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Nominations Open for the 19th Outstanding Women’s Award by National Women’s Commission

The National Women’s Commission (NWC) is officially welcoming nominations for the 19th Outstanding Women’s Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize women across the country who have given back to the community. Programme Officer at NWC, Eleanor Murillo, spoke about the nomination criteria that must be met. Eleanor Murillo, Program Officer, NWC: “As the advisory monitoring reporting body to government on issues of gender equality we thought that it would be good for us to use the critical areas from the Beijing platform for action. And the Beijing platform is really the advancing of women’s rights. And so government, Belize and all the countries who have signed on to the Beijing have to report on areas that they have advanced women’s rights in their country. And so just to name the areas we have women in the environment, power and decision-making, the girl child which means someone under the age of 17 years, women and the economy, women and poverty, those institutions who have done great work, government, NGOs, whether it’s a business. I know in the past we know that a hotel who have really done outstanding work in terms of empowering their workers they were awarded one year. So it’s not just women individually, but also institutions, organizations, businesses who help to advance women’s rights. Education, that’s another area, the women in education, women in health, women in the media. So even the media houses can also submit, you know, an outstanding woman who has gone beyond the call of duty in terms of advancing women’s rights, women in uniform services and so on. So we have these areas that we look at and so these are the people that we want to really award this year.” Nominators are asked to submit a 250-word essay about the nominee along with a picture of the nominee by Friday. The selected women will be awarded on March 21.

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Belize Represented at COFCOR Meeting in Guyana

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francis Fonseca, represented Belize on Sunday at the 19th Special Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) held in Guyana. The meeting gathered Foreign Ministers from across the region for discussions with US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Canada’s Minister of International Development, Ahmed Hussein. The meeting was chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica Kamina Johnson-Smith. The foreign ministers discussed various topics such as the progress and opportunities in the U.S – Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis (PACC 2030), and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. They also touched on access to finance, renewable energy, food security, and security cooperation. During the meeting, the Foreign Ministers also received delegations from Ghana and Lesotho who presented their candidatures for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General. The meeting was held ahead of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government, which began on Sunday and concludes tomorrow.

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Love Foundation Hosts Workshop on Domestic Violence and Gender Norms

25 men and boys met under the theme “Promoting respect and equity together” in a three-day capacity-building workshop over the weekend. The workshop was facilitated by the Love Foundation. The training covered topics surrounding domestic violence and navigating gender norms. One of the participants, Sheldon Sosa spoke about some of the main takeaways from the workshop. The men will be facilitated to mentor young boys in their communities.

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Chinese Businessman Charged for Discharging Firearm Remains in Prison

Chinese Businessman who allegedly shot a customer during a dispute remains in prison. 29-year-old, Wenjing Lei, represented by his attorney, Richard Dickie Bradley, appeared before a magistrate in the High Court where he was charged with discharging a firearm in Public. Lei pleaded not guilty. He was granted bail of $8,000 plus three sureties of the same amount which he failed to meet and so he was remanded back to prison until Friday. The incident occurred on Sunday, February 18 when the victim, Reno Castillo was standing in front of Guan Fa Chinese Grocery Store in Belama Phase 2 when an argument ensued between him and the shopkeeper. According to Castillo, Lei, the shopkeeper’s nephew took out a firearm and fired a single shot at him causing injuries to the foot. On Wednesday, Castillo appeared outside of the court where he told police officers that he does not want to proceed with court actions. The sitting magistrate denied the virtual withdrawal and Lei was remanded to the Belize Central Prison.

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Police Corporal Remanded to Prison for Wounding Allegations

A Corporal of Police was denied bail and remanded to the Belize Central Prison for wounding allegations. 36-year-old, Lawrence Jerome Martinez, appeared in court before a Senior Magistrate where he was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and wounding upon Patrick Dean Tillett. Due to the nature of the offense, bail was denied, and Martinez was remanded to the Belize Central Prison until April 30. The alleged gunplay incident where Tillett was wounded is said to have occurred on January 6 at the Hattieville Police Station.

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Violent Altercation in Bella Vista Village: Man Loses Eye in Stabbing Incident

A man from the Toledo District lost an eye during a fight yesterday. Around 4:20 pm, David Acal and 27-year-old Michal Pau were socializing at a bar in Bella Vista Village when they began arguing. The men reportedly started to fight, which resulted in Pau allegedly stabbing Acal in the eye. Police say they responded to the scene and found Acal bleeding profusely from his left eye socket. He was taken to the Independence Polyclinic for treatment. Police are searching for Pau.

