Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marcus Canul and Caste War with British Honduras 1872

Typical cannon used in the CASTE WAR in British Honduras colony in 1872, when the Maya War Chief was killed at the famous Battle of Orange Walk and according to Mayan custom, they retreated. Loss of the War Chief was defeat by Mayan rules of engagement. Marcus Canul the Mayan War Chief was killed by a musket shot from the fort at Orange Walk from the musket of the Black Colonial West Indian Regiment imported from Jamaica.

HMS Merlin of the Battle of St. Georges Caye in Belize

The sloop HMS Merlin used at the Battle of St. Georges Caye by the settlers against the Spanish from Merida fleet invasion 200 years ago.

Monday, March 30, 2009


BELIZENEWS.COM has a lot of links to the various news sources in Belize available online over the internet, from streaming video, newspapers, blogs, chat rooms, radio shows, most of it live and current.


West Jet Airline


Belize Minister of Tourism visit to Canada resulted in WEST JET AIRLINE out of Calgary agreeing to send a business team to survey Belize as next Winter Charter destination for tourism.

2009 Farmer of the Year in Belize

Farmer of the year 2009 in Belize. Oscar Figueroa

According to historians, the earliest human beings were hunters and gatherers called Homo Habilis. These individuals didn’t settle in one area. They were nomads. Therefore, their survival was based on eating whatever crop or animal they encountered during their movement. Eventually these Homo Habilis evolved into Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens and to what we are today. As their abilities developed, so did their survival and feeding habits.

They decided to settle and build communities. Since they gave up their nomadic lifestyle they had to develop a system to sustain their food availability. That was when they started subsistence farming. This farming practice is still alive today. It is where individuals grow crops and raise animals for their own use. As these communities evolved and the capitalist movement became dominant, individuals realized the potential in commercial farming.

Today agriculture is one of the most productive institutions in Belize and the National Agriculture and Trade Show Committee salutes farmers every year for their excellent work and commitment to agri-business. Recently, they announced the names of the Farmers of the Year Awards for 2009.

The winner of the Senior Farmer of the Year is Mr. Oscar Figueroa. Mr. Figueroa is from the village of La Gracia in the Cayo District. He farms with his family on his 80 acre plot that consists of field crops, vegetables, livestock, fruit trees, bees and aquaculture. According to the committee, he understands the concepts of agri-business very well and has made significant investments in irrigation facilities. They praised him by saying, “He is very receptive to adopting new technologies such as the use of covered structures and protein/energy banks to feed his livestock.” Figueroa’s farm is a source of employment for many residents of the surrounding area of the village.

The Junior Farmer of the Year is Mr. Joel Corado. He is from the San Carlos Village in Orange walk. The committee said that Corado is very ambitious, confident and loves the work that he does. He comes from a farming family and demonstrates a good knowledge of the market outlets for his produce. He exhibits a very sound knowledge of agriculture at a very young age and is expected to expand his farming activities in the near future.

The Lady Farmer of the Year is Mrs. Rosa Ramirez. She is from Quash Savanna, Maskall in the Belize District. The committee said that she is of strong character. Ramirez manages a diverse farm. She plants crops at different times of the year to ensure a steady flow of produce. She keeps up with new farming technique and has made several investments in her farm like: supplementary feeding and making her own livestock food.

The judges for the Farmers of the Year exhibition were Mr. Elvis Requena from BEST, Mr. Luke Ramos from the 4-H Center and Mr. Francisco Tzul, RUTA Coordinator. The honoured farmers are expected to be present at the opening of the National Agriculture and Trade Show on Saturday, May 2nd. The show is scheduled for May 1 to the 3rd at the Belmopan show grounds.

Economic reports on Western Belize Happenings parroted by IMF visit to Belize.


The article more or less repeated the several economic article conclusions found on the WESTERN BELIZE HAPPENINGS blog. News and photos of Western Belize. The local economic reporter for the NEWS BLOG more or less had covered all the points made by the visit of the International Monetary Fund visit. Recommendations were the same.
One thing that could change the projection for next year 2010, would be if the Belize Government could arrange $500 million USD as a low interest loan at 1% to 2% with which to open a BIDDING MARKET on the International Bond Exchanges for the BELIZE BONDS. Start paying only as they use it to BUY BACK outstanding BONDS. About ONE BILLION is out in Bonds to cover this national debt. If such a loan was only payable if used, it would accomplish two things. The main one would be if it could replace the high interest on the outstanding Belize Bonds, with a low interest payment and secondly by BIDDING and opening a TRADING market for the BELIZE BOND and restricting BUY BIDS to less than 27 cents on the dollar, we would cut the size of the BOND DEBT a lot. The Bonds currently run out to 2029 with incremental jumps in balloon interest payments that are otherwise going to wreck the Belize economy, starting in 2010. Given a good bit of luck and immediate buy back of a chunk of the outstanding bonds, the lower interest due, would release anywhere from 25% to 35% of incoming tax revenues, currently spent on interest payments and be available to build the country of Belize infra-structure.
I wonder if our Finance Minister Dean Barrow has thought of trying mainland CHINA? China has TRILLIONS invested in no interest, TREASURY BONDS in the USA, as a place to park money reserves. If they were convinced $500 million could get even 1% or 2% interest, they would be better off and rescue Belize from the disaster caused by the previous PUP government. Such a low interest would be easy for Belize to make as we and our population grow. Perhaps even Kuwait, or Dubai, or Bahrain might be interested?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Macal river market in Twin Towns of Western Belize

Western Belize Twin Towns Macal River market.

What a wonderful day out there this Saturday morning. Sun is shining. The Macal river market is loaded with people. Vegetables and food stalls, used cloths, tools, flowers for planting, young chickens chirping away, a crate of small puppies sleeping away among the bustle of people. Country girls are dressed in their finest dresses and high heels. The young farmers of tomorrow sport their sombreros, and cowboy boots and western belts with western buckles. Our famous local soloist street musician was playing to the crowd for all he was worth. He said, he is going to be on Channel 7 tv on Thursday and Sunday at 9 p.m.and I should watch it.
The Macal River is shallow and clear, kids are just wandering into the shallow water, to play and swim on this day that promises to be hot. Horses are picketed along the grassy river bank, below the market tents and stalls. Said hello to a few friends and acquaintances. Janet the Mennonite dairy farm widow, at her stall gave me some samples of her granola. So I didn't have to buy breakfast. The wife had disappeared shopping and later we met when she had her quota of radishes, bananas, and myriad other vegetables we do not grow at home. The tomatoes this week are huge. I could not resist weighing one, it ran over a half a pound, but not quite three quarters of a pound. Lots of new vegetables.The carrots, radishes, and onions have vastly improved in looks and size. It takes an extra six weeks to let green bell peppers turn red on the vine so most farmers sell them green. I did see some red ones though, but no red chiles. I have some of those growing in my nursery. Wife got some cucumbers, they add a very nice tart flavor to our home made salads from our own nursery vegetables. The vegetable scene is real good this time of year.
It was a very pleasant stroll through the market stalls, talking and stopping to gawk at things. I was thinking I wouldn't like to live anyplace else in the world, than right here in Santa Elena Town. This is what I call living! Small, folksy with a touch of consideration from your neighbors. Beats living in Miami by ten thousand times. You can take your FIRST WORLD industrialized country life and large metropolis and shove it.
The park nearby to the market was loaded with tents and I see by the sign that Sacred Heart High School is going to be having some sort of event. The traveling circus has gone this past week to another location.

Friday, March 27, 2009



The National Agriculture and Trade Show of 2009 will be held from May 1st, to May 3 rd at the capital of the country Belmopan Show Grounds nearby in Roaring Creek Junction with the Western and Southern highways. Selection of the best farmers of the year have already been made by the Agriculture Department. These are Oscar Figueroa, Mrs. Rosa Ramirez and the Junior Farmer winner was Mr. Joel Corado. The judges were Mr. Elvis Requena from BEST NGO and Mr. Luke Ramos from the 4-H Center and Ruta Coordinator Mr. Francisco Tzul.


Mennonite Elvin Penner
Rene Montero,

Former Minister of State, Mennonite Western Belize representative, Elvin Penner gets promoted to FULL CABINET POSITION, as Minister of Youth, Sports, Information and Broadcasting. In the current slate of new UDP cabinet ministers, the following are known for their work ethic. Elvin Penner, Rene Montero ( both from Western Belize, Cayo District) and Edmund Castro in Rural Belize North and Anthony Boots Martinez in Port Loyola a suburb of the port Belize City on the East Coast.


Mexican carnival comes to Benque Viejo Town on Belize border with Guatemala.
Benque young town girl.

