February 2019 vol 50
The Consulate of Belize in Florida
Monthly Newsletter
Honorary Consul's Monthly Message

Welcome to the 50th Edition of our Newsletter!
February Monthly Newsletter

As the year progresses, and the  ICJ Referendum approaching, so much is happening. Once again, we urge you to make an effort to acquaint and educate yourself on the subject of the Belize-Guatemala dispute, to research all the academic material written on the history and factual sequence of events (treaties, agreements, etc.) and learn what has led us to the present. Doing so will help to make a decision that is dispassioned and informed.  You may find my M.A. thesis entitled "The Cost of Conflict: The Anglo-Belize/Guatemala Territorial Issue", which could be of interest during this time of increased awareness regarding the issue. Also continue to stay abreast of all the information from the ICJ Referendum Be Informed Campaign Team. Below you will find, under the Section "ICJ Be Informed" new and updated information. Please share it with friends and family. This fundamental decision transcends politics and affects every man, woman and child in Belize. At the end of the day, every Belizean is a patriot!

Last month marked 10 years of my service in the Consulate of Belize in Florida. For a resume of what the Consulate has accomplished, see below. It has truly been a pleasure and an honor to represent Belize and serve Belizeans living in Florida. I appreciate all the support you continue to give to the staff and me. There is strength in numbers, and with a united and active Diaspora, Belize can continue to flourish. We as Belizeans, have much to be proud and grateful of.

We also welcome the usual uplifiting and informative monthly message from the Ambassador of Belize in Washington, DC, H.E. Daniel Gutierez under the section, "Ambassador's Desk".

In this February newsletter, there's a lot of exciting news! Belize made TripAdvisor's Top 2019 Awards List, there was Placencia's annual Sidewalk Art Festival, the Belizean Coast Guard received an ambulance and much needed equipment from the U.S. Government, Marie Sharp has launched a brand new pepper sauce to benefit victims of domestic abuse, and one honorary San Pedrano shows some of the beautiful wildlife on Ambergris Caye that needs protection! If you want to take a break and relax on the Silk Cayes, take a look at Tourism Tidbits . Lobster month has come to a close, but not to fear, June will soon be here! Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church in South Florida is gearing up to do a medical mission in Belize.

Calling all cooks! Learn how to make one of Belize’s lesser-known but nevertheless scrumptious dishes called White Relleno, a very interesting dish originating in Spain, and before that, in the Middle East, in our Recipe of the Month section.

Finally, the Consulate of Belize in Florida congratulates Mrs. Anna Lopez Smith on her designation as the U.S.Embassy's Woman of the Month!

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit the Consulate's office nor are familiar with the services that we offer, you may visit our website at  www.belizeconsulatefla.com  or follow us on  Facebook Twitter , and  Instagram  to receive updates about Belize, the Consulate and upcoming events.
We are in the process of updating our database, and as a result, The Consulate of Belize in Florida continues to conduct phone calls to its constituents to confirm each's contact information. We appreciate your cooperation and support in sharing your contact information, so that you and your family can continue to be informed about services offered by the Consulate as well as get updates on Belize.
If you are aware of a Belizean residing in the United States who is making a positive impact on the lives of others while contributing to their native country, please submit their story to us so that we may feature them in our newsletter. Perhaps the Star of the Month for March could even be you!

From the Ambassador's Desk
H.E. Daniel Gutierez
We take this opportunity to say greetings to all Belizeans from the Embassy of Belize and its various Consular Offices throughout the United States of America. 

At home the 9th of March weekend and festivities are right around the corner, and with that thousands of Belizeans will take to the river streams and the Caribbean Sea. It is fitting to remind all Belizeans that this year the ban on single use plastics and styrofoam should begin to yield results and our country and environment should see a reduction in the pollution caused by these materials. 

Belize has taken important steps to guard its environment and with this enhanced protection, our rivers, creeks and coasts should remain pristine for many years to come. 

Many of us remember visiting these areas as children, and we take pride in putting in the necessary legislation followed by education to ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy these resources for years to come. 

