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
Today, Belize City residents woke up shell-shocked after 7 hours of violence yesterday that left three dead, and five others with gunshot injuries. It all started at 2:00 pm with the murder of Cyril McFoy Robinson at the corner of Euphrates Avenue and Dean Street. The gunman was targeting his son, the George Street affiliated Brandon Tillett, and ended up killing the 56 year old Robinson and shooting another man - both of whom were playing dominoes under a house.
That police say that single event sparked a night of eruptive violence across the city, the kind that has not been seen for some time. And the crime spike didn't only scare residents, it did the same for politicians. This afternoon, Prime Minister Dean Barrow scheduled an emergency meeting with Belize City police this afternoon at the Raccoon Street police station, first to find out if they responded adequately after the McFoy shooting, and second, to see if they are doing anything to make sure the spike doesn't continue.
After that 90 minutes briefing with all city commanders and precinct heads, the Prime Minister and police held an hour long press conference. First, they gave an overview of what happened and what's being done to respond:
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "We were in the period 2 o' clock and 8 o' clock yesterday, we had a total of 4 separate shooting incidents that resulted in 8 person being shot, 3 of them has been confirm dead."
Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "We want to of course express our condolences to the deceased family and we want to reassure the families as well as the public that the Belize Police Department is on top of this situation."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "Certain things have already happened that can offer us some small degree of comfort; that is a number of the major players that were being sought as part of the effort of containment immediately after the trigger incident because they are now in detention. That's certainly one step in the right direction."
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "There will definitely be an increase in our presence on the streets. We will be conducting sporadic roving vehicular check points across the city."
Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "We will make all effort, not only to stem this situation, but to reverse the tide."
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "We will ensure the public that the Police Department will be out in full force for the upcoming events leading up to September 21st and that persons do not feel scared or in fear to come out and participate."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "Concrete measures are being put in place to try to get on top of the situation. Immediately going forward I feel that we can in good conscience say to people that this is going to the case that everything that can possibly be done will be done."
And what will be done is the immediate enforcement of all gang related crimes on the book - some that have never been used before. We'll get to that, but first to what really triggered yesterday's violence. First, there was the McFoy murder at 2:00 pm, and then at 7:20 pm, Clifford Flores was shot to the midsection on Faber's Road, and then 55 minutes after that 26 year old Joseph Roland was shot in the head on central American Boulevard, and then at 9:15 pm, there was a shooting on the northside, near Angel Lane which is beside St. Mary's School. That's where four men were shot, including 26 year old John Avilez, who received multiple shots to his midsection. Two of those men, Flores and Avilez died. And today police said all that violence is a direct result of the murder of Brandon Tillett's father, Cyril McFoy Robinson:.
Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Deputy Commander, Eastern Division "Brandon Tillett is a member of the George Street gang and we have other affiliates of Jane Usher gang who is affiliates of George Street. We have member from south side gang detained who we believe are having conflict within each other as it relates to this latest incident."
Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "It's highly likely that the retaliations that we saw was as a result of that first shooting."
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "It appears to be random shootings, but it is not necessarily so because what we have to understand that there are so many groups we are dealing with and there are so many affiliates one gang to the other. So for you to understand what is happening there are affiliates that are involved and not necessarily just random shootings. We have 6 persons detained and that is for incidents that occurred between 2pm yesterday and 8pm last night."
Reporter "You are not being specific because we..."
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "That is as specific that I can be with you. We have 6 persons detained."
Reporter "So has someone being detained for the 2pm murder and will that person be charged for murder? Are there more people?"
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "We have 6 persons and we expect to have more persons in custody."
Reporter "There is any intelligence to suggest or do you suspect retaliations to continue or are you satisfied that having detained these amount of people and by the work that you are doing there won't be any more retaliations?"
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "It is difficult for me at this point to tell you that we have any indication or any intelligence to suggest further retaliation, but we have to keep open minds and like I said earlier we remain vigilant."
And while police say they are remaining vigilant - tonight, three city families are grieving.
The first Belize City resident who became a casualty of this latest flare-up was 25 year-old Clifford Flores who was gunned down on Sylvia Arthurs street, right in front of his house.
