Caribbean leaders express concern over US policy

Leaders of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have expressed concern that US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies could lead to a slowdown in travel to a region dependent on tourism.

As Caribbean leaders wrapped up their mid-term summit in Guyana’s capital city Georgetown, incoming CARICOM Chairman Keith Mitchell - prime minister of Grenada - said the trade bloc has adopted a “wait-and-see attitude” with respect to America’s evolving migration policy and how it affects the region’s vital tourism industry.

“We must obviously be concerned with the recent issue related to immigration, and the impact it will have on our citizens and… on tourism,” Mitchell told a news conference at the close of the two-day summit, the first since President Trump took office.

Millions of Caribbean nationals live in the United State as permanent residents, naturalized citizens or illegal aliens.

Many travel regularly to their home countries, while others send remittances totalling hundreds of millions of dollars each year to relatives who remain in the Caribbean.

Mitchell said he understands the reluctance of some Caribbean residents in the US not to leave the country.

Trump’s attempted crackdown on refugees and immigrants from some majority Muslim countries has raised concerns that he may try to impose harsher travel restrictions on them as well.

Agreement to advance small-scale fisheries in the Caribbean signed

April 22, 2016

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) this week sealed an agreement with a UN agency to strengthen governance arrangements for the flyingfish fishery in the Caribbean, with special emphasis on maximising the long-term potential of the fishery, which employs several thousands in the region and feeds many more.


Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CRFM, signed the Memorandum of Agreement for Caribbean States; while Kirk Bayabos, Senior Cluster Manager, signed on behalf of the project executing agency, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), a subsidiary of the UN.


The agreement is under a five-year umbrella project, the UNDP/GEF Catalysing Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Sustainable Management of shared Living Marine Resources in the Caribbean and North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) Project, designed to catalyse the implementation of a 10-year Strategic Action Programme (SAP), focused on the sustainable management of shared living marine resources harnessed from the large marine ecosystems in both the Caribbean and the North Brazil Shelf. The SAP was endorsed by the ministers of CARICOM responsible for fisheries and/or environment in 2014.


The Caribbean Sea is described as a semi-enclosed sea adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, south to the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of the largest salt water seas with a diverse marine life that is fundamental to the livelihoods of coastal communities, project documents detail.


courtesy of: Caribbean News Service

Caribbean Nationals arrested in child sex offenders sweep

April 13, 2016

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says officers from its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark Field Office have arrested several Caribbean nationals in an operation targeting children sex offenders.


On Wednesday, the ICE said nationals from Cuba, the Dominica Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago were among 44 arrested in the “Crimes against Children” operation in New Jersey.

ICE, which did not identify the nationals arrested, said the operation was part of its public safety efforts, and the individuals were convicted of various crimes against children.


The individuals arrested throughout New Jersey were also nationals of Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Venezuela.


Those arrested range in age from 19 to 61, and were previously convicted of a variety of offences.


Some of the convictions included sexual abuse of a minor, criminal sexual contact of a child, luring or enticing a child, endangering the welfare of a child, sexual assault of a minor, child abuse, child neglect and indecent exposure.


ICE said among those arrested during the operation was a Haitian citizen, who was convicted of criminal sexual contact against a child and endangering the welfare of a child.


A Cuban national was also convicted of three counts of sexual assault of a minor.


courtesy of: Caribbean News Service 

ECLAC predicts Caribbean economies will contract this year

April 08, 2016

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has revised downward its growth projections for the region’s economic activity, forecasting an average contraction of -0.6 per cent in 2016.


ECLAC said that this new estimate reflects that the contraction experienced by regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015 (-0.5 per cent) will extend to the current year.


“The new projections evidence the difficult global scenario in which low growth continues in developed countries, there is a significant deceleration in emerging economies (China in particular), increasing volatility and costs in financial markets, and low prices for commodities - especially hydrocarbons and minerals,” ECLAC said.


“In addition, there is greater weakness in internal demand in the region’s countries, with the decline in domestic investment accompanied by a deceleration of consumption,” it added.

Islands needing billions to deal with housing

April 07, 2016

A study on the state of housing in six Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries has revealed that approximately US$1.8 billion is needed to end poor housing conditions for more than one million citizens.


The study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) looked at the housing problem in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.


The study, which analysed the implementation of social housing programs in the Caribbean from 2000 to 2015, underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.


It noted that rapid urbanization has created a housing deficit in the Caribbean, prompting a large share of the population to live in informal settlements that are disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding, and storm surges.


The study notes also that the absence of efficiently functioning land markets, inaccurate property registries, and land disputes have compounded the problem and slowed the pace of housing programs.

“Improving housing conditions in the Caribbean can have large impacts on poverty reduction, improving lives of a significant share of the population,’’ said Michael G. Donovan, IDB Senior Housing and Urban Development Specialist, one of the authors of the study.


