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MOH: Say No To Neurobion
posted (August 30, 2017)

IF you take a multivitamin suspension named Neurobion, the Ministry of Health says you should stop doing so now.  A release says that an unauthorized bottle of the multivitamin suspension has been found circulating around the Belize market. they say It is packaged in a 240 ml bottle that has syrup in it. 

According to a release, quote, "The ministry conducted investigations that discovered the Neurobion 50 mil was not granted an important permit for entry in Belize leading them to believe that the quality of the product may be compromised. The product has been removed from establishments." 

The ministry adds, quote, "if you are in possession of this medicine do not use it and if Pharmacists have it they are asked to remove and report it." End quote.

Forget Beating Swords into Ploughshares, How about Turning Bicycle Parts into Guns?

The bible talks about beating swords into ploughshares, meaning turning weapons into tools for work.  Well in Belize, it's more like turning bicycle parts into guns!

This afternoon at 3:00, Ladyville police saw a man standing on the step of a shop acting suspiciously. Police searched him and found part of a bicycle with a rubber handle adapted to be used as a firearm. The 26 year old was detained pending charges.

PUP Not Ready For Vega Recall

Earlier on in the news, you heard the leader of the opposition waxing poetic about why the UDP Party Leader Dean Barrow must expel former Deputy Leader Gaspar Vega from the party.  

But, the opposition has avenues it can also use to remove Vega as area representative in Orange Walk.  They can force a recall vote and if Vega is as unpopular as they claim, it shouldn't be that hard.  Today, Briceno came quite a bit short of supporting a recall effort; he said, though, that they would be willing to engage in a symbolic effort:…

Hon. John Briceno
"Maybe it is time to start to walk the streets and get the signatures, that at the very least we can have enough signatures for a recall. That in itself is going to be damning on Gaspar Vega and the United Democratic Party."

Who Will run For PUP Mayor?

But it's nonsense to talk about a recall right now when the PUP appears to be struggling to attract top tier candidates for its municipal slates in a few key areas, like Belize City. The UDP had a "buff" city convention on Sunday which featured hotly contested races - while no one seems to have any clue who the PUP will feature as its Mayoral candidate for the city.  We asked the PUP Leader about it today:..

Jules Vasquez
"When will the PUP name or select or nominate its City Council slate for Belize?"

Hon. John Briceno- PUP Leader
"We are working on it and we are taking our time because we want to ensure that we get the best possible team to represent the party."

Jules Vasquez
"Okay sir, but you say you are taking your time, but we know that in politics you have to strike while the iron is hot. Is the PUP taking too long and is that because it can't find suitable candidates to run because nobody wah mess with PUP right now because they're broke?"

Hon. John Briceno
"Not at all, right now we have a long list of people who want to run for the PUP because they know that the PUP is hot right now and they know that we are on a road to form the next government. So we do have, we do have, but I think it is important for us to do it right. It's not just anybody that is jumping up that we are going to take we want to ensure that we have a good team, a balanced team that is going to represent the entire city of Belize."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, but how much of this is an indictment of you as the leader, in terms of that you have not generated the excitement or the momentum to attract the high profile candidates as municipal leaders in Belize City or San Ignacio? I know that those are completely blank slates right now."

Hon. John Briceno
"I think you are speaking for yourself, respectfully Jules. We have been doing that. We've been attracting a lot of good candidates. We've been having conventions. We had a convention in San Ignacio Santa Elena."

Does PUP Leader Stand By Hon. Julius?

We also asked the opposition leader about the recent Julius Espat walkout from the House of Representatives.  He walked out and his party didn't follow.  Today, the party leader said respect to the honourable Julius, but they've got work to do:..

Jules Vasquez
"Much has been made of when Julius Espat left the house two weeks ago, he walked out in an anger, I don't want to say a tantrum, but he was upset when he walked out and he seemed to have spoken to you and if one can read lips he seemed to say ‘Weh uno gwen do?' and then you seemed to have said ‘We a meet you up' or something to that effect. What was that exchange about and was that an indication that the PUP have become somewhat fatigued with Mr. Espat's tantrums and histrionics?"

Hon. John Briceno
"We all know that the honorable Julius Espat is a very emotional person. He wears his emotions on his sleeves. He wears his love for his area and for Belize openly, he does not hide it. And whenever he sees these issues of wrongdoing and corruption and the frustration when the government tries to block us, he reacts emotionally and that is fine. But also we as a party have to realize that the fight is in the House." 

Espat is also the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.  He had said in the House that he wanted to have public hearings to ventilate the most recent Auditor General's report.  Today, Briceno said the UDP majority members blocked him:..

Hon. John Briceno
"On Monday the honorable Julius Espat called for a Public Accounts Committee meeting and they went before UDP ministers went to that House Committee meeting. And as chairman, Julius Espat said that now we need to start to have the hearings and said that we should have public hearings. It is the Public Accounts Committee. The four ministers voted against having an open hearing; so that, the public and the media cannot go in and listen to what is taking place in the Public Accounts Committee. The chairman honorable Julius Espat pointed out to them that in 2012 the Prime Minister went on record to say that all meetings of the Public Accounts Committee should be public, it should be opened and any and everybody should be welcomed to go in to participate or to listen. The four ministers said that was a previous administration and refused to have open meetings for the public. So, in effect, it is no longer the "public's" account committee, it is the "secret" accounts committee that the UDP is now controlling in the House."

