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
Yesterday, 7News told you about the go-slow initiated by the Belize Waste Control because the Belize City Council owes them for 15 weeks, or almost 4 months of back payment in arrears. That represents just over three-quarter million dollars that the council owes the sanitation company, and the management is saying that they can't operate any more. BWC says that it can no longer expect its creditors to keep them operational when there is no sign that payment will be made from City Council on these arrears which keep climbing.
They have dialed back their operation, rotating employees and their garbage trucks to keep their staff employed, and they say that the go-slow is a necessity.
Well, what can City Hall do about the mounting bills that it hasn't paid to Waste Control? That's what we asked Mayor Darrell Bradley today, and he told us that basically, the council is broke, and can't meet its debt to BWC until after the tax revenues come in during the first quarter of 2013. Here's how our conversation went with him on the topic:
Mayor Darrell Bradley "Nothing that they can say I will have any difficulty with. Nothing that they say I will dispute. Nothing that they say we will say it's unreasonable. The reality is that a past City Council signed these exorbitant contracts that I inherited and we do not have the money."
"I don't know the exact figures that they are owed. I know that being 15 weeks in arrears sounds about correct and my position is that they are entirely correct. The City Council has a contract with them. They City Council owe them the money. We recognize that we owe them the money. I have repeatedly said that the situation is not a situation of the arrears, the situation is more of structural and its more systemic in that we pay 45% of every dollar that we collect to sanitation services and that is too much. I have traveled to many cities in the region and far away and I have always asked about what they spend on garbage collection because we are always looking at more efficient and cost effective ways of doing it and its between 15% - 20%. The reality is that we just spend too much. At the end of the day after I pay salaries and after I pay for sanitation services the City Council is essentially broke."
"I recognize that we have this arrears situation with them. It's a situation that I have inherited. It is a situation which I will more than likely leave at City Hall."
Daniel Ortiz "Not being paid for 15 weeks which is equivalent to 4 months and being expected to continue to work, it seems, it alien, you delay a payment for someone for what is owed to them for one day and they are outraged."
Mayor Darrell Bradley "I am very mindful as it relates to employees. I recall that earlier that I had a conversation with one of their senior representatives, I assured her that at that time we were going to make 3 weeks back payment particularly because we were concern at it relates to the employment status of their personnel. We did not want people to be dislocated and to be out of work especially around the Christmas season."
"We have given assurances all along to them and I had indicated this previously; the City Council has the money to pay them. We just collect that money in the months of January, February and March. Every year we have a slow season, every year we run into arrears, every year we have a shortfall and every year in the month of January, February and March we make good on those payments."
Daniel Ortiz "What will happen if they decide that they will withhold services?"
Mayor Darrell Bradley "If they withhold services, we will ensure that as a matter of priority that we go and we pick up the garbage. We can do that service for far cheaper than they do it and that's something that we are prepared to do and I would want that."
One of the biggest criticisms that has been brought against Mayor Bradley is that his explanation of the council's inability to pay has always failed to take into serious consideration that the creditors of those his council owes are expecting them to meet their debt obligations. That's one matter he took issue with today, during our conversation on this ongoing garbage debacle. Bradley says, whatever financial issues that BWC is experiencing, has been carefully considered by him. They fact, according to him, remains that they can't pay with funds they don't have:
Mayor Darrell Bradley "Nothing that they can say is unreasonable. You don't have to explain to me that when I don't pay a bill to a supplier, every person that that supplier owes likely gets a feeling and there is a multiplier and a trickle-down effect - that's common sense, that's rational. I am explaining to you the reality that we have at City Hall and what we need to deal with and that we have made assurances with them. What you are telling me is not news. What you are telling me is not something that happened only this year, but I know as Mayor we have many different commitments that we have undertaken and we will make good on all those commitments."
"The reality is though that we can't make blood out of stone. We can't do any much more than what we are doing. We understand their position, it is not a position that we would want to be in. But the reality is that we are approaching the ending of the year and that's our heavy season and we intend to settle them first and foremost when we get our resources."
"I have a business myself, I am mindful of people who owe me and the impact that that causes me when they don't pay, so nothing that they say is unreasonable or unfair or something that I haven't thought about."
And as we've told in the past few months, Belize Waste Control initiated contempt proceedings against Mayor Bradley for a 2.3 million arbitration award that has been outstanding for over a decade. In the end, the attorney for both sides decided that the matter should be settled out of court, instead of trying to press Bradley to pay up or face going to jail. In light of the current impasse between the council and BWC, Bradley told us that this outstanding quarrel between them is soon to be resolved because City Hall will pay the debt off once and for all. Here's how he explained it:
Mayor Darrell Bradley "I heard that they've said on the media that they have a worse relationship with this City Council. I could take that as a comment, but the reality is that they have a judgment with the City Council that no Mayor has paid off in 10 years. We are in a year and a half, we have a $620,000 payment that due to them on December 20th - I have to find that money. We are going to pay off that entire judgment when former mayors have simply just ignored it and left it so that it can go. The significant of that judgment is the interest. Previously, that was irresponsible in not dealing with that situation to allow that because of course if they had service that debt, we would have had more money so that we could settle them."
"We are working with them in relation with dealing with this arrears situation. I have made commitments to them. I fully intend to undertake and to carry through those commitments and we have done that in the past and there is no indication that we won't do that again going forward from January. As we get our inflows, one of the first people we pay is them."
So, what does the Management of the Belize Waste Control have to say about City Hall's inability to pay them the money that they earned? Well, that's what we went to find out from the Owner of the company. This afternoon, we spoke to Anthony Griffith, and he told us that Mayor Darrell Bradley has made MANY empty promises that he hasn't kept, and he expects them to continue to work with getting paid. Here's how Griffith explained it:
Anthony Griffith, Owner - Belize Waste Control "You tell me after 15 weeks going back from August to December; you can't do anything but a couple payments? You have no intention of doing it. You don't care. Listen, the Mayor have made promises to us over and over again, hasn't kept one. This arrears was back from last year. He was to do a payment plan in January 2013 to catch up from 2012, but he never did. It just keeps getting worse and worse until it reaches this point."
"He came here (he didn't talk to me, he talk to my daughter) I think sometime in February - he came here and he was supposed to give a payment plan I think it was a Thursday evening or Friday and 2 payments. The 2 payments came through and also he promised that the Monday he would have 3 more payments for us. We are still waiting for the payment plan; we are still waiting for the payment up to today. Back in January he was supposed to give us a payment plan for going back to 2012 arrears, but he never did. It's not normal business that he's talking that the City Council always owing us. This became a problem when they took over City Council, Zenaida and him. Never had I had this problem for many years with PUP. We got paid on time. We have it with them now, they start this phrase "high season and low season." I've never heard that before."
Daniel Ortiz "You have to pay your workers; you have to pay your creditors."
Anthony Griffith, Owner - Belize Waste Control "I have to pay salaries, taxes and social security on money that I haven't received which is ridiculous, but I still have to pay it. I have to pay maintenance, all these things add up and it's been going on for months, not for weeks."
Daniel Ortiz "What happens when, let's say for example, you tell your workers 'guys, I can't pay you.'"
Anthony Griffith, Owner - Belize Waste Control "I can't do that. I've never done that. I've got to find the money to pay them. I got to find the money to do the job for then city that they are supposed to pay me to do."
"How would you like, you know, working for somebody and you come for your pay and nobody doesn't want to see you, like the are running away from you - like you have a contagious disease, they run away from you. They would never picked up the phone and say Mr. Griffith or Belize Waste Control I can't pay this week, I'll pay next week or whatever - never. We can't make any plans, give me a payment plan. He has never done that."
"I don't give a damn what he said, he's not telling the truth."
Daniel Ortiz "What is the current status sir? How do you guys weather this situation where he is saying that he will catch up on whatever he owes?"
Anthony Griffith, Owner - Belize Waste Control "We have heard that before okay. It's not the first time, it never materialized."
