Important Note: This Internet version of 7 News is a verbatum
transcript of our evening television news script. Many interviews on our newscast
are conducted in Creole. In the interest of clarity for our foreign readers,
we attempt to paraphrase the Creole quotes in English
The west is awash in a wave of unprecedented violence tonight after another decapitated body was found today. “Steve” Hyde known as “Deeds” is a cousin
of the notorious Russell Hyde and he was found in a shallow grave at a farm just outside Camalote today around midday. He had been decapitated. Police
suspect that he was killed because he witnessed the murder of
28-year-old Edilberto Madrid known as “DUDES”, of Roaring Creek Village. He was reported missing on Monday May 25.
Now his former associate, “Deeds” was the caretaker of Russell Hyde’s farm – and he was also reported missing on Monday. And now he too is dead, and
It is a very tight circle of butchery and murderous violence surrounding Russell Hyde – whose wife was killed by a sniper outside Belmopan ten days
ago. Now, police sources are telling us that Hyde himself is a person of interest that they’d like to speak to about this latest murder. We could not
reach Hyde for comment.
So, what befell Edilberto Madrid? He was found decapitated, dismembered and disemboweled in the Roaring Creek River near the Young Bank Road, also in
Camalote Village. A post mortem showed that he had a large vertical cut from the chest to the abdomen and all limbs and his head were missing.
It’s a level of barbarity Belize has not seen before. And while that level of human cruelty confounds even outsiders – it has destroyed his family.
Today Courtney Weatherburne went west to talk to them:
Courtney Weatherburne Reporting…
Looking out unto this emerald green river in Roaring Creek, evokes a sense of serenity - with it perfect stillness. That tranquility was
shattered/interrupted on Tuesday morning when 28 year old Edilberto Madrid’s headless body was found floating near these broken tree limbs. It was a
ghastly sight – too graphic to reveal.
Madrid’s common law wife of 5 years, Julie Fernandez says they had just come back from a weekend trip to Guatemala and were preparing for her sister’s
wedding when Madrid went missing on Sunday morning. He told her that morning that he was going to visit his sister and that he would be back soon.
Julie Fernandez - Common- Law Wife
"We were together at the location where you met me just now. He went over to his sister, which is not far away. I texted, he didn't answer because I
had stuff to go do at home. I text and told him as soon as he is ready I will come back for him so he could call or texted me back. He did not answer
the entire day. I call, I texted all day Sunday. Sunday night I waited thinking he would come home - he did not come home."
And when he didn’t come home Sunday night, Fernandez made a missing persons report early Monday morning. That’s when she and a group of family members and
friends formed a search party to look for him
"We were in the Camalote area behind the burial ground searching because we got information that there was a body somewhere back there. So we went and
searched that area. For about 3 hours we were in that area - nothing, so we decided to come back over to this side because this side is the area which
we first started the search."
That search ended with the gruesome discovery of his body on Tuesday morning in the Roaring Creek River. His older sister was there to identify him.
Maria Banner - Sister
"I was strong at the moment, I tried to be strong for my family like I said. I managed to do it but the memories of how he was left flashing back to
me. All I can say is who ever did it, we leave them unto the Lord." (Emotional crying…)
Police have two suspects detained for this murder.
And while those two murders are far from being solved, to others have been. An 18 year old has been arrested and charged with burglary in connection
with the double murder in Teakettle. It happened on Friday May 15th at the Estate of American Julian Christopher Jones. Jones hired 61 Paul David
Signorino to finish a plumbing job at his Estate on Friday but Signorino never returned home. Both Jones and Signorino were found dead in Jones’ home
that Friday evening. Jones had been chopped to the head while Signorino was shot twice to the head.
18 year old Teakettle resident Shaylon Santos has been arrested and charged with burglary. Why only burglary? Well Belmopan police say they do not have
enough evidence to charge him with murder. Police believe it was a burglary turned murder and they are still investigating the case. They would not
release his photo because he is a suspect in other ongoing investigations.
Ever since the Barrow Administration passed the Petrocaribe Loans Act, it has been receiving blowback from the social partners who say that the law
circumvents the oversight mechanisms of the Finance and Audit Reform Act.
The Unions have been most vocal, especially against the retroactive effect of the law. In an attempt at appeasement, the Prime Minister has crafted
amendments to bring the law more in line with the expectations of its critics.
To this end, he invited the National Trade Union Congress of Belize to a meeting at his Belize City Office this afternoon. It lasted a little under 2
and a half hours and during which time, the PM discussed his reasoning with the Union representatives and the purpose of each of the offending portions
of the Act that they take issue with.