“The IDB and the Caribbean have been working together on several projects to help solve this challenge. However, more needs to be done. With this book, we expect to help the region develop a comprehensive urban agenda so countries can achieve their sustainable development goals.”

Dying of too much sweetness in the Caribbean

April 06, 2016

Think of 10 people close to you – family members, friends and co-workers. Chances are at least one is suffering from diabetes, though they might not know it.


An estimated 10 percent of the population of the Americas – more than 62 million people – have diabetes, and more than half a million people die from it each year. That makes diabetes the fourth-leading cause of death in the hemisphere after heart attacks, strokes and dementias.


Yet deaths are only part of this disease’s devastating impact. Many people with diabetes develop serious complications, including blindness, nerve damage and circulation problems leading to amputated limbs, kidney failure requiring costly dialysis, and heart failure resulting in death.


Those at highest risk are the 30-40 percent of people who don’t know they have diabetes and those who lack access to good health care.


Unfortunately, diabetes is on the increase in the Americas and around the world. As with other chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke, the underlying causes of type 2 diabetes – the most common form – are lifestyle changes linked to development and globalization.


If current trends continue, diabetes is expected to afflict more than 100 million people in our hemisphere by 2040.


courtesy of: Caribbean News Service 

Earthquake rattles Trinidad and Grenada

April 06, 2016

Trinidad and Grenada were rattled by an earthquake today (Thursday) the Trinidad-based Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) said.


The quake occurred at 08:22 (local time) and was registered with a magnitude of 5.7.


The SRC said that the epicenter of the quake was 105 km west of Port-of-Spain and 125 km northwest of San Fernando.


There were no reports of damages or injuries.

Dwayne Bravo lambasts West Indies Cricket Board

April 05, 2016

Star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has joined his captain Darren Sammy in the attack on the West Indies Cricket Board calling it the "most unprofessional" in the world and expressed doubts about a resolution being reached between the players and WICB on their pay dispute in the near future.


Bravo, who has had several run-ins with the WICB in the past, made the comments following the West Indies triumph in the World T20 in India. "Too many times people come down on the players. They questioned our commitment, they questioned whether we were really committed to West Indies cricket or is it just the money. A lot of people don't understand the things we go through as players dealing with our board. It is the most unprofessional board in the world to me,"


Bravo was quoted as making the comments during a Skype interview with CNC3, a television network based out of Trinidad & Tobago.

Sir Richard Branson Finds Buried Treasure In The Caribbean

March 30, 2016

Sir Richard Branson issued the following statement on 31.03.2016.


“It has come to my attention that a video has been circulating on the internet that appears to show yours truly helping to dig up what could potentially be a treasure chest.


Somehow the above video has been leaked online. It has since been shared by renowned treasure hunters the Fisher family, who tweeted: “Interesting. Just found this video leak of @richardbranson & what appears to be buried treasure in the Caribbean…”


Now the British Virgin Islands government has released a statement. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier of the Virgin Islands, said: “This could be probably the largest find of treasure in the BVI, probably throughout the entire Caribbean, ever! I can only hope that the treasure will be used to support the people of the British Virgin Islands and their overall development and the betterment of the country. But of course, knowing Sir Richard as I do, I would expect nothing less. I would expect he will do all in his power to ensure this is used for the benefit of the British Virgin Islands.”


Governor of the BVI John Duncan has now also posted his video response to the find.


I can confirm that the team on Moskito Island were doing some development work and came across a chest. I was doing an interview at the time nearby and went over to have a look. I then assisted in digging up what they had found. Initially I thought that I was being pranked. But having opened it, I realised that this was perhaps the most exciting find of my life and maybe the biggest ever treasure find in the Caribbean. We know pirates visited Moskito Island in the distant past and can only assume that they buried this treasure while spending time on our island.


Recently we’ve set up the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship accelerator programme in the British Virgin Islands to support BVI entrepreneurs. We’re now in discussion with the BVI Government about how the proceeds of the treasure should be spent – perhaps it could be used to create some sustainable BVI businesses that improve livelihoods, bolster communities and grow economies. We’ll keep you posted on our find, watch this space.”


courtesy of: Caribbean News Service

Commonwealth Secretary-General Designate to address Caribbean conference

March 28, 2016

The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, who later this week takes office as the sixth Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, will today give an opening address to the 15th Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean region in Antigua and Barbuda.


In a special video message released earlier this morning, the Secretary-General Designate says it is “an impressive privilege” to participate in the conference. “The Caribbean is where the world meets and having an opportunity to speak to all of the Governors-General and the Presidents is going to be a real opportunity for all of us to talk about what will make a difference for the region,” she states.


