Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ann-Marie Smith, Chief Magistrate of Belize

Ann-Marie Smith, Chief Magistrate of Belize

Chief Magistrate of Belize, Anne Marie Smith may be facing criminal charges for alleged misappropriation of funds at the Magistrate Court in Belize City, a source told NBZLive.

Chief Magistrate Smith was questioned by auditors regarding deposits to her personal account which were traced back to Government funds during an audit of the Magistrate Court by the Office of the Auditor General last year. Smith reportedly denied the allegations and only back-tracked after she was shown a copy of one of the checks.

This latest revelation forms part of a litany of thievery of government funds by government employees hired by the UDP administration. NBZLive broke the story in October of 2013 of former administrator of the Souther Regional Hospital in Dangriga Town, Nasley Sommerville who siphoned over $350 Thousand from the hospital’s National Health Insurance Fund. Sommerville has since been dismissed by the Public Service however no effort has been made to recover the precious funds or bring Sommerville to justice.

Nasley Sommerville, former Administrator, Southern Regional Hospital

Nasley Sommerville, former Administrator, Southern Regional Hospital

We also broke the story of Melinda Guerra, former manager of the Central Health Region who siphoned thousands of dollars from that facility. She was never criminally charged or tried for the offense.

Melinda Guerra, former manager Central Health Region.

Melinda Guerra, former manager Central Health Region.

According to our source, the audit done at the Magistrate Court in Belize city is replete with irregularities – the incidences of misfeasance so many that law enforcement had to be called in. We don’t expect that anything will be done since other acts of misapporpriation of funds by other staff at the magistrate court were similary ignored.

Bailiff at same magistrate court was suspended from duty after it was discovered that he was shaking down perons who owed court and pocketed their money. He was allowed back on the job after a few days on suspension. he also never faced criminal charges for theft.

Tolerance for Chief Magistrate Smith has long grown thin among staff at the court due to what staff describe as her unprofessional behaviour and stink attitude. The magistrate is known for raising her voice at staff and using the court and its staff as daycare for her young child.

Anne Marie Smith, a Jamaican was serving as magistrate in St. Lucia before she was brought to Belize in 2011 to fill the post after Belizean Chief Magistrate Margaret McKenzie retired or was forced off the bench by the Barrow administration.

IMG_8148

G. Michael Reid

By G. Michael Reid

In the same way that Memorial Day opens the summer season for our neighbors up north, Benefactor’s Day heralds the arrival of our dry season.  This holiday was initially given in honor of Belize’s biggest benefactor Baron Bliss.  Given that Ninth of March is right around the corner, I thought it timely and appropriate to republish this article that I wrote several years ago.

henry-edward-ernest-victor-bliss

Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, JP

Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, JP was born in the Buckingham County of England on the 16th of February, 1869. His real surname was actually Barretts but was changed to Bliss just about the time that he acquired the title of fourth Baron of the former Kingdom of Portugal. That title was acquired through lineal descent from one Sir John Moore, who was a hero in the wars of that domain.

In 1911 and at the prime age of 42, Baron Bliss was struck by paralysis and was for the remainder of his days, confined to a hand propelled wheelchair. By the time of his medical misfortune, Baron Bliss had amassed considerable wealth; enough to realize his dream of retiring to a life of seafaring and fishing. After replacing his first boat, which was commandeered for use during World War 1, Baron Bliss said goodbye to his native England and shoved off, making it clear that he never intended to return. As far as we know, Baron Bliss had no children but was married to Baroness Ethel Alice Bliss, with whom he settled a covenant before leaving and for whom he made a modest provision in his will. According to the Baron, his married life had been a happy one but records suggest otherwise.  There is no record of the Baroness making any attempt to contact Bliss or of attending his funeral. She died in England in 1945.

After leaving England, Baron Bliss made his first stop in the Bahamas where he acquired some property seemingly indicating that he contemplated staying there. After some five years, however, he grew to dislike the place and in 1925 shifted rudder for the other end of the Caribbean. His next stop was Trinidad but after contracting food poisoning just a short time after arriving, he seemingly concluded that neither was that the place for him. At that time he decided to heed the invitation of an old friend Willoughby Bullock, who was then Attorney General of Belize. After a brief stop in Jamaica, most likely for medical attention, the Sea King arrived and dropped anchor in the harbor of Belize on January 14th, 1926.  It was love at first sight and the Baron’s heart was finally at ease.

Although he never set foot on land and was dead less than two months after arriving, Baron Bliss was so impressed with the beauty and hospitality that greeted him in Belize that he decided to leave us the bulk of his fortune. At the time of his death, the Baron’s total bequest was valued at a million, eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars; quite a tidy sum in those days.  Before we had quite done counting however, England dropped a bombshell. Although it is specifically stated in the first line of his will that Baron Bliss considered himself domicile in Belize, and while he even wrote a letter to his brother to that effect, the British government decided to contest the matter in court. On March 11th, 1929, a decision was handed down by a Mr. Justice Rowlatt of the King’s Bench which read, “I must find that it is not made out that this gentleman acquired a British Honduras domicile.”

As a result, at least a quarter of the original amount given to us by Baron Bliss was taken out for British taxes and though outraged at the decision, it was not likely that many in Belize could have been surprised. The matter after all, was argued in England, before an English judge and with English lawyers representing both sides; how else could we have expected that to go?

Now the will left to us by Baron Bliss is a meticulously worded document which is quite specific in its dos and don’ts. Only the interest is to be spent and no loans can be raised where the money is used as security. An interesting stipulation, and one quite specific in its noting, is that no American citizen was to be a trustee of the fund or even an employee of any trustee.  No actual reason was given for this. The money is not to be used for churches, dance halls or schools; except agricultural or vocational.  This seems to leave the door wide open for funding to projects like CET or ITVET. The money can also be used for canals and light supply and it would seem that many a lightless village could be considered here.

The Baron’s will is quite specific and even stingy in the things for which the money can be used. Neither provision for sports or education are allowed and the Baron was quite clear in stating that there are some things which he believed that government should be responsible for. He was clear that none of his money should be used for any repairs or maintenance of any projects or building from his fund. He was adamant that for such, government should take up the responsibility.

Interestingly enough, since 1985 when Leo Bradley Sr. compiled the information from which I have drawn, no account of disbursements of this fund have been made public.  By the time of Mr. Bradley’s research, quite a few projects had been realized with the interest having yielded well over a million dollars. The Bliss Institute, the Bliss School of Nursing and at least one project in every district had materialized, but since that time the purse string seem to have been drawn tight. One wonders if every ninth of March would not be a good time to give the public information on interest accrued and some account of how these monies are being spent, after all, this was a gift to the people of Belize not to politicians.  The trustees of the fund, in case you’re wondering are the Governor General, the Attorney General and the Financial Secretary.  Keep your eyes open Sir Colville, keep your eyes open.  Happy dry season Belize and to the Baron, a heartfelt thank you!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Martin Muzikant 3                  Martin Muzikant 4

Left: Martin Muzikant in readable passport; Right: picture in fake passport;

Earliest public records show that Martin Muzikant, said to be Czechoslovakian has been in Belize since 2010. On July 19, 2010, he married, Sherolyn Sherilee Moore, 22, at the time. It is unknown when exactly he entered the country and by what means or what port of entry.

Martin Muzikant Marriage Cert.jpg

Muzikant or Petr Maneth (another name he goes by) was expelled from Belize in April of 2013 but somehow has resurfaced in the country and once again wound up in police custody. We are referring to him as Martin Muzikant for the purpose of this story.

Belizean and other authorities are trying to establish Muzikant’s true identity and his background after he was picked up by police in Orange Walk Town on Sunday around 3:00pm at Mercy’s Kitchen on Queen Victoria Avenue where he was spotted by a tipster.

Martin Muzikant 1.jpg

Muzikant first wound up in custody of Belizean authorities after entering the country via the Belize – Mexico border in March of 2013, allegedly with fake credentials. Two passports were found in his possession – both with same personal data but different pictures – one with undetectable information when processed by immigration.

Muzikant was taken into custody but soon escaped after he allegedly paid police in Corozal for his release him. He was recaptured shortly after and taken to court where he pled guilty to escape and offered apology for his folly.

In court he offered this statement: “I apologize for what happened. Regarding the escape, I felt very bad in custody. The door of my cell was left open and I left.”

As for second passport, I was of the opinion that I had that in case I lost my original passport

I apologize for all this. I have a wife here in Belize We have been married for a long time so I would like the court to allow me to stay here in Belize if possible.”

Prosecution agreed to a fine in exchange for fingerprints which Muzikant reportedly gave voluntarily. A case of tail wagging the dog and substantiates common suspicion that he entered the country illegally and got married to secure Belizean citizenship. This also exposes terrible lax in Belize’s embattled immigration system.

Muzikant was expelled by the court in April of 2013 and was escorted across the border by a man purporting to be from the Czech Republic who said that he had a ticket to fly Muzikant direct from Mexico to the Czech Republic where he is wanted for several organized crime activities including money laundering.

What happened thereafter is unknown as Muzikant has resurfaced in the country. Sources reported sightings of him San Pedro and in Corozal town before however none acted to apprehend him until now. Muzikant, we are told has a Belizean passport. No surprises there given rampant corruption in that department. If indeed that passport does exists – it unknown its whereabouts similar to that of nfamous South Korean fugitive Kim Won Hong who obtained Belizean citizenship while in prison in Taiwan on immigration charges.

Muzikant’s wife, Ms. Moore is reportedly cooperating with authorities. She reportedly told authorities that Muzikant paid her BZD$5000 to marry him and promised another BZD$8000 for her to obtain a divorce. The marriage was never consummated we are told. Whether the divorce was applied for and obtained is unknown.

Muzikant was reportedly interviewed by Czech Honorary Counsulate in Belize on Holy Thursday, 2013 while he was in detention in Orange Walk. Counsel reportedly spoke to him in his purported language which, we are told, Muzikant struggled to deliver himself fluently in. That raised further questions about his alleged identity. Another source – a Slovenian residing in Belize said that Muzikant appears to be Slovenian.

Nothing adds up about the alleged Martin Muzikant/Petr Maneth said to be from the Czech Republic. Police are certain they have their man but not his true identity.

Other records provided to us show that Muzikant ended up in police custody in July 2010 (two days after he wedded Ms. Moore) and again in December 2012.

Martin Muzikant Police Rec 2    Martin Muzikant Police Rec 1

Muzikant was interviewed by Honorary Consulate on Monday again. We are not privy to the details of the interview.

Muzikant apparently resisted arrest on Sunday and is expected to be charged for that as well. Pictures we obtained show an abrasion below his right eye believed to be injury he sustained during struggle with police.

Martin Muzikant mugshot 2    Martin Muzikant mugshot 1

Attorney at law Marcel Cardona represented Muzikant during his ordeal in 2013. Following his expulsion, Cardona started to receive alleged threats from a Ryszard Kwartnik said to be a spokesperson for Hana Belickova, purportedly, Muzikant’s mother and/or an associate of Muzikant.

Cardona’s career was threatened after Muzikants mother, Hana Belickova complained to the General Legal Council that she sent $14 Thousand USD to Cardona to secure bail for her son.

Western Union Marcel Cardona 1    Western Union Marcel Cardona 2

Western Union receipts showing transaction with between Belickova and Marcel Cardona.

“I have sent the money based on Mr. Cardona’s advice and Mr. Cardona’s instruction,” Belickova complained. “In addition to this amount, I have sent to Mr. Marcel Cardona approximately BZD $3000 to cover his legal fees and USD$200 to transfer the money to Martin Muzikant. Mr Cardona also took USD $600 from police station deposit which belong to Martin Muzikant,” Belickova stated.

“Mr. Muzikant’s case was closed on April 23, 2013 when he pleaded guilty and was convicted to pay fine which Mr. Cardona paid using money I sent.”

“We have asked Mr. Cardona to pay back to us the remaining balance of $14 Thousand USD after subtracting the fine which he paid and possibly other cost that may have arisen,” Belickova concluded.

For his part, Cardona said that Muzikant begged him to do whatever to free him. “I have contacted someone who is very close to the magistrate….the person told me he arranged everything in advance to get your son bail today…however it is costing about twenty thousand dollars….to get officials to agree to give him bail,” Cardona said. Quite an audacious declaration reported by Channel 7 Belize, was transmitted by email.