Superintendent Desiree Phillips received the gifts from the Chamber representative, Samuel Bruce. The new items received were a Vehicle Dash Video Camera, for recording traffic stops and incidents, a 16 gigabyte flash drive, and a pair of high powered field binoculars. Mr. Michael Ruge also donated a Toshiba laptop and Mr. Jonathan Lohr from Ceiba Realty donated a 360 gigabytes external hard drive.


ARTIST ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN BORDER, BENQUE VIEJO TOWN formed March 14th, 2009. Held at the Marshalleck Cancha in Benque Town. A talent variety show was the first public event of the Association. Bass Impact a Reggae Group played, Musician Pablo Callado played, Pablo Callado a Ventriloquitst performed, Jack Bush a Poett and Hamner Bush among other artists. This is a town of 5000 people thereabouts. Prize categories were Music, Singing and Dancing. A Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to the Benque Viejo Police Department detachment, of our national police system. Other sponsors were MYSTIC JUNGLE RESORT, JUANITA'S BEAUTY SECRETS, BAMBOO STUDIO PRODUCTIONS, PLUS CHANNEL TV, SHADIRA STORE, M&m'S STORE, BRC PRINTING, ANGELUS ICE CREAM AND DELI, PASTERLERIA DE DONA LAUREZ ROSADO, RADIO FM and Radio Limite. Private sponsors were Mrs. Yvonne Arnold and Amado Chan.

EDEN HIGH SCHOOL produces winner in Department of the Environment Contest

RONESTA PINEDA from Eden High School in Hillview, Santa Elena Town, Western Belize came first as the winner of the Environmental Poster Competition offered by the Department of the Environment.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


BT 67 passenger/cargo plane
Fairchild Dornier 328 jet
Angel Aircraft

Guyana to get regional airline based on operating in the CARICOM Eastern nations. The new airline starting this month, will fly a 19 to a 32 passenger Fairchild Dornier 328 Jet. These are short range shuttles and are available on the second hand market between $2 million and $6 million USD.
In Belize,a CARICOM INTERNAL REGIONAL AIRLINE was proposed in 2008, but CARICOM AIRLINES of BELIZE, lacks the venture investor to get it off the ground. First exploratory aircraft was to be the ANGEL, a twin engine with seven passengers, or 1600 lbs of cargo, to prove the trade and tourism, and commerce activities joining the 15 CARICOM countries together. This first aircraft costs $900,000 usd and had long range ( 1700 miles ). The engines were designed for 2000 hours before overhaul. The goal was to prove the CARICOM market conditions with the smaller aircraft and then jump to the BT 67, twin turbo propeller aircraft on the second aircraft, after proving a routing that serviced the requirements of CARICOM commerce, that can carry 10,000 lbs, or passengers, typically used for troops and cargo movements in third world countries, or in ANTARCTICA. Typical costs on the long range ( 1600 miles ) BT 67 are $1900 usd per hour. BT 67 aircraft cost about $ 4 1/2 million usd.

What the Spanish conquistadors looked like in the 1500's when invading Belize from Mexico

Conquistador with Cortez when passing through the nearby Peten and Lake Flores.
This is the armour the Conquistadors used out of Merida and Bacalar, Mexico used to invade Belize 500 years ago.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009



It was interesting but SAD, to see on the evening television cable news, that a BARBADOS TRADE MISSION came looking to make up more exports to Belize, so quickly after the visit of the CARICOM SECRETARIAT. It was sad, because the port of Belize City is a kind of mecca of merchandise importers, but they do not represent the industrial heart of the country of Belize and the agro-businesses. The movers and shakers of the economy.
I feel SAD and SORRY for these Barbados people, they spent so much money and came so far and their visit was so limited in scope and achievement. Many of us in the Industrial and Agricultural heartland of Belize would have liked to mingle and talk with them. Ask questions and get ideas and answers for trade with CARICOM. Whoever arranged this TRADE MISSION did not organize it very well. Very light and perfunctory and probably a waste of their money.
We only heard of it, AFTER THE FACT in the other six districts of most of Belize. I saw it mentioned on cable television in the news. What the BARBADOS people should have done, is held their TRADE MISSION in BLUE CREEK, SPANISH LOOKOUT and the TWIN TOWNS of Western Belize as well. This is were the INVESTORS are, and the PRODUCERS of Belize. Alas, it was not to be, I guess. One of those MISSED OPPORTUNITIES both for Belizeans and Barbadians.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Prime Minister Barrow to meet with Canadian Prime Minister

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephan Harper to meet in Trinidad in April.
Belize Prime Minister Barrow


The summit of the Americas with 34 country heads present, are to meet in Trinidad on April 17th. , to 19th. CARICOM Heads of Governments are going to have a one on one chat with the Canadian Prime Minister at this FIFTH SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS also.
So what do we, the PRIVATE SECTOR want to have discussed by our Belizean Prime Minister with the Canadian Prime Minister?
There are three major issues that Barrow can tackle. Issue number one is more Canadian Tourism and we require technical assistance from the various Canadian Government grant aided bureaucracies that do this sort of thing in foreign relations. First off, we would like the Canadian Government to meet with and encourage their Canadian travel agents in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal to sell visiting Belize and Guatemala during their winter months. Particularly Belize! What we dream of; is a small plane, like a 737, with carrying capacity of 100 to 200 persons, to set up a weekly Sunday direct charter flight out of each of these major Canadian cities to Belize. In that a Canadian tourist person can between December 15th., and May 15th., every Sunday without fail, there would be a charter flight going from Canada to Belize with a cut rate charter round trip ticket, valid for those weekly flights, during the five month winter tourist season. A Canadian could leave one Sunday and return the next, or any multiple of weeks. In Belize, we have neither the money, knowledge and skills to set this up. Canadian Technical Assistance would be appreciated to do this. Some sort of Canadian guaranteed subsidy for such a charter outfit would probably make it work.
Item number two, would be to send us technical tourist assistance for the Canadian Tourist market and advise our BTIA people and BTB people, how to encourage the WINTER SNOW BIRD, long stay tourists, over those same five months. Can we develop a Canadian winter long term, winter retiree visitor business, like Mexico, Hawaii, Arizona and Florida?
Item number three would be to advise and assist us in Belize, on how to agro process foods we can grow here in Belize, for the specialty niche market of Caribbean populations wherever they may be in Canadian Provinces. We again lack the money and know how, to do this from our very amall country. Technical assistance would be greatly appreciated. Our agriculture capabilities are growing, but we lack the skills to develop Canadian markets.
Since the one on one chat with the Canadian Prime Minister is bound to be congested, perhaps accompanying proposals and plans we have to outline the course we would like the Canadian Foreign Assistance programs to follow, could be presented to him, to carry home?

Sandpoint, Idaho native visits Belize leaving 3 feet of snow behind.

John Holub, 26 years old, from Sandpoint, Idaho, USA. A carpenter by trade building in houses. Avid snow skier. Enjoying quiet time in Belize. Said he flew in and will fly out of CANCUN from Los Angelus. That he left 3 feet of snow in Idaho in March. Staying at Falconview Backpackers Adventure Hostel, in the dormitory, all to himself and quiety reading the days away in a hammock and exploring the local ancient Mayan ruins.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Marcel Cardona photo