Flores was shot at around 7:20 p.m., in the middle of the newscast. Our cameraman arrived on the scene shortly after, and today, we went to speak with Flores' family members, who were in the midst of their grief. Daniel Ortiz has that story:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
Tragedy revisited the home of the Flores family last night at around 7:20 in the first City shooting on Caesar Ridge Road area. 25 year-old Clifford Simeon Flores and his 2 friends were sitting on a vehicle here in front of their house when an SUV drove past. A gunman opened fire from that vehicle in the direction of the group. Flores was injured 3 times, once to the abdomen, and twice to the lower back.
His family was watching the news when his was ambushed and gunned down.
Voice of: Family Member "What we know about the shooting incident is that like I said sometime around 7pm yesterday we were watching the media. We watch the media because as diligent Belizeans you have to be well informed whether its propaganda or not, you need to hear what is happening out there, so watch the media ll the time as a family because we are closely knitted - we are a family. We stand strong together and we understand a vehicle resembling that of a red Kia just came down the lane because this street is actual Sylvia Arthurs Street, it just have the sign up and they came down quickly - the element of surprise and they just came firing."
He was rushed to the KHMH, where doctors worked on him for 2 hours, but in the end, the injuries were too severe.
At this time, it is believed that Flores was the first casualty of a gang related flare up. The characteristics of his street slaying may also look like gang violence. The family says however, that observers need to look past all that because Clifford Flores was no gang affiliate.
Voice of: Family Member "You all must have pass by this residence and you all must be saying that this is a typical gang warfare. I want to state to the nation of Belize that what occurred last night in the day of our Lord September 17th, 2014 at about sometime after 7pm that assault was an unnecessary assault on the wrong people. We are all grassroots Belizeans. That assault was launched against primarily public servants - this is a family of public servants - police officers, soldiers, coast guard, teachers - we are prominent grassroots Belizeans from this Port Loyola area. We are not affiliated with any gang, but we remain focus, we remain unmoved and this is not nitty gritty like what happens every day. Yes we cry and we are in pain, we don't know how long these things lost and I just want that the general community know out there that Clifford Simeon Flores, my nephew, who is also like unto a son to me - because I am privilege to be around my nephew all the days of his life. I help to raise him, nurse him and look out for his well-being. Apart from that last night I took my nephew to the hospital after he was injured which ended up fatally by that unnecessary assault because my nephew grew up in a prominent grassroots like how I tell you. We grew up poor, but we educate ourselves without political assistance. As a family we sent one another to school, we feed each other, we don't go and beg for hands out, we are not that type of people."
His family is in mourning, cold, but contained fury at his Clifford's murder. He's but the second son, Clifton Flores Sr. has lost. 2 years ago, Clifford Jr. was slain in a similar manner Wagners Lane - also known as Jump Street.
Voice of: Family Member "We've been offended and assaulted innocently twice. You all know that my nephew Clifton Flores Jr. he died two years ago on Jump Street and I could tell you this for a matter of fact that people know about crime in Belize. Belize is small."
And with Clifford's death, all old wounds and indeed new ones, are re-opened.
Voice of: Family Member "He was like my everything. When I heard about it last night I was coming from school. When I reach, they had already took him to the hospital. He was a cool person, he didn't like problems. He was love. He always look out for his families. He give people their respect. It's really hard because he and I are in since 2008 until 2014. They took him away."
As noted in our story, Clifford Flores' older brother, Clifton Jr., was killed in April of 2012. Both Flores men only lived to the age of 25 years.
And, two hours after Flores was killed, 10 gunshots rang out on Angel Lane, in the vicinity of Pinks Alley. Four men were shot, one of them fatally: he is 26 year-old John Avilez who lived in Angel Lane.
Avilez was hanging out with 3 other men, 28 year-old Nigel Ferguson, 30 year-old Mark Alamilla, and 28 year-old William Savery right outside his house when a vehicle drove up around 9 p.m.
Police say that a man exited that vehicle and fired several shots at the entire group, making it the third shooting of the night. Ferguson was injured in left cheek, while Allamilla was injured in the left upper leg. Aviles suffered 2 injuries to the right side of his chest and 1 to the right arm, and his companion, Savery took a bullet to the right side of the buttocks.
