Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer is defending the record of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez died recently at the age of 58.

Spencer countered criticism that while Chavez was generous to Caribbean and Latin American countries, Venezuela’s economy grew worst under his leadership.

Prime Minister Spencer said Chavez recognized injustice in the region and spent his life doing something about it.

One of the ways in which Antigua and Barbuda benefited during Chavez’s 14-year presidency was through the PetroCaribe petroleum pact.

The pact allows Antigua and Barbuda to buy fuel on easy terms, investing the cash withheld and using the returns to help the poor.

The company which manages the PetroCaribe is PDV (Antigua and Barbuda).

Barbados

An English high-society interior designer James Archibald, who is a close friend of the Duke of Duchess of Cambridge and was a guest at their wedding, was recently arrested at Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport for having a pistol barrel in his luggage and subsequently spent a week in the island’s jail.

Archibald was held when his bag set off metal-detectors in Barbados, where he had touched down to change planes on his way back to Britain from Mustique where shortly before he had been among the villa owners who welcomed Prince Williams and his pregnant wife Kate on their winter break.The 50-year-old Englishman, a longtime friend of the Duchess’ family, had disassembled the air pistol barrel before securing it in a locked case. He explained to authorities that it could not be fired and was remanded to the HMP Dodds Prison. Archibald, who was traveling with his wife, spent a week behind bars before appearing in court. He pleaded guilty in court to carrying a firearm in a public place “without lawful authority.” He was fined US$1,800. Archibald and his wife own an elegant five-bedroom villa in Mustique.

Dominica

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court recently dismissed an election petition field by the defeated candidates of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) challenging the nomination of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his Education Minister Petter Saint Jean to contest the 2009 general election.

Former UWP leader Ron Green and his colleague, Maynard Joseph, had appealed the January 2012 ruling by High Court judge Gertel Thom that they failed to establish a case against the two government ministers.

“We are happy, we are delighted, this matter is now behind us,” senior counsel Anthony Astaphan said.

“The prime minister was and at all material times, the lawful prime minister of this country,” he said.

Jamaica

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says the family of an elderly woman has received a US$45,000 check as part of the US$200,000 stolen from her by Jamaican conmen operating an illegal lottery scheme.

ICE said the funds were recovered by its Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) and the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JFC). According to ICE, the unidentified woman, in her 90s, had received information in May 2012 that she had won a lottery prize and was later contacted by an unidentified man who told her she owed US$9,000 in taxes and other expenses in order to receive the prize.

“The fraudsters cheated her out of US$200,000 before she reported the matter to law enforcement,” the immigration said adding that HIS special agents, along with other law enforcement agencies had been able to identify a bank account at the National Commercial Bank, where the illegally obtained funds had been deposited.

Agents from HIS Kingston worked with local authorities in returning US$54,000 left in the conman’s account to the victim.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago has been named among the top 10 less tourist-friendly nations in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report,” for 2013.

T&T was ranked the eighth less-tourist destination on the planet.

Under the theme, “Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation” The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report assessed 140 economies worldwide, based on the extent to which they are putting in place the factors and policies to make it attractive to develop the travel and tourism sector.

The countries were ranked according to 14 pillars, including safety and security, health and hygiene and natural resources.

Of the 140 countries, Trinidad and Tobago placed 133rd.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has appealed to public servants to accept his government’s four percent wage increase and prevent the island from, “any further hardship,” as workers stayed away from their jobs for higher salaries.

“Our country does not need any mayhem, confusion and disagreement at this time. Our people need to get together. We have a crisis on our hands to deal with and it is critical and crucial that we come together and deal with it, but very clearly it has to be a shared responsibility across the board,” Anthony said.

The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (CCIA) recently called for an end to the industrial action by public servants urging both parties to return to the negotiating table.

The public workers recently began industrial action in support of the Trade Union Federation (TUF) over demands for increased wages that government says it cannot pay.

Their actions have crippled the public service and schools for more than two weeks and the regional airline had to recently briefly suspend flights in and out of the George F. Charles Airport on the outskirts of the capital because of the lack of fire services.

The TFU is sticking to its demands for a 9.5 percent increase or six percent with stipulated conditions.

Antigua

The battle between receivers in the United States and Antigua over the dispersal of Allen Stanford’s frozen assets appears to have reached a truce.

Officials liquidating Stanford’s offshore bank said they would return a substantial portion of the US$300 million in frozen assets to the victims of Stanford’s fraud, a court filing showed.

Stanford was sentenced in June last year to 110 years in prison for scheming investors with fraudulent certificates of deposit issued by Stanford International Bank in Antigua.

Ever since the Ponzi scheme was uncovered, U.S. and international authorities, including those in Antigua and the United Kingdom, have been fighting for control of Stanford’s assets outside of the United States.

The agreement between U.S. and Antiguan officials provides for the distribution of almost 90 percent of the frozen assets from the UK, Canada and Switzerland, and will become effective after it has been approved by the respective courts in those countries.

Barbados

Former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur is now indicating that he intends writing his memoirs after having had a “wonderful life” in politics – weeks after he failed in his bid to regain the position of prime minister.

“I will be writing my memoirs in three phases. One is called a country boy giving a perspective of what it was like growing up as a country boy in Barbados – and the one I liked most is my Jamaican days.”

Arthur, who served as prime minister for 13 years before he was defeated in 2008 and again in 2013, was among members of the opposition Barbados Labor Party (BLP) recently sworn in as a legislator following the Feb. 21 poll that was narrowly won by the ruling Democratic Labor Party (DLP) by a 16-14 margin.

“I have really had a wonderful life in politics and I’m not bitter at all and all I want to do is to help these young people in the Barbados Labor Party to become good parliamentarians,” he said.

Following the election, Arthur lost the position of Opposition Leader to attorney Mia Mottley, who once served as his attorney general.

Dominica

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has hinted an early general election and has already told supporters he intends to follow the record set by the Grenada ruling party of a clean sweep of the seats in the upcoming polls.

Speaking at a recent public meeting to thank supporters for the three years of legal battles to determine whether or not he and his Education Minister Petter Saint Jean were legally nominated to contest the last general election, Skerrit said that he wants the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) to remain in opposition for the next five years.

“I want my revenge for three years of strain and stress to be a thorough and comprehensive whipping of the United Workers Party whenever the next election is called,” he said, adding “I am serving notice that we are working to get back our three wasted years,”

Recently, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court dismissed an election petition filed by two defeated UWP candidates who had challenged the nominations of Skerrit and Saint Jean to contest the 2009 general election.

Former UWP leader Ron Green and his colleague, Maynard Joseph, had appealed the January 2012 ruling by High Court judge Gertel Thom that they failed to establish a case against the two government ministers.

Compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC