Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend newsroundup in WESTERN BELIZE

WEEKEND NEWS ROUNDUP ( Sept. 21, 2008 )


Police have not solved the thrown hand grenade mystery, that was thrown into the 10th Parade last week down in the coastal port town. The grenade did not go off. Oh sure, they have a confession, beaten out of a young boy, who may, or may not be guilty. The police failed to establish a chain of evidence, as required for a court of law. No magistrate worth their salt, could convict a boy on the basis of a confession coerced into signing by any method of brutality, without the presence of a lawyer. Our police department, and seemingly Belmopan Police Headquarters are as stupid as ever, working with methods used back in the time of King Henry the VIII. Unless they have fingerprints on the grenade by Richard Flores, witnesses, that saw him throw it, or a witness willing to say they saw him with it in his possession, or something legitimate, there is no case. The police department have RUINED the case against Richard Flores otherwise, guilty or not. The court case must be thrown out. Coerced confessions claimed to have been made under torture are not valid. Do they have any other chain of evidence? That is the the question, or they must let Richard Flores go. The USA attempt to teach the Belize Police a method of forensic evidence seems to have been a failure? They still use British monarchists torture methods of ancient times.


If the story of Minister Cardona in the Belize Times newspaper is true, then the Minister should resign his cabinet position and be consigned to the back benches. The story claims the Minister was in a traffic accident which he caused and fled the scene in Chetumal, Mexico. In Belize that would be a jailable offense. The Minister is required to give up his position in the CABINET. Not even referring to the SHAME and EMBARRASSMENT claimed in the TIMES story, for the people of Belize. This is not behavior needed in a CABINET MINISTER.


The Belize Times printed a flurry of statistics on the economy for this year, from the Statistical Unit of Belize. While the Belize Times is an Opposition party rag taking the negative view of some statistics. The information is useful. There were no surprises! Remittances from abroad continue to fuel the economy and imports of goods; far in excess of our nation to afford otherwise. Inflation is 7% in round numbers, which is dangerous and worrisome, but for the most part out of control of our local government. We could not find statistics on borrowing effects by the new UDP government this year, but the National Debt is expected to have grown by about 5%. This in turn is inflationary, but more importantly leads to a potential DEVALUATION. Between inflation and devaluation, things get very hairy for the economy of Belize. The slide either way in the overall debt ratio will point to either good, or bad money management by the UDP. I fully expect the news to be bad to a certain extent, and because of the loan borrowing incurred this year, for political party propaganda purposes, the debt ratio is supposed to have gotten larger. We did not see the debt ratio in the published statistics yet though. The UDP seem to have caught on, and the last two months has seen a switch from foreign loan borrowing talk, to GRANT methods of development. Which is a very good sign from the new UDP government. The borrowing this year is expected to set back UDP economic management schemes by about 18 months for prudent self sufficiency goals. The Belize Times the Opposition newspaper, took great glee in proving that the UDP Election promises were lies and pure hot air. None have been fulfilled, nor expected to be, as the election was a rebound vote against a perceived criminal corrupt PUP.


A very good article in the Belize Times by Michael Reid. He was formerly a politically appointed police press officer and very abrasive. Before that, he was supposed to have been a bad fellow in the USA, or someplace? In recent months his writings and vocabulary have been getting better. He could probably write better stories now than once infamous UDP writer, political party hack,Yasmin Andrews who has gone squirrely in her writings in the Guardian Newspaper since the election.


The study abroad program of Bainbridge College is expanding in Belize. Mentioned were Dr. Betty La Face and Ben White speaking at a Bainbridge Rotary club meeting. Dr. Le Face, is an Assistant Professor of English and also Assistant Director of Training Abroad. Library Director Bainbridge, Susan Ralph has a library project in Belize she is working on. These courses give credits for study abroad in Belize. We had Berea College of Kentucky ourselves at Falconview Hostel last Xmas and January, out in Western Belize Agriculture and Recreational Area for six weeks. More Colleges in the USA are using Belize as a STUDY ABROAD component for their students in a different culture. Colleges from New Hampshire and the University of Corpus Christi have used Belize for 45 years.


There are about 30,000 Salvadoraneans registered living in Belize. They have formed a Community on San Pedro Island. In Western Belize agricultural area, most of them came originally back in 1986 during USA President Reagan’s Civil War in Salvador as United Nations refugees. They have turned into a valuable asset to Belize as we grow. They are into milk production, cheese manufacturing, cattle and milk cows and vegetables of many kinds. Their children have businesses in Belmopan and the Twin Towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio and the grandchildren are now bi-lingual young people of the third generation who will build our nation of Belize, when they get out of school.


May was a DEAD month for us at Falconview Backpackers Adventure Hostel. The Belize Tourist Board reported it was bad all around the country that month. Otherwise our gross revenue stream tripled for the 8 month tourist season year. We are still in the red, after the first two pioneer years in Cayo Western Belize. Our own philosophy has been to expand more upscale accommodations and we are increasing our number of furnished apartments, from one to three; while maintaining our bunk bed dormitory for the low budget backpacker explorer.. The low budget traveler trend did not materialize from our AUXILLOU FAMILY GROUP tourist facilities on Caye Caulker island. We did not get the backpackers we expected from Caye Caulker and Tina’s Backpackers Hostel on the beach there. Which does very, very good as a HOT spot for University age, partying student travelers. The tourist season past, was not bad by any means. It just fluctuated, but as the biggest earner for our government revenues, a 5% fluctuation has the government worried. The Western Belize Recreational Area adventure tours offered locally, are improving in quality, variety and services and this is reflected in increasing numbers of tourist visitors overall. Western Belize is now getting referrals from all over the spectrum of Belize national tourist resorts. We also now have a direct Cessna 172, three passenger charter service from Caye Caulker and San Pedro tourist islands arriving at the Twin Towns municipal Central Farm airstrip to order.


Nestled in a small beautiful valley, what forty years ago was a small thatch roofed, palmetto walled typical housing style, Mayan village; at which I once did magic tricks for the children, when traversing with tourist groups; has grown into a widely dispersed community of vegetable farmers, supplying both the Twin Towns and the nation, and now have posh cement houses, drive cars, trucks and trail bikes. Television and washing machines are not uncommon. Well the little village now a TOWN of sorts, still small in population, but uncommonly wealthy, now has it’s first pre-school. Built by the Village Council and inaugurated by Rene Montero the local AREA REPRESENTATIVE ( elected government official ), the new preschool has a student body of 45 young children.


Galen University located just past Central Farm agriculture research station for the Belize government and next door to the University of Belize Agriculture College now has an official five years in existence. This year they have 300 students. They even get foreign students and also have arrangements to give USA recognized degrees in certain subjects with associated Universities in the USA, with which they have agreements and distance learning programs. The major partner in the USA for GALEN UNIVERSITY in Belize is the University of Indianapolis. Undergraduate programs in Belize are recognized by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in the USA. Foreign students are coming from the USA, Canada, England, France and Sweden. We had thought once, we would be a mecca for Central American students, but this never materialized. Chinese students once made up a big group to learn English, but this program has declined in recent years. Native Belizeans make up 90% of the student body. In my own lifetime, I have seen Belize go from a country, which had no people with even a Bachelors Degree, to two Universities now giving PH’ds, recognized abroad.

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