Cardona further elaborated, “One of the complaints is, allegedly I may have overcharged the client for services. I want to say to you, and to be very clear, the amount of work that I have put in for that client, I am fully prepared to be able to substantiate everything that was charged to that client, everything for services. The second allegation for some email, I wish to indicate to you, at no point in time did I write any such email and I am certainly aware that, from members of my staff, neither did they write such email to anyone whatsoever. So I am convinced that, as it relates to the second issue of some email, it is a fabrication intended to injure me and I intend to challenge that.”

No decision on the case brought against Marcel Cardona has been handed down and he continues to practice.

Police did not issue report on Muzikant’s arrest in their daily report on Monday. It is believed that they are being extra careful this time to prevent another escape and a repeat of the embarrassing Nanes Shnitzer scenario. Suffice it to say, Muzikant either does not want to go anywhere else or Belize is the only sanctuary available to him. We will keep you updated.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mark Brooks

Several questions have developed and a mystery has evolved regarding the circumstances that led to the death of a Belize City man at his residence on Neal Penn Road. The body was discovered sometime on Sunday, January 2, 2016.

Mark Brooks is dead – that much we can confirm even though police have yet to issue an official report. According our information, he may have died on December 27th, 2015. It is unclear whether his demise resulted from suicide or if he was indeed murdered as is widely speculated.

Brooks’ estranged girlfriend allegedly paid him a visit last week at his job and threatened his life reportedly saying that she would have her son kill him. The two have been in a volatile relationship for some time, sources say. Coworkers at Fort Point Security have corroborated the report that the girlfriend did pay him a visit at his job last week and that allegedly, a threat was made.

Brooks reportedly quit his job immediately after. Word circulated on Monday that he had been shot to death. Police on Wednesday, however, are saying that there were no signs of gunshot wounds on his body, rather, there were marks around his neck that suggest – suicide.

Neighbors are reportedly saying that Brooks had twice before attempted suicide by hanging himself. The first time the rope broke and the second time neighbors rescued him by cutting him down.

While the evidence strongly suggests that his death was the result of suicide, police investigation is yet to confirm that and answer other pertinent questions regarding the alleged visit and alleged threat by the estranged girlfriend and whether that had anything to do with the apparent suicide. Police have not yet said if there were any signs of struggle at the scene that may suggest that Brooks’ injury and demise may not have been self-inflicted.

Brooks was present when his brother Aaron, was shot dead at his (Mark Brooks’ Neal Penn Road address) in April, 2009. Aaron Brooks was shot after he shot Everal Grey three times while in a scuffle. Neil the older brother of Everal Grey, allegedly made several threats on Aaron Brooks’ life prior to executing him. Neil Brooks served time on remand in prbefore walking free after the case against him fell apart due to witnesses’ failure to provide evidence.

Monday, December 28, 2015

  
Sources within the Belize Police Department have confirmed to NBZLIVE that disciplinary charges will be brought against officer Shane Cabral after a video of him masturbating while in uniform on the job went viral over the weekend. 

The audio of the video which was posted on YouTube was muted. Cabral appeared to be in an altered state as he uttered something which we could not decipher. He then proceeded to pleasure himself stoping briefly to better position the camera putting his manhood on display. Later he blew a kiss – shortly after the camera stopped rolling. 

Quite an unusual occurence which stunned the audience in cyber world leaving everyone asking why the video was posted in the first place and questioning the officer’s sanity. The video, captioned in Spanish aptly said, “Shane Cabral pierde la cabeza” meaning “Shane Cabral loses his mind”. Cabral is a member of the Special Patrol Unit (SPU). 

The video stunned the hierarchy of the BPD who we are told will have a talk with Cabral. The video has been pulled off YouTube but by then had already gone viral. We will update you on anything else we learn. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

 By Charles Leslie Jr. 

  
You must understand that what your government pays for it gets. If you are paid to do something for the government, they will extract from you exactly what they have paid for. They have ordered 5 more years of absolute power. They have paid handsomely for that power by paying you for your votes. They have gotten what they paid for on November 4th, 2015.

When we understand that, then we look at our education system, our health system, government financed institutions. Let us focus on our education system and see the kind of education that is being turned out. Logic will tell you that if what is being turned out in those schools was not in accord with what the government wanted, then it would change it.

