7 News Belize

7 News Belize HeadlinesWednesday, April 27, 2016

Guardian On Trial For “Witchcraft” Reference
2 weeks ago, we took you to the Supreme Court where the PUP's Former Secretary General Myrtle Palacio was suing Alfonso Noble over an article printed in the Guardian back in Decemb...
It’s Official, OAS Will Investigate
The OAS today formally announced that it will launch an investigation into the fatal shooting of 13 year old Guatemalan Julio Alvarado. It happened 7 days ago about half a kilometre into B...
BDF Commander Not Intimidated By Guat Troop Buildup
Today's OAS press release ended with the OAS Secretary General calling on both sides to, quote, "redouble the confidence building measures in place to prevent future confrontations or ...
What General Will Tell Wil
And while the General isn't particularly concerned with the Guatemalan troop build-up along the Belize Guatemala western border, he is concerned about Wil Maheia and the Territorial Volu...
Alleged Government Pension Fraudster Gets Off Free
By now, you may not even remember that back in 2009, 291 thousand dollars went missing from the Treasury Department. That was 7 years ago, and today, the 3 women accused, 31 year old Monic...
The BDF Christens Choppers
Ever since the British Army Training Support Unit, BATSUB pulled put of Belize in 2011, the BDF has been without helicopter support.  IT's a major vacuum in op...
Shots Rang Out At Noon In City
A brazen midday shooting today sent down town city shoppers scrambling for safety. It happened around 11 this morning at the corner of Orange and George Streets. As you may know Orange...
City Stable After Shiny Slaying
And so while police prepare to charge three men for this brazen midday shooting - has the city gone back to normal, since the shooting death of Gerald "Shiny" Tillett?  As soon as t...
Police Working To Get Kids Away From Gangs
So while ACP Chester Williams has established a proper means of communication with several gang bosses, the other side of that same issue are those young gang sympathizers, or "Gun Toddl...
Kids Curfew Collared 30
And in line with the topic of at-risk youths, Williams says the Kids' curfew has picked up 30 youths, between the ages of 12 to 16 since it was launched last month. ACP Chester Will...
Justice And The Indigenous
When the topic of indigenous people arises, it usually centers on the Maya and Garifuna communities and their land rights issues. Well, a group from the Canadian funded project entitled IM...
Maya Rights Issues Still Pending
But there are several divisive issues threatening that vision of unity, including the Santa Cruz incident in which Rupert Myles was detained by an angry mob of villagers. The Maya resident...
Dispute Between Adjoining Maya And Garifuna Villages
Now as Mes said, Santa Cruz and Jalacte are only 2 of many land conflicts. There is another ongoing issue in Toledo between the Garifuna community of Barranco and the neighbouring Maya com...
Coro Cops Have Killer
Corozal police are now one step closer to solving the murder of 43 year old Gilberto Najarro. The news today is that the alleged shooter has been arrested. However police are still not r...
Jazzfest Jump Up?
Last night you saw the Garifuna Collective take the big stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and tonight you get to see part 2 of that story featuring the other bands: Swee...
NDACC Proceeding With PROCCER
Today at the Radisson, 48 persons graduated from the Training and Certification Program for Drug and Violence Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation - or PROCCER - for short. It's a...
Modiri Says Paumen Has Other Options Than To Enter His Land
In last night's news, we spoke with Director of Archaeology Dr. John Morris. He was discussing the latest Supreme Court ruling between the now famous Franks Eddy Village neighbor...
More Meeting, More Greeting
Police in Belize City have done meet and greet sessions through the entire South Side – and now they are going back to places for the second time. Today, they were in the area near Arlingt...
Making Local Internet Move Faster
And our first to last story tonight is one of the most important – and that's because it has a whole lot to do with your internet connection speed.  All Belize's major internet ser...
Caring For Coro
Residents of the northern villages of San Pedro, Cristo Rey, Yo Chen, Patchakan, Chan Chen and the surrounding communities in Corozal are about the receive a new state of the art health Ce...
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

Guardian On Trial For “Witchcraft” Reference

2 weeks ago, we took you to the Supreme Court where the PUP's Former Secretary General Myrtle Palacio was suing Alfonso Noble over an article printed in the Guardian back in December of 2014.

