Belize: The duplicity in law enforcement

I want to state this clearly so no one misunderstands my point because what I want to illustrate is the double standard in law enforcement that caused the ever widening gap between the “big man” vs “small man” that still fuels crime and violence. I hope no one takes out of context what I seek to convey.

Firstly let me categorically state for the record that I abhor violence and would not advocate it against any person, group or entity even when they have opted to be violent. I further denounce gun violence and the failure of our country to stop the illegal proliferation of guns into our neighborhoods and onto our streets.

Secondly, let me also categorically state that discharging a firearm, be it licensed or unlicensed, in public is an offense under the Firearms Act that is punishable with imprisonment. The exception being in time of need like self defense and even then police must investigate and during said investigation take away the firearm from the accused.

Now having said that do take time out to read the news story I attached because I want to operate on facts and not fiction.

The so-call 21 gun salute fired in public, in broad daylight during the funeral procession of a so- call gang leader is totally wrong and basis for criminal charges and with the right police file preparation it should result in a conviction. How and when police should have reacted given the charged up atmosphere is another issue for debate. So I will not deal with that here, but suffice to say that the police department was and is still lawfully bound to pursue an investigation into this matter and seek to apprehend the shooter and if possible recover the weapon. That is the lawful thing to do and must still be done. To do otherwise would send the wrong message and would further galvanize this gun culture seemingly fully accepted in these marginalized communities.

This role of the police should have been equally stand true on 4th November, 2015 when no other than a UDP supporter of John Saldivar got trigger happy and proceeded to fired his licensed firearm in public in belmopan as the results showed that Saldivar won in honour of the victory of his “general”. When police tried to do their job then and apprehend the shooter, they were emasculated of their power, when no other than Saldivar told police to “back off”. PM Dean Barrow even defended Saldivar’s action at his victory press conference and proceeded to appoint Saldivar Minister of National Security and said that at the time of the incident Saldivar was just a civilian. Hmmmm imagine if he can exert such power over police as just a civilian, how much more power he can exert now over them as their boss and head honcho!

But do the right thinking minded readers see the duplicity? I opine that in both instances the law was broken but let’s analyze the response and the players and the context!

To date that UDP supporter whose name was not officially released and whose gun license was never taken away has yet to be detained for questioning and thus an arrest never took place.

Now juxtapose that incident to this one on Sunday 25th March, 2018, where likewise the supporter of a “leader” fired several shots in public and with a crowd gathered in honour of their leader.

In both instances the firing was used as a sign of “respect” or a sign of honour accorded to the “big man”. The only difference is one is a political leader and the other a gang leaders…. some will say no big difference! Now tell me if by examples our leadership, especially our minister of police, backed by our very own prime minister, by conduct has not only accepted and promoted this culture of gun violence, but had also used double standards in dealing with it. Action speaks louder than words!

Saldivar became minister responsible for police after that election victory and never bothered to ensure his friend and supporter was equally and rightly treated with the full force of the law.

The excuse: per the PM at the then press conference he said Saldivar explained he was concerned the crowd reaction and retaliation had the gunman been taken to police then so he intervened. Fine, that was then, but what about the days following when the police should have dealt with the gunman away from the potential emotional reaction of the crowd? Oops! But how could we forget by then Saldivar was the boss of the very police he told to back down.

Put that same logic to yesterday’s event and understand why I too say timing was everything. I know police must still find that gunman at the funeral procession and deal with him to the full extent of the law. But precedent and protocol having been established on the night of 4th November, 2015 police should have followed suit and waited until the crowd or mob-mentality would not be activated. After all they have the video and countless eyewitness.

Sadly, the Amandala did an interview with Howell Gillette who is now one of the same top cop for Saldivar and he explained away and justified the police’s lack of subsequent arrest of Saldivar’s supporter Now those same words will come back to bite him in this case.

I rest my case my lords! Keep justice blind!

New monument on North Front Street, Belize City

Heading up N. Front st..the new monument to establish the Fort George Tourism Zone is another attempt to market to the international community… the news reported the other night that over 24,000 people crossed the border over the Easter weekend. That’s millions of dollars that usually goes to the Belizean economy in places like Placencia, San Pedro and Caye Caulker, places that was not as ram jam packed as usual for Easter. .with the cost of recreation going up steadily…is Belize marketing strategy and price that is focused on targeting the international audience driving the locals and millions of dollars into the Mexico economy and other neighboring countries?…I’m sure some of those traveling just want to experience the joy of traveling to discover new cultures & activities and I’m the last person in the world to fault them for that…but I have to wonder if many locals are trying to get the best value for their hard earned money with our neighbors cheaper goods and services. ..at a minimum wage of $3.30 an hour, it would take a whole month pay for a Belizean employee to enjoy a Easter weekend at Caulker nowadays. ..what kind of strategy would you suggest to increase Belizean tourism in their own country without disturbing the needed international dollars….your thoughts?