And the topic of that 2.3 million dollar arbitration award also came up in our conversation with Griffith. He says that his company has written off a million dollars on the debt, to show good faith, so they are only going to be paid 1.3 million dollars. That's a lot of money to make peace with City Hall, and he says that they have shown him nothing but contempt when he tries to collect what is owed to him on the current 776 thousand dollars that he is owed, and which keeps climbing:
Anthony Griffith, Owner - Belize Waste Control "That is true, but he didn't give you the rest of it; the judgment was for 2.2 million dollars. We write off 1 million dollars to him and he has to pay the rest. He didn't tell you that and the court ordered him to do it. We could have been a real hard case and insist on our money. But we decide to make peace we deduct 1 million from the bill. He didn't tell you that."
Daniel Ortiz "One million is a lot sir. How did you...."
Anthony Griffith, Owner - Belize Waste Control "But we did it for peace to try work along with him. We did it."
Daniel Ortiz "You believe that you guys are being given shake for that?"
Anthony Griffith, Owner - Belize Waste Control "Hell no, we are not given a fair shake; when you are going to work us like this and don't pay us. We keep the city damn clean."
According to Griffith, they will continue to do their job and try to keep the city clean with their dialed back operation. He says that he has an obligation to City residents, and will try to do his duty until his company can no longer operate. Bradley has told us that his council will catch up with the payments after the tax revenues come in. We'll keep following the story.
And while we were waiting for our interview with the mayor, who should we just happen to run into? That's none other than Eric Chang, the councillor who has been missing in action for weeks, while away in Taiwan. As we've reported, his name was called by multiple highly placed sources as the man who brokered the Citizen Kim deal to get Kim Won Hong his bogus passport which got Minister of State Elvin Penner sacked.
And, as we've told you, we've made many interview requests with Chang to give him an opportunity to clear his name, and respond to the allegations, but he has either refused or ignored all of them. Well today, Chang attended a council meeting to ensure that his seat didn't become vacant, and afterwards, we tried to give him yet another opportunity to speak to the allegations. He declined once again, so we spoke with his boss, Mayor Darrell Bradley, who he can't just brush off after weeks being AWOL without communication. Here's what Mayor Bradley told us about their discussion on the passport scandal:
Mayor Darrell Bradley "Eric Chang came back to the jurisdiction last week. I think he came back maybe Wednesday and I had a meeting with him I think on Thursday or Friday. We sat down and I wanted to satisfy myself that his unexplained absence from the jurisdiction had nothing to do with his commitment to serve as an elected representative on the Belize City Council and that since his return to the jurisdiction he will follow in terms of what is expected of him as an elected official. I also raised with him in relation of his name being called. I made certain advice in relation in making some sort of statement to assure members of the public, because I still think that it is a major issue; it's a block on the reputation of the government at the central and at the municipal level, but involvement principally with Councilor Chang is to ensure that as a councilor, he discharges his obligation and that he comports himself with the highest level of ethics."
"The meeting was to explain to him in clear language that I expect certain things of him. I expect that he will be present at meetings and he will discharge the functions for which he has been elected and what the people are paying him for."
Daniel Ortiz "Sir, now his name has been called several times in relation to this issue and he still has refused to address the public himself. Are you satisfied with whatever explanation he has given to you? Has that discussion of that immigration debacle gone into any sort of detail in which you can give us an idea in what he is saying?"
Mayor Darrell Bradley "I raised it with him and he indicated to me that he was not involved. I cannot say that I am satisfied. I discussed it with him in the meeting, I fully intended before his arrival to raise it with him. He gave certain indications to me, but my principal role and responsibility as mayor is to ensure that all 10 councilors are doing the job in which they were elected to do."
Daniel Ortiz "Will it at any point be an issue where you will have confidence in him given the fact that this issue is still lingering and as you've indicated you are not totally satisfied with his explanation?"
Mayor Darrell Bradley "Confidence is linked with performance. I was very dissatisfied that he left the jurisdiction and he chose not to be in communication with us for an extended period of time. That caused us to lose some goodwill that I think we have earned over the last year and a half and it also weakened our ability to discharge and carry out our functions particularly because of his role as the councilor then with responsibility for infrastructure and as the Deputy Mayor. I was very disappointed is that. I communicated that clearly with him in relation in what he should have done. I made certain recommendations to him and building trust is something that is done overtime. He has now come back in the country; he attended several meetings that we had in terms of discussing various issues. He seems to be interested in continuing his term in office."
