Caribbean Round-Up

Cuba

Cuba’s government says it is liberalizing the sale of sugar, after decades of subsidizing its price.

It’s the latest step in President Raul Castro’s plan to reduce the state’s role in the economy and encourage private enterprise.

Cubans will still be able to buy a limited amount of sugar at a subsidized rate with their ration books, but these too are due to be gradually phased out.

Guyana

President Bharrat Jagdeo said that within the next two years, Guyana should have a specialty hospital that would perform any surgical procedure that can currently be done in the United States at a “fraction of the cost.”

Speaking to the media after his return from India, where he discussed the funding of the hospital, Jagdeo disclosed that he had made significant progress on the project during his visit.

He explained that the Guyana government had approached the Indian government and they proposed using a line of credit to build a specialty hospital.

The president said it was agreed that Guyana should choose a partner in India to manage the facility.

He said that Guyana held discussions with several groups and has since chosen a partner. The company will go out for tender for an Indian company to construct the hospital.

Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy said the designs for the specialty hospital, which will be staffed with medical experts from India are due to start this year.

He said the government will pump $150 million into the project for the “design and initial stage” of the facility.

Haiti

A Haitian is one of the biggest winners in the news categories of the World Press Photo awards for 2010.

Daniel Morel won first place in the Spot News Stories category for his series on the January earthquake and its immediate aftermath in Haiti.

He also took second place in the Spot News Singles category for an image of a woman trapped under rubble being rescued.

He is involved in a legal dispute over the republication of his photos by mainstream news outlets after he put them on a Web site.

Someone else spotted them, claimed ownership and sold them to the AFP Agency.

St. Lucia

Prime Minister Stephenson King has warned that his government will crack down hard on criminals in St. Lucia following reports that two persons were recently killed.

Another was also gunned down as warring gangs engaged in a drive-by shooting.

The murder toll in the tiny Caribbean island has reached 12 so far for the year.

In his “State of the Nation” address King acknowledged that many people are living in fear because criminal elements have preyed on the minds of youth as they attempt to destabilize the country and create chaos where previously there was peace and stability.

He promised citizens that criminals would be hunted down, prosecuted and made to pay for the crimes.

Trinidad

Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Imam Yasin Abu Bakr is seeking TT$4 million compensation from the Trinidad and Tobago government for damage to his character and reputation after he was freed on four charges of firearm and ammunition possession in 2005.

Bakr, and 114 members of his religious organization, who staged an attempted coup in l990 has filed a lawsuit against the attorney general and commissioner of police.

The Imam who said he was greatly injured “in his credit, character and reputation and suffered mental anguish, pain and incurred expense in defending himself.”

Bakr said he spent TT$4 million in legal fees and is claiming damages for false imprisonment, assault, battery, malicious prosecution, damages and other relief the court deems fit and costs.

The matter came up recently in the Port of Spain High Court and was adjourned until May 11.

Trinidad

More than 300 police officers staged a “sickout” recently to protest the five percent wage increase offer by the government.

The officers from various divisions in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service stayed away from work crippling operations at the courts, since there were insufficient officers to deal with the processing and security of prisoners.

The lawmen want a 40 percent hike in wages but Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the state can only afford five percent because of the current state of the economy.

Public servants have also been protesting since December over a similar offer made to them.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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