March 2021 Vol 75
The Consulate of Belize in Florida
Monthly Newsletter
#rememberitsgoodtobebelizean #thewaitisover

Honorary Consul's Monthly Message
Welcome to the March Monthly Newsletter!
Another milestone has come marking the dreaded moment that COVID-19 hit us and the world. But while we faced many challenges and sadly, losses of lives, we can also claim many victories. The cases have been drastically reduced in the US with the speedy deployment of vaccines as well as treatment. In Belize, with the vigilant and methodical approach this Administration has taken, it has practically wiped out COVID-19 in Belize. We could be in a different position today with far worse consequences.

As we enter Holy Week, let us be grateful for the victories in our lives. For Christians, the forty days of lent leading to Easter is a time for reflection and penance so that we can be closer to God and through His graces, carry our own crosses. It is also a time of hope because of Him we can truly have eternal life. We wish you all a very Happy and Blessed Easter!

On International Women’s Day, we hope each and every woman was reminded of the important role they play in the lives of their loved ones and in society. We honor women worldwide for their vital role in shaping and strengthening our communities, families, governments, and businesses.

In addition, we celebrated The National Heroes and Benefactors Day on March 8th in Belize. Originally named after Baron Bliss, a wealthy benefactor who generously donated monies to Belize for different charities, this day now includes a day to honor or Belizean heroes who have made a difference in our community and helped shape and build the Nation.

It is with deep regret that we announce of the passing of Biologist and Belize Zoo founder, Sharon Matola. Like many Belizeans, I always admired her fierce and independent spirit. Her one true passion was to protect the animals of Belize as well as educate the young and old about the history of Belize’s treasured native animals. Throughout her life, she advocated for the protection of endangered species and founded The Belize Zoo, a haven for animals that had been abandoned, held in captivity, or were being mistreated. Her passion for animals inspired many and her contributions to Belize as well as her legacy will live on for many years to come. My deepest condolences and sympathy to the Matola family, may her soul rest in peace.

Another wonderful man, Antoun H. Chebat Sr. has sadly passed away. Mr. Chebat emigrated to Belize from Lebanon in 1959 and made Belize his own. Mr. Chebat was a beloved father, grandfather, husband and a successful businessman. He will be missed by all his family and friends. I have very fond memories of spending time with this family. He and his wife Mrs. Nur Chebat always opened their home to me as a young teenager and my family, offering us the warmest hospitality. The Chebat home was filled with laughter, the best homemade Lebanese food and very good times. Unfortunately, Mr. Antoun’s brother, Mr. Michel Chebat Sr., also of Belize, passed away just weeks prior to Mr. Antoun. We extend our deepest condolences to their families and may the two Chebat brothers rest in eternal peace.

Our March newsletter features the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño’s weekly message where he discusses improvements that have been made in different sectors of Belize, such as the water system in Bullet Tree, a new bridge at Calla Creek, and better living conditions for our soldiers at Price Barracks, to name a few. Additionally, he shared a video thanking all the citizens of Belize who went out to vote during the municipal elections.

We also recap the monthly news from the Government of Belize Press Office and share the stories of some visible Belizeans in our Star of The Month Section as well as the Front-Line Responders section.

Do not forget to check out the section Upcoming Events to find out more about “Belize Writers Conference”, “Scholarship Opportunities”, “Easter Sunday Family Funday” and much more!

Enjoy scrolling through the news in the areas of tourism, community engagement, the environment, and much more in this edition,

  • View the monthly messages from the Office of The Prime Minister, the Hon. John Briceño.
  • Watch the First Lady, Mrs. Rossana Briceño, Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children, give a message for International Women’s Day and getting vaccinated in Belize.
  • Learn about the Port Coral construction underway for a new state-of-the-art cruise facility in Belize.
  • Read about Belize’s Easter traditions and places to visit during Holy Week.
  • Learn about updated travel requirements to visit Belize.
  • See how we continue to give thanks to our Belizean Frontline workers around the United States.
  • Find out more about the new five-year bilateral cooperation agreement between Belize and Taiwan in our tidbits section.
  • Get inspired by the life story of our Belizean Star of the Month!
  • In memoriam of Mr. Antoun Chebat and Mr. Michel Chebat, two Belizean brothers who passed away.
  • Read the obituary celebrating Sharon Matola’s life and the legacy she left in Belize.
  • Learn how you can adopt an animal at the Belize zoo and support the Belize Zoo.
  • Check out our upcoming events where we share different activities that are being held in the next 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 or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to receive updates about Belize, the Consulate and upcoming events.

