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
On Monday, we told you about how police managed to make an arrest for the Kimmie's Fire after they foiled an extortion attempt of an Orange Walk businessman. Police said that he would have been charged with manslaughter, but we can confirm tonight that 23 year-old Francisco Rodriguez, is at the Belize Central Prison for murder.
That's because as we told you, the fire at Kimmie's Bar claimed the life of 21 year-old mother of 3 Jacqueline Arteaga, who was sleeping on the upper flat of the bar.
Today, Rodriguez was arraigned before Magistrate Herbert Panton on 4 counts of arson, and 1 count of murder. Due to the nature of the offences, no plea was taken, and bail was denied. He was remanded until September 29.
As we told you, the Fire at Kimmie's Bar happened in the early hours of Friday, July 25 on Newtown Barracks. That fire destroyed the Bar, Business Computer Systems, Pandora's Café, and a house at the back. The damage was estimated at several hundred thousand dollars.
Tonight, 40 year-old Suzette Pavon is hospitalized following an attack at her workplace by her common-law husband, 48 year-old Santiago Ricardo Palma.
Early this morning, Pavon reported to her work place at the Bowen and Bowen Compound on Slaughterhouse Road. She was doing her usual cleaning duties, when her common-law managed to slip into the guarded compound.
There, he allegedly attacked her after luring her into a conversation. Today, the Press Officer for Bowen and Bowen was responded shortly after the incident had taken place, and she explained to us what information they have so far, about the domestic abuse case that spilled over into the workplace:
Christelle Wilson - PR Officer, Bowen & Bowen "This morning at our AES Center about 8:30am I can confirm that one of our workers Ms. Suzette Pavon was what looked to be an attempt on killing her, it's a stabbing incident whereby we understand that her common-law husband came here this morning and manage to slip his way through the gates while the security guard was attending to somebody else. He came onto the compound and he was speaking with he and I guess because it's her common-law she entertain the conversation and I understand he asks her to get him a glass of water and she turn around to get him the water and when she turn around he took out a knife and slit her throat."
Daniel Ortiz "Can you tell us what is her condition at this time? We understand that she is at the KHMH?"
Christelle Wilson - PR Officer, Bowen & Bowen "Yes I visited the KHMH this morning and I was informed by her doctor that she is in a stable condition. The slash wound did not damage any vital veins, it did not cut her trachea or any part of that area. Its a very deep slash wound but she is a person that is a bit heavier, so it only slit her skin and there are going to keep her for observation. The doctor said they are going to ensure that the wound does not become inflamed or infected in any way because if it does then they will need to put a tube down her throat to help her to breathe. At this moment they don't have to do that, but they are going to keep her under observation and hopefully she could be release in about maybe 2 days."
The belief at this time, is that he managed to hide behind on of the vehicles which the watch man opened the gate for.
As we've told you, investigators are actively searching for Palma, and anybody with information is asked to contact the nearest police station.
Last night at around 3:00 am, a minor was shot in his home on Holy Emmanuel Street in Belize City. The family didn't want to do an interview, but they told us that the 13 year old was sitting on his couch watching T.V. when gunmen rode up beside his house and fired shots through the wooden wall. Luckily, the child was only hit in the foot. He was transported to the KHMH where he is currently receiving treatment. The Police have detained two men, and investigations will continue.
Last night we told you about a terrifying home invasion which shook the quiet community of Crooked Tree Village. It happened on Wednesday night, and 51 year old Betty Westby bravely fought off her attackers, protecting herself, her 82 year old mother, and her 14 year old son. During the struggle, the attacker's face was revealed and he has since been identified as Tyrone Davis, one of the construction workers who had worked on an addition to the Westby home. When Davis escaped he took Maurice Westby's .22 rifle with six rounds of ammunition. The police investigation continues, and the community is advised that Tyrone Davis is armed and dangerous. He remains at large, and police have an active search for him.
Tonight, a couple from Orange Walk Town, are out on bail after they were taken to court in connection with the theft of an Apple iPad belonging to attorney Arthur Saldivar.
