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 executive members of the PUP there are about 25 of them headed by party leader Francis Fonseca arrived at the PUP headquarter in time for the 2:00 pm meeting.
Saldivar was called in at five minutes to four but directed into an ante-room to wait. Ten minutes later he was called up into Independence Hall and three minutes later he was back down, cool and collected
If you missed it He said "I will be running in Belize Rural North" OSWIN BLEASE filled us in
Oswin Blease, Belize Rural Public Relation
"The chairman whispered to me that she was told that Arthur Salvidar's candidacy should be removed with immediate effect."
"Sir is this an injustice for you all in Belize Rural North?"
"This is indeed an injustice for all of us in Belize Rural North. For one, Arthur Saldivar was not endured; Arthur Saldivar contested a convention where he won over 2 other candidates."
Francis Fonseca, PUP Party Leader
"After 2 hours of deliberation, 2 hours of discussion, the national executive of the party reached a decision on this matter. And that decision ladies and gentlemen is that with immediate effect, Mr. Arthur Saldivar is removed as the standard bearer for Belize rural North for the People's United Party and is removed as a member of the national executive of the part."
It's obviously because of the findings of their investigation, but Fonseca didn't want to discuss it with the press.
"I will just add that this is obviously not an easy decision for any of us. It is not ever easy for anyone to sit in judgement of any colleague of theirs, so it was not an easy decision and not a decision taken lightly. We considered it very very seriously, very cautiously, very deliberately, but at the end of the day I believe, and I was supported by the members of the national executive that it was both in the best interest of the People's United Party and I also believe in the best interest of Mr. Saldivar that at this time, he not be involved in party politics and certainly not be a standard bearer for the People's United Party."
"Based on allegations that, the party would have not ditched their own man if they did not have reliable information."
"Well you ask them, you ask them if they have any information on Arthur Saldivar. There is no police report filed at the police station in relation to the Melonie Coye issue. All the allegations in relation to Arthur Saldivar's behaviour on the media was mere on a basis of personal behaviour. We were thinking about this, either he would have been called in to be reprimanded based on his behaviour, but to be removed with immediate effect from running as a candidate in Belize Rural North, definitely that is unfair."
"We believes he needs to deal with these allegations which are very serious and other matters which have come to light. And we believe he needs to have opportunity to deal with them, and it is certainly we believe, not in the best interest of the People's United Party to have Mr. Saldivar as a candidate for our party at this time."
And so, the party is moving on, but Rural North is now divided on this issue, the PUP knows this.
"We are now at the point where we will convene a meeting in Belize Rural North to begin the process of selecting a new standard bearer for Belize Rural North."
"I was born inside the People's United Party. From birth I was a PUP, I will always be a PUP, but you have a thing you call Independent PUPs and let me tell you this, this is something that will be happening. I believe that Arthur Saldivar will run in Belize Rural North because the executive is standing behind him unanimously, the executive is very strong and we are battle ready, and many of us will be going into other division and contest the division as PUP supporters."
So that's the party's decision, and the immediate fallout. But what does the candidate, or former candidate have to say? Well, Arthur Saldivar called Jules Vasquez to the Radisson at 5:15 this evening where he explained what they told him when he went up to Independence Hall:
Arthur Saldivar, Removed as PUP BRN Std. Bearer
"My first reaction to it was simply to rise and leave. If that is the decision then the party has abandoned me. From my understanding of things, the report of the committee was not contemplated, it was not even considered. Because in retrospect, in actuality, the report did not yield anything, there is nothing there. The allegation were baseless and certainly once it was examined by those who was charged with responsibility, they recognised it was not a situation that would have warranted the outcome that came about today. So I'm as shocked as anybody else, but again, my constitution being what it is, it doesn't really phase me."
"What's next for you?"
"Well, I am the standard bearer, I was elected by the people of the Belize Rural North. They came out, they gave me their vote of confidence to represent them and that vote of confidence is in respective to what ever political banner that may hang over my head at the particular day. I will be the member of a party, come election day and I will run for rural north. Now weather it is the PUP, that is up to the present leadership or what ever leadership takes over after the national convention. That national convention is going to be very interesting because our constitution requires that there must be one and all position are open for contesting at that time."
