Monday, April 11, 2011

Miss Chiquitita pageant fundraiser brings the entertainment

The night was cool, but inside the Saca Chispas football field, things were heating up amongst the audience as groups of supporters cheered on their favorite contestant at the 2011-2012 Miss Chiquitita pageant. Seven beautiful young ladies ranging from the ages of four through eight were vying for a title as part of fundraising efforts for San Pedro Pre-School.

Set up as a proper pageant, with an opening dance number, swimwear, talent and evening gown segments, Miss Chiquitita was about presentation, poise and confidence. Judges Ceci Lara, Horacio “Chito” Guerrero, Miss San Pedro Natasha Stuart, Jessie Leslie and Samalia Vernon deliberated long and hard throughout the competition. They had to award points for poise, presentation, talent, and stage presence. Each young lady did very well, giving their best with the knowledge that only one would be crowned a winner – so for the judges, their work was certainly cut out for them.

The crowd grew more and more enthusiastic as the night wore on. Supporters chanted their favorite’s name, throwing confetti, balloons and blowing horns as their favorite girls showed up for the last time onstage in their evening gowns. Yanni Ayala (7), Elsie Belisle (6), Nathalie Bolzle (6), Gabriella Knox-Alexander (7), Nathalie Mejia (6), Noely Wiltshire (6) and Gidelie Rivero (8) proudly sashayed in their beautiful ball gowns, twinkling and smiling for the crowd. After a final walk through, they stood before the crowd waiting for the results of the pageant.

Yanni Ayala
Noely Wiltshire
Nathalie Mejia
Nathalie had lots of fun performing to Katy Perry's California Girls
Elsie Belisle danced to some Punta music while dressed in a traditional costume.

More Punta music filled the air as Gidelie performed her heart out...

The first prize announced was Miss Congeniality, and that honor went to Miss Nathalie Bolzle, who was very excited and happy as she received her sash. Miss Photogenic was Miss Gidelie Rivero, and she also swept up the place of first runner up. Everyone held their breath in anticipation, as former Miss San Pedro (and mistress of ceremonies) Raquel Badillo kept the suspense going. Finally, she leaned over and gave a quick kiss to Miss Gabriella Knox-Alexander, San Pedro’s newest little beauty ambassador, Miss Chiquitita 2011-2012!
Miss Congeniality Nathalie Bolzle
Miss Chiquitita is crowned...
Gabby takes the crown...
Part of the talent show included this dance to Shakira's Loca

Belize Mayors make a splash in the UK visit generates business interest in Belize

Press Release – British High Commission – April 8, 2011 – 8 Mayors from Belize visited the UK at the end of March sponsored by the British High Commission. Those in the delegation were: Mayor Simeon Lopez, Belmopan; Mayor John August, San Ignacio and Santa Elena;

Mayor Hilberto Campos, Corozal; Mayor Nicholas Ruiz, Benque Viejo Del Carmen; Mayor Aaron Gongora, Dangriga; Mayor Floyd Lino, Punta Gorda; Mayor Elsa Paz, San Pedro; Mayor Zenaida Moya-Flowers, Belize City.

The team were in the UK for the Commonwealth Local Government Conference in Cardiff, but went on to a major programme of high-level visits in London. Also attending the conference was a team from the Ministry of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development made up of Minister Hon Gabriel Martinez, CEO Mrs Marion McNab and Mr Celso Carcamo (Local Government Officer).

The Local Government Conference was held at the City Hall in Cardiff, Wales from 15 to 18 March 2011. Hosted in the city for the first time, the theme of the Conference was “Energising Local Economies; Partnerships for Prosperous Communities”. It presented Cardiff Council with the opportunity to share international knowledge with delegates from 54 Commonwealth countries. More than 500 delegates attended, with Belize providing one of the larger delegations, including Ministers, Chief Executives and Senior Local Government staff. The Conference provided a platform for discussion on the role of local government in local economic development and explored ways to maximise opportunities for encouraging prosperous communities. The main areas of focus were youth unemployment, regeneration and education, securing investment, promoting enterprise and funding business support initiatives.

This was the first visit to the UK for most of the Mayors. The High Commission was therefore keen to show them the UK’s wealth of private sector experience in delivering services to and for the public sector. In partnership with the Caribbean Council they arranged a full programme of meetings during the team’s second week, which provided a way of identifying opportunities for working with UK companies to address local issues in Belize. It also served to alert UK companies to opportunities in Belize and to build business relationships.

The intense three day programme started with a tour of the recently completed massive construction project at the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. The first of their meetings was with Eversheds LLP, an innovative international law firm with legal specialists that operate around the world in sectors including financial institutions, energy, natural resources, food and transport. The discussions focussed on waste management, sanitation, recycling and tourism. A meeting with the Deputy Mayor of London, Richard Barnes, provided an opportunity to share experiences on the difficulties faced at local government level by both countries in areas such as crime, health, education and tax recovery. The meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Belize was well represented by members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords including Chairman, Lord Foulkes. The Belize High Commissioner, HE Kamela Palma also attended and spoke at this meeting.

The second day started with a tour of the Tate and Lyle Sugar Factory who have sourced cane sugar from Belize for over 35 years. Meetings followed with Mott MacDonald, an employee-owned management, engineering and development consultancy serving the public and private sector around the world, and Crown Agents who are an international development company committed to global development and growth gave a presentation on the work they had done on tax reforms in the Caribbean. The Mayors also met with Living Earth Foundation, an established NGO specialising in working with people to resolve their environmental and social concerns, and the South London Waste Partnership - made up of four local councils who are working together to provide improved and more cost-effective waste management services to their residents.

The High Commissioner for Belize also joined the Mayors at a meeting with senior officials at the Foreign Office, and hosted a high-level reception for them at London’s Canning House at which she made a short speech welcoming the Mayors to the UK.

The visit has been seen as a huge success, and generated a great deal of interest from the UK companies, who were extremely impressed by the level of engagement by the Mayors on key issues relating to Belize.