Ex-Cabinet Minister, UDP Cardona from the Orange Walk district of Belize has a feud going on, with Cabinet Minister, UDP Gaspar Vega, also of an Orange Walk District. Vega won in the internal bickering squabble and got Cardona dumped from his Cabinet post. ( I forget the reasons!) This cost Cardona $20,000 in annual income, the media said. On Friday, the media news on cable tv were showing an irate Cardona lashing out vebally at his own party during the house sitting in the capital of Belmopan. Making claims of needed development projects he wants and is not getting for his voting district. I remember a High School and a Clinic he mentioned among others. That may all be very well and good, each district has a long list of projects that need doing, so he is not alone.
When viewing the tirade and the preamble in the media leading up to the parliamentary House Sitting, one wonders a bit at what the goal of CARDONA was? He was angry, there was no doubt about that. Obviously he was accomplishing two things. He was in effect trying to blacken the eyes of Gaspar Vega and also his party leader, Prime Minister, Dean Barrow in retaliation for all the media bad publicity he has been getting over something or other. Or he could have just have been making points with his voting constituency, to reassure them he was fighting for their interests and showing that it was not his fault that the party was not investing more of scarce monies in his voting constituency. The whole thing was a sort of TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT, but the bitter rivalry between two Orange Walk area representatives of the same political party in power was plain to see.
The whole thing came over the fiscal year, budget speech for his party. In 2008 the government revenues were $717 million dollars. For 2009, the projections for annual government revenue are estimated, at $738 million dollars, up slightly from the year before, despite the loss in USA tourism ripple effects. The rise in oil from $40 a barrel to slightly over $50 a barrel this past week, with a local production of 4500 barrels a day are expected to cover any shortfalls for government revenues lost from lack of tourism overnight visitors, due to the news financial PANIC being spread by the USA news media in that country. Depending on whether we in Belize suffer Hurricane strikes this year, or flooding from Peten, Guatemala rivers in the way of natural disasters, will depend if we stay at an expected conservative annual revenue flow of $738 million for 2009, or exceed that by $20 million or so, from increased price of oil exports. You cannot forecast the future, so you can only plan for the worst.
The government during 2009 is expected to spend $860 million, the difference between $717 million earned during 2008 and incoming borrowed money from foreign lenders and some from GRANTS. Next year 2010 is expected to be an austerity year as things look right now. The interest payments on our National Debt running at 78% of GDP is a huge problem. Around $170 million a year of revenues have to go out on paying interest payments. This does not include drawdown of loan debt. As a comparison, the USA Congress and news media are lamenting the DEBT RATIO burden in the USA, which is projected in TRILLIONS of dollars, but which is only 4% of GDP for that country in comparison. Everybody is giving lip service up there, to the fact such a DEBT ratio to GDP is unsustainable. Industrial developed countries usually have limits of government debt set at a maximum of 3% of GDP. If the USA consider their debt unsustainable at 4% of GDP, Belize must be a basket case at 78% of GDP. Many of our fellow CARICOM countries are reputed to have debt ratios like 170% of GDP. Cardona will have to wait for his projects, no matter how much he needs them for his voting district. Government actually needs about $980 million a year at current population levels, which are growing exponentially. A lot of effort is being put into expanding the agriculture sector, along with food processing. CARICOM is supposed to be a market for food products and observer countries like Venezuela also for our food products. The trouble is; there is no transportation between the island and coastal countries of CARICOM, scattered all over the Caribbean. Distances are greater than crossing the North Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Ireland. In this regard we attempted to start CARICOM AIRLINES on a low budget speculative shoe string, startup level, some nine months ago, headquartered out of Belize and had located our first airplane ( see several articles previous on this newsletter with photos ) and made numerous moves and investigations as to fuel and banking and maintainance and some cursory market studies. Unfortunately, the only choices to building an airline internal transportation system within CARICOM are either subsidies, or investment capital. The AUXILLOU TOURIST GROUP with scattered very small investments in Belize our home base, Honduras and the USA, did put a proposal to our own government, but they cannot afford the fuel subsidies and did not even bother to respond. Most CARICOM member countries are broke. Venezuela through their Embassy expressed interest and we put a proposal for an offer of start up capital for $25 million USD, for what is a speculative risky unproved venture, but a necessary one to bootstrap and get going, if CARICOM is ever to develop a COMMON MARKET as the academics keep saying. So far, they have not responded from ALBA Bank, a supposedly socialist development bank. This bank apparently from negotiations, deals only with government to government deals and is reluctant we are informed, to partner with a private sector company. Recently the CARICOM SECRETARIAT bureaucrats were in Western Belize and supposedly said there were two investment banks in a couple of the Eastern Caribbean countries and we shall follow up on that. The interesting thing in what seems to be an exercise in futility, of a disorganized individual NATIONALISTIC scattering of autocratic feudal type countries trying to form a new Caribbean nation, is that bank offers are coming in from all over to us, to LEND MONEY for a CARICOM AIRLINES bootstrap startup. This we will not do! We want RISK INVESTMENT VENTURE CAPITAL from somebody to grow with the market and economy of CARICOM trade. The first 3 to 5 years are expected to be difficult as a bootstrap operation, but we have no doubt eventually, an internal CARICOM AIRLINE could become profitable and much bigger in the $300 to $400 million asset range.
All that said, simply indicates that Belize and our economy should by rights be concentrating on developing our Central American trade ties and put CARICOM on hold until internal affordable transportation is created, after the different countries get themselves better organized than they are now, in the trade and economics field. We in Belize, cannot seem to exploit any COMMON MARKET of CARICOM, with preferential tariffs, to boost our GDP and annual government revenues for the moment. Nor raise minimal RISK VENTURE CAPITAL. Loans are too big a risk, especially with a bunch of greedy, feudal type governments that are all nationalistic, rather than going for the greater good and development they talk about in public! Some of them have been subsidizing national island airlines to the tune of $300 million to $500 million a year out of tax revenues, run by losing government bureaucrat style management. CARICOM has lots of LOAN type banks, but no INVESTMENT VENTURE type institutions. Without which, bootstrap development of trade and commerce is probably not going to go anywhere very fast.

Belize Chess Tournaments 2009

These are the winners in March, 2009 of the Cayo District, Western Belize CHESS TOURNAMENT.

Benque Viejo Town Council photo image

This is the Benque Viejo Town Council along with the two local area representatives from Central Government.

Benque Viejo Town is the place two miles from the Customs and Immigration at the border with Peten, Guatemala. Benque has a very active cultural and community affairs in Cayo District, of Western Belize. Once this used to be the mahogany trade and before that the chicle gum trade from the surrounding jungles. The jungles are pretty much gone now and everything has changed and become more modern.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009