"Will you run as an independent PUP as you told as you told one of the reporters and as Oswen Blease has said that are prepared to run as an independent PUP."
"I'm prepared to run independent of the the PUP. I will be a candidate in the upcoming general elections. I will go firstly to the people of the Belize Rural North to seek a ratification of that decision and I do believe that at the end of the day, with their support I will win."
"They will now go about, they have said installing a new candidate or having that person elected, you will then be an outsider, am interlope, a persona non grata within the PUP in Belize Rural North."
"It is not about the PUP in the Belize Rural North. Arthur Saldivar's candidacy is for the people of Belize Rural North, not for the PUP."
"Rufus ran independent and he got a small number of votes. No independent will win, you need to have a mass party with you, you will lose."
"Again, none have yet, history is always there to be made."
Later on, we'll have more form our conversation with Arthur Saldivar. Saldivar says tomorrow he will go ahead with activities in Belize Rural North which the committee had planned to mark former Representative Max Samuels' birthday.
There was a murder in Belize City this afternoon. It happened at 2:00 pm, right beside St. Ignatius Primary School at the corner of Dean Street and Euphrates Avenue. Fifty six year old Cyril McFoy Robinson was shot to the head and succumbed to his injuries shortly after while 45 year old Sean Cherrington was shot to the leg and is receiving treatment at the KHMH. The men were playing a game of dominoes inside the yard of Robinson when a gunman pulled up and opened fire on them. Neighbors say they heard as many as 8 shots ring out.
"We were playing dominoes, 4 of us. The man that died son was also around us. The man then come in the yard and start to fire shots and we started to run through the downstairs of the house. Cyril, who was sitting down, the guy just turn around and shot him in his head."
"We play dominoes everyday. We come here just to play dominoes with each other. No trouble man, we just have a little business, a saloon here and all we do is play dominoes everyday."
Rafael Martinez, Public Relation - Ministry of Police
Just a few minutes to 2 o'clock this afternoon we received some information about a shooting incident that occurred at the corner of Dean Street and Euphrates Avenue. Sadly, we had a fatality in which 56 year old Cyril McFoy Robinson was fatally injured. Also injured in this shooting incident today, we have a 45 year old Sean Cherrington who was injured to the leg. So far we have no motive for this latest incident and we're investigating this latest shooting that occurred in Belize City. I cannot tell you the exact amount of shots that were fired but I can tell you that several shots were fired, as a matter of fact police are still on the scene trying to pick up the pieces and ascertain what happened and what calibre of weapon was used."
It is believed that Robinson was not the intended target of today's shooting and instead the gunman was after his son Brandon Tillett whom they say was there at the time but managed to escape. Tillett is associated with the George Street gang.
Tonight, the Police Department notes the passing of one of their own after 29 year-old Constable Marvin Sedacy from the Punta Gorda Station died in a major traffic accident this morning. It happened at around 7:45, between miles 3 and 4 on the Southern Highway, just outside of Forest Home Village. It is unclear at this time how the accident happened, but as you can see from these photographs, Sedacy, who was driving the brown Ford Escort, ended up in the lane of this Freight Truck, and they had a head-on collision. Sedacy, who was the only one in the car, died due to the extensive damages he suffered from the impact which crushed and compressed the front end of the Ford Escort. Sedacy, who is a resident of Cattle Landing, which is just outside of Punta Gorda Town, reportedly left from a wake shortly before he ended up in this fatal traffic accident.
There's no forgetting the messy protest by 50 BML workers last month in front of City Hall. A truce was brokered when Government undertook to pay the huge arrears to the sanitation company on the understanding that City Hall would keep current with its debt. Well, 6 weeks later, BML is complaining that it has still not received payment after the early August agreement but Mayor Darrell Bradley disputes that report.
