Caribbean Round-Up

Antigua

Police are investigating the discovery of four tons of stolen copper wire and air-conditioning parts in a container at the St. John’s Harbor bound for China.

A Chinese man, 56 and his son were detained for questioning after police received reports that one of them was seen packing the 40ft container with copper believed to have been stolen.

But they were later released after providing proof they purchased the items for around EC$30,000.

Several pieces were identified as the property of the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority, police said.

Telecommunications company, LIME also said some of the items were stolen from its facilities across the island.

The container in which the stolen items were stored arrived from St. Kitts recently containing 12 tons of similar items and stainless steel materials.

Dominica

Former Prime Minister Edison James is once again at the helm of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), replacing Ron Green, who opted against re-election less than a week after he lost a dual citizenship case against the prime minister and education minister.

James, 68, who served as prime minister from 1995 to 2000, said he was ready to lead the party into general elections in 2014.

The UWP leader also appealed to supporters to help fund the party’s campaign to appeal last week’s high court ruling, which found that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit legally contested the 2009 general elections.

Grenada

Minister of Tourism Peter David says that Grenada remains an “extremely safe destination” for visitors, adding that government intends to keep it that way. He made the comment in response to questions about the potential impact on tourism of the death of Canadian citizen Oscar Bartholomew.

The 39-year-old Grenadian-born, who was visiting his homeland with his Canadian wife, died at the St. George’s Hospital where he was taken following an altercation with officers at the St. David’s Police Station.

Five police officers have been charged with manslaughter in connection with Bartholomew’s death.

“This is a tragedy on all counts, especially for the Bartholomew family,” said Minister David.

“Like all Grenadians, including all my colleagues in government, we would have preferred this not to have happened to anyone, particularly to a national who was visiting with his wife,” the minister said.

“But from the perspective of visitor safety, and in comparison to other tourist-dependent nations of the world, Grenada still is — and will continue to be — an extremely safe destination for travelers around the world,” he added.

Prime Minister Tilman Thomas visited the grieving mother to express government’s condolences on the death.

Guyana

Guyanese authorities are in favor of paving a dirt road that runs through the Amazon rain forest to Brazil to make the journey safer and more accessible.

Minister of Transportation Roberson Benn said a two-year study by the Inter-American Development Bank on the multi-million dollar project has been completed and its details will be shared with Brazil.

Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said that completing the project would be a priority.

The 350-mile jungle road connects both countries, but drivers are often left stranded when portions of it are routinely washed away during Guyana’s rainy season, which runs from April to August.

Haiti

Investigations are continuing in a vehicular accident in Haiti which claimed the lives of 26 persons and injuring 56 others.

Police said the driver of a truck loaded with rubble from Haiti’s earthquake two years ago, lost control of the vehicle in a hilly area of the impoverished Caribbean country near the capital Port-au-Prince killing the people.

The accident came less than a week after the second anniversary of the quake that killed more than 300,000 people and leveled much of the capital.

Highway Police Chief Will Dimanche said between 26 and 30 persons were killed after the accident in the Delmas district recently.

The truck reportedly sped down a divided two-lane roadway and plowed past parked cars, motorcycles and mopeds. There were no immediate reports of the accident but speculation centered on brake failure.

Jamaica

Trade unions and the government have begun talks on critical issues in the public sector.

Union leaders met recently with Horace Dalley, the minister without portfolio with responsibility for the Public Service.

Describing the meeting as introductory talks, Vice President of the Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) Helene Davis-Whyte said unions put forward their main areas of concern.

Among the matters are the implementation of the health sector reclassification, the 2010-2012 wage claims and the public sector transformation and modernization program.

Jamaica has agreed to, among other things, bring down the public sector wage bill to nine percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and to develop a new wage format for negotiations.

St. Lucia

Five murders were recorded in St. Lucia for the first two weeks in 2012.

Kendy John Charles of Ciceron community, Kyle Innocent of Bocage, who lived at Grass Street, Denroy Moise of Cacao Babonneau, Elisheus Louis from Bisse and Anthony Polen were all victims of gun violence.

Trinidad

The United States government says it is “disappointed” by Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General Anand Ramlogan’s decision not to pursue an extradition appeal of businessmen Ishwar Galabaransingh and Steve Ferguson.

Ramlogan, who had 42 days to appeal Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh’s decision to quash extradition orders against the businessmen, had opted not to appeal recently.

In a statement issued via the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain, the U.S. stated, “We are disappointed in the outcome of the Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson extradition case.”

“The two were first indicted in 2005 in Miami Federal Court on numerous fraud and money laundering charges stemming from alleged bid rigging between l996 and 2005 on contracts for the Piarco International Airport. The U.S. has pursued extradition since 2005.

“The extradition is a powerful tool for fighting transnational crime and is used by countries all over the world including the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. The government of the United States and the government of Trinidad and Tobago have had a bilateral extradition agreement treaty in place since l996. Our governments work together closely to extradite suspects to both countries,” it said.

The judge ruled in a constitutional motion brought by the two businessmen that the local courts in Trinidad and Tobago is the right forum for both accused to be tried.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said recently that at least 10 Indian companies were expected to invest in Trinidad and Tobago following her two-week visit to that country by a T&T government delegation led by her recently.

She made the announcement at a news conference at Piarco International Airport shortly after her arrival from India.

Persad-Bissessar said a ministerial committee would be established to monitor the implementation of several of the agreements signed between the two countries.

She said while in India the Trinidad officials met with some 100 Indian companies with a view to seeking their investment in T&T.

The prime minister said the new state-owned company, Invest TT, signed five Memorandums of Understandings “and more than 15 percent of them are expected to be in T&T within the next three months to conduct discussions and the necessary feasibility studies and submit proposals.”

She said the business discussions were in ICT, waste management, ship-building and repair, business process out-sourcing, the film industry, fashion, plastic and agriculture.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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