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
Tonight, we have a packed newscast for you. Over the 3-day weekend, there were two double murders in the Cayo District, also, a well-known street figure was slain in the city. But we start tonight with news from the Sarstoon River.
On Saturday, the police stopped the Belize Territorial Volunteers from going on their trip to the Sarstoon River. Our news team was there when the Belizean lawmen blocked them from even leaving the Barranco Pier. We'll show you that later in the news, but first to the reaction from the PUP to the controversial Statutory Instrument which stops any Belizean from going into the Sarstoon for a month.
The Governor General signed that into law on Friday and made it a criminal offence punishable by a two thousand dollar fine or a year in jail. Government said it's only to give them time to find a diplomatic solution for the Sarstoon situation.
But, today, the PUP held a meeting of the National Executive, and decided to defy the Government, and the possibility of being confronted by the Guatemalan army, and go to the Sarstoon.
Opposition Leader John Briceno explained it in press conference called at Independence Hall this afternoon:
Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition "As a national executive and members from parliament, we decided that it's important for us to show to the government and to the country that we do not agree with those law and we are going to challenge it, not only by talking and press conferences - whatever. But to go on the ground, to go out there and to go to the Sarstoon River and to challenge the government from stopping us from going there."
"We believe that from the national party council, that quite likely there is going to be other members of the national party council that would want to join us and if that were the case, that we are going to welcome them to join us. The national party council consists of about 300 party members from across the country."
"That's a decision that the government will have to decide whether they want to take out any criminal actions against us. but we are determine to point out that we believe that it is unconstitutional, it is an unjust law and that Belizeans should be allowed to go the Sarstoon - on our side of the Sarstoon. We need to make that abundantly clear."
"I believe that if the government is serious, they can also speak to their counterparts in Guatemala to point out that we are going on a peace visit to the Sartsoon. We are going to assure them that none of us are going to have any kind of weapons or knives or anything - that we are going there on a peaceful visit to assert the sovereignty on our side of the Sarstoon River."
A few hours after that PUP Press Conference, the Prime Minister called his own press conference at the NEMO Conference Room in Belmopan. It was to update the nation that a delegation of Belizean diplomats, minus a representative from the PUP, were in Washington DC. They had already made a jump-start in trying to negotiate a protocol for the Sarstoon River, while the 30-day ban is still in effect.
We'll get to that, but when the Prime Minister took questions from the Press, we asked about the PUP's bold announcement to go to the Sarstoon. He told us they will be treated just like the BTV were this weekend:
Daniel Ortiz "The People's United Party announced via a press conference that they intend to go to the Sarstoon to put on display the government's intention to enforce this law. Will the state enforce the ban against them?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "The prohibition is meant deter anybody from going to the Sarstoon for purposes other than regular routine day to day activities, such as way to the normal course be taking place. In other words we don't want to stop anybody from Barranco, we don't want to stop any other regular civilian. But if the Opposition's intention is to try to make a political point, then in the normal course the prohibition would apply to them."
And so while the government says that it did what it had to do on Saturday - and it will do it again, if necessary, the Territorial Volunteers said the same thing. Beefed up by heavy support from civil society, on Saturday, they were determined to make the journey, even after meeting with the commanders of the armed forces, and learning that they could be risking a $2,000 fine or a year imprisonment.
Our news team followed them this Saturday to Barranco Village, Toledo, when they attempted to take to the Caribbean Sea for a boat ride down to the Sarstoon.
The Security Forces were determined to stop them, and our cameras caught all the action. Daniel Ortiz has that story:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
Early on Saturday morning, the Territorial Volunteers and their civil society affiliates boarded a bus to Barranco Village.
They had travelled for at least 4 hours, some as much as 6 hours, leaving around midnight to get to the Toledo District. But before they could reach the Barranco pier, word was already relayed to the excursion's leader. The security forces had detained several of the boat captains, which meant that the military didn't intend to allow them to go to the Sarstoon River..
Wil Maheia - BTV Leader "They've turned back the boat. They've arrested the boat captain and the guy from the truck and the people who were with him."
About an hour later, when they finally arrived at the Barranco Coast line, they were met by a blockade of officers from the police and Coast Guard. No one was going to be allowed on the pier, and no amount of reasoning with the lead officers would change that:
Wil Maheia "We are here to board our boats to go towards the Sarstoon, not inside the river going to Sarstoon. So we ask your permission if we can go ahead."
Sr. Superintendent Ralph Moody - Police Southern Regional Commander "Well this is the furthest that you are allowed to go. I have no opinion so whatever you say i will not respond."
The participants waited on the pier, hoping that they could find some loophole to get around the blockade. But there was no flexibility and no room for compromise. Moreover, the Coast Guard had impounded the boats hired for the trip. So, with no boats available, that meant no trip.
Wil Maheia - BTV Leader "Right now what they are telling us is that we cannot get on the dock and as you can see for yourself is the dock itself has 10-20 military personnel. So if they can get on the dock, why is it that we can't get on the dock? When we got here, both of our boats were on the deck tied up. The minute we started to approach the dock, that was when we were given the instructions to leave. I couldn't recognize the people in the boat but apparently our boat was boarded by the military people and they drifted off. I am trying to reach them right now to find out exactly what happened. We have fueled up our boats, we checked the license, we have our life jackets, everything. So I don't understand why they first of all, detained the 3 people that was coming to Barranco in the boat, I don't understand why they did that. Now we can't get on the dock."