And as we told you, we tried our best once again to convince him to grant us an interview on the topic. He told us that the time isn't right, but when he thinks it is, he will seek us out. Well, we'll just have to wait and see if he delivers on that promise.
Sergeant Julio Shal, the second in command at Placencia Police is currently on remand for murder in relation to Tyson Rodriguez's death, and while police conduct 2 investigations into the matter, his family is also doing their independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. That's because as we've told you, Shal and the 2 officers who were with him on the Friday night of November 22, when Rodriguez died, told their bosses that when he supposedly drowned, they didn't see, because he escaped from a moving truck with his hands cuffed behind his back and ran into a bushy area. The post mortem, as we've shown you, says that he died from sand inhalation of sand and he suffered abuse sometime before his death.
An eyewitness has brought written testimony which complete refutes the officers' claims and it implicates Shal only.
Well, on Wednesday, Hilda Rodriguez, Tyson's mother, went with her attorney, Audrey Matura to the location where he met his end, and they told the media that more information in the police officers' statement simply does not add up:
Hilda Rodriguez, Mother of Tyson Rodriguez "We are trying to trace the last steps of Tyson Rodriguez's life. This is where he probably drew his last breath and I just wanted to say that on behalf of myself and my family if he wrongs anyone in anyway, I deeply apologized. That was not the way I raised him. I would have never wanted him to hurt anyone. At the same time his life was taken and so we are here trying to search fro the truth and find justice."
Audrey Matura-Shepherd - Attorney "What I would add is that the police report and the different information coming out gave the indication as though he escaped from this vehicle, jumped out and ran through this area near in Chable Mar and the about 20 minutes later I am told the police found him dead and that the reason they didn't pursue him was because there was swamp in the area. We came to see for ourselves; absolutely no swamp in the area. In some areas the soil is actually high and we can see its all sand right here and then there is the beach."
"Definitely there is a lot of inconsistency with what they were saying. Also there is a theory that a police officer told us that he could have fallen on his face on his own and therefore suffocated on his own without anyone pressing him. He said that the sand is so deep and
soft that once your face drop in it you can't come out. Again, we tested that theory. Impossible and the sand here is not even that deep. The natural instinct would be that someone would try and pushed themselves out or whatever. That still does not explain the extent of sand in his system. It does not explain the extent and beating and bruising on him that eventually caused and contributed to his death. At this point we are definitely sure that the accounts of the police cannot be right, one and two: we are a bit concern that coincidentally the body would be found just in this area, just off the little road; the one little road that leads into the area. That more speaks to that the police driving in, bringing him here, beating him and killing him and leaving him here, spinning around and then coming back and say that we found this man because these people say that they found a dead man. It's just like totally inconsistent. But we will leave the police to do their work, but people need to know that if they visited the area themself, they will see that - common sense - it's just inconsistent."
So, it is a huge black eye for Placencia police because one of their commanding officers, none other than the second command, is being accused of extra-judicial activities when he supposedly ended Tyson Rodriguez's life. As we've told this is not the first time that he's been accused of abuse of authority. So, what does his commanding officer have to say about his character? Well, he was very cagey about that when he was asked about it, saying that he would not want to prejudice the double internal investigations on Shal:
Reporter "Is he being charged with the murder of Rodriguez and could you tell me more the background of Mr. Shal? We understand that he was second in command."
Inspector Mark Flowers - OC, Placencia Police "He was the sergeant, the next person in command here."
Reporter "Have you ever known him to be of short tempered because that might presume that that might had been a factor in him using excessive force on Mr. Rodriguez."
Inspector Mark Flowers - OC, Placencia Police "I can't sit here and either assassinate Mr. Shal's character or in any way attempt discuss a person's character, not even in the court of law could I do that, unless I am being ask to become a character witness. I know Shal for a number of years and I don't know him to be anybody of that sort. I know him to be a humble little fellow that I know. But to elaborate I really can't. It's not fair to him, or to me or to anybody to do that."