The bottom line is, the government is getting what they have ordered, they are getting what they paid for. They do not want your children to be educated. They do not want you to think too much. That is why our country has become so proliferated with drugs, alcohol, entertainment, and all other types of amusement that you can think of, to keep you entertained, so that you don’t get in the way of important people by doing too much thinking.

You better wake up and understand that there are people who are guiding your life and you don’t even know it. And all Belizean citizens, I think, suspect something like this is going on but we are all too busy trying to stay alive, and live our lives. After all, what can one person do about it.

One person can do nothing. But an educated nation can do much. 

Charles Leslie Jr. 

A concerned and very worried Belizean

Leslie B&W headshot

by Charles Leslie Jr. 

November 26, 2015

As Chairman of Placencia Village in 2012, together with my councilors, I championed the fight against cruise tourism. However, my views and the views of those against cruise tourism, mainly the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) membership, became misaligned. I did not think it was wise to simply say no to mass tourism, without offering realistic alternatives to fill the void. BTIA was promoting overnight tourism as the alternative, however that was not enough, there were some issues that needed addressing, and they weren’t.

People were motivated to support cruise tourism due to the anticipated immediate jobs that would become available. As some said, ‘I prefer to make $100 a week than none’. According to many people I spoke to, the prospect of a job outweighed the drawbacks that cruise tourism may have.

As a result, I took it upon myself as Chairman, to start meeting with Belizean tourism stakeholders, getting their views and feedback on what was realistic; identifying issues affecting the overnight tourism sector, and possible solutions to those issues. Addressing the issues identified, in my opinion, would bring about tangible and immediate alternatives to cruise tourism.

In order to set the stage with incentives that encourage sustainable tourism from the level of local government, the proposed recommendations were made.

On November 22, 2012 I requested a Special Meeting with Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and invited local stakeholders. From this meeting a draft of resolutions were compiled.

That document was sent to the Government of Belize for their consideration. Up until now very little progress has been made in the direction we sought with these proposals.

Consequently, our Government gave Norwegian Cruise Lines the go-ahead and their private island development will soon be online on Harvest Caye, in southern Belize.

The issues we addressed and proposed to foster a business environment conducive to sustainable tourism in Placencia were as follows:

Work Permit Application process should be monitored with respect and adherence by the BTB to the local Village Council’s decisions to support or reject each applicant.

Adequate and Affordable Training must be given priority for Local Workforce to ensure there are sufficient native Belizeans to fill vacancies advertised by the private sector in Placencia and discourage the practice of soliciting of foreigners for employment.

Qualified Retirement Program concessions made by the existing policy used at the BTB gives many retirees the unjust ability to import and set up their own businesses to compete with native entrepreneurs contrary to their applying as foreign retirees.

Bareboat Charters should be closely monitored to prevent the common practice of boat charters without local captains. This has favored the use of foreigners with no work permit and no knowledge of our waters and has caused instances of damage to the inner Reef, while also leaving native captains with less employment.

Reduction of Cost of Capital/Micro Loans must be ensured to give natives the proper climate in which to start and grow their businesses and compete with the influx of large investors who have access to cheap capital and in some cases, questionable funding sources. This must include lower interest rates, the facility of consolidating loans for more manageable payments, and less time in the processing of loans to allow for emergencies in replacing broken engines or equipment for time sensitive niche tourism sector such as the sports/ fly fishing sector.

Discounted Fuel and Goods should be subsidized by the government so that we can realistically address acute seasonality. This will allow for native owned businesses to be able to lower their rates while keeping their profit margin and employing most if not all their staff throughout the slow season. The endorsement of the BTB to NGOs and Cooperative’s requests for such discounts from  the Government and large hardware suppliers is imperative to give legitimacy to their membership.

Tax Reduction for Tour Operators must be addressed as they are taxed more than any other stakeholder in the industry, paying 6% compared to 1.75% charged to hoteliers.

Establishment of Local Tourism Committee as recommended by the BTB to formulate a Tourism Destination Plan for their location.

Equitable Marketing for all Destinations by the BTB, not only for larger destinations like San Pedro.

Reduction of Communication Cost as internet access costs are still too high and speeds still comparatively slow.

Proper representation on the Board of Directors for the BTB was lobbied for and obtained.

