Caribbean Round-Up

Caribbean

A Caribbean delegation is scheduled to attend next month’s (June) United Nations high level meeting on HIV/Aids.

Two prime ministers, one deputy prime minister, 10 ministers of health, one minister of foreign affairs and six first ladies from the Caribbean will head to New York to speak to the global community about the Caribbean reality of HIV.

Among the Caribbean delegates to the June 8-10 meeting will be the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Denzil Douglas, who has lead responsibility within CARICOM for Health and HIV; Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize Gaspar Vega. Civil Society representatives will be key participants at the meeting.

Director of the UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team Dr. Ernest Massiah has said that although five countries in the region have seen dramatic decreases in new HIV infections, approximately 18,000 people become infected each year. That is, 1,500 new infections each month, or close to 50 people a day in the Caribbean.

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government in partnership with telecommunication company LIME, has announced a new initiative that will provide every teacher in Antigua and Barbuda with a modern, high-speed laptop computer.

In addition, each teacher will receive at their homes, four months free high-speed Internet and then at a significantly reduced rate for three years.

The new component of the Connect Antigua and Barbuda Initiative, “Technology for Education 2020,” was announced by Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.

The Technology for Education 20/20 initiative is scheduled to begin in September and will directly empower more than 1,600 primary and secondary school teachers, both in public and private schools and will be administered by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology.

Spencer said the cost of this broadband connectivity as well as the indoor customer premises equipment to access the Internet, are being absorbed by his government.

Barbados

A Barbados man who stabbed a police officer in his face was shot dead a stone’s throw away from his home in St. Michael.

John “Stokes” Kellman was fatally shot in the chest after a confrontation with two law enforcement officers.

Reports indicate that two officers, one in uniform, the other in plainclothes, were carrying out investigations in the area, when they were allegedly attacked by Kellman.

Police public relations officer Inspector David Welch said that Kellman reportedly stabbed police officer Ricardo Connell, a constable attached to the Worthing Station and about to injure the other officer “when both fearing for their lives discharged their firearms and the man was shot and died on the scene.”

Jamaica

Caribbean Airlines Ltd. (CAL) has received a second two-week extension from the Jamaican government to complete its merger with Air Jamaica, according to a release from the Ministry of Finance in Jamaica.

The release said the Jamaican government communicated to Trinidad and Tobago the need to complete the transaction.

“The government of Jamaica (GOJ) and Air Jamaica Limited issued to the government of Trinidad and Tobago a notice to complete the Air Jamaica-Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) transaction, as the two-week extension granted earlier expires today (May 16, 2011),” states the release.

“This became necessary, not because the GoJ believes that CAL and the TT government will not consummate the agreed transaction, but in order to legally preserve all rights under the signed agreements,” it added.

The release went on to outline concerns regarding obligations to foreign authorities that would be affected by the delay of the completion of the merger.

St. Lucia

Police in St. Lucia have charged six local men with raping two British women who were volunteers on a conservation project on the mountainous Caribbean Island, officials said.

The six men, who were not identified by investigators, were recently arrested in connection with the May 10 night time assault on the two British women, police said in a statement.

The women, ages 24 and 31, were working on a wildlife conservation project with British-based Durrel Wildlife Conservation Trust and St. Lucia’s Ministry of Agriculture when they were assaulted by six men wearing masks on an isolated stretch of Grande Anse Beach, on the island’s Atlantic coast.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten has put in place new visa requirements for Guyanese and Jamaican nationals traveling to that country.

The new requirements went into effect from April 11, 2011.

However, the St. Maarten authorities have also advised that Guyanese and Jamaican nationals who hold multiple entry visas for the United States are exempt from the new visa requirement, according to a release from regional airline Liat.

Trinidad

Finance Minister Winston Dookeran said that the Trinidad and Tobago economy is in a “very stable condition,” one year after the People’s Partnership came into power.

Dookeran said even though citizens may not have agreed with every financial decision that was made, it was made with the country’s best interest.

“I had to protect Trinidad and Tobago from the risks that will come up our way if we do not take the appropriate steps. Some thought that I was creating tears in the eyes of many, but those tears that are, today, in your eyes will become joy for tomorrow,” he said.

The finance minister admitted that there were challenges faced by the government.

Dookeran said the government should not make the same mistakes that have been made in the past by previous administrations but should be able to transform the economy, politics and society.

Trinidad

Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning was suspended from parliament by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Wade Mark.

Manning was sent to the Privileges Committee for raising questions of the source of money that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar spent on her private home, which he claimed cost TT$150 million.

Manning was found guilty by the committee and suspended with immediate effect.

He was not present in the House when Mark ordered the suspension as he was in Cuba undergoing medical treatment.

The suspension came a week before the May 24 anniversary when his party, the People’s National Movement (PNM), was defeated by the People’s Partnership coalition in last year’s general election.

Nine opposition MPs, including Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley voted against the suspension, while the 25 government MPs including Persad-Bissessar, voted in favor.

The committee found Manning guilty of contempt of parliament on three charges against him.

The committee reported that the former prime minister was un-cooperative and refused to attend the meetings.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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