In January 2019, the Honorary Consul of Belize in Florida, Mrs. Janine Sylvestre Vega completed ten years of service to the country of Belize. We hereby express our gratitude for her years of service.

If you plan to visit Belize over the coming festivities, may you and your family enjoy our resources safely and sustainably. 

His Excellency F. Daniel Gutierez 
Ambassador of Belize to the United States of America 
& Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States 


This recognition of Janine’s ten years of service has been prepared by the staff at the Consulate, Tracy Gomez, Alexandra Castillo Escobar and intern, Tatyana Talamas.

Janine Sylvestre Vega, a native of Belize City, BA Public Relations, MA, International Studies, completed her master’s Thesis, Titled: “THE COST OF CONFLICT. THE ANGLO-BELIZE/GUATEMALA TERRITORIAL ISSUE ( CLICK TO READ ). Through her love of Belize and her desire to serve, Janine started her career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1992 as a Foreign Service Officer where she worked until she migrated to Florida when she joined the Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) as the Conference Services Coordinator heading a staff and all conference services related to the negotiations in Miami and Panama.

In 2009, Janine was called back to serve her country when she was appointed Honorary Consul of Florida and one year later, as Honorary Consul and Trade Representative of Belize in Florida.

Initially, when Janine was appointed, the work of the Consulate was limited to the issuance of visas to potential tourists. As domestic and foreign policies in Belize took shape, along with the increase in the growth of the Belizean Diaspora, and through Janine’s own initiatives to do more than the norm, the role of the Consulate of Belize in Florida reflected these changes. The Consulate of Belize in Florida, since 2013, has been providing an essential service to Belizeans with the availability of passports along with other consular services such as emergency travel documents and identification cards, ensuring a one-stop service to Belizeans (the reporting template developed for passports as well as the excellent customer service offered to Belizeans across the US by the Consulate has been described as the “gold standard.”)

Below are a few of the developments and events derived from the work of the Honorary Consul and her small dedicated staff.