A topic that he was more willing to discuss was the investigation in the home invasion of the Canadian couple. As we told you, Tyson Rodriguez was the main suspect in that crime, and he was allegedly spotted in the couple's stolen vehicle which ended all the way in the Corozal District. Well, on Wednesday, Placencia's Commanding Officer told the media that there is no doubt in the mind of the victims, Tyson Rodriguez was one of the 3 men who attacked them, and inflicted extreme violence on Elderly woman:
Reporter "Did they point out Mr. Rodriguez as being the culprit?"
Inspector Mark Flowers - OC, Placencia Police "They have. He had been positively identified by the way if statements as the main perpetrator; the person who actually and physically assaulted the woman. He is the person who is responsible according to her. She saw him and she was overly emotional when she saw the picture. She immediately recognized him as being the person who inflicted those savage beating to her."
Reporter "How about the other 2 suspects?"
Inspector Mark Flowers - OC, Placencia Police "The other two suspects we know who they are. One of them was identified in a similar fashion and the third one, we are depending on fingerprint analysis. We know who they are and we are waiting their return from Canada. They have gone to seek medical attention which is urgent; surgery and that sort of thing. As soon as they come back we will lay charges."
Reporter "Will you be able to tell us what were their reactions in regards to the arrest of the other culprit?"
Inspector Mark Flowers - OC, Placencia Police "They are not here. They are in Canada. They had to go immediately because of the wound to her eye. She was advised that the sooner she gets to a doctor the quicker she will be relieved of the pain. She has lost hearing in one of her ears. She was beaten until one of her eardrum was damaged. It was urgent that they go for medical treatment."
According to Inspector Mark Flowers, the expatriate communities living on the peninsula have initiated a closer relationship with Placencia Police. They have started a tighter community watch, and they've also started citizen patrols with the Placencia police officers.
We've featured 8 year-old Tarrell Sutherland in our newscast quite a few times. He's the young man who suffers from a rare skin disorder, known as Icthyosis. He's been to the US and back, and his skin keeps breaking out in infections, no matter what sort of medical interventions his family arranges to be made and he gets a temporary reprieve, but then it starts to break out with infections once again. Today, his mother came to our studio to give us an update on their difficulties in battling the skin disease. Here's what she told us:
When Tarrell's skin cleared up, he was in the US receiving treatment, and his mother believes that the temperature played a big role in that.
95 Year-old Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist, died yesterday, and both the Government of Belize and the Opposition Party, noted his passing today.
A press release from the office of the Prime Minister says that the Government of Belize sends an official note of Condolence to the President, People and Government of South Africa on the death of Nelson Mandela. The Belize flag was flown at half-mast from noon today, and it will continue until noon tomorrow, the day of Mandela's funeral.
Prime Minister Barrow says that Mandela is "the last global hero history will ever see." Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca agreed with him saying quote," Nelson Mandela is unquestionably one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known…" End quote.
Mandela served as the present of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
The 2013 auto show is being held this weekend in Belize City. But unless you've got a very special Santa, most visitors will only get to see and maybe test drive the new 2014 rides. We thought we'd use the opportunity to take a spin in a vehicle that's been intriguing us. It's the Mahindra; it's not the prettiest or most plush pickup on the market - not by a long shot, but it is catching on as a truck not only used by the police. We went to Belmopan to find out why:..
The Mahindra and many other brands of vehicles from all the major dealers will be on display tomorrow at the auto show which will be held on the Bowen and Bowen green near the Hour Bar and Grill.
When Former National Football Head Coach Leroy Sherrier-Lewis left the Jaguars months before the their first ever Gold Cup appearance, we thought we'd seen the last of him. Well, he's back in Belize and he's going to coach once again. He's arrived in the country on Tuesday and he's been training the Belmopan Bandits all week for their match tomorrow in the Belikin Cup Premier League.
The Bandits are an all-start football team, but in the tournament, they've won 3 matches, lost 3, and they've drawn one, placing them 4th in the current standings.