Patricia Scotland QC takes over as Commonwealth Secretary-General from Kamalesh Sharma, who steps down on 31 March after eight years of service. The Secretary-General Designate was nominated by Dominica, the country of her birth and selected by the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth at their Heads of Government summit in Malta last November. When she takes office on Friday 1 April, she will be the second Secretary-General from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.


“I am hugely proud that the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth have entrusted me with the role of Secretary-General and I am determined that I will do everything in my power to make sure that our region is proud of what we are together able to achieve,” 

Charity secures prisoners freedom over Easter

March 28, 2016

International relief and development organization, Food For The Poor, says it secured the release of 256 non-violent inmates in prisons in Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Honduras this Easter.


Four men were freed in Guyana, nine men in Jamaica, 232 men and women in Haiti, and 11 men in Honduras, the charity said, stressing that it worked hard this year to secure the release of those inmates as prison overcrowding continued to be a major problem in the Caribbean and Latin America.


In Jamaica, nonviolent prisoners were released from Hunts Bay Police Station, and Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston, and the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in Spanish Town. Each of them was escorted from their cell to a room, and later to the chapel where they were each greeted by Food For The Poor staff. They also received words of encouragement, a hot meal and personal care items.


In Haiti, six prisons located in Cap-Haitien, Fort-Liberté, Grande Rivière, Hinche, Port-au-Prince, and Port-de-Paix agreed to allow Food For The Poor to pay its required fines for nonviolent offenders. The majority of these prisoners, which included a few women, were locked up for stealing items such as chickens to feed their families or other items for their daily needs.


Brazil joins Caribbean Development Bank

March 16, 2016

The Federative Republic of Brazil is the newest member country of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), signaling that country’s commitment to sustainable development of the region. The decision became effective on December 31, 2015, following a process that began with Brazil’s application to membership in 2007 and its acceptance by the CDB Board of Governors in 2008.


Brazil is CDB’s 28th member, and the fourth non-borrowing regional member, joining Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela in that category.


The announcement was made on March 9th at CDB’s first Board of Directors meeting for 2016. “We are delighted to welcome Brazil and thank its Government and people for joining hands with us to advance our mandate of reducing poverty, and promoting economic growth and sustainable development in the Caribbean. Brazil’s membership is another historic seal of its relationship with Caribbean and strengthening of Latin American-Caribbean cooperation,” said Dr William Warren Smith, President of the Caribbean Development Bank.


“Brazil is pleased to join the Caribbean Development Bank in support of its important role within the Caribbean Region. We expect that Brazil’s membership will contribute to strengthened relations between Brazil and the Caribbean and lead to greater collaboration in building a better future for the people of both our countries,” said Mr. Ranieri who is the General Coordinator of Relations with International Organisations in the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management and Secretariat of International Affairs.


Brazil is the world’s seventh largest economy with GDP of USD2.5 trillion and a population of more than 200 million. It shares many common geographical, historical and demographic similarities with the Caribbean.

CARICOM to tackle youth crime and violence

March 15, 2016

The regional body CARICOM has announced it will step up its fight against youth crime and violence.


CARICOM’s Eye on the Future Report has highlighted crime and violence as the number one concern of youth. Sixty percent of CARICOM’s population is under the age of 30.  Both the main perpetrators and victims of crime are young people and violence is the lead cause of death among males aged 15-24 in the Caribbean.


.Information from the survey revealed that violence in schools was perceived to be related to gangs moving into the schools and communities (27%); easy access to drugs and guns (14.8%); and a lack of positive activities (13.2%), among other factors. The challenges being faced in the schools and communities were very similar across states and, in many cases, pointed to issues that had to do with boredom in school, poor conflict resolution skills and a general lack of discipline.

Baroness Scotland selected as new Secretary General

November 27, 2015

Baroness Patricia Scotland was selected Commonwealth Secretary-General this afternoon at the Commonwealth summit in Malta. 


The selection of the new Secretary-General took place in a closed session during the 24th biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The process was overseen by the CHOGM Chair and the Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat. Patricia Scotland will be the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General and the first woman to take up this post.


Born in Dominica in 1955, Baroness Patricia Scotland then moved with her family to Britain. She obtained her LLB in 1976, was called to the Bar in 1977 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1991. She received a life peerage and was created Baroness Scotland of Asthal in 1997.


Baroness Scotland has held the position of Attorney General (2007 to 2010), Minister of State (Home Office) (Crime Reduction) (2007 to 2007), Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) (2003 to 2007), and Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department) (2001 to 2003) in government.


Baroness Scotland said: "The Commonwealth shares a great deal. It has 33 per cent of the world's population. It has the capacity to bring together people of all religions; concentrate on what joins us. It's a real opportunity to invest and work together. If you work together with people respectfully, you can bring about change. Human rights and development go hand-in-hand."

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