As we update our database, and to serve you better, the Consulate of Belize in Florida continues to conduct phone calls to its constituents to confirm each contact’s information. We appreciate your cooperation and support in sharing your contact information. This is 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 could even be you!

Enjoy and share with your friends!

And remember, it is good to be Belizean!

#rememberitsgoodtobebelizean #thewaitisover #staysafe 
All my best,
Janine Sylvestre
Hon. Consul of Belize in Florida 
Trade Representative of Belize in Florida

From The Office of The Prime Minister of Belize
Hon. John Briceño
The Prime Minister's Weekly Message
"Over the past few days alone we have seen improvements to the water system in Bullet Tree, a new bridge at Calla Creek, better living conditions for our soldiers at Price Barracks, 50 tons of cacao exported and hundreds of sheep farmers receiving technical support."
The Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceño, shares a thank you video regarding the municipal elections and all the citizens of Belize who went out to vote.
The First Lady, Mrs. Rossana Briceño,
Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children
Message for International Women’s Day 2021
The First Lady Mrs. Rossana Briceño encourages you to get the vaccine when it's your time!
#wavediflag #rememberitsgoodtobebelizean #wearewithyou #holdthefaith #belizeanstrong #thewaitisover
For a Full List of This Month's Government Press Releases Please Click the Button Below
Made in India COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive in Belize

News Agency ANI reported that a shipment of Made in India vaccines arrived in Belize on March 9th. An additional shipment was also sent to Jamaica.

A total of twenty-five nations across the world have already received Made in India vaccines and it is expected that another 49 countries will also be supplied with these new vaccines.
Port Coral Construction Is Underway for New State-of-the-Art Cruise Facility in Belize
Belize to Welcome Vaccinated Travelers — No COVID Testing Required
Belize has become the first country in the Caribbean to allow vaccinated travelers to visit without a COVID-19 test.

Vaccinated travelers must present a vaccination record card, with full inoculation completed at least two weeks before their arrival into Belize. They must also download the Belize Health App and input the required health information within 72 hours prior to landing in Belize.
Albany State Alumna Becomes Belizean Ambassador
Construction is underway for Port Coral as Stake Bank Enterprise Limited announced the arrival of the vessels carrying the crews and equipment that will construct the dual megaship piers in Belize.

When ready in the first quarter of 2022, the piers will be able to accommodate four of the world’s largest cruise ships at the same time, and provide a new and attractive option to Western Caribbean cruise itineraries. The facility on Stake Bank Island has been fully approved and permitted as a cruise port and is appropriately named Port Coral.
Dr. Candice Pitts, An Albany State University Alumna and recipient of their competitive basketball scholarship, has been named as Ambassador for Belize to the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Dr. Pitts offered the following advice to ASU students: "Believe in yourself. Set grand goals. The only real obstacle between you and success is your willingness to set grand goals and your preparedness to work hard to realize them."
Belize Embarks on Digital Transformation With Apex
IOM Belize Signs Agreement in Fight Against Human Trafficking

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Belize signed an implementation agreement with the Ministry of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous Peoples' Affairs under the framework of the Western Hemisphere Program (WHP).

IOM Belize will support the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Council (A-TIPS) currently chaired by the Ministry of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous peoples' Affairs, to strengthen its case management software, FAMCare, to include trafficking in persons case management and data collection module. 
Belize and Guatemala to Improve Trade Relations
Belize is hoping to establish an agreement with Guatemala regarding a base for the facilitation of permits and other permissions that is closer than the current base in Guatemala City, most likely Flores, Peten, or Melchor de Mencos which are not far from the shared border.

