Caribbean Round-Up

Caribbean

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer has announced the creation of a Florida/Caribbean Basin Initiative aimed at combating and deterring the drug trafficking in the region.

As part of the initiative, Ferrer’s office has designated two attorneys in its Narcotics Section to focus on narco-trafficking in the region, joined by the Drug Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Investigations.

Ferrer was speaking after the announcement of an unsealed indictment of 113 alleged narco-traffickers charged with transporting drugs from Latin America through the British Virgin Islands.

‘The creation of the Caribbean Basin initiative is yet another example of how law enforcement in South Florida is taking proactive approaches to develop forward-looking strategies to

Antigua

St. Lucia’s Health Minister Dr. Andre Edward has called on Antiguans and Barbudans to heed dengue fever advice to prevent an outbreak similar to what has occurred in several regional countries.

He said St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are already in the midst of an epidemic.

The health minister said the situation could have been worse if St. Lucia did not take early steps to reduce the number of cases.

“In St. Lucia we took steps long in advance from since June to prevent the worst of the epidemic,” he said.

The medical officer urged residents to cover water containers around their homes and make weekly checks for possible mosquito breeding grounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, dengue fever is at its highest levels in two decades in Southern and Central America and the Caribbean. In the Bahamas alone this year 200 cases have been confirmed, with another 800 cases suspect.

Belize

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has defended his decision to cut short his visit to St. Kitts and Nevis for the inauguration of Caribbean Court of Justice head, Sir Dennis Byron, in order to hold talks with rival gangs.

“The meeting came about after I spoke to the minister of police from abroad when I learnt that there had been the threat issued in the media and when I learnt from the minister that there was information to suggest that the threat was real,” he told reported.

“I felt it necessitated me to coming back to Belize and cutting short the mission I was on in St. Kitts,” he said.

The prime minister set up talks recently –that’s after key figures in the George Street Gang (GSU) made history by going public, expressing their grievances against the GSU and making blanket threats against innocent civilians and public safety.

The police issued a release saying that the gangs had grenades and “have intentions to use them during the September Celebrations” (National Day on Sept. 10 and Independence Day Sept. 21).

“The primary purpose was to diffuse the situation in terms of the threat that has been issued,” Barrow said.

Guyana

Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo is urging the police to drop charges against a teenager who made an obscene gesture at his convoy’s guards.

Jagdeo was responding to criticism that authorities were too heavy-handed in charging an 18-year-old Kevin Simon with public mischief.

Police said Simon was a passenger in a bottled water distribution truck when he made the gesture to presidential security guards after they scolded the driver for not respecting sirens calling for him to make way for the convoy.

“This is probably a misguided youth, and I don’t think that he should face prosecution because of this,” Jagdeo said.

More than a dozen protestors gathered in front of Jagdeo’s residence during the week holding placards and raising their middle fingers in support of freedom of expression.

Haiti

A preliminary U.N. investigation has found no evidence over allegations that Uruguayan peacekeepers raped an 18-year-old man, Uruguay’s Defense Ministry said, but the troops broke rules by having a civilian in their barracks.

The incident, captured on a widely broadcast cell phone video, has created outrage in Haiti and aggravated mistrust between Haitians and the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Haitian President Michel Martelly has “vigorously condemned” the act, calling it “Act that revolts the national conscience.”

The Uruguayan military has removed its commander in Haiti and is pulling the peacekeepers back to Uruguay. A ministry announcement said those found to be directly responsible will be dishonorable discharged.

The cell phone video does not make it clear if a rape occurred, but it shows several men in camouflage uniforms laughing as they pin down a young man on a mattress.

Jamaica

The Jamaican government has approved the compulsory acquisition of 32 Market Street, St. Ann, the birthplace of the first National Hero, the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Executive Director at the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), Laleta Davis-Mattis made the announcement recently where celebrations were held to commemorate the 124th anniversary of the birth of Garvey.

Davis-Mattis said the JNHT and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture are working assiduously to rehabilitate the birthplace of the national hero.

She said that the government has taken the life of Marcus Garvey and the influence of Marcus Garvey on the lives of Jamaicans that it has approved the compulsory acquisition of 32 Market Street.

The executive director said the process of the acquisition is in train and the Office of the Commissioner of Lands has started the process.

Other plans for Garvey’s birthplace, she said, should see the landscaping of the property and the erection of a memorial wall.

Jamaica

The Jamaican government is moving to ban smoking in public places.

Health Minister Rudyard Spencer said he intends to table a bill in parliament, prohibiting smoking in public places in Jamaica.

Spencer said that the intention is to significantly enhance the ministry’s health lifestyle campaign, which is being promoted in earnest by the relevant departments and agencies.

He said the ministry has already submitted its proposals to Cabinet for approval.

The minister said adopting a lifestyle has become an urgent issue, in light of the burdensome costs of health care for conditions associated with unhealthy living.

He noted that more than $170 million is spent annually by his ministry to treat chronic disease.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago will host the third China- Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum this month that the organizers say underscores Beijing’s commitment to support the efforts of developing countries to attain their full potential.

The forum, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, would also include a ministerial and business conference as well as specialized seminars.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said that Trade and Industry ministers from Barbados, The Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana and Suriname are expected to attend the conference. The Chinese delegation will include government and business leaders.

“This forum is an example of an ongoing commitment by the Chinese government to support the efforts of other developing countries, including those in the Caribbean, to attain their full potential,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said China and Caribbean countries have been working “arduously toward the common aspiration of increasing mutual understanding and expanding economic and trade cooperation.”

The forum is being co-hosted by the governments of T&T and China under the theme: Development Cooperation, Win for All.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government has suffered a major setback in its efforts to keep alleged gang members behind bars under the recently imposed state of emergency (SoE).

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard has ordered the release of 21 detainees who were picked up on Nelson Street, Port of Spain a day after the SoE was declared.

Gaspard told Senior Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Port of Spain Magistrate’s Court that there was insufficient evidence to lead a successful case against the men who were being detained for over three weeks under the Anti-Gang Act.

Attorneys representing the detainees had taken the men’s plight to the DPP about their long detention without evidence to have them convicted under the Anti-Gang Act.

They are the first group of men to be released after being charged under the new legislation, which was only proclaimed on Aug. 16, 2011.

Up to Sept. 21, 2011, 437 persons were held under the Anti-Gang legislation, 236 charged and 21 freed. So far about 1,800 persons have been held under the SoE.

Compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC