Wednesday, March 30, 2011



An OUT OF THE BOX type thinking idea. Let us use the last half of our high school years, to require research papers as English Composition papers on writing feasability studies for small business ideas by our students

I will be glad to post on my BLOG here, any such well written and presented feasability studies by high school students, as a boost to our economy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

San Jose Succotz Festival 2011. - BELIZE

Photos courtesy of GRINGO - CHARLIE TREW with home in San Jose Succotz

Miss Succotz, Betty Chaman, the village QUEEN.
A Mayan community for over 13,000 years. Home of the Xununtanich Mayan temple ruins, on the top of the hill across the river. Brother and sister, the next generation.

San Jose Succotz Festival, children dancers. This village has a wonderful childrens growing up atmosphere.

SAN JOSE SUCCOTZ village, below the Xununtanich Mayan ruin on top of the hill, across the Mopan River. This SUCCOTZ festival this year is our Miss Succotz
The group photo, has Mariua Penados on the left and Christi Panti, on the right. Don´t know the others?
This village alongside the Western Highway and river has a vibrant and active festival and village life. With school marching bands,marimba orchestras and other community activities.


Port Town BICYCLE BANDITS target walkng WHITE PEOPLE as victims.

Crime is always with us. Since Colonial days, from 55 years ago, I remember it no different. Except back then, we knew who the career criminals were. Couldn´t do anything about it. The law protects career criminals and penalizes the victim. In the last 15 years, casual crime, by career criminals has turned violent and vicious. They are now committing murder, over as little as $3, not wanting a jail sentence they are murdering their victim targets.
We don´t yet have the problems of Miami, Los Angeles, or our Central American Republics, but the growth of population has seen a similar rise in the percentage of new generations of youth enter the professional career criminal field.
This has become particularly dangerous in the port town of Belize City, where BICYCLE BANDITS are making smash and grab heists, targeting WHITE people who are walking. The population of the port is predominantly BLACK of one shade or another.
The port of Belize City sees most criminal acts against WHITE PEOPLE and BELIZEAN-CHINESE merchants. This is probably less to do with racial tensions, than simply the port attracts a population of coastal majority BLACK people and there is not in an agricultural dominated country, jobs in such an urban area. Nor do they seem to wish, to cut bananas, or sugar cane, or pick citrus fruits.
The alarming trend in the past 15 years, is the career decision by new young criminals to KILL their victims, to leave behind no witness to make a court case. They will KILL in the act of burglary or robbery, or arrange to have you KILLED if the case is to go to trial.
The police system has never been adequate and is less so now, than ever before, with the expansion of population demographics.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Belize has passed PEAK OIL PRODUCTION.


There are two oil fields in Belize. The first oil field ( a small pond of oil ) has passed peak oil production of 5000 barrels a day. The flow has dropped to 4000 barrels a day, even though many more oil pumping stations have been installed.
Three years is the current estimate left for the first oil pond production.
There is a second oil pond to be exploited and that may extend our small oil revenue inputs for another additional 5 to 6 years, being roughly of the same size as the first oil pond at Spanish Lookout.

The big thing is the effect on government revenues. Oil is currently running around 25% of our government revenues. There is little time left to shift the economy of Belize and turn it around, to light manufacturing. The Western FREE ZONE is now under construction activity, though no news has been issued publicly. Stores and offices of a minor tourist nature exist nearest a compartmented section by chain link fence near the Border immigration point. There are also two large warehouses being built, more to the Eastern section of the FREE ZONE. No local port town media dominating the news in Belize has yet done an in depth article on what is going on with this Western Free Zone. No advertisements concerning a ZONE AUTHORITY, or who is selling, or how they are being sold, the lots and layout for this FREE ZONE already being exploited by somebody.

The original estimate was ten years needed to shift the economy of Belize to light manufacturing to replace depleted oil tax revenues. The time may turn out to be actually shorter than that. As little as 7 years. Ideas floated, have been to invite Korean and Japanese garment investors from Guatemala. So far, no action on this front. Entrepreneurial fast track immigration is needed.
The best perfoming Cabinet Ministers have been Rene Montero, Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Education, Patrick Faber. The attempts to change education to an entrepreneurial driven pragmatic system is ongoing, but not necessarily going fast enough and it does look like we will run out of oil revenues before any such education takes hold and makes a change in our economy. Accelerating our economic development using some major paradigm shifts takes priority over everything else. The cost of government is far higher than we can maintain, with our standard current economy before oil was discovered. Some serious planning needs to be done!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


PUP opposition member and former Prime Minister, Said Musa.
Leader of the PUP Opposition, of Belize, Johnny Briceno.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize.


A good budget debate this year. The first real debate worthwhile in the three years the UDP have been in office. The Opposition PUP have had a poor showing up to now. But with elections just a couple of years away, one has to suppose they are getting their house in order.

John Briceno, the PUP leader in OPPOSITION made an excellent debating speech. The first one I was ever impressed with. Paramount was his attack on the current UDP Prime Minister Dean Barrow over the use of the SUPER DEBT the PUP left behind. He went on to describe where the money went and made it sound very good for their 10 years in office. The incumbent UDP rebutted with a list of the money that went missing, embezzled, stolen, or misused. Both arguments from both sides ended in a DRAW I would think. The real remarkable thing was the organization and presentation by the Opposition PUP leader Johnny Briceno. It was a nice job and if the Opposition had a performance report card, would have earned some points for it. Key was the enquiry why the current Minister had not yet negotiated a set of new terms for the SUPER DEBT BONDS. A very legitimate question.
Former Prime Minister Musa spoke and the only item of interest was accusation that the current Prime Minister Dean Barrow is liard and went on to enumerate the lies Dean Barrow gave in the previous year´s Budget speech and since at least one of the items I had knowledge of, I found it enlightening. Musa made the point that the current Prime Minister continues to lie on this budget. I found the argument plausible and believed Mr. Musa and disbelieved the current Prime Minister Dean Barrow. The item I was familiar with, was the APPRENTICESHIP program. In which last year the Prime Minister Dean Barrow promised to spend $1 million on apprentice ship mentoring training programs. Musa on the other hand from OPPOSITION pointed out that only $50,000 was spent. Since I had applied in the spirit of good will and nation building to mentor and train an apprentice and been rebuffed, or rather ignored by the CABINET and Prime Minister and my application/invitation simply tossed in the garbage without courtesy of reply, I believed Musa´s list of grievances of the current Prime Minister´s lies. No faith in that regard at all anymore.

Of more serious concern is that the current administration of the country will lose 2 points from their performance report card, from 60% to 58% The loss is due to the lack of performance by whoever is TRANSPORTATION MINISTER these days. A trip over the Western Border Monday for medical attention, saw the side of the highway loaded with people with their bags walking the highway verges with bags, to and from the Western Border crossing, due to lack of bus service. This is an old problem and has not been solved. 1% deducted for that lapse. Another 1% went because on Wednesday my wife and I wanted to go to the port to meet a Doctors appointment and found that the Express Bus was loaded and not taking any more passengers and all of the subsequent 30 minute buses, the local chicken buses were overloaded, with people standing crammed in like sardines. From 6:30 a.m. to 9;15 a.m. we were not able to get on any bus, to travel to the coast and since we ran out of time to make the appointment, gave up and returned home. Transportation to the West of the country is in a mess. Loss of two points therefore from the UDP Report card.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

News from the South West remote TOLEDO DISTRICT OF BELIZE


From the excellent new issue of The Toledo Howler (February-March 2011):

* Despite rumours to the contrary, the Cacao Festival is definitely on again this year, with the date set for May 20-22. Many of the events will be in PG Town.

* A new zip line is planned in Toledo at Las Faldas restaurant and bar on the Rio Grande in Big Falls. The zip line will be about 2500 ft. long and will cross the river once.

* The village of San Miguel is planting trees along the banks of the Rio Grande, in the hopes of bringing back more fish to the river. The river also is being cleaned up.

* Maya Day this year will be held May 14-15.

* There are now 9 Tropic Air and Maya Island Air flights daily each way between Belize City and Punta Gorda. Also, there are 10 buses daily between PG and Belize City, all on James Line, including one express. Four daily water taxis (Requena's, Pichilingo, Marisol and Memo's) run each way between PG and Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. Boats to Livingston are on Tuesdays and Fridays.