By Ray Auxillou

The economic outlook for Belize and the past year of 2008 continues firm. While tourism from the USA and Canada has dropped drastically, the losses have been replaced by oil exports. BNE the only oil company pumping oil, has increased output from three wells to seven wells. About 4500 barrels a day. The whole country now has oil exploration blocks sold out. So far, oil is mostly found in smaller pools, not in large scale lakes of oil. BNE introduced new technology to find oil and struck oil on their first drilling. The drop in world oil prices caused a slump, which was replaced by more output.
Construction is up, new homes and businesses are up. Standard of living is rising rapidly and becoming more diversified to a constantly expanding middle class. Government tax revenues from the General Sales Tax are up, showing increased economic activity from $244 million in 2007, to $251 million for 2008. There is a steady trickle of immigrants coming into Belize, mostly from the USA, as they flee that debt ridden, bureaucratic ridden country. Many are coming also for better medical services at lower costs in Belize, than available in the USA and the more desirable tropical climate.
Unemployment went down just slightly in 2008, but still is around 8%, plus a small percentage. Unemployment in Belize is a strange number in Belize, because a large part of the people are self employed, and grow their own subsistence food. Experiments over the past years, have confirmed that the two rainy season, seasonal fruits and native crops can now be supplemented by temperate zone type vegetables and grown on a bi-monthly basis, provided one irrigates with water, and selects varieties of seeds for winter crops and summer type seeds for the hot season. The ability to grow food has thus increased by 34% and perhaps higher. Hydroponic commercial greenhouse growing has shown promise and has now been practiced for five years successfully.
The overall debt of Belize inherited from the past government mistakes is now 78% of GDP. This is very large and an uncomfortable figure. Efforts are being made to reduce this debt. In the meantime, the interest payments are consuming a significant portion of annual government revenues. The foreign debt alone is 71.3% of GDP. Most of this is in the Belize Bonds. The interest rates on these bonds will increase in 2010 and again in 2012. Consuming about $100 million of a current $713 million annual revenue flow. Economic growth, or expansion is not expected to do much until the cycle swings upward again, probably in 2011. Restricting the size and cost of government has reduced services and many government departments are not doing well for public service. This is a necessary penalty to pay, in order to reduce the national debt. Should tourism resume as the North Americans sort out their own economy and settle down from their current bad news and panic ridden government, the Belize economy will continue expanding, which in turn means that the interest cost of the debt can be absorbed, probably over the next ten years. The only economic effect from the world financial panic has been a drop in our major source of overnight USA tourism, the Europeans are still traveling here.
GRANT AID from donor organizations and countries, have enabled Belize to maintain growth. The biggest donors and friends of Belize have been Venezuela and Taiwan. Lesser GRANT amounts have come for specific small projects from the U.K., the European Union, some other places and the USA.
In the past, the Belize economy had averaged a 10% rate of increase. For the past year of 2008, this figure shrank to 3.8%, in a short term, down cycle phase, but the economy of Belize is still humming along, like a well oiled machine. The economy is expected to rebound more robustly in the winter of 2010-11 when USA tourism should recover. Most of this success is due to the previous PUP government, that went on a severe austerity spending squeeze, for six long years. This cost them the election among other things. The new UDP government is now tackling re-building of infra-structure, that had been ignored for those six years.
The new UDP government is re-starting the foreign loan borrowing and has increased the seeking of needed GRANT aid, to pay for infra-structure repair and keep the economy running. The numbers for government tax revenues have risen, in comparison to population growth, to reach what we call the brink of economic and fiscal self sufficiency. As a small country with a small population, it has been difficult to grow enough to pay the necessary costs of government. This point of fiscal self sufficiency, should be reached in about five or six years, when no more foreign loans will be needed, if the current foreign loan borrowing is strictly curtailed. The challenge facing this new UDP government is to continue infra-structure building and repairs, while attempting to reduce the national debt on a slightly less than available annual government tax revenues. More GRANTS for infra-structure have to be the method of freeing tax revenues for growth. Total DEBT PAYMENT COSTS for the coming fiscal year total $170 million, versus an expected income of $717 million tax revenues. Government size and costs are being maintained with difficulty at slightly less than $500 million.
The country is getting big enough in population, to switch to an increased technical savvy, better educated, more cosmopolitan, newer generations of young people, from being an agrarian orientated society for exports, to step over into newer realms of light manufacturing. The government and the newer youth generation are seeking to understand and get immigrants and businesses started, for some sort of incubator type export orientated light manufacturing endeavors. Lacking are skills and ideas. Diversification is believed to be the key to economic stability for the future. So far, the government is busy dealing with recurring political problems and has had no time to set any policy to encourage the growth of incoming immigrant investors with light manufacturing ideas. Incentives are lacking in this field, or too cumbersome as they now operate.
Education has improved tremendously under the past PUP administration. Foremost was a switch from exporting the brain drain educated type academic students, through Commonwealth and British orientated education systems, to a newer USA style, fledgling community college type DEMAND system of educational training via short courses. This is working out very well. In fact, many of the newer generations of youth are more savvy than their USA counterparts as skilled small entrepreneurs, being self employed. They certainly are superior to the systems of education in Europe and the U.K., showing their adaptability to newer technologies and business ideas. We no longer lose our youth to an export brain drain educational system effect. They are staying in Belize and building the country and very well too, for the population size, which is around 300,000 people. Belize is a great place to live and the people are very proud of our growing success.
The public debate, the media openness, the robust and wild and wooly talk shows, newer methods of communication are more free in Belize than industrialized countries. Things you can say in Belize in open debate, or for your opinion, would put you instantly on TERRORIST, POLITICAL, or DANGEROUS FBI watch lists in the USA, or the equivalent in European countries. In many countries, you would get shot or jailed, for the free debates enjoyed by Belizean society. Belize is a far more democratic society than the industrialized countries of the world. Your opinions do not brand you, or put you in some bureaucratic pigeon hole, watch list slot, like more industrialized countries. There is a sense of freedom here in Belize, that has not been experienced in the USA, or the UK, or Germany and Israel, or the Muslim countries, for a hundred years in those foreign parts. It is great to be part of building a new nation. These are heady times in Belize for sure.
There has been tremendous growth in culture and sports on a competitive and national sports basis. There are National Band Competitions, Chess Olympiads, Math Olympiads, art shows, soccer eliminations, bicycle races, long and short distance canoe racing, horse racing, sailboat racing, wind surf racing, spear fishing competition, trophy fish competitions, mountain climbing expeditions, karate, ballet and judo competitions. The youth of today in Belize are living a FULL life to maximum potentials. Many of these things are carried into the International level. Most Belize middle class people in their 20’s and 30’s have been to foreign countries. Places like China, Europe, Africa, and the local USA, which is more or less considered a suburb of Belize and is a frequent shopping place for hard to find items for our small market. Things like cement mixers, newest computers, bed sheets of 200 count, nylon hammock making string, artist supplies and specialized machinery, both second hand used and new. The Central and South Americas are getting more Belizean tourist visits. Our newer middle class generation are young and cosmopolitan, and very well traveled. They bring back new ideas to try out in our environment.

Butane vehicle conversions increasing in Belize

dual butane and gasoline pickup trucks increasing in Belize


Western Belize is heavily agriculture and industrial manufacturing. Well not heavy by bigger country standards, but for our small population of 300,000 it is heavy. Pickup trucks are steadily converting to dual BUTANE and gasoline operated versions.
A $75 dollar tank of butane will run a 4 cylinder pickup truck to Chetumal, Mexico in the North and back to the Twin Towns. Cost is about $35 round trip to Belize City on the coast for a round trip, I'm told. In gasoline, the cost is about $60 at current prices.
Moses Chuc of Santa Elena Town does the conversion and this involves bolting a butane tank into the back of the pickup truck, carrying load bed. Current conversion costs over in Spanish Lookout, Mennonite area, are about $1500 and so to get the cost of savings, it takes with local driving, roughly two years to amortize the investment. Operating costs are said to be half that of gasoline. Some say that you lose a bit on horsepower, but never having tried it yet. I do not know? If oil goes back up later this year, I will convert one of my two pickup trucks to butane also.
There is a slow conversion trend going on in Western Belize from gasoline and diesel, to butane powered vehicles, for the economy. Another pickup truck owner driving on Butane this morning told me he wouldn't recommend changing a 4 cylinder pickup, but for his 8 cylinder it is cheaper to run. He said, one drawback was that when the time comes for an engine overhaul, you cannot do it, as the head is eaten out using butane.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scattered Tuesday morning thoughts about Belize

