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Caribbean

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean is projecting a 3.8 percent economic growth for the Caribbean in 2013.

This growth is, however, predicted on developments in the world economy – in particular the Eurozone crisis settling, China and India are increasing their consumption and the United States resolving its impending fiscal cliff.

“The picture taking shape is thus one of slow overall growth and continuing uncertainty, which may worsen should geopolitical tensions disrupt the functioning of certain critical markets, such as the petroleum markets,” the UN organization said in its preliminary overview of regional economies recently launched at ECLAC’s sub-regional head office in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Caribbean countries are still on a fragile fiscal footing and need fiscal reform along with external support to firmly gain sustainable fiscal consolidation paths.

The outlook did not rule out a lower growth prospect, given external risks.

“The resilience Latin America and the Caribbean has shown thus far would be more severely tested. A growth slowdown in the U.S. would affect Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean,” the report said.

It is expected that overall growth in the Caribbean will be slightly better than last year, although the impact of Hurricane Sandy may have some spillover effects in 2013. This may see an increase in construction activity as well.

Dominica

The attorney representing Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has called for the resignation of all, but one member of the Integrity Commission, accusing them of being politically biased against his client.

Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan is also threatening to boycott a sitting of the Commission probing allegations that Prime Minister Skerrit used his position as chairman of Cabinet to approve concessions for a business venture in which he had an interest.

The enquiry which was due to begin in December has been put off to January, 2013.

“We are saying in the alternative that the Prime Minister ought to have been given the opportunity to be heard in that time,” Astaphan said, adding “we are saying that the allegation is based on a fundamentally false premise that the prime minister was present when the Cabinet decision was made, which is the sole allegation about the chairmanship of the Cabinet meeting,” he said.

The senior attorney claimed that there are people in the Commission who are affiliated politically to the (opposition) Dominica Freedom Party and to the United Workers Party and the recent events have propelled us to write to the commissioner of police demanding an investigation into the unauthorized use and publication of confidential information.

“A letter was also sent to the chairman of the Integrity Commission. We reserve the right on behalf of the prime minister to demand that every single commissioner, other than the chairman of the Commission resign,” he added.

He said if any of the three named commissioners, whom he has accused to being politically biased “attempt to sit at the hearing, we are not going to participate at all at that hearing.”

Guyana

Guyana remains loyal to its position of solidarity with Cuba to end the 50-year-old embargo against the Spanish-speaking island by the United States, President Donald Ramoutar said as Guyana and Cuba recently celebrated their 40th anniversary of bilateral relations.

During a reception to mark the occasion, Ramoutar said Guyana will continue to push for an end to the blockade. Signs of hope for a change came in 2009 when newly elected President Barack Obama spoke of a “new beginning” with Cuba during the Fifth Summit of the Americas hosted in neighboring.

Jamaica

One of Jamaica’s most popular reggae artistes from the 1980s, Eek-a-Mouse, is facing extradition to the United States.

Best known for the single “A wha do dem” as well as his signature mimic of a mouse, Eek-a-Mouse, whose given name is Ripton J. Hylton, is reportedly being deported from Paraguay to the United States.

U.S. law enforcement authorities say Eek-a-Mouse will then face extradition to North Carolina on four-year-old charges. It is reported that the reggae artiste left the U.S. sometime after his arrest on rape and narcotics charges in August 2008.

He has maintained his innocence since his arrest, but in 2010, he missed a court date in Dare County, North Carolina after flight cancelations in Europe related to volcanic ash. His lawyer said his absence was not intentional, however a warrant was issued for his arrest with a US$1 million bond for failure to appear.

Police said the reggae artiste was in custody awaiting extradition to North Carolina from Florida. According to investigators Eek-a-Mouse was found in Paraguay on Nov. 21 without a proper visa.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s main opposition party, the United Workers Party (UWP), is calling on National Security Minister Victor La Corbiniere to make public his plan on crime prevention amid escalation of criminal activity on the island.

“The Minister of National Security must be reminded that his party’s election manifesto, ‘Blueprint for Growth,’ reads law and order will be the first pillar of development for our party when we get into office is to make St. Lucia safer,” said Opposition Leader Stephenson King.