* Tranquility Lodge in Jacintoville has added three new thatch cabañas, making a total of seven rooms. The Lodge at Big Falls has added two new cabañas, making a total of eight. Coral House Inn has upgraded its pool. Hickatee Cottages has added a new room, The Den, and is offering free Garifuna drumming lessons on Wednesdays.

* This year's Christmas Bird Count in Toledo totaled 259 bird species.

The Toledo Howler is available free on a number of websites including, and

--Lan Sluder

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Western Free Trade Zone has been activated in Belize by the border.


Don´t know what is going on by the border out West here?

The big empty flat acreage that was under the PUP going to be a FREE TRADE ZONE has been divided up by chain link fences. There are now a number of stores and offices right next to the border immigration customs post. Further EAST in a larger area, TWO VERY LARGE WAREHOUSES are being built. So investment into this FREE TRADE ZONE is going on now. Lots are being sold. Yet there has been no advertisement or articles in the port town media. They have been caught with their pants down.

The question is: Who is selling lots in this FREE TRADE ZONE? How much are they and why is there no publicity? I want one.


TMD, the suicide causing pain, with many possible problems, making it difficult to diagnose and cure.

temporomandibular jaw detective investigation

There seems to be some interest on this and I learned some new things yesterday. Both in the Belize-culture list my regular haunt and the Belize remote group contributors. Who so kindly have been giving medical advice.

On the recommendation of my local librarian Beatrice went across to Melchor de Menchos, Guatemala yesterday to her general doctor over there, she swore fealty to, Dr. Monroy is his name. Dr. Jose Arturo Monroy Arqueta. Anyway really good. He figured from feeling with his fingers, I had a problem or might have, with the salivar gland from swellings. So he sent me to Dr. Victor Santiago Medina Moriano, a Dental Surgeon. Melchor de Menchos has about 4 blocks of solid clinics, labratories and doctors offices, just past the turn going up the hill to the town center after walking across the bridge. Covering side and back streets. His consultant rate was basically the same as in San Ignacio, or $40 bz. There are a lot of specialites in the medical field over in Melchor. I had not been aware of how many before. Anyway he phoned and sent me off to a DENTAL SURGEON specialist. The dentist in Santa Elena was supposed to do this stuff, but seemed very reluctant to do so. Unlike our doctors on this side of the border, they get physical with the probing and fingers in Melchor, and do not diagnose from a chair on the other side of the desk like our doctors here. Anyway, I walked a short block to the Clinica Medica of the Dental Surgeon specialist, Dr. Victor Santiago Medina Moriano. An ortodoncia dentist or something. He was the one eliminated the theory that it was a blocked saliva gland by physical puncturing the inside skin and manipulating the gland to get fluid out from inside the mouth. Then he sent me to the labratory for X -Rays. Never saw a machine like this before. It takes 360 degree X -ray as it swivels around your skull. A panaromic view. Then they do on another part of the machine a 180 degree scan. The resultant x rays overlap and apparently reveal that my right hand sinus cavity in the cheek bone was infected. So he says? Plus the inner ear or eustacian tube. Not sure why he didn´t prescribe for me. But he recommended in Belize I contact an otolaryngology doctor in Orange Walk. A Dr. Atanascio F. Cob, who apparently also has visits in Belize City. Will have to go to Belize City for this, then to Caye Caulker for the salt water sea treatment. It was explained to me, that specialists have favorite antibiotics and treatments for curing stuff like this and better I get it from him. Will do, probably tomorrow if Dr. COB is going to be in Belize City. Will phone this morning.

Anyway, I looked it up on the internet and this kind of thing it is recommended to use OMOXCILLAN I believe the local doctors out West here had been prescribing cipro flox something or other, which did not work. Unfortunately you cannot buy SINU TAB in the WEST or probably in Belize, an especially over the counter drugstore anti-histamine which dries up sinus in 15 minutes. The other stuff they have is not very good here. I read on the internet a hair drier will evaporate the liquid in the inner ear. At any rate, there is no effective sinus medicine out West here that I know of, or anti-histamines. SINU TAB is really good when I´m in Miami.
The point I am making is there is in Melchor, 4 blocks of all kinds of medical specialists, labratories and clinics just across the border with expertise for extra-ordinary illnesses, not found in Western Belize. The prices are good.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

BELIZE - It´s the economy stupid! 2011

By Ray Auxillou
Belize is still short circuited in the mind trap of colonialism when it comes to our economy. We are not making maximum use of our neighbors like Mexico, Guatemala and Salvador. Our sugar industry exports are stalled by legislation that does not allow competitive smaller sugar mills, to create export sugar orientated value added products. The sugar mill legislated monopoly follows a lot on the previous citrus colonial model, which is only now breaking out into world competition. We need to change the sugar mill monopoly legislation, but no leadership economically speaking, is coming from the UDP Cabinet, nor the civil service, who seem inadequate, despite an improvement in educational levels. They talk a good game in the Belize Civil Service, but like any civil service, while the written reports are glowing, the performance shows, it is just self-justification rhetoric. There is no meat in the bun, so to speak. Maybe we need more frequent turnover of senior civil service administrators?
For example; BELTRAIDE has been deemed a useless expenditure of tax funds. Different business groups have stated so. The Belize Foreign Office seem disorientated when it comes to developing Belize economically. Perhaps the problem lies with the compartmentalization of Cabinet Ministerial posts, so there are turf wars? While President OBAMA is courting BRAZIL, the world´s FIFTH LARGEST ECONOMY on the grounds, that exports to BRAZIL will create manufacturing jobs at home in the USA, or CHILE, or COLOMBIA, our own Cabinet Ministers seem to have no desire, or clue, about creating a desirable economic environment here in Belize. For example; our neighbor GUATEMALA has 8 local mills now producing yarns, woven fabrics and knits. They also have 169 sewing factories ( mostly KOREAN investment owned ) using local materials but aimed at the USA market. Asia out competed the Guatemala fabric factory market, so now they are converting the Guatemalan apparel industry, to specialized niches of clothes production, aiming at the high end special luxury clothing trade. While the USA fights for foreign investment and foreign immigrant expertise; in Belize we do nothing. Our government as a policy sits and waits for technical immigrants to apply for permanent residency and invest, with Cabinet ministers looking to make a quick dollar in bribes or stock participation shares. While in the USA, or Guatemala new immigrants are actively solicited. We have no equivalent lobby in Guatemala City through our Belize Embassy to go around inviting Korean/Guatemalan manufacturers to invest in Belize and become our citizens, like the Mennonites did more than 50 years ago. Regionally in Central America the move in job heavy employment garment manufacturing has switched to local suppliers, not those from abroad from Asia. Subsequently the new companies in Guatemala making yarn spinning, or supplying die making, or finishing of raw material yarns for manufacturing. We could be doing this in Belize, if we knew how. We don´t , so encouraging Korean/Guatemalan, or Japanese / Guatemalan companies to transfer to Belize is a new ball game, with new rules our limited civil service needs to adapt too. Already new small, very cheap technology, extruded hand held, plastic looms replacing knitting machines of old, are sweeping across Mexico. My wife in Hillview is doing some of that, but has more orders than she can do in the small local market that is the TWIN TOWNS. Heaven only knows the potential for piece work jobs, that are possible if you were to export products from Belize. To facilitate such economic paradigm shifts, we need an open frontier with Guatemala and Salvador, to temporarily import wools and yarns and spices and box materials, label making machines, etc. We import materials and export elsewhere in the world, our MADE IN BELIZE products. _We can do the same with shoes and sugar derivative products also, if you opened the monopoly on small sugar mill factories, now protected and forbidden under old colonial legislation. One factory monopoly will not provide the innovative competitive edge needed to solidify and expand our sugar industry.
Did you hear the latest speech by USA Secretary of State Hilary Clinton this weekend? President OBAMA is seeking trade with BRAZIL, CHILE and COLOMBIA. Did you know why? The AMERICAS are the largest developing economy group now in the world, outside of CHINA and India. Venezuela and Colombia now produce the most oil. BRAZIL is expected to match them in oil production over the next ten years. The untapped reserves are fantastic. The economy of Colombia, dominated by the Europeans, is a breadbasket for feeding the EU countries. The USA is still the biggest economy in the world, China is second, Japan is third still, don´t know who is fourth, but BRAZIL is the fifth largest economy. The American Continent is taking it´s place in the world since democracy is replacing the tyrants, dictators and autocrats. Colombia has come a long way in the last ten years. You would not believe the change in that country. Colombia now rivals Mexico for technology and manufacturing. BRAZIL looks to replace Japan.
While Matura Shepherd laments the fact that BEL will not supply electricity to the growing number of villages in the Toledo Hills and our government will not make them. BEL uses the old argument used once on San Pedro and Caye Caulker, there is insufficient viability. What nonsense! When you introduce electricity, the local village economy undergoes a dynamic transformation and expansion. BEL is actually stagnating the TOLEDO DISTRICT hill economic development. Yet our policy makers ignore proven experience and facts in Belize, we on the Barrier Reef islands learned the hard way for the generation past. Always supply electricity 5 times more than your best BEL commercial estimate, because over 30 months, the villages will grow into the supply. A natural fact of human nature.
( from Belize Culture listserve debate )

Before any government of Belize can effectively pursue a new economic paradigm shift there needs to be a complete restructuring and revamping of how government functions in Belize. We have a system that we inherited from our colonial masters that wasn't designed and historically used to provide a service to the public but rather to control the resources of the country and siphon the wealth to benefit those who hold political power and influence. Growing the GDP won't necessarily fix the problem 'cause the income inequality is likely to keep getting worse with the system of government that we practice in Belize.



by Ian Fletcher
This is no accident. Free trade tends to mean that the industrial sectors of developing nations either "make it to the big time" and become globally competitive, or else they get killed off entirely by imports, leaving nothing but agriculture and raw materials extraction, dead-end sectors which tend not to grow very fast.

Free trade eliminates the protected middle ground for economies, like Mongolia or Peru, which don't have globally competitive industrial sectors but were still better off having such sectors, albeit inefficient ones, than not having them at all. The productivity of modern industry is so much higher than peasant agriculture that it raises average income even if it is not globally competitive.

Nations which open up their economies to (somewhat) free trade relatively late in their development, and continue to support domestic firms with industrial policy, are far more likely to retain medium and high technology industry, the key to their futures, than nations which embrace full-blown free trade and a laissez faire absence of industrial policy too early in their development.

There are numerous documented cases in which trade liberalization simply killed off indigenous industries without supplying anything to replace them. To take some typical examples given by the International Forum on Globalization:

Senegal experienced large job losses following liberalization in the late 1980s; by the early 1990s, employment cuts had eliminated one-third of all manufacturing jobs. The chemical, textile, shoe, and automobile assembly industries virtually collapsed in the Ivory Coast after tariffs were abruptly lowered by 40 percent in 1986. Similar problems have plagued liberalization attempts in Nigeria. In Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zaire, Uganda, Tanzania, and the Sudan, liberalization in the 1980s brought a tremendous surge in consumer imports and sharp cutbacks in foreign exchange available for purchases of intermediate inputs and capital goods, with devastating effects on industrial output and employment. In Ghana, liberalization caused industrial sector employment to plunge from 78,700 in 1987 to 28,000 in 1993.

One unhappy corollary of this is the so-called Vanek-Reinert effect, in which the most advanced sectors of a primitive economy are the ones destroyed by a sudden transition to free trade. Once these sectors are gone, a nation can be locked in poverty indefinitely.

Saturday, March 19, 2011



Under the PUP previous administration, Ralp Fonseca introduced GDP ratios for judging the economy of Belize. For the first three years, I did not like them, but finally got used to working with them and intrepreting what they meant. My most favorite GDP ratio was the NATIONAL DEBT TO GDP RATIO.
Under Barrow and the UDP, they have scrapped GDP ratios. Too revealing most believe and gone back to the old colonial accounting method, which is totally worthless in my opinion and hides a lot of skullduggery by the political party in power.
Generally speaking there is a feeling that we survived the two years of the World Depression well. Not excellent, but came through reasonably, due to good stewardship. Because of this I was tempted to raise the report card for the UDP ten points, depending on the budget presentation. The budget this 2011 is a repeat of the 2010 budget with a few more million to spend, which we will borrow.
Unless there is a game changing dynamic, such as a FREE ZONE between Guatemala, Salvador and Belize, I don´t see any future overall improvements possible for our economy, unless you are counting on a one crop product, as the UDP seem to be doing with OIL. To me that is the wrong way to think. We need diversity economically.
To get to the point, I was unhappy and so apparently are others on the listserves to do with Belize about the UDP colonial accounting government methodology system. It hides a lot of mischief and knee jerk financial shennanigans. Personally I would like Finance Minister, elected dictator Barrow to go back to the PUP system of GDP ratios. So the final figure for the UDP report card is an additional 6 points. For a total approval rating of 60% with this budget reading. PM BARROW lost 4 points possible, due to the old colonial accounting system he is using for reporting to the public. It is not good enough for the modern era.
The PRIVATE SECTOR feel that the UDP and the civil service are not using their smarts in the interest of developing Belize economically good enough. I tend to agree with them. It´s a mixed bag, but we could do a lot better if we had a bigger market next door for our entrepreneurs to work with. At 350,000 people scattered in 9 small towns and 400 villages around 6000 square miles of rugged terrain, we have no local market to speak of and so any arguments that our market would be swamped by our neighbors is moot. To the contrary, a FREE TRADE ZONE would give Belizean future entrepreneurs a LARGER MARKET to build with. It is now for the UDP and our civil service to get cracking and start doing the obvious.

Monday, March 14, 2011



Don´t know how accurate this is? The best figure I can come up with for the Debt to GDP ratio is 72% for the end of the 2010 Fiscal year in March 2011. If that is true, we are holding our own, as the economy rebounds and our GDP rises, while the continued debt of $545 million over the past three years, is strategically continuously borrowed, to repair and construct new infra-structure. Most of the good figures come from the CIA Factbook. The UDP government do not seem to like the National Debt to GDP ratio as a thermometer of good governance.
The Opposition PUP party and smaller political parties seem lacking in the intellect to figure it out either?

Sunday, March 13, 2011



I wonder if the WAR OF THE CASTES is a compulsory subject in Belize High School education? The Amandala has been printing them for months and very interesting reading and the history is part and parcel of Belize history.

The so called MAYA LAND RIGHTS are going no where and will go no where in Southern Toledo District. The reason is that the British claim right; by conquest, occupation and administration. There were not much Maya in Belize back a while ago. Our current government inherites the British rights by warfare and occupation and administration. The saga of the clearing of the Yalback hills Mayan population to give the land to the Belize Estate Company is a sad saga in the history of colonial occupation and warfare. I hope it is taught in high schools in Belize also.

Virgin Coconut Oil is being touted as a health food, world wide. We used to be a producer in Belize one time I remember. Nowadays our coconut oil comes from Singapore and Malaysia, usually via Jamaica as middle man.

THE CRY BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IS THAT WE LACK IN BELIZE A MARKET, to foster local enterprises and development. Why don´t these fools in the civil service push real hard and fast to open up FREE TRADE with Guatemala, a 20 million market for our economic development? The excuse a very flimsy one, and it is not backed up by practice, is that Guatemalan businesses would swamp our teeny market. What a crock of bull manure. You can´t sell stuff made in Belize because the market is too tiny. About 600 Mom and Pop grocery stores. If MARKET is the problem and the size thereof, then co-opt the market next door in Guatemala. With all the roads now connecting us, and super transportation systems in Guatemala, we can use THEIR market to build our own economy. FREE TRADE WITH GUATEMALA. What are you waiting for civil servants? Quit listening to that coast CREOLE South Side nonsense. You want JOBS, you want REVENUES, you want and want and want. Quit wanting and hand Belizeans that big market next door. FREE TRADE MON!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Monday, October 11, 2010

US Official Reviews Efforts vs. Guatemalan Organized Crime

David T. Johnson

· David Johnson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, addresses the Council of the Americas


Good afternoon. I want to thank Mr. Farnsworth and the Council of the Americas for their invitation to speak to you today. It is a pleasure to be here with this distinguished group and to discuss recent developments in security and efforts to combat organized crime in Guatemala. The inclusion of Guatemalan Ambassador Francisco Villagran de Leon, as well as current Mexican Ambassador to Guatemala Eduardo Ibarrola and former U.S. Ambassador Donald Planty adds a wealth of knowledge and experience to our discussion. Our mission at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, or INL, is to mitigate the effects of criminal and narcotics activity overseas in order to reduce the impact on the United States, a mission that often reveals how intertwined our countries are within this hemisphere. The deteriorating security situation in Guatemala has a direct impact on the United States, and I am here today to talk about ongoing U.S. efforts working with the Guatemalan Government to curb the criminal activity, which threatens the Guatemalan population as well as our own.

Current Situation on the Ground

Guatemala faces one of the hemisphere’s most persistent security challenges. Fourteen years after the end of Guatemala’s 36 year civil war, a succession of administrations has been unable to fully overcome the legacy of internal conflict. Weak institutions, corruption and intimidation in the government, and widespread public distrust continue to plague Guatemalan society. These gaps create space for a variety of violent groups to operate with impunity; including drug traffickers and powerful street gangs with origins both foreign and domestic.

Guatemala is further threatened by its geographic location along the drug corridor linking Andean producers with Mexican distributors and their markets in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States transits through Mexico via Central America’s land, sea, or air corridors. As the last link in this Central American chain, Guatemala is under threat from drug traffickers, who move an estimated 250 metric tons of cocaine through the country each year. Guatemala is also a transit country for pseudoephedrine, a main component of methamphetamine, as well as a minor producer of poppy and opium derivatives.

These factors contribute to making Guatemala one of the most dangerous countries in the Hemisphere. In 2009, there were 48 homicides per 100,000 people. Guatemala’s murder rate has roughly doubled in the last ten years and is now eight times that of the United States, and four times that of Mexico. Drug violence is spilling over the border, as the Mexican government’s tough stand on narco-traffickers pushes notorious organizations like the Zetas southwards. The Zetas, arrival in the country has led to violent conflicts with local traffickers. Drug gangs compromise government control along border areas with Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Drug traffickers are not the only international criminal forces plaguing Guatemala. In recent years, we have also seen the proliferation of powerful youth gangs, such as MS-13 and 18th Street, with extensive international linkages in El Salvador, Honduras, and the United States. In Guatemala, these gangs terrorize entire neighborhoods. They engage in armed robbery and murder-for-hire, as well as elaborate extortion schemes often coordinated by gang leaders inside Guatemala’s prisons, exposing just how weakened the criminal justice system has become.

Though fighting corruption has been a major priority of the Colom administration, numerous international bodies have found that the government remains compromised by criminal elements, including clandestine groups that persist from the internal conflict. The high rate of turnover of public officials in recent years exposes the prevalence of corruption, and the challenge it poses for international engagement, as foreign governments must continually rebuild relationships with new interlocutors.

Government officials, even when well-intentioned, are also challenged by intimidation, very constrained budgets, and limited training Criminals convicted of crimes are often free to continue their illegal activities while incarcerated at insecure prison facilities. Guatemala lacks the resources to confront these challenges; it has one of the lowest tax collection rates in Latin America, and in 2009 justice and law-enforcement budgets were cut due to lack of revenue. These factors combine to create an impunity rate of 96.5 percent for murder, with similarly high numbers for other crimes.

The U.S. Response

The United States recognizes the grave threat posed by criminal groups in Guatemala and its neighbors, and is working closely with the Guatemalan government to restore law and order. Since 1990, we have maintained an active Narcotics Affairs Section at our Embassy in Guatemala City. In 2008, the U.S. Government launched the Merida Initiative, a partnership with the governments of Mexico and Central America. Since then, the Central American component of Merida has evolved to address the unique challenges of Guatemala and other countries, as the Central American Regional Security Initiative, or CARSI. While our efforts in Mexico have until recently focused on the acquisition of equipment, in Guatemala and other Central America countries we have long emphasized the need for institutional capacity building among law enforcement and the judiciary. It is along these lines that our support for Guatemala continues to unfold.

Despite ongoing challenges, the United States has worked in partnership with the Government of Guatemala to achieve a notable number of successes in recent years. The Department of State has facilitated training and cooperation between law enforcement agencies in the United States and their counterparts in Guatemala. The most immediate result of this cooperation has been the establishment of elite units of prosecutors and police officers who have been thoroughly vetted. These vetted units now form a reliable core of professionals trained to address Guatemala’s numerous law enforcement challenges.

Under the direction of the vetted units, and through the use of expanded investigative methods like wire-tapping, informants, and intelligence-based surveillance through the Police Collection, Analysis and Dissemination Center, or CRADIC, the Guatemalan government seized 100 percent more illegal narcotics in 2009 than in 2008; 11.8 metric tons of pseudoephedrine, 7.1 metric tons of cocaine, and 950 grams of heroin. As for the narcotics produced within Guatemala, last year the United States provided provisions and logistic support for four poppy eradication operations, helping our Guatemalan counterparts destroy 1,345 hectares of poppy.

The Department of State has also helped coordinate actions to secure Guatemala’s borders, in an effort to reduce the flow of weapons, drugs, and people through the country. CARSI funds have gone to help U.S. Customs and Border Patrol conduct evaluations of all of Guatemala’s land-based border crossings, with further evaluations of sea and airports to come. These evaluations have been essential tools in our coordination with Guatemalan counterparts to strengthen border security. Customs and Border Patrol’s recent presence at seaports and airports in particular has resulted in several high profile seizures, a sign that these new resources and methods are beginning to take effect.

Success in Guatemala, however, is about more than the volume of drugs seized. Success depends on the creation of durable law enforcement institutions that are effective in their fight against crime and responsive to the citizens they must serve.

We have contributed five hundred thousand dollars to the Police Reform Commission headed by human-rights advocate Helen Mack. The Commission is working toward improving Guatemalan law enforcement in five areas: criminal investigation, crime prevention, professionalization, police planning (including operational intelligence), and internal control. We believe these efforts will continue to make Guatemalan law enforcement more capable and more responsive in addressing the significant security challenges faced by the country.

At the local level, the United States helped establish the Villa Nueva Model Police Precinct. Located in a suburb of Guatemala City, this project builds trust between the community and the police. To build community recognition of the police as protectors, the United States uses anti-gang and anti-narcotics programs like D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to reach out to local youth. We have also funded a two-year period of on-the-job training for local police, teaching them to work more effectively with community leaders. These combined efforts have led to an elimination of gang activity in 78 schools in Villanueva, and a much higher conviction rate of offenders, as more crimes are reported and cases are brought to trial after stronger investigations.

Our work to establish principles of community-based policing has been matched by support for a more efficient and responsive judiciary. In conjunction with the Model Precinct, we have supported the establishment of 24-hour courts, which provide, for the first time, immediate protection to victims and witnesses, as well as to the prosecutors, clerks, and judges associated with sensitive cases, while also guaranteeing due process for those charged with crimes. Before the arrival of the 24-hour courts in Villa Nueva, suspects waited an average of three days for arraignment, and some 66 percent of cases were eventually dismissed due to lack of merit. The 24-hour court has sharply reduced this inefficiency and waste of resources; arraignments are now held within 24 hours, and an average of only 9.7 percent of cases are dismissed on lack of merit. Having seen these benefits, the Government of Guatemala has provided resources for further replication of such courts and now there are five 24 hour courts currently operating with more under consideration.

Following the success of these programs, the Department plans to use future CARSI funding to expand the Model Precinct program to Mixco, another suburb of the capital. Through the use of Department of Defense 1207 funds, we will further replicate the program, as well as a hardened 24-hour court and other successful youth crime prevention programs, in the northern city of Coban. In August, agents from Guatemala’s counternarcotics force arrested four suspected Zetas with a cache of military-grade weapons outside of this city, making the area an essential next step in expanding the reach of effective law enforcement outside of the capital area.