And while that's the negative interpretation that Maheia has taken from it, the Coast Guard says it is only a safety measure - these good officers were only concerned about the BTV's wellbeing while on the seas:
Commander Elton Bennett - Assistant Commandant, Belize Coast Guard "We understand that the BTV had plans to depart Barranco in the vessels. It is the Coast Guard's responsibility that those vessels were sea worthy. We commenced operations this morning, so far we have detained 3 vessels, all for maritime safety offences and those three vessels were detained and taken back to Punta Gorda. The offenses range from fire extinguisher, lack of life jackets, no sea worthiness certificate, no masters license and we cannot allow those vessels to sail with that amount of people unsafe. And that is what we did this morning."
Daniel Ortiz "Sir is this an attempt by the state to block the BTV. Some would say that you came down hard on them on this particular instance. It seems staged?"
Commander Elton Bennett - Assistant Commandant, Belize Coast Guard "Not at all. The restricted area is the mouth of the Sarstoon. We are not preventing the BTV from departing Baranco at all. They have no vessels here, had they had any vessels at this location, we would have already boarded the vessels to ensure that they are safe and we would not be able to restrict them to move from this location. But as you look around there is no safe vessel to get on their way. Our operation is focused on the Sarstoon and to ensure that SI that was signed yesterday is carried through."
This move by the Government that was an effective checkmate. There was no guarantee that the Coast Guard wouldn't keep moving the goal posts by finding faults with every single vessel which might be presented. All the civilians could do was vent their frustration.
Wil Maheia "We were just planning to go to the Sarstoon inside the river because we are law-abiding citizens. Today is a very historic day for Belize. It's the 30th of April 1859 the day when our borders were defined."
Geovannie Brackett - President, COLA "This government is more in favor to protect their status quo. Today is definitely a lack of priority. There is more priority given in banning Belizeans from its waters than for us to ban illegal encroachments into our waters. We at COLA condemn this and we believe that this is the beginning of something to stir a massive demonstration."
Hon. Oscar Requena - PUP Area. Rep., Toledo West "This is totally uncalled for. We all know that this is Belize. This is an independent country and as Belizeans we should have the right to travel and access any part of our country at any time as long as we do it peacefully and do so in the context of the law."
Ramon "Monchi" Cervantes - PUP Standard Bearer, OW North "It highlights the fact that the government has lost control of the Belize - Guatemala situation."
Patrick Rogers - Leader, Belize Progressive Party "There are Belizeans who do not mind to be arrested or aggressed or even killed by the government by the Guatemalan armed forces in an effort to have this bad press that Belize have been receiving internationally, start swinging in our favors, so had the government allowed us to take the boats and proceed up the Sarstoon, we would have been stopped or detained by the Guatemalan military in Belizean waters."
Hon. Elena Smith - Senator for the Labor/Civil Society "We know what is going on and we don't have leaders who are willing to stand up and fight for our country so I believe that I should come here and show my support for my people."
Hon. Valerie Woods - PUP Senator "I will tell you that I am surprised, approaching Barranco that I am met with our security forces, police, BDF and coast guard. This is Baranco, it is not Sarstoon. I would have anticipated it there, but it is now a clear demonstration that we will not allow, we will actually prevent you from even attempting to go. Even right before the Sarstoon and that is worrying."
Richard "Dickie" Bradley - Attorney/Private Citizen "We knew this was coming. In fact the lawyer for Wil Maheia and the volunteers told him several days ago that there is no way the cowardly government that is in charge of the country at this time in our history, will allow the volunteers to come on this river."
Hon. Oscar Requena - PUP Area. Rep., Toledo West "Belize is acceding to Guatemala. There is no doubt about that."
With the abrupt cancellation, all everyone could do was prepare for the long ride back home.
Wil Maheia "I want to thank everyone for coming out; the area representatives, the union members, everybody who are out here today, the people who left way up north to come here, I also say thanks to them."
So, to the big news of the Prime Minister's Press Conference this afternoon. He told the media that now that the 30-day ban in the Sarstoon is in effect, Belize is hard at work, through the diplomatic channels, to negotiate a peace keeping protocol for the Sarstoon River.
According to the Prime Minister, a high-level delegation from Belize has been in Washington since this weekend. They been conducting bilateral talks with Guatemala today, and those sessions will continue tomorrow. Here's how Prime Minister Barrow explained the urgency with which his Foreign Affairs Diplomats are acting during this 30-day cooling down period in the Sarstoon:
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "Foreign Minister has been dispatch directly from the Bahamas to Washington where we have succeeded with the help of the Americans in arranging a number of meetings. These are with the OAS, with the State Department and that meeting with the State Department took place at 11pm Washington time morning. It was with the Under Secretary of State, Ambassador Shannon, who I believe is the number two to Kerry. So there was that meeting this morning at 11 and another meeting takes place just about now, perhaps started about an hour or so. That was schedule for 4pm Washington time - a bilateral meeting between Belize and Guatemala."