All 4 men were rushed to the hospital where doctors tried for approximately an hour and a half to save Aviles' life. Unfortunately, he passed away from his injures while undergoing treatment.
By all appearances, Avilez had no ties to the street violence which claimed his life. He was a student of the University of Belize, and when news of his untimely passing hit the social media, there was an outpouring of sympathies for his immediate family. Today, we spoke with one of his friends who told us that Avilez's death was very much unexpected:
Kensworth Williams, Friend of Deceased "He was a very nice person if you ever got to speak to him. He was very jovial, very happy to be around and just a great person overall."
Daniel Ortiz "How many years have you known him?"
Kensworth Williams, Friend of Deceased "Actually I've just known him maybe 9-10 months from now. But knowing him for that short period of time it just felt attach being around. Everyone that knows him love being around him."
Daniel Ortiz "Then tell us knowing that he had just a tragic end, an end that's undeserved. Tell us about the reactions you had when you saw that news that my friend got shot?"
Kensworth Williams, Friend of Deceased "That was sad to know that, you just saw him Saturday at the carnival and he is not here with you anymore. I am actually wearing black today because to signify that he meant something to me even though I met him a short time and to everyone else who knew him. It's sad to know that people like him who is trying to pursue a bachelor's degree, they try to better themselves to get an education, life was cut so short and it's sad to know that the state of Belize the violence has reach to this point whereby you don't even feel safe in your own home. I was so devastated."
His other companions who were injured in that shooting have all survived that attack. Police report that Nigel Ferguson and Mark Alamilla remains at the KHMH in a stable condition, while Williams Savery remains critical.
The Avilez murder is particularly unsettling because the 26 year old was a UB student who was not known to have gang ties. So why was he killed, if the murders were retaliatory? Today, his family didn't want to talk to the media, but the police told us what they know:..
Reporter "The death of John Avilez, the UB student. Was he the intended target, was he not? Was someone in that group socializing at that moment the intended target or was that as is being suggested a random shooting?"
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "That is pre-mature for us to indicate if he was the intended target. The investigation is pretty young and obviously it's continuing."
Reporter "This morning information was put out by the police department that he himself was not known to be gang related or have any affiliation to any gangs. Can you reconfirm that now?"
ACP - Desiree Phillips - OCED "That is still or position."
The 6th and final person who was the target of a retaliation type shooting last night was another 26 year-old, Joseph Roland, a resident of Pelican Street. He was targeted at around 8:15, one hour after Clifford Flores was shot, and 1 hour before John Avilez and his 3 companions were targeted.
According to police, he was standing at the corner of Central American Boulevard and Antelope Street Extension. He was buying food when a man ambushed and shot him in the left side of his head just behind the ear.
He was rushed to the KHMH, and where Doctors found that miraculously, the bullet did not hit any major blood vessels, nor did it injure his brain. When we stopped by his house today, his friends told us that he has been released from the hospital, and he is walking around, if only gingerly.
They told us that after consultation with his doctor, the decision has been made that he must live with that bullet lodged in his head.
You've already heard - in very general terms how police are responding to the troubling spike in crime. But, there are specifics as well; namely, enforcement of anti-gang laws that have been on the books but have never been used. The Prime Minister explained that use of these laws and the handling of them, formed a large part of his meeting with the police today:..
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "The police and ourselves discuss how a longer term basis you can removed these people from the equation. I am saying that we have passed all sorts of laws. There is an offence on the statute book that has been there for years. We've tried to tweak it. We tried to make it more robust, but that essentially said membership in a gang is illegal. I am now learning that one of the persons being detained will be charge with some offence of causing public terror. That reassures me, because you are very unlikely to get them for the actual offence of murder, of shooting somebody. Then the question of affiliates is raised. We are told we have some extremely recruits that are being use a trigger persons. Again, you can't prove it, but we've passed a law that said in the case of minors who are not going to school, who are not in circumstances in terms of their home environment that are stable who are not working and if they are minors, presumably they can't work, we can go to court for a sort of care order that will take these young people off the streets. You talk about the fact that currently there seems to be a feeling that the police can't charge anybody without first getting the approval of the DPP - that makes no sense to me at all; the office of the DPP is the ultimate backstop, but you can't wait to charge until you've ask the DPP for the office's view of the circumstances. When I was practicing law, the police use to charge you, they felt they have enough, they charge you and I am saying to the police let's do that."