They are 54 year-old Ernesto Cruz, and his wife 52 year-old Anna Cruz, and they were taken to court for handling stolen goods. They were arraigned before Magistrate Herbert Panton, and they pleaded not guilty to the charge. They were represented by attorney Hubert Elrington, and they were granted bail of $1,000 each, which they were able to meet. They will return to court on September 30.
The case of this missing iPad has caused Saldivar to speculate publicly about the motive behind its theft, and he also alleged political mischief.
What police do know is that Saldivar's sister had it in her purse 2 weeks ago, and she went to E and A Bakery, to buy pastries. When she finished, she realized that it was missing. The Saldivar family reported it missing to police, and afterwards, Arthur Saldivar made his own attempts to locate it.
It just so happens that there is a feature on Apple devices which allows it to be tracked remotely using the GPS, and that's just what Saldivar did. He found out that it was located in Orange Walk Town, and he gave all this information to police. A week later, the iPad turned up back in Ladyville at the bakery, and police charged the Cruz couple, who are also the owners of the bakery.
As we've showed you all this year, Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega's Nephew, Imer Hernandez, has been getting successive contracts for road works in both Belize City and Orange Walk. Well, tonight we've confirmed that he has been granted a contract for the controversial San Antonio Road in Orange Walk.
It's controversial because when the news of this road hit the news last year May, this was the first time that Imer Hernandez's name was called. That's because as we showed you, members of the public alleged that he got paid 179 thousand dollars in 2012 for road works on that very same road, which allegedly weren't done. He maintained that he was only paid $50,000 for work which he did, and that he was never actually given a contract to pave that entire strip of road. He was backed by Prime Minister Dean Barrow who vouched that his company has passed international standards of scrutiny
Since then, he's scored some major contracts, and tonight we've confirmed he's won a bid for San Antonio Road, which has a value of 2 million dollars. Our official source says that the contract has either been signed over to Hernandez, or it will be done during the course of the weekend. When we contacted Hernandez himself by phone, he told us that he knew nothing of being awarded that contract, but he did confirm to us that he had placed a bid for it.
So, the story has come full circle, the stretch of road in which Hernandez's name was first called is now officially in his hands to be paved, and residents living on San Antonio will finally get the relief they've been begging Central Government to give them. That's because they've been living for several years under the intense dust which is dumped into their homes every time vehicles pass by, or when it is stirred by a heavy breeze.
We contacted the CEO in the Ministry of Works about the controversy surrounding the San Antonio Road, and he stated categorically, that this is the first contract which has been award for paving of this road. He added that others have been granted for small road works, but nothing like what Hernandez was accused of being paid for, but never completed.
Assistant Superintendent of Police, Chris Noble may be the most media friendly and frequently interviewed formation commander, but as Regional Executive Officer for the crime-ridden Belize District, he's also one of the busiest.
But, that won't be the case much longer as ASP Noble has been transferred effective immediately. That's right, sources tell us Noble was called up to Belmopan yesterday and told he wasn't working out, and that he was getting transferred to - get this - the police garage. That's right, Noble has gone from being in charge of 9 substations in the country's most populous district to being in charge of the Queen Street garage with one mechanic and an assistant.
Though murders in Ladyville have gone down sharply in 2014, it seems the senior command wasn't impressed with Noble who will handover to Inspector Cedric Gordon next week.
ASP Noble had been in Ladyville for 19 months. He goes on leave next week.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting more than 4 million people. But what about Belize? In a country where there is a stigma associated with mental illness, how can we address the issue of anxiety when those who may be suffering from this disorder have good reason to be afraid of being labeled "crazy"? Add to that, the fact that most healthcare professionals may not be trained to handle psychiatric emergencies - and you have a subject ripe for anxious concern. Our intern Robin Schaffer, tried to tackle some of those questions. Here's her report:
Robin Schaffer reporting
Martine King is a counselor who treats anxiety. She discussed how widespread anxiety disorders are in Belize.
Martine King "I would say from the experience I've had there are a lot of people suffering with it, not only older people, middle-age people, male and female and a lot of young people even children who are in primary school are suffering with it, so definitely I would say its wide spread just like everywhere else in the world."
Robin Schaffer "Is it trivialized by people because they don't want to treat it as a mental illness?"