Palacio is suing for libel due to that article, headlined "PUP Secretary General Endorses the Use of Witchcraft in Politics". Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin heard all the evidence in the case, including video evidence from the Defense which they say is justification for the "fair comment" angle they took when they criticized Palacio. 

Palacio asserts that her character and her culture as respected member of the Garifuna community was maligned, Noble and the Guardian Newspaper's attorney say that her interpretation is incorrect. A significant portion of the trial appeared to put obeah on trial, but today's hearing was for the attorneys to examine the evidence presented.

It's a hotly contested lawsuit and in the oral arguments, both Said Musa and Michael Young put their own spin on the case. When the 2 hour hearing was over we spoke with both sides. 

Here's Palacio and her attorney explaining how they tried to convince the judge that the Guardian's article was libelous:

Rt. Hon. Said Musa - SC, Attorney for the Claimant
"What you think people will think when you accuse somebody of being a witch, of practicing witch craft? The average Belizean would right away feel they want to do hard to somebody, you will practice witch craft on that person. And all she did was to say let a not report this to the creator as the caller wanted to do; which I would submit and I did submit has its own sinister implication. You will report somebody to god then you want god deal with that person and she is saying no, no just light a candle and burn the candle over his head. As she explained in her culture and in her religion, there is burning of candles in the Catholic Church, in the Methodist Church, in the Anglican Church and in the Garifuna culture there is the burning of candles. Now what is sinister and really to my mind damning about this whole article is that its right at the very bottom there is this cartoon; which if you look at that cartoon it is disparaging this good lady in the worse possible light."

Iris Myrtle Palacio - Claimant
"You can see the response to the Stirm situation. In fact I had to hold back and I am holding back and there are people not only the Garifuna, other people on Belize who are watching this case very much so because we are tired of the discrimination and racism."

Now, the context of the article was Nomination Day for the By-Election in Cayo North. Palacio appeared as a guest on the Positive Vibes Morning Show and she complained bitterly about the Returning Officer, Marcelo Windsor, publicly questioning his credibility as a fair elections officer. Today, the defence framed their submissions in that context, and outside of court, they explained the significance:

Michael Young - SC, Attorney for the Defendant
"They jumped up and said Mr. Noble and the Guardian have done such a great hurtful wrong. Well Mr. Noble never just jump up and write an article you know, there was the positive vibes programme with the words that she used and those words came after a barrage of attacks against the returning officer. The whole tape that was shown in court was just over 14 minutes and the previous 13 minutes was this attack which was articulated and led by the claimant. At the end and it produced this result that somebody call and say make we report ah to god; as if this man had done such a grieve sin. She said no, no, no she said burn the damn candle over ih head and look for his name to get his birthdate on the register of electors. This is what we have to do deh kind of people, what is that? That is glaring unclear and that is our case. The article was saying you ought not to mix religion and politics because look what happened in this case on this show on the 23rd of December 2014; imagine the Secretary General of the PUP."

Alfonso Noble - Defendant, Editor Guardian Newspaper
"There was this case that they are claiming that I was malicious in my reporting; I reported on a fact. There was a talk show in which certain statements were made. I did not fabricate anything; I did not make up a story about what she said. I understood what she said to mean something and I reported on that and there is absolutely no malice in that. This is at the time the Secretary General of the PUP, when you utter certain things you must be held accountable to what you say in high positions such as the Secretary General of a political party, there must be some level of responsibility in the manner in which you conduct yourself, in the manner in which you speak to the public."

But, if viewers tune into the Positive Vibes TV Show or the Wave Morning Show, you'd know this sort of ugly back and forth is an almost everyday experience. So, might this not be case where the PUP side "ketch feelings" for something that the two mass parties are known for? That's what we asked, and here's how they responded:

Michael Young - SC, Attorney for the Defendant
"All of this has to do in a sense with freedom of speech in a robust political community and that's why in the end we said this is an overreaction. You attacked the returning officer, you did so with some very colourful language particularly at the end and then you jump up and say I am so hurt? No but it is a matter for the court."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa - SC, Attorney for the Claimant
"Now they try to rely on fair comment but the fact is as we argued the comment itself was the implication of the liable accusing her of endorsing witchcraft."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir with all due respect to you and your client might a person not take away from this da normal PUP-UDP politics? It is common for listeners and viewers to look at the two morning circuits and see mudslinging from both sides across the air waves."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa - SC, Attorney for the Claimant
"Yes you get that on the radio and TV but this is now in black and white, an article in a newspaper and that newspaper clearly defamed and disparage this lady; ridiculed her, mocked her religion, mocked her culture, that's liable, that's what we are saying. This is not the usual banter, we've taken a lot of hits you know; I speak now as a politician but we don't sue for liable every time they attack us. No of course not but this was going as I called it an ad hominem attack on the person and character of this lady."