At the end of the meeting, President Marvin Mora and 2nd Vice President Audrey Matura-Shepherd discussed told the media how the discussion went:
Marvin Mora - President, NTUCB
"The amendment itself that the government is proposing is addressing some of the major issues that in hindsight probably could have been addressed by
the government then if they had done consultation. As a matter of fact one of the things that the prime minister conceded is that he could have and he
probably should have but in his wisdom as a leader - something you have to take the bull by the horns and make certain decisions. Mind you, I would say
his reasoning for so doing was basically to safe guard the programme - according to what he explained to us. So, one of the things that we are looking
is the fact of the retrospectively of the changes. But we are also looking at where we are and where we want to go. One of things we point blank asked
the prime minister - actually was the last thing we asked, that if he is confident that; let's say the unthinkable for him would happen where his
government would lose power in this imminent upcoming elections. And you have a change in leadership in the government - if he is confident enough that
not only the petrocaribe bill but the amendments he is putting in are good enough so it would not allow any other administration to abuse the
petrocaribe fund. And he said that he is 100% confident. Still, he opened up the doors not only for the congress to inject something in that regard if
it were possible. But also for other suggestions in regards to the petrocaribe bill."
Audrey Matura-Shepherd - 2nd Vice President Union, NTUCB
"We've heard out the prime minister and I must say he graciously conceded to some of the points we've made. One of the main points he conceded to was
that the retrospectively of it as he said merely to get passed or over the legal challenge which was a position that I personally have already said and
the union already recognised. But there were a lot of other points that were discussed and from what we will hear from our president is that we go back
now to our general council, discussed everything that was discussed at this meeting and then move ahead with that."
But, ever since we’ve been informed about this meeting between the NTUCB and the Prime Minister, reports were that a request was made that Audrey
Matura-Shepherd be excluded from the proceedings. She took it as a priority to show up today, and so while we had the opportunity, we asked her about
that request. Here’s what she had to say:
"The prime minister did invite us to a meeting and we had no problem going as a union. I knew that there was some claim that I was not suppose to be
there. 3 of the presidents told me personally and it's a part of our record - but that never came up again because the position of the union was always
that we won't be told who can come. This is the executive, each union has their representatives, we didn't make a big deal about it. I think maybe the
propaganda is and the people who are the political attack dogs have made a big deal about it. But as a member of the executive of NTUCB, I am here and
as the president of CWU, I am here."
Geovanni Brackett, Plus TV
"Do you take it personal, do you even categorise it?"
"I don't take it personal, I understand politics, I have been around the prime minister when I was in the UDP and I know the nature of his politics.
Sometimes he is very quick to say things. Then when cooler heads prevail that there is no sense. I mean his people who follow him in terms of the
people - especially on WAVE radio, take lead and make attacks but I can't take those things personal. Because at the end of the day that's just a
distraction. I came to the meeting, I think it was rather polite and cordial, I had my input.”
The union reps. told us that they must now go back to their general membership and inform them about the points which came up at today’s.
They will then get feedback and input from those members, and make suggestions to the Prime Minister about other ways the amendments can mend the law.
We understand the Government intends to table these amendments at the next house sitting, which is scheduled for June 26.
Audrey Matura – Shepherd… as you saw in our last segment, she’s one of the most vocal labor leaders, and as an attorney, she’s never the type to shy
from an interview. But, she did today, after it appears that one of her interviews granted to the press has gotten her in trouble with the Supreme
Court, so much so, that she is being cited for contempt, a very serious offence before the court, one which can even carry a jail sentence.
We’ve been following this story in court all of today, and we’ve even approached Matura-Shepherd herself for information. But she declined.
What we’ve learned so far is that the offending public comment which the court takes issue with dates back to February when she was representing the
grassroots organisation, BGYEA in mediation sessions. BGYEA and its leader, Nigel Pettillo – you will remember – were being sued by the Government of
Belize over the road reserve that they wanted to develop by planting corn.
The Government disagreed, and in a protracted legal battle, it was finally coming to a resolution – or so we thought. Matura-Shepherd gave media
interviews in which she disclosed the terms of the settlement, which was arrived at through mediation. Our information says that she ought not to have
done that, because apparently, there was a gag order on the proceedings.