Type of Investors Targeted should be addressed by the local stakeholders for their area. Placencia stakeholders formulated the Peninsula 20/20 Initiative in this regard. A copy can be seen at : http://www.pcsdbelize.org/peninsula-2020.pdf

Cruise Tourism was rejected by local stakeholders After being informed of the inevitability of cruise tourism coming to the area, the PTGA accepted to give careful consideration to a smaller, high end boutique cruise company. A tourism village was rejected for the peninsula and Placencia would become a tour offered.

Commercial Fishing Licenses must be strictly regulated and vetted by a ‘Traditional Fisherman’ committee as many local tourism stakeholders revert to commercial fishing for sustenance through the off season. Guatemalan fishermen were allowed by the PUP administration’s amendment of the Fisheries Regulations, and maintained by the UDP administration, which reserved the right of exclusivity for licenses to native fishermen. Consequently, Guatemalan fishermen come each season with nets and boats from Guatemala, fishing with permanent resident status and holding Belizean licenses. A ‘Traditional Fisherman’ committee will address this issue.

Gill Nets There is now empirical evidence showing that to save our fisheries, gill net fishing has to be outlawed in its entirety.

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Village By-Laws must be enacted and enforced as stipulated by the Village council Act of 2003 so as to decentralize the government’s direct control of village governance. The By-laws would give Placencia more autonomy and access to financial resources needed.

I recommend that local leaders read the Peninsula 2020 document. This exercise can be done by all communities that has tourism potential. No need to wait on the government. Use the template Placencia has developed. Each community have their own unique issues and consulting with local stakeholders, will give you a vast wealth of information on how to address those issues. Having such a road-map to developing your communities will help mitigate a lot of confusion, animosity and help create a unified purpose.  

In service,

Charles Leslie Jr.

6th Generation Concerned Belizean

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Belize Progressive Party.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

By G. Michael Reid

  
Like Syrian citizens in the war torn city of Raqqa, Belizeans seem hunkered down, waiting for the next bomb to drop. We know the barrage will come for early elections are not usually called without reason. The first bomb was already dropped last week over the northern districts, less than forty eight hours after the elections results became known.  