The Judge has reserved judgement to be delivered in a month's time. We'll be there to tell you about the ruling.


It’s Official, OAS Will Investigate

The OAS today formally announced that it will launch an investigation into the fatal shooting of 13 year old Guatemalan Julio Alvarado. It happened 7 days ago about half a kilometre into Belize, and both Guatemala and Belize have asked the OAs to investigate.  

OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, announced in a press release today that that, quote "he will proceed immediately with the identification and deployment of the appropriate experts to carry out the investigation as soon as possible."  The release says that the investigation will independent of the verification which is currently taking place.

Today, the Commander of the BDF told the press that he is confident that the location, and the circumstances of the shooting will vindicate his soldiers:..

Jules Vasquez
"How sound are we on certifying that location and that it happened after nightfall?"

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"Well we're pretty sure because our soldiers were out there. They've operated in that area for years and a previous incident just occurred there where we had two Guatemalans that were aggressive towards our patrol where we fired back, one of them were injured in the leg. It's about the same area, exactly the same area that this incident occurred and our soldiers took GPS readings of the area and it has been confirmed that the area is at least 580 metres inside Belizean soil and when they went back out on the ground it was ascertained yes by our soldiers who are there on the ground it is in Belizean soil."

At the time of the shooting, the BDF Patrol was accompanied by 7 rangers from the Friends For Conservation and Development.

Now today's OAS release spoke about, quote, "the commitment of both countries to clarify the events rapidly."  But where's the urgency in dealing with that other shooting? – the one of Staff Sergeant Richard Lambey which on Month ago on March 26rth,  That's still not done – but General Jones says that so far it shows that the Bandits who ambushed him wanted him dead:

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"We have not gotten an official report from the OAS in regards to Mr. Lambey's shooting incident yet. What they have confirmed preliminary and what we've heard preliminary is not official; that it was a deliberate ambush, they intended to kill him, they wanted to kill one of the members of our patrol. The detailed report has not been forth coming yet and we're still waiting for that."


BDF Commander Not Intimidated By Guat Troop Buildup

Today's OAS press release ended with the OAS Secretary General calling on both sides to, quote, "redouble the confidence building measures in place to prevent future confrontations or situations that could put at risk the peace and stability between the two countries."  But while the OAS churns out its now familiar peace-keeping platitudes with clockwork regularity, the reality on the  ground is that 500 additional Guatemalan Troops have been deployed to the 35 communities adjacent to Belize's western border.  That's 500 more than the 500 which were there, making it one thousand total.  And while it may sound intimidating, the BDF Commander says that may actually increase the peace:..

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"Having their soldiers over on their side is not of concern to us because it actually will help our cause in stopping their people from coming over. They've deployed in the area but they are operating in their side of the border. So we are operating in Belize, they are operating in Guatemala. They've expressed that they're going to try and ascertain information what's happening along all those communities and this will be a move that may assist us because it will assist them in trying to stop their people from coming over because that's the root cause or the problem. Where we have people over there who want to seek better standards of living and better means of survival and that better opportunity is over here in Belize; however it creates friction, it creates problem when they are over in Belize. If they are without firearms and they are not aggressive to the patrol our soldiers treat them humanely but then they attack or aggressive our patrol especially with firearms, our patrol are going to return fire; so our rules on engagement is not going to change. As long as we are fired upon, as long as our lives are in danger, we're going to respond and unfortunately there may be fatalities if such incidents do occur."


