Caribbean Round-Up

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda has become the first state in the sub-region to sign the Instrument of Ratification for the Revised Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Treaty of Basseterre establishing OECS economic union.

The St. Lucia-based OECS Secretariat said the action by the Antiguan government has helped move the people of the member states of the organization “closer towards increased benefits associated with the free movement of skills and persons.”

The secretariat said the move will also result in better business opportunities.

Barbados

The Barbados government has assured visitors to the island of their safety and enjoyment while holidaying.

Prime Minister Frenduel Stewart has reassured repeat visitors of his government’s commitment to ensuring their safety.

Addressing more than 100 visitors attending a reception at his official residence recently, the prime minister said: “The faith you have placed in our country imposes on us a corresponding obligation to ensure that we make you as comfortable while you are in Barbados, and that we make sure you feel as safe as humanly possible.”

The prime minister spoke about Barbados’ relationship with Britain, the United States and Canada, three of the major source markets for Barbados’ tourism and he specially commended the British and American guests for their continued patronage despite the economic difficulties being experienced at home.

Haiti

Haiti recently inaugurated a new 30-megawatt US$59.5 million electricity plant, increasing access to electricity for residents and industries.

E-Power is an investment by 54 Haitian and Haitian-Americans who six years ago proposed to the then interim Haitian government the construction of a power plant to sell electricity to the state in order to increase access for the population.

The plant, built to withstand a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and category 4 hurricane, is located in Cite Soliel. It will meet 15 percent of the capital’s energy demands. The state’s current capacity is 85 megawatts.

The facility – whose investors also include South Koreas East-West Power company – is a state-of-the -art plant with a dedicated power supply line into the capital’s main industrial park, where factories now rely on generators. Construction took 18 months.

Haiti

Less than 48 hours after he made a surprise return to Haiti, former head of state Jean Claude Duvalier was slapped with several charges including corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds that were allegedly committed during his 15-year rule.

Duvalier, 59, was removed from office in a popular revolt in 1968 and had been residing in exile in France before returning to the impoverished Caribbean country.

Under Haitian law, the charges must now be investigated by the judge who will decide whether a judicial case should go ahead.

Several human rights groups including Amnesty International and American Watch had called on the authorities in Haiti to arrest Duvalier, who had been staying at a luxury hotel since his return.

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago Works and Transport Minister Austin “Jack” Warner said that the merger between Caribbean Airlines Ltd. (CAL) and Air Jamaica would embrace the Caribbean as a united front.

He was at the time speaking at a function at the Pegasus Hotel in Jamaica recently for the rebranding of Air Jamaica planes, with the CAL logo.

Warner said the merger embodied the concept of “One Airline, One Vision and One Caribbean.” He recalled the l961 failure of the West Indian Federation and insisted that this merger cannot fail.

He told the gathering, “I assure you Air Jamaica would maintain its brand. You have struggled too long to make Air Jamaica what it is.”

The works minister said he was pleased to hear the announcement from CAL chairman, George Nicholas 111, that Air Jamaica, within the next six months, would be flying into Heathrow International Airport, London once more.”

The rebranded Air Jamaica planes, with the CAL log recently took off from the Norman Manley Airport for the first time, heading to Toronto, Canada.

Saying that Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding was a brave man to divest the old Air Jamaica, Warner said; “We are in it together, we will not fail. We are partners – one airline, one vision, one Caribbean.”

St. Lucia

The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) has “grounded’ the St. Lucia-registered CARICOM Airways from flying in the Eastern Caribbean until it becomes a legal carrier.

The ECCA has informed the operators that the airline is operating illegally as it does not have the necessary Airline Operation Convention (AOC).

The authority’s acting director general Donald McPhail wrote to the airline’s chief executive officer Roger Chin-A-Kwie saying; “the ECCAA instructs CARICOM Airways to immediately discontinue its operations until such time that it has been issued with the appropriate AOC by the ECCAA.”

The ECCAA correspondence confirmed that St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had been telling St. Lucia’s tourism and aviation minister for some time now that the airline was operating illegally.

Trinidad

A Roman Catholic organization in Trinidad and Tobago is coming out to play mas for Carnival 2011.

The organization recently launched its carnival band Genesis 1 at the Queen’s Park Cricket Center, Port of Spain.

The Word and Associates chairman, Derek Walcott, said while the move is expected to spark debate, the aim is to erase the vulgarity associated with carnival and replace it with creativity and family.

“While an essence of culture still remains in the ‘ole mas,’ Carnival has become a parade of beads and bikinis. The calypso that once meant something to those who heard it on the streets has been replaced by ‘wine and jam’ tunes that rise and fall with carnival. The focus of this band is enjoyment of life without the stereotypical inebriation that goes with Carnival,” Walcott said.

Monsignor Jason Gordon, speaking on behalf of Archbishop Edward Joseph Gilbert said the Catholic Church fully supports the launch of the band, which is planned as an all-inclusive, alcohol-free, decent-dancing, family-friendly venture.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government will endow the Sir Ellis Clarke chair in Commonwealth Parliamentary and Constitutional Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad in honor of the nation’s first president, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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