Martine King "I don't like to generalize. I think there are a lot of times there is a lot of stigma that comes on a whole with mental health, so it's like okay what I have somebody there who has a broken leg or I have someone with a physical ailment and they need to be treated first because I think mental illness on whole is seen as something that okay deal with it - you can wait, this person has a physical ailment and they need attention right away. For the most part I think that is what happens, so trivialize to me has a different meaning, but I would just say that it's definitely put on the back burner. It's important, they might know it's important but when it comes to something physical versus mental, the mental takes the back seat and I think that happens a lot unfortunately."
So did the mental take the backseat with Andrea Herbert, the 22 year old woman who walked to her death after suffering what seems to have been, an acute anxiety attack.
DATE: July 4th, 2014
Lovine Welch - Aunt of decased "On more than one occasion, she told us that she wanted to kill herself because she doesn't understand this life, and why she has to go through so much challenges, like when she wants a job. If she doesn't get one quickly enough, she feels like it's too challenging for her. So, it's something where she always had in her mind."
Ismay Williams - Cousin of Deceased "She likes to worry about things."
Lovine Welch "Everything bothers her. If things don't work out fast enough for her, then she gets thrown off."
Sahar Vasquez knows that well enough. She is an 18 year old who was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. She explained how something as commonplace as anxiety could drive someone off the edge.
Sahar Vasquez- Diagnosed with anxiety disorder "I use to attend St. Catherine's Academy and when I was in 4th form my anxiety became too great and I had to withdraw and kind of get myself together and I can say it really paralyzed me."
Robin Schaffer "Generally what triggers your anxiety?"
Sahar Vasquez "Anything. Its generalize anxiety disorder, so the trigger is very general, so it can be something as simple as let's say I feel a little ache here, that ache becomes an obsession, so that's all I think about. To me that ache means I am going to get a heart attack and that's how anxiety works, it's a very vicious cycle."
Robin Schaffer "Could you take me back to that moment when you realize that you do have anxiety which in turn is a mental illness?"
Sahar Vasquez "I mean at first you don't really think it's anything serious, you like okay, its anxiety, I could handle that and then you get into the grid of it and I remember one night just sitting there crying and I just felt this overwhelming feeling of fear and this whole feeling I can't, I can't - you are just so scared. It's like you are in a plane crash and the plane is about to fall down, can you imagine how scared you might feel? That's how you feel with anxiety - you just want to do this and you just want to shake. I use to think I was crazy, like just put me in a mental asylum because I am just a crazy human being and I thought that because of what people portrayed us to be. Just because there is something mentally wrong with you does not mean you are crazy - you are just a little different and there is nothing wrong with being different. And you know what I am as capable of doing things that normal people can do and I don't want people like me to be scared because I understand that fear holds you back, but when it holds you back for too long it starts to well-up in you and then you explode and sometimes you do kill yourself."
And for many Belizeans suffering from mental illness, fear of being stigmatized has resulted in concealment of a disorder that is easily managed.
Martine King "Aside from stigma which is one of the reasons a lot of people don't ask for help or don't seek help is a lot of times within ourselves we kind of say you know what I can handle this, this is just a headache, or this is just something I need to get use to or we drink or we smoke or we eat or we take prescription medication when we are not following the advice of a doctor, or we take it out on our kids or kids take it out on us. There are so many different ways that we've learnt to cope with these feelings just to not have to face the fact that okay this might be anxiety - this might be depression and I need to seek help."
So, what does one do when faced with a full on anxiety disorder? Well, according to Martine King, exercise, along with counseling and medication can keep anxiety at bay.
Martine King "A certain amount of anxiety is normal, for example, I am anxious right now and when you leave I will probably be a lot less anxious than I am right now, but when it becomes chronic or when it's something that interrupting your life as you've said, find help, ask someone for help. Talk to somebody and try to find someone who you know will not have the dismissive attitude or the attitude of oh, you will be okay, don't worry about that, toughing it up, stop being so weak - no, that doesn't work. If that work then none of us would have this problem. So, I'd say find someone to talk to."
Well, for Sahar Vasquez, facing up to her illness has greatly improved her life, and she says everyday it gets better.
