Bahamas

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell has returned here following a one week visit to the United States saying he was pleased “with the progress” being made regarding the illegal migration of Cubans into the Bahamas.

Prior to his departure for Washington recently, Mitchell had indicated that “a negotiating team would travel to Cuba “with a view to settling the modalities of how there can be a quicker turnaround of migrants to Cuba.”

Mitchell was also expected to hold talks with U.S. officials on the issue and a statement issued here on his return indicated that he had a “very successful and fruitful mission in the United States recently.”

Mitchell said he plans to have discussions with the Cuba’s foreign minister in Grenada soon.

“I want to say with regard to migration matters that I am pleased with the progress that has been made thus far in resolving all the outstanding matters that have so exercised the public over the last weeks,” Mitchell said praising the staff at the Bahamas Embassy in the United States “for their hard work and dedication during a stressful and provocative period.”

Recently, the Bahamas government noted “quite a lot of misinformation” regarding the detention and repatriation of migrants in the country and confirmed that 24 Cuban nationals were repatriated on Aug. 16, making a total of 64 for the year so far.

“Our mandate is to ensure that the Detention Center is empty of inhabitants, migrants, detainees as much as humanly possible.” Mitchell said then.

Guyana

Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) says it is projecting a gold production target of 500,000 ounces for 2013. At the start of Mining Week here, Natural Resources and the Environment Minister presented a report indicating that gold declared for the first half of this year increased by 23.2 per cent over the quantity declared recently.

Gold maintained its reputation as the biggest producer in the mining sector recently, with a production value in excess of GUY$137 billion (One Guyana dollar = US$0.01 cents) and accounting for 78.2 per cent of total value of mining output.

But in the wake of the recent fall in gold prices below the price of GUY$1300 an ounce, the GGDMA has appealed for local miners to take precautionary measures by paying attention to cost reduction and to improve

It is also urging the government to provide more support through concessions and other measure

But this year we are hoping to top production of 500,000 ounces of gold which has never been achieved in Guyana in the history of gold,” said CGDMA Vice-President, Charles Da Silva.

President Ramotar addressing the opening of Mining Week and Award ceremony recently urged all stakeholders to work together and eliminate corrupt and criminal practices such as bribery.

Mining Week 2013 was being held under the theme “Clean Green and Responsible; Securing the Future of Mining” and President Ramotar said he envisaged a high quality jewelry sector for bauxite, a smelting plant for alumina/aluminum but in the absence of cheap energy the possibility of these investments seems impractical.

Haiti

Haiti has drafted new legislation to protect whistle-blowers as the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country moves to deal with wide-spread corruption.

Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Colonel Antoine Atouriste, said that his office has also acted upon information obtained from an anti-corruption hotline.

Atouriste said draft law will be presented to Parliament for approval and will protect individuals who inform on public officials involved in acts of corruption. The law will also protect them from appearing as witnesses or even prosecuted for libel.

“We want to make it easy for employees and other individuals, who know about acts of corruption, to feel free and comfortable to denounce them,” Atouriste told the Haitian news website, HCNN.

“The law we are proposing also prohibits that the name of whistle-blowers be mentioned in any report or revealed to any authority or other entities,” he said, noting that such measures would encourage whistleblowers to come forward.

The former army top official said he has already met with President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe who have both expressed support for the initiative.

Jamaica

A British gay rights group staged a protest outside Jamaica’s High Commission building in London recently demanding justice for the July mob-murder of 17–year–old cross-dresser, Dwayne Jones in St. James.

The protest was organized by Out & Proud African LGBTI and Justice for Dwayne Jones, with the support of Peter Tatchell Foundation – a British human rights group.

Along with a petition, the groups are calling for the Jamaican authorities to protest members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community against hate crime.

The 17-year–old, who was dressed in women’s clothing, was reportedly pointed out by a female at a dance in Adelphi after which he was beaten, stabbed, shot to death and his body dumped along a roadway.

Recently, former deputy commissioner of police, Mark Shields called for an update on police investigations. The police have not said whether progress is being made in their probe.

Jones’ killing resulted in widespread condemnation and has attracted significant international media attention.

St. Kitts

St Kitts- Nevis has welcomed its first major investment by a Russian group, with Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas saying that the investment comes at a time when his administration is making it easier for Russians to visit the twin-island Federation.

Government said the Russian investors will provide US$37 million in the construction of the five two-bedroom villas as part of the Ocean Grove Development and US$13 million in the Windswept Residence Club.

Ocean Grove Villas is a joint venture between the Christophe Harbor Development Company and the Canada-based Apex Capital Partners Corporation. “This project is also significant because it is the first major investment to be put together in St Kitts by a Russian group,” said Prime Minister Douglas at the symbolic ground-breaking ceremony.

