Caribbean Round-Up

Caribbean

The United States will be increasing its financial support to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) with $77 million in funding committed for fiscal year 2011/2012.

U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Rodhman Clinton, made the announcement at a recent press conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica following high-level talks with CARICOM foreign ministers.

She said that the amount represents an increase of more than 70 percent over the $45 million allocated in the first year of implementation in 2010.

“This support is just one piece of our broader regional security issues that we are tackling,” Clinton said.

One of the initiatives to come out of the inaugural Caribbean-United States Security Cooperation Dialogue held in Washington on May 27, 2010, is that the CBSI brings all members of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic together to collaborate jointly on regional security issues with the U.S. as a partner.

Antigua

Employees of regional airline, LIAT, recently walked off their jobs, crippling the airline’s operations.

Workers from several departments including accounting, mechanics and flight operations downed tools around 9:00 a.m. on June 28.

Aviation officials said the absence of flight operations staff could not clear documents critical for clearing flights departure not being processes.

General Secretary of Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), David Massiah acknowledged that action had taken place but could not provide further details.

The protest action is reportedly linked to salary increases offered by the company during contract negotiations.

LIAT operates more than 100 flights through the Caribbean destinations as far north as the Dominican Republic and as far south as Guyana.

Barbados

Barbadians are being urged to take responsibility for how they treat others and by extension visitors to the island and stop trying to lay blame on someone for bad service.

The advice came from Prime Minister Frenduel Stuart while addressing the Fifth Annual General Meeting of the National Initiative for Service Excellence at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus.

“I am tired of people blaming workers for bad service, workers blaming schools, schools blaming families, families blaming society.

“We are all responsible for how Barbadians treat each other and the visitors on whom we depend for our economic well-being. It is also customary to blame the gatekeepers at the workplace,” he said.

He also admonished management for providing training programs at the inception of their businesses only to allow them to go on auto-pilot months after.

Guyana

Guyana’s newest opposition party has picked a former army commander as its presidential candidate.

Brigadier General David Granger, 65, will lead a partnership of National Unity in national elections expected in December.

In announcing Granger’s candidacy, the party also has asked its supporters to nominate candidates for prime minister and legislators for the 65-seat parliament.

The party bills itself as multiracial and is seeking to unseat the East Indian-led government People’s Progressive Party, which is seeking a fifth consecutive five-year term.

Guyana

Guyana police busted another courier with more than two kilos of cocaine on the Corentyne at the border crossing into neighboring Suriname.

This is the latest in a series of drug busts on the Corentyne as drug smugglers appear to be shifting their operations to Suriname, which is said to be a transshipment point to the lucrative European market.

The shift appears to be a reaction to the tightening of checkpoints at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the seaports in Georgetown.

Police in Berbice recently busted a courier with a quantity of the drug Ecstasy, which was followed by the arrest of suspects in a car with a kilo of cocaine and an undisclosed amount of marijuana.

A few weeks before prison escapee, Rickford La Fleur was held with 400 grams of “weed.”

The police later held smugglers with two more kilos of cocaine and 89 grams of hashish stashed in the bonnet of a car at Moleson Creek.

Police say large amounts of drugs are being smuggled in cars that are using the official crossing via the ferry.

Jamaica

Police rescued a 30-year-old Chinese businessman in a dramatic operation in St. Catherine, Jamaica and his kidnapper killed, a day after his abduction in the parish of Clarendon.

An illegal firearm with seven rounds of ammunition were recovered during the afternoon operation in the volatile inner-city community of Tivoli.

Police said a request for more than J$500,000 was made for the businessman’s safe return.

The kidnapping comes just more than a week after a Kingston businessman was kidnapped from the upper St. Andrew community of Norbrook.

The Kingston businessman was rescued by the police hours later in Passagfort, Portmore, St. Catherine community. Fifteen persons have been held for questioning.

St. Vincent

A man was fined EC$10,000 by a magistrate in St. Vincent after he pleaded guilty for being in possession of a .9 mm pistol and five rounds of ammunition.

Dyson Williams, 23, was also placed on a bond by the magistrate.

On May 23 officers from the Rapid Response Unit were on duty when on reaching Gordon Yard, they stopped a car traveling in the opposite direction.

A man jumped out of the car and began to run. In the process a firearm fell from his waist. The lawmen retrived the gun from the ground and arrested him.

A search of the vehicle turned up EC$9,000 in a package under one of the seats.

In light of the prevalence of firearms and an upsurge in firearm related offences, the Firearms Act was amended in 2004, giving magistrates the power to impose up to seven years in jail for firearm and ammunition possession.

Trinidad

The Congress of the People, one of the major partners in the Trinidad and Tobago People’s Partnership government has a new leader.

Former deputy political leader of the party, Prakash Ramadhar has replaced former leader Winston Dookeran, who founded the party six years ago.

Four candidates, Sports Minister Anil Roberts, COP vice-chairman Vernon de Lima and member Nalini Dial contested the leadership post on July 3.

Ramadhar, COP MP for St. Augustine won by a landslide beating his closest rival Roberts by a wide margin.

He is legal affairs minister in the government.

Ramadhar polled 3,338 votes, while Roberts got 1,026, de Lima, 675 and Dial 45.

The new leader said the membership and the nation can look forward to changes in the party under his stewardship but nothing will be done without proper consultation.

Dookeran who is minister of finance stepped down as leader of the COP last month to make way for new blood in the party.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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