What General Will Tell Wil

And while the General isn't particularly concerned with the Guatemalan troop build-up along the Belize Guatemala western border, he is concerned about Wil Maheia and the Territorial Volunteers going down the Sarstoon on Saturday.  The General, along with the Coast Guard Commander and Foreign Affairs staff are meeting with Maheia on Thursday.  He told us what his message to will be:…

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"Well we're trying to go and appeal to him in regards to reason. We are aware of his passion, we are aware of his patriotism but I believe that reasoning and logic in regards to the issues that have been evolving due to the shooting incident he would be able to listen to us. We are not going to stop Belizeans, we are not going to stop him, we're just going to try and ask him and reason for him to give us an opportunity to try and workout the situation peacefully. Details of that interview or meeting will come out based on the question he has and I believe we will be able to convince him but it's up to him. If we can unit and joining together as one nation it's going to be the best but if we have different people, different organisations opposing each other we're not going to solve the issue."

We'll tell you how that meeting went on tomorrow night's news…


Alleged Government Pension Fraudster Gets Off Free

By now, you may not even remember that back in 2009, 291 thousand dollars went missing from the Treasury Department. That was 7 years ago, and today, the 3 women accused, 31 year old Monica Escarpeta, 34 year old Rhea Pennill and 60 year old Yvonne Bevans all got off theft and handling stolen goods charges. That happened in the court room of Justice Troadio Gonzalez

It was alleged that between September and May of 2009, Escarpeta stole $291,022 while she was working as a pension clerk at the Treasury Department. This was done allegedly by issuing bogus pension checks for deceased persons and others.  Pennill was charged with handling stolen goods for $151,967. Bevans was also charged with handling stolen goods for $12,472.

During the trial, the prosecution conceded that there was no case to answer for Pennill and Bevans, and so the charges against both were discontinued.

The prosecution then called 13 witnesses. Among them was Mark Jones, a senior auditor at the Audit Department. Jones testified that he was called on July 1, 2009 to do an audit and that he found 7 irregularities, regarding fictitious pensioners. Under cross examination Jones said that vital records needed to do a proper audit were not available. This, he said, were the documents which would include the name of pensioners, their date of birth, current age, and other important personal information. Jones also testified that the record revealed that the total amount of money that was disbursed was $398,843 from public funds. 

After the prosecution closed its case, Anthony Sylvestre, the attorney for the three accused, submitted that the evidence of Jones related to Escarpeta was inadmissible hearsay. Sylvestre also submitted that there was one glaring omission by the Crown that there was no evidence that any money was misappropriated or disbursed. 

After consideration, Justice Gonzalez upheld the no case submission and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty. The Crown was represented by Crown Counsels Killeru Awich and Rene Montero Jr.


The BDF Christens Choppers

Ever since the British Army Training Support Unit, BATSUB pulled put of Belize in 2011, the BDF has been without helicopter support.  IT's a major vacuum in operations – and it has meant many man hours lost to arduous and dangerous jungle treks to get to remote border outposts such as Rio Blanco.  But, in 2014, the BDF set out on a search for its own helicopters, and today that dream was realized with the support of the Taiwanese Government.  7News was at the Price Barracks Headquarters to witness it, and to take the first flight:..

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"The sky will indeed be the limit with our new acquired assets."

Hon. John Saldivar - National Security Minister
"It is a historical moment for us as a nation and as minister of national security – I am humbled by the of history in the making."

The two UH-1H helicopters were airborne today but they can best be appreciated on the ground. They are gifts from the Government of Taiwan and after a photo-op for posterity, the security minister gave the thumbs up and after that, the choppers were aloft for a quick circle around the Belize District and while this was just a quick circle, there are big plans for these choppers:

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"This is now a game changer for the BDF as these assets will make our deployment to our operational areas much faster and with improved efficiency in achieving our assigned tasks. The most important function that the BDF will be using them for is for causality evacuation of our troops, or sick or injured in remote areas or injured while operations. We operate in some very challenging terrain and having these assets can be the difference between life and death."

Hon. John Saldivar - National Security Minister
"It is timely that as the Hurricane season approaches us we are receiving these helicopters."

The pilots at the BDF Airwing were trained to fly the helicopters by the Jamaica Defence Force, but the real muscle and expertise in getting these birds up and running in Belize came from the 17 member team of Taiwanese engineers, technicians, mechanics and pilots who came to Belize to assemble the choppers.

Now they aren't exactly new, but Belize was never in the market for a new pair of helicopters, and there's nothing that a little spot of WD-40 won't fix. But, to keep these birds in the air, will cost a lot more than a can of lubricant.