  • The Consulate opened the doors to its first dedicated official office in 2009 to represent the interests of Belize in Florida, working closely with the Embassy of Belize in Washington, DC in achieving its goals and objectives.
  • The Consulate hosted the Prime Minister, Rt. Honorable Dean O. Barrow and Mrs. Barrow in Miami in 2010, on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s first official visit to South Florida. It was a sold-out Dinner Gala, Trade Show and Public Forum when hundreds of Belizeans came to meet the newly elected Prime Minister of Belize. The Proceeds of this Gala benefited several charities in Belize identified by Janine’s planning Committee comprised of Belizeans residing in Florida.
  • The Consulate hosted a small Welcome Reception to greet the newly elected Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Wilfred P. Elrington.
  • A Diaspora forum at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Miami, was held and the late H. E. Adalbert Tucker was the guest speaker when he addressed the Diaspora attendees and answered questions.
  • A memorial was held for the late Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price in 2011.
  • Inauguration of the new office and announcement of passport services in 2013 with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Wilfred P. Elrington as guest of honor.
  • A Toy drive was held in 2013 to benefit the children of the St. Martins de Porras Parish in Belize City.
  • Janine created an electronic newsletter along with the design and content with a view to connect with the Diaspora who are eager to learn about Belize and events hosted by the Consulate as well as those hosted by the Belize Associations in Florida. Since the creation of the first newsletter in 2014, the distribution has grown with a readership of over 4,000.
  • As part of the goal to connect with the Diaspora, the Consulate makes telephone calls on a daily basis to greet Belizeans and update their contact information to stay current with news from Belize and the Consulate.
  • The Honorary Consul hosted a Bar-b-q lunch to welcome the newly elected board members of the Belize Association of Florida in 2014 and continues to work closely with them on shared goals and objectives.
  • The Consulate started issuing Belize Consular ID cards in 2015 for Belizeans.
  • See and Taste Belize, Inc. was created by Mrs. Sylvestre Vega in 2014 as a non-profit organization “to help build a healthier and happier life for the children of Belize by inspiring hope and contributing to the well-being of these children by improving their health, education and living conditions through charitable projects and fundraisers.” Its other primary objective is to showcase Belize’s culture, cuisine and art.
  • The first See and Taste Belize Festival was held in 2015 along with its partners, Special Envoy for Women and Children, BTB, BELTRAIDE and Florida International University, when hundreds of Belizeans attended to enjoy a “Day in Belize”. These proceeds benefitted the NICU/PICU at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital raising $85,200.00 BZ.
  • The second See and Taste Belize Festival, NICH joined in as a partner and was held in 2017, putting off another successful festival along with the "Bite of Belize" reception, handing $160,000.00 BZ to the Inspiration Center of Belize.
  • The swearing in of 5 Belizeans in Florida as Justices of the Peace by the Attorney General, the Honorable Michael Peyrefitte.
  • The Consulate participated in several events including a Consular Corp gathering hosted by Senator Marco Rubio, the inauguration ceremony of Southwest Airlines, Taste of Belize, Miami Dade College, Florida International University, Consular Corps College training in Washington, D.C., ‘Destination Friday’ hosted by the Broward County Library featuring Belize, The Opening and repatriation ceremony for “The Bell”, Garifuna Mass and Garifuna cultural event hosted by Belizean NGO SAGA (South Florida Association for Garifuna Artists), picnics and dances hosted by the Belize Association of Central Florida and South Florida, the annual Miami Consular Corp Christmas lunch and the Annual Valentine’s Fundraising Gala ‘Friends Reaching Friends” Mission Trip to Stann Creek hosted by The Holy Sacrament Episcopal church, and much more.
  • The Consulate has an on-going Standard Operating Procedures Manual (SOP) which Janine created since the Consulate opened its doors in 2009 outlining procedures to guide staff which is also being expanded by MFA and the Emabassy of Belize in Washington, DC for use by other Consulates.
  • The Consulate created its own website (www.belizeconsulatefla.com) since 2010 which serves as an informative tool providing all up to date information on Consular matters; at the same time, the Consulate has maintained a constant presence on social media outlets such as Facebook (9,704 likes), Twitter (658 followers) and Instagram (1,286 followers) to keep the Diaspora informed and engaged.
  • The Honorary Consul has worked closely with BELTRAIDE and BTB in the promotion of trade, investment and tourism opportunities when meeting with potential investors and in giving presentations.
  • Facilitated over 1,500 GOB Officials on official travel with Protocol and Concierge Services through Miami, the hub of travel.
  • Assisted over 2,000 Belizeans with Consular matters (Passports, Emergency Travel Documents and ID’s).
  • The Consulate continues to be an active member of the Consular Corp of Miami.
  • The Consulate continues to be an active member of the CARICOM Consular Corp.

Click below to view full video:
What's New...