Making headway against the significant challenges in Guatemala will require the efforts of more parties than just the United States. It will take the combined effort of the Guatemalan government and society in conjunction with a whole range of international partners and in coordination with neighboring countries in Central America. In recognition of the need for multilateral efforts, the United States has been a consistent supporter of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known by its Spanish acronym CICIG (See-Sig). This independent body, backed by the United Nations, has made valuable advances in investigating and prosecuting high-profile threats to the rule of law in Guatemala, and the United States was pleased to continue its support by contributing four million dollars to CICIG this year. We very much appreciated the good work of former Commissioner Carlos Castresana and Francisco Dall’Anese has done a great job so far in his first months as CICIG’s new commissioner.

What is most encouraging about CICIG is its truly multilateral character, as part of an international consensus on the significant and ongoing threats facing Guatemala.

Though the United States has achieved some success with the specific programs described above, we do not by ourselves have the resources to establish a 24-hour court in every neighborhood or a vetted unit at every precinct. There is no one solution to address Guatemala’s deteriorating security situation; the challenge is complex and multifaceted, and so our response must be targeted and thoughtful. Turning the tide will require collaboration with other donors, other governments, and the United Nations, as well as strong regional programs from South America to Mexico and, most important, good governance from the Guatemalans themselves. Only by coordinating efforts across all these diverse sources can we hope to achieve meaningful and lasting progress.

"Efforts To Combat Organized Crime in Guatemala," Address to the Council of the Americas by David T. Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, October 5, 2010


OF COURSE there are other opinions of security and safety in both Guatemala and Belize. For instance I feel safer both in Guatemala and Belize than in the USA. The fear in the USA has to do with the various police enforcement forces in the USA, not from criminal gangs. In Belize and Guatemala, the security and fear level for the ordinary population is on a par. Mostly to do with criminal gang organizations. Agreed that; the legal systems of both Belize and Guatemala are inferior to the USA. That said, I would be more fearful of a misapplication of legal justice in the USA and perhaps Guatemala, than in Belize. If I had to judge FEAR for the ordinary population, I would say in Guatemala I would be afraid of their justice system. In Belize I would be afraid of criminals and in the USA I would be afraid of their enforcement departments and legal system.


BELIZE 2011 BUDGET SPEECH, from the Prime Minister of the UDP party holding the reins of government.

Prime Minister of Belize and Minister of Finance Honorable Dean Barrow presented his 2010 financial budget to the House of Representatives on Monday, March 15th, 2010. During his speech, Honorable Barrow stated that General Sales Tax would increase in percentage, from 10% to 12.5%, a 25% increase. The budget bearing the name Recovery Today, Prosperity Tomorrow, outlines the $876 million spending plan, which will be financed with $700 million in tax receipts, $127 million in financing, $80.7 million in non-tax revenue, and $22.5 million in grants. However, the budget also makes provision for $63 million in amortization of Government’s debt which currently stand at $3 billion. ( The PM said $2 billion but my off the cuff, mental calculation say it is $3 billion. )

The following are the changes to the previous 2010 BUDGET slated for 2011.

During his speech, Honorable Barrow explained, “We need to take the very difficult but unavoidable actions necessary to close the gap. Accordingly we will, these are the new tax measures: increase the business tax for supply of electricity services from 1.75% to 6.5%. This is only for the supplies of electricity and this is projected to yield an additional $10 million.

Second Mr. Speaker we will impose an excise tax on locally produced crude oil at a rate of $1 per barrel, projected to yield $1.8 million per annum. This is to provide additional revenue to government and is done especially to increase road maintenance on the Western and Hummingbird Highways necessitated by the transport of the crude oil to the port in Big Creek. Finally, Mr. Speaker we have to increase the rate of the General Sales Tax from 10% to 12.5%. This will yield $42 million. We have had no choice in this matter. But even as we raise the GST, we are mindful of our promise to protect the poor and the local income earners. Therefore we are also proposing a slew of tax relief measures, designed to insulate the most vulnerable. The GST is a consumption tax and so we want to do two things: the first is to ensure that the absolutely essential items and in particular food stuff will actually see a drop in prices notwithstanding the generalized GST increase. In other words, basic ingredients for the average Belizean family’s everyday meals should now see a price drop after this budget.

Second, we want to increase the purchasing power of the fixed income people who are at the margins. Accordingly, starting with this latter point first, we are increasing the basic income tax deduction for employed individuals earning less than $24,000 per annum. This in effect would mean that all employed individuals earning less than $24,000 per annum will be exempt for tax while those individuals earning more than $24,000 will continue to be eligible for the current basic deduction of $19,600. Furthermore this change will take place retroactively to the tax basis year commencing 1st January 2010. So under this UDP Government no person with a salary of $500 per week or less will ever again have to pay a single penny in income tax.

Then Mr. Speaker we come to the removal of import duties. We are doing this on a wide range of food items, powder laundry detergents, agricultural equipment and machinery including tractor parts, agricultural packaging materials, and basic school supplies. I say again Mr. Speaker that we are trying to reach a point where import duties will be eliminated all together, save and except only in areas necessary for the protection of local industries.” The sales tax increase will provide an additional $42 million in tax revenue and being a consumption tax, the $40 million will be paid by tax payers. While there were few highlights in the budgetary review and the preview of a year that will be marked by a tax increase, the Prime Minister said government remains committed to alleviating pressures on the poorest of the poor. Honorable Barrow explained, “In the context of the limited resources available to us and based on the information from the two previous year’s budget consultation processes, we will continue to emphasize education, health, and physical infrastructure. We believe the progress already made in all three areas is undeniable and of that we are immensely proud. The greatest emphasis will be on poverty reduction and social protection with programs aimed at alleviating poverty and providing a safety net for the marginalized and the disadvantaged. Let me therefore the larger of these new social sector and poverty alleviation programs. The first is a conditional cash transfer program. This is being funded with $4 million from local resources and will target the deprived and disadvantaged in both urban and rural areas. Again we will look particularly at youth and single mothers. The program will give cash in return for the beneficiaries engaging in activities such as immunization, school attendance and health and family education. We have every expectation, every confidence that this initial $4 million will be boosted by assistance from the World Bank who has already indicated their interest in helping with this program. So this is only an initial $4 million.

Then Mr. Speaker there will be a food assistance program with an initial $1 million to provide at a subsidize cost basic food items to the elderly, poor, and marginalized and to single mothers and their children. We’d have to start this as an apprenticeship program with the $1 million and we will locate it on the southside of Belize City, that is where the project will take place.

Next Mr. Speaker, we will reactivate a countrywide apprenticeship program with another $1 million. This was first successfully done under the 1984 UDP government and will see us pay young people to learn a practical trade by way of apprenticeship to skilled persons.

I am determined therefore that this democracy, this economy will be vindicated by the open, honest, caring, husbandry of the UDP. At a particularly difficult juncture of this administration, I want to thank the people for their understanding. I and the UDP, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, continue to do the very best we know how, the very best we can, and we mean to keep doing it until the end.”

