Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

Officials in Puerto Rico say the U.S. island territory aims to position itself as a key air transportation center in the Caribbean, taking advantage of growth opportunities in industry that is essential to regional economic development.

The island got a big boost with Seaborne Airlines’ recent decision to relocate its operations base from the U.S. Virgin Islands to San Juan, bringing along its managers, mechanics and other personnel.

The new facility in Puerto Rico is scheduled to open this weekend.

Seaborne Airlines moved its operations bass to San Juan after American Eagle left the island last April after decades of operating out of Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in the Puerto Rican capital.

Seaborne currently offers flights from San Juan to St. Kitts and Nevis, the Dominican Republic, and St. Martin.

The Puerto Rican Economic Development Bank (EDB) has a 20 percent stake in Seaborne and two board seats, one of which will go to the EDB President Joey Cancel Planas for US$9 million.

Under the agreement between the EDB and Seaborne, the carrier will establish 10 new routes this year linking San Juan to Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Haiti.

JetBlue, Air Europa, Southwest Cape Air, Avianca and LIAT are the carriers said to be planning to expand service to and from Puerto Rico, with some of the airlines picking up routes previously covered by American Eagle.

Bahamas

Authorities in the Bahamas have charged two U.S. men in the stabbing death of a Pennsylvania man in Bimini.

Assistant Police Commissioner Emrick Seymour said the men are facing charges of manslaughter in the killing of 45-year-old, Carl Yerger.

The suspects were identified as Tyler Valles, 19, of Key Largo, Florida and Robert Schwartz, 62, of Gaylordsville, Connecticut.

Yerger was found stabbed to death recently on the grounds of the Big Game Club and Resort & Marina.

Seymour said the suspects say they fought with Yerger after he allegedly tried to get on board their boat. Yerger was a father of two from Pennsylvania.

Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister Frenduel Stuart has underscored the importance of the Regional Security System (RSS) describing it as an organization the Caribbean “cannot afford to be without.”

Stuart express this view recently while delivering an address at a one-day RSS Council of Ministers meeting in Bridgetown, which was attended by several regional officials, including Prime Minister of Grenada Dr. Keith Mitchell and Dr. Ralph of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Stressing that there is a need for such an organization, he said many of the old threats that existed when it was created 33 years ago, had been replaced by new ones. Trafficking in illegal narcotics and firearms, money laundering, trafficking in human beings, cyber-crime and the criminal activity associated with these phenomena are now considered to constitute the greatest threats to security in our region.”

“Criminally-minded persons are sharing information rapidly, and have developed a capacity to move relatively easy across borders. Recent instances of theft from ATMs, allegedly perpetrated by visitors from very distant lands, are an example. Our region cannot allow crime, violence and the violation of our porous borders by drug traffickers to prevail and to win today,” he said.

Stuart thanked the international partners, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and the European Union for providing valuable support and financial assistance to the RSS over the years.

Guyana

The United States has donated three fast patrol vessels to the Guyana government under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Ramotar recently received the keys to the three vessels from United States Ambassador Dr. Brent Hardt at the Col. Hinds Coast Guard headquarters, Ruimveldt.

Addressing senior Guyana Defense Force (GDF), Joint Services officers and dignitaries President Ramotar said the relationship between Guyana and the US, particularly on security matters is a long one. Noting that criminals also have access to up to date technologies and equipment, he added, that it necessitates a relook of the current approaches used to fight crime and prevent persons from committing illegal acts.

He said that new dispensation would also mean closer collaboration among the joint services.

An appeal was also made by the president for those charged with the use of the vessels to care them as resources that would otherwise be spent on unnecessary repairs could be used in other critical areas.

U.S. Ambassador Dr. Hardt remarked that the metal shark aluminum boats, valued US$1.7 million, are the first built by the USA to be used by the Guyana Coast Guard, noting his confidence they would be a valuable addition to the local fleet.

The ceremony marked the start of a new chapter in US/Guyana relations.

The boats were provided under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, launched in 2010 and training for ranks was conducted by the US Coast Guard’s Technical Assistance Team.

Jamaica

The World Bank says more than 80,000 Jamaican citizens will benefit from improved services, basic infrastructure and targeted crime and violence interventions in 18 vulnerable inner-city communities as a result of a US$42 million project for integrated community development.

The Washington-based financial institution said the new project is a continuation of the partnership between the Jamaica government and the World Bank on upgrading some of the country’s most vulnerable and volatile communities.

It said the project builds on the success of the “Inner City Basic Services for the Poor Project” to address accelerating urban decay and declining citizen security.

“The project aims to foster a more inclusive society in Jamaica by improving the quality of life of marginalized city dwellers,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank country director for the Caribbean.

“It also aims to prevent crime and violence by engaging youth in public safety initiatives and providing them with job skills training,” she said.

As a result of the funding, Sirtaine said more than 50,000 people will benefit from improved sold waste management services, street lighting, paved roads and drainage.

She said residents in the 18 communities would “feel safer” and that 1200 families will have their piped water connection repaired and 4,500 residents receiving educational skills and training.

In the Kingston Metropolitan Area, the World Bank said poverty has doubled in two years from seven percent in 2008 to 14 percent in 2010.

It also said youth unemployment is on the rise, with more than 50 percent of young people unemployed, adding that homicides and other violent crime rates are among the highest, “the highest in the Latin America and the Caribbean region”.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago is trying to woo nurses from the CARICOM region to work in Trinidad and Tobago in a bid to ease the T&T’s nursing shortage.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar made the offer during her recent visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a two-day CARICOM meeting.

Her offer to CARICOM to accommodate regional nurses willing to work in T&T was the latest in a string of invitations to regional leaders during the Intersessional meeting.

Persad-Bissessar also said leaders are examining ways to allow Guyanese students to study at the Hugh Wooding Law School and an exchange system which mitigated against this.

The prime minister handed over TT$150,000 worth of water pipelines and materials to repair St. Vincent’s demolished water system which was damaged by flood last Christmas Eve.

Jamaica

Jamaica police have charged the juror who was held after the verdict was handed down in the Vybz Kartel murder trial last week.

Livingston Cai, 50, was charged with five counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Investigators went to the juror’s house and reportedly seized a cell phone and other evidence as part of the probe.

According to the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the man approached a juror to allegedly sway the decision in favor of Vybz Kartel and the other men who were on trial.

It was also reported that he tried to bribe the foreman, however the offer was rejected and the foreman lodged a report.

Kartel and three other men were found guilty of the 2011 murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. They will be sentenced next week.

Jamaica

The Jamaica Agricultural Foundation (JSDF) has signed an $11 million grant agreement with the Japanese government, for the revitalization of the West Indian Sea Island Cotton (WISIC) industry in Jamaica.

The signing, which took place recently also marked the commemoration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Jamaica.

Speaking at a ceremony, which was held at the offices of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) in Kingston, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Roger Clarke, commended the JADF for spearheading the development of the WISIC industry, and the partnership with the Japanese government.

The minister said WISIC due to its superior quality, is one of the crops, which gives the region its distinct competitive edge.

“Efforts to grow it elsewhere in the world have not resulted in the kind of quality achieved when it is grown in this region” he said.

Clarke said the government must support rejuvenation of the WISIC industry, as to could create 15,000 new jobs, and can close to J$1 billion in foreign exchange.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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