"THE NUMBER 1 MAGAZINE ON TRAVEL, LIFE, AND RETIREMENT ON THE CARIBBEAN COAST"
Volume III, No. 2
ON-LINE TEXT EDITION
COPYRIGHT 1996 BY LAN SLUDER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Traditional magazine edition with maps and photos also available. Contact Belize First for details.
DESPITE CLAIMED ONE-THIRD DROP, CRIME
A government report on major crime in Belize showed a 31 percent drop late in 1995 compared with 1994, but crime continues to make front-page news in the country's newspapers. A December murder of a store clerk in broad daylight on Albert Street was but one in a series of recent high-profile crime to outrage the law-abiding citizens of Belize City. Outside Belize City, crime also remains a serious problem. Four murders occurred within a few days last fall, two in Cayo District and two in Orange Walk District. A series of highway robberies took place in late 1995 and early 1996 both on the Southern Highway and on the Western Highway. Some Belizeans blame Honduran and Guatemalan workers who have lost their jobs in Belize but who have refused to go back to their countries.
MARUBA GUESTS ROBBED
Eight men, armed with sawed- off shotguns and machetes, in December held up guests and hotel staff at Maruba Resort on the Old Northern Highway near Altun Ha. The Spanish- speaking gunmen invaded the hotel grounds at dinner time. They took cash and jewelry from the shocked and frightened guests.
BELIZE RANKS HIGH ON HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Belize ranks third in the Western Hemisphere, behind Canada and the U.S., and tied with Costa Rica, on the United Nations Human Development Index which includes an assessment of political freedom, racial and gender equality, health, education, and other factors. On a world basis, Belize ranks 28th of 174 countries. On a 100-point scale, here are rankings for the top 10 countries in the Western Hemisphere: Canada, 95; U.S., 93.8; Belize, 88.4; Costa Rica, 88.4; Argentina, 88.3; Uruguay, 88.1; Chile, 88; Venezuela, 85.9; Panama, 85.6; and Mexico, 84.2.
NEW MARINE RESEARCH CENTRE
University College of Belize has opened a Marine Research Centre at Calabash Caye. Built by Coral Caye Conservation provides training for Belizeans in monitoring and the managing of marine coastal resources. Eventually international visitors may have access to the center for eco-touristic activities. The Centre is located on a five-acre plot on the east coast of Calabash Caye, on the southeastern side of the Turneffe Atoll, about 32 miles from Belize City.
ONE-FOURTH OF BELIZE GOVERNMENT
SPENDING GOES TO
About 25 percent of government spending goes to service debt. This level of spending exceeds even the debt service of the United States, which totals about 15 percent of outlays.
UNLEADED GAS NOW AVAILABLE IN BELIZE
Unleaded premium gas is now available at Shell, Texaco, and Esso stations in Belize.
AIRSTRIP OPENED NEAR LAMANAI
An airstrip has been opened about three-quarters of a mile from the ruins at Lamanai. The strip has been criticized by some for its negative environmental impact on wildlife and on the ruins.
CITRUS INDUSTRY AT RISK
Belize's citrus industry is threatened by citrus tristeza virus and the situation could worsen when an aphid, the brown citrus aphid, an efficient carrier of the virus and already found in Florida, arrives in Belize. Trees hit by the virus almost always die. The majority of the producing orchards in Belize are on sour orange rootstock, susceptible to the virus. Studies are being conducted on ways to delay or prevent the spread of the virus, using biological agents. A ban has been put into effect on importing citrus planting materials.
HOW STABLE IS BELIZE DOLLAR?
One argument for the massive Value Added Tax put in place April 1 is that it will help keep the Belize dollar stable. Some observers note, however, that with Belize's high debt service (25 percent of government spending), faltering economy, and high levels of imports, the Belize dollar, now effectively pegged to the U.S. dollar at 2 to 1, could become under devaluation pressure, similar in a small way to the situation which has driven the Mexican peso down to less than one-half of its late 1994 value.
NEW TELEPHONE DIRECTORY COVER SWINGS
The 1996 Belize Telecommunications Ltd. national telephone directory cover features two photos of the Swing Bridge in Belize City, one taken in 1942 and one in 1995.
ATTACKS ON TOURISTS IN GUATEMALA AND COSTA RICA In February, robbers killed two women tourists, a U.S. and a British citizen, near Lake Atitlē n in Guatemala. In late 1995, three other foreign tourists, two Americans and one Mexican, were murdered in Guatemala. In Costa Rica, the kidnapping of a German and a Swiss woman on the Caribbean coast and other high-profile crimes against tourists, has contributed to, at least temporarily, a dip in tourist visitation.
BELIZE GETS NEW AIR SERVICE FROM ROAT_ N
Caribbean Air, flying 30-passenger DC-9s, has begun flights between Roatē n and Belize City twice weekly, on Saturdays and Sundays.
SAN PEDRO SUN GOES ON-LINE
The San Pedro Sun, Ambergris Caye's weekly newspaper, went on-line in February. Its site on the World Wide Web contains selected articles from the newspaper and information about San Pedro. The Web site is at http://www.turq.com/sanpdrosun. The Reporter also is on-line, at http://www.belize.com.
Kenneth Dart, billionaire investor and cup maker, who renounced his U.S. citizenship and became a Belize citizen as a way to avoid U.S. income taxes, is seeking to open a new Belize diplomatic post in Sarasota, Fla., where Dart lives. If Dart spends more than a month a year in Florida, he could lose his tax advantages, but as a diplomat, he could live in Sarasota year-round.
WALL STREET FINANCIAL BUYS CARCON
Wall Street Financial Corporation, traded on the over-the- counter market in the U.S., in October 1995 acquired all of the shares of CarCon, Ltd., an architectural, engineering, and development company in Belize, according to WSF Chairman Gerhart W. Walch. WSF is an owner of the Mayan Salt Creek Estate, 31,435 acres located near the Belize International Airport, with approximately 20 miles of shoreline and connected lagoons. The estate has operated for about a century as an agricultural and timber farm. CarCon has changed its name to Mayan Resort Development Co., Ltd. and appointed Tony Gedeon as its managing director. The company recently completed constructing the personal residence of the Minister of Agriculture of Belize, among other projects. The company says it is currently reviewing various development proposals for resort development.
U.S. BANK REGULATORS WARN ABOUT PHONY
Banking regulators in the U.S., acting on advice from the Central Bank of Belize, have issued warnings about companies wrongly claiming to be Belize banks. There are only four banks with legitimate licenses to operate in Belize, according to the Central Bank of Belize: Atlantic Bank Ltd., Barclays Bank Plc, Belize Bank Ltd., and Scotiabank.
GULF OF HONDURAS TOURISM INITIATIVE
In December, a private sector tourism initiative called the Gulf of Honduras Sustainable Tourism Project was launched in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, with representatives from Toledo District, Belize, and Puerto Cortez, Honduras. The project's goals are to strengthen the economies of the region, to attract tourists, and to conserve natural resources.