Friday, March 15, 2013


Yesterday on whoismcafee I read a very sad comment, which again denoted the need to spread the word about crime, corruption and the dangers of visiting Belize.
 And we need to 'say it loud'.

Chris Furgala, the brother of Jeffrey Furgala has written JM, hoping for help in understanding how the wrongful/ corrupt/ heinous manner in which his brother died could be possible.   I'm hoping that once he has a chance to ingest the information on wim he will join us here, and read the plethora of information on corruption in Belize.  Chris, we would like to help....not sure how, but we can start by letting you know we feel your loss, and by sharing our information...(I think you will find the report in this post very enlightening).  We're sorry for the completely unnecessary police-custody death of your brother.  For anyone not familiar, here are a couple of reports on Jeffrey's story.  :(

Canadian Jeffrey Furgala dies in Police custody
Reporting from Calgary, Alberta
Denials and accusations from Belize

At what point is the International community going to start screaming?  NO ONE needs to vacation in Belize until they clean up their act.  Civilized Nations need to issue travel warnings to their citizens to avoid this perfect little Jewel like the plague.  Approximately 650,000 Canadians vacation in Cuba each year.  Not my choice of spots, but they have been made to feel welcome and safe in their contained playgrounds.  None have been murdered.  That tourism number will continue to grow, while visitors to Belize will continue to shrink unless there is a major shake up.  Will a tourism freeze hurt the regular guy?  Sadly yes, and that might be what's needed to light a fire under their asses, a fire they so desperately need.  But keep in mind, it will hurt the higher ups who take a bigger slice of the pie even more.  And maybe some of the rich gringo business owners need to suffer a bit anyway.  From my perspective so many of them have been more than willing to take all they could from Belize,  with no intent on giving anything back.  Living in Paradise comes at a cost....always....for everyone.....I know.  But maybe.......just maybe, the lost income will motivate Belizeans and expats both to demand more, and force changes from their Government.  Imagine the strength the Ams/Cdns could give the Belizean people by  endorsing and providing guidance to peaceful protesting.  The list of grievances is endless.

Maybe it's time for Canadians and Americans to start vacationing in their own or each others countries. They're amazingly gorgeous terrain after all, with unlimited treasures to uncover.  Neither are crime free, but they have forward thinking governments who are smart enough to recognize the value of tourism dollars.  Great lengths are taken on the local level to provide protection......think Niagara Falls Canada.....about 12 Million visitors each year, but a low crime rate.
Niagara Falls Ca. works to keep crime low
Crime in Niagara Falls continues to drop.

And America does the same thing, attempting to corral crime in high tourism areas.  It's imperative to keep that cash flowing, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to best achieve that.  Many beautiful choices, no matter what scenery or climate you seek.  **note the number one city on this list ;-)
30 Safest American cities

So I do think the time has come to start supporting our own Countries, and other civilized nations, and avoid the crime ridden, corrupt-government run Caribbean and Central American countries until they can get their shit together.  Belize is not the only unsafe place for a gringo on vacation.  Mexico must be avoided at all costs.  Jamaica, Haiti, DR, St. Kitts, Virgin Is.  (and more) are only as safe as the compound you are locked in for your entire trip.  Might be okay for a couple of days, but local flavor is why most of us travel, and being confined to one controlled space doesn't allow for a true perspective.  Compare that to the freedom you have in any of the N.A. cities mentioned above (plus many more), and suddenly deciding where to vacation becomes an adventure, with safe access to everything that location has to offer.  It's worth a thought.
Don't take my word for it, check out the newest list of scary places, using 2011 stats (they get worse for 2012).
Scariest places to visit

The following article comes from Freedom House, who reports on crime and general living standards around the world.  They do a great job of condensing while still retaining the impact of their statements.  Having been written for 2011, we all know the number of murders increased in 2012, as did the boldness of the government.  Here is the link to the article if you prefer to read it from the original page, but I have copied it in it's entirety.
Freedom House Report


Freedom in the World......Belize

In a controversial move, Belize’s government amended the constitution in 2011 in order to guarantee the state a majority stake in water, electricity, and telecommunications companies. Meanwhile, violent crime and drug trafficking remained serious concerns throughout the year.