To the read the budget speech in its entirety, kindly follow this link:


Belize Debt Figures are vague so far: We seem to have a total of $3 billion in debt? The increase has been constant borrowing over the past three years. There is no GDP figure available yet, to do a ratio calculation of the Debt to GDP. To see where we stand economically under the governance of the UDP.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I´m one and a half years into gaining experience in trading options on indexes.
The first 8 months, was spent struggling with getting some kind of internet service in the boondocks. I was trying to do it, by driving daily into internet cafes. Hard way to learn.
Most of last year, ( 2010 ) after I finally got internet service, plus a backup battery operated inverter to give me electricity when our local area electric supplier went off, or had brownouts, was spent learning credit spreads and playing with diagonals, calender spreads, selling premium and other strategies that were touted by the experts on ELITE TRADER forums as being preferable. All the advice, more or less turned out to be not true. These long time experts were very cagey and got offended if you asked them what their annual Return on Investment was. Insulting defensive, was more like the reaction I got. I finally figured they were not doing that well, and more into bragging and comparing technical expertise of intricate strategies. Never could figure out for sure their ROI.
By December first, 2010, over a year into experimenting, using the monopoly money of TOS brokerage, eventually after paper and pencil trading for 8 months, I blew up the credit spread trading twice. Totally wiped out. Fortunately it was not REAL MONEY.
Since December 1st, 2010, I went into straight buying of PUTS and CALLS. This paid off almost immediately. Three months later the trial account of $5000 was up to $11,846, doing compounding in about 13 weeks. Around 137% ROI in 13 weeks. Still using TOS brokerage funny money, but now convinced I had a working methodology. The trick was in being extremely choosy about the trades and not to trade at all, unless I had one of my TWO SETUPS. Pretty much a 100% guaranteed profitable trade, every time, if I did that. The theory was to avoid any LOSING TRADES. My trading was about once, or perhaps twice per month. The profit was in COMPOUNDING. By not having a losing trade and compounding, or getting as close to maximum investment as the account grew ( pyramiding is another name ), things started to look up.
By March 1st I was ready to go into CASH REAL MONEY. Thats were we stand right now and as I have no fixed address, we travel in retirement a lot, ran into trouble with the PATRIOT ACT and I.D. verifications and all that jazz, them wanting utility bills ( have none), live on boats a lot, etc.´in order to open an account. Anyway, that is in the process, but takes TIME, as trying to work from my daughter´s house in Texas which is now our legal address, even though most of the year we can be in, any of five or more different countries. Do not like cold or snow and definitely not going to be any place cold. Thats were I stand now. Got my hot little cheque for $10,000 ready to go to the brokerage waiting on Account and I.D. verification to get started in real money. Brother in law put in $5000 and I put in $5000 and if we succeed, got more savings to increase should we be convinced to go that route.
What I learned in the past one and three quarter year, is that SPREADS in general and all the advice to sell premium and that kind of stuff, was pure hogwash. The people in trading on the internet can sell you all kinds of junk. Plain outright lies! Straight buying is the way to go. That became my only profitable way. I trade options on indexes. Thats my niche.
We shall see how it works out in real time, with real money, probably starting by April 1st 2011.
It is awfully hard not to OVERTRADE. The trading bug gets you, and you become addicted, to the adrenaline rush. Yet controlling that is the heart of the matter. What I finally did, was open more than one funny money trading account and just trade my working methodology in one account and that is the official record. In the other one or two accounts, I experiment with different methods, new ideas and stuff like that. Since it is not real money it doesn´t matter that much. Chalk it up to training and experience. The real methodology I have succeeded with in funny money, is the one I will use for real cash and I´m working on only trading when there is acceleration and buying pressure.

BELIZE - Grandpa´s grandkids, Bianca, Zoe, Dillon and Blayd in March, 2011.

Diane Auxillou,( second from left) real estate sales, construction developer and travel advisor on Caye Caulker, Belize with CNN crew, introducing them to the good life, while they do a travel documentary on this exotic, great barrier reef, world famous small island village. The place to go on Blue Hole scuba trips, in the far away ( 90 miles ) Lighthouse Reef ATOLL.
Zoe ( Auxillou ) de la Fuente, off to Puert Rico and Eastern Caribbean cruise tomorrow.
Blayd ( Auxillou ) Vernon, youngest grandkid for patriarch, Ray Auxillou; for mother Wendy Auxillou.
Two cousins, Bianca and Dillon ( the Auxillou´s ) Bianca is a de la Fuente ( mother Wendy Auxillou ) and Dillon is a Kuylen surname ( mother Diane Auxillou ). Bianca is off with her mother to see the Eastern Caribbean, starting in Puerto Rico and down to Barbados on one of those cruise ships budget fares tomorrow.

Growing up on the Great Barrier Reef Island of Belize, has to be one of the greatest childhoods ever experienced.




Belize Bank puts depositors’ money at risk Print E-mail

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Thursday, 10 March 2011 00:00


Michael Ashcroft - If there is one mantra that the United Democratic Party has held ALMOST sacred is the right of the Belizean citizenry to know the workings of government, transparency being the order of the day for the UDP. ( That is a bit of self serving, tongue in cheek balderdash - no reporting of the National Debt to GDP ratio is permitted by this government ) So much this means to the UDP government that almost immediately upon taking office in May of 2008 the government introduced the Freedom of Information Act which prohibits almost all government documents from being secret. While that is for government documents, the same cannot be said for documents relating to private companies and court rulings.

The Guardian has been attempting for the past couple of weeks to secure affidavits that have been lodged at the Supreme Court registry by the Belize Bank against the Central Bank of Belize; however, a court injunction filed by the Belize Bank is preventing this newspaper or any other media entity access to the documents. From what we have been able to gather on the case, the Central Bank of Belize as the banking regulatory institution in the country had issued directives to the Belize Bank to discontinue a practice known as Parallel Banking. By our research on the issue, Parallel Banking is banks which are licensed in different jurisdictions and have the same owner(s) and or beneficiaries sharing management and business. Based on our research these parallel arrangements are established for various reasons including “to take advantage of different tax arrangements; to avoid legal restrictions in some countries on the ownership of foreign subsidiaries by domestic banks; or to diversify risk outside countries that are considered economically or politically unstable. In some cases, the motivation may be an attempt to evade regulatory constraints or consolidated supervision from the home country." –Working Group on Cross-border Banking.

Based on our information, under the People’s United Party it was a free for all for the Belize Bank conducting parallel banking transactions with a subsidiary in the Turks and Caicos; however, that came to an end when the bank in Turks and Caicos fell into trouble with the regulator in that jurisdiction. By our information, the Central Bank of Belize under the PUP gave the Belize Bank carte blanche to conduct any parallel transaction between Belize and Turks and Caicos.

Here is where the situation has reached the Supreme Court. The Belize Bank has taken the Central Bank to the court claiming that it does not have the authority to order the parallel banking to stop. More than that, the Belize Bank asked the case’s presiding judge, Justice Oswell Legall, for an injunction to prevent anyone from accessing affidavits that have been lodged in the case. Justice Legall issued the injunction and now no one outside those dealing with the case has access to the legal paperwork.

But the importance of the case is one that bears watching especially because of the financial implications that parallel banking has on the Belize Bank. Under its regulatory power the Central Bank of Belize instructed the Belize Bank to discontinue the practice and in particular to bring back what are called L.E.G. (Luke Espat Group) loans to Belize. However, the Belize Bank is refusing to comply with the instructions. The so called L.E.G. loans are quite an impressive amount. By our information the loans amount to as much as 190 million dollars and included in the portfolio are assets like the Port of Belize, Renaissance Tower, Croc Land, Indeco and other companies. The loans to L.EG. were split into two with the performing companies such as the Port and Renaissance being bought by a company called Private Investment Limited (PIL) (by our reckoning this is an Ashcroft affiliated company). These amounted to some 150 million dollars. The non-performing companies like Indeco and Croc Land and others amounting to some 40 million dollars were left with the Belize Bank. Now the Central Bank is saying the sale has to be reversed and the Belize Bank is resisting.

The instructions by the Central Bank would mean that the Belize Bank would have to re-purchase the 150 million dollar debt forcing the bank to come up with some serious amount of cash and dipping the bank’s reserves considerably.

But how it all came to this, where a single entity was allowed to rack up a debt of 150 million dollars is anyone’s guess. Those at the helm of the bank have some serious questions to answer and even more, as we’ve been reporting all along, this 150 million dollar debt is not the only one that the Belize Bank has to contend with. There are others of similar magnitude which we’ve exposed in previous articles, some of which have similarly been involved in parallel banking but which the Central Bank is yet to look into. For the time being however, the eye is on the L.E.G. loans and these will be crystallized when the substantive case begins on March 23.