Scarlet Macaw a famous nearly extinct bird of Belize


This old man wakes up early and laying in my hammock before daylight comes, one has the chance to ponder different things. Being an old man and garrulous, here they are. I’m wondering how that road is, to Jalacte, Toledo and to Santa Cruz, Guatemala? My old maps do not show it and I’m wondering if a two wheel drive can get into Santa Cruz that way? We’d like to go back to the Rio Dulce in a few months. Swimming in a fresh water lake ( Lago Isabel ) was so nice, compared to swimming in salt water off Caye Caulker. The trip through Melchor on the border via Flores is about 5 or 6 hours. The two legs of the triangle in the Peten add a good few hours to the trip. If we could travel the Southern Highway and get to the Rio Dulce that way, it would save at least three hours of driving.
Saying that, if there is a new development idea that is worth pursuing for our government of Belize, priority wise for our government, it is completing the road to Guatemala that way. 18 wheeler freight trucks doing trade and commerce, between Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala with Belize would save a good three hours of driving if they could go this way. That is a lot of time and fuel. I would then put a weigh station on the Southern Highway and charge trucks for using the highway, in order to pay for the maintenance. That said, you could even make it a TOLL ROAD for private traffic too. Is there any kind of boat traffic to Livingston from Punta Gorda I wonder these days? A mini van collectivo I know runs from Livingston up to Rio Dulce. It only takes a little longer to get to the Rio Dulce than it does to get to Caye Caulker, from here in Santa Elena Town. Anybody driven to Santa Cruz on the Guatemalan side?
I read in the weekend newspapers that the BDF hijacked some local villager, from Jalacte, of 5 cases of Gallo beer and five cases of soft drinks. What a stupid thing to do? When the government is ready to put in an immigration and customs post on the frontier here, THEN you charge duty. In the meantime, let local border villages get their supplies from across the frontier, rather than the very long trip to Punta Gorda town. It seemed the local area representative used common sense, but the event was distorted in the weekend newspapers out of all proportion and practicalities. Local villagers have to shop where it is convenient. One has to doubt that putting in a customs officer here would pay his salary on those cases the BDF hijacked. The area representative showed common sense by chastising the BDF. The port town BLACK controlled newspapers, blew the thing way up, into some sort of criminal activity. What a bunch of nonsense.
It does seem that during the remaining years of the UDP this term, they could almost reach the goal of putting the nation of Belize on a self sustainable footing for development WITHOUT foreign loan borrowing for the future. The potential seems there, during their last two years of this five year term. One could presume that if they took much of the infra-structure projects planned for this year and spread them over NEXT year as well, the mid term year, that might ease any pain in the economy for what seems to be a difficult year in 2010-11. That said, with careful management, one could see the last two years of the UDP term ALMOST reaching the goal of financial self sufficiency. With a little bit of help from LADY LUCK, the UDP would then get a second term and continuing strict financial management and the normal growth in the economy, around 10%, that would put the country over the hump so to speak. We are teetering on the edge of SELF SUFFICIENCY financially, as a nation right now. It all depends on the political management. This current budget just presented, has so many possibilities and gives HOPE. That finally somebody is trying to do the right thing by Belize. It is possible even by the 2012 last year for this UDP term, that we may have passed the threshold of financial self sustainability as a nation. It all depends on good management by the politicians. If we hadn’t had that trickle down economics three years national debt by Musa/Fonseca and the PUP, we would be there already. I really look forward to seeing some legislation, ruling how we spend money in this country. Setting limits on incoming politicians. Even with the $100 million a year of interest on Fonseca’s/Musa Super Bond, we could and should be able to absorb that in the following 5 year term, if it was the UDP re-elected based on sound fiscal management principals, instead of all this off the cuff, emotional, knee jerk reaction stuff, we have experienced since Independence.
We had expected by rule of thumb, that government total revenue would be $760 million, but the new budget projections are for $717 million. A good $40 million less than expectations. I personally feel as a gut reasoning projection, that the economy in it’s current down phase cycle, will start up again during 2011. This means if we can cut government costs down to more tighter austere conservative projections for this year and next year, we should come out of any economic difficulties, smelling like roses for 2011 and 2012, the last two years of the UDP term. Barrow has been quoted as hoping for an oil price surge, to increase government oil revenues. That is a double edged sword, as that would also increase inflation and cost of living. His current estimates are based on an average $50 a barrel. Probably fair enough as a guess, but I would have based projections on $40 a barrel for oil. I like to underestimate incomes, not overestimate them. Building in a safety factor and surplus surprise cash flow, if you get it. Barrow as Finance Minister is going to have to fight for nickels and dimes over the next two years if his party is going to be successful. I’ve just about wrung out the numbers on the budget. He is saying they took their time, got consultations and technical expertise and the figures confirm what he says. That is gratifying. To make it work during his term in office, he is going to have to keep the screw on austerity though. He will have to get good value for the dollar spent. He also needs more GRANT aided projects, not loans. They’ve done well in the GRANT field anyway this past year, and congratulations are probably in order, but we need to increase the GRANT aided projects for the next two years at a minimum. This is just my personal opinion of course. Politicians have other criteria to ponder.
The battle between the Robber Barons and the PUC controls goes on. We have been getting a lot of electric outages the past few days. My electricity bill, I finally got it down from $138 a month last month, to $103 a month yesterday. I fail to understand why I am paying more for electricity? My bill used to be $78 per month and nothing has changed. Indeed, we go around turning off lights and have eliminated the burglar light in the back yard. Still my electricity bill keeps climbing. I just do not understand it?
I wish the PUC would nationalize the building and fiber optic entry into Belize and make it easier for competitive telecommunications to flower in our country. How many years has it been that BTL in one form or another has been promising us good cell phone service and internet service and we still cannot get either in Santa Elena Town. At least a decade and a half of bull manure propaganda.
The local San Ignacio internet café we use has dropped his monthly fee from $100 to $50, as new competition in Santa Elena Town is effecting the downtown internet café business. The new Santa Elena Town cafe this past week were offering a month for $55. I had to laugh at that. The wonders of competition! I offered our regular internet café we use, $40 a month each and would pay for the three of us in advance. He hemmed and hawed about that and is going to sleep on it. The only way we can cut our internet costs is to shorten our time in the internet café. We pay by the hour.
I don’t understand the visitor statistics on this blog newsletter. One version gives us about 1,210,000 hits since inception 6 months ago. I can’t believe those numbers and haven’t really been able to install a COUNTER on this blog. I think I can stick advertising logos on the left hand side of my page. I may have to sell some monthly adds between $50 to $100 each depending on size. Haven’t got that far yet. We were trying to model after the San Pedro Daily as a format. Really haven’t been able to get a setup, or pre-planned format pattern I can use, that is off the shelf for it though. Notice that the Rocky Mountain Newspaper has gone bankrupt with a whole bunch of USA newspapers. Even the Miami Herald is up for sale. Printed newspapers are going out of style in the USA. Dozens of big city newspapers are going bankrupt. The media world is changing.
Have a married couple coming down next month to research Belize with the intent of moving out of the USA to Belize. They want to rent for two weeks to a month while they look around. The USA is managed worse than Belize it looks like? If the UDP manage to convert our nation, to one of self sufficiency financially, Belize is going to have to become more restrictive on who they let migrate here.
On the local political scene, the Belmopan town council elections show the VIP coming into position to jockey for replacement of the PUP into the OPPOSITION party. I didn’t get to read what the program was for the Belmopan election for the UDP who actually won that Town Board election, but I did read in the newspapers someplace, the VIP program for Belmopan and thought it was an impressive platform. They showed well in the election. If they can morph into a National Party, they would be a credible opposition. I think the Toledo PNP should merge with the VIP and became one of them for the next National Elections. The VIP would then become the replacement of the PUP. Which the PUP would then become an independent minority third party spoiler in the elections.
The PUP actually has cost the nation of Belize about a lost fifteen years of development. This may turn out to be twenty years in the end, lost from where we as a country could be development wise. It was that darned Fonseca / Musa trickle down BORROWING program that did it, accompanied by the FREE FOR ALL outright blatent theft, corruption, sweetheart deals and scandals. If the VIP can replace the PUP at the National Elections level, or compete with them, the VIP should sometime during the next four years, should there be a bunch of graft, theft and corruption scandals within the UDP now in power, they stand a good chance as the VIP, of becoming the next government nationally on the rebound effect. Even if they only got some Opposition seats, the VIP would be in good position to capitalize on that, the following national election. Should the UDP have financial scandals then the VIP would be a default party to elect, if they could get their national aspirations and party machinery in order. It remains to be seen how the UDP perform the balance of this term and whether the VIP can organize their party on a national level. They need to absorb the other competition.

Monday, March 16, 2009

CARICOM free movement of peoples gets THUMBS DOWN from Belize investors.


We got several books from the Caricom Secretariat who held their Town Hall information meeting, drumming up support from a new generation of high schoolers in Belize. They came, they talked and promoted the Secretariat ( hic! and their jobs )and gave out literature.
After a chance to browse through the literature, any thoughts of hopping over to Dominica or the British Virgin Islands with the new CARICOM passport faded away in dismay. The BUREAUCRATIC RED TAPE is horrendous. Medical, police certificates, education certificates and a host of crapola. If this is what a new citizen of this proposed new CARIBBEAN nation has to go through to become a CARICOM citizen, forget it fellas! I kinda played with the idea of putting a tourist business in either BVI, or Dominica ( both have visited and liked ) over on the Eastern side of the Caribbean, as we in the AUXILLOU TOURIST GROUP of Belize are invested in Honduras, Belize of course, and the USA. Currently we are looking at Guatemala. But CARICOM, the bureaucratic red tape they are requiring would be so TIME CONSUMING and labor intensive, it just is not worthwhile in the current level of this nation building they claim to be doing. Maybe in another 30 years at the past historical rate of progress?

Western Belize Tourism, starting to slowly pick up.

Now the hysteria in the USA and some of Europe is dying down over their swindles and gambling with banking credit swaps and other examples of criminality and greed in their major financial banking circles, tourism seems to be picking up a bit around Cayo Western Belize.
Things haven't got back to normal yet, but there is a small trickle flow that seems to be slowly increasing here in March, after the dead months of December and January, during the height of the television media talk shows of self serving PANIC they have been spreading among their own countrymen.


A study of low budget visitors, using cabins, rooms and hostels in Belize, reveal that 80% of the tourist travelers staying overnight in both Guatemala and the country of Belize are European girls in their mid-twenties.
This has implications for advertising purposes by the Belize Tourist Board in our country of Belize, as we can focus advertising on this niche tourist group. It also has implications as to the types of facilities, the décor and services that should be applicable for the private sector


