Caribbean Round-Up

Barbados

The Organization of American States (OAS) recently donated a firearms-marking machine to the government of Barbados to be used by the Ministry of National Security with the objective of improving controls against the illicit trafficking in this type of weapon.

The machine was presented during a ceremony at the Royal Barbados Police Force in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The donation was completed within the framework of the project entitled, “Promoting Firearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean,” part of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials and seeks to strengthen national capabilities in matters of firearms-marking.

Guyana

Two new commercial varieties of rice that are projected to increase the average yield per acre have been launched days after Guyana signed an agreement to supply US$54 million in rice and paddy to Venezuela.

The two varieties would yield around seven bags per acre, well above the 4 to 4.5 average.

The new varieties also possess other positive traits such as the ability to emerge well from about 40 inches of standing water, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud said.

The varieties were developed by researchers at the Rice Research Station at Burma and based on reports, were successfully tested in more than 30 rice fields of varying acreages at various locations across the country over the past five years.

Minister Persaud urged farmers to embrace the varieties.

Guyana

Guyana’s Police Chief Henry Greene says he has scheduled a meeting with gold and diamond miners to help reduce killings and armed robberies in the South American country’s rural regions.

The miners had complained to President Bharrat Jagdeo that Greene had repeatedly ignored their pleas. At least 34 killings and scores of armed robberies have been reported in mines near the border with Venezuela and Brazil this year.

Police have blamed the spike in violent crime on record world prices for gold.

Police officers have started to patrol jungles in all-terrain vehicles, set up checkpoints and build new police stations.

Haiti

An orphanage where the director was accused by U.S. missionaries of not feeding children and selling donated goods was closed recently in a rare crackdown by Haitian authorities.

Police officers and child welfare officials sealed off the unpaved street in front of the Son of God Orphanage. Forty six children who lived there were taken away to new homes

General Coordinator of the Institute of Welfare and Research Diem Pierre said the government closed the orphanage because inspectors found children living in unsanitary conditions. He said the inspection was prompted by complaints from U.S. missionaries.

Such enforcement actions are rare in Haiti. Officials complain that child welfare workers lack the resources and training to investigate the several hundred orphanages and group homes in a country in which many parents are forced to abandon their children because of poverty or as they seek work abroad.

Haiti has an estimated 50,000 children in orphanages, though many have at least one parent.

Jamaica

Red Stripe Jamaica’s plan to migrate a portion of its production base to North America will reduce output at its Kingston operations by up to 3.5 million cases and eliminate 70 jobs.

The production shift meant to rescue the company’s bottom line, hit most recently by a revised excise tax structure, a depressed domestic beer market and high-energy costs.

Red Stripe, a subsidiary of Diageo Plc, will start manufacturing the beer it sells in North America in the United States under contractual arrangement with City Brewing in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, this month.

Production at the local manufacturing plant will decline by about three and a half million cases, which is the quantity the company normally produced and export to the U.S. annually and will result in the loss of about 70 jobs, said Richard Byles, chairman of Red Stripe.

St. Kitts

Police in St. Kitts and Nevis have made their first arrests under a tough new anti-gang law.

The Prime Minister’s Office on the two-island federation said in a statement that two St. Kitts men have been charged with belonging to a gang and debarring a third from leaving the criminal group.

The statement said, if convicted they face a maximum of 25 years in jail.

St. Kitts and Nevis has recorded 32 homicides so far in 2011, already making it the bloodiest year on record on the islands with a population of 50,000 people. Police blame gangs with names such as Killer Mafia Soldiers and Tex Life for the escalating violence.

The anti-gang law has increased penalties and makes it easier for courts to seize property. The law was passed in September.

St. Lucia

Vincentian soca singer Nicole David was fined EC$400 or seven days in jail on a charge of swearing or using abusive or indecent language in public place.

David pleaded guilty to the charge recently before magistrate Michelle Louis in the St. Lucia D Court.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Moses Charles said he heard David using obscene words to revelers during Line Jam.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest suicide rates in the Caribbean, second only to Guyana, with 12 suicides out of every 100,000 people as of last year.

The year before, T&T’s rate was the highest, with 15 suicides for ever l00,000 people.

This was revealed by Dr. Edison Haqq, chairman of the North/West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) in Trinidad.

He was at the time speaking at the opening of the NWRHA’s Mental Health Fair at the Port of Spain General Hospital in commemoration of World Mental Health Day, which was celebrated recently.

Trinidad

Police say they have seized 145 firearms, 12,522 rounds of ammunition and 31 magazines since the State of Emergency was declared in August.

Under the SoE, so far, 5,141 persons have been arrested, according to Sharon Lee Assang, director of the Public Affairs Unit of the Police Service.

A total of 223 persons who were arrested and charged under the Anti-Gang Act have been released by the courts because of insufficient evidence.

There are calls from the business community for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to lift the SoE and the curfew which is putting a dent on their businesses.

The SoE was extended until Dec. 2, 2011.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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