Caribbean Round-Up

Barbados

Barbados is poised to create history this month, when it becomes the first Caribbean island to take over the chairmanship of the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to reports, Barbados taking over the chairmanship will mean that citizens from small island states will have a greater presence within that body.

Minister of Health, Donville Innis, said he wanted to see more West Indians working in international organizations.

“Barbados is a member of the executive board of the World Health Organization. We are tipped to take over as chair of the World Health Organization,” he said.

Grenada

Grenada Finance Minister Nazim Burke has remained optimistic that an agreement could be reached with Taiwan regarding the repayment of a multi-million dollar loan to Grenada.

Burke said Taipei remains receptive to a new proposal presented to the Tillman Thomas government regarding the US$30 million loan.

“We believe that some kind of resolution is present,” he told reporters.

Grenada has proposed the consolidation of the Taiwanese loans and a new schedule of payments that starts with the first down payment of what is called a substantial part of the loan.

Until now, Taiwan’s Import-Export Bank has been demanding the full payment, arguing that Grenada, which a few years ago dumped Taiwan in favor of China, defaulted on the loans.

Taiwan has been successful in a United States court to get companies operating withhold the payments of fees to the statutory bodies. However, Grenada contends that the ruling is illegal since the statutory bodies operate independent of the Central government.

Guyana

Guyana is looking to assist cash-strapped low-cost carrier REDjet.

REDjet’s Chief Executive Officer Ian Burns met recently with Guyana’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Tourism to discuss financial assistance to get back into the air.

REDjet’s proposals are now on the desk of President Donald Ramoutar.

While acting Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali declined to comment on how much money the Barbados-based airline has requested, he confirmed that their recommendations would be engaging the attention of Cabinet.

Ali said that government officials had indicated that the issue of the airline not having a valid Air Operator’s Certificate also needed a resolution.

The certificate was suspended by the Barbados Civil Aviation Department recently following the March 16 suspension of services announcement.

Jamaica

In a statement, Caribbean Airlines Ltd. (CAL) said it informed the Jamaican Airline Pilots Association and the pilot body of its intention to offer contracts of employment with CAL.

“The employment of the pilots to CAL will see the company using a transparent process to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. All benefits remained unchanged,” it said.

CAL’s acting chief executive offer Robert Corbie said the pilots will be offered contracts under CAL, but it was too early to say if all 55 would apply for the jobs.

Jamaica

Human rights lobby group Jamaica for Justice (JFJ) was joined recently by other civic organizations to stage a peaceful protest outside the Ministry of National Security to bring attention to the increasing number of police killings this year.

Since the start of the year 47 civilians have been killed by members of the Jamaican Constabulary Force.

The latest victim was a 16-year-old Immaculate High School student Vanessa Kirkland. She was shot and killed in what police claim was a confrontation with criminals. However, residents say Vanessa and four friends were on their way to a party in Greenwich Farm when police opened fire on the vehicle.

Jamaica

Police in Jamaica have arrested six persons accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from U.S. citizens through a lottery scam.

Investigators said in a statement that one of the men had more than US$60,000 in an account believed to belong to the victims. Police also seized computers, information on the lottery scam and lists of U.S. victims with their addresses and other personal information.

The arrest came after police contacted a U.S. victim they say lost $120,000 through the scam.

Jamaica has long operated as a center for international telemarketing frauds that target elderly Americans and rake in more than US$300 million a year.

St. Lucia

A St. Lucian boutique hotelier has made an Earth Day appeal to the Caribbean to lead the world in climate-friendly practices and attract more visitors because of it.

Eroline Lamontagne, general manager of Fond Doux Holiday Plantation, a restored plantation house in Soufriere, said in statement to mark the global environmental awareness day recently that environmental protection and conservation were not only imperative for the Caribbean, but also made “very good” business sense.

Lamontagne recalled the l994 United Nations Global Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Barbados when the international community examined the specific needs of small islands on the frontline of climate change impacts from seal level to natural disasters.

“The Barbados Program of Action, agreed by the countries of the world at that conference should be our Bible,” said Lamontagne, urging Caribbean hotels to “use Earth Day to highlight what sustainable programs they initiated or enhanced during the year.

She said Fond Doux Holiday Plantation, which carried a Green Globe certification as an environmental friendly tourism plant, “adheres closely to the spirit of eco-building and cultural preservation.”

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines opposition senator, Anesia Baptiste has confirmed that the leader of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Anhim Eustace, has revoked her senatorial appointment.

“He called in to Nice Radio and read a letter that he had sent to the governor general to that effect. He also indicated that he will say more on Nice Radio,” Baptiste said.

Baptiste said she has decided to wait on Eustace’s comments before she makes any public statement on the matter.

Trinidad

State-owned carrier Caribbean Airlines Ltd. (CAL) has closed a Kingston, Jamaica, subsidiary company which employed 75 pilots operating Air Jamaica aircraft out of that country.

But the airline said it will offer new contracts to the pilots, following the closure of Caribal Ltd., a subsidiary of CAL which was the employment company for the pilots in Jamaica.

Caribal was responsible for the recruitment processes of the airline in Jamaica.

Trinidad

The Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramdahar has backed down on a threat to operate independently within the ruling People’s Partnership coalition when the party sees fit, such as when a decision to not be in the best national interest.

This could mean that voting against the rest of the Partnership in the Cabinet and Parliament, Ramadhar said.

The COP is the second major partner in the five-party coalition government.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar summoned a special Cabinet meeting two days after the COP leader made the statement and told reporters after the five-hour meeting that her partnership government remains intact and is very strong.

She said all ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to collective Cabinet responsibility.

The COP has been demanding the removal of San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray from office after she switched allegiance to the United National Congress (UC) party and fought for the position of deputy political leader.

Prakash has been arguing that there was an agreement after the Local Government elections last June that a COP member will be given the post of mayor of San Fernando. Coudray, who was a COP member, was selected to be the mayor of the Southern Borough.

Persad-Bissesar has taken a firm stand that Coudray will not be removed, which has led to a rift in the Partnership.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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