"All the talks - we also met with OAS Secretary General Almagro this afternoon. That was before the bilateral with Guatemala. Tomorrow the Guatemalans meet with Under Secretary Shannon. They also meet with the OAS Secretary General and then in the afternoon, there is tripartite meeting among Belize, Guatemala and the OAS. Now, in all this, the issue that looms largest is the Sarstoon."
"Foreign Minister Elrington is accompanied by Ambassador Alexis Rosado, Ambassador Pat Andrews and National Security CEO Colonel George Lovell."
"Clearly then ladies and gentlemen, we continue to pursue all means to dispel any threat from Guatemala and to secure an international diplomatic shield for Belize's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Foreign Minister Elrington will report to the nation as soon as he gets back."
And while the diplomats are talking in Washington, and trying to hammer out that protocol, in Belize, at best, public opinion is split on the Statutory Instrument, and there's been very vocal opposition to it.
Wil Maheia and the territorial Volunteers say that they intend to conduct surveillance for themselves to make sure that the SI is enforced across the board, on everyone, including the Guatemalans who travel and fish on the Belize side of the river.
While we were in Barranco, we spoke to a few of the participants to get feedback on this law. Not surprisingly, the majority of those we spoke to are disappointed that the Government took this step. Here's how they explained it:
Geovannie Brackett - President, COLA "That law against - if anyone had any ill views of the government and how they've been handling this situation, it shows clearly that this government is more concern again in yielding to Guatemala unfounded claim. That law we believe is unconstitutional, it is a symbol of power and it's a symbol of a lack of faith and hope and that's what we think about that law."
Richard "Dickie" Bradley - Attorney/Private Citizen "No magistrate will enforce that law. It's a fool-fool law. In Jamaica, they would say "idiot mi bwai" - the law itself is signed on a legal error. But somebody asked an important question, the Opposition must go to the Supreme Court and strike that down. It just show the haste with which - you can't reason with us? You can't tell what happened - so and so? Everybody here is reasonable people, but they are not happy. Something is happening. You were here in this river and you see how Guatemala behaves?"
Hon. Oscar Requena - PUP Area. Rep., Toledo West "We know that Guatemala has been amassing their troops on the border and they have made it absolutely clear, in all diplomatic channels, in their media, that the Sarstoon belongs to them and by government now signing this SI, by government now saying Belizeans you cannot access that area, it is sending a clear message that Belize is giving in to Guatemala and we must condemn that. Today the people of Barranco, the people of Graham Creek, who depend upon the natural resources to make their living, be it fishing, be it gathering food. These people are now being deprived from their livelihood. I want you to also record that the village of Graham Creek for them to access their area, they travelled through the Sarstoon River. So what is the government saying to these Belizeans who are living out there? They are now going to held hostage within their community for a month? Let the government answer."
Hon. Valerie Woods - PUP Senator "The questioned even the penalty. I was talking to the folks from FCD and some of the penalties that have been imposed on those who have illegally encroached from Guatemalans is not $2,000. Some of it is less."
One man who's choosing to look at the Statutory Instrument as a positive outcome is Patrick Rogers, the Leader of the Belize Progressive Party.
Now, if you've been following the opinions that Rogers and those within his party have shared on the Belize/Guatemala Territorial Dispute, you'd know that they are hyper-critical of the Government's decisions.
So, we were a little surprised when Rogers told us that from his perspective, the Government, in trying to block the BTV, did a good thing to advance Belize's claimed sovereignty over the northern portion of the Sarstoon River. Here's how he explained why:
Patrick Rogers - Leader, Belize Progressive Party "All is not lost Belize. We are taking the line that they have given us and make lemonade, because what they have effectively done is re-assert sovereignty over the northern section of the Sarstoon now, by passing this law to restrict us for going there for 30 days. Over the next 30 days we need to mount a constitutional challenge based on discrimination if Guatemalan fisher folks are seen in the northern side of the Sarstoon or worst, the Guatemalan Armed Forces."
Wil Maheia and the BTV say that this weekend's set back has not deterred them from the decision to visit the Sarstoon River before the month is up.
And, as you saw in our story, PUP's, Oscar Requena and Ramon "Monchie" Cervantes, were very vocal about the Sarstoon Statutory Instrument.
The rest of their party agrees with them, and among those 5 resolutions passed today, the PUP will bring a constitutional challenge against the law. Apart from defying the Government and going to the Sarstoon themselves, the PUP say that they will engage in a national campaign called "Liberation of the Sarstoon and Resistance to the Sarstoon Law".
So, back to the topic of the Sarstoon SI which stops Belizeans from entering the Sarstoon without permission from the Government. As we said, there's been vocal criticism of it, and today, we challenged the Prime Minister on it.
Here's how he answered when we asked if this 30-day ban is an indication that the Government is being too passive:
Daniel Ortiz "A popular sentiment, a critic coming out of this in the wake of your SI that was passes is that this in some way is a proof positive that the government is weak-kneed in the handling of the Sarstoon River situation. Can you respond to that?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "It's hard to respond to what is an opinion. People are perfectly entitled to their opinion and I certainly will not engaged in any debate with them. I will merely repeat that government must at all times bear well in mind, the larger picture and the country's overriding national interest."
