Caribbean Round-Up

Caribbean

Caribbean states have been urged to remain steadfast and continue the fight against transnational crime.

This plea came from Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza as he addressed the closing session of the recent High Level Hemispheric Meeting Against Transnational Crime in Mexico City.

“Do not give in to the magnitude of the work in the fight against the scourge of transnational crime; or be seduced by the supposedly easy short-term solutions and above all never surrender to the enemy or reconcile with him,” he said.

The secretary general explained that over the two-day meeting officials analyzed the scope and meaning of the activities of transnational organized crime, including the ability of law enforcers to confront such crimes.

Caribbean

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has pledged US$65 million for a dedicated Climate Action Lending Program through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in 18 countries.

This will result in Caribbean small island states benefiting from the new funding and receiving technical assistance for initiatives that reduce the negative impact of climate change and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

EIB president Dr. Werner Hoyer said: “The European Investment Bank recognizes the challenges of a changing climate faced by small island states in the Caribbean. Working closely with the Caribbean Development Bank will ensure that long-term funding can make a valuable contribution to projects across the region.”

Meanwhile, CDD president Dr. Warren Smith said dealing with climate change was undoubtedly one of the most critical challenges currently facing the Caribbean, and therefore required considerable resources to be dedicated in its resolution.

Bahamas

The U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search for a Canadian woman believed to have gone overboard on a Bahamas cruise.

Search and rescue crews patrolled the waters between Freeport, Bahamas and the Port of Palm Beach in Florida for 48 hours, covering an area of nearly 7,300 square miles.

The boyfriend of the 47-year-old woman said he last saw her before the Bahamas Celebration was returning to Florida. He alerted the ship’s crew, prompting the search. Her identity has not yet been released.

Cayman Islands

The fiancée of a British teaching assistant who has been missing in the Cayman Islands has spoken of the moment he vanished into thin air.

Lisa Beck said that she had been standing on the beach with Nathan Clarke after a night out with friends on the Caribbean island, when she started walking towards a bar. Moments later, he was gone.

“Literally, just after a couple minutes I turned around and he was gone. And then from that minute on, he was nowhere to be seen. He was just there and then he gone,” she said.

A former Cheltenham rugby player, Clarke was wearing his beige swimming shorts when he disappeared near to Calico Jack’s bar on Seven Mile Beach recently.

A massive police search for Clarke who has lived in the Cayman Islands for four years and works at Cayman Prep and High School, is being carried out on land and sea. The search is continuing.

Haiti

Haiti’s government is trying to reclaim several sites taken over by former soldiers calling for the restoration of the armed forces, President Michel Martelly said.

Martelly did not give a deadline for when the ex-soldiers should leave the areas outside the capital but said a newly formed commission will be in touch with the former soldiers shortly.

“This commission is going to have to work quickly to free these occupied spaces,” he told reporters.

Dozens of former soldiers and their hopeful cohorts have stepped up pressure in recent weeks to urge Martelly to honor his campaign vow of restoring the army that was disbanded in 1995 because of its history of abuse. The motley group had demanded the force’s return on local radio stations and paraded through the streets in old camouflaged uniforms and heavy boots, fueling concerns among some international officials that they could be used as private militias. They are also requesting US$15 million in lost wages and pensions.

Martelly has said he is bent on bringing back the army even though Western governments believe money for the force should be used for the understaffed national police department.

Jamaica

Relatives say the 32-year-old son of a founding member of the pioneering Jamaican ska and reggae band The Skatalites was fatally shot about an hour after accepting a music award for his ill father.

Ruth Brevett said her son, Okine, was killed recently by a gunman at the entrance of his home in the troubled Seaview Gardens area of Kingston.

He was shot about 15 minutes after showing his 80-year-old father, Lloyd Brevet, an award from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association for his father’s musical contributions. Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson handed over the award.

Lloyd Brevett was an original member of the The Skatalites, a hugely influential band, which begun in 1964.

Jamaica

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said the Caribbean island would benefit from a Greek-style bailout as it negotiates a new loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“If they could give a bailout like Greece, you would see Jamaica grow and flourish,” she said.

“The European countries got together and tried to do something so that they can give some serious aid to Greece. We know we would never be able to get the same level as Greece, but if we could get some consideration from countries or the IMF, we would be on our way,” Simpson-Miller told reporters in Montego Bay recently.

An IMF accord that included a US$1.27 billion loan fell apart after the previous administration failed to share information with the Washington-based financial institution for almost a year, the prime minister said.

The loan had been linked to the successful swap of US$2.78 billion of local bonds in 2010 for securities with longer maturities and lower interest rates. Jamaica’s debt burden was 126 percent of GDP in 2011, according to the IMF.

St. Vincent

Opposition legislators say they will ask St. Vincent and the Grenadines government to clarify its position on the Falkland Islands dispute and to say whether it really intends to prevent Falkland Islands flagged ships from docking on the island.

Northern Grenadines parliamentary representative Dr. Goodwin Friday, in a question to be asked in Parliament recently, said the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves government is “sending conflicting messages concerning its position in relation to the Falkland Islands.”

“On the one hand it agreed with CARICOM governments and the United Kingdom government at the 2012 UK-Caribbean Forum to support the principle and right to self-determination for all peoples, including the Falkland Islanders, and on the other hand, at the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) summit in Caracas in February 2010, it agreed to support Argentina in the dispute over the Falkland Islands and, in keeping with that support, agreed to prevent ships flying Falkland Islands flags from entering our ports,” he said.

Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves has said the island’s support for the ALBA resolution was symbolic because the Falkland Islands vessels do not sail to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Trinidad

Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Basdeo Panday says he is prepared to go to court to challenge political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad-Bissessar if his slate is debarred from filing nomination papers to contest the March 24 UNC internal elections.

Panday, who founded the party said, “If there is any attempt to prevent the election from being free and fair and free from fear, we propose to take them to court.”

“They will not steal the elections like they did the last time when they substituted the list and put names of people who ought not to be there and took off the names of people who ought to be on the list,” Panday said.

“Not this time. This time we go to court. Those who wish to play games will be exposed,” he vowed.

In the 2010 internal elections Persad-Bissessar, who later became prime minister, succeeded Panday as leader of the UNC.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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