UDP Prime Minister and Finance Minister, DEAN BARROW


By Ray Auxillou

The FISCAL year, April 1st from 2009 to April 1 st to 2010 reveal the planning for the UDP for their mid term year of 2010. You can draw a number of conclusions from this, both for political reasons and for short term national planning, savings and expenditures. Each person will have their own ideas of priorities, but these are my ideas. Do with them what you will.
2010 will be a mid term year for the UDP. On the political scene, after a bumper year of 2009, there should not be any overall pressing problems, as with two more years to go in their five year term, they have a chance to sit back, reflect and take a breather.
Some of the issues on the national development sense are going to be debt consolidation, immigration, and perhaps the tiny little issues beloved of area representatives for their voting districts.
Debt consolidation would seem to be the highest priority and setting something aside in our National SAVINGS, we call Foreign Reserves. At the present level of taxation and population growth, the properly managed government should have a surplus by the end of 2010 to do these things with. Being a mid year term during 2010, there should be nothing pressing, or overly urgent.
Debt draw down is probably the most important issue facing Belize today, on the road to becoming the SWITZERLAND of the Americas. Can we do it? Of course, given the political will and some legislated budget spending controls. Because of the escalating effects of the BOND debt interest rates, which will by the end of the 2012 last UDP year, exceed $100 million a year in interest payments alone. Of all the debts that Belize has and these are substantial the guaranteed debt. The GUARANTEED debt obligations stand at $2,198 billion. Or the equivalent of 78% of GDP.
The so called SUPER BONDS seem to be the easiest target for accomplishing debt drawdown, to free up more revenues for larger programs in perhaps a second term for the UDP. If there are no financial graft scandals, they stand a good chance of a second term, during which we would be able to finish off putting Belize into the solid first world financial status. Actually even better if you consider the scandal ridden debt of the USA as a comparison. How to do the BOND draw down? It would seem advantageous to me, that if a concessionary $1 billion loan could be arranged with some institutional lender ( perhaps Bahrain, Venezuela, Kuwait ? ) with a concessionary very low interest rate. I’m getting only less than 1% interest on my USA money market account right now, so getting a loan, to draw on and pay interest only as you use it, arranged this year should be easy. It is the escalating interest on the SUPER BOND debt that is OUR problem financially. The target would not be so much as to deprive or deny our bond holders, but to reduce the interest into a manageable amount, in accordance with our revenue base. Then constant quarterly offers to buy back the bonds outstanding at reduced bid prices ( .25 cents on the dollar for example ) to listed bond holders, you would create a market for Belize Bonds and not only save money on buying back bonds, but using lower interest rate loan instruments to do so. Giving you the double whammy so to speak. There is no trading of the Belize Bonds that I can find, but surely we could create our own $1 billion trading market on the foreign exchanges, if we are a bidder? Think about that double whammy for a bit?
Due to a slow down of immigration into Belize and this seems to be a rebound effect of a Caribbean black orientated UDP leadership, the economy of Belize for 2010, which grows with population growth should slow down during 2010. This means lower than expected growth in tax revenues for the government. It stands to reason, that fixing the expenditures at the SAME budget we have for 2009, or even slashing it by 15% if we could, during 2010, we would change from a debt ridden government economy, to an economy with a surplus. The goal therefore would be two fold during the 2010 -2011 fiscal year. A consolidation period, a planned expenditure slow down of spending, and the targeting of the SUPER BONDS for trading and in our case buying of those bonds, to lower primarily the interest rates. Politically speaking, if we are going to have a contraction of the economy, government revenues and spending, better to pre-plan this for the mid term year of 2010 -2011. Should the plan be successful at all, we would free up more revenues for government programs during 2011 and particularly election year of 2012.
While the UDP have been playing with the DEBT to GDP ratio a little bit. The 78% of GDP figure is most likely the actual one. This shows the costs of loans during 2009 are pushing us the wrong way. Not by much, but the numbers do indicate the need to utilize the 2010 year as a consolidation year, and contract government spending, with a one year freeze on most activities. We then hope the expected recovery in tourism occurs increasing government revenues for the winter of 2010-11 which would increase tax revenues during 2011 and 2012 and we would hope further oil exports would boost the economy and shift us from being a debtor nation to a nation building SAVINGS and FOREIGN RESERVES.
The UDP budget of Finance Minister Barrow for 2009 gives me some personal hope, this year, that he and they are capable of doing all these things. Should fortune favor Belize and we establish good fiscal management principles in budgeting and spending, then there is no reason why a second term for the UDP would not change the whole picture of what Belize is and can be in the future of the nations of the world. Perhaps who knows, we actually can then LEND money to TAIWAN and the USA to help them with their difficulties? ( grin! )


Two French girls visit overnight at Falconview Backpackers Adventure Hostel. Recommended to them by the FRENCH guidebook, LE ROUTARD. This is Laura from LYON, France, age 23 years and Marie from Le Mans, France, Age 24 years. They were two sweet nice girls, who had a month round trip ticket from Paris to Guatemala City and had just finished there Guatemalan exploring. On their way from Tikal to Caye Caulker in Belize they stayed overnight at Falconview. Their plans were to go to Caye Caulker, do the HOL CHAN snorkeling dive, recommended to them by Ray at Falconview Hostel, and then wind their way south in Belize to Punta Gorda, eventually cross over to LIVINGSTON, in Guatemala and up through Rio Dulce, the famous yacht haven in the Western Caribbean, from there over to Honduras and circle back to Guatemala City and fly home.

Belize Whale Shark tourism dives

Pencil sketch Belizean artist Ray Auxillou
This sketch is the season whale sharks that are visited by a limited allowed number of divers each year to view them, when they congregate off Gladden Spit by the Great Coral Barrier Reef.

PRINTS ( photocopies ) OF BELIZEAN ARTIST "RAY AUXILLOU" PENCIL SKETCHES ARE AVAILABLE BY SLOW MAIL, AT $19.95 USD EACH, PLUS $6 POSTAGE AND HANDLING. These prints are limited to 2000 in number and each print will be numbered and signed by the artist. The originals are available from $700 usd, to around $1700 usd depending on subject matter. Both the original and the prints are collector items, for future historical investment art purposes of the new country of Belize, formerly the Central American colony of British Honduras. The limited edition of prints will add value to the art over TIME for collectors. The prints will fit any art frame for 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch size.
Send order and payment to: Box 276, San Ignacio, Belize, Central America, by International Postal Money Order in USA dollars.
Posted by Western Belize Happenings! at 7:16 AM

Sunday, March 15, 2009



By Ray Auxillou

The new budget was pretty good. In fact, as a government watcher and harsh budget critic, this budget in my opinion, is the best organized budget in the short history of Belize since Independence. Things may go wrong in the coming fiscal year to upset this budget, but with what we know right now under current world conditions, it is self evident that budget planners and organizers in Belize and the political leadership of the Finance Minister, has probably done the best job they could do under the current fiscal circumstances. The budget presented shows their serious intent to organize the finances of Belize in a proper manner. Kudos to Mr. Barrow and his Cabinet for a job well done. If this was a report card, I would grade the budget effort at 96%.
The best reports of the budget were presented in the Amandala newspaper by reporter Adele Ramos and in the Reporter newspaper by an unknown writer. The party newspaper, THE GUARDIAN of the CABINET did not have more than a touch of the important points in the budget. All these articles can be found online on the internet. What I found excellent was the use of REAL numbers. Personally I have an affinity for math and numbers, and usually do not need written notes. As a young student I learned to use a circular slide rule, in which one cut out the decimal points and put math problems in whole numbers. This little trick allows you to get valued approximations with just a simple mental exercise. This budget agrees with the approximations of the whole numbers I carry in my head. We will not argue about a few thousands here or there, so long as the hundred millions of the overall budget agree with the numbers in my head.
I had one critique, which was from something the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance said, in that he said that this budget was a CONSERVATIVE BUDGET. I wouldn’t agree with him there, but the numbers are on the edge of such an idea. For conservative status my own opinion would have cut the different numbers by a further 10%. This is a minor disagreement of what otherwise was an excellent first attempt to bring fiscal order out of fiscal chaos left over by the previous PUP regime. There was an additional correction in this budget and I hope it is true. We had been doing numbers based on the overall DEBT to GDP ratio being 95% as being quoted in the newspaper media articles earlier from before the Xmas holidays. This number turned out to be wrong. Dean Barrow announced in this budget the DEBT to GDP ratio is actually 71.3% down just a shade, from the previous year’s number. This if true, indicates the UDP are on the right path. I just hope the number is true and not padded some way with imaginative bookkeeping as used to be done by the PUP. The variable here would be the calculation on value of GDP.
While the figures present a rosy year for the Belize economy coming up, there are worries about the year following. The primary cause of the worry is the escalating interest hikes on external foreign debt. Generally speaking in whole numbers, our external foreign debt is a shade under $2 billion Belize currency. The BOND issue during the past PUP administration had escalating interest payments starting next year and the budget presentation covered these numbers in explanation. Barrow says that next year the interest on the external BONDS will jump from the current cost of $46 million currently being paid, to $66 million starting next year. This does not include draw down of debt. Within the remaining term of this UDP government, the interest again will escalate and jump to approximately slightly over a $100 million a year. We have some options and ideas in mind, but technically speaking, dealing with these external BONDS are probably the biggest single factor to creating a wealthy country under the UDP. Somehow, ways and means have to be found to reduce the BOND debt. We do that; the country will be in great shape, irregardless of outside world events under UDP stewardship. Nothing seemed to be in the budget for amounts to go to our SAVINGS, in FOREIGN RESERVES and one would expect under current circumstances that is a luxury we cannot afford this year. We can only cross our fingers and pray we do not get hit by any natural disasters for this year. We are in hurricane alley, so the percentages, or gambling odds are against us. If we escape a natural disaster this season, it will be purely LADY LUCK.
If there was any success this past current austerity year of the UDP government, it was the success in holding down costs, driven by short term, elected area representatives clamoring for money for a variety of home division projects for re-election purposes. PM Barrow and his Cabinet were successful apparently from these budget numbers. The only real loss was $5 million created by exuberant “do it now” area representative EDMUND CASTRO in his early term, Crooked Tree Lagoon failed causeway. Castro meant well and he was forgiven, but quite correctly subsequently, reined in financially.
The UDP are on the right track. Interestingly as an aside, PM Barrow and as Finance Minister he had announced last year that there were experts being consulted to create a more stable budget system of calculations. We have been impatient, because for this past year we have had no published monthly government numbers for the private sector to crunch for investment and business purposes. The wait was probably worth it, as the number crunching is turning out positive for the future of the nation. Barrow announced in this budget that what his Finance Department is doing, is installing a new system of program budgeting, to hold program managers accountable for results. The software part we understand, the accountability part we are hazy about. Probably a misunderstanding of semantics? We can only see how it works out in practice. Undoubtedly there will be more clear explanations offered as time passes.
Skipping the necessary exaggerated political hoorah and bombast accompanying any budget presentation, the numbers and methodology are good. KUDOS to the Prime Minister and his team. Not that he cares what I think, but we try to be fair in our opinions, irregardless of whoever is in office. They did a good job. Now lets get back to monthly statistical reporting in the media please. We the private sector have businesses to run.