Reporter "Are we retreating in the face of an advancing Guatemalan agenda, not just diplomatically, but on the ground?"
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister "Well I don't know how we could say we are retreating diplomatically. I just finished setting out a laborious detailed all that we are doing diplomatically. But if no protocol is agreed between Belize and Guatemala, as I say the prohibition by way of the regulation will come to an end. Certainly at the expiration of one month - may come an end before. If there is a protocol, that will take care of that. If there is no protocol, then we revert to the position that the island is in our territory, on our side of the river and Belizeans will be free to go anywhere that constitutes our territory, including the Sarstoon Island."
An important point which we didn't get an opportunity to focus on is that the Prime Minister made an important distinction. Persons from Toledo who are on legitimate business will be allowed to traverse the Sarstoon. It is only persons with incendiary political statements of patriotism who will be blocked.
Gun violence loomed over the streets of Belize City on the Labour Day weekend, with two separate shootings which left one dead and two injured.
We start first with the murder of 38 year old Keon "Gambis" Williams, a well known resident of Supal Street Belize City. Williams was gunned down on Saturday evening on the Central American Boulevard. He's a well known name in Belize City streets and he made national healdines back in 2010, when he was accused of sodomizing a 14 year old boy, a charge he eventually beat.
But this weekend, the father of three, was unable to escape an apparent vendetta killing. It is a complicated scenario that, according to his family, involves a week long stake out. Emanuel Pech reports.
Despite his somewhat troubling past, 38 year old Glen Williams, also known as Keon Williams or "Gambis," was a free spirited individual.
He spent a lot of his free time at popular gambling spots like the one by the Fish Market at West Collet Canal. In fact the last thing his mother heard from him on Saturday was a joke.
Enid Williams- Mother of Deceased "I was in the yard here talking. The corn man came and he bought a corn. The ladies here ran jokes with him telling him to buy them a corn - he tells them 'I am not your man, find your man.' He burst out laughing and he drove backwards and went. It's not until in the next hour or so when a man came and said that they just killed Gambis. We couldn't believe it. I am still in shock."
So what happened? Police say that around 5:20 on Saturday evening Williams was gunned down while riding his motorcycle on Central American Boulevard.
ACP Chester Williams- O. C. Easter South Division "Mr. Keon Williams was riding his motorcycle on Central American Boulevard near its intersection with Antelope Street when a whitish looking 4 door Lincoln car came from behind him and from within the vehicle, someone extended their arm out and fired several shots at him which caused him injuries subsequently resulting to his death."
Williams was shot three times: to the neck, shoulder and back. However family members that responded to the bloody scene said they saw at least 10 expended shells scattered on ground. It appeared someone really wanted Williams dead. But who, and why?
That's what authorities are trying to figure out. Although the family has its own theories.
According to them whoever was behind Williams' murder had it out for him for some time now.
Enid Williams - Mother of Deceased "He was still in the shop railing-up. I ask him what happened. He said you didn't hear about it then? I say hear about what. He says someone told him that when he goes at Ms. Peal where he goes to play card on Kraal Road - told him that they will send a hitman to wait for him out there. So, I brush it off and told him don't go back there to play card. On Friday, he says that he is at his girlfriend's house and a vehicle parked there with two men laying down. I told him why didn't he swing back and come home to sleep, because he is scared of sleeping home."
Emanuel Pech "For how long?"
Enid Williams - Mother of Deceased "From since this guy died from George Street, men are out looking for him. From then. They must have said that in one week's time you got to go."
Williams and his family had made a police complaint about the mysterious vehicle. And although police did intercept that vehicle, the one involved in the actual shooting was different.
ACP Chester Williams - O. C. Easter South Division "I know for a fact that he has spoken to me sometime last week and say that a vehicle was following him and we have check the information out. We have spoken to the persons in that vehicle and we continue to look at the information. The vehicle that subsequently was involved with the shooting that lead to his death was not the vehicle that he has complained about that was following. But we are not saying there is no connection between the vehicle that was following and those persons who may have been in the vehicle that actually shot him."
But was it gang related?
And did it, as his mother suggested, have anything to do with Shinny's death?
If it did, then his mother believes his life was taken innocently because, according to her, Keon Williams was never associated himself with any gang activity.
Enid Williams - Mother of Deceased "He was not in gang. He is just a person that likes to run jokes. He likes to cook. He is into money. He did not have to beg anyone at all. He is a loan shark. He loan monies to the stevedores. That's all he does. He does not affiliate with any gang member. He told me plain, because he doesn't call me mom, he says Enid, I am not into that."
38 year old Gambis Williams leaves behind a three children. Reporting for 7 news Emanuel Pech
Police are actively looking for one suspect in Williams's murder.
The body of 38 year old Keon Williams now lies at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital awaiting a postmortem examination. However, even before a proper autopsy has been concluded, the family says there is already something shady surrounding the scene and the way it was processed. According to his family, Gambis Williams had a substantial amount of money on him when he was gunned down. However when the family checked his body at the hospital his money was gone. The family says they feel even more disrespected at the thought. So who would steal a dead man's money? Here are the two sides of that story.