Belize Coast Guard Receives Ambulance and Equipment From the United States
February 19, 2019 12:57 p.m. EST - The Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Keith Gilges, representing the United States Government, handed over an ambulance, lifesaving medical equipment, and two-year supply of parts and service equipment, their worth estimated at $128,000 BZD, to the Belize Coast Guard. The handover is part of a continuous collaboration between Belize and the U.S. to combat the flow of drug trafficking, presumably. Admiral Borland spoke on behalf of the Government and people of Belize and the handover is funded by the Department of State’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. This donation also will support technical training events in diverse fields, including maintenance, operations management, and medical practices.
Lobster Season in Belize Officially Closed February 15
February 1, 2019 11:30 a.m. EST - The Lobster fishing season, which opened in June last year, officially ended on February 15. The press release mentions that the lobster season will re-open on June 14 of this year and that the penalties for being caught fishing lobster during the off-season includes a $500 fine or up to two years imprisonment. As is customary in Belize, Lobster Fest is held every year during the lobster season, typically in the months of June and July, in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and Placencia.
Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church Hosts Fundraiser in South Fla. to Benefit Belize
February 12, 2019 12:02 p.m. EST - Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church in South Florida is launching a mission to Belize, and
Friends Reaching Friends, the mission and outreach organization of Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church in Pembroke Pines held its Annual Valentine's Dinner and Dance at the Miramar Multi-Service Complex, Miramar, FL on Friday, February 8. The funds raised from the event will go toward local outreach and the mission trip to the Stann Creek District in Belize this year. Those wishing to donate toward the mission are asked to direct funds to Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church, and put in the memo line "Mission 2019." Checks must be mailed to
Holy Sacrament Episcopal Church 
2801 N. University Drive
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
Those wishing to participate as a missionary must email Linda Schlepp-Gray at  linda98@bellsouth.net .  
Marie Sharp Launches New Pepper Sauce to Benefit House for Victims of Domestic Violence
February 19, 2019 11:37 a.m. EST - Marie Sharp has launched a new pepper sauce called "Pure Love" in an effort to stem the tide of domestic violence in Belize. On February 14, the U.S. Embassy hosted the launch of the new pineapple pepper sauce. The event was themed “Combating Gender-Based Violence through Partnership,” and the following spoke: U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, Keith Gilges; Governor General of Belize, Colville Young; Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis Barrow; Marie Sharp, and President of the Board of Directors of Haven House Dr. Sharmayne Saunders. The sale of this sauce, it is hoped, will raise funds to benefit Haven House, a non-profit domestic violence shelter.
Wildlife on Ambergris Caye: Deer, Tamanduas Sitings, Among Others
February 5, 2019 1:01 p.m. EST- One blogger from San Pedro decided to do a little exploring on Ambergris Caye back in 2017, and then again recently, away from San Pedro Town, and to her pleasant surprise, found certain animals she never expected to see, and, which are disappearing from the island. These animals were deer, tamanduas, the bare-throated tiger heron, rays, wild cats, raccoons, an ocelot and other species of birds. To see photos of some of these animals check out: https://www.sanpedroscoop.com/2017/06/wildlife-ordinary-experiences-remote-ambergris-caye.html?fbclid=IwAR1kmKZxJrJvHpMa8ZKMkX57BBsdtasTE3-l5nGN7qzyfthz6hcc--p7hYk

Conde Nast
Anna Maria Lopez-Smith of Belmopan honored by U.S. Embassy

February 26, 2019 11:3 - For the month of February we are proud to announce that Anna Maria Lopez Smith is our Belize Wonder Woman!
Anna Maria Lopez-Smith is a dedicated Belmopan community member, a tireless advocate against domestic violence, and a passionate entrepreneur.
Anna was born in Belize City in 1965. When she turned five, her father moved the family to Belmopan. At an early age, Anna learned the values of hard work on the family farm and in the family business. After graduating from high school, Anna worked in different fields, including managing the first propane depot in Belmopan, as a payroll clerk for Hummingbird Hershey, painting signs and greeting cards, and selling pizza at her dad’s pharmacy.
After graduating from the Pharmacy School in 1991, Anna got married and had two children. Just four years later, she reopened the Lopez Pharmacy. It was during that time that she set out on a spiritual journey. Ten years ago, Anna started a small floral business, specializing in arrangements made exclusively of tropical flowers and leaves grown in her garden. She also ventured into a small housekeeping business.
In 2011, Anna and her husband opened a small five-bedroom Bed & Breakfast. Since then, the Inn at Twin Palms has been TripAdvisor’s #1 Bed & Breakfast in Belize for seven consecutive years as well as #1 in Central America and #13 of Top 25 B&B’s in the World, having hosted over 3000 guests! The B&B has grown into a very successful 16-room boutique hotel.
Anna enjoys dancing, cooking, painting and gardening, but is happiest when caring for others. Today, she is most passionate about sharing her spiritual journey of fasting and praying with other women and encouraging them to look to God first. She lives life to the fullest each day with her husband of 25 years.  #WomenEmpowerment   TA Smith Adrian M Smith   Twin Palms Resort, Belmopan, Belize