Darrel Bradley, Mayor of Belize City Council
"That is not the case. I have been meeting with BML's attorney who is Mr. Shebat and we entered an into an agreement with them in terms of how we are going to deal with the arrears situation. They took into account that they are being given 35,000 dollars per week, by the central government. On top of that the city council had agree to pay them 10,000 dollars at a minimum so that we don't go further into arrears with them. We also have them two 50,000 dollars payments to settle some of the bill. We recognise we owe them a lot of money and those two 50,000 payments are minuscule compared to what we owe them but it was a good faith payment. The agreement sets out payment periods, at the ending of this month will make a payment of 5 weeks which is about 350,000 dollars and the ending of October, we're going to give them 3 weeks, which is about 210,000 dollars and we have agreed we will settle the full arrears position by the ending of January and this agreement has been signed by us, signed by them. It's not a perfect situation and I expect there is still some unease on both sides including them. They're due the money and because of our financial position unable to pay them in full, but we've made representation to them that we're going to settle. They were gracious enough to negotiate with us in terms of agreeing to this payment plan and we are following it out in good faith and we expect come February, we will be able to deal with them completely, and we will have no other issue with them. Separate issue, entirely from that is how we're dealing with the transition to the new system and I've made this point repeatedly that it is very difficult for us to absorb 170 people. You're not only talking about salaries, you're talking about pension liabilities, you're talking about uniforms, you're talking about equipment, you're talking about management and supervision which the city council is notoriously poor at in terms of ensuring what we have, we're managing very well and recognise we have limitations here."
Last night, we told you about the allegation of abuse against the controversial commander of the Gang Suppression Unit, Inspector Mark Flowers. As we reported, 2 young women are accusing him of roughing them up as well as a group of children while under the influence of alcohol on Sunday night.
Flowers categorically denies it, but these women swear that it happened, and have gone as far as to report him to the Police internal affairs. Last night, we spoke to them about the incident a few minutes before news time, and we were forced to air their comments mostly unedited.
Tonight, we revisit that story to highlight the most important parts of the allegation. Daniel Ortiz has that story:
The cellphone footage captures Inspector Mark Flowers standing in front of a vehicle, and he's signaling a vehicle to pass by. It's Wilson Street, and the position of his pickup tells us he has driven up-stop, against the flow of traffic.
"We were greeting Britney for her birthday and I notice that a car was following them from I was coming up the street, but I wasn't paying it any mind and the car came down one way follow behind them and it stopped."
Both sides agree up to this point that this was the sequence of events. But the stories begin to diverge when the confrontation actually started.
"The man came out and start to clap and chased us home. We didn't pay it any mind because he was high and so we continued to talk."
That's a matter of opinion, Flowers has categorically refuted this. Though, it must be noted that this young lady, her sister, and a few of the children who were there all say the same thing. So right now, it's their word against Flowers'.
"And that was when he came out of his car and he string-up one of the kids. That was when I said "sir you don't have to do that." I said it two times and then he came and push. When he push me the first time I didn't move and then he push me again and then a third time he pull out a gun from his side and then this guy jump in front of me. When the guy jumped in front of me, he put the gun back in his pocket and string-up the guy into the chain-link fence and the afterwards that's when the children got frighten because they shouted "gun" and then I got afraid and went and call my sister from the house and they came to the front and so my sister call the police and then he got on his phone and said 'this is the commander of GSU Mr. Flowers, I need a Trooper.' He didn't know the name of the street because he was drunk and I said Wilson Street and then police came 5 minutes after and they ask who made the report, we ask who did they get it from and they said Tamika Wade, my sister said that me and she explain the story."
The young ladies say that after they explained the entire story to the responding officers, they became outraged. The male police officer who was driving the vehicle appeared hesitant to press the issue on their behalf. That would mean that no criminal action was going to be taken against Flowers.
"The driver was talking to Mr. Flowers at the same time at the corner, we don't know what they were talking about. He came back and he tell the female officer in her ears that they can't take us to the station because it won't make any sense, so she told me that they have to take them, because as you look at the man you can see that he is drunk. I mean to say if the police officer could look at him and see it, why did man (driver) can't see it. Thinking that he would have listen to her and took us to the station, they put us behind the truck and drove right around the lane and told us to come out. The man said that they cannot take us to the station because nothing will come out of it because he (Flowers) is higher than us. That doesn't make any sense. If something like that happen they would have taken any other individual at the station. Why didn't they took him? He (Flowers) just drove off in his car and gone."
"They told all of us to get in the car and so we said that we were going to the station to make a report - not knowing that they would drive us right down the lane and they told us to get out of the vehicle and that they will not take us because they said that it will not make any sense because they are the GSU and they are higher than us and so the case is not going anywhere. You could see that the man (Flowers) is drunk. We told them that we wanted to make a report, but the driver don't want us to go."