Caricom Secretariat in San Ignacio, Western Belize, Cayo District.

"home of the productive sector of Belize"

This was not advertised very well, but after hearing about it on Cable TV, Channel 7, I was able by driving around and persistence, to find out on Saturday, that the TOWN HALL MEETING was to be held at 4 p.m. at Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio.
The impression given by television news, was that it would be attended by the CARIBBEAN HEADS OF GOVERNMENT. This turned out not to be so, and was in actual fact, some duty bound executives of the CARICOM secretariat bureaucracy. A panel of promoters from the Executive of CARICOM basically. This was disappointing, as at a secondary level, such managers do not have the power to do anything, or achieve any progress of themselves. Listening and talking to the soldiers in the trenches is very interesting, but if you want to get things found out, or accomplished, you really need to communicate with the CHIEFS, the real movers and shakers.
Despite this drawback, we did find out from my four questions, that there were no Investment Bankers located in the CARICOM nations. We were looking for an equity shareholder partner for a stake in a proposed Regional inter-Caricom airline service, on a small pioneer, bootstrap scale, to build eventually into something bigger, by serving as the transportation unifying factor for the growth of the much ballyhooed Caribbean Common Market alleged opportunities. This fell flat. Theoretically speaking, it should be possible to issue $25 million USD of Class B preferred shares to some sort of amalgamation of participation, by CARICOM member states through a Caribbean institution, but as we suspected, the building of the ONE Caribbean nation composed of smaller states, has not got that far yet, emotionally, or pragmatically. From the news we received here on the outer Western Rim of CARICOM, in Belize, from this blue ribbon Caricom Secretariat executive panel, it was obvious that even though individual nationalistic fervor predominates in the existing Caribbean airlines operating and supported from losing national subsidies, are still sort of operating in the Central and Eastern Caribbean, are not in regional unity as a nation state composed of smaller states, but as feudal competing kingdoms, for some sort of vague glory of individualistic national one upmanship. Bureaucratic and political controlled airlines will never satisfy the goal of regional airline service. They will always fail. A regional inter-airline service has to be successful as a pioneer airline, run by a competitive private sector company, based on fly for profit principals and service, growing from creation of market demand over TIME. At that point of the Caricom Secretariat meeting, we basically gave up on CARICOM, for without some sort of internal flying transportation service there is no way from Belize, that the time and effort in trying to serve the potentials of alleged CARICOM unity and duty free status for internal trade, can compete against that of elsewhere outside of the Caricom regional market idea. At least on the small scale of private industry efforts, currently common, throughout the scattered nation states that now exist. This same issue was one of the major causes of foundering of the original West Indies Federation and it looks to repeat itself, at least in the form of trade and economics.
The Caricom Secretariat gave their usual spiel on the potentials of trade and such rhetoric, but when questions from the student audience started asking nitty gritty questions about the actual assistance being offered, were met with the usual bureaucratese vague responses, that back pedaled rapidly to explanations of ; “well we ourselves can’t do anything, it is up to you the private sector to take the risks“. All that was missing was the cheerleader section and the marching band with trumpets, drums and cymbals. Western Belizeans in this new generation of students seemed to understand they were being fed hoopla and the best thing was to keep your hand on your wallet, lest this new growing Federal style civil service entity, being promoted by our current UDP government, starts the predatory practice of taxation for this new federated nation state, to support academics in their salaried bureaucratic jobs.
There were some other interesting bits and pieces of information. Some of the Eastern Caribbean countries have the foreign exchange capability and fixed rates of exchange, to enable a person from Belize to do business and get paid promptly in foreign exchange, so this Caricom executive alleged. It has been more than twenty years since we had a failed experiment in exporting fish and lobster from our Caye Caulker Cooperative to the big market in Jamaica, when the difficulties in getting paid in cold cash as in foreign exchange, caused the venture to collapse. The memory lingers on.
The Caricom head executive responsible for the trade and commerce of the Secretariat corrected my outdated 18 month old statistics on exports from Belize to CARICOM with statistics in turn, for more recent events of exports from Belize, of Red Kidney Beans and Citrus products. These he said had grown substantially. I wouldn’t know, as we have not been able to get current statistics for over a year out of our own Belize Statistics Unit under our new government. Similarly, I complained to the panel, that e-mails to statistical units in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad also do not answer public private sector statistical queries either. Without current statistical access I have no idea how CARICOM market opportunities can be found or made? This not counting the lack of affordable direct access by airplane, by an internal regional airline, to allow a private sector entrepreneur to go and meet with suppliers, or buyers in some venture. It was to overcome this problem, that we first decided to attempt to build a CARICOM AIRLINE, about nine months ago. We also in the AUXILLOU TOURIST GROUP also see the potential in CARICOM and have identified internal airline service as the first priority necessary , which is why we are interested so far. In the first building block of economic integration for CARICOM it is our collective wisdom that this is priority number one. So far our endeavors are without success. We have the availability of a plane, but the three to five year expected losing costs of a bootstrap operation are more than we would wish to handle. We want to build this pioneer airline with equity partners in stock holdings, not by loans. We do it on our terms, or not at all. The idea of being undercapitalized is nonsense for such a bootstrap operation pioneering endeavor. The story and photographs are on: http://westernbelizehappenings.blogspot.com
As an answer and information format the town hall meeting was okay. Since most of the attendees were students from the High School and some from Galen University and three students who had traveled to Trinidad somehow to study the workings of the CSME ( something to do with CARICOM Trade- ) I didn’t remember the meaning of all the bureaucratic acronyms. The enquiries got hot and more interesting as the audience livened up, but BEL cut the electricity and we were in the growing darkness without lights or microphone, so somebody ended the growing lively debate.
There were some good speakers among the High School students surprisingly, and one young man really stood out. Apparently he had been to Trinidad and he tried to make the point as an entrepreneur student hopeful, he could do better and make better and faster money by trading with Guatemala, Mexico or Salvador, than with Caricom, based on distance and costs. He did not quite have his arguments articulated and was more expressing his gut feelings, with which most of us Western Belize entrepreneurs agree. Dr. Carrington countered with an argument that you follow the profit, or the money, wherever your source is from, and market is going toward profit, not composed of regional distances like the long distances in CARICOM. A debate of itself that could have become more complex if allowed, but lack of electricity, light and so forth cut the evening short.
My impressions? This was a bunch of bureaucrats fulfilling some sort of quota grade they have to show on a monthly, quarterly, or annual achievement report, to justify their existence and jobs. So many numbers of visits to Caricom countries and conferences, or town hall meetings disseminating information of CARICOM functions and so forth, to fill in the little boxes for justification purposes, when reporting to higher ups. They did not seem to have any power, or functional purpose, everything depended on the different HEADS of GOVERNMENT was my impression. The actual work was to be performed by RISK TAKING CAPITAL from the private sector.
One of the most interesting remarks was made by Dr. Carrington, who explained that BELIZE only joined CARICOM in the early 1980’s to get unified voting support and lobbying assistance at the United Nations for Belizean Independence. This in fact worked out well for Belize. Left unsaid hanging in the empty air was the silence, of all those missing eighteen years between THEN and NOW. Our current Prime Minister, Dean Barrow remembers this very well and currently he is plugging our joining CARICOM with boots, saddle, bridle and horse. Even though there is currently minimal trade to speak of and no airline direct communication to open trade and economic partnerships and business. The private sector in Western Belize is more questioning and pragmatic about the whole thing. Is this thing actually going to go anywhere is the root question? In some areas maybe, like legal affairs and foreign policy? In trade and commerce probably only in a minor way. There seems not to be the political Will or the Financial capability to bootstrap the situation for the next decade at any rate?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The PARIS HILTON method of staying THIN

Paris Hilton, heiress and successful million dollar a year entrepreneur herself.