Belize achieved independence from Britain in 1981 but has remained a member of the British Commonwealth. Control of the government has since alternated between the center-right United Democratic Party (UDP) and the center-left People’s United Party (PUP).
Said Wilbert Musa of the PUP was elected prime minister in 1998, replacing George Cadle Prince, the co-founder of the PUP and Belize’s first prime minister. Musa became the country’s first prime minister to secure a second consecutive term after the PUP won again in 2003. However, the opposition UDP swept the 2008 national elections, capturing 25 out of 31 National Assembly seats, amid public dissatisfaction with corruption, increased taxation, and rising crime rates. The UDP’s Dean Barrow became prime minister.
The Barrow government proposed controversial amendments to the constitution in 2008 that would allow for wiretapping, preventative detention, and the right to seize land where mineral resources are discovered. Opponents argued that this latter measure could easily be abused and did not respect the land rights of Mayan minority groups. The amendments were passed by the National Assembly in August, but the Court of Appeals ruled in March 2009 that a referendum was required as well. The Interception of Communications Act, which would allow for wiretaps and was criticized by opponents for its potential for misuse by law enforcement officials, was enacted on December 2010.  
The Barrow government also faced criticism for its 2009 takeover of Belize Telemedia Limited, the country’s largest telecommunications company. The Supreme Court upheld the nationalization in 2010, but ordered the government to compensate shareholders immediately. In June 2011, the Belizean Court of Appeals ruled that Telemedia’s nationalization was unconstitutional. The Belizean government nationalized Telemedia a second time in July, believing that it had addressed those issues that the court had found to be illegal during the first nationalization process. In July, Prime Minister Barrow also introduced a constitutional amendment to parliament that would ensure government control of all public utilities; the amendment became law in October.

Belize is an electoral democracy. The head of state is the British monarch, who is represented by a governor general. Members of the 31-seat House of Representatives, the lower house of the bicameral National Assembly, are directly elected for five-year terms. The 12 members of the Senate are currently appointed to five-year terms, though Belizeans voted in a 2008 referendum to change to an elected Senate following the next general elections in 2013.
There are no restrictions on the right to organize political parties, and the interests of Mestizo, Creole, Mayan, and Garifuna ethnic groups are represented in the National Assembly.
Government corruption remains a serious problem. Belize is the only country in Central America that is not a party to the UN Convention against Corruption. In 2010, three high-ranking Belize City Council members resigned due to allegations of misconduct. A report by the auditor general claimed that the council had misused or failed to account for millions of dollars in municipal funds since 2006.
Belize has a generally open media environment. Journalists or others who question the financial disclosures of government officials may face up to three years in prison or up to US$2,500 in fines, but this law has not been applied in recent years. The Belize Broadcasting Authority has the right to prior restraint of all broadcasts for national security or emergency reasons, though this too is rarely invoked. Despite the availability of diverse sources of media, including privately-owned weekly newspapers, radio and television stations, concerns over government control of the broadcast industry remain after the nationalization of Telemedia. While the government does not restrict internet access or use, internet penetration is low due to lack of infrastructure and high costs.
Residents of Belize enjoy full freedom of religion, and academic freedom is respected.
Freedoms of assembly and association are generally upheld, and demonstrations are usually peaceful. A large number of nongovernmental organizations are active, and labor unions remain politically influential despite their shrinking ranks. Official boards of inquiry adjudicate labor disputes, and businesses are penalized for labor-code violations. However, the government has done little to combat antiunion discrimination, and workers who are fired for organizing rarely receive compensation.
The judiciary is independent, and the rule of law is generally respected. However, concerns remain that the judicial system is vulnerable to political interference. A 2011 report by the American Bar Association scored Belize poorly on 16 out of 28 factors in evaluating its prosecutorial and criminal justice system. Defendants can remain free on bail or in pretrial detention for years amid a heavy case backlog; about one-fifth of the country’s detainees are awaiting trial.
Violent crime, money laundering, gang violence, and drug trafficking continued to be serious concerns in 2011. Belize now has the sixth highest homicide rate in the world. Officials estimate the perpetrators are convicted in only about 10 percent of homicides. In September, the government brokered a truce among rival gangs in response to complaints made by residents and alleged gang members of police brutality by the Gang Suppression Unit. Extrajudicial killings and the use of excessive force remain concerns. Police misconduct is investigated by the department’s internal affairs office or an ombudsman’s office. Belize was added to the U.S. list of “major” drug producing and transit countries in 2011 because of large numbers of drugs and weapons seized along its border with Mexico and weak anticorruption measures. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, Belize has the world’s 9th-highest prisoner-to-public ratio, with about 439 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants. Prisons do not meet minimum international standards.
While the government actively discourages ethnic discrimination, it has designated only 77,000 acres as Mayan reserves, and there has been little action on the 500,000 acres of disputed land following a 2004 Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruling in favor of Mayan property rights. However, the June 2010 Supreme Court ruling recognizing the land-use rights of 38 Mayan communities could allow them to block development on communal property. Most Spanish-speaking immigrants in the country lack legal status and face discrimination.
Violence against women and children remains a serious concern, as does the prevalence of child labor in agriculture. Gender disparities are profound; Belize ranks 100 out of 135 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2011 Global Gender Gap Report. There have been reports of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, despite the government’s efforts to educate the public about the illness. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons also face legal and societal discrimination. While female same-sex sexual activity is legal, male same-sex sexual activity is illegal and can result in 10 years imprisonment. The United Belize Advocacy Movement is challenging the constitutionality of this law and is scheduled to go before the Supreme Court in early 2012. Belize is the only country in the Americas that has no women in its elected lower house of government.
Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for prostitution and forced labor. The majority of trafficked women are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The trafficking of workers from South Asia and China for forced labor has also been uncovered in recent years. There is also concern that Belize is emerging as a sex tourism destination. The U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report removed Belize from the Tier 2 Watch List but continued to categorize it as a Tier 2 country.