Voice of: Family member "I told them that "Gambis" had lots of money on him, because "Gambis" took the rental vehicle. Other people say that he was gambling at the fish market. But the guy who he was gambling with say that he did have X amount of money on him and the police say that whenever they put him in the morgue they will search him. They searched him and the only thing he had on him was $2 in his pocket, because they had already robbed him. People are saying that the police robbed him. I don't know, because I wasn't out there. He had his watch, his phone and everything else he had. Only $2 he had in his pocket."
ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South "I would want to refute that information here and done, because he was shot shortly after he left a food stand on the boulevard and he was picked up quickly by the police and taken to the hospital and in the presence of his family his property was removed and there was no substantial amount of money on him."
The family did not give a specific amount of money that they claim was on Gambis at the time of his death but they cited a couple thousand.
And while Gambis Williams was killed on Saturday, the weekend city shootings continued on Sunday night. At about 8:25, two men, 25 year old Shane Valdez and 30 year old Anthony Arnold, were gunned down at their house on Antelope Street. Valdez was shot to his right thigh and Arnold was shot to his right ankle. There are no known suspects for the shooting at this time however authorities believe that the incident might in fact by related to the murder of Gambis Williams.
ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South "We do believe that that was a retaliatory shooting to the death of Keon Williams."
Reporter "Could you give us more detail about what happened there and where it happened?"
ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South "The two young men that were shot were socializing in the yard and an unknown gun man came and fired several shots in their direction and both persons were shot in their feet. They were taken to the hospital and they were admitted in a stable condition."
Reporter "In relation to Shane, Orlando and Anthony, are they known to police?"
ACP Chester Williams - OC, Eastern Division South "I will say the same thing. When a person is a victim I do not believe into venturing down into their character. They are the victim of a crime and what we need to do is to investigate the crime and try to see who have violated them. So that's what we are doing."
Again South Side Commander ACP Chester Williams would not get into the gang profiles involved in this case.
In February, a very private fight in the FFB Executive went public. That's when, as viewers may remember, the then President, Ruperto Vicente, had to fight off an attempted suspension orchestrated by the members of his executive committee.
Sergio Chuc, Cruz Gamez, and Marlon Kuylen orchestrated what might be called a Palace Coup, because they say Vicente had been bad for football over his 4 year tenure as president. But FIFA over-ruled that suspension - pushing the contest for maximum power in the FFB to an election on Saturday April 30th.
It's the FFB's 9th Ordinary Congress - and it started around 10:00 am and finished at midnight - that's right, 14 hours later, after, get this: 22 ties to see who would be President, Ruperto Vicente or his challenger, Sergio chuc. And even after 22 rounds of voting, there was still a tie! Meaning that tonight, no new president has been elected
Our news team was the Princess Ramada Hotel up to the 11th round, without selecting a new president and a 2nd Vice President. We spoke to Kuylen who told us that it's the first time something like this has ever happened:
Marlon Kuylen, Sr. Vice President Elect - FFB "I was elected in the first round and then they had to go to a second round, because they had an impasse whereby some of the other members got 10 each. Then in round two, two executive members were elected namely Shane Orio and Darlene Vernon. Since then then we are going into round 11 and the post of president and vice president have still not been able to be elected as yet because nobody wants to budge. For them to be elected you have to get 50% plus 1, which in this case would be 11 votes."
Daniel Ortiz "Has this ever happened before in FFB history or is this the first time?"
Marlon Kuylen, Sr. Vice President Elect - FFB "It hasn't happened before and I spoke to the representative of CONCACAF and he said he has never seen anything like this before either."
Daniel Ortiz "Sir, is that an indication that both camps have been going through their rigorous campaigning trying to win support for themselves or is it an indication that the football community is divided?"
Marlon Kuylen, Sr. Vice President Elect - FFB "I guess it would be a bit of both. We have people that are loyal to each camp and nobody wants to budge. I guess only time will tell, because at some point we start getting tired and some will say let's just get this over with."
Charlie Slusher, Representative - National A Team "Either side thought that after one election or after one process of voting it would have been over. So I know this is very surprising even to all the candidates that it's going on for this long."
Daniel Ortiz "Is this just a very robust election season or is the football community divided on which leadership they should trust?"
Charlie Slusher, Representative - National A Team "I believe that is exactly what is happening, because it's a serious deadlock and even after 10 tries, 10 opportunity to vote over and over again, we are going on to the 11th and there is still a deadlock. So obviously you can see that there is some kind of division when it comes to who the voters really want to support or who they believe can rule the federation for the next 4 years."
In the end, after 22 rounds, the 20 delegates remained split 10 to 10 on who to choose for President: Vicente or Chuc. They also couldn't decide between Cruz Gamez or Jaime "Maito" Perdomo for Vice-President. So after 14 hours, and 22 rounds of continuous deadlock, the CONCACAF Rep consulted FIFA and they decided to adjourn the Elections to a later date.
Since Kuylen was elected as Senior Vice-President, it was decided that he will be the Acting President of the FFB until a winner can be selected either through an extraordinary congress, or by the regular congress scheduled for 2017.
Darlene Vernon and well-known goalkeeper Shane Moody Orio were also elected along with Kuylen as Executive Members.
