridge. By the time we complete with that segment of the highway hopefully the Korean funds will kick in so we could complete other 15 miles."


Maskall Needs A Police Station Repair

And so, the old Northern Highway will be rehabilitated, and Maskall village got a new library today, which we'll tell you about later. But, what about the Maskall police station. Honestly, there's no nice way to say it, the place looks like a crackhouse inside! No police officer lives there because none can. We asked the area representative about it today:..

Hon. Edmund Castro
"It's in bad shape. I will not tell you a lie, the police station in Maskall needs some renovation similar to this building, but we can't get everything and do everything in month or one year. We've been working and this is the result. About 4 months ago this building looked terrible, worse than the police station. Now look at it now. The children are saying that this is the prettiest building in the village."

Reporter
"So is the police station next?"

Hon. Edmund Castro
"We are working on that."


Castro Says Cultural Tolerance Is A Must

And while we had the chance, we asked Castro about the recent fare up in the news over the speaking of the Garifuna language in a bank in Dangriga. Castro's father was Garifuna, and while he doesn't speak the language, he says the idea that it would be banned is abhorrent:..

Hon. Edmund Castro
"For us to hear in 2014 foolishness like this, we should never condone such foolishness if it's true. When I go to the bank I talk creole to the teller and I don't hear that they tell the teller that they can't answer me in creole. My amigo is close to me in the bank and he feels more comfortable to express himself what he wants to do with his money in the bank he speaks in Spanish and if the person there can assist him and communicate with him in the language of his choice, then I don't see they firing anyone that speaks Spanish in bank. I think if the allegation if it's so they really need to take a check at themselves."

First Caribbean Bank - which was accused - has flatly denied that it has any policy or practice banning use of the Garifuna language.


Kraal Road Lashes Out Against GSU

Earlier this week we showed you the citizens on patrol programme and the effort being made by police to mend relations with the community. But it seems that for every step forward, the police department makes two backwards. That's what we found yesterday when we visited Kraal Road. IT is a gang area - and police were descending with force. Monica Bodden has the story:..

Monica Bodden reporting
We arrived on Kraal Road just after 5 yesterday evening and were greeted by an angry mob of area residents - Accusing the GSU of police harassment and abuse.

The officers were inside two separate yards conducting searches - Some of them stood on the sidelines and in the middle of Kraal Road with guns in front of the crowd.

Voice of: Area Resident
"Miss we just came from a funeral and the young man that they have in there just came from funeral and they are beating him, he is vomiting and they punch him in the mouth. They are roughing up my grandmother. She is 55 years old, nobody need to be roughing her up. The police is always coming at our house and we respect them and now they are saying that if any of us say anything they will beat us."

Monica Bodden
"Did they mention what they are looking for?"

Voice of: Area Resident
"They didn't mention anything, they come and point their guns in my neighbor's baby face. Her baby is 3 years old."

Police brutality is the indiscriminate use of excessive force - usually physical- but it can also be verbal abuse and psychological intimidation by police officers.

Monica Bodden
"You came outside and you saw the officer pointing the gun at your 3 year old?"

Mother of 3 year old
"They did at my bedroom door. My oldest daughter was in the chair doing her homework. They ask who are at home and she said my mother and my grandmother and me. They still walk in my house. When I came out of my bathroom I saw the Spanish officer at my bedroom door with the gun pointing at my daughter. Suppose that gun had went off now? He couldn't look at me and tell me sorry because I don't play that. My man goes to work all day and every day. This is past nonsense, no gang bang lives where I live 0 no drug dealers. That boy that they are beating up over there just came from a funeral and he is being beaten for nothing - that is nonsense and it needs to stop."

The child who was still traumatized by what happened, had to be comforted by her father.

The Gang Suppression Unit has been one of the most controversial law enforcement squads in Belize - with a string of high-profile criminal and brutality allegations going all the way back to when they were first formed in October of 2011.

Area Resident
"This is my yard, why did they bring those young men here? They can't take out that beehive. So many years that beehive is here."

Area Resident
"You see how I look, dirty and stink and I am on news. This is not like me. I have one problem. My son doesn't gang bang, my son doesn't smoke weed and my son doesn't sell drugs. My house is old and it is for me right and I am getting sick and tired of this. Last week my son and his girlfriend were in my house watching TV. The week before something had happen in our yard because the yard is pass through yard, so they came at the yard and a little event happen. I don't have any problem with that because it's a pass through yard, I don't have a problem they come and do their job. My son was sitting down in the chair with his girlfriend, one of the officers came and he went at the door and was talking to my son and asking the young lady if she is over age or under age - I don't have any problem with that. They went in my house and disrespect my house. Those things are wrong. I don't have any problem with the police because if I get in trouble that is the first person I would call. I am asking them to please leave us alone."