  1. "Patrick Jones, a news producer in Belize, said there have been seven deaths of people while in police custody in Belize this past year, which is why there is some suspicion around this incident, CTV news reports."

    In a country of 300,000 people, that is quite a high statistic. If this happened in America a full on investigation would be taking place. The media would be all over it.

    If his only crime was intoxication, they will put you in a cell to protect you. They didn't seem to be protecting him that well. No witnesses? No cause of death?

    I am not one to drink, but people do. They are on vacation. Sometimes it catches up to them. Those ghastly ex-pat neighbors of John's seem to do it every night. If the crime is getting drunk and before you have a chance to sober up you are dead...that is not a very good justice system.

    How many people have to die before others rise up and say "no more", "not in our house"?

    And to Chris... we are here for you. John has been quite busy lately but we are here to listen and helpyou if we can.

    1. So true SL.....can you imagine if a US city the size of Belize had 8 (min) people die in custody in the span of 12 months? The American public would go ape shit, demand answers and at least one head on a platter as a side dish. The drunk tanks in the States are checked regularly or have video monitoring for the simple fact that multiple disasters could occur if they didn't. That's just a fact no matter where in the world you are.

      I also don't buy the story that Jeffery couldn't tell them where he was staying. Taking him back to his resort should have been the actions of a tourism-driven police force......but there wouldn't have been any revenue with that decision. To make matters worse, he was in Belize helping a friend. And really, did he truly have no ID? How did they know who it was that had died? Very suspect indeed. I hope his family doesn't give up on getting the truth.......if any Belizean authority actually knows what truth means. smh :-(

  2. Chris, so sorry for your loss.
    The story of your brother came to our attention on WIM when the link to the story was posted in comments. We read with shock but sadly not surprise.
    Belize isn't a paradise, and people need to be aware of that.

  3. Thank you everyone so much for your support. It is very healing to me personally to know there are others out there who are aware and understand exactly what is going on in this country. This has become more than just about the loss of my brother. It is now about doing the right thing and what ever I can do to help expose this type of corruption in hopes of preventing this type of inhumane treatment from happening to any one else ever again.

    1. Hey Chris, glad you found us and that you found comfort in knowing you're not alone. Please feel free to ask anything, we're happy to share what we've learned with you or any of Jeffrey's family & friends. The 'Belize' section has many links to allegations and declarations of the deplorable conditions and acceptable behavior driven by greed. (It's under construction, and not yet organized properly, but I doubt that will'll probably read it all.) ツ

      Yep, the events that occur in Belize, (on a regular basis) are so twisted and corruption-driven, it's hard for anyone catching a snippet on TV to believe they could be possible. That's how insane and far fetched the stories the untrained ear ~ which we no longer had once McAfee opened the can of worms, and we all started digging. And like you, now what we've seen what's really happening, we can't just look away and do nothing either. So welcome, have a look around, and write often.....nothing's off limits. ツ

    2. These things need to be exposed and brought out into the light.
      Your brother's death did not even make our regular news. I read about it on the Whoismcafee blog. The more we can expose these events and the more people we inform, the more likely it is that we can effect change.

      I pray for closure for you and your family. Has the embassy been able to help you at all? UI wish there was more that I could do to help. I can only offer my support and my empathy.