Hardly had the ink on our right index finger dried when the bigwigs of ASR called a press conference to announce that payment for sugarcane would be reduced as much as 21 percent from the previous year’s prices. ASR is a subsidiary of the British company Tate and Lyle who owned and operated our sugar industry during our time as colonial subjects. Could there be some connection between what is happening here and the British meddling in our internal politics? A week before elections, a British magazine published predictions of a UDP victory while at the same time, a high ranking military officer announced that his troops were here to save us from Guatemala. The timing was impeccable and I believe deliberate and it no doubt had an effect on the outcome of our elections. Someone should have sent a letter of protest to the British Parliament.   
As far as sugarcane is concerned, it seems that cane farmers fell hook, line and sinker for another okey doke. The 2015 crop started a full two months late after a failed attempt by farmers to force ASR’s hand into paying more for Bagasse. Assisted by government, ASR not only refused to budge but was able to splinter the 55-year-old Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA). The once strong and united group is now split into three and the old “divide and conquer” strategy has proven as effective as ever.
Shortly after the season got underway, the farmers were shown a nice juicy carrots dangling on a stick and they immediately set chase. Media houses were abuzz with the news that the “season would be sweet” and that sugar prices would be the higher than ever. That of course, was before the elections.
According to all reports, government knew well in advance about the crisis looming over the sugar industry but convinced ASR to hold back on the announcement until after elections. It would be easy to not feel sorry for these cane farmers and surmise that their ill fate is of their own doing for after all, the constituencies of our northern districts were instrumental in returning this UDP government to power. The problem with that type of reasoning however, is that not all of the farmers are gullible and the reasonable ones were simply swept aside by the Petro Caribe tide. It must also be understood that all of us now stand to suffer as a consequence because the current proposal is to more than double the price of sugar on the local market. Any nation under siege must expect collateral damage.
Another bomb that has since dropped, seemingly from the sky, is the news from the shrimp industry. It seems that a bacterial infection has affected over fifty percent of Belize’s shrimp farms forcing a number of them to shut down operations. At last count, there were fifteen shrimp farms operating in Belize, contributing significantly to our Gross Domestic Product. (GDP) The shutdown of farms in the shrimp industry has resulted in the loss of over six hundred jobs and tens of millions in revenue. We are just now hearing about this problem but according to president of the Shrimp Growers Association Alvin Henderson, government was again aware of this problem months ago. Obviously, they were also keeping this one under wraps until after the elections. Make no mistake; the bombs have only just begun to fall.
 Added to the concerns about sugar and shrimp are the increasing problems in the Banana and Citrus industries and also a steep decline in petroleum prices and production. All things considered, the road ahead looks rocky indeed and Belizeans need to prepare for our own version of “shock and awe”. There is always Petro Caribe you say? Well, lest we forget, this is a loan that is now due and depending on what happens in Venezuela on December 6th, the golden era of Petro Caribe could very well be a thing of the past. That best that is yet to come, might very well not be in our best interest!
Another bomb that can be heard whistling in the air but is yet to fully detonate is the situation with American fugitive David Nanes Schnitzer aka David Banes. Banes/Nanes has been fingered as a central figure in the infamous Stanford Ponzi Scheme that is alleged to have defrauded as many as 28,000 persons from both Mexico and the US out of monies to the tune of billions of dollars. Mastermind Robert Stanford, for whom the scheme is named, is currently serving a 110 year prison sentence in a Florida penitentiary and was recently, denied an appeal. Our man Nanes was identified as a major accomplice and was being sought by both US and Mexican authorities. When he was finally tracked down by US marshals in San Pedro, Nanes was found in possession of a Belizean passport, driver’s license, social security card and even a voter’s id. Interestingly enough, despite wide knowledge that he was being sought by International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Nanes was slapped with a minor offense and released on a relatively tiny bail. Things that make you go hmmmmm! 
In an article in the New York Times, writer Peter Henning opined that “given the extent to which such financial fraudsters wreck people’s lives, in recent years judges have been more willing to impose punishment that effectively amount to life sentences”. Henning wrote that such actions amount to “economic homicide,” and that the huge sentences are a way of expressing society’s anger at such conduct. Apparently, our judges have no such convictions and are more inclined to a slap on the wrist. After all, such conduct is institutional and routine for Belize?
To absolutely no one’s surprise, promptly upon receiving bail, Nanes made himself scarce and is believed to have skipped town. Given the current world crisis regarding terrorist’s organizations, the ease with which Nanes was able to acquired Belizean documents is no doubt of much concern to the US and other nations that are being targeted. In Belize, everything and seems to have a price.
As is his modus operandi whenever this nation is facing any type of difficulty, the Prime Minister himself becomes scarce and finds refuge and solace in other lands. Like Nanes, no one knows where the PM has gone this time as there was not the usual press office announcement. Maybe these two are hanging out together. 
Fortunately, despite being in a period of transition, the PUP has made its voice heard on these issues. If we are to maintain any semblance of our boast as a “tranquil haven of democracy”, Belize needs and deserves a strong opposition. In the next couple of months, we choose a new leader for our party and we must choose wisely. We cannot allow ourselves to be guided by propaganda or be influenced by operatives from the other side.  
As a supporter of the party, I know who I would like to see lead this party going forward but at the end of the day, I will support whichever candidate emerges. The principles and policies of the People’s United Party is what I deem paramount and that is what should guide our decision in choosing the next leader. Make no mistake, whatever happens the PUP will remain a force to be reckoned with and will continue serving the people of Belize. Adelante!           

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

MOH memo 1

Memo showing approvals for the purchases from 2.4.15 (April 2nd, 2015) and 11.5.15 (May 11th, 2015)

MOH memo 2

Soon as the Government of Belize’s Press office post pictures on their Facebook page of Minister of Health, Pablo Marin handing over keys for new ambulances to respective drivers of recipient hospitals in the south and north of the country – did Ministry officials rush to set the record straight.

Minister of Health Pablo Marin handing over ambulances on Wednesday. November 11, 2015

Minister of Health Pablo Marin handing over ambulances on Wednesday. November 11, 2015

Encumbered public officers registered regret over the return of the dullard Pablo Marin as Minister of Health.

Ministry of Health’s release goshed: “As Belize strives to enhance a sustainable and effective health system throughout the country, the Ministry of Health is proactively seeking to scale up and maintain regional health clinics and hospitals in line with the growing demands in health.