“We see Russia as a new and desirable market for both investors and visitors for our country, and you can be assured that my government will continue to take necessary steps to improve the flow of trade and investment between our two democratic countries.

Suriname

Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Culture Eleston Adams has urged the region to support the Caribbean Festival of Arts and Culture (Carifesta). Adams, in making the appeal, also expressed disappointment with the lack of interest for the event shown by most of his colleagues.

“Culture should be more prominent. If we want to reap the benefits, especially with regard to tourism, each country should have a Ministry of Culture.” He congratulated the Surinamese government, the population and the organizing committee for staging the event despite all the challenges.

“It is an immense and costly undertaking and a challenge,” said Adams.

He praised the involvement and participation of the large numbers of youths in the organization and the festivities itself. He also noted that the region should focus on the benefits Carifesta will have on the long term.

According to the official, the business opportunities that were explored will surely pay their worth in economic terms. Besides Adams, only his counterparts from Barbados, Jamaica and Curacao have attended the region’s most prominent festival of arts and culture which ended recently.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced plans for what she called “The National Conversation,” a forum that will allow Trinidadians and Tobagonians to communicate their opinions directly to the Government via a Web site and a telephone hotline.

In her speech ahead of Independence Day celebrations recently, the Prime Minister said she will encourage community leaders from religious groups, NGOs, opposition groups and other stakeholders to join in the National Conversation.

She said the initiative was a response to the many people in society who were waiting to see further evidence that their faith in the government they elected three years ago was not misplaced.

It will be, she said, a specific and measurable expansion of the government’s stewardship of the people. The PP’s “commitment to govern through consultation,” had brought about “sweeping changes in the governance of this country,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“I will ensure every opinion is garnered, each voice heard, and that the government you elected acts in accordance with the will of the people.”

She acknowledged that although she had been listening to the voices of the people throughout her tenure, her Government’s plans and vision were not adequately reaching the population.

She cited recent meetings with opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley as evidence of her commitment to unite the country politically and draw upon all of the country’s political resources and minds to solve problems such as crime.

Jamaica

Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips says Jamaica is beginning to reap the rewards of the many economic sacrifices made over the past few months.

“Already there are hopeful signs on the economic horizon that I think it would do us well to pay attention to. The results of all of this (sacrifice) are beginning to be seen in a positive way and we are beginning to turn the ship of our economy in a positive direction,” he added.

Phillips, addressing the Jamaica Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (JDIC) Financial Markets Symposium and Fair recently, said that among the encouraging economic signs was the “slight but important and significant improvement” in investor confidence resulting from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) approval of the Extended Fund Facility for Jamaica in May.

He told the business leaders that this situation would improve further with Jamaica having passed the first quarterly IMF test.

Phillips noted that the country’s inflation targets have not only been met, but have been exceeded, pointing out that inflation in the June quarter was more than one per cent below the forecast range of two to three per cent.

Suriname

The son of the president of the South American country of Suriname has been arrested on US drug and weapon charges, federal prosecutors said recently.

Dino Bouterse, director of Suriname’s anti-terrorism unit, was arrested recently in Panama by local authorities and turned over to U.S. agents, said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Bouterse faces a U.S. federal indictment alleging he worked with a man identified as Edmund Quincy Muntslag to smuggle cocaine into the United States starting in or about December 2011. It also charges him with violating firearms laws by brandishing a light anti-tank weapon during the narcotics offence.

The indictment says Bouterse was involved in smuggling a suitcase filled with ten kilograms (22 pounds) of cocaine aboard a commercial flight from Suriname in July 2010. Shortly after his inauguration, Bouterse appointed his son as director of Suriname’s Counter Terrorist Unit, drawing heavy criticism from opposition legislators who expressed concern that no legal framework was created for the unit to operate.

Trinidad

The Integrity Commission has confirmed it has started an investigation into the allegations that several government ministers including Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar were engaged in a sinister move to undermine the judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the media.

On May 20, Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley told Parliament he had received 31 emails purporting to show correspondence between Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Local Government and Works Minister Suruj Rambachan and security adviser Gary Griffith outlining the plot.

The government ministers have since filed pre-protocol letters against Rowley as a prelude to taking legal action. The police are also investigating the matte

In a statement, the Integrity Commission said it had started the probe in keeping with the provisions outlined in the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA).

It said its probe would “determine the authenticity of alleged electronic mails as provided to the Commission by the former president, Professor George Maxwell Richards”.

The Commission also noted that its chairman, Ken Gordon, has recused himself from the probe following a protest recently by the government, which demanded his resignation following his alleged “secret” meeting with Rowley.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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