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"It is going to be a challenge to keep them operational but we made the right decision to take up the challenge as the benefits are overwhelming. We're also going to work with our close partners the US and other militaries that work with us to assist us in maintaining these helicopters because I know it's going to be a challenge for the government and the services of these helicopters will not just be for the Belize Defence Force, it will be for all the militaries that operate in Belize that may require their assistance."

But today wasn't so much about future planning as it was about the celebration of realizing rotary wing independence for Belize, a dream long deferred.

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander - BDF
"Our dream and vision of acquiring helicopters have now become a reality and we will relish and embrace it with pride."

The helicopters have been fully assembled and in testing mode for the past 10 days.  The helicopters are used – and no present value was given.


Shots Rang Out At Noon In City

A brazen midday shooting today sent down town city shoppers scrambling for safety. It happened around 11 this morning at the corner of Orange and George Streets. As you may know Orange Street is one of the busiest commercial zones of down town Belize City and is also one of the main arteries that lead to the centre of town. But amidst the hustle and bustle of a normal day at this commercial epicentre, a gunman was lurking, and out of nowhere, he began shooting. His intended target got away with nothing but a graze, according to our sources. And fortunately no passers-by were injured. Police believe that the gunman arrived in a vehicle that rushed him away after missing his target.   And while they believe the incident is the product of gang rivalry, the Officer Commanding South Side Division would not tell us who the two groups involved are for fear of further escalations. However he claims they are making major progress in this investigation. 

ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South
"I know that this was sometime around 11 this morning. There was a shooting on Orange Street, corner Orange and George Street. So far we have not received a complaint from the person who may have been the intended target. But police have acted very swiftly and with assistance of the Gang Suppression Unit we have recovered or we have found the vehicle we believe was involved in that shooting. And in that vehicle we have 3 persons and those 3 persons have been detained and are in police custody and they are currently being investigated as it relates to that shooting. The police also recovered within the vehicle some 9 millimetre live round of ammunition for which those persons will be charged."

Emanuel Pech
"You guys have any idea who might be the ones involved in this; particular individuals of interest?"

ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South
"I am not going to venture down the road to say which group is involved or not involved because by doing that on national TV you could create additional flare up in different areas as it relates to gang activities and what we will do is to move quickly with the investigation and see how best through our intervention we can move quickly to see again what is the issue between the two groups involved and see how best we can assist in defusing that issue."


City Stable After Shiny Slaying

And so while police prepare to charge three men for this brazen midday shooting - has the city gone back to normal, since the shooting death of Gerald "Shiny" Tillett?  As soon as that murder occurred ACP Chester Williams engaged several heads of refuted gangs in Belize City in preventative meetings. So have his efforts worked at stemming retaliation?

ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South
"Yes we had anticipated that the death of Shiny would have caused an increase in shooting activities in Belize City and like you would have seen the night he was killed, there was an escalation shooting incidents in Belize City. But we had acted very swiftly through our interventions and through our patrols and operations to move into the respective gang areas and see how best we can assist in trying to bring the situation under control and I think that we have been successful in reaching out to the different gangs. I was out of the country for a week but prior to my departure I had myself and Ms. Finnegan did an intervention with the main players from the George Street gang and they assured us that they will not be retaliating and that they too want to resolve the issue, they want peace and we hold them to their word."


Police Working To Get Kids Away From Gangs

So while ACP Chester Williams has established a proper means of communication with several gang bosses, the other side of that same issue are those young gang sympathizers, or "Gun Toddlers," as Williams calls them. They aren't as easy to find, but Williams says they are working on it:

ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South
"Often times they recruit these little young ones, the gun toddlers who for some reason or the other, they cannot control and so that causes some of the little pockets who I would normally referred to as sympathizers, to be out there trying to create mischief. We will never be 100% confident that they'll be no further retaliation as a result of the death of Shiny. We must understand that several persons, there are several groups out there who I must say were very connected with them and those persons may want to act in his name. But my thing to them is that you know if you want to do something in the name of Gerald Tillet, do something that is good, do something that is productive. He has children he has left behind, try to see how you can assist in raising those kids rather than being out there killing his name."


Kids Curfew Collared 30

And in line with the topic of at-risk youths, Williams says the Kids' curfew has picked up 30 youths, between the ages of 12 to 16 since it was launched last month.

ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South
"I must say that we're working cohesively with the Human Services Department on the issue of child curfew. The matter is going well, we continue to bring in these young people off the streets and whenever they are caught we would normally get the Human Services people in, they are on call and I must say they have been very good in responding. We get the parent and deal with the matter then at the end of that session then the people from Human Services decide whether or not they will send the child home with the parent or if they will look for alternative accommodation for the child for the rest of the night. But I must say it has been going quite well and I will applaud them for the effort that they are now putting in to ensure that the curfew issue be successful."

About 12 of the kids were picked up since the Human development services joined the initiative. 


Justice And The Indigenous

When the topic of indigenous people arises, it usually centers on the Maya and Garifuna communities and their land rights issues. Well, a group from the Canadian funded project entitled IMPACT Justice has organized a 3 day conference at the Biltmore. The main objective is to bring these groups together to discuss a way forward. The Regional Project Director, Professor Velma Newton explained that these same challenges the indigenous people of Belize face are common all across the region and there are ways to solve them. But Newton told us that all IMPACT Justice can do is open up the conversation. We also spoke to representatives from both the Maya and Garifuna communities and they told us how significant this conversation is.  

Prof. Velma Newton - Regional Director, IMPACT Justice
"As you see the indigenous people of the region they have similar issues and the attitudes of governments have not been this similar in that what the indigenous people are claiming certain rights that they have exercised memorial. One could say that they've been moves to kind of limit those rights when it comes to development of land. So we are hoping that this conference will lead to greater understanding especially since as you've heard in the Justice Burcher's speech that was read by Professor McNeal. These issues are reason elsewhere and they've found ways of not only dealing with whether or not the claims of indigenous people are legitimate; either in terms of history, in terms of human rights but they've also found a way of solving the same issues in various ways. What we can do, they said bring people together and let them discuss and if there any studies they want us to do, we can help with those but primarily it's for the group and the governments to sit down and decide what is best for everyone."

Pablo Mes - Programme Coordinator, Maya Leader Alliance
"This of course if you look at the themes this cross right along the lines of what we as a country will need to find practical solutions to in order for us to really make the indigenous communities particularly those in southern Belize an integral fabric of Belize under the constitution, enjoying those protections, enjoying those rights as any other Belizean."

Joseph Palacio - Chairman, Barranco Village Council
"In the case of Belize as well as the rest of the region we have a necessity to fine tune what indigeneity is so that it isn't divisive and is more inclusive."

The conference ends on Friday.


Maya Rights Issues Still Pending

But there are several divisive issues threatening that vision of unity, including the Santa Cruz incident in which Rupert Myles was detained by an angry mob of villagers. The Maya residents of the village say Myles destroyed their sacred Uxbenka monument by constructing a driveway leading to his house. And then there's also the court fight between Jalacte residents and the Government of Belize over communal land rights. The Program Coordinator of the Maya Leaders Alliance and Toldeo Alcalde Association Pablo Mes told us that he hopes this conference will bring them closer to solving these conflicts.

Pablo Mes - Programme Coordinator, Maya Leader Alliance
"I'm hoping that this forum will allow for us to be able to see with clarity that there are issues which we will have to develop a process to address immediately and there are processes which are more of a long term more of a broader engagement so being be able to perhaps go out of this meeting with some ideas as to how we might be able to put in place plans to address those two areas. You mentioned Jalacte, Santa Cruz, those are just two of the cases that we wanted nothing other than to sit down and settle these matters."


Dispute Between Adjoining Maya And Garifuna Villages

Now as Mes said, Santa Cruz and Jalacte are only 2 of many land conflicts. There is another ongoing issue in Toledo between the Garifuna community of Barranco and the neighbouring Maya community of Midway. The residents of Barranco are building a cultural monument a short distance away from Midway, but the Maya residents aren't too pleased about that because they say it is being built on their village lands.  So the leaders from Midway Village sent a letter to the Barranco council urging, quote, "constructions be put to a stop immediately until both our villages meet to discuss the issue", end quote. Today Mis further discussed what the issue is in his perspective.