After Sunday night's experience, the women say that they are afraid of the Commander of GSU because he allegedly pulled his weapon at them and was aggressive.
"I went to make the report today and I spoke to Mr. Rivero and he was very nice and he explained to me that they had already spoke to Mr. Flowers and that they scolded him. I really want it to go more than that because we were frighten because he had a gun and somebody could have gotten shot, or knock and I was really scared, I actually cry. I really want something get out of it and that just because he is high in GSU - I want him to be treated like a normal person because if it was somebody from the gang members or a normal person - they would have to go to spend their 3 months or however long because of a gun. I want them to treat him like that."
In March, former BTB Director Laura Esquivel Frampton was unceremoniously ousted from the most senior post at the Tourism Board when 7 managers orchestrated a palace coup and wrote the minister a letter of no-confidence.
The fallout for the UDP was enormous; Laura is the eldest daughter of two term UDP Prime Minister Sir Manuel Esquivel and both he and his wife Lady Kathy resigned immediately from all Government posts and appointments. But now, it seems the party is offering Esquivel Frampton an olive branch. 7News has confirmed that she is being offered a senior diplomatic posting at the Belize High Commission in London.
The timeline has not been confirmed but Esquivel Frampton told us she will take the offer and re-settle her family in the UK.
In June of this year, we told you about the Former General Manager of the Belmopan Branch of the Social Security Board, Anna Gonzalez, who was dismissed reportedly after a dispute with the CEO Richard Flowers. Well, Gonzalez has recently filed a lawsuit for unlawful dismissal.
As we reported, Gonzalez was a staff member with 30 years at the institution, and our sources told us that she basically driven out of the institution's Belmopan Headquarters, where she had been the General Manager before her termination. We were told that she opposed to certain features of the ongoing Stategic Business Transformation Project.
In her statement of claim, Gonzalez explains that on June 2 Flowers held a meeting with her and orally notified that she had been terminated. The reasons given to her in writing is quote, "a lack of leadership skills required for the Transformation Plan". End Quote.
She categorically states that at no time during her service, were there any complaints made against her by any of her other co-workers, or by CEO Flowers that she lacked leadership or performance. But Gonzalez contends that she could only be dismissed by the Board of Directors of the SSB, and because of that CEO Flowers exceeded his powers when he terminated her.
If she wins her case, she is seeking a declaration that the Chief Executive Officer, Richard Flowers, lacked the authority to terminate her, and therefore the action he took in June is unlawful and void. She is also seeking another declaration from the court that she was unlawfully and unfairly dismissed by the CEO in violation of the Labour Act.
Most importantly, she is seeking an award of damages, included aggravated damages for the termination of her post. It is also significant to note that the time of her termination from SSB, Gonzalez was only 8 months away from early retirement, and she would have qualified for her benefits. Instead, she has been informed that she can no longer receive her early retirement pension.
Six years ago, 7News visited the Belize City dump and exposed an incredible underside to city life human scavengers living off the garbage of city residents. Fast-forward six years, and the place has been transformed, and fortunately so have the people. They're no longer scavengers, they're re-cyclers. And today we visited when they got Occupational Safety and Health and Basic First Aid Training. Courtney Weatherburne went into the archives to compare the old and the new at the dump:
We are quite familiar with the mainstream commercial world in Belize City; the concrete jungle as it is called - the highly traversed and trafficked streets, the buzz and scramble for parking spaces school kids go home and the rush to simply to get home. Well there is another world that occupies the periphery of society, another type of jungle, where there is also a scramble but of a different natureâ€¦ and that's the dump site.
You wouldn't find shelves neatly stacked with items but to the people who lived at the original dump site at mile 3 on the Western Highway, it's a gold mine or a massive treasure chest. Keith Swift spoke to them in 2008.
"You find all kind of stuff, stuff you can sell and make money. So guys don't have to rob and steal, they come up here and find things to survive."
"It's hard, but you work for it."
But with the transformation of the dump site into a proper waste disposal transfer station last year, these one-time garbage pickers are now fully trained and skilled recyclers. Equipped with the necessary safety gear. This shift has had a significant impact in the productivity of the workers as well as their status.