Thursday, March 10, 2011




There is a lot of talk about Central American Economic Intergration. I personally think we should ACCELERATE SOME OF THIS Belize, Guatemala,Salvador and Honduras should be one trade economic block. Free Trade Status across borders right now. While the detractors complain of unfair advantage by their producers, I rather think the shoe is on the other foot, and the HUGE MARKET REPRESENTED BY THESE THREE COUNTRIES are going to be the boost, that makes Belize a world competitor and certainly a local area competitor. Most of the businesses in Guatemala are small scale cottage industries, or family enterprises. They aren´t really any more bigger, or competent than our own cottage industries and family owned businesses. The only advantage they have over there is MARKET SIZE. Our own Belize market is too small. But if we were part of a greater four country group and all of us in the same state of business creation as we are, then that MUCH BIGGER REGIONAL LOCAL MARKET gives our own ability to make shoes, chocolate candy, soft drinks, etc and compete eventually on the world stage.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Don´t know if you are keeping up with the current articles on

That said, the budget speech is due soon and I hope somebody can paste it up on here when they get it in total.

From what I gather, we are earning about $550 million for 2010 and spending around $850 million. The Opposition are crying about the increased debt. That amounts to $500 million over the past three years. I´m not going to criticize the debt business. But this places our National Debt to around $3 Billion.
I certainly want to know the National Debt to GDP ratio until now.
That said, Barrow made his choices and all in all, having just come through the most two difficult years of the world economic upheaval and depression, with a forecast 2.5% growth for 2010, which is due to the OIL exports. He and his party have done well. Difficult times remain ahead, as the world is in upheaval now and obviously imported OIL product prices is going to be a bit messy over the next year. Our straightened circumstances call for continuous fiscal conservatism. Barrow seems a little weak on this, but in the past two BAD ECONOMIC world years, I can´t argue with the results. However, going forward there will be no excuses. He has to get better performance for the tax dollars spent in the civil service. That does not necessarily mean expanding same, though in some cases it probably would. It does mean, also that his thoughts and that of the senior bureaucracy of the small Belize civil service need to be THINKING - OUT OF THE BOX. The colonial status quo, mind set won´t work for transformation of the Belize economy. I like the idea of the country becoming a total FREE TRADE ZONE. Failing that; opening up the one ( Free Trade Zone ) on the Western border and establishing one around Punta Gorda would be more limited objectives.( free trade zones for manufacturing in particular ) With new highway systems connecting us to Central America, we would be not taking advantage of our situation, particularly with the markets in Mexico, Guatemala and Salvador unless we do something on the trade issues and light manufacturing. How we do that remains to be seen. There is over 50 million people as a market available, more than enough for our small country capabilities. The Chamber of Commerce TV program has rightfully had panelists ridiculing BELTRAIDE and the other government departments and their attitudes in export encouragement and trade. The bureaucrats think the status quo is alright. Which is so far out of the ball park in thinking, that you could fire all those involved with that line of thought and get some fresh blood in there.
Our oil will not last for ever. That is our fiscal cushion to enable us to convert the economy. We have probably ten years to build a light manufacturing and re-export capacity. Or the country is destined to be a continued ex-colonial FAILED STATE.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Out of the box thinking about the Belize economy!


BUSINESS PERSPECTIVES brought up by one panel person, that Belize should make the WHOLE COUNTRY a FREE TRADE ZONE.

There are problems with that of course. Mostly to do with loss of customs duties and associated taxes. Yet, could we use the OIL money boost, to actually do this as FACT? There is no doubt in my mind that there would be indeed a huge difference in employment, production factories and storage warehouses in Belize.

The question is, do we have enough cushion from OIL REVENUES in our annual budget if it was fixed and we turned the country into a manufacturing and export country. The change would be dramatic over ten years. How to support our government though, is probably the biggest question in between all the development that would occur.

2010 in Belize we had the highest growth in CARICOM at 2.5%

Mr. and Mrs. Barrow, the first couple running the country of Belize. It is certainly looking like Prime Minister Barrow is running the country better than the former Prime Minister Musa. More methodical, conservative and concentrating on infra-structure.


BELMOPAN, Belize – Today is March 7, 2011, Baron Bliss Holiday. Friday, March 11, is Budget Day in Belize, when Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who is also Minister of Finance, will present his new budget for fiscal year 2011-2012.

The prime minister has assured Belizeans that there will be no new taxes this fiscal year coming to March 2012.

He has told a news conference that total revenues and grand receipts are currently at $559.6 million, and the total expenditure is $566.7 million so that there is an overall deficit at this point in time of $7.1 million. He added that the good news is that currently there is a recurrent balance of $72.4 million and there is a primary surplus of $44.5 million.

Total revenue so far is $544.8 million. That's up by $44.5 million compared to the similar period for fiscal year 2009-2010.

Growth, or GDP for 2010 fiscal year was 2.5% thereabouts. Sounds right to me! For an off the cuff, or back of an envelope calculation and opinion.

Belize is better off than the rest of the CARICOM countries. This is the highest growth rate in the entire Caribbean coming out of the economic recession, as only two other countries in the region are recording positive growth. Those countries are Guyana and the Netherlands Antilles at 0.8 percent growth.

Debate on the budget will take place next week and implementation of the new budget will begin on April 1 as is customary. What I want to see, is the Debt to GDP ratio! Otherwise I´m generally satisfied.




Baron Bliss Day

Baron Bliss Day is a national holiday celebrated across Belize on or about every 9 March. (The actual day of celebration moves around to create the nearest convenient long weekend and is set by the Government.) The holiday is held in honour of one Baron Bliss, the great benefactor who passed away on 9 March, 1926, and whose gift continues to thrive.

Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss was born in Marlow, county of Buckingham, England on 16 February, 1869. Little information is available about his early life, but it is known that he had a brother. As an adult living in Quarry Court in Marlow, he was an engineer by profession and had been appointed a Justice of the Peace. A marriage to Ethel Alice Bliss produced no children. It was during his early adulthood that Bliss became the Fourth Baron of the Former Kingdom of Portugal.

It is generally accepted that Bliss received his title of Fourth Baron through a family lineage with one Sir John Moore, a war hero of battles past. Some suggest that about the same time the Baron received his title, he changed his surname from Barretts to Bliss. The counterargument is that this is mere confusion with the Portuguese version of the title, Baron de Barrato.

By the end of the first decade in the new century, Baron Bliss was wealthy enough to retire to his love of seafaring & fishing. However, in 1911 at the age of 42, the Baron was stricken with a paralysis that affected him from the waist downwards, confining him to a wheelchair. Undeterred, the Baron remained active and acquired a yacht, the Sea King, using it for leisure travel around the United Kingdom.

After the start of the First World War in 1914, the Baron's yacht was commandeered for the British war effort. Once the War had come to an end in 1918, Baron Bliss commissioned the building of the Sea King II. She was a yacht for meant for tropical waters, built to the Baron's specifications, and would be ready to sail in 1920.

Come 1920, with the Sea King II ready, the Baron prepared to leave England, never to return. Arrangements were made, and a settlement was given to Baroness Bliss, effectively ending the marriage. Baron Bliss had the Sea King II prepared and sent to the Bahamas; he would quickly follow to live aboard.

For about five years the Baron stayed in the Bahamas, living aboard his yacht and apparently spending time at Dunmore House (now the official Governor's Residence), on New Providence. He had purchased property on some of the islands, but whether he intended to settle in the Bahamas is open to speculation.

By late 1925, the Baron had grown tired of the social & administrative life that had become his routine. He longed for a more relaxed - read "fishing" - life, so he lifted his anchor and set sail for Trinidad. But his stay on the southeastern Caribbean island was to be a brief one; shortly after arrival in Trinidad, Baron Bliss contracted a severe case of food poisoning that left him in bad health.

Sickness coupled with a dislike of the general atmosphere led the Baron to hoist anchor again. This time he would head for Belize, following up an invitation from the Attorney General of Belize, Willoughby Bullock - and having heard of the great fishing. After a brief stop in Jamaica, he would arrive in Belize in days...
A brief stay

Baron Bliss dropped by his last anchor on 14 January, 1926, in Belize City Harbour.

Upon arrival in Belize, the Baron's health seemed to improve. He took every opportunity to venture forth in his small launch to go fishing, to visit the cayes and to visit the barrier reef. Unfortunately, about a month after arrival and days before he turned 57, doctors attending aboard his yacht found him to be gravely ill and warned that the end was near.

Baron Bliss asked that the Governor of Belize, Sir John Burdon, visit him aboard his yacht. When the Governor arrived, the Baron informed him that he wished to bequeath the bulk of his estate to country of Belize. And on 17 February, one day after his birthday, the Baron's will to that effect was signed & executed right there on the Sea King II.