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St. Michael’s Primary School in Belmopan Targeted in Second Burglary within Two Months

Investigators out west are probing into a break-in at St. Michael’s Primary School in Belmopan. The school, situated in the Las Flores area, was burglarized over the weekend by thieves who pried open its burglar’s bars. The crooks ransacked the school’s office and made off with electronics, valuing almost ten thousand dollars. Joan Sanchez, the Principal, spoke about the disheartening crime and said it is the second time the school has been targeted within the past two months. Joan Sanchez, Principal, St. Michael’s School: “We have four cameras in strategic locations on the compound but when we viewed the camera we haven’t picked up anything yet on the camera that is directed towards the office. At the front gate nobody came in from the front gate, the front gate is intact, the burglar bar was still intact as well just that they prised it opened and somebody forced themselves into the office. I believe it’s somebody that has knowledge of the compound and knowledge of where we have stuff here in the office at the school.” Reporter: So what all was stolen ? Joan Sanchez, Principal, St. Michael’s School: “From the checks we have done already we noticed that we have a Dell laptop stolen, a Lenovo laptop, one Samsung Chromebook, four Chromebooks that were recently donated by the Ministry of Education and one Makita cordless drill with the charger. About a month ago they went into the school kitchen and they took kitchen stuff, some blenders and mostly they ate out the snacks that were in the kitchen. They actually got into the kitchen from through the wall, they dug out a hole in the wall. When we got in to the office, when we got access to the office while ago we noticed that all the drawers were ransacked so obviously they were searching and the only thing I would think they would be searching for would be money.” Anyone with information that can assist in bringing the perpetrators to justice is asked to call the police.

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Police Hunt for Fraudster: Resort Swindled Out of $27,000

Police are on the hunt for a fraudster who was able to con a local resort out of $27,000. Last week, the Financial Controller of Itz’ana Resort reported to police that a man named Nicolas Paula, who claimed to be a 40-year-old American citizen, duped the staff out of an 8-day stay. The employee says Paula visited the resort on February 5 and presented them with proof of an online wire transfer amounting to just over ten thousand USD for a three-night stay. However, the resort later learned that the transactions were phony, and Paula was confronted, but he denied the allegations and extended his stay. The swindler allegedly continued to reassure the staff that payment would be made and provided screenshots of a ten-thousand-dollar transfer, which was also fake. On February 13, one day before his stay expired, the resort learned Paula had fled from the compound. Police have since learned that the man is allegedly a Costa Rican national, who used fake documents to pass as a US national.

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Bladen 12 Trial Extended: Defense Attorney Highlights Importance of Voir Dire Testimonies

Defense attorney Leroy Banner, says that the trial for the Bladen 12, the men accused of facilitating a narco plane landing in southern Belize, is taking longer than originally planned. The trial continued today before Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman but remains in voir dire (a trial within a trial). The original projection for the completion of the trial was eleven days; however, the substantive matter cannot be heard until the completion of the voir dire, which is being held to contest the caution statements given to police by two of the accused. Banner spoke generally about the importance of the testimonies given in the voir dire and said that the substantive matter should be concluded in less time. The accused are charged with two counts of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply, one count of conspiracy to land a plane at an unlicensed aerodrome, and one count of abetment of the importation of a controlled drug. The case is being heard at the Charles Bartlet Hyde building to accommodate the twelve accused, four defense attorneys, and two prosecutors.

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Glenfield Dennison Elected as New Union Senator

Glenfield Dennison will be the new union Senator come April 1. Dennison was duly elected on Saturday during a meeting of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB). The 39-year-old currently serves as the Vice Chair of the People’s Constitution Committee. He had vied for the post, along with Marvin Mora. Luke Martinez, President, NTUCB: “We are making a transition from one Senator to another and there is no handpicking. Everybody gets an equal opportunity to express themselves via votes and we have concluded that today. Monday bright and early we will send our information to the Governor General and we hope for her to respond to us in a rapid fashion. Everybody who contributes to the National Trade Union Congress, the work that they do we could never ever, it could never be compensated I mean you can’t even put a value to the work that we do as trade unionists. Sister Elena took up the leadership on behalf of the National Trade Union Congress in the Senate a few years ago and when she did that it was because previously there were some questions in how the National Trade Union Congress was being represented in the Senate. So she took over during a tough time. She had to prove herself and show to the National Trade Union Congress membership and to Belizeans that she understood her responsibility and her role as a trade unionist and Sister Elena was able to do so while she represented the National Trade Union Congress as our Senator. We are at a point where her term has expired for us based on decisions that we’ve made at previous AGM and so we’re just respecting the decisions of our AGM and so carrying out with what needs to happen so that we could have smooth transition and continuous representation on behalf of the National Trade Union Congress at the Senate. So we definitely continue to thank Sister Elena for th work that she has done and encourage her to continue to contribute to our country in any way possible.” Martinez also spoke about his expectations for Dennison in the Senate, given that Smith was seen by many as a firebrand Senator. Luke Martinez, President, NTUCB: “There’s always a lot of expectations. Primarily always say that once you’re a trade union member and you’re representing the National Trade Union Congress you must understand what are our strategic goals and objectives. We launched our strategic plan last year and each trade union member has an opportunity to review that strategic plan where we have our clear goals and objectives. And my message is always direct when it comes to anybody who represents the National Trade Union Congress; if you are not able to align yourself with our goals and objectives, NTUCB mission and NTUCB vision, you cannot align yourself to support the working class then you can’t represent the National Trade Union Congress. And that expectation with me as leader I’m very serious about that. Very very serious. The nominations would come from the National Trade Union Congress in accordance with the constitution and so internally we would agree on that term at our AGM so it varies. It would be two years, maybe three years and you have to be performing. You have to be performing. We are in the process today by the way of ratifying a policy which would guide that process on the way forward. So this will strengthen our democracy and the democratic process.” Dennison is a member of the Public Service Union.

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