Police officers bully-ragged elected representative – Belize

Dear Police Officers of Belize,

Barbara NoralesI watched in horror as you roughed up, man-handled and bully-ragged members of the media, citizens and an Elected Representative today. As far as you are concerned you were doing your duty and I guess the need for excessive force had to be sanctioned by your Government Leaders. In your effort to remove Hon. Espat, you all are climbing over chairs in the house, dragging Hon. Espat has created the biggest disrespect in the Hon. House. I don’t think you guys should have allowed any sitting Government to have you sink so low.

If you are paying attention the same thing was done when it was time to get rid of the Musa Government. What happened then? Some of you were pinpointed, targeted and then transferred, put in position to punish, no promotion because you violated members of this same party you are now protecting. It is hard for me to fathom that you are now participating in the same thing again, don’t you think that your future will be at stake if and when a Government change? More so, have you all seen a significant development in your living conditions and benefits. Do you think that live will change for you all? At the end of the day you just get hated by the same communities you are there to protect & serve.

I am sure that the Speaker could have called a recess in the house and have an Officer sensibly ask Hon. Espat not to return and avoid the bullshit the world now sees on Television. My thoughts are about when Hon. Marcel Cardona, who was a sitting Minister of this Government was stoned in the house by some party fanatic sitting in the Gallery, I don’t remember the Police rushing or dragging that person out of the house or even arresting him.

You see my officers and fellow brothers, a lot of you know your fate and condition in your jobs, you are aware of the kisses by favor in which promotions are done. You are aware of the move to readily separate some of you from your families. You have seen time and time again the thanklessness in your dedication to your jobs. Stop allowing the system to turn you all into monster under the guise that you will be protected, promoted or transferred to where you think you want to go.

Come together and start demanding better Health benefits for yourselves and your family, start demanding that the working conditions and spaces in your Police Stations, especially the bathrooms get a face lift and many other conditions of your employment that can become better. And you all know that I hold one of your Officers near and dear to my heart. You can all do better.

Sincerely,

Barbara Norales

Embarrassment at Belize National Assembly

ProfileThe events that transpired yesterday in the National Assembly, our House of Representatives was equally embarrassing as it was unnecessary.

The blame might lean more on one side than the other… but make no flippin mistake , no one in that room was blameless. The representatives and the speaker have gradually and purposefully tolerated the increasing antics in the house. Though now we are all ashamed of how it ended it, we all played a part in what transpired. First, by supporting and putting people with no behavior in positions to represent us; Second by clapping, laughing, chanting and posting when insults are thrown across the floor .

We condone this nonsense when we laughing and clambering and posting about the drug-dealer jokes, the ‘normal’ jokes, the pig jokes, the bukut jokes, the thief jokes.

I cannot speak to character of the Hon Rep from Cayo South nor can I speak to the Speaker on a personal level , because I know none of them. However, what I saw was a Speaker who selectively decides which insults, slurs and disparaging remarks he will allow in the house; and an Area Rep who has quite a temper and should have done the proper thing and left when he was named.

Julius Espat at national assembly BelizeMind you, if the Rep from Cayo South was named for the comment (I don’t think the comment was particularly kosher, but far worse language has been used in the House of late) he made to the Speaker, then certainly other members on both sides are long-overdue their suspension. The House is no place for egos and certainly no place to be ‘sucking teeth’ at Officials, or dragging, shoving and hauling grown men about. And no place for petty beefing.

Being named is nothing nice, to be suspended from the House you were duly elected to be in. To be silenced when you are speaking for your people. So I agree Mr. Espat should have taken his own bloody time to leave, law enforcement should not have dragged him out in that manner. What was the urgency really? Was there another House meeting scheduled after in that same room? Was there a bomb in the building?! Pretty sure the answer is no.

And to all the PUDP fanatics willing to throw themselves on the block for their party , let me tell you this, I hope the same way y’all willing to be grand-standing for the red and the blue…. I hope you start grand-standing for the red, blue and white!!! We arguing about the fighting inside and outside the House …..

What we should be fighting about is Guatemala and why we have not DEMANDED an apology at the regional and international level. Their officials and military carried out a malicious witch-hunt against the integrity pf our Nation and its defenders , and now their lies and misdeeds have been brought to light and we just let that slide! Protest that rass!

And in case we all forgot… September is literally around the corner, what we got fu celebrate?!

Despite all the severe issues our country is facing, there is still so much potential here, our land, our people, we have what it takes… we just need to take our flippin heads out the sand.

And if you are offended by this post…. you are probably part of the problem…. and to you I say, feel free to come let me take off your blinders and feel free to come pick up a spine, we grow them down south.

[Conversion Hulse 2 cents = BZ$1 ]

Chef Sean Kuylen at Hopkins Mango Fest 2016

You know that feeling when you are in primary school and there is a school trip leaving at 5am and you can’t sleep the night before because of pure excitement? It is hard to explain and I guess this feeling is a Belizean thing and only we would understand. However, I get this same feeling when I start to see and smell blossoms on the mango trees at the beginning of May. They line the highway, villages and river banks. The connotations of biting into that sweet yellow fruit, pulling hair out of your teeth as it run down your elbow or the incomparable tart green mango with salt and habanero pepper with lime. Fact:  you can’t read that line again without the saliva glands in your mouth going crazy….guaranteed!