Lewis is acting as the Head Coach of the Bandits. He's widely regarded as the coach, who's skills navigated Belize's Jaguars through the Nations Cup, to make history for the country and qualify for the Gold Cup. He's departure was considered very abrupt.
Today, the 2013 Nationals for the Special Olympics were held at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex. It is an opportunity for Belizean youths living with disabilities to show off their other impressive abilities and become sporting icons.
And Special Olympics has the support of the entire National Security Ministry of Belize. That's what we found out as all the law enforcement agencies ended a 5-day torch bearing run all the way from Punta Gorda to Belize. Daniel Ortiz was out at the entrance of the city when the officers jogged in, proud of their contribution:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
This morning at 5 a.m., the Torch for the Special Olympics left Ladyville on its way to Belize City, 9 miles of running where the bearers carried it at different intervals.
The run was a collaborative effort to get it this far. It travelled all the way from Punta Gorda, where the 5 Law enforcement agencies in the country, those being Police, Coast Guard, BDF, Customs, and Immigration, all worked together to get it to its end point.
At the Flag Monument, we caught the torch bearer and his companions, which included officers from all these agencies in high spirits, chanting, and moving with energy.
They made the long run look like a jog around the block. All through the city, the torch bearers moved with purpose, hand-offs made to symbolize unity while raising awareness for Belizeans living with disabilities, and their opportunity to show off their latent abilities:
Senior Superintendent Louise Willis - Coordinator, Law Enforcement Torch Run "The reason for this Law Enforcement Torch Run is basically to bring awareness to persons with special needs and at the same time raise funds for them. This morning which is the 6th December, they will be having their national games and of course they need monies for that. They will also be going to California in 2015 and we are also assisting in raising funds for that event."
Sergeant Elroy Carcamo - Coordinator, Law Enforcement Torch Run "When we started out we were optimistic to see what was going to run. We had good working relationships with the different law enforcement agencies such as Customs, Coast Guard, BDF and Immigration. They worked along closely with us from the beginning until the end especially when we started the run Monday in Punta Gorda, we had full representation out there and along the way we had representatives from some of the agencies. When we arrived here today we had full representation again."
So, what did the travel look like for the past 5 days?
PC Wilfredo Petillo - Participant, Law Enforcement Torch Run "It was tiring but nevertheless the community that came out gave us that motivation, that encouragement and it's meaningful in regards to taking the Flame of Hope which is very prestigious. I couldn't do without my comrades that motivated me and pushed me all the way."
PC Nicholas Gomez - Participant, Law Enforcement Torch Run "While collecting, I had no problem with the people. I thank each and every Belizean who puts in from one cent to two dollars to one dollars cheque."
Daniel Ortiz "Being a part of it from since it began on Monday, what was that experience like for you sir?"
PC Nicholas Gomez - Participant, Law Enforcement Torch Run "Sir, it was a good experience to see how people think; how some people think positive, a few people think negative but it was for a good cause and even if they don't give, I still tell them thanks and may God bless them and we moved on."
PC Nery Waight - Participant, Law Enforcement Torch Run "It was 5 days filled with a lot of emotions but it was a wonderful experience. When we left off from PG people greeted us very well along the way. That was what gave us the strength and we are really glad for everyone who came out and supported us."
Recruit Victor Noble - Participant, Law Enforcement Torch Run "We were up from 3am this morning. We were brought to Belize City and we were told that we were going to run from the Haulover Bridge to Marion Jones Stadium, but actually we took over at Courts Belize from the BDF and we came through most principal streets here in Belize City and end up here at the Marion Jones Stadium."
Daniel Ortiz "Tell us about the experience sir? We saw that you guys were lengthening the run at certain points. What was that like after you've sweat a couple minutes and they are saying okay we need to buy more time."
Recruit Victor Noble - Participant, Law Enforcement Torch Run "Actually I was a flag holder, so I had to run throughout. I believe the rest of the troops kept up and they kept strong."
The Torch Run, however, is only a part of opening Ceremony of the 2013 Special Olympics.
