Caribbean Round-Up

Bahamas

The United States Embassy in the Bahamas is warning Americans living in and traveling to New Providence, to be aware of recent reports of robberies tied to staged vehicle accidents in the capital.

The embassy said there have been reports in the Bahamian media of criminals using staged accidents as a “ruse to rob the driver and passengers of their possessions.”

‘There is no indication that U.S. citizens are specifically being targeted for these crimes. However, the U.S. Embassy would like to remind U.S. citizens to be extra vigilant when involved in a vehicular accident and to keep windows and doors locked until you are able to assess the situation.

U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Erica Thibault said that the message was issued to provide timely, safe information to American citizens.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands says it is expanding an airport to allow direct flights from Cayman Barc to the United States.

Airport Authority Marketing Manager Caren Thompson-Placio said the expansion of the Gerrard-Smith International Airport is expected to boost tourism on the archipelago’s easternmost island.

She said that construction should start in the next couple of months but officials do not yet have an estimated cost for the project.

Dominica

The Dominica government says it is exploring the possibility of establishing a new fund to assist nationals seeking medical attention overseas.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, speaking on a government radio program recently said that families were spending a significant amount of money for medical treatment abroad.

His comments follow the controversy that erupted in Dominica after a 21-year-old cancer patient died in Trinidad recently.

Skerrit said he was prepared to discuss the possibility of imposing a levy on nationals to establish a special Trust Fund, insisting that it would not be done without the support of the public.

He said that Dominica must also be able to ‘stretch the money’ it receives in funding from friendly governments, including the possibility of ‘setting aside a physical project or two” in order to help people who travel overseas for treatment.

Prime Minister Skerritt said that when Shernel Prince traveled to Trinidad on the first occasion for medical treatment, the government contributed US$30,800 towards her expenses.

He said when the patient left for Trinidad and Tobago a second time, she did so without government’s knowledge and when she arrived in Port of Spain contact was made with the government seeking about US$200,000.

Media reports in Dominica said that the woman had surgery to repair a leaking valve in her heart and that efforts to help fund the major operation had included a local radio station raising US$17,700.

Grenada

A High Court judge has denied bail to an architect who was brought back from the African country of Botswana after skipping bail in 2010.

Justice Lyle St. Paul refused the application for bail, filed by attorney Derrick Sylvester on behalf of his client, Crofton Hannibal, on the grounds that he had violated his initial bail.

Hannibal is facing a charge of attempted murder after he allegedly shot an unidentified homeowner with whom he had an agreement to present an architectural drawing for a project.

The victim survived the incident and will be among witnesses to testify at the trial scheduled for May.

Guyana

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has seized a truckload of high-end liquor worth Guy$15 million that was being transported across the country.

The GRA is probing the haul, which they suspect is made up of alcoholic beverages that authorities believed were smuggled into the country.

The expensive liquor include, Circo Vodka, Johnnie Walker (Black Label), Hennessy Brandy, Smirnoff Vodka, Heineken beers and Tequila.

The GRA said five persons were charged and placed on bail.

The alcohol beverages were seized from a truck recently at Mahaica, East Coast Demerara.

Haiti

Haitian officials say that six people have died in recent strong rains that destroyed their hillside homes.

Nadia Lochard of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office said the five adults and one boy were killed when a mudslide crashed through their homes in the Morne Calvaire district above the capital.

The rainy season in Haiti traditionally begins in April, but this year, it has come early. The capital of Port au Prince has been soaked nightly over the past weeks with showers that have triggered flooding and rockslides.

The rains do little to comfort the 500,000 people who were displaced by the 2010 earthquake. They are living in hundreds of tent and tarp settlements that flood and leak in the rain.

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago–owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is sending home about 150 employees from its Air Jamaica network.

The employees who are based in Montego Bay and Kingston will be sent home on April 30.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported recently that CAL confirmed that Air Jamaica’s airport customer’s services based in Kingston and Montego Bay, will be outsourced to a third party.

The reduction in staff comes on the heels of plans by the airline to reduce its Montego Bay to Philadelphia route to four trips per week as of the end of March, and its Fort Lauderdale flights to Kingston to two daily, down from three, the Gleaner reported.

CAL said in a statement from its Piarco’s head office in Trinidad that meetings were held with employees of the customer experience and airports department based in Jamaica, led by Caribbean Airlines vice president of Human Resources and executive manager airports, to announce that the airline’s Airport Customer Service operations based in Kingston and Montego Bay will be outsourced to a third party service provider.

CAL will provide and assist, where feasible in obtaining alternate employment for persons affected by this process and employees will be remunerated in accordance with industrial practice, the airline said.

Acting Chief Executive Officer Robert Corbie said, “We are committed to providing a quality service, and we are confident to providing a quality service and we are confident that this decision will impact positively on our operations, as we will emerge even stronger as a leader in regional aviation.”

St. Lucia

Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilius said it is unlikely that CARICOM governments will consider subsidizing the financial-troubled Barbados-based low cost airline, REDjet that suspended its services recently.

“I don’t think governments in the region would want to do that,” he told reporters in Castries.

REDjet, which began operations to several Caribbean destinations over a year ago, said it had canceled all of its flights and had advised passengers holding valid tickets for future travel that they remain valid.

Theophilius said that the support given to the Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT had been based on its long years of service to the region even though the airline has been calling for a level playing field in order to operate profitably.

He said the St. Lucia government would not like to see REDjet fold up its operations in the region.

Suriname

Police in Suriname have launched a manhunt for a man in connection with the slaying of three persons recently.

Charles Franklyn is the main suspect in the brutal killing of Ursila Peroti, said to be his estranged wife, her sister Irma Peroti and eight-year-old niece Kimberley Peroti, said police spokesman Humphrey Naarde.

The gruesome discovery was made by a neighbor who at daybreak saw the lifeless body of Ursila Peroti on the road.

She went to the house and a six-year-old girl showed her the dead bodies of her mother Irma and sister Kimbley. The police were then summoned.

Neighbors said the alleged killer is a drug addict and also a patient of the psychiatric hospital. The victims were reportedly killed with a knife.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago is looking at the feasibility of recruiting specialist doctors and nurses to help alleviate the critical shortage of such medical professionals from India.

Minister of Health Dr. Fuad Khan said that like most countries in the world Trinidad and Tobago has experienced a shortage of medical specialist physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

He said this shortage was brought on by government’s expansion of health care as it seeks to promote universal access.

Khan said the ministry was pursuing approval of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of India and Trinidad and Tobago as it geared toward mutually beneficial cooperation and assistance in various areas of health including health information systems, human resources and pharmaceuticals.

The minister said they were interested in exploring partnerships with India’s tertiary level institutions and hospitals to achieve its long term goal of training, recruiting and retaining a local health workforce to satisfy the country’s current and future health care needs.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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