Three weeks later, on 9 March, 1926, the Fourth Baron Bliss of the Former Kingdom of Portugal passed away. He had never set foot on Belizean soil.
Honoured benefactor
The Tomb of Baron Bliss.
The Tomb of Baron Bliss.

The good Baron Bliss had been in Belizean waters for less than two months in life, yet in passing, would remain with Belize forever. Shortly after his death, 9 March was declared Baron Bliss Day, a public & bank holiday celebrated with parties, fishing tournaments & regattas across Belize.

In a well-attended funeral on evening of 17 March, 1926, Baron Bliss was interred in what is now known as Bliss Park - although this would be a temporary arrangement. It is interesting to note that there are no indications that the funeral was attended by Baroness Bliss.

In his will, the Baron had left instructions that he be permanently interred in a granite tomb near the sea, surrounded by an iron fence, and an obelisk or lighthouse should be built nearby. You can see the whole Baron Bliss Memorial & Fort George Lighthouse in the photo at the top of this page.

The entire inscription on his tomb, shown to the right, reads:

In memory of Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss J.P. Of Marlow in the county of Buckingham, England.
4th Baron Bliss of the Former Kingdom of Portugal.
Born 16th February 1869, Died 9th March 1926 on board his yacht "Sea King" R.Y.S. in Belize Harbour.
A generous benefactor of this colony.

Baron Bliss had accumulated a wealth of almost one million British Pounds - how is not known, but it is speculated to be some combination of professional income, business deals and inheritance. At the time of his death, he held a number of properties and a large amount of securities & shares. His will stipulated for lifetime annuities for the Baroness Bliss - she subsequently passed away in 1945 - a few close relatives, and his faithful staff. Also stipulated was that the sum of 100 British Pounds should be set aside annually for a regatta. The bulk of the Baron's remaining estate, a value of approximately $1.8 million Belizean, was willed to Belize under very specific conditions.

A generous benefactor, indeed!

The British Government decided to contest the fact that Baron Bliss considered himself as resident in Belize, in a bid to collect estate taxes. A 11 March, 1926, ruling in the British courts stated "that it is not made out that this gentleman acquired a British Honduras domicile," and that the estate was liable to pay necessary estate taxes.

The British coffers grew by almost $500,000 Belizean.
The Legacy

The Baron's will was meticulous. It called for the formation of a trust fund, and dictated whom the main bankers were to be, Messers Coutts & Co., of London, England; the auditors, Messers Alexander Clapperton, C.A., also of London, England; and the Board of Directors, initially the Governor, the Colonial Secretary & the Attorney General of Belize. His will left arrangements for the Baron Bliss Trust to invest his money, and all income generated from the principal would be used for the permanent benefit of Belize and all its citizens. Funds from the Trust are also available for a limited number of basic infrastructure projects, such as canal construction or the establishment of street lighting. The principal amount of the Trust is not to be touched, and consists mostly of British stocks, securities & term deposits. The value of the Baron Bliss Trust stands at about $1.5 million Belizean.

As detailed as what was to be done with the money, so was what the Trust couldn't be used for. No churches, dance halls or schools (excepting for agricultural or vocational) were to be built with Trust funds. Also, no money was to be spend on the maintenance or repair that any Trust-funded project may need or require; that is the responsibility of the recipient, generally the people of Belize through the Government, (meaning stretched tax dollars are needed for upkeep - always a contentious issue in any country.)

(There is a curious stipulation in the Baron's will that has no known explanation: No American shall become a Trustee on the Board of Directors for the Baron Bliss Trust, nor shall any American be in the employ of any Trustee.)

Over the years, the Baron Bliss Trust has spent over $2 million Belizean on capital projects across Belize that include: The Bliss Institute Library & Museum, a centre of Belizean culture, it's home to the National Arts Council; The Bliss School of Nursing in Belize City; a number of health centres & libraries around Belize; and the Baron Bliss Regatta & Fishing Tournament. The Trust has also been used to restore the small launch the Baron used with the Sea King II, and it is now on display at the Government House in Belize City.
Check our calendar for when Baron Bliss Day falls this year.
Read about the Baron Bliss Memorial in our tour of the Belize District.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Chaa Creek archeological study on Mayan food production system by Linda and Ted Neff, archeologists from the midwest USA.


Very interesting piece from the Arizona Daily Sun. Kudos to Chaa Creek as well.

by Linda Neff

Ted, my husband, and I returned to Belize, Central America, this past summer after a 10-year child rearing hiatus.

In the mid 1990s, I followed Ted down to the Belizean jungles to study Ancient Maya agriculture. While Ted traipsed around in the jungle looking for and excavating agricultural terraces, I spent my days with our 6-month old son, Lucas, on my knee, analyzing the eroded ceramic artifacts and agricultural stone tools associated with the ancient terraces.

As a University of Pennsylvania graduate student, Ted investigated agricultural intensification through a study of agricultural terracing during the Classic period (A.D. 300-890) near the ancient Maya center, Xunantunich (pronounced Shoo-Nan-Tun-Eech), which is located in west central Belize.

Interestingly, population reconstructions suggest that this area supported more than 500 people/km2. I was interested in the everyday farming tasks and tools used by the ancient Maya. Given our research interests, a good friend and colleague, Dr. Sam Connell, asked us to return this past summer to help him run the Foothill Belize Program.

The Foothill Belize Program, sponsored by Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., and the Belize Institute of Archaeology (, is an undergraduate program that "balances community development and ethnographic experiences with archaeology" ( For four weeks, students learn about the modern and past cultures of Belize through a variety of experiential learning activities.

Ted and I co-directed one of these programs called the Belize Farming: Past and Present Project. Working on an organic farm, we attempted to reconstruct the local food system at the Lodge at Chaa Creek in an effort to understand the past food system of the Maya.

Located just 3.82 miles northeast of Xunantunich, the 33-acre organic farm was conceived of by Mick and Lucy Fleming, who own The Lodge at Chaa Creek.

Chaa Creek is an eco-resort that consists of a 365-acre nature reserve that sits "along the banks of the Macal River in the foothills of the Maya Mountains and is home to a number of exotic jungle dwellers including peccaries, jaguar, monkeys and many others as well as more than 300 species of tropical and migratory birds" ( The organic farm provides fresh food for the resort. Seven farmers combine traditional Maya hoe farming methods with a raised bed system to produce native and nonnative vegetables, ornamental plants, and fruit trees, which form a dynamic mosaic similar to the ancient Maya landscape of the past.

The Chaa Creek organic farm in many respects replicates conditions of agricultural intensification that we assume were present in the past when the Ancient Maya farmed the area. A definition of agricultural intensification is to increase inputs, which consist of things like money, labor, skill, and technology, into an area of land because land better suited for agriculture is unavailable and/or food demand has increased.

First, the resort owners have increased inputs on a small part of their property, simulating a land shortage. Second, some of the land on the farm is marginal in terms of agricultural suitability when compared to the surrounding area. Third, the resort restaurant creates a demand for organically grown produce. Fourth, the farmers are making an effort to farm traditionally, sustainably, and organically, which is what the Ancient Maya were "doing." Finally, we assume the farm, as an ecosystem, is similar Ancient Maya "farms." Consequently, it is an appropriate laboratory for studying agricultural intensification in this region.

Working with the Yucatec Maya farmers, Ted, Lucas, the students and I participated in all the tasks involved with the production of organic food. As anthropologists, we also recorded our activities every five minutes to determine how much human time and energy goes into the creation of an organic meal. In addition, we mapped all the cultural features on the farm and conducted informal interviews with the farmers to learn about field histories, composting strategies, vermiculture activities, soil taxonomies, planting strategies and the basic principles of organic farming.

Linda Neff, an archaeologist, is in the current Master Gardener class. She and her husband, Ted, will speak about organic farming in Belize at the Master Gardener Association meeting this coming Thursday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Dana Prom Smith is coordinating editor for the column. He can be contacted at For more information about the program, call Hattie Braun, coordinator of the Master Gardener program, at 774-1868, Ext.170, or visit the website