Isaac Sanft - Director: Support Programs, Special Olympics Arizona "We from Arizona are just here as guest here trying to help connect the resources and help build a strong structure that we have been doing here. The LETR (Law Enforcement Torch Run) started with the torch and is bring it through all the areas in Belize where the competitions and things are being taken place. This is the national game, so this is hosted here in Belize City. The other areas or other regions throughout the state have competitions where they qualify and then they come here to compete all together. Today they will be doing football and track and field. Athletes like Jeff here have the opportunity to have a typical sports experience that any kid or any adult deserves. A lot of us had those opportunities and before the Special Olympics came along people with intellectual disabilities didn't have those opportunities. People with disabilities were not looked at as sports icons or people that you look up to to sports. They can be and we are here to prove to the world and the police that people with intellectual disabilities have so many different abilities and to see the abilities and not the disabilities."
Even the commanders took time out of their busy schedules to participate.
Admiral John Borland - Commandant, Belize Coast Guard "In the military we say there is only one way to lead and that's to lead by example. Anything we ask our men to do we must be prepared to do it as well as them or even better. The men appreciate when we are out there with them breathing the elements, facing what we are facing, supporting them, motivating them, adding to the moral, improving their welfare - nothing pleases or impresses the men more than their commander or their leader being out there with them leading by example as we should be."
Brigadier General David Jones - Commander, Belize Defence Force "It's good for us to keep in shape and these are the things that motivate us when we are around especially in the public domain. Its good for them to see what the level of fitness that our security forces are."
ACP Russell Blackett - Participant, Law Enforcement Torch Run "As leaders we must lead from the front. We must show our followers, our subordinates the right way to go and do the right thing. Its definitely as honor for me to be here in supporting ventures like this. This is something positive for the country, for human kind moreover all across the world and Belize should be proud to be a part of this also."
Admiral John Borland - Commandant, Belize Coast Guard "It's a very noble and honorable cause, so we've been at it since Monday supporting, taking on leg after leg along with the police and the BDF. Special Olympics for people with special needs are a near and dear topic to me and we are very supportive of these people with special needs especially the kids and we would go to any lengths to support such a venture. My men are motivated, we are please and happy to be supporting over the last 5 days and we will continue throughout today."
But, as we told you, that is just part of the opening ceremony. What actually happened in the tournament? That's what we tried to find out from the Chairman of the Special Olympics Belize, who was thankful to everyone for making the torch run a success:
Alan Auil, Chairman - Special Olympics Belize "It's very difficult. We do this once a every year, we have this national games. A part from this event we do have smaller events in the districts and in the north and the south region and in the Belize District area. For once a year we host national games where we bring everybody in. It's not only difficult to plan but it's also quite expensive and so we do rely on contributions from the private and the public sector. The office of the Prime Minister was kind enough to grant us $12,000, but we got other sponsorship as well. We had people leaving PG this morning as early as 4am to make it here today and from Corozal at 5am."
"At the end of the games they have to get in the bus and head back home, so you can imagine what a difficult day it is for them. We've done a lot of planning but for the athletes, they are really dedicated to this and they have put in a lot of hard work and will endure a very hard day when it's done."
"Throughout the world law enforcement partnered with Special Olympics to help raise funds and to raise awareness of the athletes that we work for. We have been blessed to get a good group of officers to do this committee here in Belize. Its headed by Louise Willis and they basically not only carried the torch and bring it to the games, but really throughout the year they help to raise funds."
"It is again another part of integrating the other parts of society with inclusion for children and for all people really with intellectual and other disabilities."
The national games is a regional competition, north, south and Central. The participants of today's event were selected from the regional games held in the different regions last month. As you can rightfully see the winning region is the Central region with 15 gold medals, closely followed by South with 14 gold medals and then north with 6.
We'll take a closer look at the winners on Monday's newscast.
Since this morning, the Gwen Lizarraga High School has been holding a fund raising event to try to upgrade their basketball court, and they are hoping that the public will support them.
It's called the Gwen Lizarraga Christmas Bazaar, and the principal explained why they need your help:
Right now, the Bazaar is still continuing, and the faculty, staff and student body are hoping that you will still come out and support them. It ends at midnight tonight, and it's the first in a number of fund raising events to come, which they hope the public will support to raise that $90,000 for their basketball court.