Belizean Bodybuilders Compete For Male And Female Championships

The Belize Body Building and Fitness Federation held its annual championship competition on 1 November at the Bliss Institute of Performing Art in Belize City to select the 2013 champions in male and female categories.

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Mr. Belize 2013 Rigo Vellos.

Mr. Rigo Vellos won the light-heavyweight division and also the Mr. Belize Body Building Championship 2013. The Masters category was won by veteran bodybuilder Clayton Greenidge; also winning the middle weight division.

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Miss Belize Figure champion Cricel Castillo.

In the female category the figure competition was won by Cricel Castillo, the physique competition by Kaya Cattouse and the bikini competition by Annlyn Apolonio.

The BBBFF is largest bodybuilding and fitness organization in Belize and regularly fields its champions for regional competitions in neighboring countries in Central America.

Watch the video of the Miss Belize Bikini Fitness 2013 competition:

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These are the complete BBBFF 2013 bodybuilding contest results:

Male

Masters – 1st Clayton Greendige; 2nd Deon Danderson; 3rd Guy Neal.

Welterweight – 1st Edgar Rogers; 2nd Deon Ortiz; 3rd Deon Danderson.

Middleweight – 1st Clayton Greendige; 2nd Christopher Carter; 3rd Delvan Palacio.

Light Heavyweight – 1st Rigo Vellos; 2nd Ernest Broaster; 3rd Deon Banner.

Mr. Belize – (This competition was comprised of the winners of each category, but, since Clayton Greendige won both the Masters and Middleweight, second place in Middleweight, Christopher Carter was able to enter the Mr. Belize category.) 1st Rigo Vellos; 2nd Clayton Greendige; 3rd Edgar Rogers.

Female

Bikini Fitness – 1st Annlyn Apolonio; 2nd Christina Requena; 3rd Charlyn Flowers (2012 champ).

Body Figure – 1st Cricel Castillo; 2nd Gina Lovell; 3rd Josephine Gault.

Bodybuilding – 1st Kaya Cattouse

Belize Politician Accused Selling Travel Visas Says Did Nothing Wrong

Junior minister Edmund Castro.

Junior minister Edmund Castro.

Government minister, Edmund Castro, has today denied any wrongdoing following accusations of being part of an immigration ring that provided Belize travel visas to Chinese nationals. Castro was fingered last week on national television by a whistle blower who claims that Castro charged her $2,000. a head to procure visas for Chinese nationals trafficking through Belize on their way to the U.S.A. Mr. Castro is a junior minister in the United Democratic Party government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

Castro who was vacationing in Florida when the story first broke last week, has dodged the media since returning to Belize on Saturday but today sent out a statement through the Belize government’s press office. Saying he is “upset and angry” at the whistle blower, Castro admits that he procured 5 visas for Chinese nationals for the whistle blower, but that it was not for monetary consideration. The denial of any wrong doing by Castro as quoted in the press release issued today:

“Some time ago the woman, Alverine Burgess, did visit Castro at his office to seek his assistance. The woman asked Castro to write a letter recommending consideration of five visa applications that she was going to lodge with the Department of Immigration. Members of the public, as is well known, ask ministers to write letters of recommendation all the time in connection with various matters; because Castro knew Mrs. Burgess and her husband, he wrote a generic letter to the department asking for consideration for the five visa applications.”

The story first aired by Belize’s Channel Five, quotes the whistle blower as alleging that Castro collected in the region of $400,000. over a nine-month period procuring some 200 Belize visas for foreign nationals. Castro states in the press release that he intends to seek legal advice and sue the whistle blower and Channel 5 for damaging his reputation.

Edmund Castro has been in trouble before. In November 2010 he was fired from the cabinet by Prime Minister Dean Barrow after a Belizean-American woman complained that Castro has swindled her out of $48,000. in a land transaction. At the time Mr. Barrow did not provide details, simply stating ““I won’t go beyond what I’ve said. It’s an incident involving land. To the extent that anybody has been wronged and that it is within the power of government to set it right. Whenever there is proof given to me concerning wrongdoing on the part of any member of my government, I will act.” But after Mr. Barrow’s UDP government entered its second term of office in 2012, Castro was reinstated to the cabinet.

In September 2013 Edmund Castro made news headlines in Belize after allegations of sexual harassment against a female Ministry of Foreign Affairs protocol officer in Taiwan.

 

Continuous Rains Bring Floods, Road Closures To Belize

Amateur photo of waterspout off Dangriga coast 25 October.

Amateur photo waterspout off Dangriga coast 25 October.