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I can still remember my Grandmother Mrs Manuela Young cussing us in every language as a youth as my friends and climbed her Common Mango tree as soon as that school bell rang at Sacred Heart Primary School in Dangriga.

Fast forward to today, nothing has changed and the mango season still entice the children in uniform coming from school as they stain their white shirts from ‘stoning’ the fruit off the highest limb. you are sure to see adults alike sit on their verandah’s with buckets in-front of them as they suck on this addictive fruit. This is the way of life…

Now we have a Mango Festival in the Village of Hopkins celebrating all things mangoes. As a youth I would eat even mango because it was nice, even ones with flux! haha. Now as a chef, I carefully select green ones for pickling, chutneys and salads and the ripest, juiciest ones for sauces pairing with the traditional Darasa, or drizzled over our favorite coconut ‘tableta’, as a dipping sauce for conch fritter or in a pico de gallo with pork pibil.  The recipes using mangoes are limited only by the imagination because the properties of this fruit entice all the senses of sight, touch, taste, smell and even the hearing as they fall on those rusty zinc rooftops!

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Experience “The Real Hopkins” at Coconut Row Guest HouseBeachfront cabins and apartments in Hopkins, Belize.

Cave Tubing and the Blue Hole in Belize

Combine cave tubing and cave exploration to explore this incredible river cave system where ancient Maya Ceremonial centers, pottery, artifacts, altars, obsidian blood letting blades, jade and the actual footprints of the Shaman and priests dated to 400 A.D. are still seen. This cave system is like nothing you’ve experienced before; certainly not like the caves in the US! It is awe-inspiring!

The cave tubing takes about 2 1⁄2 hours. You’ll walk through the first part of the cave system, then jump in some tubes and float back. It’s a very enjoyable experience! Enjoy a swim in the Blue Hole after that! (Not the big one in the sea!) Price includes park entrance fee. Local lunch is available for usd $5 per plate – just let us know if you’d like it! If you have any interest in seeing Mayan Ruins, we highly recommend combining the two adventures! (See prices above in the Mayan Ruins section.)

Get scheduling and prices on cave tubing and the blue hole in Belize.

ATM Mayan cave in Belize

One of the most spectacular adventures in all of Belize – we’ve never sent anyone who didn’t come back and say “wow!” Discover the world of the ancient Maya as you pass through the hourglass- shaped opening of the beautiful Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. ATM “The Cave of the Stone Sepulcher” is one of the most thrilling caving experiences Belize has to offer, bringing you face to face with incredible archaeological relics.

This is an active adventure trip; you will spend some 3 hours in this cave system and 45 minutes hiking through the rain forest, crossing the river three times. You will have a short swim at the cave entrance; thereafter you will often be walking through the cave in water ranging from your knee to your waist, and in a few instances water may reach to your chest. There are a few tight spaces within the cave and at one point you will climb a ladder to an upper chamber in order to see the “Crystal Maiden”. We recommend bringing an extra pair of socks, which you will need to wear in this upper chamber.

Wear: Short pants and T-shirt (you will not be allowed to enter with only your bathing suit), some type of closed-toe water shoes (Chacos, Tevas, Keens, etc), a pair of dry socks and a set of dry clothes. Optional: Sun block, repellent, and rain jacket. NO cameras allowed, however, the guides should be able to provide you with some photographs.

Get details schedules and prices to visit the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) cave in Belize.

Snorkel the Barrier Reef near Hopkins, Belize

Gear up with your snorkeling gears and get a fish-eye view of one of the most gorgeous reefs in the world! Yes. We are talking about Belize. Don’t know how to snorkel? Well, no prior snorkeling experience is necessary when we arrange your snorkeling trip – our guides are highly trained, very experienced, and very patient! Hang with them and you’ll be a pro in no time! A spectacular, relaxing day that you’ll never forget. You’ll leave at 8:45, snorkel from the boat at the reef, go to a gorgeous beach caye for lunch (usually Southwater Caye) where you can snorkel from the shore or lounge under the coconut trees. Then you’ll snorkel at another spot on the reef and come home around 3-3:30 pm. A half-day snorkel leaves at 7:45 and is back by 11:30ish.

Snorkel near Hopkins, Belize

Maya Beach Hotel and Bistro in Placencia, Belize

There are so many things to do, and so many places to visit in Belize. If you have the Placencia peninsula in mind, you will need a safe, comfortable, and of course, a laid back environment to rest your head and your mind – is that not what vacationing as about, after all…?

No doubt, there are many nice hotels to choose from in Placencia, Belize, but not all of them will afford you a friendly and “family-oriented” atmosphere without compromising quality. This is where the Maya Beach Hotel in Placencia comes in. At the Maya Beach Hotel, both the owners (Ellen and John) and staff members are eager and ever willing to serve you – to ensure your experience at their facility is beyond your expectations. Nothing is done without a genuine smile, and a gesture of appreciation for your patronage at the Maya Beach Hotel.

Without any fluff or fancy words, we would like to make it know to Belize and the world at large, that the Maya Beach Hotel is one Belize In America’s preferred hotels in Placencia, Belize.