Caribbean Round-Up

Barbados

The North American relatives of a Barbadian businessman are offering a Bds $50,000 reward for evidence that will lead to the conviction in Barbados of the attackers, who severely beat George Clarke, robbed him, and left him close to death in a pig pen in St. Phillip in February.

The decision to hike the reward from $10,000 came after Clarke, 67, died recently in a Brooklyn medical centre, New York, where he had been a patient since June suffering extensive brain damage from the assault with a hammer by unknown bandits.

Clarke was hospitalized at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados for about four months before his daughters and his wife in New York decided to take him to the Brooklyn hospital after his condition deteriorated.

Clarke, who ran a successful boiler repair and asbestos removal company in Brooklyn with several employees, sold his business, bought two lots of land in Barbados, returned to the island in 2006 and began growing vegetables and raising pigs, goats and sheep on his four-acre farm in St. Phillips where he was attacked.

Belize

Belize is asking the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to determine whether a present government can take legal action against former ministers for losses suffered by the state as a result of malfeasance.

The case, which is to be heard at the CCJ in Port of Spain this month, has its origin in a lawsuit brought against former lands minister, Florencio Marin Sr. and former Caribbean Shores area representative Jose Cioye, for the sum of Belizean $924,056.60 (plus exemplary damages), which the state claims was lost in the sale of lands below market price by the previous administration.

Marin served as lands minister in Said Musa’s People’s United Party.

The Belize Reporter newspaper said the lawsuit, which was filed in the Belizean courts but thrown out on a technicality, alleged that Martin and Coye committed malfeasance in the sale of 57 pieces of prime government lots to a private company, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars to taxpayers.

The land, according to the Belize Reporter, was sold to the government of Belize under the Musa Administration for far more than was paid by the private developers. Belize joined the CCJ in June this year, making it the final court of appeal.

Belize

Belize sugarcane farmers are to receive a total of $11 million to assist them in meeting their immediate financial obligations.

Recently the National Assembly gave approval to lend $10 million to the Belize Sugar Industry (BSI) to provide working capital for meeting outstanding third payment to cane farmers in respect of the 2010 crop season, and for operational capital and factory refurbishment.

One of the conditions of the agreement is that the BSI to first obtain waivers from its existing creditors in order to assume this additional debt obligation.

Haiti

Thousands of people took to the streets, burning down voting bureaus and supporting calls from 12 presidential candidates that the presidential and legislative council polls be declared null and void.

The protestors took to the streets to rally against what they believed was widespread fraud including pre-stuffed ballots and their names missing from the voters’ list.

The 12 presidential candidates in last month’s election called for the elections to be declared null and void following allegations of ballot tampering.

The candidates alleged that the ballot tampering was orchestrated to favor Jude Celistin of the ruling party.

Jamaica

The Jamaica Appeal Court has granted Prime Minister Bruce Golding permission to call a by-election in the constituency of North East, St. Ann, which has been without a parliamentary representative since former legislator Shahine Robinson of the ruling Jamaican Labor Party was disqualified.

Justice Dennis Morrison recently lifted a stay of execution that prevented Golding from calling the by-election.

The stay of execution was granted in October after the Supreme Court declared the seat vacant following an application by the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) Manley Bowen, whose election petition resulted in the vacancy.

In September Robinson, was forced to withdraw from challenging the election petition after Bowen provided fresh evidence showing that she had in fact sworn allegiance to the United States, obtaining her citizenship to the country in 2006, while being a member of parliament.

Robinson eventually admitted that she was a U.S. citizen at the time of nomination and through her legal team renounced her U.S. citizenship. She said she would also be contesting the by-election.

Suriname

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has agreed to supply fuel to Suriname under the Petrocaribe program, which already provides energy on preferential terms to most CARICOM nations.

Chavez met with his Suriname counterpart Desi Bouterse during a recent South American summit in Guyana.

Venezuela also agreed to help Suriname on housing projects and rice farming and send urea for fertilizer.

Trinidad

Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who is facing suspension from parliament in respect to allegations he made about Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s private mansion is sticking to his guns saying he intends to write the Integrity Commission requesting a probe of the residence.

Manning had raised questions over the funding of the building, which is nearing completion, claiming that “Kamla’s Palace” costs TT$150 million.

Manning claimed that since after the May 24 general election there was a spur in the construction.

He said the prime minister must explain from what source the money came.

Persad-Bissessar in a statement to parliament, explained that she and her husband, Dr. Gregory Bissessar, have been constructing the house over the past eight years.

Persad-Bisessar denied that the house cost $150 million, saying it would cost just over $4 million.

Trinidad

The controversial Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) has been given the green light to resume operations.

Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs gave the directive at the end of the investigation into the unit.

He said the SIA investigation, at this point in is still ongoing but for most part is complete and we are moving forward in terms of the intelligence operations.

Gibbs said the SIA was only shut down for a few days after police raided the unit’s office in Port of Spain and seized several documents, firearms and cash.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had revealed in parliament recently that the SIA was “spying” on prominent citizens including the President of Trinidad and Tobago Max Richards, whose name was among the list of people.

Government has now passed the Interception of Communication Legislation to make it legal to wire-tap phones, which has to be approved by a court.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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