Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has started a service to Cuba.

The regional airline recently launched its twice weekly non-stop service, making the Caribbean’s largest island its 20th destination.

The flights between Port of Spain and Havana are operated every Tuesday and Saturday.

CAL says there will also be seamless connections to and from Barbados, Grenada and Guyana.

The airline’s CEO Garvin Medera said travelers can easily fly direct to Cuba to enjoy all that country offers.

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne wants the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to partner more with his Government.

Browne made the call while speaking with during recent high-level talks with Chinese diplomats and the president of the China Civil Engineering Constriction Company (CCECC).

A government statement said: “Realizing the increased traffic of tourist from Cruise Tourism, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda intends to capitalize on this increase and expand the tourism capacity of the island.”

“To this end, the prime minister has extended an invitation to the Chinese to partner with the Government to invest in the development of a small hotel project on the coastline.

“The project will see some capital coming from the government and the opportunity to invest was given to CCECC, it added.

Browne also suggested that CCECC, with its strong ties with the people and government of Antigua and Barbuda, should seriously consider creating their regional headquarters in the country.

CECC has offices in 89 countries, and Antigua and Barbuda is a significant market.”

The Chinese delegation agreed that its presence is welcomed and appreciated having been on the island for 12 years, the statement said.

Barbados

Barbados police are to get more powers that will include implementing two-day curfews or a so-called “special investigation period” in response to serious violence.

The additional powers are proposed under the Police (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which was recently debated in the House of Assembly.

The legislation seeks to increase the statutory powers granted to the Commissioner of Police and the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) “to protect life and property of citizens, to ensure peace and public order under the Act with the use of cordons and curfews and to provide for related matters.”

Among other things it will give the police the power to stop and search an individual or their property during a curfew or in a cordoned off area, upon “reasonable suspicion that the person has committed an arrestable offense.”

However, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite maintained that crime in the country had not reached the stage where residents need to panic.

Bahamas

The Canadian government has warned its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution when traveling to The Bahamas due to high rates of crime, including a reported increase of sexual assaults against tourists.

The advisory noted that violent crime mainly occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama.

It said: “sexual assault occurs frequently, particularly near hotels, in hotel rooms, in casinos, on cruise ships and on the beaches.”

The government also warned that “sexual assaults are in the rise in Nassau, including Paradise Island.”

The warning noted that “in some incidents, the victim was drugged.”

However, police said that overall crime in The Bahamas was down 14 percent compared with 2016.

According to statistics, there were 52 cases of rape reported in 2017, 11 cases of attempted rape and 146 cases of unlawful sexual intercourse.

Guyana

The Guyana government says the inaugural Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit (GIPEX) carded for this month will provide an opportunity for local businesses to network and learn from leaders in the oil and gas industry.

GIPEX 2018 is being hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) from Feb. 7-9.

The three-day summit is expected to be attended by an estimated 50 local and international companies.

Shariq Abdul Hia, whose company, Valiant Business media, is coordinating the event, said some 350-400 executives and high-level industry leaders are expected to attend.

He said while the government is a partner in coordinating the event, the cost is being fully covered by the private sector. ExxonMobil is the lead sponsor of the event.

Hai noted that sponsors will be subsidizing the cost to allow local businesses to participate in the summit.

The Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) is the lead organizer for the government.

GIPEX 2018 aims to promote Guyana’s oil and gas sector while exposing local businesses to the industry’s best practices.

Jamaica

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has responded to reports in the foreign media claiming that the popular resort town of Montego Bay has been “locked down” by the current state of emergency in St. James.

He was reacting to an article in the Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom, titled “Jamaica safe Despite Upsurge in Violence and State of Emergency,” the tourism minister said, “these enhanced measures are not out of the ordinary in international tourism markets and there, would be understood by visitors and welcomed by residents.”

A release from the tourism minister said that several international news publication in the United States and Canada, especially the United Kingdom, have reported that the parish and its capital, Montego Bay, are on a “lock down,” leading to confusion in some quarters.

Bartlett noted that Jamaica remains safe for visitors and that crime against visitors in Jamaica is 0,01 percent and has been so for a long time.

The Andrew Holness administration declared a state of public emergency for St. James, the parish that recorded frightening levels of murders in 2017, numbering a record 355.

The Jamaica Defense Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force are carrying out searches in the volatile communities in the crime-torn parish.

Trinidad

January 2018 will go as the bloodiest month in the history of Trinidad and Tobago.

Police recorded 63 murders at the end of Jan. 31, the homicide toll has surpassed that of June 2008 when there were 57 killings recorded.

With January’s murders representing 10.5 percent of the total amount of killings this year, it is projected that the murder toll could cross the 500-mark by the end of the year. Last year there were 494 murders.

Police are seeing “execution-style” murders in the country in addition to the gang-related killings.

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said guns which account to 95 percent of the murders are being brought in from Latin American countries and the USA.

Last year, the police seized more than 1,000 illegal firearms and over 18,000 rounds of ammunition — the most ever seized in the country.

– Compiled by Azad Ali

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