“The question must be posed is whether after one year, St Lucians really feel safer?” he said.

In 2012 43 people were murdered.

The opposition is also calling on the government to outline the role now being played by former police commissioner Ausbert Regis who serves as special adviser to the government. King said as special adviser on crime and security, Regis was expected to play a significant role in advising the authorities on strategies and policies that would assist in combating the prevalence of violent crime on the island.

Trinidad and Tobago

The commercial economic and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America has been in existence since the l960s, a move which Cuban ambassador to Guyana Raul Gortyazar Marrero described as a strategy to isolate Cuba from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and the rest of the world in 1972. Guyana was one of the four Caricom nations to establish bilateral relations.

“During our own struggle to safeguard our independence and to build on the foundations for the growth and development of our nation, Cuba was in the forefront in providing the much needed support, especially key in the area of science and technology, health, culture, sports and education,” Ramoutar said.

St. Lucia

Hundreds of farmers were counting their losses after fire of unknown origin recently gutted the headquarters of the St. Lucia Banana Corporation in the capital, Castries.

More than 3,000 shareholders have been affected by the fire, which lit up the city as firemen fought for several hours to bring it under control.

Corporation chairman Patrick Joseph said the destruction of the office building, which had been placed in the hands of the liquidator and was up for sale, came as a shock to members of the farming community who have been patiently awaiting dividends from the sale of the building.

Joseph said farmers had been enquiring about the pending sale of the building and the possibility of getting their shares before the re-opening of the new school term in January. “But it looks more bleak and hopeless for them,” he said.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago has been ranked No 5 in the world for having people with the most Positive attitudes – the happiest people, according to a Gallup poll.

Gallup Inc. is a U.S.-based organization which provides data-driven news based on US and world polls, daily tracking and public opinion research. The poll showed seven of the ten countries with the most upbeat attitudes were in Latin America.

Other than Trinidad and Tobago, the countries making it into the top l0 were Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Thailand and the Philippines.

Gallup asked about 1,000 people in each of the 148 countries in 2012 about their state of mind as it relate to the issues of everyday life and their coping mechanisms. A great majority, in what is considered underdeveloped or undeveloped territories found ways to keep themselves happy amidst social or personal problems.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Trinidad and Tobago is poised to take off in 2013 and citizens can expect better days ahead.

She said “crime fighting remains at the top of the government’s agenda and whilst we do the soft side of it, that is the crime prevention methods, I do believe the Minister of National Security (Jack warner) and I have discussed this, that we need to become a bit stronger on the law enforcement side. And Minister Warner has begun that strategy with joint patrols. We have increased joint patrols and we intend to continue right down until carnival. That is the only way we would see the reduction in the crime rates that we would want to see,” she said.

The prime minister said priority number two was the economy and the creation of jobs.

“Once we do that, then we can expect a better quality of life which is what our whole thrust has been, prosperity for all, and you have seen some of the initiatives with the investments recently.

“I believe for 2013 we are poised to take off with the actual implementation of the initiatives. So I look forward to a brighter 2013 than 2012,” she added.

Trinidad

Prime Mnister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has promised to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) community in the proposed national gender policy.

She made the promise in a recent letter to Lance Price, executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in the UK, which campaigns globally for gay/LGBT rights and diversity.

The PM’s letter to Price was in response to one he wrote to her complaining about Trinidad and Tobago’s immigration laws and the Sexual Offenses Act, which he said discriminated against homosexuals.

Price met with Persad-Bissessar when he visited T&T for an International Press Institute (IPI) conference in June 2012, at which the PM spoke. He wrote to her in July expressing concern about the stigmatization of homosexuality in T&T.

Section 8 of the Immigration Act bars entry to homosexuals, describing them as a “prohibited class,”

In December 2012, Aids Free World, an advocacy NGO, challenged the controversial immigration law in court.

Maurice Tomlinson, a gay Jamaican lawyer, the group’s legal adviser for marginalized groups, has taken up the challenge.

Complied by Azad Ali

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