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Caribbean RoundUp

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Caribbean

The Atlanta Center for Diseases Control (CDC) is advising U.S. travelers to the Caribbean to protect themselves from mosquito bites because of the spreads of the chikunguyana virus now affecting 20 islands in the region.

The warning was issued at the start of the summer vacation period when travel to the Caribbean increases.

The virus is transmitted by Aedes Egypti mosquitoes which may bite infected persons. There is no vaccine. While the virus does not typically lead to death, conditions can become debilitating.

Symptoms can become emphasized and dangerous for adults over 65, newborns and individuals who already have health issues such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.

The Caribbean Public Health (CPH) recently reported that the number of confirmed and suspected cases rose to 133,651, up from just over 100,000 in June.

The virus had been detected in 20 Caribbean countries and territories with the largest outbreak in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic has had more than 77,000 suspected cases since January, including 20,000 new suspected cases last month.

Barbados

Head of the private sector tourism organization, Sunil Chatrani, is renewing a decades-old call for the introduction of casino gambling on the island.

“I’ve said in the past that we don’t have enough attractions. We need dolphin parks... I’m even talking about casinos. There are different things we are talking about,” said Chatrani, the newly-elected president of the Barbados and Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA).

“We just can’t have the seas, the sand and the sun, we need more things to keep the people entertained on the island,” he said.

Following public consultations in the 90s, Barbados governments have been steadfast in their resistance to casino gambling on the island, but in 2012 permitted such risk-taking on berthed cruise ships for on-board entertainment, from which the local populations is barred.

The BHTA chairman admitted that the industry has experienced some challenging times but tourism officials had created a strategy that focused in repositioning Barbados in a sustainable way to protect the island’s most important foreign exchange sector.

Guyana

Several Guyanese were reportedly beaten by Venezuelan soldiers at the north-western border Guyana shares with its Spanish-speaking neighbor recently.

The Guyana Defense Force’s Chief of Staff Brigadier Mark Phillips was quoted as saying that it was not a clash of armies as no Guyanese soldiers were involved.

“We have some reports of an altercation that we are investigat­ing… nothing to do with Guyanese soldiers. There are no Guyanese soldiers stationed there,” he said.

According to media reports “rogue” Venezuelan soldiers crossed the border and assaulted a group of men and women miners in the area called ‘Bruk-u-Falls” located on the Guyana side bordering Amakura River in the North West District.

Haiti

Haiti will be establishing a special bureau at the Customs Office in Port-au-Prince to facilitate clearance of shipments sent by legitimate philanthropic organizations sending aid to the country.

Many non-profit organizations in the Haitian Diaspora, as well as international NGOs conducting humanitarian and development assistance programs in the country, often complain that equipment and other shipments get stuck in the customs because of bureaucratic procedures.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamonthe said, “We will open a customer type service for many of the NGOs and philanthropic organizations so that they may have faster access to customs services and to get their items out of customs quicker.”

The Haitian prime minister said his team is working on a plan which will allow the government to solve the problem which is hurting Haiti’s interests and operations of NGOs and other humanitarian institutions shipping material from outside.

He emphasized the need for philanthropic organizations working in Haiti to register, to coordinate with and to align their program with government policies and plans of action in different sectors to improve efficiency and avoid duplications.

Jamaica

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has praised Jamaica’s political leadership of making key economic reforms during the first year of a $930 million loan package with the Washington-based financial institution.

During a three-day visit to the Caribbean nation of 2.7 million people, IMF managing director, Christine Laggard said Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller’s government had displayed “extraordin­ary leadership” and an economic reform program was “off to a very strong start.” “Jamaica has so far met all of the objectives of a four-year arrangement with the IMF,” Laggard said.

Over the past year Jamaica has passed four tests in a row without shortfalls, she said.

The economic outlook is improving. Compared to a year ago, growth has picked up, unemployment has declined, inflation has been brought under control, the current account deficit has shown an ongoing improvement and reserves are starting to recover,” Laggard noted.

St. Lucia

U.S. Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Ambassador William Brownfield has expressed regret over the suspension of assistance from the United States to the Royal St. Lucia Police Force (RSLPF).

Last year, the U.S. Department of State announced a policy decision to withdraw training and material assistance to the RSLPF due to “credible allegations” of gross human rights violations.

“Do I regret that we are in this position, of course I do? I hope we are able to work our way through this complicated set of issues,” he said.

According to Brownfield, failure to do so would make not only the U.S., but the people of St. Lucia and the entire Caribbean suffer.

However, Ambassador Brownfield observed that St. Lucia is limited by law in terms of the cooperation it can offer and engage in with law enforcement institutions against which there are credible grounds to believe they have engaged in gross human rights violations, including extra judicial killings.

A team from the Jamaica Constabulary Force has been conducting an independent investigation into at least 12 alleged extra-judicial killings by St. Lucia Police between 2010 and 2011, during the administration of the then United Workers Party.

Suriname

Five Dutch-based organizations are supporting efforts by Caribbean countries to file reparation claims against Europe.

The Foundation for the Overseas Suriname Collective has been briefing stakeholders on the claims against the Netherlands at a meeting initiated by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) reparations committee, of which Suriname’s Armand Zunder, chairman of Suriname’s Committee Reparations Slavery Past, is a board member.

“Our family, the African Diaspora is spread all across the world. We are preparing to enter a new phase of international pressure,” said historian Beryl Biekman.

Biekman said that it is essential to get young people involved in the action by educating them on the true meaning of reparations.

Trinidad

The United States has signed an agreement to provide Trinidad and Tobago with US$1.8 million for security assistance programs to help combat illicit trafficking and violent crime.

The agreement was signed by U.S. Charge d’Affaires Margaret B Diop and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran during a ceremony at his office of the Foreign Ministry last week.

Diop explained that the agreement increases cooperative opportunities between the two countries.

She said the agreement allows for continued development of programs aimed at increasing citizen security by strengthening law enforcement capacities to counter illicit traffickers and violent crime.

Dookeran in his remark expressed government’s sincere gratitude to the U.S. for the ongoing support to T&T and for continually strengthening T&T’s law enforcement and protective services.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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