They ran on Ruperto Vicente's slate, but now they have an acting President from the competing slate. That may seem to give Vicente an advantage in the decision-making process going forward, and he says he's still very interested in the job. Today though, he told us he was surprised at the outcome:...
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "I was surprised yes, because I thought that we had the election. Going into this election we had 14 votes. Someway something happened between 11pm Friday night and 9am Saturday morning, because Friday night we had 14 votes and Saturday morning we only had 10 votes. Many attempts were made to break the tie, but nothing happen. So we went the extra time and even in the extra time we could not break the tie."
Jules Vasquez "Isn't that indicative of something, some deeper problem of a deep division?"
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "Well we can call it division. We can say it's because of division. Yes, it may be because of division. But it is a demonstration of people's desire - of people wanting who they want."
Jules Vasquez "If you were an effective unifying leader, you would have been able to bring home a majority. Its only 20 people. It's not 300,000. Isn't that a symptom of your divisive (what critics say) style of leadership?"
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "Well my style of leadership have proven that it has not divided football. My style of leadership have taken football to new level in Belize."
Jules Vasquez "We know there are options for an extraordinary congress. You can wait until the next congress, you can select people to fill the post. What would you prefer?"
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "FIFA has recommended that we either do an extraordinary congress or we wait until the ordinary congress next year. The extraordinary congress can happen within 60 days. The ordinary congress would have to wait until next year 2017. The congress members wants an extraordinary congress to get it over with and I believe we can get over the hump and have a president for the federation, because it is not good for the federation to be operating without an official president."
Jules Vasquez "Would you offer yourself for that extraordinary congress?"
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "I will offer myself for the extraordinary congress if its drawn out and the way we are fighting for the position and the way it is being fought for, the way things are happening Jules, I don't think I would want to be a part of it, if football is going in the direction it is going now."
Jules Vasquez "So you are saying you wouldn't wait around for an ordinary congress?"
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "I would not wait around if the present situation continues."
Jules Vasquez "Now Ruperto, you've been doing this job fulltime for 4 years and then you wake up this morning and you don't have that job anymore. Do you have a feeling of being sort of in a suspended state?"
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "Not really. As I say I am a retired person. I am retired school teacher, I am getting my pension. So I will continue to live."
Jules Vasquez "Are you concerned that being that Mr. Kuylen was not on your slate, he is an ally of Mr. Chuc. Now that he is running the affairs of the FFB and he is in the office, that he might say 'oh look what Ruperto did,' he might dig up some dirt on you and try to use that against you in an extraordinary congress."
Ruperto Vicente, Former FFB President "Certainly in a football game anything can happen and in my conversation with Kuylen when I hand over to him - that is now his agenda. His agenda is moving forward with football."
And Vicente said he doesn't want to be around if a new leadership takes football down the wrong road, his opponent Sergio Chuc feels the same about Vicente! For right now, Chuc's ally, Marlon Kuylen is sitting in the number 1 seat as the Acting President. We caught up with Chuc in Belmopan this afternoon, and he told us that although he didn't win, he's satisfied for now, that a candidate from his slate is running local football. Here's how he explained it:
Daniel Ortiz "Marlon Kuylen is now acting as president. Is he a part of your camp as is our information?"
Sergio Chuc "Yes, precisely. Marlon was running as my senior vice president, so now he is acting as the president of the federation. Mr. Vicente is gone from the federation. So, hopefully we will start implementing some of the manifesto promises we had as part of our campaign manifesto. Marlon was an integral part in putting this document together. So it's part of his plan and he being my senior vice president on the slate, its more than likely that we will be working together to achieve as much as we could achieve in this year that he will be acting as president."
Daniel Ortiz "Is this in your mind an indictment of Mr. Vicente's leadership, the fact that he couldn't get re-elected, that there was a deadlock between yourself and him. Is this a statement that he has lost the confidence of the delegates?"
Sergio Chuc "Precisely, because he having the full resources, 100% of the resources of the Football Federation of Belize - he having everything, using it to his advantage - campaigning from north to south, east to west and he still could not convinced the members that he should be re-elected. So it's a complete indictment of him and that is why I guess he is not sitting in the office at this time."
Daniel Ortiz "Does this election highlight the need for increasing the number of delegates or at least giving an odd number, because an even number both of you seem to have your staunch supporters in the delegates' voters and it caused a deadlock for 22 rounds?"
Sergio Chuc "Certainly, this is something that we need to look at immediately and maybe something that we need to fix in our statutes. We need to call an extraordinary congress sometime during the year and present this as to the members that this need to be fix."
As you heard, Vicente says that FIFA could decide to call an extraordinary congress to finish the elections. Sergio Chuc says that right now they are not inclined to do that. They want to see how Kuylen will run the FFB. That means that if everything goes as planned, Kuylen could be in charge of the local football federation until next year around this time when the 10th Ordinary Congress is called.
He's the most revered figure in Belize's history - and now National Hero, George Price will have a fitting monument at the start of the highway that bears his name. This morning, the towering George Price bust was unveiled at the Cemetery Road roundabout leading. It was a bi partisan affair as PUP Leader John Briceno, Price's relatives, and the UDP Mayor all joined in praise for Price:..
The bust was unveiled by Price's younger sister Katherine - who is 85. The donation for the bust came from the Holy Redeemer Credit Union.
Price was a former Belize City Councilor and the late 1940's and then he became Belize City Mayor in the mid to late 1950's.
The current mayor says that the bust is perfectly located - right in line with Phillip Goldson's one at the Flag Monument roundabout:….
And the sculptor who created the bust is of course, Stephen Okeke. He told us that he wanted to capture Price as a statesman with the spirit of the young nationalist:…
The City council paid twenty five thousand dollars for the bust and the base was donated by contractors, "IE".
And of course, being at a George Price event in the current climate of tensions between Belize and Guatemala, a few words had to be said about the Sarstoon SI - the statutory instrument which prevents Belizeans from going into the river which forms Belize's southern border.
We asked the mayor what he thinks about the SI - and htough he played it cagey, it's clear he's not a fan:…
And during the ceremony to unveil the Price bust, George Price's Nephew Francis Usher also made his family's position known:…
And we also asked the mayor about those four guns stolen from the City's Commercial Center one month ago. They haven't been recovered - but the mayor says they have changed their security protocol to make sure there is no recurrence:...
Police have not made any arrests in this case, but also suspect that it was an inside job.
A brutal double murder on Saturday has left Santa Elena residents shaken. 40 year old Miriam Mai and her sister in law Daisy Miralda were both shot and killed inside Betty's Beauty salon. But it wasn't as a result of a robbery or mistaken identity, they were killed by Mai's abusive and jealous ex- common law husband. We went to Cayo today to find out more about this troubling case.
Courtney Weatherburne reporting
On Saturday evening, Cayo residents gathered behind the barricade tape at Betty's Beauty Salon.
There were there looking on as the police scanned the area and processed this grisly scene. 3 bloodied bodies lay on the floor inside the salon - the woman on the far right near the table was 29 year old Daisy Miralda. The woman sprawled on her stomach was her sister in law 40 year old Salon owner Miriam Mai affectionately called Betty. And the man in the middle is Mai's ex common-law husband, Andy Bustillos - who is the suspected murderer.
The incident happened on Saturday evening after 5:00. Miralda and a few friends were hanging out at the Salon as Mai was blow drying a customer's hair. That's when Bustillos came in with a present for Mai. We spoke with one of the friends who was there and she gave us the shocking account
Eyewitness and Friend "Daisy was sitting at the rear at the back door and my friend and I were sitting beside each other. About 5 minutes after, the boy came in with a SMART bag and handed it to Betty. She told him she didn't want anything from him. Then he threw the bag on a chair in the corner and he went straight to my friend Daisy, took out the gun, shoot and came straight to me. When he shot the gun jammed and I ran, then he shot at my friend beside me and I thought he was dead also. He saw the ending of what happened afterwards because he ran outside. The customer was right there too and she ran behind him. So he pointed directly at our forehead and I put up my purse, I knew it wouldn't save me but the gun had jammed and so I ran. I ran down the hill and I all through the bobbed wire just to save my life because I thought that he knew he missed me and he was coming for me. Betty was the last one at the end. My friend who was beside me said he took his time, he held Betty for a little while and calmed down and afterwards he shot her and just released her. She fell on the ground."
Courtney Weatherburne "And then he shot himself?"
Eyewitness and Friend "Yes and then he shot himself."
The eyewitness told us that she had met Bustillos at his workplace before she went to the salon and after overhearing a phone call he made, she realized he had something planned.
Eyewitness and Friend "I was at SMART and he was working at SMART. He was talking to me good, he was asking me if i was okay, and I told him I was. I told Daisy and Betty when I reached there, we were just finished talking about him when I told them I heard him over the phone calling someone and telling them if anything happened to him to make sure they collected his pay. Daisy said he just said that because he knew I was there and he would have come to tell me, she said he's not crazy to do anything. As we finished talking about him, he came in. he had this plan."
Courtney Weatherburne "You were in there, you saw everything, you were almost killed."
Eyewitness and Friend "Yes I was almost killed. It would have been 4 bodies instead of 2. All I can say is that God intervened and I guess it wasn't my time. He had the gun straight in my face."
But what happened in the salon was the culmination of years of abuse from Bustillos.
Mai's mother told us that just last Sunday Bustillo broke into her house and attacked her. After he beat her badly, he took her to Orange Walk but they were stopped at a check point. Police saw Mai's bruised face and sent him on a bus to Orange Walk and told her to drive back home.
Maria Olga Rodriguez, Mother of Mai "This last Sunday they said she went out and when she came in, they said she didn't know because they took off the board from the window, came in and fixed it good. He was hiding in there and she didn't know. She went in and they said that he choked her and drew a big cut on her face and dragged her in the yard like a horse."
But the sad thing is, Rodriguez and the family say they had no idea what Mai was enduring all those years until recently.
Maria Olga Rodriguez, Mai's Mother "I didn't know anything, all those years my daughter was suffering and we didn't know anything. When he said that he was going to kill her, she knew and everyone knew."
Sandra Rodriguez, Mai's Sister "We found out that she got a restraining order. We were happy about it because we said that he couldn't go close to her but he didn't worry. He violated that and she never did come to us. That's what hurt us, because she never did come to us for any help. She didn't even say what was happening to her, nothing."