We’ve not confirmed if it is Justice Courtney Abel or the Government Attorney, is pressing the issue, but we understand that Matura-Shepherd has been
notified that she is being cited for contempt. She will have an opportunity to explain herself and make representation. That was to have happened
today, but it had to be adjourned until a later date in June. Matura-Shepherd told us that when this issue does have its day in court, we’ll have to
speak to her lawyer, not her.
Last year in the first quarter Belize’s economy shrunk by 1.2% – what the economists call “negative growth.” This year’s first quarter shows a strong
difference: the economy has grown by a surprising 7%. Today, we found out a why at a press conference held by the Statistical Institute of Belize.
Ms. Angelita Campbell, Statistician II
"Production of total goods and services for the first quarter stands 733.8 million dollars. Which is 48 million higher than that of last year same
period. In other words, the production is 7% higher than that of 2014. The production for the primary industry stands at 18% higher than that of last
year. Within the primary industry, the agriculture and forestry sector went up by 19.6% and that be seen in an increase of banana of 22.6%. Orange also
went up by 129% and that is a result of a change in the harvest season. For the first quarter this year, marine products actually went up by 4.5
million pounds, which is the highest we've seen over the years between 2010 and 2015. We also have construction go down by 10.8%. That is explained
because of some ongoing projects being completed. We see hotel and restaurants increasing by 6%. That is explained by an increase in cruise passengers
visitors of 10.5% and that can be explained by an additional 33,000 roughly persons visiting more, in comparison to last year. We also see overnight,
slight decrease not much of roughly 300 persons.”
And so while citrus and cruise tourism drove a strong first quarter – the news isn’t as good for the balance of trade. Belize’s trade imbalance keeps
growing; that means we import WAAAY more than we export - and as a country we are importing more than ever before. Statistician Tiffany Vasquez
outlined that picture.
Ms. Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician II
"In January to April this year, Belize imported goods totalling 647.2 million dollars. This represents an increase of 45.1 million dollars or 7.5% from
January to April of last year. Imports of machinery and transport equipment grew by 5 million dollars due to increase purchases of bottling equipment
and vehicles. Imports of manufactured goods went up 12.1 million dollars and importation of construction supplies continues to grow. We have seen month
after month construction supplies continuing going up and 15 million dollars in transport equipment and we have seen bottling equipment as well. We
have seen a lot of importation of bottling equipment for filling, labelling and sealing bottles. We have an growth in industry there. This is an
illustration showing the trade gap - if you look at the hashed region you can see that the gap is widening and imports trending up and exports trending
And one of the main drivers of that downward trend in exports is Belize’s oil industry. There’s less oil coming out of the ground at Spanish Lookout –
and oil is going cheap on the international market right now. According to the SIB – it’s a very steep and steady decline:…
Ms. Tiffany Vasquez
"Oil is down a 28.3 million dollar drop or a 70% fall in earning from crude petroleum. Such a decline was a result of a 40% reduction in the number of
barrels exported coupled with the drop in the world market price of petroleum.”
And the falling price of oil has a lot to do with the consistently low inflation numbers recorded in Belize – which continues to have the lowest
inflation rate in Central America. Marilyn Pinelo-Lee outlined the numbers for April:
Mrs. Marilyn Pinelo-Lee - Economic Statistics Manager
"The inflation rate for the month of April stands at -1%. On average, prices are 1% lower than they were in last April. For the first 4 months of this
year, inflation rate was recorded at -1%. Fuel prices increased form April 2014 to April 2015. Premium decreased from $11.39 to $8.63 per gallon.
Regular declines from $11.13 to $8.78 per gallon. While the highest decrease shows in diesel, down from $10.26 to $7.16 per gallon. If we look at
inflation rate per municipalities, we will notice that the inflation rates decreased except in Punta Gorda and Dangriga. Looking at the region and
inflation rates, we have Panama with 0%. The highest being Nicaragua with 5.7% in the Central American region. Our neighbours Mexico -3.1% and in the
CARICOM region, we have Jamaica with 4.4%”
Mexico’s inflation rate at -3% was lower than Belize’s….
Professor Emeritus Dr. Neville Duncan is in Belize as a guest of the Anglican Diocese of Belize. He’s here to talk about Social Entrepreneurship and
Economic development – basically how small enterprises can generate wealth for regular people, and grow the economy. He told us he found ample
illustrations of that when he went to the Supermarket – and saw the trade imbalance we just told you about in the flesh:
Dr. Neville Duncan
"When I went into the supermarket, so much stuff in imported that can be made here. The whole idea is to find those people out there who are genuine
entrepreneur, some people are just copy cats. But genuine entrepreneur who invest and invent new processed and technique. People in any community look
around - what is it that people around here want, need and crave and can I supply it or can I with my family or friends
with small amount of money support it.