Philip Waight, Health and Safety Engineer
"What has happened it has given them some sort of respect. They have elevated themselves, it allowed them to feel better and they actually making money compared to when they were just fudging around in the garbage. So you find that it has really elevated their status and their whole morale, so I think they have improved considerably."
Tyrone Chimilio, Communications Officer, SWMA
"The final part of the project component if for the institutional strengthening of the project and that have in terms to do with the policies we are developing, other strategies we are implementing. Of course within the 4th component we have what we call a social communication strategy and that comes underneath what you are seeing here today, it is called a social inclusion plan, which has been developed to assist the recyclers in terms of their status. Since the project, we have moved from the open dump site and now their here, so we have facilities, we have bathrooms for them, they have an area they can have their lunch and working within the transfer station."
So the days of rummaging through heaps of waste is not over but with these training sessions, the workers can do their 'dirty' work in a safe and managed manner.
Tonight, We have a correction to make on a story we aired in our last newscast. It concerns the incident with Gloria Nunez and a teenager, in which Nunez ended up being convicted of harm. Nunez was working at the hotel but only as a trainee under The Youth Apprenticeship Program. We must clarify that the incident she was charged for did not occur at the Biltmore but on Mahogany Street. The incident also occurred prior to her joining the Biltmore.
22 year-old Gildon Flowers, a resident of Antelope Street Extension, is in jail tonight after he was allegedly busted with a weapon by the Gang Suppression Unit. According to the GSU, several officers went to search his house on Monday for weapons or drugs. They say that when they arrived, Rivers opened the door and tried to dispose of a weapon that he had on him. They saw where it landed, and when they retrieved it, they discovered that the gun was a .380 pistol. He was charged with one count of keeping an unlicensed firearm, and he was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith today. Due to the nature of the offence, he was ineligible for bail, and was remanded to prison to prion until November 6.
That gun seizure wasn't the only successful operation that the Gang Suppression Unit made this week. On Monday, officers from the Unit went to the Belize Central Prison where prison officers handed over 2 bags of weed. The first bag contained 1 pound, while the other had 15.5 ounces. The Prison reported to the GSU that these drugs were confiscated during searches at the prison which happened between October 2013 and September 2014. The GSU handed over the marijuana to Eastern Division where it be destroyed. Also, officers of the GSU searched a bushy lot on Gill street yesterday morning at around 10. They ended up finding 1.012 kilos or 2.23 pounds of cannabis, which was found in to separate black plastic bags, which were hidden inside a green water cooler. Nobody was around, and so, the drugs were deposited as found property.
If you travel, or watch enough TV, you'll surely have noticed the impressive landmark signs in developed countries. Well, now you can see one of those signs right in Belize at the Seashore Children's Park. It is not quite as gigantic as say, the Hollywood sign in California, but it will serve the same purpose: to enhance the aesthetics of the area and to attract locals and tourists. Mayor Darrell Bradley discussed the impact of this project on the community.
Darrel Bradley, Mayor of Belize City Council
"One of the difficulties with this, is this all came about as a result of us discovering they were going to privatise this area. Residents had brought it to our attention, and through co-operating with myself, city council and residents in this community, we manage to make representations to the land department. We had very active community individuals, Steven Pererra who led the way in terms of making that representation so they had agreed to leave this area as a public space. And we recognise with partnership with the community groups, that if we wanted to be left as community space, then we had to enhance it. The larger idea is, you see have finished Seashore Drive, and we have finished Buttonwood Bay Boulevard. And one of the things is along Seashore drive we did an exercise belt, and that exercise belt runs right into this park and we are enhancing the area. There are trees being planted along the Seashore Drive area to end off in the park. We are working with a budget, so it's not everything that can be done at one time and the community groups are doing things like the benches, BEL with the lights. We are combining budget like that and we expect within a reasonable period of time, we can get this area to look very good."
Estevan Perrera, Resident of Carribean Shores
"It was a tricky project. After I designed it, how I wanted it to look, I contacted several of the contractors in Belize and I finally found a gentleman by the name of Stephen Coleman that was able to pull it off. We sat down for a day or two to design and come up with a concept whereby we could have created a sign that could represent Belize and could be as sturdy as possible that not even a hurricane could damage it. As you can see the sign is constructed from solid concrete, it's reinforced with steel, so the Belizean public of tourists that come by they can actually interact with the sign, they can climb on it, they can sit down on it and they can take photos with the sign."
