Caribbean RoundUp

A woman sorts bananas at the St. Mary’s Banana Estate in St. Mary’s parish in Jamaica. The deadly Panama disease could affect the banana industry in the Caribbean.
Associated Press / Collin Reid


Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Francesco La Camera, director general of Italy’s Ministry of the Environment recently signed a £6 million project to assist CARICOM) member states to mitigate climate variability and change.

The project, which was negotiated between the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (5Cs) and the Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea in Italy, aims to address several issues affecting CARICOM states under the rubric of climate change, inclusive of mitigation, adaptation and vulnerability.

Specifically, it aims to help CARICOM member states adapt to climate change by reducing their vulnerability to sea level rise and climate variability, identifying and implementing the intended nationally determined contributors (INDCs); reporting and assessing of the member states’ INDCs and the development and dissemination of renewable energy sources and technology.

The estimated timeframe for the project is five years.


The European Union (EU) is again urging Antigua & Barbuda to remove the death penalty from its books.

Deputy Head of the EU Mission for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Silvia Kofler said it is not good enough for governments to say that no one is being hanged even though the law allows it. She said the legislation should be repealed.

“We know the death penalty is not practiced for more than 10 years, but to still have it on the law books is not what we think should be done. We think it should be eliminated,” Kofler said.

The EU official said only Barbados has made some progress in doing away with the death penalty.

In 2013, following the murder of Susan Powell in Heritage Quay, the then National Security Minister Dr. Errol Cort said Antigua and Barbuda would enforce the death penalty after a 22-year break.

The minister said the death penalty was still on the books and promised that all the necessary legal processes will be utilized to ensure it is enforced.

Kofler said that unfortunately Caribbean governments do not see removing the death penalty as a priority.


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has urged banana farmers in the Caribbean to take a proactive approach against the deadly Panama disease.

The Eastern Caribbean is hoping to ward off the final Panama disease which could wipe out the banana industry. It poses the biggest threat to the region’s bananas since the Black sigatoka disease in 1991.

St. Lucia’s Agriculture Minister Moses J. Baptiste has said for the small islands of the Caribbean, the best response includes collaboration and the adoption of pre-emptive measures.

Bananas are St. Lucia’s biggest crop, accounting for one-fifth of all export earnings.

According to the FAO, banana is the eight most important food crop in the world and the fourth most important food crop among the world’s least-developed countries, including the Caribbean.

The disease is soil-borne and the fungus can remain viable for decades.


The Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association (GBHRA) is calling for the release of Jamaican man who has been in detention for about a decade.

The GBHRA said it was appalled at the response given by Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell to the case of Matthew Sewell “an innocent Jamaican man incarcerated in the Bahamas for the better part of a decade. The last state of Sewell’s harrowing ordeal is at the hands of the Immigration Department, which was the result of an error, even after he was declared innocent of all charges by the courts.”

GBHRA said that everyone in the Bahamas is by definition innocent until proven guilty.

“All of the charges levelled by Sewell having been dropped, he remains innocent and was therefore by definition wrongfully imprisoned on trump up charges,” the human rights group said, noting that Sewell was held by the Immigration Department for a further year because he “had no status in The Bahamas.”

But the GBHRA said there are three violations listed in the Immigration Act; entering without permission, overstaying the allotted time and working without a permit.


The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) recently held a meeting in Grenada to jumpstart the organization of regional training and capacity building workshop on the value chain approach in Caribbean fisheries.

The workshop will take place in July 2016.

The initiative is geared towards building capacity among key government and private sector representatives and in particular small and medium enterprise (SMEs) in fisheries and aquaculture, to use the value chain approach to optimize economic benefits.

The value chain approach looks at every operational level in the industry, including production, processing, distribution on the local and export markets, as well as marketing and sales to wholesale agents and retail buyers.

The newly launched project will over the next year bring together key public and private sectors in the fisheries and aquaculture industry, to optimize the benefits across the value chain — from the fisheries who set their traps to reap the ocean’s bounty to the buyers who search for the most economical catch to serve and impressive meal.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently completed the tenth review of Jamaica’s economic performance under the program supported by a four-year US$932 million (at the time of approval) arrangement under the extended fund facility (EFF).

The completion of the review enables an immediate purchase of an amount of about US$39.3 million.

Min Zhu, deputy managing director and acting chair said the authorities continue to have an impressive track record of a strong program implementation under the Extended Fund facility. Macro economic stability continues to strengthen, vulnerabilities have reduced substantially and structural reforms have passed,” he said.

“Jamaica has made important achievements under the economic program. Inflation and the current account deficit have fallen significantly, supported by low oil prices. Business confidence continues to be strong and private credit growth is showing signs of recovery, while public debt is falling,” Zhu said.

St. Kitts

The revamped St. Kits and Nevis Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program has surpassed the expectations of the Team Unity administration, according to Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.

Harris made the disclosure while delivering the coalition government’s first national budget.

He told Parliament that CBI revenue for 2015 is expected to surpass the budget by 42.3 percent.

Dr. Harris, who is also finance minister said government expected by the end of 2015 to realize a recurrent account surplus of about $222.1 million — 16.4 percent above the estimate.

“The surplus will be derived from the net of anticipated recurrent revenue of approximately $733.3 million and projected recurrent expenditure of $511.2 million,” he said.

“Non-tax revenue is expected to be the main contributor to the favorable out-turns when compared to the budget, as fees from the CBI program will most certainly surpass the estimate for 2015 by a whopping 42.2 percent,” Dr. Harris added.

In his budget presentation recently, Dr. Harris said he was making good a pledge to put the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) funds, which generated millions of dollars for the federation from the CBI program in the government coffers.

Among other measures announced in the budget were, risk pay increase of 20 percent for the police, prison officers, the Defense Force, Coast Guard and Fire Services.

The prime minister made it clear that this was a move intended to help those involved in fighting violent crime. St. Kitts and Nevis has had 30 homicides for the year so far.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines opposition party — the New Democratic Party (NDP) — said it will continue a series of massive protests after Christmas over the outcome of the general elections on Dec. 9, 2015, which it claims were not free and fair.

According to the NDP, as a result, the country has an illegitimate government that it refuses to recognize. Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said the NDP has written to the Organization of American States (OAS) formally complaining about the illegitimate installment of Ralph Gonsalves as prime minister.

“We have asked for the use of the regional mechanism to ensure that democracy is saved and protected in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.

The first legal motions regarding the elections were filed on Dec. 16, 2015.

“We are moving to challenge these fraudulent elections in court, where we are confident of legal redress, in the interim we will continue acts of civil disobedience and non-recognition of this imposed regime,” Eustace said.


Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has warned that the quality of life the people of T&T now enjoy is in great danger of if they don’t “behave properly” given the economic challenges facing the country.

Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran on Dec. 4, 2015 said the country is “officially” in a recession.

Dr. Rowley said Trinibagonians needed to ask themselves. What can we afford under the current circumstances?”

“What kind of behavior is required of us at this time to ensure that we can continue to preserve… at least preserve the quality of life that we now enjoy now because that quality is now in grave danger if we don’t behave properly,” he told the audience at the launch of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development.

Rowley said his three-month-old administration “intends to be brutally honest with the people of Trinidad and Tobago to make sure we do what is going to save us from what is pending.”

-compiled by Azad Ali

More from Around NYC