Sahar Vasquez "I can say I am improving but it's one of the hardest things I have ever done because the first step that comes to managing mental illness is acceptance and it's very hard to accept something like anxiety because it's such a powerful thing and you don't want to believe it's true. The main technique that is used throughout the world is the breathing technique; you take deep breaths in and out and also mindfulness - being in the present moment and it's difficult to do but is does help."
If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety or depression, and would like to speak to someone anonymously, you are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org which is managed by experienced counselor, Martine King.
Tonight a concerned mother is desperately clinging to hope that she will find her missing son. On Monday, 24 year old Dwayne Young a caretaker in Burrell Boom, went missing after a domestic dispute. Now, his mother is pleading with the public for information:
Mother of Dwayne Young "Monday morning he left to work. He work the entire day. When he left at twelve to have lunch, he went to his girlfriend house and when he reaches there a car park in front of the house. When the car park in the yard, other persons were in the yard and the young man came out and say something about the car and he start to pick after him and after that he said something and he left for work. The young man told him that he will get back to him and he uses threatening words to him. The young lady as his girlfriend was telling me all kinds of things - different stories. The last thing she told me about one o' clock that the young man got somebody who is their friend and they beat up my son. I want to know what they did with my son. I can't sleep because I want him to come home. I want to know if anything bad had happen to him and who is involve or knows where he is. I don't want to think that something happened to him. I want my son alive and home."
Robin Schaffer "Do you have a message to the public to share?"
Mother of Dwayne Young "I want to share to the public that everybody who sees this and know my son to call me and let me know where he is so that he could come home."
If you have seen or heard anything about this missing person's case you are urged to contact the police or call Dwayne Morrison's family at 650-3267, 663-1282, or 601-2221.
Last week's settlement of the Tropic Air/Brett Feinstein dispute was probably one of the first major stories which hit the news about litigation in the Supreme Court case settled outside of court. But actually, Court ordered mediation has been ongoing for the past 6 months.
And while those other cases which were settled quietly out of court, and out of the public domain, the participants say that it is much quicker and a lot less expensive to resolve their disputes through mediation, especially, when the court system is overloaded with work, and there are major judgements still on delay.
That's just what the Bar, the Bench, and other stakeholders discussed today in an all-day forum. Here's what the Chief Justice Had to say about it:
Justice Kenneth Benjamin - Chief Justice of Belize "To have a justice system that's responsive to the community, we have to have one that is reflective of the ideas and aspirations of the man who is walking in the street."
Justice Courtney Abel - Judge of the Belize Supreme Court "It's so easy for lawyers, I know, I've been there. Lawyers are taught to fight cases and much of the training in legal education is about fighting cases and the mediation process is not about fighting cases, it's about the parties. Empowering the parties to soften their approach to their disputes and trying to resolve it themselves assisted by the neutral third party. And even in relation to judges, judges are taught to try cases and most of us judges have a proprietary view of our cases and that is about the trial process."
Michael Young, SC - Practicing Attorney "The big benefit of mediation is what the objective of any kind of process that has to do with a dispute between two parties which is to bring that dispute to an end. What has happen traditionally and this comes from even the British practice way back is that we have an adversarial system, so when two parties go to court they go to court fighting and with their legal guns. That is not necessarily the best way to bring a dispute to an end in a way which does not cost too much money and does not take too long."
The Court ordered mediation was made possible through a National Mediation Committee, and the development of its process saw extensive input from groups including the Judiciary, the Bar Association, and Restore Belize. Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin told the gathering today that he hopes that the Executive could craft laws to enshrine mediation as part of the litigation process.
We've featured Dianne Finnegan's second chance education program, known as the Youth Apprenticeship. It's an outreach mechanism where at risk youths who've dropped out of formal education get an opportunity to re-enrol, and they also learn a trade.
She's also featured motivational speakers, but today, her students got to meet basketball star Reeves Bruce Nelson, who had a major career in College basketball as a star of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the NCAA tournament in the US. He had a brief stint in the NBA as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he's now signed a contract with a pro team from the country of Belgium. Also, they were introduced to the up-and-coming music producer, Jonathan Myvette, who's worked with big name celebrities like Chris Brown and others.