Last night the Customs Department, the police special patrol unit, BDF and customs set up a checkpoint between miles 61 and 62 on the Northern Highway and they scored with a major drug bust.
At around 7:30, they stopped a Toyota pickup with Corozal plates driven by 36-year-old Ranchito Resident Axel Fuentes. Fuentes is a fisherman by profession, and he had a few iceboxes full of fish. But, sharp work by the customs team picked up something a little odd about one of the iceboxes. It was full of fish, but seemed to be too heavy. So they took the icebox to examine it closely and found that it had a false bottom: 6 inches of the icebox's depth was concealed by a fake fiberglass covering. So they cut it open and found 18 bricks of cocaine totaling
18.89 Kilos - that's 41 pounds! That product has an estimated street value of about half a million Belize Dollars - and more than twice that on the US market.
Axel Fuentes who is a Guatemalan/Belizean has been detained pending charge of Drug Trafficking. He was northbound and coming form the south.
In other customs news, 7News has obtained pictures of the soft drinks they busted last week in Bullett Tree village. They found 83 cases of assorted contraband beer buried four feet underground.
An additional 64 cases were found stowed in an adjacent lot. So, that's a total of 147 cases of contraband - and the man and woman who live in the area settled out of court.
So, the big story tonight is about the crime spree that left three men dead yesterday. But, a huge and under-reported part of the story is the response of the KHMH - which is the trauma center for the vast majority of shooting victims.
Well last night, with six shootings after 7:00 pm, the hospital had to go into mass casualty mode. The hospital today issued a release saying that at 7:35
it activated its Mass Casualty Plan due to the six (6) gunshot casualties that arrived simultaneously at the Accident and Emergency Department.
The "manpower pool" was activated where extra KHMH personnel such as all surgeons, available nurses, support staff and the management team were called out to assist with the emergency crisis. They performed three emergency surgeries.
And while that happened indie, outside, families filled the parking lots while relatives of the deceased wailed in grief. Extra police and BDF had to be deployed to ensure public safety.
And one other institution that had to react in the wake of the shooting was St. Ignatius School. The school is immediately adjacent to the house where Cyril Mcfoy Robinson was playing dominoes when he was killed. As many as eight shots rang out at 2:00 in the afternoon when school was in session. It left the children understandably traumatized and terrorized - we caught this picture of a child who was being taken back to school but couldn't reach because of the police tape.
Today, in response, the Ministry of Education sent in a team of counselors from the Anglican and Methodist Missions. A ministry spokesperson says that 7 counselors were present and facilitated talk therapy and art therapy in an attempt to allow students to deal with the crisis.
And while that is good and well, the school is in a gang zone, in the middle of a gang war. So what are police going to do. That's what our colleague Luis Wade asked at the press conference today:..
Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Deputy Commander, Eastern Division "We have patrols around that area on a 24 hours basis particularly as it relates to school hours."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "I am happy to go to the schools Mr. Wade and assist in paying for any additional security that the police can't provide. I think that is critical. I thank you for raising it and I am very much certain that we would do that."
And while that thought about additional security at the school came almost as an afterthought - beefing up the GSU even more is a top priority. The unit already had 35 men, but now it's going to get more. Commissioner Whylie said today that the Gang Suppression Unit is the point of focus in this gang war:..
Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "If you look again at the number for the GSU and whilst they are our primary strike force in terms of attacking and dismantling the gangs, again their numbers are being beefed up because it is a huge task that they have to deal with. The GSU will be in the face of these players who continue to plague our society in particular in Belize City. My directive to them is that each and every individual must be arrested and charged for whatever infractions of the law that they commit."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "Certainly in terms of material, if there is a need for additional vehicles, we are going to provide those. If there is a need for additional equipment across the board, we are going to provide those."
And all this talk about beefing up the GSU, got us wondering about the effectiveness of police deployments. Two years ago, before the precinct system the eastern division patrol branch had approximately 150 officers; but now with the precincts, there are at least three times that number spread across the four precincts - a 200% increase. Add to that the 10 man quick response team and the 35 man GSU and that's a lotta cops on the street. Additionally, police are going to add 50% of the new intake to eastern division. But, crime still spikes as it will. So we asked are the increased numbers effective:.
Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "I can commit that over 50% of that recruiting squad again will be deployed to Belize City."
Jules Vasquez "It seems from the outside that you all keep throwing more personnel at the problem, but you are not fixing it. We don't know the crime statistics for Belize City because you refuse to release it, although you promise, but I am saying that it appears that you all think that this is a problem and can be solved with man power, but you are at 300% more and the problem is still there. So obviously it is not the problem that can be solved with man power. Do you sir know what the problem really is and you have any idea how to really fix it?"
Allen Whylie - Commissioner of Police "There is a number of issues Jules. In terms of your number that you quoted I cannot say that that was the number that was at the existing patrol branch. You must understand that Belize City has grown, it has expanded, not only in terms of businesses, houses etc., but also in terms of population. And so yes we put numbers because I dint believe that we'll ever have sufficient numbers, but what we have got to improve on is the community engagement."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "I don't know that it's fair to say well you are throwing larger numbers at the problem and you are not solving it - its unknowable. But if we haven't thrown the larger numbers, how much worse might the situation not have been."
Jules Vasquez "Have you ever thought of trying something else other than just hurdling more man power at a problem which apparently you are not solving?"
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "Your question as to whether then we ought not to try something else, I thought I said to you a while ago, a great length that's what I've been agreeing with the police on that new approaches, new efforts have got to be made."
And, we'll have just a little more from the press conference later on.
Many of you living in the urban areas, don't know what it's like to live without electricity.
The closest experiences you may have are those occasional power outages. But many people living in the rural areas live in a perceptual state of darkness, where, for some, their only sources of light, is the restricted glow of candle light or stolen or borrowed electricity. BEL's "Connecting Homes, Improving Lives" project that was launched today, is changing that reality for rural communities across the country by installing free service entrance for rural residents. Today an official ceremony was held in Camalote Village and one of the recipients, Mark Andrews explained how this light initiative will light 'up' his life.
Sean Fuller, Senior Manager, BEL "The European Union, the Government of Belize and B.E.L. initiated a project to electrify forty-three communities throughout this country. At the end of the project, we did a survey and we realized that about thirty or forty percent of the customers within these communities are connected to the system. The additional sixty or so percent of residents just could not afford the basic service entrance required to connect to the network. So the savings that we realized from the initial project, we went back to the EU and requested the use of those savings to install service entrances for the needy. BEL will install a thousand service entrances throughout the country of Belize; 850 of which are being sponsored by the EU and another 150 by BEL. For the EU funding we have about 43 communities where residents of those communities will be able to enjoy free service entrances - as much as 850 of them. BEL has committed to do an additional 150 in other communities throughout the country."
Mark Andrews, Service entrance recipient "It was hard because I was paying high bills because I was borrowing current from the neighbor. I wasn't happy with it because I knew that I was paying more than I was supposed to pay. The house will be better for me because I could use the currant how my want, like my kids who are going to school, they could iron their uniforms and I wouldn't have to worry about using the currant like when I was borrowing it for someone."
The service entrance installation normally costs $800 to $1,200 dollars.
Up to yesterday, exiled PUP candidate Arthur Saldivar's supporters could still say that he had not been criminally charged and that no suit had been filed against him for Melonie Coye's money. But, now, sources tell us that the suit was filed by Eamon Courtenay at the Supreme Court this morning. Courtney had written to Saldivar in July requiring him to return the money by the end of the month.
Meonie Coye alleges that on June 12th. she went with Saldivar to the Central Bank to recover 1.6 million dollars of her family's money from the Financial Intelligence Unit.
She says Saldivar left with nine hundred and four thousand dollars in a suitcase and since then he has refused to return the money. Her attorney Eamon Courtenay wrote in the letter that there is no lawful basis on which Saldivar is holding unto the nearly one million dollars.
So, the Saldivar saga continues. After being booted as a standard bearer in the PUP National Executive meeting yesterday he says he is consulting his supporters in Belize Rural North. Things unfold late in the evening yesterday - so we didn't get a chance to put all Saldivar's choice comments in context. We do so tonight - as we look back at the press conference to announce his removal and Saldivar's entertaining response:..
