Caribbean RoundUp


The United States Coast Guard says it has repatriated 38 Caribbean migrants in recently.

The Coast Guard said crew members aboard the Cutter Nantucket repatriated 10 Cuban migrants to Cuba.

This follows the repatriation of 28 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitian recently. And on Feb. 28 the Coast Guard intercepted a 35-foot vessel north of Mona Island, Puerto Rico and found 20 male and eight female Haitian migrants and two suspected smugglers on board. They were later repatriated to Haiti. The Coast Guard also rescued 24 stranded Cubans off Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. The day before 23 men and one woman were picked up and were taken to the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory about 125 miles south of Cuba.


The Bahamas says it hopes to develop a strategic plan to deal with domestic violence and violence against women by June and reiterated its condemnation of violence in any form against women in the country. “Hundreds of women in The Bahamas face situations that cause serious distress, pain and frustrations to them and their children and households,” Minister responsible for Women’s Affairs, Melanie Griffin told Parliament recently. She said the Perry Christie government does not condone violence against women. By mid-June through the work of the Gender-based Violence Task Force and the results of a study being funded by UNWomen, we hope to have a strategic plan to strengthen the coordination of the various agencies that provide services to both victims and perpetrators and eventually to eradicate this ugly menace from our shores,” she said.


Officials of regional airline LIAT say they will take “decisive action” to deal with unprofitable routes as the Antigua-based airline seeks to make its operations financially viable. LIAT Chairman Jean Holder said, “We have been trying, before going the harsh route, to persuade people to invest. We have met a number of governments and prime ministers… we have expressed to them that we will have no other option but to cut the service.” “We’ll have to take a very hard look at our current schedules and the profitability of our current routes. We have brought in some experts to assist us in looking more deeply into the route analysis issues, but it is clear that LIAT cannot continue to provide essential social services to 21 countries in the Caribbean on a daily basis, offering close to 1,000 flights weekly and only four countries put any funds into this operation,” Holder said.

Holder said the company has taken the stance that it needs to be more professional and implement changes needed to keep the airline on an even keel.


The German airline Condor is set to return to Grenada later this year, tourism officials said.

The announcement became the talking point in the Caribbean hall at the world’s largest travel show ITB held recently in Germany.Tourism Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel, who led Grenada’s delegation at the travel show, has closed the deal with Condor after months of negotiations. The minister has been continuously holding negotiations with the carrier since and her efforts have paid off. Grenada will have direct weekly flights from Frankfurt for the upcoming winter season, in November this year.


Haiti’s new Roman Catholic cardinal celebrated his first mass recently, telling an audience of several thousand people there is need to show compassion to others. Cardinal Chilby Langlois reminded the crowd in the impoverished and predominantly Catholic nation of 10 million people that many would go hungry or wouldn’t be able to survive were it not for the kindness of others. The nearly three-hour ceremony took place in a soccer stadium in downtown Port-au-Prince. Haiti’s National Cathedral was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake and has yet to be rebuilt. Langlois was little known outside his hometown of Les Cayes, a coastal town in southern Haiti. But that changed in January when Pope Francis named the 55-year-old bishop and 18 others as his first batch of cardinals. As Haiti’s first cardinal, Langlois has become a leader overnight. In his new role, he had held negotiations among political parties to figure out how to hold legislative and local elections that are more than two years overdue.


Almost 200,000 illegal electricity connections were removed during operations by the Jamaica Public Service Company’s Strike Force (JPS) in the second half of last year. But that was not enough to stop the bleeding of the bottom line, with electricity theft costing the company some US$75 million for the year. Gary Barrow, senior vice-president with responsibility for customer operations and support services at JPS admitted that the anti-theft system, the Residential Automated Metering Infrastructure (RAMI), introduced by the company to combat losses in some communities, has not been as successful as expected, but argued it was not a failure. The RAMI, when introduced, was not tagged as being tamper-proof to prevent widespread practice of “throwing up lines” onto the GPs network. The system also facilitates the remote reading of meters, as well as remote connection and disconnection from the system. However, Jamaicans have already found ways to beat the system.


Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s rating and her People’s Partnership has taken a significant drop in the latest opinion poll conducted by the North American Teacher’s Association (NACTA). The poll found significant disillusionment with the PP’s governance was hurting Persad-Bissessar’s approval rating. Although her approval rating was higher than that of the government, it declined significantly from what it was three years ago. In contrast, the People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr. Keith Rowley’s approval rating as Opposition Leader has been steadily increasing over the last three years, making him a serious challenger to replace Persad-Bissessar as prime minister whenever the next general election is held in 2015, the poll said. Asked if they approved of the performance of the prime minister, 44 percent said yes, 37 percent said no and 19 percent offered a neutral or no opinion. Rowley’s approval rating for his performance as Opposition Leader is almost at par (a statistical dead heat) with Persad-Bissessar’s as PM 43 percent approved, 39 percent disapproved and 18 percent gave him a neutral rating. Rowley is currently involved in battle for the leadership of the PNM with Penelope “Penny” Beckles, whom he fired from the Senate last year.


Jamaica police say they are foiling a rising number of attempts to smuggle drugs to and from the southern Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. The Transnational crime police at Kingston’s international airport said three alleged drug mules were recently arrested after they arrived on a flight from Curacao. The two Jamaican men and one Guyanese man allegedly expelled scores of pellets of cocaine after being stopped for security screening. Days before, a Jamaican woman who allegedly digested 32 pellets of cocaine was arrested at the same airport after disembarking from a Curacao flight. Several Jamaicans have also been arrested trying to smuggle marijuana to Curacao on recent flights from Kingston.


The Trinidad and Tobago government is seeking the assistance of China’s President X1 Jinping for a US$5 billion loan (TT$35 billion dollars) in loans.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Kamal Persad-Bissessar, who recently returned from a five-day official visit to the communist country. She said her People’s Partnership government had requested almost US$775 million to finance six new special economic zones and a new transshipment port and dry dock at La Brea, South Trinidad be expeditiously processed in fiscal 2014 by the Export-Import Bank of China. Persad-Bissessar said both Chinese leaders provided their personal assurances that the loan applications would be urgently processed. The construction and completion of these projects by March next year, she said, “will bring significant economic benefits, including new economic infrastructure to spur diversification of the economy and accelerate the development of the maritime economy.” She said the two countries signed three memoranda of understanding and a protocol during the visit. One was on the issue of national security.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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