In line with this, the Ministry of Health has procured and will be handing over six (6) new ambulances on Wednesday, November 11th in the Ministry of Health Parking Lot, Belmopan.

ambulances MOH memo 3

These ambulances will be placed across the different regions, namely: Punta Gorda, San Antonio, Independence, Dangriga, Orange Walk and San Ignacio/Benque. The ambulances will be officially handed over to regional managers and administrators of the polyclinics and hospitals mentioned above.

This equitative distribution by the Ministry of Health is regarded as a further improvement and response that these clinics must have in order to improve health services throughout Belize.”

NBZLive was sent a copy of a memo showing that the ambulances were bought and paid for prior to elections and paid for from accounts of recipient hospitals in the designated municipalities across the country.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

We have positively identified the shooter in John Saldivar’s celebration on election night one week ago. The story behind this one and why John Saldivar’s reaction is even more intriguing but we won’t get into that just now. 

The shooter is Karim Maroun owner of BOAZ, a golf car rental and sales company on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. 

 

True to tradition, Prime Minister Barrow in his eminent stupdity explained away and defended Maroun’s reckless behavior and Saldivar’s blatant disregard for the law when he stopped police from doing their job. Out of that same mouth, Barrow said that what Maroun did was “wrong” and “illegal” but explained it away anyway. 

Wonder what would’ve been the reaction if someone was injured or worse, killed?

“………. It is clear from what I saw that he did speak to the police,” Barrow said on Channel 7 on Monday night.

Yes….. he did – even pointed in their faces!

“But to go from there to an assertion that he directed them not to arrest the gentleman is bit of a stretch.” Really Mr. Prime Minister? What does “back off! Back off now” mean to you?

“I was satisfied with the explanation that he gave me that this was while clearly something that was WRONG and in fact ILLEGAL for this person to fire a shot or shots in the air in celebration. That if he had not intervene…..because he did……..I just do not concede that he directed the police……If he had not as I think he conceded ask the police “look man, if you are going to arrest the man, can you do it tomorrow, you will provoke an incident out here.” Brain-fart and diarrhea heard around the world. 

“I am satisfied that that was fine,” Barrow concluded. “In all the circumstances, the incidents is regrettable, but not anything that would have caused me to think twice about re-appointing John Saldivar to that ministry.”

Channel 7 narrated the video:

First of all: in this day and age where technology is so pervasive and police in Belize do video crowds – Karim Maroun should not escape the law especially same Barrow’s draconian gun law. It is quite explicit about what Maroun did which police witnessed.

Section 40 of Chapter 143, Laws of Belize, Firearms Act.

 

Since Barrow himself acknowledged that Maroun’s action was “wrong” and “illegal” the rest should be history. Police say that they have the weapon and are interested in getting their suspect but they’ll have to go through John Saldivar and perhaps the PM for that. 

Maroun, 35 is Lebanese and the owner of BOAZ Golf Cart rental on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. He’s very close to Saldivar and has made donations to the Belize Police Department. We’ll get into all that at another time. 

If Belizeans did enjoy national security and it was “a government for all” where no one is immune to the law, John Saldivar would be disciplined for hindering police work and Karim Maroun would suffer the consequences of breaking the law and endangering others. 

Monday, November 9, 2015 

 Newly appointed senator, Francine Zenaida Burns first made the news in Ocotber of 2011 when she was called to the England Bar Association after she successfully read for law. 

According to the UDP’s Guardian Newspaper, Ms. Burns returned home to Orange Walk Town where she spearheaded community programs for young people. She later joined the UDP’s slate in the 2012 Municipal elections in her native Orange Walk Town. 

But beneath the senator’s/community activists’ demure exterior – is a wild child and all we can say here at NBZLive is that Mr. Barrow sure knows how to pick them! We got hold of a screenshot taken from a video of Senator Francine Burns, T and A out performing in video!

We didn’t get first dibs at the video therefore it’s floating out there in cyberspace. Of course we don’t expect the PM will change his mind about his wild child senator because he’s been known to defend every elicit or supercilious act by his wild bunch. 

  
Grab your popcorn and drinks folks…..this show is just getting started! Work Senator! YES!!!! 

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