Congratulations to the Honorary Consul of Belize in Colorado on the great work he is doing in Belize with Project C.U.R.E.
Click the video below to view:

This is Prestressed concrete built in Belize by Belizeans. The beam launcher is also designed and built in Belize by Belizeans. M&M Engineering and Cayo Steel Works. Belizean companies building the nation!
Let us preserve and protect our historical landmarks!
Central Park in Corozal Town (inaugurated in 1967)
Have you heard of the Silk Cayes, just 36 kilometres due east of Placencia? Enjoy a picnic on the caye, snorkel with sea turtles, nurse sharks, and rays! Click the image below to go on an expedition, and the video above to get a sneak peak . Ready for a unique experience?
Slike Cayes, Belize
(photo credit: Belize Vacation)

(click image to read more)
Did you miss the Corozal House of Culture 's inaugural event of 2019? Live art was at its best showcasing Belizean and Mexican's organic art, sculpting, painting and much more. Stay tuned on upcoming events such as "Street Art Festival 2019" on Feb. 23, 2019!
"Two stick grow da bush--one grow straight, one grow crooked."

English translation: Two sticks grow in the bush--one grows straight and the other grows crookedly.

Meaning: Some people are honest, others are not--people are inexplicably different.

February 12, 2019 12:09 p.m. EST - The 16th annual Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival took place from February 9th-10th. It featured live musical performances, steel band music, and 40 artisan booths. Artisans of jewelry, handicrafts, and chocolate participated.
Recipe of The Month
White Relleno
Similar to the Relleno Negro/Black Dinna, this dish is made in Belize at Christmas and to ring in the New Year. To the locals, it is said that this type of meal will ‘bring you back’ from any hangover or sleep deprivation. The combination of olives or raisins may be due the Spanish influence upon Belizean cuisine. 

3 1/2 lbs. Chicken
3 cups Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 cup Olives
2 tbsp. Capers
3 lg Bay Leaf
1 cup Sherry Cooking Wine
6 sm-med Onions
12 cloves garlic
Mechado seasoning
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

  1. In a bowl, mix together salt, black pepper, Mechado seasoning, and garlic powder to taste
  2. Rub the seasoning over the chicken, then cook the chicken in a large pot until brown.
  3. On medium heat, add in chicken broth and sherry cooking wine until simmering.
  4. Add in raisins, olives, capers, bay leaf and cloves of garlic and stir occasionally
  5. Stir in onions and cook until soft or to your texture. Serve hot.
  6. This can be served with traditional corn tortillas or yellow rice.

Recipe courtesy of: Eloisa Bradley
The 2019 Prime Minister’s Business Forum: “Embracing Innovation for Economic Prosperity”
Government of Belize Press Office - The 2019 Prime Minister’s Business Forum was held today, February 21, under the theme: “Embracing Innovation for Economic Prosperity”. This forum is a signature event organized and hosted by the Economic Development Council and provides the private-sector an audience with the Prime Minister to table and directly address business climate concerns and recommendations toward an improved service delivery by the government to the business community.
Some of the main highlights of the forum included: the launching a You Reform mobile app for improving the private sector access to the Government of Belize on business climate issues; updates on the modernization of the tax administration; the commitment by government to advance the creation of a national Credit Bureau; the formation of a valuation index at the Lands Departments and the commitments to digitize key public services such as registering a business. The Prime Minister recognized the possibility and potential of a small state country like Belize to digitally transform itself as in the Estonian case for the benefit of its citizens. Lastly, the recognition of the economic benefits of a domestic debit payment system for assisting micro, small and medium enterprises grow and for citizens to feel secure in a cashless society.

Transcript of the Prime Minister's Keynote Address:  http://bit.ly/2Ep8Sum

For more photos, click here:  https://flic.kr/s/aHsmBaC26f
ICJ - Be Informed
EVERYTHING You NEED to KNOW about the DISPUTE and the ICJ in LESS than 10 Minutes

(click image to view)


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