We got a chance this morning to sit in on their session with Finnegan's students where they discussed the power of positive thinking and how it can help to escape one's environment to achieve success. Here's what they told the students:
Reeves Bruce Nelson - Professional Basketball Player "Belize has been an amazing experience for me. It's something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I heard good things about it from people who have come here before and they really didn't do it justice with how good it was even if they spoke highly of it. It's a wonderful place with wonderful people and like I said I really enjoyed myself."
Daniel Ortiz "Tell us about what you've been doing here in Belize with Ms. Dianne Finnegan and her team and the kids that she works with on a regular basis?"
Reeves Bruce Nelson "I've just been spending some time with Dianne trying to learn as much as I can from her, she is a very wise woman. She has been very good to me and with the kids here, she just ask me if I could come and share a little bit of my experiences from my life from overseas and just see if I could help them in any way with any advice I could give and at the same time the kids have help me by showing me like their purity and what they come from and made me appreciate stuff more."
Jonathan Myvette - Music Producer "I feel like it's getting across, of course at first it's still kind of like 'I don't know about it' but once they start practicing and they see the works then they'd be like 'he is right.'"
Daniel Ortiz "Is there something that grabs your attention, the life experiences they have shared with you?"
Jonathan Myvette - Music Producer "It's different because like in the States like people don't understand what it is to struggle. People just think you get something handed to you, but it's not that. So when you come here, it's like real life. It's going to be even easier for them to get what they want because in the States your mind is so clouded by all the BS, all the stuff that everybody is telling you, you can do but you still don't do it, but here it's a one track mind - like everything is like more calm."
Reeves Bruce Nelson left the country after the session with the students. He and Myvette had been in the country interacting with the students for a few days.
The United Nations Development Programme released its annual Human Development Report some weeks ago. The report ranks countries on an index accrued by economic and social indicators, and is based on life expectancy, education and income levels. Well, Belize didn't fare too badly this year as it clocks in at 84th out of 187 countries with an HDI of 0.732. This means Belize has a high level of economic development. This is a 0.001 increase from the previous figure of 0.731. Belize has seen a gradual increase in human development over the years, but while there is a marginal difference between the 2012 and 2013 HDI, there has been significant improvement in the global ranking since Belize moved up from 96th in 2012 to 84th in 2013. It ranks just behind Grenada and a little above St. Vincent and the Grenadines at 8th in the Caribbean region. Cuba scored the highest index for the Caribbean, placing 44th globally, and being labelled as an area with very high human development.
And while the HDI ranking is fair, the prestigious news site, the Huffington Post says Caye Caulker is great! According to "Huff-Po", Caye Caulker ranks as one of the top 10 most luxurious island in the world. It's that affordable snorkel dive and reggae vibe which seems to have elevated our little island getaway into a marquee tourist destination.
On Tuesday, seasoned boat captain Christopher "Jack" Guild celebrated his 100th birthday. The seafarer has been active all his life, and while he is not quite able to get around as he once did, this hardy centenarian told us that he feels good:
Christopher Guild lives with wife in Belize City, and said that his secret to longevity is clean living and God-fearing.
On last week Sunday, grassroots philanthropist, Joel Dara Robinson, held his 3rd annual, Ride for Hunger.
Though he had robust support, due to a few technical difficulties, the fund raising aspect of the ride wasn't as successful as it could have been. Nevertheless, he was very grateful to those he who should up and participated, and he explained that glitch to us today:
Joel Dara Robinson - Philanthropist "I want to thank the people who came out and ride and those who registered. The ride is something that have to come next year with a different way of planning the registration because we had close to or over 300 people, but register we only had 172. Basically people came out to ride and like it, but behind the ride there is a reason and I am trying to raise funds. I have to come up with an idea how to get the registration working."
And so, he is hoping that his 7th Annual Tribute Concert to Lucky Dube is going to have more success since it has had the tried and tested element of 6 others before it. He told today why you should show your support:
The concert starts at 4p.m. this Sunday, and continues through the night. Admission, as he told us, is $10. All proceeds goes to his feeding program.