With the ICJ to finally rule on the territorial claim in a few years’ time, the focus now, said Courtenay, is “the other areas for cooperation and other concerns between our two countries.”
Ministry of Tourism Rolls Out New “COVID-19 Dashboard” and “Business Toolkit” Programs
The Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations (MTDR) unveiled two new programs in its ongoing efforts to help the tourism sector’s recovery, the Belize COVID-19 Tourism Dashboard Framework and the Belize COVID-19 Digital Toolkit for Tourism Businesses.

“Both these tools are possible due to a collaboration between the MTDR, The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), industry partners, and the George Washington University Graduate Program in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.,” the Ministry said.
Belize to Play in FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica
Belize draws Mexico, Panama, and Guadeloupe in the 2021 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship (CBSC) to be played in Alajuela, Costa Rica from May 17-23.

The tournament qualifies the two Concacaf representatives to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Moscow Russia from August 19-29, 2021.

Belize is ranked 13 out of 41. Mexico leads the ranking followed by El Salvador. The United States is 3rd in the ranking, Panama is 4th, Costa Rica 5th, Bahamas 6th, Guadaloupe 7th, Trinidad & Tobago 8th, Guatemala 9th, and Jamaica 10th.
Belizean Cyclists Heading to Merida, Mexico

Five Belizean cyclists leave Belize on Thursday en route to Merida, Mexico, to compete in the MZ Tour being held over the weekend.

Dwayne Wade, Wassani Castro, Jafari Castro, and Henry Li will be participating in the Professional Elite category, while 15-year-old Dion O’Brien will compete in the Junior category.
Belize Attorney General, Magali Marin-Young, has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with APEX, the Caribbean Agency for Justice Solutions, to collaborate on the strengthening of systems to support the courts and the office of The Attorney General.

When implemented, the new systems are expected to improve the provision of efficient legal services and establish more effective systems for monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on case trends to strengthen accountability and transparency in judicial procedures.
Ministry of Agriculture, International Partners Launch Food Safety Project to Increase Agricultural Exports
If Belize is to improve its agriculture-based export earnings, then it must improve its food safety standards to meet international requirements.

To that end, the Ministry of Agriculture and its international partners have launched a pilot project valued at just under USD$1 million aimed at improving Belize’s food safety system.
International Migration Organizations to Host Final Mobile Clinic in Rural Belize
On Saturday, March 13 Benque Viejo hosted its final mobile clinic. Benque Viejo Beneficiaries were able to access a comprehensive menu of critical health, legal and social services including consultations to facilitate onsite registration of births and other procedural queries.

Families who required legal support were also given access to free one-on-one legal advice and assistance on family law, inheritance, property matters, and immigration and asylum system procedures.
Mexican Embassy Says Belizeans Traveling By Road to Mexico Will Not Have to Pay New Tourist Tax

The Mexican Embassy says visitors traveling through the Belize land border to Mexico will not have to pay the new tourist tax to be charged by the neighboring state of Quintana Roo as of April 1.

Mexican media houses El Economista and Mexico News Daily reported on Thursday, March 11, that the neighboring Mexican State of Quintana Roo will apply a tourist tax of 224 pesos to all foreign visitors older than 15 years of age traveling to the state, but will charge tourists traveling through the Belize border ten percent less.
105-Year-Old Woman, Daughter of a Belizean, Survives COVID-19 in USA
A 105-year-old woman, daughter of a Belizean woman, survived COVID-19 in New Jersey earlier this year.

According to an article published by Wendy Osher of Maui Now, Lucia DeClerck found out she had the coronavirus on her birthday in January. Her granddaughter said DeClerck “sailed through a two-week quarantine like a champ with barely any symptoms.”