Three days of almost continuous rains have brought floods and the closure of sections of Belize’s major highways in the west and south of the country weather and emergency management officials report today.
The National Meteorological Service reported this morning that “Belize Doppler Radar observations showed showers and rain developed over the south earlier last night and spread across the country. Some showers and rain continue over the south this morning (south Stann creek / north Toledo) and central areas of the country. Moisture continues abundant as latest radar imagery shows maximum available moisture range 55-65mm across the southern Gulf of Mexico, Central America and most of the Caribbean.”

The weather forecast is for weather conditions to remain moist and unstable into Monday.

The National Emergency Management Organisation has today warned of floods along the Belize River that stretches from the western part of the country into central and eastern Belize. Flood conditions of interest to travelers and motorists:

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Floods at the Salvapan Community area in south Belmopan.

CAYO DISTRICT:
Water is approximately 5ft under the Roaring Creek Bridge near the City Of Belmopan junction to San Ignacio and the western border, and is rising rapidly, residents that live nearby are asked to be alert and move to higher grounds.

The Macal wooden bridge, Iguana Creek Bridge and Baking Pot ferry remain closed and impassable, due to flooding. The Macal River level is receding near the Wooden Bridge.

All residents along the Mopan and Macal Rivers are being advised to remain vigilant and be ready to take the necessary action and move to safety.

STANN CREEK DISTRICT:

Two feet of water is above the approach to Mullins River and the water is rising. The Coastal Road is closed to traffic.

The Cabbage Hay Creek is rising and is about a foot from flooding Mile 25 on the Southern Highway.

In San Roman flood waters are starting to affect residents that live along the Creek.

The North Stann Creek River is about 12ft above normal and is beginning to rise in Hope Creek.

A flood Watch is in effect for Mullins River, San Roman and Hope Creek.

TOLEDO DISTRICT:

The Domingo Creek area was not affected by flood waters and the road between Jordana and Blue Creek remains open to traffic via Santa Anna Road and Corazon.

The river by Aguacate is 3 ½ ft above the bridge and is receding slowly, remains closed to traffic.

Temash (Crique Sacro) the river is 13ft below the deck of the bridge.

Santa Ana – Moho at Cotton Tree lodge (near Santa Ana) is 1 ½ ft over the bank and is receding slowly.

Corozon Creek is 2ft below the deck of the bridge.

Blue Creek Bridge now has 2ft of water above the bridge and is rising, closed to traffic.

Flood Watch remains in effect for: Santa Rosa, San Benito Poite, Jordan, Aguacate, Crique Sarco, Bladden, and Corozon.

Belize PM Has Advice For Americans: Change Your Form Of Government

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Belize Prime Minister and wife Kim leave Madeo restaurant at Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.

Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow is making headlines in California where he is on a tour with his wife Kim raising money from Belizean-Americans and seeking medical attention for back problems. TMZ (Ten Mile Zone) reports that quizzed on what is wrong with the U.S. government and the shutdown, Mr. Barrow quipped back that America should consider changing its form of government.

The leader of the tiny and impovershed nation of Belize, a former British colony in Central America popular with SCUBA divers, was leaving the swanky Beverly Hills restaurant Madeo surrounded by U.S. Secret Service bodyguards. Reporters asked him if he had any advice for the U.S. government to avoid another shutdown.

His response  “You have to switch to the parliamentary system.”

Now Belize has a system like many former British colonies with no president and power concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of an all-powerful cabinet. Jamaica, India and Zimbabwe are examples of parliamentary system governments.

Comments on Mr. Barrow’s faux pas range from outrage and admonitions that the ruler of a tiny patch of jungle should not be giving governance advice to the U.S., to defensive comments from Belizeans residing in the U.S. saying the prime minister was simply joking.

The TMZ categorised the PM’s comments as International Smack Talk.

Belize Prime Minister Throws Immigration Minister Under The Bus

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Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow at press conference today.

Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has done a volt-face and asked area representative and former immigration minister Elvin Penner to resign from his United Democratic Party citing “multiple instances” of immigration and passport irregularities.

Mr. Barrow summoned the media to a press conference in Belmopan today after the long Columbus Day weekend to announce that he now wanted nothing  more to do with Hon. Elvin Penner. He said he had called Penner by telephone this morning in Guatemala City to ask for Penner’s resignation from the UDP. Mr. Penner who is seeking medical attention in Guatemala has not taken a decision, according to Mr. Barrow. But Mr. Barrow said that he hopes Penner takes a decision by tomorrow afternoon, before he, Mr. Barrow, departs for a trip to the U.S. to socialize with Belizean-American UDP supporters in the Los Angeles area, and also seek medical care for a back problem.