"Should the governments in the region consider the legalisation of marijuana as a possible expansion industry both for tourism and domestic
Dr. Neville Duncan
"Maybe I am the wrong person to ask. I've written an article published saying one should legalise marijuana. That compared with cigarettes and alcohol,
it cause very few deaths, right."
"Just from a touristic perspective, if a Caribbean island was to say - we not only decriminalise small amounts of marijuana, we're in fact offering
marijuana as a boutique product. Sinsemilla, indica, what ever strain they wish to offer in the same way that it is offered right now in some U.S
Dr. Neville Duncan
"But i do accept and acknowledge the medicinal value of it and people to just come to the island to use it medicinally. People with cancer, people with
other chronic illnesses can be healed by it.”
Duncan will address the Belize Chamber of Commerce at a Business mixer tomorrow evening, and on Friday morning at 9:00, he will speak at an Open Forum
for students, teachers, and the general public at the UWI Auditorium on Princess Margaret Drive.
Coconuts: You can find vendors selling them on the roadside all over the country. And for those who don’t like to buy, it’s not too hard to grow a
coconut tree or two in your yard. Indeed, the tree is rugged, hardy and durable, designed by nature to withstand hurricanes, and to find nutrients in
even the poorest soil – even on the beach.
That’s why it is referred to as the Tree of Life and today a stakeholder workshop was held to discuss ways to improve and boost the coconut industry in
Belize. We met with several of the coordinators today at the George Price Centre in Belmopan and they told us about the setbacks and solutions in this
Anil Sinha - CARDI Country Representative
"Today’s main thing is stakeholders consultation. Which they will discussing the the stakeholders what are their needs, what are their challenges and
what needs to be done. And based on that a follow up programme will be developed in 4 steps: marketing, production and productivity, information access
and some financial also."
"When you say you are going to meet with stakeholders in the coconut industry and find ways to improve the industry, what do you mean by that? Improve
Manuel Trujillo - Focal Point, Belize Coconut Industry
"The main stakeholders here are involved in the planning and consultation process are processors, investors. You have growers, producers and other
people who are involved in value adding. Now in terms of the industry - the industry is growing very fast. There's a lot of investment right now - we
have over 2,000 acres of coconut in production in the country. Last year, based on the statistics that we from the ministry is about 8 million nuts
that we produce. But that is expected to double. One of the limitations is that we do not have enough planting materials in the country. So we are
importing from Mexico, hybrid varieties. The investors are there, they are putting in their money and they're growing the industry."
Maurice Wilson - CARDI, Monitoring and Evaluation
"The objective of the project is to prepare the regional and national industries for takeoff. There is lot of work to be done, the industry at the
moment is reasonably disorganised, plagued by pests diseases and need for alternative varieties based on the different product niches. So, this project
merely seeks to set the foundation upon which the resuscitation of the regional industry could be based."
It is a 4 year regional project. Workshops have been concluded in Jamaica, Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic, among others. It is being funded by
the EU and the total cost for the regional project is 3.5 million Euros.
On Monday, the amended special agreement was signed in Guatemala City – and as we told you, it was done without the presence of the opposition PUP –
which boycotted the event. Another political party, the fledgling PNP in the Toledo district has also condemned the signing. That party says that,
quote, “It seems that the government of Belize has only to be told to jump by Guatemala, and it will respond by asking, “How high?’” It continues,
quote, “This is not the action of a government which understands that Belize is subject to slow motion invasion by Guatemala, in the shape of continued
incursions into our territory…”
It adds, quote, “Whilst the PNP accepts that government has a mandate to govern, and is not required to consult its citizens at every step, this issue
is so important for the very existence of Belize, that wide consultation amongst political and civil society should have taken place before any change
in the terms of the Compromis was made.” End quote.
In April of 2013, OCEANA Belize and other claimants won a major victory against the Government of Belize in court, when they fought against off-shore
oil drilling. In that case, Justice Oswell Legal declared 6 offshore oil drilling contracts illegal. Those contracts were issued by Government between
2005 and 2007.
Well, the Government filed notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal, meaning that they did not intend to let the judgment from Justice Legal stand. That
would have been a complex and costly legal battle, but, in a surprising turn, the Government attorneys filed a notice today to say that they are
withdrawing the case.