Belize Travel Health & Safety
Things to Know Before Traveling to Belize
  • Vaccinated travelers must present a vaccination record card, with full inoculation completed at least two weeks before their arrival into Belize.

  • Download the Belize Health App and complete the required information within 72 hours of your flight to Belize. Available for download via APK file for Android and in the App Store.

  • Prior to arrival, tourists must book a stay at a Gold Standard hotel and present confirmation upon arrival.

  • Take a PCR Test within 96 hours of travel or a Rapid Antigen Test within 48 hours of travel.

  • You can also take a Covid-19 Test at the airport upon arrival, the cost is $50 USD per person, and only positive cases will receive a notification within 24 hours.

For more information Click Here
For more information about the Covid-19 vaccine, please click the button below.
Cardinal D. Castillo 
Federal Police Officer,
Department of Defense.
Joint Base McQuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey
Lizette Dugger, RN
State of Franklin Health Care Associates
Johnson City, TN
Tourism Tidbits
The Best Destinations to Book in Belize (Depending on Your Vacation Needs)

Belize is a destination that many people dream about! Click the link below to learn more about different options of activities, hotels, and food for every budget!

Trade and Investment Tidbits
Belize Signs New Five-Year Bilateral Cooperation Agreement With Taiwan

The governments of Belize and Taiwan signed a new agreement that extends the two countries’ bilateral cooperation agreements up to 2025.

Cultural Tidbits
Belizean is a Finalist in a Regional Design Contest!

The Central American Integration System (SICA) has launched a regional design contest for an icon for Central America and the Dominican Republic. Belizean Joaquin Leal’s design is a finalist in the contest for an icon for Central America and the Dominican Republic.

Baron Bliss Lighthouse
The gracefully tapered white and red tower is called Fort George Light on official lists and charts, but is best known to locals and tourists as the Baron Bliss Lighthouse after one of the most well known benefactors of Belize, Baron Henry Edward Bliss.
If You Play Wid Puppy, E Lick You Mout
English Translation:
If you play with a puppy, it will lick your mouth.

Familiarity breeds contempt
Let us preserve and protect our historical landmarks & protected sites
Belizean Star of the Month!
Sharifa Anozie
#Rememberit'sgoodtobeBelizean #thewaitisover
From the minute she could talk, it was clear Sharifa Anozie was born to be a storyteller. Born in New York City to Belizean parents Euan Godfrey and LaVerne Lord she spent many of her earlier years playing in her grandmother's alley in Belize City. She attended St. Catherines Academy for a short time, and three years at Holy Redeemer Primary School. While the other children found joy in playing outside, Sharifa spent a lot of time inside recording herself on her grandmother's tape recorder. She would conduct pretend interviews and imagine that she was Oprah Winfrey. 

At around age eight, Sharifa and her mom relocated back to New York City where she would continue to explore her love of storytelling and media. At age 12 she was selected by the non-profit organization Community Works to join their Long Walk to Freedom exhibit. Through this organization is where Sharifa conducted her very first interview with renowned civil rights activist Carolyn Goodman. Sharifa's poem about Ms. Goodman traveled all across the United States and was featured in The New York Times. 

Sharifa would eventually go on to study at Penn State University and graduated in 2008 with her Bachelor's degree in Journalism. A year after graduating Sharifa was selected to join the highly competitive CBS Page Program in New York City. She began working on assignments at the CBS Early Show, 48 Hours, BET’s 106 & Park and the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. It wasn’t long before she was offered a permanent position working for the Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News. Since then Sharifa has interviewed and reported on a myriad of celebrities including; film director Spike Lee, CNN’s Don Lemon, actor Idris Elba and Grammy winning artist Ne-Yo to name a few.
An avid encourager for following your big dreams, Sharifa followed her own, by moving to Los Angeles to further her career in entertainment news. In 2012 she began working at The Hollywood Reporter magazine; writing for print, online, and covering various red carpet events in Hollywood. Now a wife and mother of two, Sharifa has used her love of writing and storytelling in another format, she is now a children's book author. Her debut book It's In You: A Book For Big dreamers is an Amazon best-selling book and has been read by various influencers including NAACP award-winner Tabitha Brown. Her second book Sibling Love which encourages positive sibling relationships will be released next month. 
Sharifa is always looking for opportunities to give back to her community and her country. She has dedicated much time to help to feed the homeless in the Los Angeles area. She also is in talks to partner with various teachers in Belize to bring her story and books to the children there. Her goal is to inspire the youth to dream big and to follow their dreams because everyone has a special gift to share with the world. 