We were unable to get comment from the other side on this today - but plan to do so tomorrow.

Sr. Supt. Vidal Feels Media Taints Meet And Greet Sessions

Now back to police news, the 7 August murders certainly has the city on edge…well what better way to try and calm residents than to go out on a meet and greet in the hottest of the hotspots. We caught up with Commander Vidal and his team in the Conch Shell Bay area. But Vidal took a different angle at today's session, he started off by saying that we the media don't really help the situation when we attend these sessions. He didn't ban us but just hinted that we should give the police and the residents some space and alone time.

Sr. Supt. Mark Vidal - OC, Southside Commander
"There has been this talk about no meet and greet, the meet and greet have continue, one of things though I think from having spoken to the residents not only here but they are a bit intimidated by the media presence in getting some information. I have personally visited some areas alone, I think that I get far more, there is no media there is a personal interaction with certain people and you get more but the purpose of the meet and greet is to meet the residents, I realize now it is meet the media. I am not in any way barring the media from doing their work; you have a responsibility to the media as well so we don't have any difficulty."

These police meet and greet sessions are held all over the country.

Solar For San Carlos School

When school opens next week, many kids and teachers will be dragging their feet to their classrooms after this long summer break. But the students and staff at San Carlos Government School will be rushing to get back. That's because Programme for Belize installed a solar panel system at the school. Now this school has been operating without electricity for years and today the system was finally declared complete.   Executive Director for Programme for Belize Edilberto Romero told us about the significance of this project not only for the school but for the community.

Edilberto Romero - Executive Director, Programme for Belize
"San Carlos is a remote village in Orange Walk one of the lowest income communities, farming community in Orange Walk just south of Lamani and they have not had electricity since ages. And so we have done two things we have installed electricity to 30 individual households and this particular project we expanded a solar system project there. BNE had done a 8 KWH solar system and we expanded that to 20 KWH solar system so they have 16 panels and a battery bank of 8 together with all the accessories."

Courtney Weatherburne
"And in term of the school, so they have, you are saying that they didn't have any electricity before so what were they using before at the school?"

Edilberto Romero
"They had no electricity, they were just like that and the teachers basically when they go out of the community and some teachers come from other communities then they can use the electricity. It is challenging for the teachers and students so it is a huge disadvantage for them. Now that they have electricity, they could have access to the whole world. They can now have computers, they can now have fans, I mean the students can be more comfortable, they could access internet, they can access information I mean without internet in this age they are at a huge disadvantage."

Programme for Belize got funding from the New Zealand Embassy Fund in October last year and the system was pretty much up and ready since May of this year. The overall cost is between $60 and $63,000, that includes the about $ 30,000 that BNE had invested in that same project before Program for Belize chipped in with their share.

PFB Gives Schoolkids Scholarship

And beyond that San Carlos Solar Panel Project, Programme for Belize also has 6 other students excited to go to back to school after they were awarded with a 1 year Scholarship to high school. Romero told us more about this scholarship initiative. We also spoke to the recipients about how this scholarship has given them a major boost in their academic journey.

Edilberto Romero - Executive Director, Programme for Belize
"Now the scholarship today we are awarding 6 scholarships, it is funds we got from the Massachusetts Audubon Society we got a grant and it is raised through birding people who go birding in their parks and pay for it."

Courtney Weatherburne
"What exactly does the scholarship entail or cover?"

Edilberto Romero
"We give them to cover the entire tuition for the year, for one year yes if they do good and we get another grant then we can give them another scholarship and if we get more we can add more students and the people in 4th form will go out so we can add one of two more. Our commitment is to work with community around Rio Bravo so it is a small amount of funds so in this case it's 3,444 dollars total that we give to the 6 students so it depends on what the high school tuition is."

Leeann Pot - Scholarship recipient
"I feel very good for the scholarship and thing, it benefit my mom very well and  t comfort me a lot to study and just pass."

Courtney Weatherburne
"So tell me how you apply, how you heard about the scholarship and you applied?"

Kerwin Torres - Scholarship Recipient
"The principal took it to my house because he say I really need it and he told us about the program and I applied to it because I really needed the funds to go to school."

Courtney Weatherburne
"How do you feel about it now that you were chosen and you are able to continue your studies?"

Kerwin Torres
"Well, I really feel grateful that Programme for Belize help me in this year again because this has been the 3rd year since they are helping me and they have seen the potential I have within me and they can see that I can make it."

As you heard, the scholarship is geared towards helping youth in communities near the Rio Bravo area. This is the 3rd year program for Belize is awarding scholarships.

Fam Trip Finale

For the last two days, we've been showing you highlights of the FAM trip that the BTB organized for the press, so that we can't try to entice you to become a tourist in your own country.

But, just how much did BTB pay, and did they get value for money? We have the answer in our final our final story on the trip:

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