Mr. Penner was fired from the cabinet on 19 September after a scandal in Taiwan involving a fraudulent Belize nationality certificate and passport issued to accused South Korean swindler Kim Wong Hong. Citizen Kim a he is referred to in Belize, was in a Taiwanese prison awaiting extradition to South Korea. Kim Won Hong, has been accused by SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won of being the main culprit behind a massive embezzlement scheme. According to reports in the Belize media, another Belizean politician, the Deputy Mayor of Belize City Eric Chang, a member of Mr. Barrow’s United Democratic Party, is wanted in Belize for questioning in connection with the Kim Wong Hong scandal. Mr. Chang who was in Taiwan when the scandal broke, has so far refused to return to Belize.

After firing Mr. Penner from the cabinet,, Mr. Barrow said his government would stand steadfastly behind Mr. Penner as an area representative, who he said, deserved a second chance. But civil society in Belize, and the opposition People’s United Party have started a petition drive to trigger the recall mechanism in Belize’s electoral laws, to have Mr. Penner removed from the House of Representatives. This has been opposed by Mr. Barrow and his party who it is believed fear a bye-election that could destabilize the government that has a slim two seat majority in parliament.

Mr. Barrow and his troops have just ended a four-day campaign in the Cayo North East constituency aimed at encouraging voters to not sign the petition drive to remove Penner from parliament. In one of his stump speeches this weekend Mr. Barrow said that Penner has been punished enough by being removed from cabinet, and there was nothing much to be gained by removing Penner from parliament. But poor public response and revelations last week by activist attorney Arthur Saldivar who got his hands on some 150 documents showing additional irregularities of suspect nationality certificates and passports, may have forced the Prime Minister to flip-flop and abandon Mr. Penner.

Added to the Kim Wong Hong scandal, are revelations that Belizean travel visas are being trafficked to Taiwanese, Chinese and Middle Eastern residents for U.S. $5,000. each. Speaking at a press conference on 10th October, Prime Minister Dean Barrow admitted that a “visa hustle” was taking place and this could bring down his government: “But if there is one thing that can and would bring down this government it is hustling at Immigration. I have heard that ministers are procuring visas for people. I’ve said pretty much in every second Cabinet meeting, if you are doing so for God sakes stop it! Stop it! That is what would cause the government to fall.”

Under Belize’s constitution, an area representative can only be removed from parliament if he voluntarily resigns from his party, or if he “crosses the floor” to join another political party. If Mr. Penner refuses to resign Mr. Barrow can expel him from the party but that will not affect Mr. Penner’s seat in parliament.

The Prime Minister’s press conference this morning was closely followed by a press conference by the opposition People’s United Party where the Belize PM was lambasted as doing too little too late to resolve the passport and visa scandal. Party leader Hon. Francis Fonseca said Mr. Barrow was responsible for the national disgrace brought unto the country by first appointing Penner to the immigration ministry, and thereafter protecting the minister even after case after case of illegal passports issued came to light. “It took the Prime Minister 26 days to decide to distance himself from a minister who everyone else in Belize but the Prime Minister knew was corrupt.” Mr. Fonseca called on the government to allow a Senate inquiry to be conducted to examine all suspect cases of illegal passports and the trafficking of Belize travel visas issued under the United Democratic Party since it took office in 2008.

Belize And Guatemala Electoral Bodies Promote Bilateral Cooperation

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Mrs. Maria Eugenia Villagran de Leon President of the Supreme Electoral
Tribunal of Guatemala, Mrs. Josephine Tamai Chief Elections Officer of
Belize, Bernard Pitts President Elections and Boundaries Commission Belize.

The electoral authorities of Belize and Guatemala met today in Belize under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS) to exchange information,experiences and best practices in electoral management, according to an OAS press release.

The meeting sought to identify areas for inter-institutional collaboration; and further learn about the norms and processes in each country to conduct referendums.

Guatemala´s delegation was headed by the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, María Eugenia Villagrán de León, and Mr. Bernard Pitts, President of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, led the Belizean delegation.

The meeting at San Ignacio in western Belize took place within the framework of the new confidence-building measures that both countries adopted last May with a view to improving the conditions necessary to establish a new date to hold the simultaneous referenda, which will determine if the territorial and insular dispute between both countries is submitted to the International Court of Justice for final settlement.

This encounter, was held on the symbolic date of October 6 – the date previously established for holding the referenda, but which was cancelled over objections from Guatemala following changes Belize made to its referendum law. Local observers believe today’s meeting was part of an exercise aimed at persuading Guatemala and Belize to take steps at reviving the proposed referendum.