Caribbean

The first international seminar for the Greater Caribbean’s “CARIB RISK CLUSTER” recently ended in Martinique with the signing of a cooperative agreement to address risk reduction across the region.

The meeting addressed the many aspects of risk reduction, including the prevention and management of disaster risks facing the Caribbean Basin and how to protect human lives and safeguard socio-economic development.

About 150 delegates and officials from seven Caribbean countries and territories: Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Martin and Trinidad and Tobago, focused on thematic areas during the three-day meeting, addressing meteorological risks, town and country planning, health and epidemic risks and public information services.

The final declaration reiterated a commitment to regional cooperation through the “CARIB RISK CLUSTER,” which was established in 2001 by the General Council of Martinique.

Delegates agreed to leverage the combine efforts of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO), the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (OPDEM) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

This resulted in the signing of an agreement between the General Council of Martinique, represented by its President Josette Marti, and CDEMA’s Executive Director, Ronald Jackson.

Barbados

The Barbados Nation Publishing Company, producer of the Nation newspaper, Saturday and Sunday Sun, plans to axe 14 members of its 215 staff.

According to the company, this is based on a business decision for operational efficiencies, technological enhancements and market changes.

In a statement last week, the company said, “This number would include persons who opted for voluntary redundancy and early retirement over the next three months.”

Founded in 1973, the Barbadian-owned media company merged with Caribbean Communications Network of Trinidad and Tobago to form One Caribbean Media Ltd.

The retrenchment comes amid government’s continued layoffs, also aimed at cutting its operational cost.

In excess of 2,000 public workers have so far been sent home and information emerged recently that an additional 110 port workers are about to be severed.

Bermuda

A 48-year-old British drug mule, who feared that he was dying after swallowing more than half a pound of cocaine while flying from Antigua to London was fined US$800 or 80 days in prison in a Bermuda court recently.

The fine was imposed by Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner on Colmin Smith after he pleaded guilty on a charge of possession of a controlled drug.

Smith lost consciousness aboard a Virgin A Airlines flight on May 16, 2014 shortly after telling airline staff that he had ingested a large amount of cocaine and believed one of the pellets had opened inside his stomach, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Bermuda, the Court was told.

After being taken to the King Edward V11 Memorial Hospital, government analysts determined Smith had ingested a total of 61 pellets containing 239.39 grams of cocaine. The drug had a street value of US$68,250.00.

The magistrate told Smith he was lucky to be alive and to only be charged with possession of a controlled drug, which carries a maximum penalty of $1,000.

Warner said Smith could also count his blessings for landing in Bermuda.

Grenada

Grenada health authorities have resorted to decades-old legislation as the island moves to deal with the mosquito-borne chikunguyana virus.

Grenada has so far recorded five cases of the disease and the authorities have moved to enforce the l952 legislation which makes it mandatory for home and business owners to rid their premises of all forms of containers that can cause the continuous breeding of mosquitoes.

Called the Mosquito Destruction Act, it came into effect on June 28, 1952 during the period when Grenada was a British colony.

The Ministry of Health has been issuing public service announcements warning people that failure to keep their surroundings clean can result in Health Sanitation Officers taking legal proceedings in accordance with the legislation,

Last week Health authorities confirmed that there are five cases of chikunguyana but said it was confined to two small communities in Carriacou.

Haiti

Thousands of Haitians have been lining up at government offices in the Dominican Republic trying to take advantage of a rare chance to secure legal status in a country where they have long lived in the shadows.

For most, hope is quickly turning into disappointment.

Since a program to grant residency to Haitians who have been living in the Dominican Republic since 2011 opened on June 2, only a tiny fraction of applicants have managed to show sufficient documentation from their homeland to secure the status, officials say. And a deadline to register or face deportation will start next year.

Migrants from Haiti have long had a tough time in the Dominican Republic, but in this case their anger is largely directed at Haiti’s government, which has been slow to issue the needed document amid its usual bureaucratic apathy and has been charging fees that are far higher than most people can afford.

Haitians have staged several protests in recent weeks outside their government’s embassy in Santo Domingo over the issue.

Jamaica

More than 20,000 people gathered in Half Way Tree Square recently at a mass rally organized by Jamaica CAUSE in support of the retention of the country’s buggery laws.

The crowd packed the Square for close to four hours to take stance against what has been described as the push by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTT) community to victimize who speak out against its agenda.

Jamaica CAUSE, was established following the removal of Professor Brendan Bain as director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network.

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) says the huge turnout at the rally organized by Jamaica CAUSE in support of the buggery laws did not come as a surprise.

While stating that JFLAG is not daunted by the level of support show for the retaining the law, JFLAG’s Executive Director, Dane Lewis, criticized the church groups for not showing the same level of support for other issues as they are doing against homosexuality.

He said JFLAG maintains that the buggery laws should be reviewed.

St. Kitts

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that St Kitts and Nevis has repaid, ahead of schedule, US$17.1 million in obligations to the Washington-based financial institution.

The IMF said the payment made on June 24, 2014 is about one fourth of the US$3.1 million that St Kitts and Nevis borrowed from the IMF under is Stand-By arrangement.

“This is the first time that a payment of this magnitude has been paid early to the Fund by a Caribbean nation,” the IMF said, adding that the twin-island federation borrowed less than the total amount approved under the three-year arrangement, equivalent to US$84 million, as the authorities began to treat he arrangement as precautionary in March 2014, during the combined seventh and eight review.

The IMF said the Denzil Douglas government should be commended for its “economic achievements under the program”.

Trinidad

Workers at the Immigration Department in Trinidad and Tobago were ordered back to work by the Industrial Court after the Minister of Labor Errol McLeod filed an injunction to put an end to the two-month-long protest action at the department’s offices in Port of Spain and San Fernando.

But despite the order, the workers are continuing to stay away from the job because the buildings have been declared a health hazard and concerns about safety.

According to the order granted by the Court, the Public Service Association (PSC), its president Watson Duke and members are restrained from taking and continuing to take industrial action at any of the immigration offices, places of detention, ports of entry or any premise under the control of the division.

The workers stayed away from their jobs because of health and safety issues at their workplace, the PSA said.

PSA President Duke said the workers have not embarked on any industrial action but are concerned about the unhealthy environment in which they work.

The action of the staff of the Immigration Department had resulted in members of the public being unable to obtain or renew their passports. This resulted in a number of travelers not being able to leave the country over the past weeks and other had to reschedule their summer vacation.

Even, as the workers returned to their jobs on half-day basis, there are still long lines and chaos outside the main Immigration Officer in Port of Spain.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis has opened an embassy in Cuba and has called on the United States to end its decade old trade and economic embargo against the only communist country in the Caribbean.

A government statement said that Foreign Affairs Minister Patrice Nesbit told delegates at the opening of the embassy that Basseterre would continue to support the annual United Nations General Assembly vote calling on Washington to remove the embargo placed on the island when Fidel Castro assumed power some 50 years ago.

‘We continue to avail ourselves of every opportunity and in every forum to appeal to the United States of America to bring to an immediate end its unfair treatment of the Cuban people who continue to suffer unreasonably as a result of the decades-old embargo. Cuba is our neighbor.

“Cuba is our friend and we shall continue to exploit all possible means of speaking on their behalf in the international community on this issue,” said Nesbit.

The United States and a handful of countries have consistently voted against ending the embargo.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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