That means that this big win against offshore oil drilling stands, and in a press release from OCEANA’s Vice President, Janelle Chanona, it says,
“We view the decision by the Government of Belize to withdraw its appeal as a demonstration of the…Barrow administration’s commitment to safeguarding
the country’s marine resources. Oceana Belize is in the process of proposing language to formalise the moratorium on Production Sharing Agreements for
offshore areas which would ensure the protection of our economically important marine environment and outline clear benefits to Belizeans today and for
It’s a wonder no one was killed during a major collision last night on the western Highway. It happened at around mile 30 at around 10:30, where this
minivan was smashed and scraped – and ended up looking like it had been put in a trash compactor. Police could not provide details, but confirmed that
no one was fatally injured. The strange part about the accident is that the driver could not say what he crashed into and no other damaged vehicle was
found on the road.
And while that was fortunately not fatal, on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., on the Stann Creek Valley Road, there was a fatal accident. Police say 37-year-old
David Marcial of Dangriga lost control of his Mitsubishi Montero at mile 18 on the Stann Creek Valley Road and ran over 26-year-old Alfaro Cruz Garcia
who was riding a bicycle in the opposite direction. Cruz died on the spot. Marcial has been served with a “Notice of Intended Prosecution”.
Anybody who buys boledo regularly will know that it is a strange and unpredictable science, where the numbers lead a dance – and sometimes not even the
most studious rake wizards can tell where it will end.
But one savvy entrepreneur has come up with a book to track just that: the strange inner logic of boledo. It has numbers, statistics, and strategies
which he thinks will help you to win more regularly.
It’s called the Boledobook, and after researching the trends since the Boledo started in the 1970’s, the writers believe that they can help to predict
which numbers are most likely to play. That’s all good, but today the manager of the project told us that it should be a great help to you, given that
there is a limitation known as statistical probability:
Duran Harban - Manager, Boledo Book
"Boledo book is a new comprehensive tool and system designed for the boledo lottery game. The boledo book is about showing statistics to consumers and
players of the game. We have complied over 14,000 numbers from 1970 to present, so we could give you these stats. We have stats such as, what number
played the most for today's date, we have what number played the most for today is Wednesday, in history - we could tell you the number that plays the
most for Wednesday's from 1970 to present. We could also give, say for instance - most played number in all of boledo. And those are the kind of stats
that we're going to provide to the general public of Belize."
"If I'm a person who purchases boledo, why would I want to acquire this book?”
"Well, instead of just purchasing numbers that you just go on a win, you could actually use our stats to give you relevant information when buying
boledo. I got the idea personally from a guy who came off a bus while going out district and he actually came off the bus. So I thought to myself, what
can I do to help this guy to win the boledo more and some friends same way. And that's where the idea came about. What if I could show this person the
number that played the most from ever since boledo started and that's how the idea came about.”
The book will be available in 3 months, and there is already a website for it at www.boledobook.com
Football in Belize is played exclusively on natural fields – and only when our national team travel abroad do they encounter this thing called “turf.”
IT’s a synthetic material common on US soccer and American football fields – and while it has its advantages, for the unaccustomed Belizean players, it
has an un-natural feel and unpredictable play.
But, one sports entrepreneur hopes to make turf more common in Belize. Ian Casteneda has designed a seven-aside synthetic turf field in Independence
Village and he came by out studios today to tell us what he wants to prove with it:…
The opening is set for this Saturday, May 30th at 5pm in Independence.
Today, the Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize Benjamin Ho handed over a five million US dollar cheque to Prime Minister Dean Barrow. As we told you last
night, it’s grant money to be used for a whole bunch of stuff, including, the Belize City Southside Poverty Alleviation Project, the extension of the
Southern Highway to Jalacte in the Toledo District, and for the new Macal River Bridge in San Ignacio/Santa Elena.
Tonight, executive members form the Football Federation of Belize are in Zurich Switzerland for the 65th Congress of FIFA. While they are there to
elect a president for the most powerful governing body in all of sports, the event, and FIFA itself has been shaken to its foundation by the seismic
events of the day – where top FIFA executives were arrested in their rooms by Swiss Police. They are under indictment for wire fraud, money laundering
and other serious offences that reek of corruption, long rumored to dominate FIFA’s politics.
Belize’s delegation includes, President, Ruperto Vicente, secretary General Michael Blease and senior vice president, Sergio Chuc. On Friday they will
vote on the new president, whether to re-elect Sepp Blatter, or elect his challenger Prince Ali Hussein.