There was an interesting interview with a friend of PARIS HILTON on cable television last night. The interviewer asked a friend of PARIS HILTON how she stayed so thin, or skinny? Was it private physical trainers, or some special diet?
The girlfriend of Paris Hilton, the heiress and dynamic fashion and party going million dollar earner just laughed. No! Nothing like that she said. Paris eats with her friends just like everybody else. She said Paris will go into a FAST FOOD place and order a cheese burger and French fries just like everybody else. She said it was not metabolism, or genes. But quantity of food consumed. She said, Paris Hilton will take one or two bites out of her burger and eat a half dozen French fries and then push the plate away, for the garbage can. To be thin and stay thin, you have to control your food intake quantities.
Having a problem in my senior years with weight and the tubby waist I thought about that statement, long and hard. I try, I really try to control my food intake, but I fail. Partly I blame my childhood. Having gone through the starvation years in England during World War 2, then followed by 1945, 46, 47 and 48 in Vienna, Austria in which during the Russian raping and looting, I saw tens of thousands die on the streets every day, to be picked up by trucks with prisoners of war and taken out to be buried with the garbage, followed by my own mother admonishing me over and over again, to clean my plate and NEVER throw food away as I grew up. The remark that people are starving all over the world never left me. I suppose I have some ingrained psychological trauma, or learned behavior? I find I must clean my plate and I clean left over food out of the pots on the stove, and clean up Silvia’s and Gustavo’s plates as well. I just cannot throw food away. I hope to get better though. Yesterday I put a plastic pig tail bucket by the kitchen door, to accumulate organic food material to make a new batch of compost tea. We and most people in Belize live in a land of plenty. It may not be a varied diet by much, but we do have plenty, with bananas ten for a Belizean dollar. I’m hoping I can overcome my childhood behavior and traumas and justify putting excess food in the pig tail bucket by the kitchen door, with the rationalization that it will make food for the plants in my two vegetable nurseries.
If there is a lesson here for you, or even several lessons, I am glad to be of help! ( grin! )


Heads of CARICOM Governments in 2009.


The former failed West Indies Federation experiment morphed into the CARICOM organization and indeed has been useful in terms of international voting for all fourteen members concerned. In recent years, the impracticality of CARICOM as a working economic entity has been dubious at best. The major industry of CARICOM countries is incoming tourism. With rival CARICOM countries competing for the tourist dollar via nationalistic airlines, financed by massive debt and outrageous, subsidized, party hack appointee, bureaucratic sought expensive equipment, the actual future of CARICOM as some sort of joint working country became extremely doubtful. In recent years, the pragmatic developments on the ground have seen trade for Belize with Central and North America eclipse any utopian dreams of joining Belize to the CARICOM unity, one country and one integrated economic dream ideas. After fifty years of trying, the ideal has worn thin. Nor in fifty years has any CARICOM countries, improved their leadership capabilities and financial status from debtor nations, begging for handouts from the outside world. The biggest export remains emigration of talented people.
Cries at home in Belize in the economic debate and future views, expressed publicly, were for freedom from the chain and ball effects of being tied to CARICOM, a group of small permanently debtor beggar nations under terrible, self serving, political management.
Prime Minister Barrow made it plain in his speech today, Thursday, at the annual CARICOM HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEETING held at the Radisson Hotel in the port on the central coast of Belize. Belize under his new UDP government has been suffering a crisis of identity and forward movement, to seek growth for an increasing population growing exponentially. Are we as a nation to be Central Americans, or Caribbean losers has been a six month long public debate?
The message from Belizean Prime Minister Barrow, to his electorate and the Heads of Government of CARICOM on Thursday in Belize, was loud and clear. He will force Belize to join more effectively with the CARIBBEAN countries as a new federated state. A new unique Caribbean country. Barrow proposed closer ties and melding of bureaucracies and administrative methodologies of the scattered Caribbean states composing CARICOM in his speech today. Barrow also announced that Belize will join recognizing the Caribbean Court of Appeals this year. Not mentioned, but put off for the future, has been the Eastern Caribbean countries development of one Caribbean currency. Next on the list is undoubtedly going to be a cumpulsory one currency, for ALL Caricom countries and a common CENTRAL BANK.
Since the CARICOM countries are competing among themselves and there is no common transportation systems, no method yet exists of doing business on an eye to eye basis, between producers and buyers throughout the Caribbean, and the difficulties of getting foreign exchange payment for goods from each country with separate types of money seems insolvable. The emphasis of PM Barrow in his speech in joining Belize with CARICOM as a larger Federation, over the growing opposing encouraging business ties with Central America, has left many voters in the six rural districts of Belize, the producers in the nation that create our Belize foreign exchange, baffled and wondering. While it may not seem practical, that is the way it is going to be, said Prime Minister Barrow of Belize. The Maya, the Mestizo, the Spanish, the Mennonites, the White Caucasians can only shake their heads in disbelief. As far as the UDP are concerned, the DEBATE of Belizean destiny and future course and direction is over. Belize will remain orientated to the European Union, as a pseudo colony, through the Eastern Caribbean ties and custom, as a growing smaller state of the Federation in the Caribbean, now called CARICOM.
While the debate over this affirmation of a fifty year long term grind, by dreamers of the Eastern Caribbean, to create a United States of the Caribbean, particularly the English speaking Caribbean, has currently come to an end with PM Barrow’s speech here in Belize. While many at home in Belize, particularly the producers of our economy, may disagree with this Cabinet policy ( there is no decent economic trade to speak of with the Caribbean countries for a variety of reasons ), the policy direction given by our PM Barrow at the Heads of Government conference, to his fellow “United States of the Caribbean leaders,” was welcomed by our scattered Eastern Caribbean counterparts. Here at home in Belize, the economic producers also, with the air and uncertainties cleared up by PM Barrow, in direction of foreign policy, as to our future identity as a small state, member of a larger Federation of Caribbean states, can now start planning how they are going to handle our growing economic trade with Southern Mexico, Central American neighbors and the rest of the outside world, far from European and Caribbean interests. New style foreign bank accounts, new agencies in foreign parts outside of Caricom will be necessary to economically develop Belizean exports. The methodology of our producers in Belize and marketing direction, will have to re-direct itself into new ways of doing business, as our population and capabilities grow as a small state within a larger Federation. Caricom is going to become an additional tax burden to be carried by our producer population. We will have another larger growing federation bureaucracy to support besides our own. Is this policy direction a good one? Only the future can tell!


Belize Christian Academy, winners in an upset dark horse contest, coming from behind against previous champions.

CAYO DISTRICT, Belize Christian Academy

The Cayo District, “Belize Christian Academy”, won the Belize National Finals of the Math Olympiad. Last year they didn’t even have a showing. This high school of Western Belize, trounced the two most famous High Schools in the country, the Jesuit run St. John’s College in the port of Belize City and the Corozal Junior College near the northern Mexican border. The two runner ups came in second and third. The scoring was not even close. Belize Christian Academy of Cayo District, won with 2600 points, while St. John’s College in second place, only scored 1850 points and St. Catherines Academy scored 1800 points. That is roughly an 800 point lead, a truly astonishing achievement. The student audience during the elimination competitions went wild. The Math Olympiad is financed by the Social Security board with the intent of building the nation of Belize through the future leadership now in High School. While Belize Christian Academy had changed their school practice habits and implemented a training program, this year, during study period in the early mornings, to train their students in the TIMED CONTEST TRIALS run by a clock and the bell. The training strategy in mathematics worked well and they won the contest by an immense amount of points, against ALL the rest of the national six district high schools. They were truly the dark horse, springing out of left field to win this national series of elimination tournaments. We in the CAYO DISTRICT are proud of this achievement here in Western Belize, the district that leads the nation in industrial and agricultural productivity and ingenuity, for producing the exports and initiatives to put our nation on the road to self reliance and independence.