Area Resident
"My mom is 53 years old and she is tired of being harassed for those boys. None of them have anything to do around here. I am tired of this."

Monica Bodden
"Your mom is inside the house?"

Area Resident
"Yes ma'am she is right there. They chance her. I want you to see how they string her up in there for no reason."

Area Resident
"The police is trying to make us criminal. Every day they come here and we don't have anything for them. They don't want me to go in my own yard and I just come from work."

Officers occupied the yard of the famous Raymond "Killa" Gentle -alleged boss of Kraal Road- who was slain in 2011- This grandmother peeps at the crowd through the wooden louvers- as a sign that she is ok.

After a while, the crowd ran over to the fence side to see what was happening to the 3 other men they accused police of beating - one of whom they said was beaten so badly that he threw up.

By the time our cameras were allowed to enter the gates of that particular yard, the vomit had allegedly been washed away. After the entire commotion was over - everyone was allowed to go free and nothing was found in any of the yards.

One of the officers in charged said the Unit was only in the area to destroy a bee hive. But residents have another account, they tell of systematic abuse.

Grandmother
"They love to harass those boys and they run in my house. You know how long they were beating those boys - have their heads against the wall standing on them kicking them and all kind of thing. Anytime they come the police have lots of problems with them."

Monica Bodden
"I understand that you were inside the house as well during the whole commotion?"

Grandmother
"I was inside because I am tired of the boys being beat up and kick up, stomp up and their heads against the wall."

Area Resident
"I came downstairs because I heard someone throwing up, but I thought that it was my little brother, so I came downstairs and I found 3 young man; two young man on their knees and the other one throwing up. The two young man knees were trembling. I listen to the officer ridiculing the boys like they are not human beings. The officers told one of the young man that he has AIDS and then he ask other young man about if he have a woman, how does he have sex or what do you do - I got offended because that's no way to treat anybody."

And while one would consider that it is also tough turf to police - on the city's Southside where gang problems and drug issues are a fact of life - are those prevailing conditions why these persistent reports of low-level police harassment just simply go unheard?

We could not reach the new commander of the GSU by phone, but we repeat that the officer who appeared to be in charge of the operation said that they were only there to get rid of some bees.


Old Road Gets New Library

Welcome back to 7news - for all those outside the city, we apologize for the 40 minute break in transmission; there is a citywide blackout in Belize City - which is still underway. BEL has not located the cause yet. But, we continue with the news for all our viewers outside the city.

In the age of electronic everything, the role of the library is often overlooked. But, the National Library Service is pushing on and pushing into remote communities with its mobile library service. One of those communities is Maskall which was serviced for decades by the mobile library - visiting the village on the old northern road in Landrovers, vans, and even taxi's! But, finally now Maskall has a library of its own. The building was opened today and 7News was there:..

Hon. Edmund Castro, Area Rep. - Bze Rural North
"It's the prettiest building in Maskall. As you pull the curve you see our library."

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
The papaya coloured library stands out indeed - and when the ribbon was cut today it opened a new world to the students from Lady of Lourdes RC.

Hon. Edmund Castro
"So this is the first time in the history of the old road that we now have a building that we can now call a library that is connected to the national library service of this country."

Today Educator Minister Patrick Faber tried to nurture a love of reading:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
(reading book)"Before I could say another word, she raise herself on her crooked stick and she came towards me point the stick at me, I can't take no botheration. You know what botheration means? Don't bother me right."

But in the electronic age are books still relevant?:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"I don't think that it is antiquated at all. This is something that we still certainly still encourage in the Ministry of Education right alongside the use to the technology."

Hon. Edmund Castro
"Library of old where you need to go there and read a book, it's no more. You can come here now and log on to the system and then you have the whole world library at your fingertips."

The computer lab is impressive - and it offers free wi-fi. Now, the national library service can only hope that it will be as full as this every day.

Next up for Maskall is a Water system.


Independent Girls...

7 girls will grace the stage with their beauty and talent at the 6th Annual Independence Day Junior Pageant. They have been practicing since the start of this month and according to the coordinator of the pageant, Karen Vernon, the audience is in for a treat. Today we joined them at their rehearsal and she explained the purpose of the pageant and the progress these young ladies have made.

The pageant will be held at the Bliss Center at 5:00 in the evening this Sunday. Tickets are $10 and are available at the Bliss or from the contestants.


Boxing Down For The Count, But Recovering

In the fast few years, boxing has been making a steady comeback, and a big part of this pugilist's renaissance is regular international bouts. On Saturday in Orange Walk there will be another one as a contingent of Belizean boxers take on a Mexican delegation.

One of the coaches visited our office today to talk about it, and to introduce his boxers to the nation. Here's what he told us about the event:

Fight time is 7 p.m. on August 30, at the Orange Walk Complex in Orange Walk Town.


Home | Archives | Downloads/Podcasts | Advertise | Contact Us

7 News Belize