Pablo Mes - Programme Coordinator, Maya Leader Alliance
"I want to make it very clear that a monument to honour the history, the legacy of the Garifuna people of Belize is something that we at any time will support. Unfortunately I believe that the letter that was send by Midway's leaders perhaps was understood out of context. You will realise that all these communities in the Toledo district, 39 of them to this date have not been able to get the support of government to define clearly the limits of their boundaries. Where any effort to define the territory of a community is present, of course it will require a process of negotiation between those two neighbours. In that spirit the letter that was sent to Barranco which was very close to Midway was merely saying look as honourable neighbours, please let us know what's happening so that we could be fully supportive so that we can be appreciative of what you working on, what existed for a very long time, we want to continue to exist harmoniously. There was a meeting held just this past Sunday between the leaders and we were invited by Midway to observe and to be present there and the report I received is that it became clear that it is a monument but it will also be used as the marker to show where the village lines of Barranco is which is something that the community of Midway wanted clarification on."

But the Chairman of the Barranco Village Council says no clarification is needed because they are building their monument on private land.

Joseph Palacio - Chairman, Barranco Village Council
"Midway is Ketchi community and they were complaining that we are building a monument on their land so they wanted to find out more. The issue was that we built a monument on what we are saying is the boundary between the two villages. The monument is actually on private land not on Midway land."

Although both sides have very different views on this issue, they met on Sunday and will meet again to settle this matter.


Coro Cops Have Killer

Corozal police are now one step closer to solving the murder of 43 year old Gilberto Najarro. The news today is that the alleged shooter has been arrested. However police are still not releasing any names because he has not been formally "charged". As we told you, on Sunday a father and a son threatened Najarro at a farm over a couple of stolen bicycles. The following day- Monday- the son returned and allegedly opened fire on Najarro killing him. The father had turned himself in, and today we are told that police have the son. Now they are waiting to do an ID parade to positively identify the shooter. They hope to have the alleged killer charged by tomorrow.

Jazzfest Jump Up?

Last night you saw the Garifuna Collective take the big stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and tonight you get to see part 2 of that story featuring the other bands: Sweet Pain and Brad Pattico. Here is how they represented Belize on the Cultural Pavilion Stage.
And the New Orleans Feature series isn’t over yet - tune in tomorrow to see another aspect of Belize’s Cultural Pavilion presentation from Kechi Maya Harpists to Cassava Bread makers.

NDACC Proceeding With PROCCER

Today at the Radisson, 48 persons graduated from the Training and Certification Program for Drug and Violence Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation - or PROCCER - for short.

It's a collaborative effort between the OAS, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, the Ministry of Health, and the National Drug Abuse Control Council. For the past few years, CICAD has been working to put trained staff in Drug Rehabilitation Centers and Violence Prevention programs in countries all around the Caribbean.

Well, with today's Graduation, Belize's becomes the second Caribbean Country to become compliant with the goals of the PROCCER program. 7News was there at the Ceremony, and here's what the speakers from the head table had to say about the milestone:

Each Graduate has a certificate validated by the University of the West Indies.


Modiri Says Paumen Has Other Options Than To Enter His Land

In last night's news, we spoke with Director of Archaeology Dr. John Morris. He was discussing the latest Supreme Court ruling between the now famous Franks Eddy Village neighbors, Bradley Paumen and Michael Modiri.

The two have been locked in both criminal and civil trials over their land issues. Additionally, there's a sinister criminal element as Paumen is accused of abetment to murder for allegedly orchestrating a plot to kill Modiri and 3 other persons, and the Supreme Court has ruled that the Government improperly acquired Modiri's land, which they claimed was for a public purpose. 

Paumen has built a road on a piece of Modiri's land, and he uses it to ferry his guests to the Dark Night Cave Tubing Tours, a venture in which he partners with NICH. The court says that he has trespassed, and is continuing to trespass on the land. And, in all our conversations with the Government Representatives, they tell us that both Paumen and Modiri are land locked in Franks Eddy - the suggestion being that the trespass is unavoidable.

The acquisition of Modiri's land was supposed to have resolved it, and now that the court has reversed that acquisition, the problem persists.

Well, today, Michael Modiri called us to say that Paumen actually doesn't have to trespass on his land – and he's only doing it for convenience. He sent us a map to show how it would work. He says that Paumen has existing roads which he can use to get his guests from the cruise ships in Belize City. One of them is through the Coastal Road, and another is through St. Margaret's Village. Modiri asserts that the reason that Paumen choose to trespass on his land is because these modified routes to the Dark Knight Tours would force him to take a 30 mile detour through the Coastal Road, or an even longer route through St. Margaret's. 