The park project is expected to be completed in 4 months.
As you saw in our top segment, Arthur Saldivar has been, in his words, "abandoned by his party." But, that's not the end of it actually, it's quite far from anything near the end, we'd say. In an interview an hour after the decision came down Saldivar told us that, 1.) he will run as an independent, 2.) he may challenge the executive of the PUP at a convention and 3.) he may even take the PUP to court. Now, all or none of these may happen, but it all pivots on how much popular support Sadivar the politician can attract, because he no longer has the cover of a mass party. Today he told us his party is heading to tyranny:â€¦
Arthur Saldivar, Removed as PUP BRN Std. Bearer
"There is a spirit of arbitrariness taken place and it can only lead to tyranny. So we our democratic processes to be given full effect. It cannot be that we have a tyranny in the PUP."
"Sir, but let's look at it. You are way up here right now in your conceptualisation of the PUP but on the ground what has happened is you get huff, there are about 25 or 30 members of the executive and only 5 or 6 spoke in your favour. The PUP executive does not want Arthur Saldivar, that's the reality."
"Again Jules, it's not a matter of what 25 person say around a table. The PUP is comprised of much more people than that and a matter of me being huffed, no certainly not, I don't see it that way. I will still have the same ability tomorrow to earn a living. I will have the same ability to go forward and do what I need to do for myself, but it is the people of the Belize Rural North who have been huffed, not myself; And I will not allowed them to be huffed as long as I draw breath. I will be here, doing what I need to do, fighting on the behalf of their interest and to ensure that they get representation that they need."
"But sir, aren't you being proud? Shouldn't you just realise that the higher ups in your own party don't want you. Shouldn't you just say man, just bring who you want, I will support them or make what ever nominal token gesture I need to make and move on. The PUP does not want you, the executive of the PUP, those are the people who make the decision."
"Again Jules, this is not about the PUP anymore. As you have rightly said, a decision was made by the executive. However what I am seeking to do, is to challenge the basis of that decision on the constitutionality of it. There is a very dangerous president that has been set. I don't know if the others around the table recognise it. I believe the people of Belize will judge them because to have made such a stupid decision, it doesn't speak well to them as critical thinkers."
"So does the leader Francis Fonseca have to go?"
"That is not for me to say. As you say I am not apart of the flock anymore. But I will say, that his leadership, needs much to be desired."
"The public relations of the Belize Rural North said that the man orchestrating all of this the new national campaign manager, Mr. Smith. Is that your opinion that Godfrey Smith has cooked all this up?"
"Again, I will be like Bob Marley, I deal with the sheriff, not the deputies."
"Is it fair that Mr. Musa was charged theft of a substantial amount of public funds, he wasn't convicted of that, but he was charged for theft. You haven't been charged for anything. What is the standard by which you were removed?"
"I will not discuss Mr. Musa, if you want to ask me a question about Mr. Fonseca then that is a different matter and I will not discuss it right now. Tomorrow we shall discuss that."
"Sir, what is the standard by which you were ejected? Is it because somebody doesn't like you? Somebody don't like see you? They don't like how you behave?"
"I think that is another question for you to ask the party leader. I don't know what standards they were using when he made that decision."
Tomorrow we'll have more on this if not compelling, at least entertaining political story!
Tonight, 39 Year-old Alden Sutherland, is out on bail tonight after he was taken to court for allegedly setting a vehicle on fire. Hector Choj, reported to police that on last week Saturday, at around 8:30 a.m., he parked his 60 thousand dollar Toyota Tacoma in front of his apartment on Youth for the Future Drive, and left after he properly secured. He says that at around 2 the following morning, he was informed by security guard who told him that someone set his vehicle on fire. That security guard led police to the man who lit the fire, and 3 days later Sutherland was charged with arson. He was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith today, and because it's an indictable offence, no plea was taken. The police prosecutor objected, but after consideration, Chief Magistrate Smith granted him bail of $3,000 and adjourned the case until November 5, 2014.