Jules Vasquez reporting
After the meeting - members of the executive stood and milled around and while you might get the idea that it was a decision lightly taken…
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "It is never easy for anyone to sit in judgment if you like of any colleague of theirs. So it was not an easy decision. It was not a decision taken lightly."
But, it was taken:
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "With immediate effect, Mr. Arthur Saldivar is removed as the standard bearer for Belize Rural North for the People's United Party and is removed as a member of the national executive of the party."
Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN "If that is the decision then the party has abandoned me."
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "It was both in the best interest of the People's United Party and I also believe in the best interest of Mr. Saldivar that at this time, he not be involved in party politics."
Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN "I'm as shocked as anybody else, but again, my constitution being what it is, it doesn't really phase me."
The evidence didn't seem to phase anyone either:
Jules Vasquez "Were you all convince that the claim made against him that he made off, or that he took $914,000 of someone else's money - that there was substantial enough grounds in that allegation that made it unsuitable for him to be a PUP candidate?"
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "We are not in a position to make a determination on Mr. Saldivar's guilt or otherwise in respect of that matter."
Henry Usher, PUP Chairman "The scope of the committees work was not to determine guilt or innocence, it was merely to go a fact finding mission and present those facts as unbiased as possible to the members of the national executive."
Jules Vasquez "The fact maybe that he did take it."
Henry Usher, PUP Chairman "That is for a court of law to determine, not us."
Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN "The report did not yield anything, there is nothing there. The allegation were baseless."
Now, Saldivar says he will run independently
Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN "I'm prepared to run independent of the PUP. I will be a candidate in the upcoming general elections whenever it is called."
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "We hope that is not the case that there Mr. Saldivar does not run independent, but at the end of the day we will do what we have to do as a party to make sure that we put in place a candidate who we believe can be successful."
Jules Vasquez "You will then be an outsider, an interloper, a persona non grata within the PUP in Belize Rural North."
Arthur Saldivar, Former PUP Std. Bearer - BRN "It is not about the PUP in the Belize Rural North. Arthur Saldivar's candidacy is for the people of Belize Rural North, not for the PUP."
Jules Vasquez "Rufus X ran independent and he got a small number of votes. No independent will win, you need to have a mass party with you, you will lose."
Arthur Saldivar "Again, none have yet."
And not many have been removed as standard bearer:
Jules Vasquez "A former two time Prime Minister was charge for theft in magistrate's court and he wasn't expel."
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "Obviously that is a consideration Jules and yes fairness is a very important factor."
Jules Vasquez "Mr. Musa was charged theft of a substantial amount of public funds, he wasn't convicted of that, but he was charged for theft. You haven't been charged for anything."
Arthur Saldivar "I am here to discuss anybody else. The people will decide that."
Jules Vasquez "The people have decided that. The people is called the executive."
Arthur Saldivar "No, I am talking about the people of Belize. The executive is only a small set."
Jules Vasquez "The people who Belize don't get to decide who runs for the PUP apparently, they executive does and they've decided that you won't."
Arthur Saldivar "I would not discuss Mr. Musa."
Jules Vasquez "But sir, what is the standard by which you were ejected then? Is it because somebody doesn't like you, they don't like how you go on, you go on crazy?"
Arthur Saldivar "I think that is a question for you to ask the Party Leader."
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "I certainly as leader of the party have no agenda. I wish that this matter had not arisen. I wish that Arthur Saldivar was in a position that these problems had not arisen."
Jules Vasquez "What happen is that you get huff - there are about 25-30 members of the executive and only 5-6 spoke in your favor. The PUP executive does not want Arthur Saldivar - that's the reality."
Arthur Saldivar "Again Jules, it's not a matter of what 25 persons say around a table."
Jules Vasquez "Any standard bearer duly elected can say maybe they come for me next because somebody jump up and say x,y,z and although false it may be."
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "I am satisfied that there was due process. We didn't just jumped up."
Jules Vasquez "Isn't it a fact sir that now any PUP standard bearer stands to face the same fate as you."
Arthur Saldivar "There is a very dangerous precedent that has been set."
And one Saldivar may challenge in court:
Arthur Saldivar"At this particular time the decision made by the executive stands, but the court of law will be given a chance to determine whether or not whether it is constitutional within the parameters of what the PUP has as its governing guidelines."
