Caribbean Roundup

Bahamas

Police say they are questioning five persons after two men were shot and killed and three others hospitalized in serious condition, on Monday.

The police said that a 40-year-old man and a 17-year-old youth were shot and killed by unidentified men who left the scene in a stolen vehicle.The names of the men killed were not disclosed and the police said that following the killings, three other men were shot and wounded.

“Preliminary reports indicate that the victims were sitting outside a business establishment on Mt. Pleasant Avenue along with others, when they were approached and subsequently shot multiple times by a group of males” who fled the area in the same stolen vehicle, the police said in a statement.

The police said the men, ages 56, 37 and 27 years remain in serious condition at the hospital.

The authorities said they later engaged the occupants of the vehicle in a shootout and that an 18-year-old male had been shot and injured and a high powered weapon confiscated.

They said acting on information, they went to a house in the capital, “where they arrested the suspects and confiscated a handgun.”

Last week, the United States issued a warning to its nationals to The Bahamas to be wary of the crime situation in the country after a U S citizen was shot and killed during an armed robbery.

The U.S. Embassy here said that so far 40 persons had been murdered here since the start of the year and that U.S. citizens “residing in and travelling to The Bahamas, to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being a victim of crime.”

It said the local police have warned of the increased number of armed robberies in the capital, quoting the police as indicating that for Jan. 1 to April 15 “there have been 328 armed robberies, 111 robberies, and 660 house break-ins.

Barbados

A Belizean soldier attached to the Caribbean defense pact headquartered here remained hospitalized in critical condition after being stabbed in the chest and critically wounded recently, media reports said on Saturday.

Andre Gabb, 45, a warrant officer in the Belize Defense Force, who is attached to the Regional Security System (RSS), was reportedly in the company of two other people when he was stabbed late Friday in Carlton, Black Rock, about two miles north of the capital Bridgetown.

Gabb underwent surgery and remained in critical condition at Barbados’s lone general hospital, the Queen Elizabeth, while police investigated, the Daily Nation reported.

Police were questioning a man in connection with the incident, the paper added. The RSS, housed at the Paragon base of the Barbados Defense Force on the island’s southern tip, is the defense alliance of several, mainly Eastern Caribbean, nations. The 30-year-old organization provides assistance in police and army operations, from drug interdiction and riot control to disaster response and relief.

Guyana

In a bid to reduce public corruption, Guyana is inviting citizens to use the internet to report graft and bribery.

Demand for bribes is widespread in Guyana. Police officers are chronically accused of shaking down motorists. Customs officers are also regularly accused of demanding cash for allowing imported goods to be released.

Security Minister Clement Rohee says authorities will try to stamp out that culture of bribery with a web site dubbed “I paid a Bribe Guyana.” It was launched yesterday. It is modeled after similar web sites launched in India, Pakistan and Nigeria in recent years.

Haiti

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) says a federal judge has unsealed a three-count indictment returned by a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida charging an American woman for her role in bringing 143 Haitian nationals to the United States on fraudulently obtained guest workers visas.

The DOJ said Jetta McPhee, 59, of Tamarac, Florida, and her co-conspirator secured the visas “based on false representations that there were jobs awaiting those workers.”

The indictment alleges that from April 2008 to July 2009, McPhee conspired with Haitian Marie Nicole Dorval to commit visa fraud by “making false representations to the federal government about the availability of construction jobs in order to secure H-2B guest worker visas for Haitian nationals.”

Dorval previously pleaded guilty to visa fraud conspiracy in connection with her role in the scheme, the DOJ said.

According to the indictment, McPhee prepared a fraudulent contract falsely representing that an American company needed 150 full-time construction workers for 10 months at an hourly wage of US$8.42.

McPhee and her co-conspirator then submitted this fraudulent contract to the US Department of Labor and to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in connection with their application for the H-2B guest worker visas, the indictment alleges.

Jamaica

Three years after police and soldiers fought fierce battles with gunmen in Tivoli Gardens in an attempt to serve an arrest warrant on former strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, wounds are still raw in the once impregnable garrison community.

Sophia Williams did not lose a loved one, neither was she injured by gunfire, but she remains traumatized by the macabre experience of that 24-hour battle between gunmen loyal to Coke and police and soldiers, which resulted in the deaths of 77 persons, including a member of the Jamaica Defense Force.

Williams lives in Tivoli Court – a set of high-rise buildings situated close to Spanish Town Road – which was peppered with bullets by agents of the state who were being fired upon by Coke’s combatants.

The security forces eventually overran the band of thugs and took control of the community, but for Williams that was when the real tragedy began.

Although the police reported that the official civilian death toll was 76, the residents of Tivoli Gardens say the death toll was more than twice that number.

As Williams told of her ordeal, a group of young men sat in a group with glum looks on their faces. “They took my friend out of his house and killed him in front of his mother. The soldiers shot him in his head,” said one young man who showed a scar on his left arm that he said was inflicted by a bullet that grazed him.

“Them lock up two men in a house for a whole day and then go back inside the people house and kill the two of them on a woman bed. Them wrap up the bodies in a bloody sheet and took them away,” one woman said.

Public Defender Earl Witter, after a long delay, presented the findings of his probe into the event to Parliament earlier this month and recommended that the residents of Tivoli Gardens be compensated to the tune of $110 million.

Jamaica Labor Party councilor for the Tivoli Division Donovan Samuels agreed with Witter that the aggrieved residents should be compensated. ‘The people would like to get closure, but the major thing is compensation, whether for psychological damage or physical damage to their property,” Samuels said.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago was among 59 nations (such as Brazil, India, Nigeria, Ghana, Argentina and South Africa), which abstained recently on a United Nations (UN) General Assembly vote on Syria, said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Most CARICOM nations abstained except Bahamas, Haiti and Grenada co-sponsored the resolution brought by Qatar. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador opposed the resolution. The resolution was passed by 107 nations voting “yes”, 12 voting “no” and 59 abstaining.

After the vote, Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to the UN, Rodney Charles, told the Assembly that in abstaining Trinidad and Tobago wished to express its abhorrence at the continuing widespread and systematic abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law on both sides of the conflict. Charles lamented the sexual and physical abuse against women, the inhumane suffering of Syrian children and the suffering of Syrian children and the suffering of one million refugees. The Trinidad and Tobago delegation stated its support for the eventual “inclusive, Syrian-led political transition to a democratic system.

Barbados

The world’s second oldest man, James Sisnett of Barbados died recently at the age of 113. Sisnett was one of the last two living men verifiably born in the 19th century and the oldest and last surviving man born in the year 1900. James Emmanuel “Doc” Sisnett, who was born on Feb. 22, 1900, was the second oldest man behind 116year-old Jiremon Kimura of Japan. Sisnett was the only living verified Barbadian supercentenarian and the last surviving verified man born in the 19th century.

Jamaica

An elderly U.S. woman was arrested on money laundering charges recently after it was discovered that she was fleecing other Americans and sending the money to Jamaican lottery scammers, who had previously tricked her out of money.

Joanne Karene McCrary, 74, allegedly scammed an elderly couple in Georgia out of thousands of dollars, which she in turn sent to Jamaican scammers in the form of bank cards, media reports say.

The couple reported the incident to U.S. authorities who traced it back to McCrary, who was subsequently charged with two counts of felony money laundering and two counts of felony theft.

The authorities said McCrary had also been the victim of scamming, losing tens of thousands of dollars and that she became involved in the scheme to recoup some of her losses.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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