Modiri also clarifies that his and Paumen's land, seen here in the map, are indeed close together. You can see it in this mess of demarcation. He says that the entrance, and most of the Dark Knight Cave system sits on Paumen's land, and the exit is right near his land. He says that the way Paumen currently has his operation set up, Paumen's guests trespass on another piece of his land so that they can board the bus after floating down the River, which flows through the caves. He says that if Paumen really wants, he can make adjustments so that those guests don't trespass, but he claims that the inconvenience that would cause, has dissuaded Paumen from making the change.


More Meeting, More Greeting

Police in Belize City have done meet and greet sessions through the entire South Side – and now they are going back to places for the second time. Today, they were in the area near Arlington Drive for the second time, following up with residents. We tagged along.
ACP Chester Williams says he has no intentions to stop the meet and greet sessions.

Making Local Internet Move Faster

And our first to last story tonight is one of the most important – and that's because it has a whole lot to do with your internet connection speed.  All Belize's major internet service providers have come together to create a local internet switch which is housed at the UB Campus in Belize City.  That means that all local web traffic will be routed through this switch.  We found out what this will mean today:…

This rack of equipment may not look like much, and if we say that all of it costs about a hundred grand, you might still not be impressed, but if we tell you that the key to Belize's internet future is stacked up right here, then maybe you'd start to get the sense of how important the Belize Internet Exchange Point is:

Bevil Wooding - Packet Clearing House
"There is an unfulfilled potential inside of Belize as it relates to development of local services that run on the local network that support local needs and those are the needs that we need to identify move forward with."

Here's what it does: all the major ISP's – or internet service providers, such as BTL or SMART joined together to create the exchange – so that you will get faster interconnection on local internet exchanges.  In the past that traffic would all have to be routed through Miami:

Bevil Wooding - Packet Clearing House
"So let's think about it in terms of two neighbours and one is asking the other for sugar to be passed over the fence separating their properties. Before the IX that sugar packet would have to instead of going straight over the fence would have to go up to the airport, jump a flight, head to Miami, get a connecting flight, fly back to Belize City to walk down the same street to go right next door. Now as foolish as that sounds, as expensive as that sounds, inefficient as that sounds, that is what the Belize internet looked like before we turned on the IX yesterday. Today with the exchange point in place, you can now hand that packet straight over the fence."

Of course, having the switch doesn't just mean higher quality Whatsapp or Viber calls for example, it means developing new opportunities:

Bevil Wooding - Packet Clearing House
"It's a big deal stopping packets flying out and come back in but the bigger deal would be moving those packers get to the chefs who can make our new internet applications that connect our schools, that link our judiciary, that connect the police service, that link up our hospitals, that facilitate e-health solutions, that allow government to deliver new services. That's really where the action is and that's where you start to see the real celebration cause is today. We can now get more packets over the fence and now we can have for the first time a real conversation around what do we want to make, to bake, to make the internet in Belize sweeter if you will."

That will take some time, but for today history was made:

Bevil Wooding - Packet Clearing House
"This is the first internet exchange point in the Caribbean regions where all of the major internet service providers are present from the start."

The Internet Service Providers have chosen Errol Cattouse form Centaur Communications as their Chairman. Notably, the PUC – which spearheaded the initiative says that Google, Youtube and Facebook have committed to setting up their own servers in Belize – which would make traffic to those sites faster.


Caring For Coro

Residents of the northern villages of San Pedro, Cristo Rey, Yo Chen, Patchakan, Chan Chen and the surrounding communities in Corozal are about the receive a new state of the art health Center. The project is being financed by the Government of Belize through a $700 thousand dollar loan with CDB. The health center will be equipped with rooms for consultation, examination, treatment, pharmacy, an asthma bay area and sterilizing room. Ground was broken today and Angel Campos Minister of State with responsibility for NHI, Primary Health and Clinics, underscored the importance:
The facility is expected to be completed by December 2016.


7 News for Wednesday, 27th April, 2016 from 7News Belize on Vimeo.


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

7 News Belize