Reporter "Do you foresee a legal challenge to the decision of the national executive?"
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the PUP "I do not."
And while the party leader breathed a sigh of relief after his secretary General ended the press conference for him, it's clear there will be days ahead in this battle:
Arthur Saldivar "It cannot be that we have a tyranny in the PUP."
With all the advertising both on TV, radio and social media, you should know that Trinidadian Soca Superstar Machel Montano is set perform in a headline event on the Independence eve.
It's also his third visit to the country, and his last major concert happened in 2005 when he was the UNICEF Youth Ambassador. In that event, he performed for thousands of primary and high school youths.
But his first visit was in 1998, when he was only just making his rise in the Caribbean Soca scene. In that concert, he and his other performers brought out thousands of fans to the Belize City Civic Center. Concertgoers may remember that at that event, there was hardly any standing room in the entire Civic.
Today, at a press conference held at the Bliss, he told the local media that he's hoping to draw similar if not bigger crowds at his 20th night concert, given that the local soca scene has grown. Here's how he explained it:
Machel Montano arrived in the country yesterday, and since then he's been enjoying the full tourist experience to pass the time until Saturday's concert.
3 days remain before Belize's Independence Day while Mexico celebrated their independence on Tuesday with a Military Parade at Zocalo Square in downtown Mexico City and Belize was represented in the grand parade by the Belize Coast Guard. The Heads of the Belizean delegation were CEO in the Ministry of National Security, George Lovell, and Coast Guard Commander John Borland. Mexico celebrated its 204th anniversary of Independence on Tuesday.
And now, for two more news items on the police press conference. We know we've already done like ten of them, but it's very rare that we get a chance to grill the entire police command about crime. We're trying to understand, or to see if they understand what really drives crime - which brought us to the Not In My City operation. It was launched with much fanfare on August 12th. and was supposed to make September safe. But with last night's spree of shootings, we wondered, is it effective? Here's what Senior Superintendent Broaster said about it today:..
Jules Vasquez "Are you concern that this happen in the middle of an operation that you all I believe in the midst of a quite heavy operation with extra personnel and here you have this outburst of violence and there is no ability to contain it?"
Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Deputy Commander, Eastern Division "Jules, there will always be incidents that occur in any time period or within any operation, but what we intend to do is to ensure that the escalation of this violence does not go any further. We will be implementing other measures that will mitigate the escalation of these violence very shortly."
Jules Vasquez "I thought you were doing that with the "not in my city" operation."
Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Deputy Commander, Eastern Division "As you notice we have been very successful since "not in my city" operation started. This spike in violence yesterday is one that we have thus contain and will surely de-escalate."
And in one last news item from the press conference, we'll show you how the PM bristled at the suggestion that his government paid gangs to keep the peace.
It is one of the most unpopular initiatives ever undertaken by his government - but to hear the PM tell it, it never happened - he says people are confusing issues with a work programme:..
Reporter "Is the state still paying gang members and....."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "What kind of question that "do you still beat your wife?" It's of that nature that you can't answer because what will you say? We were never paying gang members. When did that happened?"
Reporter "In the streets they were saying they were and actual gang members."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow "People we had a work program at one time that you all know about. It work for a while and thereafter it didn't work. There was never any payment to gang members to say hold it down. We try to create employment opportunities, now we are doing so on a far more sustain basis because we got more monies and thank God we are doing it by way of the private sector, but there was never any payment to gang members in the context that your question seems to be placed."
As we recall it, the programme was designed to offer employment to gang members to conduct works in their neighborhoods. It was supervised by the Ministry of Works, with the gang leaders as on the ground overseers. The supervision from the ministry was very little and so was the work done.
There has been major flooding in Toledo in the past few days particularly in Blue Creek Village and Big Falls Village. Kenton Parham, District Emergency Coordinator for Toledo says that the flood waters rose to 15 to 18 feet above the local bridge. A local rice cultivator stated that he lost about 100,000 pounds of rice as a result of the flood; he states it is a total loss. Although Parham states that there were no causalities in the villages and that the flood waters have relatively subsided, this level of flooding has not been experienced in a while.
Five families had to be evacuated but returned home within hours…