We are honored to call Mrs. Sharifa Anozie our 'Star of the Month'!
Remembering Sharon Matola
"The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center announces that the life of Sharon Matola will be celebrated at a private ceremony with family members in deference to her final wishes and instructions. "

We are deeply grateful for the overwhelming and numerous expressions of love and appreciation from the Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceño, the Government of Belize, the environmental community, the wider Belizean society, and friends and supporters from abroad for our dear Sharon throughout her service to Belize, especially at this difficult time.
Sharon has charged us as a nation with continuing her legacy in wildlife conservation in Belize, as there is much more work to be done.
In lieu of flowers, therefore, we ask that your financial contributions be made through the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center"

May Sharon rest in peace.
Our deep condolences to the families of Belizeans at home and abroad who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

May they rest in peace.

  • 3 fresh snapper fish
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Oil

  • 3 Fresh whole snapper (Red, Mutton, Mangrove, Black, Your Choice), gutted and washed (Rinsed in limed water). HEAD-ON.
  • After rinsing the fish in limed water be sure to let it sit for a minute or two on paper towel or something similar to remove any excess moisture to avoid the frying oil splashing. 
  • Slice the fish diagonally about 1/4 of the way through the fish on each side. This will allow the fish to cook completely through and it will allow for better seasoning.
  • The fish seasoning is really simple: Seasoned salt and black pepper. For Belizean style fried fish: the seasoning is heavy on black pepper. The consistency you are looking is that of a light rub.
  • Use a cast iron pan for great results.
  • Pre-heat your frying oil, it’s essential the oil get hot enough to fry the fish quickly to avoid soaking in too much oil. It needs to be hot enough to fry properly but not so hot that it burns.
  • The fish should cook in under 10 minutes. About 5 minutes a side. This does depend on the size of the fish and the number of fish you are frying at once.
  • Once the fish is fully cooked remove it from the oil and let is rest on a paper towel so excess oils are absorbed.

Serve with Belizean Rice and Beans, with a side of coleslaw or potato salad. 

  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm whole milk (110° to 115°)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened.
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons whole milk

  • In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. In a large bowl, combine eggs, butter, sugar, salt, spices, yeast mixture and 3 cups flour; beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir in currants, raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

  • Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide and shape into 30 balls. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover with kitchen towels; let rise in a warm place until doubled, 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°.

  • Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on top of each bun. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and water; brush over tops. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool slightly.

  • For icing, in a small bowl, mix confectioners' sugar and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Pipe a cross on top of each bun. Serve warm.
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February 2021, VOL. 74 Read More
January 2021, VOL. 73. Read More
December 2020, VOL. 72. Read More
November 2020, VOL. 71. Read More
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Upcoming Events
#Rememberit'sgoodtobeBelizean #thewaitisover
EASTER SUNDAY FAMILY FUNDAY! Join Belize Sailing Center for a Day of Games, Easter "Egg" Hunt, Prizes and a Sailing Scavenger Hunt!
Parrot Head Beach Bash – Belize!
New educational contest to begin in April in honor of HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day and the 40th anniversary of the first publication defining HIV
Scholarships Available for CARICOM Students in the Green Economy Sector.
Scholarship Opportunity

60% tuition waiver for online Master’s Programs in Spanish and English at Universidad Ana G. Méndez, United States for 2021 Spring and Summer classes!

Spring: December 10, 2020 or February 18, 2021
Summer: April 23, 2021