Caribbean Round-Up

Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is suing television news producers to court over allegations made about his multi-million-purchase of a luxury residential complex in Antigua.

Questions about the real estate transactions were aired on current affairs program Report on state RAI TV, including the movement of the $30.6 million for the resort, through offshore companies and who eventually got the funds.

But Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, who tried to block the program from being aired, said there was full transparency on the purchase and documentation was publicly available.

Describing the broadcast as defamatory, he said the Italian leader would be taking legal action.

Barbados

Barbados is moving to build on established cultural and commercial ties with Venezuela.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, met with outgoing Venezuelan Ambassador Juan Carlos Valdez Gonzalez recently to explore the potential of increasing trading activity between the two states.

McClean noted that there had been a strong tradition of trade between the two countries and she would like to see more “people to people” exchanges, while lauding the work being done by the Venezuelan Institute in teaching persons Spanish.

“One way to bridge the gap between the two countries is to speak the language,” the minister asserted.

Gonzalez agreed with the view that cultural and trade ties should be strengthened between the countries, stating that this would have mutual benefits, as well as contribute towards closer integration in the Caribbean and Latin American region.

Barbados and Venezuela established diplomatic ties in l969 and have signed a number of bilateral agreements since then.

Barbados maintains an Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.

British Virgin Islands

Governor Boyd McCleary recently revoked the state of emergency in the British Virgin Islands and all other statutory instruments under which various orders were made.

Following the flash flood on Sept. 19 and subsequent flood from Oct. 5-6, the governor declared a state of emergency in the Territory.

The governor, acting on the advice of the premier made the decision to declare a state of emergency and to issue orders for specific areas in Tortola on the basis of initial impact assessment reports and advice from various heads of departments.

The revocation of the state of emergency means the Territory is now on a recovery phase.

The Premier’s Office, the ministry responsible for the recovery phase of disaster management, has already commenced such efforts similar to actions taken under the recovery Task Force following the passage of Hurricane Earl.

Many people were affected by flood waters and landslides and the impact to public infrastructure was significant resulting in damages to utility pipes and undermining roadways.

Dominica

Dominica can now boast of night landing to ease the burden on travelers to the island who had to overnight at regional hubs.

The inaugural night landing Liat flight recently arrived at Dominica’s Melville Hall airport just after 8:00 p.m. local time.

Tourism Minister Ian Douglas says the development is a significant one for the country because travelers to Dominica will no longer be forced to overnight at regional hubs. Former Tourism Minister Yvor Nassief, who said this should have happened 20 years earlier, said night landing was an important activity which could have “a huge economic impact on Dominica.”

Dominica

Dominica is moving towards a smoke-free environment as a plan of action is being implemented to facilitate discussion and education on the proposal.

A workshop on “Creating Smoke-Free Environment in Public Places” was recently convened at the Fisheries Complex in Roseau for public officers in middle management.

The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Health’s Health Promotion Resource Center and the National Drug Prevention Unit with funding and technical assistance provided by the Pan American Health Organization.

Chairperson, Helen Royer, coordinator Health Promotion, commended the team for this initiative and told participants they will be mandated to assist in promoting such initiatives in their workplace.

Guyana

Guyana police have allegedly found two AK47 assault rifles, one Uzi and a 12-gauge shotgun when they held a suspect in connection with murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Timothy Sampson, 25, is accused of killing security guard Arjune Gobin, 47 on May 17, 2010 at number 68 Village, Corentyne.

Gobin, who was employed with businessman Nand Persaud, was following the bandits who robbed his relative, Vasantie Ganesh of cash when he was shot. He died minutes later.

Sampson was also charged with robbing Ganesh.

During the investigation, police recently held Sampson and allegedly found the illegal guns in a black bag he was carrying.

It turned out that the weapons were among those missing from the Guyana Defense Force a few years ago. Sampson is due to re-appear in court on Nov. 22.

Jamaica

The Ministry of Labor is examining the practice by certain employers in Jamaica who are asking their workers to take polygraph (lie detector) tests.

Minister of Labor and Social Security Pearnel Charles said polygraph testing should only be done in specific circumstances.

Pointing out there is no statute in Jamaica that currently prohibits the use of polygraph testing as a basis for granting, continuing or terminating employment, Charles said the ministry was carefully examining and researching the matter, with a view to recommending policy on the issue.

He said there was concern that polygraph testing could indicate a lack of trust, which was no conducive to good worker/management relationships.

Jamaica

The unauthorized driver of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus that plunged over a precipice in St. Ann, which killed a 16-year-old student and injured 50 other passengers was charged with vehicular manslaughter.

He was charged after several motorists gave statements that the driver was “driving carelessly.”

The unauthorized driver, who turned himself over to the Spanish Town police suffered a broken leg.

The bus was carrying a church group to a retreat, when it ran off the road in the Faith’s Pen area of St. Ann. All of 17 injured passengers were released from hospital.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia will open its first casino in January next year.

This was disclosed by Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet, who said it will be operated by Treasury Bay Corporation of Biloxi, Mississippi.

He said that the casino will have 350 slot machines and 14 gaming tables. It will be inside a new mall at Gros Islet on the northern end of the island.

The casino is one of several projects the government is embarking on to revive its tourism industry.

The business has been rebounding from the global recession, showing a 16 percent increase in visitor arrivals this year.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government has scrapped the 150 million (pound sterling) contract with BAE Systems to build and commission three offshore patrol vessels (OPV) for use by the Coast Guard.

The deal entered into with VY Shipbuilding in Britain was signed by the previous People’s National Movement (PNM) administration in April 2007, which was to be used in the fight against the gun and drug trade.

VT Shipbuilding was acquired by BAE Systems in October 2009. BAE Systems agreed to training and five years in-service support to the Coast Guard when the vessels were completed.

National Security Minister John Sandy told the House of Representatives that the government decided to terminate the contract because the vessels were defective and failure to meet the delivery deadline.

Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley said the government’s decision to cancel the purchase of the vessels will lead to Trinidad and Tobago becoming the gun and drugs capital of the region.

Dr. Rowley has been critical of the government’s decision to cancel the contract for the vessels

Compiled by Azad Ali

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