But Mai's friends knew everything, still, she asked them to keep it a secret.
Voice of Melanie Flota - Friend "She was well known in Cayo and she always kept her personal business private and that's what she begged us to always keep. Being a friend of hers, she begged me to keep her secrets and her problems between us friends."
Courtney Weatherburne "After this situation, do you have some level of regret that you didn't speak out?"
Voice of Melanie Flota - Friend "Yes I sure do, that's why it hurt me deep inside. I can't explain why I didn't. I personally talked to her about it every day, asking if she would want me to tell her brothers or if she wants me to go and report it to the station and she said no."
Mai also feared if she spoke out, Bustillos would harm her family as he had threatened to do many times.
Maria Olga Rodriguez, Mother of Mai "She couldn't open her mouth to say anything even if she wanted to because he told her if she was to go and report him, he'd go way to San Pedro to kill her son and maybe she felt he might have done us something. That was why she didn't open her mouth."
But Mai did try to ask for help, in fact she went to Andy' boss at Anchor Security in Belmopan and told him about their abusive relationship. She even pleaded to take away his gun but he didn't listen to her.
Sandra Rodriguez, Mai's Sister "The thing that hurts us was that this never had to happen if he (his boss) did what he had to do because it was him who bailed him out the first time when he got the restraining order. He went and bailed him out."
Courtney Weatherburne "Andy's boss?"
Sandra Rodriguez, Mai's Sister "Yes, according to what we heard is that her friends told her that she spoke to him the Monday and asked him to please move him from here and to not give him any weapon. He told her yes he'd do it but he didn't really bother about it. That's what really hurts us and pissed us off."
But regardless of all that, Mai's friends, family and the community should or could have done - nothing will bring these beloved women back. Now only the wreckage of Mai's and Bustillos' toxic relationship remains.
Sandra Rodriguez, Mai's Sister "She was always happy before she was with him. She was a nice and beautiful girl. I really don't understand how this happened. She was so wonderful, she always came here with us every Sunday. She always made sure she was here with her mom to spend the day and eat here. But all of a sudden she changed because of Andy, he just controlled her. He really destroyed her."
That relationship also left Miralda's family devastated.
Sherelie Miralda, Miralda's Sister "The hardest part for me was not being able to be here with her, not being able to see her. Just in the day were texting and like I cannot believe it. This cannot be happening, this is surreal. I cannot believe it."
Manuel Rodriguez, Miralda's Ex- Common Law "She was a very smart girl, has a good heart, and always willing to help anybody. She could never say no if they asked her for help. I think she was very special in that way."
Courtney Weatherburne "She was the mother of your 3 kids?"
Manuel Rodriguez, Miralda's Ex - Common Law "Yes we've got 3 kids, Chris, Stephanie and Jasmine. So it hurts me a lot that she's gone now. We still had a good relationship even though we weren't together. Ever since, I still miss her right now because she was very good."
While the family home will now be solemn and empty. So will the salon that was always filled with laughter and love.
Andy Bustillos shot himself in the head but survived. He is in a stable condition at the KHMH. Mai was the mother of 3 children so was Miralda. There was another element to the story - residents were saying that Mai was having a relationship with a police officer and that Bustillos found out and killed Mai because of that but when we asked Mai's friend about that she denied it and said it simply was not true.
San Ignacio Police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the double murder of two Guatemalan men, 52 year old Santos Gonzalez and 37 year old Orlando Garcia. Last week Thursday the two men were found dead around 2 pm on a feeder road off the George Price Highway. Police say that at least one of the men is a known drug trafficker. So while police have an idea of the motive for this deadly double killing, they have no clear suspect at this time. But they are hoping to advance their investigations through the use of video cameras at the Benque Border.
Police say they are dividing themselves into rural and urban Cayo so that they can have more boots patrolling these known drug drop off zones.
And while we spoke with authorities in Cayo we asked them for an update on the Amir Tzib case. He is a mental patient who inflicted several chop wounds to Amir Tun last week Thursday. Tun was walking past the community centre in San Antonio Village when Tzib attacked him for no apparent reason. Superintendent Rosado, told us how they are proceeding with that investigation.
Tun was treated for his wounds and later released.
And there was another double murder in the west, this time in Camalote. 2 young men were gunned down - residents say innocently. Akeem Thimbrel and Shawn Lopez were both shot up near Thimbrel's home in Camalote. Akeem had just come from visiting family members on Sunday night when he met his cousin and close friend Shawn Lopez. Lopez was drunk and Thimbrel was taking him home when gunmen rode up to them and opened fire. We spoke with Thimbrel's father and the police about this incident.
2 persons from the village have been detained. As you heard neither Lopez nor Thimbrel were the targets. Sources say the hit was sent for one of their friends Sanjay Casey who lives close to where the shooting happened. Now when we spoke to residents, they told us that the girl who is detained is the one who sent the hitman for Sanjay Casey but the shooter or shooters somehow mistook either Thimbrel or Lopez for Casey. Residents also told us it all started with a confrontation between the girl who is in custody, her boyfriend and Casey. We will keep on following this very messy murder case.